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Fool Without A Master (Chapter 4 Part 2)

by MissGangamash


I cannot remember what I did for the rest of the day, so it must not have been eventful. But considering my state of mind back then, I was most likely lay on my bed staring at the wall wondering why Kaspar hadn’t told me about the tournament until I worried myself into a stomach ache and then fell asleep bundled up in a tight little ball.

The next day, I called on Mirabelle. This time her parents were home. Her father ushered me in and plonked me down at their table like I was a missing family member who had finally returned home. The three of them gathered around me, eyes alight and smiles stamped on their faces.

“It’s been so long! Oh, you have grown into a very handsome young man,” cooed Mirabelle’s mother- correction- Laina. I am an adult now; I should call her by her name.

“And I wasn’t handsome before?” I showed her a rakish grin.

She wiggled excitedly in her chair. “Oh, we’ve missed you, Wallace. We thought we’d never see you again. Poor Mirabelle was heartbroken when you left.”

Mother,” Mirabelle snapped, sending her a glare as sharp as a knife.

My heart sank to my feet. I watched my friend’s nostrils flare in anger before she collected herself and looked down at her lap, ashamed to meet my eyes.

I had left her. I could never take that back. And left her for what? For a job I lost for being a reckless romantic? Bile clung to my throat, and the smell of boiling eggs didn’t help.

“So, how’ve you been, lad? Tell us everything,” Mirabelle’s father, Elias, broke through the stiff silence. “Mirabelle told us the job didn’t work out? That’s a shame. I’d have thought it was something you were born to do.”

“Yes,” I replied, my voice hoarse. I cleared my throat. “It was disappointing to say the least. But I’ve made a place for myself here.”

He smiled. “That’s so good to hear. Your parents would be proud.”

Would they? If they knew the truth? That I ruined my chance at my dream job for a man?

“Are you still in contact with them?” Elias asked.

I shook my head, mirroring Mirabelle’s look of shame.

See, here’s what happened. When I was the court jester, I got swept up in the life. I was a whole new person. Not even a person any longer. A creation. Wallace Treager of Greysmarsh? Never heard of him. And with shedding that identity, I had unwittingly cut ties with the Treagers. I blamed it on my busy schedule. On not trusting the mail carriers. On my handwriting being too sloppy. On how the Treagers were not the best readers.

I came up with so many excuses to make myself feel better, but there was always this heaviness deep within me that I couldn’t quite shake. I just piled things on top of it – better things to focus on – and squashed it down.

It wasn’t until I lost my job and found myself spending days and nights alone in my little house when that heaviness began to burn like something rotting; a forgotten cabbage in the back of my cupboard.

It was demanding my attention but it was too late then, wasn’t it? What was I supposed to do? Send them a letter to inform them of my failure? That I gave up my life with them for a life of painting alone in front of the fire, just hoping that the prince would drop by and pay me some attention?

I was pathetic. They didn’t need to know that. It was better they stayed in the dark, making up extravagant fantasies in their heads of their boy’s lavish lifestyle.

I couldn’t take that away from them.

“Last time we saw them they were doing well. You should reach out. I’m sure they’d love to hear from you,” Elias continued. There was a good-natured lightness to his tone but my guilt transformed it into something pressing and accusatory. My jaw clenched.

A sharp intake of breath from Mirabelle had my head bouncing back up. She almost jumped from her seat and spun to the boiling pot of eggs on the stove.

“Eggs should be done now. Want some, Wallace?” she asked.

Her eyes found mine and I sent her a pinched smile, “Thank you.” For saving me from this conversation.

She smiled back with an understanding nod.

Laina and Elias chatted amongst themselves about farm business, allowing me time to relax and take in my surroundings. Their home was a small, cool, stone structure with a thatched roof. Curtains separated two sleeping quarters from the main room. The wooden dining table took pride of place in the centre of the room, unlike my layout where my bed was fixed in the centre. Clearly we had different priorities.

This was a family home, after all.

Mirabelle presented us all with plates of eggs and bread. I smiled my thanks and she squeezed my shoulder cherishingly as she took her seat beside me.

We all ate together, talking about everything and nothing. Whenever the topics of Greysmarsh or the palace came up, Mirabelle masterfully diverted the conversation into safer territory.

I was amazed at how comfortable I was and how lovely and welcoming they were. I could feel the deeply set guilt within me begin to thaw. They weren’t mad at me. They continued their lives without me because, surprise, not everything revolved around me. Maybe I was allowed to give myself a little respite?

Elias and Laina had aged significantly since I had last seen them. Elias’ dark hair was thinning at the top and greying at the sides. Laina had seemed to have shrunk a few inches, and she struggling peeling the shells of her eggs with her stiff, knobbly fingers. I figured they were the product of years of sewing.

As I peeled my eggs and concocted a sandwich for myself, my mind wandered to the only place it ever wandered to…

.

There had been a feast at the palace of some sort. There always was. And when there was still leftover food from the last feast? They would have another feast to be rid of it. King Cedric was resourceful like that. And would become even more so in the coming year.

We had guests at the palace. Several leaders from nearby regions had been gathered to discuss business over a roasted hog. I had been there to supply the entertainment between courses. And when my services were not required, I would hide at the back of the hall like a forgotten prop. All the while I had a perfect view of the young prince who would drink and eat and laugh with his father in that overenthusiastic way that was required of hosts.

When I was called back up to the table, I preformed a skit where I juggled five eggs, spinning and twirling as I did so. I caught one with my foot and then flicked it back up into the flying array which was rewarded with several small gasps. The performance ended with me catching two in each hand and then throwing the fifth up high so I could lean forwards to catch it carefully behind my neck. The crowded table all applauded and I was granted a nod and smile of approval from King Cedric.

Towards the end of the feast, Kaspar politely excused himself from the table and left the hall while the guests were winding down. A few moments later, the king permitted my leave.

I caught sight of Kaspar on my journey back to my room. He had been gazing out of an open window at the top of the stairwell. He looked so lost in thought, his brows drawn in that pensive way they were when he thought people weren’t looking. I felt like I had walked in on a private moment and turned to leave, only for my bells to give me away.

Kaspar straightened and appraised me, chin raised and shoulders squared.

“You were impressive,” he said, and as soon he addressed me, I was at ease. Despite being a prince, Kaspar always had a way of making people feel comfortable and somehow on his level.

I smiled in response and pulled an egg from my pocket. I peeled it as I strode over to him. He arched an eyebrow when I paused beside him and took a bite.

“Isn’t the point supposed to be that they are raw when you juggle them?” he asked.

“And risk ruining my motley? How absurd.”

He smiled.

I placed the bits of shell on the windowsill and pulled another egg from my pocket to gift to him. To my surprise, he took it and began peeling the shell away; placing the discarded flecks onto my neat little pile. There was something about that moment that felt oddly poetic. But I am no poet.

“Did you enjoy the feast?” he asked.

“If you mean the food, I was not permitted to sample the array of dishes. Hence why I am now making my way through my delicious props.”

He frowned a little. “I will see to it that you are properly fed.”

I batted away the gesture. “I do not require much sustenance to stay afloat.”

“Nonsense. You are a valued part of the court. You will be treated as such.”

I knew not to persist so I remained silent.

“Did you at least enjoy yourself?” he continued, and there was genuine concern in his shining, green eyes.

“I always enjoy entertaining.”

His eyes drifted back out of the window.

“I am to marry,” he said suddenly within a heavy sigh. He placed his hands on the windowsill. “Father thinks that King Oldin’s daughter, Lady Delphine, is a perfect match.”

“I hear she is very beautiful.”

“Yes. Quite. The way they speak of her beauty, it is as if that is all she has to offer.”

“That, and her title.”

“And I do not doubt there is much more to her. I do wonder how my father describes me. What singular trait of mine he uses to define me.” He squinted ahead. “My swordsmanship? My leadership? My determination? My loyalty to my people?”

“Well, definitely not your humility.” The words tumbled out before I had the right of mind to quash them.

He blinked at me, dumbstruck. I gulped but I couldn’t look away. Then a smile twitched on his lips and a surprised bark of a laugh escaped him. “You can’t talk to me like that, I am your prince.”

“My apologies.” I quickly bowed, making the bells on my hat tinkle.

He watched me for a moment, studying me curiously. “It’s Wallace, isn’t it?”

My heart thudded. It was the first time I had heard my name since I first donned my motley. Around the palace, I was simply addressed as ‘Fool.’

“Indeed it is, your Highness.”

He smirked and pushed himself from the windowsill. “Thank you for the egg, Wallace.” And then he strode away along the walkway and out of sight.

I looked down at our pile of eggshells and paused a moment, as if to memorialise it, before brushing it off into the wind and the courtyard below.

That night, my candlelit painting session was interrupted by a knock at my door. I opened it to find a plate of slices of meat and vegetables on the floor with a folded note.

Hope this sustenance is to your liking, K.’

.

The walk back home was a pensive one. I was all twisted around. Being with Mirabelle’s family, eating and talking around the dinner table really had me aching for the Treagers. My parents. Yes, they were my parents. I’m not sure why I always refer to them as the Treagers. Like they were separate from me. Is it because we were not blood related? Or does it make my parting ways with them that little bit easier?

The front door scraped across the floor when I opened it, and I stepped on two envelopes when I entered my premises.

For a heart stopping moment, I thought they could be from the Treagers. They had found my address and were sending me mail admonishing me for never reaching out. For severing them from me like an infected limb. But when I bent down and picked them up, I noticed one was stamped with the royal seal, and the other was of stationary I was familiar with.

I sank down at my little table and opened the one with the seal first. Inside was a personal invitation to the jousting tournament which would be hosted on the coming Monday. Not only for me to attend, but to be the warm up act. It was signed from the king himself.

The letter was all formalities. There was no mention of me no longer actually being the court jester – just that it would be a pleasure if I were to perform as such.

I was very happy indeed.

And that left the other letter. The one that looked much less formal. A simple, coarse envelope with my name scribed in delicate looping penmanship. Inside was a small, folded piece of paper of the same stiff, yellowish parchment.

It took some convincing on my part. But despite the events of the past, father knows you are the only man for the job.

I look forward to seeing your performance. It’ll be like the good old days.

I am able to slip out tomorrow evening. I will come by, K. 

(the little '.' breaks before and after the flashback are just because this website doesn't format things right)


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Thu Oct 28, 2021 7:37 pm
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RandomTalks wrote a review...



Hey!

RandomTalks here with a really late review!

This was a good continuation of the story. You seem to have picked up the pace here, and it works well with the flashbacks which I am going to assume will continue to play a central role in the story. Personally, I am glad because these flashbacks help us to understand Wallace and Kasper's relationship and in turn make us care about these two characters on a more deeper level. I also think that the flashbacks are placed very appropriately, with some small thing or element of his environment bringing up a memory that is always related to Kasper. It makes the story all the more realistic, because often in real life, we see something or hear something from someone and it reminds us of a different time for no particular reason. The sight of the eggs bringing up the memory was actually quite well though-out, especially because even though it was a really minor part in what was going on in that moment, it was still mentioned often enough to further justify the significance.

Now as for the flashback itself, I think it would be a little easier for the reader if you mention the stage of their relationship when it takes place. For example, I was a bit surprised here near the end when Kasper clarifies Wallace's name and I realized that this was probably their second or third interaction. With how freely and casually they were conversing together, I had thought that they were well-acquainted by this point. Its not really a big deal, but it would be easier for us to follow these flashbacks if we know when they are taking place first.

It was interesting to read Wallace's reflection on the reason why he distanced himself from the Treagers. We often see characters doing something like this, and we try to understand why and how exactly it fits into their personality. So it was refreshing to see Wallace do the reflecting here for us and that itself tells us that he is quite aware of who he is as a person, or at least certain aspects of it. His claim that 'the world does not revolve' around him suggests that he knows he magnifies simple situations at times and tries to find his connection to it all. Personally, I think it was simply his guilt that was making him think like that. I kind of understand his preference to maintain his distance with the Treagers so that they do not have to learn of his failure, but this is the one instance when I think that Wallace considers the world to revolve around him. Because, maybe it does not have to be about him this time. The Treagers took him in, raised him as their own. Cutting them out of his life like that was not fair. And maybe they do not care whether he failed or succeeded, maybe they just care about how he is doing. And frankly with the life Wallace leads, he could use the extra presence in his life.

It is always incredible to hear more from Mirabelle. Although, I do think that her part was cut quite short because of the flashback. Because she is a main character and an integral part of Wallace's story, I wished there was more of her in this chapter. The entire interaction seemed a little incomplete as the flashback with Kasper took a more important front seat. Also, this is the first time we get to meet her parents. It wasn't like a first introduction though, it was like Wallace said "reuniting with old friends" and I quite liked how effortless that was.

Just a tiny nitpicks:

I was most likely lay on my bed staring at the wall

Since you include 'was', 'lay' will become 'laying'.

That's all!

Keep writing and have a great day!

Until next time!






Hello!

I make sure when I edit to mention in the flashback at what stage it is at But also the reason Kaspar wanted to clarify Wallace's name is because he just always goes by Fool. Him asking for his actual name showed that he wanted some sort of deeper connection.

I think Wallace puts far too much pressure on himself and he covers his insecurity that he is insignificant by over analysing everything and thinking he is a burden.

I'm going to have another look at the dinner scene with Mirabelle's family but worry not! There is a lot of Mirabelle in the next chapter :D

Thanks for reviewing!



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Fri Oct 22, 2021 7:52 am
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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi MissGangamash,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

At first glance, this seems to be a good continuation of the previous part and there is also a very interesting ending in this chapter. It was again a great change between the different classes that happened, but also had the impression that there was something missing in terms of descriptions here in the sense of the flashback and also at the dinner with Mirabelle and her parents.

I still like Wallace's self-reflections. I think without them, it would be quite hard to get into the character. This constant conflict he's on the road with stands out strongly, but also led, in my opinion, to the conversation taking a bit of a back seat during the meal at the beginning, which made that scene feel quite fast and brisk. I thought you could certainly have added some dialogue in there that was discussed over his head instead of going to the flashback afterwards.

I think you did a good start with the flashback, but I also found it a bit too fast paced. At least when it comes to one of the king's banquets, you could have expanded a bit on what else he does besides juggling. I have the impression that he doesn't do that very often.

Still, I really liked how the story develops and how you generally set the mood here by giving a lot of information about Wallace and creating this alternation between Wallace's inner world and the advancement of the plot. That mix felt a little too one-sided here, like you left some points out.

In general, I liked this part. It did feel like some scenes were (deliberately) missing, but in general I liked the theme you created with the boiled eggs and a connection to Wallace.

Other points I noticed while reading:

But considering my state of mind back then, I was most likely lay on my bed staring at the wall wondering why Kaspar hadn’t told me about the tournament until I worried myself into a stomach ache and then fell asleep bundled up in a tight little ball.

I can so relate to what he is doing here. It´s not even funny anymore… :D

cooed Mirabelle’s mother- correction- Laina. I am an adult now; I should call her by her name.

I like this sentence. I like how it shows a little bit here that Wallace himself doesn't yet know so directly where he belongs and how he sees himself. Is life serious or just a game?

When I was called back up to the table, I preformed a skit where I juggled five eggs, spinning and twirling as I did so. I caught one with my foot and then flicked it back up into the flying array which was rewarded with several small gasps.

I think this is the first time we've heard more about what Wallace does. I would be happy if we could learn more about his professional life from time to time.

Have fun writing!

Mailice






Hello!

I'll have a look at the dinner scene and add some more details.

I'm still trying to find the balance with the flashbacks. I don't want them too long that they pull the reader too far out of the timeline, but also don't want them to seem rushed. I'll have a look over this one and give it a rework.

There will be more dips into Wallace's jester life in the court and as the town jester, don't worry :D

Thanks for reading and reviewing! I'm just about to upload the new chapter :D



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Mon Oct 18, 2021 5:38 am
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SoullessGinger says...



OH MY GOD I just read this so quickly, it's AMAZING! If it's not too much trouble, would you mind tagging me when you update? : )






THANK YOU! Of course! I aim to upload every Saturday :)




A woman knows the face of the man she loves as a sailor knows the open sea.
— Honore de Balzac