I am a prisoner.
Not truly, but that’s what it feels like. I am Quentin Michael Astor III. My best and only friend calls me Princey. Being the youngest prince of Rytral I feel a bit useless. I’m too young to take part in any duties other than appearing at royal ceremonies and being an heir. That doesn’t even count since I have 3 brothers and 6 sisters who are all more fit for the throne and older than me. Age seems to make such a difference. Being royalty is luxurious and all, but there are plenty of setbacks. You have lots expected of you, you have to go to a very highly privileged stressful school, and you can’t complain one bit. I can understand why lots of people have it much worse than me. That makes me feel bad for being unhappy as if I should just be satisfied.
It was a Wednesday night, clear and crisp. The air was warm with a lingering cold breeze. Princey got a coat and went out of his room very quietly, knowing how much trouble he would be in if anyone were to catch him. He sneaked through the palace to the large royal garden.
The entrance was very grand. It had two marble pillars with climbing Wisteria flowers wrapped around them. Many Cornflowers sprang up around the base of the pillar, with delicate daffodils mixed in. After the two pillars, smaller and thinner pillars followed, making a colorful corridor to the main section. The smaller pillars had brilliant white moon’s flower vines carefully trailing up the skillfully carved pillars, with simple yet wonderful white roses and snapdragons at the base. There were four sets of smaller pillars leading into a large circular area. Around the perimeter had a very colorful mix of wildflowers and small sculptures of snakes. Princey didn’t know why, but his father simply liked snakes and had many carved for his palace. Some even looked like dragons. They would sometimes be decorated with gold and jewels. A row of carefully placed and shaped smooth stone blocks separated the wildflowers from the rest of the garden. Large, carved, marble flower pots came after the wildflowers. The circular pots held many lilies of the Valley. The delicate, white flowers added a calm hint of pureness. After the flower pots, there was a wonderfully carved design on the marble floor. That continued for about three feet and was quickly transitioned to multiple white, pink, and red-rimmed carnations.
Soon there was the center. A small, sturdy bench sat by a small pond filled with Cherry Barbs. Next to the bench was a big, blossoming apple tree. On both sides of the bench were also small flower pots holding bright Begonias.
Princey, with his small lantern, sat on the bench. He should be here, he thought anxiously. Princey had one truly close friend, Whisk Wood. He was a “commoner,” as his sister called them. He had a simple life. He would grow up in the middle class, get a good job, most likely marry and have a couple of kids and the cycle would continue.
Whisk, however, felt different. He was ambitious yet shy, willing yet insecure. He burned like a flame and danced alone in the dark like a candle. He was intellectual but still down to Earth. He, however, was somewhat indecisive. He wanted to do the right thing at the right time but always wanted to be reassured. They were just simple insecurities that most people had. Princey, on the other hand, was shy and liked attention for his battles. He wasn’t narcissistic per se, but he wasn’t just a complainer. He was genuinely kind like Whisk, but unlike Whisk, he wasn’t very ambitious.
There really wasn’t much for him to accomplish as royalty. You would think otherwise, however not only was Princey far back in the line of direct heirs but Rytral had also been slowly shifting to be more democratic and representative. Princey was always pretty insecure. He always feared his dirty blonde hair didn’t look right and that everyone was secretly talking about it behind his back. Lots of stuff similar to that, yet Princey had a mostly comfortable life other than that chipping away at him.
Where is he? Princey thought again. He was waiting for Whisk. Why would he meet up with his friend at night in the Royal Garden? Well, the royal family wanted to keep their sons and daughters safe, so about the time Princey turned twelve, they wanted to keep the royal heirs away from commoners who might be anti-loyalist or just a bad influence on their child. Princey very much understood the rule, but he knew Whisk. Whisk was relaxed and okay with the Royalty and elite, and they were already so close. Princey hadn’t seen Whisk for a while. They started writing notes and letters that they would exchange. Whisk was also the son of one of the head gardeners of the Royal Garden and had access to the garden, which was why they were meeting there.
Lost in thought, Princey dozed off for a few seconds, but was startled and woke up by the sound of a gate opening. Whisk? He thought hopefully. Soon someone came through and sneaked their way to the center.
“Princey?” They asked. Princey knew who was by the sound of their voice.
“Yes?” He said back in a quiet and joking tone. Whisk soon came to the bench, reassured Princey followed through with the plan.
“So, how’s it been?” Whisk asked.
“Same as usual, but I have to go to my cousin’s wedding. Which is fine and nice for them, but I have been feeling a bit sick lately and it will be a long trip to where the wedding is held,” Princey answered with detail, “How about you?”
“Oh, I’m sorry about that. And nice, I’ve been improving my gardening skills and I’ve been practicing painting,” Whisk answered. They joked and talked for about an hour when they both got quite drowsy and they both head back to where they came from. Princey soon fell asleep right as he got in his bed.
Dear Whisk Wood,
How was the journey back home? Also, I hope we can meet up again, for it was very enjoyable and I miss when we could every day. I hope you receive this letter in good condition, and I will hopefully see you soon.
Quentin Michael Astor III
My journey was alright. I was pretty tired when I got back. We should see each other again soon. I hope you get better and that the wedding is fun.
POSTSCRIPT: When are you gonna start signing your name as Princey, Quentin Michael Astor III?
Princey sat in the carriage. The carriage had small golden designs on almost everything. Even the yokes for the horses had small golden snakes wrapped around them. Princey had been in a carriage with his three brothers, who were constantly talking about how they didn’t really want to come to the wedding but Sir Malcolm Windsor was going to be there and they could finally meet him. He had been a valiant knight and head general of Rytral’s army and had accomplished many feats. He was a very common role model to many young boys. Two white horses pulled their white and gold carriage.
The capital of Rytral, Isara, all the way to Coarin, where the wedding was being held. Coarin was a coastal city on the farthest reaches of Rytral. It was known for its serenity and beauty. It had crystal clear waters and a tropical yet refreshing climate. Princey didn’t mind going there, it was a very nice place, but it meant he couldn't talk to Whisk at all. Princey was mildly uncomfortable about the fact, but at least had lots of time to think.
His eldest cousin, Elizabeth Ashley Astor II, was getting married to Henry Scott Hearst IV, someone from another elite family. Princey didn’t know him much but knew he was very skilled in sword-fighting, or something like that. Princey was simply looking outside the carriage as they moved along. He and his brothers didn’t really have much in common, but still got along nonetheless.
His thoughts drifted back to Whisk. I hope he does not get upset, I won’t be able to send him any letters for about a week, He thought. Princey did not mind formal events but was disappointed he couldn’t have a friend with him. His family didn’t know about Whisk. They would never let him hang out with him if they knew who he was. Even if they did, they probably wouldn’t be able to hang out much. Princey kept wondering about random things. Princey? What a weird nickname. I mean, it is accurate I guess, but… He thought, bemused.
His thoughts wandered from Whisk to the Garden to the letters. Apparently, the place where the wedding was held had a wonderful garden, which was intriguing to Princey. Princey had some things packed, including his “journal” which is where he would write letters that couldn’t immediately be sent. He would write in the journal things he wanted to write to Whisk and then write the letters. He was excited to see Whisk again. It hadn’t been that long and he already missed him.
Princey had been doodling in his journal when he realized it was getting dark. It's been that long already? He thought. Soon the carriage came to a sudden halt at a very grand inn. It was similar to a small palace and had lots of sculptures. Princey was used to seeing sculptures everywhere but these were nothing like he had ever seen. They were tall and beautiful. Like something out of a fairy tale. They gathered their belongings and headed inside. The outside was beautiful but it was nothing compared to the inside. It was a very brilliant show of colors and paintings. The inside had a plethora of well-crafted paintings and sculptures so realistic you’d think they would get up and walk away. Sculptures going from cute and miniature to towering and life-size. Twisting and turning sea serpents to the noblest kings.
Princey got his own room, with a desk and a splendid set of quills. Oh, nice, he thought. He appreciated it. He got to writing. Not only letters but some short stories. He liked writing stories, he could mix creativity and imagination with his appreciation of literature. But mostly he got into writing after he met Whisk. After they started writing letters he realized how much he loved writing and tried more styles. He started to write and thought of Whisk. I miss him. He continued to write until he was tired. Princey get ready for bed and fell asleep
The next day Princey awoke to a pounding on his bedroom door. “Quentin, wake up,” his mother said as she pounded relentlessly on his door.
“Mother I’m awake,” Princey said. He got up and started to get ready for the wedding. As he was getting ready he cursed himself for not going to see the garden before. He wanted to go before the wedding but did not believe he would have time to. He wanted to write every detail about the garden in his letter to Whisk.
Once he was ready he walked down to meet his family. They got into the carriage with their finest clothing and headed off to the wedding. Princey bit his tongue hoping the wedding was at the Coarin Gardens, one of the most renowned places on the continent. Already missing a chance at seeing the inn’s garden, Princey had his hopes up, since this garden would be even more spectacular.
He silently brought his journal, quill, and ink. He was not disrespectful, he would wait until after the main ceremony to start writing. It was very frowned upon to be distracted from a wedding, let alone a royal wedding. He had heard about this garden and greatly wanted to see it. Lots of famous artists went there for inspiration and something to paint. Soon the carriage stopped at the venue. They walked through the grand gates and into the celebration building. Lots of people were there. Then Princey saw it. The garden or at least a little strip of what seemed to be the garden. He assumed that the rest of the garden was around the back of the building. The small section had lots of vibrant Plumerias and tulips. Princey quickly and discreetly jotted the details down. The wedding ceremonies went on well, and it was very formal. Princey was as respectful as possible for a bored-out-of-his-mind-rather-would-be-with-his-best-friend young prince. He had been to weddings before and knew they were more of an adult thing. So he zoned out after the priest said,
“Dearly beloved we are gathered here today…” His head was filled with thoughts of his friend, the garden, and his literature. He was fantasizing about different stories he could write and what different types of flowers would be in the garden. Princey kept his head swarmed with these thoughts and before he knew it the priest had said,
“You may kiss the bride.” He snapped out of his daze and stood to clap as Elizabeth and Henry kissed. He wanted to be respectful, but he wanted to see the garden. He followed his family out to the party area, which now he was excited to see what was in the garden. He was now able to see the garden and still be a part of the festivities.
He soon rounded the corner and found himself at the garden entrance. Two curled marble pillars marked the gate and had vines of morning glories growing on them. Smaller pillars were placed on the sides of the main pillars, carefully decorated with Gold Flame Honeysuckle vine with small purple Dahlias at the base. Two large, round marble flower pots were placed before the gates on each side. A colorful array of Alliums, Lilies, and Hibiscus flowers filled each pot. Princey carefully took note of each type to tell Whisk. After the entrance, a row of soil stretching about five feet had a long row of Coneflowers and Foxgloves that were both a vibrant shade of pink. Placed directly after the Coneflowers and Foxgloves were smaller, round pots of Kerria shrubs. Soon the path fed into a large circular main area with a perimeter of small Cherry Trees and white Carnations. Closer to the center where a circle of pots holding purple, pink, magenta, and white Larkspurs. The middle had a large pond full of Red Cichlids and a large Willow tree. It all reminded Princey of home. Home reminded Princey of Whisk.
Princey noted every detail of the garden and soon noticed it was getting dark. Princey had to head back home, where they would stop again to see more of his extended family. Princey had been satisfied after seeing the Coarin Garden and had a nice time. But he was ready to get back to see his Garden and Whisk. Soon he wrote the last letter for the trip...
Dear Whisk Wood,
I hope this letter comes to you in good health. The Coarin Garden was spectacular, and I wish to write it out to you in later letters. Let me just tell you that it was one of the most amazing places and I wish you could’ve been there to see it. I await your response, and I am glad to say the wedding went splendidly.
Quentin Michael Astor III
I’m glad to see that you had a fun trip. I would love to hear about the garden. I’m happy for your cousin. I would love to meet up soon! I wanted to tell you that I was very bored while you were gone. Hopefully, we can meet up soon!
POSTSCRIPT: Princey, come on, you can’t avoid it forever, start signing your name as Princey, at least to me! You are my best friend after all.
Dear Whisk Wood,
I’m very pleased that you were able to respond so quickly to my recent letter. I would hope that your days are going well and you are doing the best you can. I look forward to seeing you again. I will see you very soon Whisk. I’ll tell you all about the Coarin Garden then.
POSTSCRIPT: Only for you. My best friend.