The Worlds of Katherine Kurtz

FanFiction => Collaborative FanFic => The Twelve Days of Christmas => Topic started by: revanne on December 31, 2015, 02:14:20 pm

Title: Six Geese a-laying
Post by: revanne on December 31, 2015, 02:14:20 pm
                            Six Geese-a-laying

It had been a late spring followed by a cold dry summer with neither warmth nor moisture enough to swell the grain in the fields. The year that had begun badly had continued worse with a wet autumn in which root crops rotted in the ground and was ending with a hard early frost which had begun in November and by Christmas showed no signs of abating.

All over the Duchy of Corwyn in this year of Grace 1138 villagers looked at each other, fear in their eyes of the spectre of hunger which would surely stalk the land before the spring growth could come and winter sown crops, if any indeed could be sown, ease the dearth. But then their fear would lift a little, as they reminded each other that their Lord Duke was a good lord to his subjects, and would see none starve if he could prevent it. Aye, a good lord, for all that he was a Deryni, though all but the oldest and most stubborn in their ways heeded the new teaching of the priests that not all Deryni were of the devil. And so manor lords and village elders began to tally up what extra they would need before bringing their petitions to the Duke.

The said Duke, Alaric Morgan, had kept Christmas with his family and household in Coroth but was expected to return to Rhemuth in time for Twelfth Night. He had finally managed, quite how it was probably best not to ask, to have a portal constructed in Coroth castle, so it was no surprise to the Kelson and Duncan when some six days after the feast of the Nativity he appeared in Duncan’s old study. King and Bishop were in theory discussing requests for several churches to be rededicated to the newly canonised St Jorian, but had in fact fallen to reminiscence.

“Good evening, Sire, your Excellency. I’d begun to think you were in hiding, before it occurred to me to track you down here!” But the accustomed humour could not hide his anxiety, for Morgan was indeed a good lord to his people and shared their fears at the failed harvest.

Explaining the deepening crises to Kelson and Duncan he finished, “So I must beg leave to absent myself from Christmas Court this year. Richenda will manage things in Coroth as she so often does, but I want to get out into the villages and see for myself how bad things are.  And with your permission, Sire, I’ll see if Matayas has surplus grain from those fertile lands of his that he might be willing to sell. I gather the harvest has not been such a disaster further east."

Kelson readily gave his consent wondering again at the blindness that had once pilloried such a transparently good man. “I’ll miss you though; it’s a number of years since you were last missing from court at twelfth night.”

Unaccountably Morgan flushed and avoided his sovereign’s eye although a smile quirked the corner of his mouth as he made his customary casually respectful bow and turned to leave.

“No you don’t!” Kelson objected with the beginnings of a mock frown, “I never did hear the full story behind your absence that time, some vague tale about dead geese, and then you hurriedly changed the subject.”

“Errm,” havered Morgan, “I might have taken your royal name in vain I fear. But I need to be on my way…”. Morgan could not repress a smile however and as Kelson pushed him back into his seat with an “out with it, man!” he grinned sheepishly.

“I suppose you’re hardly likely to impeach me for lèsé-majesté  at this late date and it was well-intentioned, I swear! Besides I can’t do anything at Coroth at this hour, and I could do with something to make me smile.”

Ignoring both Kelson’s snort mid-way between amusement and exasperation and Duncan’s muttered  “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” from the corner where he sat, Morgan sat back and reached for the jug of mulled wine warming by the fire before launching into his tale.

“I should explain that the villages around Coroth have a tradition of working together to share a Christmas feast. So the lord of the manor spares them a little grain from the demesne grinding – “encouraged no doubt by my lord of Corwyn” interjected Kelson but Morgan merely shrugged – to specially fatten up a number of the geese on the village pond. There are usually a number of surplus male hatchlings set aside from the village flock which are spared the Martinmas cull.

“It was towards the end of November that the trouble first began although it was a while before a pattern was noticed. Eventually one of the manor stewards with business in Coroth mentioned what was happening to a member of my household…”

“Who took it to Richenda and she to you,” broke in Duncan. “It took a while but I'm glad to see that your lady has her household well in hand.”

“Including me!” agreed Morgan wryly. “It works. But if I may continue my story, I rode out to one of the manors and spoke to Baron Ethan - a good man who has his people’s interests at heart, and pays his dues to me- and got the story out of him.

“It seemed that the Christmas geese were disappearing from the village ponds. Too many and too regularly for it to be a natural predator at work, and it could hardly be one of the villagers -a peasant couldn’t be roasting a goose on the quiet! Sometimes a disturbance was heard but by the time anyone could get on the scene the noise had gone and the geese with it. One time a young lad managed to slip from his mother’s clutches when he heard a racket and taking the family dog went to investigate. Thankfully perhaps he was too late but the dog barking had obviously disturbed the poachers and left behind on the ground were laying six dead geese. You’ll always get the odd rogue poacher but this was an organised gang, and skilled at that.”

Between Kelson’s eyes was the beginning of a real frown, “I can see how the villagers concerned would be seriously affected but I'm not sure that I understand why it became such a matter of ducal concern, and I certainly don’t get where I came in.”

“As for that Sire, it will soon become clear and I’ll ask forbearance of you now, my liege,”  Kelson raised his eyebrows at Duncan who merely smiled, they both knew to be suspicious when Morgan used more than one honorific in a sentence.

“As for me, I hate injustice and cheating of any kind. I'll tolerate a bit of poaching on my preserve from time to time if it doesn't get out of hand but not theft from those already poor. My honour was involved too because if the geese were being sold at Coroth Christmas market, as seemed almost certain, then my coffers benefit substantially from the dues levied. I will not countenance profiting from stolen goods. And who knew what the gang might have moved onto; poaching might well have been just the start. Besides, I had an idea.”

This tale concludes on the seventh day of Christmas,1655.msg14502.html#msg14502
Title: Re: Six Geese a-laying
Post by: Evie on December 31, 2015, 02:40:52 pm
Like Kelson, I am looking forward to the rest of the story!  :D
Title: Re: Six Geese a-laying
Post by: Jerusha on December 31, 2015, 03:44:46 pm
Somehow, I never interpreted it as "six geese a-laying dead," but I am looking forward to the rest of the story! :)
Title: Re: Six Geese a-laying
Post by: revanne on December 31, 2015, 03:49:47 pm
Somehow, I never interpreted it as "six geese a-laying dead," but I am looking forward to the rest of the story! :)

I may have taken a little dramatic licence there! ;)
Title: Re: Six Geese a-laying
Post by: Shiral on December 31, 2015, 05:47:07 pm
I almost worry if tomorrow we're going to read "Seven swans a-drowning."  ;D

Title: Re: Six Geese a-laying
Post by: Laurna on December 31, 2015, 07:17:07 pm
I almost worry if tomorrow we're going to read "Seven swans a-drowning."  ;D


Oh dear me!  LOL! Lets not have that!
I do wonder at the tale to come.
Title: Re: Six Geese a-laying
Post by: Marko on January 10, 2016, 06:09:15 pm
Catching up on my reading after 12th night.  Like Jerusha, I never thought it was 6 geese a laying dead.  I'll have to read the next story to see what happens.
Title: Re: Six Geese a-laying
Post by: revanne on January 11, 2016, 07:25:28 am
I have to confess to having taken quite a few liberties with the literal meaning of a few of the verses. My favourite of the "sideways look at" is "Nine Ladies Dancing" although the one that I like most of all is "Eleven pipers, piping" - that's the one I didn't know about until Duncan told it to me at 4 am one morning!