A Chapter by SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

Folco discovers being a prince differs vastly from being a Councilor's son. Meanwhile, he must keep the government change secret from his friends until the official announcement.



       When Folco first woke, he was certain the previous afternoon's life-changing conversation had been a bizarre dream. Then he saw his schoolbooks, the parchment where he’d copied his untouched homework, and a half-eaten scone. Taking a bite out of it, Folco stared at the assignment sheet in dismay. He'd completely forgotten about the arithmetic. Then there was that history essay he needed to write about how Spolingharrow had invaded Wishmay, completely taking it over and imprisoning the Wishmay royal family, and the way surrounding lands had reacted to the entire affair. His recollections of that chapter unsettled him. Could being thrown into prison for no crime other than his identity ever happen to him?  Would he be able to handle it? No, it won't happen, Folco promised himself. I'll never be put in prison. Or tortured. Or kidnapped. Or any of that. That's for others, not me. Not my family.


However, there were more important matters at hand than worrying about terrifying events in a far-off place befalling him. Folco was not looking forward to what Mrs. Littleman was going to say when she found out he had not completed the assignment.


            Once he’d packed his schoolbag, Folco made his way to the dining room for breakfast. As he approached, the scent wafting down the hall suggested bacon, toast, eggs and boiled potatoes, among other things. Both of his parents and two of his three siblings not away at school were already there. All were sitting in almost complete silence, clearly lost in their own respective thoughts.


Xenia, unsurprisingly, was absent from the table for the entire meal. From the various digs both of their parents made, it was obvious they felt her nonappearance at breakfast a form of remonstration for what they’d been told last night. Folco disagreed, though he knew better than to voice his demurral aloud. She had been acting that way ever since she’d arrived back in Drémeadow after the sudden, ignominious end to her university years.  It was not unusual for his older sister to be awake long after the rest of the Foxtrots had gone to sleep, consequently sleeping practically through lunch. Her very first day back, in which she’d arrived at dawn, Xenia had retired to her room, gone to sleep and not awakened until the middle of the next day.


            “Folco, Odo,” their father said suddenly. Folco looked up. “I’ve arranged for a carriage to bring you two to and from school.”


            Both lads immediately gave cries of protest. “I walk to school with my friends!” protested Folco. “I always go with them, I don’t need a ride!” He could not believe what he was hearing. The walks to and from school were his favorite part of the day. He and his friends were not yet old enough to be permitted to come home later than suppertime, though their parents were relaxed about them being out in the immediate vicinity of their homes, a half mile away or less, once they were back at supper and homework was finished. Some of Folco’s friends were even allowed  to stay out past dinnertime if they told their parents exactly what they were doing but his own were far stricter about it. Not only that, but he had to do his homework the instant he got home, although it seemed they’d experienced uncharacteristic forgetfulness the previous day.


            “Come on,” groaned Odo. “I’m too old to have to be driven in a carriage. We’re not in lower school!”


            Their father remained unmoved. “I do not believe it will be safe for you two to go around on your own.”


            Folco’s jaw dropped. What was he expecting to happen? “Odo’s right, we’re not five! I’m thirteen! Almost fourteen, actually!”


            Their mother frowned. “Mind your father, lads. “


            “I do not like the thought of you two walking such a long way given everything that is going to be happening,” said the soon-to-be king of Drémeadow.  “There may be people who will not like the change, and who knows how they will react?” Folco clandestinely thought that he and the others ought to have considered that one in the Council meeting before . Then again, the Council never seemed to work well together. He’d often found it impressive how strongly the adults in the Council, all much older than even Nora, could emulate little children.


            “What, do you reckon someone will jump out and try to do us in?” Odo said, earning himself a glower from both parents.


            “Yes, actually, that is precisely what we are worried about,” said their father. Folco involuntarily stiffened. “We may not be violent like humans, but you know our kind do not generally like change, and this is a massive change. Our people might not understand. They do not see what happens in Council meetings. They do not know the whole story. There is no guarantee they will comprehend why this is a good idea.”


            Folco himself felt the same way. A lot of the jargon and topics discussed by the adults during socials that may as well have been Council meetings with  Councilhobbits’ kids added confused him, but he knew there had been contention as long as he could remember. According to his father, a country did not function well when the people running it were unable to get along, citing times where Folco had encountered conflict in cooperative projects with classmates. Thinking on past times where he’d been involved in group projects with annoying classmates who did things like not doing their share of the work or doing a shoddy job of it, he felt he could understand that logic.


            “So we just tell our friends why we didn’t turn up to walk with them, then?” said Odo.


            Their father emphatically shook his head. “Not exactly. You are not to tell them anything about our conversation last night. You are not to say anything about what is going on with our family until the news is officially announced.”


            “Then what?” Folco interjected.


            “That ought to be obvious. Family matters needed attending to. You need not say any more than that. Have a good day at school.”


            As they left the dining hall, they heard their mother say something that sounded very suspiciously like “may need to get them guards for at school.” Folco only hoped his ears were very, very wrong.



            The two brothers were very nearly late to school. The doorman had stopped them as they were on their way to the carriage their father had insisted upon taking to inform them that their father wished him to have a few words with the two brothers about safety. All through the deadly dull homily about how things would not be the same, as though that weren’t already painfully obvious, Folco was thinking If he’s so bent on us being lectured about not putting ourselves in danger, why couldn’t he do it himself?But no. Yet again, their father was too busy to spare those words with them.


            Seeing the world outside their home was a shock. Folco did not know what he expected, exactly, but he’d expected to see something. Something different. Something drastic enough to parallel the way his own life had just been turned on its head. Granted, word had not yet spread. His father had said the news would be announced that afternoon at around five after the now-defunct Council decided when the coronation would be.


            The coronation. Folco leaned back into the seat, stricken anew with awe. It all seemed so unreal.


            Then Odo started complaining about needing to relieve himself and how there was no place he could go on the way to school- at the precise moment they were passing the home of the Mallomar family. Thora Mallomar was in Odo’s year- they had even courted briefly- and her older sister Olga was the same age as Jilliian. “Why don’t we stop here and you ask the Mallomars if you can use theirs?”


            Odo shuddered slightly. “No thanks. They don’t even have running water,” he said priggishly.


            “Most people don’t,” Folco pointed out.


            Odo made a face. “Yes, well, we do,” he said patronizingly, “and so does our schoolhouse, so we know what we’re missing. That privy must be filthy!”


            Folco shook his head disbelievingly, wondering if acting like this had anything to do with those two no longer courting. Odo claimed he’d decided to stop seeing Thora, but there had also been rumors around schpp;l suggesting the opposite. “There’s always the bushes.”  His older brother scowled. “Or holding it in.


            “I’ll just hold it,” snapped Odo through gritted teeth. However, his brother’s need grew so dire that he wound up using the privy of a baker. Folco smirked as he watched his brother join the line for the public privy, knowing that not only was it outdoors with no running water but that, being public, it was far more likely to be dirty than a home privy.  His grin faded, however, when he realized that this stop would annihilate any free time he might have had to speak with his friends before lessons started.



            At first, the carriage driver, today a hobbit named Toby, wanted to escort them directly to their classrooms. Fortunately, he and Odo were able to persuade him to leave them at the main entrance under the logic that one of them would be late if he insisted on walking with them. He passed through the door of his classroom the exact moment the bell-tower chimed the late bell.  


            “You know, Master Foxtrot,” Magistra Littleman admonished in a voice suggesting that she was in a bad mood, “walking through the door does not constitute arriving to class on time. I shall overlook it today because you are not typically late, but consider yourself forewarned.


            “Yes, Ma’am,” mumbled Folco, slinking towards his seat and walking right past the pile of scrolls containing the homework of other students. He was not looking forward to the castigation he would be in for once she realized he did not have a scroll there. On the bright side, she had launched right into a continuation of yesterday’s world history lesson- one that had been by far more interesting to hear about than Drémeadow’s trade and commerce. Battles superseded quibbles over commerce in his level of interest any day of the week.


There was just one annoyance- the girls in front of him. While Folco was trying to listen to how Cancalia and Khar-Phazabough were worried they might be the next targets of Spolingharrow aggression, Felicia Acer, Lily Ferthing and Acacia Hoggins were giggling about- something. He tried his hardest to listen to the lecture instead of being the unwilling eavesdropper on the conversation in front of him, but it wasn’t easy.


“Many measures were taken on the Cancalian side of the Ester River to ensure the safety of its inhabitants. King Irwin, who had ascended the throne only three years before in 2989 and was still seeking a suitable woman to take as his queen, gave orders that Fort Cyrus send reinforcements south to Bolingbarke, and those from Spolingharrow who worked in Cancalia were regarded with the utmost of…”


“Oh, but he is so handsome! Have you seen his eyes?” Lily whispered. “They’re blue like sapphires!” Folco involuntarily pulled a face, thinking about how it was lucky he had already digested most of his breakfast, otherwise it would be all over his desk just listening to this syrup. He wanted to know about what the mixed-race Cancalia and the dwarves of Khar-Phazabough had done. He was not in the least bit interested in Lily’s latest crush.


“Doesn’t Fern fancy him?” Acacia whispered. Folco groaned inwardly. What was it with girls and the way they chased boys in his class? Quite fortunately, he himself had never been their target of amour, but they could get quite persistent in their wiles.


Felicia chimed in, “He sits near her, he’s between Bando Golding and Lindo Rivers, you better think of how to make him want to court you, she can talk to him more than you so you need his attention somehow.” 


Quite suddenly, the whole subject of Cancalia and Khar-Phazabough was forgotten. They were talking about Bingo, which was definitely a topic of interest. “I’m prettier than she is, though,” Lily shot back, “she’s not all that much of a looker. I don’t intend to be unkind or anything but just look at her…”


Felicia gave a sly smile. “Yes, but they already share notes for class.” Folco’s eyes widened. This was news to him. He would have to look into that to see whether they actually did share notes. 


Just then, Magistra Littleman noticed both the girls and how distracted Folco and the others around them were. Even Ted Northfield, who was usually such a model pupil that he and the others in their group of friends called him “Lord Perfection,” was interloping on the girls rather than attending to his studies- hardly a surprise since Bingo was also his friend.  After a diatribe against talking out of turn during which other students took the opportunity to fidget and whisper to their own friends, she lost her temper. “Enough is enough! Books away and get out a blank piece of parchment and keep your ink and quills out! We are going to have a quiz!” There was a collective moan and shuffling of parchment.  Folco felt a sense of dread. He hoped it would not be on anything too recent, especially yesterday’s lesson. “First question- name the members of the Wishmay royal family who were captured and imprisoned by Spolingharrow, the village in which this happened, specify where they were and describe what happened.”


Folco wilted inside. He was going to be in deep trouble today. He could not wait for lunch so he could have fun with his friends.



            When it struck lunch hour, Folco joined Bingo, Ted, Rufus and Lindo  in a circle outside as usual. He felt positively ravenous and immediately opened his pail. Meanwhile Rufus was complaining about what his parents had given him to eat as usual. “I can’t believe they gave me venison again! I hatevenison!” he groused, voice cracking slightly on the last word. The other lads snickered and Rufus turned bright red. 


            “Cat got your tongue?” Folco teased.


            Rufus scowled. “It’s going to happen to you too, you know,” he said.


            “Which one, not liking anything my parents give me or not talking properly?” he responded innocently. It was nice to let off some steam in harmless fun after the past few hours, not to mention the boulder his parents had dropped upon them.


            Rufus stomped his foot. “Leave me alone!” he said angrily. “Stop being a prat! Just because your parents give you  everything you  want doesn’t give you the right to pick on me!”


            He felt as though he had been socked in the stomach. He was getting this even though he was the one whose parents, particularly his father, were never actually around to do anything with him? he could feel the heat rushing to his face. “What?!” he said angrily, stepping forward. “You…!”


            “Calm down,” Bingo interrupted, moving between the two.


            “Calm down?!” Folco repeated incredulously. “Did you hear what he just said to me?”


            “Well,” Lindo chimed in, “after what you said something to him.


            “Say,” said Ted, “Bingo, did you hear about Lily Ferthing  and Fern Gardner?”


            “What about him?”


            Anger subsiding slightly, Folco eagerly said “they both fancy you! They were talking about it in class, and Felicia…”


            “You mean Felicia, Lily, and Acacia were discussing it,” Ted corrected. Folco made a face. He was not in the mood for Ted’s constant corrections. He got quite enough of those at home.  Taking a deep breath, he muttered his assent and he and Ted continued  to relate the tale of what the girls had been saying.


            As Folco was starting on dessert, fig pudding, and distributing one of the chocolates out of the crate his father had purchased from the Spivaks of Jadafoquerp a month ago to each of his friends, the topic of conversation moved in a very uncomfortable direction.


            “Say, Folco,” began Rufus, voice tight, “where did you go yesterday?”


            “Home…” he answered with trepidation. He hoped his answering in one word would be enough of a hint.


            “What for?” asked Lindo.


            Folco snapped “is this an interrogation or something?” and slammed his lunch pail shut.


            His friends looked startled. “No,” said Ted, “we were just wondering where you went, like if your parents took you out early to go somewhere fun.”


            He gave a hollow laugh. That never happened. Many hobbit families took their kids from school on occasion to spend extra time with them, but the day his did that would be the day they walked on the sky. “Shows how much you know.”


            Ted looked irritated. “Well, that’s what it usually is, isn’t it?”


            “Speak for yourself,” Folco muttered, not appreciating it being rubbed in. Quite aside from having received very unquestionable orders not to explain what was going on with his family, he did not know how to even begin explaining. It was especially  annoying because he had complained at length about his parents putting him and his siblings after politics, laws and other matters of state.


            “Oi!” said Bingo. “What is your problem?”


            “I don’t have a problem…”


            “Could’ve fooled us,” commented Rufus.


            “You seem really stirred up about something,” Lindo observed. “What happened?”


            Folco winced. Lindo would be the one to read between the lines. He shook his head, silently pleading with him to leave it. Instead, Lindo asked “is it something to do with one of your parents? Or the Council? Or did Xenia and your parents have another fight?”


            His stomach plummeted. He was not particularly thrilled about Lindo bringing up the tension between Xenia and their parents either. Though he appreciated that at least one of his friends realized he did not have everything he wanted from life, meanine that Lindo actually listened to his complaints rather than thinking about something else, having them voiced aloud for the benefit of those who didn't even care enough to get past his being a Councilhobbit's son bothered him for some inexplicable reason. “I don’t believe what happens in my family is any of your affairs,” he said before he could stop himself, before he could invent some sort of excuse that not give away what had actually happened.


            Lindo stared at him. “Well then,” he said coolly, “I’ll leave you to your thoughts then.” He stood up and began to leave the group. “Anyone coming?”


            The rest of his friends walked off, leaving Folco all by himself with his face aflame. 




            The rest of the day was just as bad as the morning and lunch hour. Fifteen minutes into arithmetic, Folco decided he’d overreacted to natural questions, not to mention several other small things, and ought to apologize during the break between grammar and anatomy. However, the usual afternoon break was taken away as punishment for the entire class after a combination of girls in the class proving incapable of refraining from whispered gossip for more than a few minutes at a time and the boys seated furthest back from the room turning one of the knots in the oak wood of the back wall into a target for spitballs. Most unfortunately, one of their spitballs had hit Wisteria Sandler in the face. Like a typical girl, she had shrieked “ewwww!” out loud right in the middle of the arithmetic lesson.  When Magistra Littleman scolded her, Wisteria whined “but Tino and Poco are throwing spitballs at me!” She pointed at the floor around the wall as evidence. Magistra Littleman had then yelled at the entire class for their “deplorable and uncivilized behavior” and taken away the break. So much for making amends with his friends, he thought.  The only highlight was that either Magistra Littleman had not realized his homework was missing or she had not checked. Perhaps he could sneak it in tomorrow if she did not bring all their work home.


When Odo and Folco got home, they were instructed to change out of their school outfits into formal attire- it would be needed when the family went to Hammershank Square, the largest city square in Hardscrabble. After finishing  afternoon tea and pastries, Folco went to his room to obligingly doff what he had and don the nicest clothes he had. They were dreadfully uncomfortable, but his father really might have his head if he was dressed in anything less than his best outfit for an occasion such as this. Naturally, Nora was the first ready.


“The news will not be announced today,” said their father the moment Odo and Xenia joined the rest of their family. Odo was dressed almost as nice as he did at times he was trying to impress some girl or another.  The latter had actually deigned to wear a dress, a rare occasion indeed.


Nora gasped, “what? But didn’t you say…?”


“Yes,” their father cut across her, “but the Council’s not ready to declare its disbandment.”


Xenia rolled her eyes. “You mean the Council hasn’t managed to figure things out. Again. ”


“When, then?” Folco asked.


“Before the week is out.”


Folco moaned inwardly. It was only Tuesday. He was supposed to keep the explanation of why he was suddenly taking a carriage instead of walking with his friends to himself for a week? What would he say when asked why he hadn’t gotten yesterday’s homework done? Or why he suddenly wasn’t allowed to stay after school for a while to spend time with his friends? What would he say if any of his friends mentioned the Council? Or if anyone brought up politics around him? And were his parents truly considering forcing him to have guards with him everywhere?


He wished it were Monday morning again. If this was what life as a prince would be like, then he did not want to be one.

© 2014 SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

Author's Note

SpeedyHobbit Armstrong
I've received a couple of suggestions about combining this chapter and the next about combining them and paring it down. I'm mainly trying to convey Folco's server of alienation from having to keep a major secret, the sense that there's an invisible wall that wasn't there before and how on-edge he feels- mixed with the typical frustrations and worries of his age. Please let me know what, if anything, can be made more succinct and what can be pared out. Thanks to how Dremeadow is and his age, school plays a big role in his life whether he likes it or not- at least until the events of "Fallen Ones".

My Review

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I'm just going to quickly mention a couple of things that stood out for me in this chapters, but then I want to raise the question of scope with you. So hang on, and rest assured it's not all bad.

First, I found it a little odd that Folco's friends don't already know how strained his relationship with his parents are. Hobbits may have a bit of a blind spot, assuming that every family seeks to spend as much time together as possible, but if Folco's situation is different, he's probably complained about it to his friends many times in the past. Kids talk about what's important to them. Also, it's probably a bit much to expect that even hobbit families are immune to the stresses that fracture human families - time management issues, alcoholism, etc are perhaps a bit less severe in their society, but I doubt that any sentient species can escape their vices completely.

Now, on the subject of scope. The first piece of yours I reviewed seemed to involve the same setting, and focused on the poisoning of the Queen, Falco's mother, at a banquet. It seems to me that this event is the inciting incident that really kicks off your story. Kiran is supposed to be a main character, perhaps even THE protagonist, but if you spend 12 or 14 chapters giving us the background on how the Foxtrots were thrust into their role as royalty, he's going to seem more like an afterthought. I haven't had time to peruse the book as a whole yet, but I will. If I've missed the boat on this one, please forgive me.

You've got so much action implied in the Kiran chapter I reviewed, I think that's your real story. A young paladin sent on a diplomatic mission to a foreign land, wherehe befriends a prince, witnesses an assassination, and is accused of having orchestrated it. The prince is kidnapped (I think) and Kiran must rescue him, uncover the real culprits (I think there was some implication of a corrupt minister) and redeem his honor. Whew! That's already quite a ride and I don't even know what other twists and turns you have in store for us!

This is not to say that all the work you've put in so far is wasted. We all have different comfort levels in terms of backstory. I know which of my characters (not a villain) killed his parents and how it happened. But I haven't written down a word of that yet, and won't until close to the book's end. I'm comfortable knowing the broad strokes. On the other hand, when J KRowling was approached by a charity to provide something they could auction off, she gave them the rights to two whole (albeit small) books. She had actually WRITTEN two of the textbooks the characters in Harry Potter stories referred to. She obviously wanted far more than the broad strokes.

So my advice would be to consider all the stuff you've written prior to Kiran's departure for Folco's homeland (or perhaps his arrival there) as well-developed background material. You need to get busy telling us the main story. Draw on this when it makes sense for a flashback. It might not even mean reproducing large chunks of this in the later story. It may just be Folco reflecting on the irony of the fact that he anticipated his kidnapping way back when he first learned he was to be a royal. And much later, when you're a famous published author and charities want you to make a donation, look how much you'll have to give them!

As always, I hope my humble observations help. Feels free to respond and draw my attention to othermatters if you feel I've misinterpreted your intentions. Keep writing!

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 7 Years Ago

2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

This comment has been deleted by the poster.
SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

7 Years Ago

Hey, thank you so much for this in depth! First, thank you for reading my books .You are absolutely .. read more


I see there was an earlier version of this chapter, whatever was edited, this one seems to work well.

Posted 6 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

6 Years Ago

Thanks Noel!
Nice! I feel Folco's discomfort with the change! Liked this one.
Well done!


Posted 6 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

6 Years Ago

Thanks! And he can't even talk it out with his friends
Cher... you lost me with this chapter. It jumped in the wrong direction for me. The chapter before set up the trails and tribulations that your characters would have to endure with their new “Prince” stature. It could have been fun and enlightening to watch them try to make the changes to compensate instead when went back to school and the biggest conflict is riding a carriage to school.

Posted 6 Years Ago

SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

6 Years Ago

Thanks for the honest review. What I'm getting, if I understand correctly, is that I slowed the pace.. read more
I really love this book so far. You are doing a great job. It does remind me of Lord of the Rings and also the Harry Potter series, in which I love both.

Posted 6 Years Ago

SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

6 Years Ago

Thanks so much for dropping by! [=
This chapter, although well-written, goes kind of slow. There's not a lot of progress for all that is said. I'm worried that some readers won't tune in for the next chapter.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 6 Years Ago

SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

6 Years Ago

Hey, thanks for the feedback! Are there any parts in particular that seem to stand out as slow? I ma.. read more
Gre7g Luterman

6 Years Ago

It's not so much a point in the chapter as it is a plot thing. All the stories with hobbits that I'v.. read more
I like the energy you're using to give life to Falco. I'm perhaps most impressed by how well you're handling Falco's interacts with his classmates.
The pace in which you're moving and the direction so far remind me of Harry's adventures in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. I'm not sure if you've read them or if you dislike them, but I consider it a compliment to how natural you're handling the antics of Falco's age group.
Great work! I'm excited to read more!

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 6 Years Ago

SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

6 Years Ago

Thanks so much for reading and reviewing! And yes, definitely have read JK Rowling's Harry Potter bo.. read more
This is really well-written, great work, a pleasure to read.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 7 Years Ago

SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

7 Years Ago

Thanks so much for the kind words [=
You really have a gift in the imagination department, and after just reading this small portion of this story, I'm enthralled by it. I especially like the creativity of the names; that makes it that much more unique. Thanks for getting my mind off this horrible cold, if only for a few minutes haha. Looking forward to more!

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 7 Years Ago

SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

7 Years Ago

I hope you're feeling better now, colds suck! Looking forward to writing more of this! Wish I had mo.. read more
good work...................

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 7 Years Ago

SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

7 Years Ago

Thanks so much for the review, good hearing from you!

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16 Reviews
Shelved in 1 Library
Added on November 9, 2013
Last Updated on September 6, 2014
Tags: fantasy, fiction, royalty, prince, king, hobbits, friends, life, school, drama, family, boys, girls, love, romance, gossip, politics, democracy, monarchy, upheaval, confusion, emotion, shock, council


SpeedyHobbit Armstrong
SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

Long Island, NY

My name is Cher Armstrong, also known as Speedy Hobbit. I'm a USATF athlete in racewalking for the Raleigh Walkers club team. I just graduated from Queens College in Queens borough in New York Ci.. more..


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