The Prince of Algemora: a Short Story (Part 2)

 By Wynn Ithapu

Part 2: Alma and Byane

In the street there are vendors selling spices that burned my nose, fabrics that felt itchy and hot, like that one pair of gloves at the bottom of the drawer that no one wants to wear, even someone selling pottery, jars and pots, that looked like they were made by a toddler. We rush past all of it. I say rush but with one person on crutches for the first time and one person trying to lay low, It was really more of a speedy trot. We hustled through town and by the time we made it to Alma’s house, It was almost supper time. I needed to get back to the palace soon or my father would get worried. Not for my safety, but for the sake of the family's reputation. 

I knock on the door. 

“Gael!” cries Alma, who answered the door. “I was hoping you’d visit soon! I was getting worried that that father of yours locked you up again. Come in! Come in! Byane’s making supper.'' We walk into the kitchen and Byane is behind the stove boiling potatoes. She smiles. Her dirty blonde hair pulled up behind her head. She is 17 years old, but worry lines make her face look much older.

“Gael, who's your friend here?” she asks as I pull out a chair for Ava to sit.

“I’m Ava,” she responds, Then she turns towards me, “I thought you said your name was Calen?” she asks 

“That's the name I use around town,” I say. “My real name is Gael. Prince Galen if you might,” I respond dramatically. I add a smile and an eye roll after the bow so she knows I’m joking. It works, and she giggles, then the smile fades and she looks worried, like she just had a disturbing realization. 

“Wait… Prince Gael, who lives in the palace on the hill, who’s kind and fair and just, and slayed the ogre in the woods. The prince Gael from the book? The Prince Gael who was an… an elf.”

The room went silent.

“You say elf as if it's unusual,” I say eventually.

“Well yeah. I mean, Elves are creatures from storybooks. They’re not real, right?” She replies. I’m not sure what to do, but when I look out the window, the sun is beginning to set. I curse under my breath.

“I need to get back. My father will lock me in my room with Balin for years if he catches me. Alma, you can take care of Ava for the night?” I ask.

“Of course.” she says. “Come on my dear. Let's get you changed. you’ll stand out like a sore thumb in those clothes. And any decent elf wouldn’t name their daughter Ava. How about Arwyn?” her voice trails away as she guides Ava up the stairs.

“I’ll be back as soon as I can.” I assure Byane. Then I hurry out the door and sprint through the woods to get back to the castle.