Wilbur is assigned to be the Prince’s Knight of the Week, a special title reserved for only the best of knights.
Or well, it used to be.
Now, the Prince goes through Knights like a cat to clean paper, and the answer as to why they leave so fast is kept behind zipped lips and linked pinkies.
Wilbur figures that it will be closer to baby sitting, and resigns himself for a boring week of watching a spoiled brat prance around the castle. Of course, he reasons. That has to be the reason why no knight ever signs up for a second week.
He is proven very wrong. With the startling discovery that the Prince can outsmart the entire castle’s guard system, where he uses his charisma and agility to disorient and dodge the guards who are double or triple his senior, to escape the castle and run among the commoners. Which makes sense, because if the rumors hold true- that means Technoblade himself took the honor of teaching this kid his masterful strategies and evasive maneuvers. Which is just fucking fantastic isn’t it?
Now, as he watches the castle scramble after the nimble Prince, he has a choice. He can try to be one step ahead, play an intense game of minds in order to capture the Prince and wrangle him back to the castle- or- he can run alongside the Prince, escaping into the commonwealth together, hand in hand. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, as the saying goes.
An unexpected duo, the lonely Prince in a castle depraved of personality, that has infrequent exceptions he must savor for everything they’re worth— and the reluctant knight who lacks something he never had, with a knack for little ecosystems in sealed glass jars.
One week to gain the favor of Prince Tom, he thinks.
One very, very boring week it will be.
Wilbur and Dream stand at attention, waiting for their orders.
“Wilbur Soot,” he stays stock still, eyes concentrated on his sergeant. “You have been elected to protect Prince Tom for this week. Should you win Prince Tom’s favor, you will have many opportunities in your future, so take this job seriously.” Internally, Wilbur groans. Babysitting? Really? Just when thought he was finally getting some respect in this damned place.
“Dream Morrow, you have been elected to protect George Lost, a high noble that will be traveling towards Kinoko Kingdom in the East. You will accompany him for the entire journey.”
The sergeant rattles off more orders and instructions for the two of them, but it’s all the same as it always is.
1. make sure they don’t die
2. don’t disrespect them
3. be prepared to give up your life over a dropped fork
When they’re dismissed, Dream immediately elbows him. “So, you get to watch the prince laze around all day huh?” Wilbur shoves him, albeit a little harder than he intended. Dream picks up on his sour mood and laughs. “Oh c’mon, it’ll be easy. Hey, maybe Prince Tom will even give you his favor!”
“Fuck off man,” Wilbur grits his teeth. “You know that Prince Tom hasn’t given his favor ever since he met that Technoblade guy.”
Technoblade was a fierce warrior, known for his unbeaten nature and terse conversations. He ended up spending four weeks with Prince Tom, after which he was given the Princes favor and dropped off the face of the earth. Rumors have it that he serves the King now. Wilbur doesn’t doubt it.
“Hey! You never know, what if he likes your banter and oddly specific knowledge about sealed glass jars?”
He rolls his eyes. “They’re bottled ecosystems, Dream, and you fucking know it.” Dream laughs, bumping his side into Wilbur and letting the tenseness from before melt away.
Their conversation keeps within banter boundaries, and Wilbur briefly forgets about his oncoming duty with the Prince.
That night when they’re packing, Dream tells him to keep plenty of diapers on hand. Wilbur throws his shoe at him for it.
Wilbur mentally prepares himself to meet with Prince Tom. He needs to make a good impression- professional, short worded, all of his usual mannerisms when handling the rich and esteemed. Maybe I can even get the kids favor, he muses.
He waits alongside his commander. The King came around earlier to share a few words with Wilbur, but after a minute or so of idle chat- the King left the room once more.
Then back to waiting.
His commander gives him a command to stay where he is, and walks off to talk with someone- presumably about Prince Tom’s absence.
He doesn’t return. Wilbur resigns himself to waiting for a long time, relaxing his posture ever so slightly. No one else is here, after all.
“Hey, knight.” A young voice asks behind him. Against his previous instructions, and out of pure impulse and curiosity- Wilbur turns around.
Prince Tom stands behind him, an easy grin on his face. “Hi.”
Wilbur absolutely does not jump, or reach for his sword as if to strike royalty, because that would be treason. Prince Tom cackles at his reaction, and Wilbur fumes, heat radiating from his ears.
“Your majesty-“ Wilbur tries for a scolding tone, “that was incredibly inappropriate, and-”
“-and irresponsible, unjustly, childish, commoner play, un-princely behavior- all that shit, uh huh. I hear you big man.” Prince Tom rests an arm on Wilbur’s shoulder, barely tall enough to reach. “I’ve heard it all, no need to worry yourself over teaching me a lesson!” He pats Wil’s chest plate, as if to comfort the man in his dilemma. It just feels demeaning.
Wilbur clenches his fists. This is going to be a long week. “Your highness,” he forces his tone to be relaxed, but by the Princes growing grin he must be able to hear the tension behind it. “Can you explain why you were hiding in this room, when we were supposed to be greeted together, with the kings presence?” That had especially confused him. The king didn’t even wait that long for his son, despite how his sergeant had informed him that they would come in a pair; father and son.
“Oh he knows I do this,” Tom leans on Wilbur, gesticulating flippantly with his hands. “That’s why he never stays. Everyone is so stuck up, y’know? So I just hide and wait for everyone in the room to go off in search of me, until just my lovely bodyguard is left- you!”
Prince Tom slides off of Wilbur’s form, appearing to glide across the room with his arms out to either side. He spins around once he’s in front of Wilbur, hands intertwined behind his back and raising his chin with a big grin. “So now I can talk to you by myself!”
Wilbur refuses to admit how smart that is- because it isn’t- they’ll have plenty of one on one time, Prince Tom doesn’t need to do this at all. It’s completely unnecessary.
It’s a little funny- but that’s besides the point. Wilbur is professional right now. “Prince Tom, you really shouldn’t-”
“Ah ah ah,” Prince Tom tsks, “You can’t say my name, we haven’t been introduced yet!” He sticks his hand out to Wilbur, and it looks far more rehearsed than Wilbur has seen with him during their entire interaction.
Wilbur tries to go for confidence, but his hand still hesitates for a fraction of a second before grabbing Prince Tom’s.
Prince Tom dramatically clears his throat, declaring loudly into the empty room, “Hello good sir!” He lowers his voice an octave, as if pretending to be an old diplomat from a visiting kingdom. “My name is Tom, but I insist you call me Tommy. What is your name, tall sir?”
He has to admit, the casual presence that the Prince gives off is very effective, and Wil plays into the theatrical exaggeration without thinking.
He dips into a slight bow, pressing his free hand to his chest. In an equally dramatized voice, he proclaims, “Hello my good sire Tommy,” he stands up straight, curling the hand on his chest into a fist. “My name is Wilbur Soot, but I encourage you to shorten my name to your liking. I will be your brave knight for this long week, and I hope you accept me as such.”
Prince Tommy grins, and Wilbur watches the kids posture become exaggerated and flourishing. “Oh Wiblurien Chimney, I would be happy to accept your position as my knight!” Wilbur scrunches his nose at his butchered name, and Tommy laughs in glee.
The door opens just then, and Wilbur corrects his posture immediately. He gives Prince Tommy’s hand a firm shake, before letting go. Tommy wilts.
“Oh, Prince Tom, there you are.” A frazzled maid slumps in relief.
His sergeant walks in from behind her, looking over the situation. “I see you have already made introductions then. Prince Tom-”
“I know what a knight entails sergeant,” Tommy cuts him off blandly. “This is the 16th one I’ve had. I can tell him anything he needs to know. You’re dismissed” Tommy waves him off with one hand.
The disrespect shows clearly on the sergeants face, but he doesn’t act on it. He nods, spinning on his heel and exiting the room. The maid follows right behind him.
Tommy turns back to Wilbur and gives him a look over. He must not like what he sees, because he sighs and gestures for Wilbur to follow without a word, lacking all the energy he had before.
Wilbur trails behind him, unable to shake the feeling that he’s failed some sort of test.
Before you go off thinking that Philza is a neglectful dad to Tommy- in the mini story I’ve cooked up in my head, Phil stops by Tommy’s room every night to exchange laughs and brief overviews of their day. Phil is constantly swamped with work, but tries his best to save as much time as possible for the end of his day so he can spend it with Tommy, even if that will sometimes end up being a few moments to stop and say hello. He also makes sure to initiate small talk regularly with whatever knight has been assigned to Tommy, and will always privately ask Tommy what his opinion on the knight is. He was the one to set up the ‘favor’ system, if only to encourage knights to be on their best behavior. He does what he can to keep Tommy entertained, but in the end, it’s never enough, and he can only hope that whatever knight has been assigned to Tommy will be able to keep up with him for at least the full week.
Technoblade was one of Tommy’s first knights, back when his knights were chosen for their high ranks. Eventually when Tommy had been through all the exceptionally good knights, they had to start. With Techno, Tommy had recognized the glint in his eyes that spoke of something more. He could tell that Techno wasn’t as stiff as he tried to be- and he tried hard. Tommy was right, and he quickly cracked Techno’s hard exterior and released the dry humor and clever deadpan comments for all to see. His father, the king, found that Techno’s ability to be both lighthearted and serious in the same moment was exactly the type of knight that he needed, as a king with too much on his plate and a desperation for release from its both monotonous and chaotic nature. He spoke to Tommy about it first, and his son had agreed, saying that “maybe he can fix the scowl on your face- it’s starting to become permanent.” Phil bapped him on the head with a hollow tube for that.
Although- even when Techno transferred to being Phil’s personal knight- he still plays the occasional game with Tommy; such as intense castle tag, or slow games of chess on the days when he has time.
Wilbur, of course, has no idea.