Befriended

KW17 BefriendedThe truvidiren have said that all those contesting the Games are to arrive at the King’s Hold on the Highlands of the Sun no later than the second day of Kassis’s Genet. The Games are to be held the next day. But, as the Saram-equipped Ingobo says, with no dawn nor dusk, no Palamon nor Sauën, how are they to count the days and be certain of them? . . . Read on

I didn’t yet know if there would be candidates other than me. But if there were, and if they came from afar, then surely none would think unkindly of them if they arrived earlier than need be. Indeed, the truvidiren had said there would be lodgings and food available for them. But they’d be sure to laugh at me if I arrived before the need, for I had such a short way to come.

So, as the day of the Games drew closer, so I began to fret. When I should have been anxious of my sword-play or my riding skills, there I was worrying myself to sickness over what day it was, afraid I would either arrive too early and draw their laughter, else arrive too late. It was my father who suggested that I got a-back that horse Bukplugn’s kin had generously lent me, and ride over to the King’s Hold. It was no distance along the broad-way.

It’s as well that I did. When I asked the first truvidir I met what day this was, he answered that, could we see Sauën she’d be in the first of Kassis’s Genet. No! I rode home fast as I dared in the Darkness and prepared myself for the morrow.

The next day I returned, ready to give my name, my clan and my place of origin. Timely arrived, they would not look disapprovingly on me.

The truvidiren looked with surprise at me when I said I came from Bisaplan’s Land.

“It was hardly worth you coming here,” said the one who recorded my name—which meaning I mistook and I blushed.

“The Games are being held at Isle Ardy,” he explained. “Isn’t that on Bisaplan’s kin-land?”

The other truvidir answered him before I’d as much as prepared my mouth. “Aye it is. But he still needs to be here. There’s the banquet tonight; he shouldn’t miss that. And we need to know how many candidates there’ll be.”

“How many are there?” I asked.

“Now you’ve arrived, eleven. There may be more as yet to come.”

Eleven! That wasn’t how I’d imagined it. Had Saram called on all of them? Had he drawn us all together? And if so, why? Saram knew who the True Heir was; why could he not have told that one and that one alone, the way that I thought he had told me? Aye well, maybe he had. Maybe I was the only one he had spoken to in such a way, with signs. Maybe the other ten candidates were nothing more than hopeful.

“The others are in the King’s House,” the truvidir said, waving his hand in that direction. “Your horse can be left with the others. Over there,” he gestured again, this time in the opposite direction, “in the King’s Stables. There’s to be a banquet tonight, the King’s Wife will be serving brew. So I’ll say to you as I’ve said to them all. Do not drink too much. Else you’ll be ill and  regret it.”

I vowed not a drop would touch my lips.

The truvidir laughed, saying, “It’s only at the feasts that we use straws.”

I wanted to answer him, ‘Aye, but it’s only we Alsimuk and the Eskin who sup it thus.’ The plant-clans, they call us. The others—Querkant, Bukplugent and Krisvint—they use big drinking-pots.

I had been to this King’s Hold on the Highlands many times, both as a child with my father when he was delivering the King’s Takes, and also alone when I came of age. That had been but a trik before that ugly black worm had risen up out of the north and spread his wings across our land, covering us in perpetual night. So I knew which building was the King’s House. I knew which were the doors to use—the double-doors set deep in the porch. But, despite the truvidir had waved his arm in that direction, I wasn’t at all sure of how to find the stables. The perpetual Darkness did nothing to help me. But Kottir did.

At the time, Kottir was just a man who happened to be close enough to see when I tripped on an old tree-stump and my shield flew out of my hand and up into the air, spinning before it landed ahead of me.

“I’d take that as an omen,” he said. He was laughing.

He picked up the shield and returned it to me.

“Am I in the right direction for the stables?” I asked him.

“You’re nearly there,” he said. “Here, let me carry something for you. You look as if you’re unused to carrying so much.”

“I’m used to a staff, a spear, a prod and a sling,” I said.

He nodded his understanding. “So you don’t want to spend your days in herding either.”

“I was happy to do just that,” I told him, “until the Darkness came. But someone has to do something about that Draksen.”

He nodded again, and took my sword and dagger from me while I tended to the horse Heglayis.

“These have been well-crafted,” he remarked, looking more closely at them, turning them over in his hands.

I knew what he was thinking: How did a simple Alsimuk herder come by these?

“They were a gift,” I said.

“From one who obviously believes you will win,” he said, handing them back to me once I’d finished with Heglayis.

“Kottir,” he introduced himself, “from Du Dlida. My father’s a trader. Clan Bukplugn.”

I glanced back at Heglayis, Clan Bukplugn too.

“So he’s a borrowed horse?” Kottir asked without the need for clearly he already knew. “A borrowed horse and gifted weapons. Someone wants you to win.”

“Saram,” I said.

“Oh well,” he said, “if Saram intends for you to win, the rest of us may as well go home.”

“I admit I’m surprised at how many are here,” I said.

“It makes for a good display,” Kottir said. His eyes had a way of sparkling as if they were laughing of their own accord. But that laughter was encouraging, not ill-meant. “Saram enjoys a good display. So I am told.”

By now we were walking back to the King’s House. I was surprised at Kottir’s friendliness. I wondered if the other candidates would be as friendly.


Will the other candidates be as friendly as Kottir? But Kottir knows he will win, and can afford to be friendly. While Ingobo, young, untried, and awkwardly laden with Saram’s gifts to him, is a guaranteed target for mockery and scorn. Next episode, Consternations and Accusations

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About crimsonprose

After years as a multi-colour octopus in entertainment, now chilling and writing
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15 Responses to Befriended

  1. Brian Bixby says:

    Well, points to Kottir, anyhow. I hope Ingobo can pick up some of his sang froid. And have a drink . . . but not too much. We’re veering into “buddy pic” territory here. Is Kottir as friendly toward all the other contestants?

    • crimsonprose says:

      No, it’s not going to be a ‘buddy pic’. And yea, Kottir is kinda friendly to most folk. He’s a nice chap. Well, that’s what the writer wanted to show. 🙂

      • Brian Bixby says:

        She succeeded. Unless this is actually a mask and he’s really an agent of the Darkness, trying to kill the real “Chosen of Saram.”

      • crimsonprose says:

        I like that concept. Why didn’t I think of it? No, I think if anyone is going to kill the ‘Chosen of Saram’ it’ll be King Burdamon, since he appears to be in the employ of the nasty Nritrin. Then again, maybe Burdamon is the Chosen One. As I said in the introductory blurb, the King’s Wife tells of the events that lead to the fall of the Alsaldic Empire. One assumes that will be at the hands of the Nritrin. But maybe not. It could just grumble from within. Especially if the new king isn’t the True Heir etc. 🙂

      • Brian Bixby says:

        Well, my bet would be on the King’s Wife causing the downfall, because I’m simple-minded. 🙂

      • crimsonprose says:

        And you’ve just read my email. But no, while she is central to what happens, of herself she doesn’t cause it. I’m giving more of a spoiler than that.

    • crimsonprose says:

      As to query of ‘got a-back that horse they had’ etc, no, that’s exactly how I wanted it. It’s not so much ‘Norfolk’ grammar as ‘less educated grammar’ which tends to be called ‘rural’, plus it’s an ON term (which just happens to be an Early Dane term, which just happens to be a Norfolk mid-C20th term. Get used to it. The story I’m now working on has one or two such ‘Norfolk Danisms’. 🙂

      • Brian Bixby says:

        Oookay. Will you start speaking with the Norfolk whine next? 😉

      • crimsonprose says:

        I’ve always thought of it as a Norfolk ‘drawl’. I know a chap who takes three times as long to say what another would take three times less to say, so slow is his Norfolk drawl.

      • Brian Bixby says:

        Aye, the “whine” is the term that was used to describe the accent several centuries ago. The old Yankee accent is thought to have derived form that.

      • crimsonprose says:

        In which case, I think it more likely that the Texans took on the Norfolk speech patterns, although I know full-well, that most Norfolkians (or at least East Anglians) settled the New England area. One has only to look at the placenames.

      • Brian Bixby says:

        We (editorial) will not insult Norfolkians by blaming them for Texas, which was settled by Appalachian hillbillies.

      • crimsonprose says:

        And there we are back to that word ‘rural’ again. So what I mean? Which is why every local dialect around the UK is now frequently aired on TV (even on BBC), but never the Norfolk dialect. And why? Cos it sounds uneducated. As if Scouse, Scots, Geordie and Brum does not. The exception (and I love the man for it) is a West Country archaeologist who was a main member of the TV series ‘Time Team’ and who spoke as broad as he could. He did much for to take the stigma off rural dialects and accents. Alas, the only Norfolkian to hit countrywide coverage was way back in ’70s when The Singing Postman had a hit with ‘Av Yer Got A Light Gal?’

      • crimsonprose says:

        Gosh, not heard that for years. And I got the year wrong (well I was very young at the time!). But purists would say that his ‘Norfolk’ accent was more like Lincolnshire. Or maybe it’s merely West Norfolk. Fenlands.

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