The Raven’s Wing characters, #4: Ailred the smith
A black man of enormous beard and heart. The gruff Ditchford smith smells of hot metal and pie crust. The village gossips say that Ailred is descended from African nobility. He remains silent about such things.
“Hens!” shouted Ailred, waking suddenly. He sat up and looked around with a startled expression, resembling a bewildered owl in the orange light thrown up by the now merrily burning fire. Smoke swirled into the blackness of the roof. He scratched his black beard, dislodging a small bone, which he inspected closely. He descended into a fit of deep coughing. Eventually he achieved some sort of resolution with his lungs and spat copiously in the fire, which hissed a complaint. He threw the bone into the flames.
Ailred’s growing romance with the widow Rohesia provides a gentle backdrop to the growing turmoil of The Raven’s Wing. One day I shall write his backstory.
“Kumis,” Aildred said. “Fermented mare’s milk with added honey.”
“I call it milk-mead,” Rohesia said. “And isn’t it just the tastiest thing? Ailred makes it.”
“Not often,” he said. “It’s not so easy to get mare’s milk. You can use goat, or cow, but the taste isn’t quite the same.”
“Apparently, it’s quite the thing back in Ailred’s homeland, and he learned to—”
“This is my homeland now,” Ailred said, squeezing Rohesia’s podgy hand.
The Raven’s Wing, a medieval adventure set in 1322, is available in paperback (with free postage, in the UK at least) and Kindle here.
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