Going through the marble-floored long gallery, the great hall where the grand staircase connected the first floor to the second opened up before the young boy. The stairs curved majestically, and the boy slowly climbed up them before coming to a halt on the landing.
The gracefully curving but sturdy oak banister gleamed as though enticing the boy, "slide down me."
But portraits hung on the wall beside the staircase, and their stern faces looked down at the boy on the landing.
They were the portraits of the ancestors of the Duke of Sylvanford.
For an instant, he thought that one of the portraits had spoken and he gazed at them intently.
"Please stop sliding the banister for fun."
But the voice was that of a steward who has served the household for many years.
Heavy wrinkles threatened to bury the white-bearded elderly man's eyes as he stared up at the boy from the floor below.
"I'm not so childish as to do that sort of thing," he said feigning innocence.
"If so, that's fine. The last duke slid down the banister when he was a child only to be scolded by one of the ancestors in the portraits."
"I'm not so childish as to be frightened by such stories either."
The young boy laughed but the steward was solemn as he climbed the stairs and stood next to the boy as he looked up at a painting. The large collar on the ancestor seemed almost comical now, but he had the same ash-mauve eyes as the young boy. From the date written in the corner, it was done almost 300 years ago.
"This person was apparently the fifth son of the duke of that time, but apparently he was good friends with Earl Ashenbert."
The young boy shrugged as though indifferent.
So the steward elaborated, "I believe you will know who Earl Ashenbert is if I tell you he's more formally known as the Earl of Ibrazel."
"The Lord of Ibrazel? You mean the Blue Knight Earl?" he couldn't help asking. His voice was filled with curiosity.
The Earl of Ibrazel. Edward I's retainer who had been granted that rank had been known as Lord Blue knight. Since then, that name has been passed down as the name or one of England earls.
Which meant that it wouldn't be unusual for the young boy's ancestor, who lived during the same time, to be on good terms with the person who'd inherited the name of the Earl of Ibrazel.
They were both members of the nobility, and if they were to meet at court, it was possible that their friendship would grow beyond the simple acquaintanceship that would form from taking part in society.
But for the young boy, the Earl of Ibrazel was the main character of stories.
The fantastic fairy stories said to have been based on the Lord Blue Knight were very interesting and he'd read them many times.
Said to have holdings in Fae lands, the story went that the Lord Blue Knight brought fairy vassals with him and at times used unusual powers as he served and helped Edward I.
"Huh. So did my ancestor also become friends with the fae?"
Naturally it was a story. While it wasn't the least bit unusual for the Lord Blue Knight to have actually existed or for the lineage to have continued, the boy didn't think he'd actually come from Faerie.
But like a child, he asked that question for the steward's sake.
The steward grinned. Apparently he liked such mysterious stories. He remembered in fine detail which rooms in the old mansion ghosts were said to appear in or in which rooms a lamp would light on its own and enjoyed frightening guests with those tales.
"That detail is unknown. However, the person in this portrait went to sea with the Earl and never returned."
"The Earl also didn't return?"
"Right. Since then, apparently there's no record of any person bearing the name of the Earl of Ibrazel presenting himself to the monarch."
Most likely the ship had sunk. It often happens.
"I see. So the Lord Blue Knight's line no longer exists."
"Hmm, I wonder. It's a lineage from fairy lands, so it could be that by the time you go to the Queen's court that the Earl of Ibrazel is once again causing excitement in society.
"Huh, I'd like to meet him," the boy said out of pure interest.
Whether the earl had mysterious powers or not, most likely he would be as fascinating as the stories of the Lord Blue Knight that captivated adults and children alike.
"That way, I'd be able to ask about the fate of my ancestor."
The young boy and the steward both smiled, and the young boy innocently imagined how fun it would be to talk with the Earl of Ibrazel at the Queen's court.
Wow! Six months of no practise has left me oh so rusty. >.<;