The Not-So Perfect Prince

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As time passed, Atamar found many more things to like about Prince Crenip. He liked the same people she did. He liked the same things she did.

He was kind and respectful to everyone. He had a great sense of humor. Even during the short time he had been at the palace, she had seen that he was a great leader.

As Belac had said, he seemed to have many wonderful qualities. Of course, he did have some faults. She discovered one of them by listening to Noj Vidad.

He and Nehat arrived at the maze entrance just a short distance ahead of her one evening, coming from opposite directions.

"Nehat, I wish you could have been at sword training today."

"Why? What happened?" was Nehat's immediate response.

Noj Vidad needed no further invitation to share his story. "We were learning a new method of disarming an opponent. It is a really neat trick. Well, Prince Crenip asked if Loncnil would teach him too, because it is something he had never before seen.

Of course, Loncnil agreed. So, he joined our practice. Loncnil demonstrated and explained the technique to us. Then he had us try it. It took me quite a few tries to follow the pattern of the moves, but Prince Crenip couldn't seem to do it.

He kept forgetting small pieces of the pattern. After several attempts, you could tell he was starting to get mad."

"At Loncnil?" Nehat asked sounding very surprised.

"Oh no, nothing like that." Noj Vidad assured him. "He was getting mad at himself. Loncnil tried to tell him that it was a complicated pattern and not to be surprised that he was having trouble learning it, but Prince Crenip didn't seem to hear.

He just kept getting angrier and more impatient, which made him mess up even more. Finally Loncnil told him to go sit down and that he was not allowed to stand up until he was perfectly calm.

He tried to object, but then Loncnil gave him THE LOOK.

You know the one I mean. Prince Crenip shut up and went to sit down. You could see that he was fuming, which was funny because he is always so patient with us when we have trouble learning something that he is trying to teach us, but I can't blame him.

It's so frustrating when you can't master the technique even though you have seen it demonstrated and understand how it works."

"So did he finally calm down and master the trick?" Nehat asked.

Noj Vidad shook his head. "He was still sitting there when our practice session ended. After he dismissed the rest of us, Loncnil went over to sit with him, and I really wanted to hear what he said, but knew that I would get in trouble for eavesdropping if I went over.

So I just busied myself with cleaning my sword and the practice yard instead, keeping an eye on them. They probably talked for about 15 minutes, but I could see that Prince Crenip felt better after it.

When he stood up, he thanked Loncnil and shook hands with him asking humbly if he could come tomorrow and try again. Loncnil said he could."

Atamar felt sorry for Prince Crenip. It must have been discouraging and embarrassing to work so hard and not succeed. She hoped that he would have better success the next day. But even more than that, she hoped her parents would write to her.

At the end of Prince Crenip's third week, there was still no written letter from her parents or Belac. However, Uncle Ulap had a second message for her. Her parents wanted her to know that they were fine but very busy.

They also told Uncle Ulap that because of the distance and because of their busyness they planned on writing once a month instead of once a week. They sent their love and told Atamar not to worry.

Atamar asked Uncle Ulap if she could read the letter for herself, but he said no because there was some important information in the letter about the attacks, and he wasn't supposed to show it to anyone. First Atamar was hurt by her family's failure to write. But then she started thinking about it.

Why would her parents not have said anything about her letter to them?

And why would her parents who were so obsessed with her losing not write and remind her not to lose her heart as they had every week for two months?

And why would Belac suddenly stop writing at the same time?

If her parents were so busy, couldn't they ask Belac to write her a few lines?

And why wouldn't Uncle Ulap show her the letters?

He could at least show her the parts that were written to her. She knew there had been more attacks on their border, so why would her parents write less frequently?

The whole thing made no sense...

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