Misput Fealties: Chapter 2

… Continued from Chapter 1/Cont.

The Next Day

His half-open eyes saw…leaves swaying in the breeze above him, waving to him across the sky, falling to the ground. He lay wrapped in his cloak and listened to the birds while the light hardened into day. The rising sun gave the tops of the trees a golden hue.  Everything was changing; he felt it – feared it – but he couldn’t stop thinking about it.

They set off along the A1067 at a mellow stride, with the early sun warming their backs and birdsong everywhere in the trees. They had gone less than two hundred metres where they stopped by a great patch of brambles and breakfasted on berries. A great thicket, no doubt full of fruit, hid the rubble, but they had no yearning to delve. Locksley Hall had fallen onto hard times after the War, and then it had burned down – a dodgy affair. He could see it as it used to be <Locksley Hall: Images> a cheesy 21st Year-hundred theme park makeover of an earlier manor. After ten minutes or so they stopped eating and walked on. They talked, wiping their mouths and laughing at the mess. Swan tried to pick some seeds out of his teeth with a fingernail.

“Well,” Mavis said. “Are you ready to be a Seer?”

“Yes,” he said. “Kindly.”

“Yes, you are, Swan. ‘You have done well, my young Padowan’!”

They laughed.

“Shouldn’t it be <Done well, my young Padowan, you have. Yes, hmm?>”

“Do not gainsay me.” Mavis giggled. “I’m still your Teacher.” She sighed. “But not for much longer.”

He looked across at her as they walked. Mavis seemed light in mood as if worry had lifted off her shoulders, but she also looked tired and somehow older.

“Your training is over. In truth, I ran out things to teach you months ago, and you’ve already done things that some Seers never do.”

“Thank you, Teacher.”

“Well, I guess it shouldn’t astound,” she went on, looking ahead. “I took more chances with you than I dared with the other two. I let you sleep wearing the Stone from a young age – some folk were shocked – but you’d never known any great fear, and you didn’t have any bad dreams.”

(Or did she say ‘many’? He couldn’t think back which, later, when it seemed important.)

They came to a road junction. Straight ahead, the A1067 began to skirt the borough in a wide sweep to the right; to the left, the Norwich Road went straight into Fakenham through houses with allotments on either side. They kept left, and their stride slowed right down as they were greeted by everyone, dwellers and fellow wayfarers alike. Everyone knew Mavis and her learner; they smiled and waved and greeted them warmly, and they all looked at Swan as if they knew him and what was going on.

Everyone chatted to Mavis and told her some gossip, most of which they knew already. Had they heard? So-and-so sent their best; Missy had had the baby, a boy/girl/stillborn. Granny had died; their eldest was now a learner miller. It had been a good harvest; there was a new fishing boat in the wick; what’s-his-name had run off with next door’s missus. That odd-looking kid down the road was causing woe again; old Pa Scrote was always pissed now, etcetera, etcetera and et-bloody-cetera. Everyone knew everyone else’s business and made comment upon it: a tight fellowship – how kind.   

At last, they turned off the thoroughfare and made it to the Blacksmith’s, an aged, yellow-brick house next to some old trading units. Mavis smiled at Swan’s scowl and squeezed his arm. She knocked on the door and it was opened by the smith, who grinned and pulled Mavis into his arms, whereupon she burst into tears and sobbed into his chest. They had ended up at this house every few weeks for as long as Swan had known, but he wasn’t used to Mavis getting so overwrought when she saw Buck, and, for the first time, he felt that he was in the way.

Sadly, that’s it for now!

The story began … here.

More about ‘Misput Fealties’ here.

Please leave a comment, below.

Misput Fealties: Chapter 1

Continued from Prologue 3.

Once Upon a Future Time

They had stopped for the night near the burned-out shell of Locksley Hall. Hedges and trees lined both sides of the crumbling road as it stretched away through the rich, settled farmland. They had chosen to leaguer by a junction on the 1067 A-road, in the shelter of an unkempt hedge in fall hues; by Yule, the leaves would be gone, carried away by the winds. He had set their hearth of stones on a parched grassy patch, facing a farmhouse with black weather-boarding and a red slate roof. Next to it, a crop-dusting plane sat in long grass and played host to a tree growing out of the cockpit.

He lit a fire. It had been oddly dry, hence the early hue in the leaves, and the tinder caught readily. He whistled on the small blaze to grow it and eked plastic flasks gathered from the endless yield the hedgerows plucked from the wind – the fire caught well in the sun-bleached Forebear stuff. Satisfied the fire would not go out, he stood up and broke some branches over his knee while he looked about. His Teacher had gone to call on the farmer over the road, showing fitting etiquette, as a Seer should. He was sure they were having a brew while he set up their leaguer, but that was a learner’s work. He applied himself and wondered what business the evening would bring.

Two snared hares hung from a branch and he set about readying them.

He slid his sharp knife through the fur into the hare’s belly and slit down. Shoving his fingers in to pull the guts out, he threw them onto the fire before turning the animal upside down to ring the shanks and cut between them to the arsehole. He wiped the blade clean on the fur, sheathed it, and carefully skinned the hide off the small body, teasing it off the head and ears. Laying the first hare on some banana leaves, he quickly skinned the second. There was both mint and hedge garlic to stuff them, and the smell made his mouth water. He tied the coneys by the feet to a long stick, which he propped over the fire. While they began to cook, he scraped the hides carefully; these little paws had not been so lucky. Unasked, the memory of his childish tears at killing his first hare came back and his face reddened.

“We only kill what we eat,” he said to himself.

“That’s right, Swan.”

“Oh, you’re – yes, Teacher.” Swan stood, seeing the farmer with her.

Mavis smiled. “You know Mrs Thursford, Swan? She’s kindly let us keep here.”

He carefully wiped and inspected his hand before shaking Mrs Thursford’s.

“Good to meet you, ma’am, won’t you eat with us?”

Mavis looked satisfied.

“Yes, thank you, Mr Abbot,” replied the farmer.

“Kindly call me Swan, Mrs Thursford, I’m still a learner.”

Mrs Thursford smiled and swapped a meaningful look with his Teacher.

My time is coming; it’s almost here.

For months, they had circled Fakenham, and the Holiday started there tomorrow. He would take his oaths and end his learner-ship in his nineteenth year; Mavis would break her Stone in two and give half to him. In only a few months, his half would grow whole and he would be a fully-fledged Seer. Then he could follow Mavis’ other learners, he had heard so much about them, been likened to them often enough, into the wider world and delve about Albion. He thought about it when he woke, at meals, as they walked, as he worked and as he went to sleep. How he longed to see with his own eyes what he had only seen through the Stone, the world outside the Holm, beyond the thrice-yearly circuit that they trudged, oh-so-slowly, about the wicks and small boroughs.

The story continues … here.

More about ‘Misput Fealties’ here.

Please leave a comment, below.