Combing through my archives, I came across this medieval ages based novella I had to write in high school when I was 16 years old.
The Fall Of Exetar
A novella by Jaimee Lee Kristin Jakobczak
Edited and Formatted for WordPress 2021
The town bells clattered wildly, just barely heard over the sound of hundreds of raging knights and peasants in the town centre. As the final note was hit, the knife came down quickly, greatly pleasing the onlookers who responded with loud cheering. It was only eight in the morning and the community of Exetar was already booming with delight. The side-road markets opened, the church’s were beginning their morning mass, and the lowly town pub was preparing itself for the vast business it was about to receive. It had been newly renovated just a week prior, but already it had become the main attraction to the piazza.
“Oy’ why haven’t you poured yet?” bellowed one of the knights as he entered the pub.
“Well, you’re early today, Sir Jon, I apologize. Apple cider, I presume?” responded the tender.
“You’re a good man, William. But make that six ciders, it’s been a long day,”
“The morning quite only just begun, Sir. Forgive me, however, I do not see that as wise,” William smiled slightly, reluctantly pouring the drinks regardless. He was used to the demands of the nobles, and knew that any attempt to reason would be failed.
“Don’t worry, young man. You missed the execution this morning, it was a pivy! The dumb bloke was caught trying to steal from Lady Elizabeth! Can you believe that?” Sir Jon said excitedly. I say, if one scoundrel ever dared try that on me, he would be lucky to receive the guillotine.”
“Oh you would say that, too,” a voice from the side of the room said. The man was sitting at a small table in a darkened corner of the pub. “Though, we all know the truth is you wouldn’t even consider doing worse. You would just go crying off to the lord,”
“I pray, is that not the tone of Thomas Weaver? Why, I haven’t seen you in a while, chap. Off bullying more commoners?” The man emerged from the dark with a scowl.
“T’s I, you fool. You know I’ve been off aiding the lord in his daily duties. I’ve only just returned from Dansforth,” he stated, making a brief acknowledgment to William behind the counter whose eyes lit up with delight.
“Ay, Dansforth! I have not seen that town in years. How I miss it! Does it look as it did in its beginnings?” William asked, quickly trying to get a word in. He was ignored by Thomas who merely demanded another cider with the pound of his fist.
“Thomas wouldn’t know of Dansforths beginnings. He’s been in Exetar all his life. Am I correct in saying so, Thomas?” Sir Jon asked. Thomas simply nodded at his assertion before getting up from his seat. With a single tip of his feather hat, Thomas left without another word, his long cloak trailing the dirty floor.
The pub was in an uproar, though more so now that the town noble idiot had left. Thomas had his share of fans and enemies, though the pub in the mornings was not his time to be present. Laughter followed the quick remarks made by the drunks, with the odd, ‘well, I suppose he must be nice sometimes,’ from the mouths of the oblivious. After the morning rush had ended, and the mid-day rush was about to begin, Sir Jon of the Parish decided to bid adieu.
“Much work to be done this day, as I’m sure as well for you. Good talk, William. Same time tomorrow,” Sir Jon smiled with a wink, adding, “Don’t worry of Thomas. As always, he is simply a man with the mind of a donkey,”
As Sir Jon exited, two well-groomed little boys came running in at full speed. The two helped each other climb up onto the cracking barstools at the rough marble counter.
“How pleasant to see you, Sir! May I have a cup of water?” the smallest boy squeaked.
“And I will have a brandy. Don’t hold back, it’s been a rough day out in the fields,” said the other, attempting to lower the tone of his voice. William chuckled at the two boys, patting their heads with his hand.
“Boys, you know you shouldn’t keep your mother waiting. I’m sure your food is getting cold now,” he said. His point served no purpose, as the Dansforths often ate cold, dry chicken with fresh vegetables from the farm; Only on special occasions were these foods ever grilled.
“But father, we’ve been working all morning and we’re parched. Please, just some water, quickly? The sun is very hot today, and we’ve been up since 6 and—,”
“Fine, fine, son. You put your point well,” William sighed, passing the boys fresh water that had just been fetched from the well.
“We saw Sir Thomas today! He was speaking with Melvin the Blacksmith. I think he’s got a new sword!” said the youngest boy, Jacob. William scratched his head, pondering. He knew Thomas never spoke to the merchants or the peasants directly unless completely necessary. Lately, he had been spotted all about town speaking with various common folk. Something was afoot.
“Tell Eleanor not to keep food out on the table tonight. I feel I won’t be home early enough to eat,” William told them.
“Yes, father. We will tell mother you said so,” responded the eldest, Geoffrey. The two boys scurried off quickly, constantly brushing the hair from their eyes as they went.
That night, William Geoffrey Dansforth didn’t return home right after work, just as he had told his sons. Instead, he found himself wandering down a small path behind the forum. It was a clear night, typical of Exetar. All the stars in the sky could be seen, and the moonlight lit the way for William. It wasn’t long before he reached his destination, sitting down by an old, hollow tree to wait. And wait. And wait – and, wait. Finally, a figure emerged on horseback.
“Sorry to have kept you waiting,” he said smugly, patting the stallion and reining the ropes. “I was busy. I’m sure you have nothing else to do anyway, peasant.”
“Bullocks. You know I have better things to do then secretly meet you,” William countered coldly. Thomas Weavers bright red curls shined in the moonlight. His harsh face barely showed any emotion, and his lips could hardly be bothered to part and make the effort to smile. He snickered at Williams’s response.
“If that were true you would not have waited. Now, let’s get down to business shall we? I need 50 jugs of ale within a fortnight, as Friday I am hosting a party,”
“50 jugs of ale by then is impossible, Weaver. The best I can do is 30. What’s this party for, anyhow?”
“Obviously, for I. That’s why it’s so important! It’s to commemorate my return to Exetar after a gruelling week with the lord. The king will be there, as will the other nobles. It’s a very important affair, William.” Thomas told him, sincerely. “Even you and that gorgeous Eleanor Mables can come, as can the kids. The more peasants the better; I need to look good.” he told him.
“Forget it,” William retorted. “You can find others to raise your stature. You will have your ale, at full price, within the time period given. Now, is there anything else?”
“William, you are but a mere barkeeper, I trust you never speak to me in such a tone again. Dare you never be so ill mannered,” he ordered, placing his hand on his sword handle. It was in perfect condition, and so William assumed this was the new sword his sons has spoken of. “You will come, and you will bring Miss Mables, and those two cockroaches you call kids,”
“Weaver, you are but a mere knight with a shady history. I trust you won’t speak to my family in the way you speak with me, on Friday?” Thomas smiled faintly before gallantly riding off into the night, leaving William standing in a cloud of dust listening to the crickets.
The next morning William entered the pub fashionably late. He hadn’t had much sleep the night before, as by the time he arrived to his small home, his wife was awake preparing the morning meal. Needless to say, she was not too happy with him for coming home at four o’clock at first-light. In order to make Eleanor happy, William spent that morning cleaning off the paved floor and replacing the straw and hay which lay on it, used to cushion their feet. He even cleaned his sons’ tunics and hats, re-stitched their linen cuffs, and woke them in time for their breakfast.
“Look at this mess!” exclaimed the tender when William dizzily walked into the pub at quarter to ten. William stumbled through the pub, analyzing every detail. Every stool had been turned over, or lay parallel to the floor. Every table, every bench, was out of order. There was glass on the stone floor, and many of the pictures on the dark concrete walls weren’t where they were originally hung. At the far window, there was a large hole where something had been thrown, and the linen cloth which draped over the walls were almost completely torn. In the middle of all the rubble was a man. William sighed and rolled the man over onto his back.
“Fancy seeing you up there, Willy!” the drunken man giggled maniacally. “I don’t remember you being quite so tall! Cheerio! Lad, care to freshen my drink?”
“Sire, this we cannot have,” William responded, helping him to his feet. Matthew Chadwick the Third stood before him. It wasn’t uncommon to find Chadwick at the pub, though today was an all time low for him. He was the son of Great Lord Michael Chadwick the Second, and the elegant Lady Marianne of London. He was 35, and not nearly of the same stature of his parents. William helped him to a seat near the bar and began to clean up the mess, when suddenly Chadwick burst into uncontrollable sobbing.
“’Tis but a dream! Thou shall not be penalized for my own doings. Call thee jesters, thee peasants, thee knights and thee Ladies. William is too true of a man to be scrounging around in filth!” Chadwick wept.
“Now, now Sir—I,”
“Don’t be silly, Willy. I will fetch the town tailor for thee,” Chadwick insisted.
“Lord, trust in Phillip and I. We have been taking care of this pub since it was opened, when your father-,”
“Oh, dearest me! My father!” It was at this time that Chadwick’s bawling became unbearable, however none of those present could be bothered to interrupt him any further. “You know, I remember his death as if it were yesterday …. I remember the ceremony we held,” he paused, reminiscing.
It had been raining that day, but nobody minded. The farmers were glad as Exetar hadn’t seen rain in weeks and the crops were starting to wither away. The town had been told to gather in the square before the theatre platform where they had held a festival only two nights before. It was 5 PM and all the shops were closed and dark. The town itself would have seemed dead if it hadn’t been for the 2300 residents who had gathered. There was a peculiar must in the typically fresh mountain air that day. The Lords and Ladies stood before the crowd, hats in hand, tears flowing off each of them, including the knights. Chadwick the Second stood with the castles advisors, whispering throughout the announcement. When the choked up Duke of Nottingham let word know that Lord Chadwick the Second had died, the entire town broke down. The people were angry, they wanted answers. Was he murdered? Was it accidental? How could such a great lord have died in his prime? They were told it was food poisoning from bad meat left in the castle cellar, but many of them refused to believe it. Regardless, the towns’ people were silent as Chadwick the Third was appointed the new lord. They were aware of his actions, and didn’t see him fit enough to take over the community and take care of it as his father had. He was an imbecile, and his father and mother were Saints. Something about the situation wasn’t right, and Exetar would never be the same.
“The tears flowing off everyone in the town, but I … I only thought of how swell it would be to finally become the Lord of Exetar! I didn’t even care. But now, now look at me. I’m a mess, a bloody mess. I’ve become the village fool, and I encourage it with behaviour like this!” he continued, sobbing into his silk suit, wetting the fox trim with his tears.
“It’s true, he does,” stated one man in the back of the room. “Our lords been drunk since the day his father died. Now, Sir Chadwick the Second – that was a lord you could count on!”.
“Oh hush up,” said another. “You fools do nothing but boast your insecurities through your hate of Lord Chadwick the Third, the first Great Lord we’ve ever had!”
“Well if that isn’t the sarcasm of Weaver, I will be greatly surprised,” inputted another.
“Suddenly everyone’s a clown, are they?” Thomas said slyly. “You commoners have no respect for those above you. You should treat such great nobles such as I, and,” he paused, “Lord Chadwick, with more respect than your own mothers,” The people scoffed at his claim and went back to their drinks.
The tavern suddenly grew much lighter as the clouds outside had parted and the sunlight was able to shine through. Its rays reflected off Thomas’s armour and sleek sword, onto the ill looking face of the Lord who was now as green as a lime. He sniffled into his snout-like nose, and briefly thanked Thomas for his kindness before making more of a mess of the pub by giving back all the drinks and appetizers he had consumed.
“Well, at least its royal vomit…,” joked one of the patrons. Disgusted, Thomas quickly left the pub after helping the lord to his feet and forcing him to follow. The other customers didn’t seem to mind the raunchy scent that he had left, and simply asked for more ale and cider. If it didn’t smell like the sewage or the garbage pits on the outskirts of Exetar, it was nothing to complain about. The town was quiet until roughly noon when the church bells began to ring violently.
“Hear this! Hear this! Thou dost present thyself for thy kingship, thy royal Lord Chadwick thee Third! Immediately! All those who hear this, doth thy present thyself without further adieu!” the town crier proclaimed, shaking his bell vigorously. The stores emptied in an instant, the ground itself rumbled a bit as they gathered. Even the merchants abandoned their stands without a second thought to thieves in order to get front and centre for the announcement. Lord Chadwick took to the wooden podium.
“It has come to my attention that I haven’t fulfilled my duties as the lord. Due to this, I find many of you have taken it of your own will to undermine me, undermine the feudal system, and we need to discuss the solution to these inconsistencies. My father would never have this,” he snarled. Half drunk and beat red, Chadwick stumbled over to Thomas Weaver. “This man here has been thee only one to speak the sole, honest truth, and for this I am appointing you, Weaver, the wise, noble Sir Thomas Weaver, leader of the East division of Exetar,”. The crowd had mixed reactions, with the older generations groaning, and the younger cheering. Thomas Weaver simply smirked, waved, and sat right back down, boastfully acknowledging his achievements to the advisors that surrounded him. William’s sons could be heard in the crowd with the other young boys, sharing tales of Thomas’s goals as they looked in awe up at him as if he were some sort of hero. William’s expression was the grimmest of all. He bitterly spit on the cobblestone, showing his disinterest in the subject matter. When the crowd calmed, Chadwick spoke again, “And in order to show you that I am capable of running this town, I am getting rid of each and every advisor I have,” The crowd gasped, booed, and shook their heads in unison. Many of them spoke out against him, saying it was foolish, un-lord-like, and downright embarrassing. Most argued that not even his father would ever dare commit such an act, but he wouldn’t budge. “Anything I say from here on in is absolutely final, no exceptions. My second act as a renewed lord is to have all shops closed from 2P.M until 4P.M, at which time there will be various entertainment sessions, conducted by Sir Thomas,”
“We do not care to be bombarded with these ridiculous rules! Closing our shops means less business which we need to stay open. Thomas does not need two hours of our day to show off his skills!” Melvin the Blacksmith belted.
“Here, here! It is absurd! Some of us need those hours!” argued Francis the Tailor. It was with this act that Lord Chadwick made even more enemies than he had before. Francis refused to sew him anymore garments, which greatly upset the Lord due to not being able to have the finest furs, velvets and silks for his wardrobe. Melvin even cut back on the armour he moulded for the knights, protesting that he didn’t have the time to fulfil the demands of the royalty. Even Sherry the town baker held a stand out against the kingship by not making the Lords favourite sweets. All of which were punished accordingly, some with more severe punishments than the others, specifically Melvin who received 100 lashes for not adhering to the lords business propositions.
Within a few days the town of Exetar was almost completely upside down. William tried his best to cheer up the people as they went about their daily duties, but most just continually wallowed in pity, often cursing about life and making absurd promises to leave Exetar and venture to London. The pub, still stained and slightly havocked from Chadwick’s recent visit, was full of pessimistic merchants at all hours of the day. The Lord himself made announcements every other day with an additional request, and those who did not follow his prospects were sent to the dungeons, forced into slave labour, or given unusually cruel, painful punishments. Even so much as stepping near Sir Thomas’s home resulted in having one’s hands chopped off in the town square. This gave the people an edgy feel to the point where many had become petrified of even so much as stepping out of their own homes. It wasn’t until Chadwick began imposing on the order of Williams’s pub that things really got out of hand.
“William Geoffrey Dansforth the town bartender, owner of Dansforth’s ‘Good for what Ale’s ye’ Pub, stands before thy Lord. It has come to thy Lords attention that thou must extend thy hours late into the evening in order to please thee nobles’ wishes,” the town crier held. “Thy must hath forty jugs of ale on hand at all times, and thy must hath 50 barrels of thee finest wines, strictly for thy kingship,” Annoyed, confused, and angry, William hung a large rusted sign on the door of his pub, stating ‘Closed until the new lord is chosen’. Sir Jon had tried to talk him out of his brash decision, but William was fed up and could not be bothered to argue with the lord any further. Plus, it was mid day on Friday, and he had other plans.
As he approached the castle by horse-drawn carriage with his wife and two sons in tow, he nervously rustled his new tunic, fiddling with the soft, linen material. Thomas had sent velvet suits for the boys, of the same style as the Dukes, and Eleanor Mables had been sent a fine linen gown, with a slight fur trim, much like the Duchesses. Tonight the Dansforth’s would be amongst royalty, and treated as such. The castle was lit up by candles in every window, and they were dropped off outside the main fountain which portrayed a marble statue of Lord Chadwick the First and his noble henchmen. As soon as the Dansforths stepped off the carriage, William slipped. A great start to what would prove to be a great night.
“Ah, the Dansforths! I am ecstatic that you have finally arrived!” Thomas greeted them on the front steps. “Miss Mables, you look ravishing. And the boys! You two look like true Dukes!” He was all smiles, and shook Williams’s hand. “Glad you came, friend,” he said, tightening his grip.
“We wouldn’t dare miss it for anything. Who knows what this night will bring,” William said, dryly gazing at the castle. “Beautiful place. I trust you told only your best stories to be worthy of it?”.
“It’s only a subsection off of Chadwick’s legions proximity,”
“Oh? And what legion is this? Does it only contain you and him?”
Thomas looked into the distance. “Shall I show you inside, Miss Mables?” he said, lending his arm to court her. She was overwhelmed and happily obliged, without so much as a glance to her husband who sluggishly followed with his sons. Thomas Weaver ensured that the Dansforths were introduced to all those of importance that evening. He did exactly what he set out to, which was make himself look more charming, witty, and extraordinary as ever. Lord Chadwick entertained himself with the various jesters that had been hired and generally stayed out of the affairs. There was a band that never ceased playing. At all times one could hear the mandolin and drum players keeping a steady rhythm. William hung onto every word that spilled out of Thomas’ mouth that night. At one point, Sir Jon convinced him to tell his daring tale explaining his nickname “Weaver”. Thomas pretended to be too embarrassed to tell it, but within moments was up on the band stage silencing the accordions so he was able to be heard.
“There I was, in the middle of a hundred angry weavers. Milvex was known for weavers, they were everywhere! They were revolting for God knows what reason, and I decided that I could not let this happen. So there I was, with my father, Sir Thomas Phillip – a well known knight at the time – trying to knock some sense into those pesky peasants, when an arrow skimmed my head!” Thomas explained, drawing a large crowd. “I told my father, I said, ‘Jonathon Phillip Thomas, we mustn’t let these fools destroy our town’, and he agreed. So, we both drew our-”
“I thought his first name was Thomas, like yours?” exclaimed William. Thomas blushed slightly as the crowd murmured that they were confused as well.
“I apologize, I’ve had a tad to drink, you see,”
“And what town was this in that you grew up in?” enquired his eldest son.
“Dansforth, it is just outside of London. You should know that Geoffrey!” The crowd looked at each other in bewilderment.
“Your facts aren’t adding up, Sir Thomas,” stated the Duke of Wales sternly.
“So as I was saying,” Thomas continued, ignoring the Duke. “We drew our swords at these blacksmiths who in turn drew their mallets! It was quite the scandal in Dansforth. We won, of course, to keep a long story short. The Weavers then had to leave the town, as they were banished by Lord Mitchell!” Thomas broke out in hysterical laughter, saying he’s had one too many brews. The crowd, confused and unsure of who was standing before them as their town advisor slowly dismembered. They all left him onstage with a few Dukes who stayed to check if he was alright. William grinned menacingly as he overheard the guests speaking furiously.
“I don’t understand. Was there a great battle or was there not? Was it with the Weavers or was it with the Smiths? Was he even there? I demand to know his fathers name!” the Duke of Nottingham was saying.
“Lord Mitchell was in Dansforth. I know that for fact, my grandfather knew him well,” joined the Duchesses of Fallston.
William and his family didn’t stay much longer after that episode, as William felt he had completed his noble duty. In addition to that, storm clouds were hovering overhead, and seeing as how they had been brought by horse drawn carriage minus a cover, they decided to leave before the rain hit.
The next morning the forum was alive. All residents of Exetar had gathered once again before the Lord and his Noble right hand man. They were angrier than ever, all speaking at once as to try to be heard over their neighbour.
“He doesn’t deserve any of this! He’s a failure, a liar, and a cheat!” they were yelling. “Apprehend him!” Sir Jon and his fellow knights made their way to the back of the platform as Lord Chadwick attempted to silence the crowd. The crowd seemed bigger than ever, many of the people held weapons, or various tools. Ashamed and afraid of what may happen, Lord Chadwick ran off the stage. Thomas Weaver, pale as a ghost was cuffed and led off the stage by Sir Jon and Melvin the Blacksmith with a black bag covering his head.
We had a word count deadline and I believe I must have hit it at this point. Nonetheless, I hope you enjoyed this featured story from the CF archives.