keeps this site and its author alive.
Stories from the Verse
Verse Three, Chapter One
Chapter 58: Slade 19
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 57: Kondor 19
The last item in Slade's letter had concerned Shella. He had to be very careful how he phrased it, as he did not want it to be thought that he was proposing or even considering marriage. He only wished to offer her a place to live and study, as she had taken so much interest in her uncle's books. Her father had about given up trying to find a suitable husband for her (she said he thought too much of himself and wouldn't consider a groom he considered below her station, and so aimed too high), and saw no harm in this; and she was eager to have the opportunity.
It was also decided that there would be a simple ceremony of vesting once Torrence was at Slade's home. Slade wanted to keep the guest list short, to avoid a lot of questions about why he would designate as heir someone who looked almost his own age, but invited the family (including Filp's side) and a few from Torelle's household who had overseen the boy's upbringing and training. Thus it took an extra week to organize the return trip, and the traveling company was particularly large.
Just before leaving, Slade sent a message. He had wanted to try it for some time; the hours he had spent reading Omigger's books had taught him much, and he had moved from mere dabbling to actually beginning to understand magic. This was one of those tricks which he believed he knew how to do but hadn't had much opportunity to use. He wrote his message on a sheet of parchment, folded it, and performed his ritual; the page vanished, he hoped reappearing on the table in the room of his household manager. It said how many to expect, and roughly when.
It did work, and the company was on schedule. They arrived at the castle to find an excellent meal waiting, rooms prepared, and everything in readiness for an investiture in the morning. Slade was complimented on the organization of his household, but insisted that it would be a shambles were it not for his wise and experienced household manager and skilled new castellan. "They do all the work," he explained. "I merely applaud and compensate their efforts." Nevertheless, he did order bonuses for all involved in the excellent preparations.
After the ceremony, Torrence settled in to his new position admirably. He thanked his guests for attending, invited them to stay as long as they wished, and made such arrangements as were necessary. His older brother Mica left almost immediately, stating he wished to see to his own business at home. Torelle followed the next day, for the same reason, and his household departed with him. But Filp and his family stayed, and Shella remained, taking advantage of her new second home and the books available in the library.
Slade was pleased to have time to spend with Filp; with Torrence seeing to all the affairs of the castle, the old friends had time to look around, and Slade took full advantage of his buddy's skills. He learned to pick every lock in his own castle (although the castellan was not too pleased with this), and spent many hours clinging terrified to its outside walls--but he did learn to inch his way up, and started to get pretty good at it. At night, they practiced sneaking around the halls, opening inside doors quietly (the important ones had been rigged with wind chimes, but there were still many doors they could use for practice).
Wen said they were like a couple of school boys, playing in the castle; but as Torrence took a mind to the training of her sons and Shella did spend a bit of time with her daughters, it seemed a suitably profitable vacation. Even she had a good time, knocking around in the kitchen with the servants, teaching them a few of the simple recipes she'd learned as a peasant girl, and learning to make (and eat) pastries and puddings. She could have learned these at home, she explained, but since she's been married there's just a bit too much deference given to her as lady of the house, and not enough opportunity to play in the kitchen.
They were enjoying their time together so much that it was almost too late in the fall when they departed. They would stay a day at Torelle's, but no longer, as they had to rush to assure they got home before the weather turned foul.
Slade smiled as he watched Filp's company vanish in the distance. Then he turned and sighed. Everyone else was aging; he remained the same. He walked slowly to the library, where he found Shella already engrossed in arcane tomes. Poking around a bit, he found what he had been reading in the spring, and picked up where he left off.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of the novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #39: Character Futures. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter.
As to the old stories that have long been here: