Previous chapter: http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php/topic,1830.0.html
As always, my thanks to Evie for catching all of my little typos and for her creative suggestions. Happy Twelfth Night!
Justin’s Gift Epilogue– the Twelfth Night BoxJanuary 6, 1136
Shortly after dawn
City of Rhemuth
Jared and Justin de Tehryn looked at the box set before them in the common area outside the sleeping room of the pages’ dormitory. It was just past dawn, and soon there would be enough light through the narrow window to open the box their father and sister had sent for Twelfth Night.
They had discussed their strategy the night before. They knew that King Kelson’s Twelfth Night Court and Feast would keep them occupied until late into the night. They decided the best time to open their gift would be first thing in the morning, preferably before the rest of the pages awakened. At the first sign of light creeping past the shuttered windows, they had slid the box as quietly as possible from beneath Jared’s bed and carried it to the common area.
The box was fair-sized, made of plain, polished wood with no embellishment. It was strong, well-made, and would almost have been present enough without anything else inside. Whatever the box contained was not very heavy, because either boy could carry the box without difficulty. Now it rested on one of the tables closest to the window.
“Should we give it a shake first?” Justin asked.
“No, I wouldn’t risk it,” Jared responded. “Although I shook it a bit and didn’t feel anything slide around inside as I carried it.”
“Let’s open it. You can have the honour.”
“Gee thanks, Justin. If this goes wrong then my
hair falls out!”
Justin grinned at him.
Resolutely, with only the slightest hesitation, Jared reached forward to break the seal. The moment he touched it, the seal fell to the table and broke into large pieces. Jared ran a hand through his dark auburn hair and was relieved that large clumps of it were not falling out.
The immediate danger past, Justin lifted off the lid. Jared reached in and removed the first of two new bridles. Like the box, it was well made with no embellishment. Baron Jerrill de Tehryn, their father, had always favoured simplicity and practicality over show.
Justin lifted out the second bridle and examined it closely. “These will last for years.”
“We’ll outgrow the ponies before these need to be replaced.” Jared looked inside the box and was surprised to see something else. He reached in and removed two pairs of riding gloves. “Look at these!”
Justin took the pair of gloves his brother handed to him and examined them closely. They were made of supple brown leather. On the edge of the cuff, carefully embroidered with darker brown thread, wyverns seemed to run along the edge. Their father might have simple tastes, but a little bit of show suited Jäna just fine.
Jared was also looking closely at the wyverns, touching the needlework carefully.
“There is no magic in this,” he stated. “Just Jäna’s rendition of what romping wyverns might look like.”
“That looks to be everything,” Justin said as he ran his hand over the smooth bottom of the box. Suddenly, a part of the bottom of the box slid back, revealing a rectangular space that held a small parcel wrapped in linen. He lifted out the parcel and began to unwrap it.
Jared ran his hand over the box’s bottom, and the wood that had revealed the opening slid back into position. He ran his hand in the other direction, and the panel opened again. “Now this is
magic!” he said quietly enough to make sure he was not overheard. “This will be a good place to stash extra coin. If you happen to have any, that is.”
Justin gave his brother a withering look and finished opening the parcel.
The unwrapped parcel was a small, framed quill and ink drawing. It was simply done, because the artist had probably been their sister. Nevertheless, she had managed to capture their father smiling, typical of their father in person but never in any kind of formal portrait. Lady Amah stood beside him, smiling her enigmatic smile. Jäna stood in front of them, seeming to be taller than when they had seen her at Easter Court. Her image was not as detailed, possibly because she had captured her reflection from a polished metal mirror. Even so, the impish smile was unmistakable.
“Whoa,” said a voice coming from just behind Jared’s shoulder. “Who is that pretty little thing?”
“She is our sister,” the twins said in unison, leaving no doubt from the tone of their voices that any further discussion would be unwelcome. The common room was now filled with pages of varying ages, getting ready for the busy day ahead.
The page who had spoken was older than the twins and would be promoted to squire next year. He laughed and gave Jared a light slap on the back. “No offense intended,” he said, “but it’s time to get moving. Prince Nigel won’t be pleased if any of us are late today.”
Jared and Justin quickly returned the gifts to the box and carried it back to their beds. This time they placed it between the heads of their beds where it could be easily accessed, and they placed the portrait on top.
“You don’t suppose Jäna has done something so she can watch us through that, do you?” Jared whispered.
“Of course not,” Justin replied and carefully placed the portrait back inside the box.