My gratitude to Damien and the crew this past weekend is beyond words. I had such a lovely time and cannot wait until the next one (next year. *lol*) Thank you for working with us to make sure Kacey was properly accommodated for and by accepting the little things that couldn't be quite period. *hugs*
And Galen - thanks for the fun idea of recounting the weekend's trip. :-)
To my girls, Alessandra and Pádraigín for going along with the crazy pack-horse idea - you're amazing.
Kat and Anna, next time, my friends - NEXT time. *mwah*
And Richard, Jawhar, and Hildebrand - best men of the valley a lady could hope to come across. Thanks for being awesome camp-mates.
And of course, Severin and Catalina for giving us a place to Trek. I love you ladies.
In Service to the Dream,
From Seville, AS 50
To my dear Duke, His Grace, Eringlin, and dearest Duchess, Alethea, who are like parents to this humble lady, Eowyth, a student of the household of Aldhelm, greetings and a ready will to do his pleasure.
I report from the lands of the Andulus stallions, whence I journeyed this past weekend to visit the Qadiya, whom we have had successful and joyful partnership in the past. Unfortunately, the visit to celebrate the festival of food did not happen as planned.
After spending the day hunting and riding the lands with you, we packed our camp, making sure to have enough food, and set off with my wellbeloved friend, Alessandra, the Archer. We were to meet the astrologer, Pádraigín, as well as two German ladies, along the road and travel together to the beautiful city of Seville. We did not meet them along the road before the Qadiya sent word to us that their city was about to come under Siege and that I should take a different route, so that I may not fall harm to these raiders. Unable to get word to Pádraigín or the others, I vowed that I would travel to a safe area with Alessandra and then find Pádraigín myself along the roadway, for one is harder to catch than two with a packhorse. I took your advice and had dressed in a men's cote, so that we might not present an easy target to roadway thieves as we traveled.
We took a back route headed toward the city that was rocky, but not impassable. Thank goodness for my ever-present steed, Kacey, otherwise we would have not been able to travel with our camp through these woods. Ahead, we could see a clearing. But our excitement to rest our feet was dampened by the presence of a camp and a few men. Who were they? Would we be harmed? Alessandra is an excellent archer, but I have not developed your skill with the sword and so if they chose to charge us, we would have no protection but our desires to live. Alessandra, being the ever happy friend, told me to stop my fretting and we should just approach and be friendly. After all, they did not know I was a woman, and they would dare not bring harm to a peaceful couple.
And so, we approached and two of the men stood up, another out in the woods - they were quite tall and bearded. At first, I feared that these were part of the men setting Siege to the Qadiya's fair city. But with them was a Moorish guide, so surely these men were not the raiders we had sought to avoid. As we approached, they shouted greetings at us and admired our horse. They asked where we were traveling to and given their friendly natures, I decided to tell - we were headed to Seville, to meet with the Qadiya. The Moorish guide at this point grew worried and told us we must not go to the city. Had I not heard it was under Siege? The leader, who named himself Damien, suggested that we camp with them for the evening. Surely the raiders would be gone by the next day, either from defeat or from the desire to return home with their stolen goods. I hoped for defeat, for the Qadiya and her people have always been good to us, but understanding these were no normal raiders, I feared the worst. Alessandra and I decided to stay the eve, for these men seemed honorable. And it was approaching dark, so heading into the city would not have been wise without knowing our way. We hitched Kacey and unpacked our camp. They were much impressed by the goods we brought with us. I don't believe they are used to meeting noblepersons. After setting the tent, I decided it was time to get into clothes befitting a lady of my station. Alessandra stood watch as I changed in the tent and when I came out, properly attired, the men were quite surprised that two noble ladies were traveling together. Where was our protection? But they agreed that my disguise had been in good thought.
After making sure that Kacey was set with forage and water for the evening, we brought out the food and began preparing dinner. We had turnips and onions and spices and some fare from the lunch we had brought along. There was salted fish and the men (who had now named themselves Damien, Hildebrand, Richard, and the guide, Jawhar) had brought sustenance of their own. We agreed it would be best to share a fire and since we brought plenty for the journey, it seemed kind to share our food. I, being the thoughtful host, had also brought mead and other drinks, which were happily accepted around the fireside. As the food cooked, a Pilgrim approached, known by his clothing and knapsack. He came from the South, from the direction of the city, and he brought tidings of the Siege. There had been a festival (the one we had hoped to attend), but warriors could be seen approaching and so he left the fair city, desiring not to be caught in warfare. He seemed kind and was grateful to be given a spot at the fire. We offered him food, but he had eaten well at the festival and had his own provisions to keep him sustained. He did accept our offer to camp with us for the evening and he would be on his way the next morning.
While we sat and talked, I began to grow worried about Pádraigín and the Germans. The one called Hildebrand left to see to the fate of the city and I hoped he would find my friends and bring them safely back to us. No sooner had I started to worry, but I heard loud cries of joy come from the direction of the city (what a celebration must be happening! I hoped the siege was ended) and soon enough, the tall Norseman could be seen coming down the trail with Pádraigín happily following. They brought news that the fighting had ended, a truce had been reached and there were now dancing girls, drumming, and drinking around the fires of Seville. The Germans had decided to stay and celebrate. This made me happy, because where there is dancing, there is the Qadiya. And her people would not have celebrated if anything had befallen her during the siege.
And so, with friends safely in presence, we lounged around the fire, swapping stories of our lands, our different foods, and sharing drink. A few noble persons came from the city to visit, for it seemed Damien was known to these people and had much to share with them. A friend I hold dear also came and sat with us for awhile. We were much closer to the city than I had realized, so I was grateful the men had stopped us before stepping into the fighting unknowingly.
As the night wore on and the bottles of drink were emptied, Hildebrand and I decided to venture to the city, for I wanted to see the Qadiya alive and well for myself. As the city was close by, we took flame and headed on the trail. I told Alessandra and Pádraigín that I would be fine. I may not have mastered the sword yet, but I was deadly with a dagger. Damien instructed Hildebrand to come back with drink and news of the city. And so we traveled along a steep hill through the woods. It wound back five or six times before we reached the main road. The area was empty. There were kitchen fires set up at intervals and the remains of a celebration, but the evidence of warfare as well. We walked along and collected bottles of drink that had been left unopened on tables and stumps. We were about to turn back when I heard the drums - dancers! And so we wandered towards the sound of the drums. As we rounded the corner, I could see my dear friend and her people celebrating the truce. I met her and greeted her with joyous feelings of gratitude, for she indeed had not been harmed. The city was wounded, but would recover and the invaders had agreed to leave in the morning. This evening was a celebration of agreed peace. We spoke for moments, but it was getting late and I desired to return to my camp and my horse. We departed with promise to return after the city had settled and walked back to our camp in the valley.
Having gathered bottles, the camp was much revived and discussion took place well into the darkness of night. After finishing our last bottle, those of us left awake decided it was a good time to rest our eyes. The Pilgrim had retired to the guide's tent (who had left for other responsibilities) and we disbursed to our sleeping arrangements. It is good that I was sharing the tent with two others, for the air had grown cold and the three of us heated the tent comfortably.
As the sun rose, Alessandra brought me a delicious morning drink from Richard and we set about eating and talking about the long trek home. After leftover turnips and oatcakes with honey, we packed camp back on Kacey and said our farewells to these kind men in the valley. I do not know if we shall ever come upon them again, but I do hope that fortune smiles upon us and it is so.
I shall travel with Alessandra and Pádraigín for a while longer, but soon shall be home to the Kings Highway, where I will attend the horses and learn under your teaching. For now, Farewell.