After having dinner, my friend left me and my Uncle to go and fetch my belongings and take them up to the room which the stewards of the castle had been told to make ready. When he`d left my uncle took me onto a veranda that overlooked his magnificent gardens that were covered in undisturbed snow, except where the gardeners had been when headed to and from the outbuildings.
"I`m sorry for not telling you i was coming Uncle" I said for probably the hundredth time. My Uncle simply looked at me and laughed,
"My dear boy it`s no burden to me. In fact, dare I say, its quite welcome. It`s been too long since these corridors felt the breeze of youth run through them"
Smiling I looked out again over the gardens as the snow glistened in the pastel colours of the sunset above,
"What were you and the barons talking about? I thought I saw Lucille de Gavney and he rarely leaves his castle to visit you of all people"
My uncle`s grey eyes looked into my deep hazel ones as he tried to figure my thinking but then his well tanned face creased into a smile,
"My my you have grown. Our matter of discussion was one of great importance. Of late there have been a number of people disappearing from this region, de Gavney`s settlement amongst those affected hence his appearance here. Most notably it has been serfs that are in the baron`s pay books that have been disappearing."
My God I thought all the nobility rely on the serfs and their taxes to keep the coffers full of gold. And it must be bad to warrant this level of meeting with my Uncle otherwise the barons would just find serfs from neighbouring counties
My Uncle placed a hand on my shoulder, "Raven i know i`ve taught you how to think like a noble since you were nought but a babe in your cradle but this matter is too much for you. You are only 16 summers old, time for you to deal with matters like this will come soon enough." And with a smile and gentle squeeze of my shoulder he left the veranda. Sighing i cast one more look out over the gardens and turned into the castle to find my room and my friend.
When i arrived at my room i saw that my friend was back already and was boiling water for my wash, "Any news down amongst the servants?" I asked in Breton as i took off my tunic and undershirt
"Some," he replied, " Apparently something is taking serfs from the villages of various barons and your father`s is the only one not to have been affected. De Gaveney`s horseman told me he`d heard that his master and several other high barons had become suspicious of late."
I gasped as i sat in the hot water but felt my muscles relax. "I`m not surprised" i said knowing i`d be suspicious of my father too. Nothing more was said until i`d climbed out of the tub and i had donned my gown. "Where are you staying?" I asked.
"In the stable loft with the others, as is usual m`lord" he replied a slight hint of surprise in his voice. I bit my lip, i felt safe in my Uncle`s castle but i still preferred to have someone i knew nearby.
"I`d like it if you were closer" i said in a whispered tone out of embarrassment
"I`d just prefer you to be slightly closer, that`s all" My attempt at sounding serious failing.
"My lord you`re wish is my command. Where would you like me?"
I span round wondering what on earth he could mean by that then it hit me,
"No!" i shouted, "Arnet i didn`t mean that, just go get you`re things and you can rest on the floor by the fire" My friend bowed and left and i deflated with horror that he`d even thought that i would have subjected him to that indecency.
Standing on the balcony i looked up to the night sky and offered a prayer of thanks that myself and Arnet had reached here safely. Although i never stepped into the buildings that the serfs called a church or ever deemed to enter the works of stone masonry that was deemed a cathedral i still prayed. I usually prayed for strength to live from day to day and for Arnet so that come the day i could, i`d be able to make him a free man for all his years of service and friendship. A knock at the door broke my thoughts and thinking that it would be Arnet with his arms full i opened it only to find myself swamped in the looming shadow of Baron Lucille de Gaveney.
"My manservant told me you were lurking round here like a pest. Sucking up to the king already eh boy? Hoping that he`ll pass the throne to you, you misbegotten bastard." I stood there and looked up at the looming man,
"Baron de Gaveney might i suggest that you go back to you`re apartments which my Uncle has most graciously given you on the occasion of this meeting? I`d hate for him to hear that you were mistreating a fellow guest when it is well known of his displeasure with you."
De Gaveney raised a hand as if to strike me for my insolence like a common peasent but Arnet made a timely arrival accompanied by Aesc.
"Lord De Gaveney are you lost?" Aesc asked putting his hand on his sword ready.
"No, i was merely enquiring as to the health of the young lord." turning back to me he said, "Sweet dreams, young Lord and pray we never cross paths again."
Watching De Gaveney retreat i let out a shudder, no man ever had that reaction on me like he did. "Thank you Aesc" i said as Arnet prepared his bedding.
"No problems m`lord. If he bothers you again just let me know"
Smiling i bid him good night and shut the door