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Author Topic: Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 15  (Read 3959 times)

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Offline Evie

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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 15
« on: July 12, 2010, 11:20:27 pm »
   Chapter Fifteen

   Sophie stopped by the de Varnay apartments after walking Celsie back from early Mass.  Their belongings were mostly packed, several servants already beginning to bring the baggage down to load up the horses and the carriage that would be conveying Sophie's family back to Kestrel Mote.

   “Are you certain you don't want to wait a little longer, Father?  The snow is still rather heavy out there.”

   “I know it is, sweeting, but it's a fair sunny day with only a light chill in the air for the season, and you know it's only apt to get worse for a while rather than better if we linger too much longer.  And besides, the farther south we go, the less bothersome the snows and ice will be.”  Sir Ranulf kissed his daughter's forehead.  “I won't try to rush the trip—Alienora's condition wouldn't let me, at any rate—and if it looks like the weather is going to turn again, there are several places along the route where we can hole up for a few days.  We'll be fine. ”  

   Sophie frowned as a sudden thought occurred to her.  “Father, when is the baby due?”

   Sir Ranulf sighed, looking away briefly as if doing a quick count of months in his head.  “Late summer, we think.  Perhaps early August.”

   She looked around, making sure Alienora was nowhere within earshot, then whispered anyway.  “Does she know yet?  What we are, I mean?”

   Her father's eyes were shadowed with guilt and fear.  “No, sweeting.  I don't dare tell her.  We'll just have to make sure she never finds out.”

   The enormity of the secret threatened to overwhelm Sophie for a moment, but she forced herself to shake off the dread.  It was, after all, her father's secret to disclose or keep, not hers.

   No, not entirely true, she realized after a moment.  For if she were to make her own Deryni heritage known now, Alienora would at least suspect her father's.  

   Sophie closed her eyes, feeling hopelessly ensnared in the de Varnay web of secrets.

#

   “All right then, we're off.  Oh, by the way, Sophronia, I've made arrangements with one of the seamstresses to fit you with a couple of new gowns that are certain to catch and keep the King's eyes.  After all,” she added with an approving gleam brightening her calculating eyes for once, “he did dance with you on Twelfth Night, so at least we know he's noticed you now.  He'd have to be blind not to notice you again once you're in these gowns.”

   Sophie eyed her stepmonster in trepidation, wondering what the woman had ordered for her.  If anything, Alienora's infrequent kindnesses could be more frightening than her usual scorn.

   “Just remember, for heaven's sake, to keep your legs together!  A royal mistress might gain a few baubles, but you're aiming for a crown.  Just make him want you badly enough, and he'll wed you for the privilege.”

   It took considerable effort for Sophie not to slap her.  Did Alienora truly think her a common lightskirt, that she'd need advice about that?  Not that she actually was aiming for a crown, but even if she were, she'd never even consider stooping to so base a level to gain one!

   Stefan returned with the last of the baggage carriers, sparing Sophie the necessity of figuring out a suitable reply.  He enveloped her sister in a crushing hug.

   “You have the game book?” Sophie asked, her anger forgotten as she gazed up at Stefan with mischief in her eyes.

   “Safe and sound,” he assured her, patting the front of his doublet.  “Just you wait until you get it back; your Queen Verliece won’t know what’s hit her!”  He grinned.  “So, your beautiful housemates aren’t coming to kiss me farewell?”

   Sophie laughed.  “Only in your dreams, Stefan.”  

   “Well, tell them I’m sorry to have missed them.”

   “I shall.  I’m sure they’d have come down, only….” Sophie briefly wondered how to explain their absence.  “They’re both still recovering from Twelfth Night,” she finally said.  It was true enough, after a manner of speaking.  Celsie’s mishap had happened on Twelfth Night, and as for Ailidh—well, Sophie wasn’t sure what was ailing her, but she suspected Ailidh’s headache might have stemmed from too much celebrating with the Transha folk and whatever potent libations they might have been passing around that night.  Though she’d seemed sober enough the night before….  

   Sir Ranulf approached, breaking off Sophie’s line of thought.  “Come, give your father a hug as well.  You’ll see Stefan again soon enough; I’ll be sending him back to Rhemuth for a short while after the snows thaw.”

   “Truly?”  Sophie’s eyes shone with delight as she threw herself into her father’s arms for a farewell embrace.

   “Yes.”  His eyes sought Stefan’s, who returned his look with a wry smile.  “It’s time your brother found himself a bride, and it would be easier for him to find someone suitable here at Court.”

   But do you want to marry yet? Sophie asked Stefan.  He’d never shown any signs of being ready to settle down, as far as she’d ever seen.

   A silent mind-chuckle.  I promised I’d look; I never promised I’d bring one back.  Unless, of course, you happen to know any fabulously wealthy women of astonishing beauty who are just dying to become the future Lady of Kestrel Mote.

   Right.  I’ll have to get back to you on that.  Sophie kept herself from rolling her eyes at him, but just barely.

   “And that reminds me, dearest,” her father continued.  “Your young man and I had a nice talk after you retired for the evening.  So, in case you were concerned I might not accept him as a suitor, don't worry about that.  I quite approve of your Arilan.”
  
   Sophie looked startled.  “Well...I'm very glad you like him, Father, but he's really not my Arilan!” She laughed self-consciously.  “Truly, we've only just started getting to know each other.”

   Sir Ranulf smiled.  “I see.  Well, take your time about it, if you feel you absolutely must.  But I rather suspect he is going to end up being your Arilan, even if you haven't figured it out yet.”  Pitching his voice a bit lower so that Alienora couldn't overhear, he added, “Your mother was much the same way—cautious little thing!--but fortunately I was able to win her over before King Donal gave her to me and made courtship a moot point.  Fortunately you'll be enjoying your own courtship years under better circumstances.”  He kissed his daughter once more.  “Be well, little one.”

   “Safe travels, Father!  Stefan!”  She blew kisses up at them both as they mounted their horses before turning to give her stepmother, already safely ensconced in her carriage, a polite wave of farewell.

#

   “So, they took their leave this morning?”  Sir Seisyll asked later that evening as he and Sophie shared a trencher at the evening meal.  

   “Yes.” Sophie sighed.  “I miss them already.  Except for Alienora, of course.”

   Seisyll pushed a choice morsel of wine-braised coney onto her side of the trencher as he listened, his eyes crinkling slightly in amusement at her latter comment.  “What, you’re not going to miss her bardic-epic beauty, her dulcet voice, her brilliant insights and loving advice?”

   Sophie giggled.  “Well, I’ll grant you the first of those observations, but the rest of the list falls rather short.”

   “Well, if I won’t offend by saying so, as a stepmother so does she.”  He gave her a sidelong look.  “I quite like your father, but when it comes to his wife, all I can think is that he must have picked her from a portrait before ever hearing her speak.”

   Sophie shrugged.  “Stefan says she can act becomingly enough if she chooses; she just rarely does.”  She picked at her food, one of her concerns taking away her appetite for the moment.  She glanced at Seisyll, wondering if she dared trust him with it.  Then again, maybe he was one of the few Deryni she knew who would truly understand.

   Of course, he was one of the few Deryni she knew, period.  But most of the others were at least somewhat less secretive about it…obviously, or else even she wouldn’t have known they were Deryni!  If not publicly known like Duke Alaric, at least they were open about it within their own close circle of friends.  Seisyll’s family, she’d discovered, were nearly as secretive as hers about their heritage, though at least Sophie could understand the reasons why Seisyll hadn’t made it public yet.  His Uncle Denis’s ecclesiastical career might yet suffer, even in this more tolerant age that was dawning, if the Arilans’ Deryni bloodline were to become public.  

   She decided to take the risk.  Seisyll, I’m worried about the baby.

   He gave her a questioning look.  She sensed that he was wondering not only about the cause for her concern, but also why she was using mind-speech rather than just regular speech.  She so rarely used her powers around him, even though he knew her secret, because long years of trying to keep them secret had created a habit that was hard to break.  It was different with her sisters in training, somehow.  Maybe it was just because they weren’t knights in Kelson’s service.

   What’s wrong?  Was your stepmother showing signs of miscarrying?

   No.  Sophie steeled herself.  But…you remember I told you she has no idea the rest of us are Deryni, right?”

   Seisyll gave a non-verbal ‘sound’ of agreement via mind-speech.

   Her maiden name was de Nore.  Have you heard of the family?

   Seisyll gave her a startled look and a slightly raised eyebrow.  Your father married a de Nore?  He mused on that a long while.  By all that’s holy, why?!

   Precisely what Sophie had always wondered.  She sent him Sir Ranulf’s usual list of—to her own thinking—wholly inadequate reasons, along with Stefan’s more candid, if also somewhat more catty, speculations.

   Well, seems to me if your father mainly married her to keep your family’s secret safe, he’s taken quite a bit of risk for a very low hope of return.  I don’t care how much Denis needs for mine to remain under wraps, there’s no way I’d—   He broke off suddenly, blue-violet eyes brimming with mirth. I think I’d find another solution.

   That’s not what you were originally going to say. Sophie arched a brow at him.

   A silent burst of laughter.  True enough, but trust me, you don’t want to hear my original thought. At any rate, getting back to the baby, she’s not likely to find out unless someone tells her.  We’re not born with a glowing ‘D’ on our foreheads or anything.  

   rBut what about when the baby is old enough to discove his—or her—own powers?


   Well, if that happens—and it’s not a given, remember—he’ll also be old enough to understand he mustn't use them around his mother. I’m sure your father will make very certain that won’t happen when the time comes.

   I suppose you’re right.
 Sophie finished picking at her coney and took a sip of her wine.  And what was it you were going to say about what you wouldn’t do no matter what your Uncle Denis might need?

   The silent laughter again.  You’re not going to let that go, are you?  He slanted a look at her.  It wasn’t very appropriate.  He nodded to the young page who had appeared with a ewer and basin, motioning to him to serve Sophie in the hand-washing before serving him. I deliberately changed what I was about to say because I didn’t want to shock you.

   A quiet snort of laughter as Sophie dried her hands on the towel draped over the page’s arm. Have you forgotten I’m Stefan’s sister?  He delights in trying to be shocking every other day and twice on Sundays!  I’m quite impervious.

   Seisyll grinned.  All right.  I was just thinking nothing could force me to wed a woman I’d have to gag just so I could bring myself to bed her.  Takes half the fun out. He stood and offered her a hand up, laughing silently as she stared up at him, wide-eyed.  You did ask, my ‘impervious’ little maiden!

#

   A couple of days passed, days in which Sophie found herself increasingly concerned about both of her housemates.  Celsie, after the initial shock of her magical mishap had passed, had rallied enough to allow herself a few extremely basic use of her powers such as mind-speech, but was clearly hesitant to try anything beyond those during their daily lessons, even under Constanza’s supervision and patient training, much to the quiet frustration of all, although Sophie could certainly sympathize with Celsie’s feelings.  Constanza also seemed quieter than usual, and a bit out of sorts, which Sophie guessed might have been at least in part due to the invisible wall that had seemed to spring up between her and Celsie.  And from Celsie’s weeping ramblings on Twelfth Night, Sophie was fairly sure she could divine the cause for that, too, although she didn’t know if the rumored dalliance between Constanza and Derry was based in actual fact or simply a figment of Lord Derry’s temporary magic-induced madness.  Thinking back on the night she’d seen Constanza slip out via the secret passage, though, she realized it was probably true.  If so….  Sophie felt a twinge of pity for her godmother.  While she didn’t approve of the liaison, Sophie could imagine that having her secret disclosed, and in such a way, must have been devastating for Constanza, for whom maintaining an impeccable reputation meant so much both personally and in terms of maintaining her high standing in Rhemuth society.  Sophie sincerely hoped no one besides Celsie and Constanza had overheard Derry’s dazed ramblings that night in the Great Hall.

   As for Ailidh, Sophie had no idea what was bothering the girl, though something clearly was.  She tried to think back to Twelfth Night for an explanation, but all had seemed fine that evening…no, wait, there had been those few disquieting moments when Ailidh had seemed to be bothered by something, but those moods had passed quickly, and in the flurry of activity Sophie hadn’t had a quiet moment to ask her about them.  But then they’d returned to their quarters only to find Celsie in floods of tears, and by the time that whole sad situation had been sorted out and settled, Sophie had fallen into an exhausted sleep.  By the next day, it became clear to her that something had affected Ailidh just as badly that night, but Ailidh seemed reluctant to share it, whatever it was.

   She wished she could help both of her sisters, but she truly didn’t know how.  Sophie wandered down to the Royal Library, hoping Father Nivard was there and that he might have some insights that could help Sophie figure out what to do, but the door was locked and Father Nivard nowhere to be found.  She briefly thought about trying the Basilica next; even if Father Nivard wasn’t there, Bishop Duncan might be.  But no, on second thought, something about the handsome bishop’s steady blue gaze and empathetic smile sometimes tended to give her an unsettled feeling, like she’d swallowed live butterflies, and the thought that she might accidentally let any inkling of that very odd reaction slip through her shields was more than a little mortifying.  No, not the Basilica, then.

   She was on her way back upstairs to her quarters when a squire in Haldane livery stopped her at the end of her apartment’s access corridor.  “Lady Sophie de Varnay?” he inquired.

   “Yes?”  Sophie looked at the boy, curious as to why a squire in royal livery was seeking her out, then she realized he had probably just been sent up to deliver a letter brought in by one of the Royal Post couriers.  “Did you have a missive for me?”

   “Not exactly, my Lady.  The King requests your immediate attendance.  I’m to bring you to him.”

   Sophie stared.  “King Kelson?”  Her mind whirled with questions but could supply no answers for why he might summon her.  “Of course, but if you’ll permit, I need to let my chaperone know where I’m going.”

   “Contessa Constanza has already been informed.  You’ll find her with the King.  This way, my Lady.”

   She followed him down the corridor, feeling like she would burst with curiosity.  Finally she dared ask, “Do you know what the matter is concerning?”

   An apologetic smile.  “No, I’m afraid not, My Lady.  I was just sent to fetch both you and the Contessa straightaway.  We’re almost there, though.”  They went up another flight of stairs and around a corner until they reached a set of guarded doors.  The guard gave her a low bow and waved them in.

#

   Sophie entered the King’s private withdrawing room to find both Kelson and the Contessa looking back at her with solemn expressions, the latter looking quite shaken.  Another man was there as well, one whom Sophie dimly recognized, after a moment’s study, as her father's liege lord, Michael, Earl of Carthane.  The King pointed out an empty chair.  “Please sit, Lady Sophie.”

   She did so, starting to tremble as her instincts told her that she was about to receive news she didn’t want to hear.  “You called for me, Sire?”

   “I did.  I’m afraid I have bad news for you, my lady.”  The gray eyes fixed upon her were sympathetic.  “There’s been an accident.”


Chapter 16:  http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=560.0
« Last Edit: January 10, 2011, 03:21:34 pm by Evie »
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Offline Elkhound

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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 15
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2010, 11:30:37 pm »
Cliffhanger!  Cliffhanger!

Although I would be sorry to hear that anything had happened to her father, at least it would mean that she wouldn't have to be polite to Stepthing any more.

Offline Evie

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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 15
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2010, 11:33:16 pm »
Cliffhanger!  Cliffhanger!

Although I would be sorry to hear that anything had happened to her father, at least it would mean that she wouldn't have to be polite to Stepthing any more.

Hm.  You mean Pregnant Stepthing, the one who is carrying that Deryni half-sibling?  Not sure that Sophie would be wanting to burn any bridges just yet, if that were the case.  Who'd protect the baby, if Sir Ranulf weren't around?  The de Nore family? 
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Offline Alkari

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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 15
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2010, 03:15:57 am »
Oh dear, poor Sophie - I don't think this cliffhanger has a very nice ring to it.

Quote
Seisyll grinned.  All right.  I was just thinking nothing could force me to wed a woman I’d have to gag just so I could bring myself to bed her.  Takes half the fun out.  He stood and offered her a hand up, laughing silently as she stared up at him, wide-eyed.  You did ask, my ‘impervious’ little maiden!
Quote
but he's really not my Arilan!” She laughed self-consciously.  “Truly, we've only just started getting to know each other.”

R-i-i-i-ght.   "not my Arilan" and she is impervious to all such jests.  I suspect she is going to need all his strength in future chapters, though.

Offline Elkhound

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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 15
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2010, 08:55:27 am »
Hm.  You mean Pregnant Stepthing, the one who is carrying that Deryni half-sibling?  Not sure that Sophie would be wanting to burn any bridges just yet, if that were the case.  Who'd protect the baby, if Sir Ranulf weren't around?  The de Nore family? 

Kidnap the baby from the birthchamber and tamper with Stepthing's memories to make her think it died.  Then place the baby with a suitable foster family.


Offline Evie

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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 15
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2010, 08:58:01 am »
I think it's called "being in denial."   She's so not ready to give up those last lingering vestiges of girlhood yet, and Seisyll's well aware of this and is trying to sneak his courtship in through the side door.  :D

And yes, I suspect she's just found out that such humor somehow seems a lot different coming from a brother than when it's coming from some completely unrelated male one's been sharing a lot of dancing and quiet talks with lately, not to mention mind-spoken confidences over a shared trencher....
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Offline AnnieUK

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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 15
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2010, 11:50:21 am »
Uh oh, this isn't looking good, is it?

And I think I like Stepthing even better than The Alien, which is what I've been calling her.

Offline Evie

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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 15
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2010, 11:51:48 am »
Sharp eyes might have noted that Sophie thinks of Alienora as her "stepmonster."   ;)
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 15
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2010, 12:27:12 pm »
Dagnabbit, it sure would've been handy if I'd thought to bring my Codex to work today!  I'm suddenly having a burning curiosity as to whether the Bishop of Nyford in January, 1126, just happens to be pro-Deryni, anti-Deryni, or neutral on the whole matter.  And, for that matter, exactly who that Bishop is.

And while I'm having a bad case of the "I wonders," does any of the source material indicate exactly where Tre-Arilan is?  All I remember from reading the Codex entry is that it's "near Rhemuth," but nothing comes to mind about how near Rhemuth it might be, or in which direction.  I could really use a map with a mileage indicator on it too.  I know where Nyford is in relation to Rhemuth; what I don't know is how many miles away it is, or even how many hours/days ride it is under average travel conditions.  So if anyone wants to get right on drawing me "The Atlas of the Eleven Kingdoms"....   :D
« Last Edit: July 13, 2010, 12:34:23 pm by Evie »
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
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Offline AnnieUK

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« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2010, 01:11:05 pm »
Oh dear ladies, I do so enjoy your naughty comments...you voice what's in my mind before I can voice it myself. These last few, about this bonnie man from Star Trek . made me nearly choke on the iced tea I was drinking.  ;)

you should join us in the chat room some time, kirienne.  It gets quite lively in there sometimes ;)  and it's a shame for it only to be used on Sunday nights.

Offline Evie

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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 15
« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2010, 01:16:43 pm »
Oh dear ladies, I do so enjoy your naughty comments...you voice what's in my mind before I can voice it myself. These last few, about this bonnie man from Star Trek . made me nearly choke on the iced tea I was drinking.  ;)

you should join us in the chat room some time, kirienne.  It gets quite lively in there sometimes ;)  and it's a shame for it only to be used on Sunday nights.

Yep.  If I happen to notice you on the forum when there's a chat in progress, I'd be glad to PM you.  (Of course, for that to work, you need to set your preferences to have the board notify you when you've got a private message, and it also helps to at least refresh the current page occasionally if you're not actively browsing through the Forum.)
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--WARNING!!!--
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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 15
« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2010, 01:28:47 pm »
*dies laughing*

OK, so just now I decided to do a Google search on the keywords "Bishop of Nyford," just to see what comes up, and the top result in the list was this:

 
Quote
      ⇒⇒⇒ The Best Online Drugstore ::: Cialis Free Trial Offer
      He porch, Duncan felt will you see inconsiderable Alaric might burning parchment spiral flooding back: Darrell Bishop of Nyford, enough residual energy ...

Do I dare check that link?  *chortle!*
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Offline AnnieUK

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« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2010, 01:36:03 pm »
Gulps ... ok, is there something Alkari should have Richenda know before she goes too much further with her story?

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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 15
« Reply #13 on: July 13, 2010, 01:44:13 pm »
Funny, I was just wondering if there was something Cardiel ought to know about his Auxiliary Bishop!   :D
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline Elkhound

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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 15
« Reply #14 on: July 13, 2010, 02:50:04 pm »
Sharp eyes might have noted that Sophie thinks of Alienora as her "stepmonster."   ;)

I noticed that, too. 

 

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