Lady of the Lake: Chapter 10 – Exodus
“No, it cannot. The needs of the many are greater than my desire to go to Merlin who we now know is imprisoned by his own volition. The villagers must take the horses. But I have a broom and I can go on without you. Perhaps you should indenture Aeron, son of Cai as your squire and together the two of you can lead the villagers to safety.”
“That is a clever idea but I have already pledged myself to see to your safety. I cannot do this if you are in one place and I in another. But I will indenture young Aeron as a squire. Can you awaken him?”
“Yes of course. I can make that elixir. Where is he being held?”
“Right here in the Apothecary’s house, upstairs in the bathroom. It is secure. I will be back shortly.” Lady Valerie made the elixir and was ready when Sir Bors returned. Lady Valerie handed Sir Bors the elixir and followed him up the stairs. There was a long narrow landing with some doors. Sir Bors walked to the door at the end. Aeron was asleep on the floor. Sir Bors threw the elixir on the floor near his sleeping form. Almost immediately Aeron clambered to his feet yawning and anxious.”
“Wha... My Lord Abbot, I beg your pardon, I am confused. I do not understand how or why I am here.”
“The village has been retaken and the other soldiers have been killed or turned over to King Arthur’s army. I have asked that you be spared.”
Immediately Aeron fell to his knees and bowed his head. “I thank you my Lord Abbot.”
“Aeron, son of Cai, your kindness to Brother Berian and I shows that you are a good person. If you still desire to be a squire, I have the authority to apprentice you as squire to Sir Elyan the White, who is in need of a new squire.”
“A squire to a Knight of the Round Table? Oh my Lord Abbot, yes, I should like that very much.”
“Very well, kneel and take the pledge of allegiance to King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.” Sir Bors recited the pledge and Aeron spoke the correct responses. Sir Bors finished by giving him a ring from his pocket. “This ring is the symbol of Sir Bors, King of Gaunnes. As squire to Sir Bors’ son, Sir Elyan the White, you are now an indentured servant of the House of Gaunnes. Sir Bors is the patron of my abbey and as Abbot to the House of Gaunnes, I bid you welcome and I set the following tasks for you.” The young man listened intently as Sir Bors outlined all that he needed Aeron to accomplish.
“This I can do my Lord Abbot. I will begin immediately.”
“You must first change into the correct tunic for we do not wish you to spread fear among the remaining villagers in those clothes. Here is your new tunic. It carries the symbol of Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table in the colours of the House of Gaunnes. Wear it and the ring with pride and courage and long may you live and prosper.”
Sir Bors and Lady Valerie left Aeron in the bathroom to change and went downstairs. “That was very generous of you to give him your tunic. Now you are stuck being Abbot Owen until you return to Camelot.
“Not so, Lady Valerie, a Knight has more than one tunic.”
“Why did you deceive him by telling him we had killed his fellow comrades?”
“I deceived Aeron to limit his choices. If he had expressed revenge for their deaths, then he was not the man I thought he was and I would have locked him up again so King Arthur’s army can take him. Will you excuse me Lady Valerie, I have a letter to write to my son to explain my actions.”
“Certainly, I too have a letter I must write to Morgan le Fay.” At the completion of her long letter, Lady Valerie sealed it for delivery and went in search of someone to deliver her letter. Sir Bors gave his letter to Aeron to give to his son.
Lady Valerie found Huw and Gwilym with the wagons which had been loaded, the horses impatiently waiting in their stocks. The horses’ hooves and the wheels of the wagons had been swaddled in hides to deaden the sound. The axles of the wagons had been greased liberally with lard so they would creak less.
Lady Valerie realised that she could not speak. Silently she handed Gwilym her letter who bowed his head in acknowledgment. “I understand you have made a vow of silence. But I cannot read Brother Berian. Do I give your missive to someone at our destination?” Lady Valerie nodded. “This I will do.” he responded
Lady Valerie paused briefly to farewell her horse, Mistral, petting her as she whispered words of encouragement so no one but the mare could hear her voice. Sir Bors and Lady Valerie maintained their disguises with the villagers to the end, so Sir Bors as Abbot Owen, gave them a short pragmatic prayer for a speedy and safe journey.
Then without further ado, Gwilym and Ianto took the reins of the horses and Aeron lifted up one of the laden handcarts. Sir Bors and Lady Valerie watched the villagers and Aeron as they walked off as quietly as they could into the blackness of the moonless night.
Lady Valerie followed Sir Bors as they turned and headed back to the Apothecary’s house, “Are there any other prisoners in the Apothecary’s house?”
“None, they are lockup up elsewhere.”
“Where are we to sleep for what is left of the night?”
“I thought we could sleep here at the Apothecary’s house. It is the only house with two bedrooms,” Sir Bors said. “Aeron has fitted new locks for the doors and you will be safe if any of the sleeping soldiers wake and escape. But do not leave the house for I will set booby traps to wake us if there are intruders.”
“Thank you. I will just quickly bathe and sleep soundly till sunrise,” said Lady Valerie, relieved that the long day was finally over.
“Take the room upstairs adjacent to the bathroom and I will take the one closest to the stairs. Good night Lady Valerie, pleasant dreams.”
“Good night Sir Bors, sleep well” replied Lady Valerie as he turned and went outside.
Valerie went upstairs to her room. Then decided she would bathe first. After hauling enough water upstairs to fill the tub to a depth she was satisfied with, Lady Valerie soon found she had a problem. Back in her bedroom, she struggled with it for a quite a while before admitting defeat. When she heard Sir Bors return upstairs she opened her bedroom door to go to him, then changed her mind.
She heard him go to the bathroom and splash about in the tub then tip the dirty water out the window. She fumed but still she paced up and down inside her room.
“Go to sleep my Lady or you will be too tired to walk far tomorrow.” Sir Bors called from the adjacent bedroom.
That did it! She wrenched open her door, padded barefoot to his room and knocked loudly upon his door before entering. “Sir Bors I need your help.”
Sir Bors jumped out of bed and averted his startled eyes. “My Lady Valerie you are not properly dressed!”
“I am not properly undressed either. I cannot bear to spent the night strapped into this tight corset! Please undo these wretched laces.”