From Orphan to Bodyguard, from Prince to Monk Prose in Derkomai | World Anvil

From Orphan to Bodyguard, from Prince to Monk

Word spread quickly throughout Chessdo that Prince Toma had been found and returned to Chessa, and that Queen Jenmei Na'Omi was overjoyed. Just as quickly, the plotting began...  
"Mother, have you heard? Prince Toma, the Queen's long lost son has been found! The Queen is thrilled, of course! And she has named him crown prince already!" Hime Hatoyama Mikai, seventeen-year-old only daughter of Prime Minister Hatoyama, gushed excitedly.   "Yes, Mikai, I have heard the news. It is wonderful that Queen Na'Omi has her son back. She must be so happy." Lady Hatoyama, wife of the Prime Minister, replied calmly.   Hime Mikai continued gushing, "All of the girls want to meet him, Mother. They say he looks like King Kenzo, so handsome! And he is a fierce warrior and the best friend of the crown prince of Senyon!"   "Mikai, calm down. You've never even seen him and know nothing about him. And Queen Na'Omi has not announced anything about naming him crown prince. He just arrived here a few days ago with the prince of Senyon. I am sure your father and the court are discussing the situation with the Queen, Senyon's Prince Jinhai, and Prince Toma. There are many complicated matters to resolve before the court will accept Prince Toma as a legitimate heir of King Kenzo and Queen Na'Omi. We don't even know if he is willing to stay here in Chessa as the Queen's legitimate son." Lady Hatoyama, like her husband, was always sensible and reasonable. Her daughter most definitely was not.   "I don't care, Mother! He is the crown prince! I know it! And I am going to marry him and be the next queen! What girl is more qualified than I am? I am the prime minister's daughter! None of the other girls are! Only I am worthy of him!" Hime Mikai stomped off. Her mother sighed, resigning herself to dealing with another of Mikai's infatuations.  
  Just outside the court chambers, as Prime Minister Hatoyama Makoto was leaving his somewhat tense meeting with Queen Na'Omi, Crown Prince Jinhai, Prince Toma, and several senior ministers of the royal court of Chessa, the 24-year-old son of Duke Togawa, Prince Kento, approached him, "Ah, Prime Minister, a word, please." The Prime Minister scowled as he turned, then said, "Yes, Prince Kento. What is it? I am quite busy." He disliked the oily and untalented Kento, but could not directly offend him, as he was the queen's nephew and in line to take the throne after the Queen. It was unfortunate that the son was nothing like his honorable and intelligent father.   "What do you think of this so-called 'Prince Toma,' Prime Minister?" Prince Kento asked.   Prime Minister Hatoyama replied, "'So-called?' Prince Kento, I think the evidence is very clear that Prince Toma is Queen Na'Omi's son. He appears to be intelligent, extremely capable, honorable, and humble, but I believe he is unprepared at this time to become crown prince of Chessa."   "Ah. I see. Unfortunately, I do not share your confidence in the authenticity of this so-called 'prince,' Prime Minister. And I have not seen evidence of the capabilities he is said to have. But I agree with you that he is unprepared to be crown prince. Not only unprepared, but unqualified. Only a legitimate descendant of the royal line should be named crown prince." Kento was referring, obviously, to himself. As son of the deceased king's younger brother, Prince Togawa Kento could be successor to the throne of Chessa; though, it would be the Queen's decision. Prince Toma threatened his position.   Kento went on. "I am also quite concerned that many of the noble girls of Chessa seem have become confused, thinking that this fraudulent prince would be a good match for them. I hope very much that your daughter, Hime Mikai, is not among those foolish girls, Prime Minister." It was well known among the Chessa nobility that Prince Kento was infatuated with Hime Mikai. It was equally well known that she had no use for Prince Kento.   The Prime Minister replied, "You need not be concerned about Mikai, Prince Kento. Her mother and I will handle her marriage arrangements properly when the time comes. Now, if there is nothing else, I must be going. Good day." He turned and headed for the palace gate and home.   Behind him, Prince Kento muttered under his breath, "Mikai is mine, you old fool. And so is the throne! No one will stand in my way!"  
  It had been difficult to convince Queen Na'Omi to let Prince Jinhai and Seven out of the palace on their own for a while, but Prince Jinhai finally prevailed by pointing out that he and Seven had been traveling together for several years and were quite capable of taking care of themselves. As they browsed through the shops of Chessdo, looking for gifts for Jinhai's father, Emperor Yixing-Jiumin Jinsen, and mother, Empress Nehualu Hanna and the rest of his family, Prince Jinhai said smirking a bit, "Well, 'Prince Toma,' let's take a look in this jewelry shop. Maybe we can find something for my mother or my sisters."   Seven replied, "Please, Sire. Just call me Seven! I still don't know what to think about all of this!" Jinhai had never seen Seven so upset as he had been for the past few days. With his Gasyendithite training, Seven was nearly always composed to the point of being emotionless, but after learning of his identity as the long lost son of Queen Na'Omi, his normal equanimity was thrown out of balance. He struggled to maintain his center. Seven closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and held it for a moment. In his mind's eye, the face of Princess Jinyat appeared, and he smiled slightly. Seven occasionally sought out Princess Jinyat when he felt troubled about something. Her naturally calm and rational thinking helped him regain his focus, but it was difficult to admit that he was attracted to her. As the first daughter of the Emperor, loved by all of the nobility and the imperial family, she was far above his station as a commoner bodyguard. There was no possibility that she would ever be allowed to marry him, even if he could ever muster the courage to make his feelings known.   But what about now? Seven was now Prince Toma, the only son of the former king and current queen of Chessa. He could be a king! Then he would be worthy of Princess Jinyat! But Seven didn't feel like a king, or even a prince. He was just Seven, an orphan and now a bodyguard. Feeling lost and out of balance again, Seven followed as Prince Jinhai left the jewelry shop they'd been in. The jewelry there was all pretty mundane. Distracted, he didn't notice several rough-looking men hanging around outside.   As Prince Jinhai and Seven made their way down the street, they passed a narrow alleyway. Just as Seven cleared the entrance to the alley, someone hit him on the back of the head with a truncheon, stunning him and knocking him to the ground. The thugs that had been following them from outside the jewelry shop rushed him and Jinhai. But instead of going after Prince Jinhai, they attacked Seven! Despite being woozy from the blow to his head, Seven's training as a Gasyendithite martial arts master saved his life. He dodged fatal thrusts from several daggers by rolling out of the way, then despite suffering a couple of nasty cuts, disabled two of the thugs with powerful kicks to their faces. Jinhai pulled the dagger he always carried from his sleeve and dispatched another, leaving him writhing on the ground, bleeding out. Fully awake and focused, Seven killed another of the thugs with a kick to his throat, crushing his trachea, and disabled one by breaking his elbow and then knocking him unconscious with a kick to his chin that shattered several of his teeth. The two he had disabled earlier ran away, and the one Jinhai stabbed died where he laid. Hearing screams from bystanders and the sounds of the fight, Chessdo guardsmen rushed to the scene, swords drawn. Jinhai dropped his dagger to the ground, and he and Seven put their hands in the air, making it clear that they weren't a threat. Seven was still bleeding from his cuts and had a ferocious headache from the blow to his head. He needed to see a doctor as soon as possible.   One of the guardsmen, presumably their leader, said, "You are under arrest! Explain why you have injured and killed these men!"   Prince Jinhai said, "I am Crown Prince Jinhai of Senyon. These thugs attacked me and my companion, Prince Toma, Queen Na'Omi's son, and tried to kill us! He needs a doctor immediately! Now move!"   Some of the bystanders spoke up in agreement, "The thugs attacked them, sir! They only defended themselves."   Hearing the testimony of the bystanders and the authority in Prince Jinhai's voice, and seeing the royal clothes he and Seven were wearing, the guard leader quickly decided that what the Prince had demanded was the best course of action for him and his men at the moment. He said to three of his men, "Clean this mess up and take the busted-up one into custody for interrogation. Prince Toma, Prince Jinhai, please follow me. We will get you to a doctor right away." Pointing to one of the other guardsmen, he ordered, "Report this to the palace, now! Run!" The guardsman took off running for the palace.   The Chessan doctor was competent, and got the bleeding from Seven's cuts stopped and clean bandages applied. Moments later, several carriages from the palace arrived, and Queen Na'Omi, Prime Minister Hatoyama, Duke Togawa, his son, Prince Kento, and others, including several young ladies in royal dress, stepped out. The Queen rushed over to Seven, nearly hysterical, and said, "Toma! Toma! Are you injured? Are you alright?!"   Toma replied, "Yes, Queen Na'Omi. Please, don't worry. I am fine. Fortunately, I just have a couple of insignificant cuts that will heal quickly. I've had much worse."   Rounding on Prince Jinhai, the Queen said, "How could you let this happen to my son, Toma? You insisted on taking him out. I never should have allowed it!"   Flushing, the Prince retorted, "Queen Na'Omi. Seven is my bodyguard. Of course, he would go out with me when I order him to do so!"   Seeing that the situation between an emotional mother and a prince whose dignity was wounded could deteriorate quickly, Prime Minister Hatoyama stepped in and said, "My Queen, Prince Jinhai, at this fraught moment discussing the status of Toma is perhaps not wise. I would like to hear what happened, if you please, Prince Jinhai."   Prince Jinhai recounted how Seven had been clubbed on the back of the head, nearly knocking him out, then attacked by five armed thugs, but while on the ground, stunned and unarmed, Seven had disabled three of the thugs and killed another, while Prince Jinhai had killed one with his dagger. Two of the disabled thugs had recovered enough to run off, two were dead, and the guards had taken one, mouth full of broken teeth and jaw shattered, into custody for interrogation. Prime Minister Hatoyama noticed Prince Kento looking pale and sweating as he stared wide-eyed at Prince Toma.   One of the young ladies, quite pretty, wearing an elaborate royal silk dress and adorned with fine jewelry piped up, "Oh, Prince Toma! You are so strong! Thank Elysium you are safe! I just can't imagine how you are so brave to fight those awful thugs all by yourself! We are all glad that your son wasn't hurt more seriously, Queen Na'Omi!" The other girls tittered and nodded in agreement. The Queen thanked her politely, but not warmly. Prince Jinhai hid a smile behind his hand as Seven flushed at her effusive praise. He noticed that Prince Kento was scowling angrily as she spoke. Prime Minister Hatoyama glared at the girl and said, "Not now, Mikai!" He went on, "Queen Na'Omi, I suggest we get back to the palace. Prince Jinhai, Prince Toma, we will investigate this and get you answers. I will see to it personally." Duke Togawa, his voice like a thunderstorm, said to the Queen, "By the nine hells of the Void, we will find out who is behind this, Jenmei!" She replied, "Attacking my son cannot stand, Kenji! I don't care who is behind it, I will skin him alive personally!"   The two princes and the rest of them climbed into the carriages, and they went back to the palace.   Late that night, the busted-up thug that the guards had taken into custody died mysteriously in his cell. The doctor that examined him said the cause of death was the serious injuries Seven had inflicted on him, but they hadn't seemed to be enough to kill him.  
  The next day, Prime Minister Hatoyama arrived at Duke Togawa's manor early in the morning and was announced. The Duke told his attendant, "Let him in. Hatoyama must want to talk about what happened yesterday."   When the Prime Minister entered the Duke's study he said, "Ah, Duke Togawa. Good morning. I need to have a word with you. Privately, please. It is very important."   The Duke said to his attendant and the other servants, "Everyone out. Close the door behind you." The attendants left, leaving the two men alone in the Duke's study. The Duke said, "Okay. Out with it, Hatoyama. What is so important that you came here this early."   The Prime Minister said, "Surely, Duke, you are not so dull that you don't realize who was behind yesterday's attack on Prince Toma and Prince Jinhai?"   The Duke replied, "Just speak plainly, Hatoyama. I don't have the patience for word games."   "Very well, Duke Togawa. Your son, Prince Kento, arranged for those assassins to attack the two Princes. The assassins your son hired were known to be deadly in the extreme, but both they and your son greatly underestimated the capabilities of Prince Toma and Prince Jinhai, and now three of them are dead and the other two are probably quite severely injured."   "What? Impossible! Kento can be impulsive, but he is not that foolish! You cannot slander him like this, Hatoyama! I will not allow it!" The Duke was furious.   "Duke Togawa," Prime Minister Hatoyama continued, reasonable and unflappable as always. "The assassin that was captured gave quite clear testimony to me alone that Prince Kento's attendant met with him and the other assassins and paid them a considerable sum to take action. Unfortunately for him, his injuries proved to be fatal, and he died very soon after I, uh, encouraged him to tell the truth, and so he will not provide that testimony to anyone else."   Stunned by what the Prime Minister Hatoyama said, the Duke's fury abated as quickly as it had arisen. He said humbly, "Thank you, Makoto. I sincerely thank you."   Prime Minister Hatoyama replied, "You are most welcome, Kenji, but make no mistake. I did not do you or your son any favors. I merely ensured that Queen Na'Omi and Chessa suffered no embarrassment or humiliation. Now, if you will excuse me, I must be going. May I suggest, Kenji, that you keep your son on a very short leash." The Prime Minister turned and left. After he did, Duke Togawa yelled out to his attendant, "Get Kento in here! Now!"  
  On his bed in Togawa Manor, Prince Kento writhed in pain. His father had beaten him more severely than he had ever beaten him before. Kento protested that he had nothing to do with the attacks on the Princes, but his father had just beaten him more, shouting, "So, now you will add lying to your crimes! I should beat you to death!"   Prince Kento yelled out, "You cannot! Father, I am heir to the throne! You cannot beat me to death!" Even more infuriated, his father screamed at him, "You are heir to nothing unless I say so! Do you understand? Nothing! Your stupidity will destroy our family! Now stay here until I allow you to leave and think about what you have done! Guards! Kento is not allowed to leave his room unless I say so. I have ordered it!"   "Yes, sir," the two guards responded. They hauled Prince Kento back to his quarters, dumped him on his bed, then locked the door behind them as they left.   As Kento laid there, he stewed over what happened. He had no idea that Toma was so skilled and capable. He couldn't deny that now. He certainly wouldn't underestimate him again. Regardless, Toma was still not the legitimate heir. It dawned on him. Toma must be a spy! A highly-trained imposter sent to fool Queen Na'Omi into handing Chessa over to Senyon! It made complete sense! Why couldn't everyone else see it? Why couldn't Mikai see it? Prince Kento was disgusted by Hime Mikai's foolish infatuation with Toma. He thought she was smarter than that.  
  "Oh mother! He's even more wonderful that I thought! You should have seen him! I have never seen a more handsome man in all my life! He's tall, and strong, and so brave! He fought all those nasty thugs by himself, and saved that other prince's life! I spoke up for him, mother, and I think he even smiled at me a little!"   "Mikai," Lady Hatoyama replied, "Your father told me exactly what happened, and how you spoke inappropriately, embarrassing him and our family in front of the Queen and the Princes. That 'other prince' you are talking about is Crown Prince Jinhai of Senyon! He is heir to the throne of a powerful and wealthy country, and he must not be offended. Do you understand me?"   "Yes mother," Hime Mikai responded sullenly. "I know who he is. But he's nothing like Prince Toma. He's just a tall bookworm, but Toma"   "Mikai! Prince Jinhai killed one of the assassins himself and maybe saved Prince Toma's life. The situation was nothing like you are imagining it," Lady Hatoyama said. "Your father described to me what happened quite clearly."   "Mother, you just can't understand! He's just like a dream! There's never been another man like him, ever! I will never love anyone else," Hime Mikai sighed. Her mother rolled her eyes at her. It must have been her father spoiling her that made her like this, Lady Hatoyama was convinced.  
  Back in the Queen's palace, the tension between Queen Na'Omi and Prince Jinhai continued over the next few days, and finally boiled over.   "Prince Jinhai, with respect, I will not allow Prince Toma to be endangered like that again! He will remain in the palace under my protection unless I give him leave to go out!" Queen Na'Omi was still furious that Seven had been attacked.   "Queen Na'Omi," Prince Jinhai retorted, "I must refuse your command. While we are guests in Chessdo, I must remind you that we are here under the diplomatic banner of Senyon, and unless and until I release him, Seven is my bodyguard and will remain so. In addition, I must remind you that I, Crown Prince of Senyon, was also endangered while in your capital, and that my father, the Emperor of Senyon, will be very unhappy to hear of it!"   The Queen was furious. "Do not threaten us, Prince Jinhai!" She was nearly shouting.   Prince Jinhai said, "I find your hospitality has become less than satisfactory, Queen Na'Omi. We will return to our quarters and prepare to return to Senyon at daybreak tomorrow morning. I warn you not to attempt to stop us from leaving. Such a thing could cause an extreme reaction from my father, and I know you would not want to suffer that. Come, Seven. We are leaving."   Seven was heartbroken. He didn't know what to do. Tears leaked from his eyes. Prime Minister Hatoyama attempted to recover the situation, "Please, Prince Jinhai. My Queen. Let's think long-term here and not let our emotions prevail. Enmity between our two countries benefits no one."   Queen Na'Omi said, "My patience is gone, Prime Minister! Let Prince Jinhai return home, but Prince Toma must stay!"   The Prime Minister shook his head sadly. "My Queen. This. This does not help."   Seven bowed deeply to the Queen, tears running down his cheeks for perhaps the first time in his life. He said, "Queen Na'Omi. Mother? I'm sorry. I...I...I...I cannot be Prince Toma. Not now. Not yet. I don't know who I am anymore. I must go now. Please. I beg you. Do not try to stop me. People will only get hurt." He turned and followed Prince Jinhai out. As he left, the Queen called out, "Toma! Please!" But he didn't turn back.   Back at their quarters, Prince Jinhai was still agitated. He goaded Seven, treating him like a common servant. "Hurry up and pack our things, Seven. We need to be ready to go at dawn tomorrow morning. Hurry! I can't get away from that ingrateful woman soon enough!"   "Sire," Seven said carefully and quietly, cheeks still wet from his tears. "She is my mother. She's just concerned about me. For her, I am her hope come back to life. No one else has ever been so concerned about me."   "Well, Seven, I've been concerned," said Prince Jinhai. "I've treated you well, haven't I? I saved your life! And you're still my bodyguard. I need you as much as she does!"   Seven said, "I am forever grateful, Sire, but it isn't the same. I don't think you understand. I don't think that you can understand. Not completely, anyway."   Prince Jinhai said impatiently, "Whatever, Seven. Just get our things packed and ready. We're leaving as soon as we can tomorrow morning, whether the Queen likes it or not. I'm done here. This mission has failed." It was the first time Prince Jinhai had ever said that any of their missions together had failed. Silently, utterly downhearted, Seven packed their belongings.  
  That night, Seven - Prince Toma - disappeared without a trace, vanishing as only a Gasyendithite master could.   The next day, after exchanging a few more heated words, Queen Na'Omi and Prince Jinhai both realized that neither of them knew where Seven had gone, and they both regretted the rash behavior the previous few days that had caused him to leave without a word to either of them. It took some skillful diplomatic effort by the Prime Minister and some apologies, but they managed to mostly patch up their relationship, to Prime Minister Hatoyama's great relief.   "Prince Jinhai," said the Queen, weeping. "I am deeply regretful for my harsh words to you. I know Toma your best friend and bodyguard. But I do not want to lose my son again! Please, bring him back to me! I am terribly frightened about what will happen to him!"   Prince Jinhai bowed deeply. "Queen Na'Omi, please forgive my foolishness and selfishness. I realize now that neither of us wants to lose Seven - Prince Toma - but for you the loss is much, much greater. I will not insist that he remain with me. I will give him leave to do as he wishes, to stay here in Chessa with you or to return to Senyon. But please, do not worry too much. Seven is much more capable than most anyone realizes. I am certain he will be fine. Now, I ask you to allow me to return home. He may be heading back to Sendoshi to consult with Six, his mentor, and I can talk with him there."   The Queen replied, "Thank you, Prince Jinhai. You have my leave. If you find Toma, please tell him that I miss him and want him to come back to me! Chessa needs him! I need him!"   "I will do so, Queen Na'Omi. Farewell. May we meet again under happier circumstances," said the Prince.   "Goodbye, Prince Jinhai. May your travels be swift and without trouble," said the Queen. "Please come to visit us again."  
  Duke Togawa arrived at Prince Kento's quarters and slammed open the door. "Well, are you happy?" he said to Kento. "Prince Toma has disappeared, and the Queen is beside herself with grief."   Prince Kento replied, "Oh, I am so very sorry to hear that, father." He smirked, and Duke Togawa said, "You'd better wipe that grin off your face before I..."   Prince Kento interrupted, "Why are you upset, father? That 'prince' is an imposter. I've figured it out! Senyon somehow learned about the Queen's loss and created a spy to fool Queen Na'Omi into believing he is the lost prince. Later, if he is made king, he will hand over Chessa to Senyon. Chessa will be gone! But I figured it out. They didn't count on me being so smart and seeing what they are up to, but I did!"   The Duke shook his head, somewhat concerned. "No, Kento. My son. That is ridiculous. I was there when the Queen realized Prince Jinhai's bodyguard was her son. I helped identify him. The king's old eunuch recognized him and the tatoo on his neck. He is the Queen's son. There is no doubt."   "I don't believe it, father! He is a spy, an imposter sent here to betray us all and destroy Chessa! I know it! I am the rightful crown prince, and I will protect our country!" Prince Kento raved. Now alarmed about Kento's wild thoughts, Duke Togawa said, "Calm down, Kento. Nothing like that is happening. Just stay here and rest." After he left, Duke Togawa said to his attendant, "Get a doctor in here to see Kento. Something isn't right." His attendant replied, "Yes, sir. I will see to it immediately."  
  Hime Mikai burst into her mother's chambers, crying hysterically. "Mother! Mother! He's gone! My husband, Prince Toma, is gone, and no one can find him! What will I do without him! I can't go on!"   "Just how in the nine hells of the Void did I have a daughter like this?" Lady Hatoyama thought to herself. "Mikai," she said. "Come to your senses. Prince Toma is not your husband. You will be fine without him, just as you have been all along."   "No, mother. I can't imagine the world without him! He must come back to me! I think I'm going to faint!" Mikai swooned dramatically, and several of the maids ran over yelling, "Hime Mikai! Hime Mikai!" Lady Hatoyama watched the show, not knowing if she should be amused or concerned about her daughter's mental state. It was hard to tell some days.  
  Tired, hungry, and thinner than he had been when he left Chessdo a month and a half before, Seven arrived at Xosuyel Vold Monastery. He pounded on the gate, and after a couple of minutes, a Gasyendithite monk opened the gate. Seven said, "I am Cao Qigong, a follower of Gasyenditha returning home and seeking refuge. May I enter?"  
  To be continued...  

This story continues the adventures of Crown Prince Yixing-Jiumin Jinhai and Cao Qigong, otherwise known as "Seven," his faithful companion and bodyguard. This story directly follows the events of The Queen's Lost Son, and further describes the relationships of Crown Prince Jinhai, Seven, Queen Jenmei Na'Omi, Princess Yixing-Jiumin Jinyat, Amalie Nilsson, Lady Britta Nilsson, and others of the Imperial Family of the Great Sacred Empire, and the royalty of Chessa. Several new characters are introduced that will have roles in future stories. Enjoy!

Cover image: by Peter Nelson (Zero Sum Games)


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Apr 6, 2024 14:52

So far, pretty fun. I like that it wasn't Kento's little plot that drove Seven/Toma away, but his mother and best friend (two people likely a bit too used to getting their way) getting possessive and overprotective over him in response to it. Curious where Kento and Mikai end up going seeing as neither seem the best mentally right now. ----------------------------------------------------------------   Feel free to check out my entrie: Out Of The Dungeon And Through The Forest