The first half year of page school went by quickly for Alexander; it was a pretty repetitive schedule. Alexander and Kat would sneak out in the morning to go on their runs, and then they would have their fighting class. This was followed by the rest of their classes that got a lot more interesting after the first day. Even the tactics class with the old knight was more interesting. They reviewed historical battles and what worked and didn’t work then the teacher would throw out hypothetical situations and groups of pages would have to come up with tactics to win. Alexander was liking page school as much as he had dreamed. Very rarely did a day differ from that schedule.
Life at the page school was a lot different from life at the castle. It was a lot more regimented at the page school. When he was living at the castle he was allowed to do what he wanted to for the first half of the day after his run with the King’s Guard than he had two classes in the afternoon. His most recent classes before he left were fighting class and reading and writing. The last reading and writing class was at a much higher level than the last one he had taken. He could now read almost all any book or scroll in the kingdom that was written in their language.
After the first half of the year at page school the pages would go home for the winter break. All of the pages would go back to their families but at the same time they were expected to spend a certain amount of the time working with the soldiers and warriors of their families land. Alexander was kind of exited to go back to the castle because he would get to work with the King’s Guard like his brother had. At the same time though Alexander was excited to get his school over with so he could go work as a knight and experience battle.
Alexander sat on his bed cleaning his armor and sword. Once his sword and armor were polished Alexander packed everything else in his bag. He wore his armor and sword; they were expected to show up looking like pages when they arrived back at their homelands.
“Why aren’t you packing?” Alexander asked when he noticed that Kat wasn’t packing or doing anything else to get ready to go home.
“Because I am not going home over break. My Father does not want me to return home until I have become a knight.” Kat answered while looking at the ground with a sad expression on her face. Alexander got the feeling that something was going on that Kat didn’t want to talk about. He would just have to try and make him forget about whatever was troubling him.
“Then you shall come up to the castle with me. There is no reason you should stay here. Plus you will miss out on your mandatory training. Probably have to spend it with the instructors taking extra classes.” Alexander said purposefully trying to sound depressing about the alternative to coming with him. Although at the same time it was probably what would happen if Kat did not go home over break.
“I couldn’t impose. Plus I already get teased just for being your roommate and hanging out with you. It will get worse for both of us if I stay with you. Furthermore I have already talked to Lord Julius about staying over break and he said it was okay.” Kat responded, turning his head away so that Alexander couldn’t see his face.
“Nonsense, you are coming with me. School is over for now so I am back to being prince. And as your prince I order you to come with me.” Kat grinned but also held his head down at Alexander’s words. Alexander’s attempt to take Kat’s mind off what he had been thinking of had obviously partially worked.
“Oh and before we go make sure your sword and armor are polished. Wouldn’t want to meet the king without looking your best.” Alexander suggested as Kat started to pack. Alexander was done packing before Kat was so he laid back and closed his eyes.
He woke up to a blade at his throat and Kat leaned down to be eye to with him. Alexander smiled, Kat was obviously in a better mood now, he didn’t let that stop him from tossing Kat off of him and laughing heavily. Even though the school was about making you stronger Kat hadn’t gained any wait and was still a lot lighter than Alexander.
“Polished enough for you?” Kat said and laughed. Together the two headed off for the main castle which was inside the second set of gates, a good mile away from the school through the main city.
When they arrived at the entrance to the castle a servant came up and took Alexander’s bag. Being the kingdom’s highest royalty did have its perks.
“Clarise, please take Kat’s bag please too.” Alexander asked the servant politely without sounding like he was ordering her around. Alexander cared as much about the servants as his father and grandfather did.
“Yes Prince Alexander.” Clarise said as she took Kat’s bag with a smile.
Alexander and Kat headed down the stone hallways of the castle towards the throne room. The further down the hallways they went the more intricate the designs became on the walls. Kat had never been to King’s Castle and was nervous. The nicer and nicer the building got the more nervous he got. When they reached the two story throne room doors a set of guards in polished silver armor opened the door for the two but as they tried to enter spears lowered blocking their path.
“I am going to need the other’s sword.” One of the guards at the door said to Alexander referring to Kat. Of course the guards didn’t know who Kat was yet.
“There is no need for that. Kat here is a page. My friend and partner.” Alexander said as Kat had started to undo his sword belt to hand it to the guard.
“Yes Prince Alexander. I apologize for the mistake.” The guard apologized and they both raised their spears to allow access to the throne room.
The two entered the throne room together. The room was long with a tall ceiling. Pillars went down the room, against the far wall there was a metal throne with innate writing on it and above the throne was a tall glass window that was made of several colors that refracted colored light into the room. Arriving before the throne Alexander and Kat knelt as a pair before the king as an age old offer of fealty.
“Father.” Alexander said with a tone that one reserved for the most respected elders of their society.
“Rise you two.” King Ethan ordered. “Who is this you have with you my son? A friend from page school?”
“This is my friend, Page Kat of Cheshire. I invited him to stay with us over the winter break. His father unjustly does not want him to return until he is a knight. Kat has been one of my best friends at the school and has, at least in my eyes, proven himself to be a worthy page.” Alexander said, he now spoke as a son did to his father.
“Welcome Page Kat. I hope you don’t mind but you will have to share a room with my son over break. We have many visitors coming and going. And son remember that it is not our place to decide what standards a father sets for his son unless it’s the standards I set for you.”
“It is my pleasure sire to stay with your son. We share a room at the school and I feel like he is family already.”
Alexander and Kat each took a bow at the same time and left the throne room and headed off to Alexander’s room where they took off their swords and dressed in fancier clothes for dinner. It would be impolite to show up to a fancy dinner and as much as Alexander hated being dressed up he respected his father so he changed. Alexander’s personal room far exceeded the size of the first year page’s rooms. Alexander’s room contained a fine wooden dresser, a tall wooden bed twice the size of the bed they slept in at the page school and the floor was carpeted with bear rugs. Swords and books lined the wall. As Alexander changed and Kat was in the washroom servants brought in an extra bed for Kat.
When Kat came out he was dressed in a fine tunic and pants. Something looked off about Kat in the dressy clothes but Alexander couldn’t put his finger on it. Kat wore a crimson tunic made out of a fine fabric and tan pants. The younger people weren’t required to wear the finer pieces of clothing, besides with the quality of Kat’s bag Alexander doubted he had many dressier clothes if he had any.
“The washroom, again? Why so secretive about your body. We are both boys; there is nothing we haven’t seen before.” Alexander asked.
“It’s a personal thing; I don’t like changing in front of people okay?” Kat said not wanting to have this conversation again.
“As you please page.” Alexander said using a teasing voice.
Alexander and Kat walked out of the room in dress clothes to the great feast hall and ate a great dinner with Alexander’s dad. The king permitted Kat to sit at the Royal Family’s table, a very uncommon occurrence and a great honor. The dinner was fun and both Alexander and Kat enjoyed each other’s company, almost enough for Kat to forget how nervous she was being in the king’s presence.
The next morning Alexander woke up and went on a run with the king’s guard. He still could not get out of the habit; Kat on the other hand had not run that much before he had gone to page school and she was still fast asleep when Alexander left for the run. They started their apprenticeship today with the castle guards.
When he got back from his run Alexander woke Kat up and they headed to the throne room with chainmail on and swords at their sides. Sir Jeremy of the King’s Rangers was waiting with the king in the throne room. The Rangers were responsible for protecting the forest to the south and keep the legends of the forest just that, legends. They were also responsible for places beyond that and special missions for the crown. This time of year the south was completely snowed over and made the ranger’s job very difficult.
“Ah, my son, Page Alexander, and Page Kat. Are you ready to begin your apprenticeships?” King Ethan asked.
“I was born to serve sire.” Kat answered.
“Well that is good then because there has been a bit of a change in plans. You will not be apprenticing with my guard, I have found a more exciting apprenticeship for you and Kat. You will be going out into the forest with the King’s Rangers. For the next ten days you will live in the forest with them. When you get back you will have ten days off then you will have another ten days and so on until your break is over. I have already talked about it with your instructors and they said it was okay and it will give you a learning experience that few have had the opportunity to have.”
“Yes my lord.” Alexander said with excitement.
He was excited that he was going to be apprenticing with the King’s Rangers. They were some of the most elite knights and as far as Alexander knew no one had ever apprenticed with them before. There was a reason besides the fact that the King’s Rangers were the elite as to why they did not allow apprentices, the forest to the south contained magickal creatures, all of the creatures that kids pretended to be when they were playing kids games. The southern forest was huge though so you were not guaranteed to see them if you were just going for a quick hunting trip. The forest was so big there wasn’t a map that existed that completely charted the forest; most maps just outlined the forest as a huge block between the two parts of the kingdom. Regular people trying to get through had one path that was almost always clear of creatures that went from one side of the forest all the way to the other and the point where it was the shortest distance. However, when something did happen it was the Ranger’s responsibility to make sure the travelers were rescued and exited the forest unharmed.
“When do we leave my lord?” Kat asked.
“You are to meet up with Sir Jeremy, leader of the King’s Rangers, in two hours at the castle gates. I have arranged for horses and gear for both of you. First visit my armorer then go to the stable.” The king ordered.
Both pages bowed and exited the throne room. When they arrived at the armorer there were already two bags on the floor full of stuff with a sword and knife on top of each. A special pocket on either side held a bow and arrows for hunting and basic protection.
“The king thought that you two should have proper swords instead of training swords for your apprenticeship since you might have to use them unlike in other apprenticeships.” The armorer said with a serious as he came around the corner.
“Thank you master armorer.” Alexander said as he and Kat picked up their bags and two sets of empty saddle bags.
The two pages headed back to their room to pack their saddle bags. They through in their own equipment and extra clothes, when they were done they carried their stuff down to the stable.
“Everything okay there Kat?” Alexander asked, Kat was breathing hard by the time they got to the stable.
“Yeah, I think I am going to pack a little less next time though.” Kat answered and Alexander laughed.
The stable master brought out two horses. For Alexander a magnificent white one and for Kat a solid black stallion. All together two very fine horses that would have cost the king a lot of money had he not bread the horses himself. They slid their saddle bags on the horses as the stable master had already saddled them then rode off to the castle gate.