The Lost Prince (part 4)

THREE

I’ve noticed a change in how people here have been looking at me lately. The embarrassment is still there, but there’s an element of wariness that’s new. I’ll have to do something about that. Apparently one of the princesses has been talking about me. Not with the disdain I’ve been careful to cultivate, but with something approaching fear.

This will not do.

I’ve been maintaining this feckless image specifically so nobody will take me seriously. Sure, it may initially have been a side-product of a debauched lifestyle, but that sort of thing pales eventually. Even in a palace, sooner or later one has sampled all the pleasures on offer. I tell you, it’s been hard work to keep up the hedonistic facade. Still, it’s worth the effort to avoid being caught up in the power games. That’s what’s left when pleasure fades. The whole palace reeks of ambition. And with my brothers and sisters numbering in the dozens, the field of play is all around.

Of course, I have one advantage they don’t. However much they may be rivals, they’re still a family. Their grudges are tempered by the remnants of old affection, and that makes them weak. They underestimate me because they think I lack both affection and grudges. They’re only half right.

It’s still too early to move against one of them openly. Still, I need to do something about Cassandra before she has everybody taking me seriously. Fortunately, she has her own weaknesses. She’s almost as much of an embarrassment to them as I am.


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