Kendrick had just completed currying Rosie down when he’d heard boots enter the stable. Kendrick was really not in the mood for company, nor for exchanging platitudes with some courtier looking to improve his station for the week. Riding for him was serious, and he’d been out all day. He believed he might even be slightly sunburn across his face.
And soon enough, he’d be taken to task for it, by nearly every adult of authority in his life. That’s why he loved riding so much. He could leave his life behind, no diplomacy, no politics, no tutelage in anything, no bowing and kissing of hands, no Highnesses…. His father wasn’t about to stare at him with that… that look that without a word, implied how much more he expected of his son.
Well, sighed Kendrick, Keldrick got that look too, but not near as much as Kendrick, for Kendrick was second in succession to the throne, where less was expected from Keldrick. Kendrick could only wonder what his older brother Merridon went through… no wonder he hid himself away all the time. Maybe it was to hide himself from Father….
Rosie whinnied gently and flicked an ear. She turned her graceful head around to observe him. She always knew when he was in a rotten mood. But this time, he was just pushing too hard with the brush. “Sorry, girl,” he murmured, and patted her neck. She flicked her ear again.
That was when the soldier walked into the stable. Rarely did soldiers ever sign out horses from the stable. And certainly not prison sergeants, if Kendrick had read his uniform correctly. Even more so, he had chosen one of his father’s favorite horses, Windy. But the oddest thing of all, was that he had glanced at Kendrick for a moment and then said nothing at all. Not a Your Highness, not a bow, not a salute, not even a sir. Instead, he’d treated Kendrick as – now that he thought about it – a common stable hand. And then actually tossed him a coin. Whatever would Kendrick do with a coin? Everyone knew who he was, and what he looked like, even if his tunic was stained and untucked from riding. Particularly each and every guard in the Palace. So just what had happened?