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Healer's Inheritance- Chapter 2- A Mother's Lessons

Started by Laurna, October 07, 2014, 04:58:07 AM

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Previous Chapter: http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php/topic,1308.0.html

985 December 23
Cynfyn Castle

Stopping before the high arched door that led to the guest rooms, Sir Washburn reached over to tap the knocker against the oak door. The black fabric of his sleeve shimmered in the torchlight, as did his eyes as he turned back to his wife to bid her adieu.  "With a fond heart, I will await our rejoining at dinner," he said, raising her hand to his lips.  "Until this evening then, my angel."  He was still holding her hand when the door opened. At its threshold stood Lady Cecilia, the Baroness Kyriell's lady-in-waiting.  Cecilia stepped back and curtseyed, allowing Jessa to enter, but Sir Washburn mischievously refused to release Jessa's hand. With a wisp of a smile, the knight's mustache rose at the corners of his lips. I miss you already, his mind whispered, charming his wife to remain where she stood.

And I you, Jessa teased. I will spend the day longing for your company, dear heart. As her mind spoke the words, her face blushed as a girl might while in courtship with a valiant knight. For indeed, though they were married these past three weeks and he had fully won her heart, her handsome husband still treated his every encounter with her as one of courting and wooing.  She thrilled at the game he played: small things such as missives of devotion on her desk, or ribbon-tied winter flowers on her pillow.  Her heart went all a-flutter at every little way this intrepid knight found to express his love.

An imparted warmth of magic tingled across her fingers as the Knight Captain bowed over her hand to take his leave. "Until then."

Jessa curtsied low yet was unwilling to duck her head, afraid to lose the sight of him if even for that moment. He laughed at that and waved her to retreat into the open room.   When her hand was finally free of his, she could not resist bringing her fingers to her face, blushing further with the remembrance of more than just his kiss on her hand.

Cecilia watched the exchange, barely tolerant of the two adults' childish display. She wasted little time in closing the door once Jessa had passed through, bringing an end to the newlyweds' playful encounter. Jessa smiled indulgently at the young noblewoman. At fourteen years old, she was just coming into her beauty. She had yet to experience the attention of admirers. It wouldn't be too long before Cecilia was enjoying her own games of romance, but for now, the lady-in-waiting thought it foolishness to see two adults outwardly portray their love. At Cecilia's gesture to wait, Jessa paused behind the entrance screen while the maiden went within to announce the arrival of the Knight Captain's wife. 

Left to herself, Jessa could not help giggling with delight. Certain that no one could physically see her hidden behind the screen, she twirled around, her heart overflowing with happiness.  Catching her balance, she tilted her head back, smiled at the ceiling and recalled her husband's pride at her success in Guiding the arrow to its mark. With a contented sigh that could be nothing less than an expression of love, Jessa opened her mind toward her mama, hoping to share her joy.  Beyond the screen, she could not sense her mother. Although she was sure her mother sat in the window embrasure, the Baroness's shields were firm, emitting no suggestion of her presence. The only person she could sense was Cecilia, who paused halfway across the room and who seemed hesitant with embarrassment. For some unknown reason, Jessa realized her invitation into the room would not be quick in coming.

Jessa was torn with an inner desire to either escape, racing back into Washburn's arms, or to run to her mother's side and learn the reason for this delay.  Her strict convent upbringing kept her where she stood. She knew Wash had tasks to complete that did not involve her hanging on his arm, and she guessed her mother would be more upset than she already seemed to be if her daughter did not at least try to value the lessons she was attempting to instill. There was precious little time before Lady Elzia would leave Castle Cynfyn.  Jessa's brother, Baron Jathurn, had announced he and his people would be leaving for their home the day after the Christmas feast.  He had reason to return to the court of Tralia before the Twelfth Night ceremony.  With just three days left, Jessa was determined to make the most of her mother's presence and to enjoy the brief interim they had left together.  And like most mothers, Lady Elzia seemed to think the time was best spent imparting knowledge to help her daughter cope in her new life. It was one such lesson that forced Jessa to wait at the entrance of the solar to the Tralians' rooms. 

And so the eighteen year old waited.  For the first time, Jessa had time to study the screen that blocked the solar from the entrance door. Its intricate inlay of rosewood and other fine woods depicting a stylized silhouette of Castle Cynfyn before Mount Cashel was an artistic masterpiece. Turning from the screen, her gaze wandered toward the adjoining sleeping rooms. This series of rooms filled out the castle's southwestern corner of the third floor, allowing all the retainers of the Baron and Dowager Baroness to stay comfortably housed. They were the most lavish in the castle, with detailed wood paneling covering the walls instead of tapestries. The decor was befitting for a king, for the Kings of Gwynedd had been known to stay here. 

It was in the brightness of the solar's latticed window embrasure, where Lady Elzia enjoyed sitting in the afternoons to renew her relationship with her daughter. Though Jessa had been at first shy, she had soon learned to trust her mama and be more forthcoming about her life in the convent. When Lady Elzia shared stories of the past, they were often more than stories of herself and her other children. She wanted to teach her daughter the knowledge she felt Jessa had missed; some things were about being Deryni, but most were about being a woman of nobility. The dowager Baroness's goal was to return her newly found daughter back to the station of her birth.  She stressed that Jessa could no longer claim a novice's demeanor, that it was of utmost importance for the newly married woman to act in accordance with her position. Her favored words were: "Propriety should always be observed," or "Adherence to the formalities will serve you best."

Despite her mother's teachings, Jessa grew fidgety while waiting. Her joy turned to concern; she began to wonder what it was that she had done to warrant this silence. She wanted to rush into the room and share the excitement of her earlier discovery, but perhaps it was these feelings that were the very cause of her delay. If so, she might be standing here all day, unless she could gain control over her outpouring of emotions.

For half of her years, she had not lived among other Deryni. Until her mother had brought it to her attention, she had not realized how apparent her emotions were to those who had the abilities to detect them. It was taking practice to keep her shields strong, particularly in the presence of those she loved. Calming her uncourtly desire to giggle and dance, Jessa reformed her composure, smoothed her gown, brushed an escaped lock of gold hair back under her veil, firmed up the shields over her mind, and then stood tall as she'd been taught was the proper way to behave while waiting for an official introduction into the presence of nobility. 

With her efforts, Jessa perceived a nod of approval from her mother, who finally allowed Cecilia to formally announce her.

"The Lady Jessamyn is here as you requested, my lady," Cecilia stated as if no time had passed at all. 

"Please ask my beloved daughter to attend me," Lady Elzia replied in proper tone.

The baroness's maiden-in-waiting returned with a curtsy to summon the Knight Captain's wife into the room. She gave Jessa a silent apology, to which Jessa responded with a reassuring clasp of her hand. Baron Jathurn had introduced Cecilia as his wife's cousin, making her a relation by marriage. She was one of the two women who had accompanied the baroness from Tralia. She was under Lady Elzia's tutelage for both chatelaine and Deryni training.

Jessa turned into the room to see her mother seated in the window's sunlight. Elzia placed her needlework in the basket near her feet. "Come to me, Cara Mia." Lady Elzia opened her hands in a welcoming gesture, as if there had been no test to make Jessa behave as a lady should.  The dowager baroness was not dressed as a princess of Tralia might. Instead, she chose the somber attire of a gown of forest green velvet with fox fur along the neck and sleeves. Her gown was becoming to the widowed wife of Baron Jacuth Kyriell, physician to the former king. Yet it hid her true status as sister to the current Hort of Orsal, which was the knowledge of but a handful of people within the Kingdom of Gwynedd.

"Come, sit beside me, and tell me how your morning has gone."  She moved with an inherent elegance and grace.  "Cecilia, please be so kind as to find us refreshments from the kitchen; Master Cairn should have made ready my earlier request."  As the young woman curtseyed and left the room, Elzia turned back to her daughter.  "You must be starved, my Jessamyn; I hear you spent your morning on the archery range?"

"Yes, mama, I did. I hope your morning has gone as well as mine." Jessa replied as she kissed her mother's cheek before she settled herself on the window seat opposite. "I do believe I am a little hungry." She sat tall and proper, but then her exuberance bubbled over her composure as she exclaimed, "I made the target today! I am enjoying archery!" Jessa beamed at the fresh memory. Her expression was so bright in the warm sunlight that her mother could not scold her over the outburst.

"Indeed, Cara Mia.  I did hear that you made your first bull's-eye." She leaned over and patted her child's knee.  "It is good that you are catching on quickly, though... I am wondering if it is almost too quickly." Her mother said this with an odd tone in her voice.

It became apparent, once again, that the baroness did not approved of this particular activity for a married woman.  Yet, the Countess Melina, the Lady of the Castle Cynfyn, had encouraged Jessa in this endeavor.  In fact, the countess had commented just the previous evening that a knight's wife should know how to draw a bow.  With those words, her mother had nothing further to say to dissuade her daughter.  Jessa was glad the protest had come to an end. For in truth, she was finding her time on the practice yard a joy; much better that, than the company of women in the galleries spectating.

After the first winter storms of early December had eased, Jessa had joined the castle residents out of doors in the galleries to watch the men train the boys in swordplay and archery.  She quickly discovered that as the men sparred on the field, so did the women who watched, only it was the weapon of words that the women used to inflict their wounds and win their bouts.  The convent had not played this game of gossip and sharp tongue, and Jessa was at a loss as to its rules.  She had not yet become the target of these women's focus.  As yet, she had not been forced to parry their words.  Instead, she watched as others defended and counterattacked words that were said in jest, yet were meant to sting.  She knew the day was not far off when she would have to stand strong against such an onslaught.  In truth, it was a game she did not wished to play, and she found herself shying back from the others.

It was her mother who saw this weakness in her and who took it upon herself to train her daughter for such defense.  She told her daughter that if she were to be the lady of her own house, then she had to act not only above such games, but she had to earn respect by standing strong as the curtain wall would stand against an onslaught.  She was never to shy away, or let women of lower status debase her with their seemingly lighthearted jests.  Jessa tried to learn.  She watched the women, as they watched the men practice, and learned how their brutal words were spoken and deflected. However, her ways from the convent had left her far too innocent to condone their cunning displays.  It was her husband who, perhaps unwittingly or perhaps purposely, had offered Jessa an escape from the galleries to join him on the archery range.  She was delighted at his offer.   Anything that placed her at his side and away from the battles within the galleries would have been a relief. 

"Too quickly?  I'm not sure what you mean," Jessa inquired.  "I've been at this three days; until today, I was slow to improve. However, I believe my tutor appeared pleased with my recent progress."  Jessa smiled at her mother, who did not return the gesture. Her mother only looked at her with disapproval. A moment of silence passed before Jessa said, "I am amazed at how much you hear within the confines of this room."  From her mother's indulgent look, she continued on with an attempt of wit to uphold her own defense.  "And as for the bull's-eye, has it also become common knowledge that my Deryni husband was at my elbow, that he coaxed the arrow into the yellow center of the target?  That it was not actually my hand that succeeded at all."  She smiled innocently, attempting a jest, not understanding the gravity that crossed her mother's face.

"Your husband is Deryni?" came her mother's sharp reply.  Jessa bristled at her mother's tone, then frowned in shame at her mother's next words.  "Good Lord, child!  Be careful what you say aloud.  You may never know who is lurking behind the curtains or around a corner over-hearing your words."  Elzia raised her eyebrows at her daughter, trying to stress her point that caution was of the utmost importance.

Fear overcame Jessa's shame.  Instantly, her gaze darted around the guest's solar.  After a moment, she realized her mother was toying with her while at the same time pointing out the errors of her comment.  "I—I did not sense anyone else here; are we not alone?"

"Until Cecilia returns, we are alone, dear girl." Her expression softened but the concern in her voice did not.  "At this moment, your words have done no harm.  However, you must learn to censor every utterance you would speak. Such words at any time could bring on the downfall of your house!" Elzia forced back a tear. "Never, Cara Mia, never say such a thing!" Her mother took a steadying breath; she had to make her daughter understand.   "Your husband's traits may be accepted and even respected here in his home, but I do not think he would welcome you saying such a thing aloud where others who might not know the truth could overhear.  Jessamyn," her mother's voice fell to a whisper, "that is how I lost your father and you twelve years ago.  Please don't ever tempt that fate again."  A tear of remembrance brushed her mother's cheek and Jessa was ashamed of the horror her lapse had provoked.

A long silence passed before the baroness gathered her composure.  "Discretion. In everything you do and say, you must use discretion!  Especially in the use of the ability that you gleaned from your archery lesson today.  You must hear this from me, it will help you keep your secret, and if the Knight Captain would reinforce my concern, than all the better that you shall heed it.  First, if you intend to continue in this sport, then you need to learn the art of archery without the enhanced Guidance that you just discovered.  Improve your skill.  Then when you do use your abilities, use them as often to miss the target as you do to hit it.  Trust me; learning to deflect a projectile is more important than shooting one, at least for women defending their home.  And whatever you do, Cara Mia, don't close your eyes when you shoot.  That action alone could cause others to discover who you are."

Jessa stared at her mother in shock.  "How did you know that?"

"As I have said before, there is a strong network of information already in place in this community. A woman who you may know, but not truly know, recognized what you did.  She told Cecilia to give you warning.  By her account, no one else saw that closely, but you never know what this hive of busy bees will see."  Her mother was stern. She watched her daughter intently, waiting for her to understand her full responsibilities.

Jessa took in a deep breath and exhaled a bit too loudly.  She studied her fingers, rubbing the blisters that had formed once more from pulling on the bowstring.  Unlike the day before, this time she did not heal the blemishes.  She stared at them absently, wondering if she should show them off instead.  "I did not realize how closely others were scrutinizing my every action."  Exasperated with the knowledge that others watched her so closely, she realized the annoying little pains on her fingers were one more thing that she had to contend with in her caution.  Healing them was too much of a giveaway.  "It seems to me that winter time offers little in the way of distractions; gossip is too much of an enjoyment.  I had thought that after many weeks, people would have become bored with prying into my life. Certainly there must be other people more interesting than me?"  She looked across at her mother, wondering why it was that no one was gossiping about the baroness.

Lady Elzia features softened into a smile at her daughter's expression.  "Dearest Jessamyn, I am an old woman who keeps a low profile; you, on the other hand, are young, vibrant, and beautiful.  Women love to talk, and at the moment, they particularly love talking about you.  You are the most interesting thing that has come into these halls in a long time.  Not only did you arrive as a poor convent novice who attended their knights after battle and then their heir's birth, somehow you managed to win the love of their celebrated hero, the man who, I have no doubt, was the dream of every maiden in Lendour.  Of course, they are prying into your life. They want to know you better than you know yourself.  It may have been easy for you to hide in the convent— to them, you were just a simple novice. But here, Cara Mia, here you are at the center of their world." 

When the young woman shook her head, not truly able to comprehend the importance of her new position, her mother's expression warmed.  "It is all well, my beloved. This society of Lendour is not so very complicated that you will not master it in short time.  The best thing you can do is join in the hive, be less separated from them. Give them a part of yourself that you want for them to see.  I have watched you; you earn the respect of those you let near. It is time you became a part of the whole of this castle. Take your lead from the countess. She is a gracious lady; let her be your guide.  Above all, present yourself in a manner that will withstand scrutiny."

"So I thought I was," the young woman whispered to herself with a dour expression.  "I'm sorry, mama. I did not realize..."

"I wish....  Oh, how I wish...." Her mother patted the cushion at her side, bidding her daughter to move closer. "The convent is a poor substitute for a mother's love.  It is I who have failed you, my child. I should have found you, I should have known— for that, I am so sorry."

Jessa moved over. "Mama, you have no blame, none whatsoever."  With a slight tremor in her fingers she grasped her mother's hand. "You lost your husband and believed you lost a daughter too.  I was too distraught to realize how badly I had misread my rescuer's thoughts; I believed I had lost my whole family...  It is I who should have...."  Jessa fell silent. She withheld the tears.  No amount of wishing could change the past.

But the tears fell down her mother's cheeks. Elzia's voice caught in her throat.  She embraced her daughter, desperately wanting to make up for the past.  "Our time together is too short. There are so many things I want to teach you.  Come to me this summer, please, would you come to Orsalis?  Our island is a perfect place to escape the heat and humidity.  I would very much like Sir Washburn to bring you there, you can both be my guests for a while.  He wouldn't mind, would he, if I asked this of him?"

Jessa sat up straighter.  "I would like that.  However, I cannot speak for my husband.  His obligations are to the earl and to the King.  We would not be able to make such plans until the events of the coming spring are better known."

"I understand."  Lady Elzia kissed her daughter's cheek, held her tight once more, than let her go. She stood, brushed out her gown, and crossed to the decanter of wine on a nearby table.  She poured two goblets.  "Let us hope for peace," she said as she returned holding one cup out for her daughter.  "I am glad Torenth was defeated by your king.  Last summer, we had both the threat of marauders sailing across from the west and Torenth's army marching down from the north. Our prince had us gearing for war.  After the burning of Grecotha, the Torenthi at our borders acted as though they had Gwynedd conquered. They were turning their eyes to the river deltas and to Tralia.  If your King Jasher had not pushed them back to Rengarth, then they would have taken Coroth and Orsalis.  Torenth makes no secret of its desire to gain one, if not both of those harbors. It would open their trade routes that currently require clearance from our ports. Tralia's army is small compared to the might of Torenth.  With our fleet being harassed by ships from the west, our resources were split and that put Tralia in a very bad position.  Thank the Lord for men like Sir Washburn who led the victory at Rengarth, Torenth's plans to move south were destroyed before they'd begun."

Jessa's features lifted and gained color at the praise her mother gave her husband.  Though Jessa's actions rarely pleased her mother, her choice in a husband seemed a point of pride that the baroness did not hide.  The Knight Captain of the Lendour army was a man of good reputation, apparently even in the lands east of Gwynedd.  Jessa remembered the trepidation she had felt in the days after she had sent off her life memories in the coins to Tralia.  She had been so uncertain then. Would her mother even accept her as her daughter, and would she accept Sir Washburn as her daughter's betrothed? "He is the best of men," Jessa said with a smile warming her expression.  "That you approve of him pleases me greatly."

The door opened, and Cecilia entered with two servants carrying trays laden with food. The table at the center of the room was quickly set with platters of meat rolls, cheeses and bread; garnishes of buttered onions and olives were on the side.

"Ah, good, there is enough for all. I have a surprise for both you girls." The baroness gestured for Cecilia to join them.  "As you're aware, Lendour plans a great feast in two days, with dancing and food the likes of which neither of you may have seen before. Eat what you like to dull your hunger," she gestured toward the food, "but be sparing. For this afternoon, I have asked Troubadour Harlo and Dance Master Lannis to join us, along with some younger ladies here at the castle. I think a little rehearsal on the newest dance would be welcome. Wouldn't you agree?" The two girls shared a giggle. The baroness was done with her lessons of the day. She only wished to spend her remaining time with her daughter in happier pursuits. Dancing seemed a joyous sport, proper for the young women of nobility, far more so than archery, Jessa mused.

P.S. Thank you, Evie!

Next Chapter: http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php/topic,1316.0.html
May your horses have wings and fly!


Ah yes. So easy in a state of extreme happiness to forget the dangers of betrayal for Deryni (and perhaps Washburn as much as Jessa!)

I think it would be easier to master archery than cope with the castle ladies, but the Dowager Baroness is right - Jessa can't continue to avoid the women.   Like it or not, they will be a part of her daily life going forward and she will need their support and respect.  That would be a tall order even if she had grown up at her mother's side and properly trained for the task.   I suspect this won't be easy, will it Laurna?   ;)
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany


Good morning, Jerusha! Good morning every one else who has taken the time to push through this chapter.
I will admit that this a tough chapter to get through. The mother-daughter relationship is important to me. It is loving, but complicated. How does a mother except that her daughter whom she thought lost as a child is no longer that child, but an adult. (A concept that many mothers never truly accept.) And how does the young adult quickly learn all the knowledge that it took her peers all their teen years to grasp. The learning is the journey and I always love a  journey. I just hope this turns out to be a good one. Fingers crossed.

Have a great day, everyone.
May your horses have wings and fly!


So many lessons to learn, and yet so little time before Mama returns to her home!

P.S.  You're welcome.  ;)
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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


Quote from: Laurna on October 07, 2014, 02:07:49 PM

I will admit that this a tough chapter to get through.

I thought it was rather enjoyable. Perhaps the process of writing it was tough (says the woman who is currently avoiding a difficult passage of her own:), but the end result was well worth it.  :)

Looking forward to more!
"Loss and possession, death and life are one, There falls no shadow where there shines no sun."

Hilaire Belloc


Aeryls, you're good to me,  I appreciate it. I do not have anyone other than this group to bounce my ideas off of. So I am never really sure.
The next chapter is getting ready, I am looking forward to posting it.

Evie, Just to let you know, I am having fun with the edits. So many comments are priceless. (And embarrassing, but funny).
May your horses have wings and fly!


Quote from: Laurna on October 09, 2014, 01:51:17 PM
I do not have anyone other than this group to bounce my ideas off of. So I am never really sure.

Tell me about it! DH is not much or this sort of thing, and my kids think I'm nuts. I've decided to plow through my difficult passages and submit them to criticism so I can bounce ideas around with others here and GET THE STUPID THING DONE!

Your mother-daughter relationship here is touching, and comes from the heart, and so, in turn, speaks to ours.
"Loss and possession, death and life are one, There falls no shadow where there shines no sun."

Hilaire Belloc