[Author's note: This takes place during Phoenix Rising, "Dinner and a Bath (or Not)". I think our dear Prince is begining to realize that he is not invincible. Nothing like a good brush with death to cure a teenager's invincibility complex. Especially one who doesn't have a strong belief in the Gods.]
“I could have died out there Father,” Prince Theodoso hissed as he slid into his seat next to his father.
The King regarded his son for a moment as he served him from the platter of meats. “Our Scouts risk their lives for this country every day they are out. Today has shown you but one of the hazards they face.”
“I nearly drown father!” Theodoso set his hand down heavily on the table. “Do you not care?”
The King served his son a heap of roasted vegetables. When he had replaced the serving spoon he set his hand upon the Prince’s and looked into his son’s eyes. “I sent you out with Sergeant Phoenix for he is the best. His instinct is as fine tuned as a twenty year seasoned veteran. Though I prayed to the Gods when I heard of the flood, I knew Phoenix would have kept you from harm.”
Prince Theodoso slowly met his father’s gaze. “I still nearly drown,” he whispered.
“But you did not,” King Demetrioso responded. “And I am thankful to the Gods for that.”
Father and son communed silently until a serving lass came by with a decanter. She curtseyed. “Wine Your Majesty?” She curtsied again, “Your Highness?”
“Yes please,” King Demetrioso held out his wine cup, as did the Prince. Only the King said “thank you” before the serving lass walked away to where most of the Scout Sergeants and Commander Josiah sat.
The King scanned the tables of Hopefuls and Scouts. Some of the Sergeants were already mingling with the soon to be first years. He spotted Phoenix giving Smith a hard time about something and smiled. She really was proving her worth, more so even than Demetrioso had expected. Still there was another nine or so more days. He was very interested in how she would fare out on her own in the wild. Although, ...
“Must I participate in the mock scouting?” Prince Theodoso’s tired voice broke into the Kings thoughts.
“You have participated all other aspects of the trials, I see no reason for you to not.” The King stated as he returned to eating.
“But I almost drown,” The Prince whined.
The King turned his steely eyes upon his son. “I do not think the Gods intend for you to die.”
“Why chance it?” Theodoso muttered as he stabbed a piece of meat with his knife before eating it.
“Because it is high time you learned what it takes to run the Vervellian Military and part of the means you need to know how the Scouts operate.” The King set his hand on his son’s shoulder. “These are dangerous times and it would be too risky to send you out into the field on an actually scouting run.” The King returned his hand to the table. “No,” he spoke more to himself than to the Prince, “this is the safest way for you to learn.”
“Will I be pared with Phoenix again?” Theodoso pushed the vegetables around on his plate before eating two.
“No, I am afraid Phoenix will have to stay here with his troop.” The King had wished he could have, but to be fair on Smith he had to ensure Phoenix troop did not participate in this next part of the trials. “However, Scout Havershaw of Lion Troop is a seasoned scout of fifteen years. He will be your partner.”
The Prince nodded, his expression betraying his uncertainty about the whole thing.
“Now they should have pulled a hot bath for you in the meeting room. I recommend you go take advantage of it before cools.” The King looked to his son who seemed tobe done eating.
Prince Theodoso nodded and left as quietly as he’d come.