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The Knighting of Liam, Chapter 7, Warning

Started by DerynifanK, September 08, 2021, 08:15:57 AM

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DerynifanK

The Knighting of Liam:
Chapter 7,  Warning

Rhemuth Castle
Late Morning, January 5, 1133

As soon as her visitors had gone, Eirian reviewed her latest assignment from the healer who was her current teacher. The press of duties for Twelfth Night had put her behind. There was one small task she needed to complete this morning..

Carrying out this task might cause her a little trouble if she were caught.  Both Mama and Papa had warned her that she must remain inside the castle unless escorted by one of her brothers or a guard. "Why Papa?" she had questioned.

"You know that Liam is to be knighted in tomorrow's Twelfth Night ceremonies. He has enemies who would use the occasion to attack or injure him if they could.  There are rumors of a plot for some sort of an assault during the rituals of the knighting. We can't be sure whether there is any truth to these rumors but we must take them seriously. There will be extra guards and precautions in place to ensure his safety and that of his party and everyone present.  But it is important that everyone be alert and avoid any risk. We don't want to add to the burden of those responsible for our safety. If whoever is behind such a plot could capture someone to use as a hostage. that would increase their chances of success, if indeed an attack is planned. You are growing quickly and becoming a young lady. You must be more aware of possible risks and make sure you avoid them."

Eirian nodded her understanding. "I will do as you say, and I will be careful, Papa." She gave her papa one of her best smiles.

Eirian had every intention of following her parents' instructions. She didn't want to cause any problems. She was excited to see Liam knighted, and she wanted everything to go perfectly. However, she had that one quick task she needed to do. She had not been out to the garden for several days. It had been cold and blustery and most of the plants in the garden were deep in their winter sleep. However, a few of the herbs continued to produce useful and flavorful foliage despite the short days and cold temperatures. She needed a few leaves from two of them to complete her assignment. She was determined not to turn in an incomplete or poorly done  assignment.

It would take only a few minutes to pick the leaves of thyme and sage which she would crush and combine to be used in a mixture that would relieve the sore throats, coughs and congestion that were plaguing several people due to the cold. Her herb garden was just outside the kitchen in a sunny corner protected by a wall separating it from the vegetable garden and the back kitchen wall. The door leading out to the small garden was in a short hallway between the kitchen and the small room that served as her workshop. She would not be far from the door. She could duck out quickly, snip off what she needed and be back inside in a very few minutes. She was sure it would be safe.

Eirian carried a small basket on her arm and walked briskly toward the kitchen, looking as if she had been sent on an errand. The cooks and other servants were so busy that they paid little attention to the princess as she walked through the hallway toward the door to the outside. She took a cloak from a hook and threw it around her shoulders. Then she exited the door into the garden.

She quickly moved along the paths between the beds of plants, snipping the leaves from the plants that she needed. She was near the back wall and started to turn back toward the door when she heard men talking in low voices. .At first she thought it might be the gardeners, but when she looked around she didn't see anyone. She stood very still, trying to hear what they were saying. The words didn't sound familiar. Then she realized they were speaking Torenthi. The duchess had insisted that her daughter learn the language, and she had become fairly fluent in it. But why were there men in the garden speaking Torenthi? She tried to edge closer to the wall to better hear what was being said. She could make out only a few words but they sent chills through her: She understood the words "attack", "king", and "vigil".

Unfortunately, as she tried to move closer she stepped on a dry branch that snapped with a loud crack. The voices stopped. She heard rustling among the bushes on the other side of the wall. She started to run toward the door but quickly realised it was too far. She ducked behind a large rosemary bush at the corner where the two walls met. She crouched down low and kept very still, barely breathing. She heard footsteps moving toward the end of the wall. The men were looking for the source of the sound. Her heart was pounding and she could hardly breathe. What if they found her? What would happen then? Just as it seemed that they must round the end of the wall where they could see into the small herb garden, the door from the passage opened and one of the pot boys came out, looking around him.  "I don't see nobody." he called back toward the passageway.  "She must ave gone back in." 

"Make sure you look carefully. I saw her pass through the hallway toward the door. Her Grace, the Duchess is looking for her. Are you sure there's no one out there?" One of the cooks stuck his head out the door. He scanned the small garden but did not see anyone.  The pot boy did walk along the path to the end of the wall and looked around to the other side. He turned and called back, "I don't see nobody back ere neither."

The boy retraced his steps toward the door and went back in. Eirian waited only a moment, then slipped back inside after him. She reached the workroom door and quickly pushed it open, placing her basket on the small table near the door. She pulled the door shut and stood for a minute, leaning against it and trembling. After one or two deep breaths to calm herself, she shrugged off the cloak from around her shoulders, and opened the door meaning to hang the cloak back on its hook. The boy turned just as he was about to reenter the kitchen. He saw the princess and bowed deeply. "Yer Highness, Er Grace, the Duchess 'as been lookin for you. I looked in the garden but didn't see you."

Eirian managed to steady her voice and spoke to the boy. "I was in my workshop, checking on some of my plants. I was back in the corner so you could have glanced in without seeing me. You would have needed to come all the way into the room to see me; you didn't do that did you?"

"No, Yer 'ighness."

"I will go find the duchess, but I must first speak with my father.. Does anyone know where Prince Nigel might be? This is very important."

The cook stuck his head back out into the passage and yelled at the boy. "Why are you still out here? I need you to be about your duties." Then he saw the princess standing at the end of the passage. He also bowed. "Your Highness, Her Grace, the Duchess has been down here looking  for you. She said if we did find you, to send you to the solar."

"Thank you, Master Gurney. I will attend her but I must find the Duke first."  Eirian left the passage and hastened toward  the Great Hall and the withdrawing rooms behind it.  She stopped near the entrance to the larger withdrawing room to question one of the guards there. "Have you seen Duke Nigel? I need to speak with him immediately. "

The guard bowed and replied, "He was headed toward the Council Chamber when he passed me, your Highness."

"Thank you. I'll look for him there.`` She hurried along the passage to the Council Chamber., and spoke to one of the lancers at the door. "Is Duke Nigel within?" she asked somewhat breathlessly.

"Yes, your Highness."

"Please tell him that I need to speak to him right away. It is important."

The guard bowed, knocked at the door, then opened it to announce her. "Princess Eirian is here, your Highness and says she needs to speak to you urgently." He opened the door wider to allow her to enter then stepped out, closing the door beyond him. Only the king and Duke Nigel were inside, attended by two clerks who were writing on scrolls spread out on the table.

Eirian curtsied deeply to the two men. "I am sorry to interrupt you but there is something I must report to you."

Duke Nigel spoke, frowning. "What is so important that you needed to speak to me immediately?" He noticed that she was breathing hard like she had been running.

"I was in the herb garden picking the leaves I needed for my Schola assignment when I heard two men talking from the other side of the wall that separates the herb garden from the vegetable garden. At first I thought it might be two of the gardeners and I didn't want them to see me. I didn't recognize the words, then I realized that they were speaking Torenthi. That frightened me"

She had their full attention. "Could you understand what they were saying?" asked the King.

"Only a few words. I have learned to speak Torenthi fairly well, but they were speaking in low voices. I could only hear a word here and there. The words I heard were 'attack, vigil, and king. That frightened me more."  Her voice sounded shaky.

The king spoke in a reassuring tone. He indicated a chair across the table, "Sit there, take a deep breath and then continue."

 Eirian sat on the edge of the seat, took a deep breath, then continued. " I was afraid but I knew I needed to try to hear more. I tried to get closer to the wall to hear better, but I stepped on a dead branch which broke with a loud crack. The talking stopped, and I heard rustling as if they were pushing through the bushes. I started to run for the door, but I didn't think I could get there in time to avoid being seen so I hid behind the big rosemary bush in the corner.  I thought they were going to come around the end of the wall where they could see me. I was shaking but I crouched down making myself as small as I could "

"I didn't know whether to run or stay behind the bush, but one of the pot boys opened the kitchen door and came out followed by one of the cooks. They looked around. The boy went all the way to the end of the wall where he could see the other side and told the cook he didn't see anyone. My fear eased a little.  I thought the men I heard must have run away to avoid being seen."

"I knew I should not have been outside so I wanted to avoid being seen. When they turned to go back inside, I was able to slip in behind them without being seen. I thought it might be best if no one knew I had been in the garden. Master Gurney saw me in the passage, but I told him I had been in my workshop. He said that Mama was looking for me and that is why they were searching the garden to see if I was there. I assured him that I would attend Mama but I had to talk to you first."

The two men looked at each other. Nigel looked at his daughter. "You did well to come to tell us what you heard. But was anyone with you in the garden?"

"No , father."

"Then why were you in the garden alone?"

"I didn't mean to disobey. I just needed a few leaves from two herbs to complete my Schola assignment. They grow right outside the passage door, and I thought I could pick them quickly and slip back inside.. I was very close to the kitchen and I felt I was quite safe. Everyone is so busy with the preparations for Twelfth Night and I didn't want to take them away from their duties." Eirian looked back at her father and the king.

"When you heard the voices and you thought they might catch you listening to their conversation, did you feel safe then?  Have you thought what might have happened if the boy had not come out and they had caught you? Do you understand why it was dangerous even so close to the castle?"

"I do now, father." Eirian looked at Nigel and the king sheepishIy. "I am very sorry.  I won't disobey you again. I was frightened when I thought they would see me, but I thought it important to hear as much as I could."

"You were foolish but also brave. You must remember that we have good reasons for the directions we give you. We will make good use of the information you brought us, and we thank you. But you mustn't do such a thing again." Nigel hugged his daughter close.

The King smiled at her. "Your father and I appreciate your acute hearing but we do not want you putting yourself at risk."

Eirian curtsied to the king and her father. "I will be more careful, I promise. Master Gurney said Mama is looking for me. I'll go to her now." Eirian waited for the king's nod of dismissal, curtsied again  and quickly left the room. The guard closed the door behind her.

Kelson then turned to Nigel. "There would be no point in searching the garden area now. However, the words Eirian overheard, spoken in Torenthi, certainly reinforce the rumor that some kind of attack is planned. Although it seems likely that Teymuraz is behind any such plot, we can't be sure those were his agents Eirian heard. We must share what we have learned with Alaric who  will be certain to adjust his plans accordingly." The king summoned a page and sent him to find the Duke of Corwyn and bring him to the withdrawing room.
"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

Jerusha

That could have gone very badly.  Fortunately, it did not.  Whew!
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

revanne

It's lovely to see things from the pov of lesser known female characters.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
(Psalm 46 v1)

Laurna

So true Revanne, And though this young lady may be lesser known at the moment, she will someday be Queen of Torenth, and that would make her a very valuable hostage if she had been caught.  Sadly Young Princesses need to be doubly careful. and doubly brave too.  So good for Eirain.
May your horses have wings and fly!

DerynifanK

Thank you to Revanne, Jerusha and Laurna for their comments and help
"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

ReikiDeryni

I'm surprised that some of her Haldane abilities haven't manifested. Which does seem to happen to Haldanes or have been magical awoken. Especially considering her future position.

HoundMistress

Great story, ably written! I had missed Chapt 6 coming out, so I got to read 2 chapters which were both very enjoyable. Thanks so much for sharing, DFK!
Judy Ward
You can buy a pretty good dog with money but you can't buy the wag of its tail.