Down In The Valley

The ride was invigorating but I was distracted. Tristan hadn’t come the night before. I’m not sure I expected him too, but I’d missed him. I kept glancing at Marina, who couldn’t meet my eyes. Tristan had helped her onto her horse after he’d excused himself.

Why did he want to see his grandfather? Tristan tried to avoid The Dumanis as much as possible. It was so odd.

“You seem lost in thought,” Eric said riding next to me. I smiled, he looked uncomfortable, but it was endearing.

“The riding doesn’t suit you?” I asked as we reached the valley pass just past the palace.

“We don’t usually ride much,” he shrugged, “I got a little better when we were in Rastan, they’re obsessed with hunting, but their forest aren’t quite so rocky.” I grinned.

“I’m sorry, I thought it was a good idea,” I sighed. He nodded. “You’d have done better in Pantona then. It’s very flat.”

“Do you miss it?” He said.

“Yes and no,” I shrugged, “I miss the village and my life there. But it’s nice to be settled, not feel like there’s an assassin lurking in every tree.” He laughed. Athena raced ahead past us. “Oh no.” I said.

“Don’t worry,” Aaron said, “she got it into her head to catch our lunch.” I nodded. “It’s been a good two weeks since she shot anything.”

“Right,” I smiled. I understood why Athena was restless, I’d been restless too. But even explaining things to Eric made me feel calmer. Lieutenent Lestoff and Sir Raymond were both riding beside Marina who was blushing. “That’s interesting.”

“Lefty’s smitten,” Eric said with a grin. “That’s not unusual but it’s still good.” I looked at him. “And maybe I was wrong about Raymond, though my guess is he’s more interested in her magic than anything else.” I nodded.

“My Uncle says your family collects Chosen girls,” I said. He frowned at that. “Sorry, I don’t know why I said that out loud.”

“He’s not wrong,” Eric sighed. “My father was obsessed, apparently, with the prophecies about well,” he gestured to me. I blushed. “So he pushed Daniel to pursue your mother, and then Elana and then he married my mother.” I nodded. “I’m not sure I believe it.”

“Don’t you?” I asked. He shrugged.

“I had strange dreams sometimes, still do,” he explained, “I think the gods have plans for me, I suppose, like they do for everyone, but I don’t think there’s some epic destiny we have to shape our lives around.” I smiled.

“What’s in the dreams?” I asked. He shook his head.

“I think you know that, Your Majesty,” he said. “Why do you think I knew you’d be waiting for me?”

“I”ll wait forever, Your Highness,” I said and spurred the horse on.

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