Magnus Dahl was the bachelor people didn’t trust: never showing his true emotions, with a deep resistance to conforming with tradition, and unwilling to take his place in the family business seriously. Girls were warned against his perceived indecisiveness, except for the one detail which gave every girl hope to change the mysterious lad: he was the Crown Prince of Martierra.
Oh yes, the not so minor detail of him being heir often got him into more trouble than out with his father, King Ferdinand VI of Martierra. The King wasn’t giving up on his twenty-seven-year-old son. His duty to the Royal Family wasn’t all as complicated as Magnus made it seem. Martierra’s population was just under 50,000 people. A small yet sovereign state, the Dahl family had ruled as a just and constitutional monarchy for hundreds of years, with King Ferdinand VI as the current head of state. It was a role and title Magnus had no desire to inherit.
Unfortunately for Magnus, he could not abdicate his role as the Crown Prince. Their monarchy forbade it, and unlike popular movies where a person easily makes a motion, and they put it to a vote, his crown and role weren’t up for discussion. His one and only sibling was his sister, Cossette, and she was forbidden to rule by law. It was another issue Magnus had with their outdated tradition.
* * *
“Magnus, please, son,” The Queen and his mother, Elizabeth, begged, “do not run off again. Your father needs you here. I know this isn’t the life you’ve chosen, but son, this life chose you. None of us control this any more than we have control over the weather.”
“Mother, you know there is such a thing called climate engineering, right? Technology is such that creating consequential climate change is plausible. Albeit, still debatable how these ranges can or should be managed, it is most definitely a thing, this geoengineering.”
His father frowned upon these types of conversation; his family had never been too scientific. Being a predominantly Christian nation, the Royal Family preferred conversing about humanity and goodwill unto others. Nothing wrong with it except, Magnus believed, it was important to be more open-minded, accepting of exponential research and data, proof that showed science being more plausible than not.
“Where are you off to this time? Geneva? Zurich?” His mother patiently waited for a reply.
“The United States. It's been a while since I’ve visited, and I feel the need to embrace total anonymity.”
“The United States of America? Magnus. But why? Why on earth would you go there, now? With so much uncertainty among their people? I don’t know. It doesn’t seem safe. I’m not sure I’m comfortable with this.” The Queen reached over to her son. “Please, Magnus. Rethink this decision.”
“I’ve decided that is where I am going. I promise, Mother, I will try harder to be a better Crown Prince upon my return.”
The Dahl family, like many royals, wasn’t outwardly affectionate, but this time Magnus reached over, embracing his mother and said, “I need this.”
“Very well. But you must be the one to tell your father. He’ll be home for dinner. I don’t know if there is a best time but try to find it.”
* * *
The palace’s traditional six-course dinner typically started in the art room, where hors d’oeuvre awaited as the family listened to a pianist or cello player. It was a practice Magnus found ostentatious.
Magnus once requested, in advance, the pianist play Bohemian Rhapsody, much to his father’s discontent. The poor pianist thought surely he’d never be invited back to the palace. But the King, being the people’s King, didn’t fret. He knew well where the order had come from.
This evening, however, there was no music. The Queen had conveniently ensured the family’s privacy, in the event, Magnus found it an opportune moment to speak to the King.
“Why do you look so nervous?” Cossette said with her sharp English accent. She’d gone to boarding school in England, and while she spoke seven languages, her accent was very much English, while the rest of the family had more of a Spanish accent.
“Nothing for you to worry about, I can assure you.” He adjusted his tie to breathe better.
“As if.” Cossette zeroed her eyes in on her brother. “I know this look, Magnus. You are about to upset Father. I can sense it. What is it you are about to tell him?”
“It truly is none of your business. Besides, what I must tell Father will hardly upset him. Just because we don’t always see eye to eye doesn’t mean he’s upset.”
There was no time for a rebuttal; the King entered the room dismissing the attendant at the door. The Queen observed her husband who was set on his mission.
Thanks, Magnus thought to himself as he observed his mother’s demeanor.
“What is this I hear, Magnus, that you’re off to the United States to gallivant those lands with no escorts and no reason but to enjoy yourself?”
Magnus caught Cossette snickering; she was happy to see he’d once again caused anger in their father. She was bitter because she couldn’t inherit the throne and wanted it badly.
But his father’s twitchy ear lobes quickly distracted Magnus. Whenever he was angry or, in this case, furious, his earlobes twitched. The King’s face would go red, his chin and collar would become one. The twitchy earlobes were often a welcome distraction to Magnus while he was being scolded. At this moment, Magnus hadn’t even noticed he was smirking.
“You think this is funny?” the King shouted.
“Sorry, Father. No, I find no comedic relief in this. I’m just trying to keep my nerves at bay. Since this conversation is happening, to answer your question, yes, I leave tomorrow. I don’t know how long I’ll stay, but I feel like I’m on a soul search. I’ve already told Mother how I plan on doing my best upon my return, to adhere with royal protocol, and take my role as the Crown Prince more seriously. I ask of you a little more patience. I need this,” Magnus asserted.
His father’s face slowly dropped a few shades of red as his wife massaged the back of his neck. He paced toward a window overlooking the south gardens, his favorite place to think.
“Son. I must trust you will return, soon, and take your place in this monarchy. I pray you do not stray for too long, and that you find what it is you are searching for, so long as it does not bring our family shame. You have my blessing.” The King turned toward his son and stretched his hand out as an offering of peace.
“Thank you, Father. I assure you, I’ll return a changed man.”
Magnus could hardly know if that was true, but he was willing to succumb to the pressure of the throne, finally.