All That Matters

By: Tisha Nadhilla

          Somewhere beyond the Mountain of Three Kings, there was a kingdom who lived in peace and ease. The king and the queen had passed through thick and thin, but still rule the reign very well. Not only were they blessed with leadership skill, the king and queen was given three handsome sons. Cato, the oldest son, was keen with horsing. With his black horse, he could leap, gallop, and anything that made him so fetching on the saddle. Theo, the second son, was blessed with sword skills. He often practiced with the best soldier that the kingdom had, and notever once prince Theo ever lose. Last but not least, Dionysus, or everyone called him as Prince Deon in general. Not a lot of people knew about what Deon is strong aboutbut the queen. Deon was the sweetheart, he liked to read, just like her, Deon also loved to talk and listen well. Eventhough they share distinct personality, the king and the queen were proud of their sons.

          Unfortunate struck in the kingdom one night. After weeks of fighting a serious disease, the queen passed away on her bed. This left a deep sorrow for the entire kingdom. Mostly for the king and the sons. They needed to think rationally and plan out whom shall suit to be the next inheritor of who sit on the throne and held the scepter.For the king could not fulfill his kingdom duty alone. It took time for the king to choose between the princes, and he finally suggested for all his sons to be as conspicuous as they could to held a mass spectacle about their abilities.

          This set excitement to the sons to hear that. Everyone was setting out plans and strategis to win the citizen’s heart with their skills.

          “I’ll practice everyday to be the best horse rider and win the race”, said Cato while brushing his shoes clean.

          “I’ll fight Zero, the most skillful swordsmen in this kingdom”, said Theo while sharpening his blade, a smirk on his face.

          They began to chatter about their excitement, and realized their youngest hadn’t said anything about his plan. They exchanged their gaze toward each other, andniggled at a quiet sitting Deon with his books.

          Deon blinked, and with a huff, said “I obviously can’t show off to people how I can read faster than you, my brothers. The throne is all yours,”

          “Deon, father make this to make it fair among us. Come on, grow up!Act like a prince as you are, can’t you? It’s time to find the noble side in you,”

          “You heard your oldest said, Deon. You spend all the time reading and observing. We know you can do better. Stop daydreaming,”

          “My knowledge isn’t daydreaming! At least, I’ll keep humble as my skill, and it’ll work best when the time is right. I don’t get it why everyone want me to not be me, I’m out.” Slamming his book close, Deon stomped his feet away, and off he went to his room, and even skippinghis dinner. His brothers acknowledged his temperamental attitude after their mother passed away and become so juvenile, so they gave him some space and tried to talk between the doors of his room, to cope about how young he is.

But it was not the other night when Deon is haranguing their brothers and sleep over it. The silence of the room feels deafening for the young prince as he slumped the beanbag containing his necessity over his shoulder, eyes scanning his room filled with the memories of the late queen. He was faltered on her mother’s photo. Her smile held him to stay, only for a second. He finally decided to jump off from the window. Walking away from his home, the kingdom, hastily before the dawn approaches.

          One step, two steps. Walked Deon’s steady feet up and down the hills. Sometimes, he would looked back at how robust the castle is, how warm his cushy bed will welcome him everynight. But, immediately, he shook his head and keep walking toward his will. Yes, what a willful lad he is.

          Looks like it’s already passed noon if he had a sundial with him, or so, sum it up, his legs couldn’t make it until he needed to find nearby village or town. What should he do if he did though? Being a sudden pauper and craved for warm spot to sleep and something to eat? What a poor prince that may ever lived.

          “If I could ride a horse like my brother, Cato, I would find shelther as fast as his black horse may dash on the field, not with this weak feet of mine,” he whispered, and whispered.

          However, he needed to survive his venture and bring back something to show off, at least to his brothers first. With a squint, he finally found a cozy tree in the forest to lay down. He rested his back on the bark of the tree and closed his eyes to doze off. Snoring soundly young Deon, dreamed of his late mother. Until, a rattle woke him up from his deep slumber.

          “Who’s there?” he shouted with raspy voice, eyes half awake, with his penknife tight in his grip. Aware that it couldn’t harm anyone, only some bugs, at least he get used with that knife.

          “Easy, boy. I’m way feeling blue to eat a human now. Can you come and accompany me?”another raspy voice echoed not far from where Deon stood. So he came to the voice to found a bear curled up in the bushes. No wonder, the bear couldn’t even move his back, blood streamed from his rump.

          “How can you convince me, if you aren’t going to eat me?”

          “I’ll be the best friend of yours, and let me tell you that I’m the best navigator in this jungle. Wherever you go, I can lead you like a compass, if you can help me release this pain”

          “Easy-peasy, wait.” Run, Deonaround the jungle, through the bushes, at some gleamy stream, and back with bundle of stuff placed in his full hand. Like magic he worked, he poured the water gently, rub some Calendula and wrapped it with some strings of his clothes. The bear is beyond amazed, eventhough he needed to squeak a little bit from the treatment.

          “Boy, you have an amazing skill, why would you roam around in this place without company? Lost, by any chance?”

          “I need to find my talent, and this, is nothing compared to what my brothers who have noble skills in their hands and feet. I need something more excellent. I need something that could beat them, and prove that I am not a loser.”

          “You are a prince? No wonder you seems familliar, your brother like to stampede here to train his horsing skill, I can tell because you look similar,”

          “We are brothers, no wonder. My name is Deon, anyway. May you show me the way to village nearby?”

          And so that, Deon got a company, and not even once did the bear put his paw to Deon’s neck. Miles become short, and the bear offered much help to pick edible fruits and catch some fish to grill. Before dark approached, Deon found a packed village and a quiet hut for him to sleep. He waved to the bear and wish may time will make them meet again.

          Rays from the sungleamed to Deon’s sleepy face. He slept so safe and sound that yesterday’s encounter with the bear felt like a dream, but realizin how his stomach growled for a food, and his sore legs of walking soon after he opened his eyes, he knew it wasn’t a fantasy. He threw his gaze to the village and hunger lead his feet to walk closer.

          It’s pretty big, the village that the bear showed the way to him. He watched the market and how people exchange their money with foods.Everyone is busy buzzing around as if Deon’s existence there doesn’t bugging them. Oh well, he wondered, this is how runaway like, you needed to survive by yourself. So, think, Deon, think, how he could get some money to make him survive for days here, before he could move to another. His sight found a bunch of vionist and some other musicians in the corner of the street who got some pounds and claps after the instrument stopped playing. He didn’t bring any instrument of course, beside he only could play some piano back there, but it lit something in his head.

          He extended his napkin near his feet, cleared his throat for once, and began to shout the last poem he could remember. In some part, he would sing, if he forgot, just made it up, no one would know that, he guessed so. Some people stopped by, and then bunch, and some start to hum together, and tapped their shiny shoes. People are amazed with this magical boy come out of nowhere and beyond his embarrassment having a solo performance. Flustered with unexpected audiences, Deon only could bow and smile toward the claps. Then here goes some pennies fell down nicely and make clattered satisfying noises. Ka-ching, ka-ching, and it’s made Deon’s smile got wider, oh, he may win over Cheesire Cat if he wanted to. A girl in a hood even got him some bread, he grinned, did he looked that feeble? Deon made living by repeating that in different spots of the village, no longer, he become one of the street performer that everyone waited for. His money is enough to buy another new clothes, foods, and his beanbag is upgraded to some sling bag.

          “I could live forever here”, he thought one day while munching on his french bread, walking in the alley while counting his pennies in his beanbag, that become his secret wallet. At least, he knew how to make money better than his brothers. Poor Deon, he bumped into someone because he didn’t pay attention, thinking about his brothers for after awhile. Turned out it was some scoundrels who blocked his way.

          “I hear those pennies, kid. Share it for us, will you? We’ll exchange with some candies?” laughter echoed in that dead alley. Deon gulped his saliva, no use to hide those bags anyway, what should he do?

          “Not at once, move,” he even found his voice jittered. He hold his penknife again steadily, and thus only make these scoundrels mocking him with their laugh.

          “What a baby, and baby sword,” and in split second. Bam, Deon fell to the ground. Those big hands punched on his ribs, and he lost his beanbag of pennies, voiceless of scream he could made. He battered completely. He laid down there, watched the scoundrels running away with his own money, his very first money.

          Crying in anger, Deon cursed any bad words he knew and kicked everything while his feet could. Holding his rib and licking his lips, he tried to found a way out the village, he was done. He couldn’t  live here anymore if he already been recognized.

          “If I could use sword to protect myself like my brother Theo, at least I would bring mine, that he give to me for my 18th birthday. I can scare them away with that and they won’t dare to touch me,”

         Walked and walked again, Deon, with no wind to follow or shadows to measure. He was tired to his venture anyway. He started getting homesick, he missed his brothers to the point that his childish tears will drip, he missed his father, and the most, he missed his mother, his beloved one in the kingdom. When he felt sad, his mother would caressed his hair and said, ‘everything is okay’. Or when he made a mistake, his mother, instead of being grumpy and scolding will ask Deon to commit his fault himself and helped him to fix his mistakes. And now, Deon felt like none other than the most sinful flesh, blood, sweat and tears. “Oh, mother, what do I do without you. I’ve been running away and make my brothers and father worried out there. I gained much, but I lose much as well. I hope you understand,”. And with that thought, Deon bring himself to sleep under the shade of trees nearby.

          “Boy, you can’t sleep here”

          “Why?” unconciusly mumbling, Deon straightened his back and yawned. Folded her arms, a girl stood near him.

          “Because these rocks can make a fracture in your backbone, if you do so. Dont you even feel hurt?”, she offered his hands and help Deon to get up. “Want to find a shelter, fellow traveler?”

          “I’m not a traveler, sadly,” Deon chuckled in agony, “I’m mere a lost boy now”

          “Doesn’t matter, I’ve make sure that you mean no harm. So, if you dont mean to strangle me when I’m asleep, we can be a good friend,” she smiled, and Deon is too tired to think that she should believe this girl or not. In fact that he needed help the most now from a healthy person.

          “My name is Zoelle, here, some biscuits, I heard your stomach been screaming in your sleep, you know?,” Lord, bless this girl.

          “Am I dead? Suddenly I feel like I’m not in earth anymore,” Deon devoured that biscuit, real quick. Amazed Zoelle that watched him eating.

          “It may not make your stomach brimmed enough. But at least. And you are still here, laying down on the valley, take it as my compassion,”

          “Thank you, I’ve been blessed,”

          “Thank me later. Can we move, shall we? It’s getting dark, I suppose there’s some hut or even barn nearby,”

          Up they went, tell each other stories. Series of Deon’s unfortunate, made Zoelle laughed and also pity him. A stubborn youth that runaway with know nothing of how harsh it is life outside the castle. Well, to take a look at messy hazel hair, scars on cheeks, how eyebag is geting darker covered Deon’s handsome face, it’s hard to believe that he’s one of the next king, but luckily, he still got the silver pocket watch that he kept in his bag, with his kingdom signature. That convinced Zoelle enough.

          “Your father is King Julian? My father often pay a visit to him you know, you must be one of his sons that he always talk about, oh, if you know, that he told about how amazing you and your brothers are. It’s such a honor to meet you in a person,” Zoelle bowed a slight and smiled to him.

          Deon chuckled, and then frowned. “Then, does it mean, you are a princess somewhere?”

          “Somewhere. My kingdom is far away, two days and two nights by horse from your kingdom. No need to bow, we aren’t in a supper. Being a royal child make me tired sometime, I wish I can be as bold as you are, Deon,”

          “Well, you are from far away. What happened?”

          Listlessly, Zoelle told that there’s this dark wizard who looked after a migthy flower that Zoelle’s kingdom kept. This flower turned out can be useful for the wizard to make him stay young. He attacked every single part of the kingdom. Zoelle once, try to fought back, with anything she could use. One time, she hold her mirror and the mirror, could absorb the power of the wizard. But she couldn’t made it to attack alone, so she ran away. In her way, she lost the mirror because it was thrown to the river and drowned there. Now, she didn’t know what to do, roaming around, and met Deon in her way.

          “Now, it’s look like a deal to me,”

          “What deal?”

          “Do you have any fighting skills?”

          “I’m the best archer that my father may have,”

          “Teach me that, and I’ll find a way to find your mirror. As long as you remember where it is,”

          Zoelle sit silent after Deon’s effort to scrounge her, but she shaked her hands to seal the deal anyway. So they became partner in crime. They moved from one barn to another secretly, ate the best Deon could cook, hunt at the best of Zoelle could aim. Sometimes being cold under the rain, or sweating on scorching hot days. But, this didn’t stop Deon’s practice. He practiced hard under Zoelle’s guide.

Days become weeks, Deon’s fingers full of scars, but now he could shooted at flying pigeons, or some drinking fawns. This made him overwhelmed, and Zoelle will clapped on his hunts. Out of their prediction, they walked closer to the river.

          They looked at the placid water of the river which reflect their faces perfectly. Scanning, if they could find something shiny from the ground.

“Looking for something, gentleman?,” a grumpy voice came after gurgle voice on the surface. A crocodile, make an appearance with his swollen eyes and his sharp teeth. Zoelle squeaked, and Deon held his breath for a moment.

          “Excuse me sir, have you found a mirror with a nice calligraphy of her name, Zoelle. This miss right here need it so much right now,”

          “You mean that hard shiny thing that fall from the surface few weeks ago? Oh yes, yes. Look at me now, I can’t even see properly, because you drop that miss, how dare you. I can’t see my prey and been starving for days,”

          “If I can help you heal that, will you look for it, sir?”

          “Can you?” The crocodile inspect Deon from head to toe, sniffing his nervousness. But Deon remain stand still.

          “I can hold my promise as a man,”

          So off  Deon went, cut bushes, dug some soils. And back, brought cucumbers and potatos, sliced them into layers and wrapped them to some leaves.

          “You can apply this to your eyes, it will make your eyes feel cool, and no longer you have those swollen eyes on you. Maybe you can get out from water for a few moment for fast result,”

          The crocodile listened carefully and nodded, and he dove one time, bring the mirror that Zoelle has been looking for, a mirror with nice handle and sculpture here and there.

          “Let me try that, boy. After all, I’m impressed with your gentle and brave attitude. Till we meet again then,” and with this, the crocodile walked away with Deon’s package on its snout.

          “How? Such a prince you are,” Zoelle hugged his mirror so tight, couldn’t believe miracle just happened in front of her eyes. Deon smiled wholeheartedly.

          “My pleasure. Now, since everything is done, what should we do?”

          Zoelle shrugged. She got no idea either. So, they walked outside the forest while observing the mirror. It’s indeed really beautiful. Deon took a look on it, wondering about his face that looked so tired without him knowing.

Then his strands start flapping along with the cold breeze. The sky became so dark for all of sudden, and dust blew hard. From their back, came the bear in rush toward them.

          “Deon! Oh, I’ve been wondered if I could meet you as soon as possible,”

          ‘What is it, bear?”

          “There’s this wizard attacked your kingdom! I’ve been hearing from others. You need to go back. Go, off you up to my back, you also, young lady,”

          Startled, both of them jump on the bear’s back and dashed toward the wind. Prayed in his heart, he wished everyone was well. And Zoelle, is gripping hard on her mirror, ready to face her destiny.

          It was chaos. People running from every corner, looking for safety. Roofs fell off, ashes came from burnt houses. Screams and cry filled the air.

          “Deon, distract him, I’ll find a way to trap him inside,” Zoelle shouted to wake Deon from his thought. He nodded. Eventhough his mind is completely blank, he just did. Sneaked near a cart, where the wizard levitated and destroy more houses with his telekinetic power.

          “Bring me the flower, or the princess, I know you hide them here. Where?”

          “You are looking at the wrong place,” shout Deon. The wizard looked at him with his cranky attitude. Not even a glance he would think that he is facing prince of the kingdom.

          “Really? News for you, kid, that I don’t care. I’ll look for it wherever it is, and do what necessary to found them. Now off you go,” he waved his hand and Deon thrown few meter away. He rubbed his wounded legs and squinted to hold his pain. He inhaled, and feel pissed of right away.

          The wizard flew here and there, busy that he showed his back and waving cope to Deon. Quietly, he aimed to his cape. One, it goes right to it’s upper side and stabbed the wizard to slam at a building. Two, it make her stuck right away. Three, four, five, the wizard couldn’t move his body.

          “You should know, cape is troublesome, at times,” grinned at his succeed, he wiggled his eyebrows playfully to the wizard.

          “You think your arrow will defeat me? What a naive kid,” he laughed and started to took them off, But before he even done, Zoelle came under him, murmur some spells, and shout in the end.

          “Go back and bring your magic with your demon to other space, we dont need you here,” as quick as that, the wizard screamed merciful help, that gone in a second with his appearance to the mirror. The mirror fell down to the ground, and with a strong stomp on her feet, Zoelle destroyed it.

          ‘We did it!” they hugged each other in the end.They exhaled in relief. Wind stop roaring, sunlight slowly came to shine above them again.

          “Deon? Deon! It’s you? Oh, for God sake, where have you been? Why would you leave just like that? God-“ Theo, Deon’s brother appeared from afar. A scar looked filthy and painful on his face. His swords on his hand, that looked not healthy as well. He frowned and staring at Deon.

          “Look at you! Wha-“

          “Theo, scolding won’t work. We learn that isn’t it Deon? Come here and show us, if you real boy, thank God, you are alive!,” the oldest, Cato, came after him. He looked limp that soon invite Deon’s anxious face. He dropped his bow and arrow and crushed them into a big hug that they replied in graceful feeling.

          “You’re punished from running away from home, anyway, before that we need the whole essay of what were you thinking,”

          “Cato, you are the same, let’s cheerish of his return. You are going to make him running away again, right, Deon?”

          “No, I wouldn’t leave you again. I wouldn’t leave home again. I’m enough for journey, at the moment,” whispered Deon. At that time, his heart feel so full. He got everything he needed now. His brothers love, lesson, and a great victory. He ended his venture with so many in mind.

          But sadly to said, their father passed away in the battle, and they passed the funeral with a grief, but, again. They needed to be strong to lead the kingdom. Cato, as the oldest son became the king based on the kingdom rules. But, to reward his brave brothers after found their trueself and fought with him, he made his brothers as ‘kings’ as well. Together, they arranged the whole kingdom back and turned the life of the kingdom to peace. Everyone was happy about this decision, especially Deon who got praise of his new skill, eventhough he got punishment to clean the barn once a week, it’s all nothing compared to that.

          And Zoelle? She back to her kingdom of course. But in annual kingdoms meeting, they will meet again, and talked in more proper way in their kingdom suit, as a young king and princess. And everytime Zoelle waved a ‘see-you-later’, they knew, that they will back for each other eventually in the future.