gimme the garbage
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low/high fantasy, medieval fantasy, historical fantasy, sci-fi, cyberpunk, solarpunk, grimdark, gothic-horror, supernatural themes, fandoms, adventure
Shifting uncomfortably as the carriage trundled roughly along the uneven road, Raelyn once again struggled to find a position that wouldn’t jostle him to the point of distraction. Overhead, a small lantern swayed, causing the dim, flickering light to cast dizzying shadows as it rocked. He’d been trying to catch up on reading for the better part of the week-long journey, though it was proving to be a difficult task. The dancing shadows spilling over the pages of his book made his head spin and his eyes ache, and he snapped it shut with a dull thwap of pages. Regretting that he’d even made another attempt, the man laid the book in his lap and rested his forehead against the palm of his hand, momentarily closing his eyes and willing his twisting stomach to still.

Prince Raelyn Auclair was a young man, only just into his twenties. He was of average height with a slim build, which did not lend him the most impressive appearance, and people often remarked on how young he looked. His pale complexion, light hair, and soft eyes seemed to reinforce a sense of fairness-- of timidity that permeated most everything about the man. This, of course, was probably exacerbated by his pacifistic tendencies and perpetual habit of retiring to his room during social events. All in all, he wasn’t a terribly desirable heir to the throne-- at least by his father’s standards.

And, he reflected, sitting back and slowly opening his eyes, that was what had landed him in his position. Not once could he recall ever living up to his father’s expectations. In fact, he was a downright disappointment. This was, perhaps, made all the worse by the fact that he was actually quite competent in his own way. Raelyn was intelligent and quick-witted, yet he would only apply his knowledge to study and philosophy; he was a fine conversationalist, yet he would shrink from social events. What angered his father the most, however, was that Raelyn was a proficient swordsman who honestly enjoyed the sport, yet he would not fight outside of sparring and training because he abhorred violence.

That’s what made this particular assignment so difficult. Despite Raelyn’s protests, he had been sent north to Brightstone Keep to “quash the heathenry and restore order by any means necessary.” It had been made apparent to the young prince that this was his final opportunity to prove himself both worthy and capable of his title. Raelyn knew this was a win-win situation for his father. Either the prince succeeded in bringing the most unruly area of the kingdom back under control of the crown-- and the church-- or he would be killed in the process.

Though part of him wished desperately to succeed, to prove to his father that he was indeed capable and deserving of acceptance and respect, he knew the man would be equally content with either outcome. And Raelyn knew how his father wanted him to deal with the rebelling populace: compliance or death.

The thought made Raelyn’s stomach knot up again and he groaned quietly as the carriage lurched.

He was somewhat sorry he’d moved from his horse to the carriage, but the temptation of reading had been too great. He had also been eager for a break from the disapproving gaze of his personal guard, who, despite more protesting on Raelyn’s part, had been sent with him anyway. Silently, the prince pulled back a corner of the heavy curtain obscuring the carriage window and peeked out at Sarrion. As expected, the man was still riding beside the carriage, his figure imperious and intimidating. He could only just make out the man’s expression, but he appeared to be just as dour as ever.

Why, he thought, of all the royal guards available did he have to be the one to accompany me?

He had no doubt that Sarrion was competent, but the man intimidated him. Perhaps that was a desirable attribute in a guard, but the man was notoriously ruthless and unabashedly violent. He was also a near-fanatical supporter of the king and held no great fondness for Raelyn. That had been made clear on several occasions.

And yet, here they were.

Dropping the curtain back into place, Raelyn sank back in his seat and closed his eyes once more. It was frustrating to be the prince of an affluent kingdom and have so little control over his own life, but it was something Raelyn had grown up with and, for the most part, had come to accept. He was being used, he knew that, but if he succeeded in his task, would he perhaps have more freedom? And, well, if he failed and was killed, he needn’t worry about much of anything.

Drifting into his thoughts, the prince was nearly startled off his seat as the carriage slammed to a halt. Outside, the horses whinnied in protest at the sudden action, and a knock came on the carriage roof, followed by the footman’s thickly-accented voice.

“Yer majesty? I think yeh need t’see this.”

Alarmed, Raelyn pushed open the door and stepped out onto the narrow foot rail. “What?” he asked, his voice more anxious that he would’ve liked. He was still trying to make a good impression on his travelling party.

Wordlessly, the footman pointed some distance down the dirt road, a frown set on his weathered face.

Following his gesture, Raelyn could make out several points of light bobbing along in the distance, accompanied by the outlines of people, silhouetted in the fading light.

“Uh,” he asked hesitantly, “what is-- I mean, why…?” He squinted, trying to force his eyes to focus. “Those look like villagers,” he commented, a note of concern still thick in his voice. “What are they doing?”

“Protestin’, probably,” Briard replied. “Guess they got word of yer arrivin’ at the keep, an’ I doubt they’re here to welcome yeh.”

Great,” Raelyn said, his hands tightening around the carriage door. “That’s just wonderful.”

Off to a promising start already, he thought.

After staring at the approaching lights for a moment longer, the young man turned to Sarrion with a questioning look. He had no idea what to do in this situation. Hopefully, the people would move aside for the horses, but he honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. There had been numerous rebellions throughout the kingdom, most of which had begun in the northern villages. Many of the uprisings had been violent, but this crowd didn’t seem to be overly large. Perhaps they would let them pass.

“So...” he said quietly, not quite meeting the swordsman’s eyes, “what do you think we should do?”

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