Wednesday, 26 December 2007

A Medieval Story [Part 4]

The tavern was loud and busy that night, which was expected considering the number of knights and men occupying the space. Pembroke and Orionus were playing some guessing game with the womenfolk, while Galahad and Gawain were challenging each other at knife-throwing. Bors was, as usual, ordering more ale to be brought in his loud hollers, and some other knights were laughing at a story told by Ganis. Guinevere was in a corner, helping Vanora with her ever-growing brood of children as Gilly, Bors' eldest dueled with Lucan using practice swords a little way off. Talwen was laughing as she watched them, joined by Lyndon, Feich and Branwyn, Bors and Vanora's children.

Meanwhile, Saoirse was leading Tadhg into the main palace, showing him his room. 'That's the one,' she said quietly, jerking her head at a door. Cautiously, Tadhg pushed the door open gently, revealing a comfortable-looking room with a bed, a table and a couple of chairs. A shelf stood on one side, right next to a large partition that had been put up. On the other side of the partition was a huge wooden tub.

Looking pleased, Tadhg started to walk in before realizing something. He turned around. 'Where are my things?'

Saoirse looked puzzled. 'Aren't they here? I specifically told Jols that your clothing should be brought to your room.'

Tadhg gave a soft shrug. 'Well, they're missing right now.' He didn't sound as suprised as Saoirse was. He thought a while. 'Where's your room, milady?'

Raising an eyebrow, she led him to her chamber two doors down. Opening the door, Saoirse walked in, allowing Tadhg a rare glimpse at her room. It was bright and cheery, and had the same furniture as there was in Tadhg's so-called room, with some changes; there was also a writing desk and another shelf full of books and various scrolls. As his eyes swept around the room, they fell on a familiar-looking bundle of clothing, washed and dried, neatly folded and stacked on the shelf next to various articles of Saoirse's clothing.

Noticing his gaze, Saoirse looked in the direction of his eyes and saw his clothes the same time he did. 'Why are your clothes in my room?' she asked, turning to him. Tadhg shrugged, moving towards the bed, lying down as he settled himself comfortably. 'It's obvious your father the King has no intent of letting either of us go free--' here, he held up his right hand and shook his, reminding them of the cuffs that bound them to each other, '--before I tame you,' he paused, 'as your friend so, uh, eagerly put it.'

Crossing her arms with difficulty, Saoirse finally gave it up and walked across to the bed, sitting down as she leaned back. 'So what do we do to make him let us go?' she asked silently. It had finally occured to her that no matter what she did to protest, Tadhg was just going to have to spend the night in her room. Tadhg raised a brow delicately as he shifted into a seating position. 'Well, very obviously we can't, but your mother might put in a good word for us.'

Saoirse started to speak then shut her mouth and smiled. 'Oh, the cleverness of you.' There was an admiring tone in her voice when she spoke.

Tadhg laughed self-consciously. 'You really think so?'

The smile disappeared. 'Nay.'

Tadhg snorted. So much for that praise. He sat up. 'Well, in any case, I would like a wash before I retire for the night.'

He smirked at the horror on Saoirse's face. 'Just because we're bound together, Tadhg, I am not going to be ordered around by you.' Her face was hard.

'I wouldn't dream of such a thing.' Sarcasm was heavy, and they both knew it. 'Whatever made you think so, oh, Princess mine?'

Saoirse scoffed. 'One, I am not your princess. Two, considering we're tied together, I'd hate to know what lies underneath your tunic.' She then gave a mischievous grin. 'Not that there is much to see.'

Tadhg groaned. 'Now that was just plain insulting!' Rolling on his side, he started tickling her in the ribs. She gave a soft shriek and retaliated by poking him in the side as well. Guffawing loudly, Saoirse almost fell off the bed but Tadhg leaned back, using the chain to pull her up. She looked at him with a twinkle in her eyes. 'I suppose I'll have to say "Thank you for saving me", eh, Tadhg, knight?'

'Save it,' he said shortly, grinning. 'You're not going to thank me for what I'm about to do next.'

'Which is...?'

He responded by poking her viciously in the sides, causing her to shriek again. She sat up to evade him, but the chain that bound them only let her go so far. With a hard tug, she collasped onto Tadhg, her merry laughter fading as she looked straight at him. He smiled back softly. 'I have not seen you laugh for a long time. You should do it more often.' Gently, he rolled onto his right side, setting her down on the bed with ease. Saoirse, in turn, could not lift her eyes of this man who reminded her of Aodhfin. She continued to stare at him.

In his respect, he didn't seem ruffled by her look. Glancing through the window, he saw that the tavern was bright, lighted with as many lamps and torches of fire as the place could possible hold. Around them, darkness filled as the moon rose.

Looking around, Tadhg noticed the candle burning brightly on the corner of Saoirse's desk. Turning to her, he gave a look, asking her permission silently. She responded with a soft nod. Without turning, his free hand moved, and she heard a small thunk as his knife hit the flame of the candle, snuffing it out. Darkness was immediate, and the room was only lit by the far away blaze of fire from the tavern. Elsewhere, it was silent. Saoirse knew that besides the servants working in the kitchens on the south side of the palace, they were the only people there. Everyone else was at the tavern, and those who weren't at the tavern were in their own homes, situated further off from the palace.

They were now on their sides, looking at each other in the moonlight. Saoirse's left hand, which was chained to Tadhg's right, was lying in the space left between them. Looking at him, she now noticed the resemblance. 'Do you,' she hesitated, 'do you know of a man named Aodhfin?'

Tadhg was so silent she thought he hadn't heard. But in the end he spoke, 'He was my brother. He left long ago to tutor the daughter of the Roman Commander turned king, Arthur Castus.' Saoirse blinked in surprise. 'I noticed the ring he gave you,' Tadhg continued. 'My ring.'

Saoirse's hand dipped into her tunic and pulled out the said ring, dangling from the chain around her neck. She made to remove it when a hand on hers stopped her. She looked up to see Tadhg with a question in his eyes. And so she explained, 'The ring is yours. Now that you have come, the ring should be returned to its master. I am but a temporary keeper.'

She held it out for him, but Tadhg closed Saoirse's hand over the ring, and brushed his lips over her hand gently. 'It has been with you so many years, that I fear to part it from you. Keep it; it is yours.' He then kissed her softly on the forehead, running his fingers through her hair to soothe her. 'Get some rest. The hour is late, and we have many things to do tomorrow.' Saying thus, he watched her silently until she fell asleep before he followed suit, covering both of them with a blanket.

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