Island of the Kahts~Part Three

Fiction By Kay J Fields // 3/8/2012

 

Fifteen minutes later, we were on our way downstairs to the kitchens, guided by a servant girl who knew the way.

Gern wore a brown and green suit that made him appear to have stepped right out of the palace stables. The effect was not helped in any way by the outlandish yellow and orange cape-like robe that he wore over it. The outfit was then topped off by a pair of gaudy purple slippers.

No one had been able to talk him into more suitable and less stunning apparel and Savadra hoped that his sudden liking for bright and clashing colors would not deter the king’s favor on us. I reminded her that King Greythan had allowed all the outfits in the same closet and had decorated my own room with vibrant red and shocking pink; so either he must be colorblind or have absolutely no fashion sense whatsoever.

(There was, naturally, the possibility that King Greythan had no idea that those clothes inhabited the same space, but I doubted the fact that the servants would take it upon themselves to attire the rooms as such without being told specifically to do so. After all, a group of people was far more likely to have a few licks of common sense among them than one obstinate sovereign.)

“Besides,” I added. “It will make us appear friendlier to the people. After all, how dangerous can a garish, senseless, yet undeniably colorful man be? Especially if he keeps feeding the resident fowl.” I gestured at Gern who had managed to slip another bit of bread to an alarmingly large red bird, one of the many in Greythan’s apparently extensive collection. I wasn’t the least bit surprised that he had bread on hand before we’d even made it to the kitchens, but was more concerned with how he had managed to snag it and what droves of angry bakers might accost us before I could find out.

Savadra nodded with just a hint of a smile and I turned away, content that the situation was under control and happy to go back to observing. I had done this—casually—all the way down and was proud of myself. Both for picking up information and for not drawing attention to my own self. There wasn’t a whole lot of hard judgment to be done, actually, as most things around this castle, at least among the staff, were discussed openly. As for behaviors, I couldn’t really pin anything down as we passed everyone by rather quickly, but that doesn’t mean that I came up empty-handed.

I had noted that two love-dove servants—named Hans and Becca—worked in the castle only so that they could be together; at least that’s what they said.

I knew that Nathan, a small serving boy, worked hard night and day to bring home a single coin to his mother, though I did not hear this from him but two older women as we walked by them.

I had overheard that the stable master was in danger of being thrown into the prison because of neglecting his duties and failing to be on time for the king’s last hunt.

That Miss Felicia—a lady-in-waiting I thought—was helping the queen prepare for an upcoming celebration, a birthday party I guessed.

Finally, I was reminded that Gern is easily fascinated. He wandered from place to place, always slightly behind us and intent on figuring out the way things worked in the castle including laws and etiquette.

Once when we turned to see what the next commotion he could stir up would be, we saw him barreling towards us with a sloppily dressed man running after him and demanding that he stop while using rather undesirable language. When they reached us we pretended to not know Gern and he passed with a scared look in his wild eyes. By acting as if we were bystanders, we allowed Gern the small mercy of stopping the man and suggestion that he either go cool down or at least keep his curses to himself. He went with the former and we caught up to a winded—but still curious and exploring—Gern a few minutes later on.

At last we reached the kitchen and the amused servant who had led us excused herself and left; no doubt to tell her friends of the crazy new visitors. The kitchen door was open and at least thirty servants—half of whom were female—bustled about with trays, cooked bread in the ovens, stirred pots of boiling liquid, and gossiped freely.

Fern turned to us with a frown. “How do we know who this Vivian is that Sir Penerton told us about?” she asked.

We regarded the hustling kitchens as one man ran through clutching a handful of sharp knives and someone shattered glass all across the floor.

Savadra shrugged. “Maybe one of us could go in and ask for her?” Craigin nodded at this suggestion.

No one moved.

Fern sighed. “Of course I’m the one who always has to do the work. Just watch me get trampled and die of broken spine—all because none of you bigger people would go in to ask for one cook.” she grumbled and went towards the door but, amazingly, her brother beat her to it.

With a wide grin on his face he pushed into the crowded work space and proclaimed loudly: “And who is the lovely, fair Miss Vivian?” All activity abruptly stopped. From a corner of the room a portly woman with graying hair and dark eyes came slightly forward, halting once she was standing in front of the other workers.

“Who’s askin’?”

Gern bowed with a flourish. “Madam, I am the famous Gern of Dinner and theses fine fellows and ladies behind me are the wondrous Lady Savadra of the Breads, the stout hearted Captain Craigin of the Soup Bowl, Master Tory of Scrumptious Dessert, and last but not least; Fern Who-Eats-Too-Little.” Fern scowled at his comment to her slight frame but said nothing and Savadra had both eyebrows quirked. I grimaced and expected us to be thrown out as ‘Those-Who-Drink-Too-Much’ but the woman smiled, and then chortled.

“I am Vivian, or Cook as most call me nowadays.” She paused to taste a soup and give a few instructions to the girl making it then turned back to us. “I’m suppos’n that Pen sent ya.”

From all appearances Sir Penerton and Vivian were husband and wife, and quite happily so. Both got a half-dreamy look in their eyes when they spoke of the other, even in their older years.

“Yes,” Savadra replied with a smile. “We met him at the gate and he told us to come to you if we were hungry since we arrived too late for the castle’s dinner. We are travelers; here to seek an audience with the king.” she added.

“Aye, just like the whole lot of ‘em what comes through ‘ere. Only problem is the king ain’t seeking no audience with them.” Vivian muttered.

“Oh?” Craigin asked, interested.

The cook nodded with a confiding smile. “These ears ‘ear lots o’ things.” she said, gesturing to the kitchen servants. To the workers she called, “Back to work now, no dallyin’; these folks just some o’ the wealthier visitors to the king.” They all obediently went back to their work, no longer much interested in ‘Gern of Dinner’ and his troupe, though I couldn’t help but hear their whispers.

“Thing is, though I really shouldn’t say,” Vivian began “that the king ain’t the best. Mind you, Greythan’s not really all that of a bad sort and I’ve seen worse, but ‘e sure don’t go out of ‘is way much fer ‘is people. ‘Tis why they gather in ‘is castle, ‘oping for a bit of pence to take ‘ome to their starvin’ families—though don’t go a’sayin’ ya ‘eard it from me. Still, fact is the king’s guards be out in the streets and no’ne dares go out at night for fear of ‘em.” She shook her head sadly.

Vivian gave us soup and bread along with a cold, creamy dessert in a bowl and shooed us out. There was a table outside of the kitchen and down the hall a little ways that was well suited for our purposes so we sat at it and enjoyed the meal. Perhaps I was merely hungrier than usual, but her food was some of the best I’d had in far too long a time, and still better than most of what I’ve eaten since.

“Sir Penerton was not very precise about when we shall get to see the king. Maybe weeks or months yet.” Fern observed pessimistically as she finished and pushed back her chair.

“Since he showed us to bed chambers and not a waiting hall I assume we’ll be in at least for the night. However, if the matter is as serious as Greythan’s missive suggested, he shouldn’t keep us long.” Savadra said, digging out her last spoonful of Vivian’s dessert. “What do you say we turn in and enjoy a night’s rest?” Her last statement was met enthusiastically as we were all worn and tired from our long desert trek—although Fern surmised that the beds were likely as hard as stone and cold besides.

We all trudged back to our rooms for a much needed and much anticipated sleep.

 

 

Comments

I like it! The part about

I like it! The part about Those-Who-Drink-Too-Much made me laugh. :D

Melissa | Mon, 03/12/2012

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