08 December 2012 @ 10:14 pm
*NaNo Project* Part the Second - Section the Fourth - The Student 947AD to 950AD  
It seemed I had drastically underestimated the value of copper, because the metalsmith was not only excited by our discovery, but he offered to buy it from us for a gold coin! I’d never seen a gold coin before, and this time I only saw one for a few moments, because we had to split it seven ways. Except, you can’t split a gold coin seven ways evenly, but Aled declared that because I was the one who knew where the gold was and found the copper piece I should get slightly more. In the end we each got a silver piece and I got eleven copper coins, while the rest of my friends got eight.

I didn’t know what to say, because that meant…despite everything, Aled, Gruffud, Sewyl, Wynn, Berwyn and Ifan really were friends to me, or at least they were fair.

That being the case, well…I was actually sorry to have to leave them, although I was looking forward to returning to Mother and Father, especially with all the stories I had to tell them!

Bishop Grigor and I left that very afternoon, my friends waving to me as we left Abertawe.

The ride back to Monmouth seemed to take a lot less time even though it was the same distance and upon my arrival, Mother and Father were waiting to greet me. I’m not ashamed to say I gave them both a warm embrace.

Father Grigor could not stay long, though, which was a shame, he said he would visit on his way back.

Mother and Father listened with great attention over the following days as I related my adventures in Abertawe and they were especially interested in the book Bishop Grigor had given me and the money from the copper.

Which was money I was allowed to keep, to spend as I would wish.

However, I can’t say I was much of a spender, so it sat in the bottom drawer of my cupboard waiting for the day when I find good use for it.

As the end of my thirteenth year came and went I travelled once more to Abertawe, staying with Bishop Grigor and meeting my friends again. They had decided to move on from caves and were now devoting their energy to creating rafts to sail on the river.

Having yet to learn to swim, I was even less enamoured of this idea than searching caves for gold! When Aled found out I couldn’t swim he was more than a little amused and made it his mission to teach me how to before I had to leave again.

I’m not entirely sure how successful he, his brothers and Berwyn and Ifan were, I didn’t get on any of the rafts, but I did at least manage to learn how to stay afloat long enough to go from one side of the river to the other.

That wasn’t the only thing I left Abertawe with, Bishop Grigor allowed me to take yet another book.

In fact the only books I had in my collection where ones that I received from the good Bishop, as I said, bookstalls did not come to Monmouth, nor did they come to Abertawe. So my money remained unspent.

That was until the summer just before I turned fifteen, Father was called to yet another Bishop’s conference in the capital. I was more than happy to go, but he had to plead and almost beg to convince Mother to come, something that piqued my curiosity somewhat, why did he want her to come so badly? Neither Mother nor I were able to figure it out and Father, unusually for him remained tight lipped on the whole subject, except to say I should bring my coins with me.

So we were left to be surprised on the day we passed into through the city gates to discover the capital more bustling and busy then we had ever seen before.

“What is all this?” Mother looked around as we found our cart stopped waiting for the road to clear so we could continue on to the Bishop’s Palace.

“I’ve never seen so many people!” And it was true, not even Tamworth had been so crowded and that large group of soldiers we met on the crossroads didn’t have that many people!

Father looked rather amused. “I do believe it’s the Great Harvest Market, it happens every ten years. It seems we’ve arrived just in time to enjoy it.”

Mother turned to Father and hugged him tightly. “Galfridus, you sly -! You knew this was happening!”

“Perhaps.” Father had no talent for subterfuge so it was indeed a miracle he’d managed to keep this from us.

As I looked through the crowds I realised that this market was so enormous that just about everything one could buy would be there. Including books!

I looked at Mother, who I was sure was marvelling over the possible fabrics that could be for sale and we came to the same conclusion.

“Can we go and look right now?” I asked Father. “I’m not tired at all. There has to be books out there.”

“Yes, Galfridus,” Mother agreed, barely able to sit still. “You can hardly bring us here and not expect us to want to go looking right away.”

“Of course, my dear,” Father smiled at both of us. “There’s not much point in you two sitting in this cart after all.”

Mother immediately planted a kiss on Father’s cheek. “You wonderful man, we’ll see you this evening.”

“Be careful,” Father told us as I climbed down from the cart and helped Mother down.

I was tempted to run off into the crowd looking for the nearest book stall, but such a move would have terrified Mother so I stayed where I was and took in the entire scene. There was bunting and flags hanging from every possible window sill of the buildings that lined the lanes where the market winded off from the main street and these lanes were positively bursting with people!

Mother gripped my hand rather tightly, which presented quite a problem, how exactly was I going to hunt down books if I had to follow her everywhere? The last thing I wanted was to have to visit every fabric seller in the place.

“So what should we go and see first?” She asked.

I might have gulped somewhat nervous about what I was going to ask, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to convince her, but I had to try.

“Mother, I thought...well, I want to go and see the bookstalls and you want to go to the fabric stalls-“

Mother looked at me, raising an eyebrow. “Indeed so, Geoffrey, but we can do both, I’m sure we have lots of time.”

“But there’s so many of them and I don’t want to keep you from seeing all the things you want to see.”

“That’s very nice of you to think of me, dear, but it’s extremely busy here, I wouldn’t want you to get lost.”

I made a face, really...how embarrassing, I was almost fifteen after all! “Mother, I don’t think you have to worry about that, I can find my way back to the Bishop’s palace.”

“You want to wander through this?” Mother gestured about. “By yourself?”

“I think I’m old enough, I’ve gone to Abertawe on my own two times now, you and Father have trusted me then.”

“Geoffrey, I don’t think you can compare the two, Abertawe is a tiny village, smaller than Monmouth, this entire market is probably the size of it!”

“Then I’ll have plenty of practice at it,” I said, somewhat bravely.

Mother stared at me and I braced myself for a possible lecture, but then...the corner of her mouth twitched up and she laughed, shaking her head.

“Oh, Geoffrey. Really...do you think this is a good idea?”

“I promise I can managed it, I can meet you back at the Bishop’s Palace in time for dinner, you can trust me.”

“Well,” Mother pursed her lips in thought, obviously weighing up my general good behaviour with the things that might possibly go wrong if I wandered off by myself – although admittedly I couldn’t really forsee that much danger, it wasn’t as if the market was dangerous with bandits wandering through at leisure.

“I’ll be perfectly safe,” I pushed the point and gave her my most responsible and hopeful look.

Finally, she sighed and shook her head. “You’re growing up, aren’t you,” it didn’t seem to be a question, although I’d have answered in the affirmative if it had been. “Well, all right...but I want you back at the Palace before the sun sets, understand? Otherwise, I’ll come looking for you.” That last part was said jokingly, but there was an undertone of seriousness to it.

I nodded, squeezing her hand. “I promise, Mother. Thank you! Thank you so much.”

And with that we parted ways, although I admit I looked over my shoulder a few times, just to see which stall Mother had gone too, not for any particular reason...just...because.

It didn’t take me long to come across a bookstall, with more books than I’d ever seen out in the open before.

“Hello,” I greeted the stall keeper, not entirely sure of market etiquette.

That was evidentally not the way as the stall keeper looked over at me with a raised eyebrow.

I blushed. “I’m just....looking for a book.”

“Well, you’ve come to right place then, haven’t you,” the stall keeper said with a shake of his head. “It’s all split into price categories, cheapest books are there,” he pointed to his left, “and the most expensive over here,” he pointed to the right.

“Um...thank you,” I stuttered and moved to the left side of the stall, I wasn’t exactly sure how cheap the cheapest were, but it sounded like a good place to start.

Some of the books were new and had easily read titles on their spines, others though were much older and required me to look inside them to see the titles.

One in particular caught my eye and I was surprised to find it amongst the books that cost two copper coins, surely that must be a mistake! I didn’t own many books myself, but I had learnt a lot about collecting them from Bishop Grigor. For a moment, I considered not mentioning my concerns and just handing over the copper coins, it was the stall owner’s mistake after all. But I couldn’t do that, it wouldn’t be fair.

“Excuse me, sir,” I spoke up, tentatively, because the stall owner had turned away from me to talk to someone. He turned back to me and looking at the book in my hand simply said.

“I told you two coppers.”

“I just mean…this is a book about the Romans, I understand that these are very rare.” I said slowly.

The stall keeper raised his eyebrow not looking the least bit interested. “If it’s in the two coppers section that’s what it costs.”

I considered objecting again, but then…if he was going to insist and look at me like I was some fool.

I reached into my pouch and extracted two copper coins and handed them to him.

That done, I tucked the book securely under my arm, the stall owner mightn’t think it was precious, but I certainly did. I decided that I would go to the Bishop’s Palace right away so I could it put it safely away.

As it turned out however, it was not as easy as all that…the streets were a mass of people and as I attempted to make my way westward, I instead found myself pulled in the opposite direction.

I realised quickly that it would be no use trying to fight against it, I supposed I would have to take the long way around, at least that was my plan instead I ended up in a tavern.

I had never been inside a tavern before…I’d been in plenty of inns, but there was a very big difference between the two. For one thing taverns were full of far more people, a lot more noise and a lot more alcohol.

The momentuem of the crowd was such that I almost ended up all going over the bar!

The bartender looked up at me, looking quite bemused indeed. “Can I get you something, lad?”

I swallowed, I was in fact, rather thirsty, it was hot outside being the height of summer.

“Do you have lemonade?” I leaned forward to ask, hoping that no-one else would hear.

It was just my luck however that there was a lull in the rukus as I spoke and a number of people near us did hear and laughed, shaking their heads.

“Is this some sort of a jest?” The bartender demanded his lips curled in disgust. “Are you old enough to be in here, boy?”

I straightened my shoulders. “Of course I am. I’m almost fifteen.”

“Well order something with alcohol in it, boy, or don’t waste my time.”

I bit my lip, it wasn’t as if I hadn’t had alcohol before, but I had a feeling it would be quite a bit stronger here.

Finally I said. “I’ll just have cider then.”

The bartender rolled his eyes and turned to get me my drink as I set down a copper coin on the bar top.

I took the tankard and turned away from the bar before taking an experimental sip.

There was obviously more alcohol than apple in the cider however, I almost spat it out!

With a sigh I set the tankard down on the nearest table – even if it had cost a copper coin I certainly wasn’t willing to drink it – and made to leave the tavern, only to run into someone.

“Sorry!” I gasped.

“Oh no, no trouble at all, wasn’t watching where I was going.” The person, a woman replied with a cheerful laugh. She patted my arm. “You all right? You’re a slight one, aren’t you? I could have squashed you flat.”

I think I may have blushed a bit as I hurried to answer. “I-I’m fine, thank you.”

“I can see that.” The woman was eyeing me in what I found to be a rather…odd manner. “What’s your name, lad?”

“Uh…Geoffrey.” I answered.

“Well met, Geoffrey, I’m Dylis.” She held out her hand, I suppose I was meant to take it? I did and gave it a shake, which made her laugh.

“Haven’t seen you around before, new in the city?”

“I’m visiting…with my parents, from Monmouth.”

“Never heard of it.” Dylis gives a shrug, but continues to smile at me. “So, Geoffrey, what brings you to this fine establishment?”

I wasn’t entirely sure if she was being serious or not, but I decided it was best not to speak my true feelings on the place. “I wanted to get out of the sun for a moment.”

“You’re as pale as a sheet, Geoff, I wouldn’t worry about it.” She actually leans in and pats my cheek. “Where’s your drink?”

“Uh, I’m not thirsty,” I said quickly.

Dylis grinned and took my hand. “Drinking not your thing? Understandable. How about a few games?”


Rather than explain it to me, Dylis tugged me by the hand and led me across the tavern to a table around which five men were sitting.

“Dylis, where’re the drinks?” One of them with a big bushy red beard demanded in annoyance.

“Get them yourself, I’m not your serving girl.” Dylis shot back and then pulled me forward. “Besides I ran into Geoff here and I figured you’d like to add an extra hand to the game.”

The five men turned to look at me and the man with the red beard looked at me with a raised eyebrow. “This boy? How old are you? Twelve?”

“Shut up Meurig,” Dylis snapped looking even more annoyed, she squeezed my arm. “Geoff’s sixteen at least.”

“Um…I’m almost fifteen,” I said.

“Fifteen?” A man with a black beard leaned forward in his seat to get a better look at me. “Could be worse I suppose.”

“You ever been in a bar before, boy?” Meurig asked.

“Uh…no,” I never was a very good liar.

Meruig shook his head, but as Dylis glared at him he gave me a small smile. “Feel free to join us though, it’s your money. You have money don’t you?”

“Um,” I hesitated.

“Of course he does,” Dylis said, authoritively. “Shove over Meurig and let us sit.”

And so I found myself squeezed between Dylis and Meurig, watching the game they were playing, which didn’t seem to involve any strategy that I could see.

Instead it involved throwing two dice across the table and calling out a number and whoever got the closest won the money wagered.

“Care to make wager,” Meurig asked jiggling the dice in his fist and watching me closely.

I looked about awkwardly, I’d never gambled in my entire life, it was something Father frowned upon actually. On the other hand, I imagined that if I refused Meurig and his friends would mock me mercilessly and I’d rather avoid that.

So, I carefully withdrew a copper coin from my pouch and placed it on the table, an act that elicited laughter from those at the table, who had pushed forward five or more copper coins.

“Looks like we’ve got a big spender here,” Meurig said to more laughter and then each of them called out a number.

Except for me, at least I didn’t until Dylis grabbed my arm. “Pick a number, Geoff!”

“Fifteen!” I blurted the first number that came to my head, I had mentioned enough the past hour.

Meurig released the dice and it rolled across the table, finally coming to stop, one came up with seven, the other came up with eight.

“Geoff!” Dylis’s arms were suddenly around my shoulders and I felt a wetness on my cheek. It took me a moment to realise she had kissed me. “Geoff! You won, you won!”

Meurig was shaking his head a look of complete disbelief on his face and for a moment I feared that things might get uncomfortable, but to my surprise he clapped a hand on my shoulder.

“So I have to eat my words it seems. Good play, lad, very good play.”

Somewhat belatedly, I realised that as the winner I was now in possession of the coins on the table, which all together equalled nearly half a silver coin! I couldn’t possibly take it!

“I…I don’t really think…I mean, I can’t take your money.” I spluttered, shaking my head.

That was apparently the wrong thing to say, the five men stared at me as if I were mad.

“What?” Meurig demanded. “Of course you damn well can, you won it!”

“But I really…I’m not…”

Dylis gripped me tighter around my shoulders and whispered in my ear. “Geoff, you won, take the money would you?”

I realised that I would be offending them greatly if I kept refusing to take the coins, so rather hesitantly I reached out and scooped them up putting them into my pouch.

“Um…well, thank you.”

Meurig rolled his eyes. “Yeah, you’re welcome, lad.” He turned to Dylis. “You certainly know how to pick ‘em, sister.”

“Shut up,” Dylis snapped back, then turned to me. “Care to try your luck again, Geoff?”

“Uh…no thank you, I should go, my parents will be expecting me.” It occurred to me that they probably would, and I didn’t really want to think about the reaction I’d get from either Mother or Father if they found me in a tavern, gambling.

Dylis stuck out her lower lip and looked quite put out. “You only just got here, Geoff! Besides I think you’ve got luck on your side.”

“No, really I have to go.” I managed to wiggle out of her grasp and get to my feet. “It was nice meeting you all.”

“We’ll see you again, won’t we, Geoff?” Dylis looked rather hopeful.

“Um…” I wasn’t sure what to say to that, because I didn’t really expect to. “Maybe.”

And with that a hurried out of the tavern to discover, to my relief that the crowding in the streets had dwindled now that the sun was setting and I easily made my way back to the Bishop’s Palace.

I arrived back at the Palace just as the sun dipped beneath the horizon and candles were beginning to shine through the windows of the surrounding buildings. I had to knock on the door to gain admittance and who should open it but Mother.

“Geoffrey, where have you been?” She asked, not sounding angry, but more surprised.

“Just…looking around.” I hoped I sounded convincing enough, I was, as I said no good at lying.

“Well, you almost missed the dinner bell, come on, you don’t want to offend anyone.” Mother ushered me inside and I wondered if she could hear the rattling of my pouch, but if she did she gave no indication.

Throughout dinner, I was quiet and I wondered what I was going to do with the money I’d won.
Current Mood: confused