Taboo

High Prince James Viante Montaine Del Timeria De’Arc is exactly what he seems. The spoiled, unprincipled son of the most powerful man in the known world, his whole life is presented to him on a golden platter, his every wish carefully tended to, his every command fulfilled. Conversely, Dante is a Taboo child, his very existence a sin, his life a crime punishable only by death. But Dante has one thing James wants more than anything - an adventure like those in the old stories, a time without the ever-present boredom that threatens to strangle James. And for this gift, the wealthy boy is willing to pay any price, break any oath, destroy anyone and everyone in his way.

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3. He.

 The world turned as it always did, each day fading into the next, distinguishable only because some long-dead man gave each a number. A number of sunrises, a number of sunsets. A number of days the world had existed, of times that same exact sun had gone round its same exact course.
 From this number, many others were distinguishable. The number of years in a life, of breaths in a year, of summers and of winters, and the nights in each season. Hours in a day, days in a span, spans in a moon, moons in a season, seasons in a year. Life, it seemed sometimes, was made up of endless lists of numbers.
 But the numbers themselves, as well as those things unlucky enough to be designated by them, bored him. Life itself, it seemed, bored him. It repeated, day after dreary day, just like that idiotic sun he mocked, too stupid to realize that it was trapped in an endless loop, that no matter how fast it ran it would never escape.
 His life was like that. But he, at least, realized it. He knew that his circle was fixed, that his course set, his life plotted and planned and chosen for him. He’d have no freedom, had no freedom, would never have freedom, until the day he died.
 Still, James knew he did not have to make things easy for them, and he took full advantage of this fact, as well as his knowledge of his own invincibility. None stood against him, argued against him, withheld anything from him. Having everything he wanted, however, had proven to be just as boring as having nothing at all, and so James forced himself to enjoy his position in moderation.
 But damn was he bored. Nine million, two-hundred fifty-one thousand, seven-hundred and eight minutes does that to you. The fact that he’d bothered to count his life in minutes, to calculate his seventeen-odd years out, proved that fact more accurately than any moaning ever could. And still the same sun ran its same path, wound its same way across the same sky, visible from the same windows and the same courtyards of the same castle, in the same city, in the center of the same kingdom, ruled by the same man with the same bored son his wife had brought into the world seventeen years ago.
 “Good morning, my Prince,” his tutor sighed in that same irritating way of his, as if he were sucking air down his throat rather than forcing it out between those same disgusting toothless gums of his. James nodded to him, forcing his own retort back through perfect, white teeth. “I see you are in a fine mood today! Perhaps your Highness would be tempted to turn his attention to his studies?”
 “What would you have me learn today, Frederick?” James put on his best court smile – the one that made girls swoon, their chaperones scowl, and their suitors reach for weapons. It had, unfortunately, little effect on the shriveled gentleman before him. “Something new today? Or perhaps the same lessons as yesterday?”
 Tutor Frederick, at least, had the gall to look shocked. “Why, something new, of course.” He gestured toward the library with his gnarled cane, the one James had always wanted to snap, ever since he was a child. It really didn’t look like it would take much. A small twist of his wrist, and the thing would shatter, just like the old man who leaned upon it. In fact, the two did look markedly similar. “Perhaps, if your Highness would like, we could delve into the histories behind your empire? Or perhaps you would like to learn of the origins of your family name?”
 James, for his part, would certainly have enjoyed such a discussion, had he been in a better mood, more inclined toward learning in general, or at least gracious enough to pretend he was. However, this particular morning, he was feeling quite testy, and mocking Frederick seemed much better sport than an old, dusty tome. “Ah, Tutor, you disappoint me. Those things which you would have me learn, which you would teach me, they are not new things. You promised me something new!”
 The birdlike man appeared genuinely puzzled at this and scratched his bald scalp idly. “Well, my Prince, what about mathematics then? You do have a way with numbers. Or sciences? Astronomy, perhaps? It is quite a rising field, called Star Divination or some such amongst the younger crowd.”
 “And what crowd might that be, Frederick? Younger to you may still be older than my late grandfather, ascended himself to those same stars.” James smiled and rose from his perch on the windowsill, patting the bare flesh stretched taught over his tutor’s thick skull. “And mathematics are quite lost on me today, I am afraid. I feel the need for action, not for books. Besides, I wish to learn something new.”
 “What would you have me teach you, Prince James? You will not hear of ancient knowledge, which is all I have to give. And the honorable Captain has been called upon by the king today, so he will not be available for sparring lessons.”
 “Johnas is busy?” James smiled, this time in truth, the grin splitting his face in half with glee. “Now, Frederick, you have struck the matter in the heart. Tell me, dear Tutor, where has my father sent his personal guard off to?” When the old man hesitated, James threw an arm about his shoulders, his spirit still higher than it had been in quite some time. This, he sensed, would be quite an adventure, if only he could learn the location of it. “Come now, my old friend, you have finally found something new to teach me! Do not spoil the lesson before it has even begun!”
 “Ah, my Prince, you know I cannot disappoint you. But be warned, for some lessons are writ in blood, the price of knowing them much too steep for men such as myself. Your father will be very angry at us both if I should tell you.”
 “Let my father be angry then! Tell me true: Where is Johnas? You see, my father cannot fault you for this. Let him rage at me, then, for the action I take with the knowledge you pass to me. That is your duty, is it not?”
 The old man hesitated a moment longer, his eyes darting to and fro across the narrow hall, as if wary of ears and eyes he could not locate. A single servant girl hurried past – human, like all the rest in the castle, for James knew his father distrusted the Lyr too much to employ any of them – her eyes glued to James’ face as she went. He winked at her, the flush spreading over her face instant gratification, and she hurried all the faster for it.
 Finally, when they were alone once more, Tutor Frederick dared speak up. “Captain Johnas Ryman is assembling his men in the Small Yard. They depart at noon.”
 Shrinking into himself, the old man shrugged his head down between his shoulders, effectively erasing his neck, and hobbled away without another word. James smiled after the gnarled old scholar until the man had turned the corner, then dashed for the Yard as fast as his legs would carry him.
 The same sun shone down on the small army of armed soldiers and their metal-encased horses, turning slowly toward its peak. But, it seemed to James, it shone a bit brighter, as if enjoying the excitement he’d discovered, the adventure he’d found a means of immersing himself in.
 

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