Author Topic: A Gryphon by the Tail Chapter 5  (Read 3109 times)

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Offline Alkari

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A Gryphon by the Tail Chapter 5
« on: July 05, 2010, 10:11:21 pm »
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Chapter 5.

Richenda found Brendan bouncing around their apartments with all the noisy energy of a healthy four year old, and lost no time in sending him off to play.  She heaved a sigh of relief as her son practically pulled Joan out the door.  If the weather didn’t let up, perhaps she’d send for Giles or one of her other men, and ask them to find a corner to help Brendan practice with his wooden sword, or take him to the stables to see the horses.  

An hour later, Richenda accompanied a royal squire to the Council Chamber with the Marley reports.   Only Kelson and Prince Nigel were there, together with several clerks, and Richenda could see that Alaric would not be the only one battling mundane matters of administration that day.   Kelson quickly skimmed the list of suggested names for the regency council, and nodded.

“Thank you, my lady. They all seem suitable, so I’ll read the reports and discuss matters with the other Council members later.  Perhaps you would be kind enough to attend a Council meeting – “he checked a list with Nigel, “the day after tomorrow, in the afternoon, in case there are any questions from other members?  
“Of course, Sire.”  

Kelson smiled at her, suddenly looking like a fifteen year old boy again rather than a king.  “Are you comfortable in your apartments, my lady?  There are so many people here for Twelfth Night that the Palace is rather crowded.”

Richenda hastened to assure him that she was very comfortable, but Kelson beckoned her closer and lowered his voice.  “We – I hope we did the right thing, Lady Richenda.  They are not your – they are not Bran’s old apartments.  I thought that perhaps – with everything - you might not want to be in those.  I asked the Lord Chamberlain to find you other accommodation, so I hoped they were to your liking.”

She was touched at his obvious concern.  “They are very much to my liking, Sire, and thank you for your consideration.”

“Good.  Then until the Council meeting, my lady – although I am sure we will see you before then, as I hope you will dine with us at high table.”  

She spent the rest of the morning in domestic matters: checking on the welfare of Giles and her escort, mending a rip in one of Brendan’s tunics, and writing a note to her father and brothers.  If William is feeling sufficiently recovered, perhaps Brendan and I could visit you tomorrow, as I have been requested to attend the King’s Council on the following day.   After the midday meal, she made her way to the quarters occupied by Prince Nigel and his wife.

Meraude welcomed her warmly, ushering her through into their dayroom and beckoning to a dark-haired boy who had been reading at a small desk.  “My youngest son, Payne,” she said proudly, introducing Richenda.  “He was six last August – you said your son is four, I think?”  

“Last June,” she replied, smiling at Payne as he bowed to her.  

“Then I’m sure they will end up playing together soon.  Payne, you can go now and I want you to keep an eye out for Lady Richenda’s son, Brendan Coris.   Please look after him when you're playing with the other boys.  He won’t know anyone here, and one of your duties as a prince and royal page is to make our younger guests welcome.”  Payne nodded gravely at this responsibility, bowed again, and departed.

As the door closed behind him, Meraude smiled at Richenda.  “Payne gets very cross when his brothers treat him as a baby.   So apart from the lesson in good manners, he will enjoy being the older boy for a change and looking after Brendan.  Besides,” she looked at Richenda shrewdly, “it might be good for Brendan to have a friend.  Little ears can hear many things, and even though my nephew has openly welcomed you at court, the name ‘Coris’ will not be popular with some people.  I’d hate your little son to be hurt by thoughtless comments overheard and repeated by other children.”  As Richenda started to thank her, Meraude shook her head.  “No, no need for any thanks.  Now, come over here and have a look at our beautiful hanging.”

The hanging was spread out on a table near one of the windows, glowing in the pale afternoon light.  Richenda translated the wording without difficulty: an old saying from the desert tribes, she explained to Meraude.  “The mind is for seeing, the heart is for hearing.”

She ran her fingers lightly over the work, enjoying the feel of the silks and their rich colouring, then turned it over to examine the back and the edging.   She didn’t expect to find any particular spellwork, but given its undoubted origin, it was better to check.  

Meraude summoned a servant, who returned with a tray and some fragrant herbal tea, and the two women sat near the fire while Richenda explained more about the hanging.  It was of recent make, she said, most likely from the R’Thari, one of the oldest weaving communities in Andelon who were known for this particular style of work with its subtle combination of reds, browns and blues.   She felt a slight pang of homesickness as she spoke; she sometimes missed the gentle life she had enjoyed in her mother’s homeland before her marriage, surrounded by cousins and extended family, and where learning and the arts were encouraged.   Bran had been happy enough for her to weave, sew, sing and play the lute, but he’d frowned upon her delight in reading.   She’d sometimes wondered whether he’d been jealous of her accomplishments.

An hour passed all too quickly as the two women chatted: Richenda found the royal duchess to be an interesting person with a lively intelligence and gentle sense of humour.  They compared notes about children, Richenda laughingly admitting she would bow to Meraude’s experience of having three boys.   “At the moment, just one is a challenge.  I need to start his lessons again, but as I have been discovering this last year or so, ‘small boy’ and ‘sitting still’ are words that don’t seem to go together. “

Meraude chuckled. “I sometimes had to threaten Rory that his father would tie him to the chair if he didn’t quieten down and get on with his work.  Payne is a little better, but he’d much rather be outside practising archery than learning Latin or reading history.  I don’t think any of mine are destined for true scholarship.”   The servant cleared away the cups, and Meraude rose.  “Come, my dear, it’s time I introduced you to some of the other ladies.  Some of them are only here for Christmas Court and Twelfth Night, but others are with me for longer, and I have two girls who are at court for training.”  Richenda admitted she’d missed female company lately, and followed Meraude down to the ladies’ solar.

The women greeted Richenda with varying degrees of cautious politeness.  The two younger girls seemed to be about twelve or thirteen, and the taller one blushed when Richenda complimented her on the embroidery she was working.   The older women assessed her more carefully: as a dowager countess, Richenda outranked them all, except perhaps for a lady with dark hair under a severe veil, who was introduced as Lady Maire Burchard, wife of the new Earl of Eastmarch.    Lady Maire was polite but reserved when Richenda congratulated her on her husband’s appointment: considering the hundreds of men General Burchard had lost to Bran’s treachery at Rengarth Plain, Richenda couldn’t blame her.  She wondered whether Lady Maire realised that the William FitzEwan who served the earl was her brother.

The last lady to be introduced was a welcome surprise, however: a round-faced woman with brown hair who bobbed the slightest of curtsies and then held out her hands shyly.  “Lady Richenda – I never expected to see you here.  You probably won’t recognise me.  It’s been a very long time.  I’m Kathryn Dalby – Kathryn Carr I used to be – from Renwood Hall.”

Kathryn Carr!  Richenda’s mind hurtled back to a shy young girl who had been fostered to the FitzEwan household when they were both eleven.  She and Richenda had quickly become friends, but after the first year or so they had gradually seen each other less and less, with Richenda spending more time with her aunt and cousins in Andelon before her marriage to Bran.   Their correspondence since then had been occasional at best.

“Of course I remember you.”   A face from home, a face that was smiling and welcoming amongst all the other ladies.  Laughing, Richenda took the woman’s hands and then embraced her, Meraude looking pleased at the reunion.

Richenda and Kathryn were soon ensconced near a window, enjoying the weak winter sunlight and catching up on the news of years.   Kathryn’s husband had lands in Eastmarch: they had a two year old son at home, and Kathryn had come to court this season as a companion for Lady Maire, once they’d received word of Burchard’s proposed appointment as earl.   “She’s really very nice,” whispered Kathryn, “and I think she’ll like you, but her husband … well, you know.”  Richenda nodded sadly: Rengarth Plain would cast a long shadow into the future.   Kathryn looked more cheerful when Richenda explained that William was currently assisting the earl.  “I always thought your brother was – well, rather nice,” she admitted, blushing a little, and soon they were both giggling at memories of long-ago shared girlish dreams.


Next chapter:

« Last Edit: June 18, 2011, 04:18:20 am by Alkari »

Offline Evie

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A Gryphon by the Tail Chapter 5
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2010, 11:54:36 pm »
Awww! @ Payne.   :)

  Kathryn looked more cheerful when Richenda explained that William was currently assisting the earl.  “I always thought your brother was – well, rather nice,” she admitted, blushing a little, and soon they were both giggling at memories of long-ago shared girlish dreams.

Hm, am I detecting a bit of more than merely nostalgic interest in Sir William there?   ;)
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Offline Alkari

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A Gryphon by the Tail Chapter 5
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2010, 02:10:14 am »
William is several years younger than Richenda and Kathryn - but even as a boy he was a fun person and very nice looking!!  Kathryn could 'see the potential', as it were  ;)

Offline kirienne

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A Gryphon by the Tail Chapter 5
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2010, 08:54:50 pm »
Very nice, I'm happy to have found another chapter here :-)


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