" 'The great and mighty Kingdom of Spades has undergone quite a lot of changes over the decades. Once known as the Mighty Spades Empire during its eighth reign, it is now the Democracy of Spades with a parliamentary constitutional monarchy. The King and Queen of Spades are still revered'… I'm sorry, but what?"
King Alfred Jones lowered his history book and frowned. His mentor, Toris Laurinaitis, looked over at him. The man had been with Alfred all of the King's life and he was used to Alfred's evasion to learn. This was nothing new.
He brushed his shoulder-length brown hair behind his ears and asked, "Is something wrong, Sire?"
"We're still revered? By who?" Alfred closed the book angrily and tossed it onto the table before him. "What a bunch of bull."
"You Majesty, there are still people in Spades that do respect the monarchy," Toris said gently. "My own family has been beside the Family for countless generations."
"The majority of Spades think I'm a leech to society, taking their tax money, and since I no longer have a say in politics, I should just vanish."
Toris studied Alfred carefully. The King wasn't prone to emotional outbursts like this, but when it happened, he became very sensitive to specific topics; the worst being his position in the world. It was at times like these that he needed a friend more than a mentor. Unfortunately, Toris was not considered one.
"Sire," Toris started, sighing. "Perhaps you should talk with the Jack…"
Apparently this was the worst idea to suggest as Alfred bristled at the mere mention of the Jack of Spades, Yao Wang. The man had been his only friend since the King was a child, but Alfred was constantly jealous of the Jack's power in the government. It wasn't long ago that the Jack barely had any political power, and the King was the head Face Card. Now, however, that was certainly not the case. And Alfred resented this fact.
"I'm done with studying," Alfred said firmly.
Toris knew it would be unwise to push the matter any further. He tried to change topics. "There is a ball soon. Are you excited?"
Alfred slouched in his seat and crossed his arms. His frown turned into a pout, making him look far younger than he really was. "No… That means I have to wear all of those formal, stuffy clothes."
Although he was the King, he figured he not much was expected of him. Therefore, he was often in a T-shirt and jeans. Sometimes he would wear a button-up, collared shirt, but his loathing of suits and tuxedos made him look less like royalty and more like an unruly teenager.
"I think I'm gonna play some video games." Alfred stood suddenly, causing Toris to scramble up as well. Alfred ignored this and left the room.
He hated social things, being forced to mingle with people who only acted polite because of his title; a title that meant so little. No one cared for him personally. Most days, Alfred found little reason to be alive. If he died at least he'd see his parents and brother. Of course, he had no will to take his life.
Despite this inner, secret bitterness outlook on life, Alfred remained pleasant with most everyone he met. Almost everyone who met him thought him kind and amicable, but no one saw him as a King to admire. They knew who he was, but to know and to respect are two very different things.
Alfred F. Jones was born into a long, proud line of royals in the Democracy of Spades. His mother was of distant royal Hearts blood, which did not bode well for the young king. Although he was only nineteen, there was pressure for him to marry and produce an heir to further the Spades line, otherwise Hearts could lay claim to the throne through that small bloodline that was once the Queen. While his parents and brother had died when Alfred was young, Yao Wang was elevated to a Protector status until Alfred came of age.
It was for this reason that Alfred was still cold to his old friend at times.
The King thought it odd the people didn't care for the monarchy, but still wanted Alfred to continue it. This kind of indecisive attitude drove him mad. Rather than figure it out, however, Alfred chose to do nothing. He would attend parties and chat with politicians, and even went to the traditional King's Joust every year. It appeased the people long enough to remember him. After it was over, he was a nobody once more.
Jack Yao Wang presided over Parliament, ruling the country as fairly as he could. He never pushed the King to do anything he didn't like, but often times he would arrive with invitations to gala events. Alfred tried to avoid him then. If Yao came with a smile, Alfred hurried away with a lie that he was busy.
Today, he wasn't lucky.
"Yao," Alfred whined. He tossed the invitation to the floor as if it had insulted him. Despite there being the ball Toris had mentioned the other day, Alfred hadn't been invited yet. He was hoping he was forgotten once more and wouldn't have to attend. "There's no point to me going. I just shake hands, smile, and nod. It's so boring!"
"A king should be seen at important events," Yao said calmly. He bent to retrieve the invitation, and set it on the table nearby. Like Toris, he was used to Alfred's whiny tantrums.
The calm man was known as the wisest in Spades, some whispered that he was perhaps in all of Hoyle. He, too, had a long heritage in the royal affairs of the country, although he wasn't considered royalty anymore. Ever since the Jack took precedence in politics, he was seen as a politician instead. However, he was not voted into office like the Lords and Ladies of Court. It was through blood like that of the King and Queen.
Alfred knew and understood that the people of Spades love tradition as much as they rapidly sped away from it. They craved tradition with the monarchy. Yao always took every opportunity to wear the old Jack attire that had been passed down through the Wang line. The old, blue Chinese outfit was very outdated, but still brought attention to the Jack. On the other hand, Alfred stayed in a normal tuxedo. He kept away from the King's traditional garment, making it easier to hide away if he needed a moment alone.
"There's no point," Alfred pressed once again.
Yao shot him a look. "You are going."
"You're going to hook me up with girls again, aren't you?"
Yao chuckled. "You know I never do. That is all Lady Teal's doing. She loves to be a matchmaker with you. I merely guide them your way when they ask."
"Do me a favor and don't send me any chicks tonight."
Yao only smiled in reply.
The party was no different than the others. Lords, Ladies, Dukes, and Duchesses were courteous to Alfred, special guests were cordial, and ladies were suffocating. He should've considered himself lucky to be Spades' most eligible bachelor, but he knew it was all for naught. Most ladies were not of royal blood, so courting them was a waste of time, and the others were vain, money grabbers, or cougars.
Alfred had his usual pleasant attitude about him, but that was all he did. He didn't force himself to be anything else and was good at hiding anything else away. Once everyone had said their hellos and gone out to mingle, Alfred sat at his throne and daydreamed. He wished he were in a different time, one that had actual balls with amazing outfits, beautiful dresses, and had people actually dancing. The party he was at currently had none of this; just everyone standing around, holding a drink, and talking their way into the night.
If he lived in another time he would be a King. He'd be powerful and admired and respected. There would be none of this backseat watching lifestyle. Alfred knew he was unlucky to be born in this era when he longed to be in another.
"Your Majesty!" A man dressed in a rich blue suit with a white ascot approached the throne. He bowed deeply. "Jack Yao instructed me you would be here."
"Good evening Duke of Blue," Alfred said politely. "What is it you would like?"
The older man smiled kindly. He had been the Duke of Blue longer than Alfred had been alive, however he was growing too old for his position. Where once he had fair, blonde hair and bright green eyes was now balding patches of grey and faded green in his tired eyes. Nevertheless, he was always smiling when he saw the King. Alfred couldn't say he disliked the man.
"You know I will be retiring shortly." Alfred did not. "I wanted to introduce to you my son who will be taking my place. His name is Arthur."
Well, at least Yao had kept to his promise and didn't send any ladies his way. Alfred stood, signaling that it was all right for the Duke to continue. The man turned around and motioned to a blonde who stood just out of sight near the wall. He looked a bit older than Alfred with messy hair the same color that once belonged to his father, striking green eyes, and thick eyebrows. He had a lean frame that was outlined nicely by his blue suit. Alfred squashed the urge to frown. This man seemed more regal than Alfred. As if he were being challenged, Alfred straightened his back and squared his shoulders.
"Hello, Your Majesty. It is an honor to meet you." Arthur swept an arm out and then behind his back as he bowed as lowly as his father. "I hope to be of great use to the crown, and to the country."
Arthur's father smiled at the King. "The Kirklands have always been loyal to the monarchy, Sire."
"That's nice," Alfred said. He knew the Duke was saving face for himself, and trying to make a good impression for his son.
"Sire, if I may have a word with you?" Arthur asked. He nodded to his father.
The man bowed to Alfred again, and then left. Alfred turned his attention to Arthur, not wondering in the slightest just what the man was about to ask him.
"Yes?" Alfred asked.
"Sire, if I may be so bold… My father never was, but I feel I must ask for your help in this matter." Arthur came closer to emphasize his feelings. Alfred remained where he was. "You know of the situation in Upper Blue, yes?"
"No," Alfred replied flatly. Since he wasn't involved in political affairs, he didn't feel the need to read about them.
Arthur faltered in his obviously practiced speech. "O-oh. Well, there is much homelessness in the area. It has affected housing and jobs and education. I fear it will only grow worse unless action is taken."
Alfred stated at Arthur blankly. "Okay? Like what?"
"With your help, I believe we can get Jack Yao to make a motion for it in Parli-"
"Pfft!" Alfred quickly muffled his laugh. Arthur was startled out of his speech. He stared at the King in aghast. "Um, look, I know your dad said you were loyal to the Family, but you do know I have no power in the government, right?"
"Of course I do, but-"
"Then you know that talking to me is useless?"
"Good. So you know that if you want something done with Yao, you have to ask him. I can't talk to him about anything."
Arthur hesitated. He didn't look ready to back down. The determination in his eyes only seemed stronger now. "You mean even if you were to give advice to the Jack, he would not listen?"
"You must not understand the power you have," Arthur said in a sad tone. Does he pity me, Alfred thought. However, the word "power" caught his interest.
"Power? You mean…like a superpower?" Alfred asked a little too enthusiastically.
The corners of Arthur's lips twitched briefly before returning to his stoic expression. "Not exactly, Sire. I mean influential power. You can talk to the people and garner their support. That in turn will affect the Dukes and Duchesses and then the Lords and Ladies, and eventually the Jack."
Alfred furrowed his brow at this, more disappointed he wasn't about to be told he had some secret super power, like super strength. He'd always wanted that, more than flying. "And how would I do that?"
"Through me, Sire." Arthur produced some pamphlets from his inner pocket in his suit. He held them out to Alfred. The King didn't take them. "If you read these and apply for a fundraising event in the Blue Area, I can grant you it. We could raise money for new shelters or for new schools."
Alfred looked at the flyers uncertainly. "Arthur, it sounds…nice, but what can I do?"
"So much. Your name invokes great power and recognition! If people were to hear that King Alfred is at a public fundraising event, there's sure to be a large turnout!"
"I don't know… No one seems to care about me or the monarchy anymore. I'm…outdated."
Now it was Arthur's turn to laugh. Alfred snapped his eyes to him.
"Forgive me, Sire, but if what you say is true, then why are you? What use are you to anyone, even yourself?"
Alfred's anger began to rear up at this, but it was fueled by sadness. He knew this man was right as he had many thoughts about it himself. It was just hearing it being said that made him want to actually defend himself.
"Hey! Don't talk to the King that way!" Alfred shouted suddenly. Arthur quickly backed down, ducking his head as he felt the eyes of nearby guests look over.
"Y-Your Majesty, please, I…" Arthur didn't even look up at he continued to speak. "I did not mean to offend. I merely… wanted to point out that you have a great use. Greater than you have ever thought you could be. The fact that you disregard this, or rather, just don't see this, is very depressing indeed. You were put here for a reason, and I believe that is to be great."
Alfred stared at Arthur, still quite angry, but hearing something like that said made him all the more upset. He wasn't sure what it was that scared him, but he dismissed Arthur from his sight. Yao heard of Alfred's incident and quickly came to see him.
"Are you all right, Your Majesty?" Yao asked quietly. He was near the King, but was trying not to look too concerned. It was best the other guests didn't know if Alfred truly was angry or not.
"I'm going to my room. You can't stop me." Alfred rose and started to leave. Yao didn't even try to ask why.
Once back in the safety of his own room, Alfred called for candy and soda. He didn't care that it was already so late in the evening and there was a chance he would stay up later, he needed comfort food. As soon as all of the servants let him be, he pulled the photo frame from his nightstand of his family over to him.
That night had been the first night since his parents died that anyone had said he was alive to be great.
Hoshiko2's cents: Welcome to my new story, and my new cardverse series. This will run parallel with Hoyle updates, so I hope you enjoy the two 'verses. Hope to see you around.