The darker haired man feints left
and then quickly steps to the right, driving his weapon towards the younger
man’s stomach. The younger man somehow blocks the blow, but is driven backwards.
Blows rein down in quick succession making the blonde move back ever further
until he stumbles over one of the flower boxes. He tries to catch himself, but
is unable to and he goes down hard. The slender man uses the confusion to place
his blade against the blonde’s throat.
“That’s three”, cries the brown haired man. “But I do have to say that you are
definitely improving. Someday, my young cousin,
you will be a swordsman to fear. Then what will I do?”
The younger one pushes the other’s weapon away and begins to pick himself up.
“Do not mock me Wyland!” The
blonde takes on a superior air as he continues. “It is
not wise to mock your prince. No, it is not wise at all.”
The one named Wyland rolls his eyes and makes a rude noise towards the blonde at
which point they both begin to laugh. “I mean it Surian; you are already quite
good for your age.” Seeing Surian’s somewhat bemused glance at him, Wyland
throws up his hands. “All right, all right, you are
good for those years your senior.” With mocking exasperation he asks, “There,
“I suppose so”, grins Surian. He looks around at the knocked over flower boxes
and a hedge that now has a hole in it, “Now why is it that we had to practice in
“Well, for several reasons, first of all weren’t you hampered by all of the
obstructions?” Seeing Surian’s nod he continues, “You never know when you might
need to call on your blade, and you don’t want the fact that there are obstacles
around you to get you killed. Also, I chose this place because I knew that you
would not expect to find yourself in a fight here. You were surprised when I
drew my sword and tried to attack you, weren’t you?” Surian assents once again,
“That is another key lesson, timing is everything. If you are surprised and do
not react quickly, even though it seems the least likely place to be attacked or
by the least likely person, then you will find
yourself dead in a second.” Trying to lighten the mood Wyland says, “You’ve got
to learn this stuff because I wouldn’t have anyone to pick on if you died.”
Wyland draws closer to Surian and gives him a rough, but playful shove. “Come
on, let’s go, you smell like a stable.” Wyland holds his nose in feigned
Surian walks over to a nearby bird bath and dunks his head into the cool water.
Tossing his hair back, beads of water fly free. The sun makes the beads gleam
and for a moment it seems as if a holy aura surrounds Surian. Several seconds
pass, then the moment is broken by Surian’s exclamation. “Whoah that is
freezing! There, all washed up.”
“You call that being washed,” laughs Wyland. Your
mother would not be happy, and you know it. Though, your father would probably
approve from the stories my father tells of them growing up. Look at us,
following in those same footsteps.” He shakes his head mournfully before looking
up with a glint in his eyes. “Whatever shall we do, we’ll become just like
Surian considers this for a moment as he wipes the dripping water out of his
eyes. “You know, that wouldn’t be that bad. They are both good men whose people
love them. I hope that I can say as much when it is my turn to rule.”
“Speaking of which,” interrupts Wyland, “We both have to get ready for the
incoming nobles for this year's council meetings. I’m
lucky that the rules that apply to everyone showing up around the same time
don’t apply to me. I would have had to wait outside of the city with my father
for the past week, and that would have quickly gotten quite dull. Anyway, let’s
get going. We have to look our best ya know.” With that said both of the young
men grab their respective shirts from where they were hastily thrown and follow
the path out of the garden, continuing to talk amiably with one another.
They pass under a vine enshrouded trellis and go through the small side door
into the keep. As they walk down a long hallway, their boot steps silent upon a
thick rug. As they saunter through the winding hallways with their swords upon
their hip and their brows streaked with sweat they catch several surprised looks
from the younger servants. An old woman sees them coming and grins a gap toothed
smile as she sees the two moving towards her. She pokes a gray haired man next
to her and mutters several words while pointing in the direction of the young
men. He nods and smiles at the sight of Surian with his shirt tossed over one
shoulder and Wyland seemingly instructing him as they walk.
“Good day m’lords”, she croaks out as she attempts a rather unsteady curtsy. The
man next to her is nearly as unsteady as he attempts a jerky bow.
Both Surian’s and Wyland’s attention is drawn away from their conversation, and
smiles come upon their faces simultaneously. “Gurna, there is no need for you to
curtsy,” and laughing he grabs the old man as he is about to fall over. “And you
should not be bowing Huron, admonishes Surian. “You have been part of the
household here since before my father was my age, or maybe even his father,” he
adds with a twinkle in his eye.
Wyland walks over to the woman named Gurna and smiles warmly towards her. “Why,
in fact Gurna you more or less raised Surian when he was young and the Creator
only knows how you put up with me running around here when I was younger as
“Still roughhousing I see,” comments Gurna while pointedly eyeing Wyland’s dirty
As he is about to respond Huron starts talking. “Why, of course they have,
they’re boys, and that’s what boys do. Why, when I was a boy we had great
adventures by the riverbanks, let me tell you. Why, we’d…”
He quickly stops as Gurna interrupts him. “Now Huron, these boys don’t need to
hear you go on. If I’m not mistaken they need to get ready for the ceremonial
Looking at each other Wyland and Surian agree and quickly say their farewells.
As they continue on their way Surian remarks, “No matter how old I get she still
sees me as a child. I wonder if it will be any different when I have children of
“I doubt it”, comments Wyland, “you should see the way she treats my father. I’m
surprised she didn’t ask if we needed someone to help us change for the ceremony
in an hour, or in fact offer to help us herself,” he chuckles.
They draw near an iron bound, wooden door and say their goodbyes. Wyland opens
the door and goes into his lavish guest room. Looking around in amusement he
notes once more how very different this room was from his own back in Tormac. He
strips off his dirt streaked shirt and casually tosses it upon the rumpled
silken linens of the bed. His own bed was not nearly as large, nor did it have
such fine linens. As Wyland unbuckles his sword belt he walks over to a wrought
iron hook, shaped like a dragon, which is on the far wall. Hanging his sword up
on the hook by its belt, he runs his calloused fingers over the smooth metal of
the hook and admires the small intricacies of the design.
“So many details, in even the smallest things, truly amazing,” whispers Wyland.
“This is nothing like our humble keep on the fringes of the kingdom.” Another
glance brings a rueful look to his face, as he
sees a tapestry showing
fanciful people and some event that he doesn’t recognize. “I doubt I can even
appreciate the quarters I have.” With that said he turns away and walks over to
an intricately worked wooden table that has a brightly colored basin and pitcher
upon it. “No time for a proper wash, I’ll have to follow Surian’s lead,” he says
with a slight grin.
Several minutes of pouring water and scrubbing ensue until there is no sign of
dirt or sweat upon his face or hands. He even dunks his head into the water and
uses the nearby bar of fragranced soap while he washes it. After his hair is
rinsed clean Wyland grabs a nearby cloth and wipes the water from his face.
“Oh no!” he exclaims in dismay. The cloth he grabbed was not a towel, but rather
yet another exquisite tapestry. “Who hangs one of those here?” He quickly looks
around with an expression of guilt upon his face. He rushes over to the nearby
towels and dries his face. He then brings the towels over to the tapestry and
begins to blot it rather carefully. After getting as much of the dampness out of
the tapestry as possible he is relieved as there doesn’t appear to be any
damage. With that small incident taken care of Wyland finishes undressing.
Going over to the wardrobe, he flings open the door and looks over the clothing
he has been provided. A look of resignation flits across his face at all of the
lavish clothing. Golden braid seems to be the favored theme of the seamstress
who made the clothes. Some of the clothing has not only braid, but tassels,
ribbons, and other ornamentation as well. With an overly dramatic sigh he pulls
out whatever looks the least ostentatious. After dressing he stands before a
floor length gilded mirror and looks at his ensemble. He looks over at his own
clothing forlornly, “Ah well, it befits the station and at this ceremony I must
present the station and not myself.”
Several minutes later Wyland is completely dressed and ready to head out. Just
as he grabs the iron door handle to the hallway a knock sounds against it,
opening the door he sees a slim hand raised for another knock. As the hand comes
down and finds the door removed the owner of the hand falls hard against Wyland.
Wyland is surprised, but the weight does not move him. The person quickly pushes
out and away from him. With the figure no longer pressed against him, he can see
that it is a beautiful young women dressed in the household livery of a golden,
rearing stallion. The blush infusing her face nearly matches the red of her
“I’m sorry m’lord, very sorry. I didn’t mean to bump into you. The Creator
Wyland makes a small calming motion. “It’s quite all right, no harm done. Now
then what can I do for you?”
“I was told to come and inform you that the ceremony was drawin’ near and that
everyone was gatherin’ in the main hall m’lord.” Her message delivered she drops
a hasty curtsy and quickly scampers off.
Wyland shakes his head in amusement as he winds his way through the marble
corridors to Surian’s room. He sees another serving maid approaching Surian’s
door just as he comes into view of it himself. He motions her away while saying,
“Don’t worry, I’ll get him.” He pounds on the door, making it thud with each
The door opens abruptly and Surian looks out while saying, “What is the meaning
of…” He stops himself as he sees who has been pounding. “Oh Wyland, it’s you.”
Wyland gives him an evil grin as he says, “Sorry, I hope that I wasn’t
disturbing you at all.”
“No, not at all, I was just about to leave anyway,” responds Surian overly
sweet. “In fact thank you so much for coming and getting me. Your thoughtfulness
is so very touching,” he says sarcastically.
“Well, I didn’t want you to be staring at yourself in the mirror so long that
you missed the ceremony.” Before Surian can respond, Wyland turns and heads down
the hallway while calling over his shoulder, “come on, or we’ll be late.”
Soon they are in the great hall in their appointed positions. Wyland takes a
deep breath as he covertly scans the room. He is in a perfect position and can
see the entire hall laid out before him. Rich ornamentation graces everything
that he sees, paintings and bright tapestries cover the walls. What space is
left upon the stone is filled with wall scones blazing merrily. Straight across
from his position, to the left rear of the throne, are great wooden doors nearly
the size of gates. The doors are covered with cunning designs, the smaller of
which can not be distinguished over the distance that separates him from them. A
statue of a golden, rearing horse stands on either side of the massive doors.
The space between him and the doors is left clear, only a long rug laid over
bare marble covers the distance. The darkly veined white marble is mostly
covered by the many people who inhabit the hall. All of the court nobility has
come out for this yearly ceremony and there is scare enough room to even
breathe. They have turned out in all of their finery, most of which is quite
more elaborate then that Wyland has chosen. Here and there amongst the crowd he
can see those he knows, though he has never been a social animal like many of
those around him. A brief smile steals its way upon his solemn face as he thinks
of Surian standing at the right hand of his father, somehow enjoying this stuffy
A large booming erupts from behind the entry doors startling some of the guests.
Those startled look around a bit guiltily with uneasy smiles upon their faces.
It would not do well to lack like someone easily frightened in front of so many
important people. The booming sounds forth twice more, it is as if a ram has
come to batter down the doors. As the echoing sound dies away, two liveried men
break from their position next to the door and begin pulling on the great iron
rings of the door. They do so with measured backwards steps, revealing what lies
behind the door nailsbreadth by tantalizing nailsbreadth. The room is still, not even a breath
There stands a wizened man, back bent, gnarled fingers resting atop a golden
rod. His head is bowed as if in silent prayer. The headpiece of high priest
rests precariously upon his sparsely covered head. He raises up his head and his
eyes until he is staring at the ceiling. The staff comes up as if of its own,
for surely the skinny arms of the priest could not support it. There is a power
that emanates from the man as he opens his mouth to speak. “May the Creator give
us the wisdom to see his desires laid out before us. May the Creator give us the
strength to follow those desires through trials and tribulations. May the
Creator give us heart to strengthen those bonds of brotherhood that unite us
all. May the Creator give us spirit to better surrender ourselves to him and his
realm.” With that last intonation the staff thumps down.
It is only with the banging of the staff that the spell is broken. Wyland can
now concentrate on the dignified procession that is behind the now quiet man.
Standing directly behind the elderly priest in places of honor are the two
wardens of the Mynian Kingdom, each man responsible for either end of the
kingdom with the king controlling the central province. The two wardens and the
high priest step forward from the procession behind them and enter the room.
They keep a measured pace as they all make their stately way to the king’s dais
where they stop.
Wyland takes the moment to look at his father Sioned. A bit of pride enters him
as he sees how impressive his father appears. His full, dark beard has been
brushed and oiled so that it gleams, and his hair has been given a similar
treatment. Clothes made of clean lines show off Sioned’s stoutly muscled figure.
Wyland’s eyes next travel to the man next to his father, the other warden. He
knows that his name is Eogden, and many a story has his father made of him.
While Sioned’s ire may have exaggerated his looks, Wyland can now see that it
was not by much. Eogden’s face is not pretty to look at, not by far. For jowls
of fat hang from pockmarked cheeks that the scraggly beard can not hide. His
skin appears sallow and greasy as if left unwashed, and unlike Sioned, Eogden’s
clothing while finely made, can not possibly hide the large stomach that
protrudes past his belt.
This analysis of the wardens takes but a second and is interrupted by a crier
calling out the men and their titles to the court. The head priest, Furyone,
nods to the king with respect, but with a quiet statement that he serves a
higher master. The king bows his head in respect to the Furyone and the God they
all serve. Next, both of the wardens drop to pay their respects to the king as
well. Proper form is shown, the right knee is placed upon the ground, the left
foot stays planted, the right hand holds the pommel of the sword, and the left
hand is clenched in a fist against the ground, this is all done with their heads
bowed. With this respect given, both men get up, though Eogden appears to
struggle up rather than doing so as smoothly as Sioned does. Sioned’s ease earns
him a quick look of spite from his fellow warden.
Following the introduction of the high priest and the two wardens, the nobles of
the wardens’ provinces are introduced with as much quickness as can be mustered
without causing any hurt to the nobles’ pride. What seems like hours go by to
Wyland as he flexes one of his knees to stop his leg from going to sleep. A
furtive glance back at Surian confirms his earlier musings. Surian was even
enjoying this part, seeming to note every nobles name and faces, filing it all
away for use a later date. Well that seems like a good thing for a future king
to do thinks Wyland. He however is not a future king and just wants to get on to
the feasting. Finally the last noble arrives into the great hall and the room is
appearing to be a bit crowded.
This is quickly relieved when door after large door is opened to the right of
the hall. As soon as they fly open the people quickly rush inside. Wyland
himself wishes to flood out with them, but restrains himself. Surian however
does not and joins the throng as it fills the dining hall that lies adjacent.
Through the swirls of the moving crowd Wyland spots his father at the same time
that King Ored appears to.
“Come, Wyland, why do we not go and see your father, hmmm?” With that said the
king rises from his throne and begins down the steps.
The joy of seeing his father again after a month causes Wyland to be right on
the heels of the king. A smile lights up his father's face as he notes the king
and his son coming toward him.
While Wyland is focusing on his father, the king says, “You know Wyland, it is
not polite to breathe on the back of the king’s neck.” Even though this
admonishment is said in a joking tone, Wyland cannot help but feel a little
“There are my favorite two men,” booms Sioned with his arms opened in an
expansive gesture, one that almost catches a nearby noble in her finely plaited
and quaffed hair. He does not even notice her glare as he continues towards
where the king and his son have now stopped. When he reaches them, Sioned begins
to go into a bow to pay respects once again, but Ored stops him with a hand.
“There is no need, cousin, I feel I have been shown enough respect this afternoon
for a whole week”, he says lightly.
This causes Sioned to laugh and he responds,”Ah, I’m sure that it has, my cousin.
In that case I shall greet you simply as one man greets his friend.” The king
proffers his right arm, and Sioned takes it, wrapping his strong fingers around
the sleeve of the king’s garment, right at the forearm, and the king grasps
Sioned’s as well. “I give you good greeting”, Sioned says. Noting the
restrained, yet eager way that Wyland has been staring at him, Sioned motions to
the dining hall. “There now, go attend your guests mighty king, for I have a son
“That you do, that you do”, responds the king while smiling. After the king has
gotten some ways across the room, chatting with various nobles the whole of the
way, Wyland begins talking to his father.
“I give you good greetings, father, it is good to see you. It has been far too
long. How is the province? How is my little brother, I’m sure Kurick has gotten
into some sort of trouble. Is mother well?” All of these questions come out very
quickly, and his pleasure at seeing his father is apparent in the smile and
light in his eyes.
Sioned begins laughing even before Wyland is half way through his questions.
“Come on son, I’ll answer everything while we eat I won’t be going anywhere, the
food however I’m sure is quickly disappearing.” With that said, Sioned puts a
comradely hand upon his son’s shoulder and they head off to follow everyone else
to the tables and the food that awaits them.