It wasn’t until first frost that Melkin finally managed to recover from the sickness and madness that had haunted him throughout the fall. The sorrow that had buried itself in his heart had been hard to understand, and Melkin knew but one other knight who understood what utter heartbreak felt like.
Sir Gamond had been calm. He had shown quiet understanding while listening to Melkin’s pain, something that Melkin had failed to do when Gamond had lost his life’s love. In the end, Gamond had asked what Melkin valued more than his own life, something that could give him respite from his devotion to the queen. Despite everything the answer had been easy, Melkin had explained that, whatever hardship, his duties to count Roderick always came first. He knew he was unworthy of the queen and however strong his affection for her, he was first and foremost his lord’s subject. Gamond had nodded and then advised Melkin to focus on that duty for a while.
Most of their conversations had been in the forest. There, in a glade, Gamond had created a place for reflection, and it seemed to have been well visited before Melkin ever found out it existed. Next to the marble benches, that Gamond had probably carried there himself, there grew a strange thornbush in which Anwyn’s old sword had been placed. It stood there, rusting while being slowly devoured by the thorns around it. It somehow looked terribly lonely to Melkin.
“One day, my own sword will rest next to hers,” Gamond had said nodding toward the sword. “If you want to, you can leave the dagger that you stabbed yourself with in there. It will make it easier.”
After considering the offer for a few moments Melkin had taken the advice, cutting himself on the thorns as he thrust the dagger into the frozen ground within the bush. It had made him feel better to leave it there. A couple of days later, word came that king Uther had found the architect he had promised Melkin at the king’s wedding. By then Melkin had gathered himself enough, his heart a lot lighter since his talk with Gamond in the glade, and he traveled to meet his new architect.
Melkin had thought the dream of rebuilding the roman villa lost, but Guiseppe, the Italian architect, explained that, well yes the foundation was going to be expensive, but it was by no means impossible to restore the building. While explaining the structure of the villa to his best capacity to Giuseppe, Melkin barely noticed the brother of his new architect until Antonio said:
“Beg your pardon, my knight, but you seem familiar to me. I somehow know those eyes of yours.”
At first Melkin had thought that Antonio had met his father Bryn, but as the discussion progressed he soon realised that it was someone else that the cook had encountered. Describing a worn and well-traveled man, who had partially hidden his face below his robes, Melkin realised that it could have been none other than his blood brother that Antonio described. The eyes had been distinct, as Melkin’s own were, having the same deep blue colour as the Mawrth shield.
Antonio conveyed all he could remember about the man, and Melkin felt one step closer to finding his lost brother. In the end Melkin could do naught but ask Antonio to join his household and Antonio agreed. He argued that Guiseppe was already in Melkin’s service, and, after all, in a household, nothing was more important than a good cook.