I’m aiming for something a little different tonight. One of my players couldn’t make it to our British Isles by Night session, so I’ll be covering what that character was up to from the eyes of the Castle’s staff. Edit: As I’m writing this I decided to throw in some (considerable) background about Doncaster castle.
Charles had begun his new orders just before dusk, a welcome break from the monotony of Lord William’s castle. He was tired of the routine of castle garrison life. His Serjeant had cautioned him that castle duty was a bore when he had been selected for rotation through the Lord’s garrison. Baron William was well past his prime and unlikely to ride further than a half day from his cliff top holdings, let alone a Lord who would mount an attack on his northern neighbor. So when the Seneschal had requested an armed and armoured volunteer for special duties, Charles had stepped forward. It didn’t seem strange to him that one of the older garrison members didn’t step forward, they were a clannish lot. They kept to themselves and they didn’t talk to the locals who rotated through the garrison any more than they needed to. The only oddity was when one of them pressed a wooden cross on a leather thong into his hand as he readied his armour. “Christ Bless you Charles” the older man had muttered as he trudged off to his own duties. Being a properly pious man, Charles donned the crucifix and tucked it beneath the Lord’s surcoat.
Now, a quarter of a full day later, he found himself standing guard duty outside of ‘The Lady’s rooms in the ‘lower’ castle. Baron William’s castle had the typical Norman styled Donjon, but having been built into the side of a hilltop, actually had lower levels than one would normally expect. From what Charles knew, the Donjon extended down three additional floors beneath the hilltop, four if you counted the windowless ground floor. Not long after arriving, Charles had mused to one of the older guards that there was almost more castle beneath the ground than there was above. For that he had been cuffed across the jaw and told to ‘mind his own bleedin affairs’.
Not long after dark he had escorted a Priest from a penitent’s cell to the Castellan’s dayroom as he had been instructed. Not that it was a dayroom, Doncaster’s Castellan apparently didn’t command enough respect to have a room above ground. In Charles’ mind this only confirmed what he had decided about Baron William, namely that he was too old to rule, let alone make war. Why else would one of the most important men in a Castle, the one in charge of it’s security, be given rooms below ground. Not that they were poorly furnished rooms, God be true, they were actually more impressive in size and accoutrements than Baron William’s own dayroom. The main difference was by being below ground, they were poorly lit. Few torches or tappers lit these halls and chambers.
The visit to the Castellan’s dayroom did not take long and from there he was instructed to escort the Priest, one Father Francis, to the Lady Alefwyne’s chambers. Which is where he now stood. From everything that Charles had gathered, mainly from the kitchen maids, who gossiped like one would expect, Lady Alefwyne was a dowager relative of the Baron and was disliked by the castle’s staff. She always complained to the Steward and Seneschal of the quality of the food, and sent it back untouched as often as not. Despite the complaints, he gathered that the maids didn’t mind, not given the size of them, each one must have weighed more than three bushels of wheat.
Truth be told, Charles was shocked when he had heard the name of Father Francis. He had taken a half step back before catching himself and offering apologies. As a child his parents had terrorized him with threats of a Father Francis, but that was almost a score of years ago. This priest was no grey-bearded man, if he was more than a hand’s worth of years older than Charles himself he wouldn’t be a day older. They couldn’t be the same man, not even a priest stayed that soft looking and youthful over twenty years.
Now, outside of the Lady’s room, Charles found himself blushing. He was no stranger to a romp in the hay with a maid, and he had heard his parents rutting across the room when he was a child. This was his first time ever hearing a noble woman make noises like this. As he wondered if this was really how noble women heard ‘confession’, he chuckled inwardly, ‘No wonder they always attend mass.’
The darkest part of the night came and went, and still the sound of rapture carried on through the door which he guarded. “Bloody hell”, Charles murmured as the noise stopped and the door finally creaked open. There stood Father Francis, a slight smile on his lips as he stepped forth and pulled the door shut. He spoke to Charles, looking him in the face as an equal, as he clasped him on the shoulder. “My work here is done my Son, but I am weary. I shall need an escort back to my humble room. Lady Alefwyne had much to confess.” Charles caught himself smiling far to widely and tried to force a serious look upon his face “Of course Father, this way.”
Neither the Priest nor the Solider noticed the bat that had flitted into the passage as they walked down the passage, to the Penitent’s cells. Jacob was in time.