D&S: To Be A Knight - Part Four

  • On any other days, the fields surrounding Fort Istirus was just that – a field of naught but grass and dirt. However, with the tourney in tow, a new town has emerged, not of timber nor shingle nor stone but of sailcloth, canvas, and silk. To the east were the tents of the Imperial Knights, plain as they were; as they should be for their true worth was in battle, not their decoration choices. To the west were the coloured, chequered, and striped pavilions of the Knights of High Rock.

     

                   Flanked by the knights were the spectators and the dozens of merchants looking for business and business was good. Peddlers of belts and boots, furs and feathers, earthenware, leatherware, sizzling sausages that made the mouth water and drink to make one burst into song among many more goods. Aeda even spotted members of the clergy selling purity seals: no doubt non-magical for enchantments were banned at tourneys. More than merchants were the performers: the bards, the jugglers, and the puppeteers gathering a laughing and awed crowd.

     

                   The Martellus passed by these merchants and performers; giving little heed for them for their prize was in the smith section. Smiths from all over Tamriel were here: there was a Redguard bladesmith hawking exotic curved swords, a Nord dealing in crude but honest axes and a Breton selling ornate helmets wrought in eccentric shapes of birds and beasts. There was even a High Elf showing off fantastical armours no doubt from his homeland of the Summer Isles – odd thing considering the elves of the isle are no friends of the Empire.

     

                   As their caravan rode by, eyes were upon them – envious eyes by Aeda’s account. The Martellus chose a clearing, far away from the commotions and began unpacking their wagon. Father and little Aran prepared the forge and the bath, Gorggnak unloaded the goods while Artos, Mrs. Moorsley and Aeda herself arranged them on stands and clean tarps.

     

                   With pride, Aeda raised the banner high; the crimson hand of a skilled smith grasping his trusty hammer with pride on a coal ashen field announcing that House Martellus was open for business.

     

                   As Aeda climbed down from the wagon, she heard a voice, a booming voice.

     

                   ‘By Zenithar,’ said the voice. ‘Look-see who has finally arrived.’

     

                   She spun and saw a familiar sight. A portly man almost as large as a horker garbed in a doublet of brown and green. Like father, the man kept his beard neatly trimmed to the jaw but unlike father, he allowed his dark hair to grow long though in control with a string. He was Markus of House Ambry or Uncle Mark as she would call him.

     

                   ‘Albus!’ Uncle Mark said as he hugged father in a bone-crunching hug. ‘I knew the Martellus were around when the armourers and Ironshield grew quiet.’

     

                   House Ironshield, Aeda thought. Arms – grey with a silver orle. Words – ‘Iron Unsundered’. While she’s never met an Ironshield, she’s heard their trade was in shields; made near worthless by good armour, especially armour of Martellus steel.

     

                   She fought off a smile when father hugged back, as jolly as he allowed himself. However, she failed when she saw who was behind Uncle Mark, an equally rotund boy trying not to make his glances at her too obvious. This one she also knew, Tarkus, heir apparent to House Ambry and her own friend.

     

                   ‘How’s Gena doing?’ father said.

     

                   ‘Gena?’ Uncle Mark said. ‘She’s back home manning the brewery with Lysa and Harker. Someone has to, the drink Only for the Brave has to keep flowing or else-‘

     

                   ‘Your custom will turn to High Rock beer?’ father said, smirking.

     

                   ‘Bah! Careful Albus, careful!’ Uncle Mark said, his face turning red. ‘Them be fighting words and I’ve half a mind to give you a good wallop if it weren’t for the lists. Us Imperials ought to show these ponces the what for on the morrow and I’ll have no man call me to blame if one of ours can’t ride… Say, you’re riding in the list, are you not?’

     

                   ‘Of course, I am,’ father said, indignant. ‘So is my daughter, Aeda which reminds me. Children! Come greet Uncle Mark and Tarkus.’

     

                   Aeda and her brothers marched to the fore and arranged themselves in a neat line.

     

                   ‘Hello, Uncle Mark,’ they said in unison. ‘Hello, Tarkus.’

     

                   ‘What’s this you have here, Albus? A choir? I thought you were smiths not singers!’ Uncle Mark chuckled. ‘Hello children, my you’ve grown since the last I saw you. Aeda!’

     

                   Uncle Mark held her so tight that any tighter she might’ve broken something. She tried to retaliate but her arms couldn’t meet.

     

                   ‘Stronger still,’ Uncle Mark said. ‘But unsteady. Are you nervous?’

     

                   Aeda straightened herself. ‘Yes ser, a little.’

     

                   ‘Don’t be.’ Uncle Mark said, patting Aeda on the arm – each pat bruising her a little. ‘You fought like a monster in the melee last year; fierce and if you do the same, you’ll do just as well in the lists. Gods be kind you’ll even send a few of these High Rock crying home smelling of mud!

     

                   ‘Markus,’ father said. ‘We’ve only arrived and yet to meet Cassius.’

     

                   ‘Ah, you’ve best hurry then,’ Uncle Mark said. ‘It’d be a shame for the Martellus to not ride and a bigger for one to suffer a defeat by forfeit.’

     

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