01 April 2012 @ 11:50 am
*Nano Project* Part the First - Section the Third - The Boy 946AD  
The church was indeed completed by Christmas and the numbers of people who attended that particular mass was something to be marvelled at. I wondered where they had all come from, but it seemed that when a King declared an official religion, people were quick to join. Most of them were from Monmouth so perhaps they wished to enjoy the new building in town, I certainly enjoyed being in the new church, taking in the architecture.

Soon I had the chance to assist Father with the letters that came in, at first I had wondered if there would really be all that many, seeing as there hadn’t been any before. But things had changed quite rapidly and soon we were receiving letters from bishops not just from Caerleon, but ones from Merica and even a few from Rome itself!

As King Caerleon had indicated, a few weeks before Easter a missive arrived, the church, or as they had begun to call it, the Cathedral, in the capital had been completed and the emissary from Rome was on his way to conduct the ceremony that would mark Father’s and the others official rising to the rank of Bishop.

The ceremony would take place on Easter itself, which explained why Monmouth still needed a deacon, because otherwise there wouldn’t have been anyone there to conduct that mass. The new deacon seemed quite pleased when he was told that he’d be conducting services in Monmouth’s church, shyness certainly wasn’t a problem for him!

A few days before Easter, Mother, Father and I headed off to the capital once more, Mother had been very much looking forward to the trip, having not being in many, many years. As she told me, the reputation of the market there had grown in great proportions and that was something she wanted to see.

There were ten other bishops to be officially raised, so Mother, Father and I as well as them and their families were all house in a large house near the Cathedral as guests of the Great Bishop of Caerloen.

While Mother and I went to the market, Father remained with the other bishops and found out about how the ceremony would unfold. On our return, we found a very nervous Father, who told us that in order to make everything official he would have to, in full view of everyone, read and sign a document agreeing to his new position.

Father was so nervous about this that he actually went to see old Theolius who assured him that it would not be a difficult or long document to read and the neatness, or lack thereof of his signature would not have any effect on whether the bishopric was legally and religiously binding. For all his sterness and dourness, Theolius actually helped, the day before the ceremony he coached Father through the document and Father feverishly practiced his signature until it looked quite important. He could not do anything more to prepare.

The day of the ceremony saw us in the Cathedral, which was the grandest building I had ever been in, excepting the Main Hall of King Caerleon, but I had never been in the Main Hall during a feast or any sort of celebration, so the Cathedral quickly became even grander when the ceremony began. A choir dressed in red robes began to sing, their voices soaring in the vaulted space, rising to a crescendo and as it did the eleven new bishops led by the special emissary processed down the aisle, dressed in heavy robes of their own. Bright yellow robes set off by the white cloths they wore upon their heads. I looked carefully for Father and when I spotted him, I tugged on Mother’s sleeve to point him out and we gave him encouraging smiles, which I’m sure he saw, because he seemed to straighten his shoulders and move a little easier as he passed us.

Once all of the new bishops arrived at the front of the Cathedral the ceremony began, I confess that I didn’t really pay that much attention to the events because it was really quite long and I found my thoughts drifting. At one point my eyes met the Prince’s, who had, in the short time since I’d last seen him, seemed to have grown much taller, he certainly looked more brutish. Unfortunately, he also spotted me and scowled even more than he was, however seeing as he was seated beside the King and in the middle of a ceremony besides there wasn’t much he could do. All the same I hoped that once the Bishops were anointed the royal family would leave so I didn’t need to worry about having to avoid him.

Around that point, Mother poked me in the arm and gestured for me to pay attention to what was happening, namely that Father was being anointed. He knelt on a cushion before the special emissary who presented him with the scroll. Mother and I clutched each others hands as Father unrolled it and with great care read it before turning and laying it on a small table beside the cushion in order to sign it.

Once that was done he turned back to the emissary who anointed his brow and then with great ceremony held a special cap, known as a mitre, upon his head. The emissary placed the mitre on Father's head and announced in a booming voice. “I present Galfridus, Bishop of Monmouth.”

When the rest of the bishops were anointed the bells of the Cathedral pealed out, and they went to the great cross behind the altar bowing to kiss it and then turning to process out down the aisle. As Father passed he caught our eye and smiled, Mother and I returned the gesture.

The King, Queen and Prince were the next to leave, all of us having to bow as they passed by.

It took the rest of us a lot quite a bit longer to get out of the Cathedral since it seemed the whole of the city had showed up for the ceremony and the leaving did not happen in an orderly fashion. It was more like a crush, but eventually Mother and I managed to escape and find Father.

“We’ve been invited to a feast by the King,” he greeted us.

Mother was immediately worried about this and mentiond how she had nothing proper to wear. I meanwhile as more worried about the possibility of running into the Prince, although I supposed I’d be safe enough in a hall full of people, but you never knew.

At Mother’s insistence, she and I went to the markets to find some clothes to wear for the feast, Mother grumbled about the fact that Father was all set with his robes and mitre.

“You think the King could have warned us before we came, I would have packed something!”

In the end I don’t think Mother minded so much because she loved haggling, and the market gave her the opportunity to do just that. She was beaming when we returned to our lodgings with a red dress with yellow embroidery on it. For me she had a light evening jacket of the same sort of design and as she told Father she had got both for a bargain.

I’m sure many boys would have cringed at the idea of attending a feast in a piece of clothing that matched what their Mother was wearing, but I didn’t care much at all. I was more interested in finding out what a royal feast would be like, it would certainly have the best food, there might even be entertainment! So I put on the light jacket without complaint and walked with Mother and Father to the castle as the sun was setting. We were joined by other bishops and their families, and though not every bishop had a family we still made quite a crowd.

The guards at the gates formed a line of honour for us as we walked through and in the courtyard the King waited.

“I welcome you all, the new bishops of Caerleon to my castle tonight to feast,” he began, holding his arms out to welcome us. “I hope you will all enjoy yourselves tonight and return to your parishes with full bellies and good memories. Our cooks have assembled some of the rarest foods for tonight and I am also pleased to announce we have some very special entertainment for you all.”

With that there was the sound of trumpets, which I wasn’t expecting and made me jump a little, Mother chuckled and patted me on the shoulder and we all moved forward into the castle to the Feasting Hall.

I’d never been inside the Feasting Hall, it proved to be absolutely incredible, there seemed to be a thousand candles inside, their pinprick flames casting a warm glow over the entire Hall. There were eight tables not including the Royal one, arranged within the room in a ‘C’ shape, so that there was a wide area in the middle for the entertainers when they came.
Before that could happen though, there was the food to enjoy! As promised it was the likes of which, neither Mother, Father nor I had ever seen and there was so much of it, the tables practically groaned under the weight of it all! The smells were utterly delicious, enough to make ones mouth water.

Such being the case, I thought it somewhat cruel that we were made to wait so long before being able to taste it! Before we could eat speeches were made, first another one by the King and then the special emissary got to his feet to deliver a message from the Pope himself. I supposed that was a very big honour indeed, but the Pope could certainly talk. I’d never heard such a long prayer before! Finally though, the emissary came to the end of it we all chorused ‘amen’, crossed ourselves and were free to eat.

The bulk of it seemed to be food from distant lands that Caerleon traded with, most of it, therefore was spicy. Father in particular did not care for spicy food, I however, was more than happy with it, I even made sure to pile my plate with a little bit of everything to enjoy. I should have liked more of one particular dish, but I didn’t want to be ill-mannered and eat like a hog.

The main meal was followed by dessert and there were even more exotic foods available for us to try and it seemed no sooner that I had made yet another wide selection from everything that there was a sudden bang and big plume of smoke in the centre of the room, setting people gasping and quite a few goblets upended.

When the smoke cleared, however, we all saw there was no reason to fear, it was the entertainment, acrobats and jesters! They seemed to be made in a different way to all the rest of us, able to bend and twist in ways that were not to be believed. They also had the most unbelievable balance and strength able to hold themselves on a few fingers completely steady. They had no fear either! One of them was perfectly happy to juggle light briers, while another allowed battle axes (and not wooden ones!) to be thrown at his head!

It was amazing enough that I almost forgot to finish my desserts! But...really...it wasn’t possible to forget that.

There was only one downside to the evening, and that was the presence of Caerleon the Younger, I was lucky enough in that because it was exclusively a sit down feast, rather than the kind I was used to back at Monmouth where everyone was free to move about, I didn’t have to spend the entire night looking over my shoulder.

Still at various points during the evening, I felt eyes burning into me and when I dared to respond to this feeling and look in the direction of the Royal Table I could see the Prince glowering at me. If looks could kill or maim...

By the end of the evening though, I had almost forgot about Prince Caerleon and most of the Bishops had perhaps overindulged in the wine that was on offer because when it was time to leave quite a few of them seemed a little unsteady on their feet. As for me, while I felt a little overfull from having ate so much, I was still in giddy mood, almost skipping alongside Mother and Father as we made our way back to the Bishops Mansion.

Everyone thought it best to go to bed directly on arrival back, but I found it impossible to get to sleep, jiggling my legs in excitement as I lay on a mattress on the floor of the room while my parents shared the bed. Eventually, Mother told me to settle down and go to sleep, in a tone that meant business, so with a great amount of effort I managed not only to keep still, but actually fall asleep, although my dreams were filled with visions of exotic food and acrobats.

Mother, Father and I did not stay in the city for long, which was a relief to me really, because I was sure that if we had Prince Caerleon would have tracked me down and fought me.

Still, I didn’t really want to go back to Monmouth either, because now I had learnt to read I wanted to read things! But the only books my father had were, unsurprisingly, religious tomes. They were interesting in their own way I suppose, but as I said I was not one with great religious conviction and there was so much else to read about!

Monmouth was a town without a library, which really wasn’t all that unusual in those days with it hardly being large enough to be called a town. The cost of a public library would have been too much, especially since so few of the population could read, in fact, I’m pretty sure that Father and I were the onlydo wish to swim, far better you do it in the pond.”

“I never intended to go swimming,” I was quick to defend myself. “I was...trying to study something.”

Llachlan did not look like he believed me, but then he was used to the typical boys of Monmouth, rather than me and since he had rescued me, I decided it was better not to make a fuss.

Once I was warm again, I thanked Llachan once more and went looking for my parchment, which I had left behind when I had fallen into the river. Fortunately, it had not started to rain or sleet as it so often did in the winter at Monmouth and my notes were safe.

I returned to the house that afternoon, hoping, probably against hope that Mother would not find out about my adventure because...well...I could still remember her fear all those years ago about me falling into the river.

But Monmouth is a small enough place and even if it wasn’t the fact my mother was the wife of the Bishop pretty much guaranteed that she would find out what happened. She met me at the door with blankets and immediately bundled me up, dragged me in front of the fire, tutting all the while and asking me what on earth I was thinking.

“I was trying to test something,” I did my best to explain myself, although my voice was rather muffled by the blankets. “I didn’t mean to fall in.”

“You can’t swim, Geoffrey! You should even go near the river.”

I thought that was being over-cautious, after all, a river did run through the town, was I forever to be trapped on the east side of town?

Mother though, was in fine form and I supposed I quite deserved a telling off for what I had done so I didn’t try to come up with any excuses.

It was a very long telling off, in fact Father arrived home in time to hear the tail end of it.

He turned to me at the end and asked just one thing. “The river, Geoffrey?”

At that point I decided that it would be best that I learnt to swim.
Current Mood: cheerful