A Children’s Story: Scene 2, Part 1

Alexis and Bertram entered into the cool, dimly lit tunnels, feeling along the dirt walls with their open hands until they were within sight of the first lantern. There were six between their home and the first entrance to South Ridge and they burned day and night. The other parts of the tunnel that ran to different storage rooms and fields outside of town had more lanterns, but they had to be lit every time Alexis needed to venture that way. He kept these first six constantly burning though, out of convenience.

Alexis had built these tunnels, working the soil and rocks very carefully with his magic. The trickiest section was where they were now, in the two hundred meters underneath Lake Tambers. There had been moments of terrifying panic, more than Alexis cared to admit, when he was sure the waters were going to break through and drown him there in an underground pile of mud. He felt lucky every time he remained dry, and though he was still cautious for the first few years after the tunnels were completed, he was now fully confident in their structural integrity.

“So where would you like me to start?” Alexis asked Bertram as they entered the soft glow of the first lantern.

“With your ring. No, from the beginning,” Bertram answered immediately, even though he was still debating what he wanted to hear about more.

“Well I suppose the ring can also be the beginning,” Alexis mused while he rubbed his signet ring with his index finger, “this ring is the emblem of our family and the royal sigil of The Reaches. You have guessed for a long time now that I wasn’t raised by simple farmers like your mother. Your grandfather is King Ulrich of Havard, Guardian of The Reaches, and I am his eldest son, Prince Alexis.”

Bertram was wide eyed as he stared down the tunnel towards the next lantern, shifting his gaze between his father and the next source of light. He certainly had surmised for a long time that his father had a past full of mystery and intrigue, but the realization that their family was royalty went beyond his wildest dreams. Bertram hardly knew anything about royalty and nobles; he had the most basic knowledge on the existence of the capital city Havard, but little else. The purpose of forming the town of South Ridge far down in the Southern Reaches was to get as far away from the turmoils of society as possible. Bertram never considered his father had such a personal reason to do so.

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