“Brat!! Get out of the kitchen and go help Paul with the stables the storm isn’t getting any better and the damn door needs to be fixed.” I shout at Ed.
“yes Greta, in just a second” The boy puts down the spoon he was cleaning to start heading outside.
“Wait, Ed! Grab your cloak, it might just be around the side but with the door off you’ll get wet trying to fix it.” Helen reminds the boy before he can get away. Without even bothering to reply he just grabs his cloak from the rack and races outside.
“Hmmph. Not even a thank you, looks like someone needs another lesson in appreciation.” I mumble as the thoughts of latrines pass my mind.
“oh, leave him alone Greta. You know as well as I how much he’s improved.” Helen, ever the mother hen, comes to protect her chicks from my wolfly thoughts.
She is right though, it’s been 2 years since the brat was first brought to me, and every morning since then he would come to help his mother in the kitchen. After a while I hired the boy as an assistant so I could have him help with other tasks around the inn. I have to spend another 5 coppers a week, but the boys strong and got a good attitude now, unlike the start when he would complain about every stench, scrape or difficult task. Like just now, if I were to send him to help when he started, he would have found at least 3 different excuses in the time it took me to cross this kitchen to whack his ears. Now not even enough time to raise my arm before he’s out of the room and into the storm, though that might just be my arm getting slower. *sigh* it’s a sad day when your slapping hand can no longer keep up with the youths of today.
“so, where’s the rest of the brats?” I ask seeing as the cleaning is done and there’s barely any patrons.
“Elsa is still in BurnBush visiting her aunt and nephew, she won’t be back for another 2 days.” That’s right, the little Marg found herself a husband last year, the first son to a horse merchant, and popped a little tyke soon after, forgot about that. “and my eldest was up at Ser Roc’s earlier so he’s probably still playing with Ethel, dreaming of tourneys and knighthoods”
He he, that reminds me of that bit of drama 2 years ago. When the harvest had just begun, Ethel Roc, Ethan’s son came home in disgrace. See sons can only inherit their father’s knighthood if they serve as either the squire or the page of a knight for at least 8 years. They can't serve their own father and they have to serve consecutive years. The boy left when he was 8 and last year, he was 14. The knight he was serving had terminated his squireship prematurely, thus ruining the last 6 years of effort, and getting another was no easy task.Ethan was furious and was scolding his son so loud you could hear it from the other side of the river. Long story short the boy had apparently told his father something and since then he has been training his swordsmanship non-stop.
“Personally, I’m just glad Ben has made a friend his own age. He plays with Ed and the other children, but it always ends up with him either leading them around, or scolding them. Sometimes I think he’s too mature for his age.” Helen muses. ‘Yes, the boy that looked after his family since he was 2 and now earns more than most of the grown men in the village is too mature’ I think as I roll my eyes. I still think the boy might be a spirit in disguise, and only the fact he sometimes gives me some hares for free, has stopped me form testing a few of my theories.
“Own age, Ethel’s nearly a man now, if he had a bit more facial hair people would think he was one.” I object. Ethel had his 14th name day this spring and with his height he’s nearly the spitting image of Ethan a few years ago, before his winkles truly set in.
Though it is still strange that those 2 ended up together. Last year was probably when it first started and since then, they’ve been inseparable. You’d think Ethan keeping his son in training would prevent them meeting, but instead it has only strengthened the bond as shortly after getting together, Ben has started training for several hours a day with him. Mind boggling.
*CLASH* the sound of 2 weighted stick clashing, one from the above the other below, resounded throughout the front yard.
“Ben! Lift your left elbow more, block perpendicular, if you don’t the sword will slide down and strike your hands. Ethel! Watch your front foot, if you place it too far forward then you will just be giving your opponent a free point.” Ethan shouts at us from the side, pointing out our flaws.
it is the mid-morning now, and I have been training with the sword for the past hour. We started with stretches, before rehearsing our strikes and foot work, followed by light sparing with wooden swords with weights attached to make them feel like real swords.
After a few rounds of repeated spars with short water breaks, we stopped as the clouds started to come around. “Alright boys, stop now there appears to be a storm coming in. Ben, do you need to get home?” Ethan asks as he hears a distant rumble.
“Not really, catches are already cleaned and stored.” I reply. “good, you can stay for lunch, I'll tell Molly.” Ethan returns.
“Ben should we continue our plans?” Ethel asks in anticipation, glad to have the rest of the morning off.
“Sure” I reply to their pleasure.
The current situation started last year when Ethel came to challenge me to duel. See his father had been putting Ethel through some gruelling training and the stress had gotten to him in his anger he apparently claimed he was already the greatest fighter his age so he had no right to keep scolding him. Ethan then laughed and said that not only was he not the best in the North, he wasn’t even the best in the village, mentioning my name. That earned me both Ethel’s ire and curiosity.
The next day Ethel found me and challenged me to a fight, throwing a practice sword at the ground, another in his hands. When I asked him why I would want to fight, and even then, why would I use a sword when I am better with a bow, he told me it’s training to be a knight. I said;
“I’m not the son of a noble, unless I go to the battlefield, I can’t be a knight.”
“You don’t have to go to the battlefield, you just have to come first in the tourney” he refuted me.
I was surprised, and when I asked him more, he went on to explain his plan. Ethel lost his chance to become a knight the easy way when Ser Dane dismissed him. Although he could supposedly become a squire to another knight, they would need to accept him first. Knights can only have a single squire, and they are responsible for their upkeep and training, which is a significant financial expense, not to mention the risk of face. A squire is a reflection of the knight’s ability, a poor squire means a poor knight to the other nobility, usually the knights will only take in the sons of their friends and for most they will receive financial compensation for the time and cost. Ethan spent all of his savings convincing a Ser Kane, a knight he had some relationship with to take on Ethel. Not only does he not have the money to pay another one but they likely wouldn’t take him if he did. A 14-year-old squire is considered uncommon, but still happens, but taking on a squire that has already been dismissed in disgrace is a risk not worth taking, especially when Ethan is just an ordinary 2nd generation knight with no notable achievements or lineage. IfEthan was a lord, rich or famous then some lesser knights would take Ethel to make a good connection with him.