I am mostly just trying to get back into writing, so I figured I'd just start playing with a story verse that I've been working on for a while~
Already four days into the journey and Balfour knows that something isn't right. It's not so much in that he's able to smell it on the air or feel it deep within his bones, but it's obvious just from looking at his companion that something is wrong. There is always something about how Yates holds himself when he's displeased with something around him, on edge and wary, looking into the distance and squinting as if that will help him see danger better. It's that more than anything that has Balfour slightly apprehensive as they continue through the wood up to the mountains.
Of course, danger is something that is to be expected on a journey like they've undertaken. The quest that he's on isn't something that everyone does, in fact only people like him will ever undertake something like this. It's dangerous, of course, but what else can one expect from hunting one of the most dangerous and deadly creatures of all time? A creature so violent and brutish that it is the ultimate villain in myths and stories alike, for what else would a massive fire breathing flying lizard be but a nightmare of the darkness and a demon of fear?
Yates is watching him, the lines at the edges of his eyes deepening, probably one of the only signs of his age. Yates, a tall and thin man whose muscle and strength lies in the muscles that hide like folded steel under his skin, has been with Balfour his entire life. He doesn't look to be that old, his flaxen hair and crisp blue eyes matched with a smooth face that always seems in need of a good shave, but there's something about the lines around his eyes and mouth that suggest age beyond even what Balfour knows.
Then again, Balfour can't judge much on age himself, considering he barely looks his own age. Babe face his brother used to taunt him with, pulling at his cheecks when he was younger and even now sometimes smirking over the banquet tables with a remark on how even if Balfour succeeds in killing his dragon, no one will believe he's old enough to be King.
Nevermind the fact that Balfour doesn't particilarly fancy the idea of sitting on a throne for the rest of his life; no one really asked him how he felt about quests and dragons and ordering people around so they don't die under his watch. However, expectations are to be filled, and most importantly, Yates is not to be questioned when he gets the kind of look on his face that he has now.
"You're looking at me funny," Balfour tells his companion, frowning to emphasize his disapproval. "Well, everthing funny. It's not just me, or I'd be more worried."
"Of course you would be, sire," Yates says, and it's only out here, away from the valets and the knights and the big up and to do that's omnipresent at the palace that a bit of derisiveness leaks into his tone. Only a little though, or Balfour might actually get offended.
"Is something wrong?" Balfour asks, knowing to trust his knight's instincts better than his own. Yates has been raised to fight, to conquer in battle and to smell danger; Yates is the real one who should be off slaying dragons and performing quests or heroic deeds. "You're looking more distrusting of the world in general than usual. Is it trolls?"
Yates slowly shakes his head, though there is a small hint of a smile under his beard. "We won't have to think about those until we're in the mountains, and there they will be the last of our worries." He flashes Balfour a quick look, almost as if trying to share a joke with him. Unfortunately, as long as Balfour has known him, which has been his entire life, Yates has never really mastered the ability to be funny, despite his best efforts. "No, it's more that something in the air doesn't feel right."
"Right," Balfour repeats. "The air. I see." Standing up and hoisting his pack back over his shoulder, Balfour lets out a small sigh. "Well, then I guess we'd better be extra careful. Wouldn't want the air to do something nasty to us, after all." Yates scowls at him, though whether it's because Balfour didn't like his joke or because Yates thinks he's being reckless, Balfour doesn't know. Either way, he's not going to let himself be deterred from their task by his knight's vague feelings about the air.
The last time Yates had weird feelings about the air, it was because someone had farted in the banquet hall and the most dangerous thing that happened was Balfour snorting into his water goblet to keep himself from busting out laughing. Of course, Balfour understands why at times like this, Yates can be jumpy and a bit over protective.
Balfour has known Yates his entire life, grew up with him since before he could remember. When his mother was gone, Yates took care of him, and when his father relinquished his duties as a parent, it was Yates who made sure he was fed and cared for. It was Yates who kept Balfour from falling down holes his brother tried to trick him into discovering, Yates who taught him how to fight, how to survive in the wild, how to steal food from the kitchens, and how to get through long lonely nights. Yates has always been there watching over him in the kind of way that Baflour imagines a parent might. Being the son of a King means many things, but to Balfour it means that the duties of a King always come first; there's not much room for being a parent to two simple boys when a King has an entire country to parent and look out for.
That's why Balfour has Yates, and presumably that's why his brother has Pemadron. Truthfully, Balfour is glad that he was given Yates, as Pemadron is much less fun and much harder to tease to get a rise out of. Perhaps that's why his brother is such a bore.
"I want to make camp before night fall," Yates tells him as they trudge through the forest, trying to keep to the old Elder Paths that line the gnarled roots and leaves of the floor. "Get a fire going. Fire-"
"Will scare away animals and attract monsters," Balfour interrupts, then grins when Yates gives a little twitch ahead of him, clearly not appreciating Balfour's jesting. "We could just keep traveling through night."
"You should save your strength, sire," Yates persists. "You have yet to face something as dangerous and tireless, and I advise that you do so with all of your strength, not wasting away as easy prey."
"I would be an interesting way to go though," Balfour muses. "Imagine the songs the bards would sing about me. Balfour the young handsome prince, eaten by a dragon as his doting knight watched on in despair. It'd be an interesting tale, I'm sure."
"Perhaps the better tale would be of the young handsome prince Balfour slaying the dragon and returning home to become the greatest good king in the land," Yates retorts. "I believe the people would prefer that to a story of death and sorrow."
"Oh, I don't know about that," Balfour laughs, ducking under a low hanging vine. "People seem much more interested in bad gruesome news than happy stories."
"But they always prefer a happy ending to a sad one," Yates replies, turning to look at him sharply.
Though Balfour is loathe to admit when defeated, he must concede that in that, Yates absolutely has a point.