Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tales from the Bergamot: The Black Prince Ruby

Things are not always as they seem. I should know; people have been mistaking me for a ruby for centuries. While I used to take offense to this blunder, now I relish in the remembrance of countless fools who have gone to their deaths in an attempt to have me as their own. Little did they know that I am in fact a spinel! These supposedly important and powerful people succumbing to their most basic and greedy instincts, stained me red forevermore with their blood.

Should I tell you about some of my conquests? How about Muhammed VI? Born into a long and illustrious line of Sultans, he lived in a time and place of change. While his kingdom in Muslim Spain was long lived until the mid 1300s, he was reduced to a pawn in a battle between two feuding Spanish houses. He thought that by allying with the house of Aragon that he might be able to retain a piece of his family's once immense kingdom. He couldn't have been more wrong.

Pedro of Castille had very different plans in mind. He proposed a peace talk near Seville one warm evening, supposedly in order convince the Sultan to bridge the divide between the houses. It is while discussing this that I first caught Pedro's eye. Hanging like a talisman around Muhammed's neck was a deep red mass glowing brightly in what remained of the day's light. All at once, Pedro was consumed by a desire to take the glow away from the Sultan throat and claim me for his own. He quickly took out his beautifully carved ivory-hilt dagger and stabbed him through the heart. While he cleaned the blood from his blade and tucked me safely in his pocket, he congratulated himself not only in removing his enemy's ally, but also in his most fortunate acquisition.

What about this Pedro? Some called him cruel. Some people even said he killed his wife. He wouldn't be the first royal to be accused of this, nor the last. I simply saw him as weak and opportunistic; going about like a peacock since that day near Seville, reveling in his triumph. But that cowardly little man soon got nervous again when he learned that his brother Henry was looking to overthrow him, aided by the house of Aragon. Desperate to quell this rising power, Pedro called upon a force so dark that even he would not wish it as his enemy. He called upon the Black Prince.

Now that was a character; he was my favorite, since I identified with him most of all. The Black Prince was like a force of nature. One that cannot be commanded or tempered. Stories of his savagery and prowess in war were as terrifying as the black stare he would give any living soul. Pedro could not manage to buy his allegiance with the promise of land, power or money as he could with other men. The Black Prince would only be swayed to join him if he also gave up the one thing he treasured almost as dearly as his worthless life: me. Pedro reluctantly agreed.

So they waged war fiercely against Henry, but when it became obvious that Pedro had no intention to honor his promises, the Black Prince left him at the mercy of his relentless brother. Henry would deal Pedro the final blow by spearing through his pathetic body but it was the Black Prince who took what was left of his soul. He cut me away from Pedro's throat at the edge of a blade, gathered his armies and left Spain forever.

"Pity" the Black Prince didn't live very long after that. Turns out that he would die of illness, rather than by the sword. From his hands, I was passed down from one king to the next; each one as unremarkable as the one before. And now...well...things have been quiet lately. Reduced to a mere trinket, I compete with other stones in this silly hat for awe and admiration. I like to console myself by thinking that people today are not much different to the ones from before. And someday soon, people will again bleed for me.

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