I have now been in Warwick for seven months, it is the middle of spring and the days have been quite pleasant recently, although the rumour around the castle is that there is a huge storm coming. Farmers close to Warwick are preparing for the worst. However some good news was that Edmund, William's eldest son was to be arriving home tomorrow. I was glad he was coming home, seven months with just Arthur as company is always too long. At least it has been seven months away from home. Away from my family.
William has had guests coming from different Kingdoms, I think he wants Arthur to become friendly with some of them. However he has been repeatedly asking me about if I want to invite anyone into the kingdom, and when I answer no he always suggests young Kings and Princes to me. I usually laugh and turn my head away from him.
That morning when I woke up I slipped into my blue dress and Alice soon came into my room. She tied the dress at the back quite tightly and then made her way around my room, cleaning it whilst she went. I then made my way down to breakfast.
As we sat around the long dining room table in the large Great Hall. It was used for banquets, festivals, and so on. Although the King ate each meal in there. It was a large wide room, the main entrance was the large doors which partially made that room to what it was. There was a spiral staircase to the right of the entrance where there was a balcony and a small side door where important guests made their entrance to the party. The whole room was grandly decorated with some of the King's finest collections to some magnificent paintings, of which I adored, but common people probably knew none of. The King took a great fancy of art, he admired the time and effort each painting held within its frame. He had a good eye of spotting a masterpiece when he came across one.
At the beginning of breakfast the King turned to me, "We are expecting Edmund home this morning, he sent a message that he had finished early." I enlightened with a smile.
"What has Edmund been doing for seven months outside of Warwick?"
"Important business." He said no more on the matter after that. His face turn grim and I saw it was a subject he was not willing to talk to me about.
When the time came I was sat against the far side of the wall in the courtyard, watching some knights fool around in the grass area in the middle. Then he came. He entered through the archway, looking like a real knight. I hadn't seen him in years. He now had short black hair, not the curly hair he had as a child. He had more muscles and looked braver somehow. He was quite tall, taller than me anyway. He slowly strode into the courtyard, with his horse by his side, following his steps.
Arthur stole Edmund first. He greeted his brother with a large handshake. William soon appeared and greeted his son. All the knights gathered around Edmund and all gave him a cheer. Whatever he had been up to in that time away from Warwick everybody was proud of him and unlike me they probably knew what his work consisted of.
It wasn't until that night when Edmund found me in the large garden which Warwick held. I was laid down next to the river which flowed through Warwick's garden and out to where the arena was for the jousting. I was looking up to the night's sky, and the million stars which were placed up there. "May I?"
"My pleasure," I answered. He lay down next to me, so close I could hear the soft sound of his breathing.
"People tell me that you arrived in quite a state." He paused to listen to my reply but nothing came so he continued, taking his eyes of me and looking up to the sky. "How is your leg?"
"It was seven months ago Edmund, it's fully healed." He sat up and looked me in the eye.
"Why are you in a mood with me? What have I done?" I gave him a cold look, and then turned sharply away, playing with my curly hair with my fingers.
"What have you been doing?" I gave a sigh. "Where have you been, Edmund?" He lay back down and also gave a sigh. Did I mean so little to him that he couldn't tell me what was going on?
"You didn't come to dinner."
"I wasn't hungry." I sat up and looked around at the garden. No one was there, it was late and too cold for sensible people. He came behind me and wrapped his arms around my waist, pulling me towards him. I leant my head against his solder and slowly closed my eyes, I whispered, "I've missed you."
"Six years is always too long."
The next morning I got dressed again and headed down to the Great Hall for breakfast. I took my new seat next to Edmund. The King immediately smiled at me and asked, "You didn't come to dinner last night, why not?"
"I wasn't hungry, sire."
"Well there is a feast tonight to celebrate Edmund's home coming. I presume you will be attending that?" I nodded. "Also there is to be a huge festival to be held here in Warwick. We will be harbouring a few guests."
"A few?" Arthur said, he was clearly not looking forward to it. He father snarled at him and then turned back to me.
"They will be staying here for the duration of the festival and some may want to stay further. It will be quite entertaining and there is a guest quite egger to be introduced to you." I sighed under my breath, I didn't want to be in a relationship.
"William... Don't you think..."
"He's perfect for you, trust me Scarlet."
"Sire I don't think..."
"Anyway, they all arrive in four days time." Edmund turned to me with the expression on his face which told me to leave it, we both knew that I would never get a word in to object to the King. "A lot of people are coming so the Castle will be busy with guests. Edmund, I would like you and Arthur to sort out the arrangements for the tournament, I have gave Arthur the list of all the visitors and all the men who are entering the tournament, including some of our own knights."
After breakfast I got changed into my riding clothes and headed out to the stables. When I was crossing the courtyard Cedric saw me and came over. He started talking but I interrupted, "Cedric I'll see you later today." I tried to smile and then I ran to the stables.
When I mounted Vicky and raced her out of the Warwick gates and I was soon in the forest. I followed the path and didn't once look back to the Castle. The wind blew through my hair, it was a nice breeze. I needed to get out of there for a few moments. I didn't want to get married, my father had had plenty of times trying, has no one got the drift I don't want to get married?
I rode for over an hour, but I knew Vicky needed to relax, so did I. We stopped at a small village just inside the border of William's Kingdom. You would have never found me on the other side of that border. That land was owned by King Harold, he and William were not the best of allies. I supposed that was why William was holding the festival, just another way to renew the peace treaties with everyone and probably try to bond a little closer to Harold.
I stopped outside a tavern named 'The Horizon'; I tied Vicky to one of the poles outside and entered through a thin, wooden, squeaky door. There were a few men in drinking but it was quiet because it was before noon. I sat down at one of the stools and the old man, whom I presumed owned the tavern, grunted and the young man and he made his way over to me. He gave a sweet smile and asked me what I wanted, I just ordered a simple cider and then let the liquid flow down my throat while I tried to relax and forget about the festival.
Although it didn't matter the number of drinks I had, it didn't matter how hard I tried to think of something else it wouldn't get out of my mind. Around one o'clock I headed outside, I walked over to Vicky and slowly stoked her thick, brown, silky skin. "That's a beautiful horse you got there." I looked around to try and track where the voice and come from. He soon revealed himself, he came opposite me. He as well began to groom Vicky on her other side. He was the man who had served me in the tavern. He had a drink in his hand; I had come to the conclusion that he must have been his break because the owner of the tavern didn't look like the man who would tolerate lacking.
"Thank you." I smiled, admiring how elegant she looked. "She is doing exceptional for her age."
"She defiantly is." He said with a small laugh, and then he looked up to me. "You're not so bad yourself." I smiled and then turned my attention to the massive hills that were to my right. "You're not a common visitor here." I shook my head in confirmation. "Just visiting or are you looking for somewhere to stay?" I smiled once again but then sighed at the fact I would have to return to the Castle at one point.
"I wish I could stay." I said with full honesty.
"Well that's a shame, a real shame... Well, maybe I'll see you around another time." I smiled and mounted Vicky. He gave me one last smiled and then I galloped off back the dreaded Castle.
I arrived back in the stables early afternoon. I went straight to my chambers, grabbed a piece of parchment out of my draw, grabbed a pen and curled myself up on my window sill, looking out down to beneath me to the courtyard. I began to draw the man from the small village. Something to take my mind of things. However I started to think about it, what if the King had already arranged a marriage? I soon dismissed that idea completely, the King wouldn't do something like that. I hadn't even met him yet.
When it was coming up to six o'clock on the huge mechanical clock, which was placed above the huge archway leading to the outer ground of Warwick Castle, and directly in my eyesight from my window, I started to get ready for the feast which was being held for Edmund return. I got dressed into my divine purple dress, then there was knock at my door. Alice had just finished tying up my hair in a neat style at the back of my head, with a lot of braiding involved. Edmund entered moments after the knock and smiled once he saw me. He was dress very finely. He looked smart but very handsome at the same time. "You look gorgeous, Scarlet." Alice stood up, signally she had finished dressing me up, she bowed and then left the room. I also stood, walked over to my dresser, and opened a very delicate box which my Mother had left me before she died. Inside it held the most precious necklace I owned, it was silver with a large ruby stud in the middle, it was then decorated with smaller rubies around the neck piece. I lifted it to my neck and stepped to my left to face the long mirror.
"Would you mind?" Edmund silently came over and took the necklace and attached it together around my neck. My eyes stayed traced on his, when he was finished he met my gaze and I quickly smiled. I smoothed my dress down, then he took my arm and we walked down the corridor.
We entered the Great Hall via the balcony, everyone stood up when we entered, I knew it was all for Edmund but it was quite thrilling watching everyone stand whilst you entered. The Great hall looked astonishing, everything look brighter than usual. The room was filled with the knights at Warwick, which Edmund regularly trained with, the King of course, and others, only a few I recognised. We slowly walked down the staircase and Edmund took his place at the end of the table, he was faced by his father but the King was seated on the other side of the room so well out of reach. I was thankful he could not talk to me about the festival which was fast approaching. Sadly, however I was sat opposite Arthur, and in talking distance.
We all sat down the one by one each servant brought out a huge looked dish to decorate the table even further. I spotted my glass was already full of wine and started by drinking a large proportion of it.
Throughout the course of the night Edmund tried to make a conversation between Arthur and me but he knew it wouldn't turn out how he wanted to. However, Arthur seemed to be more polite to me tonight.
The feast flew by and soon I found myself walking behind the crowd outside to the courtyard. Most of the knights had gotten drunk, Edmund had also, and they all thought it was a good idea to go to the local tavern in the village to buy some more drinks and gamble over stupid games where you always seem to lose money and never win. I started to laugh when I saw the large group of drunken men head towards the village. Some of the villages would get a fright if they found Edmund, the heir to the throne, unconscious on one of the streets tomorrow morning.
I didn't go to my chambers after the feast had ended I simply wandered my way to the gardens and soon found myself once again sat down against a tree trunk in the rose garden. It was my favourite flower, the rose. Edmund's first present to me as a child was a white rose. I was fascinated about the delicate petals and the stunning shape it made when the flower had blossomed. It was the right time at the moment for the roses to blossom; in the result of this the garden looked splendid.
It was late at night when I was still sitting there, you would have thought all animals would be asleep but as I sat and stared at the beauty which surrounded me one small little bird hopped along the grass in front of me. It let out a pleasant tune while it danced across the grass. The river was flowing slowly past me, the moon light shining down on the surface of the water. I thought of my mother and wondered what life she wanted me to have. Did she want me to obey orders and marry the man William will present to me in four days time? Or did she want me to do what I thought was right? However I did not know if my thoughts were always the right ones.
As I sat there I thought about a children's nursery rhyme my mother taught me. I hummed the tune, I had forgotten the words but the tune was firmly stuck in my mind. Arthur appeared through the hedges of roses and slowly came towards me. "What do you want Arthur? Come to argue about something?"
"No. It was a lovely song you were humming there."
"Just something I remember when I was a child." He smiled and came and sat down against the same tree trunk but to the side of me. I couldn't see his face, I would only be able to hear his voice.
"Are you looking forward to the festival?"
"Arthur why are you asking me this? You hate me."
"I don't hate you." I let out a groan, I didn't want to talk to him. "So, are you looking forward to the festival?"
"Did you enjoy the feast tonight?"
"Arthur just stop it! Why have you come to talk to me?"
"I'm starting to see why Edmund likes you so much."
"I've spent seven months here, we have hardly talked to one another and now when Edmund comes home you suddenly want to be friendly towards me?" I stood up shaking my head in disbelief. I walked briskly back to the Castle. What did Arthur want? Was he jealous seeing me and Edmund actually being friends?
The next morning I woke up early and got ready for church. It was Sabbath day and I attended a mass each morning with the King. There was a private chapel in the Castle so it was a nice place to spend time with God for a while and not have to worry about things happening on the outside world. I thought Edmund would not attend the service today, he probably wouldn't be feeling too well after last night.
After the mass this morning I would have usually gone to dine with the King however when I was leaving the chapel I saw Cedric entering the door that led up to his room. I remembered from yesterday he tried to tell me something before I rushed off on my horse. I decided to miss lunch and I was now eager to know what Cedric wanted.
I knocked on his door and entered the room of healing and treatment. He smiled at my arrival. "Sorry Cedric, I totally forgot that you wanted to see me."
"That's fine, I actually need your help with something." I walked over to him, curious what help he wanted of me. I stood next to him and look down at the table where he had a book open. There was a list of flowers and a few diagrams. "You know that flowers and herbs are vital in some medicine and antidotes." I nodded. I did a large course about them all when I lived in my father's Castle. I used to have a tutor who would teach me about all different wild flowers and plants, and so on. I was interested in them, they occupied my time. "I am composing a new scrap book to help me sort out my things. I knew you were the person to go to and I heard that you are a pretty good artist." It was true, I had done many portraits since my arrival here in Warwick, the King has taken quite a fancy to some of them. "I was think you could help me out by going out and finding these ingredients and then bring some back for me."
"Sounds like fun." He smiled, happy he might get some work out of me.
"I will give you a map of where each requirement is usually grown. I would like you to locate the ingredient, draw it and its surroundings so I know in the future where I can find them and then bring some back. Then you can draw the plant up close identifying its features." I smiled at how pleased he looked.
"You've given me a lot of work to do, Cedric."
"Scarlet, I am one of the few people who know you the best and since Edmund is getting drunk recently he hasn't had time to occupy your time before Wednesday." He was right, he knows me too well. However I didn't want him to do this just because he wanted to help me with my problems.
"And this will help your work? I'm not just..."
"It will, greatly. The first flower is a Multylm."
"I'm familiar with it."
"Good, it is located on one of the far out villages, near the border of King Harold. Whatever you do Scarlet don't cross that border." I knew the village he was talking about, as I visited it only yesterday. He handed me a map which I most certainly wouldn't use. He then told me to get out and go do his job for him, that was Cedric for you. He always put work before manners and other things important which seem minor to him.
I rushed up to my chambers got changed into my riding clothes, tied my hair up into a simple ponytail, my hair was extra curly since last night when I had my hair up in a plate. I grabbed my bag, stuck the unhelpful map inside and also placed my ink and a few pieces of parchment inside.
The trip to the village was quite pleasant, it had certainly taken my mind of things. I tied Vicky up to a pole outside the tavern again. I then saw the same man whom I talked to yesterday exit the tavern and walk towards me with a smile on his face. "Hello again." I said.
"I didn't think you would come back." He grinned.
"Well I'm only staying for a while, I actually need to do some work." His faced dropped slightly.
"Can I help with anything?"
"Well, actually I am trying to find a flower not too far away from here. I wonder if you know it, it is a small flower with bright purple petals, normally grows in clusters of three or four?"
"I think I might." My face lightened up at his news.
"Could you take me there?"
"Yeah, sure." I smiled. I quickly took my bag off Vicky's saddle and followed him.
We walked for a while, but it gave me time to talk to him, get to know him more. The first basic information I found out was that his name was, Oliver. He looked after his two little sisters because he was left with no one after his mother died and his father had disappeared years ago.
We had trekked for a long time when I was getting tired. "Nearly there." He encouraged me. I was hoping he had the right flower or all this work was for nothing. We soon reached the top of a hill. No one could stand there and not let out a huge smile. You could see over hill, and hill, and hill. The sun gleaming on your face, the wind blew past you. I untied my hair and let it blow wild. Oliver beckoned me over to the side of the hill were there were a few trees. When I got closer I saw the tiny, delicate flowers growing there at the side of the tree.
"Oh my goodness, thank you Oliver." I sat down beside them and let my finger trace lightly over the top of one of the petals. "The thing that makes them so unique is the white tear drop that appears only on one petal in a cluster." I took my bag of my shoulder and got my equipment ready to draw the flowers. I had to include the beautiful view you can see from the high up in the picture. "Oh, I need to draw them and do some work on them, I think I will be able to find my way back if you have other things to attend to Oliver."
"No its fine I have time to watch." I smiled and he sat down beside me and watched as I decorated the piece of parchment with ink.