Cry for the Wolf, Chapter 11. by Richard Walker

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Chapter 11.

Awakening with a start, Garad looked about the dimly lit hall around him. He knew not how long he had slept, but the hall was empty as it had been when he had plunged into sleep last night. He heard a chorus of birdsong and noted the pale gray light and knew it to be morning. He must have been tired, not to mention sleepy from being well-fed at supper. To his amazement he found himself buried beneath a down-filled coverlet of some fine, heavy fabric of brilliant red and white, as fine or better than anything he or his father, a chief, had ever had. He stretched languorously on his bed of straw beneath it, snuggly warm despite the spring chill. Then his stomach growled and he swore in a most ungracious manner. He looked about and spotted a platter of meat in a now-gelid sauce from the night before, new bread, a few eggs, and a couple slightly withered pieces of last autumn's fruit laying beside a tall flagon of beer that had been left for him on a bench beside the fireplace, near to hand.
He made short work of the platter before his eyes were even all the way open, sweeping up the last of it with a heel of the bread. He frowned slightly at the empty platter. The fruit had been an unexpected kindness, but never had he seen so niggardly a meal laid for a warrior. Why, t'would barely have sated the appetite of a slave!
A poor way to break my fast after last night's feast. I have had it with these barbaric people I do not understand them nor their noisome "cities." They give with one hand and not with the other. It is time that I had the wind in my face and the sky over my head again.
So resolved, Garad stood up and stretched again, only to find that he was not alone. Being ever so careful to be quiet, the squires and servants darted here and there. They already had the fire in the grate at the other end of the hall burning merrily and were laying out an informal breakfast of leftovers on a trestle table beside the tall aumbry where the order's plate stood on display. A snack! It had been a snack, probably laid out for him incase he awoke hungered in the night. He was well pleased and fully repentant of his uncharitable thoughts. The light was growing in the narrow windows high in the massive walls, however. A more satisfying breaking of his fast would have to wait. A boy with hair the color of spun gold approached him warily, holding a large terracotta mug out before him filled with a dark steaming drink whose spices tickled his nose. He sneezed and waived the boy away with a grimace.
Garad retraced the path that he had so carefully memorized when first he was brought to the knight's hall. Not once, but twice, the squires and servants had tried to stay him in his path when they saw he would leave, pointing back at the hall and repeating Eberulf's name insistently. A brief growl had sent them quickly packing. Aside from those in the knights' hall, it appeared that the cathedral complex was deserted. The priests and their various staff members no doubt were sleeping still.
Layabouts. He frowned.
Emerging from the Halls of Light into the fountain yard again, Garad noted that the soft rosy hand of the sun itself already painted the clouds in the east.

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