"1500 credits?"

"That's what I said!  Can you put a price on a life?!"

"Clearly they did!", retorted Hook.

"I'm still insulted!  That's all I was worth to them!" scoffed the would be king named Daniel.

"You're... insulted? Because they didn't offer enough?"

"1,500 credits!  I would have been okay with 150 thousand credits!   Or maybe even 15 thousand credits!  But 1,500 credits?!  It's insulting!"

"Do you even know what a 'credit' is worth?"

"No."  Daniel put his hand to his forehead and grimaced.  "I don't know.  It could be pennies, pounds, or much greater.  That's not the point.  It's sounds small!"

Hook grinned wildly, and then chuckled.  "So you don't even know what a credit is, but you're insulted about the price??  How are you not upset because people were trying to kill you?  You're upset because the price on your head was too low?!"

Valanthe spoke quietly to Hook, "He may almost have been the king, but he's insane."

"Dear, I prefer his insanity to the madness out there," Hook replied.

Daniel paced about.  "It was at a pub that I found out.  I was told my value. That's what I was worth to them.  I don't know who offered this, nor why.  It sounded ridiculous. I laughed at this price. That sits with you though.  I didn't think anything of it, but we all know what happened."

"Why didn't you tell us?"

"Would you have believed me?"

"I barely do now..."  Hook continued, "Everything collapsed.  It doesn't make sense.  How did you escape and survive?  They must be an army, and you're well, just you."

"Luck.  Pure luck."  Daniel grinned.  "Yes, that's what it was."  Daniel winked at both of his guests.  "I disappeared for a day before everything began through pure coincidence.  I enjoyed the woods, fencing, riding.  Nothing spectacular.  When I came home, I saw my small harmonica stomped on the ground, outside, and noted that it was out of place.  Small marks were on the entrance door, near the lock, which was also weird.  After extra moments to open my own door, despite having the key, I entered, and it was much more obvious. Walls were scratched as if a madman had entered.  It made no sense.  My plants stank as if someone.. pissed on them - or worse.  It seemed like someone was trying to convince others that insanity had entered my mind.  But to what end?"

"We already knew you were insane! " Valanthe smirked.

"Ha. Ha. Very funny."  Daniel rolled his eyes and sighed.

"And that was enough to convince you that your life was in danger?" continued Hook.

"What can one do in such a situation?  That was enough to convince me that I should question whether my life was in danger."

"They must have been after your life then.  They didn't get you yet, whoever they are. "

"Who knows what they were after?  I'm still alive so that would mean no?  I acted as if I was but not knowing truly.  I went quietly out the back side of my home, former home, tower.  I considered it best to spend the next day out, so I visited the pool of fairies."

"So, that's how you escaped!!  No, that can't be it.  There's more.  You have scars that you didn't before."

"I was at the pool of fairies. The irony at this point is that I had no clue.  Sheer luck!  I was so comfortable there at that pool, moreso than any other moment in my life, so I slept there. That night that things shut down, and then the following.  The pool glowed of warmth and comfort. I was satisfied and at peace.  I wish I could relive that moment.  It was truly magical."

"While the kingdom began to burn, its missing prince was at a pool.  Typical prince.." said Valanthe, with an unprecious snort. "I wish I could have seen the fairies though!"

"The fairies took notice of me and brought me everything I needed. They entertained me with their dancing lights.  Their food was grand.  Fruit, and a white nourishment of some sort, very tasty and filling.  What was that?"

"Their magic nectar - I believe they call it manna."  Hook paused for a brief moment.  "You were going to be killed and forcefully.. disappear, but you disappeared voluntarily, unaware. The kingdom was about to fall apart, yet your disappearance caused the kingdom to fall apart.  You gave them their plans except early, leaving them unprepared. It's a completely ridiculous scenario.  Also, you'd think kingdoms would have better safety mechanisms."

"Completely right.  My disappearance triggered the fall of Albion a week earlier than those fools had planned. It looked as if I knew their plans.  I was unexplainable and could rise at any time. I knew that my absence would not go unnoticed but that?  That was unintentional. I had my suspicions that something might be coming, but everything was amplified by these abnormal circumstances.  Without my absence, neither you nor anyone else would have had any chance.  Although Albion is ruined, it is not destroyed.   This fighting chance for all of Albion - it saved many more lives - all by me doing nothing.  All by chance."

"You caused chaos in their plans by doing nothing?"

"When I returned from the pool, I saw that my home tower was on fire! I could not see anyone there nor nearby to help. I rushed to find help, but that is when the thugs appeared.."

"Is that finally how you received your scars?"

"No, the two thugs that encountered me were outmatched! Haha! I wouldn't even call it a tussle - they had no clue who they had encountered yet!  I kept one hand behind my back the entire time, out of boredom!  Standard thugs, although they seemed an unlikely pair. There were two then, to start. Our battle had barely started before I saw that others were coming.  I had no choice but to run away."

"I don't believe it.  You can't have escaped and made it here if there were so many.  Yet, you must have."

"I run quickly."  Daniel's grin became bigger than ever. "It's amazing what you can do when you hide in plain sight.  I was so confident in their inability that I even stopped for sweets.  No one recognized me when I did that. I ate sweets in right front of them, while I watched them.  It was complete foolishness, but my foolishness hid me.  I pressed forward whenever it was safe.  I was lucky to find this place.  Who knew that this would be the perfect spot for me to survive, but also to rebuild my kingdom? I didn't know this place existed.  And you found it. When I first came, it was empty, dusty, dark, not this well lit beacon. It didn't take long for them to find me.  With enough people intent on finding you, it will happen. This place, it fought back. The house protected me. Oh, and what a battle it was!  I dare say I shall never have any battle like that again." Daniel paused.  "There were too many.  And that's how I ended up with this scar," at which point Daniel pointed to his nose. "I was knocked unconscious during an all out assault."

"You survived though!"

"The golden knight followed them, somehow.  He deserves full credit for having chased them away, while I was unconscious.  Perhaps they believed he was not alone.  Maybe I was worth only 1500 credits when under..."

"You're really hung up on this 1500 credits thing, aren't you?"

"Absolutely!  Can you imagine being the person who keeps this ledger?  'Prince Daniel - 1500 credits.'  Who keeps the ledger?  Who gives that person these orders?? Who else would be listed on the ledger? There must be other people, good and bad, listed there.  If I had the power, I'd find that ledger and protect the people in it, at least to find out what they know.  And I'd really want to know where I was ranked!"

Hook rolled his eyes.  Valanthe then said, "I'd want to know where I was ranked too.  I bet I'd be pretty high!"

"I'm certain that you would be, Valanthe.  The times you've fought off vandals.  You'd no doubt be very well known."  Valanthe smiles.  "Fifteen hundred credits is not nearly enough for me, nor you!  And it's hardly enough to cover the people who won't ever succeed in killing me! Or whatever their dark plans are.  Good luck to them, they will need it! Ha! They'd never be able to enjoy it."

"You don't think that there's a chance that they can reach you here?"

"A king must consider everything. But no, I'm no longer the most important thing. Things have changed.  They have other battles to wage to survive now that the kingdom has caught on. They do not yet realize that I am destined to be the king of all of Albion.  It's written in that book that you retrieved.  Fate is on my side.  Why should anyone want to curse themself with bad luck for not the rest of not only life, but all of their existence and beyond! Can you imagine if someone were to actually succeed, fate aside? Wars would start.  The many thousands that love me from all the regions Albion would literally hunt that vandal down - and find him too.  The magic in this place guarantees that.  Fools may continue to try, and the world has no shortage of fools! My uncle would also find and deal with them quickly, even if we aren't on greatest terms."

"Your uncle?"

"The chief advisor to the other great kingdom.  Maybe he is unwittingly helping in these domination schemes, but I doubt that he knows of their plans yet.  You wouldn't want to make him upset.  Even for me, he would avenge my death, and swiftly.  I doubt that even he knows the full extent of deceit and treachery that has happened."

"We've strayed from the story of your escape.."

"I'm still insulted about the 1500 credits!  That means they didn't sent their best nor brightest, they sent their lowest to get me!  And barely an army!  That's all I was worth to them!"  Daniel stopped and looked whistful.  "Perhaps that's all I was worth. They were actually moments from succeeding."

"Get over it will you!"

"No!  I may have my life, but I am no longer fighting for that!  Now things are boring!  I have the right, and time, to feel insulted!  Whoever offered this reward for my head should have offered more than 1500 credits though. Their mistake!  Hahahah! Especially now, since I have the book that you retrieved."

"You almost deserve to be so cocky," Valanthe remarked.

"I must admit though, congratulations on surviving. This book, what is it really? You said it was 'the book to save the world?'  Will order ever be restored?  To Albion then?"

"This book is the most important thing in all of Albion right now, beyond the worth of any of our lives combined, even my own.  We must protect it at any cost.  It has the future and past written in it." Daniel pulled out leather bound yet somehow white book.  As he flipped through its pages, the words stood on its title, "The Book to Save the World", glowing slightly.  The following page had at the top of the page words written in a fine script and with dark ink, "Prince Daniel, the future king of Albion shall soon rule until peace and prosperity are restored."  No other text was on that page nor any other.

"Daniel..  it's.. empty!"

"It's actually completely full.  We just.. we just can't read it yet.. This page, this line, though.  It shows the future.  While I am not king, it says that I will be yet."

"I believe you, but will it unlock so that we can see it?"

"I have to figure out how.  Whatever the process, I am certain that it will be slow.  And there are very many pages in it."

"That line. Albion survives.  That's hope?  Can it possibly be true?"

"It is completely true.  As certain as I stand before you, though previously believed dead, Albion shall prosper.  And I will be its great and final king. We shall bring hope.  Albion could use a great deal of hope right now, and well more than that. We may still have battles and challenges to overcome, but we.... will..... conqu......" Daniel passed out mid sentence into his plate of food.

At that moment, horns sounded, signalling the onset of either travellers or intruders to the yard.

"To arms!" Valanthe and Hook yelled, as they raised their glasses and each took one final swig of their drinks.

"I can't believe how insulted he is," reprised Valanthe as they rushed out the door.

"He'll get over it," replied Hook, an indication that any further queries to the prince would wait to be answered another day.