Friday, 19 March 2010

An Education for a Young Nobleman

Adrick's father became Ronard Baron Morand, and a few years later Adrick's education started in earnest.

Weapons training was his favorite part of the day. He and Master Bartol, his Father's Weapons Master, practiced in padded gambesons, using wooden weapons. Adrick didn't mind getting thumped by Bartol, as long as he got to thump back. The thumps were sometimes painful, but Bartol was teaching him how to protect himself, as well as how to deliver blows.
"No, Adrick, keep your shoulders down." (A thump to the leg emphasized Bartol's point.) "When you get excited, your arms drift up, and that's my signal to hit you in the leg or body. Whenever you notice your arms drifting up, make a conscious effort to pull them back down, even if it seems you've pulled them too far down. Believe me," (here Bartol launched a blow at Adrick's head which Adrick blocked almost without conscious thought) "you'll still be able to block head shots. It's the low shots that can sneak in on you." (as a leg shot came sneaking in, that Adrick barely blocked, even at full panic-driven speed.) "If you keep your shoulders down all the time, your arms will stay down, too."

Adrick was also learning to read and write ancient and modern Frankosian, under the tutelage of Master Alosius, an itinerant scholar whom Baron Ronard had hired for the purpose. This had been a shrewd deal on the Baron's part; Alosius was comparatively young, just up from journeyman, and was working mostly for room and board, and access to the excellant Baronial library accumulated by Ronard's forbears.
When Adrick had sufficiently mastered the Literate Arts, he was also allowed to handle the valuable books in his Father's library. One day, he was comparing and contrasting modern to ancient Frankosian by studying two illuminated histories of the Frankosian Empire, which he had open side by side on the table. "Master Alosius, why does this book show Korgan the Great astride a Black Griffin, and this other book shows him on a Royal Griffin?"
"Well, Adrick," said Master Alosius, as he studied the two illuminated manuscripts, looking for some clue to the answer to Adrick's question, "um, well, if you look at this book with the Black Griffin, Mabelard's Newe Historie of the Frankosean Empyre, see how crude the illumination is, and if you look at the back of the book, where the scribe signed his name, you also see the date it was completed, the 65th Year of the Empire. And look how much finer the art is in the other book, Pelotyr's Acts of the Frankosian Kings, and look, this book was completed in the 817th Year of the Empire, see, it is much newer. So just as the artwork in Pelotyr's Acts is more beautiful and realistic, so is its historical accuracy also superior. And logic supports this. Of course Korgan the Great, first King of the Griffin Empire of Frankosia, would have ridden a Royal Griffin, not a Black Griffin." Smiling, Alosius stood up from the books, satisfied with his explanation.
"But didn't Korgan find Swiftstrike, his Griffin, in the forest? So maybe Swiftstrike was a wild Black Griffin!"
"Um, well, it may be that Korgan is variously shown on different types of Griffins to symbolize that Korgan was the master of all Griffins. Or perhaps ..." Alosius was beginning to wonder about the advisability of thinking out loud in front of the boy, "perhaps the depiction of Korgan astride a Royal Griffin symbolizes an existential transmogrification of a wild Griffin into a mount worthy of a King."
"A egg-, eggs-..."
"Don't worry about it. You will learn to deal with such apparent paradoxes as you advance in your studies."
"A parent, a pair of ..."
"I said don't worry about it. Now, then, we were looking at these two books to study the vowel changes that took place during the second century."