I went down to check on him with Aine before we went to the Grand Hall. Douglas was dressing him and they were nearly ready so we walked together to the Hall. I could clearly see the bond developing between Douglas and Aine. They were very aware of each other. I touch of envy found me. They were allowed to be in love. Other than Douglas’ boundaries set down by Torc, all of which Torc himself had recently breached, there was no obstacles in the way of their love. They were free to be in love. Envy.
I watched Torc and Douglas make their entry to the Hall the men rose from their seats and applauded him. They cheered him and revered his bravery and skill. The Boar was still in the centre of the hall as a testimony to his courage.
I entered when all his fanfare had died down.
The King was deep in the midst of a re-enactment of the event and ignored me totally. That was fine I was interested to hear of how he jumped from the horse and bellowed as he ran towards the already charging Boar then wrestled it to the ground with his brute strength before overpowering it and breaking its neck. Then they started with the comparisons to Hercules, to Achilles, to Beowulf, to any legendary hero their alcohol enriched minds could remember. It was mildly amusing but I stayed out of the conversation and spoke to Colm instead. He was leaving soon and I suddenly felt like I had hardly seen him over the week.
Everything at the feast and over the evening went reasonable well and the things that were missed due to my current distraction in caring, amongst other things, for Torc went unobserved. The King and the Hunting party had been celebrating since their return and were now quite drunk.
I breathed a sigh of relief the last feast was tomorrow night. In some respects that was good but in others it would create problems. It meant that everything would change. The dancers would leave and the King would be moody, sullen and difficult. Everyone would be busy with the harvests and taxes but possibly not too busy to notice Torc’s and his men’s presence. I needed to ensure that I had women satisfying their nightly needs or the husbands and fathers would be calling. I needed to talk to Torc about this and have him talk to his men, what was appropriate this week would not be next week.
It also meant that I would either have to find possibly willing girls in my staff or buy in whores. My household budget was already stretched with all the potion I purchased from the herbalist. That and the bed sheets, cut into the virgin flags or too stained with overused, that needed replacing. I had very little money left for whores. I would talk to Torc. My mind went to where I would house twelve extra men and how we would feed them. At least we didn’t need to worry about the drink.
My mind was rattling through all these problems when I turned and caught Torc’s eyes on me. Damn.
“My King, please can I ask that you excuse Lord Torc. He needs his rest. I requested that he did not attend tonight but ...”
“Ha. Women, they would belittle all your achievements. He is a Hero, woman. Of course he struggled out of his death bed to share his triumph with his men. You are but a woman I wouldn’t expect you to understand these things. Lord Torc, your bravery and courage are the finest of all men. Take to your bed and welcome your slut, may she ride you all night. A great victory you have won today and may your victories tonight be just as spectacular.”
Torc bowed to the King and stumbled slightly.
“My King, please allow my first Douglas to aid me as I leave your hall and I should have my wounds restraped before my entertainment arrives,” he laughed, “After all this is my last night with my birds of flight.”
“Maeb go and get fresh dressings for the Lord and bound his wounds so that he is free to celebrate his great victory.”
“As you wish my King, do you require my presence back in the Grand Hall once Lord Torc is...prepared?”
“No,” he said simply and turned back to Lord Torc and said something I did not hear. The men all laughed loudly.