The Wisdom of Children
The year 1172, Armatren was born on the Isle Trependy. His studies included History, Engineering, Mathematics, all manner of Sciences, Philosophy, Theology and the ancient art of his lineage. Much like his parents he was an intellectual child. Armatren also was given to study under a special trainer in the field of battle.
"Remember my son." Merlin spoke while packing Armatren's belongings. "Your abilities to council will bring justice to this world. Do not forget all that you have learned these past twelve years."
"I shall uphold your vision and that of my ancestors Father." Armatren smiled. "I feel proud of my heritage. I will be loyal and honest in all that I do."
Merlin hugged his son. "You have already made me proud."
Martez then entered the room. "The ship is about ready to sail."
"Sir Martez." Armatren spoke. "I realize this trip will be extremely difficult for you." The boy knew of the family disputes Martez faced. "In any consolation you do not need to travel with me."
Martez loved this boy as if he were his own flesh and blood. "Your wisdom extends well beyond your age of twelve, however my loyalty and duty lies within seeing you safely delivered of harm. Whatever shall happen we shall face together."
There was nothing this boy didn't know or could not learn quickly. His Father had told him of Camelot, the land of Avalon. The history of the legends and all that surrounded the land he would be rebuilding. Martez respected this boy as an equal and at even a superior. He was aware of the greatness residing in this child.
It was somewhere into an hour or so after they had set sail for the land of Benneret when Martez joined along starboard side with Armatren. Armatren stood leaning over gazing into the ocean water below. "The true king has been born this morning." He announced ever so casually to Martez. "It will be my job to train and lead him the correct path."
Martez laughed happily. "You amaze me." He placed his hand on the boy's shoulder. They stood there many minutes gazing listlessly into the water.
A day later they were walking again on dry land with the two servants that accompanied them on the voyage. "Stay right there." Martez told the boy and servants. "I will be right back." Martez quickly mingled into the crowd on the dock. Armatren watched as Martez headed back towards them signaling the servants to bring the belongings. "Our transportation awaits." It took all four to lift the trunk into the cart then they climbed aboard.
"Where are we going?" Armatren asked Martez.
"Village of Valen. Then onto Brilen where the castle of my nephew Chez stands." Martez scratched his beard. "I believe he will remember me."
"Where will we stay for the night?" Armatren seemed full of questions.
"A friend of mine in Valen. He stays atop of the gossip. We can fill ourselves on the local news and some food."
"That would be wise." The boy agreed. "And I am tired."
Hours later Armatren woke in Martez's arms. The moon bright overhead. The servants were exhausted and growing fidgety. Martez removed his cloak tossing it around Armatren.
The cart came to a sudden jolted stop. "The animals are cold." The driver announced. "This wind is freezing." He tried to block the biting wind with his hand. "If you wish my place is just over that hill. I would be more than happy to put you up for the night."
Armatren poked his head out of the cloak. "That is very kind of you and we graciously accept."
In just a short time they were pulling in front of a large Abbey. Monks and young boys came running out to help. "What is this!" Martez protested.
"My home." The man spoke. "This is the Shrine of the Saints."
"Welcome weary travelers." One brother greeted with a wide smile. Martez growled at him in a low tone. The brother ignored the sound or perhaps did not hear. "Come let us help you inside out of this cold." They began helping the servants lift the trunk. "You made it to shelter in time. Word has it heavy snow fall is due late this night."
Armatren was amazed at the brilliance of the Shrine. He looked back to see Martez still sitting in the cart. Even the donkeys had been lead away to shelter for the night. Martez continued to sit. "What are you doing?" Armatren asked of him. "You will freeze out here!"
Martez shook his head in protest. "I will not step a foot within that building! I want no part of religion. All it does is lead to fighting." He pulled his cloak tighter around him. "I am at peace with God just the way I am." He tossed his head. "We have an understanding he and I."
Armatren scowled at Martez. "When are you going to let that die?"
Martez got out from the cart. "I will stay the night in the stable."
"For love and glory!" Armatren proclaimed shaking his head. "Martez that was many years ago." Armatren tried to reason with him. "Your family should have never laid so much guilt on you."
Martez looked at the building then at the stables then back to the building. "It really is beautiful, isn't it?" Martez questioned.
Armatren chuckled. "I will also stay the night in the stables."
It was Martez's time to scowl. The boy had once again got the upper hand on him. Then Armatren took Martez by the elbow. "But these are men of God it is their place to find forgiveness." He lead Martez to the building. "Now come on." He was still chuckling. "Some promises are not meant to be kept." Armatren nearly had him inside. "And you are not cursed!"
"But I nearly burned this place to the ground." Martez stopped just before crossing the threshold.
Armatren yanked one last time and Martez was over and in the building. "See that!" Armatren broadcast. "The walls still stand!" He now laughed. "Besides you are my guardian. I am cold and tired and you being in the stable protecting the asses does me no good." Armatren lead Martez further inside and the entrance opened to a waiting room of sorts but lined with tables and food.
"Sit my friends." Gestured the Brother that had given the ride.
Martez reluctantly took a stance near the mantle and the warm fire. "I will just be here." He addressed Armatren.
"You must be famished." The Brother indicated for Armatren to take a seat at the table with him. He smiled. "Your friend always such a loner?" He whispered but loud enough to be heard by both.
"For the most part." Armatren proceeded to take a seat offered to him. "His trust in people is very limited."
Martez then came near the table and extended his hand to take an apple. "I trust no one." Martez explained. "If this offends you I do apologize." He bite into the apple letting the juices run through his beard and onto his clothing. "It's nothing personal about you. I am indebted to you for the ride."
"Not at all." The Brother assured him. "It is good to be cautious." He offered a goblet of wine to Martez. "It is sometimes difficult discovering what evil maybe lurking. But we are all good men here. Men of God. We accept and learn to grow more spiritually from all that cross our paths." He gave a deep sigh. "Some though see that as a weakness, our generosity that is and take advantage of our weakness"
Martez had no expression on his face. It was as if what the Brother had said went in one ear and out the other. The Brother then continued. "The way I see it though - when one steals from us it is us giving them charity. It is obvious they must have needed it more than we."
"Very wise." Armatren agreed as he helped himself to more of the savory type foods upon the table. "That is a good attitude to have."
"It is a lame excuse for letting people take advantage of you." Martez added tossing his apple core into a basket below the table used for catching scraps. "To me it sounds like something someone with no backbone would say."
The brother smiled, "Perhaps it is the stronger man that learns to look the other way." He poured a little more wine. "There is more to life than material gain. After all is it not the soul that is rewarded after death?"
Armatren was enjoying hearing the men arguing politely back and forth. Besides he had never seen the more philosophical side to Martez and found it enlightening.
"I must commend you and the others for the remarkable repairs to the Shrine." Martez changed the subject tossing that out almost like a jab with a foil.
The Brother pushed his chair aside and taking his wine goblet went to retire closer to the mantle where the fire was dying down. He poked it a bit and tossed another log. "It was long and tedious work." He commented finally. "But sometimes it is best to destroy the past and start fresh again." He knew exactly who Martez was now. Martez knew exactly that message was directed at him to forget the past. Armatren merely tilted his head to Martez as if to say. "I told you so."
"You are an academic man. I find your company refreshing." Armatren smiled to the Brother.
"And you my boy are a ray of sunshine giving us hope of a better future." He smiled back. "A warm ray and this cold secluded place could use that."
Martez finally grew tired of standing and found a place in the corner but within ear and eye of Armatren.
"Did you study in Benneret?" The Brother asked of Armatren.
"No sir." Armatren answered. "My parents both tutored me at home."
"Amazing." The Brother was really enjoying this boy and his intelligence. "We shall have long talks you and I."
Armatren smiled. "I look forward to those."
"Brother Kincaid! Brother Kincaid!" Came a shout down the corridor and then an exasperated monk clung to the doorway. "Come quickly." He gasped for breathe.
Brother Kincaid rose to his feet. "Brother Emanuel what the devil are you going on about?"
"It is the Baron." He took Brother Kincaid's wine goblet and drank heavily. "I was there with the infant....and then suddenly the Baron took ill.." Kincaid took the goblet back so he could hear Brother Emanuel speak instead of gargling his words. "He has gone mad! He now calls for no one but you!" He calmed a little more. "He claims to have seen a vision." His eyes widened.
Armatren wasted no time. He left the room and headed straightway to the stables. Martez glanced about at the others then followed suit. "Donkeys will take us forever." He shivered as the cold hit him fiercely once again. Armatren just kept moving as if weather conditions were of no concern. "Look they have horses." Martez began prepping the horses for a ride. "Besides according to Brother Kincaid this isn't considered stealing anyway." That slightly got Armatren's attention and he gave Martez a wry look.
Brother Kincaid and Brother Emanuel were only a few minutes behind them. Other Brothers came to help the four prepare to leave., some running in carrying satchels of provisions. "These were prepared quickly I hope they have enough to sustain you in this weather." Brother Kincaid took the satchels and handed one to Martez and another to Armatren. "We must hurry before the heaviest snow begins to fall. Valen is just a twenty minute ride over the hill and down into the dale." They each mounted and took off out of the stable.
It wasn't but maybe ten minutes into the ride that the blizzard began. Luckily they managed to make it into the center of the Village of Valen. "We must stop!" Armatren yelled into the howling biting wind. "There is a small tavern just right there." He pointed but the snow so thick it was hard to make the outline of the building but the others followed close behind Armatren.
Three stable boys came out to tend the horses and inside the four went to escape the torrential weather. The tavern was nearly empty except for a small group playing a card game and the keeper himself. "Welcome welcome." He called to them as they entered. "Take a seat by the fire and warm yourselves." The four nodded and headed to where a bright blazing fire warmed the air. "Can I get you anything? Food? drink?" The keeper asked from across the room.
"We came to warm ourselves." Kincaid pushed the wrap off his head.
"Brother Kincaid?" The keeper sounded a bit surprised. "What the heavens bring you out on a night such as this?" He finished wiping down some newly cleaned mugs.
"Enough questions" Martez rudely interrupted. "Leave us be."
The keeper seeing his company was unwelcome stepped away from the bar and went about other tasks. Martez reached into his pouch exposing a large onyx ring then placed it on his finger. There was very little conversation and once they were warmed and the blizzard died down they began to head back out. On the way to the door Martez flipped a coin to the keeper for his troubles.
It was just a few more miles before they reached Castle Chez and sitting on their horses just outside of the castle gates. It was heavily armed and guarded giving the impression something was happening but yet their were no armies surrounding or even within miles. "It looks to be Brother Kincaid!" One guard finally shouted. The gates began to open. Stable boys ran to tend to the horses.
Another man came running from the castle entrance. "He is out of his mind!" He proclaimed as he approached Brother Kincaid. "He is also burning to the touch. We can not keep him still." The man then glanced back eyeing Martez. Then he stopped one of the passing guards. "Please show Brother Kincaid to the Baron." Brother Kincaid and Brother Emanuel continued on with the guard. A sudden smile swept across the face of Martez. "My Lord Martez?!" The man bowed quickly and then they embraced with laughter. "We all presumed you dead."
"I have been busy." Martez remarked while taking Armatren by the shoulder and pulling him nearer. "This is my ward, Armatren of Trependy." He introduced the boy. "Armatren this is Sir Elric O'Neille."
"Pleasure to make your acquaintance." Armatren responded. "May I see the child born this day?"
Elric was puzzled. "No one knows of the birth." He spoke in a confused manner. He then looked towards Martez. "But since you are family I suppose it would be allowed." As they passed down the corridors the Baron could be heard yelling from his chambers. Armatren stopped by his door a minute and before Martez and Elric realized Armatren opened the door letting himself inside.
"Still he calls for the wise one." Brother Kincaid could be heard. Martez and Elric tried to reach the boy but it was too late he was now standing fully in front of the bed.
"I thought for certain he was calling for you." Brother Emanuel told Kincaid. The room became dead quiet then as Baron Chez sat up crawling closer to Armatren with a smile widening across his face. Martez reached to take Armatren's shoulder but Kincaid stopped Martez's hand. Everyone just watched in silence.
"You!" Baron Chez nearly whispered speaking directly to Armatren. He smiled larger. Martez stepped forward now afraid the Baron's madness would bring harm to Armatren. Armatren paid little attention to Martez but simply moved closer yet to the Baron. "You are here! You have come at last!" The Baron hopped from the bed and grabbed Armatren up in a swinging hug. Armatren lightly touched his thumb to the Baron's forehead. You could see a peacefulness overtake the Baron and he allowed himself to fall back into the bed. His eyes slowly closed and then he was asleep.
"Bring the Baron's medication!" The head Physician called.
"No." Armatren countered his orders. "He is peaceful now. Allow him his sleep with no interruptions. He will not wake any time soon." He then turned to Sir Elric. "Now good Sir if you please shall we continue to the child?"
Elric was a bit nervous about Armatren now but he said absolutely nothing as he escorted them to the Baroness and the sleeping infant. "The child sleeps close to his Mother." Elric spoke as he gently opened the door. The Baroness was in the middle of feasting as the delivery left her somewhat famished. Elric bowed to her before speaking. "Baroness Estelle I apologize for the intrusion." She kindly smiled to him. "This is Lord Martez Chamberlain, Uncle to your husband. He and his ward have traveled a great distance to visit and have requested permission to see the infant."
"Lord Martez." She smiled and extended her hand out towards him which Martez regally bowed and kissed her back hand.
"A pleasure." Martez returned the smile.
The three adults watched as Armatren paid them no mind but went directly to the sleeping infant.
"Sir Elric would you help escort me to my child?" She asked showing she was still having some pains from the childbirth. Elric joined her quickly and they moved closer to Armatren. "What a strange child." She whispered.
"What name shall your son be called?" Armatren asked the Mother.
"Travers Estus Chamberlain." She answered him. "And what is your name?"
"I am Armatren." He told her. "I have come to serve your child." This made Estelle smile and almost giggle.
"And why the special interest in my child , Great Adviser?" She was playing with him.
"Under my guidance he will be a great and powerful King." Armatren casually answered.
Estelle grew wide eyed now. Elric gave a small clearing of his throat. Martez shuffled his feet a little nervous. "You would have him made a King?" She questioned while thinking either this child has an imagination of grandeur or this was a joke. She knew full well that King Hamilton would have something to say regarding that. After all it took decades for the Chamberlain family to even gain favor enough to hold land.
"In time." Armatren reported to her. "But for now he will be yours. I will let you know when the time comes to cut the bindings between Mother and child." Armatren stroked the child's forehead tenderly. The infant seemed to smile in his sleep at the touch. "When the time comes I expect your full cooperation."
Estelle seemed timid and uncertain what she was hearing. She was half tempted to tell Sir Elric to escort this child far from the castle. But something kept her from doing so. She was curious.
"Tell me Baroness." Armatren now turned to actually see her. "What do you know of Brother Kincaid?"
Once again she was taken off guard. "Only that he is the wisest of the men that I know. He is true of heart."
Armatren smiled at the words. "Martez." He called. "I would desire to spend more time with Brother Kincaid. I feel his spirit will be good for this child." Armatren then knelt close to the cradle.
"What do you suggest?" Martez inquired of the boy.
Estelle touched her infant gently. "You may stay on here at the castle if you so wish. We have plenty of room." She looked to Martez. "Besides you are family as Elric has pointed out. Do we dare turn family away?" She then turned to Armatren. "Invitation extends to you as well."
"No." Armatren nodded his head. "I think I would prefer to stay with the Brothers at the Sanctuary." He thought briefly. "Tell me of the Baron Chezerus, your husband."
"He is a good man." She answered his question growing a bit use to this game. "His land and his people are treated fairly."
Armatren shook his head. "No, I mean tell me is he strong? Is he capable to stand and fight? Can he be a real leader?"
Estelle was growing weak from standing and retired back to her chair. "That is hard to answer." She started. "He has never been tested on such things."
"I wish council with Baron Chezerus tomorrow." Armatren addressed Sir Elric. "Can that be arranged?"
"I see no reason why not." Sir Elric replied.