Copyright© 2007 by Volentrin
For the next three weeks, John stayed at Foxworth Manor. He liked the place, and with everything growing as it was, there was something new to see almost every day. All the plowing and planting was done. The flower gardens close to the house itself, were starting to bloom with a riot of colors.
John considered some improvements to the house almost on a daily basis. It was impossible for him to do otherwise than to want to improve things as best he could. Some were simple improvements. Others were complicated, and would require a great deal of work.
Still, he did not implement any new construction projects as he was loathe to tear anything up at this time. Also, he was unsure if what he wanted to accomplish was feasible in this time and place.
One thing he did do though, was to study and read the books of magic in his library. He had seen first hand that magic worked in this place, but he was reluctant to try it himself without supervision.
He was also a little reluctant to go to the King's city of Carlston. While he was excited at the prospect of visiting it, he had no one there to help him 'learn the ropes'. He knew he should present himself to the King's court, but his understanding was he should be introduced.
He considered his options, and thought of writing to Count Breverton for help in this matter. However, it was resolved for him. On the morning that began his fourth week at Foxworth, a messenger arrived from the Carlston City, with an invitation to the spring court.
The messenger was from the palace itself, and wore the royal colors of black and silver. The messenger had asked for John by name, and then delivered an envelope directly into his hands.
"I was instructed to give this to you directly, my Lord. Now that I have, I ask your leave," the messenger stated formally.
"My thanks for a job well done. You have my permission to withdraw, your commission is completed," John responded with equal formality.
John was left with an envelope sealed in wax, and wrapped with a blue ribbon. It was a large envelope, very ornate, with a hand drawn griffin on the front. This was the symbol of the King. The royal seal in wax, on the back flap, displayed a different depiction of a griffin.
John went to the main office of his house, and sat behind the great desk. He carefully untied the ribbon, and then gently lifted the wax seal with a warm knife, leaving the seal intact. He withdrew the heavy parchment paper contained within the envelope. Unfolding the parchment he carefully read what was written upon it.
To Baron John Belinty
Master of Foxworth
We, King Ulstead the First,
do command that your presence
next week at court. Therefore, you
are enjoined to hold yourself in readiness
for any and all commands we might have,
and to appear at the spring ball.
John read and reread the letter, which was a politely worded command to appear at court and also to attend a ball of some sort. This was totally unexpected. He considered his options, and sent for Cal.
"You sent for me my lord?" Cal asked when he arrived in the den.
"Read this, and tell me your thoughts," John said, handing over the invitation.
Cal read the invitation quickly, and returned it to John.
"It is a politely worded command for your appearance at court, and then for you to attend the spring ball that the King throws every year," Cal finally stated.
"Yes, that's what I understood it to say, also. However, I have no idea how to present myself at court, never having done anything like that before. Any suggestions?" John asked curiously.
"If I may suggest, you might try asking one of your neighbors. All have experience at attending court, and most if not all of them have attended the King's gatherings. It will take me only a day, or two at the most, to get you invited to one of the two closest of your neighbors, my Lord," Cal said thoughtfully.
So it was, that John left it to Cal to wangle an invitation to one of the neighbors, in the hope that they would instruct John in the niceties of court etiquette. Cal had also suggested that John might like to take a carriage into the City, and get himself outfitted with appropriate clothing for a court appearance.
In all the time that John had so far lived in this land, he had never really considered wearing anything other than the clothing that he had brought with him. Now, it had become urgent that he make himself look the part of a local Lord.
Foxworth maintained two coaches, one open to the air. The other was enclosed, in case of bad weather. John settled on the closed in coach, as the one he would take to town. He did not feel like parading himself before any who saw him. He was also feeling a bit self-conscious about being looked at in his present attire.
The next day saw him seated inside the bad weather coach, which was pulled by a team of four horses. It took about forty minutes to make the trip into the city of Carlston. John gawked at it as he was driven through town.
Cal had instructed the driver to take John to a specific clothier. Shortly after entering the city, they arrived at his destination.
Two hours later, John left the shop. He knew he would be well outfitted for court, and for the spring affair. He had ordered four sets of court dress, and two sets of clothing just for the ball.
His next stop was the boot makers. This was his first experience at having boots custom made. He ordered three sets of boots, two in the color brown, and one in black, to be made to his measurements. When his day was finished, his purse was lighter by several gold coins. Still, it was cheap at the price.
"Coachman, do you know of an establishment close by, where I can get something decent to eat and drink?" John asked when he returned to the coach.
"Yes, my Lord. There are several close by that serve excellent meals at all times of the day," the coachman responded.
John instructed him to take him to the closest one and they were off. A short time later they pulled into a gated yard in an upscale area of town. They came to a halt beside an ornate door.
"The Golden Arrow, my Lord. One of the best Inns in the city and frequented by the gentry. I figured you would want to be comfortable, and the class of people in here is such that you will have no problems," the coachman said.
"Then I suggest you park the coach, and you and my guard should grab something to eat also. My treat. Will this be enough?" John asked, taking out a gold coin and passing it to the coachman.
"All this, for myself and the two guards? You will have change, my Lord," the coachman declared.
"Split the change between you, as a token of my thanks for the patience shown by all," John said, and went into the Inn.
As he went though the door, he had to wait a moment, for his eyes to adjust to the darker interior.
'Still, it is decently lit, for the time and period, ' John thought.