SotF: The Blood Court

  • VIII

    The table was large, shaped like a horseshoe, could seat an entire platoon, and surrounded a roaring hearth. Jarl Laila Law-giver sat at the head of the table and Falrielle sat to her right, her guest of honour. To Falrielle’s right, sat Carcette and to her right was the motley crew of Shippers & Movers. The courtiers and other guests to the Jarl’s left. The bards and musicians had their own corner to sing their pretty songs.


                Throughout the banquet Falrielle ravaged on stuffed swans, mutton and leeks, capons, suckling pig – all smothered with cowberry jam; a strange delicacy of the South. The elf ate so much that she’d almost forgotten what is was like to starve under poverty… almost. Falrielle caught herself glancing at the crew; their tables was as full of bounty as hers, full of bones and spillage as hers, and the wenches waited behind them to clear the table and refill their drinks. Carcette’s section however was clear of crumbs and bones, the Breton was content on her stew and a single goblet of spiced wine. Falrielle would’ve have stuffed some food under her clothes for safekeeping but Carcette dissuaded her otherwise.


                Falrielle looked into her empty cup and waved away the wench. Her fingers began to tingle and her face flashed with warmth and after the events of the day – she had enough. No more drunkenness, she had told herself. She had originally told herself no more drinking but not even Stendarr could keep that promise.


                She tore off a piece of the capon, drizzled in nutmeg and other spices whose scent she knew but could not name and shoved it in her mouth. She thought of the bearded noble and his compatriots, pondering when they would strike had she not bumbled into their plans. She closed her eyes and remembered how the Jarl passed her judgement and how their heads flew from their necks at the keep’s courtyard. The sight of death did not bother her anymore but it was something special to watch guards mount heads on spikes.


                ‘Truth be told,’ said the Jarl, leaning in and whispering. ‘After the war I never did trust the elves, I believed in the rumours that the elves seek the downfall of man but you showed me that I was wrong. That there are some that prove quite useful to the good of the realm. I am in need of a new steward. Perhaps-‘


                Falrielle quickly swallowed the capon and said, ‘I am flattered by the offer, my Jarl but my place is with the Vigil of Stendarr.’


                The Jarl waved her hand. ‘Shame. Truly, a shame. You’d accept not gold nor lands from me and that Thegnship is too small of a prize for what you did for Riften, for what you did for me.’ The Jarl remained quiet as if expecting for an answer that never came. ‘Ah, Belor. I tire of the House of Blades. Tell the bards…’


    Falrielle shuddered as soon as the Jarl’s attention turned elsewhere. Thegn, an honorary title given to those who had perform a service to a Hold and with that title comes with the responsibility of retainer to the Jarl. The title cared not for birth or blood but by the deeds of the recipient… that meant Falrielle was now a member of the petty nobility and Shippers & Movers had already took to adding the title of Lady to her name.


                Other than the title, the Jarl did do one more thing as her boon. She requested that the Jarl donate arms, armours, and other supplies for the Vigil. Asceticism did have its drawbacks after all.


                Falrielle leaned towards Carcette. ‘So… you’re not really going to put the whole Thegn thing in the report, are you?’


                ‘No. I will not,’ said Carcette, a sly smile forming on her face. She sipped her wine and peeked over her cup, ‘My Lady Falrielle.’


                ‘Please don’t,’ said Falrielle, shrinking into her chair.


                ‘As my Lady commands, so it shall be.’


                The elf thumped her head on the table and groaned. She could hear Carcette chuckling amongst the revelry. That made her smile inside a bit.


                The Jarl rose, raising her cup. The music and the mutterings stopped and Falrielle looked up. ‘A toast I say! A toast!’ An army of servants marched out the kitchens with trays bearing leather cups. ‘Arise all! Arise!’ the Jarl continued.


                Falrielle rose and so did everyone else on the table.


                ‘A toast to Thegn Falrielle of the Pale!’ said the Jarl. ‘A toast to glory! A toast to Riften!’


                ‘To Riften!’


                Falrielle drank from the leather cup. The drink was thick and red, and it did not smell nor taste like any fruit she had ever eaten. She gargled, tasting traces of iron.


                The Jarl leaned over Falrielle and smiled. ‘Thegn, how do you find the wine? Anlaufr always hated the Argonian liquors but I say that he’s not in any position to judge,’ said the Jarl. Falrielle stopped drinkings and her eyes darted at her cup.


                ‘What liquor is this?’ said Carcette, wincing.


                ‘Bloodwine,’ said the Jarl. Falrielle spat.




    And this of course brings us to the boldest and most unorthodox of the wines of Tamriel: the Argonian Bloodwine! Ah yes the infamous Bloodwine, a drink only for the bravest and most experienced of drinkers – this is not the drink for the fainthearted or the foolish. The Bloodwine is named so for its blood red colouration, viscous texture, and of course its metallic aroma. The Bloodwine has been described as tannic yet sweet with a hard finish but bears no traces of fruit as is in conventional wine. The wine is also a full wine, drinkers will know its presence when drunk. Readers will be most pleased to know that Bloodwine has a strong kick to it, almost as strong as Jagga or Colovian Vodka and it hits just as quick so your bodies knows when to stop.


    As for serving the drink it is only fair that the boldest and most unorthodox of wines of Tamriel to be served differently from its ilk. Let not that the wine come contact to metal for even the cool touch of gold and silver will corrupt the wine’s taste. Instead serve the wine in cups of leather with hides of beasts native to the Black Marsh offering the best and richest of taste for the Bloodwine. Drink it warm or cold; it matters not for the wine’s hardy nature means that its tang will survive whatever the weather throws at it. It is not uncommon for some drinkers to spice their wine with Bergamot seeds, Foxglove nectar although purists such as myself would frown upon such defilement.


    Meat, especially red meat cooked bloody pairs well with Bloodwine. Not so unlike conventional red wines, Bloodwines bond well with red meat and the wine softens the meat beckoning more flavour from each bite. In return the meat mellows the Bloodwine’s hard finish like a maiden dancing seductively around a bonfire of the First Planting. Now unless you dear reader are an Argonian or have a taste for their food, never drink Bloodwine with fish. The wine brings out that ‘fish’ taste that overbears the drinker for the most part but do as one does.


    Now as to what exactly is in a Bloodwine, one may guess that with the word ‘Blood’ in the name the wine must have something to do with blood. An astute and logical conclusion if I do say so myself but the truth is far more complicated…


    - Excerpt from Wines & Liquors of Tamriel: A Complete Compendium by Ser Louis Pinot, Wine Connoisseur & Guildmaster of the Order of the Red Vine



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1 Comment   |   ilanisilver likes this.
  • ilanisilver
    ilanisilver   ·  October 1, 2018
    Oh, spitting at the jarl’s table. Nice.