A dangerous seed
It had been a chilly autumn morning, a distant sun still warm on his face. He’d been much smaller then, small enough to sit in front of the king on his horse. That was a safe place.
“Are we going on a picnic?”
“Are we going on a picnic, your majesty” the older man corrected absently, his chest heaving against Cyn’s back in a sigh. “Now that you are a page, you must remember to always use my title in public.”
Cyn fiddled with the royal tassels on the royal saddle. “Yes your majesty”.
“We are not going on a picnic. Look around you, what do you see?”
The boy looked around, craning his head around his majesty's arms and back behind, trying to see everything. He nearly fell off, but the King knew his ward, and was ready to steady him. “We have the guards. And no girls. And no wagons for food”. He looked up, at the Kings’ chin. “No picnic without food.” That was a shame, he could really have gone for one of matron Gessis’ sweet cakes just about then. “Are we going somewhere dangerous?”
“Maybe” said the king. “The Irish landed in a village on the coast under the cover of darkness. We need to see what happened, find out how large their force was, and try to help the people. You are old enough now to see the consequences of a raid for yourself.”
They had both been quiet for the remainder of the ride, and what met Cyns’ eyes when they arrived had never left him.
As he stood on the beach now, feeling much older compared to those days than he actually was, looking at the bodies sprawled on the sand and bobbing obscenely in the water, the burnt ruin of that village came back to him. Fishing shacks lay black and ragged along the waters’ edge, many of the houses on the nearby bluff much the same. Among the dead lay naked, savage men, the men who had come with murder to Lyonesse. They had not been ready for the small army that was camped nearby, not enough to save the the village, but enough to make sure they paid for their greed.
An unfamiliar emotion wriggled in his breast, burrowing greedily towards his heart. A cold and distant loathing, whetted sharp by rage. Irishmen.
“Boy! Go find the Kings’ share”
“Yes Sir Clesek”
He trudged down to the beach, reluctantly going about the unpleasant business of searching dead men for their valuables.