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Author Topic: Kelson Era FanFic The Arrangement, Part One  (Read 4976 times)

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Offline Evie

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The Arrangement, Part One
« on: December 07, 2010, 09:45:09 am »
The Arrangement

      Part One—The Proposal


      Twelfth Night Feast, 1133
      Rhemuth Castle


      Lady Jashana Arilan glanced at the man who sat down in the empty space next to her on the bench.  Her eyes widened in surprise as he turned to flash her a brief smile before his clear green eyes made a quick scan of the Great Hall.  “My lord,” she whispered, “aren’t you normally seated at the High Table when you’re in Rhemuth? You’re certainly entitled.”

      Michael, High Lord of Llyr, turned his attention back to the dark-haired beauty by his side.  He smiled.  “I deliberately arrived late so I could avoid that privilege. Besides, it’s you I’ve come to see this visit, Lady Jashana, not Kelson.  I realize you’re probably here for the festivities, and I’ve promised my son Corin we’d spend a bit of time together once he’s done with his official duties for the evening, but might I call upon you for a short while tomorrow?  An hour or so should suffice.”  The smile turned into a grin.  “It needn’t be especially early, if you’re planning on staying up late for the Revels tonight.”

     Jashana stared at the High Lord, her curiosity piqued.  She was only slightly acquainted with the man, and could think of no reason why he would be seeking out her company.  “Certainly.  Shall I meet you here in the Great Hall again for the noon meal?”

      He shook his head.  “No, somewhere a bit more private, I think.”  He handed his wine goblet over to a page wearing Haldane livery, waiting for it to be filled.  “The Royal Library, perhaps, or maybe the Chapel Royal?  I’d suggest going for a walk in the gardens or a ride outside the city walls, but it’s apt to be a bit cold tomorrow.”

      “The Library would be fine,” she murmured, wondering anew what matter was so pressing that the High Lord of Llyr would be seeking her out for a private audience. Perhaps he needed some matter looked into discreetly? But no, even assuming he knew what services the Arilan family was accustomed to providing for the King of Gwynedd, surely he’d have sought out her brother Seisyll rather than her if he wished some matter investigated.

      Michael’s attention had wandered back to the High Table.  He frowned slightly.  “I don’t see my brother-in-law.  Has Duke Dhugal returned to Cassan early?”

      Jashana shook her head.  “He was here for Court earlier.  I thought he looked rather unwell, though.  Mayhap he decided to make an early evening of it and take his supper in his own apartments instead.”

      A shadow crossed Michael’s features.  “Or drink his supper, more likely.”  He gave her a wistful smile.  “Today would have been his fourth wedding anniversary with my sister.  I imagine he simply wasn’t in a festive mood.”  The High Lord swirled the wine in his goblet before taking a sip.  “I’d hoped to see my nephew and niece and at least meet Dhugal’s new Duchess sometime this visit, but perhaps some other time.”

      “You’re not in Rhemuth for long, then?”

      “Only a couple of days at most, this trip.  I do have a Kingdom to run.” Michael shot an easy grin at his benchmate, making her laugh.

      “Please pardon my asking, but what is the proper form of address for the High Lord of Llyr, my lord?”

      “Ard Tiarna, if you absolutely must be formal.” Michael chuckled softly, taking another sip of his wine as he studied the younger of the Arilan sisters.  “Or in private, Mihall.”

      Jashana raised a dark brow at him.  “Llyrians have separate titles in private than in public?”

      The man laughed.  “No.  Mihall is my given name.  ‘Michael’ is the Gwyneddan form.  We don’t stand on ceremony all that much in Llyr.  My people call me Mihall, from the highest noble to the most humble rustic.”

   “Mihall....”  Jashana repeated the unfamiliar name quietly, testing the feel of it.

   “Aye.  Mihall.”  The green eyes glinted teasingly down at her.  “It has a nice sound, coming from your lips.  I hope to hear you say it often.”  He tossed off the rest of the wine in his glass, then stood, bowing over her hand.  “Alas, I've other folk I need to speak with this evening before the festivities get too far under way.  Until tomorrow afternoon then, Lady Jashana, shortly after the noon meal.”

#

   January 7
   Royal Library, Rhemuth Castle


   She found the High Lord in the Royal Library the next afternoon, seated in one of the window embrasures.  He stood at her approach, bowing over her hand in greeting and motioning her towards one of the cushioned seats in the window.  As she sat, he took the seat opposite hers.

   “I imagine you’re probably quite curious about why I’ve asked to meet with you privately today,” Michael said without preamble.

   “It did catch me quite off guard, my lord,” Jashana affirmed.  “Though if you have a matter of business that requires…discreet inquiries, shall we say?...that sort of thing is best discussed with my brother Seisyll.”

   The High Lord laughed quietly.  “Oh, it’s nothing of that sort.  What ‘discreet inquiries’ were required, I’ve already made on my own, and as to approaching Sir Seisyll with my business, I think I’d rather speak with you first and see if you’re minded to consider my offer before I bring it up with your head of household.  Your brother strikes me as a rather strong-willed sort, and there are some matters a lady ought to have some freedom to make up her own mind about.”

   “I can hardly disagree, though now I must confess I’m even more curious.”  Jashana chuckled.  “You’re surely not intending to court me, but I can hardly imagine what other sort of business you’d have with me in which my personal preferences would take a priority over Seisyll’s.”

   Michael folded his hands in his lap, smiling faintly as he studied the woman across the narrow embrasure from him.  “Actually, I am here to ask you to consider a marriage between us, so yes, I imagine some degree of courtship would be optimal in order for us to have a bit of time to get to know each other properly first.  But I’m in need of a wife, and fairly soon, so if you’re minded to consider my offer, I hope you won’t mind that I don’t want to have too prolonged a courtship.”

   Jashana stared at the High Lord.  “Ard Tiarna Mihall,” she finally managed, “I’m quite honored to be considered, but you do realize I’m a mere knight’s daughter, do you not?  And not even an heiress at that.”

   A tawny-gold brow rose.  “And should that matter?”  The corners of his lips twitched in an expression that looked suspiciously like a suppressed laugh.  “I’m not paying court to your father, Lady Jashana.”

   “It’s just as well you’re not; you’d have to be a necromancer to summon him back from the grave, and given that he sired four children in only five years of married life, I’d have to guess his tastes ran strongly towards women.”  Jesú, that had come out sounding sharper and more flippant than she’d intended!  Jashana willed down her sudden nervousness, hoping she’d not managed to put this unexpected suitor off with her burst of ironic humor.  He’d truly caught her by surprise, and she’d simply blurted out the first thing that had come to her head in response to his jest.

   Michael simply grinned.  “I’m no necromancer, though I am High Deryni, and I assure you my tastes run exceedingly strongly towards women as well, so your late father’s virtue is quite safe.   My Lady, have I actually managed to catch an Arilan off guard?”

   She blushed.  “Yes, you have, my lord.  Why me?  I mean…not that I’m not honored….”

   “Why you?”  The grin subsided as he studied her, though a slight smile remained.  “Several reasons.   For one thing, there’s our shared heritage.”  He glanced around the room to ensure there was no one else within earshot.  “Although a human wife would not be completely out of the question—I've had one before—I have reasons to prefer marriage to another Deryni, and someone with formal training would be a decided asset.  My own…inquiries…have led me to believe you might have such qualities, my lady?”

   Jashana carefully kept her expression neutral.  “Might I inquire who your sources were?”

   He chuckled.  “You might, yes, but I might not answer.  Do you reveal your sources of information, Lady Jashana?”  Michael shifted slightly on his window seat, leaning closer to her.  “I assure you, I’m aware that your family has reason to wish that particular bit of information kept in strictest confidence.  You might say I asked a mutual friend for his recommendations for a suitable wife.”

   She stared at him skeptically.  “The King recommended me?”

   Michael laughed.  “You are quick!”

   Jashana gave a quiet snort of dry amusement.  “We hardly run in the same circles, Ard Tiarna.  That rather limits the possibilities of who you might regard as a mutual friend.”

   “So it does.  And your agile mind brings up another reason for my interest.  My future wife will hopefully be the mother of Llyr’s Banoidhre, the inheratrix who will in turn give my realm its future High Lord.  I’m sure you can understand why I can’t afford a lackwit for a wife.” 

   The younger Arilan sister pondered the implications.  “That’s right, your realm’s royal bloodline is matrilineal, isn’t it?  How does that work? I’ve never been quite clear about how the Llyrian line of succession is managed.”

   “The Lordship is passed down through the High Lord's sister’s son. Generally the eldest sister’s eldest son, though there have been rare exceptions.  Had my sister Catriona married a Llyrian man, or nearly any man of lower estate than Duke Dhugal for that matter, her eldest son would have been my heir, not my son Corin.  However, she gave up her birthright in order to marry Dhugal, since Kelson could hardly have approved their marriage otherwise.”  He chuckled.  “Not that I would have minded her son Duncan Michael bringing Cassan, Kierney, and Transha into the Kingdom of Llyr, but Kelson surely would have had a few issues with ceding so large a portion of Gwynedd to the House of O’Shiele in perpetuity.”

   “Oh, doubtless!”  Jashana studied Michael of Llyr thoughtfully.  “So, if your sister ceded her birthright to your son Corin, who is his heir presumptive currently?”

   “At present, a distant cousin.  Should I marry and have a daughter who lives to bear sons, though, the succession will continue unbroken through a sister’s son.  Half-sisters count for purposes of determining lines of succession.”

   She nodded.  “I can understand your desire to remarry, then, and also why you might hope for a Deryni mother for your future heirs, especially if you're Deryni yourself.  There are other women in the Eleven Kingdoms the ruler of a realm might find more suitable as a bride, though.  Again, why me?”

   Michael gave her a teasing grin.  “Why not you?”  He glanced out the window for a moment, then looked back at her with an assessing gaze.  “Lady Jashana, I’m thirty-six years old.  I’ve married twice before—the first time to Corin’s mother, and the second time more recently.  I lost my first wife to a lingering illness and my second to the hazards of childbed.  Most of the ladies whose names have been suggested to me have been younger women, unsuitable either to the task of being my Ban-Tiarna or else simply not the sort of lady it would be my personal preference to marry.  I don’t want a bride barely out of childhood, half my age or younger; I’d far prefer a woman with a bit more maturity and life experience.”  The grin lit his eyes, crinkling them slightly at the corners.  “Not that I’m meaning to imply you’re an old and wizened crone.  Dare I ask your age, or would that be considered too impertinent?”

   She laughed.  “I’m twenty-seven, my lord; surely that must be the least of my secrets.  And now, if you’ve been making such a study of me, you’re doubtless wondering why I’ve gone so long without having wed yet.”

   “I know you’ve been betrothed twice.  Your first affianced husband died during the Mearan conflict, did he not?”

   “Yes.”  The amusement in her eyes dimmed.  “Our betrothal was announced at Christmas Court, and just a few months later he was dead, killed in the ambush by Sicard’s army.” 

   He regarded her with quiet sympathy.  “That must have been quite a blow.  Was it a love match?”

   She shook her head.  “No, actually I barely knew him.  He seemed pleasant enough, the few times we met.”  Jashana shrugged.  “Like many girls in such situations, I was more in love with the idea of marrying and setting up my own household.  I certainly didn’t dislike him, though.  He was kind and seemed the indulgent sort.”  She laughed quietly.  “He probably would have found me too headstrong a wife, had he lived long enough for us to marry.”

   Michael’s lips twitched.  “Is that a warning?”

   “It ought to be.  I’m afraid Seisyll’s not the only strong-willed Arilan.”

   “I’ll keep that in mind.  I should warn you in turn that the O’Shiele’s are rather known for our dogged persistence.”

   “That’s lovely.  If we wed, then, what are our chances of surviving the first year without killing each other?”

   The High Lord’s eyes held a wicked glint.  “You’re far too lovely to kill, Lady Jashana, not to mention that would make procreation difficult.  I’d simply gag you.”

   Jashana let loose a burst of laughter.  She clapped her hand over her mouth and shot a quick glance towards the librarian’s desk.  Father Nivard merely gave the pair a curious glance before smiling and ducking his head towards his book once more.

   “Tell me about your second betrothal, my lady.”

   Jashana sobered, studying her suitor for a long moment, considering how to reply, knowing how much might be riding on how she answered.  “That one was a love match,” she said finally.  “We were to have married the summer after our betrothal was announced, but he died in the King’s service.”

   “And in your brother’s as well, I believe?”

   She nodded reluctantly.  “He was sent on an investigative mission by Seisyll, yes.  Something went wrong; the man he was investigating discovered what he was doing and had him killed.”

   “I’m truly sorry.  I imagine, especially since it was a love match, you must have been devastated.  You were how old then, twenty and one?”

   “Yes.  Just a few days short of my twenty-second birthday.”

   “I suppose Seisyll was reluctant to press you into accepting a third suit after that?”

   The blue-violet eyes assessed the High Lord, wondering just how deep his inquiries into her past had gone.  “He was.  He felt partly responsible for my affianced husband’s death, having sent him into that situation in the first place.”

   “And you’ve never felt inclined to accept any other offers?”  The look he gave her was sympathetic, yet appraising as well.  “I’m sure I’m not the first man since then to offer for you.”

   Jashana looked away, stared out the window at the falling sleet outside.  “No, you’re not,” she whispered.  “My lord….”  Her voice trailed off as she realized her true reasons for remaining unwed  might well put an end of the High Lord’s interest in her, were she to share them.  But on the other hand, she could hardly start off a marriage on a foundation of deception and expect that to end well either.  She sighed.  “You understand, Ard Tiarna, that I was young and quite incautious then, and very much in love?”

   He nodded.  “I do.  And Mihall will suffice.  Or Michael, if you prefer.”

   She glanced quickly at him, at his understanding smile, and spoke quickly, delivering the words before she could lose courage.  “When I learned of my betrothed’s death, a scant month before our wedding day was to have taken place, I miscarried of our child.  I couldn’t bear the thought of being given to another man, and under the circumstances, Seisyll agreed not to try to secure me another husband, not just to give me time to grieve but to spare my reputation as well.  He could hardly offer me to anyone else as a virgin bride, after all, but I was no true widow either.”  She ducked her head, quickly blinking away tears as one finger idly traced a pattern woven into the fabric of her gown, then risked a quick look back up at the High Lord.  She was startled to find compassion in his eyes rather than judgment or anger.

   “Grieving both a lover and a lost child in secret must have been utter hell for you, Jashana.  I’m glad your brother allowed you time to heal.”  He was silent a long moment.  “Is the thought of sharing your bed and your life with another man still unbearable to you, or have you healed of those wounds long enough to consider another offer now?”

   She stared at him, incredulous.  “You would still have me?”

   Michael gave her a wry smile.  “Dear lady, do you think me such a saint that I can’t relate to a passionate and headstrong young woman’s temptation to anticipate her wedding vows by a matter of a few months?  I assure you I’ve made far worse choices.”

   “I wasn’t simply tempted, my lord,” she reminded him, her voice flat.  “I fell.”

   “Aye.  Quite hard too, from the sound of it, and suffered great injury.  Why should I heap further injury on top of that?  You’re not a masochist on top of your other sins, are you?”  He smiled gently.

   She gave a reluctant chuckle.  “No.”

   “Good.  That might have put me off marrying you.”  He took her hand.  “Jashana, Llyrian ways are different from the ways of Gwynedd, not simply in our forms of marriage, but in many other things as well.  In Llyr, at the moment you consummated your betrothal vows, you would have been considered fully married in the eyes of God and man.  A more public ceremony, while preferred by the Church, wouldn’t be required as long as the prior promises existed and were duly witnessed.  Truly, I see you as no different from any other young widow who has lost her husband far too soon.”  He stroked the top of her hand with his thumb, looking thoughtful.  “Would you be willing to consider my suit, or do I need to share my own mistakes and misbehaviors first?  I suppose that would only be fair.  You should know what manner of man you’d be getting out of the offer, after all.  Especially since you don’t strike me as the sort of woman who would take the bait just because I dangle the coronet of a Ban-Tiarna over your head.”

   Jashana laughed.  “Since I wouldn’t have been able to venture a guess as to what a Ban-Tiarna even is before yesterday evening, that’s a fair enough assessment.  No, I’m not a coronet-chaser.  I could have had one on my head long before now, if that’s all I wanted from a man.”  She looked down at his hand, clasped around her own.  “I was unwilling to consider anyone else for a long time, but now….”  She bit her lip.  “I want children, Mihall, and a life apart from my brother’s.  Not to mention a household I can be mistress of, instead of feeling like a guest in my own home who has long overstayed her welcome.  Not that Seisyll or Sophie have ever given me cause to feel that way, but I do feel it nonetheless.   I have to admit, your offer is quite tempting.”

   “Good.  That’s at least one shared goal, then.  Let’s see if we have others in common.”

   Jashana continued staring at their clasped hands, extremely conscious of the warm strength of the gentle yet firm grip of his fingers on hers, the stroke of his thumb as he continued to caress the skin on the back of her hand.  Her eyes moved up from there, following the line of lean yet well-muscled arm, the silken fall of shoulder-length wheaten hair worn mostly loose save for a narrow braid hanging at each side of his face.  Her gaze next moved to his lips, still quirked in a faintly shadowed smile, then up to his eyes.  The slight creases at their corners grew deeper as his smile broadened. 

   “Do I pass muster?” he asked.

   She blushed, suddenly realizing how obvious her perusal of him must have been, and gave a self-conscious laugh.  “Just making sure I could bear to wake up to that face every morning,” she joked.

   His eyes took on a look of utter mischief.  “Aye, if I'm to have a woman in my bed every morning, I'd prefer it not be the mere sight of me that's making her scream.”

   Jashana's eyes widened.  She shot a look back towards the librarian's desk, but to her great relief, Father Nivard seemed oblivious to their conversation.  Regaining her composure, she turned back to her suitor.  “You were going to tell me more about yourself, I do believe.”

   “Ah, yes, let's change the subject to something else less likely to shock the priest.  Though John knows me well enough after all these years, and has yet to fall into a dead faint before me, so I'd venture a guess he's pretty unshockable.”  The green eyes laughed.  “Let's see.  I spent my early years in Llyr, serving as a page and young squire in my uncle's Court, then after a year or so of squire's training I was fostered here in Gwynedd in King Brion's service.  I served here until shortly after I was knighted, then I was recalled to Llyr to meet the maiden my mother had chosen for me to marry.  We wed the following summer, and Corin was born just short of a year afterwards.  We lost a daughter a couple of years later, but there were no more babies after that.”  His face grew somber as he paused in his tale, thinking back on the memory.

   “Was it a happy marriage, despite that?” Jashana prompted gently.

   “We were content enough, or at least I was, and she never gave me cause to believe she wasn't as well.”  Michael leaned back slightly, considering the question.  “It was never a grand passion, but we grew to care for each other.”

   “That's good, then.  But you weren't able to have more children?”

   The High Lord shook his head.  “There was another time we thought she might have caught with child again, but we soon realized something felt wrong.  She was showing some signs of pregnancy—her courses stopped and nausea began, her belly started to grow—but I couldn't sense a new life growing within her, and neither could she, though her own Deryni powers were mostly untrained, so that was scant cause for concern at first.  Once we were certain we were past the time when any growing babe should have quickened in her womb, though, and all remained quiet within, we consulted with physicians...well, I did, anyway; my wife was more shy about seeking out a man's services, though she consulted with a midwife.  What had seemed to be a child growing within her turned out to be a canker of the womb instead.  She lived several more years after that, but her health grew progressively worse and she was never able to conceive again.  Towards the end, of course, she was far too ill to even try anymore.”

   “I’m sorry for your loss.  And you were left a widower, then, with a young son and no daughters yet to secure his inheritance?”

   “With a son, aye, though at that time the lack of daughters was less of a problem.  Corin was to become Tiarna to a few minor lands, but not to the entire realm of Llyr.  My sister Catriona was still the Banoidhre, and I had every hope she’d marry soon and produce the Llyrian heir.  She had written me not long before to say she was going to be taking a spiritual retreat of sorts at St. Kyriell’s to consider that very decision.”  Michael gave Jashana a wry smile.  “I had no idea that she planned to take three years to make up her mind, nor that she was considering marriage to a Gwyneddan duke.  Probably just as well; I’d have been tempted to drag her home by the hair!”

   “Things might have ended up a great deal different if you had.  You might well have had both a Llyrian heir and a future Banoidhre by now.”

   “Aye, I know, but I’d have had a far less happy sister.   She was happy in those years she had with her duke, brief though they were.”  Sorrow filled his eyes.  “And she did end up bearing both a son and a daughter, just not for Llyr.”

   Jashana studied him with a faint smile.  “You’re a romantic, then.  It truly doesn’t matter to you that she gave up her duty and her birthright for the sake of love?”

   “Oh, my sister served our realm in other ways far better suited to her callings.  Having devoted most of her life to our people already, in her own ways, I wasn’t going to force her into sacrificing it completely to become the royal brood mare.  Besides, a marriage of hearts isn’t so commonplace that I’d wish to stand in the way of that.  It’s not as if I’m too old to sire more children for Llyr myself.”

   “No, I suppose it’s not.  And what about your second marriage?  Were you as content in that one as in your first?”

   Michael snorted.  “No, I'm afraid that one falls under the category of misdeeds and mistakes, and I can't even blame youthful recklessness for it.  Strong drink, aye....”   He sighed.  “There was a young ridere in my service who brought his entire household to my Court at Shiele one winter, including his younger sister, a lass no more than seventeen, if that.  Old enough to have discovered her rather considerable powers to charm the male sex; too young to have the good sense to know how to wield them responsibly.  It wasn't very long after her arrival that I noticed she had begun to focus on trying to gain my attention, which was flattering enough, I suppose, but I wasn't really interested.  We had next to nothing in common.

   “A coronet-chaser?”

   He shrugged.  “Well, no, to be fair to her, she never seemed as interested in my rank and position as...well....”  He chuckled, flushing slightly.  “No, she had other hopes.”

   Jashana laughed quietly.  “Oh, wait.  Seventeen.  Yes.  She had an itch she was dying to scratch, no idea how to go about it, and you must have looked just the sort who could help her with that.”  Her eyes gleamed with amusement.  “Do go on.”

   “Oh, trust me, she knew exactly how to go about it.”  Michael gave a wry grin.  “That Twelfth Night, another ridere gave me the gift of some excellent blackberry mead.  I don't suppose you've tried Llyrian mead, my lady?”

   “I've not, though I've heard it's quite strong stuff.”

   “Aye.  And this was stronger than most.  The sort of brew we call 'assassin's mead' in Llyr, for it sneaks up on drinkers unaware and then lays them low before they know what's hit them.  I'd had a couple of glasses of the stuff, which was within my normal tolerance for mead, but not for this batch.  The next thing I know, two rideres are carrying me singing off to bed, where what should I find but a lovely angel in my bedfurs wearing naught but flowing auburn locks and a winning smile.”

   The lady before him shook her head.  “And you were drunk off your arse.”

   “Aye.  But unfortunately not too drunk, to my eternal regret.”

   “You needn't have married her, you know.  It's not as if you seduced her; from the sound of it, it was quite the other way around.”

   “Aye, but I woke up the next morning to discover I'd bedded a virgin, and one whose brother was a loyal retainer in my service.  I felt a responsibility to make some sort of amends for that, though honestly marriage wasn't my first choice.  Within the next few weeks, though, she realized she was pregnant, and once I checked to verify that for myself, I realized she bore a daughter, so I offered to handfast with her in hopes that she'd bear my Banoidhre and, with any luck, discover within the year and a day that we were truly unsuited for each other, and she'd not wish to make the arrangement permanent.”

   Jashana frowned.  “I'm afraid I'm lost.  Some of our Border lands permit handfasting, but here in Gwynedd the custom exists so that couples in the more remote parts of the land can have some form of marriage available to them until an itinerant priest or bishop comes through the area who can solemnize their vows.  But even a handfast marriage of that sort is binding.  Is it different in Llyr?”

   Michael nodded.  “Llyr allows two forms of marriage—the permanent sort, as you have here in Gwynedd, only our ceremonies are far less formal; and handfasting, which is a temporary form of marriage lasting only a year and a day, unless both partners agree to continue it beyond that, in which case it also becomes permanent.  But children from either form of marriage are considered legitimate, and therefore entitled to inherit lands and other birthrights even if they are born to a handfasted couple who ends the arrangement afterwards.”

   The Gwyneddan lady raised an eyebrow.  “And the Church of Llyr has no problem with that sort of temporary arrangement?”

   “Oh, they have problems aplenty with it, but it exists anyway.  It's a holdover from much older times, and one that's lost popularity, though it's not been completely stamped out.”

   “My uncle Denis would crap bricks.”

   Michael laughed.  “Bishop Arilan?  Aye, I imagine he would.  Don't worry, I wasn't thinking of offering you a handfast marriage, though had he ever met my second wife, he might have ended up deciding our handfasting was the lesser of two evils.”  The flare of amusement died.  “I never wished her dead, though, much less ever wanted to be the cause of it.”

   “She died giving birth to your child?”

   “Not in the birthing itself, though that was hard enough on her, but of a fever afterwards.  She’d bled too much, and was too weak to fight off the childbed fever that came upon her a few days later.”

   “And your daughter?”

   “Stillborn.  The midwife said her cord was twisted around her neck.  She never drew a breath.”

   “Oh, Mihall, I’m sorry.”

   The High Lord nodded, staring out the window at the wintry weather beyond it for a long time.  At last he turned back to Jashana.

   “My first marriage was arranged for reasons of state, and my second for reasons of circumstance.  If I marry again—and I must—at least this time I’d like it to a woman of my own free choosing.  I realize we barely know one another yet, though at least we’ve been acquainted for some years, if only in passing.  But my gut tells me that you would suit me well, if you will have me.”

   Jashana looked down at her hand, still clasped within his.  “Mihall, I need a bit more time.”  She looked up at his face.  “But I’m not averse to your suit.  I just need to make sure I make my decision—whatever it might end up being—for the right reasons this time and not the wrong ones.  It’s an important decision, marriage.”

   “Aye, it is.”  He stood, helping her to her feet also.  “I must return to Llyr in the morning, but I can return in a fortnight.  Will you still be in Rhemuth then?”

   “I can be.”  Jashana gave an ironic smile.  “Barring anything unforeseen, of course, such as being sent on the King’s business by a certain demanding brother.  But I would do my best to get a message to you, were that to happen.”

   “Kelson knows how to reach me, should you have need to contact me, and of course my son does as well.  You’d recognize Corin, aye?  He’s Kelson’s body squire.”

   “Of course I would.  Young handsome Llyrian lad who’s the image of his father?  He’s a bit hard to miss, Mihall, especially here in the heart of Rhemuth.”  Jashana grinned.  “I’d not be suited for the King’s work if I were that blind.”

   “If you’ve noticed he’s made in my image and still think him handsome, that’s a promising enough start.  I’ll hold out hope you might be inclined to accept my proposal when next we meet.”  The green eyes laughed down at her.

   “If I accept you, it will be for other reasons besides that.  I’m twenty-seven, Mihall, not seventeen.  Though I’m glad you’re so easy to look at, if I’m to spend the next two weeks pondering the thought of waking up next to you for the rest of my life.”

   “In that case, let me give you something else to ponder, at the risk of shocking my friend the priest.  Might I have a parting kiss?”

   Jashana lowered her gaze demurely, more to hide her amusement than out of any sense of shyness.  “My lord, I’ve not agreed to a betrothal yet.”

   “Aye, I know.”  The laughter in his gaze took on an impish gleam.  “I’m hoping that it might hasten your decision making.  Unless, of course, I somehow make a complete muck-up of things, in which case it might hasten matters in a way I’m not looking for.”

   Her blue-violet eyes met his, echoing their amusement.  “Oh, no worries on that score.  Unless you were planning on slobbering all over my face or ramming your tongue halfway down to my spleen, I doubt you’d scare me off with a mere kiss.”  She waited for his roar of laughter to die down before continuing with a grin.  “I’d just rather not be the topic of Court speculation over the next two weeks.  You do realize we’re standing in front of a window?  The way gossip spreads through Rhemuth Castle, ‘he kissed her in the Royal Library’ might well end up being repeated as ‘he ravished her on Father Nivard’s desk,’ and that might be difficult to explain to Seisyll.”

   “Not to mention John!”  Michael chuckled.  “Fair enough, my lady.”  He bowed over her hand, kissing it before releasing it.  “If you accept me, at least I shall never need to fear being bored by your conversation.”

   “No, though I might need to burn all the gags in Llyr.”


Chapter Two:  http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=609.0
« Last Edit: January 18, 2017, 10:42:36 pm by Evie »
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline AnnieUK

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Re: The Arrangement, Part One
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2010, 12:13:27 pm »
I think I like Mihall.

And yes, blackberry mead is lethal stuff! ;)

Offline Elkhound

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Re: The Arrangement, Part One
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2010, 05:47:40 pm »
I think I like Mihall.

And yes, blackberry mead is lethal stuff! ;)

That world's equivalent to tequila?

Offline Evie

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Re: The Arrangement, Part One
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2010, 06:04:10 pm »
I think I like Mihall.

And yes, blackberry mead is lethal stuff! ;)

That world's equivalent to tequila?

LOL!  I'll have to let Annie answer that one, never having had either, though I quite like regular mead.  Annie's made some blackberry mead lately that's apparently got quite a kick to it, so I had to write a little homage to it in this story.   :D
« Last Edit: December 07, 2010, 06:14:27 pm by Evie »
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline kirienne

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Re: The Arrangement, Part One
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2010, 06:53:54 pm »
I'm liking this one already ;D, and I really like Mihall. Looking forward to reading much more. I think Jashana would be silly to not marry him.

Offline Evie

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Re: The Arrangement, Part One
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2010, 07:06:51 pm »
I'm liking this one already ;D, and I really like Mihall. Looking forward to reading much more. I think Jashana would be silly to not marry him.

Like "Labors of Love" (which actually overlaps with this one, timewise, since this one will end on the same Easter Court weekend that "LoL" began on), this is going to be another three-part story, though at least with this one each part is a little bit longer than my average "chapter" length tends to be when I'm writing a longer story.  I'm trying to stick to shorter storylines for now, with the Christmas season here and my busiest time at work coming up in January, but hopefully I'll get around to longer stories again once I've got a bit more free time on my hands.  I also want to get back to writing a bit more in the generation of  "The Rustic Prince," since I have several lads and lasses waiting for their stories to be told once they grow up a bit more, but I'm finding it's much easier for me to figure out what happens in the future if I lay the groundwork for what's going on with the current generation first, and there are still a few stories I need to get out from the early 1130s before I can fast forward to the 1140s again.   :D

And then there was that recent odd dream about a Haldane descendant in an Elizabethan-like Gwynedd, but I'm really trying not to think about that one, because I don't want all the work involved in having to create an Elizabethan-era Gwynedd nearly from scratch!   ;D
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline DesertRose

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Re: The Arrangement, Part One
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2010, 07:39:21 pm »
Hold off on the Elizabethan Gwynedd story until Festil and I get our 1366 story written.  That'll give you some interim history to build on. :D
"If having a soul means being able to feel love, loyalty, and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans."

James Herriot (James Alfred "Alfie" Wight), when a human client asked him if animals have souls.  (I don't remember in which book the story originally appeared.)

Offline Evie

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Re: The Arrangement, Part One
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2010, 07:46:36 pm »
Hold off on the Elizabethan Gwynedd story until Festil and I get our 1366 story written.  That'll give you some interim history to build on. :D

Noooo, you're assuming I actually want to do all that worldbuilding and write the accursed thing!  I'm lazier than that, I tell you!   ;D
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline derynifanatic64

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Re: The Arrangement, Part One
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2010, 06:24:12 pm »
Another good story.  Since the Codex doesn't mention a kingdom called Llyr, am I correct in assuming you created this country?  Or someone else?
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Offline Evie

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Re: The Arrangement, Part One
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2010, 06:33:32 pm »
Another good story.  Since the Codex doesn't mention a kingdom called Llyr, am I correct in assuming you created this country?  Or someone else?

Yes; I originally created it for my very first Deryni fanfic, Anamchara, in which Michael played a cameo role, but it was just mentioned in passing throughout that story, and bringing Michael back gives me a chance to flesh out the place a bit more. 
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
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Offline derynifanatic64

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Re: The Arrangement, Part One
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2010, 06:39:15 pm »
Where did you locate Llyr in relation to Gwynedd?
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Offline Evie

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Re: The Arrangement, Part One
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2010, 06:47:24 pm »
Where did you locate Llyr in relation to Gwynedd?

West and a bit south of Gwynedd, in the Atalantic Ocean somewhere just off all the canonical maps. ;D
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline DesertRose

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Re: The Arrangement, Part One
« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2010, 07:24:07 pm »
Hold off on the Elizabethan Gwynedd story until Festil and I get our 1366 story written.  That'll give you some interim history to build on. :D

Noooo, you're assuming I actually want to do all that worldbuilding and write the accursed thing!  I'm lazier than that, I tell you!   ;D

LOL!  It is a lot of worldbuilding.  I'm lucky with the 1366 story in that the fourteenth C. is my SCA period so I'm fairly well versed in it. :)
"If having a soul means being able to feel love, loyalty, and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans."

James Herriot (James Alfred "Alfie" Wight), when a human client asked him if animals have souls.  (I don't remember in which book the story originally appeared.)

Offline Evie

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Re: The Arrangement, Part One
« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2010, 07:44:57 pm »
Hold off on the Elizabethan Gwynedd story until Festil and I get our 1366 story written.  That'll give you some interim history to build on. :D

Noooo, you're assuming I actually want to do all that worldbuilding and write the accursed thing!  I'm lazier than that, I tell you!   ;D

LOL!  It is a lot of worldbuilding.  I'm lucky with the 1366 story in that the fourteenth C. is my SCA period so I'm fairly well versed in it. :

Elizabethan is mine, and I'd not be worried about having to research daily life aspects; it's having to recreate an entire Court with its politics, people, international relations, etc. that would daunt me!
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
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Offline Elkhound

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Re: The Arrangement, Part One
« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2010, 08:34:24 pm »
What happens when the Renaissance and Reformation hit Gwynned and associated countries?  Or the Enlightenment? 

 

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