It was blisteringly hot. Inland like this, without the cool air rolling off the sea it became almost unpleasant. Sweat stuck clothing to skin, the air itself felt heavy. Where was the famed breeze to provide some relief? Had it not been for the shade afforded by the forest they rode through, Achilleas would have been beginning to wonder why he had agreed to this. They had left early, hoping to avoid the worst of the sun but the hours had ticked by and Helios was unrelenting in his path across the sky. Twisting in the saddle, he glanced over his shoulder to where his brother and cousin followed, looking just as hot and uncomfortable as he felt.
“I vote next time we insist Iason comes to us” he grumbled, swiping his forearm across his face as he turned to look forward again. “There is one of him and three of us. It only makes sense”
He was referring to the invitation their cousin had extended for Stephanos and Emilios and himself to join him for a couple of days out in the province of Chaoedia, the seat of his barony. Stephanos had sold it in as weekend of hunting and other such leisure pursuits, and with some reluctance, Achilleas had agreed, despite him having plenty to keep him busy in Euttica.
It was easier for the other two, neither Stephanos nor Emilios had the responsibility of a barony, and it showed in the way they had both so readily agreed to come. The prerogative of second sons, the idle pursuit of fun over duty. He envied them the luxury of it sometimes. The two were undeniably closer than he himself was with Stephanos, had more in common perhaps, but Achilleas had time for his cousin, and he had decided that really there was little harm to be had in this trip. Iason was notoriously staid, which made him a little less suspicious than he might have been had it been an idea conceived by Stephanos himself. Achilleas had studiously avoided being swept up in any of the Prince’s exploits and he had no plans to change that. And as he considered that, he realised that perhaps it [i[was[/i] better that they had come out here to Chaoedia, where if there was any trouble to be found, it would at least not cause the ripples it might in the capital. And he mused, with a sideways glance at the other two, less insalubrious distractions.
They should be safe, all things considered.
He just about managed to duck and avoid a branch that hung low across the path, Achilleas considered calling back to warn the others, and then judged it would serve them right if they weren’t paying attention. He was not going to spend all weekend supervising them like they were two unruly children, he decided then.