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December 02, 2023, 07:12:48 PM
Marc-- thank you!

Kelric's Adventures: Chapter 13: Great Big Ugly Trouble

Started by Shiral, August 05, 2018, 05:21:36 PM

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Chapter 13 Great Big Ugly Trouble

          "None of you are going to explain them to him quite yet," Mummy said firmly. "Kootik, you're far too young to find out about-about that."
            "Oh." Kelric was gravely disappointed.

           "He must have heard us talking about it earlier, Alaric," the King said in amused resignation.

          "I expect he did, My Prince," Papa agreed even while he laughed. "I'm always amazed by the things he picks up from adult conversations, or just odd orders I've given in passing. He tries to work things out for himself if he can, and sometimes it can be days before he actually asks a question. By that time I've usually forgotten the original conversation."

             Papa grinned at Kelric affectionately, and waved his half-eaten chicken leg at him. "But it's more fun that way, usually. Kelric logic is always entertaining."

           The King gently ruffled Kelric's hair and smiled at him. "There's a lot going on in this little head, I'll warrant. But then, he's the child of two of the most intelligent people I know, so I'm not surprised."

          Kelric hung his head, blushing, grinning in his relief that he wasn't in trouble even after his question had made Bishop Duncan choke on his wine. The now recovered Bishop Duncan gave him an amused conspiratorial wink.

         "Just  howcarnal a level were you and Duke Alaric talking about, my love?" the Queen asked the King softly. She was nibbling delicately at a chicken wing herself now while her puppy watched her longingly, his nose quivering anxiously.

      "We were talking in general, not in specific, Araxie," King Kelson answered around a bite of bread and cheese. "I haven't given away anything that I shouldn't."

        "He's far too close-mouthed for that, My Lady," Papa answered. "Nor would any sort of gentleman ask."

          Kelric watched the puppy start sniffing at Papa's drumstick and grinned. Papa's attention was so fixed on the queen, that he didn't realize he was holding his food directly under her puppy's nose, or that the puppy was now  eagerly licking bits of meat from the bone. He covered his mouth with both hands to muffle his giggles as he thought of Papa's probable response to sharing his food with even a Royal puppy.

            "Not even if that Duke had known my husband from infancy and was  verycurious?" the Queen teased, smiling.

            "Ah..I was simply noticing how  well he looked, Madame," Papa replied, doing his best not to look embarrassed. "He looks so relaxed and well rested, that the stay at Dunluce must have done him a great deal of good which is all to the good when it comes to dynastic-"

         Papa stopped all at once and tried to take another bite of chicken, only then realizing that he'd been sharing his lunch with the puppy, much to Kelric's, Bishop Duncan's and the King's amusement.

             "Alaric, if you're not careful, you'll be explaining to Kelric what 'dynastic' means," the King warned. "Caradoc, drop that!"

            the queen gasped as she realized the puppy had a strong grip on the drumstick and was playing tug of war over it with Papa. "Duke Alaric, I'm so sorry!" She gave the puppy's muzzle a smack and he reluctantly let go of the chicken leg.

         "I  was  the one who went and held it right under his nose, my lady," Papa pointed out, now beginning to laugh. He eyed the puppy-gnawed drumstick, and added under his breath, "I'm not so sure I want it back at this point!"

        A servant swooped down at once and whisked the chewed drumstick away while another servant quickly offered Papa a platter of sliced chicken breast and sliced cheeses.

           Eating resumed and the talk became more general. Kelric contentedly ate the chunk of bread topped with cheese and chicken that the King prepared for him, but he already had one eye on the table where one of the servants was lining up little fruit tarts in rows. Fruit tarts were his absolute favorite treat, and he wanted to save plenty of room for his share. It was a grave disappointment therefore when, as the tarts were finally being passed out, that Mummy limited him to two.

        " Maybe you can have another one later," she said. "But two tarts each  are enough for little girls and boys."

        Kelric had already bolted his first tart, and was not much consoled that Mummy had also limited Briony's share to two. And when Mummy said "maybe" she usually meant "no" when it came to desserts. He ate his second tart in a state of rebellion, trying to think of a way to wheedle a third one as he did so. His feeling of rebellion was driven up another notch when he saw little pallets and cushions being laid out in the shade of the pavilion's awning which presaged a nap. He didn't need a silly nap! The day was already too short for all the things he wanted to do at the beach. There was no telling how long adults could sleep, either, once they lay down to take a nap. For all he knew they'd sleep until nearly sunset and then tiresomely insist it was time to go home. Nor would he and Briony be allowed to go wading again, or to explore the beach without any adults along. He watched as Mummy and Lord Dhugal ate their four tarts apiece, comfortably and harmlessly flirting with one another, adding to his sense of grave injury. But then it occurred to him that if he waited for Mummy to go to sleep, he could have another tart, and she'd never know about it if he were careful to keep from smearing any of it on his clothes.

           Therefore when the lunch had been cleared away, Kelric let Mummy guide him over to a pallet in the shade, and lay down on it beside Briony with outward meekness. It was comfortable lying there in the shade, even peaceful as grownup talk died away around them, leaving only the soft sound of the waves. Kelric felt his eyes closing in spite of himself, but came back to full alertness when Briony poked him in the ribs. She had been watching the adults settle down as he fought off his drowsiness.

        Come on, she told him mind-to-mind. Mummy's asleep, now. We can have some more tarts!

Kelric climbed noiselessly to his feet, seeing all the adults lying asleep in a neat row. Even the puppy slept at the Queen's side, his muzzle resting on his forepaws, the breeze stirring in his fuzzy coat. Utterly united in purpose and allegiance with his sister, Kelric tiptoed toward the back of the tent, where the remaining dozen or so fruit tarts sat unguarded on their platter.

    I got a strawberry one,  Briony said in satisfaction, as they ducked under the table to enjoy their stolen treats.

         "I gots one that's full of apricots," Kelric whispered.

            "Ssshhhhhhh!" Briony pressed her finger to her lips.  You'll wake them up!
Both children froze, listening for sounds of alertness among the grownups. It was still reassuringly quiet, however. Emboldened by success they both stood and reached for another tart apiece.

              "Kelric Alain Morgan, if you put that tart either in your mouth or in your pocket, there will be trouble, do you understand?"

            Kelric started in guilty fright, almost dropping his prize on the spot. Papa had reared up on one elbow and was giving him a long, steady look over his shoulder - one that threatened dire harm if he were to be disobeyed.

             But the tarts were so delicious, and the one in his hand this time was a raspberry tart, his very favorite. Kelric smiled his best smile at his father, opening his pale grey eyes wide and tilting his head. He wasn't sure why exactly, but that look almost always worked on Mummy. Papa's expression didn't even flicker.

                "Great, big,  ugly  trouble," Papa continued in the same low, clear voice. "You heard what your mother said. Now put that back."

            Kelric weighed his options carefully. Papa's anger was always exciting when directed at others, but very uncomfortable when he  himself was the target. And great, big ugly trouble sounded as if it could be both prolonged and unpleasant. The tart would be delicious, if he got as far as being allowed to finish it, but somehow he doubted this. Papa could move amazingly fast when he wanted to. Slowly and reluctantly, Kelric put his fourth tart back on the tray and was rewarded with an approving nod from Papa.

           "Now then," Papa said. "If you two can't sleep, you may play quietly, and I do mean quietly, here by the tent. But you're not to go near the water without an adult. And if you wake Their Majesties from their nap or wake your mother, either, there could  still  be great, big ugly trouble. Is that clear?"

           "Yes Papa," Briony piped obediently "We'll be quiet, I promise."

            "That's my good girl." Papa smiled for the first time. "Keep your little brother out of trouble, Briony."
             "Yes Papa. Come on, Kelric," Briony said, and took him by the wrist to lead him out of the tent.
Kelric indignantly twisted his wrist out of her hand as soon as they were out of sight of the adults. She was his older sister, not his  nurse!

           To his surprise, Briony handed him a slightly squashed tart and produced another one for herself from her skirt pocket. They ate them with hasty, guilty pleasure.

         "How'd you get two more?" Kelric whispered with his mouth full of crust and sweet blackberry filling.

           "Papa was watching _you_, he wasn't watching me," Briony whispered back. "I just grabbed them up quick and hid them behind my back. "C'mon, lets go see if we can find Uncle Seandry's Mermaid."

           Kelric looked at his sister in amazement and admiration, knowing she was in one of her adventuresome moods, her usually irritating obedience in complete abeyance. But he felt uneasy even so as he followed her confident steps toward the long, low point like a rocky arm into the sea that marked the western end of this beach.

           "Papa said we weren't supposed to go near the water," Kelric said, hanging back as Briony took a little running start up a gently sloping boulder.

           She paused for a moment, looking out to sea, no doubt weighing the prospect of big ugly trouble against the exciting possibility of seeing a real mermaid.

            "We're not  near  the water, we're  above  it," she reasoned. "Papa won't find out if we're careful not to get wet."
Only partially reassured, Kelric began to clamber up after Briony. It was a harder climb for him with his short legs and arms, but he declined to grab her hand. Briony walked with careful confidence over the damp rocks and sea-weed, keeping a sharp eye out for anything that moved out where the waves smashed against the rocks. The tide was at its lowest ebb now, so Kelric suppose they really weren't so very near the water up here. He followed Briony slowly though, feeling more and more uneasy with every step and had no confidence that they'd actually see a mermaid. On the other hand he didn't want his sister to tease him for being a scare-cat. Nor was his anxiety entirely based on what would happen if Papa found out they'd disobeyed him. He just felt they shouldn't have left the safety of the pavilion behind.

       The sea breeze had come up, and it tugged at Briony's plaits and blew Kelric's hair all about and in his eyes, particularly as the sheltering wall of rocks to his right dropped down below his waist, and Kelric stopped, almost bumping into Briony. She was staring down at the smaller beach below the rock wall on their right. They were higher than the heads of the men standing there below, and Kelric saw the same sailboat Mummy had pointed out to him earlier now anchored just beyond the breakers. A small rowboat had been pulled half way up the beach

           Kelric froze in silence and stared down, too scared to speak. These six men were foreigners - and they couldn't possibly have legitimate business in Corwyn, or surely they'd have sailed into Coroth Harbor, a mile farther up the coast. They were standing in a small clump, and one man was talking to the others in a low intense voice, frequently gesturing over his shoulder to the larger beach where the Pavilion had been pitched. His companions were listening to him, with expressions of greedy interest ranging to grim hatred.

           The speaking man was mostly in black although he wore a dull red Moorish keffiyeh over his head with one tail of the cloth covering the lower half of his face. He had a wickedly curved dagger stuck through the black sash at his waist. He spoke in the desert dialect which neither Kelric nor Briony understood, and his words were further muffled by the keffiyeh, but one word stood out clearly for them both;


          "They want to kill the King!" Briony whispered, evidently too scared to use mindspeech. "We have to go warn him!"

            To both children's dismay, the man in black whirled around at the sound of her voice, pointing up at them, and evidently cursing. All the other men looked up too, and began to run toward the cliff. But the man in black shimmered in the bright light and as he thrust his hand up toward them, a hot, bright *something* began to fly at them.

           "Come ON!" Briony screamed, grabbing Kelric's arm and hauling him back the way they'd come. "Papaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!"

           Kelric bolted after his sister, just feeling a rush of hot wind at his back. From the corner of his eye, he saw the bright 'thing' descend on its arc and plunge into the waves, with a great plume of grayish steam.

You can have a sound mind in a healthy body--Or you can be a nanonovelist!


Great big ugly trouble indeed. Scary, can little legs run fast enough to escape?
"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


Ack! Worse than "big ugly Trouble!"

I loved it when Alaric had a small tug a war with the puppy over the drumstick.  LOL
May your horses have wings and fly!