When Aldred left, they took every source of light. The smells of the dungeon pressed in on Godwin, the occasional sniffle and distant cry the only reminders of life elsewhere. He shook, not certain if it was the cold, fear, or the pain in his head that was causing his muscles to spasm. What was Aldred doing?
Noise erupted in the distance. Feeble cries. Angry shouts. The crack of a whip.
Light flooded into the room as armored guards forced – even dragged – unwilling people to stand against the wall at Godwin’s side. Godwin squinted into the brightness. Grant appeared in front of him. Aldred was close behind. Smirking.
“This one’s already dead,” remarked a guard as he dragged forward the limp body of a man.
The smell of mold and stale urine stung Godwin’s nose as he slowly came around. Cool, moist air passed over his cheeks.
Godwin shifted, and realized he was strapped back into a chair. A moan came from nearby, and the quiet shuffling of feet. His eyes fluttered open. Flickering points of light surrounded him. Flames. He couldn’t quiet focus his eyes on them. Were they torches. Someone sniffed nearby. The shuffling came closer. Another moan.
“Ayy shut up,” snarled a male voice. There was a slapping sound and a tiny whimper. Godwin flinched.
“Oy,” the male voice said closer. “You awake for us boy?” The man gripped Godwin by the chin and shook his head. Godwin cried out.
The man let him go and stepped away, chuckling. “Oy!” he shouted to some other distant person. “Get Grant. This bloke’s awake!”
Godwin slumped uncomfortably in the chair. There was sniffling all around him, some cries. He looked around again and saw men in small cages, or chained to the walls.
Loud footfalls preceded a small entourage of men. Godwin squinted. The man Grant led them and behind him was…
Godwin ducked into a side passage and paused for a moment to sweep the dust from his knees. He straightened his collar and stepped into the light of the busy hallway. It was remarkably quiet. People were there, chatting quietly. A couple men were sleeping slumped against the wall, including Hervey. Godwin sniffed as he stepped over Hervey’s legs and ambled toward his own chambers. He padded down the quiet side hall to his door and slipped in. He’d just wanted his sword and a medallion his birth mother had given him, just in case he would never be back here again.
He found the sword and set it on the table and turned to the trunk in which he hid all his favorite memorabilia. Stale air poured out as he opened the lid. Times Godwin only vaguely remembered were buried within, from before his mother delivered him to Bertram. Godwin dove in, digging to the bottom and searching with his fingertips for the tiny wooden box. There it was! He withdrew it and smiled at it, wiping the greasy patina of age off the script on the front. He opened the box, its hinges struggling against him, to expose a tiny silver enameled medallion inside.
A slight breeze touched his neck. “Lovely,” a voice murmured.
Godwin snapped the case closed and spun. A ragged man in worn armor stood in the doorway, smirking.
Simon motioned for everyone to follow. Godwin pulled himself through the tight space on his elbows, wriggling like a fish through fingers until he came up beside Simon. He could hear voices now. The sickening sweet melody of Aldred’s prose and some other men. He pressed further towards the sounds, passing Simon cautiously. Listening. What were they saying?
“Give it an hour,” toned Aldred. “They’ll be done for.”
Clicking and the gentle sliding of metal on metal in time with foot steps carried up the shaft. Armor.
Godwin peeked out from behind the tapestry. The great hall was full of activity. People sat, eating and drinking noisily as they conversed equally loudly. Entertainers pranced about as the serving women dodged in and out between swirling arms and musical instruments.
Adam bumped him from behind. Godwin waved him back. Adam shoved a little harder and Godwin waved again. Giggles carried up from the passage hidden by the hanging tapestry. But Godwin had not yet caught sight of his father. Adam tugged on Godwin’s cote, and Godwin ducked back down into the passage.
“What?” Godwin hissed.
“Barth farted,” Adam giggled.
Godwin flung his arms up. “This. This is what I needed to know?”
Occasionally, dreams provide us interesting starting nuggets for what could develop into full-blown stories. Of late, my life has been so full of conflict, betrayal, and disappointment, that it affected my sleep and resulted in an interesting dream. Here, I’m just going to write out the thoughts I had related to the dream, and flesh out the main character.
The dream was set in medieval Europe. I can only assume England, because everyone spoke English. But then, I only speak English. And I’m not familiar enough with European medieval clothing to be certain of the time, but I’m thinking late 14th – early 15th century.
The main character is a late teens-early 20’s man living at court. He’s no one of great importance in general, but as it happens he is related to the King and somewhere along the line of succession. For the most part, he’s invisible at court, however, hanging out with his friends and causing trouble. Basically of no great import to anyone.