Hello everyone! So to get everything caught up, I’ll be posting part 2 and 3 over the next couple days to get caught up with the story so far on reddit. If you can’t wait any longer, link is here: Part 2
Now without further ado…
I tried asking him about the ‘meeting’ afterwards, but Gavin refused to speak of it. ‘A squire’s job is to listen,’ he claimed belligerently. I knew he was just trying to avoid the conversation, but I was in no position to push any further. Afterwards, I learned that the King had invited us to join him for a lavish dinner, as well as provide a proper bed to sleep in for the night. I was astounded by his generosity, curious if this was how he treated all of his Knights.
We had an hour to prepare for the meal, and Gavin’s habit of cleanliness was absurd. Being raised on the farm, table manners were not a priority, and as the youngest of four siblings, you had to fight for your food. Those more ‘animalistic’ tendencies, as Gavin liked to put it, embarrassed him on more than one occasion. This, however, was by far the most drastic case.
Once he was finished cleaning me up, a butler escorted us to the dining room, which was just as large as the audience chambers. The longest table I’d ever seen sat in the center of that room, with at least twenty chairs on either side. My jaw must have been hanging wide open, because Gavin’s elbow was buried in my side before I realized what I was doing myself.
“Get a hold of yourself…” He whispered in a hushed, angry voice. Like a father scolding his child. I was tempted to argue, but I managed to hold my tongue as I reminded myself of where I was. Remember Fyn, you’re supposed to be respectful!
The butler took us to our seats, strategically placed at the table’s center. When we finally sat down, I hadn’t noticed that the King and Queen were already seated at opposite ends of the table. I was unsure as to why, but Gavin didn’t seem to question it so I kept quiet. Although I was a tad anxious, things seemed to be going alright. That is, until the food arrived.
To be fair, it had nearly been a day since we’d last eaten, in which I was scolded for my lack of table manners as well, but by that point I was completely famished. It was like I went into a gluttonous trance, all three of them watching in horror as I devoured the thick pork loin like it was still attached to the boar. It was the kind of thing you try to look away from, but find yourself glancing back constantly despite your best efforts to refrain. Even with their inadvertent staring, it was the best meal I’d tasted to this day.
“What the hell is wrong with you…” Gavin sighed as we retired to our nightly quarters. The rest of the meal had carried on without incident, save for a few concerned looks from the King and Queen, and a parental-level death glare from Sir Gavin. Thankfully he didn’t bother shouting; after I came out of that trance, I was embarrassed enough without his ridicule. The rest of the night was filled with an awkward silence until sleep finally found us.
Morning arrived much more quickly than I’d anticipated; I’d always dreamt of sleeping on a feather mattress, but never did I imagine how comfortable it really was. Unfortunately, Gavin couldn’t relate to my gratitude. He’d grown up in this kind of extravagance. I didn’t know at the time, but was the son of a noble lord, providing him with the wealth and power of his family’s estate. As much as his attitude bothered me, it was the type of thing you couldn’t hold against him; after all, he’d never known anything different.
“Come on, Fyn. We’re burning daylight!” The knight was already clad in his steel armor, a long, leather cloak fastened to his pauldrons. He was even sporting his ornamental scabbard on his waist, decorated with colorful jewels and intricate etchings. The sword it housed was unfamiliar; not the old, bronze blade that he’d been wearing the day before.
I was still dazed as I sat up, my vision blurry from sleep. “I’ve never seen that one before. Have you always carried it with you?”
“I have…” Gavin pulled the scabbard free, releasing the gleaming steel from it’s home. “My father had it smithed when I was first knighted.” He replaced it on his waist, but his face was long. “I never thought I deserved such an ornate blade, but I must confess; I’m worried, Fyn.”
“Yes.” The knight walked over to an east-facing window, the sunrise peaking just over the horizon. “His majesty obviously lacks faith in me if I was his third choice. Did you know he and I grew up together?”
“You hadn’t mentioned it, sir.”
“It’s not something I like to share. We’ve grown apart over the years, but we were close when we were boys.” The vacant look in Gavin’s eyes suggested his mind was elsewhere, reliving a distant memory. “He used to tell me that once he was inaugurated, that I would serve as his Commander General, and sit as his head advisor. That was nearly twenty years ago, now.”
Gavin turned from the window, with his old bronze sword in hand. It must have been sitting on the sill, waiting for him.“What he’s done for us over the past day- that’s not something he would do for an ordinary knight. That’s something you do when you’re send somebody on a hopeless errand.”
“I know that you’ve only been my squire a month or so, but I want you to take this. The path ahead will be dangerous, and you need to be able to defend yourself.” He passed me the old blade, but I was hesitant. “Come, now. This was once my father’s blade, the blade that won him the favor of the last King. Take it.”
“Hold on one minute.” Even I was surprised by the volume of my voice, but I could no longer hold my silence. “If this sword has so much sentimental value, why would you give it to a fledgling squire? I haven’t earned that honor, Sir.” I was expecting Gavin to become angry with me, but he just smiled, laughing quietly.
“Fyn, I could have taken on any boy in this kingdom as my apprentice. I’ve been apart of the Knighthood for many years, and have taken on many squires. Each of them has been from some royal clan, only ever in it for the glory. They never cared about our kingdom, about the people who make Sevestia what it is. But you- you may be a lazy, pigheaded boy, but you have more heart than any knight I’ve ever squired.” Gavin was smiling widely now. It was a side of him I’d never witnessed. He was prideful, but not in an arrogant way.
“I know that all you’re after is a post with the Castle Guard, and that’s a respectable position. But hear me when I say this- you’re destined for so much more than guard duty. And that, Fyn, is why I squired a peasant boy from the farms. So, in my eyes, you deserve this sword.” There was so much passion in his voice, that it was impossible to mistake his words for lies.
My life has never been easy, and it was true; I was lazy, and pigheaded. Not to mention naive to how the world truly worked. But Gavin – he gave me a chance to prove that I was more than a lazy farmhand. He gave me a chance to prove that I had more worth than what my father told him when he took me. And with him putting that much stock in me, that much faith, I wasn’t about to let him down. For the first time in my life, I was hopeful. Hopeful to become something more than a Castle Guard. I accepted that sword, and fastened it to my belt promptly.
“Now that that’s all sorted, don’t we have a princess to save?”