Courtly Matters Part 35Snakes in HidingSir Vadien and King"They are nothing but blood thirsty snakes in hiding," Sir Vadien answered the King's unspoken question from where he knelt before the empty throne.The King, for his part, paced behind his Earl Marshal, deep in thought."And you said that the others have their ribbons prepared-""Yes, my Lord, they await naught but your command." Sir Vadien replied, thinking back to the preparations that had secretly taken place."If there was only a way..." the King growled, still pacing furiously. "If only there was a way that we could draw them out... force them to reveal themselves.."Sir Vadien's head straightened from his bowed position, his eyes darting to the King's face in excitement. "There is one way, m'lord.."
Courtly Matters Part 34Simply Poison"It would be easy enough for them to attack while we're here, waiting like sitting ducks for our orders.""We've been here a week, I would have thought that if they were going to launch an attack, they would have done so already.""Unless they're waiting for us to settle in, to grow complacent..."The conversations around the fire that night were not entirely tense, but certainly aware of the enemy armies that likely surrounded them this late into the night."You do realize that they could just as easily poison our water supplies, with half the fuss..."Silence met that particular remark.
Courtly Matters 33The sound of distant frog's song permeated the night, layered beneath the sound of rhythmic drumming and the bardic chorals that so often accompanied them. Laughter floated up from various regions of the camps as the late hours of night slowly approached the small hours of the next day's morning. The camp was quiet and peaceful. A warm spring breeze toyed with the canvas walls of the many tents and pavilions before it swept on towards the north edge, where the horses were tied for the night.There, sheltered behind a wagon of extra tack and feed for the horses, the two squires guarding the horses held a hushed discussion over their rapidly dwindling campfire. "I swear, it's real Arabian bee nectar. The gypsy's never led me wrong before.""I still don't believe you," the second squire replied.Since when have you had time to meet gypsies?""You remember when-" The first squire was about to respond, but the low grunt of his knight as he rolled over stopped their con
Courtly Matters Part 32The Apple and the ChargeThe young man was nervous. It seemed to ooze from his very being, causing the horse he stood next to to shift uneasily. Today would be the day that determined whether Sir Greffor would take him on as a squire or not. The knight's previous squire had died in the line of duty- or so it was said. Rumours had it that he had run off. If the Knight did not feel that he was ready, the young man knew that he'd be sent back to run the bellows at his uncle's blacksmith for the rest of his life. A sentence to a career of nothing but sweat, soot and bone-aching heat. He glanced around the listfield, noticing just how many of the noblemen had come to watch the events. In truth, he knew, they were there for the initial tournaments that would happen directly after his 'trial,' but the sheer number of people that had arrived was beginning to unnerve him."You will do fine, brother."He spun around to find his ten year old sister approaching, a basket in
Courtly Matters 31Broken DoveFor a fortnight now, Sir Edward had woken in the wee hours of the morning in a cold sweat, fighting off the terror of the same nightmare each time.For a fortnight now, Sir Jorhiem could have sworn that every dove he saw- whether in dreams or out of the corner of his eye in the strangest of places- looked sickly, if not on it's deathbed by some unnatural disease.For a fortnight now, the Baron Filado de Ostraol found himself becoming immensely uncomfortable in the presence of any white bird, as few as there were near the castle; even the fluttering of something white seen out of the corner of his eyes sent shivers down his back.They dreamed of a broken dove.The Queen's heraldic device bore a white dove.