The next day, an hour after sunrise, the little party reached the crest of a hill looking down on Alfred Connal’s estates. Wearily, for they had traveled all night, they started descending. They stopped at the bottom of the hill and ate breakfast. Then they snatched a few moments sleep before continuing.
When they reached the entrance to the lands, a guard challenged. Lady Jane replied, and they were let through. Continuing up the road, they reached the castle an hour later. Another guard called down to them,
“Who goes there?”
“Lady Jane and company!”
“Pass through!” and the heavy gates swung open with much protesting of hinges.
They rode through, and grooms materialized out of nowhere to lead their tired horses away. A page appeared and conducted them to the keep. They entered a room hung with skins and trophies. The page told them to wait there, and he scampered off to find Alfred Connal. A moment later this great lord appeared.
“Lady Jane!” he entered the room. “What a pleasant surprise! You look all tired out. Serno!” he clapped his hands and the page appeared, “Take my guests to their rooms, and be sure they have everything they need. You can tell me your business later, my lady, as soon as you have had some rest.”
Sir Alfred was a middle aged man, strongly built, but tall. He wore a hat that belonged in the high Middle Ages, with curly brown locks peeking through the bottom. Below that was a starched lace collar, which was attached to a tight fitting body suit the color of ripe cherries. Over this was a larger jacket with puffed sleeves, purple in color. Leggings belonging to the red under-suit, along with velvet green slippers, completed his outfit. His face was kindly, with wrinkles around his eyes which betrayed his good humor. His eyes, a merry blue, twinkled and laughed of their own accord. His mouth seemed like it was made for the corners to go up. The servants reported that in all their serving days, they had never known that mouth to turn down. (more…)