TITLE: Kingdomstory: The Seal
By Rachel Stone
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The King had become lonely. He was forced to take the throne too soon. Every person he met demanding something of him. He had not known true friendship since he was a boy.
If only he could go back to those days of playing in the courtyard with the groundsman’s son. They would hide and seek all over the hillside, then splash in the fountain or hunt for buried treasure. What fun… to be a child again.
Where could Antonio be now? He wondered as he took his customary early morning walk, the King’s only time alone. I will send a Messenger to search him out with a personal invitation to a banquet in his honor.
Very soon the trustworthy aide had found the King’s friend. He had not gone far in his life’s journey, a simple farmer in a nearby village.
The aide waited at the farmer’s shanty door until evening when the man came in dirty, and tired from his plowing. “I am a Royal Messenger sent from the King himself. He has issued you a personal invitation to join him for a private banquet. This letter will have the details but you will be required to deliver the invitation to the castle guardsmen with the King’s seal unbroken in order to be allowed entrance to the King’s Chambers.”
The farmer was left standing in the doorway, holding the Royal papers. He watched as the Messenger’s carriage drove away, allowing his mind to roam back to the childhood days he thought were long forgotten by his dearest friend.
The morning of the banquet dawned with rain, but it did not daunt Antonio’s excitement. He rode along the narrow castle road and recalled the last time he was there.
It was a day that would forever catch in his memory. They had been practicing archery in the canyon, just he and the prince. They were no more then twelve years old at the time, when they thought of a game. Each would run, and as he was running throw a disc into the air so that the other may try to strike it with an arrow.
The Prince went first and missed, then, ‘twas Antonio’s chance. He struck the Prince in the chest very near his heart. Antonio carried him back to the palace on his own horse, bleeding as he was.
The Prince was carried into the castle and Antonio was taken to prison that day. He was certain his fate would be death whether the Prince survived or not.
The moment the Prince could stand, he slipped away from his nurse and demanded Antonio’s release. When the King and Queen refused, the Prince pleaded for his friend’s life before the court. Antonio was banished from the castle that day but would forever be loyal to the Prince.
Now, it seemed he would be welcomed back to the King’s castle with a banquet no less. What a day it will be, he thought, patting the invitation in his pocket.
It was at that moment Antonio heard the horses coming fast upon him. This road had been said to be dangerous as of late. The King had enemies. But there was no place for him to go.
The bandits stopped him quickly and demanded to know his business at the castle. Stammering, Antonio tried to explain but to no avail.
“Give me those papers!” yelled the leader, pointing to the farmer’s pocket. “You are a special envoy for the King. Those are military strategies, or secrets from his allies.”
Antonio protested but was dragged from his horse and beaten, while the other’s ripped open the invitation and laughed. They threw it to the ground as if it were useless trash.
“It appears we were wrong about you” the leader laughed all the more. “Let this be a message to your King, a taste of what is to come.”
The bandits took his horse and left Antonio alone on the road. He picked up the stained paper, questioning whether to continue. Weakly, he climbed.
It was nearing the next evening when he entered the castle gates. The guards hardly took notice of such a pitiful soul.
He came to the gate of the King’s private chambers where two soldiers stood. He handed them the torn, stained invitation. “I am Antonio, a friend of the King. I was coming for a banquet yesterday, but was robbed on the road.”
The guards tossed down the paper. “By order of the Royal Court no one may enter the King’s chamber except by the Kings own invitation signified with the King’s unbroken seal.”
Antonio looked at the invitation again strewn on the ground. He was too exhausted to begin the trek back down the mountain, his only horse gone as was his chance to see the King.
Surprised by the gate flinging open the guards stepped back. It was the King. “Your Majesty, this stragler has come for yesterday’s banquet with a broken seal on this torn invitation. We would not allow him to enter.” The soldier proudly proclaimed.
The King smiled. “Welcome my friend!” and opening his shirt revealed the scar on his chest. “This is his seal, forever on my heart.”
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