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Wednesday, 08 June 2005
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The Tale of Sir Robert, chapter iii. Journey to the Empire
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Sir Robert slowly regained consciousness. He could hear Bretonnian-sounding voices around him, much to his relief. He was alive and safe, even if his head was throbbing and all his limbs ached. Slowly he opened his eyes, squinting against the bright light that filled them. Blurry figures moved around against a stripy background, he appeared to be inside a pavillion. One of the figures saw him moving and hurried over. The figure said "Ah, you're awake. How do you feel?" He recognised the voice as Sir Orin, the paladin he had been fighting alongside when he had been struck down. "Terrible", he answered, "What happened? Were we flanked? They all seemed to be running".

"Nothing so dramatic, I'm afraid. The top of your standard had been damaged, and it came off as you were celebrating and nearly brained you. You're lucky you've got a thick skull, the healers tell me you should be fine with a couple of days rest."

"The standard?" Sir Robert asked in amazement, "The standard knocked me out?"

"I'm afraid so." Sir Orin replied, "The pole had been damaged just beneath the head, and the bronze eagle snapped off and fell on you. I've never seen anything like that happen before, but luckily you're okay and the battle was won. Krell was struck down, as you saw, but I'm afraid Kemmler held out until nightfall and then escaped. Anyway, you need to sleep. I'll be back later."

Sir Robert lay back on his bed, and quickly slipped back into sleep. When he next awoke it was dark and there was a thunderous drumming noise that made his head throb. The air was smoky and he could see the flickering light of a fire to his left. Turning his head slightly, he saw a cowled figure sat by the fire, stirring a cauldron. He feared that his earlier conversation had been a dream, that he had been taken to some evil place or that this was the underworld.

The cowled figure turned, having heard his movements, and approached him. It held something in its hands that seemed to steam. He shrank back in fear as it drew close, too weak to defend himself against whatever the creature could be planning. It leant over him and spoke a single word in a thick accent, "Zuppa?"

Sir Robert stared blankly at the figure. The voice was heavily accented, but unmistakably human, and sounded kindly. His addled brain slowly came to realisation, the cowled man was speaking Reikspiel and was offering him soup. Confused, he racked his brains for the correct reply, but gave up and nodded his head. This seemed to work, for the man helped him sit up and then gave him the bowl of soup and a spoon.

Sir Robert downed it hungrily. It felt like days since he had last eaten. In fact, he realised, it could well have been days, as he did not know how long he had been lying here. The figure, who Sir Robert now realised must be one of the monks of Taal at the abbey that had been here, offered him bread, which he ate just as eagerly. As he became more awake, he realised also that the drumming was heavy rain beating against the roof pavilion. He also began to remember some of the Reik spiel he had learned at ?lfinfort, and was able to ask the monk his name.

"Brother Johannes", the monk replied, before a moan from one of the other beds drew him away to investigate its source. Sir Robert lay back down. He knew now that he was in a temporary infirmary, and he knew the name of one of the monks tending them. He also knew that the rhythm of the beating rain was very hypnotic and that he was exhausted, before long he fell back asleep.

When he next awoke, it was daylight again and the rain had ceased. A figure in a brown habit, who Sir Robert realised must be another of the monks, was checking the beds. He managed to sit himself up this time, then when the monk came over managed to summon enough Reikspiel to ask for Sir Orin. The monk nodded, and gave him more bread and soup to eat while he waited.

For a long time, nothing happened, and Sir Robert wondered if the monk had understood him, or though he was just requesting food. Eventually, however, Sir Orin appeared. "What's happening?" Sir Robert asked him. "How long until I'm allowed up again?"

Sir Orin, who was obviously fluent in Reikspiel, spoke briefly with the monk, then told Sir Robert that he would be allowed up that evening for the meal, although he was to drink but a single glass of wine and was to return here for the night. In the morning, if all proved well, he would be allowed to leave the infirmary.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 16 October 2005 )
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