And white sand on the beaches, being beaten by the untiring waves of the infinite ocean.
That was all he seemed to ever see.
Steel eyes stared out into the space where the chilly blue water leaned on the bright sky, but still this wonder remained unknown to him though he was already eighteen. He could see it from the balcony hanging on his tall room, white bricks piecing it together like a puzzle that kept him in his cage. He spent lots of his time here alone. Here, where the salty wind embraced him in its firm warmth.
"Your highness," A voice spoke with a strange, almost snake-like tongue. But he had grown so used to it, the sound had become one of the few voices he heard enough to recognize the speaker without seeing them.
"Gilbert," He replied simply without turning around. He just kept leaning on the railing of his balcony, staring out towards the ocean. "What is it?"
"Your highness," The albino repeated again. "Your father wishes to speak to you."
The other man sighed, standing up straight in a uncommonly proper manner that seemed to come with instinct now. When he turned around, he could see the king's trusted advisor standing in his room.
He wore all black, pants and shirt, along with his own crooked grin. It stretched across his pale face and his silver hair shined in the bright sunlight that kissed the young man on the balcony's tan skin.
"Very well then, take me to him."
They walked together, the prince and the advisor, to the golden throne where the king was most often found. On their way, the albino was busy saying something the young prince didn't quite catch. Something about rules or laws and big responsibilities. But he hardly heard a word of it and walked alongside the other in his own world that he liked to spend most of his time.
"Alfred! Do you hear me boy!"
The young prince was reeled back into reality as he found he stood in front of his father sitting, like normal, on the red cushions comforting the golden throne.
"Yes, father. What do you need?" His words came out bored and not too concerned, drowned with eerie dullness though he was usually bouncy and free. His blue eyes stared up at the older royalty still, though the normally lighthearted king held a serious appearance.
"Alfred, my son, I have to talk to you about something very important. Everyone! Leave the room at once, only the three of us must remain." The king announced, watching maids and even guards flock out of the room in rush to obey.
Still, the Prussian known Gilbert grinned, though Alfred's eyes grew narrow as he watched everyone leave and watched the large, double doors but they never moved again.
The king's serious face faded into one of soft apology as if he regretted everything before he even said it. "Alfred, please listen, though you may not like what you hear..."
"What is it?" The teen urged, staring back into his father's eyes with new seriousness. He wanted to know what was so private or so important.
It was silent for a few moments as if the older man was trying to collect his thoughts and choose the right words, but in the end, they came out to be the worst.
"You have to get married by your ninetieth birthday in two month or the throne will be given to one of your cousins."
So, he had been serious all those times in the past years. His father always told him to pick a nice girl and even brought a few women to the castle to see him. Each of them were gorgeous, the country's finest, and even some from others. But each was turned down and stormed out of the castle in offense and disbelief.
His father always asked him why he never picked one of the beautiful girls he was sent but Alfred always just told him none of them were for him.
Then he would tell his father he'd be more likely to find a girl he liked if he were to go out and find one himself, but he was forbidden to leave the castle walls. He always had been and he supposed he always would be
"Your majesty," Gilbert spoke after the young prince was stunned with shock and grinned up at the saddened king. "If I may address, if Sir Alfred idoesn't/i find a suitable bride in time…there is always one alternative."
"An alternative? To getting married?" Alfred asked hopefully.
"Well, not exactly…" The albino glanced over at him with the same strange face. "It has always been in the law that besides marrying a spouse, the prince or princess may marry…the trusted advisor…you know, even just temporarily until he does find a suitable princess to take as his own."
"No way! I'm not marrying iGilbert!/i" Alfred hissed in disbelief. Truthfully, he hated the man. Alfred always felt a bizarre danger whenever he was around and kept a watchful eye on him.
"Well, Alfred, since you refuse every girl that comes in here, we hardly have a choice!" The King cried desperately. "But it'll simply be temporary until you do have a bride! But the law clearly states you must be wed by your ninetieth birthday. Alfred, I'm not going to be around much longer, and your mother is no longer here either, but you can't rule without a partner."
Alfred was shaking and felt the awkward glares of the albino on him. "Well why not!"
"Because it's in the law, Alfred! You know that! You've always known that! But, instead of doing something about it, you-"
"I'm not marrying Gilbert!"
"Then I suggest you pick one of the suitors I send to you this month! Now leave me be, both of you!"
That was that then. He had to marry some selfish, money-grubbing woman he'd never met before and didn't love. That, or marry a man much older than himself that he'd spent his entire life despising.
The prince was once again leaning on his balcony, but the day was quickly being eaten away as the dark claws of night crawling across the sky.
Those were his choices? He had no say, really, no way to pick his own fate?
An unloved woman…
Or a suspicious man…
Those were his choices.
He couldn't refuse to marry, his father was already sick and his age was catching up to him. It was almost like losing his mother all over again years ago and it made decision making all the more difficult and worrying. But if he refused to marry and the crown went to his cousins, he'd be outcast, mocked, and only shame and his shadow would ever accompany him for the rest of his life.
By now only the stars and the full moon lit up the dark sky. The air cooled but still carried its salty perfume.
No…he wouldn't be forced to do this. He wouldn't be a shame on the kingdom or his father either.
Jerking upward suddenly, he ran into his vast room, collecting only a few items in a brown bag that he swung over his shoulder and pulling on a long cloak that he often wore outside in the winter or when it rained. Of course 'outside' meant within the castle walls that surrounded the palace for protection.
"Sorry dad," He whispered into the cool air, walking out onto his ledge again. The brown bag strapped carefully onto his back. "I won't bring you shame, but I won't have my fate decided for me."
Then, with cautious, easy footing, he started to make his way down by hanging onto the stones of the balcony. Even when he dangled from it, he was too high up to let go.
Growling, he swung his body until he could move under the balcony easier. It was a difficult task, but his fingers and the toes of his shoes forced their ways into the cracks between the stones until he was climbing down and his feet planted onto the grass three stories below.
Quietly, he wiped the sweat off his forehead, thankful he was so naturally athletic that he was able to climb down. Quickly, he ran towards the shadowing trees planted by the castle walls for luscious decoration.
So far so good, and this time he was climbing up and into the tallest tree that hung over the towering wall. He kept moving until he was able to heave himself over the barrier and used the same tactic to climb down it as he did on the castle. When he reached the bottom, he made a quick survey around before sprinting towards the buildings that made up the large city surrounding the royal housing.
He was tired already; all the climbing and sneaking across the wide yard while trying not to be seen by any guards wore his body out. But his legs kept going, carrying him further and further into the city until he had no idea where he was but he didn't care.
The time he finally stopped he almost fell from limp legs still pushing him forward and he leaned against a brick wall. Heavy breaths retreated in and out of his lips and the sky was turning orange with the birth of a new day and Alfred's new life. He'd been running almost all night? That means they would be discovering his disappearance soon…he had to move again.
He didn't have much time to rest, he had to get his breathing back to normal, find some food or water to reenergize, and start running again.
Feared by all.
This was the life Arthur Kirkland, most feared pirate Captain in the world, had chosen. To pillage and steal whenever he pleased and spend his days sailing across the earth's endless oceans.
Right now, his crew was "restocking" the ship with food, freshwater and other supplies in a royal city.
"Steal from the rich, give to the pirates! Ay, boys!" Arthur laughed with a triumphant grin as they docked, his crew giving an agreeing cheer.
Big cities like this were the best to hit, Arthur had learned. They held the best quality supplies and most money to steal.
"Onward, men! Collect everything we need! We set sail again tonight!" That was Arthur's last announcement before his keen emerald eyes watched his men file off of his ship and into the crowded city.
With a quick sigh, the briny air flowing through his lungs, he marched off the ship himself to meander around the urban space.
It was easy to pickpocket, especially when it was so crowded. Though, Arthur himself, didn't really enjoy being around so many people. He found happiness and relaxation in solitude and being alone in his Captain's room. Still, he had swiped almost ten wallets and four purses already without being caught. Covertly he slithered into an alley where no one could see him counting his new rewards.
Alfred wandered around the city, a bright smile stretching across his tan face. He'd never got to walk around here like this before! The closest he'd ever gotten was riding in parades and waving at everyone and then it was back into the castle to be shut away again.
By now he was in the large market where everyone came to buy fresh food. They were a port city, right on the edge of the ocean, so he saw all different types of fish everywhere and fruits and vegetables of every color of the rainbow. He kept his hood up, wary of any guards that should be lurking around and kept moving deeper into the crowd.
The voices were loud, people yelling over one another and bidding on a nice product wherever Alfred turned. He'd never gotten to do that either, but he supposed that was once thing he could live without. Still, even with all the loud voices and short echoes of footsteps infesting the air, Alfred could hear his stomach howling to be fed and it felt like it was turning inside out inside of him.
He put a hand over it and blushed lightly though no one seemed to notice.
"Ah!" The secret prince exclaimed, setting his sights on a bright red apple sitting on a seller's old, wooden cart.
He hurried to it, picking it up and looking over it quickly. It was perfect! He brought it to his lips eagerly, starting to bite into its juicy form hungrily. When it was down to the core, Alfred looked at it puzzlingly before just setting it back onto the cart and starting to walk away.
"Hey!" Someone shouted near him and he felt a hand grab his shoulder. It spun him around so he was face to face with a man glaring down at him furiously. Alfred grimaced at the man. His round face was a stark red crimson and the only hair he had was rough stubbles on his chin and his unusually messy, thick eyebrows that shot down in anger. Sweat made rivers on his skin like rain and his yellow teeth caused Alfred to cough in disgust as their smell flew towards him as the man yelled.
"You think you just gon' leave and not pay, huh? An' ya have the guts to stick ya trash back on my cart!" He roared, tightening his grip on the younger man.
The man's hands pinched at Alfred's skin and he clenched his teeth. He was strong, naturally, he always had been. But he couldn't cause too much of a scene or the guards would surely come and find him out! Instead he just tried to pull away but the man only tightened his iron grip and yelled louder, causing more and more people to look over at them.
"Pl-Please, let me go!"
"No way! Ya know the punishment for stealin' don't ya?" The man smirked before Alfred could tell him he didn't know, his question was answered. The man let him go, only to grab his wrist before he could scurry away. "Ya hand gets cut off, boy!"
Alfred gasped, nervous sweat poured down his face under the hot, coast sun. "No! Let me go!"
"Someone, get me a guard! Now! I have a thief!"
What was the noise?
It was growing louder and louder by the second and Arthur, having finished counting the stolen money and putting it in his coat pocket, stepped out of the alley to see what the commotion was about.
He pushed his way through the crowd gathered and saw in the middle a young man being held by a larger beat of a man.
The young one, though he had on a cloak and a hood, Arthur could see part of his face and even that was purely handsome. He had tan skin and, from what the pirate could tell, he also had eyes that resembled the ocean he adored so and spent his life sailing. But this boy's ocean seemed lost and Arthur noticed the fear in his eyes. But, it didn't appear so much fear of the man, but something different. What could that be? What was this man hiding?
Quickly, Arthur shoved his way towards them, tapping on the large man's shoulder.
When he turned around, still holding his prisoner, he growled at the short pirate. "What do ya want, scum?"
Arthur could hear a few gasps and murmurs from the crowd around them. Obviously, many of the people here knew who he was. Unfortunately, this man appeared to not be one of them.
"I'd like you to let go of this young man, isir/i." Arthur told him, glaring up at the taller man with a sly smirk though his comment only seemed to make him madder. Alfred yelped as the grip was tightened.
"Why should I let go of some thief?" The man spat back rudely, making Arthur wipe the spit from his face.
The Captain glanced at the young man again, and realized he wasn't breathing when he saw his oceans staring back at him. He shook his head and glared back at the beastly man. "Because, my good man, I said so."
"Ha! Maybe the guards will like catching ya too, pirate!" He laughed, using his free hand to grab at Arthur.
It was pointless though and the pirate easily dodged. Instead of giving in, he reached into his coat and pulled his favorite pistol from its hidden place. Pointing it towards the large man, she grinned cleverly. "Let him go."
The crowd gasped again, those knowing who he was started shouting his name and calling for guards.
But Arthur didn't move from his threatening position, daring the other to try a trick as he cocked his gun. "I said, let him go."
The man hesitated but slowly his grip released Alfred.
"Come here, lad." Arthur motioned him to come stand beside him and Alfred quickly took the offer. The Brit grabbed the other's wrist, not caring that he winced from the pain since it had just been released and he turned and started to run. "Hurry up! The guards are coming and if they catch us, I'm not helping you again!"
Soon, Alfred found himself being dragged through the crowd and suddenly realized why. He could here yelling from behind them and when he looked back, he saw the all too familiar guards chasing after them.
"Kirkland!" One of them yelled. "Kirkland! Stop right there!"
But he didn't and kept pulling the other young man with him until slipping into another alley and watched as the arrogant guards kept running without even realizing they were now chasing after nothing.
Taking in deep breaths, Arthur let Alfred go and leaned on the brick wall behind him.
Alfred did the same before looking up at his savior, getting a good look at him for he first time. And, well, if Alfred could have imagined any savior, it wouldn't have been anything like this man.
He was shorter than Alfred, but very handsome. It actually kind of made Alfred blush but he didn't look away. He wasn't sure if it was because he couldn't or if he just didn't want to, but he studied the other further.
He was obviously a pirate, as the beast of a man had said before, but even though he was in the sun all day, he was slightly pale. That didn't matter though, Alfred thought he looked good with it. Just one of those people that could pull it off.
Besides that, he had great jewels for eyes that reminded Alfred of the wondrous forests and jungles he always wanted to visit and explore but was only able to look at pictures in books. Above those were two oddly large eyebrows but they seemed to fit him much better than the ugly beast of a man's messy, dirty ones did. His hair was a bright blonde, but it seemed to be natural, not bleached by sailing under the hot sun. It was shaggy, and had a messy style, but at least it looked clean. But Alfred had never seen a man with such long hair, he'd only seen the rich really and each of them had expensive haircuts but his savior, not he! His hair was quite a good length and he had it pulled into a red tie so that it hung in a ponytail down his back.
But perhaps the thing that Alfred noticed the most was his dressing. He was in a long, red coast with golden stitching and bordering on the edges. He had a white under shirt and dark pants that were tucked into, what looked like, leather boots. A perfect pirate captain get up, Alfred thought. Along with his wardrobe, the other man had many piercing sticking through his skin. He counted slowly and found he had six in each ear, and though he wasn't sure, Alfred was sure he saw one on his tongue too.
Alfred couldn't say it looked bad on him though…actually, he was sure he liked everything about the way he looked. It was odd, but he could honestly say he'd never laid eyes on anyone more handsome.
"Thanks…" The secret prince muttered, earning him an annoyed look from the other.
"What the hell if wrong with you? Are you on some suicide mission or something?" Arthur muttered.
"W-What? No, of course not! Why do you say that?"
" You stole...like an amateur!" The pirate laughed heartily, the sound making Alfred stare at him and blush more. "If you're going to steal, lad, do it right! But putting the apple core back on the cart? I heard him yelling about it, that's just too good, laddie!"
Arthur raised one of his eye brows, grinning in amusement. "You live around here, boy?"
Alfred paused for a moment, thinking for a moment, he knew he couldn't tell him the truth so he just shook his head.
"Hmm…Well, what's your name? As I'm sure you heard, I'm Arthur Kirkland, Captain of the great ship Britannia!" He exclaimed proudly, grinning up at the taller man.
"Arthur Kirkland…" Why was name so familiar? Why did he know it from somewhere? There was no way he'd ever met this man before so why?
iArthur Kirkland, Captain of the great ship Britannia…/i Alfred gasped. He remembered now! Arthur Kirkland, he'd been warned about him before. He was ruthless, the most wanted pirate in the world, if he recalled correctly. Oh, what had he gotten into!
"Hello there? Lad, you alright?" He had a thick British accent, and Alfred couldn't help, though he now knew who he was dealing with, be eased by the sound. "I asked, what is your name?"
"O-Oh! Alfred. Alfred…Jones." He lied thoughtfully. His name was Alfred, but he couldn't tell anyone who he really was, so he picked the first last name that came into his mind.
"Alfred Jones, huh? Where are you headed 'cause if you keep up your act like you did with the apple, I'm sorry to say you won't be lasting too long." Arthur admitted, watching the other as he seemed to grow uncomfortable.
"I…don't know. I just left and I don't really care where I go, anywhere but here will do."
It was silent for a few minutes then. Alfred was staring at the cold ground, a bit saddened by his own truth and Arthur just kept watching him, looking him over and thinking his words over.
The first of them to talk was Arthur who coughed to get attention again and he grinned up at Alfred cunningly. "Well, in that case…would you like to come with me on my pirate ship, Alfred? I'm sure I could find a good place for you on board."
"Come…with you? You mean…sailing around the world…really?" Alfred's eyes seemed to brighten up and Arthur took easy notice of this and grinned more.
"Of course, boy! Would you like to join me in returning back to the Great Britannia then?"
Alfred was silent for only a moment before a bright grin spread across his face, his eyes shining excitedly. "Yes, of course! Thank you, Arthur!"
"Ah! That's Captain to you, know, boy. Don't you forget that! Now come on and I'll bring you to my ship."