of_monmouth: ([Old] Using My Learnings)
2011-11-01 08:22 pm

[sticky entry] Sticky: The Archivist's Tale [NaNoWriMo Project]

The Court Archivist Geoffrey is a long lived man, who has seen many, many things in his time and has no problems writing long winded rambles!

So, in the proud tradition of archivists everywhere, Geoffrey has written his tale, a history of Camelot and Albion, or at least the history he got to experience.

And being the great court archivist that he is he has included some topographical references for you, the gentle reader so you are well placed while reading this long-winded story.

Albion - circa 935 )

Gaul - circa 935 )

Chapters in the Archivist's Tale

Prologue

Part the First - The Boy

I

II

III

IV

Part the Second - The Student

I

II

III

IV

V

VI

VII

Part the Third - The Search

I

II

III

IV

V

VI

VII

VIII

Part the Fourth - Camelot - Map of the City

I

II

III

IV

V

VI

VII

VIII

IX

X

XI

XII

XIII

Part the Fifth - The Tutor

I

II

III

IV

Part the Sixth - Magic - Map of the Kingdom of Camelot

I

II

III

IV

Part the Seventh - The Scribe

I

II

III

IV

V

VI

VII

VIII

IX

Part the Eighth - The Visitors

I

II

III

Part the Ninth - Cornwall

I

II

III

IV

V

VI

Part the Tenth - The Novice

I

II

III

IV

V
of_monmouth: ([Young] I Don't Even Know...)
2013-12-10 06:27 pm

*NaNo Project* Part the Tenth - Section the Fifth - The Novice 960AD

I almost forgot about the Dubois’s nearly as soon as they had arrived, not expecting their visit to have any impact on my life.

But as so often happened, I was quite wrong in this assessment, not least of all because of what happened a few days later.

I was preparing for another day of archiving when who should wander into the library, but Princess Ygraine and her brother, Prince Agravaine, who she was leading along by the hand.

I was more than a little surprised to see them there, since after all there were plenty more interesting places in Camelot, especially for children, but perhaps they’d all ready seen them? Or more likely, weren’t allowed to leave the castle proper with an escort and there wasn’t one to spare.

“Good morning!” Princess Ygraine chirped - for lack of a better word-looking up at me with big blue eyes. “I’m Ygraine! Who are you?”

“Er...Geoffrey...Geoffrey of Monmouth,” I replied, uncertain.

“Is this where you live?” She asked, taking in the shelves and the books.

“Yes.” I wondered where Cedas was, he had a habit of disappearing when visitors came to the libray, sometimes I wondered if he did it on purpose.

“That’s amazing! Have you read all the books here?” The Princess wanted to know.

I couldn’t help but laugh. “I fear not, I’d never have the time for anything else.”

Princess Ygraine smiled at me, the brightest smile I’d ever seen before, there was something truly ethereal about the young girl. “Can Agravaine and I have a look? We’re well behaved,” she promised her voice full of complete sincerity. “Aren’t we Agravaine?”

Prince Agravaine was sucking on his fingers and looked up at me with dark brown eyes and simply shrugged.

I’d never had a child that young in the library before, but I supposed the Princess had a good grasp on him and he didn’t seem to look like the sort of child who would suddenly run out of control and start destroying the books.

Besides, it was not as if I was really in a position to turn them away, they may not be royals from Albion, but they were still royal.

“Certainly...umm...just be careful.” I spoke the last bit quickly, almost too fast for them to hear, but I felt I needed to issue a warning of some sort.

Princess Ygraine giggled again and nodded, her hair which was held in two plaits bobbing about. “We will! We just want to see, right Agravaine?”

Prince Agravaine nodded and continued to clutch his sister’s hand and the two wandered off down the aisles while I returned to my work and every so often wondered where my mentor was.

Eventually, he wandered in, yawning and apparently only just awoken, apologising for his oversleeping.

“I was kept up late last night,” he explained, “King Aurelius wanted to see me regarding the history of treaties between us and the kingdoms of Brittany.”

“Treaties?” I asked, surprised, not expecting that at all. “Why?”

“The King wants to make sure that the kingdom of Leon or its predecessor has never reneged on a treaty, it seems King Hoel has come here for a very singular reason.”

I was definitely curious now and prompted Cedas to tell me what that reason was.

“It’s linked to you in fact,” Cedas replied mysteriously.

“Me? I’ve never been to Brittany in my life...”

“I know that, but you do recall how our most glorious Majesty was extremely upset when you returned having secured Prince Uther’s noviate with Duke Diodantes.”

“Of course I do, it was barely a month ago” I grimaced, my cheek still ached whenever that time was mentioned as if the King’s blow had left a mark upon my face.

“He said that Camelot would owe the Duke a favour and it appears King Hoel has come to accept it.”

Cedas sometimes had the most annoying habit of speaking in riddles, I was certain that he did it mostly for his own amusement, and he seemed to take the most pleasure in doing so at the most inopportune moments.

“How does he figure into this?” I asked impatiently.

“His son, Prince Tristian is of an age to be a noviate himself,” Cedas explained patiently, as if I were foolish for not being able to follow his rather torturous explanations. “The Kingdom of Camelot is considered to have some of the finest knights in the land, and chief among them is our own Crown Prince.”

Well, I knew all that, of course. “And?”

“King Hoel wishes for the Crown Prince to take Prince Tristian on as an apprentice of course, with a strong recommendation from Duke Diodantes. Cornwall does have a treaty with Brittany it would seem, or at least a trade agreement.” Cedas took a seat in his chair behind his desk.

“That’s it?” I felt a flash of annoyance, the King had acted as if he’d owed the Duke of Cornwall some sort of blood debt that would haunt the kingdom forever. Now it seemed that all Duke Diodantes wanted was a good position for his ally’s son. It wasn’t as if Crown Prince Kentigern would have any problems training a novice, he was so well-respected that any young man would absolutely jump at the chance to be under such tutelage.

“Well, perhaps the King will see know that being in debt to the Duke of Cornwall was not something to punish a person as harshly as he done so with me.” I grumbled in a low voice, since my comments were rather close to treason.

Cedas gave a wry smile. “Well, perhaps, but King Aurelius is nothing if not paranoid, which is why I had to spend most of yesterday night looking at Leon and how they honour their treaties. Fortunately for all of us, they do so very well. Refusing King Hoel’s request would be considered quite an insult and could even draw us into a conflict, not to mention the offense that would be given the Duke of Cornwall.”

“But everything’s fine now?” I asked, slightly unsure as really one could never tell with Pendragons.

“I believe so, if nothing else the Crown Prince has taken quite a shine to young Prince Tristian. I think he misses having someone to look up to him as Prince Uther has always done.”

Well, that wasn’t very surprising, if nothing else the Crown Prince was a Pendragon, and Pendragons did enjoy been the centre of attention.

“So Tristian’s going to stay here?”

Cedas and I were surprised by the voice that seemed to come from nowhere.

Turning we saw Princess Ygraine and Prince Agravaine, apparently they had completed their investigation of the library – without making any noise like shelves falling over or the sound of ripping pages – and now were standing in front of the desk.

And it seemed like they may have been there for a while.

Cedas quickly bowed. “Princess Ygraine, Prince...” he trailed off, somewhat helplessly, apparently at a loss to remember Agravaine’s name, I leaned in and whispered it to him and he quickly spoke it.

“You said that Prince Kentigern’s going to train my brother to become a proper knight, but that means he has to stay here, in Camelot, doesn’t it?” Princess Ygraine looked slightly distressed, but was obviously doing her best to remain calm and composed.

Cedas threw me a rather despairing look and I realised why, such conversations were no doubt privileged, or at the very least not for the ears of small children. Even if those small children were related to the people the conversation pertained to.

“Well?” Princess Ygraine sounded slightly more imperious, but not much.

Cedas’s overwhelming respect for royalty kept him quiet so it looked like I would have to deal with this.

“We...we don’t know, Your Highness,” I spoke in the most respectful tone I could. “My mentor Cedas was just helping King Aurelius with some things...neither of us can say.”

“I don’t want Tristian to leave,” Princess Ygraine’s lower lip seemed to be trembling, which was the last thing I wanted. I had never dealt with a crying child before, Prince Uther had been complete closed and cold in that regard.

I coughed. “I...as I said, we really don’t know, don’t be upset, Your Highness.”

Princess Ygraine swallowed hard, and her lower lip fortunately stopped shaking, but she still looked very distressed. Prince Agravaine meanwhile seemed bored by the whole conversation or maybe he just didn’t understand what was going on.

I threw Cedas a rather worried look, the last thing I wanted after everything that had happened was for Princess Ygraine to go running to her parents with a story about how she had found out very upsetting news in the library.

“I hope you...I’m sorry if we upset you,” I said to the Princess quickly, not sure exactly how I was going to salvage this situation.

Princess Ygraine looked up at me and a small smile returned to her face. “It’s all right, it’s not your fault.” She sighed though and looked down at her feet. “It’s not fair though, he wants to be a knight more than anything and he’s going to be the best, I know it,” the pride in her voice was evident. “But we don’t have lots of good knights where we are....they’re mostly just normal soliders and Tristian always tells me there’s a big difference.” She rolled her eyes and shook her head. “But we thought he would go and stay with Dio.”

It took me a moment to realise she was referring to Duke Diodantes.

“But Papa says someone’s all ready training with him, so that’s why we’ve come here.”

I felt a stab of guilt, though it was rather ridiculous, I couldn’t have possibly known about what Princess Ygraine was telling me, and beyond that I had been ordered to do it by a Crown Prince. Still...

“We know Dio, but we don’t know about Prince Kentigern and Camelot, are people nice here?”

It was a rather innocent question, but I wasn’t exactly sure how to answer it. For the most part the people here seemed nice, the Crown Prince in contrast to his relatives for example seemed almost saintly! But without a doubt no-one could call most of the Royal Family...nice.

“Prince Kentigern is a very fine prince,” I finally answered, that was true at least.

Princess Ygraine looked at me with a raised eyebrow. “Are you just saying that because he’s the Crown Prince?”

“Er...” I looked at Cedas, who was no help whatsoever. “No...not really. I mean I don’t know the Crown Prince on a personal level, but he conducts himself well.”

"Tristan likes to have fun, though," Princess Ygraine was looking at me with the utmost seriousness. "Does the Crown Prince have a lot of fun?"

"Uh..." I scratched the back of my neck, nervously, unsure how to answer. It wasn't as if I knew what the Crown Prince did in his own time and besides what was fun as far as Prince Tristan was concerned? Because for me fun was a good book, but I was quite sure that wasn't the usual thing. "Well, I'm not exactly well-acquainted with the Crown Prince, Your Highness. He seems to enjoy hunting, though." Which was truly the only thing I could remember the Crown Prince enthusing about outside of his typical knightly duties.

As it turned out, I picked the right the thing, Princess Ygraine's eyes brightened. "Tristan's the best hunter! He can track down anything! Well...except me," she gave a giggle.

I wasn't sure what to say in response to that, but I couldn't help but smile at the Princess's enthusiasm.

"The hunting is good in Camelot, then?" The Princess wanted to know.

"Uh..." Two steps forward and one back, it seemed...what did I know about hunting? Probably about as much as Cedas did. Speaking of which, I tried to catch my mentor's eye, but he'd managed to to make himself scarce, not actually leaving the area - he hadn't been dismissed after all - but clearly I was on my own.

"I fear, I couldn't really tell you, Your Highness, hunting isn't an activity I undertake."

The Princess gave me a critical look and the replied with a grin. "I guess you wouldn't. But it isn't all chasing animals, there's riding! Do you like riding?"

If I didn't know better I'd have thought I heard Cedas give a snort of laughter. I gave Princess Ygraine a rather embarrassed look. "I fear I'm not much of rider either, Your Highness." Although I would have thought that the Princess was too young to be allowed to ride, I was certain even the smallest pony in the Camelot stables would tower over the small girl.

"No?" Princess Ygraine looked at me as if I was some odd creature, but finally she beamed. "I guess you have to look after all these books. Thank you very much for letting Agravaine and me look around."

I gave a nervous bow. "You're very welcome, Your Highness."

With that she gave a little curtsy and then giving Agravaine's hand a tug, they were off, the Princess's long blonde hair bobbing.

I turned to Cedas, waiting for him to make one of his laconic remarks, finally he looked up with smile. "Well, my lad, it appears that once again you have made good with royalty. Perhaps you could train the rest of us in this special skill."

I gave him a wry look. "I'd hardly say I have any particular skill, the King is certainly not pleased with me."

"I was thinking more with the younger generation, but I see your point." Cedas gave his beard a tug. "Still, having the Crown Prince on your side is sure to be to your benefit later on."

I shook my head. I really didn't have any interest in the royal family, I'd much rather continue with my research and archiving. And I certainly could so without all the drama that came with it.
of_monmouth: ([Young] Heh)
2013-01-31 10:41 pm

*NaNo Project* Part the Tenth - Section the Fourth - The Novice - 960AD

A few weeks after my return from Cornwall, some visitors arrived in Camelot, important visitors if the preparations that were festooned about the castle courtyard were any indication.

As well as the floral tributes the knights of Camelot were out in full force, their long scarlet capes blowing in the gentle breeze that so often marked the coming of autumn in this part of the country.

The royal family appeared on the great steps surrounded by the knights and as I returned from the servant baths after my daily ordeal I paused to see what was going on.

A very small party entered through the castle gates, their horses doing that fancy stride that well-bred horses were taught to do. It was quite an impressive sight.

Leading the group was a distinguished man, tall in statue with blond hair that was streaked with a small amount of gray. I didn't have the faintest idea who he was, which was rather odd because usually gossip about incoming visitors was rife.

Of course, when I wasn’t getting rotten food thrown at me, I was in the library sorting those scrolls, so I hadn’t really heard as much as I had previously been so it was possible I’d simply missed it.

Riding on either side of the man and just a little behind, was a woman and a young man, a boy really. The woman had long brown hair which was a sharp contrast to what I assumed was her husband and her son.

Behind them was a small covered cart lead by a horse which was ridden by a knight dressed in gleaming armour with a cape of light blue.

Despite the small size of the group they still made an impressive group and as they came to a stop in front of the great steps, the knights saluted them.

Then the King spoke.

“The King of Camelot and his family welcomes King Hoel DuBois of Leon in Brittany.”

Brittany? That caught my attention, my father had written about the warm welcome and enjoyable time they had had there and the natural beauty was truly something to be seen.

The man, King Hoel dismounted his horse and came forward, holding out his hands to clasp King Aurelius’s upper arms in the traditional greetings of kings.

“Well met, Aurelius, well met,” King Hoel spoke in a rich voice that had a rather rolling accent to it. He then turned and greeted the Royal Princes and the Crown Prince before bowing low to the Queen and Princess Rhowen.

“You have met my wife Queen Blasine the last time we were in your kingdom,” King Hoel turned to the King, “but we have had additions to the family since then.”

“So I see,” King Aurelius remarked looking to the boy who had dismounted from his horse and coming forward.

“This is Tristan, my eldest son and heir.” King Hoel gestured for the boy to come up the steps and greet the royal family properly, which he did, bowing gracefully.

Prince Trisitan despite his youth was quite an arresting figure, he was almost as tall as his father and had a voice almost as deep. While he was introducing himself to the Pendragons, two more children emerged, almost unnoticed from the covered cart, assisted by the guard who had dismounted his horse.

“And this is our only daughter the Princess Ygraine,” King Hoel’s voice all but vibrated with the pride and joy he felt for his daughter and it was not hard to see why. The girl, who must have been about ten years old had the same blonde hair as her father and brother and the sunniest disposition I had ever seen. She dipped into a graceful curtsey and I think I actually saw the Royal Princes smile, an almost miraculous occurance.

Princess Ygraine went to stand beside her father, Queen Blasine had picked up the small boy, barely a toddler who was the only one of the children with brown hair. “And our youngest, Prince Agravaine.”

Agravaine recieved a more cursory greeting, although Queen Thanea did make some show of looking maternal towards the youngester, Princess Rhowen didn’t even bother.

“A fine family you have,” King Aurelius smiled benevolently upon them. “You’ve done well for yourself, Hoel.”

King Hoel inclined his head in thanks and then King Aurelius invited him and his family to enter the castle and make themselves at home. As they disappeared through the grand doors, I continued on my way, the library and my work called, after all.
of_monmouth: ([Young] That's Just Sad)
2013-01-30 09:52 pm

*NaNo Project* Part the Tenth - Section the Third - The Novice - 960AD

Cedas greeted me with a head shake and a wagging finger. "Really, young Geoffrey, I sometimes wonder if you use that head of yours. What possessed you to think the prince could accompany you with no escort? He may be overlooked by most of the family, but what have I told you about Pendragons and their obsession with how they appear?"

"I did wonder," I spoke up, rather defensively I must admit. "But I couldn't think of a way to ask the Prince if he was aware he was doing the wrong thing."

Cedas leaned back in his chair. "Well, you do make a good point there, dealing with royalty often presents these difficulties. You're fortunate Prince Kentigern has a conscience and appealed on your behalf, otherwise I may have had to farewell a very promising student."

I might have blushed a little at the praise, but then I remembered.

"The Crown Prince couldn't protect me completely from punishment, I'm to go to the stocks at midday from now to Samhain."

I was rather offended when Cedas chuckled, yes chuckled at this news, it was the least bit amusing as far as I was concerned. I had to wonder if he was going to come along, perhaps throw a thing or two or join in with the jeers.

My feelings must have shown on my face for he immediately told me to calm down. "My sense of humour is a bit juvenile, I admit that, it's not directed at you personally."

That didn't really make the situation any better, but he was trying at least.

"Besides, it's all together possible the King's ire will wane long before Samhain, in the meantime I'm more than happy to give you time off during the day so you may bathe after your ordeal."

Well that was appreciated and I thanked Cedas effusively for his thoughtfulness until he held up a hand and asked me to stop.

I suppose I was being ridiculously emotional, so I calmed down and Cedas and I got to work on those scrolls that had arrive from Corfe. So much information to take down and sort! It was almost enough to make me forget my punishment, at least until ten minutes before the noon bells rang when a guard arrived at the library to escort me to my doom.

Think that's dramatic? Well, it probably is, but try and picture it, being forced to kneel on a hard wooden block and placing your neck and wrists across three small holes before the top portion is lowered into place and locked. After only a few moments your knees are beginning to ache and the holes in the wood only provide the smallest amount of movement. You can rest your wrists in the stocks, that is, if you wish to contend with your hands falling asleep as the circulation is cut off. And of course, you can't rest your head, if you do you start to choke very quickly indeed.

Then to top this marvellous situation off, townspeople come and stand before you offering no sympathy whatsoever, instead they throw all manner of rotten food stuffs at you and laugh at your sorry predictament.

And this continues for two hours.

I am sure you'll forgive me then not only my melodrama, but my preference to avoid writing about this incident...or incidents as the case was.

I don't believe they add that much to the story anyway.
of_monmouth: ([Young] That's Just Sad)
2013-01-29 09:39 pm

*NaNo Project* Part the Tenth - Section the Second - The Novice - 960AD

Things did not get much better when I arrived back in the city, for one thing, Prince Uther had left without permission and to say the King was furious about this was quite an understatement. He seemed even more enraged to discover the offer had been accepted, he did however refrain from giving full expression to this anger when addressing Sir Christian. He was very polite to him, but to my terror he requested I remain behind because he had a few things to discuss with me.

That I didn't faint clean away the second the great doors closed behind Sir Christian and the King rose from his throne face red is something I can never explain.

"I have been told by Cedas that you are an intelligent boy, quick to understand any given situation," the King began calmly, rather more calmly than I'd ever seen him, which was really the Dreiser thing of all. "Why then did you believe there was nothing the least bit strange about a prince of the blood accompanying you with no guard and no seal to identify himself?"

I swallowed unsure how to answer, the truth was the senior royals cared so little for Prince Uther I hadn't even considered they would wish to waste resources, but of course, I could hardly say such a thing to the King, not if I valued my life that was. Plus, I wasn't even sure the King wanted an answer, who knew with royalty?

"And then to go to our stauchest ally, as if the boy was a foundling and request a place as novice," the King's voice was steadily getting louder. "Or worse as if we thought such a place was guaranteed? Do you have any clue, any inkling of the danger you put our treaty with Cornwall in? For that...worthless child?"

I could have pointed out the fact that the offer had been accepted spoke of the fact that Prince Uther wasn't considered useless and furthermore the treaty remained strong, but I knew with certainty the King really didn't want that answer.

"And now that he's been accepted we are indebted! We owe the Duke of Cornwall something in return! Do you have any idea what that is? Do you even have the ability to guess?!"

I did not, not least because I was trying not to make the fact I was trembling with fear too obvious.

"I'll tell you what it is! The Duke has requested that I assign some worthless novice to one of my worthy knights! Do you think I want to waste my time with such trivialities? I should throw you out of this kingdom!"

I truly was shaking now, thrown out of Camelot? I supposed it was preferable to being executed, but all the same! After all the work I had done and now that I was in a position to return to my studies full time?

"But I won't and do you know why?" The King growled.

I shook my head wordlessly.

"Because my son, Prince Kentigern, has pleaded for your case, I cannot imagine why, but he has and because he is my son and Crown Prince of this realm, I have granted his request."

The King glared at me as if he would like nothing more than to throw me across the border back into Caerleon personally.

It was quite amazing to me that I was still standing, I couldn't believe that the Crown Prince had done this for me. My relief was almost overwhelming.

In fact it was overwhelming and I actually fell on my knees in reverence to the King.

"Thank you, thank you, your Majesty!"

If I expected that to assuage his anger I was mistaken, instead I was stunned by a blow, which sent me sprawling across the floor.

The King had struck me.

"Do not speak to me, boy, you have no right!" The King raged at me, looking a thousand times more threatening then he ever had, growlering down at me. "You are to be punished for your insolence."

Punished?

"Until Samhain, you will be taken daily at noon to the stocks where you will remain for two hours." The King snapped, then imperiously waved his hand to dismiss me. "Get out of my sight."

Rubbing my cheek, which was throbbing with pain, I scrambled to my feet and hurried for the great doors, which were pulled open by two guards, who I avoided looking at as I ran past.

Immediately, I sought Gaius, even though it was probably more proper for me to go to Cedas and tell him of my return.

I almost crashed down the door of the Physian's Chambers as I entered, giving poor Linus quite a shock.

I immediately saw that Gaius was nowhere in sight, which was quite unusual. "I'm sorry," I stuttered to Linus, "I didn't mean to... I was looking for Gaius."

"I imagined so," Linus remarked dryly. "But you won't find him here, at least not for an hour yet. He's at the stocks."

"The stocks?" I was confused, why would Gaius be there? He'd never struck me as the sort who would enjoy throwing rotten fruit and vegetables at the sorry souls on display.

"For punishment," Linus explained slowly, "King Aureulius was more than a little upset about him not trying to stop Prince Uther from leaving."

My stomach dropped and I felt ill, Gaius had been punished as well? It wasn't his fault!

I have to admit I was terribly impolite to old Linus that day, almost as soon as he'd finished speaking I was running from the Physician's Chambers and for the courtyard just beyond the castle wall where the stocks were set up.

I found Gaius there, with a semi-circle of mostly children laughing and pointing at my friend, she they weren't throwing rotten things at him, of course.

My face fell at the sight and I was wracked with guilt, I felt it was my fault that Gaius was in this mess, after all if I hadn't wanted someone to accompany me, at least at the start he never would have been in a position to know about Prince Uther leaving without permission. This was definitely not a proud moment.

"Geoff!" To my surprise Gaius called out my name and not in a manner you would usually expect someone to address you with when you were responsible for getting them into the stocks.

The crowd had dispersed even though it wasn't on the hour, I wondered if they were showing Gaius mercy by leaving early but when I came over to him, he gave a wry grin.

"Off to rearm themselves, they'll be back soon." He explained in a resigned tone.

"I'm sorry," I aplogised somewhat inadequately.

"Sorry? What are you apologizing for? It's not your fault I'm here."

It was nice of him to say so, but I still felt guilty.

"I take it you were successful and Prince Uther remains in Cornwall under the eye of the Duke?"

I nodded. "The King was less than pleased, apparently I've been given this punishment as well," I gestured to the stocks. "How bad is it?"

Gaius gave a shrug, or at least a the approximation of one given his position. "In all honesty, the worst part is been bent over in this position for a couple of hours on end. Although admittedly the rotten food part isn't all that fun either, they wait until it's really rancid. Not that you can blame them though, no point throwing passable food at a person."

Despite Gsius's good humour I wasn't the least bit comforted by his description of what the stocks were like, but then I supposed that was the point of them.

"You ought leave now," Gaius suddenly remarked, "if you don't want to start your punishment early, some of them don't have the best aim."

Indeed the children and few adults who enjoyed participating in such acts were on their way back and clearly the food was going to fly once more.

The only thing I could do was apologise again and scurrying away, taking one last look over my shoulder as Gaius was put under a hail of mushy tomatoes, pears and several other things so rotten they couldn't even be identified.

It was going to be a very grueling three months to Samhain.
of_monmouth: ([Young] I Don't Even Know...)
2013-01-28 11:11 pm

*NaNo Project* Part the Tenth - Section the First - The Novice - 960AD

With Prince Uther securely placed in the Duke of Cornwall’s care for his novice training I was free to return to Camelot, the library and my studies therein!

As you might imagine I was more than a little excited about this prospect and so did not remain in Cornwall for long.

I did though take up Duke Diodantes offer of an escourt of sorts, it was more of return message to the King, or more specifically the Crown Prince, letting them know the offer had been accepted and that the Prince was in good hands.

So the messenger, a Sir Christian and I headed back to Camelot, the trip through Cornwall being very uneventful indeed, but upon crossing the border of Camelot, things became very strange, very quickly.

We had crossed the border by another – shorter – route, which wasn’t marked on any maps, one that led us to enter Camelot far closer to the Isle of the Blessed than the main one. So close in fact, we all but skirted the lake, it was quite a sight to see, it was the height of summer by then and there was no wind whatsoever. The surface of the lake was completely still, almost like a mirror.

The day was hot enough that we took every opportunity to water our horses, so we took the opportunity here a well.

Later on, of course, I would wonder at the wisdom of doing this, at the time I had forgotten Cedas’s comment that the Isle and the lake in which it sat was considered sacred by the Old Religion. So it proably wasn’t the place to have your horses drink.

They had only just bent their necks to beginning lapping at the still water when there was a voice behind Sir Christian and I.

“Do you usually enter someone’s home without permission?”

I jumped, while Sir Christian, ever a knight immediately drew his word.

“Oh, put that down, you’re the one tresspassing.”

The voice was familiar and as my shock wore off I realised it was the priestess, Nimueh.

She had her arms folded, looking at both of us rather amused.

“Who are you?” Sir Chrisitan demanded, not lowering his sword or relaxing in the least.

“Who am I?” Nimueh sounded even more offended. “The question is, who are you? Wandering onto my lands and threatening me with that weapon?”

“That's Sir Christian,” I blurted quickly, “and it’s me....Geoffrey of Monmouth, from the Camelot Library.”

I wasn’t really all that sure she would remember me, why would she anyway?

However, an extremely amused smile touched Nimueh’s mouth and she turned to me. “You’re far from home, aren’t you, young Geoffrey?”

“We were in Cornwall...Prince Uther and I, I mean.”

“Oh?” Nimueh definitely seemed interested now, but she gave Sir Christian a rather suspicious look. “But this is not the prince, time doesn’t change a person that much.”

“No, Prince Uther stayed behind in Cornwall, he’s Duke Diodantes novice now.”

“Is he?” The look in Nimueh’s eyes was confusing, it seemed like triumph, but she had nothing to do with any of this. Did she?

“Yes, and Sir Christian is from Cornwall and is delivering a message to confirm Prince Uther’s placement.”

“Ah, courtly customs then? Typical,” Nimueh rolled her eyes and laughed. She turned back to Sir Christian. “You can put that away, I’m not going to hurt you.”

Sir Christian did reshealth his sword and looked rather irritated. “I do not fear you will hurt me, madam.”

“You don’t? That’s a shame, because I could.” I thought I saw Nimueh’s eyes flash, but nothing happened, so perhaps it was just a trick of the light.

She moved away from us over to the horses giving each of them a pat on the neck. “You’ve brought such lovely horses here for a visit, so really, I can’t be angry at you. It is customary, however, to pray to the Goddess before disturbing the lake.”

Sir Christian gave an annoyed grunt and I swallowed. No-one would ever accuse me of being deeply religious, but I really couldn’t imagine praying to the Goddess. I couldn’t say I wouldn’t, especially to appease the priestesses, but I wasn’t all that comfortable with the idea either.

Still, I felt that I better offer some explanation. “We didn’t intend any disrespect, my lady.”

Nimueh waved a hand. “Oh, I’m sure you didn’t, although really, you should be glad I found you. Some of the other priestesses are not so kind.”

That made me shiver slightly, Nimueh laughed and looked as if she wanted to pinch my cheek as if I were some errant child. Fortunately, she didn’t.

Sir Christian’s jaw remained set and for the first time I wondered if he was indeed one as his name implied and a strong one at that. In which case this could become very uncomfortable, very quickly.

Fortunately, the horses had had their fill of water by then and were all ready starting to wander away, which was our cue to leave and quickly.

I bowed my head to Nimueh, hoping that at least would be considered respectful. “Thank you for allowing our horses to drink here, we’ll be on our way.”

Sir Chrisitan fortunately decided not to stir Nimueh and instead strided towards his horse, grabbing his reins and swinging into the saddle.

Nimueh actually seemed disappointed. "Leaving so soon?"

"We have no business with you, witch." Sir Christian spat the words out, his hand once again going to his sword hilt.

"Oh, is that how it is?" Nimueh didn't seem offended, if anything she sounded amused. She strode over to Sir Christian's horse looking up at him without the slightest hint of fear. "You're one of those sorts of Christians then, who hate what you can't understand? You should be more like young Geoffrey here, his father is a bishop, but you don't see him condemning anyone, do you?"

Sir Christian looked in my direction ad whilst Nimueh might not have found his stare intimidating I certainly did, I cringed and stepped back, out of the argument.

"It is no concern of mine what a spineless boy does," Sir Christian snapped. "I only know that you are wicked and seek to corrupt."

This rather harsh pronouncement was met with gales of laughter, truly, I don't believe I'd seen anyone so amused before in my life.

"So you have met me before?" She purred, swaying her hips suggestively.

Sir Christian's face reddened, his jaw set, his hand grasped the hilt of his sword and I, having spent the last six years in the company of Pendragon's was certain I'd never seen anyone so angry.

"Are you planning to chop my head off?" She goaded. "Rid the world of one more heathen?"

"I would if I could, but fortunately for you I am not in my own land." Sir Christian, with some effort it seemed let go of his sword hilt and grasped up his horse's reins once more. "I will not risk bringing censure upon Cornwall by sending you to your rightful place in the fires of Hell."

Nimueh tilted back her head and laughed. "And because this fine young man is here," she nodded in my direction, "I will not bring the fires right here to rid the world of some useless bigot." She gave me a smile. "For I would not wish to scar him for life."

I let out a breath I hadn't even realised I was holding and then swallowed hard, still fearful of how this would end.

With that Nimueh turned her back on Sir Christian and walked away, paying him no more mind. When she reached the lake's edge she dove into its still waters and disappeared for almost a minute before surfacing again and swimming on towards the Isle.

I felt a bit weak at the knees after this confrontation and it was some moments before I had the strength to mount my horse.

"Truly a woman of the highest evil," Sir Christian proclaimed as we started on her way once more. He appraised me, looking far from impressed. "Your father is a bishop, yet you don't speak out against the use of evil?"

I really didn't know what to say to that, except that I hadn't seen magic used for evil since I had encountered it. I checked that thought briefly, however, remembering Maxim and the Labrinyth, but I had no idea what had really happened there. It seemed some creature of magic had taken him, but then there were plenty of non-magical creatures did the same.

My lack of answer did not sit well with Sir Christian and needless to say the rest of the journey back to Camelot was awkward at best.
of_monmouth: ([Young] I Don't Even Know...)
2013-01-27 10:52 pm

*NaNo Project* Part the Ninth - Section the Sixth - Cornwall - 960AD

Prince Uther had not been lying when he'd said dawn was close, I had barely fallen asleep it seemed before I heard his voice telling me to rise and shine.

I groaned, rubbed my eyes and sat up, wondering not for the first, and certainly not for the last, time how I had got into all this. All I wanted was to be an archivist and instead I'd ended up as a tutor and courier.

Still, one had to accept what they were given and at the very least I was getting used to riding a horse. I won't bore you with the details of the rest of our trip, except to say that to my utter relief the prince was right about inns. After that first night we were able to find one and I was able to sleep in a bed and not worry about vicious bandits or crawling insects.

It took three days to cross the kingdom of Camelot, as we neared the border of Cornwall the land seemed to become almost uninhabited. There were wide tracts of land without a single house or farm to be seen and the whole area seemed almost to be another world.

Just a few mikes from the border, I noticed something curious, in the distance there was a tower, just the one rising into the air. It was the first sign of civilisation I'd seen for a while and I couldn't help asking. "What's that over there?"

Prince Uther turned his head to where I was pointing.

"That's the City of the Blessed," he answered.

"Where the preistesses live?"

Prince Uther gave a nod.

As the lone tower slowly disappeared out of sight as we rode on, I wondered what it might be like there. Was everything done by magic? And did only women and girls live there?

My curiosity would have to wait, the prince and I continued on, crossing the border just before stopping for the night. How did I know this? Not because of my excellent cartography skills, but because of the accent of the owner of the inn we stopped at.

I was rather surprised the change was so sudden, but the Prince seemed not to notice, which I thought odd. After all the accents of the people of Camelot, Caerleon and the parts of Mercia I had visited weren't so noticible. There was a difference of course, one that most people would pick up on eventually, but this was quite obvious.

I tried to recall if the Duke and his son had spoke with such accents, but I couldn't recall, so I had to assume not, or if they did they were nowhere near as noticible.

I had hoped once we had passed into the duchy of Cornwall we wouldn't have far to go, but of course, nothing is that easy. The Duke's home, a castle called Tintangel was almost clear in the other side of the duchy, so I had another two maybe three days of riding to look forward to yet.

By this point in the piece most of my muscles were beyond the point of aching and a somewhat worrying numbness had set into my rear end. Whilst it was certainly a relief not to feel so much pain, I wondered if I'd ever get the feeling back once this was all over.

We continued on, every so often Prince Uther would make a remark about how much he wanted the Duke of Cornwall to accept him as a novice and how nice the countryside was. He also went hunting for rabbits, despite the rather pertinent fact that neither of us were very good cooks. I for one could barely get a fire started, so in the end it was rather a waste, although I suppose the scavengers would be grateful. And sometimes if we were close enough he'd bring the kill to the inn we spent the night in where in return we received a slight discount or a free round of drinks for our, or rather Prince Uther's troubles.

Finally a week after setting out the castle of Tintangel came into sight. It was quite a sight, a well-built elegant construction that was perched on the edge of a cliff and seemed to soar out over the sea.

"Wow," I heard the prince breathe, which was quite a compliment from him. I had to agree with his assessment, the place was magnificant.

Fortunately, I recalled the proper manner I was required to present myself with and hurriedly set about pulling out the scroll and the small Pendragon standard I had been equipped with.

Prince Uther waited patiently, obviously he knew all about the traditions that were required for this sort of thing.

"Right...I've got everything right, don't I?"

Prince Uther inspected me closely, then finally declared me fit.

Now that the moment was here I was more than a little nervous, I'd never yearned to be the centre of attention and now here I was having to make a speech and everything.

The prince and I continued up a well-trodden path to the drawbridge and imposing castle gates.

A loud voice rang through the air, and I almost dropped my scroll and the standard.

"Who goes there?" The booming voice demanded.

I craned my neck and saw a very large guard standing on top of the castle walls, just above the gate. He held a spear in hand and peered down at us in a rather imperious manner indeed.

I coughed nervously and cleared me throat before answering, even then it still came out a bit squeakily.

"I am Geoffrey, tutor to Prince Uther Pendragon of Camelot, I come to seek an audience with his Grace, Diodantes, Duke of Cornwall to make a request on behalf of my charge."

The guard looked down at me for a moment then turned to speak to someone we couldn't see from our position. He turned back after a few moments and then spoke again.

"Who is the boy?"

I looked over at Prince Uther, not sure what to say... I had a feeling that him accompanying me was definately not part of the ceremony.

"I am Prince Uther," the Prince spoke with confident authourity looking up at the guard as if daring him to make an issue of it.

The guard turned away again for quire a while longer this time and I started to wonder if we would be admitted at all.

Finally though there was the sound of gears and cogs working and slowly the great gates opened and four guards marched out.

I scrambled to dismount my horse to assure them I wasn't any sort of threat and when they came to a stop before me I held up the scroll. "I bring the Pen dragon seal as proof of my claim."

The head guard, peered closely at the seal then finally nodded. "You and the prince," he gave Prince Uther a rather suspicious look, "may enter. Lord Diodantes will see you within the hour. In the meantime we will attend to your horses and serve you a meal."

Well, they certainly were a hospitable people, my stomach was empty and there was nothing I was looking forward to more than a nice meal.

Prince Uther had other things on his mind, however and addressed the guard. "Is Lord Gorlois here?"

The guard looked at him, still skeptical, claiming to be a prince when one wasn't was such a dangerous offense one would have to be particularly foolhardy to try it, but it must happen sometimes.

"He is training, I will tell him of your arrival however."

Prince Uther looked less than impressed by this offer, but fortunately decided to hold his tongue and I thanked God for this small miracle.

We were lead across the courtyard of the castle which at this time of the morning was full of activity. Every so often someone would look up in our direction, looking quite curious, but apparently too busy with their tasks to approach us.

The castle itself was as airy and well lit as Camelot, and the view from the windows had to be seen to be believed, the guard lead us to a rather spacious hall and told us to sit and food would be brought to us shortly.

Prince Uther was impatient pacing back and forth, not bothering to take in the spectacular view, nor did he even look up when a servant brought in our food, steaming bowls of porridge with plenty of fruit.

“Have you seen Lord Gorlois today?” Prince Uther demanded of the servant.

“No, sir, I have not,” she shook her head. “I’m sorry.”

She set the bowls on the table and then with a little bow hurried from the room.

Prince Uther heaved an annoyed sigh, but he came over and joined me at the table, which was a relief because I wasn’t too sure if I would be allowed to eat if the Prince wasn’t.

We were barely half way through our meal when another guard entered the room and announced that Duke Diotantes would recieve us. I gave my remaining porridge a rather dispairing look, but there wasn’t much that could be done, you don’t leave a duke waiting.

We were lead from our small hall through a corridor with stained glass windows that allowed filtered light in, turning it a range of pinks, blues, purples and greens.

The Duke awaited us in...well...it wasn’t a throne room, so I suppose I wuld call it a meeting hall. It was almost as big as the one in Camelot and I found myself wondering just how much power the Duke of Cornwall held and why he was not a king in his own right.

I would have to wait to find out the answer to that, because first I had to make the request I had come all this way for.

“Prince Uther, Geoffrey of Monmouth,” the Duke greeted us, his voice was rich and commanding with a hint of the accent I’d been hearing since arriving in the Duchy. “I understand a mission of great import brings you here.”

“Yes, Your Grace,” I bowed low, my hands clutching the scroll. “I am here on behalf of my student, Prince Uther.” It seemed a bit odd to say that when Prince Uther was standing right next to me, but I didn’t think it was a good idea to change the way the speech went.

Duke Diodantes had risen to greet Prince Uther but now he was seated on his chair, listening to my petittion.

“Prince Uther has been a squire for some seven years now and is has proven his worth to enter the the final stages of his training.” I continued on, trying not to shift nervously from foot to foot and thus ruin the solemnity of the moment. “It is for this reason I have come here today, to ask for you to do the Prince the great honour of accepting him as your novice.”

I took a deep breath and bowed again, holding out the scroll for the Duke or his attendant to take.

Since the Duke didn’t have an attendant with him, he got to his feet and came over to take the scroll, unrolling it.

I’m not entirely sure what was written on the scroll, it had been given to me rolled up and I certainly wasn’t going to open it. It probably said everything that I had just said.

The Duke looked up, somewhat wry and maybe a little bemused. “What, exactly, am I to make of the fact that Prince Uther has accompanyed you? Do you assume my consent?”

This was exactly what I feared would happen, I had no idea what to say, I gave Prince Uther a wift look, but he seemed completely unconcerned by the Duke’s question.

“We...I...er...we do not assume anything, only that you consider our request. Prince Uther came with me for...umm....the adventure, an excursion if you will.”

I don’t think the Duke believed me, but by then a smile was tugging the corners of his mouth. “I see.” He turned to the Prince. “And what say you, Your Highness?”

Prince Uther had been looking distractedly out the windows, but now he turned his whole attention to Duke Diodantes. He actaully bowed to him and spoke in a voice of deep respect.

“Your Grace, nothing would please me more than to be allowed to have the opportunity to train under you. Your abilities as a knight are well known and stories are often told of your battles and duels.”

“Is that so?” The Duke walked down the two steps and stood in front of Prince Uther. “Well, I’m not the only one, Sire, word has reached us here in far off Tintangel of your recent exploits. Apparently you almost beat your cousin, fancied to be the best knight of his generation.”

Prince Uther blushed, actually blushed at this comment, he ducked his head. “Your Grace is too kind.”

“Nonsense,” the Duke declared, much to my surprise and then he shocked me further by placing a fatherly hand upon the prince’s shoulder. “It would be my great honour and my priviledge to train you and I am sure you will make me proud and prove yourself a dedicated and talented novice.”

Prince Uther looked up, one of his rarer smiles on his face, in fact he looked ready to hug the Duke, but refrained from doing so. Instead he did something else that was just as unexpected, at least as far as I was concerned, he dropped to one knee as if he was being knighted officially.

This all seemed to be part of the ceremony however, because rather than looked stunned that a prince of the blood was kneeling to him, Duke Diodantes place a hand on his shoulder and said some words that I didn’t hear from where I was standing.

The Prince got to his feet and turned to me with look of complete and utter relief on his face, then said the words I’d never expected to hear from him.

“Thank you.”
of_monmouth: ([Young] I Don't Even Know...)
2013-01-26 10:52 pm

*NaNo Project* Part the Ninth - Section the Fifth - Cornwall - 960AD

He was checking his horse's tack as I'm made a worse bow than usual. I certainly hadn't expected to run into him today. Did he know of my misson?

"Geoffrey," he nodded at me. "You're ready to go, I hope?"

I didn't understand at first, then realised the Prince was preparing to come with me!

Could he do that? The offer hadn't even been made to the Duke much less accepted.Would his presence not make everything quite awkward? After all, how exactly did one refuse a prince to his face?

Maybe that was the plan.

Of course, I was not able to ask Prince Uther any of these questions that were racing through my head. Although, I had to wonder if the Crown Prince knew about all this.

In my surprise at seeing the Prince I had completely forgotten about Gaius so almost jumped a mile when he came up behind me and placed his hand on my shoulder.

When I realised it was him, I took his arm and moved a few feet away from Prince Uther before whispering. "He's coming too!"

Gaius gave a quick peek over my shoulder, pursing his lips in thought. "Is he now? That's interesting."

"Interesting?" I hissed back, quite perturbed. "I barely know how to converse with him during lessons! How am I supposed to act when I'm in his company for hours and hours?"

Gaius gave me an apologetic shrug. "I have no idea, but look, I'm sure it won't be that bad."

And I was sure Gaius had no idea what he was talking about, but by now Prince Uther had checked his tack to his sstisifaction and I was in no position to dally.

"You're still coming with me," I hissed as a groom headed our way.

"I'm what?" Gaius blinked and stared at me as if I were talking in a foreign language.

"You know more about dealing with royalty than I do, I need to follow your lead. Besides Linus will want those herbs."

Any objects Gaius might have had went out the window with that reminder and I requested two horses from the groom.

Prince Uther looked more than a little impatient by the time the groom returned with the two steads and Gaius and I hurriedly mounted our saddles - I ended up nearly falling off - so as not to keep him waiting any longer.

With that done, I looked at Gaius, who looked back at me, I had no idea what to do now.

Finally, Prince Uther spoke. "Well, let's go, Cornwall won't come to us, you know." And with that he turned his horse and began a slow trot down the main thoroughfare of the lower town to the main gates.

Grabbing our reins, Gaius and I followed and I wondered what, exactly, was in store for today.

The first problem presented itself swiftly, Prince Uther was an accomplished rider, Gaius was not and I was even less so. Soon the young prince had galloped nearly half a mile ahead of us.

When he finally noticed we weren't keeping up he came to a stop and wheeled his horse around to face us.

"Is that as fast as you can go?" He demanded, staring at us in disbelief.

"We're not what you would call good riders, Sire," Gaius answered for the both of us.

Prince Uther heaved a great sigh of annoyance as if this was the worst news possible, I wondered briefly if he was going to strike off on his own, but to my surprise he slowed down to our pace instead.

He was still young - a fact the King and his own father seemed to overlook - so I guessed that he'd rather not be alone.

As Gaius had promised the road west was very well tended and I eventually felt comfortable enough to run my horse at a brisk trot.

Gaius was also correct in statement that the town wasn't all that far away, in fact we reached it in around three quarters of an hour. My plan had been to take a break, have some lunch and so on, but the prince was clearly impatient and I certainly didn't have to guts to ask him if we might stopfor any length of time.

We did stop to water our horses and attend to any personal matters which at least gave Gaius enough time to pull me aside.

"Good luck, you'll certainly need it," he whispered, just to ensure we wouldn't be overheard. I can't say his comment filled me with confidence. "But Prince Uther likes you well enough so I'd say you're in a better position than most."

Considering I really didn't know what the position would be in any case, I remained concerned.

"The prince isn't much of a talker anyway, just stay in the saddle and he'll more than likely be happy."

I groaned and rubbed my forehead. "I can't believe I have to do this."
Gaius gave me a reassuring pat on the back. "Life works in mysterious ways, but I have faith you'll make it through."

I managed a small smile, thanked him for his words and noticing that the prince had all ready remounted his horse and was waiting

I remounted my horse as well, and with one last look over my shoulder at Gaius who gave a wave, we headed off along the road, and soon enough we were on our way.

The route was not directly west, as the road went around the White Mountains, the more adventerous could of course hazard the route, but I certainly wasn’t game. I think Prince Uther might have been, but he didn’t even bring up the point to me, which was a great relief, because I wouldn’t have been able to refuse.

I suppose there was one thing to be thankful for, the fact that it was summer, the weather was positively beautiful, the sun shining from a sky with only a few puffy white clouds to be seen here and there. There was a slight breeze in the air that prevented things from becoming too hot.

A few hours after leaving Ldgershall we broke for lunch, which was quite a relief because by that time my stomach was grumbling. We did not stop for long because Prince Uther seemed impatient to keep going, so while I would have been happy for a bit of a break, almost as soon as I’d finished chewing we were back on our mounts and on our way.

As Gaius had reminded me Prince Uther was not the talkative sort and I was more than happy to take in my surroundings and just enjoy it.

But eventually the prince spoke.

“Do you think Duke Dionotus will accept me as a novice?”

I looked over at him in some surprise, the prince had never actually asked my opinion before. I wasn’t exactly sure how to respond, I was so used to the idea of royalty never being questioned, I never thought I’d be asked a question by one of them.

I suppose in such a situation one had to answer honestly, so I did. “I have no idea, Sire, I don’t know Duke Dionotus.”

Prince Uther frowned. “You were the scribe at the meeting, you saw him more than I did, you must know something about his character.”

“Uh...” I hedged. “He negoiates well,” I finally remarked. “But really, your Highness, I spent all of that time concentrating on recording all the conversation. So I can’t give any description of character, I’m afraid.”

The prince frowned...it was more of a pout, really, it was almost amusing, but I made certain not to laugh, because...I wasn’t a complete fool.

“I hope he does,” Prince Uther said, almost more to himself than to me. “I want to train to be a knight, not be stuck in a dungeon or sent to Mora.”

That was the first I heard of him being sent away to Mora, a small isle kingdom that was just off the south coast of Camelot. I didn’t know that much about it, having had no reason to read about it. I imagined though it would be far more prefable than the dungeon, although surely he wouldn’t actually be kept there indefinitely.

We lapsed into silence once more and I wondered where exactly we were going to stop for the night. I had a rough map with me and I took it out to give it a look, frowning at the lack of any sort of roadside inn that seemed anywhere near where we were.

“You won’t find any inns to sleep in,” Prince Uther commented. “At least not until we get closer to Wyke.”

I squinted a bit and finally located Wyke, which was nestled just on the other side of the White Mountains. I quickly realised that at our rather sedate pace we wouldn’t be anywhere near there before the sun went down.

“What are we supposed to do then?” The thought worried me so much, I actually forgot myself.

Prince Uther was not offended, thankfully, instead he simply gave a shrug. “Sleep in the woods, of course.

“In the woods?” I repeated. On the ground? In the open air? With nothing decent to sleep on? I wouldn’t say I was a delicate flower, but I hadn’t slept in the woods since that horrible night after Maxim got lost forever in the Labrinyth of Gedref. It was an experience I certainly didn’t want to repeat, but I guess there wasn’t any choice though.

Eventually the sun dipped below the horizon and with it being a new moon there was very little light to see by and we came to a stop.

We really seemed to be in the middle of nowhere and I wondered how safe it was to sleep out here.

“There’s not...a lot of bandits out here, is there?” I looked over my shoulder at the slight sound of what seemed to be a twig snapping underfoot.

Uther was tying his horse to a tree and he looked over his shoulder at me and once again shrugged. “I’ve never been this far from Camelot Castle before.”

“You haven’t?” I was surprised, but I supposed the royal family didn’t really need to travel. But I would have thought that a royal tour around the kingdom would have been the sort of thing, and failing that the hunting expeditions would have taken him further than twenty miles from the castle. But apparently not.

“I don’t think they’d bother with us, we’re not anyone important after all,” the prince continued, a wry smile on his face.

Well, I suppose he had a point, it was not as if Prince Uther had his face on any coins or would even have been describedby visitors to the castle.

I was rather hungry, but unfortunately I hadn’t considered that there wouldn’t be an inn to stay in so I hadn’t saved any of my lunch. The purse of coins were heavy and for all that they were quite useless.

The Prince had wandered off while I was bemoaning my lack of food and I had a tense moment wondeirng where he was and if he had been kidnapped before realising he had gone to a nearby creek to fetch water for his horse. I realised that I too should tend to my horse, he had carried me all day without throwing me off and deserved some rest.

Once my horse was watered and following the prince’s lead fed him some grass and patted him down until he was neighing rather contently.

I wasn’t so content, however, aside from the food situation, which I could deal with, I suppose, I hadn’t brought a blanket not thinking that I’d have to sleep on the ground. However looking at my horse I realised there was another possibility, the blanket underneath the saddle. It would have been a brilliant idea, if not for one drawback, mainly that I had no idea how to take off and put a saddle on. I briefly wondered if the prince might have an idea, but that would have required him to do work...for me. So I quickly dismissed that idea.

I suppose we hadn’t picked that bad a spot, on a grassy spot that seemed relatively soft, but then I hadn’t spent a whole night sleeping on it at that point.

Prince Uther though had all ready settled own the ground and seemed to have drifted off to sleep all ready.

I sighed and went to my horse taking down my stachel and giving it an experimental squeeze decided it would make a very good pillow indeed.

So with high hopes I’d get a decent night’s sleep, I lay down upon the grass, positioned the stachel under my head and closed my eyes, hoping for the best...

I was quite tired after some eight hours in the saddle, so I actually fell asleep very quickly, unfortunately it did not last through the night. It couldn't have been more than a couple of hours before I suddenly snapped awake.

The world was quiet...very quiet, too quiet. I sat up quickly and looked around, my heart seemed to stop in my chest when I realised Prince Uther was no longer sleeping nearby. I scrambled to my feet and for the first time in my life actually wished I had a weapon.

It was more than likely that whoever took the prince was long gone by now, but all the same I looked around, squinting in the dim starlight before finally noticing a rather hefty branch on the ground, which I wasted no time in grabbing up.

I looked around, trying to take in my surroundings and wondering what exactly a warrior would do in this situation.

I noticed both our horses, still feathered and apparently asleep. I moved carefully across the grass to my one and took a look at his saddle, not only was the scroll still there so was the coin punch, which struck me as more than a little odd.

I was just about to decide whether I should mount my horse and head back to Camelot with news of the Prince's disappearance when there was the sound of twigs crunching underfoot.

With a shout I whirled around, brandishing my branch for all I was worth.

There was a flash of steel and then -

"Geoffrey! What the Hell are you doing?"

I dropped my stick in shock, Prince Uther! He hadn't been taken after all.

"I thought bandits had got you!"

"Bandits?" He looked at my gobsmacked. "I told you before we're not of any interest to them. Besides, I'm armed."

And so he was, a long and quite fururious looking dagger was pointed in my direction, at least until he resheathed it.

"You're too jumpy, you know that?" he shook his head at me as if lecturing a small child.

Feeling defensive I remarked. "I woke up and you were nowhere to be seen, what else was I supposed to think?"

"That I'd gone to take a piss? Do you really think bandits would have just taken me and not you? They'd have at least slit your throat."

I was more than a little surprised to hear the prince use such language, but I suppose that's what spending all of ones time with knights did to a child.

Prince Uther grinned and shook his head. "Don't worry about it, we'll be staying in an inn tomorrow night I can assure you."

Well, that was a relief, although it seemed a very long time away.

"Let's get back to sleep, it'll be dawn in a few hours and we need to get an early start."

Did we? Well, I couldn't really challenge the prince, so I resigned myself to the fact. I took my coin purse from the saddle and tucked it into my trousers however, since leaving it unprotected struck me as a rather stupid idea.

Resting my head back on my satchel, I sighed, closed my eyes and tried to forget the scare I'd just had.
of_monmouth: ([Young] Trying To Shape Young Minds)
2013-01-25 10:35 pm

*NaNo Project* Part the Ninth - Section the Fourth - Cornwall 960AD

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!
of_monmouth: ([Young] I Don't Even Know...)
2013-01-24 10:19 pm

*NaNo Project* Part the Ninth - Section the Third - Cornwall - 960AD

One might imagine that a warrior family like the Pendragons would be bursting with pride at the raw talent and ability displayed by their youngest member.

You would be mistaken.

The crowds certainly were, as one they rose to their feet, applauding and chanting young Prince Uther's name. The prince himself looked overwhelmed as if he couldn't quite believe the cheers were for him, once he realised that they were a huge smile broke across his face.

The Crown Prince looked just as stunned if not more so, he had lifted his cousin clear off his feet, but now set him down and stepped back a grin starting to form on his face.

The rest of the Royal Family in the Royal box were not smiling, they were not even applauding. When the crowd finally noticed this they retook their seats and there were looks of confusion passed between people as they wondered what exactly was the meaning of King Aurelius's thunderous look.

"It is hereby declared that Crown Prince Kentigern is the Champion of the Tournament." What was usually a joyous announcement was delivered in icy tones and hardly anyone in the crowd thought to applaud.

The Crown Prince came to stand before his father, Prince Uther trailing behind, and bowed.

"It is with great pride I accept the title, Sire and I commend my young opponent for his brilliant skill."

There was much applause at that, the crowd as ever charmed by their Crown Prince, the faces of those in the royal box remained impassive as ever and I was certain that there was trouble ahead.

I couldn't have been more correct.

~*~

I am not sure if the townspeople ever discovered what happened in the aftermath of the tournament, I doubt very much if even the chattiest guards dared to breathe a word of it.

It being...Prince Uther's imprisonment.

Yes, the barely teenaged prince was hauled down into the dungeons almost immediately after the tournament presentation and unceremoniously thrown into a cell.

His crime? Humilating the Crown Prince of Camelot.

The Crown Prince himself, however had no part in it, his words had been sincere and he was extremely proud of his cousin. No, it was the King and probably the Queen who were furious. Jealousy in the Pendragon family was that great...I could not believe they had chosen to view it in this way, rather than as a testament of the strength of the royal bloodline.

When I discovered where Prince Uther was, I brought up this ridiculousness with Gaius, who was pragmatic.

"For all the talk of having a secure inheritance royal families don't really have the sort of temperament that lends itself to large families. The King wants to be centre of attention and his son can be an extension of that, his nephew on the other hand is more of an outsider, particularly since he is the child of a hated sibling."

"But to arrest the lad, he's practically still a child!" That was really just too much as far as I was concerned.

Gaius shrugged. "The King is the rule of law in Camelot, if he want to imprison Prince Uther for a perceived slight that's his preogitive."

Well, I still found it cruel to the extreme.

Prince Uther at least did not remain in the cells for long, although I couldn't imagine being in that dank, distressing place for any length of time and I was eleven years the Prince's senior.

At any rate, two days after the tournament, Prince Uther came into the library, his face covered with an array of bruises, he also walked with a noticible limp. Both these things concerned me, while they could have been injuries sustained in the melee and it was possible some of them were I was also more than certain that more than a few of them occurred afterwards while the lad had been in the cells.

I was, as ever, in no position to give an opinion on this or even to inquire into the Prince's health. Not that I believed for a minute he would have confided in me, Prince Uther simply wasn't like that.

He took a seat at our usual table, face utterly stoic ready to begin the lesson and despite my awkwardness I had to pretend I didn't notice the bruises.

However, to my great astonishment I shortly discovered there was someone who wished to speak about the events.

Not only that but they chose to speak to me.

When Prince Uther left for the day, the lessons, such as they were over for the day who should walk into the library but Crown Prince Kentigern.

I figured he was here to ask something of Cedas so returned to the my shelving, at least until a shadow fell over me.

I turned to find the Crown Prince right behind me.

“Your Highness!” I almost dropped the book I was holding and quickly bowed.

The Crown Prince gave a brisk nod. “Geoffrey.”

I wasn’t sure what exactly to do next, should I put the book in my hand back? Or wait until the Crown Prince had said what he was going to say?

I decided that it was the latter and waited, wondering what he could want with me.

The Crown Prince ran a hand through his hair and after what seemed like hours finally spoke. “I take it Prince Uther was just here?”

I noded.

The Crown Prince shook his head. “My father is refusing to see reason and Uncle Ambrosius is worse than useless when it comes to anything concerning Uther.”

I didn’t comment on this, well aware that to do so would likely be endangering my own life.

“I have no idea what Father is planning, but he certainly hasn’t finished with Uther yet.”

That sounded particularly ominous, I would never have thought someone would be capable of hurting their own flesh and blood, but the Pendragon’s seemed capable of anything.

I must have had quite a look on my face, because the Crown Prince nodded and then pursed his lips in thought.

“I’m not going to let that happen, I’m going to convince him to place Uther elsewhere for his noviate.”

I have to admit with my complete lack of knowledge in knights and their training I wasn’t entirely aware what the Crown Prince was getting at here.

The Crown Prince frowned at me. “You know what I’m referring to, don’t you?”

I had to admit my ignorance.

The Crown Prince to his credit did not proclaim me a complete idiot but instead actually explained. “When squires are promoted to the first level of knighthood they are called novices.” Well, that made sense of course, although I was more used to the term noviate referring to monks.

The Crown Prince continued. “I, of course planned to put myself forward to be his sponser, but it’s clear that that won’t be happening. Someone else will have to be chosen and ideally, theat person would be the Duke of Cornwall, he’s a longest and most loyal ally, anyone else...well I can’t even be sure they would still be an ally in a year’s time.”

I nodded some more at all this, but I had to wonder, why exactly the Crown Prince had chosen to speak to me about these things. What exactly was I going to do? I had no sway with the King, I was pretty certain he still didn’t know who I was.

“An invitation needs to be extended to the Duke, however and there are certain...traditions and customs that need to be observed for such a thing.”

And it was at this time that I began to see exactly why the Crown Prince had approached me.

“A member of the novice’s household needs to be sent, someone of higher standing than a messenger or guard.” The Crown Prince started to spell it out for me in case I wasn’t getting the idea.

“Do you mean me?” I blurterd, more from shock than anything else. “I’m not of high standing...or a member of Prince Uther’s household.” Did Prince Uther even have a household?

“But you are,” the Crown Prince insisted. “You’re Prince Uther’s tutor, if anything you’re the highest.”

I blinked quite a lot at this revelation.

“You’re responsible for Prince Uther’s education and in many ways the first part of a knight’s training is an education, so...it makes quite a bit of sense for you to go.”

“To Cornwall?” I asked, which was probably a bit of a stupid thing to say, where else would the Duke of Cornwall be?

“Of course, I fear the Duke isn’t going to be visiting us here at Camelot any time soon, and even if he were that’s not how custom dictates it be done. You need an official seal, and documents, of course.” The Crown Prince began to speak more quickly as his ide took better and more distinct shape in his mind. I realised at that moment that it was not a request it was an order.

Time to prepare myself for a trip to Cornwall it seemed...
of_monmouth: ([Young] I Don't Even Know...)
2013-01-23 10:40 pm

*NaNo Project* Part the Ninth - Section the Second - Cornwall - 960AD

I returned to the first aid tent just before the melee was set to begin. I had been at least an hour, but Gaius was only just now emerging from the tent.

"Have you only just finished?" I asked, completely stunned, how many bandages did they have?

Gaius made a face. "Yes, Linus is a complete stickler for professionalism. Perish the thought that we would set a knight's broke bone with a badly rolled bandage."

I laughed, it really was pretty ridiculous when he put it that way.

“But! I’ve emerged in time to watch the beginning of the melee,” he rubbed his hands together.

I certainly couldn’t see the excitement, but I turned towards the field and watched as the King appeared striding towards the wooden throne that stood in the centre of the Royal pavilian. The Queen and the the royal brothers were all ready seated, although of course they all rose to their feet as he walked past. Once the King was in front of his throne he turned to face the arena where dozens and dozens of knights stood, separated into two groups ready to face each other in the melee.

“People of Camelot, Knights of the Realm,” as always King Aurelius’s booming voice was impressive. “I welcome you to Camelot’s yearly tournment.”

There was an outbreak of applause at this and the King had to wait a moment for it to subside.

“Today these brave men face the most demanding and dangerous of all tournament events, the melee. Today skill and luck will merge and the knight who is most able to use both to his advantage will win this day.” The King seemed to look at each knight in the crowd. “The one who does will be made tournament champion and take home the grand prize.”

The grand prize was, as ever, a rarther large chest filled with gold coins, I had yet to find out just how much money was in it, according to Gaius it was quite probably a different amount every year. But whatever amount it was it definitely made the dangers of the tournament worth it, at least to the knights.

“I wish all of you the best of luck and may the tournament begin!”

There was the sound of a drumroll and the knights all bowed to the royal family before turning towards the centre of the field and each other, pulling on their helmets and readyng their weapons.

There was a long moment where nothing happened, you could have heard a pin drop anywhere in Camelot.

And then just as suddenly the silence was torn, the battle cry of dozens and dozens of knights rent the air. And then there was the nearly deafening sound of footfalls as the two groups clashed together. The air was filled with the clashing of blades as sword and spear came together and soon there wasn’t just war cries but shouts of pain.

I couldn’t tell what was going on in all honesty, I certainly couldn’t pick the Crown Prince out of the pack even though his armour was extremely noticible.

Gaius was craning his neck this way and that, and personally I didn’t think he had any idea what was going on either...but he seemed to be enjoying it.

I noticed Linus approaching out the corner of my eye, with a look of a complete detachment, no doubt he was waiting for the first injured knight to be taken from the field.

It wasn’t long in coming.

The melee moved from the middle of the field towards one side and left behind in its wake were the slumped over forms of various fallen men.

Linus issued sharp commands to two guards who I hadn’t even noticed were standing not far from the first aid tent.

The two of them bearing a stretcher between them rushed out onto the field and began moving the men. Most of them were simply yanked to their feet and directed off the field, the men actually being able to albet it with a lot of staggering. A few had to be carried off in the stretcher.

I had to admire their bravery going in thee to help to the wounded, after all, it was a melee and it didn’t go by any rules. It started moving back to the centre of the field and in the direction of the guards as they were carrying the last of the injuried from the field.

“Gaius!” Linus snapped. “Stop gawking and get in here! These men need tending to, now!”

Gaius gave annoyed grunt and whispered. “Slave driver,” to me before disappearing into the first aid tent.

I have to admit as soon as he disappeared I turned my attention right back to the melee, I really didn’t have the faintest idea what was going on, but it drew your attention and held it.

The crowd who were far more conversant in the intricacies of this particular event and there was a lot of cheering, intermingled with groans as a favourite was dealt a particularly nasty blow or something of that nature.

I for one was more than a little surprised to discover that some ten minutes had passed since the melee began. It seemed like the sort of event that would be lucky to go for a minute let alone ten! But most of the men were still on their feet so it looked like it would go on for a while yet.

Gaius reappeared from the tent, wiping his hands on his tunic. “Did I miss anything?”

I gave him a look. “Do I look like I would know?” I asked.

Gaius grinned and looked back at the melee announcing after a moment. “The Crown Prince is still there.” And for my benefit he pointed.

At first I couldn’t see a thing, but then I caught the flash of red, but it was gone almost as soon as I did.

“He’s got unbelievable skill,” Gaius continued, shaking his head. “I think we’re looking at this year’s champion.”

I couldn’t really tell if he was going well or not, but I trusted Gaius’s judgement.

Yet more men were knocked down and out of the fight, most of them crawling out of the thrashing mass that was the melee while the guards headed out with the stretcher to pick up others.

Gaius was called to work once more and I once more watched the fight with complete confusion, not able to pick up the Crown Prince’s red vambrace again.

The melee was steadily decreasing in size, now only about a dozen remained, a fair few of them seemed to have lost their weapons and were fighting hand to hand, delivering kicks and punches not just to those who had also lost their weapons but those who were still armed.

Eventually I did manage to pick out one knight in particular amongst the others, he was noticeable from the others because of his stature, or lack there of. He was quite simply the shortest knight I had ever seen.

The knight smallness had one advantage it seemed, he was extraordinarily nimble on his feet, ducking under the swings of others or just getting out of the way in the nick of time and leaving his opponent off-balance.

When Gaius next returned the field had whittled down to five and I was much more able to see what was going on and spot the Crown Prince.

Gaius rose an eyebrow as he took in the sight. "Why is there a child out on the field?"

It took me a moment to understand. "That's not a child...is it?"

The melee was bad enough, surely there was an age limit, not even would be knights were that foolhardy... were they?

Gaius pursed his lips and squinted as if he was able to see through the knight's helm and see his face.

"Well, he seems more than a match for most of them," he eventually decided and turned to me with a grin. "Looks like this might be a more exciting tournament than everybody thought."

I wasn't entirely sure if that was a good thing, in general tournaments were fought until an opponent was too tired or injured to go on, but there were stories of fatalities occurring. I had never seen anyone die, much less violently and would be more than happy for that to continue being the case.

The melee seemed to go on endlessly until only two were left standing, the Crown Prince and the mysterious small statured knight.

The crowds were on the edge of their seats and in the royal box the King was leaning forward eyes fixed on the tournament, fingers locked together in front of his mouth.

There was a great hush as the two knights faced each other on the field, sizing each other up.

It seemed to stretch on for hours until suddenly the small knight dashed forward.

I'm not entirely sure what happened, but suddenly the small knight was standing behind the Crown Prince. He charged again, ramming into the Crown Prince's back, attempting to knock him down.

The Crown Prince staggered, but unsurprisingly, did not fall, he wasn't a tall man, but he was of average height and well-built. It seemed a very stupid move, especially when the Crown Prince brought his elbow crashing down on the small knight's head.

There were cheers from the crowd as the small knight fell, but almost as soon as his knees touched the ground he was up again spinning about and raising his shield to ward off the Crown Prince's sword swing.

The melee had become a duel, one that looked as if it would last as long, whatever one thought of knights their stamina was certainly unparalleled. I wondered how long a tournament melee could go for? Would they truly fight to the point of sheer exhaustion?

It seemed they would...neither seeming able to get the upper hand at least until the Crown Prince managed to connect a kick directly to the small knight's shield all but up ending him. The small knight lost his grip and the shield went flying, leaving him armed only with his sword.

The fight did not last long after that, still armed with shield and sword the Crown Prince forced his opponent to a corner, up against the barricade, levelling his sword at the small knight's chest.

The Crown Prince pushed up the visor of his helm, his face was red and glistening with perspiration. "Do you yield?"

The crowd were all craning their necks, silence had descended across the arena, the King himself had risen from his seat.

"I yield," the smaller knight's voice was muffled because he had not removed his own helm.

The voice sounded very small...and young!

Even from this distance, I saw a look of complete and utter disbelief, a look of...recognition?

Before anyone in the crowd had time to process the possibility, the Crown Prince dropped his sword, reached out and pulled off the small Knight's helm.

"UTHER?!"
of_monmouth: ([Young] I Don't Even Know...)
2013-01-22 10:13 pm

*NaNo Project* Part the Ninth - Section the First - Cornwall - 960AD

In the years that followed nothing of particular interest happened at least in so far as participating in any adventures to magical mazes or run ins with Priestesses of the old religion.

Gaius and I became great friends, however, which I found strange having never really considered friendship as all that important, I had so many things to learn after all. But then Gaius also had the same interest in learning as I did, although his quest for knowledge tended in one specific direction while I wish to know all manner of things.

Except perhaps about magic, for some reason I just found it…unnatural, despite Gaius’s statements that it was in fact that most primal force in the world.

“It’s connected to the power of the earth itself,” he told me at one point. “It is only through an understanding of the natural that one can truly use their power.”

“Does everyone have the ability then?” I asked, surprised.

“Well, no.” Gaius scratched the back of his neck. “So, I suppose it’s not exactly as intrinsic as all that. But the point still stands.”

“I don’t see how it can be natural if it involves making things float in there air, things don’t just float by themselves.”

“Sure they do,” Gaius insists. “Like dandelions in the breeze and feathers and leaves.”

“But that’s the wind.”

“It is, but a wind so imperceptible someone of our size can barely feel it, let alone be affected by it. Magic is simply magnifying this effect, bending it to one’s will.”

I still wasn’t entirely certain, but Gaius offered to demonstrate telling me to stand on the other side of the room and he would call an object to him.

So I did, and whilst I did sense the slightest breeze as Gaius called the book across the room into his hand. But still…I would never call it natural.

Our opposed views to magic aside, Gaius and I spent plenty of hours enjoying our debates and I might have even started enjoying going to the tavern.

There was also my tutoring of Prince Uther, who unsurprisingly was interested only in learning the bare minium and then returning to his duties as a squire.

I had to admit I still found it quite odd that someone Prince Uther’s age and not to put too fine a point on it lack of stature was allowed to perform these duties, squires are all were supposed to be at least twelve, but the Prince had begun at the tender age of nine. By now he was thirteen and extremely proficient at all the necessary areas, showing far better skill at that then with anything I ever tried to tutor him in. Every so often I would recall the Priestess Nimueh’s words.

I sometimes wondered about her and her strange manner, I asked Gaius about her once.

“The Priestesses of the Isle of the Blessed are a very…closed group, mysterious in their ways.” He spoke with quite a bit of reverence and made a face. “I can’t believe you actually saw her. Up close I mean.”

I made a face myself. “It wasn’t very exciting, she spent most of her time laughing at me.”

“Still, there are so many things I’d want to ask her…the Priestesses are the most powerful magic users known. You saw how the High Priestess simply appeared. And how easily the two of them moved those apples.”

“You can move things,” I pointed out.

“Nothing like that, I can bring it straight over to me, put I can hardly keep them up in the air like that. No, that takes a great amount of skill.”

He gave a disappointed sigh, and I whilst I wanted to, there wasn’t anything I could say to make him feel better.

But returning the issue of Prince Uther, the boy...or young man I suppose… had become secretive over the recent weeks, even more so than was usual for him. I was unable to get any hints about why this was so.

If I paid more attention to the outside world and the machinations of the courtly life I probably wouldn’t have realised and not been so surprised. Or perhaps not, since the big news had to do with a tournament and there was a tournament every year in Camelot…in fact sometimes there was more than one. I barely paid them mind although every so often Gaius would drag me along to one, to keep him company I supposed since as Linus’s apprentice he had to spend the entire day among the tents helping to tend to any injured knights.

The tournaments were very important to the people of Camelot, they lapped them up and not just for the economic opportunities such things offered. They really seemed to enjoy the contests and the entire experience, crowding the stands that were erected around the tournament field and placing bets on who they thought they would win. Prince Kentigern was usually the favourite in the tournaments, but that didn’t stop the people making bets on others to come second best or get injured in particular areas, which struck me as rather off putting.

The tournaments worked on a rotating schedule of events, one year it would be a standard duel, the next jousting, the one after that a melee.

When Gaius came to the library on the morning of the tournament I hadn’t been keeping track so I had no idea what this particular year’s event was. Gaius soon enlightened me and my heart sunk.

“Everyone’s favourite, the melee.” Gaius announced and rolled his eyes.

“Not yours, I guess?”

“The number of wounded men that results from that sort of thing,” Gaius groaned, rubbing his forehead. “It’s just sword wounds and broken bones everywhere.”

I shook my head. “Why would anyone want to participate in something like that?”

“You’ve been tutoring Prince Uther all this time and you don’t know how a knight’s mind works?” Gaius raised an eyebrow.

“Prince Uther isn’t a knight yet.”

“Won’t be long now, though.” Gaius declared seriously. “I’ve seen him out on the training fields when the knights have finished. He has great skill.”

“I’m sure he does, but he seems less than interested in injuring himself.”

Gaius chuckled. “Well, I’ll certainly admit that no knight goes out looking to be hurt. I don’t think I’ve ever met a one foolish as that.”

“So why exactly do you want me to come along? Am I to provide you with some sort of entertainment?”

Gaius grinned. “Of course, not to mention the fact you need to get out of that library now and then, after all, Cedas rarely leaves the place and look what happened to him.”

“Cedas isn’t that bad, you know.” But he had a point, even I had to admit spending all my time in the library was probably no good for me. If nothing else the library was very dusty and every so often I ended up with watering eyes and a runny nose from it and it was a lovely day.

As we neared the tournament fields I could all ready hear the cheering and the sounds of clinking armour as the knights made their preparations. If there was one benefit to a melee tournament, however, it was the fact it was far shorter then most of the other tournaments. There was only one battle, the melee as opposed to many rounds whittling down the pool to two opponents.

Of course it was still a week long celebration and the beer and mead flowed freely, and there were, of course all the merchants out and about attempting sell whatever they could. I must have been offered every type of clothing known on earth and quite a few different kinds of herbs and spices.

Gaius paused every now and then to make a purchase, but I declined any offers, herbs and spices weren’t really my thing, plus I had neglected to bring any money with me.

When we arrived at the tournament grounds I have to admit I was very impressed by the multitude of different coloured flags and tents. Each knight had an emblem, a standard and some of them could be quite…creative.

“Gaius, there you are!” Linus was not in the best of moods, but then when was he? “Where have you been? We have to get everything ready, the melee is going to happen within the hour.”

“I’m sorry, Linus,” Gaius as always addressed his mentor respectfully, but I could see a spark of merriment in his eyes. “But I saw some offers on a number of herbs that we’ve been getting low on that were far too good to pass up.”

The herb purchases were sufficient enough to calm Linus down, still Gaius had his duties such as ensuring the medical tent was adequately prepared for the incoming injured who would soon be flooding into it.

Sometimes I would offer assistance but I was usually rebuffed, apparently my bandage rolling skills were so sub par they weren't even worthy of the name, so Gaius would wave me of and tell me to enjoy myself as if it had been my idea to come in the first place. Still at least I was free to roam around and perhaps learn more about genealogy, which had in recent years become a key interest of mine.

Although it wasn't as easy as all that because knights weren't the most conversational sorts at the best of times, let alone when they were preparing for a fight. It gave me a chance to examine their colours and emblems up close and apply my knowledge in trying to find out just how far back their families nobility went and where abouts in Albion they came.

While moving about and making sure I was relatively inconspicuous - one does not wish to get on a knight's bad side - I noticed one particular standard the likes of which I had never seen before. It was a curious emblem, sort of familiar but at the same time not, I wracked my brain, trying to figure out where I might have seen it before, but since the field was so new to me I didn't have much luck. I was curious enough about it that I actually considered asking the bearer about it, but he seemed nowhere to be found. Eventually I moved on, but still I wondered. At one point I passed the Crown Prince's tent, easily identifiable by the Pendragon flag flying a top it.

The Crown Prince himself exited as I walked passed and seemed quite surprised to see me.

"Geoffrey of Monmouth! I didn't think it was possible to have you leave the library except by royal decree!"

I grinned, I was forever surprised by the Crown Prince, he sometimes seemed so far removed from the rest of the Pendragon family. I don't believe I'd ever seen him in a sour mood, ready for battle with all the seriousness that required yes, but not in a bad temper like his father and uncles and Prince Uther.

"I have been know to leave that fine place so that I might experience life on the outside." I replied, which was certainly not something I'd dare do with his father.

"Well, it's a pleasing sight to be sure, often I fear that our own Cedas has developed a serious aversion to sunlight. Everyone should be able to enjoy the wonders of a tournament."

Well, that wasn't exactly my reason for being out here, but I wasn't about to correct the Crown Prince, instead I simply nodded and remarked on the lovely weather.

"It is indeed, which benefits some of us," he grinned. "The men from the north for example are far more used to inclemate weather and chills in the air. I predict they will fall first."

I didn't doubt that the Crown Prince would be proved correct in that assessment. I supposed if I were a betting man I may have immediately rushed to the nearest gambling den and put some money on that exact thing happening. I was not a gambler however, so that was not my inclination. Instead I spared a thought for Gaius who, doubtless, would need to dress all those wounds, Linus would deal with the more serious injuries.

The Crown Prince told me that he needed to get back to his preparations and bade me a good day.

I wished him good luck and continued on my way, although my thoughts continued to stray back to that strange yet oddly familiar emblem, if only I could figure out where I'd seen it before.
of_monmouth: ([Young] I Don't Even Know...)
2013-01-21 09:21 pm

*NaNo Project* Part the Eigth - Section the Third - The Visitors - 956AD

Because my parents were only in Camelot for a short while, we didn’t really have enough time to discuss the theological questions the Midsummer’s Eve festival had wrought. Father though didn’t seem as perturbed as I feared and I decided that his faith was strong enough to withstand all this. Mother seemed slightly more shaken, but she seemed to relax enough as I showed them around the capital and the surrounding area. Time passed quickly and it seemed like they had barely arrived before they were readying themselves to leave.

I came to Freida’s inn to see them off, and we all had breakfast together. I’m not ashamed to admit I was very sad to see them go. It seemed completely unfair that I saw them so rarely and I wondered if maybe I should put more effort into visiting them despite my dislike of horse riding.

“You’re more than welcome to visit us whenever you want,” Mother said, when I mentioned this possibility. She reached out and patted my hand. “We do miss you, surprisingly enough.”

I made a show of looking quite offended. “Oh, is that how it is?”

“Well your curiosity did lead you into a lot of trouble sometimes,” Mother replied, wryly. “I’m surprised my hair didn’t turn white.”

Father chuckled. “I wouldn’t worry, dear, there’s still time. We are after all going on our first sea voyage.”

Mother made a face. “Don’t remind me.”

“Are you afraid to go?” I asked, I supposed that wasn’t all that surprising, I had never taken a boat journey either and thinking about it I didn’t believe I would want to.

“I wouldn’t say afraid, dear, more…that I’d rather not. But, life is full of challenges and we might as well face them head on, rather than by running away.”

I gave a smile, that was my mother.

After breakfast I saw them off, accompanying them as far as the gates of the lower town, embracing them and as they left in a cart I waved, and kept doing so until they disappeared over the horizon.

I then returned to the castle and the library expecting to find Prince Uther there ready – or at the very least made to appear for a resumption of our lessons. I did not find the prince however, instead I came face to face with someone I never expected.

I thought she had left, but then I hadn’t really being paying attention, Gaius had made it sound like the priestess spent most of their time on the Isle and any visits from it were fleeting at best.

And now, nearly three days later, they were here, or at least the younger one was…the one called Nimueh.

I might have given a little jump of surprise, which seemed to amuse her, her lips curving into a smile and her eyes twinkled with mirth.

“Good morning,” she spoke, her voice was rich and smooth. “You’re not Cedas.”

“No,” I shook my head, thoroughly confused and on the back foot. “I’m Geoffrey…his apprentice. I…what are you doing here?”

Nimueh gave a laugh. “Why do you think I’m here? It’s a library, isn’t it?’

“Oh,” I flushed in embarrassment. “Right…umm….do you need a book or…a record or something?”

Nimueh gave a shrug. “No, not really.”

My brow furrowed in confusion, I had the feeling she was teasing me, but I had no idea why, we’d never met before.

“Are you here to visit Cedas?” I tried.

“Cedas? That ancient? Definitely not.”

Finally I just had to come right out and ask. “Then why are you here?”

“Curious one, aren’t you,” she replied cheerily. “Which makes me wonder…why didn’t you take one of our apples?”

This time I really did give a start of surprise. Had she seen that? How? We had been all the way on the other side of the square and well hidden by the alcove.

“Silly boy,” she admonished me. “I see with far more than just my eyes.”

I felt a shiver go up my spine, what did she mean by that. Obviously, that she was watching me, but why?

“Don’t think yourself as special,” she continued airly, waving a hand. “I don’t really care, I’m just curious. Neither you or your parents.” She looked at me keenly. “Some sort or…religious objection.”

I wasn’t sure if she was just simply guessing or if she actually knew that, but either way I was at a loss.

“Oh don’t look so petrified, I’m not going to kill you for refusing to give the Goddess her due. What do I care if you choose not to believe.”

If that was the case, why was she asking me about it?

“I’m just intrigued is all,” Nimueh once again seemed to know what I was thinking, but then it was probably written all over my face. “You’ve come to a strange place if you want to avoid magic. Not that it isn’t everywhere, but here in Camelot, it’s all around.”

“I have nothing against magic,” I said, and it was true, I wasn’t all that comfortable around it, that was true, but I wasn’t going to stop anyone else from doing it or judge them for it.

Nimueh looked at me curiously, a smile playing around the corners of her mouth.

“I suppose not, interesting view for the son of a clergyman to have.”

“How did you -?” I stopped in confusion.

“As I said, I see with more than just my eyes and I can hear with more than just my ears.”

Well, that was unsettlingly.

Before anything more could be said however, the Prince entered the library looking less than pleased to be here. “Geoffrey do we have to do this today, the apprentices are going to be put through their –“ He broke off, gaping in surprise when Nimueh turned to face him.

“Why hello there, little dragon,” she grinned at him.

The Prince looked up at her, blinking his mouth moving but no sound came out. He was clearly in absolute awe of her.

Nimueh gave a laugh and looked over at me. “It seems you’ll have trouble getting this one to be quiet. He’s meant to be a warrior.”

Prince Uther looked as if he had been awarded untold riches at Nimueh’s comment, he actually smiled and straightened his shoulders and stood tall.

“Well…I…I only aim to do what I’ve been hired to do.” I stuttered unsure how else to answer that remark.

Nimueh waved a hand again. “You always follow the rules then, Geoffrey of Monmouth?”

“I…yes…no…mostly,” she seemed to have a talent to completely confuse me, but then I expected she was probably able to do that with many people.

She laughed. “Well, you probably should pay attention to some of your lessons at least, little dragon,” she addressed the Prince. “They may come in handy later.”

And with that she swept out of the library, her laugh trailing behind her.

I shook my head, wondering if all Priestesses were so strange.
of_monmouth: ([Young] I Don't Even Know...)
2013-01-20 11:17 pm

* NaNo Project* Part the Eighth - Section the Second - The Visitors - 956AD

I woke early the next day, full of excitement at the prospect of seeing my parents once more after more than a year of having not.

Camelot was in full festive spirit, flags flying not only from the parapets but form all sorts of other makeshift poles and outside windows. The castle court yard was full of activity, guards and nobles milling about and I knew just beyond the castle walls the rest of the city would be decked out in even more colour.

I put on my best clothes and hurried to the servant’s washing area to clean my face and make myself generally presentable. Once I was satisfied that my mother wouldn’t lecture me for not having brushed my hair and that my tunic was on the right way around and straight I headed out.

Father had not actually arranged a place to meet, but all travellers arriving in Camelot had to register their presence with the guards at the main gate. And that is where I headed, either I would be able to wait and meet them or I would be able to find out where precisely they were headed when they arrived.

It turned out they hadn’t arrived yet so I waited as patiently as I could near the main gate taking in the sights around me.

Camelot was abuzz with people, particularly merchants who were hawking their wares. Children were running about and cheering, while their mothers hurried after them doing their best to keep them within sight.

The guards who were at the gate were in a very good mood, more than happy to show off their weapons to curious children.

I noticed the blacksmith’s son at one point, he had grown in the months since I saw him last. He was certainly going to be tall once he grew, quite able to take on the mantle of his father’s black smithy when the time came.

He admired the knight’s swords as the other children had, but in a different way, he was admiring the craftsmanship and makeup rather than the fact it was a weapon.

It’s always interesting people watching and I became so absorbed in it I almost missed seeing my parents arrive! But out of the corner of my eye I spotted my mother’s favourite travelling clothes and turned quickly, a smile spreading across my face.

“Mother! Father!” I waved at them.

“Geoffrey!” My mother cried holding out her arms to me, I hurried forward and enveloped her in a big hug. I turned to Father then and we also embraced.

“Welcome to Camelot,” I greeted them.

“It’s so beautiful!” Mother exclaimed looking around her eyes wide. “How do you keep it so white?” She asked this question of either me or the guard, but neither of us actually had an answer.

“How was your trip?” I asked they certainly looked better than I had when I had first arrived in Camelot!

Father was talking to the guards about who he and mother were and how long they would be staying here, so Mother answered for both of them.

“Fast! And quite comfortable, the roads in this kingdom are almost as good as the ones in Mercia.”

I briefly wondered at the wisdom of bringing up another kingdom, particularly Mercia which I was well aware was not a particularly popular with the people of Camelot, but no-one seemed to hear.

Mother came over and took my arm. “And how have you being, Geoffrey? Still enjoying your work?”

I nodded. “Very much.”

Father had finished speaking with the guards and turned with a smile.

“Even tutoring that prince of yours?”

I made a slight face. “He seems to be improving in quite a few areas. Plus he’s more involved in the process of becoming a knight one day so I don’t have to spend as much time trying to keep him entertained as well as educated.”

Mother and Father laughed and with a nod to the guards we headed off down the main street in the city towards the castle.

“The festivities are supposed to officially start at noon,” I remarked, “so I’ll have enough time to show you the library and meet Cedas, my mentor, and my friend, Gaius.”

“Lead on, son,” my father announced, pointing towards the castle as if it were some distant land of adventure. I suppose in a way it was.

The castle halls were bustling and it was a bit of a struggle leading my parents down them and up the stairs to the library.

My parents were enthralled by the castle, not that I could blame them, there were parts of it that still took my breath away when I stumbled across them.

In fact they didn’t even realise we had reached the library until I called their attention to it.

The entrance to Camelot’s library was quite a sight to behold actually, the large oak double doors were flanked by roman style columns and a stylised lintel over the top.

My mother gasped in admiration. “It looks so impressive, Geoffrey.”

I grinned, proudly. “Just wait until you see inside,” I remarked and with a flourish I pulled the doors open and bade them to enter.

Cedas was behind the desk of course and looked up as we entered, a tiny smile lifting the corner of his mouth.

“Ah, the ever mentioned parents of my protégé Geoffrey,” he greeted my parents as he got to his feet.

Father and Mother headed over to shake Cedas’s offered hand.

“Cedas, is it?” Father asked just to make sure and at the old man’s nod continued. “I want to thank you for taking our son under your wing, you have the most impressive library here. Geoffrey’s lucky to have the opportunity to work here.”

Cedas looked rather surprised, he wasn’t used to getting compliments, being so prickly. “Thank you...Geoffrey is a fine student, he’s managed every task I’ve set him and a few more besides. He seems to have a great store of hidden talents. You heard how he became a scribe just recently.”

Mother beamed at me. “We did!” She squeezed my arm. “We always knew that Geoffrey had talent, but we’re glad to be proven right.”

“Feel free to have a look around, I think I can trust Geoffrey not to cause any destruction.”

I was more than happy to show my parents the grand library of Camelot, even down to my small room.

My mother’s eyebrows rose at the sight of the small alcove room. “I don’t imagine you spend much time in here.” She shook her head.

“No, fortunately my days are so full I’m lucky if I have enough hours left over to get the sleep I need!”

Mother looked slightly perturbed by that remark. “I do hope you’re getting enough sleep Geoffrey, I don’t want you getting worn down or –“

I held up my hand. “No, no, I was kidding, I assure you Mother I’m getting the sleep I need. It’s really not so bad, after all I’m close to all the books this way.”

Father chuckled and took Mother’s other arm. “That’s surely a dream for you.”

I nodded enthusiastically. “It is come on I’ll show you what I do once I wake up.”

I lead them away from my alcove to the catalogue room showing them the huge volumes that contained the records of all the books within the great library.

“So organised,” Mother was clearly impressed. “How many books does this library have, do you think?”

"Well, I've not had the time to count them myself," I remarked with a grin. "But I have it in good authority there's at least a hundred thousand."

Mother and Father shook their heads in awe and I felt as proud as if I had selected all the books myself.

Although I, of course, could have spent the whole day in the library I knew my parents wanted to see other things and there was plenty to show them!

I took the long route to the Physician's Quarters passing down some of the windowed corridors of Camelot which afforded the most spectacular view of the countryside around the city. There were also plently of sculptures and various tapestries to take in.

"You really do live in the most remarkable place, Geoffrey," Mother shook her head in amazement, then smiled st me proudly. "You've worked hard to earn your place here and you deserve it."

I grinned. "I don't know if I've done that much, it was more luck the anything else and having fine parents to guide me, of course."

Mother laughed. "Flatterer."

Finally we arrived at the spiral staircase that lead up to the Physician's Chambers, I told my parents they were free to remain at the foot of the stairs if they didn't want to risk going up them.

Father seemed to take some offense at that. "We're hardly decrepit, my boy!" He announced with mock outrage. "Besides if we do fall and hurt ourselves we'll be in the best position to get medical care."

I laughed, unable to fault that logic. Although as we climbed I reflected on the utter lack of wisdom in using such stairs as an access route to medical attention. There was another entrance of course, but it required going the long way and was mostly for the nobility, it seemed that servants were once again ill considered.

Still my parents and I arrived at the top landing with no incidents and as I raised my hand to knock on the door it was opened.

"You finally made it," Gaius said by way of greeting, he looked over my shoulder. "Good morning Bishop, madam." He was wearing his most charming smile and I could tell my parents were immediately impressed.

"I am Gaius, apprentice to the Court Physian, Linus," my friend continued in grand style holding out his hand for my father to shake and then he took my mother's hand and bowed over it, greeting her as one would a noble woman.

My mother was clearly pleased and asked from where he came from and for the first time I realised in the almost three years that I'd known him I'd never asked.

"A tiny little village called Ealdor, it's just across the border in the kingdom of Cenred," Gaius replied, which drew a slight gasp from my mother.

"Oh dear, no wonder you came here, Cenred is a kingdom of outlaws and militia...at least last I heard?"

Gaius gave a nod. "Ealdor is, fortunately, rather quiet, being so small, but a great number of the population seem to eschew the idea of law and order."

Mother tutted sympathetically, then smiled once more. "But you plan on living out your days here in this fine city?"

Gaius nodded. "That is the dream, as long as I keep on Linus's good side it should come to pass."

We all laughed and Gaius offered to show my parents around the Physician's Chambers, and they jumped at the chance. Although they may possibly have regretted their enthusiasm when Gaius showed them the leech tank. That simply had to be the most disgusting thing I'd ever seen.

After sufficiently horrifying my parents, Gaius noted the time and suggested we all head to the main square if we did not want to miss out on the festivities.

"Have you ever been to Midsummer's Eve celebrations before?" Gaius asked my parents as he lead them the less dangerous way.

"Not for some years," Father replied. "We tend to be more focussed on the Day of Saint John the Baptist. But I have no issue with observing the traditional festivities of this time," he gave a wry grin. "I only ask not to be made to dance around a maypole. I have two left feet anyway."

Gaius assured him that nothing of the kind would occur and he gave me an impressed look, I suspect he thought my father would condemn the celebrations entirely.

The main square of the castle was even more bustling if that was possible and I wondered if we were even going to able to see anything. Gaius however had his ways and led us to an alcove of sorts which had the benefit of not only providing a very good view but also kept us out of the sun.

I asked Gaius where Linus was, since it seemed odd the Physician was not around, surely this was the sort of event where everyone would be present if they possibly could be.

“Oh, he’s here,” Gaius reply, “looking through the windows somewhere up there.” He gestured vaguely across the square. “One of the privileges of being higher up. I assume Cedas will be up there too.”

I peered at the windows trying to spot my mentor, but the sun was bright, reflecting off the windows making it impossible to see inside.

My attention was caught by the sound of a horn which was immediately followed by the sounds of the bells, indicating that it was noon.

A hush fell over the square and the air filled with a sense of anticipation and excitement. I wasn’t actually sure where I was supposed to be looking, there was no bonfire, at least not that I could see.

As the bells faded the horn was blown again and the royal family appeared on the balcony.

“Is your prince there?” Mother asked, leaning close to be heard over the sound of the crowd who had broken into applause at the sight of royalty.

I ran my eyes across the crowd on the balcony before finally shaking my head. “Not that I can see...but he’s a little short, he might be behind someone.”

The King stepped forward and held up his hands, in response the crowd immediately fell silent.

“People of Camelot!” King Aurelius spoke in a booming voice that echoed around the square. “It is my great honour and privilege to welcome you to our Midsummer’s Eve Celebrations, the height of festivities here in our great city.”

There was a cheer of agreement from the crowd, and the King actually smiled slightly, which was a rare event indeed.

“Further to that, we here in Camelot are uniquely placed to receive the greetings and blessings of the priestesses of the Druid Religion which has in many ways helped build our kingdom and made it what it is today.”

I have to admit I was surprised, this was the first time I’d heard religion mentioned in any shape or form. Had Cedas not indicated that the Pendragons were not religiously inclined, it certainly didn’t sound that way now.

“I am truly honoured then, to welcome the High Priestess of the Isle of the Blessed, Her Most Eminent and Favoured Ninianne.”

As soon as the King spoke those words a great wind blew through the square, a great wind that could not be natural because the air had been still the entire day and the few clouds in the sky remained in place.

I felt Mother gripping my arm and couldn’t blame her. Everyone had turned their heads towards the main castle gate, and we followed suit, but there didn’t seem to be anything to see.

Then suddenly a light...a flame appeared just in front of the main gates, one which grew in size rapidly, crackling and spitting.

I shot Gaius a quick look, wondering exactly what was going on, was this normally what happened? I had never seen anything like it.

Soon the flames were so high they dwarfed us all and reached higher than the castle walls.

And suddenly as quickly as they appeared, they dispersed, or rather they seemed to take flight, like a flock of birds flying into the sky.

Where they had been there now stood a woman, dressed in a long following white robe, which despite the lack of wind fluttered around her form. Her arms were raised to the sky and she wore a circlet on her brow, which was set off by her long blonde hair, which almost white.

As she lowered her arms, I noticed that quite a few members of the crowd were all ready bowing to her. I wondered if we were all required to do so, because that would be very awkward, but to my relief I noticed that the gesture was not universal among the crowd. Furthermore we were rather well-concealed in our little alcove so it didn’t look like we would be noticed at any rate.

After a moment the Priestess spoke. “I thank you, King Aurelius for welcoming me once more to Camelot and may the Goddess look favourably upon you and your people.” Her voice was rich and even though she wasn’t shouting it reached all our ears. “Midsummer’s Eve is indeed a festival of great significance to us all, commemorating the moment when the Earth is at its most fruitful and ready to bring forth life.”

King Aurelius spoke then. “I am happy to say that the blessings of the Goddess are indeed upon us, our summer harvest is one of the biggest in decades. We will be well provided for the year ahead.”

The Priestess nodded and then seemed to look at each and every person in the crowd.

“The people of Camelot have as always treated the Isle of the Blessed with respect and in honour of that I bring a gift.”

In spite of myself I was caught up in the moment, wondering what this gift could possibly be.

I expected something to appear out of thin air like the priestess had, but instead there was the sound of hoof beats on the drawbridge and a beautiful white horse came into view pulling a cart. Atop the horse was another woman, also dressed in white, although her hair was a deep chestnut brown.

The cart the horse was pulling was quite a sight to behold, made from some sort of white wood it was delicate and intricately carved. The contents of the cart were covered by a cloth shot through with threads of gold that glittered in the sun.

"What is it?" I whispered to Gaius, curiosity getting the better of me. My friend didn't answer, instead he raised a finger to his lips and shushed me.

The woman on the horse spoke. "Greetings people of Camelot. Our fair isle thanks you for your protection and extends this gift to you."

With a flourish, she gave a flick or her wrist and the cloth rose up of its own accord and revealed the cart was full of apples, thousands of red apples.

My parents looked just as confused as I did, especially at the crowds reaction, one would think they had all been given gold coins.

Gaius kindly assuaged our curiosity. "Apples from the Isle are highly prized, they're invariably the most delicious apples of the season and fetch a very high price indeed. Most of the people here could never afford them."

We watched as the woman on the horse made more gestures and one by one the apples rose from the cart and drifted through the air to the crowd who plucked them out of the air as if picking them from a tree.

At this point I did wonder about my parents who surely had never seen such displays of magic. I certainly hadn't and I'd been here for two years.
As the apples floated our way I wondered what Mother and Father would do, after the King's warning anything that would draw attention would be a very bad idea I thought. I needn't have worried my parents knew tact and simply declined the apples and the continued floating on their way.

I didn't take one either if only because I didn't want to offend my parents and beyond that I wasn't certain I trusted the fruit. Gaius took one though, but was very surreptitious about it and hid it in his pocket immediately.

Once everyone in the square had an apple there were still a dozen or so left and the High Priestess stepped forward and lay a hand on the other woman's shoulder. "My protege Nimueh will be honoured to present the rest of the harvest to you, King Aurelius and your entire family."

The King actually inclined his head to the two women. "We graciously accept your kindness and welcome you into the Castle of Camelot."

At these words, the other woman, Nimueh, picked up the fine cloth and with a word the remaining apples floated from the cart and deposited themselves into the cloth.

Once Nimueh closed up the top into a makeshift bag the two women made their way across the square, walking in graceful manner that suggested gliding rather than anything else.

"I invite the rest of you to enjoy the festivities!" The King turned his attention back to us. "The Great Fire will be lit tonight just after sundown and cold meats will be made available."

This it seemed was music to the crowds ears and as one they began to chant. "Long live the King! Long live the Queen! Long live the High Priestess!"
The cheer continued until the preistesses reached the main entrance of the castle and the royal family disappeared from the balcony.

"Well, that was quite something!" Mother exclaimed as the crowd began to mill about and the air filled with the sounds of excited conversation.
Gaius nodded. "The Priestess and her accolyte only visit every five years, this is only the second time I've seen them since arriving here in Camelot." He explained. "Usually they keep to the Isle."

Father nodded and looked rather curious. "They don't minister to believers then?"

Gaius shook his head. "The Druid religion is one that a person mostly practices on their own, though people are free to visit the Isle or ask an elder whatever they wish."

Father gave another nod and I wondered what was going through his mind. I considered asking but instead another thought occurred to me. "How long will you and Mother be visiting? Your letter didn't say."

Father smiled. "Only a two nights I fear, we're expected in Brittany by the middle of next week."

After three years that really wasn't enough time, but I realised something else, I had absolutely nowhere for them to stay, after all my tiny room barely fit me!

When I brought this up Mother reassured me. "The Archbishop has kindly provided us with enough coin to stay in a hostel or a tavern. Is there an option?" She directed this question more at Gaius than at me, correctly guessing I'd hardly pay attention to such things.

"There's one or two, most stay at The Rising Sun tavern, but if you wanted something quieter you should go to Freida's, I'm not sure of the rates but I can take you there if you're interested."

My parents were and it also provided the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the day's festivities.

The lower town was even more abuzz and the market sellers were hawking their wares with even more vigour than before. We were momentarily side-tracked when some fine scarves caught my mother's eye, but we got to Freida's eventually.

The place seemed rather pricey, but it was also clean and I imagined quite a deal more peaceful then the tavern, my parents happily paid for two nights and we rejoined the crowds.

As sunset approached we made our way back towards the square of the Castle where the bonfire was to be. The bonfire, of course, was a yearly feature, but I had spent the past two Midsummer’s Eve’s in the library quite apart from the festivities. I hadn’t seen a large bonfire since Beltane some years ago in Tamworth.

The bonfire makers had definitely been hard at work in the time since noon, when we entered the square there was kindling and hay and branches all piled together and what a pile it was! It was half the size of the castle wars which were by no means short.

“Well they be able to control it once it’s set?” I asked Gaius slightly concerned with visions of the fire going out of control and threatening the library and all I hold dear.

Gaius seemed to read my mind and gave a chuckle. “It’ll be fine, Geoff, they’ve been celebrating this way for centuries now and the place hasn’t burnt down yet.”

I gave a wry grin, I was worrying needlessly, but really, I don’t think I can adequately describe the size of the fuel for the bonfire and it had been quite a hot day so there’d certainly be no difficult in getting it started.

As the sun dipped below the horizon, the King and the rest of the Pendragon’s reappeared on the balcony once more and the square was packed, although probably not as much as it had been at midday since there was the enormous bonfire taking up so much room.

King Aurelius spoke in his most booming voice, extending his arms. “People of Camelot! As the sun sets on this, the longest day of the year I know you will all join me in hopes for the year ahead, a peaceful one, filled with fine harvests and joy for all of you.”

There were cheers and then a great atmosphere of anticipation stole over the crowd as time came to light the bonfire.

I might have taken a few steps back, just in case…

I’m not sure who lit the bonfire, I don’t believe it was the King since he was all the way up on the balcony and I couldn’t see the Priestesses about. Suffice to say there was suddenly a great roar and as I expected the entire pile went up like a tinderbox, a great rush of heat rolled across the square and there were gasps of amazement from the crowds as the flames dance and flickered.

I have to admit once it became clear my fears were groundless I began to appreciate the beauty of the the fire as it crackled and danced. The people in the square started to dance as well, although my parents an I didn't, nor did Gaius although I wasn't sure if that was out of respect for my parents or because he didn't usually. He turned to us and spoke in an excited voice.

"If we're lucky we'll get to see them."

I looked about puzzled. "See what?" I finally asked at a loss to imagine what other surprises this day could have.

But Gaius remained mysterious, instead he only pointed upwards.

My parents and I exchanged a look, but we did, still wondering what exactly we were supposed to see.

As it turned out we didn't have to wait for long, suddenly a great roar spilt the air and in the darkness of the sky and even greater darker shape appeared, blotting out the stars.

My mother gasped.

I blinked a few times stunned, not even sure I was seeing what I was seeing. It couldn't be! It was only a legend...wasn't it.

And then a voice rang out across the square, the voice of the Great Priestess. "Behold the Great Dragon, who shows himself to us to convey the blessing of the Triple Goddess upon us."

I flickered my eyes to the balcony where the Priestess stood her white dress stark in the darkness, before looking up again at the dark shape moving across the sky. There was another roar and then a plume of fire appeared streaking across the sky.

I think I almost passed out! Never in my whole life had I seen anything like that... a dragon! An actual dragon! They actually existed?! I'd never even considered it.

I wasn’t sure whether to be full of awe or completely terrified. Gaius was clearly enthralled by the sight of the great beast, but then Gaius was…well he had magical ability and perhaps was used to this sort of thing. I certainly wasn’t and I knew for sure my parents weren’t.

Finally the shape disappeared into the distance, becoming nothing more than a tiny speck on the horizon.

I turned to Gaius. “I…there…that was a dragon,” I finally managed to splutter.

Gaius was beaming. “It was, amazing wasn’t it?”

“How…how is it possible?”

Gaius looks at me slightly confused. “What?”

“Dragons! Aren’t they just a myth?”

Gaius gave a laugh. “Obviously not.” He turned to my parents, who had been shocked into silence it seemed. “There’s no need to be alarmed, they mean us no harm.”

Father spoke up first. “Well…I should hope not.”

Gaius looked from Mother and Father and then to me. “You’ve been told they’re just myth?” He shook his head. “Well, I suppose it’s not that surprising, they’re quite rare. Usually only Dragonlords can bring them out, but every so often, like now they’ll pass by. The Priestesses might have some connection to them, not as strongly, but there it is.”

I looked at my parents and they looked at me, there obviously was still a lot I didn’t know about Camelot.
of_monmouth: ([Young] Heh)
2013-01-19 11:03 pm

*NaNo Project* Part the Eigth - Section the First - The Visitors - 956AD

It would be unfair of me to suggest that the moment the Duke of Cornwall's party left that everything descended into utter chaos. All things considered things were quite calm and Prince Uher's manners had improved. Was he as polite and considerate as he had been with Lord Gorlois's influence, no, but he did at least treat the library with greater respect.

I was, I admit rather surprised at the progress he made, by the time he was nine he could read quite well - although he would never do so for fun - and I dare say his grasp on mathematics was going to be far better than my own.

In the meanwhile, when time permitted I continued my studies under Cedas learning such skills as genealogy, authenticating documents and mending damage to books.

Gaius would visit me often, because although Linus had his own rather extensive library sometimes there were things that were beyond the typical medical and medicinal scope of the Physician's collection.

It was during one such visit that one of the messengers appeared in the library, I didn't pay him much mind at first because there were rarely messengers for me, but then Cedas called me over.

"For you, lad, I believe it's from Monmouth," he remarked as he handed it to me.

Monmouth! I practically tore the parchment in half in my haste to open the seal, fortunately I didn't, I could guess who the message came from of course, but I couldn't imagine why they had gone to the trouble of having it delivered to me personally, usually letters from home were left with the general servant messages. Personal delivery cost extra after all.

"What does it say?" Gaius had appeared over my shoulder, which didn't surprise me since he could be, not to put too fine a point on it, rather nosey. Still he meant nothing bad by it so I wasn't really bothered.

The letter contained surprising news indeed, at least as far as I was concerned:

Dearest Geoffrey,

Mother and I sincerely hope this missive finds you well and that you are enjoying yourself.

We are especially pleased to hear that the prince is showing you more respect, often all the young need is a little guidance and they prove themselves to be kind individuals -


"Don't think anyone could accuse Prince Uther of being kind," Gaius interjected and I gave him a look. Really he could at least pretend not to be reading over my shoulder, it was really quite rude. He had the grace to look embarrassed and moved away so that I could continue undisturbed.

I'm sure you're wondering why tahis letter has come to your directly, the reason is we have exciting news. Pope Maximus has called for each diocease to select a bishop to represent them and travel to Lyon in Brittany for a conference. In have just now been informed that of all the bishops in Caerleon I have been selected!

Mother and I have decided to make an adventure out of it and rather than sail from Caerleon we will come via Camelot.

We will be travelling from Monmouth a week before Midsummer's Eve and hope to arrive in Camelot for that festival.

I do hope you'll warmly welcome us and have enough time to show us some of the sights we have heard about.

Looking forward to seeing you soon my son.

Much love,
Your old parents


I looked over to where Gaius and Cedas were, the sooner peering over the shoulder of the latter. "My parents they're coming for a visit," I could barely keep the excitement out of my voice.

"All the way from Monmouth?" Cedas sounded very surprised.

"And why not?" Gaius asked, giving me a cheeky grin. “If Geoff could manage it anyone could.”

“I was referring to that, I was referring to the fact that your father is a bishop, isn’t he?”

I nodded.

“Camelot isn’t exactly...a haven for the New Religion,” Cedas explained looking almost concerned. “In fact you could call Camelot the centre of the Old Religion if you were to call it anything.”

Gaius shrugged. “Geoff’s parents are coming for a visit, not to convert anyone. Right, Geoff?”

“I imagine not. I wouldn’t call my father the converting type.”

“All the same, members of the Old Religion can be quite...sensitive to any hint of intrusion on their ways. If nothing else warn your parents not to travel anywhere near the Lake of the Blessed” Cedas continued gravely.

“The Lake of the Blessed?” I repeated, curious, I hadn’t heard of it before.

“It’s to the south-west, the Isle of the Blessed is located in the middle of it.”

I hadn’t heard of that either.

“It’s where the Priestesses of the Old Religion live,” Gaius spoke up, he gave Cedas a look. “But I hardly see any reason for your parents to go there.”

“It’s near the sea,” Cedas retorted.

“But not a port. Really Cedas, you worry too much,” Gaius waved his hand dismissvely and came over, putting an around around my shoulders. “Don’t worry, Geoff, your parents will be fine. When are they coming?”

“They said they should get here by Midsummer’s Eve.”

“Brilliant! They’ve picked a great time! The Midsummer’s Eve festival is one of the highlights of the year.”

Cedas looked as if he had a thing or two to say about that, but Gaius steered me out of his earshot before continuing. "Don't let Cedas get to you," he advised me. "The man's a worry wart through and through, really then priestesses of the Old Religion couldn't give a damn what Christians get up too."

Well that was a relief, although I was well aware that one of the tenants of Christianity was to spread the Word, still I didn't think Father would be here in Camelot long enough to do anything of the sort. I was also quite certain he would have mentioned in his letter if anything like that was going to happen.

Still, I was curious a out one thing so asked Gaius about it. "What rituals does the Old Religion have? I mean everyone knows about the festivals Beltane and Samhain and the like, but what do followers do outside those times. There's no weekly gathering or anything like that is there?"

"Like mass you mean?" Gaius shook his head. "No the Old Religion is more a style of living, everything one does is an offering to the Triple Goddess."

"Christianity also requires a style of living," I replied, I hadn't gone to mass since leaving Monmouth - there wasn't anywhere to go -, but I recalled that.

"True, but that style is more...forward facing, a means to an end, getting to heaven and all that. The Old Religion is focussed very much on nature, the here and now." Gaius clarified and I nodded.

Something occurred to me. "Should I notify the King of my mother and father's visit? Does permission need to be sought for a bishop to come through these lands?"

Gaius laughed. "You should notify the King, of course, but not for that reason. The royal family isn't really of the Old Religion, it's more a customary thing and excuse to celebrate the festivals. Still a bishop would probably be considered a person of some importance, the King may wish to have him presented."

I sincerely hoped not, but on Gaius's advice I notified the Council, not expecting to hear back from them. Imagine my surprise the when the day before Midsummer's Eve a messenger came to the library with a royal request for my presence.

Cedas, who had spent no small amount of time since I got the letter shaking his head and issuing warnings told me good luck as I headed out of the library and followed the messenger to the Council Chambers.

Council was in session, King Aurelius sitting at the head of the long conference table with the royal brothers and the other noble lords sitting either side.

"Geoffrey of Monmouth, your Majesty," the messenger announced me with a bow.

King Aurelius gave a curt nod to the servant then turned his attention on me, he seemed not to recall I had been his scribe only a few months’ ago or that I was tutoring his nephew.

As it turned out he didn't speak to me himself, instead one of nobles did so. This Council has been made aware that your father, Bishop Gildas of Monmouth will be passing through Camelot in his way to Brittany."

I nodded, unsure if I was supposed to answer or not, the Council seemed satisfied though and the lord continued.

"This is a personal visit then?" He queried me, his heavy brow furrowed. "There is no religious intent?"

I shook my head before realizing this probably was a question that required a spoken response. "No, my lord, he and mother just want to visit with me and attend the Midsummer's Eve celebrations."

The King gave a grunt, but did not speak to me, instead he nodded at the lord.

"This question is pertinent only because we are expecting a visit from the High Priestess of the Isle of the Blessed tomorrow."

I blinked a few times, perturbed, had Cedas been right after all and I'd just landed myself and quite possibly my parents in no end of trouble.

"We request only that your father keep himself to himself, we do not wish to upset the high priestess, discretion must be used."

I breathed a sigh of relief and made a somewhat awkward bow to the King and the rest of the Council.

"Of course, my Lords...Your Majesty...Your Highnesses, I assure you that you won't even know we are here."

The King waved his hand dismissively and the lord thanked me for my attendance - as if I'd had any option but to come - and I all but ran from the chamber.

I went to find Gaius immediately and I admit I may have been a bit rough on him, but being called into the Royal Presence was something I had never expected.

Gaius looked apologetic. "It never occurred to me that the High Priestess might be coming, her visits are very rare. But still to be honest with you, I really don't believe she will care, unless your father starts giving sermons in the town square. It's a precaution really, no-one's ever sure what mood the High Priestess will be in you see."

This was becoming more confusing by the minute at least as far as I was concerned, however I couldn't request that my parents cancel their trip now so there was nothing for it then but hope and pray for the best.
of_monmouth: ([Young] Heh)
2013-01-18 09:57 pm

*NaNo Project* Part the Seventh - Section the Ninth - The Scribe - 955AD

I was disabused of that notion a few days later when I returned to the library after another long day of council meetings.

I’m not sure where Cedas had got to, but he was not in the library, instead there was a rukus.

A rukus in the most important room in the entire castle! And at the centre of all this was Prince Uther...and some boy I had never seen before.

“Wh-what on Earth are you doing?!” I spluttered, looking around at the books on the floor in utter dismay.

“Geoffrey!” Prince Uther looked over from where he ws searching along a shelf, looking for all the world like he didn’t have a care in the world. Obviously the gravity of the situation was completely lost on him. “You can help us find what we’re looking for, right?”

I didn’t answer instead I continue to stare at the mess with a sinking heart wondeirng if any of the books had been damaged and if so could they be repaired.

“Geoffrey?” Prince Uther repeated. “We’re looking for a book about a giant and the first army in Cornwall. You know how to find that right?”

The boy I didn’t know seemed to be more aware of what the look on my face meant.

“Um, Uther...I thought you said we were allowed in here?” He said somewhat hesistantly.

“We are,” the Prince replied stubbornly, looking at me in annoyance as if I were the problem. “I come here for lessons practically every day.”

The boy seemed, at that point, to suddenly remember his manners, he gave me a grin and gave quick bow. “Good evening, I’m Gorlois, the Duke of Cornwall’s son.”

The Duke of Cornwall had a son? Not that that mattered, what mattered was this son had come in here and turned it into a complete hovel!

Prince Uther rolled his eyes, but he finally left the books in peace and came over to stand next to Lord Gorlois. “Well, are you going to help us find the book about...what’s the giant’s name again?” he poked Lord Gorlois in the arm.

“Don’t poke me,” Lord Gorlois poked him right back which was a bit of a shock to me, he may be noble, but he was still in a lower position than a prince. “It’s Cthulwch,” he turned to me.

I finally found my voice. “Did you...did you check the catalogue.”

“There’s a catalogue?” Lord Gorlois sounded utterly surprised he turned to look at the prince. “You didn’t tell me there was a a catalogue.”

Prince Uther gave a shrug. “I didn’t think it was all that important.”

“That’s how you find the book we want,” Lord Gorlois groaned, shaking his head. He looked at me apologetically. “Um...sorry...we’ll pick everything up.”

“You will?” I stared at him stunned.

“We will?” Prince Uther said at the same time, looking at Lord Gorlois as if he had just suggested they jump out the window.

“Yes, we will,” Lord Gorlois spoke firmly. “While your tutor gets the book for us. If you have time that is.”

I was utterly amazed at the boy’s...consideration, I was used to Prince Uther and to a greater extent his father and uncles, they didn’t seem to realise that servants were in fact people. But here was Lord Gorlois speaking politely and respectfully. I didn’t even know what to say.

“Geoffrey, wake up!” Prince Uther’s voice broke me out of my reverie, followed by him giving a shout when Lord Gorlois punche him soundly on the arm.

“We’ll get to work putting all this stuff back,” Lord Gorlois assured me and picked up a few books that wee within reach and shoved them at the Prince.

For a moment I thought Prince Uther would simply drop the books to the floor (and damage them for good measure), but something gave him pause and finally he muttered pentualantly. “We’ll put them back.”

I wandered off to the catalogue room, leaving the boys to return the library to rights. As I searched for this...giant, Ctulwch, I suddenly realised something, this was the first time I’d seen Prince Uther with a companion his own age. He had mentioned Ector, Sir Hector’s son a few times, that was true, but I’d never actually seen him in the company of that particular boy. Prince Uther was usally off somewhere alone, or sulking. I wondered how the two had met, but it was hardly my position to ask, so instead I located the entry for books on Cornish legends - because obviously, a giant was a legend - and finding the correct name I headed to the necessary shelf – which was in an area of the library neither boy had been anywhere near and retrieved it.

It seems I neededn’t have worried, when I got back to where I’d left Lord Gorlois and the Prince all the books were off the floor and back on the shelf.

“None of them were broken?” I asked, surprised.

“None of the ones I picked up were,” Lord Gorlois assured me, he gave the Prince a look. “None of yours were either, right, Uther.”

Uther gave a shrug. “They looked fine to me.”

Lord Gorlois rolled his eyes and shook his head, then noticed the book in my hand. “Is that it?” He pointed.

“I believe so,” I held the book out to him.

"We'll be careful with it," Lord Gorlois promised me earnestly and after a moment gave the Prince a poke in the side.

"We definitely will," he added with an nod.

I was left utterly speechless. Nobility who treated servants more like equals than lessers? My mind boggled.

The council lasted for around two weeks, during which to I learnt a great deal about military strategy, which at the very least made me believe I could get Prince Uther interested in the idea of attending such Councils when he came of age. For me personally the only interest I found in the meetings was the bettering of my scribing skills and being able to study the personalities of the men who played so much importance in them.

Duke Daedilis was a man of great knowledge and had skills in negoation that put most other men to shame. It was a well known fact that no member of the Pendragon family enjoyed being corrected or interrupted in any manner. The Duke of Cornwall managed to do that and more all the while keeping the King and Royal brothers in fine spirits, they even put aside their habitual sniping at each other!

The Duke's son was also a master at words, I had never seen Prince Uther in such good spirits. I even heard gossip in the kitchens that he had become far more polite them and sometimes even thanked them for their services!

It was against that backdrop then that the council, a great success as it had apparently being every time it was held, came to an end and everyone servant and noble alike I believe was very sorry to see it so.

Indeed, in the coming years I would find myself wishing ferverently that the Duke of Cornwall and Lord Gorlois could have stayed in Camelot permanently.
of_monmouth: ([Young] Trying To Shape Young Minds)
2013-01-17 10:37 pm

*NaNo Project* Part the Seventh - Section the Eighth - The Scribe - 955AD

The work of a scribe is not a particularly interesting one, so I will not bore you with the intimidate details. Suffice to say I was uncertain if I would ever clean the ink stains from my fingers. About the only thing of note to happen was before I was even allowed into the Council Chambers I had to have the correct garb. The dresser who was in the Council Chamber's anteroom gave me a look of annoyance and demanded to know why I had not come to see him before the noble parties arrived.

"No-one told me to," I protested, as the dresser all but dragged me before a looking glass and shoved a rather bizarre looking shirt into my hand. “I was waiting in the Entrance Hall for instructions.”

The dresser grumbled and turned to a nearby table. “I don’t even know how you got this position, who are you anyway?”

“Geoffrey of Monmouth, Cedas’s apprentice.” I replied, resigned to the idea I was never going to be the sort of face that would be remembered.

“Cedas? You’re braver than you look.” The dresser grunted. “Hurry up and put that on would you?”

I hurried to do do so, unable to contain my wince as I caught sight of myself in the mirror – the shirt had an enormous ruffled collar, I looked like a complete idiot.

Looking down I saw that the sleeves gapped open, I couldn’t imagine how I would possibly be able to write. “How am I supposed to do my duties with this?” I held up my arms rather accusingly.

“With these,” the dresser shoves some cufflinks in my direction.

I took them and fumbled to get them on, so much so that the dresser eventually gave up and did it for me, shaking his head all the while.

“Now you’re fit to enter the Council Chambers,” he told me primly once that was done. I wasn’t all that sure, I felt ridiculous, it seemed though that was how Camelot’s servants were supposed to look.

I guessed they were used to it because I certainly wasn’t greeted by laughter, they didn’t even notice me in fact, which I decided to be relieved about.

The council lasted nearly half the day and as I wrote previously was not all that interesting. When the council finally broke up for evening dinner preparations - thankfully it wasn’t another feast - Lnydre turn to me and asked if I’d survived.

“I think..I managed most of it,” I said quite uncertainly.

“We need to compare our writings,” Lyndre continued, pushing his scroll towards me, I could clearly see the neat lines and impeccible handwriting.

I had the urge to cover my scroll, I really didn’t want him to see mine, but really, what could I do? Hesitantly, I pushed it over for him to view.

Lyndre raised his eyebrows, but had the decency not to mock me, but instead simply lay the two parchments next to each other and invited me to compare them for accuracy.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that whilst my handwriting was utterly horrid and there were ink blotches littered all over the parchment what I had written and what Lyndre had written matched up quite well.

“Your presentation is most certainly lacking, but one can’t fault your accuracy.” Lyndre commented.

“This is a draft though, isn’t it?” I asked.

“It is, but you should probably work on your neatness, you never know when one of the nobles will look over your shoulder. It’s best to make it look like you know what you’re doing.” For the first time Lyndre actually smiled.

“It would be nice if I did,” I replied, wryly.

“You’ll get the hang of it,” Lyndre said with certainity. “Believe me, I wasn’t the best when I first began my scribing duties either.”

I found that somewhat hard to believe, but I appreciated his encouragement.

We went our seperate ways and when I returned to the library, I had a quick meal and headed for bed. Who would have thought that being a scribe would be more draining than being a tutor.

At least...that’s what I thought at that moment.
of_monmouth: ([Young] That's Just Sad)
2013-01-16 11:01 pm

*NaNo Project* Part the Seventh - Section the Seventh - The Scribe - 955AD

The Uniform of the Royal Servants of Camelot was surely the most ridiculous thing I’d ever seen. To say nothing of how uncomfortable it was. A heavy doublet over an extremely itchy tunic, with frills trimming the collar and cuffs. The trousers were just riciulous, something like a jestor would wear. There was a heavy red cape that was almost impossible to move in and it was all surmounted by the most ludricous hat in all of existence. It had red feathers on top…a huge flopping red feathers! I imagined they were dyed that colour, but God only knew. I shuddered to think what sort of bird they had come from however.

Just about the only good thing that could be said was at least everyone else was wearing the ridiculous things, even the hats! I sumised that the reason I had no idea what kind of bird the feathers could be from was because it was probably extinct.

“Geoffrey!” I heard Gaius’s voice but couldn’t recognise him in amongst all the doublets and feathers at least until one of them started moving towards me.

“What in God’s name is this?” I pointed to the hat.

“The ceremonial hat,” Gaius answered simply.

“But why does it look like this? It’s utterly ridiculous! I feel like a…like a…”

“Joke?” Gaius supplied grinning wryly.

“How are we supposed to be taken seriously?” I demanded. “Aren’t we supposed to be…impressing the Duke? He’ll take one look at us and laugh himself to death.”

“Oh we make quite a showing when we all walk in there together, on our own we look quite ridiculous, but together…”

I didn’t believe that for a minute, but we didn’t really have any choice but to enter the hall, we had our orders. Before we were told to go in, each of us was given a tray pled high with all sorts of food, most of which I didn’t even recognise.

The Great Hall was completely crowded and really the hats were a bad choice if only because they made it even more difficult manoveer. I managed not to not get entangled with anyone else’s hat or knock anyone down.

The King and Duke of Cornwall and their respective wives were sitting at the head table, while their various entourages were sitting at other tables along the length of the hall.

I had to say the feast gave me a whole knew appreication for the life of a typical servant and an appreciation for the fact that I was not one. I didn’t have a clue where to put the serving tray and I embarrassingly had to wait until everyone else had put their trays down before I found a spot to place mind. Then we were forced to retreat to the walls and hold pitchers of wine ready to jump at a moment’s notice to refill goblets.

It was the most tedious four hours of my life, standing there, that heavy hat and cape feeling like they might drag me down. I know that I had been to dinners as long or even longer, but I hadn’t needed to stand at any of them and I hadn’t had the pressure of having a very important task to do the very next day.

Gaius seemed in very good mood, much like how he was when I first arrived at Camelot. I was pleased to see him in better spirits, but I felt this was a strange place and time to recover it. But then Gaius was odd.

Perhaps the feast dragged on so much because a lot of that time was taken up by droning speeches from the King. King Aurelius specialised in long speeches it seemed, which was quite a worry for me considering I would be recording every word he said during the council.

The Duke of Cornwall’s response was mercifully brief at least, although of course we also had to hear their wives compliment each other. As Gaius had mentioned the Duchess was a very pretty woman, although I didn’t really see what all the fuss was about, certainly it wasn’t enough to make this whole experience worth it.

I must have heaved a deep a sigh of discontent because Gaius gave me a bit of a nudge. “Try not to look like you’re at a funeral,” he whispered, “if anyone higher up notices they’ll be quite a bit of trouble for you.”

I immediately plastered a smile in my face, but really I couldn’t imagine any of the nobles taking enough interest in me to even notice what my face looked like.

Once the speeches ended with the many toasts involved…the nobles began to get rather…sloppy, with off-key singing and spilling of wine and knocking over of candles. I was surprised nothing caught on fire!

And of course once the feast was called to a close we servants weren’t allowed to leave for our own beds, oh no, we had to clean up everything. Which I think took almost as long as the feast itself! I began to fear that I would never get any sleep! Although as it was I imagined I’d only get three or four hours, barely worth it.

But cleaning up after a feast was tiring work and when I finally did get back to my very small bedroom I flopped on my bed and was fast asleep almost before my head hit the pillow!

My sleep was deep, extremely deep, I was startled awake when there was a sudden knock on the door jam, almost falling off the narrow bed. I looked around like a startled animal, it took some time for my eyes to adjust to the sudden brightness and when they did I focussed on Cedas’s face.

“Cedas?” I was thoroughly confused because he usually didn’t wake me, and then I remembered. “Oh God am I late for the council?! Are they coming to throw me in the dungeons?” I scrambled to find some clothes to wear, fully intending to change right there in front of my mentor I was in such a hurry, but Cedas held up a hand.

“No, no, it’s fine, settle down, the meeting won’t begin for a least another hour or so, I just wanted to ensure you were up and ready for it.”

I breathed a sigh of relief at his words and caught my breath.

“Which means you can afford to have a bit of a wash, you smell like last nights feast.” He wrinkled his nose.

I frowned and brought my arm up to my nose and gave a sniff, he was right.

I thanked Cedas for waking me and grabbing up the neccesities hurried away to the servant's bathing rooms to make myself presentable.

Having never been a scribe before I had no idea what to expect and even if I was supposed to stay in the library and await instructions. Not wanting to miss anything I went to the great entrance of the castle and stood around trying not to look too nervous, I had brought along my favourite quill, the one gifted to me by my parents before I left Monmouth, at first I held it in my hands hoping it would help keep me calm, eventually I tucked it away, I kept clenching my fists and feared I would break it.

I seemed to wait for eons, at one point I heard footfalls racing down the great stairs and turned wondering if I was in the wrong place and a guard had come to take me away. I was surprised instead to see Prince Uther.

"Your Highess!" I gave a hurried bow.

"Hello, Geoffrey," he was in a surprisingly good mood, all but bouncing down the stairs, which explained how his footfalls had been loud enough to make me believe it had been an actual guard.

"Why are you standing around here?" The Prince surprised me by not simply continuing on. He rarely, if ever, spoke to me outside of our lessons.

"I'm waiting for the Council to beginning, I've been selected as scribe."

The Prince screwed up nose as if he had just smelled something deeply unpleasant. "What did you do?"

It took me a second to realise the Prince thought that this was some sort of punishment, I almost smiled but then realised...perhaps it was.

"Is being a scribe some sort of punishment?"

The Prince shrugged. "Sounds like one to me, but Cedas used to do it and not complain, so I guess you won’t mind it either." He looked at me as if I were some sort of enigma.

"Well, there are worst things I can think of." I finally replied.

"I can't," the Prince said with another shrug. "Enjoy yourself then."

And with that he ran off.

I shook my head and then wondered where exactly the Prince was going, it was too early for training and there certainly wouldn't be any hunts while the council was in session. It occurred to me that really a prince should not just be wandering out of the castle anytime he pleased. I briefly considered mentioning his leaving to someone, but there was no time, the doors on the otherside of the Entrance Hall were thrown open with great fanfare and one of the King's guards announced in a booming voice. "His Majesty, King Aureulis, the Princes Constans, Caius and Ambrosius and the Council of Camelot!"

He stepped aside and in marched the royals and the nobles of Camelot, heads held high. I wondered if I should scramble to join them before wisely realizing that such a party did not include me. So I waited, wondering if I was going to get any instructions or if I was just supposed to fend for myself?

The guard spoke again. "Presenting His Grace, Duke Diadalis of Cornwall and his Council!"

The Duke and his men marched through the doors across the hall and into the Council Chambers, I hestitated wondering if, now that all the important people had passed through now was the time for me to go.

At that moment a man appeared beside me, the scribe from Cornwall, not that I could tell Cornish people on sight, but because he was holding a quill.

"The scribe for Camelot?" He asked me without fanfare.

I nodded.

"I'm Lyndre of Turoro, scribe to the Duke of Cornwall." He introduced himself in clipped and efficient tones.

I on the other hand stammered rather badly. "Geof- Geoffrey. Of Monmouth."

I realised about that point that Lyndre had his hand extended and I practically tripped over my own feet in my haste to shake it.

Lyndre was the epitome of dignity and didn't even seem preturbed by my gracelessness. "We best get into the Council Chambers, nobles don't take well to waiting after all."

No they did not and I imagined Pendragons would be more impatient than most.

So with that, Lyndre and I headed for those doors and I took a deep breath and prayed for God to be at my side that day.
of_monmouth: ([Young] I Don't Even Know...)
2013-01-15 10:07 pm

*NaNo Project* Part the Seventh - Section the Sixth - The Scribe - 955AD

As it turned out I didn't have as much time as I hoped to get more practice in, apparently I was among those servants enlisted when occasion demanded it, such as feasts for very important people.

It seemed I was not the only one as I was ushered into the castle kitchens I spotted Gaius who was cutting up various herbs.

"Geoff, they got you too," he greeted me cheerfully.

I couldn't be quite as sanguine. "I was never told that something like this could happen." I spoke as low as I could and still be heard amongst the clanging pots, the sound of fires crackling and the orders of the head servants. "I wanted to do more writing today."

Gaius gave a rather helpless shrug and looked at me apologetically. "With any luck you'll get some time later in the day. Grab a knife and help me, unless you want to be caught stuffing chickens or something."

I shuddered at the thought so quickly took position beside Gaius and grabbed a nearby knife, even though I had no idea how to cut herbs, I had no doubt there was some sort of method involved but looking at Gaius I couldn't actually say what it was.

When he noticed what I was doing he gave a chuckle. "Just chop them, they'll just be ground up in the end anyway."

Well, that was good to know, I supposed, so I started chopping.

"What happens to me if I don't fulfil my scribing duties to everyone's standards?" I asked, as I concentrated in my cutting - which honestly didn't make me feel any better what with visions of an excecutioner's axe on my mind.

Gaus frowned. "I really don't know...I mean it would depend on now dire they consider the failure. Usually transgressions will land you in the stocks, but that's about as far as I've seen it go."

The stocks?! That was obviously supposed to be a comforting remark, but the idea of the stocks was ore than enough to frighten me.

Gaius quickly realised my distress and shook his head. "But honestly, Geoff, there's no need to panic, keep in mind the Duke of Cornwall's party will have a scribe as well, you can exchange notes."

Well, that was comforting at least, and since none of this was Gaius's fault I mustered up a smile and returned my chopping.

If I'd I imagined that I'd be escaping these menial tasks any time soon I was sadly mistaken. There were a multitude of tings to ready for the feast. Thousands of candles to be set up in the Main Hall, hundreds of sets of cutlery to polish, dozens and dozens of serving platters to ready. By the time it was all done dusk was swiftly approaching and there was barely time to catch one's breath before the great bell was tolling, announcing the arrival of the party from Cornwall.

With no time left to hone my scribing abilities or lack there of I allowed Gaius to take me by the arm to the nearest parapet where would could observe the arrival.

Beyond the main walls of Camelot a line of men both on horseback and on foot could be seen striding down the main road, the men walking in front holding aloft banners of a black shield with gold dots arranged in the shape of a triangle. I briefly found myself wondering what the history behind it was and made a note to look it up when I had the chance.

I focused on the men who were on horseback in the middle of the group, they all seemed quite important, although one in the middle seemed to stand out more than the rest and I wasn’t all that surprised when Gaius pointed him out saying. “That’s Duke Dionotus.”

I nodded and wondered if the Duke was anything like the Pendragons or like Caerleon and his son, neither sounded all that appealing.

Bringing up the rear of the group were two litters, which were covered and thus couldn’t be seen into, but it was clear that they must contain women.

“The Duchess,” Gaius explained, “and her entrouge, apparently they’re all extremely pretty,” he chuckled and gave me a nudge. “So it won’t all be bad at the feast.”

I furrowed my brow. “The feast? Are we invited to that?”

Gaius gave a laugh. “Oh no, but we’ll be there, extra duties, you know.”

My heart dropped. “You’re…kidding?”

Gaius shook his head. “Afraid not.”

“But I’ve never served a meal to anyone in my life! I don’t know how any of it’s done!”

Gaius seemed quite blaise waving his hand. “Don’t worry, you’ll pick it up easily enough. If you can lift all those books you can lift a seving tray. And I’m sure you can pour your own drink, so you’ll be set for that.”

I was nowhere near as convinced, but then Gaius had further bad news to give.

“Of course…getting used to the uniform might take a bit of time.”

I gulped. “Uniform?”
of_monmouth: ([Young] Trying To Shape Young Minds)
2013-01-14 10:46 pm

*NaNo Project* Part the Seventh - Section the Fifth - The Scribe - 955AD

I was surprised when Gaius took me to the tavern and even more surprised when I found the group assembled, I hadn't seen any of them since returning from the Labrinyth some months ago. Like Gaius they seemed a bit more subdued, but in good enough spirits, except for perhaps Richard who appeared to have aged decades, he remained silent while the rest greeted me with smiles.

Gaius sat down at the head of the table and explained my predicament.

"A scribe?" Alice looked at me in surprise. "I thought you needed to be trained for such things?"

I gave Gaius a look and smiled wryly. "I didn't think so, but Gaius has disabused me of that notion."

"Practice is definitely needed for something like this, I'm afraid Geoff's become the latest pawn in the never-ending war between our esteemed members of royalty."

I was a bit startled to hear him make such a comment in public, but I supposed it was loud enough in the tavern for it to be safe.

"So I've offered our services for some quick practice before the council begins." Gaius looked around the table and there were nods from the others except for Richard who was staring off in the distance.

"Great!" Gaius claps his hands together and looks to me. "Get out your parchment and quill, Geoff and get writing."

I blinked in surprise. "Now?"

"What better time?"

"It's so loud."

"All the better, it won't be as loud at the council, but it'll be far more important so if you record us accurately enough you'll be a good stead...I think."

Right, well I suppose Gaius's reasoning was sound enough, so pulling out my quill and parchment and got to work.

In don't believe I've ever written so quickly and messily in my life and at one point I wonder if I'd actually be able to read it when I finally finished.

I think half an hour passed before Gaius said I should stop so we we could see how accurate...or not I was.

Except for Richard everyone else wanted a look and I waited nervously to see what their verdict would be.

Ian shook his head, proclaiming it was impossible to read, Elric said that it looked all right to him. Alice looked at it for quite a while before finally passing her judgement. "You may need to make it a bit more clear who's actually saying what."

I nodded, although I wondered what I was going to write if I didn't know their names, but I'd figure that out later, I suppose.

Finally, Gaius took a look and agreed with Alice's assessment. "Still you've done a lot better than I could have done," he gave me a slap on the back.

I gave a slight smile. I had never seen Gaius write before, so I couldn't really say how much encouragement that was. Still, I had a day in which to practice, and practice makes perfect so they say.

So, I allowed myself a drink before bidding Gaius and his friends good evening and headed back to the library where I looked up previous council meetings just to see how the scribes before me had done it.

The answer was most definitely neater than I had imagined, though I hoped this was because they had rewritten it and this was a firs draft. I quizzed Cedas about this as soon as he returned to the library from parts unknown - I wasn't sure where he went exactly, I had never thought to ask, but it was really none of my business really.

"Oh, those are second drafts, of course, the first ones were a complete mess, really you need to write whatever is said a quickly and completely as you can."

I nodded and bit my lip, a little worried. "Is there...some sort of punishment if you don't get it right?"

Cedas gave me a look and simply said. "I would strongly recommend that you get it right."

Well...that was quite omnious.
of_monmouth: ([Young] Trying To Shape Young Minds)
2013-01-13 09:54 pm

*NaNo Project* Part the Seventh - Section the Fourth - The Scribe - 955AD

After Prince Caius's treatment I was absolutely terrified when, the next morning, a servant ran into the library with orders that I present myself to the Council Chambers directly.

For a brief moment I considered fleeing the city all together, I had been quite certain all the information I had supplied to Prince Caius's was correct, but his threat was vivid in my mind.

However there was no time for hesitation the servant looked ready to drag me to the Council Chambers if need be, so taking a nervous breath I hurried out from behind the desk and followed the messenger to what was quite possibly my doom.

On my arrival, however the most unlikely of events happened, at least as far as I was concerned. Rather than being berated, castigated or sentenced to any number of uncomfortable punishment the King announced that my services would be required for the with Cornwall as a scribe!

I regret that I did not react to this news by looking appropriately scholarly, in fact I'm quite certain I was positively slack jawed. I did however remember to make a bow and thank the King for this great privilege and it was indeed one, I wondered though why Cedas was not doing it.

My mentor answered that question for me when we met outside the Council Chambers once the King had dismissed us, I hadn't even noticed his presence!

"His Majesty is of the opinion I don't hear well enough anymore," Cedas huffed looking more than a little offended. "I made some clerical errors in the last minutes of a council. I had the cold at the time! I'm perfectly healthy now."

I was sympathetic to Cedas's feelings although I was worried at the same time, I had never been a scribe before, what if I was no good at it? It didn't bear thinking about, I made up my mind to try and get some practice in recording conversations.

Then I realised something. "Who will tutor Prince Uther while I'm in the meetings?"

Cedas gave a shrug. "No-one I'd assume and I don't imagine the prince will be complaining." I didn't either, although I was a little concerned, I had heard of councils that went on for months what would happen to the Prince's education in that case?

"I wouldn't worry too much, the lad can read and write decently enough, that puts him a few steps ahead of many of his peers. A week or two's break won't hurt him."

I had to hope that was true and I had to test myself to see if I really could be a decent scribe.

My test subjects were Gaius and Linus the physician, actually, I had just come to Gaius for some moral support, but when I heard him and Linus speaking I decided that was an opportunity that couldn't be ignored. Balancing my bit of parchment on the base of a column I got writing. I like to think I did rather well especially considering all the medical terms the two of them used. I was even beginning to enjoy myself when the two of them exited the Physician's Chambers and caught me hard at work.

"Geoffrey, what the Hell are you doing?" Gaius demanded when he saw me and I was so absorbed in my task I actually started writing that down before realising Gaius was talking to me.

I looked up quite sheepishly. "Sorry, I'm just practicing." Linus was staring at me as if I'd completely lost my mind.

"For what exactly?" Gaius had folded his arms and was raising an eyebrow at me, it was something he did very well indeed.

"The King has asked that I be the official scribe during the meetings with the Duke of Cornwall. And...well...since I've never actually done such a thing before, I thought it best to get some practice in."

Linus gave a 'hmpf' and seemed satisified with this explanation and with a nod to Gaius headed off down the hallway.

Gaius meanwhile looked at me with some concern. “The King selected you to be scribe? You’ve barely been here a year!”

“A year and a half,” I was quick to say, not that really made all that much difference, I knew what Gaius was getting at and frankly I was quite mystified myself. “Maybe...Prince Uther said something? You know...positive.”

Gaius was looking at me as if I was mad and I had to concede that really that was a rather ridiculous suggestion, although I did feel the need to point out how he had come to my defense, so to speak, when Prince Caius was acting as though I was intruder in the library and when I did Gaius suddenly nodded.

“Well...there you go.” He shook his head. “You’ve ended up being part of one of the many games the Royal brothers’ play.”

“Games?”

"The Princes and even the King at times are in a constant battle to prove superority over one another. It's completely ridiculous, of course but there you have it. Unfortunately, it appears you have been elected to be a pawn in this round."

If there was a list of things one did not wish to hear at any point in their life that would have to be at the top. Becoming part of a royal game? And one that was clearly full of malice? What would happen if I failed? What even counted as failure to the Princes? I looked down at the parchment I'd been writing on, everything seemed to have become deadly serious.

"Do you - is this accurate?" I held the parchment out for Gaius to inspect.

He read it with care before making his judgement. "It's....passable."

My heart dropped, I had a feeling that wouldn't be good enough. "I have no experience with medical terms," I pointed out, hoping that would change things.

Gaius gave me a look that was pitying as well as friendly. "I can asure you that never in a million years would Linus have said that Lord Tiemore was nothing more than an irritating old bore, I'm quite sure he said he was a marvellous lord."

"Well, I was listening through a partially opened door," the idea occurred to me and I latched onto it tightly. "I'll hardly be doing thst during the council."

Gaius conceded the point, but still didn't look entirely convinced. "You need practice that much is certain and quickly, the Duke of Cornwall's party will arrive tomorrow, there will be a feast in the evening and the council will begin first thing the following morning."

I swallowed, I seemed nobility didn't mess around. I took a deep breath and steadied my nerves. "Seems I won't have a lot of time... I'll need your help, if you have time."

Gaius grinned, which wasn't a sight I'd seen in a while, he'd been rather withdrawn since Maxim's death. "What are friends for?"