Rowland 3: Rowland and the Herbal Cure

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Herbal Remedies Medieval

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Written by Bertie
Read by Jana
Illustration by Adobe Stock Images.

Hello this is Jana and welcome to Storynory where you will find yourself in a world of wonderment, with a treasure trove of stories to choose from. Our audio sessions are made by us for you .. a great way to escape into another existence.

This week I’m back with another episode in our series, Childe Rowland. Our story continues where the traditional tale leaves off. In the Story so far, Rowland, his two elder brothers, and his sister Ellen have left the land of the Elves. Back in the land of the humans, the first place they come to is an inn where the Innkeeper and some of the guests take a keen interest in Rowland’s sword, Excalibur. When the four young ones move on, they are ambushed in the woods by robbers. They fight off their attackers, who leave behind one of their number, wounded on the ground. It turns out that the wounded man is the innkeeper. Even though he has attacked them, they tend to his wounds and take him back to the inn where Ellen and the innkeeper’s daughter take care of him. Ellen has sent her brothers out to buy some medicinal herbs.

The boys rode into the town, found plenty of common herbs on the market stalls, including nettles, wild primrose and cowslip, but plants on their sister’s list were harder to find.

“Good Lady. Do you sell bishopwort?” asked Edmond to one store holder.

Edmond shrugged.

“It’s got purple bells and it’s good for aches and pains,” said Rowland, who had been an attentive student of Merlin.

The two women behind the stall looked at each other: “Sounds like Betony,” said one.

“Yes, I remember now, that’s another name for it,” said Rowland.
“Well, we don’t have any.”

“We also need some wormwood and hollow leek.”

“What do you need those for?”

“Medicine,” said Edmond.

The market woman scrutinized his face, as if she was looking for some mark or special feature.

“You must be those young noble wizards everyone is talking about,” she said.

“We are the children of Arthur Pendragon,” he said. “We are not wizards. We are apprentice knights.”

“So you want to be like them Knights of the Round Table? We remember those times - dark days they were. Dragons. Elves. …..forever wars … always fighting.”

“How dare you say such things?” asked Edmund. “Those years were the most glorious in history. The noble knights of the round table lived without villainy or treachery They protected the weak and defenseless.

They helped widows and orphans. They sought the Holy Grail… And we shall continue their good work.”

“Well you won’t find them magic herbs here. You best try the nuns. They grow all sorts of strange plants in their medicine garden.”

And indeed, the boys were able to buy what they needed from the convent that was outside the town. The nuns blessed the healing herbs, and asked the boys to kneel so that they could sprinkle holy water on them.

Then, as it was getting late, the boys rode back as fast as they could to the inn, carrying the medicine.

For the next few days, Ellen and the innkeeper’s daughter, who was called Titha, tended to the wounded innkeeper. Ellen boiled the herbs into a paste and used them as a soothing ointment. They also prepared healing herbal baths for the patient, and fed him on chicken soup.

Every day, Benedict would come into the sick room and say: “He’s looking better, can we leave now.”

And Ellen would reply.

“Brother, be patient, healing takes time.”

“Well, ask him why he was riding with the robbers.”

“All in good time, brother, let him rest.”

Benedict was not happy. He suspected that the innkeeper was part of a plot to rob them of their most precious possession, their father’s sword Excalibur. As the eldest of the brothers, he thought he should be the one who carried the famous weapon on his side. But his younger brother, Rowland, was adamant.

“Merlin entrusted the sword to me.”

“Well you better not let it out of your sight,” said Benedict. “Because if you lose it, you will have to answer to me!”

Over the next week, the boys took their horses out for gallops over the fields, hunted for game in the woods, and played football with the locals on the village green.

Everywhere they went, Rowland took Excalibur with him. Of course, playing football with a sword attached to your waist is no easy feat, so he had to lay it down on the ground, always within his sight.

The wounded Innkeeper was well on the road to recover. Soon he managed to hobble into the main part of the Inn to sit with the customers - who congratulated him on his recovery.

“Father, lie down, you are not well enough yet!” protested his daughter.”
“I’m not the fool you take me for. All the while I’m lying in bed, you lot are robbing me blind! Free drinks on the house, I’ll be bound! Lovely! Only I’m the one that’s paying for it!”

“You talk such nonsense father!”

His friends laughed and told him to stop moaning.

“Back from the dead, eh!”

“We thought you was a gonner!”

“What medicine are you taking? cos I want some of that.”

Titha said: “We are so grateful to Ellen. Her knowledge of healing is better than any magic! She is like a sister to me now!”

“Here, I’ve got toothache,” said another man numbly. “Have you got anything for that?”

“A little swipe of this ointment on your gum should help ease it,” said Ellen, placing a blob of ointment in his hand. He dipped his finger in it, and ran it inside his mouth, and then smiled.

“You do not lie,” he said. “This is powerful magic.”

The innkeeper sat with the customer’s until evening, when the boys returned from the hunt, splattered in mud, and carrying partridges and wood pigeons for the kitchen.

“Congratulations on your recovery!” declared Benedict when he saw the Innkeeper. “Now you can tell us why you were robbing us before I call the sheriff!”

Ellen came up to him and said, “Brother, now’s not the time!”

But Benedict had lost patience. He drew his sword and lurched at the Innkeeper: Titha tried to get in his way, but he grabbed the innkeeper by the collar.

“Confess now! Or by the time I’ve finished with you, my sister will need more than a few herbs to heal your wounds!”

Three of the innkeeper’s friends pulled out daggers. Edmond and Rowland drew their swords, and looked like they meant to use them.

“Calm yourselves!” begged the Innkeeper, “Let me speak. I’ll tell you the true story. I’m an innocent man, I swear. I’m a man of peace.”

“A fine man of peace who robs your own guests!” declared Edmond.

“Everyone put your weapons away and let him speak!” insisted Ellen. “Is this how Merlin taught you to act as guests?”

And Rowland said: “Yes, no need for weapons or threats. Let him speak,” and he returned his father’s sword to its scabbard.

“You see,” he said, “three years ago, there was a fire in the kitchen and the whole inn burned down. You can ask anyone who lives here about it. I’m telling you the truth.”

“Yes, he speaks the truth. We remember it well,” said one of his friends.
“What could I do? I had to borrow money while we built it again. But who could I borrow it from? I don’t have rich friends. I had to go to the fairy folk. They are the only ones with gold to spare around here.”

Benedict scoffed. “We don’t believe fairies share their gold,” he said.
“You are right, they don’t give it away. They demand that I return twice what they lent me. That’s their terms. And seeing as I can’t pay, they threatened to take my dear daughter!”

As he said this, tears welled up in his eyes.

“The very night that you young noble came to my humble inn, the Fairy Queen came to take Titha. I begged her majesty, no, not her, do not take Titha. I love my child more than my own life. Take me instead! For a long time, the queen insisted on taking Titha to the land of the fairies, but after I begged and begged, she relented and took me instead.”

“A fine story!” said Benedict. “But it does not explain how you came to join the robbers.”

“I, and all the men who attacked you, were prisoners of the fairies. They force us to rob travellers to repay our debts to them. We have no choice. They use magic to make us commit these crimes!”

Benedict looked at his younger brothers and sister, “Do you believe this fairy tale?”

“Yes,” said Ellen. “He seems like a good man to me.”

“I’ve never heard such nonsense in my life,” said Edmond.

Benedict turned to Rowland. “And what do you say young brother?”

“It sounds like a made-up excuse,” he said. “But anything is possible. After all so many strange things have happened in this world recently. A true knight does not need petty revenge. Let’s leave in the morning. This man can answer to God if he is not telling the truth.”

And so they let the inn’s cook prepare the game they had caught, and after eating an excellent meal, they retired to bed for one last night under the roof of the inn.

We’ll continue the story in just over half a minute’s time, but first our writer, Bertie, is here to tell us about some modern magic called Artificial Intelligence.

So Bertie, do you think Artificial Intelligence could write better stories than yours?

Well, that’s not for me to say. But I do know that our Sponsor, Storybird.ai can write and read a story that’s tailored to you. You can give it your name and three things you are interested in, and it will come up with an original story and read it out loud! It’s fun! So Ask your parents to please go to storybird.ai. Kids with the best stories can even win $1,000. So go to storybird.ai to create your own podcast story. That's storybird.ai. Remember StoryBird! It lets you get stories just for you.

They rose early in the morning just as the cockerel was crowing. The boys saddled up the horses. Ellen wanted to wish goodbye to Titha. She knocked softly on her door, but there was no reply. When she could not find her in the kitchen, she returned to Titha’s room and pushed the door open. Inside, her friend’s bed was empty. And on the pillow lay a green sprig of clover, with four leaves. Ellen picked up the clover and ran to the Innkeeper’s room on the ground floor. Titha’s father was sitting on the bed.

“I had a bad dream. I feel something is wrong,” he said.

“Titha is not in her room. I found this on her pillow,” reported Ellen.

She unfolded her fingers and showed the clover to Titha’s father.
“My terrible dream has come to pass,” he said. “The fairies have taken Titha!”