Jonathan wasn’t able to set a timer, but fortunately his inner clock was working fine. He dragged himself and Bas to the train station early in the morning.
“You actually got us passes,” Bas said in amazement. He was still yawning, but he stared at the small square. He perked up eagerly when he saw the approaching mammoth of metal, and walked over to the tracks.
The train pulled into the station with a hiss and long whistle to announce its arrival. Each of the passenger cars held red curtains in the windows.
Jonathan didn’t doubt that trains would be secretly used to transport weapons and mana stones by some enterprising people. If, of course, that wasn’t already happening. “Bas, wait,” he called after the prince. He cursed and hurried his pace. He handed the horses over to a worker to be put in a storage car and boarded after Bas.
Jonathan went past the kitchen and dining car, then the various passenger cars. He managed to find Bas in the last passenger car. He crossed his arms balefully stared at the kid until Bas apologized.
“Do you know why that was dangerous?” Jonathan asked as he entered an apartment for them to stay in.
“You’re not an adult, you’re not poor, you’re not in your home country, you’re short enough to get lost in a crowd, and you’re not a commoner.”
“I’m sorry.” Bas bowed his head. “I wasn’t thinking. I was just really happy.”
“Apology accepted.” Jonathan put his bag down. He had been on a train in this world before, but that was a few years ago with Chester and Peter; he shook his head, trying to get his mind out of his memories.
“Can I explore the train once we leave the station?”
“Later, we can, yes. Once we know the places on the train, then you can wander some.” Jonathan pulled out the book he had gotten in Celtie’s capital. He was planning on making a stop between Lembroke and Celtie. He wanted to check on Emlyn and Millan. The now sort of capital of Maskiff was where they had a lot of their men and mines.
Two days later, Jonathan was about to feed Oceton and was interrupted by a question.
“Can I?” Bas asked, his gaze was zeroed in on the large bird.
Jonathan nodded. He knew that Oceton tolerated Bas and the bird didn’t seem to be agitated right now. It wasn’t too much of an issue to walk the boy through the steps.
Bas was feeding Oceton some jerky when he boldly started on a line of questioning he had backed down on previously. “What were you before you became a lumberjack?”
Jonathan looked over at the young prince. He considered it for a moment and replied, “You know I was a wanderer.”
“What about before that?”
Jonathan raised an eyebrow. “A whittler.”
Jonathan snorted. He spent a few seconds thinking over it, but wondered whether to make a perhaps dumb decision based on attachment. Cornelia and Bas had a habit of growing on people they liked, similar in a loud and unrepentant way to how children grew up and took careful note of each jump in height; any acknowledgement of fondness towards them was taken at face value and clung to. However, Jonathan wasn’t perfect. It was rather likely something would slip on this trip related to this body’s original identity. “Do you know how to keep secrets, Bas?”
The prince sat up straight and leaned in. He confidently replied, “Yes.” He wanted to know. He would always rather know than be lied to or left out.
“What sort of secrets have you been told?”
Bas’s face scrunched up in thought. “Uhh, I’ve been told some stuff, and heard others.”
“Like what?” Jonathan prompted. He was holding back a smile. He opened his new book again to distract himself for a moment.
Bas clamped his jaw shut, keeping his responses vague.
Jonathan approved of this. He casually revealed, “I might have been royalty before I became a wanderer.”
“No way!” Stars lit up in Bas’ eyes. He flailed his arms around for a moment. The enthusiasm quickly faded. “Wait, then how did you end up. . .”
For Bas, the question wasn’t incredulous, as if he could not understand anyone who didn’t want to be royalty. He understood it from his own personal thoughts. Being royalty didn’t mean being happy or having a good family. “Why did you leave?”
“A threat to my well being was what forced me to make a decision. However, I had figured out something by then. Fame and fortune aren’t what makes you happy. Because I knew that, I decided to not fight for the throne and left quietly.” Jonathan wasn’t sure a large fire and faked death could be called quiet, but that was merely semantics.
Bas was silent for a few moments. He scratched his nose, in thought. “The reason you’re telling me this. Do you think I shouldn’t fight for being king?”
“I think you could be a good king when you’re older, and more mature.” Jonathan ran a critical eye over the boy that had grown up quite a bit in the past three years. He knew Bas acted arrogant, yet he was actually quite aware of people and social situations. The arrogance made for a good cover against confronting his thoughts and his family. “Being king is a heavy job, anything involving leadership is. There’s a . . . sort of fulfillment and sense of achievement that is nice. I’d say be a king if you want to, just don’t expect that being a king means you’ll be happy, Bas.”
Bas sighed, in a manner far too similar to the older man; it was a habit he had picked up. “I guess that’s fair,” he grumbled in a tone which clearly said the opposite.
“Take some time to think over what I said.” Jonathan patted the boy on the shoulder as he left the cabin. “I’m going to get some water from the dining car.”
Bas stayed, and watched the waters smack against the wood of the ship. He didn’t often have much time to think about things like this. It wasn’t often others made him question what type of ruler he wanted to be, or if he wanted to actually be a king. He was thinking about it now, and he thought that maybe he should be thinking about these sorts of questions more often.
He did want to be a king still, but he had a bit of a different perspective now. Bas had to acknowledge that Jonathan was right; there was no guarantee that getting the throne would make him happy.
Bas just wasn’t sure if that actually changed anything about his situation.
Conversations about life and such are important, but not always the most fun to have.
What is everyone’s favorite crayon color?