05 January 2013 @ 10:08 pm
*NaNo Project* Part the Fifth - Section the Fourth - The Tutor - 954AD  
It was only after the meeting was finished that I realised that I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to go. As Prince Uther’s tutor I might be required – not that I really thought my tutoring was all that good, but it was probably better than nothing. I really should have made sure I could in fact be able to go before promising to do so. Now that I had agreed to it I was rather looking forward to the idea.

I immediately went to Cedas to ask him about whether I was able to simply leave or if I needed royal permission first.

Cedas looked rather surprised at the question and I had to wonder if he had ever actually taken any leave, he didn’t have any family that I knew of and he seemed even more attached to the library than I was so in all likelihood that was probably the case.

“Well, you’d have to ask the Seneschal, I suppose. I can’t imagine why permission wouldn’t be given.” Cedas gave a slight shrug. “Other palace staff often get permission to go on short trips and so on… Although it may be different for you, being Prince Uther’s tutor.”

Well, that wasn’t what I was hoping for having to get permission from the King himself. Although I suppose I wouldn’t actually be asking him, that would be the Seneschal’s job, but still…the very name conjured up visions of a particularly strict and perhaps short tempered. I knew whoever it was would be a knight and I couldn’t say I was particularly comfortable around knights, my experiences around Caerleon the Younger had been enough to make me wary of any of them. But if I was going to join Gaius and his friends I would have to, so I screwed up my courage and headed off to do so.

The Seneschal was also second in command of the Camelot Knights, was one Sir Hector, who on first meeting was an extremely imposing man, the tallest I had ever met up to that point. The man was a behemoth! I was shaking in my shoes when I got his attention.

“I’m Geoffrey…” I began with what can only be described as a squeak; I cleared my throat and attempt to sound a bit more like an adult. “I work in the Library…and tutor Prince Uther.”

Sir Hector gave an amused laugh. “Really? And you’re still here? Quite impressive.”

I gave a small smile. “Um…thank you,” how was one supposed to respond to such a remark. “I wanted to know, though, if it would be permissible for me to have some time off.”

Sir Hector raised an eyebrow. “Time off? Planning on escaping the mad house?”

“No, no,” I was quick to say, “I really enjoy it here, Camelot is an incredible place and tutoring the Prince Uther is really an honour –“

Sir Hector held up a hand. “It’s fine, it’s fine, I was just jesting.” He assured me.

“Oh,” I flushed, because I really didn’t aim to make an idiot of myself.

“So time off,” Sir Hector picked up my train of though with a grin. “For how long?”

“Er…” I hadn’t actually thought of that…how long would it take to get to the maze, go through it and come back? “Perhaps a week?”

“Well, I don’t imagine Prince Uther would have any objections to being without a tutor for that amount of time.” Sir Hector looked very amused indeed. “I can’t imagine His Majesty would have much of a problem with it either, but I will, of course, bring it to his attention.”

That gave me pause, I knew that the trip was happening soon, although I'd managed to forget exactly when it was planned. I imagined though that the King had a lot to do, how long would it take for him to decide whether to grant me leave or not? I couldn’t imagine how I would even ask.

Sir Hector though saw right through me however and said reassuringly. “The King gets through quite a lot…or should I say his council does, you’ll get a response Friday evening at the latest.”

Well that was a relief, I thanked Sir Hector quite profusely, enough for it to be embarrassing I should think before heading off to the Physician’s Chambers to speak to Gaius.

I found him cleaning the eel tank, which was really something I could have lived without seeing, eels really are the most disgusting creatures.

“And you thought your job was bad,” Gaius greeted me, rolling his eyes as he fished out…something…from the tank.

“I’ve just seen Sir Hector, about taking leave to go on that trip…although I couldn’t quite remember when we’re supposed to leave.”

Gaius gave a laugh and shook his head. “Honestly, Geoffrey, you need to pay attention to the important things…But no need to worry, it was supposed to be tomorrow, but as it turns out we’ll have to wait to the end of the week. I forgot that Linus would never let me leave in the middle of the week that would be a generous thing to do.” Gaius removed yet another mysterious…something from the tank. “He’ll let me have the weekend and that’s it.”

“Oh, it’ll only take the weekend?” I asked, surprised and somewhat worried, how fast exactly did the group plan to ride? Would I even be able to keep up with them? “I asked for a week!”

Gaius shook his head. “No, that’s a good idea, I doubt the King is going to give you that much time, but you can probably wrangle a weekend. Well played, really.” He chuckled. “Although if you do manage it, by some miracle, maybe you could assist me with some of my endless chores.”

“Oh well…I don’t…” I stuttered a bit, that tank was enough to put me off.

Gaius gave a hearty laugh. “I’m just joking with Geoff. Don’t worry I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.”

I confess I did not stay around for long, in case Gaius changed his mind, I did not envy his choice of profession.

I waited with trepidation for the result of my request for leave, I couldn’t help thinking there could well be some sort of consequence if it was not approved. Who knew what the King would think about such a thing, maybe he would think I was presumptuous. Not that Sir Hector had indicated anything of that sort, but…

Upon my return to the library I decided that I really had been very remiss in not finding out all I could about Camelot, I was after all going to be living here, hopefully for a very long time. So, with the Prince out watching the knights’ train I searched for various books on the city and kingdoms history and soon I was absolutely engrossed.

A lot of that was down to the fact that unlike most of the other kingdoms in Albion, Camelot had a long history, usually kingdoms came and went their borders changing radically and becoming almost completely different. For a while in fact kingdoms were created and then conquered within a lifetime, although things were substantially calmer now.

Camelot or at least the castle had been around for nearly a thousand years however. The size of the actual kingdom had changed drastically during that time, of course, in fact at one time the castle had pretty much been the kingdom.

As I researched I discovered yet another intriguing thing about the kingdom and the Old Religion, the fact that Camelot seemed to be the centre of it, the Castle itself was not more than two or three days ride from the Isle of the Blessed where according to one tome I read was where the priestesses, who were so important to the various practices and rituals of the Old Religion, lived.

Then there was the Labyrinth of Gedref and I can’t honestly say what I read about it made me very enthusiastic to go. In fact if anything it made me even more wary than before. The Labyrinth sounded like a very dangerous place for the uninitiated, which I assumed we all were. All sorts of things seemed to befall those who ventured into it without permission, from who, I couldn’t find out.

I immediately wondered if I should bring up what I had learned to Gaius’s attention, it seemed perfectly foolhardy not to.

Gaius proved to be less than concerned about what I had read when he I caught up with him, I supposed that could have been due to the fact I hadn’t brought the book I had got the information from with me. It was a very old and fragile book tough and I hadn’t wanted to risk damaging it.

Gaius waved aside my worries however. “Oh, those are just old stories to scare people, we’re not going to try and destroy it or even take anything out of it as a souvenir, we’re just going to look that’s all.”

“But you are planning to go through the maze aren’t you?” I pressed. “There’s plenty of evidence that those who have gone in there have got far more than they’d bargained for.”

Gaius laughed and put his arm around my shoulders. “You shouldn’t worry so much, Geoff, besides it’s not as if we’re complete strangers to the Old Religion.”

That confused me and I looked at Gaius confused. “What do you mean?”

Gaius gave a slight shrug and grinned in manner reminiscent of a mischievous child. “My little group, we all study sorcery.”

“You do?” I wasn’t sure what to make of that, my father looked upon sorcery as nothing more than a lot of old trickery and sleight of hand. I for one had never seen practised.

“Of course, why do you think we want to visit the Labyrinth? We’re not going to gawk at it, legends say that a student of magic can increase their abilities simply by visiting a place like that.”

I couldn’t help but remain sceptical and it must have shown on my face because Gaius looked somewhat affronted.

“Are you one of those Christians who won’t accept anything but your own laws and your own ways?”

“No, it’s just that…” I trailed off, pondering how best to say what I felt, eventually I decided it was best just to say it. “Well, I’ve always thought magic didn’t exist, at least, not in the way the Old Religion says.”

If possible Gaius looked even more affronted, for a brief moment I wondered if he was going to strike me and I flinched in anticipation of the blow. Instead Gaius just gave a laugh and shook his head.

“Really, Geoff? I had no idea you were so sheltered! Doesn’t really exist? Of course it does!”

With that he stretched out his hand. Across the room was a heaving shelf full of books and various medical paraphernalia, and there before my eyes, Gaius muttered something under his breath.

And the next thing I knew a phial flew across the room directly into Gaius’s hand! I reeled a bit because…well…I’d never seen anything like it! It wasn’t like making something appear from a long sleeve or even making candle flames gutter in a room. There was no mistaking how this happened. Gaius had made the phial come to him, just with the power of…whatever it was.

I must have made quite a picture because he gave a laugh when he turned to look at me.

“You should see your face, Geoff, it’s like you’ve seen a ghost!”

I blinked a few times and finally I had to shake my head just to disperse my shock and actually speak.

“I…it’s just…I never thought…” I wasn’t really able to say anything at all really.

Gaius took pity on me and said reassuringly. “If your worried about your religion you don’t have to be, you can still believe in it, who knows maybe the answer is a little of both.”

I wasn’t too sure if he believed that, but it made me feel better nonetheless.

“And everyone else in your group can do that too? Or…or something like it?” I had to ask.

“Well mostly, Elric hasn’t quite managed to get there yet, so he’s looking forward to this trip more than anyone.” Gaius admitted.

“But I don’t have magic,” I felt pretty certain about that, I’d never done anything the least bit magical in my life and I was sure I never would. “Maybe I shouldn’t –“

Gaius cut me off. “Of course you should come! There’s not some sort of law against you coming. As long as you don’t desecrate the place, which I’m sure you won’t.”

I shook my head. “No, of course not, but I’m not really one of you, are I?”

“You’ll be fine,” Gaius said, reassuringly, “if anyone shows up we’ll vouch for you.”

I accepted that, but as I returned to the library I began to worry about who, exactly might show up that I would need vouching to, recalling the warnings n the book that permission should be sought before entering the Labyrinth.

However, if I’d hope to have some sort of excuse not to go, I discovered it was not be, the very next afternoon a message was delivered which informed me that I had been granted my request for an entire week’s leave! Unpaid, of course, but I was still very surprised and frankly worried, the fact it had been granted so easily made me wonder if the King was perhaps not happy with my work. If he was and dismissed me from the position of Prince Uther’s tutor would I still be able to work as Cedas’s apprentice or would I be required to leave Camelot entirely?

I planned to ask Cedas about this, but as it turned out I didn’t need too, I found out why I had been given the week off when I ran into the Prince – almost literally! – on my way back to the Library.

Prince Uther was practically bouncing off the walls however and barely noticed the incident.

“Geoffrey!” He greeted me. “You’ll never guess what happened!”

I was rather surprised to see the Prince in such a happy state, while he was always inattentive, he had yet to strike me as the rambunctious type, but he was certainly living up to that description at that moment.

“I couldn’t possibly,” I answered him, because I really didn’t have a clue.

“I’m going on the Annual Hunt with Kent and the best knights in the kingdom!”

Prince Uther relayed this news in a manner that indicated I should be very excited on his behalf. I had no interest in hunting whatsoever, but made a valiant attempt to look very pleased.

The Prince saw through me, shaking his head and demanding. “Do you have any idea what this means?”

“I imagine it’s very prestigious to be invited along to such an event.” I said carefully.

“It means,” Prince Uther was evidentially not satisfied with my response and sought to clarify things further. “That I’m the best of all the pages! I’ve been promoted to squire ahead of everyone else! Even Ector and he’s huge! All the other boys were sure he’d get to go, but it’s me instead.”

I had to admit that did sound rather impressive, although I’d never even heard of Ector before, judging by his name I assumed he was related to Sir Hector, likely his son.

I congratulated the Prince again and this time he seemed happy to accept it, or perhaps he was merely anxious to hurry along and proclaim his news to those who might understand and appreciate it better.

I meanwhile had preparations of my own to make for the trip to the Labyrinth.
Current Mood: worried