The Eighth of Ara, Sixteen Seventy-Four.
I spent much of the morning lounging on a blanket in a pool of sunshine. I’d set up camp beside a rather tiny creek that wound through a copse of trees. Leaving the horse hobbled near the stream I started up a bit of exploring. My prize was a thicket of bright red raspberries, just ripe with the vaguest sour notes. While munching one the fruit I then noticed it, a sickly sweet scent hung in the air. And really I couldn’t help but to investigate it. I can’t even begin to describe my delight when I chanced upon a tree wreathed in a colony of Honeyvine.
Honeyvine is rare this far north, it usually enjoys a much warmer climate. I’ve never seen one in person, only in photographs and illustrations. Had it not been for the amber honey that wept from deep within it’s center, at a glance I might have mistaken it for Vinia’s Trumpet.
Honeyvine blossoms are notoriously difficult to preserve once they’ve started to produce honey. If I could, I would have dried and pressed one of the flowers to save in this journal, but that would have just made a sticky mess. Had I happened upon this colony in the middle of the spring, I could have caught some of the flowers right after they’d unfurled, before they’d started to produce their honey. I will just have to commit the taste to memory for who knows when I will find them again. Sweeter than bee’s honey, lighter too. With bright floral notes. And, it’s just like it was written in mother’s horticulture book, if you eat a whole flower it will leave your whole mouth tingling.
Paired with the honey all of the foodstuffs Tam had procured was leaps and bounds better. Well save for the cheese, mold right through. But the Rahsere wine became more than palatable. I will have to tell Evandrus, if I ever do hear from him again. I’m sure he’d like to know how to salvage it if Uncle, or some other courtier, decides to send more.
It was well into the afternoon once I’d emptied the hamper of foot, wishing to try everything with a touch of honeyvine. Save for the aforementioned honeyvine my day was unremarkable. I dozed and read my penny book with Tayn Keep visible through the tree branches. I cannot even begin to describe how wonderful it was to get away from the estate. Let alone to get away from the Mourners of Ara. Elation and joy. To feel the sun’s warmth on my skin and the cool wind in my hair as I rode out. A powerful beast between my thighs as it thundered away from the estate, my gilded cage. I rode the mare hard, harder than I should. She is older, infrequently is she put through her paces. I must remember to tell the grooms to take extra care of her.
A devilish thought of excess ceased me. I couldn’t just pass my chance up, I emptied the jam jar and cleaned it in the creek. After all it would be an exotic present for Evandrus and give me reason to get rid of more of the Rahsere wine. I do hope the honey acts as a preservative, it would be a nice surprise for him. When did he and I get caught up in this gift giving dance?
It would not take an Alazian fortune teller to predict Uncle’s response to my disappearance; Though I believe I could make a career of it. After all it’s not magic, just cold reading. I could hear them about an hour after I’d collected some of the honey. The thick sound of hooves on the road. I can only assume a messenger headed toward Tayn Keep.
Twenty minutes later men had mounted horses and the hunt was on. And who was hunted? Well, me of course! They blundered through the brush, voices calling my name only to be drown out by the barking of dogs. Uncle had pulled out all the stops it seems.
What I found most interesting was how early the search had been mounted. I had expected it to start much later, nearer to sunset. It is most curious. Uncle rarely calls on me and it is the same with Cossett. The servants, save for Tam, know to steer clear of my rooms while I still occupy them. With the addition of Cossett’s staff few of the servants interact with me at all anymore.
In truth I did not leave the estate with much guile. I left in plain view, I did not order Tam to bring the horse to some deserted entrance. Anyone could have told our dear uncle but, I can’t help feeling that the staff would not have told him directly. And if they had, would they have not spoken right away? I don’t believe the staff would report on my movements.
But there is still Tam. It would have been cunning of him to betray me later. To play act the worried but loyal servant reluctant to divulge his master’s secrets. Timid and meek, wishing only for his master’s safety. And in the process ingratiating himself with the man who holds the purse strings. Or perhaps he spends his few free hours fawning over the bitch Cossett. Maybe he whispered his secret into her ear as a bit of pillow talk and she in turn whispered it into the Lord Regent’s.
This little foray has done little to solve the question of Tam’s loyalty. How could I be so blind to think him loyal in the brief time it took for him to gather the supplies and see to the mare? Still no answers and always more questions. How was my escape found? Has my valet betrayed my loyalty or has he been seduced? Did Uncle get a wild hair and decide to call upon me? Maybe Cossett called intent on holding me captive in the solar forcing me to play Lady’s Keep all day. Some days I wish for the beginning of Tal. Of being locked up in my room and worrying about motorcars.
I was found not long after their search started. Next time I must try a different locale, much farther from Tayn Keep, and some kind of perfume. Something exotic, something I’d never wear. I’ll have to make sure to keep it hidden.
I returned to the estate not under my own power but, by a contingent of fifteen men. Once Uncle saw me, his face was the exact colour of the raspberries I chanced upon. The lecture that followed was grueling. I am still exhausted from it now, a day later. After all of that adventure, well, I think I might retire and spend the day in bed.
Fickle flowers and choking ivy. Which shall win?
Honeyvine: Honeyvine is an exotic flowering vine native to warmer, moister climates. The flowers are large, brilliant trumpets in deep orange hues. It begins to produce honey in mid to late spring and continues until the last few days of summer. Honeyvine tends to grow in colonies, preferring to grow along the ground but occasionally will grow up vertical objects. In the earliest stages of growth the flowers can be mistaken for Vinia’s Trumpet.
Vinia’s Trumpet: Vinia’s trumpet, known as Bastard Honeyvine, usually grows in bunches of three to five. Unlike Honeyvine, Vinia’s Trumpet is a flowering shrub with flowers in varying shades of orange. At a glance it can be mistakenly identified as Honeyvine.