Island of the Kahts~Part Two

Fiction By Kay J Fields // 2/3/2012

 

Part Two
 
 
          We emerged in a vast banquet hall that bustled with activity. There were servants fetching and carrying items this way and that and merchants, travelers, and other citizens sitting on long benches that ran the length of the room on either side. Rich tapestries hung from the tall grey walls. Large oak beams supported the decorated ceiling and a lush red carpet spread down the middle, from one end to another.
         A few caged birds squawked at us from their perches and Gern slipped a yellow parrot a piece of bread—which he most-likely pilfered from a passing servant.  To show its thanks, the bird nipped him and he jerked his hand back with a look of injured indignation. I suppressed the urge to laugh and he sent me a glower.
          “I’m afraid the king cannot see you directly, though he will doubtless see you sooner than he will these.” the gatekeeper stated and gestured at the crowd. “All of them have come with their problems to him, their sovereign, in the hope that he will be gracious. He may try to help them and he may not, but the fact of the matter is that most go away emptier than when they came.” A brief look of sadness crossed his face as we paused there in that hall filled with people. Most were unwilling to give up their spots in line and had pulled out blankets or mats to sleep on in the oncoming night. With a sigh and a shake of his head the gatekeeper turned and walked to an arched doorway in the hall, leading us through it to face another hall, this one filled with doors. At the near end, however, was a curving flight of stone stairs, and it was there that the gatekeeper led us.
          The top of the stairs opened out onto yet one more hall, this was significantly narrower than the first two. The doors here were spread out along the hall with about twenty or twenty-five feet separating each one. The gatekeeper showed us through five of these doors into furnished bed chambers. Savadra was reluctant to take any. “With so many sleeping on the hard floors in the hall it doesn’t seem right to accept.” she explained.
          The man nodded. “But with so many it would be hard to get even a third of their number comfortable and more still arrive every day. Besides you are the king’s guests, young lords and ladies who should be treated with both respect and esteem.” He gestured for some servants to come and attend to us and then added. “If you should need anything call on me—Sir Penerton. If you cannot find me, ask after Captain Bartholomew, who is one of King Greythan’s knights and advisers, and he will help you as well.” Penerton’s face remained at a neutral, welcoming expression, but his eyes—if it wasn’t merely my imagination—seemed to wince as he spoke of the captain.  “If you should become hungry just pop down to the kitchens and tell Vivian I sent you.” With a smile at the mention of Vivian, he bowed slightly from the waist and left.
          “Come on then.” Savadra said. “Let’s put our few things in our rooms and then ‘pop’ over for something to eat.” She turned to me. “First I would like a private word with Tory.”
          I gulped. What had I done now?
           
*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *
 
          “What is it?” I asked as I closed the door to the bedchamber Savadra had chosen. We had both taken a few minutes to change into some spare, dry clothes that we found in the rooms in which we were stationed and I pulled at the stiff collar of my new shirt. I was used to the loose, worn shirts and trousers of my ‘station’ in life, and my new outfit was offensively uncomfortable.
          “Come sit down.” Savadra replied in a quite tone. I had already learned from past experiences that she can be more dangerous when calm outwardly and hesitated. Still, the longer I waited, the worse things could get, so I went in.
          Savadra was sitting on her bed, surrounded by silken blankets and pillows, all with green ribbons. She had changed into a dry dress of grayish purple and it fairly glowed in the dim light of the room. Holding back her hair was a thin silver headband and the dress itself sported large braids of silver which crisscrossed down the front, the back, the sleeves, and the skirt. Even sitting half-sideways on the bed she looked elegant and…beautiful.
I blinked.
          She fingered the embroidery on her skirt. “I couldn’t find anything sensible to wear in that entire blasted wardrobe.”
          My own closet had been stuffed to overflowing with garments regal enough for a dozen knights to dress for attendance to a dozen royal parties, and a lot of it had either had silver threads or silver chains or silver pocket watches attached. “What’s with these people and silver?” I asked.
           “They’re rich, Tory.” she said. “They eat, drink, breathe, and live silver and gold. To the lot of them, what we’re wearing is likely peasant’s attire. But I didn’t ask you to come in here to discuss the lifestyles of the rich. I want to know what you think of this place.”
           “Besides their obsession with silver?” I queried.
           She rolled her eyes at me. “Tory. What did you think of Sir Penerton?”
           “The gatekeeper?” I considered this. “He’s nice enough but has been working the same job for too long and looked a little sad. He walks with a limp, is middle aged, has feelings for a cook or kitchen maid named Vivian and appears loyal to King Greythan, though he doesn’t seem to like that captain named Bartholomew.” I stopped and took a breath; Savadra was nodding as if assured of something. “Why?”
          “Torinnir Erris Vongelli!” It’s a bad sign when someone bothers to draw in enough extra breath to say my full name. “It is obvious to everyone but you that you are superb in the art of observation—or so we think; though you certainly make it difficult for us to know for sure since you yourself don’t even realize it!” she exclaimed in exasperation. I stared at her.
          “Me?”
          “Yes you, you numskull. That’s the reason you are on this mission. That’s why Cain sent you instead of some other axe-wielding, wild-eyed boy with aspiring dreams. You have a talent for observing people and places and that’s why I want you to be paying attention. Don’t go off playing pranks with Gern or lollygagging about; I need you to be my eyes and ears. Use. Your. Talent.” She punctuated each word with a jab of her finger into the soft mattress.
          “Why has Cain never told me this?” I asked.
          Cain Sibley is a well-known warrior who has been on many quests and adventures, seeking danger wherever he can churn some up. Recovering stolen treasures and rescuing maidens in distress is what he does for a living. He is also well-versed in the ways of handling persnickety royals and evil warlocks and magicians with dark spells. Cain would not ever allow himself to become surrounded by giant arachnids with a taste for apes, nor would he land his ship right in the middle of some angry sharks. He would, however, allow a bunch of teenagers and one ship captain to go off on quests of their own in which they found themselves in these vary predicaments. In fact, he would personally choose each one of them from hundreds, if not thousands of people. Not only would he do this, but he already had. And, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, that means us.
          “Why didn’t you tell me?” I added.
          Savadra shrugged. “You didn’t seem to notice what you were doing. Maybe he wanted to let you develop your little talent, or at least realize you had it, without having someone tell you.” she sent me a pointed glare of disgust. “Me, I didn’t really care. I had to be the leader and I was still figuring out how. The whole thing came as a shock to me when we were sitting in the town’s assembly and Cain called my name to go and help defeat the pirates. Me; a fourteen year-old nobody. At least you had already saved your village from rabid hogs—single-handedly, I might add. At least Craigin already had a title and reputation to his name. And the twins were always the talk of the town. No one was surprised when they were chosen. But me?” she shook her head.
          “But that was nearly three years ago and people change. I began to see what Cain had seen in you and the others and wondered what he had seen in me.” she looked down at her hands. “I still don’t know. But I realize that it isn’t all about me or being the hero or someone who’s important, it’s about helping when and where we can and that’s what I want to do.” This was not only the longest string of words I had ever heard her put together, it was also the most thoughtful and thought-provoking. And this came from the same girl whose general vocabulary consisted of ‘I’m going to kick you. Thump. Good day, then’.
          She looked up and her face was set into its normal cheery scowl. “So when we get back from our trip to the kitchens I want you to give me a full report. Everything you see, things out of the ordinary, people’s moods and expressions, smells; whatever. And I want you to pay attention when we go to meet King Greythan, too. Understand?”
          “Yes.” I answered while mulling over what she’d said.
          “Than go on. I’ll be out in a moment and we can go eat; I’m sure the others are as hungry as we are.” As if to underline her words her stomach growled loudly. She blushed blotchily and prettily, embarrassed.
          “I don’t think anyone is as hungry as you.” I quipped. She threw a pillow at me and I beat a hasty retreat, but we were both laughing now.
          “Get out, you maniac.” she chortled, giving up on the frown she had attempted to use.
          “Alright, alright!” I called as she raised a second cushion threateningly. Opening the door, I began to step out and then turned around, my face still in the room and a cheeky grin pasted on it. “Ma’am.” I added with a pretend tip of an imaginary hat.
          The pillow slammed hard into the door as I skipped away.
 

Comments

I love the way you write; but

I love the way you write; but I think you should use more paragraphs. It does make it a lot easier to read! Job well done; I'm off to read the next chapter!

P.S. I love all your names; Savadra is so cool. And I love her character. Um, I actually thought that Tory was a girl at first; there's a girl in my soccer team called Victoria, and we all call her Tori for short. But yeah, I'm glad he's a boy instead.

Maddi | Sun, 08/26/2012

Goodbye? Oh no, please. Can’t we just go back to page one and start all over again?” – Winnie The Pooh

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