Outside the tent they walked together.
“How long have you been here?” the silver haired angel asked.
“Around five years sire”
“And your scores?”
“All academic I'm afraid sire” Marcus flushed.
“No physical scores?” the angel sounded thoughtful rather than annoyed.
“Very well” the taller angel said. “You have a horse do you not?”
“Yes sire” Marcus frowned “well sort of”
“She’s a pony sire”
“A pony?” now annoyance tinted the angels voice.
“They couldn’t find a horse suitable sire.”
“I bet they couldn’t” the angel snarled “very well Marcus you will meet me here tomorrow on your…” he paused “pony”
“Sire may I speak?” Marcus asked.
“I am inclined to agree with Areem sire. I'm not the right choice for you my lord”
“I agree” the angel smiled “but you can help me in another way”
“Really?” there was hope in Marcus’ voice.
“Get some sleep and don’t worry about wash-up tonight you won’t need those anymore” he pointed at Marcus’ brown leather shirt and simple cotton trousers.
“Yes sire” Marcus grinned.
“You may walk me to my horse” the angel said smiling back.
By the time the figure beneath the trees awoke the rain had all but stopped the bright sun was warming his face and his clothes were slowly drying out. He smiled and stood slowly his stretching as much as he dared. He scattered the ashes of the fire with the toe of his boot. Then bent down ignoring the stabbing pain in his chest and brushed the burnt leaves from his small parcel grinning as he saw the few strips of meat from a rabbit caught the previous evening looked back at him.
“Perfect” he said pulling an oilskin pouch from his belt he carefully put the cold meat into it adding to the few bits that were already there. Then pulling the drawstring tightly he tied the pouch back onto his belt. The smile didn’t stay on his face long as he pulled down his still sodden cloak and clipped it around his neck grimacing at the feel of the wet fur against his bare arms. He made sure the small knives at his waist weren’t touching the cloak and picking up a larger oilskin sack he slung it over his shoulder and began to walk again.
Marcus nervously fiddled with the ponies reigns as he waited he sat straighter as he heard a much larger horse approaching. Looking through his curtains of brown hair he saw the prince ride up beside him.
“Good morning your highness”
“Good morning Marcus” the voice said from above him. “Look up at me Marcus” the angel kept his head down his eyes intently fixed on the floor he heard his prince dismount and felt fingers below his chin lifting his face. His hair fell back and he saw icy blue eyes looking at him seriously and he knew those cold eyes were taking in the bruised skin around his eyes and mouth. “The boys weren’t happy?”
“I fell sire” Marcus said his prince smiled slightly.
“I'm sure you did” he said “and I'm presuming that you had some help in falling a few times?” Marcus shook his head as much as he could with his chin gripped tightly, the prince nodded and released him. “Very well” he said “follow me” the prince mounted the pure black mare again.
The palace was gargantuan the white stone shone blindingly in the morning sun as they rode through the gates.
“Sire” the guards greeted as the prince passed.
“Good morning” he replied politely the guards near the stables were much the same.
“William” the prince said loudly inside the stable itself they dismounted and Marcus began to wipe his small pony down cleaning away the light coat of sweat that covered her. A grinning face appeared in the loft hatch above them.
“Sire” William smiled he held onto the edge of the hatch and vaulted down landing beside the prince.
“I still think you should work in the entertainment quarters” the prince said smiling.
“Horses my life sire” William had a common lilt to his voice.
“I am aware of that” the prince said “the pony needs caring for and mine”
“Yes sir” William looked at Marcus “it seems the lad is doin’ my job for me”
“Usually I would too” the prince patted his mares nose “but I have business today”
“Very good” William grinned “makes a change sire”
“You’re an arse William” the prince laughed and Marcus shivered and his pony backed up a few steps.
“Easy girl” Marcus flushed as the two angels looked at him.
“Later on you'll find yourself a proper horse.” The prince said “and she can go to the fields where she should be at her age.” He walked the few steps to Marcus and gently took the pony’s nose looking at her carefully. “She’s fourteen?” he asked.
“Almost sire” Marcus frowned.
“I like horses” the prince shrugged “a pony is not much different”