This story is by Luke Nelson, who was part of Write Summer camp for young writers. You can find all the stories by Write Summer writers here. If you’re a young write age 7 to 14 and would like to participate in Write Summer camp, you can find out all the details here.
Minc ran down the streets of the village. Had the messenger been right? Was his father, the king, really dead? His father lived in the North Tower, he had to get there fast. He was close now, 10-feet separated him from his father’s quarters. Minc raced up the steps taking them two at a time. “Father!” he cried, Father!” Minc stopped with his hand on the door, scared of what he might find inside. Just as he was about to turn the handle his Father’s guard, Landle, stepped up behind him. He spoke in a deep, rich, kind voice, “He’s dead Minc, your father is gone.”
Minc sat on the edge of his father’s bed thinking of the family he’d lost. The memories rose like bread to the surface of his thoughts: the day his parents told him the story of his aunt’s death in childbirth and his uncle’s disappearance, his father crying after his mother died, the day of her funeral… and now his father’s funeral in just a few hours. So much loss.
“Price Minc,” Landle’s kind voice stirred him from his thoughts. “It’s time for the funeral.”
Chapter Two-The Funeral
Minc sat in the front pew of the church with Limestone and Ember. They were his brothers, but he had never been close to them. As the funeral started, a man in fancy clothes walked up the stairs onto the stage and positioned himself in front of the open casket.
“As you all know,” he began, “Mossbrick needs a new monarch. Sadvern the Just is dead and we find ourselves without a king. Unfortunately, the man who killed the king also destroyed the records of birth. Now that the King and Queen have both passed, no one knows who was born first. Normally, this would be easy enough to tell, but as the princes are triplets, we don’t have a clear heir. We have decided to hold a tournament to determine who will be the next king. It will consist of three challenges and whoever wins the majority will our new king.”
The rest of the funeral passed with many shed tears and little laughter and when it was all over Minc wandered up to bed, one thought in his mind: I want to be king; I want to win.
Chapter Three-The Tournament
Minc woke up the next day excited and dreaming about the tournament ahead of him, for he wanted to win the first match. The tournament was being held out on the archery range, where there was a large open space. When he arrived, Minc saw that wooden benches had been placed all around the field and Limestone, Ember and Phoenix, the head of the council and therefore the judge, were all getting ready to start.
“Match one is archery! Ember will go first.” cried Phoenix in a loud, croaky voice.
Minc’s heart sank, “I’m no good at archery,” he mumbled under his breath.
“Contestants, line up to your target.” Phoenix said. Ember drew back, aimed, and fired. His arrow hit the target with a thwack burying itself between the first and second rings.
“Next, Limestone!” cried Phoenix. Limestone got ready and shot his arrow and it hit the edge of the bullseye.
“Ok, Minc, your turn.” Minc took aim, his heart thumping like his body was a drum. Minc fitted an arrow to the bow and let it fly.
Minc’s arrow hit the bullseye, he’d won!
“Mink wins challenge one.” Phoenix said. “The tournament shall recommence tomorrow.”
As the crowd dispersed, Minc made his way back to the tower. But, as he was walking, he saw a door standing ajar that he had never noticed before. He went over and peered inside.
“What’s in there?” asked Ember, coming up behind him.
“I have no idea,” replied Minc, “I haven’t seen this door before.”
“Neither have I,” added Limestone joining them.
“Why don’t we go in and check it out? Maybe there’s something cool inside,” said Minc.
“Ok,” they both agreed.
They had been walking down secret corridors and steep staircases for over an hour and hadn’t found anything. They were all very tired and about ready to turn back when a passage led them into a circular room full of old rocking chairs and dusty paintings covered in sheets.
“Well, this was a waste,” Limestone remarked, “we’ve been walking for hours and all we found was the castle basement.” Just then, they heard someone coming down the stairs.
“Quick, hide, somebody’s coming”, Mink said, his voice a hissing whisper. They scurried behind a tapestry with a golden frame. Moments later Phoenix entered the room and removed the cover from a painting of a lady holding a baby. The portrait read, “Prince Minc and his mother, Princess Sarah Lammen. Minc gasped and Ember quickly clasped a hand over Minc’s mouth, silencing him. Phoenix looked around suspiciously but then shrugged and left.
As they walked back, Ember and Limestone asked Minc if he had known his Aunt Sarah was actually his mother. He hadn’t, his mind was spinning with this news. This meant his Uncle Edvard, who had disappeared, was his dad. When they emerged, Phoenix was there.
“So, you were what I heard, you’ve seen too much,” he said, and he seized them and took them back to his office where he tied them up.
“Why, and how, are you doing this?” Minc asked and then he was gagged as were Ember and Limestone.
“Well,” Phoenix started, “I’m doing it because I was hired to disrupt the tournament, and I have information that enables me to do that. I was entrusted with swapping out the babies at birth. Your mother wanted you to be happy. When she realized she was dying, she had me swap you with one of your aunt’s triplets, the one that was stillborn. And by doing so your aunt, the queen, had her triplets and you had a mother. Now, you all stay here while I go tell the council that Minc is disqualified as he is no longer a son of the king.
Chapter Five-The Henchman
“Quick! I did it, you can too, bite through it!” Limestone said through his tattered gag. Soon they were all free from their bonds.
“Ok,” said Ember, “I want to be king, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to play dirty like Phoenix. Limestone, why don’t we try to help our cousin here.”
“I’m in,” replied Limestone.
Minc started, “Guys, why don’t we all be kings? We could make group decisions and that way we won’t have to fight.”
“Good idea,” said Ember.
“Yes,” Limestone agreed.
“Ok, then,” continued Minc, “we have to stop Phoenix, I have a plan.”
“What?” asked Limestone.
“Well, we could wait until tomorrow to make him think that we aren’t going to do anything to fight back. You guys can go down to the tournament without me and spread a rumor that I’m sulking in my room. Phoenix will have already told the council about my true mother and disqualified me. He is determined to undermine the tournament. I think he’s going to make up stuff about you to disqualify both of you as well and bringing the tournament to a halt during the second match. I will sneak into the council room (while they suspect me in my room) and write a new law in the book saying that any who are raised by the king are considered equal to the king’s own sons and eligible to rule. Then, we will form the Council of Kings and dissolve the current council, removing Phoenix’s power.”
Chapter Six-The Council of Kings
Minc met Ember and Limestone the next morning in the tallest tower to go over the plan again. Once they had been down at the tournament for five minutes, Minc made his way down to the field, snuck past the guards and into the council room. The rule book lay on a table in the council study but there was a guard there. Minc stopped at the doorway, his back against the wall, and picked up a small stone from the floor and threw it outside. The guard went outside to see what made the sound and Minc dashed in. He threw open the book to the next blank page and was about to write, but the rule on the page prior stopped him. It read that if you were raised by the king, you were in equal status with the king’s sons. The rule was already there – Phoenix had lied about his disqualification! Minc slipped out the back door just before the study guard returned.
Minc just had time to disguise himself and join the audience before Limestone disarmed Ember and the match ended. As soon as Phoenix came out to award Limestone a point, Limestone slid his sword up to Phoenix’s throat. The crowd gasped and, right on cue, Minc leapt on stage pulling of the cloak and started to speak.
“Fellow inhabitants of Mossbrick. I, Prince Minc, bring you a traitor. Phoenix, our council leader, has been keeping the secret information about my heritage from all of us for many years. Not me, as he led you to believe. I have just discovered that there was already a law that says whoever is brought up by the King is an eligible heir, not only his sons. Phoenix has kept this from you as well. He told me himself that he was hired, by whom I don’t know, to slow the tournament, so that our kingdom could be taken over while we don’t have a king. Me and my brothers, for I count them as my brothers, propose starting a tradition in the kingdom of not one, but three kings. We want to form the Council of Kings and we shall then dissolve Phoenix’s corrupt council and turn over in the kingdom a new, pure, leaf! “
Minc ended his speech loudly and to much applause. The Council of Kings was formed and there was, for the rest of that day, a feast in which a coronation was held. There was a green crown for Limestone, red for Ember and white for Minc. The banners were changed to those colors with a silver mink on them, which was the seal of the Mossbrick Kingdom. Three spectacular gold thrones were placed in the throne room.
Minc walked slowly down the path to the jail where Phoenix was being held. Ember and Limestone were already there. They had asked Minc to be the head of the Council, so he took charge.
“Minc, do you want to question him?” asked Ember.
“Sure,” Minc replied. Turning to Phoenix, he asked, “Who hired you to help overthrow the kingdom?”
“I will never tell!” Phoenix spat back glaring at Minc.
“Ok, we’ll come back to that,” Minc said. “Ember, do you want a go?”
“Yes,” he answered. “How and when is he going to try to take over the kingdom?” he asked Phoenix.
Phoenix looked up at them and laughed, “He’s on his way now, I can feel it, and when he arrives, he will crush your kingdom!!”
Sure enough, just then, Minc felt the slightest vibration coming from outside the city gates in the wastelands and growing stronger. The three kings rushed up onto the battlements, dragging Phoenix with them, and what they saw terrified them. A vast army covered the horizon, less than a day’s journey away. A massive bird was circling high above. Suddenly, a metal spike shot towards them from the bird, hitting Phoenix in the neck and killing him instantly. Minc quickly motioned for the others to duck down and pulled out the spike. It had a note fastened to it. Minc pulled it out and read:
I will crush your puny kingdom. I declare war!!!
Minc looked up, his face grave, “Ember, gather the soldiers. Limestone, the generals. We’re going to war.”