04 January 2013 @ 10:50 pm
*NaNo Project* Part the Fifth - Section the Third - The Tutor - 954AD  
And I didn’t, even though I didn’t imagine I would really get along with Gaius’s friends. He did have a point though, I had rarely left the castle grounds since arriving in Camelot and the lower town was no doubt full of interesting things that I hadn’t really allowed myself to see.

Prince Uther’s lessons finished for the midday meal, which was quite a relief not just for me, but the prince as well, since the knights practiced in the afternoon and of course he had to be there. I shuddered to think actually how difficult he could be if the teaching hours were extended.

So with my afternoon free rather than go and explore various sections of the library as I usually did, I bid Cedas farewell and headed out to explore the lower town instead.

Camelot’s lower town was quite a sight to behold, it was of course, nowhere near the opulence of the upper town and the Castle, but it was certainly finer than any I had seen, for one thing the streets were very clean and the houses and shops while ramshackle in places were all structurally sound. There was a general air of cheer as I wandered down the main road with the merchants hawking their wares and people mingling together and discussing this and that.

I wondered if there were perhaps any books on offer, one never knew what might show up, but sadly I couldn’t see no sign of any books rare or otherwise in amongst the various stalls, my private book collection would have to remain at its current size for the time being.

As I moved through the streets, I realised that I hadn’t actually found out where The Rising Sun was. It had been a few months since I'd been there following Prince Kentigern's return and I'd pretty much just followed Gaius that time. Of course, it was certain that if I wandered about enough I’d eventually stumble across it, but I decided it was probably to my benefit to ask for directions.

I happened to be passing by the blacksmiths where the smithy was standing out by the forge banging away at…something. I decided to stop and ask him for directions.

It took me a few tries to get his attention however, what with the ringing noise of the hammer striking metal, but finally the man looked up.

“Sorry! Couldn’t hear you!” He shouted even once he stopped hammering. “What can I do for you?”

“I was looking for the tavern,” I spoke loudly, just to make sure he got me.

The smithy gave a laugh. “You must be new here, if you don’t know that.”

I gave a rather embarrassed smile and decided not to mention I’d been here for around half a year. “I’m meeting some people there.”

“It’s just down this main road here,” the smithy pointed. “Then to your left for about two blocks, you’ll see the sign. It’s got a sun on it.”

“Thank you,” I smiled and made to leave so he could get back to his work, as I did the smithy waved a strong arm and said “You’re welcome,” picked up his hammer and prepared to get back to work.

“Papa! Papa!” A small voice called out and there was the sound of running feet and I almost found myself being knocked off my feet.

“Thomas, have a care,” the smithy boomed. “Apologise to that gentleman.”

“Sorry, sir!” I looked down to see a small boy, who greatly resembled his father, right down to his closely cropped hair, which was no doubt necessary in a blacksmiths, long hair could only provide kindling for sparks.

“No harm done,” I assured the boy, I wasn’t particularly sturdy, but the boy was very small, no more than five years old.

The boy gave me a thankful grin and hurried on into the smithy to talk to his father as I set off in the direction of the tavern. As promised it was easy to find and I was relieved that no drunken people were wandering around outside, the sun had not yet set, but one never knew with taverns.

I hesitantly entered and was surprised to find the place was welcoming and above all clean with a number of tables and chairs scattered throughout and two dartboards on either side. The afternoon bells had not yet rung and I didn’t see Gaius or anything that looked like a ‘group’ so I went over to the bar and wondered what exactly I should order.

“What’ll be,” the barmaid asked, favouring me with a rather nice smile.

I didn’t want to embarrass myself, but at the same time I didn’t want to order ale or anything strong so I asked for cider hoping I wasn’t going to be subjected to laughter.

The barmaid was quite a bit more polite than the barman at Tamworth, she didn’t mock me at all for my choice of beverage and beyond that the cider was extremely good.

I was halfway through my cup when Gaius appeared. “Geoffrey! I didn’t think you’d actually come!”

“I said I would,” I made a show of looking put out, “did you think I’d go back on my word, did you?”

Gaius gave a laugh and clapped a hand on my shoulder. “Well, I’m gald you made it, allow me to introduce you to the group. This is Roderick, Elric, Ian, Richard, Maxim, Oric and Alice.” The young woman stood out in amongst all the men, not the least because she was extraordinarily pretty, I also noticed that Gaius seemed to stand a little closer to her than the rest of the group. Clearly he had an interest in her, I wasn’t sure what to make of that.

The group ordered their drinks and Gaius led us over to a large table in the corner and proceeded to begin the meeting, starting with the planned trip that Gaius was trying to convince me to join in on.

I can’t say that it sounded any more interesting, the group had a map and it looked as if it would be a long trek to get to a rather impossible maze. I didn’t quite see what the point of the trip would be, though I didn’t ask that out loud.

Gaius turned to me. “I’ve been doing my best to convince Geoff here to join us. He could use a bit of exercise, I think, spends most of his time in the library.”

“With old Cedas?” Maxim gave a chuckle and shook his head. “I don’t envy you one bit.”

“He also tutors Prince Uther,” Gaius added before I can defend my mentor and choice of how I spent my time.

There was even more chuckling and commiserations, apparently the royal family had quite a reputation with those outside the castle walls. I suppose they weren’t that far wrong in their assessment of what Prince Uther was like, but really he could be worse.

Alice turned to me. “You should come, the forests and mountains are beautiful this time of year, if nothing else it will be nice to get out of the city for a while.”

That did make me pause, I had to admit while I had studied a great many things my research was sadly lacking in terms of the natural world. I didn’t like camping very much, but it would be interesting to see what natural life the kingdom had and whether it was much different to Caerleon.

“Well,” I looked around at the group and finally gave a small shrug. “I suppose one can’t stay inside reading all the time.”

There was a cheer that caught me off guard and Gaius once again gave me a clap on the shoulder. “Brilliant! You won’t regret this, Geoff, we always have the best time, don’t we?” He turned to the others who agreed.

I gave a somewhat shy smile, this was certainly more people than I usually kept company with, I hoped that I wouldn’t make a fool of myself or do something too stupid.

The meeting continued with more drinks consumed that left a few of the members a little tipsy and ready to engage in a game of darts. I wisely stayed out of the way, which proved to be a good idea considering how far off the mark some of the dart throws went. Frankly, I was surprised that no-one was hit, but the bar patrons seemed quite used to this sort of thing and every so often would duck out of the way and shift over a bit to avoid a wayward dart.

The winner of the game turned out to be Alice, who seemed a lot less tipsy than the others. She gleefully took the prize, which was quite a few coins, but promised to pay for everyone’s drinks at the next meeting. It seemed this was typical of the meetings they had, they seemed like a rather…fun group. But I wasn’t too sure I’d fit in with them, but I supposed I needed to expand my horizons a little. They seemed nice enough though and Gaius was always kind to me so I was sure the trip would go well.

After all, what could go wrong anyway?
 
 
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