The horns of war that haunted the prince’s dreams echoed in his head as he waited for his enemy inside his tent for a parley. The cool October breeze and yellowing leaves made his men hopeful they’d get to sleep in their own beds soon, and he hoped to solve this conflict once and for all without having to bury any more of them. Unlike his father, he cared less about glory on the battlefield and more about draughts and crops and the dwindling treasury.
But peace was a strange concept for some. He knew men who relished battlefield blood and smoke, but all it did was make him old, weary, and sleepless. With every new campaign, his home felt less and less like a home. His wife’s arms were just another cold, muddy field, and his children’s laughter merged with the screams of the slain.
The lad he once was only a few seasons ago died when he put a sword through another man’s skull, but he hoped that peace might bring back his memory.
The rebel duke remained a mystery to him. They were the same age but he had never been to court and refused the invitation he sent him last summer when he came into his title. They said he was implacable, mercurial, and power-hungry, but nobody told the prince what kept the duke up at night, what made him weep, or what he’d die for.
After a commotion outside, the duke entered the tent, unannounced. His laughing eyes examined the prince for a moment, and mockery turned into disbelief.
The prince stood up to meet the duke. Their eyes were the same dark blue. He recognised the same wavy red hair with an identical cowlick on his hairline. The nose was strong and slightly hooked, like his own.
The prince turned to his aid. “Does this man look like me?”
“He looks exactly like you, sire.”
The prince approached the duke. They were the same build, and almost the same height. Without notice, he took the duke’s right hand and took off his glove to examine it closer and found the exact same birthmark he had on the base of the thumb.
Breathless, the prince took a step back and looked up to see his own face staring back at him, mirroring his shock.
“Call off the attack,” the duke whispered to his own aid. And he said to the prince. “We have a lot to talk about, you and I.”