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A Leap of Faith - Chapter 13

Started by AnnieUK, January 01, 2011, 11:32:44 AM

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June 19th
Stonelyn Manor and the city of Dhassa

"Master Brendan, just put down that drum and let me brush your hair like a good boy.  You are to go and see His Grace the Bishop today, and attend a service in the cathedral, so you must be well presented.  I'll not have any of those Dhassa folks thinking that my Master Brendan doesn't make an effort when he's in company."  

Brendan's nurse fussed over him straightening his new tunic and brushing away imaginary lint from his sleeve.  He was judged fit to be seen, then, and allowed to sit for his bread and honey before we left, the drum he had been given for his recent birthday tantalisingly just out of reach.  Watching my son wriggling in new stiff clothes, I wondered if it would have been better the other way round, with the bread and honey before the clothes, but mercifully they escaped without too much damage: a few crumbs only, which were easily brushed off when he had finished.  A quick flannel across his face, and the "young master" was ready to be on his way.

A rap at the door and the nurse admitted a maid clutching a parchment.  "A messenger has brought a letter for you, my lady."  

"Thank you, Grace."  I turned it to see the seal – Bran's.  "Is the messenger still here?"

"Yes, my lady.  He's in the kitchen with cook, getting something to eat."

"When he has finished, please send him to me.  The letter is from my husband - I'd like to ask the messenger how he fares and to send a quick reply back with him."  I had not heard from Bran in some time – there had been no birthday greeting for Brendan, even - and I wanted to reassure myself that all was as well as could be expected with him.

"Very well, my lady."  

"Nurse, would you please take Master Brendan and keep him entertained until I have spoken to the messenger.  Do, please, try to keep him clean.  I know he attracts dirt, but it would be nice if he were presentable, at least till we get clear of the manor.  And if you let him have his drum to play with, can you take him outdoors with it?  I'm really beginning to think that a quieter gift would have been a better idea."

I broke the seal on the letter and unfolded it.

"My dear Richenda," he wrote.  "We are still encamped below Cardosa.  Wencit shows no sign of moving, and the men grow restless with the waiting, but I suspect that we are unlikely to wait much longer.  You wrote that you had apartments arranged in Dhassa - take Brendan there as soon as you may.  Many others will seek sanctuary in the holy city if Wencit invades and I would have you both safe there before the attack comes.  I will get word to you as often as I can, but we will bear the first brunt of Wencit's assault, so my priority will be keeping the king informed.  Hug Brendan for me, and tell him I love him.  A big boy of four now, where did the time go?  God willing I will be home with you both as soon as this is all over.  Bran."

I knew the situation he was in was dire, and this had a note of farewell about it. I tried not to think that this might be my last letter from him, but sat to write a short note back.  

I wrote that we were safe and happy at the manor.  That Brendan was growing again and I had needed to buy new tunics for him.  Simple things that I hoped would give Bran comfort.  I assured him that we had indeed got apartments arranged in Dhassa - smaller than we were used to, but good enough, and that Uncle Thomas had arranged servants for me so our own could return home to their families until things were more settled again.  I promised that we would move there within the week and told him not to worry about us, but to take good care of himself and come safely home as soon as he might.  A cheerful letter such as a soldier's wife should send to her husband on the eve of war.  
When the messenger came in I knew him; it was Joseph, Bran's own clerk.  

"Joseph?  He sent you personally?"

"My lady," he bowed, "I like to think that he gave the letter to someone he could trust to see it arrived safely,"  an eloquent shrug,  "or maybe he just realised that he would have little need for a clerk over the next few days and kept a man more able to bear arms beside him instead."

"It is close then, the war?"  I was crumpling the letter, I realised, and made myself relax my fingers.

"Indeed it appears so.  Wencit has sat in Cardosa like a spider in his web for nearly six weeks - there is no reason now why he should not make his move.  We think he has delayed this last week or two to let the dread build up in our men, for many of them are mightily afraid of meeting an army that may use magic against them.  I think Wencit may be hoping for some of our troops to desert ahead of the battle."  He tossed his head defiantly.  "He has reckoned without Bran Coris though.  The men love him, and would follow him into the mouth of Hell if he asked them to.  No desertions from our camp, my lady."

"Thank you, Joseph.  Will you stay here now?"

"By your leave, my lady, I will change my horse for fresh and then return to the camp.  I may not have as strong a sword arm as most, and I'm more likely to hit a friend than a foe if you put a bow in my hand, but Lord Bran may find some small use for me when battle comes, and I would rather be at his side than hiding safe at home."

I smiled, knowing Bran would have no-one on his staff unable to play his part when the time came – Joseph was playing down his abilities for sure.  "You are a brave man and a loyal one, Joseph.  Get cook to pack you some fresh provisions and tell the stables that you are to have your pick of the horses.  Please take this letter to my lord and tell him that the priests in the village here and at Marbury pray for his safety daily.  God speed, Joseph."

I sat by the window and considered what he had said.  Things were bleak in the Cardosa defile, but I was encouraged by his words about the men's strong personal loyalty to Bran.  I hoped that might carry my husband through the coming storm.  Shortly I heard the sound of a horse's hooves past the window, picking up speed as it went through the gate, and Joseph galloped off up the road northwards, heading back to rejoin his camp.  

I went to find my son, to give him the hugs and kisses that his father had sent for him, and many more of my own.


In Dhassa we fell into our now-familiar routine of a light midday meal with Uncle Thomas, followed by one of my regular games of cardounet with Bishop Arilan.  This time he narrowly had the victory, but I always enjoyed our games – it was good to use my brain for something other than accounts, and his conversation was always interesting.  I was growing to like the prickly bishop.

Uncle Thomas had taken Brendan round the stables while we played, the cut and thrust of cardounet having little interest to a four year old.  On their return Brendan's new tunic was showing signs of wear already.  Uncle Thomas had obviously tried to clean Brendan up a bit before returning him to me, and Brendan chattered away animatedly about what he had seen – the pair of them were becoming firm friends.

We were to move into the city in the next few days and Uncle Thomas promised that the apartments I had arranged would be aired and ready for us by then, and that the members of his staff that I was  borrowing would be at my convenience.  

Later at Vespers I was introduced to Lady Bethan Gwyndor, who had also sought refuge in Dhassa.  She had taken apartments close to those that Brendan and I were to move into, and after I had taken my leave of my uncle and Bishop Arilan, Brendan and I went to her apartments briefly.  Up until now I had relied on my uncle and Bishop Arilan for company while in Dhassa, so it was a relief to think that I would have at least one other friend there.  She had one son of near Brendan's age and another somewhat younger, so Brendan would have company too, for which I was grateful – he was getting harder and harder to keep entertained, and a friend his own age would make everything so much easier.

The courtyard was full of excitement as we left.  Rumours were spreading like wildfire through the soldiers that Alaric Morgan and Duncan McLain had been apprehended in the city.  Some even said that they had attacked my uncle and Bishop Arilan.  One of the soldiers confirmed to me that both bishops were safe, but he had heard little else, other than that the pair had been caught outside my uncle's offices disguised as monks.  That certainly made it sound like they were up to no good, although I could see no reason why Morgan and his cousin should mean my uncle and Bishop Arilan harm.

Brendan had been drooping when we left Vespers, and was fit to drop by the time we left Dhassa, so he was asleep shortly after we set off in the carriage to return to Stonelyn to pack our belongings for the move into the city.  

He slept with his head in my lap and I stroked his fine red-gold hair, reflecting that I would have much news to catch up with when I moved into the city in a few days.  

http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=626.0  Chapter 14



We will never forget the events of 9-11!!  USA!! USA!!


Handsome Corwyn knights and prickly bishops...the lady has excellent tastes.... ;D

LOL @ drum for Brendan!  I could've warned her that was a bad idea!

Nice to see Bran being almost husbandly; absence must make the heart grow fonder.  Or at least less git-like.  :D
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!


LOL @ drum.   And at Richenda's reflection on dressing child before messy breakfast!   Good that he will have some playmates of his own age.

Denis probably enjoys matching wits with someone other than another cleric - or one of his nephews and nieces (whom he asserts will turn his hair prematurely grey, especially Sextus!)  

QuoteHe has reckoned without Bran Coris though.  The men love him, and would follow him into the mouth of Hell if he asked them to.  No desertions from our camp, my lady."
How ironic and sad, given what eventually happens.  You really do wonder how many of the men had their hearts in what they did.


Quote from: Alkari on January 01, 2011, 03:13:06 PM
QuoteHe has reckoned without Bran Coris though.  The men love him, and would follow him into the mouth of Hell if he asked them to.  No desertions from our camp, my lady."
How ironic and sad, given what eventually happens.  You really do wonder how many of the men had their hearts in what they did.

Ahem, there may be a bit about that later.


Quote from: Evie on January 01, 2011, 02:53:47 PMLOL @ drum for Brendan!  I could've warned her that was a bad idea!

Allegedly an ancient Chinese proverb:  "If thy enemy should wrong thee, buy for each of his children a drum."

Modern American proverb: "A child learns many things when he is given a drum.  The first thing is that he'll never be given another."

(Once on the Classical station I heard a concerto by Telemann for three trumpets, strings, and continuo.  The soloists were three German brothers.  My first thought, "Their poor mother!  Three boys practicing the trumpet at the same time!")


As part of their training at medieval courts, young men were supposed to learn music, singing and dancing as part of their general accomplishments.  Richenda is currently wondering whether a toy flute would have been a better option for her son!!

Comment from 18 y.o. Brendan:  I like dancing, and the girls at court seem very eager when I ask them.   But no one in their right mind ever asks me to sing - the noise scares small children, dogs and horses.  (Kelric once suggested I could just sing to my enemies and frighten them, but then they haven't heard him wailing away!)   However, I'm not a bad drummer, I can play the flute quite well ... but alas, my family in Coroth absolutely stopped me learning the bagpipes.  Now I am Earl and living in Marley however, I'm going to have a talk to Jass and Dhugal about remedying this glaring omission ...


So Brendan is going to be Gwynnedd's answer to the "young person named Bing"?

"There was a young person named Bing,
Who, when they asked him to sing, said:
'Ain't it odd?
I can never tell "God
Save the Weasel" from "Pop! Goes the King".'


Got it in one, Elkhound!!   It is probably just as well there aren't things called "national anthems' yet, or else Brendan would be asked to remain silent or only mouth the words  :)   At least he is not one of those people who 'can't' sing, but insist absolutely on doing so whenever possible!  :D


Quote from: Alkari on January 02, 2011, 05:26:45 PMAt least he is not one of those people who 'can't' sing, but insist absolutely on doing so whenever possible!  :D

"Karioke--Japanese for 'tone deaf and oblivious.'