“These are your quarters.” Orion opened the door for me and I walked inside. It wasn’t much. There were several pairs of bunk beds and very little light streamed in through the dusty window in the wall. But it was better than the slaves’ quarters, where everyone sleeps on the floor, trying to get a corner of the two thin blankets.
I sat on one of the bunks. The mattress was stuffed with straw, but compared to the hard packed earth of the hut, it fells as soft as down.
“That’s my bed.” I turned and I am surprised to see the guard from earlier, the one that stopped Orion from whipping me. I jumped up.
“Sorry. I just…”
“It is fine.” He grinned at me.
“Your bunk is on top,” Orion said. He closed the door and then it was just the young guard and I. We just sit there, observing each other. The guard is muscular, though he is not as big as most of the guards I have seen. He is young for a guard, perhaps only a year or so older than me. His dark hair shaded his even darker eyes, and his mouth looks ready to curl into a smile. The maids in the kitchen would love him. It feels like we have been sitting there for hours, but finally, he breaks the silence.
“What is your name?”
“Julian.” He grins. “It must feel strange, to suddenly get the chance to rise up so quickly.”
“Yes.” I smile shyly. He seemed to know exactly how overwhelmed I felt.
“I felt the same way. I used to be a servant until I found a knight foolish enough to take me on as his squire.” Julian was like an open book. We had only just introduced ourselves and already he was giving away details about his life.
“Who was the knight?”
“Orion. He did not believe that there was anyone that was impossible to train. He was partially right.”
“Are you really that headstrong?”
“Everyone seems to think so. But what man does not get into a brawl every once in a while?” I tried to remember the last time that I had gotten into a fight. Not for a very long time.
“So now what?”
“You train with the squires in the morning. For now I am to show you around. The first thing I am to show you is very important.” He knelt on the floor and begins tugging something out from under the bed. Then he turned to me, an exasperated look on his face.
“How are you going to see it from up there?” I knelt next to him and watched, befuddled. What important thing could be lying under the bed? A sword, perhaps? It is then that he suddenly whipped out the object, proving that all the effort that had gone into pulling it out had been exaggerated. I barely had time to comprehend what it was before the contents of the chamber pot splashed onto my clothes. I sat there, dripping and reeking, while Julian guffawed.
“A-and the l-l…” Julian took a deep breath to stop the fit of laughter long enough to say the rest of his sentence. “And the lesson is, do not trust anyone!”
“I hope that you have a change of clothes,” I said, getting up. I was furious, but I did not show anything to Julian, who I knew was half hoping for a fight. I rinse off with a bucket of water and he gave me some of his clothes, which were a bit too big. Then the real tour began. We started with the armory, and he showed me a few of the swords. Then Orion’s quarters. I do not think that this was supposed to be part of the tour, because he kept quieting me and warned me not to touch anything. Afterwards he took me to the training grounds. We shot targets for a while. Well, Julian shot them while I shot my arrows in their direction and they fell feebly to the ground.
In the evening, we took went back to the slaves’ quarters. Since I did not have much to take with me, it was more to celebrate my good fortune. Edgar was standing in the crowded kitchen, having already used his status as my best friend to attract a gaggle of girls. A few girls came up to me, but after a few halfhearted attempts at conversation, they left for the much more entertaining Edgar, or, if they could get at him, Julian. The slave master came over to complain, but Julian shooed him away.
Edgar and Julian did not get along all that well. They were both too prideful, and they began arguing over whose exploits were better, even though it was obvious that half the stories that they were telling were not true. I stood watching them, people occasionally coming up to clap me on the back. Edgar and Julian’s conversation turned to women and I suddenly found Edgar’s arm around my shoulder.
“You women should stay away from Elliot,” he said, winking. “He already has a girl in the castle.” Everyone laughed, quite sure that Edgar was joking. I do not think that I have ever blushed a deeper red. The celebration lasted awhile. We had little food, but there was a lot of dancing to supplement it. Julian and I left the hut late that night, and I collapsed on my bunk, only to figure out that I was not exhausted the way I usually was. It was a nice change, but it also meant that I could not fall asleep. I just laid on my bed, listening to the sounds of the other sleeping guards, unable to calm the thought spinning in my head. Unable to believe that so much could happen in such a short time. I close my eyes, and after a while I drifted into dreams of chamber pots and flying arrows.