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The making of a Queen: Eirian's Journey

Started by DerynifanK, July 13, 2020, 07:56:00 AM

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DerynifanK

The Making of a Queen:  Eirian's Journey

Prologue
The  gardens, Rhemuth  Castle
Late summer, 1127

                                                            Playmates

The children of the castle were enjoying the warm, sunny day, running and playing in the garden as their nursemaids sat in the shade gossiping while they watched over their charges. Briony, Eirian and Amelia were running and squealing as the little boys followed in hot pursuit. Albin and Kelric were at a disadvantage with their shorter legs. Albin staggered along behind the others and found himself falling further behind. All at once, he stopped and sat down hard in the grass. Kelric turned back to the younger boy,  squatting down in front of him and looking at him intently. "Are you hurted?"

Albin shook his head no but did not jump up. Instead he stuck his thumb in his mouth and gazed at Kelric. Kelric stood up and went to his nurse. She handed him two toy soldiers she had been keeping for him, and he went back to sit by Albin to show him the soldiers.

The girls stopped running realizing the chase had come to an end. They ran over to their nursemaids to retrieve their dolls which they had left there earlier. They then settled down in the shade to rest after their vigorous game.  They knew it would soon be time to go inside for naps.

Suddenly, Eirian squealed and jumped up. She had spotted two young men walking along the path through the garden. Both wore Haldane livery and were headed toward the stables. She had recognized her older brother Payne and his fellow page, Liam. Eirian ran toward them and skidded to a stop in front of them asking excitedly,  "Have you come to play with us?" She looked up at them  pleadingly. While her brother was more likely to say he was too busy, his friend Liam was often more willing to take time to play if he had no pressing duties.

Both young men smiled at the little girl. Her brother answered. "We are free from our duties until supper, and we are planning a ride outside the walls. We have had little opportunity to exercise our ponies lately, and this seemed a perfect time. Perhaps later when we return." Payne started to turn away to continue on to the stables.

Eirian's mouth turned down and tears appeared in the corners of her eyes.  "Hold a minute." Liam spoke to  Payne. He looked down at Eirian. "We have made arrangements to go riding,  and you haven't much time before you need to go inside for naps. How would it be if we visited the nursery before bedtime, and we could have a story or two before bed?"

Eirian brightened up.   "Would you tell us about the Queen's Zoo? I love stories about the animals."

Liam smiled. "I think that could be arranged if your mother approves, and Prince Nigel gives us permission." 

Just then Duchess Meraude appeared, coming into the garden to check on the children and remind them that it was nap time. Eirian sighted her mother and ran up to her. "Mama, Mama, Liam and Payne have said they would tell us bedtime stories tonight if you approve. Can they tell us bedtime stories? Please, Mama?"

Meraude smiled at the two young men who bowed on her arrival.  "Do you truly wish for this story hour?" Both young men nodded their agreement. Meraude continued,  "I think that might be arranged if they are released from their duties in the great hall after they finish serving at table. Your papa will need to approve their plan. We will see what he says. I believe that it is time for you to go in, and Payne and Liam need to continue with their planned ride." The nursemaids were gathering up their things and rounding up their charges preparatory to returning to the nursery.  Payne and Laim bowed to the Duchess and continued on their way to the stables.
The children were ushered back into the castle and toward the nursery for their afternoon naps.

Later that night
The Nursery, Rhemuth Castle

The children had been readied for bed, having been inserted into nightgowns and nightshirts.  Eirian's wavy black hair had been braided for the night. She and Briony were sitting together on the bed watching the nursemaid who was trying to tame Amelia's wild curls.  There came a soft knock at the door. One of the maids went to open the door. One of Kelson's pages stood outside. Eirian came rushing up. "Liam, you did come to tell us a story! But where is my brother?"

The young man answered. "Your papa approved the storytime and released me to come to
keep my promise of a bedtime story. However, there was another task that he needed Payne to carry out so I am alone." The Duchess had informed the nursemaids of the proposed storytime, so they readily admitted the young man. Eirian took his hand and pulled him over to the bed the girls shared. He sat on the end of the bed and Albin promptly climbed up in his lap. "You tell story?  He grinned engagingly.

Eirian snuggled up to one side and Kelric to the other. Amelia tried to move a little closer, but the maid was still brushing and braiding her hair for the night. Briony sat beside Kelric. They were all waiting anxiously for the promised story.

*****

Liam smiled at the children and began. " There are many unusual animals in the zoo in Beldour where I come from. Many of them are animals of the desert. There are antelopes called Oryx who can run very fast and who have horns shaped like curved arab swords". He looked at Kelric. "Even your fastest horse could not catch them.  There is a large bird that is taller than even your papa. This bird does not fly but it runs very fast, and it has beautiful feathers much prized by the ladies." Briony and Amelia looked at him with mouths open in wonder. "There are lions and foxes with huge ears and many other animals. But I am going to tell you a story about a very remarkable animal, one you will not have seen, and how he became the favorite of a prince."

The Ship of the Desert

There once was a prince who lived in a land at the edge of a great desert.

Liam looked down at the children. "Do any of you know what a desert is?"  The children shook their heads "no". "It is a very hot land covered by sand with very little water or grass. Would you want to have to walk across many miles of such a land carrying a heavy pack?" Again, they all nodded "no".

Well, this prince wanted very badly to cross that desert because he had heard tales of a fabled land full of riches on the other side. But he did not see how he could do that. Horses could not travel long distances across those hot sands. Their hooves sank into the shifting sands, and they tired quickly. It was impossible to carry enough food and water for beasts and men to survive such a trip.

One evening he was sitting under some trees near the edge of the desert. He gazed into the distance and sighed deeply. .He was so absorbed in his thoughts he was not even aware when a stranger sat beside him.  He startled when a deep voice asked. "Why are you sad?"   He turned to see a stranger dressed in a long white tunic with loose sleeves and a cloth headdress held in place by a braided rope.

The prince replied. "It is my greatest wish to cross that desert and explore the kingdom on the other side, but I can see no way to do it. Horses and pack animals could not make such a journey."

"What would you do when you reached the other side?" The stranger studied the prince. "Would you want to attack such a kingdom to seize the riches found there?"

The prince assured the stranger that he did not want plunder or to try to seize the land.  "I want to explore that kingdom, to learn about its people, and perhaps make friends there. Mayhap we could trade with each other and become allies to the benefit of both kingdoms."

The stranger turned an intense gaze on the prince, until the prince felt the stranger was seeing into his very soul. Then he turned that hard stare away and nodded his head. "I see that you are telling the truth. What if I could show you a way to fulfill your wish?"

The prince addressed the stranger. "Who are you and why would you want to help me? I am sure we have never met."

"No, we have never met, but I have been observing you from afar, and I believe that your intentions are honorable. I can help you." The stranger stood and beckoned to the prince. The prince rose and followed him.

They walked out to the place where the desert began to replace the green land. They walked on until they reached a small camp with tents and an enclosure that held several animals. The prince gazed at the animals in amazement. He had never seen creatures such as these. They were very tall with long legs." He paused, stood, and held his hands over his head to show how tall these animals were. "They have big flat hooves not shaped at all like those of other animals."  And instead of straight backs, they had big humps on their backs like this." He sketched a curve in the air. All the children were gazing in amazement and Eirian's eyes were big and round. Liam continued. "The prince wondered what manner of animals these could be. "What kind of animal is this and why are you showing it to me?" he asked.

The stranger answered. "This is the answer to your wish to cross the desert. These animals can walk long distances across the hot sands, and those big, flat hooves do not sink into the sand so they do not tire so quickly. They can go three weeks without water. They do  not need a large supply of food because they store food in those humps. They can do this carrying heavy loads on their backs. Because of this, they are called the Ships of the Desert, and they are greatly valued by those who live in the desert. These animals can carry you and your men across the desert to the kingdom you wish to visit."

"Where could I get such animals?" the prince asked.

"I will sell them to you for your journey."

The prince was very happy and excited. At last he would be able to go to the place he had long dreamed of. The prince purchased several of the animals which were called camels. With them he was able to reach that fabled land, and he was able to get to know the people there so that they became friends and allies. The camels became a favorite of the prince, and they were honored and cared for because the prince called them a gift from God.

"Is the camel a magic beast, and was the stranger who helped the prince a great mage?" asked Eirian. "Have you ever seen one?"

Liam smiled at her. "The camel is a real beast and I have seen one in the zoo in Beldour. I hope one day you can visit and I can show it to you. It is still highly valued, and it is indeed called  The Ship of the Desert because of the big, heavy loads it can carry across the desert. As for the stranger, he was a great Mage but the prince never learned his name or saw him again."

Laim looked at the children. Albin eyes were closed, and they were all nodding. "I think it is now time for you to go to sleep. He carried Albin to his pallet followed by Kelric. The girls snuggled down into their beds. Their nurses tucked them in. Liam left the nursery quietly as the nurses snuffed out the last of the candles. All would soon be asleep

Link to next chapter:  https://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php/topic,2612.0.html
"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

DesertRose

Lovely beginning, DerynifanK.  Looking forward to reading more, when you get it written and posted!
"If having a soul means being able to feel love, loyalty, and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans."

James Herriot (James Alfred "Alfie" Wight), when a human client asked him if animals have souls.  (I don't remember in which book the story originally appeared.)

Jerusha

A story within a story, and I enjoyed both!  A very nice beginning.
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Laurna

A wonderful beginning for Eirian's adventures.
DFK, I am so glad to see you post this. It is a good tale. I am sorry I seemed to have missed when it was first posted. I swear I was on the forum yesterday and I did not see it.  I am so glad I saw it today. Well done.
May your horses have wings and fly!

DesertRose

Quote from: Laurna on July 15, 2020, 01:13:33 PM
A wonderful beginning for Eirian's adventures.
DFK, I am so glad to see you post this. It is a good tale. I am sorry I seemed to have missed when it was first posted. I swear I was on the forum yesterday and I did not see it.  I am so glad I saw it today. Well done.

The forum software was acting up and/or I didn't set up DFK's fanfic section correctly, which is why you didn't see the chapters before, but Bynw fixed it.
"If having a soul means being able to feel love, loyalty, and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans."

James Herriot (James Alfred "Alfie" Wight), when a human client asked him if animals have souls.  (I don't remember in which book the story originally appeared.)