D&S: To Be A Knight - Part Two

  • As the sun hid beneath the western hills, the air began to cool. They chose a quiet place to make camp; a small clearing in the meadow by the stream. Reeds grew thick along the stream’s edge but the grass was as soft as a feathered bed.

     

                   First were the horses and the mules. Aeda and her brothers tended to them – their beasts were rubbed down, secured to the wagon, and each fed a bag of oats. She knew she ought not to but Aeda even sneaked in an apple for Certainty, her knightly steed.

     

                   ‘You mustn’t tell anyone,’ Aeda said, scratching Certainty behind the ears. ‘Father says treats are bad luck before a joust but we don’t need luck, do we?’

     

                   Certainty snorted, shaking his head.

     

                   ‘And I know you’re a growing boy but please don’t make Chestnut angry.’

     

                   Certainty stomped his foot, indignant.

     

                   With the toils of the day, Aeda was looking forward to a long dip in the stream but before that, Mrs. Moorsley made her and Artos scrub the mud off their clothes – all of their clothes and that was after giving them an earful and the pair could only give lip when Nan wasn’t looking for fear of another.

     

                   When she no longer felt the grime behind her ears, the moon was well up and the stars shone down. Aeda was especially relieved by the roaring campfire and the aroma of Nan’s special chicken broth. Nan, Aran, and Gorggnak sipped their share on wooden spoons – right proper manners fit for nobles. Aeda, Artos, and even father were more content with wolfing the soup down by the bowl – seconds were only for those who ate fast.

     

                   Aeda wiped her mouth with her sleeve and suppressed a belch. Even after all these years, neither she nor Artos ever figured out exactly what made Nan’s special chicken broth, special. Artos believes that ginger was what made it special but Aeda hated the taste of gingers.

     

                   The pot dried, Nan and Gorggnak collected their bowls and its off to the stream for a good scrubbing. Aeda moved closer to the fire as she noted that only the Martellus remained; Artos by her side and Aran huddling by father.

                   ‘Father,’ Artos began. ‘Who exactly was that knight?’

     

                   Aeda was thinking the same question but she didn’t say anything, looking busy warming her hands.

     

                   ‘Reynald?’ Albus said. ‘Like his father before him and his father before him, Reynald is a Chevalier of the Sacred Rose.’

     

                   ‘A Shove-a-lyre?’ Artos said.

     

                   ‘Chevalier,’ Albus said. ‘Don’t tell me you don’t know what a Chevalier is. No? How about you Aeda, do you know what a Chevalier is?’

     

                   Aeda shook her head.

     

                   ‘Little Aran,’ father said. ‘Do you know what a Chevalier is?’

     

                   Aran nodded his head slowly. ‘A Chevalier is like a knight from High Rock. They’re more than just a knight; Chevaliers are knights that have proven themselves in the name of chivalry and have their names sewn onto their order’s tapestry and given the right to wear a war mask.’

     

                   Father chortled. ‘Very good, Aran. As for you two, it seems someone has neglected their studies, have they not?’

     

                   Aeda averted her eyes while Artos winced.

     

                   ‘I only tease, let your father have his fun,’ he continued, smiling. ‘Ah yes. Reynald is a Chevalier, in High Rock he is known as Sir Reynald the Chivalrous and of all their grandiose titles, that one is no idle label. Now tell me, what do you know of chivalry and Aran, you don’t answer this one. Give your siblings a try.’

     

                   ‘Is this a test?’ Artos said.

     

                   ‘Take it as one,’ father said, his smile malicious. ‘An Imperial Knight’s mind must be as sharp as his blade just as a Martellus’ nerve be as unyielding as his steel.’

     

                   Aeda bit her lip and finally said, ‘It is a code of honour by the Bretons of High Rock. It commands them to protect the weak, always be in virtue, to never rest until all evil is cleansed, and to be the mark of courtesy.’

     

                   ‘Well done.’

     

                   Aeda allowed herself a smile, if only a little.

     

                   ‘How did you meet Reynald? When did you meet him?’ she said, feeling bold.

     

                   For a moment, she was sure father’s mood dropped but only for a moment. He was hiding something; she was sure of it.

     

                   ‘We met in the Ash King Campaign; do you remember that one?’

     

                   The Ash King Campaign. Sixteen years ago, an overtly ambitious governor in Morrowind, Anasvoc Tellothi risen in revolt against the Mede Dynasty and declared his petty fief of Tear independent and crowning himself as the Ash King. In response, the Legion deployed three legions to quell the rebels, one of them father and grandfather himself served in. While the campaign only lasted a year, it was bloody as the rebels used brutal hit-and-run tactics complemented with Ashlander mercenaries and reaving pirates. While she was familiar with the events themselves, father never did like talking about it - for one, grandfather never returned.

     

                   ‘Yes father, of course,’ Aeda said.

     

                  Aran yawned and father noticed. ‘Ah, it seems Mara demands you sleep – I’ll continue the tale another time. Don’t make faces, say your prayers.’

     

                   ‘Mara, Akatosh, Dibella, Arkay, Stendarr, Kynareth, Julianos, Zenithar, Talos – we pray to you a good rest. We pray to you for protection for should we die in our sleep, carry us into everlasting paradise.’

     

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