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Author Topic: Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 7  (Read 3069 times)

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Offline Evie

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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 7
« on: July 03, 2010, 02:14:43 pm »
Chapter Seven


   “What I don’t understand is, how did you manage to work a spell of protection without even knowing you were doing magic?  Didn’t you feel the tingle?”

   Celsie snorted at Sophie’s question.  “You try embroidering ridiculously tiny stitches for hours at a time sometime and see if your fingers don’t tingle, even if you’re not working prayers into each stitch!”  She lowered her head to her work again, her needle’s point taking another tiny bite of the soft cambric she was stitching.

   “So, what have you started on now?”

   Celsie’s eyes lit up with mischief as she handed the rectangle of fabric to her friend.  Sophie passed a hand lightly over it.  Her eyes widened as she looked back up at Celsie, startled, then she laughed.

   “I hope you’re saving that for your trousseau!”

   The angelic-looking damsel smiled demurely.  “Oh yes.  Once I’m done with it, it won’t come out of my hope chest until my wedding night.”  She dimpled.  “But I’m sure it will be a most memorable wedding night!”

   Ailidh looked up from her mending at that.  “Most wedding nights are memorable even without magical assistance, I’d think.  Maybe I should have a look at what you’re working?  Just to…ah…make sure you’re not doing something you might regret later?  Has the Contessa had a look at that?” she added, tilting her head at Celsie’s newest project.

   Celsie blushed.  “Well…no.”

   “Oh God….at least let me have a look, then!”  Ailidh stood, crossing over to where Celsie sat, and laid her fingertips over the work, focusing intently.  After a moment, she burst into laughter.  

   “Celsie, no.  Just trust me on this….No!”  

   “What?”  Celsie’s big blue eyes looked confused.  Sophie started to giggle.  She took her friend’s hand.

   “Sweeting, what I think Ailidh’s trying to say is that, when you get married, presumably your husband is going to want you anyway.  He’s not going to need convincing!  And even if, for some reason, he does…um…this is a fairly large design you’ve sketched out, right?”

   “Yes.”  Celsie looked up at Sophie questioningly.

   “And there’s going to be a prayer in every stitch?”

   She nodded.

   “And don’t you ever want to be let out of bed again?  Mayhap to eat, or go to the garderobe?   Or even to be able to walk after your wedding night?”

   Celsie’s mouth dropped open, then slowly shut as she considered what Sophie was saying.  “Oh!”

   Sophie mimicked the Rhemuth gossip network.  "’A pity about poor Earl Derry, dead on his wedding night. What happened, do you know?’  ‘Rumor has it he had heart failure, but he died very happy!’”

   Ailidh chortled and handed Celsie a small knife to cut the stitches out.

#

   Later in the morning, the Contessa announced her intention to go out riding with Duchess Meraude and a few of the other Court Ladies, inviting her young charges to accompany her.  Ailidh and Celsie eagerly accepted the offer, but Sophie demurred.  “I'd really prefer to visit the Library again, if you wouldn't mind.”

   Constanza looked surprised.  “Are you certain?  We've been blessed with quite warm days for the season in the past few days, but it might not be quite so warm again for another few weeks.”

   “I'm sure, my lady.”  Sophie flushed slightly.  “There was a History of Rhemuth I got a bit caught up in last time we were there, and I was sort of hoping I could finish it.”

   “Oh!  Well, I suppose that would be all right, if you'd really rather just read about Rhemuth rather than actually seeing Rhemuth,” the Contessa teased.   

   Sophie laughed.  “I live here now, remember?  I'm sure I'll have other opportunities to see it.”

   “I don't believe we're planning to stay out for very long—a couple of hours at most—so I suppose you can spend that time reading and then just meet with us back in Meraude's solar afterwards.”

   Looking for more old maps? Ailidh mind-spoke to Sophie on her way out.

   No, not unless I happen to run across one in the book.  I really do want to finish it.  Besides, some of the stories in it have given me ideas for my story-game with Stefan. She smiled. But if I find something that could be useful for our mapping purposes, of course I'll let you know!

#

   When Sophie returned to the Library, however, things were not arranged as they'd been on her last visit.  A small cart sat just inside the Library door, and as Sophie watched, mystified, two priests with her back to her were pulling stacks of books off a row of shelves and stacking them up neatly on a nearby table.

   “Pardon me,” she finally asked, drawing their attention.  The younger priest, a man not so many years older than Sophie with curly dark hair, smiled.

   “Oh, hello, Lady Sophie!  I'm afraid you've caught us on a bad day.  We're in the process of  temporarily moving part of our collection so we can do some construction work in here.”

   The other man turned.  With a start, Sophie realized it was Bishop Duncan.  

   “Oh!  Well...Will Llywellyn ap Twddwr's 'History of Rhemuth' be staying?” she asked hopefully.

   The young priest laughed.  “I thought you seemed particular engrossed in that one!  Yes, that one will stay.  I've set it aside in case you wanted to finish it.  Look on my desk.”  He tilted his head to indicate where she should look, as his hands were full.  “But I'm afraid we're going to bustling around here for the next hour or two, so the Library might not be very quiet.”

   Sophie looked at the stacked books beside him with interest.  “Can I help you, then?  If you're just trying to clear off that wall, the work would go faster with more hands.”

   The priest, looking uncertain, started to decline the offer, but then the bishop, with a slight smile, said, “Actually, John, I think we can trust Lady Sophie with that much, at least.”

   Sophie was startled that the bishop even recalled her name; she'd only actually encountered him that one evening—not counting that briefest of mental touches at the Ash Wednesday Mass the previous winter, of course—when she and the rest of the Contessa's household had dined with the Duke and Duchess of Corwyn, and Bishop Duncan had been seated on the other end of the table.  Bafflement was the next emotion to sweep through her.  Why would they need someone trustworthy just to move books?  And how could he possibly know she could be trusted with anything, given how little he knew her?

   Duncan's smile widened as he watched the play of emotions on Sophie's face.  “Would you close the door, Lady Sophie?  And if it's not too heavy for you to push, we could use the cart now.  I'll explain in a moment.”

   Sophie did as she was bid, closing the door firmly, then turned her attention to the cart.  It was a little heavy, but the wheels were well greased, so she was able to push it the small distance across the room with very little effort.  

   “Thank you,” the bishop said when she reached him, beginning to load stacks of books onto the cart.  After a moment, she joined him, picking up a stack and looking  up at him uncertainly.  “Do these need to go on in any certain order?”

   “Not really.  Just try to keep them in the stacks they're in now, and they'll be easier for us to sort out later, but aside from that, it doesn't matter how you load them into the cart.”  His blue eyes swept her form briefly.  “Some of these older volumes may be a bit dusty, I'm afraid, so this might not be the cleanest work.  Do you mind, or would you prefer to change into something else first?”

   “Oh, this is fine.”  Sophie picked up a stack of books, glancing at the titles curiously.  The pile she held seemed to contain various Lives of the Saints.  She placed it on the cart, still somewhat mystified.

   Duncan chuckled, handing her a book from the top of another stack.  She reached for it, her eyes widening before she even noted the title on the cover.  It...felt different, somehow!

   She looked down at the volume she held. Codex Orini.  She'd never heard of it before, but somehow she knew just from how it felt in her hands that this was the sort of book that contained the knowledge of her Deryni heritage she'd always longed to know.  The sort of book she'd never see on the shelves of Kestrel Mote, while her father still lived, at least.  And certainly not as long as Alienora lived there!

   Her eyes flew up to meet the Bishop's, the pupils in their green-gold depths widening.  “Oh!”  She looked at the younger priest in confusion, even more startled to see that he was smiling.  “You...don't mind Deryni?” she almost squeaked.

   Father John Nivard chuckled.  “No.  I don't mind Deryni at all.”  He shot Duncan a teasing look and then added, “Unless, of course, they're my direct superiors, in which case I'm required to mind them.”  Duncan laughed.

   “Of course,” Duncan reminded her gently, “there are still many people who do mind Deryni, which is why we don't want just anyone knowing these books are here.  Or, for that matter, that they're about to be moved a short distance for the time being.”  He added with a wry smile, “We want them preserved, not burned.”

   She stroked the cover of the book she held.  “Do you think...Could I....”

   “Could you read that book you're holding?”  Duncan supplied.  “Maybe, but only once you're a lot further along in your training.  There's some dangerous knowledge in Orin's work; it's hardly a beginner's primer.”  He took the volume back, adding it back to the stack it came from, then putting that stack into the cart.  “Contessa Constanza could recommend some more suitable books for study, though, if you're interested.”

   Sophie bent to take a closer look at some of the other stacks before her.  Some were completely innocuous titles; others were clearly of a more arcane bent.  “How did I not notice these the last time I was here?  I know I looked on this shelf.”

   Father Nivard smiled.  “Yes, and you're Deryni, so you at least had the chance to spot them, but were you specifically looking for books about the Deryni or Deryni magic?”

   “Well...no.”  She grinned.  “So they're hidden in plain sight?”

   Nivard grinned back.  “Yes.”

   Sophie giggled.  “That's a handy trick!  I wish I knew that one.”

   Duncan grinned. “Oh, I'm sure you do.  There are so many handy ways to misapply it.”  His  eyes shone teasingly down at her.

   “Oh, I would never--!  Well....all right, maybe I might.”  She laughed.  Her fingers trailed down the spines of another stack of books.  “Ballads...epic poetry...love songs?”  She picked the top book off the stack, starting to flip through it.  

   Duncan gently took it from her, examining the cover.  He chuckled, placing it in the cart.  “Not al-Sadr's poetry quite yet, my lady.  Come back for that one the week before you're to wed, though; your future husband will have cause to thank you for your studies.”  He glanced at Father Nivard when the younger man stifled a laugh behind a well-timed cough.   He placed another book in her hands instead.  “Here are some ballads better suited for a maiden.”

   “Thank you,” Sophie said, her cheeks turning a little pink as she flipped through the book she was offered.  “Wait...I recognize some of these!” she exclaimed, her embarrassment fading as her eyes skimmed a few pages.  “That troubadour who was here a couple of nights ago sang some of these ballads!  But...they're not Deryni ballads, are they?”

   Father Nivard smiled.  “No.  Not if you mean ballads about Deryni.  There are only a small number of songs in that book that are actually about Deryni.  But they were all written by a Deryni, so in that sense, they're 'Deryni ballads.'”

   Sophie took a look around the room, her eyes growing wistful.  “Oh my.  I could just live here!  There's so much to learn, I don't even know where to start, or how to fit it all in.”  She sighed.  “My father's not much of a reader, nor was his father before him.  All the books in Kestrel Mote's library would fit on just one of these shelves, and I've read them all at least twice.”  She looked back at Duncan.  “You have to be a special kind of desperate to read 'How to Prevent Dry Rot' twice.”

#

   The three worked companionably together over the next hour, Bishop Duncan and Father Nivard occasionally recommending one title or another to Sophie, who had started jotting down a growing list.  “What are you going to be building in here?” she asked them at one point.  Their answer—a garderobe—only raised more questions than it answered.  Why someone would go through all the trouble to retrofit a garderobe into a castle structure centuries after it was built, she had no idea, although she supposed having one so close by would make visits to the Royal Library more convenient in future.

   At last, glancing out the window and noticing where the sun was in the sky, Sophie sighed, brushing some dust off her gown, and looked at the two men apologetically.  “I'm afraid I probably should head upstairs to Duchess Meraude's solar.  The Contessa's probably on her way back there now, if she's not back already, and she'll be expecting me.”  

   “That's fine.  Thank you for your help today,” Duncan said.  “John, would you excuse me for a short while?  I'll see Lady Sophie safely up.”

   “Oh, you needn't!” she said, a bit flustered at the thought of interrupting the two men's work, but Father Nivard just smiled.

   “It's no trouble, Lady Sophie.  I'm sure the Bishop will be glad to get away from the smell of old books for a while.”

   Duncan laughed.  “I like the smell of old books; it's the dust that annoys me.  Just tell me you'll keep the stacks better tended than the former librarian did!”

   Father Nivard grinned.  “Oh, I might know a trick or two for repelling dust.”

#

   Bishop Duncan took Sophie back towards the Royal Apartments by a back way.  It was not one of the secret passages—more likely it was one of the servants' corridors, Sophie surmised—but still, it was useful knowledge, so Sophie filed the new information away diligently.

   “How are you settling into Rhemuth life?” he asked, once they were out of earshot from everyone.  “And are you enjoying your studies with Contessa Constanza?”

   “Oh yes, quite!  And I love it here,” Sophie answered, though her eyes grew a bit shadowed at her next thought.  “I just wish....”  She looked up at Duncan.  “Father has no idea that Constanza is Deryni, I don't think.  If he does, I don't think he realizes that she's training me.  That was my mother's idea, apparently.”  Sadness flickered across her features.  “I don't want to lie to him—and I won't, if he asks me outright—but on the other hand, I don't want to not be who I  really am anymore, if that makes any sense.”

   “It does,” Duncan said, his voice sympathetic.

   She glanced at him briefly, then looked away, blushing slightly.  “I was very worried about you when you didn't show up for Masses after Ash Wednesday!  I prayed a lot, hoping you were safe.”

   “Did you?”  He smiled at her, touched.  

   “Yes.  I was afraid maybe the other bishops would decide you couldn't be a bishop anymore, or perhaps not even a priest!”

   Duncan nodded.  “Yes, there was that danger.  For a while, I wasn't so sure either.”

   “Well...I'm glad everything turned out all right for you!”

   He smiled.  “Thank you.  So am I.”

   They came out of the servants' corridor in the wing that housed the Royal Apartments.  Duncan spotted a white belted figure nearby standing guard near one of the other entrances, and beckoned him over.

   “You've a message from my uncle, my lord Bishop?” the young knight said, looking curiously at Duncan and his companion as he approached.  With a start, Sophie recognized the man as the same one she'd briefly encountered two nights earlier in the mail-sorting room.

   “I'm afraid not today,” Duncan replied, before turning to Sophie.  “Lady Sophie, this is Sir Seisyll Arilan.  Seisyll, allow me to present Lady Sophie de Varnay.”  Formal introductions properly tendered, Duncan added, “Lady Sophie is heading to Duchess Meraude's quarters.  Would you be so kind as to escort her the rest of the way?”

   “Right gladly, my lord.”  Blue-violet eyes smiled down at Sophie as the dark-haired knight offered her his arm.  “This way, my lady.”

   Duncan smiled in quiet satisfaction as he made his way back to the Royal Library where Father Nivard awaited him.
   

Chapter Eight:
http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=552.0
« Last Edit: January 10, 2011, 03:13:02 pm by Evie »
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline Evie

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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 7
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2010, 03:10:59 pm »
Well, that was a little unexpected.  I'd love to see some more explorations of cording lore.

I'd suggest looking in the handcrafts section of the library.  You never know what might be lurking in what looks like an innocent book of needlepoint/crewel/bargello patterns, knitting/crochet/tatting patterns, or the like.

I've done a little tatting. It's been years, though.  Or maybe bobbin lace?  Though it may be a bit post-medieval, come to think.  Hm, maybe Opus Anglicanum embroidery?  I wonder how much Deryni magic was once embroidered onto priestly vestments in earlier times, and possibly still is in kingdoms like Torenth?

A few links to descriptions and pictures of Opus Anglicanum:
http://www.sca.org.au/st_florians/artisan/embroidery/opus.htm
http://arts.jrank.org/pages/9608/Embroidery.html
http://www.theanglocatholic.com/2010/02/opus-anglicanum/
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
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Offline Alkari

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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 7
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2010, 04:47:21 pm »
I remember reading somewhere that in WW1, women in France used to pass intelligence about troop strengths and movements via the patterns of knots in crochet work and knitting.  An innocent scarf or table doily could actually contain vital information.  I'll have to go digging around for the details. 


Offline Evie

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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 7
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2010, 04:55:05 pm »
As I recall, in A Tale of Two Cities, Madame Defarge keeps a record of French aristocrats to be executed in her knitting stitches.  Or something along those lines, anyway.  It's been years since I read AToTC.
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Offline Elkhound

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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 7
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2010, 09:46:20 pm »
As I recall, in A Tale of Two Cities, Madame Defarge keeps a record of French aristocrats to be executed in her knitting stitches.  Or something along those lines, anyway.  It's been years since I read AToTC.

Also in Agatha Christie's They Came to Bagdhad.

 


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