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After the Fair

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It was a long and mostly tedious day for the children. Servants arrived so afterwards, with piles of bedding, and they make up a box bed for Rhys is the same room as Kenrith and Godwyn's bed (Gavrin might share a bed with his cousins but Rhys, after all, was not of noble birth). Another box bed was made up in the storage room where Syndra and Trey would sleep. The servants also brought food, water and weak ale for them, and a rolled leather packet of herbs for Rhys, with hastiily written instructions on which he was to scatter on the floors of the rooms, and which he was to burn. One was to be heated in a pot of water set on the fire and then drunk by all of them; Maester Sewell added that he would tell Rhys more when he had more time to speak.

Once the excitement of this was over, there was nothing else to do - except the amusements that they could devise for themselves. The Fair went on below them - it did seem rather unfair that the Fair could be so little affected by their absence when they had been looking forward to it so much.

Kenrith tried to get Rhys to teach him to play thrones, and for his part tried to help entertain Godwyn and Gavrin as best he could. His patience weren't infinite, but he tried to engage them in cards or draughts. (checkers with dice = draughts)

One thing they did note - Ser Herys' tent remained unerected until the shadows lengthened in the afternoon, and then the setting sun hid it from sight.

Then fires were lit in the courtyard and in the meadow beyond, and the sound of music and laughter came floating up - along with tantalising smells of roast boar - which was especually infuriating to the children who had subsisted all day on cold meats, bread and cheese. They could see people dancing in the light of the flickering fires as the music played faster and louder - but it seemed that they had been quite forgotten and overlooked.

Syndra had tried to keep her spirits up, but the more bored her little brother became, the more he whined, and the more he whined, the more irritated and resentful Syndra grew. Watching the activity through the boys' window made it worse instead of better. She felt like a prisoner.

It was so late that the music was dying away and the fires were burning low before they heard slow, heavy steps on the stairs, and heard a voice call out to them - the rich, mellifluous tomes of the Maester. But he sounded weary.

"Children? Rhys? Don't come down to me - stay on the stairs. We'll talk like that."

Trey was by now sound asleep and Syndra was dozing in her box bed. The sound of a new voice roused her and she crept to the storage room door to listen.

Kenrith had been laying in bed, staring at the ceiling, for at least an hour now. He welcomed a chance to sit up, but feared the news wouldn't be well.

Rhys jumped, excited, from the chair where he'd been sitting for the last hour or so and staring moodily at the far wall. Then he paused as the implications of what his great-uncle said sank in: stay on the stairs. That couldn't be a good thing.

His heart pounding anxiously, he slipped out the door and onto the stairs. He sat down a few steps from the top and gazed at Sewell. "It's the summer fever, isn't it?"

Kenrith moved to the door with a wool blanket around his waist. He was behind and to the side of Rhys, and looked worried. As Rhys and the Maester spoke, he watched Rhys' face to watch his reaction to what the Maester said. That, he thought, would probably tell him more than the words themselves.

Rhys could see his Uncle's face looking up at him, almost around the bend in the stairs, a blur in the darkness.

"Yes," he said heavily, "Yes, I'm afraid it is. And the worst kind. I'm afraid ... The boy you tried to help ... he died about an hour ago."

A sharp gasp came from the nearby storage room door, which was ajar. If the boys looked that way, they would see Syndra on her hands and knees at the crack, long hair hanging loose, listening to every word.

Kenrith apparently heard her gasp, as he turned in the direction of the cracked door. He looked towards Syndra, shrugged, then turned back to Rhys. He had considered suggesting she join them in the hallway... but he didn't know if that would make it more likely for the disease to hop to her from him. Finally, he must have decided that if it was going to hop it already had, since he motioned with one hand that she could, or perhaps should, come out to hear more clearly.

The storage room door opened wider and Syndra crept out in response to Kenrith's encouragement. She did not want to be alone.

Rhys drew in a breath and passed his hand over his face. "" His voice shook and he paused to swallow and regain control before continuing. "We all still appear fine, sir. What...what symptoms should we be watching for? And if one of us starts getting sick, what should we do?"

Kenrith listened carefully, and bit his lip. He felt a chill, although he was sweating slightly, so adjusted his blanket around himself.

As Rhys spoke, Syndra scooted over to wedge herself between the two older boys. Though she tried to listen to the maester, all she could hear was the ladies' words at the bear pit: 'Can't move, can't swallow...can't breathe.' Her hand brushed against a corner of Kenrith's blanket, and she clutched it to ward off the chill that came over her.

He placed his left arm around her shoulder. His was the sweat of fear, and he did not seem to have a fever.

Godwyn and Gavrin watched and listened wide-eyed from the stairway, having just come down from staring at the distant tourney field.

"I'll see that lemons, honey and barley are brought to you for hot barley water," said Sewell. "You know how to make it? Syndra probably will."

"I know," Rhys replied.

"And add thyme; that cleanses the sytem. I've brought you some, with other herbs. I've written instructions. Tell the servants to keep you well supplied with water. If any of you show any sign of fever, send to me at once - there'll be a servant posted from now on at the foot of these stairs night and day. Do you understand?"

Rhys nodded, his eyes wide.

"Now, the first signs of the fever are tiredness, vomiting, a headache and pain in the neck or the extremities. If any of you develop a fever, I'm to be contacted at once. Any other unusual signs ... not eating ... pain when you drink, a feeling of weakness. - anything!"

He sighed. "Having told you all that, doubtless you'll all start to worry about one or other of those things. Be sensible. Send for me, Rhys, is you suspect something is seriously wrong. But ... "

He hesitated. "It will not be easy - Rhys, I will be depending on you. I am leaving you a book on the summer fever - most of my knowledge comes from that. The rest I have learnt by experience - and that, I hope, will not be your fate. These precautions we are taking should prevent it ... "

"Yes, sir. I will do my best," Rhys assured him gravely.

"The page... if he died but an hour ago, how long ago must've he shown signs Ser Herys should have seen? Did he know his page was ill before he brought him here... or did he die of the blow to the head?" Kenrith asked with a note of anger in his voice.

"Once the fever starts, it moves very rapidly," said the Mester. "I doubt the boy would have shown any signs of illness before this morning. The blow to the head ... a painful blow, but not fatal. By no means. Ser Herys Bolton might be a harsh man but ... I think you do not realise.

"The page you saw ... the boy who has died ... he was Ser Herys' son."

Hidden on the stairs Godwyn and Gavrin stare at each other at this revelation.

Helluva way to treat your own flesh-and-blood, Rhys thought, but didn't voice. It wasn't his place to publically comment on a knight. "Is Ser Hery ill?" he asked Sewell. "Will the Fair be closed?"

Under Kenrith's protective hand, Syndra seems to grow a little smaller with each new revelation she hears.

"No," said the Maester. "Ser Herys is not ill. And it's unlikely that he will be ill either - the summer fever attacks only the young."

His face suddenly looked very bleak.

"Children, there are herbs and other things here that you should take upstairs. And a pot - you should rig a pot hook over the main fire if there isn't one already ... I don't recall. That way, you can keep soup warm for yourself. There's a basket here with the makings of soup - including two chickens ... the kitchen have plucked and drawn them for you.

"The Fair is not to be closed. Lady ... It is felt that to close it might cause fear and alarm. And by now, it is likely that any damage is done. We must modify its effects as far as we can."

Something in the careful neutrality of his voice suggested that this would not have been his conclusion.

Categories: WinterChillsGameLogs, CastleHoldfast

Page last modified on February 15, 2006, at 12:19 AM