The Many Troubles of Prince Ackeyun
A short story by Emma Lee Downs.
Summary: Prince Ackeyun is forced to marry the princesses of the neighboring kingdoms to keep treaties between the kingdoms alive. But one day he comes up with a plan to free himself from his unfortunate fate.
The Many Troubles of Prince Ackeyun
By: Emma Lee Downs
Prince Ackeyun of the kingdom of Dagwan had forty wives. He had so many wives that he didn’t know what to do with all of them. Every time another wife was offered to him as a symbol of peace from one of the neighboring countries, he could not refuse their father’s marriage invitations. All of the kingdoms of the world of Iregeya wanted peace with his kingdom because he had resources they each craved.
Marrying into the resources was the best way for the other kingdoms to have access to them without being forced to sign a proper treaty. Thus, poor Prince Ackeyun was stuck with forty wives from the most known kingdoms of the world. The only thing he could think to do with his wives was give them a good place to stay.
He placed each of the women in the Grand Halls that rested at the back of his palace. The Grand Halls had been built by one of his ancestors long ago to accommodate the imperial harem. The multiple chambers had great columns made of black stone that rose for what seemed like miles into the sky. At the top and base of the columns were the carved images of griffins.
Each of the griffins had painted red eyes which stood in contrast to their otherwise black, carved, stone forms. The roof was made of black wood and laid in a crisscross pattern over the columns. On the roof of the grand halls were the painted images of the God Ravin Mon, with his eagle wings outstretched and his feet grasping at the threads of the universe with his hooked talons.
The walls were decorated with complicated hieroglyphics that the ancient kings had once written in. Sitting next to the upraised hieroglyphics was a writing script that the kingdom still used. The hieroglyphics were a window into the past. The only way they could be deciphered was by the modern script that was written on the gold walls in red ink. The ancient language had long been forgotten and the Grand Halls was one of the only places in the kingdom that they could still be found.
There were multiple natural hot springs that were built into the layout of the Grand Hall. Each of the hot springs was circled by a dark ring of stones and had black, steep steps built down into them. The stairs stopped at the bottom of each spring, where they met a natural rock floor. The hall lead out into many gardens that were watered with an ancient pipe system that ran underneath the city.
Multiple pipes drew water out of a river that snaked into the mountains far to the east of the kingdom. The water in the pipes was partitioned throughout the palace and other areas of the kingdom. It was used for everything from fountains and sprinkler systems to bathtub water and even running water for toilets.
The Grand Hall had many rooms that were each decorated according to the taste of the princess that lived in them. Some of the rooms had lavish sofas with many pillows of silk and cotton atop them that the princesses used as cushions for their beds. Some of the rooms had four posted beds with canopies that held rose petals above them as they slept. Some rooms had grand carpets made of thread that only traveling merchants from faraway lands had access to before being brought to the palace.
Never in one place had anyone in those days and days since seen so many rooms with so many different adornments. The princesses had many servants that attended to their needs and lived with them in their imperial chambers. The rooms were large enough to accommodate as many assistants as the princesses needed.
The prince took very good care of his wives. Whatever they asked, he would do everything in his power to provide for them, no matter what the distance away the item was that they desired, or how much it would cost. Some would say that Prince Ackeyun was very lucky to have as many wives as he did that he could call upon any time he felt lonely.
However, the truth of the matter was that it was very hard work trying to please all of his wives. He often found himself with a quite a big headache at the end of the day. As if dealing with the matters of the kingdom was not hard enough, he also had to worry about his forty wives.
His father and mother were still alive, so some of the country’s burden was lifted from his shoulders. Even so, Prince Ackeyun was aware that this ideal situation would not last forever. He could only imagine how things would be when he had the full rights to the throne. If the countries of Iregeya kept marrying him off to their daughters, he wouldn’t have any time to himself at all. This troubled him greatly and often made him feel overwhelmed.
Prince Ackeyun was trying to think of a solution to his problem on one such occasion when he noticed one of the princesses walking unescorted in his palace’s main garden. He immediately sat up from the grassy knoll where he was sitting and walked over to greet her.
He bowed slightly forward and said in a courtly manner, “My lady, you should not be walking outside the boundaries of the imperial harem without an attendant to guide you. There are many countries jealous of my wealth. You could very well be captured by one of my enemies if you wander around the palace gardens unescorted.”
The lady sat down in the grass, pulling her many skirts around her frame. She smiled up at the prince.
“Your highness, you do not have to worry about me. I come from a warrior nation to the northeast of Dagwan. I have been well trained in the art of war. I was going to be a general in my army until my father sent me here.”
When she saw the prince’s look of shock at her sudden forwardness she quickly added, “Oh dear, I didn’t mean for it to sound as though I didn’t want to come here. I was just trying to let you know that you don’t have to worry about me.”
The prince sighed and sat beside her.
“I wish that the really were the case. It would be nice if I didn’t have to worry about you all of the time. However, the laws of this land dictate that I give you the greatest of care. I am responsible for your well-being. I must make sure that you are well housed or I shall be thought of as an irresponsible member of the royal house when it comes time for me to rule this land. ”
The princess looked ashamed for wandering around by herself, after hearing what the prince had told her.
She said, “It was not my intention to cause you worry or to be a burden to you. I just thought you should know that I am more than capable of taking care of myself. No one would look down upon you if they knew how capable I was of being my own master.”
The prince didn’t know quite what to say to the princess’s revelation. However, the longer he gazed into the princess’s eyes the more her words stirred something inside of him. His thoughts turned to his current situation.
He thought to himself, “Why couldn’t that be true? Why couldn’t I just let my wives worry about themselves? They were all formally trained before they arrived at the palace. This princess might really be onto something here.”
It occurred to the prince that what he was thinking was just crazy enough of an idea to work. He really did wish that the princesses could be free and happy outside of his care. His plan was one way of accomplishing this lofty task. Prince Ackeyun realized that he had been quiet for a long time and smiled tenderly at the princess.
“My lady, if I made you a general in my army, would that please you? You couldn’t be my wife, but I would pay you for your services. You could make an honest living doing something that you love. Would this make you happy?”
The princess’s eyes lit up in wonder.
“I could be a general in your army, and do whatever I wished and married whoever I wanted to?”
The prince nodded.
“That is correct. Anything you wanted, you could do as a free member of my royal house. What do you say?”
The princess hugged the prince.
“Oh, I would like that very much! Can I be a general now? I want to enlist in your army as soon as possible!”
The prince stood from the grass.
“Indeed you can. I shall proclaim you as a new head general straight away! Come with me to the Chamber of Warlords at the southern end of my palace. We shall fit you with armor and a sword this very day!”
The princess hopped up from her place on the grass and followed the prince to the royal Chamber of Warriors. When the prince explained the situation to the head general of the Royal Army, the men that had overheard the conversation thought he had completely lost his mind.
Nonetheless, the general followed the prince’s orders and the men in the prince’s army accepted the lady as their superior. The princesses was fitted with armor, given a horse, given a proper weapon, and was enlisted as a general in the royal army. In time, she became a legend in the palace tournaments. People came from all over the kingdom to watch her joust and display her warrior skills in other fighting tournaments. Everyone in the kingdom was impressed by her skill.
When the other princesses learned of Princess Moryana’s fate, they too wanted a position in the palace. One by one the prince gave the princesses titles in the palace. Some became advisers. Some became admirals in the kingdom’s navy fleet. Some became council members. Some became royal seamstresses. Others became royal chefs. Pretty soon the whole palace was filled with an equal number of men and women carrying out every level of task imaginable. Some of the princesses left the castle and worked as governors in neighboring towns. Others worked in neighboring cities as Council members, or soldiers in other parts of the kingdom.
Prince Ackeyun had finally rid himself of the responsibility of looking after so many wives. Now he could focus on choosing on wife that he really loved, rather than looking after an entire imperial harem. Some of the royal family members of the other kingdoms of Iregeya discovered what prince Ackeyun had done and were not pleased.
The ruler of the elementals, King Leighton of Joziah kingdom, could not believe that his daughter Moryana was working as a general in the king’s army. The Satyr King Ignacio of Valentia Kingdom could hardly believe that his eldest daughter Rhea had become an imperial baker. This was very troubling to many of the kings of the various nations. No one had ever heard of such a thing in their entire lives of living on the world. It was totally unprecedented.
It came to pass that there was a council between the kings of the countries that had married their daughters to Prince Ackeyun. It took a month for all of them to meet at the designated place, but when they all got together they were more furious than ever. The kings had decided to hold their meeting in the kingdom of Gaige since it was a neutral kingdom. The fairy king Bael was the ruler of Gaige and was chosen by all of the other kings to be the head of the council. After everyone had settled into their chairs in the great council room, the kings began to address their grievances one by one.
The Troll King Davon of Blaise Kingdom growled between clenched teeth, “Do you know what my daughter Yanet is doing? She is working as a palace administrator. She is doing a job below her station. This is an outrage!”
The Dwarf King Maxton of Shudra Kingdom waved his hand dismissively.
“That’s nothing. My daughter Honora is working as a royal carriage driver. Can you believe it? She wrote me and told me that she is going to marry a dwarf man that tends the royal stables. What does that Prince Ackeyun think he is doing?”
The pale-skinned Fairy King Bael raised his staff to silence the muttering that was being exchanged between all of the members of the council. He gestured for the gnome king to speak his piece when the chattering had settled down.
The Gnome King Framend of Arlo Kingdom stood up in his chair and bellowed at the top of his lungs so everyone could hear, “The lot of you do not even know what suffering means. My daughter Teegan has become a head member of the royal sewing committee. Her greatest power is commanding the other woman of the sewing committee to make carpets for the palace, bed sheets, or clothes! I tell you, this young prince is an upstart. If it weren’t for his resources, I would have never sent my daughter to live in his kingdom in the first place!”
The council room echoed with the voices of the other angry fathers as they tried to speak about their grievances all at once. The Fairy King Bael raised his staff above his head and held it until the council was in order.
He proceeded to say, “It seems to me, that the prince thinks that his marriage to our daughters was some kind of joke. I say that we attack his kingdom, reclaim our daughters, and take his resources for ourselves.”
The council members all shouted words of approval and that is how the whole world turned against poor Prince Ackeyun, quite literally. Princess Moryana heard rumors of the impending war and told the prince about it straight away. The prince was shocked at the news. After talking with the other members of his council (many of them the princesses of the other kingdoms who intended to attack his land) he decided that he had no choice but to go to war.
King Leighton of Joziah set a time and place for the battle to end all battles. Prince Ackeyun accepted the invitation reluctantly under the guidance of his council and headed out to rage war with the other kingdoms. Many of the princesses the rode into battle at his side were commanders, admirals, and generals in his army. When he arrived on the battlefield, a curious thing happened. The gathered armies recognized the princesses by the country flags waving from the back of their chariots and refused to advance.
The Elemental King turned to the other kings commanding their vast armies and said, “We cannot fight a battle against our own daughters. We must think of another solution to this problem.”
The other kings agreed and had their generals waved the red flag of peace. One by one the red flags rose in the air. Never had there been such a display of red banners all in one place before! So it came to pass that the war that had taken over a year for each side to correlate and train for was disbanded in less than a day. Finally, King Leighton of Joziah and the kings of the other nations had a council meeting in the kingdom of Prince Ackeyun. Each of them expressed their grievances and the prince listened to the complaints of each one. When everyone was done talking the prince had this to say.
He stood from his throne and said, “Every one of you kings married your daughters to me in order to have access to my resources. Each of you has had free access to my resources without a formal trade agreement for many years. I have provided each and every one of your daughters a promising role in my kingdom. I would like to add that each of them is compensated for their services. All I can say is that if you are so angry with the way I am treating your daughters, you should be angrier at yourselves for handing them over to me for your own selfish purposes in the first place. May shame be upon any man who wishes to deprive his daughter of the good fortune they have found in my lands for no other reason than to save their own pride.”
The kings were shocked at what the prince had brought to light. They all muttered amongst themselves and finally came to the mutual agreement that the prince was right and that his solution had been the most just of anyone there. That very day, the prince drew up a peace treaty with all of the nations present. He also signed a free trade agreement, so there wouldn’t be any more daughters forced upon him to marry. That is how prince Ackeyun freed himself from being tied down to forty wives.
It is said that other kingdoms followed his example. Women became powerful members in government and were free to choose their husbands across the world of Iregeya. After having so many wives, prince Ackeyun never thought he would settle down and marry. However, when his mother and father died, he was obligated to find a wife after taking the throne. His thoughts returned to the princess that had given him the advice in the first place that fateful day in the palace garden.
He married the lady Moryana and he made sure that she still held the title of general in his army. The only thing that changed was that this time around, she was the royal general. They say that never in the world of Iregeya was there a fiercer a warrior than she. She had many children with prince Ackeyun who also became warriors.
From that moment on, it became a tradition for all the princes and princes of the house of Dagwan to become warriors for their kingdom. None of them had to keep an imperial harem so the old space was turned into a lavish guest hall for travelers to say in when they were far from the borders of their own kingdoms. Dagwan became known as the kingdom that had the best hospitality and most secure resources because of the decision to disband the imperial harem by Prince Ackeyun and his children that followed after.