Eamonn’s shoulders slumped, his eyes cast down. Maddox sat back in his chair, wiping across his tired eyes as the young man dealt with the news. Eventually, Eamonn looked up at him. His eyes pleading for him to go back on his decision, but Maddox tightened his upper lip, and stood by his decision. To Eamonn, the Baron’s eyes felt like they were boring into his, they were harsh on his. What’s more, the rejection made him feel like the most insignificant person in the world, he’d come here today hoping to find some sort of guidance, now he was looking at the prospect of returning home in misery.
Maddox considered the boy again, he knew the proceedings, he looked across at the stranger at the back of the room. They were now leaning forward expectantly, waiting for their decision to be spoken aloud, it did not however, include what Maddox said next.
“I think that you would be better suited to being a stable hand.” Both Eamonn’s and the stranger’s heads came up at this revelation, the stranger went to stand, ready to interrupt but after a look from Maddox he sat down, allowing Maddox to continue on, “Lord knows that we need the numbers, they’re always moving from province to province and before we know it we’ve gone from having almost twenty here in Faraday, to barely half a dozen, with most of them moving on to Kilerth or Padstow.” Maddox said. It was the honest truth, there always seemed to be a shortage in one area of work, and it always seemed that the next batch of possible recruits would want to join one of the clans that had little space for them.
Having spent a long time waiting for his chance, an age in Eamonn’s young mind, a time where he had been looking for some adventure and thrills to his life, he saw this new development as a consignment to a life locked away in the castle stables, any hope of travelling and searching the wide reaches of the world were gone, replaced by the meager lifestyle of day after day shoeing horses and cleaning stalls. He had set his sights on being placed in at least one of his options, instead tending to some supposed celebrity’s animal was to be the highlight for him.
It was at this moment that the Baron’s Chamberlain re-entered the room. Closing the door loudly, he cleared his throat loudly to gain his superior’s attention. The Baron looked at the man, noticing now that the stranger had left his chair and abruptly left the room unobtrusively, he smiled at that as he addressed his assistant. “Good timing Edric, I would like you to let Lyverild know that Eamonn, here” he said gesturing to the boy seated across from him, “will be under her tutelage from tomorrow onwards.”
“At once, my lord” Edric replied, “I was also wondering, my lord, shall I be bringing Sam in again to see?” Edric asked, Maddox quickly waved away the suggestion, “That won’t be necessary for the time being, Edric” the Chamberlain bowed to his senior and scurried back to his office to take care of the paperwork. Maddox looked back to Eamonn and saw the boy’s disappointment.
“There are a number of advantages in being a stable boy, Eamonn,” he told him. “First of all, you’ll get to work close up with some of the most brilliant, not to mention beautiful, animals you’ll ever see” the comforting words were little more than token gesture.
“There are also other possibilities,” he said “you will most likely need to care for the battle-horses that we take into battle, you’ll be in attendance to look after them if we so happen to go to battle. That will put you in a dangerous situation and we knights can’t have as a burden, every stable hand does some training with a sword and spear.” Eamonn looked up at Maddox. There was an immediate shift in his shoulders, now he had straightened slightly as Maddox told him this.
Maddox smiled and continued on describing some of the more exciting details the boy could look forward to. “Over the next six months, you’ll spend working in the breeding stables, you’ll learn about raising and caring for them in the early stages of their lives and how important it is to train them. Then you’ll be assigned to a station here in our stables. You will be here for another six months or so. For much of your second year you will be placed under the tutelage of a few of our weapons masters at the academy. They’re particularly well equipped with handling people in situations such as your and it shouldn’t take them long to show you what you need to know in close-quarters combat. You won’t be an expert at it, but you’ll be capable enough so that if the need arises, you’ll be able to defend yourself, you’ll learn that there is safety in numbers.” He stated, humour evident in his tone. “And you never know,” he added cryptically, “something more appealing may come up in the process.”
Maddox knew that the prospect of being in sheltered and repetitive job wasn’t overly appealing for someone his age, but Maddox knew that there were opportunities out there for Eamonn to prove himself. There was was something in the boy’s body language that told Maddox that Eamonn was beginning to look forward to this opportunity. Understandably, he would still be disappointed being passed on for his preferred choices, but this certainly had some advantages.
Eamonn had a grim smile on his face. It wouldn’t be the best thing for the first year, he knew that. He had the feeling thought that if he just got to his second year then he may be able to show everyone that he was meant for more. In his heart, it was something he felt he could achieve.
There was one other thing that got Eamonn thinking. It was the way that the baron had talked about the possibility that “something more appealing may come up in the process”. To his ears it had sounded like it was a matter-of-fact. He wondered if there was something that he didn’t know that Maddox did, or was just a coincidence. Eamonn filed it away for further thinking.
With discussions done for the time being, Maddox called for Sam to come back in. Maddox then addressed the two of them for a final time. He congratulated them both on successfully being sorted into a position and wished them luck. Being on the tight schedule that Maddox was, he unfortunately had to move on to the next meeting. He only had the eight applicants that morning, with these two being the first, but he had other matters he needed to attend to before the day was through. This business with the Azarowan treaty correspondents is damn nuisance, it was a thought he’d had many times over the last few days. Once he was satisfied everything had been taken care of with the boys, he ‘shooed’ them both away. Hastily, the two had bowed and thanked the man, leaving the Baron to tend to his paperwork.