The Crown Prince’s negoiation skills were probably a sight to behold and I might have wanted to see it and most likely would have applauded it if it didn’t affect me so directly.

But less than two weeks after our conversation in the library, the Crown Prince sought me out to let me know he had succeeded in convincing his father not to ship Prince Uther off to parts unknown. Instead he had the document and seal in hand for the attention of the Duke of Cornwall requesting his sponsorship.

The Crown Prince was noticibly excited as he handed the scroll to me, the seal tied to it.

“Duke Dionotus is a good man and Uther told me that last time he was here he became friends with his son, Gorlois. I’m certain he will agree to be sponsor.”

Well, at least that meant that I wouldn’t be making this trip for nothing.

Actually the entire idea of the trip had been preying on my nerves ever since I realised I would be making it. I hadn’t made a trip of any length since the ride to the Labrinyth of Gedref, and Cornwall was many times longer than that. I would be in the saddle for a week! And in a saddle I would be, as part of the customs of requesting sponsorship I was required to ride up to the Duke’s castle holding a banner. I suppose I could have suggested riding in a cart most of the way and then saddling up for the last few miles, but I wan’t game to make such a request of the Crown Prince so I had held my tongue.

“So…uh…when should I set off?” I asked, hoping that I would have at least another day to steel my nerves.

The Crown Prince looked at me as if I had just told an incredibly bad joke. “Immediately, of course, the document is only good for a fortnight.”

I furrowed my brow, I had done some reading on the sponsorship customs and so forth, but all I couldn’t understand or indeed appreciate the intracies of all the customs associated with the whole thing. So many of the customs seemed abritary and seemed to be there just to make life difficult. Although, I suppose to someone who was interested in knights and courtly manners would be more than happy to be involved in all this. But I was not that someone.

But I had my duty and I wasn’t about to complain about it, at least not to the Crown Prince.

I did however, complain to Gaius…vocally, eventually my friend clapped his hands over his ears.

“Honestly, Geoff, I understand that this is really the last thing you want to do, but it’s being arranged. Complaining about won’t make it any better, in fact, if anything it’ll just make it worse.”

I sighed and apologiesd for annoying him.

Gaius gave a wry grin. “I wouldn’t say you were annoying me, but I can assure you of one thing, the road to Cornwall is in a far better state than any other you would have ridden on. You’ll probably be surprised at how smooth the ride will be.”

I appreciated his encouragement, but I wasn’t all that convinced. There was also something else that concerned me. As far as I knew I was supposed to be going on this trip alone. The idea filled me with no small amount of trepedition.

“I’m sure you won’t be going alone, Geoff, there’s plenty of people on the main road, you’ll probably be able to travel with any number of groups on the way.”

That wasn’t exactly what I’d been hoping for, and Gaius knew it, he consoled me with an offer. “Linus has actually been nagging me to head out to Ludgershall, that’s about five miles west,” he elaborated when he saw my confused look. “It’s about time I got around to it…that way I can accompany you at least for the first hour.”

"You will?" I must have had a look of complete and utter relief upon my face because Gaius held up his hands.

"Now calm down, Geoff, as I said it'll only be an hour...at the most."

I shook me head and clasped his upper arm. "It's the thought that counts, Gaius."

He grinned and threw his arm around my shoulders. "Well, they do say the start of the journey is the hardest. You better get ready, if the Crown Prince said you're to leave immediately, he means immediately."

We agreed to meet at the stable in half an hour and I hurried to the library to collect my belongings. As soon as Cedas saw the scroll in my hand he sighed and shook his head.

"So your grand journey begins now, does it? Typical, just when I've been delievered a vertifible trove of documents from Corfe."

My heart dropped, I couldn't believe it we'd been waiting on those documents for months and now they had finally arrived and I was leaving for God knew how long.

The look on my face must have truly been something to behold because Cedas actually chuckled and waved a hand. "No need to look so distraught, boy, all the work will still be waiting for you on your return."

I grinned, feeling rather sheepish and thanked Cedas.

He wished me good luck and safety on my journey and I hurried to my room and filled a small satchel with several items of clothing, an extra pair of boots and extra socks, even though it was summer one could never tell how the weather might change.

On my way to the stables I passed the kitchen where I managed to get the cook to give me a small loaf of bread, some cheese and a tiny jar of pear jam. As I passed through the entrance hall I was astonished when Sir Hector appeared and called me over.

"The Crown Prince has appraised me of your task," he greeted me, then pressed a small, but heavy pouch into my hand. "Knowing him, however, I'm sure he forgot that you wouldn't have access to the treasury. You'll need that for the inns and taverns you stay at."

I gulped and thanked him, knowing without opening the pouch that other was more money in it than I had ever seen in my life.

"I've been nothing but impressed by Prince Uther's skill and determination," he added, "and a noviate with the Duke of Cornwall could only hone his talents. Godspeed on your journey, Geoffrey of Monmouth."

I thanked him again and continued on my way, as a descended the stairs and crossed the courtyard I realised for the first time that his was the first use of a Christian term I'd heard since arriving in Camelot. It struck me as very odd as I would have imagined knights of the realm being required to follow the kingdom's official religion, which seemed to be the Old Religion.

Perhaps not...Camelot was indeed full of surprises, even after my years there.

And another one was coming, for who should be awaiting my arrival at the stables?

Prince Uther!
 
 
Current Mood: anxious
 
 
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