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Author Topic: Possessed--Part Sixteen  (Read 2809 times)

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Offline Evie

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Possessed--Part Sixteen
« on: March 15, 2011, 09:22:06 am »
   Part Sixteen—Family Machinations
   
   May 1, 1133
   Tre-Arilan


   “So, they are planning on being here, then?” Jashana Arilan asked her brothers.

   Seisyll nodded in satisfaction.  “I made sure to extend the invitation to Walter in front of several witnesses, including Kelson himself.  There was little way he could graciously back out.”

   Sextus grinned.  “I imagine he was cursing you in his mind the entire time he was smiling to your face.”

   “Oh, you've gotten that impression from him too?” Seisyll's grin matched his brother's briefly, but it soon faded as they considered the opportunity that had presented itself.  “All right, so we're guaranteed Walter's presence, and with the King aware of the invitation, we're guaranteed Javana's as well.  I'll lay odds that he'll be as inseparable from her as ever during their brief visit—and as usual, it will be as brief as he can manage to get by with—but that's going to be the only chance we'll have to get her alone.”

   “But how?  Drug Walter in front of God and everybody?”  Sextus folded his arms, looking challengingly at his older brother.  “I agree it's the best opportunity we're likely to have in some time, but we can't just hope for the right moment to arise.  We need to create one.”

   “I agree,” Seisyll said.  “Which is why I propose that we make our move when the ladies head upstairs after the wedding feast.  Walter will have little choice but to allow Javana to go upstairs with the rest of the ladies—he can hardly do otherwise, after all, without drawing undue attention to himself—and that will provide us with the opportunity to get to her without him knowing about it.”

   Jashana raised an eyebrow at her eldest brother.  “Oh?  How do you plan to accomplish that...dress Sextus up as a woman?”  She smiled at her younger brother as he choked back a laugh.

   “Should I shave?” Sextus joked with a grin back at Jashana.

   “Jesú, he'd be a spectacularly awful woman!” Seisyll retorted with a brief indulgent smile at his sister.  “No, obviously we wouldn't be able to go upstairs at that time without calling attention to ourselves.  I was thinking you might find some way to get alone with Javana.  It shouldn't take more than a few moments to determine what we need to know, after all.  Can you do it?”

   Jashana stared at her elder brother incredulously.  “You must be joking, Seisyll!  Oh, certainly, I'd be willing to try if I have to, but have you forgotten I'm going to be the bride?!   How am I supposed to surreptitiously Mind-See our sister—assuming she's willing and able to lower her shields for me, which given what we suspect, we can't assume—while I'm the center of everyone's attention?”   

   “No, I meant....”  Seisyll rubbed at the bridge of his nose.  “All right, that was badly explained, I suppose.  What I meant was, couldn't you ask for a few moments alone with your sister before the ladies prepare you for bed?  Surely you can come up with some pretext—you want your sister's blessing, or you need a few minutes to pray...something....”

   Jashana chortled.  “Seisyll, my dear brother, I'm as devout as the next woman, but you've seen my husband-to-be, yes?  Do you think any woman at my wedding is going to believe I'm going to want to delay my wedding night with the utterly delectable Mihall of Llyr any longer than absolutely necessary because I've had a sudden urge to pray?  I'd definitely need a better excuse than that!”

   “You might pray your Mihall has the energy to keep up,” Sextus suggested, earning a laugh and a kick under the table from his sister.  Growing more serious, he turned to Seisyll and added, “Actually, Seis, I'm not sure that approach is going to work.  If Walter has Javana under the controls we suspect he does, he's probably set them to put Javana on guard against any move that any of us would make towards unlocking his secrets.  No, it would be better if someone could approach Javana who Walter would never suspect.”

   Seisyll pondered that thought.  “I agree that would be the ideal option, if we had someone else we could trust with the job, but we don't.  Sophie would be the only other woman we might ask, but she's not trained for this sort of work.  I don't know that she could carry out the job without giving something away; she's too guileless.”

   “What about Lisette?” Jashana suggested.  “I doubt Walter would suspect her.  She's not all that open about her Deryni heritage, after all, plus her deafness tends to make people who don't know her well underestimate her abilities and her powers of observation.  She may not be able to hear speech, but that only makes others more likely to say things in front of her that they'd not dream of saying if they thought she could hear them, and there's nothing at all wrong with her lip-reading skills.  I'll wager that if Walter has given her any thought at all, it's only been as Javana's distant cousin—if he even knows of that connection—or as Sophie's sister-in-law.  And I'm sure if we explained the situation to her, she'd be quite willing to help out.  She and Javana were close once.”

   Seisyll and Sextus exchanged glances.  “Well, yes, as children they were,” Seisyll ventured.  “Is Lisette aware of Stefan's former...attachment to Javana, though?”

   Jashana shrugged.  “I don't know.  But even if she is, you surely don't think she'd balk at helping Javana if there is any chance Javana is in the thrall of a man like Walter, given what we suspect about him now?  Lisette loves Stefan, but surely she's aware he was hardly a monk before their marriage, and I can't imagine she'd be so petty as to refuse to help Javana, even if there is some jealousy there we're not aware of.”  She sighed.  “Would it hurt to ask for her help?”

   “It might hurt her,” Sextus warned.  “If Walter ever finds out about our countermeasures, and suspects Lisette's involvement.  You know what he's capable of.”

   Jashana knew the risks indeed.  She thought back to what she had gleaned from Kate Draper's mind the previous autumn—the horror story she'd uncovered of the brutality Kate had endured at the hands of two men, a darker haired one in particular.  From that reading, Jashana had learned that Kate's memories of the attack were almost completely intact—whether deliberately or due to the night watch's sudden interruption, Jashana couldn't tell—aside from the identities of the assailants in question.  All identifying features had been carefully if quickly blurred from Kate's memories, leaving Jashana with few clues with which to trace their identities.  Yet Jashana had learned a few things—the direction in which the two men had made their escape, the colors they'd been wearing that night, even the smells Kate remembered.  

   One of the attackers—the Deryni who had tampered with Kate's memories—had smelled faintly of bay and lime, probably from a fragrant soap or sachet used to freshen his clothing.  It was not an uncommon combination of scents in some areas of the Kingdom where limes were more prevalent, though it was an unlikely fragrance for a Rhemuth commoner, nor did the man's demeanor bespeak common birth.  No, Jashana's gut told her he was likely a nobleman, or at least in a nobleman's retinue, and possibly from one of the eastern regions of the Kingdom.  The two men had also fled eastward from the scene of their crime.

   Jashana knew of at least one nobleman whose preferred fragrance was bay and lime, and whose Rhemuth lodging happened to be along that very route—her brother-in-law Walter.  And although neither man in Kate's memories wore the red dragon of Caerdraig, both were wearing the red and black of Walter's baronial colors.

   There were, of course, many men who favored those colors.  But the coincidences had raised enough suspicion for Sextus to pursue the matter further, spending the next few months traveling through the Kingdom along the route from Rhemuth to the Kheldish Riding, asking questions and listening to answers and learning of similar attacks along the way.  The evidence continued to build, until Seisyll was convinced they had enough to present a solid case against Walter to Kelson.

   There was only one problem which prevented them from doing so.  Would Walter's Baroness be found complicit in his crimes?  Seisyll was unwilling to take the risk.  He was certain Javana could not be wholly ignorant of what Walter was doing—not after so many years of marriage to him.  She was far too astute for Walter to hide his actions from her for long.  And she had given them warning of his activities several years earlier, oblique though that warning was.  So why hadn't she fled him before now or sought their help more overtly?  Seisyll was convinced his sister was being coerced into silence, but before they could present this theory to the King, he wanted proof.  He needed to be able to show Kelson something that would allow him to stop Walter without implicating Javana in her husband's crimes, so he had turned to his brother and sister for help with formulating a workable plan for finding out what sort of hold Walter had on his wife to ensure her silence and inaction.

   Lisette's Mind-Seeing of Javana might provide proof of her innocence, if she could help them.  If she would agree to help them.  And if Walter didn't discover her involvement and silence her forever first.

   Jashana prayed they were doing the right thing.  “I know what Walter would do, if he found out.  And I'll make sure Lisette understands the risks.  But we have to know, and this is the only way I can see to find out.”

#

   May 6, 1133
   Tre-Arilan


   Javana Arilan de Branigan watched as her sister exchanged vows of holy matrimony with the High Lord of Llyr, her tightly shielded feelings a mixture of cautious hope for Jashana’s happiness and bitter envy.  Not that she envied her sister for her new rank—God knows marrying into a title hadn’t helped Javana one whit!—but she envied the joy she saw reflected on the new couple’s faces as Jashana turned her lips up to her new husband for her first kiss as a newlywed bride.  Michael of Llyr said something too quiet for the onlookers to hear, his grin flashing down at his new wife, who laughed up at him with a sparkle in her blue-violet eyes.  Javana turned away.  She was glad for her sister, but witnessing so much happiness was difficult for her to bear.

   Beside her, a slight smile lurking on his lips as if he were aware of her every thought, her own lord Walter gave her hand a light squeeze, looking for all the world like a fondly solicitous husband.  Bastard!

   The chapel bells pealed in celebration.  Bishop Denis, visiting his boyhood home to officiate over his younger niece’s wedding, led the new couple and their wedding guest into the chapel for the nuptial Mass.

#

   There was definitely something wrong with cousin Javana, and now that Jashana had explained the Arilans' suspicions about Walter to her, Lisette was determined to discover what it was.  She sent her children off to play with their Arilan cousins, Stefania assisting the nursemaids in herding the unruly young lot off to a nearby chamber where they could unleash their energies while the adults mingled during the post-nuptial feast and celebrations.  Not that Steffie was the oldest child present—Oliver, her husband’s young half-brother born to his stepmother Alienora, but now adopted as their own since that woman’s death the previous summer from the fever-flux, held that honor—but Steffie commanded as if born to a generalship.  Lisette suppressed a grin.  It was that strong-willed Arilan streak coming to the fore, she supposed.  Not for the first time, she felt a surge of sympathy for her quiet young sister-in-law Sophie.

   Jashana, seated at the High Table between her brother Seisyll and her new husband, laughed with a slight blush as Sextus led the Hall in a ribald toast to the newlyweds.  Michael of Llyr leaned over to whisper something in her ear, causing the rosy glow to deepen.  Lisette glanced at her husband, seated by her side.  She’d been about to say that she thought it would be time to escort the couple upstairs to the bridal chamber soon, but he was looking elsewhere, his gaze fastened on someone across the room from them, a slight frown on his handsome features.  His eyes looked sad.

   Lisette turned to see what Stefan was looking at.  He seemed to be concerned about Javana as well, which brought Lisette back to her original thoughts.  She would need to situate herself so she would be standing closest to her Arilan cousin when the ladies went up to escort Jashana to the bridal bed.  She had a sudden qualm, wondering if Javana would be allowed to participate in the bridal preparations.  Surely her lord husband would allow her out of his sight long enough for that, at least!  There was something about Baron Walter’s attentiveness to Javana that made Lisette’s skin crawl.  Nothing she could point to outwardly, but something about his manner just seemed overly proprietary.  At first she had thought she was merely imagining it, but Sophie had also privately commented on it the last time they’d seen Javana, during Jamyl’s christening feast, and now that Jashana had told her a few of the suspicious that she and her brothers had about Walter, she was even more aware of the oddness of his behavior in retrospect.

   Jamyl was three years old now.  It had been just over three years since Javana last set foot on Tre-Arilan soil.  There was something wrong with that.  Even though they lived the full distance of the Kingdom away, Lisette knew Walter surely had to have returned to Rhemuth at least a few weeks of every year since that time.  Surely he must have brought Javana with him at least once, and if Javana had travelled as far as Rhemuth, how hard could it have been to add the short ride west from there to Tre-Arilan?  Even if Walter couldn’t have spared her for long, she could have paid her family home a short visit and been back to Rhemuth in less than a day, if need be.  Even she and Stefan had managed more frequent visits to Tre-Arilan than that, despite living on the far side of Nyford, and while traveling from Tre-Arilan to Kestrel Mote was a little more difficult for Sophie—there wasn’t the ready excuse of “it’s just a stone’s throw from Rhemuth” to take advantage of—she’d managed several trips to see her childhood home as well over the years since her marriage to Seisyll.

   Sophie, after a whispered conference with Queen Araxie, who was here representing the Crown of Gwynedd as this was not merely an Arilan family celebration but the marriage of a allied nation's High Lord as well, was rising from her seat at the High Table—the signal to the ladies present that it was time to escort the blushing bride to bed.  Lisette stood, flashing a quick smile at Stefan before crossing the Great Hall to join the other ladies, making sure as they went up the stairs that she ended up close by Javana's side.  They entered the bridal bedchamber together, Lisette following as Javana moved to one side of the chamber to make room for the other women entering close behind them.

#

   Javana watched as Sophie laid out the sheer nightrail that she had prepared for Jashana's wedding night.  Jashana traced the delicate fabric with her finger, then made a comment to Sophie too low for Javana to hear.  Whatever it was, it turned Sophie's cheeks scarlet, though she laughed in response.

   Javana forced a smile to her lips, although the scene brought back unwanted memories of her own wedding night, and her own anticipation turning slowly to confusion and horror after her wedding guests had departed, leaving her at Walter's mercy.  She wanted to scream, but she could not.  She was a prisoner locked away in her own mind.

   She felt a hand touch her shoulder and turned to see Lisette, her arm draped around Javana's shoulders, asking in quiet concern, “Are you unwell, cousin?”  Javana opened her mouth to assure her she was fine—although she desperately wanted to say otherwise—when she felt a slight scratch under Lisette's hand.  Her head turned, some detached part of her awareness registering the ring Lisette wore on her finger—not the wedding band Stefan had given her, but another ring Javana vaguely recognized—and then the room began to spin slowly around her.  

   “No,” she heard herself saying, her voice filled with something akin to wonder. “I think I might be about to faint.”  The world faded to black then.  Javana's last conscious memory was of her cousin's arms catching her and lowering her gently to the floor.

#

   Sophie gazed in horror as her sister-in-law fell into a sudden swoon.  “Javana?!”  

   Jashana smiled faintly at Lisette for a job well done, although her cousin was far too busy at that moment to notice.  “It is rather close in here, with so many women packed into the chamber.” She glanced at Sophie's maidservant.  “Annie, would you please open the shutters and let in some cooler air?”

   “Yes,” Sophie said, regaining her equilibrium and taking charge of the situation.  “Everyone move back and let Javana have some room to breathe.  Poor dear, she's standing closest to the hearth, and it's such a warm evening for late spring; no wonder she succumbed!”  She crossed the room to kneel by Lisette, who sat cradling Javana's head in her lap.  “Will she be all right?” Sophie whispered.  “She didn't hit her head on the way down, did she?  I could call for our physician....”  

   Javana started to stir in Lisette's arms even as Jashana came forward to hold a perfumed handkerchief under her sister's nose.  “I think she'll be fine,” Lisette assured her.  “I caught her before she hit the ground.  Maybe we should just find her a stool to sit on until she's feeling her full self again?”

   Queen Araxie drew a small bench from the corner of the room, positioning it next to Sophie, who assisted Javana to a sitting position once she'd opened her eyes.  “How do you feel?” Sophie asked.

   Javana looked around at the gathered ladies.  “What happened?” she asked, her voice slightly slurred.

   “You passed out,” Jashana informed her.  “It was fairly warm up here until we opened the windows.”  She gave Javana the handkerchief.  “Why don't you have a seat until you're feeling yourself again.  Lisette, would you mind keeping an eye on her?”  That went well enough.  Did you have enough time? she added in Mind-Speech to her cousin.

   “Of course,” Lisette replied, smiling down at Javana.  Barely, but I think I've got the proof Seisyll needs.  Thank you! she sent back to Jashana.

   “All right, then, now that that's settled, I have an eager bridegroom waiting downstairs,” Jashana joked, recalling everyone's minds to their purpose for coming upstairs.  “Let's not keep him waiting any longer than he has to.”

   “You mean, let's not keep you waiting any longer than you have to,” Queen Araxie corrected with a grin.

   “Yes, that too!”  Jashana picked up the delicate nightrail.  “Really, Sophie, you've put so much work into this gown.  Do you honestly think I'll be wearing it for more than the few heartbeats it will take for Uncle Denis to run you lot out the door?”

#

   May 7
   Rhemuth Castle, the King's private chambers


   Kelson paced the room, pondering the evidence Seisyll and Sextus brought him, both in their verbal reports and in the memories they shared with him so he could see for himself the facts they'd uncovered in their investigation of Caerdraig's baron.  “This could set back Deryni/human relations by a hundred years, you know, if word gets out that we have a rogue Deryni using his powers to rape women and commit random murders throughout the Kingdom.  And if it's discovered that the rogue is one of my own barons....”

   “Oh, yes, we're well aware of the implications, which is why we wanted to be certain of what was happening before bringing the matter to your attention.  Do you agree, Sire, that we can't afford the notoriety of a formal Court trial and presentation of evidence, nor of a public execution?”

   Kelson leaned his head against a windowpane, staring out towards the City.  “No, we can't.  Not under these circumstances.  On the other hand, if I send you out to deal with him privately, and that somehow gets discovered, some folk would seize on that as proof of a Deryni cover-up.”

   Sextus snorted.  “It is a Deryni cover-up, Sire, but given the circumstances, what else can we do?  Hand it over to the Camberian Council to handle?”  He quirked a wry smile at his sovereign.  “Am I correct in guessing you'd rather shove red-hot pokers up your arse sideways then call them in to deal with the situation?”

   “A more picturesque alternative than I ever would have dreamed up, but basically yes,” Kelson affirmed with a faint chuckle.  “We can fall back on that resource if we absolutely must, but I’d much rather handle this on our own.  The Council has a habit of…shall we say, wanting to do favors with strings attached, and I want to remain as little indebted to them as possible.  They’re still trying to talk me into a Council seat as a bit of quid pro quo since I called on their help for the weather-working ritual against the fever-flux plague last September.   And as far as I’ve heard, they’ve yet to find Teymuraz, for all that you’d think a Grand-Duke of Byzantyun shouldn’t be all that difficult to track down.  All of which reminds me, does your Uncle Denis know about this yet?”

   “Not yet,” Seisyll answered.

   Kelson stared out the window a long moment.  “Let's keep it that way for now,” he said finally, “though if you feel the need to tell him afterwards, you may.”  He turned to Sextus.  “You might need to, by then,” he added, a hint of apology in his gray eyes.

   Sextus caught on immediately.  “When I go to him for confession and absolution?” he asked quietly.

   Kelson nodded.  “Handle Walter as quietly as possible.  I can't spare Seisyll to help you; his absence from Rhemuth would be too much remarked upon, especially if anyone were to see him in the vicinity of the Riding around the time Baron Walter is reported missing or dead.  Is there someone else you can trust to help you in this mission?  After what happened to Sir Ethan, I'd hesitate to send you in alone.  Given what you'll be up against, you'll need someone to back you up who has adequate defenses against Walter's powers when you confront him.”  He went through his mental list of known Deryni who weren't too well known to send on such a mission.  It was a distressingly short list.  “What about Sir Stefan de Varnay?” Kelson finally suggested.

   The Arilan brothers exchanged a glance.  “He's Deryni, but not formally trained,” Seisyll said slowly.  “Lisette has brought him fairly well up to speed since their marriage, but we don't know Walter's capabilities.  We don't think Walter's had formal training, but we can't very well ask him.”

   “Stefan may not be the ideal choice,” Kelson agreed, “but he may be the best choice we have at our disposal.  Do you have any reason to believe he can't be trusted with this knowledge?”

   Another shared glance.  Seisyll sighed.  “No, my Prince.  It's just that I've already sent a brother-to-be to his death in pursuit of this killer.  If my wife's brother also dies as a result of this investigation, I might be spending the rest of my nights sleeping on a pallet outside your chamber door.”

   “Then let's not have that happen.”  Kelson closed his eyes briefly.  “And if your part in Walter's eventual fate should come to light, have you come up with a plausible reason for that?”

   Seisyll nodded.  “A private matter of vengeance, Sire.  Retribution for the abuses Javana suffered at her husband's hands.  No need to mention the exact nature of the abuses.”  A wry smile.  “Of course, we'd have to throw ourselves on your Royal mercy and beg for forgiveness, and doubtless we'd fall out of favor for quite some time as an example to others, assuming you don't simply toss us into the Keep for taking justice into our own hands or string us up at one of the City gates for murdering one of your barons.”

   “Given that I would certainly Truth-Read you both in the event of such a trial, not to mention that I'd know exactly what questions to ask, I think I might manage to find enough evidence to show leniency,” Kelson assured him with a wry smile of his own.  “But don't make that necessary.”  The King sighed.  “All right, you two have leave to go.  I wish to see Lady Lisette separately.  It's not that I don't trust your avowals of your sister's innocence, but you do have a vested interest in trying to convince me of that conclusion.”

   The brothers bowed.  “Of course, Sire,” Seisyll answered.  The two of them withdrew.  In the antechamber, Lisette sat beside Queen Araxie, who stood as the men entered the room.  She acknowledged their bows to her with a faint smile and courteous nod.  “Come, my dear, I believe Kelson is ready for us,” the Queen said to Lisette, leading the way into Kelson's inner chamber.

#

   Kelson sat quietly, absorbing the information he had gleaned from Lisette's quick sharing of what she'd discovered in Javana's mind.  “And how long has she been living in that nightmare?” he asked her finally.

   “Seven years, Your Majesty, come the twentieth of this month,” Lisette answered quietly.  

   The King studied the woman before him.  “I may need to call upon your husband to assist in bringing Baron Walter to justice,” he told her.  “If I do, you will not be at liberty to say where he has gone, or why.  I hope you can understand the need for extreme discretion.  Also, tell no one else of what you know about this matter.”

   “My lord husband and I are both at your command, my Prince,” Lisette answered with a low curtsey.  

   “You know Stefan's Deryni capabilities better than anyone, my Lady.  Is he up to this?”  Kelson's eyes searched Lisette's face.

   She searched her soul, her worries for her husband's safety warring with her desire to give the King an honest answer.  “He is as well trained now as most Deryni in Gwynedd, perhaps better than most who haven't had the benefit of formal training.  As to whether that will be sufficient for the task, there is no way for me to say.  I know nothing of Walter's training.”

   Kelson nodded.  “Nor, unfortunately, do I.”

#

   May 15
   Kestrel Mote


   Sir Stefan de Varnay bent to kiss his six year old heir's brow as he tucked the boy into bed for the night.  “Good night, birthday boy!”

   Ranulf threw his arms around his father's neck.  “Good night, Papa!”  A frown creased his smooth brow.  “Mama said you have to go on a journey tomorrow.  Will you be gone long?”

   Stefan considered the question, not knowing quite how to answer.  “I hope not,” he finally replied.  “I'll return just as soon as I may.  Be a good lad while I'm gone, and help your mother.”

   Little Ran nodded.  “Ollie will help too.  Liesel's too little yet.”

   His papa tousled his hair.  “She is.  But you're right, you and Oliver can both help, can't you, Ollie?”  He smiled at his half-brother, Alienora's son, who nodded shyly back.  Stefan leaned further forward to give the lad a reassuring pat.  Little Ollie still shied away from embraces, though in the months since he had come to live with his new family, he had at least lost his terror of his new surroundings and have come to accept his life here at Kestrel Mote.  He had not yet discovered that his new family was of the Deryni race that he'd been raised to fear.  Stefan and Lisette had not yet come to an agreement about the best way and time to break that news to the boy.

   Stefan stood, walking to the other pallet to kiss his daughter, already sound asleep.  He pulled her thumb out of her mouth, stroking the hair away from her face, and turned to leave.  

   “We'll pray for you every night, Papa!”  Ran assured him.

   Stefan smiled.  “Thank you, son.”  He closed the door softly, a shadow crossing his features as he slowly made his way down the corridor to the bedchamber where Lisette awaited his arrival.

#

   Stefan stared out the window at the moonlight silvering the fields beyond the manor house.  Lisette, there's something you need to know.   When Seisyll started to brief me on this mission, I volunteered to go even before I knew Kelson had already planned on sending me.  He turned to look at his wife.  I owe Javana a debt of honor.

   Lisette turned troubled gold-amber eyes up at her husband.  I've noticed you've avoided her as much as possible the few times we've seen her since our marriage, but I don't know why.

   Stefan looked away briefly, then met his wife's eyes, moving to sit beside her.    I...offered for her once.  I didn't realize that Seisyll never received my letter offering for her until the subject came up again a few nights ago.

   When he was briefing you?
Lisette shielded her turbulent emotions as she absorbed this information.

   Yes.  Stefan took her hand in his.  Lisette, I love you.  You know that, I hope?  I know I probably haven't said it enough, but I do.

   She looked down at their joined hands, not daring to look up at her husband's face.  I know.  But...you loved Javana once.  Didn't you?

   Stefan sighed.  I thought I did.  I suppose it was fledgling love, as much as I was capable of at the time. I wasn't truly ready for a wife yet—was certainly not in any position to make the offer—but...she caught my eye for a while.  He squeezed Lisette's hand.  What attachment existed between us was over before I ever met you.

   A meeting Seisyll conveniently arranged?
Lisette reminded him, a small amount of her hurt leaking out in her strained smile.

   That wasn't to keep me away from her, love.  Javana was already betrothed to Baron Walter before then.  

   Lisette pondered this.  Why do you owe Javana a debt of honor?

   Stefan sat in silence for a moment, trying to figure out how to answer honestly without further hurt to this woman he had come to love since their marriage seven years earlier. I have reason to believe if Seisyll hadn't been trying to keep Javana from making the mistake of marrying me, he might not have steered her towards Walter.  Walter offered everything I was unable to give her, and I....”  He shrugged. Even if I hadn't been impoverished, I was still quite irresponsible.  And...too careless and too much of a wastrel at the time to be trusted with his sister's virtue.

   Lisette looked up sharply at that.  You didn't compromise her, did you?

   Stefan sighed.  Not in the way you fear.  But...yes, I endangered her reputation.  Fortunately no one discovered our liaison besides Seisyll.  It could have been far worse.  Stefan stood and walked back to the window, staring out towards distant Rhemuth.  I need to make amends for that, and for my part in the circumstances that led up to her hell of a marriage with that bastard Walter.  But it's no more than that, Lisette.  I care for Javana, but I'm not in love with her.  He turned to face his wife.  You are my heart now.  Read the truth in my words, if you must.

   His wife shook her head slowly, her eyes brimming with tears over a trembling smile.  I have no need to Truth-Read you, my lord.  You've never played me false, and I have no reason to believe you'd do so now.

   Stefan took a deep, relieved breath as he returned to his wife's side, drawing her into his embrace and opening his mind to hers, showing his love for her in ways that transcended mere words.

   
Part Seventeen:  http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=684.0
« Last Edit: March 18, 2011, 09:20:06 am by Evie »
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline Elkhound

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Re: Possessed--Part Sixteen
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2011, 10:30:42 am »
Dear Walter:

You can run, but you can't hide.

(signed)
Clan Arilan

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Possessed--Part Sixteen
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2011, 10:44:01 am »
It's going to be a long week, waiting for the next chapter......

Rescue is finally on its way, but I hope Javana can escape the bitterness and find not just relief, but happiness eventually.
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 Sixteen
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2011, 10:54:29 am »
LOL @ Clan Arilan's letter!  Yep, pretty much.  :D

And you've only got to wait three days, Jerusha.  I'm posting these chapters on an every-third-day schedule now, so the next one will go up on Friday.  (Except for Alkari; she has to wait until Saturday, I think. ;D )
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!

Offline Elkhound

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Re: Possessed--Part Sixteen
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2011, 12:19:00 pm »
There probably won't be enough of Walter left to scrape off the floor with a pancake turner once the Arilans get a hold of him.

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Possessed--Part Sixteen
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2011, 02:52:50 pm »
There's still a demon out there, that wants him, too.
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 AnnieUK

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Re: Possessed--Part Sixteen
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2011, 05:22:34 pm »
Loving the red hot pokers comment.  Only Sextus would say that to the king and get away with it!

Offline Evie

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Re: Possessed--Part Sixteen
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2011, 05:49:47 pm »
Ah, yes, I'm having loads of fun writing Sextus's story right now, but there's another, shorter story queued up to get posted before that one's ready for public view.
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!

Offline derynifanatic64

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Re: Possessed--Part Sixteen
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2011, 10:00:14 pm »
I think Javana should get dibs on punishing Walter first.  There might be nothing left for that female demon to devour.
We will never forget the events of 9-11!!  USA!! USA!!

Offline Shiral

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Re: Possessed--Part Sixteen
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2011, 02:02:32 am »
Hmmm.... maybe Uncle Denis SHOULD go along just in case there's any exorcism required. 

In which case, Walter won't be anything more than a scorched patch in the ground......

Maybe he needs the delicate application of red hot pokers in sensitive places, first.....

rated
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Offline Elkhound

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Re: Possessed--Part Sixteen
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2011, 09:54:23 am »
I still like the idea of his still-beating heart being plucked from his chest.

Offline derynifanatic64

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Re: Possessed--Part Sixteen
« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2011, 05:57:42 pm »
How about having Walter thrown into a hundred foot pit filled with 100 Stenrect Crawlers?
We will never forget the events of 9-11!!  USA!! USA!!

 

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