Chapter 17: Camaraderie

Tenbar was as good as his word. The captain himself appeared in the nursery the following morning.

"Princes Fellisyen and Matthias, Princess Lestana," he said, bowing. "Would you all please come with me?"

Matthias jumped up, overturning the board to the ykis game he and Fellisyen had been playing. "Are you taking us to practice with you? Are we going to get to ride and fence and shoot now?"

Tenbar laughed. "Not all at once, young prince, but some of it, certainly."

Lestana wrinkled her nose. "I don't want to do any of that," she said.

"Don't worry," said Tenbar. "Your mother has requested your presence among her ladies. I was instructed to have you gather your embroidery and escort you to her."

Lestana's face lit up. "Finally!" she said, rushing to gather up her sewing basket.

Erasen came up and tugged on the edge of Tenbar's tunic. "I want to go, too," he said, his eyes wide and lips trembling.

Tenbar knelt in front of him. "You have to stay here, little Prince," he said. "But I think Nurse has brought a friend for you."

Nurse came in, bouncing Detana on her hip. Her eyebrows were drawn and she frowned at Tenbar. "I still don't think this is a good idea, Captain Tenbar," she said.

"Nonsense," said Tenbar. "The lad's bored stiff, and this won't do any harm."

Erasen frowned. "Baby is not a good visitor," he said firmly.

"But I think this fellow is," said a new voice. Erasen's dog, Cormac, came bounding into the room, barking joyously. The Kennel Master's son held the other end of the leash.

"Cormac!" shrieked Erasen. "Cormie, Cormie, good dog!" He hugged the dog and the two tumbled to the ground.

"Now that that's settled," said Tenbar, looking at the older children, "shall we go?"

"We're going to go riding, we're going to go fighting," sang Matthias as he dashed out of the room and down the hall.

Fellisyen and Lestana followed more sedately, but Lestana hummed a cheery tune and even dignified Fellisyen could not keep a bit of a bounce out of his step, though he did wish Matthias wouldn't sing. If you could call it singing. He winced.

After leaving Lestana with the Queen and the other ladies, Tenbar, Fellisyen, and Matthias made their way down to the practice courtyard, which was the name given to the fields and courts at the back of the castle near the stables and barracks. A pair of young soldiers fenced in one cleared space, watched by an older officer. Several archers shot off arrow after arrow at the targets set off to the left of the area, and a stray shot nearly hit one of four riders putting their horses through their paces in the long field between the practice courtyard and the castle wall.

Matthias' eyes bulged. "What do we get to do first?" he asked, bouncing on the balls of his feet.

"Archery," said Tenbar, leading them toward a shed set on the near end of the target field. "I believe the two of you are big enough now to handle a small-bow."

Small-bows, while lighter and, well, smaller than the great war longbows, were definitely a step up from the birch children's bows they had been working with up until now. Finally, Fellisyen thought, they are realizing that were are almost men.

They spent the morning working with the bows and target practice, and had a lunch of bread and cheese with the other soldiers in the yard. Fellisyen thought this was slightly undignified, but Matthias was in his element, showering their lunch-mates with questions and listening in intent amazement to the stories they told. The soldiers obviously appreciated so eager an audience, and they vied to outdo each other with tales of bravery and skill, joking and boasting with the prince they called "young Matthy."

Fellisyen sat slightly apart, alone on a hay bale. Really, they ought not to address their prince so familiarly. They didn't address him as "little Fellsy." No, he made sure that they remembered to address him as "your Highness" or "Crown-Prince Fellisyen." They remained in all ways formal and proper toward him. Of course, they didn't tell him stories, either, or give him tips on how to improve his aim. It was right that they should remain separate, and yet . . . he watched Matthias and the soldiers laughing together at something Matthias had said, watched Tenbar slap the prince on his back in that comradely fashion, and almost he wished he could trade places with his brother.


A/N: It's been a few weeks, but here's another chapter for you. Hope you enjoy it. I'll try to update more often. Sorry.

I don't feel like this is moving the action along right. I wanted another scene with Fellisyen before I got deep into the council/war stuff with Rine etc., but I don't think anything's happening here and something needs to. Let me know what y'all think, would you?

Thanks as always to my reviewers new and old. Couldn't do it without you! Or, I could, but it wouldn't be as fun.