Author Topic: The Keep  (Read 3536 times)

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Offline CountessofPhoenix

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The Keep
« on: May 12, 2008, 09:54:00 PM »
  Maypoles were a sad sight in the frozen months. The pleasure of a spring day spent in celebration almost forgotten when ice and snow covered every exposed surface. Even the fires that raged in every fireplace did little to combat the chill in this drafty castle. If you looked closely around the common room you would see small puddles where the the frozen precipitation had enter into the keep itself trying to escape the blizzard outside. At least upstairs in the private rooms some measure of warmth was possible. But being warm on the outside couldn't thaw the deep freeze she felt in her heart. Not anything seemed to be able to reach the place where her heart once was. Sadness and loneliness had been her constant companions since the day that he road off with his knights to better secure the borders.
  Now long overdue for far too many months, she began to accept that which her heart already knew. Her Lord and husband, he who she had chosen above all others would not be returning to The Keep. The servants and members of their household had already begun to look at her with sympathy in their eyes for they too knew that nothing short of death would have kept her husband away. As she walked around the castle conversations would suddenly stop at her appearance and she knew that their missing Lord was the subject. So far she had evaded the questions, but for how much longer? Spring would arrive soon; although, today's blizzard gave no sign of it ever returning. With the spring would come word from the King of the outcome of the falls battles, that the storms had kept from arriving all Winter.
  For now though she could continue to pretend that her brave husband would be crossing that threshold at any moment.
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Offline CountessofPhoenix

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Re: The Keep
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2008, 08:57:43 PM »
   Turning away from the window she looks around her at the hall that dominates the living areas of the castle. The rushes had long since been removed due to debris that was in them. The stone floor was kept as clean as it possibly could be with people and animals constantly coming in tracking mud and snow from outside. The tables and benches were currently piled up along the outer walls so that those who slept in the common rooms would have better access to the heat from the fireplaces at either end of the hall. Pennants and tapestries hung on the walls both for decoration as well as to provide some insulation from the bitter outside temperatures. Soon the whole household would be awakened to begin their daily chores. Even in Winter there were animals to be fed and tended too.
   Thankfully, her husband Arthur had possessed the foresight to enlarge their stables last summer. The added space enabled them to store enough food to keep the animals necessary for their survival well fed  over this long season.
And by keeping their cows and goats well fed and safe they could have the milk needed for the castle's human occupants as well. None in her care had gone without this year and if only this weather would break, then she could make sure that the rest of their people, those with farms of their own, had done as well. The seeds for this year were all safely stowed in the castle's silo, ready for Spring planting. But if her husband were truly lost then what was to become of her and their people?
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Offline CountessofPhoenix

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Re: The Keep
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2008, 02:40:42 PM »
   Not one to dwell for long on things that can't be changed, the Lady Joy begins to rouse those still sleeping in the hall. "'Tis time to be up and about. No room for sleepy loggerheads here. All must contribute to earn their daily bread." Smiling she looks at the halls residents. Several children lie clustered arounfd the fireplace with a pup smuggled in from the stables. Few of the adults are still here as her people for the most part are a hard working and industrious lot.
   Sitting by door one young knight, Sir Allen of Cedarshire who suffered an egrigious wound early in the last battle and who had yet to recover the full use of his sword arm, greets the Lady Joy with a salute from his good arm. "My Lady, the members of your household have been up since before dawn preparing your meal to break the fast this morning. While there is no fresh meat at present, a ham has been removed from the smokehouse and is currently being prepared with fresh eggs. I even heard a rumor that cook has made fresh bread this morning."
   "Let's get these tables and benches arranged so that all might have a place to sit for this wonderful feast." Scurrying around the hall Lady Joy directs the children and a few other retainers who have begun to enter the hall. Gazing around at the people who have made these last few months bearable, she thanks God that she has had this sanctuary, here in her home away from others to deal with her feelings at the probable loss of him who she had loved for so many years. The time was approaching that she would have to notify the King, so he could advise Lord Arthur's heir of his loss.
   The last time Lady Joy saw her child who now would inherit The Keep their parting had not gone well. Sending this child away had not been easy, but perhaps time would have salved the wounds they both felt. Soon she would be faced with a new future,but what would it be?
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Offline CountessofPhoenix

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Re: The Keep
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2008, 04:48:17 PM »
   As the days passed, the harsh winter begins to loosen its grip. Finally a few stems of grass as seen peeking through the snow in the The Keeps garden. No word of the master has arrived and so it is with a sad heart that a message is sent to both the King and Lord Arthur's heir. As the days begin to grow longer Lady Joy knows that changes in her household will soon be coming too.
   The Lord and Lady's bedchamber has always been the first one on the upper floor. It was the Lord of The Keep's duty to protect his family and any guests that were there at the time, but Lady Joy is reticent to give up the room in which she had shared so many memories with her husband. This is the room she came to as a new bride. Here she gave birth to their children and it was to this haven they escaped to share in the joys of each other. The next chamber was by far the most luxurious, perhaps the new owner would prefer it to the one she now resided in. The wisest thing to do, would be to pack in preparation of moving. She had long overlooked cleaning out items that were no longer needed and now would give her that chance.
   And so it was that she was throwing out those few items that were past repair when she saw the riders coming over the hillside. Assembling her household she prepared to greet the arrivals. As they entered the bailey she saw at their head an identical standard to the one which flew over the keep. The green and blue banner with it's lion rampant and the motto, "Believe and it shall be" emblazened across it coming to rest at the Lady Joy's feet.
   Behind the standard bearer a figure dressed in the family colors of blue and green rides the figure that Lady Joy has been preparing for. The brown hair and green eyes so like Lord Arthur's that for a moment tears fill Lady Joy's eyes This child more than the others was truly their father's child. Even as a child a stubborn willful streak made its presence known, but Lord Arthur was so pleased with the spirit of his heir he allowed none to break this spirit. For while he recognized that this Keep required a strong character to rule and his child would need as much strength as possible. For never before had the heir to The Keep been a woman.
   
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Offline CountessofPhoenix

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Re: The Keep
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2008, 11:54:22 AM »
   Years before the ruling council had decided that landowners would have the right to name their own heirs, and that it was not to be limited to males. They had seen far too many prosperous estates mishandled by young males when there was a competent female heir who later proved to be the salvation of the estate. Their own king had been raised by a Queen regent until he reached him majority and through her wisdom the treasury had been increased two fold. No discrimination would be tolerated if a female was named to inherit.
   Lord Arthur recognized that his daughter Tiaran would be the better choice for The Keep. His son, young Arthur, was too studious and spent his days in pursuit of learning. Married to a woman half his age, who had presented him with three daughters, they lived with his wife's family, which allowed him the free time to continue with his studies. In exchange he kept the accounts for them. Not being particularly educated they were thankful to have such an learned man as part of their family
   The youngest son, Allen, had spent his time hunting and gaming. His beautiful wife Kimberly had presented him with two children, a son and daughter, that he seldom even saw. They lived in a small manor house on property that was part of The Keeps estate. Lady Joy had about given up all hope that this son would realize his responsibilities to his family. She made sure that Kimberly and her children were well taken care of, but she worried about their future now that Tiaran was taking over.
    It still amazed her that even when they were children Lord Arthur knew who would be the better choice to inherit his estate, and now before her stood the new Lady of The Keep, Lady Tiaran.
 
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Offline CountessofPhoenix

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Re: The Keep
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2008, 12:36:10 PM »
   As the Lady Tiaran got off her horse the first thing you noticed was that this was no meek, demure female, but one obviously used to being obeyed. Not even looking back she handed the reins to her horse to a waiting squire who appeared immediately at his mistresses side. Dressed in a jacket of red and split leather skirt she dominated the group in the bailey with her presence. Striding across the courtyard she crosses to the Lady Joy. Taller than her mother she reaches down and hugging her mother she says," I hoped this day would never come. Father was such a great man, is there no hope that he may return?"
   Reaching up she looks at her daughter with tears in her eyes and says," I fear that if he still lived we would have had some word by now. But come let us go inside and I will tell you all that I know."
   Looking around at her retainers she gestures one to enter the hall with her. A tall young man of over a score of years comes towards them. Mother, my son, your grandson, Christopher.
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Offline CountessofPhoenix

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Re: The Keep
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2008, 12:15:09 PM »
Far too many years had gone by since she had seen the lad , and he looked so much like his grandfather that Lady Joy was amazed. As her grandson offerd her his arm the walked along the inner wall and stepped into the great hall. as the others who had the accompanied the Lady Tiaran began to enter behind them, a procession of servants entered with trays heavy with food. Seating themselves at the head table they enjoyed the hearty meal before. "After being on the road these several days, the opportunity to enjoy such a meal is greatly appreciated, Mother." Tiaran says. "The food we had at the various lodgings we stayed at was filling but rarely platable. Certainly nothing like the bounty we see before us."
"Your father always made sure we were prepared for the unexpected." answers the Lady Joy.
"That may be true, but it takes a good manager to make sure that his plans were implemented. I'm sure he was well aware that in you he had such a person." Lady Tiaran replies as she reaches out and touches her mother's hand. "Your position here will not change, I have not come to take your place. I have a duty to make sure that The Keep is exactly what it always has been. One of the outermost points of defense for the king. But this is your home."
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Offline CountessofPhoenix

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Re: The Keep
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2008, 11:33:16 AM »
  Gradually their days began to take on a routine. Up at dawn to take care of the animals, breakfast, training in the courtyard, and then a tour of the properties attached to The Keep. Lady Tiaran renewd friendships from her childhood, learned of the deaths of those who had died in the last twenty-five years, and those who had been born. Impressed by the quality of management that had been done by her parents she was pleased that she needed to make no changes. There were no tenants who did not tend to their property properly so far that she had seen and she felt assured that her people would be well supplied in any case.
   The evenings were spent eating dinner and then talking about the days events. Lady Joy was interested in hearing about their tenants and when Tiaran mentioned a new babe in the village she made sure the new family had extra help and provisions for a few days. When she learned of a death she was there to lend her support to the families, and so a balance of power was effectively handled between the mother and daughter. The presence of Christopher as the highest ranking male in the household made for some interesting conversations as he adjusts to this female dominated world, and word soon reached them that his sisters might be joining them soon. When he learned that more bossy females might soon be in residence he stormed off muttering something about joining the Crusades!
   But one subject remains off limits. Lady Tiaran had been married for many years to the Earl of Hawkins, son Lawrence. At his death she and their children had been put aside in favor of his grandson Michael, a boy not as old as Christopher, and yet the Lady Tiaran refused to try to reclaim the property for her children. When asked she only answered that some properties were not worth the trouble, and Christopher seemed not to care either. Surely in time the truth of what had happened would will out. Yet Lady Joy found it strange that her daughter as an attractive widow would prefer to be shut up here so far from any others rather than closer to court.
Countess of Phoenix
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We are only limited by what we can dream

 

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