“No,” Rabin persisted, “that’s no answer. My twin brother is Rachim. He’s a prince in Moquel. His name means prince’s blessing. I am Rabin, and my name just means the prince’s second. Second might actually mean second, but it could also mean servant. The prophecy says that the first son of the Winter Rose will rise to be a decent prince. The second son is doomed to die by his own pride.”
The man smiled. “And the third son?”
“The third son will serve a prince and queens.” Rabin shrugged. “I have a half brother named Kim. I guess he must be third. I have no idea how he will find a prince and queens to serve, but that sounds better than death by pride.”
The Moquel looked impatient. “High Prince Recipin has two more royal sons and an eldest daughter after you and Rachim. Of course, there are other bastards. Your mother has a daughter and son by your stepfather. There are, apparently, too many sons by the way you are counting. The third son seems like a good boy, though. On the other hand, if you are doomed to die through pride, you should try to do it as well as you can.”
“They are the Prophecies of the Winter Rose, and that flower is the symbol of the Grandtree women. My half siblings by my father don’t count, right?”
“Ah, that is the wrong question and one too many. I am bored with this riddle,” the man said. “You are not counting correctly. I have told you the answer, but the answer is too obvious for you to understand it. The only answer you really need is that there is nothing you can do about it anyway.”
“You’ve told me nothing.” Suddenly, Rabin wondered if this apparition was a fool and not a sage.
As if the man picked up on Rabin’s last thought, he said, “The Goddess is a mystery to fools and sages. It doesn’t matter. Your task tonight is just to make an enemy. If you like prophecy so much, remember that only a prince will kill the prince. That’s what the dark prince and his brother know and hardly expect out here in the wilds. The Goddess loves a touch of irony.”
“One of us is insane,” Rabin told the man in sage’s robes.
The Moquel cocked his head as if listening for something in the distance. Then he smiled, “I have some good news for you. When you tell your enemies and friends who you are, the brown-eyed girl will hear you. When you are down to nothing, she will have something.”
“Every girl I’ve seen in the HIlls has blue eyes. Moquels have green eyes. Also, I’m no kind of prince. Rachim is a prince, and I am a Grandtree.”
“Are you no kind of prince? That’s what many say of the Dark Prince too,” the Moquel said. “Of course, you could avoid making a mortal enemy, but you won’t. You’d better get to it then.” The slim Moquel thrust his hands slightly forward. Rabin did not feel the man’s touch, but he felt pushed.