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Author Topic: A Gryphon by the Tail Chapter 4  (Read 3260 times)

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Offline Alkari

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A Gryphon by the Tail Chapter 4
« on: July 01, 2010, 04:28:37 pm »
Previous chapter:  http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=510.0

Chapter 4.

Light snow had continued all night, and Richenda decided against waking Brendan to attend early Mass.   Joan had agreed, suggesting that his mother would also be much better staying in bed a good while longer.   But at Richenda’s insistence, Joan had laced her into a warm gown and handed her some woollen gloves as well as her fur-lined cloak and hood.

“You’ll need some hot food when you return,” she’d grumbled, fussing as usual over her mistress.  “You’ll catch your death of cold – don’t see as Our Lord meant us all to freeze to death when worshipping Him.  They say the Holy Land is a nice warm place, so what would He know about kneeling in Church during winter mornings here in Gwynedd?  All very well for priests and monks I suppose, they’re used to it …”

Richenda hid a smile and allowed Joan to continue muttering.

The palace chapel was definitely cold at that hour of the morning, despite the racks of large candles and numerous torches, and she was glad of the cloak and gloves.  The cold weather and after-effects of the previous day’s celebrations had reduced the congregation to only twenty or so, and she slipped into a pew about six rows from the front.   At least they had warm kneeling cushions, she saw, undoubtedly the products of many hours’ careful stitching by Court ladies.   She bowed her head in prayer.

It wasn’t until he went to kneel at the altar rail for communion that Richenda realised Alaric had also managed the early start.   She schooled herself to composure at the sight of his slender figure and sleek golden head, steadfastly refusing to look at him as he made his way back to his pew.   Meeting those grey eyes would not be conducive to prayerful thoughts …

They filed out of the chapel; most people hurried away but Alaric waited for her.  He bowed over her hand politely and helped adjust her cloak; they exchanged inconsequential remarks about early morning services until Duncan joined them, rubbing his hands together briskly.

“I’m surprised to see anyone here at all,” he smiled. “After yesterday’s court, I thought most people would still be in bed.”

“My maid certainly thought I should have stayed there,” said Richenda.  “She’s rather cross that the Lord did not take account of our winter weather when arranging for early devotions.”

The two men laughed.  “She does have a point,” agreed Duncan.  “Now, assuming you two have been suitably penitent on empty stomachs, shall we get some breakfast?  We can sit near the fire in the hall.  I don’t know whether Kelson will be down or not.”

There were a surprising number of people in the great hall, but no-one yet at the high table.  Servants hastened to add more logs to the fire when they arrived and took their places; sleepy-looking squires stepped forward to serve them, and Richenda sent a page to her apartments with a brief message for Joan.  Richenda saw several curious looks as she took her seat between the two dukes, but she’d had her share of those yesterday.  If the Duke of Corwyn was now sharing a trencher with her, well, let the gossips make of it what they would.  

Kelson arrived a short while later, accompanied by Nigel and Meraude.  He grinned at Morgan.  “I didn’t expect to see you down here so early.  Thought I’d have to drag you out of bed for the Council meeting.”

“Some of us,” replied Morgan virtuously, “rose early, went to Mass and are now enjoying breakfast.  Which I need, seeing the pile of correspondence that arrived on my table last night.”

“Courier got through, did he?”  Nigel asked, surprised.  

“Yes. Rhillian and a couple of other ships made it to Desse around noon yesterday.  Rhillian’s master sent a message that we should get a short break in the weather from tonight and he’d like to leave again in two days.   So I’ll get the urgent stuff done today and have it ready to go back.  Be quicker than sending riders through the Lendours in this weather.”  

“Speaking of Council meetings -” Kelson leant forward to address Richenda.  “My lady, I believe you have some reports for us about Marley and the regency council proposals?”

“Yes, Sire.  When would you like to see them?”

Kelson glanced at Morgan and Nigel.  “We’ll be having a number of meetings over the next few days.  If I send someone to collect the reports this morning, perhaps you could attend one of them and answer any questions?”

“Of course, Sire.”  She paused.  “You may need to wait for any decision as to the Bishop of Marbury, though – whilst Lord Derry and I are happy to recommend our current Bishop Ifor, the Synod may appoint someone else to that See.”

“At least we don’t have to worry that it will be Loris!” quipped Duncan, though with more than a little edge to his voice.

“He’s lucky I didn’t have him executed for treason!” muttered Kelson, stabbing a piece of meat viciously with his knife.  

“That thought is still rather tempting,” agreed Duncan.  “Alas.  I am going to enjoy watching things when the Synod meets!”

“Speaking of bishops,” said Morgan, “Lady Richenda thinks her uncle Cardiel would appreciate a change of scenery from Dhassa to Rhemuth.   Not that the King would try to influence the Synod, of course!”

Nigel chuckled. “I think we’d all appreciate it if he could be appointed.  He’s a good man.  Have you spoken to Tolliver yet, Alaric?”

“The other day, after he arrived.  Hope I don’t lose him – he likes life in Coroth and we generally get along pretty well.  I’m not sure some of the others are quite convinced about Deryni yet.  But we had a friendly chat about certain possible appointments.”

They turned their attention to the food and talk moved on to general matters, with Richenda mostly content to listen rather than speak.  But she pricked up her ears when Meraude mentioned a tapestry that she and Nigel had been given as a gift from one of their former squires, now back with his family in Joux.

 “… and it’s really a most beautiful hanging,” Meraude was saying, “The pattern alone is lovely, but I wish I knew what the words around the border say.  It’s in another script, which I think is a form of Arabic.”  

Richenda was about to comment, but Nigel was laughing that this was what royal librarians were for, and that Master Donagal would probably appreciate translating something other than ancient manuscripts.   “That is,” he chuckled, “if he hasn’t strained his eyes and hands too much from studying a certain brunette last night.”

Morgan grinned.  “If it’s the one I saw him with, there was a lot to study, and none of it needed translating.”   The rest of the meal passed in cheerful banter about the previous day’s festivities.

 Outside the great hall, Richenda seized the chance to catch up with the royal duchess.

“Excuse me, Your Highness,” she said, dropping a slight curtsy.  At Meraude’s smile, she continued.  “You were speaking of a wall hanging earlier, and I was wondering if maybe I could assist you.  I read Arabic, and am familiar with several of the usual script variations – depending on the age of the work of course.  I would be most happy to take a look, if that would please you.”

Meraude looked surprised and pleased.  “That’s very kind of you, Lady Richenda.   I would be delighted to show it to you.  It’s a beautiful piece of work.  Perhaps this afternoon?   I’ll introduce you to some of the other ladies – I’m sure you would appreciate company while you are here.”    

They parted pleasantly, Alaric and Duncan escorting her to the top of the stairs before also taking their leave.  “Alas, Richenda, I really must spend the day working,” said Alaric, taking her hands and kissing them.  “I’m glad you’ve offered to help Meraude. You’ll like her – and you can trust her totally.  She knows about Duncan, and she’s known me since I was fifteen.”  

“Thank you.  I’ll keep that in mind.”  

Duncan also bade farewell, looking between them with a conspiratorial smile.  “Father Benedict will be taking the remaining services here today,” he said.  “Considering all the cursing that Alaric will be doing over those dispatches, I’m sure he will find it beneficial to attend one of them – perhaps Vespers?”

“Thank you, Father.  As Brendan didn’t come to Mass this morning, he and I will certainly be attending Vespers.”   She was still smiling at the look on Alaric’s face by the time she reached her apartments.

_________

Next chapter: http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=512.0
« Last Edit: January 12, 2011, 09:52:11 pm by Alkari »

Offline Evie

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A Gryphon by the Tail Chapter 4
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2010, 04:44:58 pm »

“You’ll need some hot food when you return,” she’d grumbled, fussing as usual over her mistress.  “You’ll catch your death of cold – don’t see as Our Lord meant us all to freeze to death when worshipping Him.  They say the Holy Land is a nice warm place, so what would He know about kneeling in Church during winter mornings here in Gwynnedd?  All very well for priests and monks I suppose, they’re used to it …”

*dies laughing*

Quote
Richenda was about to comment, but Nigel was laughing that this was what royal librarians were for, and that Master Donagal would probably appreciate translating something other than ancient manuscripts.   “That is,” he chuckled, “if he hasn’t strained his eyes and hands too much from studying a certain brunette last night.”

Morgan grinned.  “If it’s the one I saw him with, there was a lot to study, and none of it needed translating.”   The rest of the meal passed in cheerful banter about the previous day’s festivities.

Hm.  Master Donagal's not related to Lord Derry, is he?   ;)
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Offline kirienne

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A Gryphon by the Tail Chapter 4
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2010, 08:52:43 pm »
This just keeps getting better and better. I love the little glimpses into the interaction between Alaric and Richenda. :-)

 


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