He held the thong of the long bow until he was absolutely certain… and released.
“No, not perfect. The outer rim.”
“Well, close enough –”
“Kendrick! What are you doing out here?”
Kendrick closed his eyes for a moment, fighting for patience. “Melleck, please, take these, I’ve a feeling I’ll not be needing them now.”
Melleck accepted Kendrick’s longbow and quiver, saying nothing.
“Father! Out for a bit of work on archery,” Kendrick called. His saw his father striding rapidly down the green, his cloak flapping in the wind behind him, suggesting his father’s displeasure. Kendrick turned around and took in a breath for what he was sure was going to be an unpleasant exchange.
“Where is your brother?”
“I’ve – no idea. Out picnicking perhaps, to entertain our new visitors?” Kendrick raised a hopeful eyebrow with his innocent tone.
“The two of you were scheduled to be hunting today. Imagine my surprise to find out none of the horses in the stable were out,” commented his father, his eyes glaring at Kendrick. He gestured for Kendrick to walk with him into the Palace.
“Father, I –”
“Kendrick, you must understand the importance of keeping to your schedule. If I need to call upon you, I must know where you are at all times,” his father’s blue eyes snapped at him.
“Keeping to your schedule is part of being a Prince. You and your brother Keldrick must learn this. It is your duty. When you see your brother, send him to me!” His father stared at him emphatically, and then turned on his boot and left.
Kendrick unclutched his fist. He would not swear where others could see him, after all, that was his duty as a Prince, he thought sarcastically.
He smelled his mother’s perfume and turned around. She laid a sympathetic hand on his shoulder. “Mother, I swear, he is still fighting the War. The War has been over for years now, does he realize that!” Kendrick spat in a whisper.
His mother patted his cheek but said, “Darling, you have no idea what he is going through. None at all. If only you knew what he has done for you….” And she looked at him directly, her azure eyes refusing to surrender.
Finally, Kendrick tore his gaze from his mother’s. He trusted her, but he believed her to be naïve to Father’s faults. Sullenly, he muttered, “Yes, Mother.” He sighed. “But if only he would –”
“Kendrick,” the Queen, not his mother, was talking then; her voice warned her son only slightly that he was to say no more on the subject.
He thought for a moment, then decided to push his luck. He was nothing if not his father’s son. “I’m sixteen and a man grown. When is he going to realize that?”
The Queen delivered a cool stare to her son. “Your father knows far more than you will ever know, both about you and your brother, about this country, and about how to run it, and that, at the moment, is more than I can say for you. Be glad I have told you that, and not your father, for he would not be so kind. When you are truly a man grown, you will respect your father’s authority and not second-guess him, and only then, my son, will he consider you equal to the task of sharing rule.” The Queen observed her son a moment longer, and Kendrick, reeling from his mother’s sudden attack, watched her swivel about gracefully and leave him with his mouth open in shock.