At least, the beginning of one.
Will had a way of getting into “sticky situations”, as his mom would call them. He would often skip history lessons to go flying on his pet dragon Xavier or get caught sneaking into the royal orchards past curfew.
But this was his stickiest situation yet.
“William Vincent Karth, what were you thinking?” His mother asked after the palace guards had brought him home at three in the morning after being caught in the royal stables with two girls and another boy.
“That it would be a bit of fun.” He replied cheekily. Evanna Karth pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed heavily.
“I will deal with you in the morning. Go to your bedroom. And don’t think about running off again; I’m going to put guards at your door and beneath your window.” Will rolled his eyes and strolled down the hall to his bedroom. Evanna watched her eldest son leave wondering what her late husband Peter would have done differently.
“A month of extra history lessons, extra chores and absolutely no fun until she declares I’ve learned my lesson. Frankly, I thought she could have done better.” Will reported his punishment to his best friend Dexter Maloney the next morning.
“I have to babysit my brat sister after lessons for the next month while her nanny is on maternity leave.”
“That’s rough, mate.” Their history teacher Sir Stephen of Coda walked in.
“Good morning gentlemen. I’m glad to see that all of you decided to join us today.” He looked pointedly at Will who smirked. “Today, I am happy to welcome a new student to our classroom.” He glanced out in the hallway and nodded. Will did not expect a girl to walk into the classroom wearing the traditional deep green cloaks of a student.
“Gentlemen, this is Juno Chester. She is a new student to our fine school and I expect you to treat her with respect. Take a seat anywhere in the classroom, Juno.”
“Thank you, Sir.” She replied in a light voice. She chose a seat next to Dexter, who looked just as shocked as Will that a girl was allowed admittance to their prestigious school. All throughout class Will tried to catch her eye, but she kept her eyes at the front of the class the entire time. She seemed to be really intent on listening to everything Sir Stephen said about the military history of their nation.
“Who do you think she is?” Dexter asked at lunch that day.
“Has to be from a very, very wealthy family. Probably bought her way in. There’s no way a girl is smart enough to just get in without money.” Will replied.
“Actually, there is.” Will whipped around to see Juno standing behind them holding an apple. “It’s called having a brain and most girls have them. Maybe if you actually talked to one instead of only looking at them, you would realize that.” She said with a bitter tone. She turned to leave and then looked back.
“By the way, I’m your history tutor. Meet me in the library tomorrow after your last class. Bring your history book.” The boys were silent for a while after she left.
“Wait, we have a book for history?” Will said. Dexter clapped his best friend on the back.
“It’s probably a good thing you’re getting extra lessons, mate.”
“Mother! Where are you!” Will yelled as soon as he got into their manor home.
“There is no need to yell, William.” Evanna walked out of the study down the hall.
“A girl? Really? A girl tutor? That is the best you could find?”
“What are you talking about?”
“My history tutor is the new girl at school. Why did you pick her?”
“I didn’t pick her. I spoke with Sir Stephen this morning and he assured me that he would pick the best student in class as your tutor. If it’s this girl, then so be it.”
“But… that’s just not fair!”
“What isn’t fair is you sneaking off in the middle of the night acting like a silly peasant boy, not the heir to the Greenwood estate. It’s about time you grew up and started acting like a man. I’m tired of dealing with your immaturity.” Evanna snapped and turned away. Will stormed outside to the patio. His younger brother was sitting there reading a book.
“Fighting with Mum again?” Benjamin asked without even looking up.
Will crossed the patio to the fountain and sat on the edge.
“She doesn’t understand.”
“What doesn’t she understand?”
“That I don’t want this. I don’t want to waste my life running Greenwood and being a pompous royal.”
“Well, Dad wasn’t like that. So why do you think you’ll be like that?”
“Dad also ran Greenwood into debt with his atrocious and wasteful spending. He didn’t care about this place enough to run it successfully. All he cared about was his magic and looked where that landed him. Dead.”
“Will, don’t talk about Father like that.” Benjamin set his book down and looked at his older brother. “Father was a good man. He cared about us and Catherine and Mum. He might not have been the best Lord of Greenwood, but he was a good Father.”
“You’re only saying that because you were his favorite. The sorcerer prodigy he always wanted. Catherine and I were nothing to him.” Will spat out, becoming more angry by the minute. Benjamin stared at his brother blankly for a moment before getting up.
“Mum’s right. You do need to grow up.” He gathered his books up and left. Will sat clenching and unclenching his fists trying to control his temper, before deciding to do the one thing that always calmed him down; going for a ride on his dragon, Xavier.
It was tradition for parents to give their heir a dragon egg for their 13th birthday. It was a symbol of royalty and wealth. Will remembered how excited he was to finally receive his egg. He had gone on dragon rides with his Father before on his Father’s dragon, Yolene, but he wanted one of his own.
On his birthday, he woke and ran to the entrance of their home, where his parents and Sir Robert, the Master Dragon Trainer, sat around the fireplace. Sir Robert was holding a gold speckled black egg over the fire with tongs. All day long Will helped Sir Robert with keeping his dragon egg over the flames. It wasn’t until late in the evening that it began to crack. After many hours of watching it crack and break open, Will was finally able to meet his very own dragon. He was black with light gold wings, a pointed snout and long talons. Will named him Xavier and a friendship was formed. As soon as Xavier turned one and was considered an adult, they began training with Sir Robert. It was hard and frustrating work, but in the end it paid off.
The dragon’s keep was located outside the capital, behind the stables and orchards.
“Good afternoon, Ratatoo.” Will greeted the dwarf that worked at the keep.
“Afternoon, Sir William. How are you doing today?”
“I’ve been better. You?”
“Oh, can’t complain. Found out my wife is having another baby! Makes it our third.” Ratatoo boasted proudly.
“Congratulations! Tell Yvonne my family sends their blessing.” Will said shaking the proud father’s hand.
“Thank you! Will you be needing any help this afternoon?”
“No, just going for a ride on Xavier.”
“Alright, sir. I better get to cleaning. Have a good one!”
“You too, Ratatoo.” Will walked past the main office and the dragon house and went into the giant enclosed pen. He whistled three times and called for Xavier. After a short time he heard Xavier flying overhead and swooping down into the pen.
“Hello, William.” Xavier spoke in a gravelly voice. Dragons were the only mythological creatures that had the ability to speak, deeming them rights and privileges under law. The Dragon Protection Act gave them right to deny their eggs to nobles, but most dragon mothers were willing to give up one of their eggs in exchange for gold and treasure.
“Were you hunting?” Will asked.
“Yes, but it can wait. Where do you want to go today?”
“I was thinking the Denark Mountains.”
“Excellent. I can probably hunt a few goats while I’m there.”
“Great, I’ll grab the saddle.”
A few minutes later, Will’s custom-made leather saddle was strapped on the back of Xavier and they were up in the air. After a couple hours of flying, they landed at their destination. Will sat under a tree and read his history book while Xavier hunted.
“So, what was the reasoning for this adventure?” Xavier asked after he was finished chasing mountain goats.
“Long story short… Mum hired a girl tutor for me after I got caught in the royal stables again.”
“What is so wrong with that?”
“Did you not hear me? It’s a girl tutor. The only girl at our school, actually.”
“Aren’t girls just as capable as boys?”
“Well… I don’t know.”
“Haven’t you said that your mum is smarter than some of your teachers? And isn’t Catherine quite bright as well?” Will didn’t respond. “I think you are letting your pride get into your way of rational thinking, William. Obviously this girl is intelligent enough to get into your school, making her your equal, maybe even your inferior. If it was a boy tutor you would have found some excuse why you wouldn’t want him as your tutor.”
“Fine, it’s humiliating. I mean, I’m the only student in my class that needs a tutor. It’s not like I really need one; I just think it’s a worthless subject.”
“Maybe if you start attending class instead of skipping, your mother would have thought of a different punishment. You are obviously intelligent, you are just too lazy to be successful.”
“Your wisdom can be irritating sometimes…” Will grumbled.
“Well, your complaining can be irritating sometimes.” Xavier rebuttled. Will snorted and laid back on the grass.
“Touche, Xavier. Touche.”