Part 5 – Something Borrowed, Something TrueTehryn Keep
Barony of Tehryn
Late March, 1132
Baron Jerrill de Tehryn stood looking down the length of his Great Hall, letting his eyes adjust from the brightness of the day outside. He had spent the time after the mid-day meal with his constable, reviewing the preparations for the many horses that would arrive this afternoon with Prince Payne Haldane, Duke of Travlum, and his entourage. He had expected the prince’s arrival two days hence, but word had come in advance to advise him that the prince was traveling ahead of schedule. It was not unexpected for a young man to set out at good pace on his first foray after a long winter, but nevertheless the news had sent the baron’s household into an uproar.
Between the baron, his senior staff, and Lady Amah, the uproar had been turned into controlled, effective chaos. In spite of his initial protests, Master Cooke would have a proper feast ready for this evening. The best guest room was ready for Prince Payne on the second floor of the family wing; his principle staff would use the boys’ vacant room beside it. Jäna had ensured that her brothers’ personal possessions, at least the most important ones, were safely stored out of the way. For propriety’s sake, Jäna would move down from her corner room and stay with Amah in her chambers on the first floor. The nursing sister and her companion from St. Perpetua would stay in one of the guest rooms in the chapel wing and the additional room in that wing had been readied for occupancy, if needed.
The thought of his young chatelaine-in-training caused the old baron to smile. With Amah’s quiet guidance, Jäna had been wherever she needed to be, ensuring all the household preparations would meet Tehryn’s high expectations, or at least her expectations. As far as he could tell, she had only exasperated his steward once, with quiet insistence that there should be a vase of flowers for the prince’s room. There weren’t many flowers yet in the Tehryn gardens, but a sufficient number of crocus blooms had been found for Jäna to make into a pleasing arrangement, and Master Gregory had been suitably impressed with the result. Whether the sixteen year old Duke of Travlum would notice the spring blooms placed by the window in his room was doubtful, but Jäna was satisfied.
Jerrill’s gaze travelled to the rafters above the dais. The Tehryn banner now hung to the right of its accustomed place in the centre; Prince Payne’s ducal banner would hang in that place of honour for the duration of his visit. It had been so long since the Tehryn banner had been moved that the servants had had to cut his banner loose. Tehryn hadn’t had a distinguished visitor for years. His barony wasn’t isolated; the roads were good and passable except for the worst of winter, but it was simply too far out of the way for any but the most determined guests to make the effort. That fact had suited Jerrill as he and Lady Amah raised his Deryni children, but perhaps it was time for a change.
The boy’s quiet voice beside him broke Jerrill out of his reverie. Gavin Meachen, who had become his squire upon his return from Christmas Court, bowed respectively and straightened, his curly blonde hair conforming as best it could to the page’s cut that was now beginning to grow out to suit his new station. He was Sir Aaron’s grandson and was already proving himself capable of meeting his lord’s expectations.
“Yes?” Jerrill responded.
“Lady Amah bids me to remind you to try on your tunic for tonight to make sure she adjusted it enough.”
“My tunic fit just fine until you snitched to Lady Amah.”
“Yes, My Lord,” the boy replied, straight-faced with only a slight pulling up of the corners of his mouth hinting at a smile.
“Lady Amah is in the withdrawing room?”
“Yes, My Lord. She is finalizing the seating at table tonight with Master Gregory and Lady Jäna.”
“I’ll see to it shortly then. You can wait for me in my chambers, and see if you can find a fresh goblet of ale on the way.”
“As you wish, My Lord.” Gavin made another bow and then fell into step behind the baron, who moved toward the withdrawing room behind the dais. As Gavin had reported, he found his steward, Lady Amah, and his daughter gathered around the small withdrawing room table, studying counters arranged before them representing where guests and family would sit for the feast.
“Papa!” Jäna greeted her father with a curtsey and a quick smile. “We have everything settled. Amah has decided I should sit beside Prince Payne at the high table.” Her eyes sparkling with delight at such an adult responsibility, she nevertheless looked to her father for final approval.
“Well now,” Baron Jerrill paused to nod at Gavin as the boy bowed briefly and continued on to his lord’s chambers. “I’m not sure I approve of a young, unmarried prince paying attention to my daughter at table.”
Jäna looked at her father with dismay.
“On the other hand, since I will be on his other side and Gavin will be hovering in the background serving, you should be safe enough.”
“Papa, I’m seven
“Aye, you are, but you are a much prettier seven than I was.”
Master Gregory hastily coughed, Lady Amah looked heavenward, and Jäna giggled.
“Since it is a special occasion, I thought you might want to borrow this for the evening.” Jerrill reached into his belt pouch and brought out a small leather bag. “This belonged to your mother. I gave it to her on our first wedding anniversary.” Carefully, he pulled a silver chain out of the bag and held it out for Jäna to see.
“It’s beautiful, Papa.” Carefully, Jäna reached forward to touch the emerald that hung from the silver chain. It was a cabochon emerald as big as her thumbnail, set in silver filigree. “Is it a Tehryn emerald?”
“Aye, set in Tehryn silver, fashioned by our master goldsmith. Well, by his father, to be more precise.” Jerrill returned the necklace to the pouch and handed it to his daughter.
Jäna took the pouch carefully and turned to Lady Amah. “We should put this somewhere safe until tonight,” she said solemnly.
“That is a good idea, Jäna,” Lady Amah said with an approving nod. “We’ll do that now and leave your father to try on his tunic.”
Baron Jerrill harrumphed but nodded in acknowledgement to their curtseys. At least there should be that goblet of ale waiting with the garment.
“His Majesty must have been deeply saddened.”
“King Kelson took it personally, even though he could not have possibly foreseen what happened. He grows very attached to his squires, especially the good ones.” Prince Payne Haldane shook his head to decline the offer of a refill of his goblet with the last of the baron’s winter supply of Vezaire port. He sat at ease in the best chair in the solar, all legs and arms as any sixteen-year-old would be. The light from the fire that had been started to drive away the evening’s chill played across handsome features that were distinctly Haldane. Like his cousin the king, he wore his raven hair pulled back into a sleek border braid. The court robe he wore was rich Carthmoor blue, with gold embroidery at collar and cuffs. The collar was open now and the sleeves just a tad too short. His grey eyes were troubled.
Baron Jerrill de Tehryn, sitting across from him, lifted his own goblet to accept the last of the port that his squire offered. “He was killed with his own dagger?”
“Aye, which made it all the worse. My father was as upset as His Majesty, blaming himself for not having trained the boy well enough to fend off the attack.”
Jerrill took a sip of his port before asking, “He was the only son and heir?”
Prince Payne nodded. “He had an older sister, but she’s been a professed nun at Saint Bridget’s Abbey for several years.”
“So a Deryni family is extinguished.” Jerrill shook his head at the futility of the death.
“His father was part of the Cassani forces in Meara and was killed there. The boy was only six at the time, and Bishop McLain recommended him to my father as a potential royal page when he was old enough. Father took a liking to the boy; he was a good natured lad and adjusted well to life at court in spite of being border-raised. No one knew he was Deryni until the king discovered it. King Kelson had high hopes for him, especially as a future Deryni knight.”
This had been the one piece of disturbing news Prince Payne had brought with him from Carthmoor. Prince Nigel had written to his son about the young Deryni squire found dead in one of the less reputable sections of Rhemuth. No one had any idea what he was doing there or why he had been killed with his own squire’s dagger. It had not taken long for King Kelson to determine the boy was missing, but his body had not been discovered for close to a fortnight, leaving little hope of discovering what had transpired.
Baron Jerrill appreciated the prince’s discretion in not telling him of it until after the evening’s dinner so that it was not nagging at the back of his mind while he entertained his guest. Master Cooke had produced a meal more than fitting for the prince, even though keeping within the constraints of Lent, and Prince Payne done it justice. Jäna had been quiet at dinner as befitting a young girl in the presence of adults, but had positively beamed when Prince Payne had not only complimented her on her fine pendant, but also thanked her for the flowers in his room.
A light knock on the solar’s inner door caused Prince Payne to sit a little straighter in the chair.
“Come,” Jerrill said pleasantly, sensing who waited for his permission to enter.
Lady Amah and his daughter curtseyed deeply as they entered the room, Lady Amah carrying his wife’s lute in one hand.
“Your Highness, My Lord,” she said as she straightened. “With your permission, Lady Jäna has practised a song that she thought you might enjoy this evening before it grows too late.”
“Special entertainment as well as such a fine dinner?” Prince Payne asked with a smile. “Do you always spoil your guests so?”
“Only when we actually have one,” Jerrill responded dryly.
Prince Payne chuckled, and Jäna sat on a nearby joint stool, carefully arranging the skirt of her green gown. As she accepted the lute from the older woman, Jerrill noted that her auburn hair was still drawn neatly back into a single plait with not a single stray hair escaping; very unusual for his energetic daughter. Jäna carefully settled the lute across her lap, testing the courses one more time to make sure they were still in tune. The firelight reflected off her mother’s emerald pendant as Jäna took a deep breath and then began to play.
The notes of the song came forth clear and true, and before long Jäna began to sing along, the words coming to mind as Amah had promised, now that she had mastered the notes on the lute. When she finished, the room remained quiet, each person savoring the lovely ending, until her father broke the silence.
“That was beautiful, Jäna,” he said, not trying to disguise the slight catch in his voice.
“It was indeed, Lady Jäna. Thank you very much for providing such a nice ending to the evening,” Prince Payne added, his wide smile reflecting his enjoyment of the song.
“Thank you, Your Highness.” Jäna smiled happily at both men, flattered and a little relieved that the song had gone well.
“Now I think it is time we retired for the evening,” Amah said, taking the lute from Jäna so the girl would not be hampered in her curtsey to the men.
“Now, wait!” the baron said suddenly. “This is not right.”
“Papa?” Jäna gave her father a confused look, and Amah looked startled.
“Where is my Tehryn bear hug? Since when do I not get a Tehryn bear hug before bed?”
“Papa,” Jäna responded uncertainly. “We have a special guest tonight.”
“Pray, do not let me stand in the way of tradition,” Prince Payne interjected, though uncertain what he might be standing in the way of.
“Wait,” Lady Amah said hastily while setting the lute aside. She reached down and carefully removed the pendant from around Jäna’s neck.
Jäna promptly dashed across the room to where her father sat and flung her arms around his neck. The old baron wrapped his arms around her, pulling her up just enough to tickle her face with his beard as he shook his head and made growling sounds until Jäna gave in to uncontrollable giggles. By the time he released her, numerous strands of auburn hair had escaped her braid, framing her face.
“There,” Baron Jerrill said. “That is much better!”
Jäna paused for just a moment and then wrapped her arms around his neck for one more hug.
“I love you, Papa,” she said softly in his ear.
As Jäna released her father and turned to make a final curtsey to the prince, Lady Amah glowered at the old baron, who grinned back at her, content and unrepentant.