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Author Topic: Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 9  (Read 2883 times)

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Offline Evie

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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 9
« on: July 06, 2010, 07:46:04 pm »
Chapter Nine


   “Now, this pavane will start out with a left single, a right single, and then a double.  Please remember, in most of Gwynedd aside from some of the borderlands, dances usually start out on the left foot.”

   “Which means you lowlanders are all backwards in your footwork, if you ask me, so why you make such a fuss about corrie-fistedness, I have no clue,” Ailidh grumbled good-naturedly, though she followed the dancing master's instructions flawlessly.

   “Oh, don't worry,” the instructor said, “You'll find the Court of Rhemuth has adopted a few of the better known Border dances in the past few years, and you'll already have the advantage over other dancers in those, since you'll be used to starting out on the 'wrong' foot.  Many of the dances in Torenth also start out with a right single or double, though Rhemuth hasn't adopted many Torenthi dances, not surprisingly given past relations between the kingdoms.  Perhaps their young King will eventually introduce our styles of dancing to his Court when he returns there someday.  Who knows?”  He walked around Ailidh and Sophie, partnered together for this particular pavane as the steps for male and female partners were identical for it, and then resumed his place in front of them at Celsie's side.  “All right, let's repeat that pattern.  Left single—don't forget the bob at the end of it!  Now right single...bob...left double...2...3...Turn and face your partner, and clasp hands.  Good! Now we'll take a sidestep with the right foot towards the head of the hall....now towards the back of the hall...very good, now drop your partner's hand, resume your original position facing the front of the hall, and it's a double step back.”

   The girls all followed the dancing master's lead, finding themselves in their original positions at the end of it.  “Very good!  Now we repeat that set twice, and at the end of the second repeat, there's a new pattern to learn.  But it's all built out of those two simple steps, and it's a slow dance, so you should know it perfectly by the end of half an hour.  So, let's try the first part of the dance again, but this time let's do it to the music.”  He gave a nod to the lutenist and the vielle player he'd brought with him, and they started counting time, then at his second nod launched into the opening notes of the slow pavane.

   The lesson went well, and by the end of the evening, all three young ladies were quite comfortable with the Earl of Rhendall’s Pavane, and had been introduced to two other pavanes, a galliard, and a bransle that their dance-master assured them were all on the official schedule for the Christmas Revels.  

#
   The hours not filled by dance lessons were swiftly filled by other pursuits. There were new gowns to be fitted, small gifts to be made (often in secret, as the girls found pretexts to steal away for an hour or two at a time in order to create them, a liberty the Contessa turned an indulgent blind eye towards), visits to and from important persons newly arrived for Christmas Court in order to acquaint the new ladies-in-waiting with members of the Gwyneddan peerage they ought to become at least somewhat familiar with, and of course their daily lessons both in Court etiquette and the arcane, for Constanza would not allow them to neglect their training simply because it was nearly Christmas.  The busy schedule allowed for little leisure time, yet Sophie still managed to slip away for an hour one afternoon to seek the quiet comforts of the Royal Library.

   “I received a letter from my family today,” she told Father Nivard.  “They’ll be arriving here just in time for Christmas Court and staying until after Twelfth Night.”

   “Oh?”  He smiled, looking up from the book cover he was mending.  “That’s good news, I hope.”

   “Well…mostly.”  Sophie slightly worried expression belied her words.  “It’s just…I’m not sure what they’ll be expecting when they get here.”  She sighed.  “I’ve only been in Rhemuth a few months, so hopefully Father isn’t expecting for me to have done much more than just settle in and learn a bit about Court life.”

   The priest nodded, looking away briefly to dab a tiny bit of glue onto a torn leather flap on the book spine he held.  “Your father's after you to find a good match?”

   She rolled her eyes.  “Oh yes, though at least he’s realistic about it.  My stepmother thinks I should be angling for a Haldane.”

   Nivard chuckled.  “I’m afraid you’d have stiff competition there.”

   “Oh, believe me, I know.  Not to mention I’m not the least bit suited to be Queen of Gwynedd.  I’m sure there’s more to the job than simply producing a prince a year.”

   The priest smiled.  “Ideally.”  He set the book aside, picking another damaged volume from the stack beside him.  “And what would Sophie de Varnay like?”

   “Oh, what, I actually get to state a preference?”  She snorted.

   Nivard raised an eyebrow at her.  “Hopefully.  Do you truly feel you’ll have no choice in the matter?”

   She sighed.  “Well, I suppose I’ll have some choice.  It’s just….Have you ever felt like you were being pushed into something you just weren’t ready for yet?”  She eyed the young priest’s cassock, a sudden thought occurring to her.  “Did you always want to be a priest, or was that your family’s idea?”

   He smiled.  “I don’t know about always, but yes, it was my choice.  Though as a third son, there was little chance I’d end up inheriting land, and my talents have always been more scholarly than martial, so I suppose it was taken as somewhat of a given I’d end up choosing the priesthood.  No family pressure, exactly, just….”  He laughed.  “I’m not sure the question of me doing something else with my life ever actually came up.”

   “But you’re happy with your choice?”

   “Quite.”

   “See, that’s what I want.  The freedom to figure out on my own, in my own time, what choice would make me happy.  And the freedom to be myself.”  She smiled sadly.  “The freedom to be Deryni, and not have to hide it from everyone.”

   “That’s not so much to ask.”  The priest’s green eyes smiled at her compassionately over the book he was rebinding.  “Have you spoken to your father about what you’re feeling?”

   Sophie rolled her eyes.  “Oh, I’ve tried.  He just pats my head and tells me not to be nervous, that all girls my age feel this way, but once I’m wed I’ll see everything’s turned out all right.  True enough, I suppose—if I don’t end up saddled with a wife-beater, or some codger old enough to be my grandfather, or some lout who only wants a brood-mare while he’s collecting playthings on the side.”  She blushed, realizing belatedly she was confiding in a priest.  “I’m sorry.”

   Nivard tilted his head at her.  “What for?”

   “That was a bit…indelicate.”

   He shook his head.  “I’ve only been a priest for a few years, but I’ve already heard enough about life’s darker side in the confessional, you’d have to work much harder than that to shock me.  You’re simply stating the harsh realities that exist in some marriages.  There’s hardly any need to apologize for that.”  He chuckled.  “And I am aware of both the basics of human reproduction and the baser aspects of human nature, so no need to shy away from those topics either.”

   “But I’m not supposed to be,” the young lady-in-waiting muttered. “I’m not supposed to worry my pretty little head over such things.”

   “Are you not?  Certainly a maiden should be innocent, but at your age, I would expect total ignorance to be just as dangerous a thing for a young woman as it is for a young man.  There is a difference between mere lack of experience and willful naiveté, you know.  You should go into a potential match with your eyes wide open.  It’s a life-changing decision.”  He studied Sophie a long moment.  “I don’t suppose you’ve felt any calling towards a religious vocation?”

   She chuckled.  “No.  That would be simpler to explain to my father, I think.  He might actually be relieved; if I were a nun, there’d be no danger of me bearing Deryni children.”  She glanced at him, adding hastily, “Not that I have any problem with having Deryni children, but my father’s so intent of keeping our bloodline a secret, he’s hidden himself behind a wife who’s a de Nore!”  

   “Hm.”  His green eyes crinkled with sudden mirth.  “You could bring Bishop Duncan’s son back to Kestrel Mote for consideration as a son-in-law.  Shall I arrange an introduction?”

   Sophie laughed.  “You’re no help!”

   “No?  Ah, well, Duke Dhugal’s loss.”

#

   Duke Dhugal, at that moment, was wandering through the Great Hall with his blood brother, trying to cajole him from the ill mood brought on by one too many Council meetings over the previous week.  “It certainly looks like Duchess Meraude and her ladies have been working hard to get the Hall ready for Christmas Revel,” he said, pointing out the latest additions to the Great Hall’s décor.

   Kelson looked up, his eyes taking in all the greenery which had appeared seemingly overnight.  “Sweet Jesú, did a forest explode in here?”

   “Oh, it’s far worse than that, Sire.  Ailidh nic Ardry happened.”  He swept an arm to point out the clumps of mistletoe tied with bright sprigs of red ribbon and scattered over all the window niches and above the center of the Hall, shaking his head in pretended sadness.  “Any squire or eligible knight who can’t get himself kissed on Christmas Night just isn’t trying hard enough.”

   Kelson’s lips twitched despite his dour mood.  “Thank you for pointing this out.  Now I’ll know the areas to avoid.”

   “Aye.  I’m your loyal man, Kel.  You have only to command it, and I’ll have my MacArdrys at every station, ready to intercept those feminine advances so you won’t have to.”

   The gray eyes slanted to meet amber ones, a reluctant twinkle beginning to form.  “Such noble sacrifice, Dhugal!  I’m truly touched.”

   “Anything to protect the consecrated Haldane lips from such ignoble assaults.”

   A laugh finally broke free as Kelson Haldane succumbed to his sense of the ridiculous.


Chapter Ten: http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=554.0
« Last Edit: January 10, 2011, 03:14:53 pm by Evie »
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline Alkari

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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 9
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2010, 08:12:53 pm »
Excellent exchange between Sophie and Nivard.   Particularly liked this remark:-
Quote
... and at your age, I would expect total ignorance to be just as dangerous a thing for a young woman as it is for a young man.  There is a difference between mere lack of experience and willful naiveté, you know.  You should go into a potential match with your eyes wide open.

And I can see the Christmas revels are going to be great fun.  Dhugal's devotion to 'protecting' his king is most admirable, though given the amount of greenery, he may need to deploy extra troops.  Though I wonder if his borderers are going to be quite as diligent in protecting him?! ;)

Offline Elkhound

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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 9
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2010, 08:59:25 pm »
I can see this fast-forwarded to our era, but for 'castle' read 'college campus'.  Put the girls in the same sorority (Delta Delta Dela--TriDelt, as in 'if your girlfriend won't, try Delt'), make the Countessa the housemother, Kelson and Dhugal co-captains of the football team. . . .

Offline kirienne

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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 9
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2010, 09:09:57 pm »
I am really enjoying this! I love the way Dhugal was able to cheer Kelson up...(I get cranky too when I have to go to many meetings at work)

Offline Evie

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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 9
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2010, 09:54:53 pm »
I can see this fast-forwarded to our era, but for 'castle' read 'college campus'.  Put the girls in the same sorority (Delta Delta Dela--TriDelt, as in 'if your girlfriend won't, try Delt'), make the Countessa the housemother, Kelson and Dhugal co-captains of the football team. . . .

Elkhound, I came this close to spewing iced tea across the table when I read this....   :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!

 


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