Monday, March 1, 2010

Chapter 14: Celeret Cont'd

   "Unless you prefer separate rooms, this will be where you can sleep."
   "We'll stay together. Thank you," replied Ardan. Celeret opened the door and revealed a room in utter darkness. She waved her hand toward the room, and a flame from the nearest torch leapt into the room and bounced from torch to torch, throwing light into every corner. The room was large with two torches built into every wall, just as in the tunnels. There was a large bed, the likes of which he'd never seen. He'd always slept on mats on the ground inside his mother's tent. This bed was made of wood and raised six inches off the floor by wooden legs. It had a thick packet of something held up by wooden slats and many blankets layered onto it. At the head of the bed was a kind of bag that had been stuffed. It was very odd to him that someone would work so hard on something that was only used for sleep.
   The room also had a set of shelves that were packed full of books. There were no windows, but a desk and stool sat against the wall opposite the bed with a lit lantern on the desk. he could see that there was parchment with a quill and ink-well and hoped she wouldn't expect him to write for her. He knew his alphabet and some basic words, but his hand writing was atrocious.
   "I will leave you to rest. If you need anything I will be in the great hall that we came through. Can you find it?"
   "Yes. Thank you."
   "You are welcome. Sleep well." She tipped her head in a miniscule bow and closed the door behind her.
   "This is very nice to be inside a great mountain. I would have never thought this possible, but I suppose you can do anything with magic," Rheto said leaping onto the bed. He circled a few times before settling himself at the food of the bed. "This is wonderful!" he sighed. "It's been so long since I've been on a real bed." Ardan walked over and pushed down on the large packet. It was full of softness, it gave slighty, but would not sink.
   "It's a mattress," Rheto told him. He put his nose close to the blankets and sniffed. "It's full of wool and feathers. That little bag is called a pillow. It too is stuffed with wool, but it is only for your head." Ardan tentatively sat on the side of the bed. It was incredible how comfortable it was. How his mother must have missed this.
   "Are all beds like this?" Ardan asked.
   "No. This one is very nice. Many people just have a mattress on the floor or a thinner mattress on a smaller frame, but the idea is the same." Ardan rose and went to sit in front of the shelves. He sat with his legs crossed. His mother had owned a book. It was a history book, but he had never been allowed to read it. He took out a small book and weighed it in his hands. The cover was leather, with what resembled branding on it. He ran his fingers over the words, but was unsure of what it said.
   "Rheto... why didn't Arta teach me to read?"
   "Most of the people in your village can't read. It would have set you apart even more, besides, they don't respect intellect like people in the city. In the desert you have to be strong, fast, and tough. It's about survival. She wanted you to succeed."
   "Still, I wish I knew what this said." He opened the book and flipped through the pages. There was a soft thud and then Rheto was beside him.
   "Let me see it."
   "Rheto, you can't read..." Ardan chuckled. He held the book out anyway so that Rheto could see the cover. "Legends of Virtue," Rheto read aloud. Ardan's mouth dropped open. Rheto looked at him expectantly, so Ardan turned the page. "Legends of Virtue. Compiled by Phynx of Aqi'tra." Ardan turned the page again, but the next was blank. The following page was packed full of words, except for a space left for the title. The first letter of the body was large and intricately drawn, with ivy and other foliage curling around the letter.
   "The Tale of Dinon... On a small farm near the Kanx Sea, a baby boy was born. The child was very small and weak and his parents feared that he would die. They named him Dinon and his mother prayed over him and lit candles for him daily. He was their only son and it grieved her to see him so sickly..."
   "Stop." interrupted Ardan. Rheto looked at him questioningly. "How can you read?"
   "Your mother used to read aloud to your grandfather. He enjoyed hearing her voice. I used to sit beside her. I listened and could see the words on the page. I eventually picked it up. I had many, many years to learn. Your mother has a strong voice and is very good at entertaining with it. It saddens me that she has never read for you."
   "Will you help me? I want to know how to read."
   "Of course." Rheto and Ardan sat on the floor, Ardan sounding out words, Rheto correcting or praising him as they went. In another part of the castle in a mountain, the air was not so calm.

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