A Loyal Family (2/2)
Their reactions told Corowal more than they probably realized. The
fact was, he didn't have potential cotholder to take over the Hold in
question. Even with the boom of past Turns, Emerald Falls Hold still
had plenty of abandoned cotholds, even Minor Holds. So, if they had a
solution, he was willing to accept it. He wasn't going to make it too
easy for them though. "Can I see the contract? Did you have more
children than these two sons, Lirena?"
"Yes, I have three older daughters who are married and have left home,
and my youngest daughter who is nine Turns old," Lirena replied as Tasni
placed a copy of the contract on the Lord Holder's desk. "My oldest
son-in-law has his own farm already, and one of the others is a
woodcrafter. The third might be interested, but he works for his father
and they grow crops on their land, while we herd ovines. It would take
time for him to learn to run the cothold."
Corowal inspected the contract while his brains were working
furiously. He wanted to avoid the mistakes made with Cronfur's family.
What was better way to ensure their loyalty than forge a bond with his
family. Her daughter was only turn older than his son Felcoron. But as
a father, he did not want to impose marriages to his children or
betroth them at young age. He had already rejected few marriage
proposals for his daughters, who weren't anywhere near marital age.
But there was always fostering.
"Would you consider sending your youngest daughter here, as a
fosterling?" Corowal suggested. "She would be receive a education fit
for a lady and my children would have company outside their social
circle. They could use an exposure to the life different from Blood
families." His children already had friends and class mates that
weren't Blood, but most of them were children of crafters or staff
members who worked at the Main Hold. They rarely met children of the
He was met with three astonished expressions. Even the harper looked
taken aback - and impressed at how he'd managed to turn a distressed and
potentially resentful family into a loyal, grateful one in an instant.
Lirena recovered her voice first. "My Lord, this is such a great honour.
I don't know what to say..." Her first thought was that she would be
parted from both of her youngest children. She'd known it would happen,
but not so soon.
However, she could not pass up an opportunity for her daughter that
would transform the girl's life. As a companion of the children of the
Lord Holder, educated at the Hold, she could marry far above her birth
rank. Also - and she was sure he was aware of this - they would be away
from their father's influence, when he returned. "Of course, we would be
delighted to accept such an offer. And...we would always be grateful.
Of course, that had been what Corowal was aiming for. He still had one
question to Galveden. "Can you assure me that you can work both
Cotholds? Together, that's a sizable piece of land."
"I've given it a good deal of thought, and I believe I can," Galveden
replied. "I would keep on the herdsmen and field hands that Terren
hired, I've no quarrel with any of them." He was fairly sure that Lirena
had done most of the hiring, so they'd be trustworthy enough. "Also, my
eldest son works with me on my farm and would be able to supervise them
when needed. You needn't worry that he'd have his eye on the land,
either," he added hastily. "He'll have my lands when I retire, which
shouldn't be too long after Lirena's boy comes of age."
"In that case, I will accept your suggestion. I'll have the stewards
inspect the contract and both Cotholds in question. Unless you've be
skimping the tithe, it should be formality only. We can sign it in a
two sevendays from now," Corowal said.
The petitioners shared smiles of relief, and Lirena began to offer her
thanks. R'fal looked to his mother and saw that she looked the happiest
she'd been in months, as if a great weight had been lifted from her
shoulders. He was glad that the cothold had been saved and his brother
and sister would have a secure future, but he also couldn't help but
remember his father's plight. It seemed as though his Da been forgotten,
like a guilty secret.
He realised Lirena was giving him a meaningful look, as if he ought to
say something, and hastily cleared his throat. "Thank you, my Lord. Ah -
if Marlath and I can ever do anything to repay your generosity to my
family, just say the word."
"Thank you for your offer, R'fal," Corowal replied. "I have a son
who's a dragonrider so it's very unlikely I need to take you up that
offer." The only thing he needed dragonriders for was to transport
"Perhaps you'd better take your mother and Holder Galveden back to the
cothold, R'fal, so they can give their families the good news." Tasni
thought that the farmhands would be relieved to know they'd be able to
keep their jobs, too.
"Oh, yes. We don't want to take up any more of the Lord Holder's
valuable time," Lirena said hastily. "Thank you once again, my Lord."
"You're welcome," Corowal flashed her one of his charming smiles.
Once they were safely out of the office, Lirena hugged her son, her
usual calm demeanour overcome with delight at the outcome. "Isn't it
wonderful? Think of the advantages for your sister! The Lord Holder is
so generous." She turned to Galveden and embraced him too, much to the
older cotholder's surprise.
R'fal watched them, and gave his polite thanks to Galveden once his
mother was done. This was wonderful news for the family, quite
unexpected - but he couldn't help thinking of the one who wasn't here.
What about his father? And what was he supposed to do, now, about the
request to set him free?
Last updated on the July 22nd 2019