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The Secret Son -- Part One

Started by Evie, January 30, 2022, 02:02:55 PM

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Evie

The Secret Son




Dedicated to the memory of
Sharon Henderson/JastaElf,
who also loved our blue-eyed bishop.
May you rest in peace and rise in glory.



Part One

January 3, 1108, dawn
Transha Castle Keep
Lady Maryse's bedchamber



"Ane more push, m'lady!"

Maryse MacArdry (though secretly now a McLain) clung tightly to her sister's hand as she summoned up her remaining strength to comply with the midwife's instruction. She had been laboring since early the night before, and now the sunlight was streaming through the slit between shuttered windows.  What time was it? She'd long since lost track of the passage of time, able to measure it only in heartbeats and the waves of unrelenting pain that had marked the last few hours of her long ordeal.

She was dimly aware of a loud wail then, and a flurry of activity as the midwife tended to the newborn babe, but at that moment she was only conscious of her sister's eyes, large and mossy green in her pale face. "Yvette?" she whispered as the hand that held hers squeezed back.

The eyes glanced at something in the distance, tears dampening them and threatening to spill over freckled cheeks, though the trembling smile beneath those dear eyes marked them as happy tears. "He's a boy, Maryse! Ye've go' a son!"

Maryse returned a tremulous smile of her own before lifting her head to see for herself. She felt her sister's hand slip beneath her head to assist even as the effort nearly made her fall back onto her pillow. He was red, squirmy, and squalling loudly as the midwife hastily cleaned him up and swaddled him in clean linen.

"Healthy lungs on 'im, m'lady, 'n a right fair boy he is," Midwife Lannie told the new mother as she approached the bed. "Hae ye gi'en thought t' a name yet?"

She had wanted to name him for his father, but Maryse knew the timing wasn't right yet. Might never be right, as far as Cauley MacArdry and his infamous temper was concerned.  She sighed quietly. She had a son, and yet until the heated emotions between the MacArdrys and the McLains cooled down, it was not even safe for her to claim him as such outside of these chamber walls.

"Dhugal." It was the first male name to enter her mind that began with a D.  D for Duncan. It would have to do, under the circumstances, and if there was no MacArdry relative with that name to claim as a namesake, neither did Maryse know of any McLains bearing the name, so at least it shouldn't be a cause for her Da to suspect his true parentage.

Lannie's eyebrows rose slightly, but she made no comment on the name as she laid the swaddled infant on his mother's breast. "He's a braw laddie, an' right hungry after a' his efforts tae enter th' world, nae doobt!"

Maryse glanced at her sister. If they were to pass this second newborn off as their new baby sister's twin, wouldn't it be more advisable for Ma to suckle both babes, so enough milk for both would start to come in? They had discussed this before, and Maryse had been resigned to the need to start binding her breasts once the babe was born, to dry up the milk she shouldn't have had in the first place, as the unwed young maiden everyone else outside these walls still presumed that she was. But the midwife, also understanding their predicament, gave her an understanding smile. "Yer Ma is fair shattered frae Caldreana's birth. Let 'er sleep. She'll need a' her energy soon enow, wi' the rearin' o' twa weans at 'er age. It'll do ye no harm to suckle him this oncet, and wi' help ye bond w' the bairn after a' yer hard work of pushin' him intae th' world."

She felt the sudden moist pull of a greedy little mouth making the decision for her. Despite her exhaustion, Maryse laughed, lifting a finger to stroke the auburn hair atop the tiny head in wonder. Glancing up at Yvette again, Maryse told her, "He looks more yer bairn than mine own, wi' a' this red fluff!"

"Young Dhugal'll blend in wi' the rest o' th' wee MacArdrys, tha's f'r sure," Yvette agreed, looking relieved. "I reckon ye hoped he'd favor his Da more, but 'tis best this way, methinks."

Some of the laughter faded from Maryse's eyes.  "Aye."

Oh Duncan, where are ye now? Never hae I needed a husband more.  Maryse closed her eyes, doing her best not to cry.  Neither of them, in their haste to wed before they were parted, ever foresaw anything like this happening. How had it all ended up this way?

#

June 28, 1107 – afternoon
The courtyard garden
Transha Castle


"Walk wi' me tae th' market?" Maryse asked her younger sister as they sat outside enjoying the summer sunshine. "I've got a fair cravin' for one o' Master Simkin's berry pies."

"Ye'll get nae quarrel frae me on splittin' a berry pie," Yvette said with a laugh as she lifted her thick mass of dark auburn hair off the nape of her neck to enjoy the cooling summer breeze wafting in from the nearby sea. Letting her hair spill back over her shoulders, the girl stood, offering Maryse a hand up from the ground before a stricken look crossed her freckled features. "Oh dear...."

"Wha's wrong?" Maryse asked.

"Oh, nowt. I think me courses hae started. Me belly was crampin' fierce this morn, but it went awa', sae I thought mebbe I was wrong, but noo I think I wasnae. Why were we in sic a hurry tae grow up, I'd like tae ken?" Yvette laughed. "Tis all a lot o' mess an' bother, bein' a woman!" She sighed. "I'd best change me linen an' gird mesel' wi' a rag, then we can set off tae market." She turned her back to her sister. "Is there owt showin' through me skirts?"

Maryse gave Yvette's clothing a swift inspection. "Nay, nae stainin'. An' tha' mulberry color would do a fair job o' hidin' any tha' might leak through.  Still, gae on, I'll wait."

Yvette left, and Maryse did a quick, panicked mental count. How long had it been since she'd last awakened to stained linens and a cramping belly?  She'd skipped at least a month, she knew, but that happened sometimes. Her Ma had assured her that sometimes it took a year or two for a young woman's courses to show up on a regular cycle, so she'd thought nothing about the lack of them, but now she realized she'd never gone this long without one since she first started having women's courses over two years earlier, shortly before her fourteenth birthday that had officially marked her passage out of girlhood to marriageable young womanhood.

She thought back to her last flow, her heartbeat beginning to race as she realized it had been more than one month. More, even, than two. The last time she'd had her courses had been during her family's visit to Culdi, some time in the middle part of March.  Before she and Duncan had wed. Before her brother Ardry's untimely death. Before she and her beloved had been parted by the threat of a blood feud springing up between both their families.

She'd noticed a bit more linen peeking out from the front lacing of her gown this morning, but had thought nothing of it, aside from it being a sign that maybe she was growing again, though at sixteen she thought she had probably reached her full height. But it wasn't unheard of to start growing a bit outwards once one had stopped growing upwards, and certainly her breasts seemed to have recently caught up with the idea that she was meant to be more woman than girl now. She had hoped that was all there was to it, that dizzyingly swift passage from girlhood to young womanhood.

But three months had passed since her last monthly flow, and if her Da's heart had softened in the least towards the McLains, he'd certainly shown no sign of it in his letters or his one brief visit home since her family's return to Transha, to inform his wife that the menfolk were needed in Meara for longer than originally thought, likely through the winter. What if his heart never did change?  How could she explain her belly thickening with a McLain child without starting the very blood feud their hasty departure from Culdi was meant to prevent?

Maryse saw Yvette heading back towards her, and quickly pasted on a smile to hide the worried thoughts bubbling up within her.

#

March 1, 1107
The McLain family chapel
Culdi Castle


Duncan McLain knelt at the altar in his family's chapel as he'd done on many occasions before, praying for guidance. Alaric's last letter weighed heavily on his mind. His cousin was at Corwyn now, all but exiled from the Court at Rhemuth due to the Queen's antipathy for all things Deryni, and while the letter concealed under Duncan's tunic said nothing incriminating about the situation and merely made oblique reference to Alaric's stay in his duchy lasting far longer than he was previously accustomed to, Duncan was well versed at reading between the lines of what his cousin said to pick up on what he dared not say.

He felt certain in the very core of his being that he was meant to follow God in some special way, but whether that call was to the priesthood or lay in some different direction, he was less sure about. One thing he was certain of was that if his way lay with entering the priesthood, he would travel down a dark and perilous road ahead. It was a frightening thought, to risk everything to follow God even though that might lead to his death, but then again, Duncan considered with a rueful smile, God had never promised that a life devoted to Him would be safe or comfortable, just that He would ever walk beside His own, come what may.

But there were days when Duncan wished for a more earthly companion in his journey of life, for he was still a very young man, and the world was filled with so many attractions. And that, too, was God's design and a great blessing, so long as he did not let any of those attractions lead him away from God's will for his life and into sin.

One particular attraction was beginning to fill his mind of late, and Duncan was not sure if God meant that as a sign that His will for his searching young son lay in a different direction than the priesthood, or if instead it was the Tempter laying a snare across his path. If it was the latter, there was certainly no obvious sign of it. Maryse MacArdry seemed a very well-mannered sort, neither overly shy nor overly forward, and unlike some Border lasses, she had shown no inclination towards being loose with her favors in hopes of catching the eye and heart of a Duke's son, although his head was not so caught up in the heavenlies that he had failed to notice her occasional glance of curious interest directed his way. He knew all too well about the more brazen sort of lass, for they were far from few, and he did his best to avoid them, not simply because of the dynastic difficulties that a by-blow child might cause, but also because such young women were simply not the sort who would ever interest him in any meaningful way. They would be, at most, merely someone to have a brief roll in the hay with, a quick release for the tensions he held within, and he didn't wish to use any lassie so with such little care for her future beyond that brief moment of pleasure. If he truly was meant to enter the Church, it would hardly do for him to grow accustomed to that sort of pastime! Never mind that some churchmen did so anyhow in secret; if Duncan meant to devote himself to God, he meant to do so completely, not simply make an outward show of piety with half-arsed devotion. God knew there were enough men of that sort in the Church already!

He stood, genuflecting towards the crucifix hanging beyond the altar before turning to leave. At the doorway, he nearly plowed headlong into an unexpected visitor, who entered the door just as he was about to step through it.

He caught the young lady as she gasped in surprise before lowering her eyes demurely, a pretty flush staining her fair cheeks. "Beg pardon, Laird Duncan! I dinnae realize ye were in here. I simply meant tae pray a wee bit, but I c'n return...."

"No need to leave," Duncan reassured Maryse. "I was done here." Smiling down at her upturned face, which looked troubled, he added, "Are you worried about your Da?"

"Aye, a wee bit." She gave a self-conscious laugh. "I ken he's well able tae care f'r 'imsel', but th' Mearans c'n be a fractious lot an' unpredictable."

"Aye, they can be. Though Earl Caulay is a very seasoned warrior. I'm certain he'll be fine, if they do find themselves in any sort of skirmish, which they may not. I'll pray for your MacArdry menfolk with you, if you'd like, and our McLains also." He felt a pang of chagrin that in pouring out his own inner struggles to God earlier, he had scarcely spent any thought for the safety of his kinsmen. If he were to become a priest in future, surely he ought to pay more mind to other folk's troubles, not just his own. But he would rectify that oversight now, if the young lady before him would allow it.

"Thank ye, my lord. I'd appreciate tha'." Maryse allowed Duncan to escort her to the altar rail, as he very much tried not to think too closely upon the soft pressure of that hand laid trustingly on his arm as they knelt side by side to make their supplications before God.

#

July 1, 1107
The family chapel
Transha Castle


"Please, please let me no' be breedin' yet!" Maryse prayed fervently, turning earnest eyes up towards the Virgin Mother and Child above her. "Or if I am, gie me the grace tae bear it, though I dinnae ken how I can e'er tell Ma or Da! I dinnae ken what tae do!" She thought back on those final moments in her husband's arms, the pain of parting from the comfort of his embrace, not knowing when they'd be together again. "Please, help us! Ye ken I love 'im truly, an' he loves me as weel, or he wouldnae hae wed wi' me afore yer altar. If  it was sin f'r us tae wed, we ne'er meant it so! Please, Holy Mother, show me who t' trust. I'm sae afeard...."

#

March 15, 1107, mid-afternoon
Culdi Castle
A quiet courtyard


Duncan sat in silence beside Maryse, enjoying the mild warmth and rare sunshine in a small courtyard off the main gardens. There was a footpath nearby which led to the mortuary chapel and the small crypt that was the final resting place of some of his departed McLain kindred, as well as Lady Alyce de Morgan, Alaric's late mother, though at the moment his mind turned more to thoughts of vibrant life rather than death.

A butterfly sat on a nearby shrub, wings flapping gently as if it contemplated flight but had not yet stirred itself to leave its place of rest. Maryse sat very still, one finger extended, attempting to coax it to cross the distance to her hand, but the insect simply studied her warily.

It would be easy enough work to use his powers to convince the butterfly to trust the lass, Duncan pondered. He'd seen Bronwyn charm birds to her hand, so surely an insect would present even less of a challenge. But he hesitated, not feeling entirely safe in using his gift, not even here in the heart of his own home, not knowing how Maryse would feel about it, were she to suspect he had anything to do with the butterfly's actions.

He had begun to think that, were he to marry anyone, he would wish to wed this gentle young lady whose company he had grown to look forward to daily, his heart skipping a beat whenever he saw her enter the room or heard her footfalls coming down the stairs from the guest chambers where his mother had arranged for their lodging during their visit. The more time he spent with her, the more he wished to know her more. Her sister Yvette was a sweet wee thing too, bonny in a more vivacious way that Duncan was sure would win her no shortage of suitors once she was a bit older, though she was still in the awkward, coltish stage betwixt childhood and womanhood, and a trifle too young yet to capture his interest in the same way that Maryse had done.

Duncan turned his head, wondering belatedly what had happened to the spritely little lass. The mothers rarely left their children completely on their own, but when they did, Yvette and Maryse were always to be found together, at least whenever Duncan was anywhere to be found. He knew this was not because of any lack of trust in his honor or his good judgment on his mother's part, just simple prudence. When it came to the reputations of young ladies, especially the well born sort, one could never be too careful. So he had become well accustomed to Yvette's constant chaperonage.

Maryse, apparently wondering the same thing, turned her head as well, eventually spotting Yvette asleep at the foot of a tree. She met Duncan's eye with a suppressed giggle. "Are we tha' borin', I wonder?"

He grinned back. "You're far from boring, anyway, though I can't speak for myself," he replied, keeping his voice low. "Should we wake her, or let her sleep?"

"Och, let 'er sleep, puir thing. I think th' thunder kept her oop last night. It sounded frightful!" Maryse studied her sister sympathetically for a moment before turning her attention back to Duncan. "At any rate, there's a question I've been meanin' tae ask ye, but it ne'er seemed tae be a guid time."

That stirred his curiosity. "What is it?"

Maryse reached a hand up, running her fingers along the nape of her neck beneath her mass of pale white-gold hair, and fished out a thin length of cord, drawing her fingers down it and tugging upwards until a small pendant–or was it a bead?--emerged from the neckline of her bodice, reflecting golden sunlight from its amber depths. It was a small, almond sized crystal the color of Maryse's eyes. He recognized what it was instantly.

"Me sister an' I found this wee bead at th' edge o' th' water las' summer. I thought it was right pretty, an' Ma said I could keep it, but said tae keep it tucked awa' oot o' sight, on account o' Lallans folk an' e'en some Borderers bein' wary o' sic things, though she didnae say wha' she meant by tha'. Ye ken the ways o' both Lallans an' Border folk, though. Can ye tell me wha's wrong wi' wearin' it in plain sight? Tae my mind, 'tis but a harmless wee bauble."

Her shiral-colored eyes met his gaze with innocent trust, and Duncan felt humbled by it, yet so very wary also, not sure what he could safely say to answer her question. How much did this lass know about Deryni lore, and more to the point, what were her feelings about it? This question, more than any other, might settle the matter for good as to whether he could ever trust Maryse with his heart or not. He sent out a very tentative mental probe, but if she had shields, Duncan did not detect any with the very faint brush against her mind that he dared to make.

"May I take a closer look?" he asked, more to buy himself more time to think than out of any need for a closer inspection, though once Maryse slipped the necklace over her head and placed the bead upon his palm, the feel of it confirmed his initial impression. It still retained the warmth of her skin, the soft inner light of the stone gleaming like the curious light in Maryse's eyes. He ran the ball of his thumb across it, sensing the residual power latent within.

"I...I've never seen a stone exactly like this one before." It was not a lie, really. Duncan had once seen a larger one, but never one in the form of a bead on a necklace, yet even that small omission nagged at his conscience. "It's called a shiral crystal, and they're quite rare. As to why it's best to hide it...." Duncan studied Maryse's upturned face, knowing he needed to tread very carefully. "You're a Border lass. I imagine you know about such things as the Second Sight, or perhaps dowsing for water?"

Maryse looked puzzled. "Well, aye, everyone kens aboot tha'!  Charms agin' illness too, or tae protect cattle. I cannae do owt like tha', but there's plenty o' folk wha' hae th' seelie gifts."

"Yes. Well, I agree it's common enough knowledge here up in the Borders, but in the Lowlands, fewer people are aware of such things, and of those who are aware of them, they tend to be more leery about them.  There's...a warier sort of attitude in the Lowlands, about any sort of gift or power that can't be explained away by natural causes. And shiral crystals in particular tend to be associated with Deryni, at least for those who recognize what they actually are instead of assuming they're just pretty river pebbles or some sort of gemstone." He risked a quick glance at her, braced against the look of fearful revulsion he was used to seeing cross the features of certain Court folk who heard the name of that accursed race spoken aloud, but if Maryse felt the same, there was no trace of alarm in her steady gaze back at him, merely curiosity. "You mention the 'seelie gifts.'  In the Lowlands, a great many people don't believe such things exist, yet when it comes to Deryni, they do believe their powers exist, and that they are of the Devil. Unseelie gifts, rather than seelie."

"Oh." Maryse frowned, considering the thought, then lifted her eyes to his again. "And do ye think they are?  The Deryni, I mean? Are they unseelie?"

"Ah..." Duncan floundered for a safe reply. "If you mean do I think Deryni are 'unseelie folk' in the same way that some people speak of 'fairy folk,' as if they're some completely different, supernatural sort of being rather than simply a human like any other, just with different abilities than most, then no, I don't think they are some separate category of creature. I think they are mere mortals just like everyone else, who simply have some sort of...giftedness. And aye, just like with any other folk, some put their talents to bad uses, but I think others use their gifts for good as well.  But even that opinion is not a very safe one to hold in some parts of the Kingdom, even here in the Borders, but especially once you get into the Lowlands. And especially not for a man of the Church." He sighed. "The entire Deryni race is feared for the evil actions of a few, because a few of their powers are perilously easy to misuse, but I don't think that means the entire race is inherently evil, any more than I think the good folk of Culdi are inherently evil even though there might have been a murderer or a thief turn up around here every now and again. For that matter, even in Meara, despite all of the unrest there, there are still Mearan folk loyal to the Crown, maybe as many or even more than the Mearan folk who side with Caitrin's forces. Simply being Mearan doesn't make one a loyalist or a rebel. Their choices determine that. I think it's the same with Deryni–whether they're good or evil has nothing to do with what they are, but with what they choose to do with the powers that they have. But a good many priests and bishops would disagree with me on that, and say my thoughts on the matter verge on heresy, so please don't quote me on that!"

He glanced at her, outwardly composed yet inwardly anxious. Not that he was seriously worried about the likelihood of Maryse rushing off at once to tell tales on him to some confessor whose sympathies were more closely aligned to those of Bishop de Nore than his own, yet he was aware he was taking a risk sharing even that much of his true feelings about Deryni with her. Still, it would be an even greater risk to give his heart completely to a woman, only to learn after they were wed that she had an unshakeable loathing for his kind. How much worse would it have been had Jehana of Bremagne been wed to Alaric rather to King Brion, if her aversion to even Brion's Haldane magic had been so great that she'd rather he'd died against the Marluk than use his powers even to save lives! Life with such a woman would be sheer misery for him, Duncan knew. At least if he married the Church, there'd be no fear of siring Deryni offspring their own mother might turn against.

Maryse, seemingly unruffled by the Deryni question, or whether Duncan's thoughts on the issue might be heretical or not, simply looking thoughtful. "It a' seems like a lot o' spyin' demons under daisies tae me," she opined with a small shrug. "I cannae claim tae ken any Deryni, but there was an auld beldam wha' lived at th' edge o' Transha village when I was a wean, an' folk claimed she maun be Deryni, escaped frae some Lallans village an' seekin' shelter in th' hill country. She seemed harmless enow, an' made a wee livin' weavin' baskets an' such, an' growin' herbs tae sell at Transha market when she could. Best I remember, she was a pious sort, an' went tae Mass in th' village daily, e'en leavin' a penny for alms whene'er she could, f'r she said as puir as her lot in life might be, ithers were worse off. She died some years back, but she seemed a right good sort. I dinna think God would hold it agin her tha' she could light kindlin' wi' her fingertips if her fire went oot." She glanced uncertainly at him. "I saw her do it oncet, when she thought nae one was watchin'. But she'd hae froze in her wee hovel, otherwise. There's nae harm in sic a sma' thing, is there?"

"Nay, I think not," Duncan assured her. "But still, I would be very careful who you tell that to, for there are many who would very much disagree. Even though it sounds like the woman herself is beyond anyone's ability to harm now."  Remembering he still held Maryse's shiral, he handed it back to her, watching as she ducked her head to put the necklace on again, tucking the tiny amber crystal back into its hiding place beneath the top edge of her chemise. He turned his gaze away then, willing himself not to think overmuch on the shadowy mysteries dimly glimpsed beneath the filmy strip of snowy linen showing above her bodice.

"I dinnae ken much aboot theology, Duncan," Maryse said softly. "I only ken wha' me chaplain taught me. But if I recall aright, he taught me tha' Jesú died tae save us frae sin, f'r all wha would believe, aye? An' that none o' us is perfect on oor own, try as hard as we might – as we ought tae try – but tha's why we need savin'?"

Duncan glanced back at her. "Aye."

"An' whither oor sins are big or sma', if we believe in oor heart, confess, an' try oor best tae no' be selfish an' tae follow His will instead, then He will forgi'e us e'en when we sometimes get it wrong? E'en if sometimes, in oor humanness, we make a right muck-up o' things? Because tha's wha' I believe. An' I think that's wha' the auld Deryni beldam believed too. I cannae think God will hold her faith o' less worth than me ain, just 'cause I light me hearth wi' flint an' steel. E'en if some Lallans churchmen might look doon on her kind, but that's little matter tae me, since they look doon their lang noses at Border folk as well, but Jesú died f'r us too!"

He smiled, enjoying the rare show of fiery indignation coming from such a gentle soul. "Aye."

Maryse toyed with a blade of grass, not meeting his eyes. With a voice so quiet he had to bend to hear her, she continued, "Is it selfish of me to hope...." She looked away swiftly, appearing to compose herself, or perhaps gather up her courage, then turned back to him with a quick intake of breath. "Forgi'e me if I speak oot o' turn, but if th' Church is sae fu' of sic holier-than-thou sorts tha' ye daur no' speak yer mind freely amongst them, then are ye certain ye're called tae be a priest?"

Duncan took her hand in his, sighing deeply. "Maryse, to be fully honest with you, I have never been less certain of my calling in my entire life."


Next chapter: https://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=2846.0
"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!

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!

Jerusha

Wow!  So glad to have a new story from you.  I enjoyed this very much, and glad Maryse is still with us at the end of Part 1.

Lovely portraits of the characters.
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Laurna

Wonderful Portrats of Young Duncan, Maryse and Yvette.
And such a wonderful beginnings to their story.

Evie, you have out done your self! This is so heart warming and lovely. I love seeing Duncan find young love and Maryse recalling early spring and summer days.
Well Done!  I look forward to more of their story.
May your horses have wings and fly!

revanne

Such a wonderful return to your writing. I love the way you interweave the story both between the characters and between time frames - the latter doesn't normally work for me but you do it so skilfully here. Maryse really comes alive for us, not just as a poignant memory but as her sweet vibrant self. What you write of Duncan and Maryse shows that goodness does not have to be boring. And the pictures are beautiful.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
(Psalm 46 v1)

DerynifanK

I am so happy to see you return to your writing. You have been much missed. And this is a lovely beginning to the story of Maryse and Duncan. You do such a skillful job of weaving together the different points in time with the events. I love the way you handle the beginning of their love story. I am looking forward to more. !And I love the portraits, Maryse is just as I imagined her and Duncan is so handsome!
"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

Evie

I'm just relieved to be able to write again! I went through my Google Drive recently to look at some other stories that I'd left half written, and was startled to realize my last work on them was back in 2017.  :o  Lack of free time and high stress left little mental energy and focus to be able to create in any form, but especially in writing, which takes so much more mental energy for me than something like sewing or crochet, but I'd reached the point where I couldn't even do those either for a while. I'm slowly starting to climb out of that hole, so hopefully I can dust off some of those older works in progress and actually complete one or more of them soon.  :)
"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!

DerynifanK

I am glad to hear that things are improving and hopefully the stress has been reduced. We are all excited and delighted to have you back. Looking forward to more about Duncan and Maryse and those other stories waiting to be born.
"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

Nezz

Oooh, my first Evie story since joining the forum; this is really exciting! And I love reading about our young, blue-eyed cleric, and the one love of his life. <3
Now is life, and life is always better.
-Wolfself

Evie

And I love getting to write for new (to me) readers!  ;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!