The Recordholder

The Recordholder

A Story by SpeedyHobbit Armstrong
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On the first day of archery practice at school for 15-year-old Prince Folco, his coach makes things very awkward very fast.

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            Folco leaned back against the wall, closing his eyes briefly. This whole first meeting between the archery instructor and the U4s, the fifteen-year-old students in their fourth year of education at Hardscrabble Central Upper School, was most anticlimactic. He’d looked forward to his first year being allowed to be on the school team all through harvest.

 

When he’d seen the note from the archery instructor, Mr. Harford, announcing a meeting for U4 archers, he’d thought it would be something like them shooting and Mr. Harford deciding what they were doing right or wrong. Instead, it was the six U4s considering archery being cooped up in the indoor field listening to yet another lecture. The only thing different between this and the lecture every single one of his teachers had given for the first day of school was that instead of it covering U4, it spanned the four years until he graduated. Why the coach felt the need to talk about what archery would be like as a U7, Folco had no idea. At least he had Lindo there to commiserate with about the sheer boredom this induced. Xenia had never warned them about how boring the first day of practice was. Then again, she’d left over a year ago.

 

“Typically, we have groups of three at tournaments, although there is one that traditionally calls for a single team of seven; it happened many years before I.C.T.A. or even the Intracontinental Games ever existed. The Intracontinental Games themselves are only a century and eleven years old.” He frowned at the group. “You’ll remember the ones we hosted in 3005, I’m sure? Or were you all too young at this point?

 

Folco remembered. He’d been nine at the time, but he still remembered how frenzied his father and the rest of the Council had been in the months leading up to the games.

 

            “What are the others on the squad like?” asked Rufus.  Folco sighed inwardly at the voice. He and Rufus had once been good friends. Rufus still spoke to Lindo, but never when Lindo and Folco were together. Rufus maintained his distance from Folco as though he had some dread disease. The most infuriating part of Rufus’ behavior was he wouldn’t even bother to explain why he suddenly treated him as he might a stranger; there was only Lindo’s theory to go by! Lindo had told him it might be because of the Restructuring; even Lindo had acted distant at first. But Lindo, at least, had come around. Too bad none of his other friends followed suit.

 

            “Raise your hand when speaking… Mr. er… Well… they’ve got potential,” said the coach, fidgeting slightly.  Folco frowned. He could tell Mr. Harford was leaving something unsaid. “The current captain, Tino Woodlock- you’ll meet him tomorrow at the first real practice- is quite adept with the longbow. He’s as high a scorer as the longbow single-round recordholder usually was when it comes to overall tournament scores. Though, he has yet to hit 116 in a single round as she did!”

 

            “Who’s the recordholder?” asked Rufus.

 

This was the first thing of interest he’d heard since the beginning of their first practice. Too bad it was of interest in a bad way. Like the other new archers, Folco’s eyes shifted furtively towards the left side of the room. Unlike the other new archers, he suspected he already knew who it was being referred to as “the single-round recordholder” or just “the recordholder.” He only hoped he was wrong.

 

            The name listed for the highest scorer in a single round in the upper school’s history in an archery tournament with the longbow? Right there, in slanted penmanship, was the scoring. 116 points, 12 hits, 11 gold, 3 X. In the 12 shots for the round, she’d hit the target every time, eleven of those times in the gold inner circle, and three of her shots had struck the center. And the name?  X. Foxtrot, 3004.  Xenia. His sister. The one his parents liked pretending didn’t exist.

 

Folco froze, the blood rushing to his face as felt the others’ eyes turn his way. This was not a circumstance where he wanted to be the center of attention. He turned his eyes determinedly toward the ceiling for a far-too-long moment until the archery instructor mercifully returned to the safety lecture. He was now glad for the fellow’s longwinded verbiage. But why the blazes had he been put on the spot like this? Had it really been necessary to draw attention to the matter of Xenia? He was used to first his Hardscrabble Central Lower and then his Hardscrabble Central Upper teachers remembering his older siblings, but this was just awful.

 

Great. First the coach made him uncomfortable in front of the entire team, and now he was being held back after the practice, if listening to him ramble on about rules, regulations, sportsmanship, past archers and the like even justified the term?

 

Oh well. At least it spared him having to endure the others’ speculations in hushed undertones around him as though he wouldn’t be able to guess at what they were talking about anyhow. Folco just hoped it wouldn’t take too long. One of his father’s fellow former Councilhobbits was visiting for the week and he’d be in for a tongue-lashing if he turned up late for supper.

 

The rest of the practice was devoted entirely to more than Folco ever wanted to know about the recent history of archery tournaments both in villages around the entire Hardscrabble region and around Drémeadow as a whole. When Mr. Harford finally gave his leave for them to go, Folco stood, picking up the equipment he hadn't even needed.

 

Just as he was following Lindo to the exit, Folco heard “Your Highness.” He froze. Some of the others, Rufus included, stole curious glances at Mr. Harford. “May I have a word?”

 

“All right…” said Folco, setting his bow and quiver down on the bench.

 

As the rest of the U4s filed out, Lindo lingered near the door. Noticing him, Mr. Harford said  “I meant alone, Rivers.”

 

Lindo didn’t move. “It’s okay, Lindo,” said Folco. “I’ll see you soon. I shouldn’t be long.” He gave a pointed look to Mr. Harford, hoping the adult would get the hint he had other places to be.

 

Frowning, Lindo said “I’ll meet you outside. I’ll be with Osmundo.” Osmundo was the guard his father had assigned to his protection when at school. Thankfully, he didn’t have to have Osmundo in the room all the time as had been the case when the Restructuring first happened and his father worried about harm coming to his children. Since then, his parents had relaxed enough to consent to Osmundo circling school corridors and corresponding with teachers before each term about the matter of keeping their son safe.

 

When Lindo left the room and Mr. Harford shut the door behind him, Folco folded his arms and stared at the instructor. “What is it?” he said.

 

Mr. Harford fiddled with the collar of his waistcoat. Folco shifted impatiently. If this was meant to be an awkward conversation, he was not in the mood for it. “Listen, my family has people visiting and my father-”

 

“I apologize, Your Highness,” Mr. Harford cut across him. “I won’t be long. Is that what you wish to be called in class, anyway? Other teachers are telling me different-“

 

“The same sort of thing you’d call any of the others, please,” said Folco. He knew perfectly well that along with everything on safety his parents had told his teachers not to treat him differently from any other student when it came to things like misbehaving, slacking off on assignments or even how they addressed him. He didn’t mind not getting the title in school. In fact, he preferred it. School was the one time he could relax from his duties and pretend to be a regular student as he’d been two years ago, before the Restructuring. Furthermore, most of the other students already pretended he was part of the furniture or acted as though they were scared of him, even the ones who were once good friends. The rift would only get worse

 

“So Foxtrot then?”

 

Yes, Mr. Harford. Was that all?”

 

“I also meant to apologize for calling attention to the recordholder like that. She was a very talented archer, though. I wasn’t thinking, and-”

 

“It’s fine,” Folco cut across him sharply.

 

“I know your parents prefer she not be mentioned, though, I didn’t mean-“

 

“I said it’s fine,” snapped Folco, scowling. Were they really talking about this?

 

“Well, your High… I mean, Mr. Foxtrot, I suppose it’ll be a nonissue when the record is broken...” Folco shrugged, muttering indistinctly. “Unless your parents wish to have her name removed from there…”  Folco winced. He was secretly glad his father hadn’t thought of that, though he could hardly say so out loud except perhaps to Lindo when out of earshot of Osmundo.

 

“Don’t. If they wished to go that far, they already would have.”

 

“All right. Well, if she comes up, do you prefer I call her by her name or the recordholder?”

 

            Folco swallowed hard. His coach certainly had a penchant for asking the most uncomfortable things possible! “I think my parents would prefer she be called the recordholder.” He preferred her name, or even “Foxtrot’s older sister” since the others knew it was an older sibling anyway, but his parents wouldn’t like it if he said so and it got back to them.

 

            Just then, there was a knock at the door. “Royal Guard!”

 

            “Osmundo,” said Folco, rolling his eyes. “Probably wondering where I am.”

 

            “Didn’t Rivers tell him?”

 

            Folco sighed. Lindo would have, but he knew how Osmundo and others got if he was alone with someone they and especially his parents didn’t already know well. “You should probably open the door,” he said.

 

            The coach opened the door to reveal an irritated-looking Osmundo, who immediately moved to Folco’s side. “I’m almost done,” said Folco.

 

            “Good, Your Highness should remember that dinner His Majesty said you must be at.”

 

            “I apologize for delaying Prince Folco,” said Mr. Harford. “I merely had something to ask him after practice.”

 

            “Right,” said Osmundo, straightening to his full height. “Well, I’ll need to know when His Highness won’t be out when expected. Especially if he’s to be alone. I’m in charge of ensuring his safety.”

 

            Folco clenched his hands. Why were they talking about him as though he weren’t there? And why was Osmundo being so overprotective? It wasn’t as though anything bad would happen in school other than awkwardness with fellow students, a failed test and things of that ilk.

 

            “I apologize,” said Mr. Harford, “I did not mean to cause you worry.”

 

            “Well, let me know next time you anticipate his being delayed,” said Osmundo crossly. “Come on, Your Highness, we’re already running late.”

 

            “See you tomorrow, Mr. Harford,” Folco called over his shoulder as Osmundo rushed him out.

 

            “WHY did you allow yourself to be alone with him so long?” demanded Osmundo once they were out of earshot of the building. “You know you’re not supposed to isolate yourself. And honestly, Your Highness, I’m rather astonished Lindo went along with it.”

 

            Folco sighed, rolling his eyes. “Lindo didn’t want to get himself in trouble arguing with a teacher and refusing to do what he was told,” he pointed out.  “And can I really refuse a teacher asking me to stay after? Do you really think my parents would like it if I did that? They’re always telling me to do what they say and not use my rank against them because they’ll side with the teacher over me if I’m misbehaving!”

 

            “What you should have done, Your Highness, was asked him to wait a moment while you came out with Lindo to inform me he needed a word. How else am I to know whether you’re safe?”

 

            Folco jammed his fingers through his beltloops. Why did the adults always have to make everything so awkward and confusing? Did they get some sort of entertainment from it? “Well, look at me, I’m safe, am I not?”

 

            Osmundo heaved a long breath. “Just come to the cart, Your Highness, so we can get you home and ready for the dinner.”

 

            Resignedly, Folco began to follow.

© 2014 SpeedyHobbit Armstrong


Author's Note

SpeedyHobbit Armstrong
Mainly, this is just a blurb about a random event in Folco's life. I feel like an abridged version of this may occur at some point in my actual books, but this is meant to be a side story and one-shot.

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Featured Review

An interesting aside, and as you say, it may have a place as an aside, or bit of history in a larger work. All in all, well written. It sure reminded me at that age, sitting to listen to a coach blather when all we wanted to do was get out on the field of play.

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

5 Years Ago

Yah, who knows, may end up with a book of short stories about the characters in this universe if all.. read more


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Reviews

I love when you do these side stories. It's fun to explore the life of a character outside of the primary story. I think you've touched on these issues in the books. I think you can use this to reach deeper for new problems.

Posted 5 Years Ago


An interesting aside, and as you say, it may have a place as an aside, or bit of history in a larger work. All in all, well written. It sure reminded me at that age, sitting to listen to a coach blather when all we wanted to do was get out on the field of play.

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

5 Years Ago

Yah, who knows, may end up with a book of short stories about the characters in this universe if all.. read more
I liked how you humanized your characters going through their teenage trials and tribulations. With being a royal, it can't be easy, and you showed that! :)
Well done!

-Mila

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

5 Years Ago

Yeah, Folco definitely has his struggles. Needless to say, a day will come where he misses his bigge.. read more
Ah yes, the trials of being a teenager, especially one who's part of a royal family. I felt everything Folco was going through, which is a hallmark of a good story.

Hope you don't mind a couple of notes:

caption --> captain

"The rest of the practice, devoted entirely to more than Folco ever wanted to know about the recent history of archery tournaments both in villages around the entire Hardscrabble region and around Drémeadow as a whole." (sentence fragment)

Mr. Hardofrd said --> Mr Harford

Your Highnessm --> Your Highness

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

5 Years Ago

Thanks so much for dropping in and reviewing; I'll definitely fix those typos now! [= I'm glad I pr.. read more
Brings out a clear picture of the changes that royalty can bring with it. Titles, fussy bodyguards, clumsy-unsure teachers, meetings at home, loss of friends, awkwardness. Totally shows life of a prince ain't easy.. So Xenia was the recordholder =D ! And it must feel nice to have a talented sister. But oh I guess Folco's discomfort and contradictory behavior was due to the fact that she was a runaway.

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

5 Years Ago

Yeah, Folco's definitely had a crazy time of it "the past two years" in this universe. And he's cert.. read more

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Added on November 30, 2014
Last Updated on December 5, 2014

Author

SpeedyHobbit Armstrong
SpeedyHobbit Armstrong

Long Island, NY



About
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..

Writing