Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Dark Ages, Book 1: Chapter 4, Part 2

(Continued from Chapter 4, Part 1.)

He stared out the window for a time, barely noticing the grey clouds of the oncoming winter. The banner of his family--a silver, upturned sword on a blood red field--flapped gently in the breeze on a nearby wall. Reace was watching it absentmindedly, waiting to see the brat run from the keep toward his home or, perhaps, the town, when a commanding voice from behind shook his from his reverie.
“Who is this northern child? And what is he doing running about the keep?”
He turned and saw his uncle standing in the doorway, holding the miller’s son by the arm roughly, preventing his escape.

Lord Geralt was an imposing man, tall and broad, with no hair on his face to mask his sharp features. His auburn hair, a mark of the royal line of Porre, was cropped short, and he wore no ornament, not even his wedding band. He shoved the boy forward. “Well?”
Reace made a dismissive gesture. “He is my servant, uncle, pay him no heed. I have dismissed him for the day. …Boy?” The brat looked up, worried. “You will return tomorrow. Now, go home.”
Lord Geralt allowed the boy to scamper past, but continued to hold Reace’s eyes. It was unnerving and made Reace want to run away as well, but at the same time it fascinated him. Here was a man who defined authority, and in such a way that Cyrus could never emulate.
“You spend too much time with these books,” said Lord Geralt, walking toward Reace’s desk. “And yet you seem to forget your history. What good are these, if you’ll learn nothing from them?” He tossed the book Reace had been reading across the room, and Reace cringed as it tumbled along the floor. It was a fragile book, quite old. Father would be wroth, if he heard of this.
“We fought them off for centuries,” he continued. “For hundred of years, since the fall of the Theos, we remained separate. Until your grandfather knelt.” Lord Geralt spat. Reace’s grandfather happened to be Lord Geralt’s father, but he never referred t him as such. “Now we are under their rule, and I find their brats underfoot like vermin. Why would you invite one of them into our keep?”
“He is Porrean, uncle,” said Reace, carefully. The subject had been a sore one for his uncle since Reace’s father had brought Ser Devon down to become master-at-arms. “He’s of the townsfolk. The miller’s son.”
Lord Geralt’s eyes narrowed for a moment, as if that meant something to him, but then shook his head. “Then he is still of northern descent, and that is almost as bad. I would rather you do away with him, but…” he stared at Reace a moment longer, then his face seemed to lose some of its hardness. “You’re likely too stubborn for that. Keep an eye on him, though, and never let him forget where he’s from.”
“Of course, uncle.”
Lord Geralt sighed. “There was a messenger today from the north with the dates for the next Tradesmeet. Your father will be having you attend with him, though I’d rather we had nothing to do with this farce.”
Has it been that long already? thought Reace. The twentieth king of Guardia, after two decades of uniting the entire continent under his rule, decided to have the rulers of its provinces meet every five years to form trade agreements and experience the bounty of each other’s territories. In theory, the event was meant to bring the vast kingdom’s different peoples together to develop camaraderie between the provinces.
The first Tradesmeet ended in bloodshed, and the second amounted to nothing but insults and arguments. Nobody was certain if the tradition would continue, but here it was.
Besides the politics, there were also tourneys and festivities in which the best of each province competed for riches and glory. The markets were filled with wonders from all over Guardia and beyond. The prospect of attending the Tradesmeet had Reace excited, but he tried not to let it show with his uncle present.
Lord Geralt approached Reace and held him by the shoulders. “They will try to win you over with their pomp and foolery. Remember, my nephew, that you are of stronger stock. They are the enemy.”
“I know,” said Reace, his face a mask of solemnity.
It must have been convincing, because his uncle released him and nodded. He made his way toward the door of the study, then turned and made another contemptuous glance around the room, at the books that lined the walls of the study. “Some day you will have to choose which type of leader you will be, Reace. Will you be a warrior, or will you kneel? The time to make that choice may not so very far away.”
With that, Lord Geralt took his leave.

(Continued in Chapter 4, Part 3)

No comments:

Post a Comment