The Seventh of Ara, Sixteen Seventy-Four.
Uncle is sorely cross with me. I had grown frustrated at my isolation and tired of the Mourners presence. I found myself fantasizing about having the assassinated, I just had to be rid of them. And I was in luck, I had a willing accomplice. Tam., I believe Uncle rues the day Cossett sent him into my service. In part this was a test of his loyalty. And I would say that young, simple Tam passed with flying colours. It seems I do have one ally in this house.
At their morning prayers I had had enough. Their wailing cries continue from dawn till dusk, I cannot fathom how they continue day in and day out. Do they mourn in shifts? Surely their voices grow tired. I have not seen them since that first day. The three of them seem content to sit in their shared guest suite and scream and wail.
They rise with the sun during Ara. Their wailing begins not long after. Though their screams usually stop once the Shining Lord is high in the sky. Some find themselves so wrapped with grief that they might just burst into tears at any time. These Mourners of Ara are of that sort. Their grief weighs upon them and they force us to suffer along with them. Many people emulate them and their mourning customs, even going so far as to hire them for funerals. That is a ghastly thought.
For once I find myself wishing we lived in the old holding across the way, Tayn Keep. It was the Seat of my Great-Grandfather, and his father before him and so on since we became landed gentry. Tayn Keep sits just at the waters edge, it is quite beautiful. If we had been there then the mourners would be bundled up in the chapel. Grandmother never cared much for religion. Oh she knew all of the passages by heart, but she never trusted priests. She’d always say, “Why do you need a priest to read to you when you’ve got two good eyes of your own?” I love that woman. It is because of this that there is no chapel on the estate. Grandmother had it built to her exacting specifications.
Tayn Keep is now a garrison for the King’s Navy. It was a strategic move on my grandmother’s part. With the King’s Navy patrolling all along our coast we’ve never been safer. The last raid was when my father was a small child. Such safety from hasty made investment. Pure luck.
I haven’t seen Tayn Keep since before Kyran was fostered. I was instantly set upon with a desire to see it. To watch the sea and the ships rolling on the waves. If Tam hadn’t slipped into my sitting room while I was sequestered in memory I wouldn’t have even thought of it. I watched Tam as he arraigned the morning meal before me. I studied him. His dark hair, his cunning green eyes so like the bow he’d arrived in, the corded muscles of his arms. I wondered how I could entice him into my plan.
It occurred to me that Tam has had no time to go and drink in a pub or court a lovely girl. Uncle so rarely gives the staff time off, usually one day a season once they’ve been here for a year. Otherwise it’s a spare hour of afternoon, if they even get that. Unless they’ve been with his for five years, then it’s once a month. But Tam is my servant, I decide when he works. Let Uncle chew on that.
I sent him off to Mrs. Argall to beg a small picnic for two, telling him to lie if asked. I told him that if anyone should ask that I’d given him the day and he’s planned to spend it with a nice young lady. Our cook likes him, he’s quiet and she thinks he’s pretty to look at. He didn’t have any trouble, though I’m sure the maids will be moaning about this girl of his. I also directed him to have my horse saddled and ready. I dressed quickly in a pair of trousers, stiff riding boots, and a grey linen shirt.
Tam returned with the basket and a look of confusion on his face. As of late it is seldom that I rise out of bed without prompting. With Ara I have taken to brooding for long hours beneath my coverlet. Only rising once the Mourners has finished their rituals and broken their fast at sunset. The less I see of them the better.
I pulled a few notes from a box hidden in my desk and pressed them into his hands. Five pounds, about a sixth of his yearly wages. I took the basket from him. I then shooed him off telling him he should enjoy the day and return before curfew. I set upon the basket with abandon. Cheese, apples, half a loaf of coarse brown bread, and half a bottle of Rahsere wine. Good strong fair and more than enough for myself alone. While Tam was away I’d also gathered a few things for my outing. Two blankets, the latest penny book, a pen, and this diary of course. As an after thought I also tossed in the jars of jam leftover from breakfast.
Oh how I relish being free this day. There is nothing the wind on my face and smell of the salt air. I wish I could just float away on the winds.
Seat: The Seat, or County Seat, is an administrative center, or seat of government, for a county or civil parish.
Tayn Keep: Pronounced like Stain, without the ‘s’ sound.