Jedren, Bringer of Eskin Fables

In the previous episode of Feast Fables, Kerrid desperately tries to hold Jedren away while cursing the heron for what she has done. Yet, as she discovers, Ardhea has sent him to be the bringer of Eskin Tales.

But there’s more to Jedren than a few fables. The Way OF Eskin Men, ready now.

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Roots of Rookeri 43

Citadel Lecheni
Kalamite, Keefer-Papa of the Runman Order

Week Thirty

Aiya, aiya, everything calamity. First with the return of the cunning Shore woman – aiy and Mallen, the treacherous jert, could expect retribution. He would not be living much longer. But the woman’s return with the arrogant holde did, in its way, condemn the Lubanthan. But, Stup be drowned, there were two of them! Two Lubanthan crawlers around the Shore woman. And worse, so Ffika reported of common jaw, this other Lubanthan, the alive Boddy-twin, now was legally wed to the Shore woman. Breken Lafard had consented, consented and witnessed it. But wed or denied, that Shore woman must to go—go, else drown them all with her woeful calamities come this triple eclipse. But for that there yet was time. It was this other Lubanthan, this alive Boddy-twin, who was the important one now.

Kalamite bellowed for Ffika. Ffika came running, long skirts to his coat hitched high.

“I want all the event maps, here in my chamber. I want them since . . . aiya, since when do I want them? Aiy, since Verth started his backward tracking.” Aiy, that would be when.

“That would be the Maiden’s twenty-fourth day, Papa Hadd,” Ffika said.

“Aiy,” Kalamite clipped at the infuriating sprat. “And when did she—the Shore woman— return?”

“As I was told it, Papa Hadd,” Ffika said, moving a step away, “on the Maiden’s twenty-eighth day.”

“Aiy, those are the maps. Stup and Dizpeter, don’t just stand there looking . . . Is that another new coat?” Blue-green to honour the moons. “No matter, just bring me the maps.”

“With respects, Papa Hadd, would you not do better to examine them in the hallowed fane? You have Mathon-lamps there.”

“Ffika . . .” he glared at the runman. “Do not ever forget that I hate you, no matter that I named you to act in my place while I am away.”

“With respects, Papa Hadd, it is not my intent to annoy.”

“And that, you clever sparkling log, is why I hate you. Your pal Scheren I can tolerate. But you . . . ! Aiya, lah! Go fetch out the maps! Go light the fane! I shall be along shortly.”

He could not go directly there—and allow Ffika to believe he had influence upon him? Aiy-aiy-aiy, nix! That would not do. Instead he passed some long moments in gazing out of his window. The citadel close seemed particularly quiet. He could see none but the holden, patrolling. Aha! Yet there went that black-haired Lubanthan the Shore woman brought back with her. Kalamite watched till he was out of sight, out of the citadel via Strangers Gate. He would be off into town. Kalamite allowed a moment of musing on what the errand the Shore woman’s new servant was on. He was surprised Ffika hadn’t yet told him the common jaw of him. He was a strange one, this new servant. Short and dainty, more like a woman.

Kalamite dismissively sniffed, and turned his back on the window. He locked his chamber door behind him. He must remember to warn Ffika that, although acting the Keefer in his stead, he was not to use this chamber. Aiy, he would take the key with him; that would seal it.

In the hallowed fane he found all was prepared for him. He dragged a chair to sit at the desk. The maps showed the sky in twelve hourly snaps. See, there was Verth tracking back, though as yet his motion barely was visible. And there was Murag entering the Maiden. He glanced in the direction he thought was Shore House. The entry—he licked his lips, savouring the word—Murag’s entry had been five days before the Shore woman’s return. The Shore Maiden? And had not Lorken said of an attempted rape? Would that be on the twenty-fourth day? On Murag’s day. Aiy and what does that say, except that this Boddy is Murag’s hand. Aiy, but did he not know that already?

But, nix, look at this! Aiya, this is it! On the day of the rape Svara, in that very Maiden’s manse, was in a square alignment with Dizpeter. And Dizpeter—look at it—Dizpeter was, as still Dizpeter was, in Verth’s own duodecimanse of the Discords, a.k.a. the Twins.

A low growl sounded deep inside Kalamite, disturbing even him. It was almost as if this Boddy-double was created that day. Not Murag’s Hand as he’d thought—but the two-faced, double-dealing, back-stabbing Verth! Kalamite covered his mouth to hold back his gasp.

Excited now, he flipped through the maps.

Svara and Dizpeter stayed in alignment until . . . until . . . there! The twenty-ninth day of the Maiden. And that was the day when the first Boddy had died. Aiy, now he could see it, clear as the beads on his lover, his mother, his queen. It was that Boddy-twin, the deceased Boddy-twin, that Murag had made into his man. But the alive Boddy-twin, now wed to the Shore woman (no longer a maiden), was now clearly revealed as Verth’s hand-man. So now, how to eradicate him?

He could wait, aiy, he could wait. He could wait till the day of the eclipse. For on that day Verth would hit stasis—thereafter to gather his skirts and forge ahead. And Verth-the-Double that day would be dead.

Aiy, he liked the poetry of that. Yet it left unprotected his mother, his lover, his queen. For had he not predicted—aiy, he had predicted—Murag’s assault on her tower, four days preceding. Then, whether guised as Verth’s Double or as Murag’s Hand, would this alive Boddy-twin rape again?

Nix! Kalamite would not allow it. Nix-nix-nix! This alive Boddy-twin must die, again.

Kalamite had that right, to kill intruders.

But this alive Boddy-twin was not the intruder.

Then he must take the matter to the Witan, again to let Breken Lafard deal out the death. Aiy, but on what charge?

Before he could conjure an answer, an intruder pushed open the door. “Aiy?” he snapped. It was Scheren Runman.

“Apologies for disturbing, Papa Hadd. I have the predawn readings. I wanted to convert them to a map and here is the apt place.”

Aiy and thinking was best done in the undisturbed quiet of his chamber.

“Are you still puzzling over that Javan intruder?” Scheren asked as Kalamite passed him.

Kalamite grunted. He’d not doubt that Scheren had had that jaw off Ffika.

“With respects, Papa Hadd. Have you considered that fate cannot be averted?”

Kalamite stopped mid-step. Shudders wracked him. Stup’s blistered sister! He could no more tolerate this jert than he could Ffika. They stood close, so close he could draw his knife and . . . he saw in his mind the blood beading, red like the beads on his lover, his mother, his queen. His tongue flicked out. His lips formed as to suck.

“I smell cold on your coat, Scheren Runman,” Kalamite said and broke the incipient trance. “It cannot be pleasant up there on the roof, taking readings.”

“It’s not so bad at this season, Papa Hadd. It’s the winter. With the snow and the ice it’s slippery up there.”

Kalamite nodded as if in compassion. “Then you must beware of your footing. It would not do to, say, stand on sensitive toes.”

“Aye,” Scheren said, perhaps understanding.

“Aiy,” Kalamite said as he left the fane and the runman. The lorelline jert, too drip-headed to understand.

(For Rothi Astrology see Astronomy and Astrology, Runman-Style)

Eshe Parlan, Femella

Eshe looked at the pony. A pony, a piddling diminutive pot-bellied pony. But even a pony was better than arriving sat up on a cart. Where had her beautiful Muzzle gone? She had asked the eskuri though Jonesi thought it unwise.

“But I am no longer in disguise. And the entire intention is to attract the maniac’s attention.” Huh, and now she was rhyming, as if she were Jonesi.

“But, Hade Leef,” the eskuri told her, “you sent a message by the runman, that I should sell the beast.”

Jonesi hired the ponies. And at least her Muzzle wasn’t dead.

It felt strange to be riding again. But at least this time she was dressed for it. Disa had thrown up her hands in dismay, but then had cooperated, providing the fabrics. She wore brecks of a hemp-and-Lubanthan wool blend, hardwearing and warm, over which a soft Lubanthan-wool kirtle. She had instructed Disa’s napmaid to sow the seams only as far as the hips—she didn’t want to hitch up the kirtle, nor have the seams split. Disa had offered a blue steel belt, but she’d refused it. The links were such huge ovals that unless she remained always tram-road straight they would cut into her middle. Instead she wore her old belt, tift with Ryal’s gems. The brecks were corn-yellow, the kirtle calendula, and the head-shawl—fixed firmly to her head by a steel band—was of heavy shimmering gold-hued silk hung with quartz masquerading as diamonds. She didn’t want to be tift; she felt awkward wearing gems. However, Disa’s gift of the minever-lined cloak was another matter. A luxury, yea, but also warm, and its heavy silk outer was of a practical brown. Under the head-shawl her hair was worn loose. She felt like a woman again.

“Does anyone follow?” she asked as they crossed Tuthe Bridge.

“That is the fifth time you’ve asked, foodeloo. And again, zero I answer you.”

“He’ll be hiding,” Eshe said. “Zigging down the lanes and alleys. Which way to Churen?”

“This road, and I’ll soon have the bearing. Just ignore the Luant River veering.”

Eshe rolled her eyes as she looked up at the sky. Two days they had together, maybe three, and already his often-strained rhyming annoyed her. “Hey, Jonesi, do you help Boddy to write his songs and plays?”

“Nope. I help only with the dances. I train his mind and his body enhances.”

Yikes! She swore she’d go pappy-crack. She lapsed back into silence.

The day held fine if cold. The sky was blue unmarred by cloud. She wondered how it would be to ride in ice-laden hard-driving rain, something unknown in the warmth of Luban. They climbed out of the Tuthe valley. Either side of the road, rutted and muddy, were fields, ploughed and left empty for winter. As they neared the first hamlet the fields changed to pastures dotted with the Rothi jasckte-cattle. In summer they grazed high into the Ridge.

Her thoughts turned to Luban. Once Boddy had mended the tree and sat his butt on the vital chair she then would go home. Home, to Raselstad, to her father and the report she must write and present to the Council.

“Jonesi, will you stay here with Boddy when everything’s done?”

“Boddy is my felagi. What would he be without me?”

“Shouldn’t that be the other way round?”

Jonesi shrugged. “And you, what will you do?”

“I was hoping you might accompany me home. I admit I’m wary of passing close by those bandits again.”

Jonesi waggled his head as if considering. “Yea, I could do that for you, and return. But what about your ledhere, this Trefan?”

In answer, she shrugged.

Jonesi nodded his head. “Ho-hum, hey, Femella.”

They passed through the first hamlet—Fengoth, Disa had said, one of House Eland’s—without seeing a body, and that despite the clack and honk of chickens and geese. Was everyone busy inside with their chores? There were pigs and goats kept in pens. Though Eshe couldn’t be certain, the goats might have been sheep.

Not far past the hamlet they came to the turn-off to the Two Boars’ holdings. Disa’s holdings, or rather those of Shore House, weren’t so neatly clustered. Disa had complained, far-spread as they were, they weren’t easily managed. Not that Disa actively managed them. She had a bachelor installed at Henet, her remaining manse (the other manses were long since demolished). They were to go to the bachelor, he then would escort them.

The turning they’d taken soon became a grass-walled lane.

“Femella, may I tell you a story concerning myself?”

Eshe was surprised at the offer. “Yea, sure. But I thought you the mysterious one who never said of his life.”

“You mistake seldom for never. Who wants to know of me?”

Eshe made no comment, for, alas, that was true. In Raselstad he had been deemed a vagrant, tolerated only because he worked at the Kachinnar’s tavern.

“Yet you want to tell me something now? Yea, go ahead,” she said kindly. “I shall listen with interest.”

“Most gracious, Femella—peace, I tease.”

She frowned at him. Then realised his words were just another attempt to rhyme. It was probably his need to rhyme that was taking his time, for he was quiet for a while before he began.

“When I was . . . younger,” he began hesitantly, “I met a woman and, gods, how I loved her.”

Yea, she could hear it still in his voice.

“I would watch her in all her many moods.” He smiled wistfully at his memories. “And bright or glum she always enthralled me. Oh, but the sweet agony of wanting to be with her . . . just to touch her. I ached to kiss her. I yearned to wrap myself around her. I was hers. I could not tear myself away. I would have followed her to the northern wastes or the southern swamps, to the western High Mountains or to here, east to the Luant estuary.”

“Are you telling me this because of Boddy?” She didn’t need Jonesi’s parallels to see that’s how Boddy was with Disa. Yet all that said without a rhyme. It made Jonesi seem like a different man.

“I’m telling you because . . . because sometimes it helps to share.”

So he thought she was jealous because of Disa and Boddy? Yea, sure, she was hurting because he loved another. But she wasn’t jealous. She was envious of him with his love, that’s all. How many times these last few days had she had to bat away a tear. It never would happen for her, as her wise father knew. She always started out wearing her heart on her sleeve, only to brush it off again when things didn’t work. And one way or another, they never did work. Every time it ended the same. He said she was being picky, she said he was only after a mother and she didn’t want to be that old yet. No, her tears weren’t for what could have been. They were for what never would be.

“So what happened to her, your woman?” Eshe asked. “I’ve not heard that you’re a widow. You wear no bracelet.”

“We could not marry,” he said. “She was already bound. Then she died.”

“I’m sorry.” What else could she say.

He chuckled, which surprised her. “And why should you be sorry? You were not part of the story. At first I feared my body must break. Such pain. Then I remembered the teaching of my child-days. People die, there is no escape from it. Yet the love we have, that never fades.”

She glanced across at him, puzzled. Why was he telling her this? Was the woman Boddy’s mother? That did seem to fit. Did he tell it because he needed to share it, rather than as a means of helping her?

“What do you think are the chances of Trefan Lafard agreeing to help us?” he asked after a half mile or so of silence, when the tree-tall grasses had again given way to pasture.

“What do you think? We’re asking him to turn against his own brother. And he’s already been charged with that treason once.”

He had been charged and banished. And ever since she had ached to be with him. But she knew now it never could be. So, she took a deep breath. It was time to brush the crumbs from her sleeve yet again—another one buried.

“Foodeloo, you’re wrong you know,” Jonesi said. “We’re not asking him to turn against his brother, but to hold against another—against Kalamite.”

Kalamite, Keefer-Papa of the Runman Order

Aiya, this had been not a good day. What did he know of riding pony? Yet if he took a cart and they cut across fields and pastures how would he be able to trace them? And this would have been easier had that Ffika Runman told him sooner. He had thought of sending Ffika to track them but, aiya, could he trust the clever sprat. And would the sprat know what to do if he saw the two escaping? Not that the other one interested him. It was her, she was his prey. And now, if she was escaping, his well-laid plans would all go awry.

He almost gleefully whooped when he saw them take a turn-off. They had already missed the Luant turn; now it seemed they were heading out to Churen. Ha! So now he had them. They’d be off to keep a liaison with Breken Lafard’s ledhere brother.

“See! See there, Breken. Did I not tell you how your brother intended you harm?”

He looked up at the sky. It soon would be dark. They, he assumed, would find a night’s lodging at Churen Manse. But what of him? His best hope was a barn with the door left undone. He shivered. It was already painfully cold and these only the Witan weeks. How hard would be the coming winter? And his queen had bid him travel north. Aiya, he ought to be taking his sailing lessons, not on the road following conspirators. Yet his queen had bid him to be rid of this Lubanthan woman.

Aiya, but what titbits he’d hear, what evidence learned to help tie up the other Lubanthan. Aiy, he would suffer the cold and gladly. At least with the cold there would be no amphibs. He did hope Matikkas still had that other bank-bear; he might yet have a use of it.

Light drained from the sky of a sudden—as often it did in the equinox weeks. Now he was in total darkness until the moons rose. Stheino would be the first. He allowed the pony to find its way. A wise beast, it wouldn’t venture into a foul-water ditch or any place amphib-infested. At the end of the lane would be the manse. He would see it clearly because of its lamps.

He grimly smiled and again grunted. Aiy, cold would be the night, yet plenty would be the information.

~ ~ ~

Roots of Rookeri 44: 4th November

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Ens, Ems and Hashes

Another Useless Fact by Iris Einstein

Punctuation . . .

“Oh, no!” I hear the groans across the airways. “Not that greatest puzzle of education, punctuation.” Nay, nay, it’s but the greatest gift of written creation.

Yet the first written works didn’t have it. No capitals. No spaces. No vowels. How could they see without the ‘eyes’, or agree without the ‘ayes’, that’s what I want to know. And overall, imagine it, a desperate dearth of punctuation.

What a great improvement when, in the 9th century BCE, there came the first (known) punctuated document—the Mesha Stele, aka the Moabite Stone, even if it does tell of the Moabite subjugation of Israel. But don’t get excited, as an example of punctuation it doesn’t rate much.

(They had no spell checkers back then!)

The technical name for this—not found in the Style Books of today’s publishing houses—is scriptura continua (i.e. continuous writing). My Grandma improved upon this, in as much as she replaced the dot with a space. But in a 3 page letter this was her only punctuation; it left me breathless just reading it.

To facilitate the written words’ reading was the prime purpose of punctuation, i.e. why it was invented: to aid with the reading of prose, poem, or edict.

The Greeks—those virtuosi of drama, be it epic, comedy or tragedy—began it around the 5th century BCE. They were the first to place the space between the words (sorry, Grandma, it wasn’t your own invention). Other symbols, too, they invented; one used to mark the end of phrases—useful for those long and convoluted speeches that liquidly slip, like honey dripping, from Helen’s much lauded lips. So, yes, it can truthfully be said that the Greeks invented ‘proper punctuation’ (punctus: a single dot).

But the Greeks didn’t stop at the single dot. They multiplied it (Greeks, great mathematicians). They were the first to use the colon – : –; they liked it so much they invented a variant that made use of 3 dots. (MS Word’s ‘Insert Symbol’ box could provide only this – ⁞ – using 4.)

As if that wasn’t sufficient to keep the Classical student stuck to his desk, slate clutched in fist, the Greeks also invented a system they called thésis (which, incidentally, my spellchecker wants to make into a thesis!)

Thésis uses a single dot—but placed at varying heights (and I quote): “to mark up speeches at rhetorical divisions.”

The subdistinctio (a dot on baseline) marked off a unit not quite a clause, where today a comma’s preferred.

The media distinctio (a dot at mid-height) marked off a clause: where today we might use a colon.

The distinctio (a high dot) marked off a sentence; where today, if we’re British, we use a Full Stop. But if we’re American we use a Period.

But the Greeks weren’t yet finished inventing. They used:—

ɤ the gamma to mark the beginning of a sentence

ﺧ the diple in margins to mark “quotations”

∼ the koronis (crook-beaked) to mark the end of a work, or the end of a section—of which the closest modern equivalent is the flourish but failing to find it amongst the symbols WP provides us, I am forced to substitute the ’tilde’.

  ~ ~ ~

So where do ens, ems and hashes fit in?

These are more recent marks of punctuation, but ones that seem to be flourishing on the rapidly multiplying internet pages, and often with confusing rules of usage.

En & Em

The ‘en-dash’ and ‘em-dash’ are named respectively for being of the same width as the typesetters’ ‘n’ and ‘m’; thus ‘–’ and ‘—’. While their difference in usage is mainly a matter of space. The ‘en-dash’ likes plenty of leg-room around it – while the ‘em-dash’ interposes without much buffering—almost cramped in its appearance.

The proper usage of the spaced-out ‘en’, and hemmed-in ‘em’, is entirely a matter of taste—though publishing houses tend to expect conformation to their individual Style Books – and it’s always best to keep to one usage within a work (less confusing for the reader).

Generally, I’ve discovered this little quirk: in America it’s the cramped em-dash that’s preferred, while in the UK it’s the spaced-out ‘en-dash’. I wonder if there’s relevance in that, something to do with national character. (I notice, of late, Crimmie’s adopted the ‘em’, though in spelling and other matters of punctuation she’s stubbornly British.)

The hash
(hex or number sign—which in the UK is never used to denote a number)

This is possibly the most recent of our punctuation marks, supposedly created by the Teletype Corporation in the early 1900s. However, a theory runs that the hash sign arose in C19th as a replacement for the printers’ ‘pound’ sign—which is like – lb – but with a horizontal line through the verticals [℔]. This soon evolved into ‘ = ’ overlaid on ‘ // ’, resulting in the hash, #.

Since its first appearance it has attracted a litany of names—crosshatch, fence, mesh, flash, grid, pigpen, tictactoe, scratch, gate, hak, oof, rake, crunch, sink, corridor, and even waffle. While some of these are self-explanatory, others leave us scratching our heads. Such as the octothorp.

The name octothorp is accredited to AT&T telephone engineers who devised it in the 1960s as a joke—though I’ve recently come across an explanation which claims, in total erudition, that it’s a symbol for a village: 8 fields around a central space. So is it also claiming to be of Saxon origin?


I trust you’ve found this brief historical survey of punctuation to be of absolutely no use whatsoever—unless, like Crimmie, you use ‘em’ and ‘en’ to wipe the board at Scrabble.

If this article has caught your interest in the origins of punctuation, see Wikipedia’s Punctuation for more.

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Enter Jedren

In the previous episode of Feast Fables (Bk 2, Act III), while swimming in the cove close to her home, two strangers arrive in their boats. One is Knowing Man Jedren, the other Arobo, his friend.

Jedren’s use of the Gusrikt speech is disturbing enough for Kerrid. But he also looks disturbingly like her first love, Sarat, and yet like Jiar, too.

Who is he, this Knowing Man Jedren? What does he want with Kerrid? For he knows her name. Next episode, For You, Sweet Heart, ready now.


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Roots of Rookeri 42

Citadel Lecheni
Sifadis Lafdi, Shore House

Week Twenty-Nine

Ay, his stubborn refusal to understand and to act. Why would he not believe her words? She ought to take that as insult. It took Mathon and Eshe and, at the last, Jonesi to convince him that ay, the citadel was imperilled and that, ay, her House—nix, it now was his—would no longer exist unless he acted the Hero and took the relevant action. Crud and crusts, what a miracle that she’d found the heir, and that he had returned to here. Now he must mend the tree and claim the chair.

“How?” he asked, absent his usual flippancy.

“There’s everything here to heal the tree,” Jonesi said with a sweeping gesture at the clutter piled upon Mathon’s benches.

Boddy deigned a look. Ay-ay, she could have picked up that coffee pot and crashed it upon him for his wearied tone. “Yeah.”

“Leave him be,” Eshe said. “He needs time. He needs to make this task his own.”

Of course, friends all their lives, she’d know. Sifadis turned away before Eshe saw the scolding eye turned upon her. Och, she ought not to be like it. But it seemed she alone could see the urgency, and how dire the plight of Lecheni and her people. It wasn’t just for her and Boddy that the tree needed mending.

Peace, Disa. How long did it take you to grasp its import?

Ay, she answered her ancestress, Ffadise. But then there was time and plenty, while now there is none.

You exaggerate, Disa. There is ample for what must be done.

Och, ample indeed! Not if he sits there shaking his head and saying nay, nay, nay, I don’t believe it. But she had to admit he was now off his butt and looking around as Jonesi had prompted.

“Yeah,” he said again. Yet now he was prowling around the workshop, and pointing to this and that contraption. “Which lamps burn the brightest?” he asked Mathon and Mathon, delighted, ran to assist him. “These, yeah? What heat do they give?”

“Enough to fry a squirrel’s egg—are you wanting to die? Aye, Boddy, aye, these are hot, indeed hot.”

“Yeah, great, she needs heat. Yet heat will desiccate. Have you something we can use to deliver water? Not just at her roots but all the way up to the top of the tower?”

“Aye, indeed that I do,” Mathon answered, twizzling around, so excited. “I have pumps. Where? Ah, here. But that’s some strong pump you’re jawing about.”

“We’ll need sprinkler-heads to it.”

“Aye, the one, the one,” Mathon said, “but you would be better with three.”

“Does anyone know where there’s a close source of water?” Boddy asked, looking around at each of them. “Or must we take it from the moat?”

“There’s a well in the garden,” Sifadis answered before Eshe could. “Gowen and I use it for the Daabian plants.”

“We ought to dismantle the tower,” Boddy said without even a nod of acknowledgement to her, as if she’d not spoken.

“But, Boddy, my husband, you cannot imagine the runmen allowing it?” Was there a bite to her voice? But she couldn’t hide it. “What, Kalamite? Nay, nix, never.”

Boddy returned to where she stood by the coffee pots. Had he noticed her tone? He slipped his arm around her waist. She wanted to snuggle and nestle against him and yet she held steady and held him away. He leant in closer and spoke softly and gently into her ear. “You want us to be together when this is over? Then allow me to do it my way.”

He was still talking as he moved away, deserting her, leaving her cold and lonely. “I mean, spew on it, Disa. You’ve given me a task I wasn’t prepared for and, by the gods, it won’t be easy. But as you say, unless I do this Shore House, the citadel and numberless people will die. Now, it would be best if we could dismantle the tower—”

“Yet Disa is right,” Eshe added her worth. “There is Kalamite.”

Boddy turned on his heel to face her. “Yeah, Eshe, I know. And don’t you start on me, too. So what do you want me to do? Dismantle him first?”

“Hay la,” Sifadis said, voice noticeably trembling. “Is this talk of killing him?”

“Disa, peace.” He mimed the sealing of lips. “Unless it’s constructive—by which I mean constructing a plan. That I welcome from anyone because, right now, I’m flummoxed and down.” With a theatrical gesture he clutched his head.

Sifadis seethed with frustration. She wanted to go to him, throw her arms around him. She wanted to help him. Instead, she clenched her fists, brought tight to her mouth. He was angry at her. Gods, but how she deserved it. Ay, tricking him, deceiving him, enticing him here. She had brought him to a place he’d vowed to despise, to resolve a problem he deemed not his own. Yet it was his problem, for he was the heir. Hay la, why couldn’t they have escaped to the Daab, plant collectors as he’d playfully proposed?

He turned to Mathon. “Is there a way we can be rid of Kalamite? It need only be temporary, yeah. Some place to send him? Forgive me, I don’t yet know enough of your ways.”

“Aye, there’s the Warison Path,” Mathon said. “You always can use the Warison Path—ach, but most Houses keep their doors barred at the inside.”

Sifadis didn’t understand his intent, yet Boddy caught it. “What, you’re suggesting we snatch him and hide him away? Great, yeah, fine, that might work.”

“I have a suggestion,” Eshe said.

Ay and she would.

Mayhap you have a part to play, too, Ffadise said.

Ay? And what would that be?

Think upon it.

“Well?” Boddy prompted his close friend Eshe—of whom he had spoken with such affection. Curses upon her, and curses on him!

“I could lure him away from the citadel, clear away from the town,” Eshe said.

“Hey, great, yeah—except I won’t have you put yourself into danger. But, let’s hear your idea. Go on.”

He wouldn’t have brave, capable Eshe put herself into danger. Ay, but he’d not say that if his own wife were to offer. Sifadis turned away else she would have glared.

“Trefan is lodging out at Churen Manse,” Eshe said. “If I went to see him my guess is—no, it’s a certainty—Kalamite would follow.”

“But you say he’s after your death.”

Nay, never, nix, can’t risk her life. Send Disa instead.

Disa. Stop this at once. Ffadise said. What kind of wife are you?

“Kalamite is after all our deaths,” Eshe said. “All except for Jonesi. That man is insane. But, Boddy, what is the point of pumps and lamps when he won’t allow you into the tower? You’re right what you said: We must be rid of him first—and we must keep him away. Maybe I can persuade Trefan to bring some men to guard the tower until the Witan accepts you?”

“Ghats and rats,” Boddy groaned, “this is all moving so quickly! The Witan accepts me?”

Time you spoke, Disa. Ffadise prompted.

But what could she say? “My many-many sorries for that,” she said. “But until I found that document—”

“Yea,” Boddy snapped. “You still haven’t explained that.”

“But until it was found how could I know you were the one? And now the eclipse is less than two weeks away.”

“Jonesi, dear friend,” Boddy turned to him, “Does she make any sense to you?”

“Stop tormenting her,” Jonesi said—sweet, sweet Jonesi. “There is work to be done. I’ll go with Eshe and protect her.”

“Thanks but I need you here, to help me.”

“Rokke will help if I say,” Sifadis cut in. “And so too will Gowen and Gowen’s seleman.” They would need Gowen to let them into the garden, and to do whatever was needed with the water supply.

“I will help too.” Mathon seemed to swell with enthusiasm. “Don’t forget me. Oh my, indeed that I will, for the rightful man to sit on the chair!”

“How long do you need for him to be gone?” Eshe asked.

Boddy thought for a moment before he answered. “Four days would be good. No, make it five. Then we need a way to hold him away after that. He’s not going to be happy. His tree, his tower—it’s death to enter, remember.”

“Nay, nix, Boddy, she can’t do that,” Sifadis said and almost withered beneath his sudden stare. “But Churen Manse will not host her that many days. Nah, Eshe, you must visit my holdings as well. That ought to confound the tattagoose.”

She nodded. Ay-la, she even smiled. She had contributed to her husband’s plans, and by it helped keep him safe. Besides, five days without Eshe around his ankles. And maybe when she returns it’ll be with Trefan.

“We’ll get everything ready in here,” Boddy said, rapidly moving his thoughts along. Now he was sounding more like himself. Though there still wasn’t a sway to his hips, and he wasn’t yet joking. “We’ll test the lamps, check their brightness and heat. We’ll get together sufficient piping—is this all you have, Mathon, yea?”

Mathon grinned and shook his head. He jabbed his thumb back to say he had plenty more back there, wherever there was.

“Great, yeah. This might come together yet. Sprinklers; have you heads? Yea, I see. And the pumps—can you work out the pressure if we calculate the height? Hey, Disa, I haven’t had so much fun since I was in school. I never thought I’d miss doing calculations. Now this water supply?”

“You must talk to Gowen of that,” Sifadis said, quietly basking in contentment. He was having fun, because of her.

Boddy nodded. Then held still, now deep in thought.

“Wood Tower. It’s nothing but wood and tile, yeah?” he asked her—her, not his friends, because they wouldn’t know.

Alas and ay-la, neither did Sifadis. “I suppose.” The shrug happened though she tried not to allow it.

“Trefan thought it built of stone,” Eshe volunteered.

Sifadis held her tongue.

“Mathon?” he asked. “You’ve been in there.”

“Aye, indeed, aye, but ten years back, and in the dark. And I was creeping. The walkways are wood. Scary, those, in the wind. Oh very scary, oh my.”

“Well the outer towers are wood and tile so . . .” Boddy also shrugged.

“Boddy Felagi, my friend, have you thought it might be the tree that accounts for the name?”

“Yeah, I suppose. I was just thinking, we could burrow in from the bottom.”

“No need,” Eshe said, full of brightness. “I have the key.”

They all looked at her, even Sifadis.

“The keys to the coloured towers are kept in the guardhouse,” Eshe explained. “Trefan reckons the runmen keep them there just to taunt the holden. But Ryal Holde gave in to temptation and stole the key to the Purple Tower. When he fled, terrified out of his wits, he took the key with him. He handed it over to the Council and my father gave it to me. I no longer have the original, I gave that to Trefan. Mine is one of Mathon’s Every Keys.”

Again, she produced the small metal box from her bag and laid it on the bench by the coffee pots.

Mathon pawed over the box without actually touching the contents. “You have yet to say where you came by this, Lubanthan Eshe. Indeed, oh my, this box has been missing some, oh, some seven, eight or even more years.”

“It was a gift to me,” Eshe told him. “But Jilli, who gave it to me, said her husband had it from a Rothi trader who brought north it from a mid-western town. Her husband is Eshquan.”

“My-my, it has travelled. And doubtless it was lifted from me by a chiparin. But not Otian, I think. Ach, does it matter, does it matter, now it is back.”

“Yeah, excellent, brille,” Boddy said.

“Milig,” Sifadis added and hay la, he flashed her a smile.

“So. Now we have a way into the tower,” he said.

“At night, at night, aye you must do it at night. No runman goes in there in the night. And you must be wary, you must,” Mathon advised, “even with our Kalamite away. His runmen, see, and the holden patrolling. Aye, you’ll need be wary.”

“Hey, Boddy Felagi, the Warison Path encircles the citadel.” The way Jonesi said it, Sifadis assumed Boddy must know his intent, even if she didn’t.

“Mathon—Hadd Leef,” Boddy caught himself in a slip of etiquette. “You wouldn’t happen to have a plan of this Path and the citadel, would you, hey?”

Mathon grinned and nodded and went off to fetch it. He spread it out on the bench. “Here is Shore House with the door down below, because it is old. Here, see, in this corner, is my Mathon’s Manufactory. Equally old and equally with a door at its bottom—but I didn’t know it connects to some caves. Are there amphibs down there?”

“Apparently only Jacobs,” Eshe said, “and they don’t climb that high.”

Eshe’s knowledge upset Sifadis again. Och, a stranger who knows more than me. Ay, but she would soon be away, enwrapped in her Trefan’s strong arms.


So I admit I am jealous of her.

And who is wedded to him?

Och! He never even asked me.

Mathon pointed again to his ancient, tatty-edged drawing. “And here, you see, is the Purple Tower.”

“And there,” Eshe pointed, “is the guardhouse with the barracks above Garrison Gate.”

“Ouch!” Boddy groaned.

“Ay,” Sifadis said, “you cannot come out at Mikel’s Rams House.”

“Hey, Disa, what do you mean ‘you’? It’s we, Disa. You and me—you’re into this too.”

“I thought my work done now that I’ve brought you to here.”

“Hey, no, woman. Your ‘work’ won’t be done, Disa-dear, until we’ve both grown old and you have given me a parcel of sons—and that ought to keep us both busy, hey.” He grinned with a wicked twinkle in his eyes.

Och, Ffadise, my father was right. See how he wants to change me, broadening my hips and dragging my breasts to brush on my belly. I shall look gross if I allow him his way. Ay, and what then of the time to study? Grunting and bearing his children for him.

But without him and his children our Shore House is dead.

Hay la, what a hard price to pay.

“Thus,” Jonesi said, having strolled around the cluttered chamber, seeming to pay little attention, “with light and air and water the tree is repaired. But what of the chair?”

“Eh?” Eshe asked, for once not so bright.

“The tree must flower to prove the lafard-legere has the right to the chair,” Sifadis said, gloating.

“But, hey, the mending is the important part, yeah? To heal the tree and stop the prophecy, that’s what you said.”

“Aye,” Mathon agreed. “That’s what she said, Sifadis did. But Boteras Lafard, the tree isn’t mended until she blooms. And she will not bloom until you—you are sure, Sifadis, that he’s the one? Aye, aye, he is, he is the one—until you sit upon the chair.”

“For the tree to bloom when he sits on the chair?” Jonesi said, “I think some deceit might be needed here.”

~ ~ ~

Roots of Rookeri 43: 28th October

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Whither Shall I Wander

Indecisions. I had spent last weekend poring over maps, trying to decide where next to walk. Would it be the bus to Morton-on-the-Hill then a walk back to Taverham through the Wensum Valley? Road walking, leafy lanes. It had its appeal. Or would it be bus to Easton (end point of the ‘Norfolk Hills‘ walk) then through to Marlingford to walk back to Norwich via the Yare Valley? Then Wednesday, the chosen day, I woke up with severe withdrawal from kicking the wheat and gluten. With a big sigh, i resigned myself to no walk this week.

But Friday dawned fine. And the symptoms had gone. I felt brimming with energy, I wanted to be out there. But where? The Wensum Valley? Or the Yare?

Neither. I opted for a walk in the woods.

There’s scarcely a year gone by since I moved to Great Yarmouth (30 years ago) when I haven’t returned to my home village. It’s become an annual pilgrimage, and always to the woods, either in May for the bluebells, or in October for the chestnuts.

The bus would have delivered me to the lower end of the woods. But since I intended to finish my walk with a return to Marriott Way, where it bridges the River Tud, I thought it a good idea to start at the Tud.

River Tud at Costessey, Looking West Photo taken from Longwater Lane bridge, looking westward.
It used to be possible to see the ruins of Costessey Hall from here. The area to right is part of Old Costessey Recreation Ground—it provides a restful riverside walk.

River Tud looking eastwardThe view from the other side of the bridge.
Amazing the contrast, one serene, the other turbulent. 

Although I had the iPhone with me, I didn’t intend this to be an exercise in photography. And I doubted I’d find anything new to write about, having exhausted the subject of the ‘Lord of the Manor’ in the Jerningham series on Crimson’s History. But as I neared the woods, thoughts started popping.

Costessey is listed in the Domesday Book as having one of the very few Deer Parks in England at this time. I have always wondered where that deer park was located. The obvious response might be ‘Costessey Park’ where, from 1553 the Jerningham family lorded it over their extensive manor. Certainly in Tudor times the park was well-stocked with deer. But was that the case in 1086? Although it’s an obvious answer, to me it seems illogical.

Would the Lord of the Manor in 1086 really encourage his tenants to tramp all over his precious park when needing to consult with him? Knowing how the Normans were about hunting rights, and their deer? Therefore I’d say, in 1086, the tenant-in-chief —Alan Rufus, a Breton count who made Richmond in Yorkshire his main seat—would prefer his hall to be set some way outside of his park.

It is almost a cliché that when establishing a church on his manor, the Norman (or Saxon) lord would set it to the east of his hall.

Domesday Book makes no mention of a church at Costessey, which is not to say there was none. However, during his lifetime Count Alan was strongly connected with St Edmundsbury Abbey in Suffolk—he was buried there until his younger brothers removed his remains to St Marys Abbey in York. There are several churches with St Edmunds dedications doted about Count Alan’s extensive holdings, from Yorkshire through to East Anglia. William the Conqueror encouraged the continuation of Saxon saints when his tenants-in-chief were setting up new churches (a Papal legate arrived in England in 1070 to ‘test’ the Saxon saints and give them their seal of approval). The Costessey church is dedicated to St Edmunds, suggesting this was one of Count Alan’s foundations.

So where is the church? Might it be any place near the Tudor hall and deer park? No.

Costessey 2014

As can be seen on this map, Costessey hall and deer park was set at some distance from St Edmund’s church, which is in the most ancient part of the village. The shaded area represents land settled from early Saxon times. 

No lord of manor had his hall to the west of the church, simply because there is the river. But neither would he set himself a mile or more away from his tenants, cottars and serfs. (Not that the Domesday tenant-in-chief was 365 days resident, yet he would have had a bailiff to supervise operations in his absence.) While he might have a hunting lodge in the park, it would not be his preferred place of business.

It had always been my belief that East Hills wood—where I now was heading—had been part of the Domesday deer park. On the map above, East Hills wood is that squiggly green bit to the east of Costessey Hall.

East Hills Woods, Costessey

East Hills woods, as entered from Longwater Lane. The trees here are most young, a massive replant to replace the elm infected by Dutch Elm Disease. When the Jerningham-Stafford family withdrew from the village, they donated this woods, and Green Hills (to the north, in the old village) to be freely enjoyed by all in the parish. It is now managed by South Norfolk District Council.  

With the exception of this narrow western belt, which seems to be a late addition to the woodland, the rest is rooted upon the same glacial terminal moraine as Ringland Hills (see Norfolk Hills), with equal steepness. I can imagine both here and at Ringland, the hillsides were formerly sheep runs. But the shallow sandy soil, coupled with the steep sides, forbade any attempt at arable farming. A map dating to 1794 shows East Hills (named as Easter Hills on an Ordnance Survey map of 1880) as considerable less extensive.

Fadens Map East Hills Costessey

Unable to crop the Easterly Hills, the Jerninghams planted nut and timber trees: chestnuts, hazels, hornbeam. I needed a safety helmet as I walked beneath the chestnut trees. I’ve never known them to so bombard me.

Chestnut Trees in East Hills Woods Costessey

The chestnut tree to the left, foreground, has five trunks shooting from a central bole, evidence of long years of coppicing. Many of the trees on this particular hill that I remember from childhood have now been cut down for safety sake, the sandy soil unable to hold their roots. Chestnuts live about 400 years; those I remember must have been close to that. 

Woodland Path, East Hills Costessey

Hazels in East Hills Costessey

These hazels might look young, yet I remember them growing here when I was a child (and I’m not saying how long ago that was!). This is the effect of constant coppicing.

More Hazels, East Hills Costessey

Hazels 2 East Hills Costessey

Just look at the wonderful twisted trunks.
We used to make spears from the young straight stems.

I came in at the wrong entrance to snap the really big beeches—though their size wouldn’t prove the woodland’s age, for they could previously have been growing in grassland. I did manage to photograph some elegant ladies. The beech nuts were thick on the ground beneath them.

Study in Grey, East Hills Wood, CostesseyThe northern boundary is marked by beeches, too. It is here that we see the most marked evidence of this being the Domesday Deer Park.

Beech trees in East Hills Woods at CostesseyNot immediately obvious, but that emerald moss (right, foreground) is the edge of a one-time ditch. The old parks were ringed with high banks and deep ditches.

Evidence of park ditch at East Hills Woods, CostesseyJust look at the size of that beech with its multiple trunks and rain-exposed roots. It would have been planted at the top of the bank, with a ditch now leaf-filled at its back.

Ditch in East Hills Wood, Costessey

Another shoot of the ditch

And while we’re along this northern boundary, and talking ‘age’, how old might this field maple be?

Ancient Filed Maple, East Hills, Costessey

Only ever a small tree, this field maple just kept on putting out trunks. 

So often managed and coppiced woodland takes on a regimented form; all straight trunks, lacking character. But not here.

Ancient Birch, East Hills wood, CostesseyThe birch is the first coloniser of wasteland, followed closely by the oak. Unfortunately, many of the oaks here have had to be culled. 

Tree Stump, East Hills, CostesseyAlas for this tree, it is no more.
(When I look at this I see a kangeroo and its joey!)

Almost at the far end of the wood, tracking along the lower (northern) boundary, I was able to see the other Jerningham-planted hill—Green Hill.

Green Hills as seen from East Hills, CostesseyGreen Hills Wood as seen from East Hills Wood
My last address before moving to Yarmouth was amongst those roofs. Not surprising, then, that I miss the woods.

Emerging with reluctance, from the woods I pushed on to complete the walk. I wasn’t walking any great distance (3½ miles maximum), so I made up for it by walking fast. I was heading for that sweeping yellow road (on the map above) that connects the old village to the A1074 (Town House Road/Norwich Road). Being locally-grown, and not having a car, I was able to cut where a stranger, or a car, could not.

My next destination was (the former) Costessey Pits, now Gunton Lane Recreation Ground—which in the 1960s we illegally turned into a motorbike scramble track.

(formerly) Costessey Pits, now Gunton Lane Recreation Ground

The water-filled pits occupy far less acreage than at the former Taverham Pits, now Costessey Pits. But they are surrounded by a woodland, 40 years in growing.

Costessey Pits, aka Gunton Lane Recreation GroundDucks breed here. A local walker I met here tells me there’s a heron breeding here too.

Dark Pool Reflections

The sun hasn’t entirely gone—see the blue sky reflected. But the day was rapidly becoming overcast—just as I found some autumn foliage. 

Autumn colours at Gunton Lane Recreation Ground, CostesseyThe increasingly overcast day didn’t help to lighten the eerie feel to this woodland. Though it’s in frequent use by walkers, with dogs, there is also a sense of isolation. No traffic noise. No noise.

Dark Pit at Gunton Lane, CostesseyI have lightened this photo, it was so dark.
The mossy green trunks suggest a dank place.

Tree Carving at Gunton Lane, CostesseyThe Green Man, guardian of this quiet, dark wood.
I want to return here, to see if I can take a better photo. And to see more clearly what animal it is on the Green Man’s back (a hare?). And is it a dog, or a deer beside him?

This woodland, with its pools, is just part of the Gunton Lane Recreation Ground. The River Tud runs through it.

River Tud at Gunton RG CostesseyThe water here is ankle deep; the river bed is sandy gravel. Ideal for young children to paddle and splash in the heat of the summer. 

Riverside Walk (Tud near Marriott Way)Looking back along the River Tud, but still within the Recreation Ground.
To the right is the dark, eerie woods with its tranquil pools.
(This is definitely a place I shall return to)

And so to join, once again, Marriott Way . . .

Marriott Way as it leaves CostesseyMarriott Way, as it leaves Costessey with its woodlands behind it.

This is probably the last walk this year that I shall write up. I want to concentrate on increasing distance (stamina training); best for that is the wall to the north of Breydon Water. While the mudflats attract migratory birds, they’re usually little more than black dots in the distance. As for my health, my next HbA1c test is March/April 2015 when I shall probably post an update.

In the meantime, since I’m preparing a story to run when Roots of Rookeri ends, I’ve plenty to occupy my time. Also, Iris Einstein keeps twittering in my ear of some more useless facts. So, watch this space!

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Feast Fables, Book 2, Act III

In the previous episode of Feast Fables, while Ardhea flew south to find a man with Eskin tales to give to her Linershunn, Eld Freilsen tried to burn Kerrid out of her headland home.

As Act III opens, Kerrid is waiting for Ardhea’s return. Next episode, Knowing Man Knowing Tree, ready now.

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