Friday, December 02, 2005

Today's Word: Yeoman

Lord Tartar gagged as the poison seized his airway like a hangman's noose. He clawed at the heavy brocade collar about his neck, but found no relief. Silently, and red-faced, his eyes squirmed about the table as his high-born lady and noble children began to take notice.
"Harvard?" asked his wife, the first hint of alarm creeping into her refined tones.
"Da?" said his eldest son, the one who would inherit all Lord Tartar's holdings after his death. But Trevon would never do this. Ever had he been a good lad; dutiful and obedient.
Tartar gripped the corners of his fine blackwood dining table, the one he had ordered special from the Resonian isles. One of these people had killed him -- plotted murder against kin and played out the murder with deft alacrity. But who?
His youngest son, Ulus? The boy stood to gain nothing from his father's death, save a quickening of his ultimate enlistment in the kingsguard.
His middle daughter, Runa? Without her father's ties to the House Grannen she had no hope to wed the young knight Daved Grannen, the Youth of Sand Hill. Her mother could never work the arrangement well enough to satisfy those uppity Grannen folk. No. Not the girl.
His lady wife? She loved him without measure, he had no doubt. And her wails of misery at this crucial moment could not be foolery.
Who then? Who would kill a lord in his own manor, at his own table?
Only one among those gathered wore any look save horror.
The yeoman, Purstis Patch. The little, wizened man was smiling.
Lord Tartar pointed at the wretched servant with the last strength left in his arm. Already he felt his chest fit to burst from a fire that had kindled there. Already blue and red spots danced in the great lord's vision.
"Yes," said Patch from his spot in the corner, and he let slip the golden wine service in his hands so that it clattered loudly on the floor. Only then did Tatar's family take note of the steward. But the man did not flinch away, even as Lord Tartar's sons rounded on him, murder in their eyes.
"One hundred forty years my family has plotted to topple your house," said Patch, backing into the shadows. "Once our name reigned in the valleys and mountains of Yunfron. We were the lords while your folk were merely swineherds and sharecroppers. But you usurped us. You stole our lands and brought us low -- humiliated us by offering my folk service in our own halls. Well no more I say! No more!! You are no lords above Patch! We shall see you rot in the nine steps of the Pit before we allow you to rule us anymore. So die you old fool."
Tartar's oldest had reached Patch by then and manned him to the floor where he set to throttling the older, slighter man.
Fat good it did though. Lord Tartar died.