Correl of Otley
Knights as far as the eye could see. Lines of them, marching, strolling, making delicate trained little paths throughout the courtyard. It was hard for Correl to look at them. And just as hard, she felt, to look away from them. Correl had what she had thought was the perfect room, outside of a larger than average window, she could see the main courtyard clearly, where all manner of Knight would gather. They would train, talk, and sometimes they would argue and the sound of steel and cursing was loud enough to travel into her room and echo around in a spin. She would do anything to be out there with them. To become one. She’d trained for the better half of fifteen years to do just that.
There was a strange hollow feeling now, sitting and watching. What was once an afternoon or late night pastime felt so alien in that moment, and perhaps it had something to do with the bags that scattered across her bed, collecting everything she’d known for such a large section of her life.
Correl should have been happy. She was packing up and moving out. There weren’t many bags, she hadn’t brought much with her all that time ago. A larger side-long carrier bag and a sling pack that would go over her shoulder, but it was more about what this meant. Correl stood away from the window with a sigh.
Her room had never been amazing. Here in Caer Wren, there weren’t really many rooms that were available, at least she thought so . Sometimes she would hear that younger training pages were bunked up and given roommates. People to grow closer with over time. That was never an assumption she shared, however. Besides her bedroom had never been big enough to hold more than one person, perhaps one and a half person at best (however one would go about achieving that). Correl had lived in an almost perfect square of a room. She’d never really measured, but each wall was surely the same length and height as the other.
One wall was taken up entirely by a small, dumpy mattress. She’d slept on the same one her entire stay in Caer Wren, which as she got older led to severely stiff joints, and even when she was awake, a strange popping sound from her arms, fingers and toes at the oddest movement. The wall next to the bed wall held the aforementioned large window, a strange and crooked thing. Being that the entire room was all made of stone and wood, it always struck Correl as odd that while the window was also an almost perfect square, it seemed to have been rotated a little to the left. Correl could lean against the foremost bottom left corner, and she often did, on days like today to watch the training. But not today. The wall next to the window held a slab of wood that, with the assistance of metal chains imbedded slightly higher, created her writing desk. Knights need to be learned after all. The only thing on that desk at the moment was the catalyst, the very reason she packed her bags and looked romantically out the window.
A small letter, already torn from its envelope, and already read one thousand times over. Correl had read it just once more this morning while she finished packing. She often struggled with the written word, but not with this particular piece of parchment. Once again enticed, she practically inched over to the desk and once again held the letter to her eyes.
Hail and well met,
I hope this letter reached you fairly. On my most recent trip to and past the Caer Wren to talk with Lord Wren about his training knights I was stopped and took awe of your training in the fields outside the castle. I was and am still verily impressed by your effort and strength, and would like you to attend me at my side. It should take nigh another month before I make my way back out to Caer Wren, and I pray you will join me when I set from there once more at that time.
You are a very impressive knight in the making and I pray we may work together brilliantly in the future.
Lord Brighid of Gauwynn
She sighed as she struggled over words like “verily” or “brilliantly” but the premise was the same. And especially as she got to the end of the letter she could feel her heart dance around the name written. Lord Brighid. A knight first class if ever there was one. Lord Brighid of Gauwynn was a knight’s knight. Easily the right hand of justice, the strongest knight the most capable… the list goes on. There is not a soul yet born that does not know her. Correl included.
Correl would often train outside the Caer’s walls and courtyards, as even wild animals were more willing to train with her than her fellow training pages. So she had not noticed, nor would she ever, if someone was watching her while she fought. She was more concerned on the repetition of her sword strokes, and on what was in front of her. Which would actually be something she’d have to work on, she realized. Well, she realized it when she was reading the letter the first time. And that was nearly a. Month ago now. The promised time was soon approaching and Lord Brighid would once again be gracing the Caer Wren with her presence.
She remembered taking the letter quizzically to the training master after she received it, sure that her fellow pages her pranking her. Or that the knights were. Or the servants perhaps. The training master wasn’t always a kind man, but he was never a liar, nor held the capacity for tricks in him. He promised to look into it for her after speaking with Lord Wren himself, came back with positive news. A real letter, from the real Lord Brighid of Gauwynn. She’d sent it to the Lord Wren himself.
Correl had been in a daze since. She still kept up with her training, though more so outside the Caer’s walls. Even younger, newer pages had begun to taunt and gossip, and she was more than tired of listening to the gossip as it made its rounds.
“Correl the Screw-up’s gone and blackmailed a knight!”
“World’s most fucked up Page has finally left the Caer Wren!!”
“She’s probably forged that letter! And plans to get lost in the woods! Ha!”
The voices were loud, and often right outside her window. So it echoed into her little room and circled its equal walls. But she tried to ignore it. She had the proof in her hands. Maybe she wasn’t the greatest knight, but apparently Lord Brighid has seen something. Correl was willing to try, at least for her. This was the opportunity of a lifetime, and she couldn’t really afford to squander it.
Correl threw the letter into her side bag, stuffed away with three pairs of clothes, eight pairs of under clothing, three pairs of socks and a brush she’d bought in the market yesterday. Her last one had broken. She looked over all that she had. Everything that made up 15 years of serving as a page. She winced. Fifteen years as a page, and finally becoming a squire. All summed up into two bags. Well, in her defense when she started she’d had more clothes, but she grew out of them and buying clothes for an adult is much harder than buying for a child. As per tradition, Correl was supposed to speak with Lord Wren and her training master. She wasn’t late per se, but the thought of possibly being late or held up had her gather her bags onto her shoulders and head for the last equal wall in her room, where her door was. She hesitated to take another look around, this was her room, her home… She didn’t want to miss it, and she didn’t want to think that she’d never be back here.
But she would do both anyways.
Correl left her room behind, shutting the door as silently as she could and made her way down a long, wide hallway. It was mostly empty today. Lord Wren’s knights had returned rom their voyages and everyone was wanting to talk with them, or look at them, or what have you. The few that occupied the hallways mostly ignored Correl. That was fine by her, she’d never really talked with them to begin with, even when they were all pages together. Most of her stay had been middling at best and butting head with the others at worst.
As she walked, it was as if her life played before her. Walking far behind the other pages before and after the day’s trainings, sneaking after them to watch the elder knights who protected Caer Wren on their patrols. It felt strangely bittersweet to think of now. At the end of the first hallway, there was another and one more, then a large stairwell which saw Correl walking up two flights. Before turning down yer another hallway and entering the room most commonly known as Lord Wren’s study. Inside, he sat behind a large, sturdy dark wood desk, and spoke to the burly man across from him, her training master, Yurick.
Both men turned to her, the former affording a small nod and beckoning her into the room. Correl walked in, and bowed. She kept her head down until he she heard Yurick’s familiar sharp, low voice, “You’re finally leaving with the rest of them, aren’t you?” Correl looked up slightly, and shrugging, she muttered, “finally”. In the still air of the study it was louder than intended.
“Correl of Otley,” said Lord Wren, “Today you leave your studies as a page behind to start on your adventure as a squire. We’re very proud.”
Correl looked up more now, taking note of the Lord Wren’s voice. He had a warmth there, he might even actually be proud. She could spot him from just out of the top of her eyes, and barely that over the larger wooden desk, but what she could see confirmed it. Lord Wren was a man of nearly fifty years old, and didn’t look a day over thirty, he had sharp features on his face like a crow, and his soft brown eyes sparkled. He really was proud. He pulled shoulder length black hair behind his ear, and said with a sigh, “Your journey was longer than any of us could have thought, and the fault with that is partly ours. We should have worked with you more.”
Before Correl could try to defend them, Yurick laughed, almost like an accusation, “This girl has done all that she can, and there was nothing much more we could assist with! Always the first to rise with the sun to training in the morning and the last to leave when the moon was high.” His once booming voice quieted, “These bull-headed knights did not realize your potential and that was on them…”
Lord Wren spoke up once again to let Correl know that when she was ready to leave that she would have their support, always.
Correl didn’t know what to say, and stayed quiet, even looking back down at the ground. “Thank you” she settled for, standing to full height once more, “thank you for everything.”