Aemir spread himself over a generously cushioned chair in the Great Hall, waiting for his father should he choose to ever return to resume his obligatory duties. He considered himself patient as he waited for his father while he bounded down the halls imparting his fatherly stories on Ardrion.
“I thought you were off to Kyloserrh to finish what you started.” Valren gaited to his chair with a triumphant nonchalance.
“I thought I might get your blessing.” Aemir retorted.
The King only heaved an exasperated sigh. “You know I cannot let the crown just fall onto your head. You have to earn it.”
Aemir scoffed. “You would choose the next man through that door over me.”
The echoes rang off the wall straight into the face of the suddenly-present Ardrion. He froze mid-step, wide-eyed and clearly wishing he was anywhere else.
Valren lit up. “Ardrion, my boy. Come, come, we must have a talk.”
“I'll give you a moment of privacy” His words trailed off beyond Valren’s reach. Instead he just sat with an expectant look over his face. The boy trudged awkwardly to the king, avoiding the burning glare from Aemir.
“I would like to bestow upon you the honor of knighthood, son.”
Son? Aemir reeled. “Father, he's barely qualified to be a squire,” the king’s real son exclaimed.
“When one emanates the qualities of a knight, he will be honored a knight.” Valren said squarely at Aemir.
“You are forgetting the thousands of men who risked their lives to win you Kyloserrh.”
“I do not doubt their valor. They fought to keep this kingdom alive. I could not be a more prideful king.”
I am sure of it. “What happens when Vaszal wins it back?”
“He cannot win it back if his army is decimated, which is clearly too much to ask for. That river is the single most important asset to Terrhylan, and you do not have the wits about you to realize it is worth defending with your life.”
He couldn’t resist saying it aloud. “Is this really about the river, or is this about Vaszal?”
“That river is the livelihood of this country. If I cannot reach beyond the mountains, I have no means of commerce. Gold does not rain from the sky in the propensity you think it does. A king thinks of his people first.”
“What possible commerce lies beyond the mountains that affects anyone but you? Did you think of the thousands of men you sentenced to death at Kyloserrh first as you realized without them, it means there’s more gold for you? And if by livelihood, you mean those very men, face down in your precious river, then I’ll agree; it does hold the future of this country.”
“You forget your place in my hall, boy.”
This is just too easy. “You forget that when you ask me to go to Vaszalon for a fool’s errand, you’ve only got one son left.”
“He would have done it. Without question. He would have understood. Maybe then you would know the meaning of loyalty; the value of obedience to your king. He would have been worthy of knighthood.”
Would have. “You would hold me to standard that died fourteen years ago?”
“You do not understand what it means to be a knight. To be king!”
“I'll never be king because that throne was made for him. Everything that I'm not, he would have been. That throne remains empty because you can't crawl out from the grave you'll never stop digging for him.”
“To sit on this throne is a fate too good for you, boy.”
Aemir's face betrayed no reaction as he turned and wordlessly left the hall. The same to you, Father.