Riol remembered the day when he'd found what it meant to be a second son.
He'd been about five. Nurse had been holding him, and there was some bright toy dancing right beyond his fingertips while the merry sound of laughter filled the room, the happy laughter of his older brother and sisters echoing through the halls as they shrieked and played together. It was usually like this, day in and day out: the mauve curtains, with the childish settee where Elsa and Liroya received embroidery lessons and played at tea, to the blue carpet where the blocks for castle building and the knight play-set rested. Riol was in a corner with nurse, who kept picking him up because all he wanted to do was pull out Elsa's knitting. Elsa turned so red when he pulled out her knitting. It had been fun, and Riol had given him a sweetmeat afterwards for stealth.
He wasn't making it very far today. Nurse seemed to know what he was up to when he got as far as the first curtain.
Suddenly, father had walked in. Riol felt himself lifted quickly from behind--and he hadn't even reached the halfway point! Curses. His view dipped once as nurse curtsied.
|"Olix" age eight (Source)|
“Yes, father.” Said eight-year-old Olix, who had been building a castle out of blocks in a far corner. He was somber, he looked almost frightened! Riol blinked slowly. Olix, frightened? He who could stand up to Liroya's temper and pinches: no, Olix would never be frightened. Riol watched as his brother slowly straightened and stood, turning to face his Father.
“You are needed in the study. Come.”Continued father, his hands clasped behind his back.
What? Father was taking Olix away? Why? Riol had never left the nursery. Olix had never left the nursery. “Riol wants to come to!” Riol said, wiggling out of nurse's arms and waving his tiny hands towards his father.
Riol wrinkled his brows. "Riol come to!" He chorused, and began waddling towards Olix.
All eyes suddenly turned towards him, and he stumbled over a colorful block, landing beside Olix's left slipper. His brother was looking towards the door, his hands clinched up tight. “Brother?” Said Riol, reaching up to tug on the older boy's sleeve, “Riol come to?”
The nurse shushed him from behind, and in one fluid motion scoped the squirming boy up again.
“No, Riol come to! Riol want come!” He screamed into her starched apron, his little limbs flailing about despite her shushing.
“No, Riol.” Said his father. “You are a second son. You won't be king like your brother. You will be a knight, like Uncle Undine, or a monk like Uncle Rexxes or Reichi.”
Then Olix was gone.
Only later had it been properly explained to him. Second sons—second sons were not allowed to marry. Or sire any children, because children from his loins would potentially muddle the succession line.
Second sons had to take the chaste vow of knighthood or submit themselves to God.
Riol didn't like either of those choices.
It's not like he wanted to be King. He just wanted to be somebody. Not shuttered away in a monastery or freezing himself on a tower wall. He wanted...he wanted a choice.
That, together with the memory of his younger sister's birth when he was six—and the subsequent death of the Queen—are his only childhood memories.
Click here for part four!