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Kelric's Adventures Chapter 4: Up In the Tower

Started by Shiral, July 05, 2018, 12:11:16 PM

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Chapter 4 Up in the Tower

            "By all means, Alaric."

Lord Dhugal and Bishop Duncan looked up with keen interest too, but Kelric was full of frustration and disappointment. He was about to be sent back to the Nursery if the look on Papa's face meant anything.

        But although the King rose and set Kelric gently down on the ground, he immediately took hold of his hand. "Kelric can come too, can't he, Alaric?"
Papa's eyebrows went up, then he smiled and gracefully gave way to the King's wish. Kelric squeezed the king's long hand hard to show his gratitude for the invitation. They walked back toward the main castle, Papa and Bishop Duncan going first, the King and Duke Dhugal following with Kelric between them. They lifted and swung Kelric by the hands every few steps along the garden path. Kelric tried to behave for fear that Papa would declare he was too overstimulated to come up to the Green Tower, but he could not help crowing with pleasure once or twice.

      "You two are a pair of overgrown children this evening," Papa said over his shoulder to the King and Duke Dhugal as they came into the main garden although he didn't sound at all cross about it.

           "We've been attending to dull grownup matters all day," the King teased. "We really came to Coroth to see Kelric."

        Kelric giggled, but he was anxious. Across the garden he could see that Mummy had brought all her female guests outdoors to take the evening air. He couldn't decide if he wanted her to see him and call him over right now or not. If she did, it meant she wasn't angry anymore. But if he went over to her, he might miss his chance to go up to his study with Papa and the King. The longer they paused here the more danger that he would be spotted or sent back, so Kelric pressed close to the King's side and made himself invisible.

           Lord Dhugal, though, was looking over at the ladies with keen interest, and his hold on Kelric's other hand had relaxed.

           "You didn't tell me that the Orsal had brought his daughter too," Lord Dhugal whispered to the king.

          "Are you after Rezza Elisabet now?" the King teased. "What about poor Princess Ekaterina? She'd be crushed."

         "And after you've been talking about her all summer, too," Bishop Duncan added.

         "Is Princess Ekaterina here too?" Dhugal asked eagerly. "Thanks to you, I didn't even get a chance to introduce myself while we were in Beldour."

         "Oh, let him get on with his flirting," Papa said, and slapped Lord Dhugal's shoulder. "The world needs more McLains."

        "In due time, of course," Bishop Duncan said drily.

       All four adults laughed and Kelric tried hard to puzzle out why. But Lord Dhugal let go of his right hand and after a bow and a wave, he strolled away toward the ladies.

       "Do you think he's really interested in Rezza Elisabet?" Bishop Duncan asked the King. "I can understand his interest on the purely physical level just by looking at her, but I've heard that she's not likely to set the world on fire with her ideas."

      "The Orsal keeps a pretty sharp eye on her," Papa said calmly. "A Duke might be good enough for her in his eyes, but I think Letald's mildly piqued that she's not Queen of Gwynedd."

         Kelric heard his godfather groan. He looked up to see Papa grinning evilly at the King while the King looked embarrassed.

         "Oh stop!" the King muttered to Papa. "At least I married his niece, didn't I? No matter who I married, I was bound to leave all the other parents feeling piqued."

        "I'm not piqued," Papa said looking very innocent as he opened the nearest door. "But then, Briony was far too young for you."

        "You know you didn't think I was good enough for her, in any case, Alaric," the King snorted as he went in, bringing Kelric after him. Papa and Bishop Duncan followed with Papa closing the door behind them.

       Kelric was mystified as he followed his Godfather down a short hallway and started up the first of the three staircases that led to Papa's study up in the Green Tower.
"Why would anybody want to marry Briony?" Kelric asked the King, panting a little. They were half way up the second staircase now.

        "Well nobody wants to marry Briony right  now, she's a little too young for that. But when she's old enough, I'm guessing that several young men will want to marry her."

         "What  for?"

        "Ah..well, she's going to be very beautiful. She's already very pretty even though she's only five. Men notice that about ladies. You will too, when you're older."

       "She's not as pretty as Mummy," Kelric said loyally.

       "Maybe not yet, but she's a duke's daughter, and that makes her very important right there. And she'll have a very nice dowry. That means she'll have lots of land and money," he added when Kelric looked up at him in bewilderment. "Men notice that too."

       "I dunno-oo," Kelric said seriously. "She'd never let them play with her dolls."

        The King seemed to think this was very funny. "That's difficult," he agreed in an equally serious voice when he'd finally stopped laughing. "I could never have married a woman who wouldn't let me play with her dolls."

        "But then, Royalty doesn't have very much time for playing with dolls, Kel," the King went on. "We're too busy giving people orders all day."

       "Like Papa does?"

       "Yes, but to even more people."

       Kelric didn't have the breath to both talk and climb the last staircase, which was steeper and longer than the other two. The King let go of his hand and let him go before him to clamber up using both his hands and feet on the stair treads.

        "A long way up for short legs" the King said smiling as they reached the tiny landing outside the study door.

        Kelric nodded, flushed and panting but triumphant, this was the first time he'd made it all the way to the top without having to be carried any part of the way.
Papa and Bishop Duncan were close behind the King, and Papa mussed his hair affectionately as he opened the outer door leading to an even smaller antechamber before a heavy door of carved walnut with the enameled arms of Corwyn set in it. Papa set his signet ring to the Gryphon's eye, then pushed the door open and stood aside for the King and Bishop Duncan to precede him. Kelric trotted in last of all, thrilled to have made it. Papa's study was one of his favorite rooms in the castle, and he wasn't allowed up here very often.

         "Now you are going to be a very good boy and not break anything up here, right?" Papa asked, laying both hands on Kelric's shoulders for a moment.

        "Yes, Papa."

        "That's good."

        The three adults went over to Papa's desk where he took something long and papery out of an orange silk pouch and gave it to the King. Bishop Duncan stood by the King and peered over his shoulder.

        "I can see what you mean about the copy hand," Duncan said.

        "So do I, but it is a very beautiful scroll," the King said. "Look at the quality of that illumination. It must be fantastically valuable.."

        Kelric eased a little away from the adults. Papa had shown him some of the pictures in the scroll, and while he thought they were beautiful, they didn't interest him very much. He wanted to look around Papa's study on his own without any grownups following him around and telling him not to touch. The first thing he wanted to look at was on the table at the very center of the round room, holding pride of place in the slightly green-tinted sunlight from the skylight. Papa had said he was not to break anything. That didn't mean he couldn't look.

       Kelric stood on tiptoe and was just able to rest his chin and his fingers on the edge of the tabletop. But this still didn't give him a very good look at the round crystal held aloft in the claws of a golden Corwyn Gryphon. He dragged one of the green-upholstered chairs out a little way from the table and climbed onto the seat without making too much noise. Kneeling on the green leather seat cushion, he had a much better view of the shiral crystal. He leaned close, but carefully kept his hands on the tabletop several inches away. He knew very well it was a shiral crystal, and a magical object. Furthermore, he knew that its being magical put it in the "don't touch" category of objects.
    He had learned that lesson very well a few weeks ago when Mummy had found him building a black and white tower with Papa's eight mysterious little cubes. She had taken them away from him at once, and had then given him one of the "talks." Those talks were always uncomfortable, and made Mummy look like a very serious angel. He was never to play with or even touch magical objects she said, unless she or Papa was right there to help him and then only when they'd given him specific permission to use it. Magical objects could be dangerous to untrained little boys who didn't understand them properly. This was a pity, as Kelric found magical objects were even more interesting than his toy boats. But it was not possible for him to disobey Mummy. Her REAL talks always  did something to him.

       But it was all right now, he wasn't touching the shiral crystal - he was only looking at it. It was perfectly round, and was the exact same color as the breakfast honey had been this morning - like a knob of honey made solid. The sunlight made a white round patch at the top of its polished circle. Quite without meaning to, Kelric brushed his forefinger over the top of the crystal. It was as sleek as one of Mummy's satin gowns, but hard and did not yield to the pressure of his finger. Guiltily, he snatched his hand back and glanced over at the adults. They were still busy with the scroll, and Papa didn't seem to have noticed. Kelric looked at the tip of his right index finger - it looked exactly the same as it always did, but it was grimy from the stair treads Just touching a shiral crystal was evidently not dangerous, then. He looked at the crystal next, and it looked just the same, too. Papa had told him not to break anything, but he hadn't said 'don't touch.' Not exactly, anyway.

       Kelric took a deep breath, scrubbed his right hand clean on his tunic, then leaned forward and boldly put the palm of his hand down on the top of the crystal. It was cool, not cold against his skin, and it became pleasantly warm at his touch. A glance over at Papa confirmed that he was still occupied and oblivious.
Kelric leaned forward for a closer look, bracing himself on the table top with his other hand, still keeping his right palm down on the crystal. He gasped as suddenly the crystal shot up a beam of bright yellow light between his spread fingers, making his skin glow pink at the edges. Kelric recoiled at once, feeling as guilty and frightened as he had last week when he'd knocked over Mummy's favorite vase of ruby Vezairi glass and shattered it beyond mending. He hunched over in the chair, ready for Papa to come running and start scolding him. But nothing happened. His hand was warm where it had been touching the crystal as if he'd been holding a cup full of hot posset, but there was no pain, and no tell-tale yellow blotch on his right palm. Finally he dared to look up - the other three were all still standing by Papa's desk, and Bishop Duncan was evidently reading the scroll, translating what he could as he went. But to Kelric's dismay the shiral crystal was still not normal. It was not shooting out spokes of light anymore, but it was glowing golden, lighting the whole tabletop. If Papa should look around now, he'd know right away that Kelric had been naughty. That was surely worse than making a mess with honey at the breakfast table.

       Nor was that all, for the clarity of the crystal had dimmed as if someone had breathed on the inside of the sphere. Kelric stuffed two fingers in his mouth, terrified that he'd broken Papa's special crystal. He leaned down and watched in fearful interest. It looked as if miniature rain clouds were roiling about inside the shiral crystal, making light and dark patterns as they swirled around and around one another. As Kelric watched, transfixed with fear at what he'd done, a face was slowly coming into focus at the very center of the ball.

        Two small, spectral hands lifted and flung back the dark hood that had partially obscured the face, which suddenly grew larger and easier to see. It was a man with a lined, but handsome oval face topped by fair hair nearly the color of Kelric's own silvery blond mop. The man looked rather like Papa, but several years older. Kelric just goggled - apparently this tiny person could see him on the outside of the crystal as easily as Kelric could see him inside it. For the vision looked up directly at him and the lips parted as if the apparition were about to smile or speak to him.

            "Daddeeeeeee!!!!!" Kelric squealed and covered his eyes with both hands.
You can have a sound mind in a healthy body--Or you can be a nanonovelist!


You seem to know small boys really well and you capture Kelric perfectly.
"Thanks be to God there are still, as there always have been and always will be, more good men than evil in this world, and their cause will prevail." Brother Cadfael's Penance


I love this story, Shiral.
I love the constant, never stopping, inquisitive young mind of Kelric, who seeks out everything and grows with each passing minute.
The suspense of the Shiral Chrystal ball is oh so much fun. The face smiling within, scaring the young boy, gave me a shiver, until I guessed who it could be.

That Alaric actually turned his back for so long, on his little exploring one, is a wonder.  ;D
May your horses have wings and fly!


Better and better. I think Alaric is in lots of ways very like Kelric, fascinated by something new, and allows his mind to be captured by the wonder of the scroll, forgetting that his son, who has already proved himself to be of an enquiring mind, is being left to his own devices.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
(Psalm 46 v1)


Thank you everyone for your kind responses, thus far. Anybody remember the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes? Calvin was my inspiration for Kelric, if Calvin were in fact a three year-old medieval Ducal heir without the tiger. But with a definite capacity to create chaos, because he's a little guy, figuring out life as he goes along.

And yeah...you have to wonder why Alaric just lets Kelric roam around in his study without at least checking on him visually once in a while.  ;)
You can have a sound mind in a healthy body--Or you can be a nanonovelist!


Kelric  does remind me of Calvin. My kids loved Calvin and Hobbes and my grandson now has a stuffed Hobbes as one his best friends. And like Calvin, he and Hobbs are always finding mischief  to get into. Love this story.
"Thanks be to God there are still, as there always have been and always will be, more good men than evil in this world, and their cause will prevail." Brother Cadfael's Penance