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Author Topic: The Demoiselle and Derry Chapter 3  (Read 4249 times)

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Offline Evie

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The Demoiselle and Derry Chapter 3
« on: August 02, 2010, 09:19:45 pm »
Chapter Three


   Richenda extended an invitation to Celsie to remain in Coroth another day, but the demoiselle declined, saying she was eager to return home and see how the new stallion had settled in and how the household had fared in her absence.  The Duke, after hearing of Celsie's plans, asked Derry to accompany her back to Chervignon to ensure her safe return.

   “Would you mind if I borrow your lieutenant for a day or two?” Celsie asked her guardian, much to Derry's surprise.  “That is, if you're willing to stay a short while, Sean,” she added, turning to look up at him.  “There've been quite a few changes since you were last there.  Master Derwin will be there, of course, as well as the rest of my household staff.  As you were so instrumental in helping me find and hire most of my present household, I thought you might enjoy seeing the miracles they've wrought in the years since then.”

   “I suppose I could spare him for that long,” said Alaric with a smile.

   They set out in the early afternoon, once the full heat of midday had subsided to cooler breezes.  There would still be ample time for a leisurely ride to Chervignon, which Celsie and Derry anticipated reaching well before sunset.  The trip could be made much shorter, of course, if they wished to ride at a less sedate pace—Celsie had once made the journey in just over an hour, although she'd been riding for her life at the time--but neither was in a particular rush on that lovely May afternoon as the gentle warmth of springtime was only just beginning to ease into the fiercer heat of summer.

#

   Ominous gray clouds on the horizon were the first indicators that Celsie's return home might not pass as swiftly as originally anticipated.  Derry reined in his horse to study the clouds ahead, noting the flashes of lightning and the diagonal fall of rain in the distance, and the direction of the winds that were, even as he watched, beginning to pick up, tossing the nearby treetops.  The scents of ozone and damp earth filled his nostrils.

   “That's going to be upon us pretty soon.  Do you think we can make it to Chervignon before then, if we hurry?”

   Celsie shook her head slowly.  “I truly doubt it.    We'll be riding straight into it.  But I suppose it's a bit late for us to turn back.  We're going to be caught in it either way.”

   Derry frowned thoughtfully.  A low wall off to one side of the road caught his eye, giving him a idea.  “There's a sheep pasture just up ahead, as I recall, just beyond the next bend in the road, where it turns at the stream.   Just beyond that is an old shepherd's croft.  Perhaps he'd be willing to offer us shelter until the storm passes.  I've had to seek such shelter before; it's generally granted gladly in exchange for fresh news out of Coroth.”  He gave Celsie a reassuring smile.

   “All right.  Let's make a run for it, then; I'll follow you.”  

   They took off at a gallop, crossing most of the distance before the leading edge of the rapidly approaching thunderclouds overtook them. As they rounded the bend, rain began to fall, pelting them with large drops.  Derry raised his voice to make himself heard above the rainfall and the rising wind.  

   “Look—see the stone building just ahead?” He pointed up the road and slightly off to the right.  Celsie could dimly see the darker shape in the storm's gathering gloom.  A nearby flash of lightning brightened the sky suddenly, nearly spooking her horse, but setting the croft off in sharp relief against the cloud-darkened sky just as the bottom seemed to fall out of the sky above.  Rain cascaded down upon them in sheets.

   “Yes!” she shouted, already following Derry as their mounts broke into a gallop for the shelter.

   They reached the croft a scant minute later, Celsie not waiting for assistance before sliding off Aelfscine's back.  Derry had arrived just ahead of her, and was leading his horse by the reins, standing at the door of the humble croft.

   “Is the shepherd in?”  Celsie asked, raising her voice to be heard over a clap of thunder. She saw no sign of candle or lamp light coming from within the tiny building.

   Derry turned to her, a slight frown on his handsome features.  “No.  It appears he's moved on.  I forgot, lambing season would be over by now.”  He took Aelfscine's reins.  “I'll take care of the horses; you get inside.  Maybe this storm will blow through soon.”

   Derry took their mounts to the crude stable behind the croft.  Celsie entered the small building, creating celestial blue handfire to dispel the gloom within.  The light illuminated a small hearth and a supply of firewood on one side of the fireplace.  She knelt, adding some dry tinder and kindling to the small logs already in the fireplace, then used her powers to ignite the kindling, tending the tiny flame until it spread, creating a cheery warmth and glow.  

   That task accomplished, she turned to survey the rest of the hut's contents.  There was little in the sparse, one-room croft  save for a small bed in one corner and a wooden bench against the opposite wall, but once Celsie turned her powers to unlocking the small chest in the corner of the room, she discovered a stash of dry blankets within.  Further perusal of the room revealed other items that could prove useful.

   Derry returned after a short while, carrying the saddlebags with him.  He closed the croft door behind him, barring it as the howling wind threatened to blow it open again, then set the dripping bags to the floor before looking up.  Celsie stood before the hearth, her wet garments, aside from a damp chemise, set to one side as she unrolled a length of sturdy rope she had discovered.  

   “The horses are secure, then?” she asked as she handed him one end of the rope.

   Derry nodded, suddenly dry-mouthed as Celsie turned, affording him a view of lush curves silhouetted through the slightly moist white cambric of her undergarment.  She appeared to be blissfully unconscious of the effect—one which Derry certainly wasn't minded to share with her!--as she took the other end of the rope and clambered onto the bed, stretching up on tiptoe to tie it to an iron hook she'd discovered affixed to the wall just beneath the low rafters.  “There's another hook a bit lower on the other side of the room, if you want to secure the other end, Sean.”

   “All right,” he said, forcing his eyes away from her and crossing the small space to do so.  “What's this for?”

   “Drying out our clothing, of course,” she answered.  “Unless you want to stuff wet clothes into our bags once we leave here, or worse yet, wear them?”  She spared him a quick glance over her shoulder.  “You need to get out of those wet things; you'll catch your death if you don't.  There are blankets in that chest by the corner.”

   Derry swallowed uncomfortably.  “I brought in our bags.  They're soaking wet on the outside, of course, but hopefully the leather kept the contents mostly dry.”

   “Oh, did you?  You dear man!  Yes, that will help.”  Celsie turned to beam at him.  Derry turned away swiftly, rummaging through his own bag to search for...anything.  He didn't care what.  Just something to keep his eyes off Alaric's perilously fair ward.

    What he found was a small wrapped bundle of food Richenda had packed for their trip—just a small travelers' meal of bread, soft cheese, and ripe berries, but it would stave off hunger until they could arrive at Chervignon later that evening.  Or, he amended the thought as another flash of lightning illuminated the edge of the closed shutters, almost immediately followed by loud thunder, perhaps the following morning.  His eyes flicked to the small bed with something akin to despair.  Sweet Jesú, hopefully not that long!

   Celsie stepped down lightly, reaching for her sodden clothing and wringing most of the excess water out into a basin before hanging it upon the makeshift clothesline.  “There!  That should help speed things up.  Are you decent yet?”  

   “Decent?”  Derry asked, sounding bemused.

    She risked a peek, then straightened, tilting her head up at him, hands on hips.  “Sean Derry, you are soaked!  Get out of those clothes at once; sweet Jesú, this is no time to go shy on me!”  She tossed a dry blanket at him.  “Here!”  She turned her back to him again, crouching by the hearth and moving some of the wood with an iron poker to allow for a steadier burn.  

    The fire was certainly not the only thing burning in that small room.  Derry's face flamed as he reluctantly did as he'd been bidden.  He was certainly no stranger to disrobing in the presence of a woman, but this was...different.  Celsie, for all that the three years since he'd last seen her had added to both her worldly knowledge and her life experience, not to mention her already copious physical attractions, was still an innocent.  Alaric's innocent.  Derry chanted those words to himself in his mind almost like a mantra as he stripped off his wet outer garments.  Thankfully the innermost layer was only slightly damp.  He wrapped the blanket tightly around himself as he rummaged through his bag, looking for a dry change of clothing.  

   Celsie peeked shyly over her shoulder again just as he'd finished donning a dry pair of trousers and was poking through the bag for a dry shirt.  “Could you toss my bag to me?” she asked.  Derry grabbed it, thrusting it at her without looking.  She took it from him, beginning to sift through the contents.

   “Oh, thank goodness!”  She pulled out a swath of fabric and glanced at him again before retreating behind the soggy curtain created by the clothing drying in front of the fire.  He pointedly turned his back to allow her more privacy.  

   “Are you hungry?  Richenda packed a light snack,” he told her a minute or two later.

   “Oh?”  Her voice approached to study the packet of food he'd placed on the bed in lieu of a table.  “Wonderful!  I'd wondered what we'd do about a supper tonight.”

   “Hopefully we won't be stranded here too much longer,” Derry said, risking a look up.  Celsie was in dry clothing now, which helped, although the clothing she'd found was nothing more than a thin undergown of celestial blue which hugged her slender curves.  It was, at least, a lesser torment than the damp chemise.

   “I need lacing up, please,” she said as she reached for a piece of bread and began to spread some soft cheese on it with her knife, adding a few berries on top afterwards.  Derry complied, turning his eyes away from the satiny skin beneath the back opening of the gown as he tugged the lacing tight and secured it in a bow.  Celsie prepared a second slice of bread as she had the first and then popped a morsel of it into Derry's mouth as he finished the task.  “Thank you.”

   “Mm.”  Derry chewed on the offering, wondering how they were going to fill in the next few...minutes?  Hours?  Outside, the storm continued to howl, the occasional cold blast of wind creeping through a chink in the wall until both were forced to retreat towards the warm glow of the hearth to finish their light meal.

#

   The storm showed no signs of letting up.  Celsie attempted to lighten the mood by regaling Derry with a few tales of her adventures and misadventures in Andelon.  Although he smiled and laughed in all the right places, though, she could tell he seemed preoccupied.

   At last, stifling a yawn, she said, “I think we're just going to have to face the inevitable, Sean.  Maybe we can catch a few hours of sleep and then ride out once the rain is gone and it's light enough outside to see the road clearly.  That would probably be safer than trying to push on after dark, even if the rain subsides sooner.”

   He sighed.  “You're right.”  Derry stood, poking at the fire and adding another couple of logs and a bit more fresh tinder.  “Why don't you go on to bed, and I'll fix up a pallet here and keep an eye on the fire.”

   “Using what?  Wet clothing?  Don't be silly, Sean.”  She slid under the thin blankets.  “I trust you.”

    That's more than I can say for myself at the moment, Derry thought.    

    “Look, there's two blankets here; if you only need one over you, we'll be quite perfectly separated.”  Celsie sighed.  “It's not as if you've not shared a mattress with a woman before, Sean.  Just...um...pretend I'm not me!”

    Somehow, that didn't help very much.  He imagined the return to Coroth in a few days.  Greetings, Alaric, your ward is settled safely back in at Chervignon.  No, no mishaps along the way, aside from the night we spent together in the same bed in an abandoned croft.  But nothing happened, really! I truly am capable of spending an entire night of chastity curled up beside an armful of warm, yielding, breathtakingly lovely woman....

    Alaric knew him far too well.  In Alaric's place, he wouldn't believe him either.

#

   The cold stone floor was damn hard.  In the end, Derry bowed to the inevitable.  

   He crawled under the top blanket, slowly turning to one side so that his back faced the demoiselle.  Curled away from Celsie, her close proximity was almost bearable, though a few minutes later, she turned in her sleep, snuggling up behind him like a puppy in search of a mother's warmth.  He held his breath as she nestled against him, one arm drifting over his side to encircle his waist, her soft warm breaths tickling the back of his neck.

    There is indeed a God, Derry mused, and this is my penance for all my years of sin.

#

   It was the sunlight streaming through small chinks in the wall and shutters the next morning that awakened Derry.  Celsie was already out of bed, bustling around the small room, taking down dry clothing.  Her overgown, she tossed over the undergown she already had on; the chemise was neatly folded and replaced in her saddlebag.  His clothing, she took down from the line and then handed to him once she realized he was awake.

   “Did you rest well?” Celsie asked cheerily.

    It was better than a night in the dungeons of Esgair Ddu...marginally. “Well enough.”

     Derry stretched and eased himself out of bed, then smoothed out the blankets.  Something fell to the floor with a slight clatter.  He glanced down towards his feet to see what it was, stooping to pick up the beaded necklace.  No, on second glance, it was a rosary.

   He looked back up to see Celsie turn away with a blush.

   “Protection from the rapacious Earl?”  Derry joked.  He could feel a sense of humor starting to return, now that dawn was here and the skies were cloud free.  It would be a short-lived sense of well-being, he knew, for eventually he'd have to return to Coroth and face Alaric, but for the moment the danger had passed.

   Celsie glanced up at him shyly, recovering the prayer beads from his grasp.  “I...woke up in the middle of the night.”  She bit her lip, turning away to put the rosary back in her bag.  “I'm not used to waking up with a man in my bed, Sean,” she said in a voice so quiet he had to strain to hear her.  “I...needed a little reminder that God hadn't provided this shelter for us just so I could take advantage of it to seduce you.”

   She picked up her bag and headed out to the stable, leaving her disconcerted traveling companion staring after her.


Chapter Four: http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=531.0
« Last Edit: January 10, 2011, 04:49:11 pm by Evie »
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline Elkhound

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The Demoiselle and Derry Chapter 3
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2010, 12:24:32 am »
The sailors on the Ducal Yacht make a pet of her; she grows up and marries into the Hort of Orsal's family and commands a ship with an all-female crew.
The crew are all those well-bred young ladies who run away because they don't want to be married off 'for convenience', especially as some old widower's second or third wife ...

So there's a fanfic just waiting to be written by you, Elkhound!  :D

As a bachelor with no sisters, I couldn't possibly write a story with an all- or mostly-female cast.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2010, 12:30:46 am by Elkhound »

Offline Alkari

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The Demoiselle and Derry Chapter 3
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2010, 12:38:03 am »
As a bachelor with no sisters, I couldn't possibly write a story with an all- or mostly-female cast.

Don't let that stop you.  I doubt Anne Rice or Stephenie Meyer are vampires, but it hasn't stopped them.  And the world of sci fi hasn't been held back simply because Man hasn't travelled beyond the moon yet ...  :D

We await your story!!

Offline Elkhound

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The Demoiselle and Derry Chapter 3
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2010, 12:46:14 am »
I was a classics major.  I have read Euripides, including and especially The Bacchae.  I know what happens to men who spy on women's mysteries.

Offline Alkari

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The Demoiselle and Derry Chapter 3
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2010, 12:49:58 am »
Then we await your most erudite perspective on the matter!!

Offline AnnieUK

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The Demoiselle and Derry Chapter 3
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2010, 03:22:25 am »
 
Quote
Alaric knew him far too well.  In Alaric's place, he wouldn't believe him either.

LOL @ this line, but at least Alaric can truth read him, if he has to.

Offline Evie

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The Demoiselle and Derry Chapter 3
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2010, 09:03:10 am »
I was a classics major.  I have read Euripides, including and especially The Bacchae.  I know what happens to men who spy on women's mysteries.

Someone once asked Dorothy L. Sayers, who lived back in the day when men still tended to withdraw from the ladies after the evening meal for tobacco and port and "gentlemen's conversation" before rejoining them for coffee afterwards, how she could write such convincing dialogue for her male characters, given that she'd probably never been invited into the private world of the "smoking room."  Her quip in reply was something to the effect of "I just pretend men are people, and then I have them talk about the same sorts of things that other people talk about."    :D

The thing is, yes, there are some male and female differences, or at least "male" and "female" tendencies.  (That is to say, the personality traits society tends to assigns as "male" and "female" are more often than not attached to the "Thinker" vs. "Feeler" preferences for decision-making, with 75% of men falling into the "T" category and 75% of women falling into the "F" category, but that still leaves a full quarter of the population showing a higher preference for certain personality traits normally assigned by society to the opposite gender.)
I have a husband of 22 years and a 15 year old son, not to mention a 71 year old father (no siblings), but while I draw on them a little bit when I try to think of how my male characters would react, really I draw more of that information from men around me in general, and more often my thinking on how a character would react is far less based on "Is this character male or female?" than "What is this character's basic personality like?  What life experiences has s/he had prior to this which would influence his/her thinking?"  Often these will shape a character's dialogue, actions, and responses in ways that simply thinking "Is this a man or a woman?" will not.

So basically, what I'm saying is, don't shy away from writing female characters simply because you're not a female and weren't raised around them.  Unless you're living in a monastery, you probably see those mysterious and vaguely scary critters at least a few times a week.   ;)  Just write human beings, and you're likely to get your female characters right at least 50% of the time.   It worked out pretty well for Dorothy L. Sayers, after all.  :)  (Though granted, Sayers was possibly a female "T", which may have given her a bit of an edge on 'thinking like a man'.)

Oh, and I would never dream of ripping you apart with my bare hands.  I need male beta-readers!   :D
« Last Edit: August 03, 2010, 09:08:27 am by Evie »
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline Elkhound

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The Demoiselle and Derry Chapter 3
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2010, 09:17:33 am »
So basically, what I'm saying is, don't shy away from writing female characters simply because you're not a female and weren't raised around them.  Unless you're living in a monastery, you probably see those mysterious and vaguely scary critters at least a few times a week.   ;)  Just write human beings, and you're likely to get your female characters right at least 50% of the time.   It worked out pretty well for Dorothy L. Sayers, after all.  :)  (Though granted, Sayers was possibly a female "T", which may have given her a bit of an edge on 'thinking like a man'.)

She also attended Oxford at a time when there were only about 100 women students in the whole university, and worked in an advertising office as a copy-writer when that was considered a man's job.  (Think MAD MEN about a generation earlier.) 

Offline Elkhound

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The Demoiselle and Derry Chapter 3
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2010, 09:18:32 am »
Oh, and I would never dream of ripping you apart with my bare hands.  I need male beta-readers!   :D

You wouldn't; others might; some would.

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The Demoiselle and Derry Chapter 3
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2010, 09:24:52 am »
Oh, and I would never dream of ripping you apart with my bare hands.  I need male beta-readers!   :D

You wouldn't; others might; some would.

Then I'll leap into the fray and defend you with my trusty spatula and oven mitt.   ::)

 ;D

(And now my overactive imagination is coming up with weird defensive strategies involving spatulas and oven mitts....  *sigh!*)
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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The Demoiselle and Derry Chapter 3
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2010, 01:14:18 pm »
I can think of a few.  It depends on how long the spatula is and how far up the arm the oven mit goes.

Offline Evie

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The Demoiselle and Derry Chapter 3
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2010, 01:20:21 pm »
I suppose the technique lends itself better to fighting sword and shield style rather than fighting Florentine, with a weapon in each hand.
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
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The Demoiselle and Derry Chapter 3
« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2010, 03:26:19 pm »
I suppose the technique lends itself better to fighting sword and shield style rather than fighting Florentine, with a weapon in each hand.

My thoughts exactly.  But I've had a little training in improvised weapons.

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The Demoiselle and Derry Chapter 3
« Reply #13 on: August 03, 2010, 04:09:57 pm »
Yo, Classics major!  If I wanted to name a style of embroidery "Andelonian work" or "Work of/from Andelon", in much the same style as "Opus Anglicanum", or "English-work embroidery", would that be "Opus Andelonum"?  Or is it some other wonky word ending? 

http://www.sca.org.au/st_florians/artisan/embroidery/opus.htm

This sort of thing is what I mean, but it needs a more Eleven Kingdoms sounding name.
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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