Merrick, the guard lets you adjust his helm, you note that he has already tried padding it, but your attempt is certainly an improvement. “Opiter is on duty in the courtyard” the other tells you, “Er… well, the head of the garrison is in the palace. If you need to speak with him, I suppose we can let you in”.
Ùisdean opens his mouth to reply to you Owain, but a shake of the head of Gaius, and he retreats and sits back down. Gaius, in an instant is all smiles and geniality once more, and food is summoned for the higher nobles in the gardens, yourself included as their guest.
Owain is not exactly certain of everything going on here. Has Gaius set him up, pretending to favour Logres as an excuse to get Owain to talk and thus mobilise sentiment against his country in other more closed discussions?
(An Intrigure roll I guess, if allowed?)
Absolutely you can make an intrigue roll!
(I’m not expecting much here, but a nice way to show Owain’s discomfort at such courtly things.
d20: 6 vs 5 Intrigue)
Gaius seems to be genuinely favouring Logres, and seems to be leading these nobles with a sway that you can’t understand. They do what he says, without question, even inturrupting themselves in full argument, at a mere nod. You have seen Kings with such power, but never a courtier, no matter how important.
Whatever grasp he has on the rest of the court seems to have it’s limits though, he appears to be unable to affect the advice the court gives the king, and it is seemingly very important to him that the Logres treaty happens.
The courts opinions of a future re-establishment of a treaty seems to run counter to his. Even among those that disagree with him, there are three differing factions, if they unite, you sense it will be bad for Logres’ desire for a treaty, only their deadlock seems to be paralysing the court and leaving room for positivity about Logres to flourish.
(( I am trying so very hard not to relate this to real world stuff, but bloody hell! ))
“That would be nice, I do not want to be an imposition… Perhaps I can wait for them where you rest while not on duty, or somewhere else out of the way…”
Merrick thinks to himself: I wonder if Princeps Tullus is present… I will have to keep an eye out once inside to avoid seeming like I am barging in on him. I do not want to seem like I am infiltrating the villa…
Owain will eat relatively frugally, and will enjoy the opportunity to move away from talking on politics. If he can he’ll try to direct conversation onto topics of different types of warfare and weaponry, but considering that most here are not knights and probably not martially inclined, he will settle on learning about what entertainments or other distractions are currently in vogue at Malahaut’s court.
Owain, the rest of the evening is unremarkable and uneventful. The food is good, and by your standards there is no way to not eat frugally though they clearly see this as lavish. The entertainment is standard, musicians and jugglers and your hosts are cordial, but ultimately nobles of a Kings court and you see plots playing out beneath the surface of seemingly polite conversation throughout the evening.
Merrick, the boy shows you into the wing of the palace and inside, the entire place has been converted into a crude barracks. The boy shrugs “You can wait in the racks if you wish” he points to a room lined with beds, filled with sleeping soldiers “but you’ll be more comfortable in the gardens I would imagine. As soon as the Princeps arrives, I’ll have someone fetch you.”
You realise with perhaps some shock, that this nervous, green boy soldier is of a rank to command others!
Balen spends the rest of the evening seeking to remembering the names and faces of any knights he can, then retires for the night.
Merrick takes in his surroundings and thinks to himself: Was this the last line of defense during the siege? Are the other three villas in this condition? Are there no veteran soldiers who survived the fighting… Is Malahaut in that great of distress?
After a moment of consideration, he replies, “Normally, I would probably wait in the racks; but, as a soldier, I know how important it is to get proper sleep to be in top form and do not wish to disturb them. I think your suggestion of waiting in the garden may be best. Please show me the way, if you have time to.”
The gardens are not hard to find, and in them you find three soldiers, older than all of the others you’ve seen and they are not on duty, however they are in a tight huddle, and their armour gleams with freshly applied beeswax, their weapons are in perfect condition, but there is a nervous energy about them. You remember your years as a squire lining up for inspection by the knights and you recognise the signs.
Could you also give me an awareness check please Sir Merrick.
Merrick Awareness 12
You catch a glimpse of movement from the roof, but when you look, you only see a large raven, beak laden with moss taking off.
Looking up to the roof, Merrick thinks to himself: Strange… I thought… I saw something up there…
He pushes the thought from his mind and briefly observes the soldiers huddled together. He does not wish to startle them, but at the same time he does not want to be perceived as eaves dropping.
He will see if there is a bench away from the group and have his squires sit with the goods they carry. He will then observe the status of the plants in the garden. Are they foreign or native? Are they well maintained? are questions he will think to himself. He makes sure the soldiers are aware he is there and will see if any approach him first. If not, he will give them a bit of time (a few minutes) to finish what they are saying and then introduce himself.
(If he has to introduce himself. Will delete if they move first)
“Forgive me for interrupting your conversation, I am Sir Merrick knight of Sir Roderick, Earl Salisbury. I was hoping to speak to the head of the garrison and was told to wait here in the garden. If you are in need of privacy, my squires and I will relocate ourselves to give you it…”
There are no plants in the gardens, they have been converted into a makeshift parade ground.
As you approach the group of soldiers, they straighten up. One of them asks “Can I help you Sir…” The question hangs, he is asking your name.
“No, it’s fine, it’s our passing out today. Sometimes parents watch, only none of us have any, so…” the silence hangs, then finally “but it’s fine, you can wait here.”
Owain will take care to be a polite guest, and if there is any dancing will be unable to resist joining in. However he will look to leave at a suitable point without any risk of causing offence so he can report back to the Earl.
Merrick will look over the soldiers to see if they are suited up properly and look for anything which sticks out to him as being odd or improperly done. He is unsure what the soldier meant by: it is their “passing out”, but he assumes it is something special by the fact parents usually attend.
“I must admit, things are a bit different here than at home… But then again, there are plenty of differences between Salisbury and Silchester, and we are neighbors!” he says with a grin.
“If you do not mind my asking, what is this ‘passing out’ you mentioned?”
I don’t think Merrick is familiar enough with the Roman armour they wear, and they are presented to a very high standard that nothing is obviously wrong with them.
“Passing out” says one “Is our final inspection. Once we pass our sixteenth year, the Evocatorem visits, if he approves, we are accepted and given a shilling and if he does not, we retire and go home without pay.”
Merrick regards the strange armour and nods to the words spoken. The Roman ways seem to still be present, and ceremonies such as this show a strong connection to the past. Merrick had always heard rumours of how the Kingdom of Malahaut still clung to the Roman past and a notion lightly drifts through his mind:Clearly this is similar to how we promote a page to squire… But done in a different way… I wonder if they get a second chance if they do not pass the inspection and are found to be lacking…
Showing genuine interest in the subject, he asks, “I see… is this an elevation in rank? …An honour only bestowed on a select few? Is that why there are only the three of you present? …Or is this a ceremony which is broader and scope, but conducted in smaller numbers? …Pardon my ignorance, it seems similar to the practice we have at home, and I would not wish to assume so if not the case…”