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The Earl of Zerces: chapter 1
Lang fidgeted uncomfortably on the steps. Out of everyone at the coronation ceremony, Lang had been the only one that didn’t want to be there. He had felt hot and impatient in his royal robes as he stood there, listening to all the buzz and chatter in anticipation of his brother, Thorne. Thorne was the one who had become King that day, not Lang. Even though Lang was the oldest, even though Lang was the wisest, even though Lang was the most responsible, even though- but no, Lang pushed these thoughts out of his mind. It did no good to mope, and besides, that sort of thinking was treason now. Like it or not, Lang’s idiot brother was going to be King. Lang sighed; then stood up straight and proceeded up the steps. His father had said to meet him on the royal balcony after the ceremony, and he was making his way there now.
Lang eventually completed his journey up the steps and saw his father there, waiting patiently for him.
“Ah, hello, Lang,” Lang’s father smiled. “I’m glad you came. There’s someone I want you to meet.”
It was then that Lang’s eyes caught a very strange figure leaning against the balcony. Lang did not know who the man was, but was suddenly taken aback by the figure’s appearance.
“Hello,” the strange figure waved childishly at Lang, making him stop in his tracks. The figure wore blue and black robes, along with an Earl’s traditional cape, and boots that seemed to be made for trekking, rather than show. He stood tall and lithe, with pale skin, boyish features, icy-blue eyes, and white, yes pure white, hair that covered one of his eyes. But rather than his physical appearance, it was the way the man carried himself that most puzzled Lang. Unlike all the other members of Peership that Lang had seen in his life, who appeared stiff and foppish, this man stood straight and relaxed, with his hands in his pockets and his feet at different places. He looked like he did not care for a second about any of the proper etiquette of a Peer, and this made him the strangest man Lang had ever seen.
“Um,” Lang coughed, then, regaining his composure, bowed appropriately. “Greetings, Earl, I assume?”
“Oh please, don’t bow,” the man waved casually. “It honestly doesn’t matter. Besides, I am an Earl, and you’re a Prince, I should bow to you. That is, I would if I cared for such things.”
Lang was taken aback; this Earl was like no one he had ever seen before. He had no idea how to proceed next.
“Lang, this is the man I wanted you to meet,” Lang’s father smirked in amusement at his son’s bemusement. “This is the Earl of Zerces.”
“Zerces?” Lang furrowed his brow. “I’ve never heard of a region known as Zerces.”
“Oh, well of course you haven’t,” the Earl left it at that. “But anyways, I heard that you’re a little miffed about not being chosen as King.”
“I…” Lang prepared himself for a refined speech that would fool the Earl, but one look in the Earl’s eyes and he knew it was useless. Something about the Earl told Lang that any lie he spoke would be seen through instantly. “Yes, I am.
“I think that Thorne is an irresponsible idiot who will either lead the kingdom to ruin or war. He is vain, uncooperative, hedonistic, and belligerent. I know this thinking is treason, but it is the truth.”
“Oh, splendid,” the Earl grinned. “That makes things much easier.”
“E-excuse me?” Lang was repeatedly at loss for words. Wouldn’t this man hang him? He had just committed treason, wasn’t there to be a punishment? It made no sense.
“Well, Jules, I’m glad you came to me for this,” the Earl grinned at Lang’s father. “I think he’ll do brilliantly.”
“What? What are you talking about?” Lang had had enough. “I’ve just committed treason! I should be hanged! None of this makes any sense!”
Before Lang could blink the Earl was inches away from his face. Lang gasped. No human could move that fast. This was getting more and more unpredictable.
“Well of course it doesn’t make sense,” the Earl barely whispered into Lang’s ear. “But I’ll tell you something. That’s exactly what makes it so interesting.”
The Earl skipped back to the balcony and leaned playfully against it.
“So then, you want to be King, but your idiot brother is on the throne instead. But did you know that we did that on purpose? Your father and I, that is. There’s no way that we’d put you on the throne. Do you know how much power you’d have to give up if you became King? No, no, we’ve got something much better planned for you, Lang, much better. Walk with me, would you?”
The Earl motioned with his finger for Lang to follow, and paced down the hallway. Lang turned incredulously to his father, but he merely nodded. Whatever insane plan the Earl had in store for Lang, Lang’s father wholeheartedly supported it. Lang looked down the hallway, where the Earl had turned back to him.
“Well, are you coming?” The Earl asked nonchalantly.
Lang took one last look at his father, then followed the Earl of Zerces down the hallway, not at all knowing what to expect.