The backward village of Huntersville had many uncategorized talents and because of this, the people of Huntersville would venture out into towns all over the empire either to showcase those talents, perform or con those that appreciated talent. In particular there was a young man with eyes molten silver, dark ink hair and white snow skin; truly beautiful man that caused anyone who came across him do a double take. This young man had clarity, what it was he could see things that were meant to be hidden, solve even a million years old mystery. It could be said the young man was truly intelligent but this was not so, his eyes only took all and his mind didn’t forget, above all the young man was ambidextrous. Where he came from he was nothing special but as soon as he left the complex borders of his textile hometown, he received so much attention and appreciation he felt atop the world. Amongst the attention he captured one was of the most influential man in court, the man that told him he could make him the most eligible bachelor of the empire long as he agreed to come and be adopted into his household.
To this young man, who looked neither like his family nor anyone from his village and had no extravagant talent either, felt it was not a bargain that would weigh much on his conscience. He was neither stupid nor naive only knew when to withdraw or invest since nothing really could ever get past him. So he agreed, if he was going to be used he might as well reap all the benefits was his thought. Who was he to turn away a leisurely life because of the looks that had been scorned his entire life? If the capital so appreciated beautiful incapable men, who was he to tell them there was a village called Huntersville that had not only a few beautiful incapable men but beautiful capable men too? All he did was smile when he was told, blink when was told and move when he was told; after all he lived much better than he could have ever hoped had he entered the market his fellow village men occupied.
Soon came his introduction ceremony and many of the noble families attended, to them the most beautiful man in the entire capital was the crown prince, with good looks and godlike intelligence. There were books dedicated to his character alone but the arrival of the young man caused quite the stir, not only was he breathtaking but he had an eagle’s eye too and to the common noble people, he seemed to surpass the crown prince that was almighty in their eyes. He took all of it in the young man, not doing anything beyond instructions and always felt something was amiss. He couldn’t understand why his village was known as backward when none of the people he had met since entering the capital could not surpass even him, the low of the low amongst his people; it truly baffled him yet this wasn’t enough to make him a patriot of sorts, he merely found it interesting. But because of the bored look in his eyes, he caught the eye of the crown prince.
The crown prince was indeed different from the people of the capital, he wasn’t shallow or prideful, he was a man that appreciated capability no matter the appearance thus the hype about the young man didn’t make him insecure but curious instead, enough to start observing how the young man interacted when in court and other activities that he participated in. After sometime, his intrigue became something more like kinship or absession; though throughout the times he’d observed the young man, he could be seen smiling and taking part; he always wore the same look in his eyes as though he were playing with children that couldn’t truly stimulate his mind, this to the crown prince was a new lease.
One autumn festive, a gala was to be held and the nobility always attended that gala with their finest outfits to pave way to spring. It was going to be the first autumn festival the young man had ever attended so his foster father didn’t spare any effort, after all many designers and companies wanted to sponsor the young man’s attire for the evening. He lacked no choice but because of his molten silver eyes and pale skin, many preferred to adorn him with bright colours. His father wanted to highlight his beauty all the more for the spring season when proposals started coming in, he be the only one in the minds of many so he chose for him a suit the black ink colour of his hair. Of course it was a commendable choice because the young man’s silver eyes almost appeared pale and his skin was far enticing, like how would it look if one were to leave a mark on such fine skin?
The crown prince abided his time, watched the young man being paraded by his foster father and everyone he came in contact with fawn over him while he maintained the same lazy gaze. More than half an hour, they reached the crown prince and pleasantries were exchanged. The father did all the talking while the young man nodded when appropriate or smile where it was needed, to many it looked as though he was engrossed in the conversation that was taking place even the air surrounding him was overly joyous so much so the entire time they were there, the crown prince hadn’t taken his eyes of off the young man that his skin started to prickle and his eyes started to twitch. The young man, although his adopted father was a prominent figure knew he couldn’t outright ask the crown prince to stop starring at him or what he so found interesting. He was caught with nowhere to turn. To the crown prince watching the young man twitch and trying hard to shift but nowhere to shift to was the most fun he had had since being named the crown prince and truly couldn’t find it in himself to avert his gaze. The young man’s skin started to flush, covering him in an iridescent glow pulling the crown prince’s attention all the more to him. It could be said that everyone’s attention in the hall at that time was on the sparkling figure that seemed too beautiful to belong to any of them yet so attractive neither man nor woman could deny they wanted to at least once hold eyes with him but neither had the courage when they noticed the crown prince’s intent gaze. Everyone could only sigh because it seemed indeed true “flocks of a feather fly together.”
The young man was of course oblivious to everyone’s gaze but the crown prince’s, had bared enough and couldn’t help but ask;
“Has something caught your eye your highness?” he asked with an undertone of severe annoyance, one he couldn’t have masked had he bothered to. Those within earshot gasped, the shock of anyone daring to talk to the crown prince with such a tone? The silence spread like wildfire from those within earshot to those further even by the door, everyone held their breath and waited for the crown prince’s answer. If one were to observe, it seemed the crown prince’s answer would give them permission to breathe again. But the crown prince didn’t answer, indeed it seemed like he was in no hurry to answer, he took a sip from his glass and sighed then returned his gaze to the young man. As said the crown prince wasn’t a fickle man but was indeed beautiful and when many remembered he wasn’t much older than the young but because of his capability and firm hand, many forgot that he was still a young man too. Comparing the two was like comparing the night and day sky, a rainy and sunny day meaning there wasn’t truly any comparison but preference and because of the crown prince’s overbearing aura, many sided with who was approachable no matter if it was a facade.
The crown prince answered with a smirk,
“Yes something has caught my eye. I think the duke so want to surpass his current status that he went above and beyond, reached the outskirts of the empire to find a presentable gift for me right before my crowning ceremony, isn’t it duke?”
The young man was so surprised his head automatically turned to his adoptive father. He wasn’t an overbearing man or had the particular malice he’d seen often in his life thus the crown prince’s answered really caught him off guard yet looking at his adoptive father, he could clearly see the man too was surprised. His flushing face and set mouth was a telltale his adoptive father could never fake no matter how good an actor he was. He so wanted to mock laugh at himself but found he wasn’t at fault, his adoptive father wasn’t at fault and the crown prince was someone a nobody like him could offend. Had he thought he’d had a twist of fate?
“Your grace?” the crown prince probed spotting a smile that made him look mischievous. He could tell by their shocked faces they wanted to deny him yet couldn’t do so in front of so many eyes.
The entire hall too was shook. The crown prince wasn’t after all a sociable man and not only was he asking for a concubine in a roundabout way but the person in question was a man, a man that had appeared out of nowhere and caused uproar in the capital. In a blink of an eye the young man became public enemy number one for the noble families that had an eligible young woman. Who was he after all, an adopted son, beautiful and talented? Didn’t they also have young legitimate daughters that were both beautiful and talented? Who was he after all?
The young man could feel the hostility that now pointed at him. He didn’t know whether to laugh or cry because the same people who had wanted him as their son-in-law viewed him as a competitor when he’d never had intention of becoming either. He looked at the duke helplessly and only received a shrug but to him, the shrug was all he needed to pull himself out of the abyss. He could feel it slowly, the vigour rushing through his veins that had enabled him to survive taunts back when he was in Huntersville and compared to the capital, Huntersville was the true battlefield he had escaped although scathed, he had escaped and found a man that was influential who treated him like his flesh and blood, he would never lose that comfortable life for the crown prince’s amusement. He wouldn’t!
The young man laughed softly and replied;
“But your highness, had father known you were expecting a gift; he wouldn’t have brought back measly me otherwise it would be an insult to his highness taste of the more rare, finer things and status.”
The duke covered his laughter with a cough and the entire hall looked at the young man liked he’d grown another head as many couldn’t tell if he was serious or not, it made the atmosphere a pickle for those that tended to follow the crowd rather than stick to their own principles but to everyone’s surprise, the crown prince let of a soft laugh.
“It would seem the duke understands me then because I’m a simple man at heart and finer things would be of no use to me. I’m also capable of defending my status.” The crown prince replied to the young man’s displeasure.
The duke looked back and forth between the two men, felt peace in his old heart. His initial worry had dissipated, to him adopting the young man had never been for any ambiguous motive; he had only wanted to ease his wife’s worries and have company that would never be warm towards them for any monetary reasons. He had looked for such companion for more than a decade and never found one that tucked at his heart. Many relatives had sent their sons and daughters but they were always pretentious or could not gain his wife’s affection only this young who he had come across by coincidence managed to catch his eye. Back then, paintings from the same artist drawn by different hands were sold to him at a ridiculous price but the technique, the paintings themselves were duplicates and the owner had came barging at his townhouse claiming he was a fraud. The young man being the owner and the forger. It was an elaborate scam that many would’ve fallen for if they weren’t collectors but unlucky for the young man, the duke knew much about paintings because of his beloved wife and could tell the forger and the original artist were the same person. The technique was uncannily similar it was impossible to have been forged. Thinking back brought a soft smile to his face, indeed the right thing he’d ever done besides marrying his wife was adopting the young man. He was a son he’d never knew he wanted and probably more than the son he would’ve had. The apple of his eye indeed and his apple attracted the eye of the aloof crown prince, though he knew his life was only going to be filled with hurdles before it became smooth; he could tell by the look in the crown prince’s eyes that he would never give up because it was a look he recognized as the one he’d had when he saw his wife for the first time. Call it love or infatuation but, who was he to deny his son the opportunity of finding what he found and cherished more than his own life? To him, legacy be damned; his son’s bright and glistening future was a priority and he knew, the young man had become bored with all the people he had meet in the capital but looking at him all flustered because of the crown prince; anyone with eyes could tell he didn’t know what to do with him but wasn’t necessarily uncomfortable.
The duke bowed in a custom ceremony of presenting a marriage proposal to the crown prince bringing not only surprise or shock to the autumn festival but what many would hear about centuries to come;
“It’s not a mere gift your highness, it’s the most prized possession the duke have and hopes his highness would treasure more than I or duchess ever did.”
The crown prince observed the duke intently and could see the man wasn’t playing any trick or being presumptuous but indeed cared about his adoptive son, no his son and wanted to make sure he wasn’t a pastime. His respect for the duke increased immensely, more than anything he valued people with integrity and would never disrespect a father’s wishes. The crown prince reciprocated the formal bow with that of acceptance and promise, he felt he had gained something that would turn his life into a rollercoaster. He felt feverish;
“Your treasure has found its rightful home your grace, rest assured.” His dark eyes then turned to then said treasure and darkened even more, after all he’d never been so stimulated before; the thrill alone caused his originally overbearing aura to be suffocating those close to him, it seemed he would pounce anytime.
He took two to five steps till he was standing before the young man, who came just by his chin. Looking at him from such close distance, he could see details he had not from distance like how the young man’s skin had no pores whatsoever and seemed to be manmade from up close; he truly was beautiful. The look in the young man’s eyes really was provoking the crown prince and he couldn’t help but oblige, he too was a man with whims and his limit had long been crossed. He smirked and said;
“What do you think, are you treasure or gift to man like me who lacks nothing?” the crown was indeed indulging himself…
The young man looked at the man standing in front of him feeling flustered and couldn’t deny the man intimidated him couple that with nothing to say in turn. That feeling was enough to spook him so he scoffed and left the festival with the crown prince’s laughter following.
A pauper in Huntersville was more his preference than the crown prince’s treasure or gift.