09 December 2012 @ 10:02 pm
*NaNo Project* Part the Second - Section the Fifth - The Student 950AD  
I decided that I would donate it to the orphanage in Monmouth, after all, the children there could certainly use it. So that very evening I tucked the coins safely away in the bottom of my travelling trunk before venturing out to the markets again. I was sure there were other book stalls to be looked at and perhaps there were also more bargains to be found at the first stall.

Sure enough I found another book stall, the stall keeper at this one was significantly more polite, even making a few suggestions about what I might like to read.

I was going over a particular interesting looking tome on Gaulish architecture when there was suddenly a tap on my shoulder. I gave a jump and turned around to come face to face with Dylis.

“Geoff, what are you doing?” She looked at the book in my hand completely baffled.

“I’m just looking at these books,” I gave the rather obvious answer, after all, wasn’t it clear?

“Well, yes, I’m not blind, Geoff,” she leaned in and patted my cheek. “But why?”

“I like to read.”

“I see…” Dylis tilted her head quizzically at me. “You’re a strange one, Geoff.”

“Um,” I wasn’t sure how to respond to that, it certainly wasn’t a compliment.

Dylis tucked her arm through mine. “I’m sure it has its pleasures, but there’s far more fun to be had at the Great Market. Come on.”

I hesitated, but at the same time I was curious. “Just let me buy this and we can go.”

Dylis waited patiently why I handed over three copper coins for the book and then pulled me along down the streets.

“Where are we going?” I asked as we moved through the crowd, I had to admire how Dylis was able to steer us through despite the fact the streets were almost as crowded today as they were yesterday.

“It’s a surprise.” Dylis looked over at me and gave a wink.

I bit my lip and hoped it would be a pleasant surprise.

Eventually we ended up in one of the town squares, where a large number of gaily dressed people were milling about, a few of them where bringing over various sticks and branches towards what was quickly becoming a huge stack of wood.

“It’s for the Midsummer’s Eve bonfire,” Dylis explained to me. “It’s going to be the biggest one in decades, truly a sight to be seen.”

I had never actually attended a Midsummer’s Eve before, it as not exactly a Christian festival. Not that there was anything prohibiting attending one so to speak, at least not in so many words, but since the evoking of the Old Gods and Goddesses would probably show up at some point, which certainly wasn’t approved I didn’t know if it was appropriate for me to be there.

Actually I was rather surprised that King Caerleon would be allowing the festival to go ahead.

Dylis rolled her eyes. “Oh, the priests can be complete idiots, no offence intended,” she gave me an embarrassed smile.

I smiled back, but that was only because I really didn’t know how else to respond.

“We’re not evoking the Gods, we’re just enjoying the fire, its going to be amazing. And everyone’s invited to add fuel, a way to join all the people in the city.”

Well, that sounded…rather nice, bringing everyone together like that, I couldn’t see how that would be offensive to anyone, Christian or otherwise.

“So, want to go and collect some wood together?” Dylis asked, poked me in the arm – which I thought was a rather strange gesture, but it seemed to be her way.

“All right.”

Dylis seemed very pleased indeed about this and once again I found myself propelled along this time towards the outskirts of the city, which wasn’t really all that far although the forest was on the other side of a small river.

Dylis dropped my arm and to my complete and utter shock began to hitch up her skirts.

“What are you doing?” I spluttered and I blushed to the roots of my hair.

“We have to get across the river, don’t we? My mother would kill me if I ruined this dress.” Dylis pulled off her shoes before looking up at me and seeing the look on my face seemed to strike her as absolutely comical because she began to laugh. “Oh settle down, Geoff, it’s just my shins.”

I looked away and decided to busy myself by removing my own shoes and rolling up my trousers. I paused as Dylis strode to the bank. “The river isn’t very deep is it?”

“Not at all, otherwise I would have put my skirts up higher.” She looked at me with twinkling eyes. “Well, maybe I wouldn’t you might just faint dead away.”

I have to confess, I smiled and shook my head, following her into the water. It was really quite refreshing, the weather was even hotter today then it was yesterday.

As Dylis promised the river was not deep, it was really more of a stream and once we were in the other side we dried our feet on the grass and I immediately pulled my shoes back on.

“What are you doing that for?” Dylis asked, amusement written on her face.

“There’s rocks on the forest floor, I don’t want to step on anything.”

Dylis shook her head. “You’re a very strange one, you know that, Geoff?”

All the same, I noticed she put her shoes back on as well.

As we wandered into the forest and began collecting sticks and twigs, the air became cooler and everything became quite serene. I found it all very enjoyable indeed!

Once we had a good bundle of wood in our arms, we started to head back towards the city, but as we came to a fallen log, Dylis suggested that we sit down and rest our legs.

“My legs aren’t tired,” I answered.

Dylis rolled her eyes and sat down, settling her wood pile down beside her. “Just sit down, Geoff.”

I was still thoroughly confused by the request, but I sat down nevertheless, setting my wood pile down as well.

“I’ m glad I met you, Geoff, things were getting very tedious before I did.”

“I’m...glad I could help.” It was a ridiculous response, but I didn’t know what else to say.

Dylis laughed and leaned towards me. “You’re absolutely hilarious, you know that?”

I blushed and looked down, because I didn’t aim to be, at least not most of the time. But I suppose it was nice that Dylis got amusement out of being around me.

She brushed against my shoulder. “I asked about Monmouth the other day, to my father, he’s a knight. He says it’s a little town two days gentle ride north, is everyone there as interesting as you?”

“I’m...not sure what you mean.”

“You know, all bookish and ignorant about taverns?”

“Oh, no, no, I’m just...” I trailed off.

“Special, that’s what you are.” Dylis supplied and the next thing I knew her arms had wound around my shoulders and her face was right next to mine.

I shifted on the log somewhat uncomfortably, I wasn’t used to having people so close to me.

Little did I know, Dylis planned to get closer, the next thing I realised she was pressing her lips against mine!

I’m rather embarrassed to admit that it gave me the shock of my life and my first reaction was to move away. In doing so, I managed to topple off the log, landing heavily on my back on the forest floor.

“Geoff! Are you all right?” Dylis swivelled around and stared down at me. She frowned. “You don’t have a lady at home, I hope?”

“N-no,” I stammered, hurrying to sit up and picking leaves out of my hair. “I just...um...”

Suddenly Dylis burst out laughing and held her hand out for me to take so she could help me up. “Was that your first kiss, Geoff?”


Dylis shook her head and patted me on the cheek. “Are you sure the people of Monmouth aren’t a bunch of shy creatures like yourself? Do your parents live in a convent?”

I stared at her confused. “No, my father’s a bishop.”

“I’m just jesting you, Geoff.” Dylis shook her head and moved in to place a kiss on my cheek. Then she jumped to her feet and gathered up her wood pile. “Come on then, let’s get back to the square. If we dally too much they’ll have lit the bonfire before we can get back.”

I sincerely doubted that since the sun was still high in the sky, but I realised she was probably, yet again, jesting. So I gathered up my woodpile as well and we retraced our steps, out the forest and back across the river.

It might not have become dark while we were gone, but the bonfire pile and increased noticibly. It seemed everyone in town was adding fuel to it. I wondered about that, I would have to ask Father when I got back to the Bishop’s Palace.

After Dylis and I had added our wood to the pile she turned to me. “I suppose you’ll be wanting to get back to your book search?”

“That would be nice,” I said, rather awkwardly, I had an idea that there was some sort of etiquette to be observed after kissing a lady, but perhaps it did not apply when the lady kissed you?

“I’ll be here tonight of course, how about we meet over there when the second night bell rings?” She pointed over at a rather ornately facaded building across the way from us.

I didn’t answer for the moment, I still wondered if it would be acceptable for me to attend this even, being the son of a bishop and all. “All right, if I can come, of course.”

“Of course,” Dylis smiled, taking my hand and giving it a squeeze. “Have fun book hunting, Geoff!” And with that she hurried off across the square heading who knows where.

I returned to the market, where I got another book on the birds of Albion, but I was admittedly distracted thinking about the Midsummer’s Eve festival. So much so that I returned to the Bishop’s Palace much earlier than intended, hoping to find Father in between conference and I was lucky enough to do so.

“Geoffrey!” Father looked surprised to see me walk into the foyer. “I thought you wouldn’t be back for hours yet, your mother is certainly nowhere in sight.”

I smiled and produced the two books I had purchased that day from the small bag I carried over my shoulder. “I thought I’d bring these back for safe keeping.”

“Ah, a very good idea.” Father nodded.

“But, also, I wanted to ask you something.”

“Certainly,” father smiled, then chuckled. “Unless it’s a request to borrow money, then I’m afraid that is something I can’t do for you.”

“No, no, I’m fine, I was just wondering...have you heard about the Midsummer’s Eve Festival, it’s on tonight.”

I had worried that Father might be utterly horrified by this news, but he seemed quite composed. Perhaps it was not such a big deal after all.

He didn’t say anything for a while though, at least a minute passed before he gave a nod. “Ah yes, the people do enjoy clinging to their traditions, New Religion or not.”

“Is it a bad thing?”

“Not as such, no, there is no law against celebrating,” Father gave me a reassuringly look. “It would, of course, depend on the reason you are celebrating more than anything else.”

“So will we be attending?”

“I wasn’t planning too, but then you know how I am, rather spend a nice quiet evening at home than up and about. I’m sure your mother will have something to say to that, however.” Father chuckled again. “I have a very good feeling that we will be in that square tonight when the bonfire is lit.”

I was rather relieved to hear that, if nothing else it would be interesting to observe on of these ceremonies, even if there wasn’t going to be all the rituals once involved in such things. It was more knowledge to be had.
Current Mood: curious