When Dariun meets his future king for the first time, he doesn’t know much about the prince. The boy is taking part in a battle meeting, silently sitting in his place, not saying a word until the king, his father, leaves the room. When his father is gone the boy smiles at the man around him and joins them in conversation. Arslan surprises him by knowing all generals by name and conversing with the men around him in a fashion that shows he knows what is going on in his country. He seems too young for this sort of behavior.
And it's known the king always keeps his son at arms length, wants him in battle, in the councils, but nowhere near his own person.
His uncle sees something in the boy. He’s been his teacher for a while, teaching him how to hold a sword, explaining military strategies. Dariun only sees a child in expensive clothes.
“Dariun,” the prince addresses him in a quiet moment. “Your uncle tells me you are the best knight of Parse.” He smiles a strangely shy smile and Dariun feels himself relax a little.
“I’m sure my uncle is exaggerating, your Highness.”
“I’m not sure about that,” the prince replies. “You’re uncle is not someone to lie about these things.”
“He’s proud of me, that’s all.”
“I’d like someone to be proud of me like that one day.” The tone is wistful, but the eyes are sad. Dariun understands for the first time, why his uncle thinks Arslan is so very different from the rest of the royal family.
“He’s more than meets the eye, that beautiful, young prince.”
“His Highness, prince Arslan?”
“Yes, uncle. The prince. We only have the one as far as I'm aware.”
Valphreze laughs at his impatience. “Right. Only the one. But he’ll make a good king one day. A very good king.”
Dariun only nods. He doesn’t know this child-prince well enough to pass a judgment n his uncle’s statement. It doesn’t matter what he thinks, either. The crown prince will be king one day. But he smiles nonetheless. Valphreze is a perfect judge of character. After all he has known Dariun would be a general from the moment he took him in at age twelve.
And there just is something about the prince that Dariun couldn’t describe with words, but that gives him confidence, something that makes him wonder about the boy's life at court.
“I’d like someone to be proud of me like that one day.”
“I have a feeling you’re right, uncle. He’ll grow up to be a good king.” He has a feeling it’s true, too.