Author Topic: [CRP] Schloss Ehreshoven  (Read 585 times)

(RIP) Axel Richard von Fersen-Bourbon

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[CRP] Schloss Ehreshoven
« on: 12 March, 2018, 08:33:49 PM »
The dust of the roads upon which the carriage ran would have certainly bothered him, but the rainy, moist weather of that part of the country acted as his ally in keeping the dust onto the ground. The landscape he could see pulling the carriage's curtain aside certainly had nothing of the bucolic landscapes singed by the ancient poets. He saw nothing but vast fields, now flooded by the rain, and previously ploughed by the farmers. He reclined on the seat with a ghost of a smile on his face, thinking that somewhere nearby, a farmer -that probably belonged to him as he was the lord of that county- and his family were probably grateful for that rain in their modest hut, as much as he was in that carriage. They were grateful for the promise of a bountiful harvest, whilst he was just happy for having been delivered from the inconvenience of the dust. So odd was the world that the rich and the poor, the lords and the servants could rejoice about the same thing but for different reasons.

A jolt of the carriage woke him up, announcing they were entering into what already was his estate. He knew nothing about this house he chose as his hermitage, but the name “Ehreshoven”, which was German for “Court of honour”, as they told him. This manor was bought for him by a man called Svartmann, the very same man who took care of his house in Brugge for so many years whilst he was abroad. When he decided to retire to Flanders, he ordered to Svartmann to look for a calm, quiet and peaceful place to live in. He had had enough of castles and the discomfort that such fortresses had to offer, he wanted to live the rest of his life in a different vibe. When Svartmann found out about Ehreshoven, although some renovations were necessary, he felt he could finally have found his place. Restoration and reorganisation transformed the old castle in a more gentle place, almost a villa of the ancient times, the crenelations were gone and the only thing denoting the military past of that place was the moat.

As the carriage penetrated in the inner courtyard, he could see that Svartmann was there, waiting for him on the threshold. The large part of his possessions had already been shipped to the manor, and he expected to find everything in order. He got out the carriage underneath the pouring rain, whilst Svartmann bowed as he approached. He always liked the efficiency of that old man, as well as the Scandinavian origins they had in common.
I trust that Your Grace had a pleasant journey”, said Svartmann. He nodded.
May I show you the manor, my lord?” the old man continued, leading the way inside. The great entrance hall has still no decoration but the cold, pale marble, but, almost to make up for that, it was crowded by all the servants, gathered there to greet their master.
The household, my lord”, whispered Svartmann in his ear, whilst they reached the imposing staircase leading upstairs. He smiled seeing that they all wore a livery painted in blue and yellow.
I assume that Your Grace desires to rest now...?”, asked Svartmann uncertain.
All in good time, Herr Svartmann. Lead me to the library first”.

A large portion of the first floor of that manor was reserved to the library, as he requested. During his life, he had the chance to compensate what lacked in the education his father prepared for him during his childhood. Now that he finally made the decision to retire from the world he resolved to focus on his studying, dedicating to that noble purpose all of his time. The only diversion he provided for himself was the gardening, an ancient art, almost completely forgotten by that time.
The library was a long, rectangle-shaped room, whose walls were upholstered by shelves overflown with books, except for one which hosted a large fireplace. In front of the fireplace was an oak-made desk with an armchair, which seemed to be just waiting for him.
He dismissed Svartmann, who silently retreated, sat there and pulled out a little box from the pocket of his coat. The light spreading from candle holder in the corner of the desk, danced upon the finely carved wood of the box, enlightening the Royal Coat of Arms of Flanders. He slowly raised the lid, revealing the shining chain of office of Lord Chancellor of Flanders, an office that -on Her Majesty's most gracious insistence- he could not refuse. He reclined onto the seatback, fiddling with the ruby ring on his finger, another memory from the past. He closed his eyes. The retirement time had finally come.


(RIP) Axel Richard von Fersen-Bourbon

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Re: [CRP] Schloss Ehreshoven
« Reply #1 on: 17 March, 2018, 06:23:44 PM »
The break of dawn surprised him still awake in the library. The sky faded from the deep and intense blue of the night to a pale blue, with a feeble light climbing on the horizon, announcing the new day was about to begin. The clouds and the rain that pestered the days since his arrival seemed to have left eventually. He did pay attention to any of these marvellous wonders in the sky, for from the spot he sat, he could barely have a glimpse of the horizon through the window.  He firewood crackling was the only sound to keep him company, although he did not seem to need company in those days. He seemed enraptured reading a book, probably one of those monographs he paid so much for. The book merchant did not even know who were the people he mentioned at first, although the jolly sound of silver coins made him happily promise he would have found the books the Duke had asked for.
Only when the light in the library became too feeble, he realised the candles went out, and he was merely reading with the support of the gleam of the fireplace behind his desk. He rose and went through the window, looking for light, in that moment he saw the dawn, with its particular colour, streaming through the garden they had created on the back of the manor. “It seems that perhaps today will be the day”, he said to himself.
Someone knocked on the door. A manservant came in with a certain amount of scroll on a tray: “A messenger brought these for you, my lord”. He stood for a moment longer next to the window, reading those who appeared to be the last lines of the book he held in his hand.  “Bring some more candles, please” he said, and the manservant withdrew. He moved back to his desk and examined the scrolls. He gently pushed away with his hand the parchments coming from the steward in Andernach and opened instead those bearing the great seal of the Queen. He read all the letters coming from Her Majesty and Her Government, reclining onto the backseat. He stayed motionless in that position, his vacuous eyes could not read the scroll he was still holding in his hand.

After what it could be a minute or two hours, Svartmann came in unannounced. He was the only one who could take that liberty in the manor.
I brought the candles you requested, my lord. Would you like to eat something, sir...?”, the voice of the man muffled, as he saw the Duke in that condition. “Is there a reply for the Queen, my lord?”, asked the man again.
The Duke's eyes ran from the parchment in his hand to the man standing in front of him. They looked at him without actually seeing him. So it seemed at least, until he said: “You know, Herr Svartmann... I found myself with nothing to said. I am quite sure that Her Majesty will manage without me. I would like to go for a stroll in the garden instead, now that the weather tenders us”.
He let the parchment slip away from his hand, rose and hastily left the library, while Svartmann bowed.


(RIP) Axel Richard von Fersen-Bourbon

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Re: [CRP] Schloss Ehreshoven
« Reply #2 on: 22 March, 2018, 08:43:16 PM »
The gravel creaked under his shoes, whilst he marched through the garden. Two rows of oaks delineated the path through the garden, although it could hardly be defined as a garden if compared with the hortii of the ancient times. All he had at that moment was a path made of gravel in the middle of two rows of trees and this monotonous landscape ran for many meters, until a creek, which also marked the end of the estate. Walking down the path, he plumbed with his gaze the terrain, as if he were looking for something, then he stopped all of a sudden in front of what it seemed a parcel not dissimilar to the others, except for the fact that there the ground was turned out. Probably the gardeners did not have enough time to cover their work, or some mole could have been at work there. For a long time, he stood there, in silence, with the murmuring of the nearby creek told its praise to the morning.
Hey, you!” he shouted to a footman, walking on the other side of the path, who was bringing two bucketfuls of water from the creek to the manor. The servant stopped and bowed.
“There was a box made of pinewood in my carriage when I arrived here. Bring it to me. And a hoe as well”, he ordered. As the servant hastened towards the manor, he took off the thick warm robe he wore, reducing himself to his shirt. “Here will be just perfect” he murmured to himself.

After a few minutes, a long parade of liveries was extending from the manor to the limit of the garden, bringing tools, water, sacks and then arrived the box he requested, which was laid down at his feet. It was a large box, shaped in a rectangle, made of fine, study pinewood. Opening the lid, the content was revealed. Three, delicate, colourful orchids were laid down there, with their roots covered in topsoil. The first time he read about those plants, it was by accident, during his studies at seminary. In the area of the library dedicated to the authors of the ancient Greece, he bumped into an enquiry written by a long-forgotten  scholar, who mentioned with an abundance of details these particular plants. He selected these three exemplars in the colours of white, yellow and the most precious one, the blue one. Those glorious, delicate plants looked shiny and vividly colourful in the sun of the early spring morning. Luxury, wealth and opulence were usually associated to those plants, so rare and valued since ancient times. He had those exemplars shipped to him from far away lands, and as far as he knew, he was the only one in Flanders to cultivate them.

With his hands in the soil, he planted with care those little plants, paying attention to the light and trying to calculate the position of the sun during the day, estimating what kind of light they would have received. 
Water”, he said without caring for whom he was talking to. He was sure that some footmen would have been there waiting for his instructions.
We have gardeners to do that, my lord... do you think it is proper to be reduced like that for gardening, sir?”. The voice of Svartmann reached him in a whisper, while the old man passed him a bucket with water.
You know Svartmann, I think this is the most proper action I have done in my entire life”, he replied, pouring some water on the plants.
Nonetheless my lord, your rank would require you to be presentable at any time. And how do you know you're planting these plants the proper way?”, the old man insisted.
My rank!”, laughed the Duke. “Look at me, Svartmann. Would you ever be able to tell I am the Duke and not the gardener?”. The old man eyes ran all over the Duke's person, finding him dirty in soil, sweat and mud.
It... it would be hard to tell, sir”, grumbled the old man.
 “My dear old friend. I do not expect you to understand, but when you have been through what I have been through in my life, you learn that there is only one truth. There is nothing more true and concrete that this very soil I am covered in now. I am the Duke of Köln, I have been a King, a Prince of the Church... what remains of all this? What shall remain of all this once I will be gone? This, Svartmann”, said the Duke pointing his finger at the orchid “This is what shall remain. These wonderful plants, which are so delicate, but strong enough to grow and blossom under most conditions. These trees, this manor”, he continued indicating with his hand the surroundings “This is what shall remain of me. More than the titles, the political acts, the laws I have written, I will consider my life complete when I will be sure I have left a piece of beauty to the world”, he concluded vibrantly.
The expression of Svartmann was absolutely cross, it was clear that the old man was deeming the whole situation completely improper.
I know, you are thinking I am off my rocker, old man”, smiled the Duke, whilst cleaning his hands with the water left in the bucket. “Here is how we shall proceed. For as long as I am in this improper condition, you will consider me the gardener. If someone is coming asking for the Duke, you shall not know where he is. Now away you all”, he laughed dismissing the old man and the footmen.
Oh, and... Svartmann! Remember, the gardener is not to be disturbed”.