She ran off down the cobblestone of the street, right past the turn off for the stables.
"Wrong way!" I yelled after her.
I laughed, and pointed her in the right direction. She was like a small child, running around excitedly on Christmas morning. I took my time up the familiar road, from the old stores friendly faces and voices shouted out their greetings, I felt at home.
By the time I reached the stables, she'd already found Penelope. She looked on the point of tears, torn between the extremities that came with reunions. Old Henry, the stable keeper was watching on, seemingly bewildered.
I cleared my throat subtly, announcing my presence to the grayed old man.
"Oh! Sir Ketharion, please, come in."
"Keth, please Henry." I smiled at him.
"Ketharion?" I heard Eve giggle from the pen, guess she'd heard afterall.
I ignored her, "Whats new, Henry?"
"Well, nothing sir! It was just the usual, quiet morning before she burst in." He gestured wildly the Eve, who was cuddled up against Penelope's head and crooning softly. "She said something about Penelope and how you had told her something and... and I'm just so confused."
"Don't you worry, friend. It'll all be revealed soon enough. But I do have a favor to ask of you."
"Saddle Penelope up for Eve, and bring around the Queen's older riding gear and i'll find Lock and saddle him myself."
"The Queen's old riding gear?"
"For her, Henry. She'll need something to ride in."
"But, sir, the Queen's riding gear?"
"Yes, take it on my authority, bring the Queen's."
He scuffled off through a door at the back of the stables, yelling to assistant grandson for something I couldn't quite make out while I made my way up to the far stall. Knocking it open, I found my obsidian black horse still asleep in the hay.
"Get up, you lazy ass." I kicked some hay up at him.
He snorted in response, the eye facing me fluttering open for a second.
"Come on, up!"
Lock just whinnied softly.
"No excuses, buster. Up."
As he pulled himself up, I could've sworn he gave me a filthy look- accusing me of interrupting his sleep. I grabbed my saddle off the wall, and strapped it on with the ease that only comes with practice.
Mounting him, I nudged him softly and we made our way back out into the main stables, nearly knocking my head on the top of the pen's door frame with the extra height. Eve was getting changed in the pen with Penelope, but from my raised position on Lock, I could see over the wall.
She was facing away from me, naked from the waist up, as I watched she bent down to retrieve her riding jacket and one of her exposed breasts came into view, I turned away instinctively. It was wrong to be looking at anyone without their knowledge, let alone a princess.
When she came out, she was leading her snow white mare by the reins. She looked absolutely stunning in the tight fitting, stylish leather riding outfit. It seemed she and her mother shared the same shape.
"I thought you said Penelope was your horse." she said to me, cocking her head to the side slightly.
Shit. I did say that. In a dodgy, dodgy attempt to cover up a barely intercepted sentence.
"Yes, she is. But so is Lock." I patted him softly on the neck. "I've been caring for Penelope in your absence, but Lock was a gift to me from my father, when he was a foal."
"Yes," I nodded. "Now come, mount up! We have some important people to go meet."