I'm of age. I'm of age, and Mother didn't come.
The Lurine floods sometimes. It's not so bad up here in the capital. I noticed the water was high, but it didn't seem bad. But further south, it creates a mess, and there was a storm in Vinton that washed out one of the roads. They should have it clear in a week, but by then it will be too late.
She was supposed to have arrived two days ago. When we didn't hear from her, Father asked at the stables, and they told him about the summer floods and the storm. Then I remembered the storm when I was ten, when I hid inside with her and we couldn't get honey for two weeks, so we had to make our supplies last, even though we could see the caravans waiting on the other side of the flood.
But the ceremony was good anyway. Father stood up and told a whole bunch of lords that I was his son and that I was entering my sixteenth year and therefore was considered an adult. Everyone cheered, and I got lots of little gifts of candy and dried meat and jewelry, most of which I didn't want to keep. But there was one thing, an armband with the crest of Vinton on it, that Father told me Mother had commissioned for me when she was up for Grandmother's funeral. So I think I will wear that.
Sinch came to the ceremony. He stayed hidden, but I saw him, and when I was up there during the ceremony, he stepped out of the shadow so I could see him smile. I looked for him after the ceremony, but he'd already left. Still, it was nice of him to come after all.
Father apologized for Haley, and told me I should have spoken up sooner. I said he wouldn't have to worry about that in the future, and that made him laugh. That kind of felt good. But then his wolf tried to be nice, and that kind of ruined things, though I think I didn't let on. I'd just put on the armband and I couldn't help it, I kept thinking that Mother should be here and not this big white wolf. I mean, when it's my turn to get married, I'm not going to be able to keep doing stuff with Sinch. I know he makes Father happy, but being a lord isn't about being happy, no matter what I thought about Haley. It's about doing the right thing for your people.
Master Ovile says if I know that, then I'm better off than half the lords we've studied in his history class. And now that I'm of age, I guess that's not such a bad place to be starting from.
I hadn't considered that Sinch would want to come to my coming-of-age. It's in the palace, and there's sure to be some security, so I don't know if he'll be able to come. Well, okay. I know he'll be able to, but I don't know if he should. He asked me just now if I want him to come, and I didn't know what to say. I do. But I don't want him to get in trouble.
So I'm thinking about that, and I'm wondering what this all means. He's pretty much the only real friend I've got. But we probably won't stay friends. When I'm a lord, I can't be friends with a thief, let alone do other stuff. Would it be leading him on to let him come to my ceremony?
On the other paw, it's my ceremony. I should be able to have anyone there I want. Father's going to be bringing him. And Volyan will be there, and a bunch of lords I don't know. So why can't I have one friend, in all that bunch?
If he's not there, I'll just have to tell him about it later anyway. So I'm going to wake him up now and tell him to come. I think.
I can't remember when I've been this happy. It's after midnight and Sinch is asleep already but I can't keep my eyes closed. I'm not going to marry Haley!
Jinna came through for me. Well, I think it was a combination of that and me finally realizing that Father had never really talked to Haley the way I have. All my Diplomacy wasn't doing any good because he thought she was just quiet and shy, and whenever her parents talk about her they talk about how wonderfully she does in her lessons, only I knew that her lessons were all about sewing and the proper angle to hold your ears in the presence of the king, or a lord, and she's always getting that wrong anyway, not that father or anyone really stands on ceremony anymore. So I arranged for Haley to come over that evening, with Father around, and I asked her simple things I'd learned in Vinton, like who would come next in the Circle when King Pontion passes on, and how many different provinces are in Tephos, and what was the name of the river that passes through Divalia (which I never would have dreamed she didn't know except we were walking by it one night and she said, “it's so pretty, I wonder if it has a pretty name,” and I told her it was called the Sparklebell River, and that's what she told Father when I asked, and she giggled, too).
Then Jinna came back with one of the wolves from Lord Tistunish's court, and his land borders Dewanne and he knows the old lord, and he said that Dewanne is such an isolated city that the nobility there doesn't like foreigners and so if I were going to be lord, they would really only accept me if I married a local vixen. So that was something Father could tell her parents, because he didn't want to tell them that their daughter was so stupid that she might actually lose her way home if someone didn't walk her, and not just to the house but up the stairs into her bedroom. I didn't see a problem with that. If it was my daughter, I'd want to know. I even offered to use Diplomacy, but Father said he could manage. The only bad part of today is that he wouldn't let me be there when he told them.
So I went out tonight and celebrated with Sinch. The locusts are all over now, and Sinch doesn't like them, even when I grabbed one and offered it to him. He says they taste too bitter. That's what I like, though. And it's not like other mice don't eat them. They don't count as meat, so it's okay.
Now I just have to look forward to my coming-of-age. I'll enjoy it a lot more now Haley doesn't have to be there. Though it would've been nice to see Mother's reaction to her. Mother never liked any vixens, or any females, really, who couldn't think for themselves. I don't mind, though. I sure hope Mother will be proud of me.
I'm still determined not to marry Haley. She's back from vacation but I'm sure there's got to be something that says I can determine who'd be the best Lady for me. I asked the Steward, Jinna, if there are any other noble vixens around my age who'd be suitable, or maybe someone from Dewanne, and she said she would check for me. After all, it might be years and years before Lord Dewanne dies, and even then he might not have named me his heir. So why should I get married at all until we know for sure?
I didn't go to jail, and neither did Sinch. We just had to go apologize to the clerk. I don't think we did a crime, actually. The clerk seemed confused about who we were. I guess the guard probably only chased us because Sinch looked suspicious and we were running from him. If we'd just acted like nothing was wrong, he wouldn't have chased us at all and we'd have gotten away with it.
Those bugs are all over now. Master Cobalt says they're locusts and Master Ovile says they come back every seventeen years. So this is the first time they've been here since I was born. There's so many of them that sometimes I don't eat anything else all day. That way I don't have to eat with Father and them. I can usually get bread from Sinch, if we don't go back to his house.
Father's also planning a celebration for my coming-of-age. I don't really care what we do as long as I can do what I want the next day. At least Mother will be coming up for it. I can't wait to see her again.
I wonder if I could get out the window. Even if I died from the fall, that would be better than going back to Divalia with Father and the guard like I'm a prisoner. Father says I'm not, even though the guards had to stop me and Sinch from leaving yesterday morning.
Someone at the inn did recognize me. They called a guard, because I'm not of age, and sent a messenger to the city for Father. He and another pair of guards arrived just before noon today to take us back to the palace. I don't know if I'm going to be placed under arrest or what. I asked him to let Sinch go, because it was all my idea, but he didn't respond, not then. We just rode all the way back to this inn and I don't think any of us said more than two or three words the whole day. These loud bugs followed us back to the city. Father grabbed one and ate it, so when he wasn't looking, I tried one too. It was sharp and bitter. I liked it.
Then Father sent Sinch down for water and closed the door, and lectured me on responsibility, and how I'm coming of age in a month, and if I'm going to be a Lord, I'll have to be a model to my people, and all of this other stuff. Like I didn't know that. I told him it was just because I didn't want to marry Haley, and he told me that if Haley was the one chosen to be my wife then I would have to marry her and be happy with it. And he said something about Sinch, then, and tried to make out like he knew what I was going through. I forgot to mention, he kept looking at Sinch the whole time we were riding. So I told him that I didn't want to go live with Sinch and abandon my wife. He got mad and said there were things I didn't understand, and I said I hoped they threw me in jail because then at least I wouldn't have to marry that useless waste of space. He told me that she wasn't a waste of space and that I needed to learn to appreciate someone who, I don't remember exactly, something about her being smart but scared to show it, and I said that if I thought she was smart enough to be scared then I wouldn't be dreading every moment I spent with her. Then he said he hoped I'd be more reasonable later and Sinch came back and he walked out.
Sinch asked what happened, but I didn't feel like talking much about it. He wanted to do stuff, but I didn't know if we'd have privacy and I still felt too worked up, so we just went to sleep.
It felt good to hold him, but that doesn't mean anything.
I was worried about staying in the same inn I stayed in on the way up, but they must see hundreds of foxes in a year and a half. Nobody recognized me. Sinch and I stayed in a little room on the second floor. I had some money in my pouch, and it's certainly enough to get to Vinton, even counting the extra Royals I had to give the merchant to let us ride with him.
The strange thing, the reason I wanted to write in the journal tonight, is that I don't feel as good as I thought I would. Yesterday, all I could think about was being free, seeing Mother again, being with Sinch on an adventure. But today I had a lot of time to think, sitting in the wagon, and I kept thinking about Father and Lord Dewanne. Father's done a lot of things I hate, but he's a lord. I see the respect the teachers give him, and something Master Xoren said to me once comes back to me even though I don't want to think about it. He said, “you're a natural at this, just like your father.”
I wish I hadn't studied so much history. So many of our lessons started with “the lord of such-and-such was a weak lord.” Father isn't weak. Neither am I. But this is weak, now, what I'm doing. I want to see Mother and Vinton again more than anything, but I don't want to do it like this, running away. My dinner isn't sitting well, and my throat is all tight. But there's nothing I can do about it now. I can't go back to Divalia.