Gemevere stretched as she felt the sun’s warm rays upon her face. She yawned, opened her eyes, and looked around and found herself lay on a blanket on a gentle hillside, on soft grass surrounded by buttercups. Hempsty was fast asleep beside her on the blanket, and in the distance, at the bottom of the hill, she saw Katherine and Æthelstan looking at something in a babbling brook that ran alongside the edge of a large forest, Katherine laughing excitedly. Hempsty stirred beside her and opened his eyes slowly.
“My cousin, pray tell, where are we?” Hempsty’s voice revealed the level of his confusion. “Please tell me we have not been poisoned and this is our entrance to Heaven.”
“Are do are knaw?” Gemevere sounded equally as puzzled, if that was possible. “Ar’ve just wokken lark you, ‘Empsty.”
Hearing their voices, Katherine and Æthelstan walked up the hill to join them. “Good morning!” Æthelstan said cheerily, “I’ve just been showing young Katherine the salmon, making their way upstream. Remarkable creatures, even battling against the current.”
“Currant!” Gemevere declared loudly. “Aye, that were it. We wuz poisoned in a tavern in Skundersthorpe; are were flickin’ grareps and currants. ‘Ow come wier nah on th’illsard?”
“Oh, that was two days ago, my loose-tongued friend.” Æthelstan explained. “We’d all had rather too much to drink in the tavern, and had passed out. I awoke first, shortly followed by Katherine, lovely young thing when you get to know her. She’s coming to stay with me at my palace when we get back, as a maid with honour.”
“Arnt they fer weddins?” Gemevere realised she may have grasped the wrong part of the king’s sentence.
“Weddins?” The king asked, momentarily stopped in his flow. “Oh, no, they’re royal attendants. However, we awoke, and found a cart outside the tavern to carry you both to the carriage. The horse was very pleased to see you, Sir Hempsty, even if you were asleep.”
“Sentinel’s like that, very affectionate.” Hempsty said. “And actually, I’m Lord Molecombe, not Sir Hempsty, although you can call me Hempsty, your majesty.”
“And you can refer to me as Æthelstan, it can get very confusing with all that ‘your majesty’ talk, especially when all the kings and queens of the Kingdoms of England get together. Names are given for a reason, so names shall suffice.”
“So, Stan, where are we?” Gemevere started to feel relieved that she was no longer in the tavern, but still a little edgy regarding the dream she’d had – if in fact it had been a dream.
Æthelstan cringed, thought ‘names shall suffice’, but said nothing.
Katherine pointed to the trees on the other side of the brook. “That’s Nottingham Forest!” she declared, clapping her hands. “I’ve always wanted to see Nottingham Forest.” She looked at Æthelstan, “And salmon. I’ve always wanted to see salmon too!” She smiled.
“Indeed it is,” Æthelstan continued. “Sentinel got us here in good time. We have a choice now as to whether to use the road that goes around the forest, that should take four or five hours to reach Nottingham, or to go through a track which runs through – it may take a little longer, but at least we’ll get to explore Mother Nature at her best.”
“As long as we don’t meet Mother Skipton, I say we go that way…” Gemevere said, speaking strangely very clear.
“The track it is then!” Æthelstan said, already on his way down hill towards the carriage and Sentinel, who’d been tethered to a tree by the side of the bridge that carried the road they had travelled over the brook.
“Mother Skipton?” Hempsty asked, “Surely she must be at her dwelling in Skipton Forest miles back on yonder road, according to thine legend, cousin.”
“‘Empsty, Mother Skipton were th’woman oo served us inth’ tavern. Ursulondix. Ursula Sundown. Mother Skipton.” Gemevere thought back to their breakfast in the tavern, suddenly realising something else the king had said. “Two dares ago? Ar’ve slept fer two dares solid?” The king was too far down the hill to hear her.
“Verily we had had rather a lot to drink…” Hempsty added, suddenly getting a flashback of a dragon.
This is the ninth part in the Reverence storyline, or more accurately the first part of series two! The previous series can be found in my Storylines menu.