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Author Topic: Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 11  (Read 3140 times)

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Offline Evie

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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 11
« on: July 09, 2010, 10:02:50 am »
Chapter Eleven


   The twelve days of Christmas seemed to speed by in a whirlwind of activity, feasting, and visits with family and friends long unseen.  Alienora, much to Sophie’s relief, preferred to remain in the de Varnays' private apartment for the most part, although she had much to say about its small size, its inconvenient location, and its close proximity to the quarters of some other families Sophie’s stepmother deemed, for one reason or another, unsuitable.  At one point, the Contessa had graciously invited Alienora to accompany her for a visit to Duchess Meraude’s solar, but even that hadn’t satisfied, once Alienora had realized that the wife of the evil Deryni Duke of Corwyn was also a welcome guest in the Royal Apartments.  Thankfully, she’d at least had the good sense not to voice her displeasure to Duchess Meraude directly, although the de Varnay family certainly caught an earful later that afternoon.

   “I cannot imagine what the young King is thinking, allowing such riffraff in his Court!  Though he’s young yet, and there’s hope he’ll outgrow their influence. “  She eyed Sophie speculatively.  “A good woman might bring him around, although I suppose you’re too busy chasing after humble young knights with few prospects, like that Arilan fellow.”  She snorted.  “You've no ambition at all.”

   “None,” Sophie had cheerfully agreed, thoroughly fed up.  “Why, look how low the sun is in the sky!  I must be off; I’ve promised to meet the other girls for feast tonight.”

   “You cannot possibly venture downstairs unchaperoned, Sophronia!”

   “Oh, I shan’t.  Stefan will escort me, won’t you, brother?”   She smiled winsomely at her brother, who chuckled.

   “Right gladly.”  I’ve had enough of her for one day also.
#

   A few minutes later, after Sophie had changed into another gown that even Alienora grudgingly had to admit looked quite lovely on her (despite another jibe about Sophie’s “queer-colored” eyes), the two younger de Varnays headed downstairs towards the Great Hall.

   “And what, may I ask, is so ‘queer’ about my eyes?” Sophie asked hotly once the two were out of earshot.

   Stefan chuckled.  “Absolutely nothing.  She just says that to annoy you.  In case you haven’t figured it out yet, she’s quite jealous of you.”

   “Of me?  Why?”

   He grinned.  “Well, when Father brought her home to Kestrel Mote, I suspect he forgot to mention that she’d be inheriting a step-daughter only eight years younger, not to mention prettier.”

   “But…that’s ridiculous!  Alienora—”

   “Yes, I know. She looks like a storybook princess.  And, given sufficient motivation—which, granted, she’s not had since she managed to ensnare our father—she can even behave like a storybook princess.  But she’s spoiled, not used to sharing attention, and certainly wasn’t expecting Father to have another ‘pet princess’ on hand.  And besides that,” he added with a wry smile, “she probably suspects you have our mother’s eyes.”

   “So do you!” Sophie fumed, turning to study her brother.  “They’re just hazel.  Greener around the edges, more golden near the center.  So what?”

   “I’m a man, not the ‘competition.’  And it’s got you bothered now, which is exactly what Alienora wants.  Don’t let her get to you so.”  He grinned.  “So, tell me about Arilan, and why he’s hanging around my baby sister.”

   She blushed.  “There’s nothing really to tell.  I’d only met him twice before the evening you arrived, and the first time, I didn’t even get his name.  He was only being courteous.  He found out I was worried because you hadn’t shown up yet, and so he offered to help.  That’s it!”

   “Umhm.”

   “Really!  You could probably tell me a lot more about him; weren’t you squires together?”

   “We were.  Hm.  Seisyll Arilan.”  He smiled.  “He’s a quiet sort, though easy enough to get going if you get him on the right topic.  Dry sense of humor, tends to like to stay on the outside of a crowd and just watch the action, but if you can get him to share what he’s thinking about it, his impressions are dead-on and often fall-over-laughing funny.  His father died when he was quite young, so he’s had a lot of responsibility to grow into, but as far as I’ve ever heard, he shoulders it well.  He’s got two younger sisters and a younger brother he looks after.”  Stefan grinned.  “He might look after the sisters a bit too well.  God knows I’d be scared to court them!”

   “In other words, you’ve already tried.”

   “Well….not ‘court’, exactly.”  Stefan quipped, looking quite unrepentant.  “He throws a mean right cross.”

   Sophie rolled her eyes at her brother.  “Enough about your misspent youth.  Tell me about his.”   

   Stefan laughed.  “Oh, if Arilan had one, he was extremely discreet about it.  Mind, he’s got as much of an eye for a pretty lass as the next man, but he’s not one to be courting a new one every other month.  Or anything less honorable, so far as I know.”  He slanted a thoughtful look at his sister.  “Then again, they say it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for.”

#

   They joined Sophie’s sister ladies-in-waiting for that night’s feast, Stefan occupying a place of honor between blonde and redhead, with his sister and their chaperone sitting across the table from them, exchanging occasional wry smiles with each other as Sophie’s brother amused his meal companions with one anecdote after another about his days as a squire in Rhemuth’s Court.  Finally, spotting an old friend of his across the Hall, he excused himself to renew their acquaintance.

   “He's very charming,” Celsie said, smiling at Sophie.

   “Yes.  And also unmarried, close to your age, and Deryni,” the Contessa teased.

   Celsie laughed.  “Oh, I suppose he is, but I'm not interested in him like that!”  She sighed dreamily.  “I...have other hopes.”

   Constanza sighed inwardly, knowing exactly what those hopes were, and also knowing how unlikely they were to ever come to anything.  “Well, what about you, Ailidh dear?”

   Ailidh rolled her eyes.  “I'm off men, remember? But....” She caught Sophie's gaze and grinned.  “I do have to admit, he's almost enough to make me reconsider.  Then sanity returns.”

   “Oh?” Sophie teased.  “How can it return when you never had any to begin with?”

   Ailidh made as if she were about to catapult a pea across the table at Sophie with her spoon, but catching the Contessa's eye, she subsided.

#

   Soon the feast was over and the tables put away, the hall being cleared for dancing and other revelry.

“Oh, there you are!”  Celsie appeared at Sophie's side, looping her arm around Sophie's.  “You have to come.  Ailidh's met up with a few of her Transha kinsmen, and they've got a tall tale contest going.”  She giggled.  “I could listen to border men talk all day.”

   Sophie allowed herself to be led to a corner of the Great Hall, where she soon found herself standing at the edge of a boisterous group of men wearing Transha colors.

   “An' sae there wasnae any help for it, we hadtae swim th' twenty miles tae get there afore daybreak...” one young Border knight was saying, a twinkle in his whiskey-colored eyes.

   “Twenty miles?  Is tha' all, Jass?”  Ciard O Ruane hooted in derision.  “Ye young lads, ye're a soft lot, is what ye are.”

   “Tha's no' what th' last lassie Jass courted said,” another helpfully supplied, although he was thanked for his dubious support by a surreptitious kick.

   “Ladies present,” Sir Jass reminded the errant man-at-arms with a suppressed grin.  “So, where was I?  Aye, we were swimmin' across th' Gulf o' Kheldour....”

   “In full armor,” another MacArdry chimed in.

   “Aye, in full armor....”

   Ailidh caught Sophie's eye and grinned, edging over to stand by her other side.  “You think they're full of it now, just wait until they're in their cups!”  Behind them, the musicians began tuning their instruments.  The Border girl's eyes lit up.  “Sounds like they're getting ready for the dancing to begin.”

   “So, do you dance Lowlander style yet?” a voice behind Ailidh asked.  She turned to find Dhugal grinning down at her.

   “Aye, I can hold my own,” she replied, tilting her head in challenge.

   “We'll see about that.  Save me one, then.”  He grinned, clapping her on the back, and moved on, greeting some of his fellow Borderers and calling out a few good-natured jibes about the boasting tale still in progress before moving down the Hall to mingle briefly with a few Cassani and Kierney men standing there.

   Ooh, dancing with a Duke! Sophie teased.

   It's just Dhugal, she got back, though Ailidh's color was higher than normal and, Sophie realized with a start, something in her expression seemed oddly vulnerable at that moment.   The mood passed almost in an instant, though, and soon the Border girl was tapping her foot to the melody the musicians had struck up.

   The contest wound down, Sir Jass being declared the winner.  He was hoisted, laughing, onto the shoulders of several Transha men as the bystanders laughed, moving out of their way so the victor could be marched around the Hall despite his protests.  

    Celsie giggled helplessly.  “I imagine you must have had loads of fun in Transha as a young girl,” she told Ailidh.

   “Aye,” Ailidh agreed softly.  “It was fun.”  The momentary melancholy returned briefly, though it was just as quickly dispelled when the Transha men returned, finally relinquishing their load...or, rather, dumping it quite abruptly at Ailidh's feet.

   “And what am I supposed to do wi' this braggart, I'd like tae know?” she asked, hands on hips as she looked at the laughing man sprawled at her feet, lapsing slightly into her former Borderer brogue in the presence of the familiar faces from her childhood.

   “I could make a few suggestions, lassie, but ye've turned all prim an' proper now,” Sir Jass teased.  “So if ye'd just offer me a hand up, I'd be grateful.”

   “Aye.  Because ye can swim the Gulf o' Keldour in full armor, but ye cannae get off th' floor wi'out a lass tae help,” Ailidh retorted.  She reached down to help Jass back to his feet.  

   “I could quiet that sharp tongue if ye'd only move about three feet tae yer left,” the Transha knight joked, glancing upwards with mischief in his eyes.

   “Under th' mistletoe?  Dream on, Jass.”  Still, she smiled faintly as he stood.  “I've had my fill o' mistletoe for th' rest o' my life!”

   He laughed.  “Aye.  So I heard.”  The whiskey-colored eyes crinkled slightly at the corners.  “Ye shouldhae heard Dhugal goin' on about yer 'orgy bush.'  I wouldnae think ye'd need tae bring back tha' much incentive, Ailidh mo nighean; ye've grown up right bonny.”

   “Thank you,” Ailidh said, though the oddly shadowed look had returned.  

   Is something the matter with Ailidh tonight?
 Sophie mindspoke to Celsie.

   With Ailidh?  Not that I know of.  Why?

   She just...doesn't seem quite herself.

   Oh?  I'd not noticed. Maybe she's just tired?  We've had a busy couple of weeks, after all.


   Sophie frowned.  Maybe, she thought back, still unconvinced.


Chapter Twelve: http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=556.0
« Last Edit: January 10, 2011, 03:17:25 pm by Evie »
"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 Alkari

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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 11
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2010, 02:46:54 pm »
Ah, poor Ailidh, with her history.   But I like Sir Jass.   The brother/sister relationship[ between Sophie and Stephan is coming along nicely too.  Quite an interesting young man, is Stephan ;)

Quote
I suppose you’re too busy chasing after humble young knights with few prospects, like that Arilan fellow.”  She snorted.  “You've no ambition at all.”
   Hmmm - and here was I thinking that Seisyll Arilan sounded a most excellent prospect.  Yes indeed, the quiet ones of both sexes are those you may have to watch out for ..

Offline Evie

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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 11
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2010, 03:15:03 pm »
Ah, poor Ailidh, with her history.   But I like Sir Jass.   The brother/sister relationship[ between Sophie and Stephan is coming along nicely too.  Quite an interesting young man, is Stephan ;)

I'm glad you like Jass, since he'll get significantly more screen time in Chapter Thirteen....   :D  And I'm quite fond of Stefan too.  He enjoys standing in the wings of my imagination, making dry comments along with Seisyll....    ;D

Quote
Quote
I suppose you’re too busy chasing after humble young knights with few prospects, like that Arilan fellow.”  She snorted.  “You've no ambition at all.”
  Hmmm - and here was I thinking that Seisyll Arilan sounded a most excellent prospect.  Yes indeed, the quiet ones of both sexes are those you may have to watch out for ..

Well, for Sophie he certainly is a most excellent prospect!  Sir Ranulf has no complaints.  It's just Alienora who has her heart set on the social status being step-mother to a Queen would bring, and let's face it, Seisyll's surname isn't Haldane.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2010, 03:17:01 pm by Evie »
"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 Alkari

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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 11
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2010, 04:13:13 pm »
Alienora and Oksana Ramsay sound like soul-sisters!! 

Offline Elkhound

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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 11
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2010, 08:55:32 pm »
The wicked stepmother needs a good slapping down.

Offline Evie

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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 11
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2010, 09:49:33 pm »
Now, now, Elkhound, you know Alienora just hasn't been the same since that house fell on her sister....

*cue Winged Monkeys music*
"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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