Biographical – Elspeth Pendragon
Memories Of Elspeth Pendragon
It was a cold, wet night when we arrived, and the journey had been long. We were tired and hungry and our tent leaked like a sieve. We tried to sleep, huddled together for warmth, the contents of several bottles of mead radiating a faint glow from our insides, and we woke in the morning in a miniature lake that had formed around us while we had napped fitfully on and off. Uncharacteristically, Jac was awake first, his nose always had an unerring gift for locating breakfast where ever it was being cooked, and he nudged me awake with his boot and placed a bacon sandwich in my face with the instruction to get out of the tent and into the early morning sunshine to dry off before I caught my death.
It was the early summer of the year 1097 and it wasn’t the first time – nor the last – when he would prevent me from ‘catching my death.’ It was also the first time I ever set eyes on a little blond wisp of a woman who was to become my closest and dearest friend for what I thought, hoped and believed would be the rest of my life.
A faction muster had been called; neither Jac or I knew then what that meant, so he missed it completely and I arrived late, damp and bedraggled, stinking and with my hair dishevelled, still chewing on a bacon sandwich, to find a large mass of people kneeling on the ground, their heads bowed in the direction of this small woman who stood, a little unsteadily, upon a rough box to raise her higher so that she might be seen more clearly by all. She looked me straight in the eye, coolly appraising the dirty gypsy peasant who refused to bend a knee, and then asked the gathered throng to stand. I thought she was just another stuck up noble, she thought I was the dirtiest creature she had ever seen, but we weren’t to discover this about each other for a few more months yet.
Later on after Elspeth and I became firm friends, we often laughed about that first sight of each other and thanked the Ancestors who guided our paths to that place. She allowed me to brush her hair, which she loved and we often sat and watched the sunsets together and talked about the impossibility of finding a gown with those colours. She loved the night sky, entertaining, singing both in company and alone, dancing and most important of all the quiet times when our children tumbled about our feet while we spoke of everything and nothing – sometimes both together!
Jac often spent evenings with us, and though he couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket he could tell a story or two that would curl the hair on a bald man’s head. One evening after most had retired, he confided in us that he was considering marriage and asked if we thought it a wise decision. Elspeth spoke most vehemently in favour of the estate and quizzed him most strongly on the depth of his affection for the lady concerned. She was adamant that he should marry for love, not for advantage, a point with which all present agreed most heartily. Jaspar spoke of his love for his own late wife and Jonathan mentioned one particular lady he had admired in the past and his regret that he had not acted upon his emotion.
After the Queen had retired, Jac and I continued to drink at the table, as was our habit when together alone, and he told me he had felt a little as if he had been on trial. I reminded him of how Corrigan had been forced to petition her repeatedly for permission to claim my hand, she had been a most formidable opponent. She eventually gave in not because she had been brow beaten but because she saw how genuinely fond of each other we were. Elspeth had very strident views on love and marriage, perhaps because she had been denied her own true love.
So, Jac married Straif, and I was his ‘best man’ and Elspeth sent her wishes for a long and fruitful life to the happy couple. We celebrated and we thanked the Ancestors yet again for our continued good fortune. And that is how I wish to remember them all, as friends sitting about a feasting table late into the night, raising a glass or two, speaking of things as disparate as national security and rabbit hunting, our favourite flowers and the Empire invasion, jokes about the Albione, the Erinian and the Caledonian entering an inn.
Personal account of Duchess Katerina Apriori-Grimmir