Disclaimer: I do not own Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure. That belongs to its respective owners.
A/N: I hope you enjoy this version of Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure from Prince Ferdinand's POV!
Rhapsody: The Princely Chronicles
Prince Ferdinand leaned back against the tree with a contented sigh.
After making a successful escape from the castle early that morning (of which his mother and the guard on duty happened to turn a blind eye, to his relief), he had had the misfortune to have his absence realized before he snuck out of the grounds. At that point, it was simply a race to reach the Wonder Woods before his watchers caught up to him. As much as he hated people worrying about him, some days, he just needed some peace and quiet.
In hindsight, he reflected that he could simply request some leave time from his mother, but then she would be forced to follow protocol and send some escorts (read: guards) with him. That would defeat the purpose of venturing out by himself to have quiet. If he had escorts, he obviously was not by himself.
Ferdinand was so grateful that his mother never complained if he was caught outside, though she did make the necessary reproving for the sake of those who caught him and brought him back. Through some tacit connection, she seemed to understand. Maybe it stemmed from the fact that she had previously been a commoner, before she became queen. After all, that was the one thing he envied commoners for—their ability to have solitude. They did not need escorts; they could go wherever they wanted.
Besides, having escorts was like painting a sign on him that screamed, "Everyone, look at me! Prince Ferdinand comes hither!"
He sighed. That was another price that came with royalty—it was difficult to be seen as anything other than a figurehead. People looked up to you and admired you, but people rarely saw you as a person. Some days, it was almost enough to drive him insane. The only reason that he had not been driven insane previously was because that he knew he could not show it. He was going to be king someday, and he was determined to be a good ruler. If he allowed himself to be affected now, it would be much more difficult to break when he gained the crown.
The crown. The thought of the crown brought him back to another problem—marriage. As the Crown (and only) Prince, Ferdinand recognized that he needed to be married before he became king. His mother had recently reminded him of said fact. However, despite his mother's reminders, he really was not in a hurry to be king. As much as being prince gave him views into the politics and duties that came with his future position, he still felt that he was not prepared for the role yet. However, when he had expressed it to his mother, she had simply smiled and said that no one was completely ready for that role of leadership, but that he would learn, and she was confident that he would be a great king.
As much as he appreciated his mother's support, it did not really fill him with a lot of confidence.
In the back of his mind, part of him wondered if his trepidation stemmed from that he could no longer ask his father for wisdom anymore. He knew that he should not dwell on it, as there was nothing that could be done to bring the King back, but he missed his father dearly. He really did not have a father-figure to turn to anymore.
That was not to say that there were not men in the castle. Oh no, there were plenty. The guards were friendly, and the captains were always willing to give him pointers in swordsmanship, lancing, and archery if he asked. In a way, they had almost pseudo-adopted Ferdinand once the King perished in the war against Karlmaddmann, and he was appreciative of their extra care.
But then there was Minister Golonzo, the man who was heralded as the one who ended the war that claimed his father's life.
Prince Ferdinand involuntarily grimaced.
Minister Golonzo's skulking figure, bragging mouth, his shifty, beady eyes… The fake manner in which he carried himself, constantly agreeing with whatever his mother said, before casting calculating glances in his direction…
He did not even know how the Minister had ended the war...
Ferdinand unconsciously clenched the worn pants in his gloved fist. He did not trust the Minister one bit. He was polite for politeness' sake (and for his mother's sake, who trusted said politician greatly), but something about Minister Golonzo set him on edge.
He could not place it. He just felt something instinctual that said not to trust him. It was a feeling that he had learned to trust, especially after it had saved his life during a (failed) assassination attempt when he was seven. His nurse had secretly been an assassin, not that anyone had guessed. She had seemed so kind, but something in her eyes and laugh had made him uncomfortable. His mother believed his reservations after the attempt, but she had not understood his unease beforehand. The quiet whisper had even saved his life a few times after that.
He knew that he should share his suspicions about the minister with his mother, but he did not think that she would believe him. After his father died, she had relied on the minister heavily for advice, and had come to trust his word greatly. She would not be swayed to believe Ferdinand easily.
It pained Ferdinand, both the knowledge that he would be doubted by his own mother, and the fact that he was forced to wait until the spider jumped.
To wait until the spider jumped was a dangerous gamble, though.
If Minister Golonzo jumped for anything, it would be the Kingship. Prince Ferdinand just did not know how he would spring, so he was constantly on guard. Ferdinand prayed that, when the Minister finally acted, he would not be too late.
Ferdinand sighed in aggravation. He really should not dwell too much on it. He was finally out of the castle, and even in the Wonder Woods, Minister Golonzo had found a way to worm his way into the trip and steal his joy.
He stood up from the soft grass, forcing his thoughts to turn elsewhere. What had been his plans again?
Oh, yes. Since his guard had found him civilian clothes, he intended to sneak into Orange and visit the townsfolk. As the future King, he both needed and wanted to be acquainted with his people's needs and lifestyles. It also set the groundwork for future support of his kingship (not that he needed to aid the support from the female population, who, fortunately and unfortunately, idolized him). He also had plans to find the house of Mustaki, another hero of the last war. He had heard tales about him for as long as he could remember, and had hoped the meet the famous puppeteer in person.
He also selfishly enjoyed the fact that he was treated like a regular person by the commoners, since, dressed as they were, most of them did not realize his status. Plus, Orange was a quieter, quainter town than Mothergreen. As such, they were more unfamiliar with his appearance, and would be less likely to recognize him as The Prince. While the downside of small towns was that everyone knew everybody, so his presence would be more apparent, as long as he did not act too out of place, he should (theoretically) be fine.
Three hours later found the sun higher in the sky, and the Prince was back in the Wonder Woods, stretching his arms above his head before settling against another tree. It had been an enjoyable trip to town. Even though he had not gathered enough courage to talk to him this time, he had located the residency of Mustaki on the outskirts of town. Furthermore, none of the townspeople had recognized him. He reveled in his anonymity.
Anonymity. That word was truly glorious. One did not realize the meaning of the word until they obtained a celebrity status and constantly had eyes upon them, watching and scrutinizing their every breath and action. To not have judging eyes was a wondrous thing.
Some days, he almost wished that he was not the prince. At least, if he was not Prince Ferdinand, but simply Ferdinand, finding his future wife would be a lot easier.
Once again, Ferdinand reflected that, someday, he would indeed marry. It was not that he was against marriage; on the contrary, as… girly… as it might sound, he had a secret dream for a happy marriage. However, his status made it difficult to talk to girls, and the girls he did have the opportunity to meet either gazed at him adoringly as "The Prince" for his status or his money.
He thought of the girls that had unknowingly met him in Mothergreen and Orange. They had dreamed about marrying a prince that they did not even know and becoming queen. Imagine, him marrying someone he did not know—not even their name—and who did not even want to marry him! It was quite demeaning. He hated being treated like an object, a trophy to be won and set on the mantle.
But they dreamt of marrying into a lifestyle.
They dreamt of marrying into money.
They dreamt of marrying a prince.
They did not dream of marrying Ferdinand.
No one dreamt of marrying Ferdinand.
Ferdinand sighed dejectedly. He dreamt that, someday, someone would dream of marrying Ferdinand for Ferdinand, not for being Prince Ferdinand. And, some days, it felt like a very faraway dream, as everyone he met, from the commoners to the nobility, seemed only entranced with his position and money.
Like Etoile Rosenqueen. She was a beautiful girl who had entranced many, but while she had never said so to his face, he knew for a fact that she was only in love with his money. Not only had he heard it from some gossiping girls from his few anonymous trips into town, he had heard it from her lips herself, albeit she had not realized he was standing around the corner when she had said so; although, whether it had been confiding or bragging, he had not been able to discern.
He chuckled mirthlessly to himself. That girl wore an eternal mask of gaiety and charm, and it was the mask that won her admirers. No one ever viewed the girl's real face.
There were so many that wore masks. Those around him—Etoile, the nobility, the royalty, the ministers…
And in hindsight, some days, those masks were the only thing that allowed the kingdom to run smoothly.
Tact has truly made liars out of us all, he thought to himself bitterly.
He ran a hand through his hair and sighed, forcing the thoughts away with an emphatic shaking of his head. After all, he had evaded his watchers so that he could have a moment's peace, not sully it with dark reflections.
Happy thoughts. He needed happy thoughts, he determined as he stood, pushing himself up from the ground. What else was on his agenda for the outing?
A smile came to Prince Ferdinand's lips as he remembered. He had planned to catch some Bobo from the Natalie River. It was his favorite dish, and the cook, after hearing of his secret (or not-so-secret) plans to leave the castle, had laughed gaily after hearing his request and promised to prepare it for him if he brought some back.
He could hear the bird-fish sizzling now, and his mouth started watering at the thought.
He laughed, reminding himself that he had not even caught it yet. He could not picture it cooked until he had caught it. All right, then, let's go catch some Bobo! he thought happily to himself, and he started walking toward the river.
Then, he heard girls' voices.
Ferdinand jumped slightly, and then berated himself for doing so. Just because they were girls' voices did not mean that he should allow himself to be startled so easily. He was going to be the King—he should not be easily rattled!
But they were still girls' voices. And after his experiences with girls, he was understandably wary. To be on the safe side, he crouched behind the tree he was leaning against, suddenly glad for the large bushes next to it that provided extra cover. For a second, he was afraid that they had discovered his identity and followed him, but then he shook the thought away.
They are probably from Orange. In which case, they practically live here, he reminded himself. They might have simply come out into the Woods for a walk themselves. Just because I get stalked by other girls does not mean that they are stalking me. I need to calm down.
He took a deep breath and decided to listen to their conversation, just to be safe. Soon enough, the voices drifted close enough to hear. The figures even walked right by his tree.
"—glad that we got to stop for lunch!" a high-pitched voice pronounced cheerily.
A second voice laughed. It was a clear, pure laugh. For some reason, it made Ferdinand blush a little. An older girl responded, "You're welcome, Kururu. I'm just happy that you reminded me to pack lunch for us. I'd forgotten how long these trips take."
She has a pretty voice; she probably sings well. I wonder if she looks as pretty as her voice is, Ferdinand thought, and then caught himself. He did not even know these girls. Why did he suddenly feel curious as to their identities?
The more childish voice laughed, too. "Yeah, gathering Red Imotium always takes forever, but you know how Gramps is. I hope we find a lot this time."
"Yeah," the other voice responded, sounding thoughtful. "Last time, we didn't find very much. It's like someone else has been picking the normal fields clean. I mean, everyone here isn't greedy, for the most part. I wonder why it's been disappearing."
As the voices drifted away, Ferdinand wondered, They are gathering Red Imotium? He looked up thoughtfully. If they were here to gather Imotium, that meant that they were not stalking him (and, happily, they were not heading to the Natalie River. He did not know what he was going to do if they had decided to go fishing today when he desperately wanted Bobo). In fact, they might not have even seen him in the village. Gathering courage, he peeked over the bushes to see the two girls walking away down the path.
No. One was a girl about his age, and the other appeared to be a puppet.
Hm. A puppet. She must have had the childish voice. That meant that the other, a girl wearing a short green, long-sleeved dress, short boots, and waist-length blonde hair, must be the one with the pretty voice.
She was rather cute herself, from what he could see from her profile. He blushed slightly again.
Ferdinand shook his head, forcing the thought away. Now he felt like the stalker. He sighed.
But wait… Surely two girls (ok, one girl and her puppet, who did not look to have much weapon-capability) alone in the forest where there was the possibility of finding trouble was not a smart combination. They had mentioned disappearing Imotium. That could mean bandits or thieves.
The thought of leaving them alone at the possible mercy of bandits and thieves did not sit well with him. It went against his personal code (even though, sadly, following—guarding—them meant forgoing his Bobo. Maybe he could get some later or on the next trip).
He reached down, checking that his father's sword was secure at his side. He had hidden it in the forest before he went into town (so as not to identify himself as a member of the Royal family by the crest on the sword), but he had long since recovered it. It was the first thing he did when he returned to the forest; he had not wanted to risk anything happening to the precious sword. He also double-checked the bag of Imotium with him, and after opening it, found that he indeed had some Red Imotium.
He stood. He would follow the girls at a distance, just to make sure that they did not run into trouble.
And if he just "happened" to appear and "happened" to have "found" some Red Imotium, thus aiding in their search and finding a chance to have an actual conversation with a girl who did not know his identity, that would make it all the better.
He smiled to himself, and then set off following them at a distance.
A/N: This is just a fic that I started after realizing that you really don't see much of Prince Ferdinand in the game. In fact, you only see him a handful of times before he gets turned to stone, and then he doesn't reappear until the end of the game, when he changes back. So I wanted to take the opportunity to peek into his mind a little. Although it started small (originally a short drabble for thoughts), it's growing into a Ferdinand POV version of the game. I have no idea how long this will turn out, but let's see where it goes!
Oh, this initial piece also began after I wondered what the Prince was doing in the Wonder Woods in the first place. He magically appeared to save the day, but one wonders why he was able to magically appear to the save the day. So, voila!
I hope you enjoyed this first installment, and please share your thoughts with me!