(A wise mother and a playful dog save a Prince from a fate worse than death.)
Once upon a time in faraway land, there were two great kingdoms. They were known as the Great North Kingdom and the Great South Kingdom, or to the people of that land, simply North and South. Each kingdom had its own royal family and the subjects managed to get along fairly well except for the occasional squabble over minor trade issues or border disputes.
King Basil was the ruler of North and his lovely wife Queen Constance was known as much for her wisdom and love of justice as her beauty. In fact, she was known as the wisest Queen who'd ever ruled. Their one and only child was a son, Prince Valentin. Like good and loving parents they doted on the boy and made sure he had the best education and learned many life lessons that would prepare him to one day rule his own country. He grew into a handsome and charming young man filled with virtue.
Prince Valentin was known throughout his country for he traveled far and wide coursing his beloved hounds and riding the horses he loved. A typical young man in his prime, he loved the sport of the field and it was said that other than his parents and his loyal subjects, Prince Valentin cherished his hounds and horses above all else. In fact, he spent so much time with them and at sport, that his education suffered somewhat.