Eryk came striding out of the castle, pushing his thick leather hawking gloves into his belt. Servants and courtiers scrambled out of his way as he descended the broad stone steps that led into the courtyard, especially when a look of irritation crossed his handsome face.
“Where’s my horse?” he demanded, glaring in the direction of the grooms.
One man struggled through the crowd, leading a black stallion. “He’s right here, your Highness.”
Eryk grabbed the reins from the groom’s outstretched hand and practically threw himself into the saddle. His abrupt movement caused the horse to dance a little, and the prince reined him in sharply, taking his anger out on his mount. He was irate and distracted, thinking about the mess he’d left behind him. If only his father would realize he wasn’t ready to “settle down” and choose a bride yet. He couldn't stand the thought of having a clingy, needy female following him around everywhere, curbing his freedom and leeching his will to live. It wasn’t like all the young men were heading off to certain doom, needing heirs waiting in the wings in case some of them didn't return home.
Branden, braving Eryk’s mood, guided his horse closer and leaned over in his saddle.
“So what’s wrong this time?” he asked.
“The same as always,” Eryk replied. “Father and I were arguing again.”
Branden laughed. “So that explains the quick exit, even if today is a perfect day. I would have expected you outside eventually anyway.”