Story for the Day: Vyrdin's Musings
The Galleisian War Saga is the prequel series to the main story. It begins with the birth of Boudicca's father, and ends with Alasdair's coronation. It's a huge project, encompassing about 150 years of Frewyn history, including the Brennin family feud, the Livanon Civil War, and the altercation with Gallei that brought everyone together. This particular piece is about Vyrdin, Boudicca and Alasdair's commander when they were in Tyfferim Company. He came to the keep as a fugitive and stayed to become one of Frewyn's greatest heroes. Enjoy.
The sun began its descent on the holiday eve, and as the varied hues of the gloaming winter skies cast its amber and indigo light over the capital, Ailineighdaeth broke upon Frewyn in a wave of mirthfulness and merriment: the bells from the church purled and resounded throughout the kingdom, songs and gaieties reigned, fires were lit and meals were pronounced, the mellifluous scent of spiced bread and baked apples billowed out from chimneys and cracked windows, a frigid gale wafted from the west bringing with it delicate snows to blanket the far countryside, children danced about in raptures over caramel apples and sweets buns, and Vyrdin observed the whole from his place on the battlements, remarking the festivity between the merlons with more equanimity than he had ever hitherto felt. He canted his head, scratched at his emerging beard, and wondered at whether he should not celebrate the holiday along with everyone else in the keep. He knew not whom to join, however, nor at which celebration he should be welcomed: he was a servant of some consequence, being the direct responsibility of the king, but he was also a sheltered pariah, making him unfit to dine with the rest of the keep’s esteemed staff, too below everyone to warrant a personal invitation, and too above the wretched to be regarded as an object of charity. He had little desire to be entreated to join someone’s table, but to see and to enjoy everything that a holiday in the capital could afford was his furtive aspiration. Never before had he been permitted to leave his position for a holiday; he was forever working, being given tasks to keep him from rest, and now that he was at liberty, here was Frewyn’s greatest holiday for his personal delectation: he might go anywhere he wished and do anything he liked, delighting in all the little minutiae of the celebration with private regale, but the thriving exultation of the keep and of the scene below was a trial to his senses. So much joviality and togetherness was foreign to him. His only desire was to witness, not to participate. He feared being welcomed, swarmed by generosity and kindliness. There was a solemnity to his fascination, the sensation of being included in one aspect and excluded in another, the feeling of forever being outside the realm of the society to whom he ought to belong. He looked grave upon the prospect of the kingdom under the ascendancy of the joyous celebration, and turned from it, unable to resign himself to sharing in any of its pleasures.
He returned to his private apartment with a pained heart. All the privations and cruelty he had endured during his time in Farriage had destroyed his powers at happiness. Where his heart persuaded him to celebrate, his head refuted such a claim. His mind wandered through his reasoning, telling himself again and again why he was unworthy of revelry, ill-suited for camaraderie, and forbidden from closeness. He stood at the centre of his room with clenched fists and downcast eyes, his tumbled hair lumbering over his brow, and his musing carried him through the many times he had begged the man who had made himself his master to share in one meal, one walk through town, one hour by the fire, one day of celebratory bliss, and was denied every humble request. Gifts were never to be mentioned, for he knew that such an appeal would be answered with vicious conduct. His holidays were spent in state of continual consternation, wondering whether he should be beaten for imaginary disobedience or for blatant ingratitude; he had been taken in, he had been sheltered and fed, his only directive was to work until his fingers broke and his hands bled and his body relinquished all claims to strength and forbearance. How dare he expect more than he deserved. Here was a pang: he had been taught to express his appreciation through work and recompense, and here he was standing about and pining after holiday festivities. It was ungrateful, it was unmerited, and altogether he reckoned that he did not deserve to be the object of anyone’s charity or consideration. He took up his slane from the corner of the room, prepared to cut peat from the unfrozen sward for His Majesty’s fire, when King Dorrin walked into the room.