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The Making of a Queen:Eirian's Journey. Chapter 2

Started by DerynifanK, July 13, 2020, 09:12:21 AM

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DerynifanK

Link to previous chapter: https://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php/topic,2611.0.html

The Making of a Queen: Eirian's Journey

                                                     Prologue: Promises

Rhemuth Castle
November 14, 1128

Duchess Meraude hugged her warm robe close around her as she slipped through the dim corridors of Rhemuth Castle, lit by only an occasional torch. It was quiet, most people were sleeping after the earlier festivities celebrating the natal day of her nephew, the king. She reached the door to the nursery and eased it open. It too was quiet, the only light provided by the banked fire in the fireplace on the far wall. She hesitated, waiting to see if anyone had been roused by her entry. It remained quiet, no one stirred or spoke. She moved quietly over to the bed shared by her daughter and granddaughter. Amelia lay on her back with her arms flung out while Eirian was curled up on her side with one hand under her cheek. Covers had slipped to the side and were hanging partially off the bed leaving Eirian only partially covered. Meraude gently straightened the covers, making sure that both children lay snugly under warm covers.

Meraude looked down at her sleeping little daughter and thought back to earlier events. Great preparations were made to celebrate the natal day of her nephew, King Kelson. In addition to family, members of his council, and many of the great lords of Gwynedd, they were to host the young king of Torenth, Liam Lajos and his closest advisor, Duke Matyas. They would celebrate not only the king's birthday but also the lasting peace that was being built between Gwynedd and Torenth.

Following last summer's weddings, the titles that had been awarded and the shifts in alliances that resulted, there was much to be considered. There had been many discussions of the best ways to achieve the much desired peace. Intermarriage between the Houses of Haldane and Furstan had been high on the list of possible strategies. Meraude remembered Jehana's comments when she had mentioned her hopes for a daughter after having three boys. The Queen had been discouraging, recounting the fate that all too often fell to girls of the nobility who became political pawns in royal marriages. She had hoped that might not be true for  Eirian, but now she was afraid that achievement of the much desired peace might require it. She returned to her chamber and lay down in her bed. She gazed out the window at the snow falling softly outside and tears trickled down her face.

[center*****center]

Meraude had been fully occupied in assisting Kelson's young queen with the preparations for the festivities. She had been surprised when a page informed her that the king requested her presence in his withdrawing room. She acknowledged the message and told the page she would be there as soon as she finished checking the list she was holding with Lord Rhodri.

When she reached the withdrawing room, she knocked softly.

"Enter" came the King's response. She entered and curtsied deeply. When she rose, she saw the king and queen, her husband, Duke Nigel, and the Duke and Duchess of Corwyn gathered near the fire. Nigel stepped forward to escort her to a seat next to his. She felt puzzled. What could be the purpose of this meeting ? What had come up that required what amounted to a mini council meeting in the middle of the preparations for the feast? And why had she been summoned. She was not a council member or close advisor to the king except on matters of running the castle.

The others took their seats while Kelson moved to stand facing them his back to the fire. He swept those gathered before him with his grey eyes. Whatever it was, Meraude thought, it must be serious. She hoped nothing was wrong, that there were no new martial threats to the kingdom.

The king began. "As you are all aware, a main goal of my rule is to strengthen ties, political, economic and emotional,  with the kingdom of Torenth and lessen or eliminate the likelihood of more war between our kingdoms. There have been all too many invasions and wars, resulting in the loss of too many of our young men. There is not a noble family in either kingdom that has not been touched by these ongoing conflicts as some rulers have tried to enforce what they see as their rights to the thrones and lands of other kingdoms."

Kelson continued. "I have long felt that a major cause of these repeated conflicts has been a failure of understanding between our peoples, and I have studied to determine how to promote better understanding. I have come to believe that the practice of dynastic marriage is a  policy that can best promote strategic diplomacy between our kingdoms. My marriage with the Princess Sidana was intended to produce an heir of both Haldane and Quinnell blood who would be accepted by both sides and stop the cycles of uprisings and violence. Although our union had no chance due to the hate perpetuated by the Mearan pretender, I believe this practice can result in transfer of culture and influence between our kingdoms that will bring a halt to destructive cycles of war, conquest, and revolt."

"I am proposing intermarriage between our houses as a means to further peace and understanding. I have had preliminary discussions with both Liam and Matyas around this, and we agree that such a policy might be able to achieve what repeated conflicts have not; peace, stability, and prosperity for both our kingdoms."

"Uncle Nigel and Aunt Meraude, I have called you here because my proposal involves your family. As you know, candidates of equal rank for such unions are limited on both sides. At the feast, I am planning to announce an affiliation between our families. I am hoping that marriages between your children, my cousins, and Liam and his sister will cement our unity. I am proposing that Prince Payne intermarry with Liam's sister, the Princess Stanisha, when she reaches her majority. In addition, I am proposing that Princess Eirian intermarry with King Liam, becoming the Queen of Torenth, when she reaches her majority." A small gasp escaped Merudde's lips. "Uncle Nigel, you and I have talked of this possibility although I did not at that time have a definite proposal. Aunt Meraude, I know this is a bit of a shock to you, but I have ideas that I think will make this idea more reassuring to you. You must know that I would never do anything to harm either Payne or Eirian. Your children will have the opportunity to make a significant difference for both our kingdoms and, I hope, find happiness in their marriages."

At first, no one made any response. Then Nigel spoke, "Sire, we all wish to do whatever we can to assist you in your endeavor to establish relationships between our kingdoms that can withstand any efforts to undermine them by those like Teymuraz who work to advance their own advancement no matter the cost to others. But there are concerns. Eirian is so young, she will not reach her majority for another 10 years. Even if Liam himself is willing to wait, will his nobles and his people be willing to wait so long for an heir? Your council was not happy that it took you seven years to choose a bride".

Alaric commented, "They felt that an unmarried king with no heir of his body contributed to instability in the kingdom and made it more vulnerable to overthrow. Even though Nigel was your heir and he had sons, they did not have the same feeling of safety that a secure succession provides."

Kelson nodded. "I understand that concern but Liam has one thing I did not have. He has an heir, his brother Ronal, who will reach his majority in four years. Liam and Matyas are making plans to prepare him. They are currently working to help him recover from his mother's death and the abuse he experienced under Mahael. They then intend to send him to squire under Nigel as Liam himself did. He felt that experience was invaluable to him, and he wishes Ronal to have a similar one. Ronal, at some point, might fill a role for Liam similar to that filled by Nigel in my court."

Meraude had remained silent during the discussion. She now looked at the king. "Sire, we all desire peace and better relations with Torenth, but we also know the history of the Torenthi court. I am afraid to have my daughter there, trying to cope with the hot bed of intrigue that it has always been.  Think about what happened to Alroy, Liam's brother. Many say it was no accident but caused by Mahael. And there is what happened to Morag, a highly trained Deryni who should have been able to defend herself. Eirian is not Deryni, how can she defend herself against the calculations of Torenthis who are plotting to seize power for themselves as they have a long history of doing?"

"I understand your concerns," said Kelson, "and I do have ideas to address those concerns. Uncle Nigel, you have spoken of the number of years until Eirian reaches her majority, There are advantages in that. Liam will be able to focus on establishing his rule and gaining the loyalty and devotion of his people. As he has said, after four years away from his kingdom, he has much to learn and much work to do. It will be to the advantage of all if he can focus on these tasks."

"We will have time to prepare Eirian for her destiny. She knows Liam from his time here, and there is already affection between them. It is not the same as leaving her home to travel to a foreign land to marry a man she does not know. And we will make sure that they have time together to build on  their ties of affection." Kelson studied his aunt and uncle. "You will be part of our plans as we prepare your daughter to become Liam's queen and be accepted by the Torenthi people."

Queen Araxie spoke. "All young women of the nobility know and accept that an arranged marriage is a part of their future.  I first agreed to betrothal to Kelson from a sense of duty, knowing he loved another but marriage to her was politically impossible. I had not seen him since we were small children. But the time we spent together before our marriage allowed us to build on that childhood affection and to find acceptance of our future."

Duchess Richenda added. "My first marriage was also arranged by my parents for reasons other than affection. I barely knew him but I understood my parents' decision and respected it. There are many ways to make such marriages less burdensome and more satisfying for those concerned."

Araxie added. "Richenda and I have already discussed some ideas to ensure that Eirian will be ready to fulfill her roles as Liam's consort and his wife. We promise that we will do everything in our power to support her and help her learn what she will need to know."

Meraude responded. "I understand what you are saying. I know that I was very fortunate to be able to marry a man that I loved, but I know that is not what usually happens. And Liam is a fine young man and I am very fond of him. It is the Torenthi Court that terrifies me. I trust Matyas but their history does not inspire confidence."

Kelson responded. "Liam and Matyas are working to create a new rule that is fair and just. And the council that Matyas selected is in agreement with Liam's goals and the changes he is proposing. We will support them in every way we are able. Building better relationships with neighboring kingdoms is part of that effort. Bear in mind that there will be time for  preparations and adjustments to be made. But these ties we are developing are a vital part of achieving these goals. Both Liam and I share a goal, with our joint efforts directed to its achievement.  No more Killingfords!"

With that declaration, Kelson dissolved the meeting. All those present knew that the commitment had been made. Duchess Meraude curtsied as she left the withdrawing room. They would all continue to seek to reassure her that all provision would be made to ensure the safety and happiness of her children

Link to next chapter : https://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php/topic,2616.msg24423.html#msg24423
"Thanks be to God there are still, as there always have been and always will be, more good men than evil in this world, and their cause will prevail." Brother Cadfael's Penance

Jerusha

Poor Meraude.  It's clear that the decision has been made in spite of her concerns.  Such is the life of royal brides and mothers. 
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Laurna

I too feel for Mauraude. Her tears that evening are very understandable.  And so Eirian's future has been made. But I see ten years that will need to be traveresed. I am keenly interested in what stories lie ahead.
Thank you DFK. Again I had missed when this story was posted. I am so glad that I saw it today. I am so glad we have another fan fiction writer on the board.
May your horses have wings and fly!

DerynifanK

#3
Thank you for the kind comments. Indeed there are a number of adventures and happenings I have in mind between the announcement on Kelson's birthday and the wedding of Eirian and Liam and the crowning of a new queen in Torenth. Hope it will be fun for all.
"Thanks be to God there are still, as there always have been and always will be, more good men than evil in this world, and their cause will prevail." Brother Cadfael's Penance

DoctorM


revanne

So enjoying this DfK and I'm delighted that you have joined the fan fic writers. What a interesting topic, and looking forward to what follows.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
(Psalm 46 v1)