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Author Topic: Possessed--Part Eleven  (Read 1997 times)

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Offline Evie

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Possessed--Part Eleven
« on: February 28, 2011, 09:34:55 am »
   Part Eleven—An Heir is Born

   February 6, 1130—Jamyl Arilan’s Christening Celebration
   Tre-Arilan

   “Javana!”  Sophie smiled warmly as her sister-in-law entered the Great Hall, giving her a quick hug before turning to curtsey towards Javana's husband.  “Baron Walter.”  She was still smiling as she greeted him, though perhaps not quite as cordially, for something about her brother-by-marriage unnerved her.  She couldn't say what it was exactly; perhaps it was simply the icy coolness in his own eyes that never seemed to thaw, even when he was on his most charming and attentive behavior.

   “Congratulations on the birth of an heir,” Walter told Sophie with a courtly bow of his own.  “And I trust that your firstborn is thriving as well? What was the little poppet's name again?  Stefania, was it not?”

   Sophie warmed towards the man slightly.  Perhaps she was simply misjudging him; after all, she saw him too infrequently to know him very well, and he could hardly help the icy color of his eyes, could he?  Mayhap, like many a husband, he was merely unaware of how his wife's long absences from the family fold and all too infrequent correspondence was affecting her family.  Javana's letters seemed to bring up more questions than they answered, and rarely arrived more than once or twice a year.  It would be unrealistic to expect frequent communication between households spaced the entire Kingdom apart, she mused, but surely at least one news-filled missive every couple of months would have been manageable?  Lord Walter must certainly be sending regular correspondence to King Kelson, after all; how difficult would it be to slip an extra letter for his wife's family in the pack, especially since he certainly must know that Seisyll met with the King regularly and would surely receive the letter within the week?

   Of course, the silence might well be Javana's choice, but again, somewhere deep in her gut, Sophie doubted that.  Again, she had little notion why she would; after all, she'd not had a long time to get to know her husband's sister before her marriage to Walter and her subsequent move to Caerdraig.  But she knew Seisyll was troubled by his sister's silence, and if he were troubled by it, it stood to reason that he had expected to hear from her more often himself.

   But more telling than that gut intuition was the desperate hopelessness Sophie saw in Javana's eyes.  There had to be some cause for that, something she didn't feel free to share even with her own family.  She wished she knew what she might do to help.

   Javana looked down at Sophie's sleeping newborn, reaching down to stroke a wisp of silky black hair at Jamyl's crown.  It struck Sophie suddenly that Javana had been wed for nearly four years now, and to her knowledge her sister-by-marriage had never conceived.

   “He's lovely,” Javana told her.  “I think he looks a little bit like Sextus, though granted, I can't really recall what Sextus looked like at that age.”

   Perhaps Javana was barren.  Maybe that explained the sadness in her eyes and her reluctance to return to Tre-Arilan, or even Rhemuth, more frequently for family gatherings.  Maybe the silence between infrequent letters was Javana's idea after all.

   Sophie gave her sister-in-law a smile of thanks, slightly tinged with sadness.

#

   Javana nodded and smiled at the appropriate moments in her conversations with her family, but at all times she was acutely conscious of Walter hovering just behind her, playing the doting husband.

   She kept herself tightly shielded as a result, not daring to let anything slip for fear that, if her family guessed what sort of control Walter held over her, another member of the family would die.  He had spent the journey to Tre-Arilan dreaming up dire fates for Jashana to ensure his wife’s silence.  Javana knew he was quite capable of carrying through with his threats, and of hiding any incriminating evidence so well that even Seisyll, despite the talents he had at his disposal, was unlikely to discover it.  At least, not in time to spare Jashana from a horrific fate, which was Javana’s chief concern for the moment.  The time had long since passed since Javana hoped for justice; she would, at this point, settle for mere survival.  Survival long enough, she hoped, to seek vengeance against Walter someday, though she could not fathom how such a thing might be possible anymore.

   She was doomed to eternal Hell, she supposed, for wishing retribution upon her own husband, but she hardly feared that anymore.  She was, after all, living in Hell already.

#

   Lisette de Varnay took a step backwards, accidentally bumping into someone standing close behind her.  “My apologies,” she said, turning to look at the person she had inadvertently collided with, and was mildly startled to find herself face to face with Javana.  It took a few moments for her to recognize her distant cousin.  Outwardly, Javana hadn’t changed all that much, but there was something about her that reminded Lisette of childhood stories about a mythic Ice Queen from the northern realms.  It was a resemblance that chilled Lisette to the core, and she kept her shields rock solid to hide her startled reaction from her childhood friend.

   She felt a tug at her skirts and looked down.  “Mummy, where’s the garderobe?” her son whispered.

   Lisette favored Javana with a quick smile.  “I’m sorry; Ranulf needs to make a trip to the necessarium, but we’ll be back out in a bit.  I hope we can have a chance to catch up!”  She escorted her son out of the Hall more swiftly than was strictly required, uncertain why she felt so uneasy in Javana’s presence.  Or perhaps just in Walter’s presence, though the two were so inseparable now, it was hard for her to imagine one separate from the other anymore.  Lisette suppressed a shiver as she found the tiny closet down the corridor from the Great Hall and escorted her son inside.

#

   She ought to speak to her sister, Jashana knew.  Heaven knew Javana could not possibly have realized that her veiled hints at their last meeting would lead to a man’s death, would leave her sister grief-stricken as well.  Jashana’s mind knew this, but her heart still felt cold towards her sister.  She couldn’t help how she felt, though she did her best to conceal her emotions under a brief smile of welcome and tight shields.

   Sextus seemingly had no such reservations, however.  Grabbing his eldest sister in a bear hug and whirling her around once before releasing her, he grinned down into Javana’s startled face.  “Greetings, stranger!  About time you came home from that backwater barony you call home now.”  He reached out to clasp Walter’s hand briefly.  “You know, you could bring your wife to Rhemuth more often.  We’d get her back to you…eventually….”

   Walter smiled.  “Yes, that’s what worries me.  For some folk, ‘eventually’ means ‘never.’”  He grinned down at his baroness, one hand lightly resting upon each of her shoulders.  “But we’re here now, aren’t we, darling?”

   “We are,” Javana affirmed, a smile on her face, but her voice cooler than Jashana had expected.  She wondered what had prompted the glacial response.  Surely not the thought of returning to her family home!  Jashana suppressed a thoughtful frown as she watched her sister shrink almost imperceptibly from her husband’s possessive touch.  Despite her anger at Javana, Jashana found herself caring after all.

#

   Sir Stefan de Varnay cast a quick glance around for his wife and heir, but they were nowhere to be found.  In the garderobe again, he imagined.  That was one of the hazards of traveling with a toddler and a newly-pregnant wife—one quickly learned the location of every garderobe and hedgerow for miles around.  He cast out with his senses, trying to locate the pair among the gathering of Deryni and humans filling the Hall and nearby chambers of Tre-Arilan’s manor house.

   Ah, there!  Lisette and little Ranulf were returning through a side entrance, Ran’s sturdy little legs carrying him back to his father’s side at a brisk run while his mother followed more sedately behind him.  Bending, Stefan scooped up the boy with a grin.  “Want to go see your new cousin?” he asked.  “You’ll have to be careful; he’s very tiny and won’t be able to play with you yet, but in a few months that will change.”

   “Steffie says baby Jamyl pees straight up,” Ran informed his father solemnly, glancing at his slightly older cousin who had left her mother’s side to join him.  

   Stefan fought hard to resist a laugh.  “I imagine when he’s on his back, he does,” he affirmed, smiling at his niece.  “Discovered that already, have you?”

   Stefania Arilan nodded, her eyes sparkling with delight.  “He soaked Uncle Sextus.  Sextus said naughty words in front of me.  Papa was mad.”

   Stefan’s eyes filled with tears of suppressed mirth.  “I imagine so!”  He could hardly wait to hear Sextus’s version of the tale later.  Where was the man?  He cast another glance around the Hall.  This time his gaze landed on his younger brother-in-law, who was caught up in conversation with an equally raven-haired woman.  She turned slightly, allowing Stefan a glimpse of her profile.

   Javana.  Stefan’s smile faded.  He wondered if he ought to approach her, exchange polite greetings for courtesy’s sake, but he hardly knew what to say to her, and Lisette had reached his side now, making any thought of approaching Javana awkward.

#

   “Hopefully the next christening we're all gathered together for will be one in Caerdraig,” Sextus teased Javana.  She looked briefly surprised, then another expression—was it wariness?—flitted across her face before it returned to the slight smile she wore almost as a mask now.

   “Hopefully,” she told her brother.  “I've had a bit of trouble catching with child, though,” she added with a sidelong look at her husband, who nodded.  Walter seemed surprisingly unperturbed by his wife's seeming inability to conceive, simply offering, “We thought we had an heir on the way twice, but alas, it turned out otherwise.”  He grinned.  “But rest assured there'll be other attempts.”

   Sextus smiled down at his sister, but this time she did not smile back.

#

   Javana spared a thought for poor Meg, a prisoner at Caerdraig Castle for nearly three years now, and the agonies she'd endured in her solitary labors with only Javana present to serve as midwife.  The child had been born at long last, healthy and hale, and though it was still too early for Javana to tell for sure, she’d thought the baby might eventually prove to be Deryni like her father.  But Walter had not wanted a girl-child—she was useless for his purposes—and so he'd disposed of her, barely waiting for Meg to finish the brief few weeks of postpartum bleeding before starting to try again.  An heir was what was needed, they were told.  So Walter turned his full attentions to his chattel, for which his wife was guiltily grateful, until Meg bred again—a boy this time.  Walter had been jubilant over his birth, until he'd checked his newborn son for shields and, finding none, dashed the babe against the wall, ending his life before Javana could intercede and convince Walter that no child, even if full Deryni, would show definite signs of his heritage so early.  And now Meg remained in the dungeon of Caerdraig, with Aylmer as jailer, breeding again.

   Of all this, of course, the people of Caerdraig knew nothing, save for a small handful of loyal retainers like Sir Aylmer who had a vested interest in keeping their master's secrets.  The folk of the barony had been told—and had seen nothing to convince them otherwise—that their Baroness was a reclusive sort, of an increasingly frail disposition, and that her lengthy confinements were necessary in order to secure an heir for Caerdraig someday.  As for young Meg, she was little missed anymore, long since presumed dead after her disappearance years before.  Her family occasionally made petitions to their baron to investigate the matter further, and he always sent them off with reassurances that he would continue to look into the matter.  No one thought to search for her in the private chambers of Caerdraig Castle.

   “The third time will be the charm, I'm certain,” Walter assured Sextus.

   Jesú, Javana hoped not!  She hoped that Meg, if she caught with child again, might die in her labors next time, taking the child with her.  The pain would be short lived; the escape from Walter's control eternal.  Meg would be grateful for the mercies of death.  Javana certainly would be, in her place, but alas, the controls on her mind would not allow her to seek that means of escape either.



Part Twelve:  http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=672.0
« Last Edit: March 03, 2011, 09:30:20 am by Evie »
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline Jerusha

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Re: Possessed--Part Eleven
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2011, 11:45:16 am »
I didn't think I could hate Walter more than I already do, but I was wrong!

And I suspect the High Lord of Llyr will not be amused down the road apiece, if there are threats to his new bride, Jashana. 
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

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Offline Evie

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Re: Possessed--Part Eleven
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2011, 12:18:32 pm »
Fortunately by the time Mihall of Llyr enters the picture, Walter will be very close to shuffling off this mortal coil and pissing off his Maker anyway.  Though you're quite right, an angry High Lord of Llyr would not be someone anybody in their right mind would wish to meet!   :D
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Offline Alkari

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Re: Possessed--Part Eleven
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2011, 02:40:37 pm »
Ah yes, the little fingers of doubt and concern creeping in about Javana.  Interesting that it's the two women, Sophie and Lisette, who are 'objective observers' and sensing things too, and observing the almost-hidden hints and body language.  It'snot just Javana's own immediate family getting alarm bells.   And poor, poor Meg - sounds as though she is ready to jump out a window or something, if she can get free.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2011, 05:44:57 pm by Alkari »

Offline derynifanatic64

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Re: Possessed--Part Eleven
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2011, 06:32:43 pm »
To paraphrase Gordon Gekko "Hate is good."  Look up 'evil' in the dictionary and there should be a picture of Walter Branigan.
We will never forget the events of 9-11!!  USA!! USA!!

Offline Evie

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Re: Possessed--Part Eleven
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2011, 07:21:03 pm »
Walter's no Boy Scout, that's for sure.   :D

And you'll be seeing more of Meg in the next chapter.
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
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Offline AnnieUK

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Re: Possessed--Part Eleven
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2011, 01:35:12 am »
Yikes, poor Meg.  I didn't imagine her being held for so long, poor lass.

 

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