City of Fire #6

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Continuation from - @darthsauron/city-of-fire-5

Alais had been trying patiently to hold his tongue until they finished the meal, but he was about to burst from curiosity over news that would have called for such a special celebration. “So, Gareth, pray tell what is this news of yours,” he finally spoke up between bites.

Gareth shrugged. “Oh, that? It’s nothing that would concern you, I imagine.” He didn’t look at the boy, but Alais now knew him well enough to know when the knight was teasing him.

“That’s what your words tell me, but your eyes belie something else, Gareth,” he pressed. When they met eyes, they both burst into laughter.

“Oh, you’ve come to know me far too well, young Alais,” his friend said. “And yes, this does concern you.”

At this, Marcus’ ears perked up. He had known this day might come, and as much as he would dread not having his son by his side, he knew it was inevitable. Alais had become quite the swordsman, under Gareth’s expert tutelage, and there was nothing that went unnoticed on the castle grounds for long.

“Due to your excellent service to His Highness…” Gareth began as stared at his food, picking the drumstick of his game hen clean…”it is my privilege to tell you that His Majesty has declared that you, Alais, are hereby invited to join Prince Tristan in our school of knighthood, starting next week.” He finally looked at the boy, knowing what his reaction would be.

Alais jumped up with excitement, nearly overturning the table and its contents. Marcus quickly saved the flagon of wine and roared with laughter, along with Gareth.

“Thank you kindly,” Marcus began teasingly, “but I know in my heart that my boy has no passion about becoming a knight. He would prefer to just keep working by my side in the hot, steamy smithy, shop, right, son?” He was very proud of Alais, and didn’t want to let his own worries about missing him already to cloud the boy’s jubilation.

“Father has lost his mind,” Alais assured Gareth, teasing right back. “What time shall I be there – and where is ‘there,’ by the way?” He could hardly contain himself. If he had been the twelve year old he was when he and Marcus first started service at the castle, he would have turned a few cartwheels of joy. But knowing that behavior was not suited to a knight, he repressed his desire to do so.

“Ah! That would be a good thing for you to know, I suppose,” Gareth stood up and wiped his mouth, emitting a loud belch. “Beg pardon, but that was an amazing meal!” he enthused. Everyone laughed, and Marcus quietly refilled all of their glasses. “Over yonder,” Gareth was pointing toward a large, festively colored tent that had been set up just on the other side of the keep.

“That there tent is where you shall get your first instruction on what it means to be a knight.” He bowed, with mock humility. “Myself, along with Sir Belias, will be your first teachers. From there, we shall move on to swordplay, strategic castle storming methodology, and…” he paused dramatically, knowing what Alais wanted to learn more than anything.

Let our children not grow up in a terrible world. Together we can make it better. It is our destiny to
suffer from the past, to long for the future, but to forget the present.
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