Alec returned to his office, having dumped the armful of lavender on the nearest available table in the solar and walking out, determinedly oblivious to the cries of dismay over the mess he’d supposedly made of the embroidery threads spread across it.
He arrived just in time to head off Nathan’s search for him and they headed to the stables to ‘check on the stability of the entrance to the caverns as per Her Ladyship’s orders’.
Nathan’s horse appeared to be loaded with enough food to cater to the entire King’s Court but Alec had faith in his unofficial offsider’s good sense. The bags would contain treats, but also more useful and durable items like dried meat and potatoes to roast in the fire.
They travelled via the caverns and did make a cursory check of the area. The original exploration had been triggered by Lady Mellisande overhearing a servant recounting a much-enjoyed drinking session in one of the caverns on a blustery day and had been inspired to hold a party there.
Thankfully good sense prevailed enough to order a check of the area first. Alec was now very interested in keeping people well away until a properly selected and outfitted party could do a thorough sweep of the area. He didn’t think Kid had come far before stumbling across the caverns and making use of them to hide.
They reached Nora’s cottage without incident and knocked on the door, each bearing a bag of food.
Nora answered and stepped back to let them by, “I predicted right I’m afraid, he’s awake and aware but very weak and running a fever. He’ll be abed for a while and should be there for longer than I’ll probably be able to keep him.”
Alec nodded and rummaged through the bags for a simple fruit bun, fresh and soft and held it up for approval.
“That will do him nicely, he’s through that door there and looking forward to seeing you. Nathan, I don’t know what you said to the kitchen staff but, much as I’m grateful, I’m going to need you to rearrange quite a few things to get it all properly stored.”
Alec left them to it and knocked on the indicated door. He got a slightly bewildered brush across his mind and pushed the door open.
“I knocked as it’s considered good manners to let someone behind a closed door know you’re there and, ideally, wait for them to give you permission to enter.”
Kid’s bewilderment grew, but was swiftly buried under a rush of joy.
“Of course, I said I would didn’t I?”
“You did, but things happen and people get too busy and other important things come up so they can’t always do what they say.”
“Kid, you’re important and I’d like you to remember that. Now, Nathan thinks you’re important enough that he went down to the castle kitchens this morning and sweet-talked half the pantry out of the staff. This was baked just this morning so it’s soft and fresh and I’ve had enough of them to know they’re really good.”
Kid took the proffered bun and examined it closely, “Slow and careful again?”
“Probably a good idea for a couple more days. How are you feeling?”
“Shaky and funny and always sleepy and then hungry and thirsty and then sleepy again.”
“Good, that means your body knows it’s somewhere safe and is letting itself heal and get strong again. The best thing you can do is rest and let it get itself as strong as possible. Can you read?”
“Yes, and write and do sums and all sorts of things.”
“Well, then, next time I’ll see if I can bring you a book or a game or something so you can keep your brain busy while your body catches up.”
Kid smiled, leaned back in the small but clearly comfortable bed tucked against the wall and turned his attention to the bun, “This is good!”
“There may be some more in Nathan’s bags. They can get a bit hard by the next day but toast up nicely.”
Nathan appeared at the sound of his name, “I have a couple of presents for you Kid!”
Kid’s eyes seemed to take up half his face in his astonishment.
“If you’re going to be a proper explorer, you need to have the right equipment and the most important pieces of equipment an explorer can have is their food bag and water bottle. So here you are, I’ve already kitted you out with some fresh water from Nora’s well and the bag has beef jerky, cheese, bread and an apple, in case you wake up tonight after an especially hungry-making dream exploration.”
Both items were deposited on the bedside table for Kid’s inspection, “And Nora says she’ll reprovision you any time you need to set out on another adventure, dream or otherwise, so you just let her know when things are running low or getting a bit stale.”
Kid carefully poked through the bag and uncorked the top of the water bottle to peek inside, “They’re mine?”
“And I can get them refilled?”
“Yup, just remember this is extra provisions for the trail, you still have your main meals and you don’t want to spoil the taste and enjoyment of them by being too full on boring roadside rations.”
Kid nodded and patted the bag to reassure himself it hadn’t run away or emptied itself in the past two seconds.
“Now, we need to get back to the castle. It’s important for you to rest and let your body do all that fixing it’s been wanting to do for so long. We many not be back for a couple of days but either Nathan or I will visit you and Nora before the end of the week.”
Alec started slightly as Kid threw his arms around him as best he could from his position under the bedclothes, he returned the hug, then stood and encouraged the child to lie back and snuggle into the softness surrounding him.
The two men rejoined Nora in the kitchen, “I’m not sure when we’ll be able to get back, but I trusted Kid’s instincts and admitted he existed to Her Ladyship. She’s going to organise some clothes for him and is likely to spend the next week or more pestering for a visit. I’ll hold off as long as I can.”
Nora smiled, “Don’t resist too hard, she’s a good girl under that spoiled lady act and Kid will be so happy to see her.”