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A Time To Heal Chapter 9

Started by Evie, October 15, 2010, 01:57:07 PM

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Chapter Nine

   January 15, 1133   
   Ballymar Castle, Cassan

   "Duchess Margaret, allow me to present my wife Mirjana.  Mirjana, this is the Dowager Duchess Margaret, my late grandfather Jared's widow."

   The older woman looked at the new Duchess of Cassan in some surprise, though the expression swiftly changed to one of welcome.  "Oh, gracious!  How delightful to meet you, dear.  Lord Deveril did tell me that Dhugal had gotten betrothed, but he hadn't told me you two had gotten wed already."  The dowager duchess smiled.  "Then again, I have been away in Kierney for the past month and a half."  She studied the shyly smiling bride.  "Mirjana...what a lovely name for such a lovely young lady.  Where are you from, my dear?  Nur Hallaj?"

   Mirjana glanced swiftly at Dhugal, then met the older woman's gaze.  "My mother's kin were from Nur Hallaj, Your Grace, but I was born in Arjenol."

   "In Arjenol?  But...that's...."  Duchess Margaret's brow furrowed in confusion.  "I'm sorry, but I thought that was a duchy in Torenth.  But surely...."  She gave Dhugal an uncertain look.

   Mirjana nodded.  "Yes, Your Grace.  My father and his kin are Torenthi.  Were, that is.  My father no longer lives."

   "I...see," Margaret said weakly, her face paling slightly.  "And...who are your father's kin?"

   Mirjana gripped her husband's hand tightly.  "He was of the House of Furstán.  But I am of the House of MacArdry McLain now."

   The dowager duchess stared at her new granddaughter-in-law with barely suppressed shock.  


   January 18
   Ballymar Castle

   Mirjana looked around at her new bedchamber, wondering yet again what manner of woman her husband had been previously married to.  There seemed little in the room to indicate it had ever been a woman's bedchamber, much less that of a Duchess.  The furnishings were suitable enough for a person of noble birth, but something about the décor seemed more suited to a man's tastes than the average lady's.  Also odd was the straight edged blade next to the wash basin.

   No, there must have been some mistake. Maybe this had once been the Duke's own quarters, but for some reason the household staff had seen fit to change accommodations around in his absence.  She'd meant to ask, but he'd been kept busy since her arrival in Cassan three days previously, and the one time she had managed to spend more than a few moments with him, the question had fled her mind.  Granted, he'd had some delightful ideas on how to keep her from thinking very much at all....

   Her lips curved in a smile as she recalled the unexpected dalliance, the golden warmth in his eyes as he'd apologized for being so caught up in work since her arrival.  "It seems like the moment I think I can get free, another thing gets tossed at me that needs my immediate attention.  It's always like this when I first return from Rhemuth, though.  Give it a few days, and it should settle down a bit."  He'd drawn her into his counting room for a brief moment of privacy and a few swift kisses, but somehow it hadn't stopped there.  Not that she was at all regretful of that.  That had been about the only pleasant interlude she'd had in the entire three days since her arrival in Cassan.

   Mirjana sighed, her eyes drifting back to the large portrait on the wall in front of her bed.  It was a magnificent painting of the late Duchess of Cassan, the artist's eye and hand skillfully capturing the likeness of a young woman who looked to be on the verge of laughter, green eyes nearly identical to her young son's dancing with mirth as she smiled out at the viewer.  The tawny hair seemed as though it might be ruffled by the slightest of breezes drifting in through the nearby window, if only someone were to open it.   Not that Mirjana had any desire to open an upper-story window in a cold castle on a craggy height in January!

   She glanced out the window at the snowy landscape and the ocean waves beyond, dimly illuminated by moonlight.  Again, she wondered how long it would take the chambermaid to bring up her bathwater.  When she'd first asked for the bath an hour before, she had been told in no uncertain terms that the Duchess (Mirjana presumed the chambermaid had meant the late Duchess) was not in the habit of asking for bucketfuls of bathwater to be lugged upstairs of an evening.  Mirjana was certain that could not have been the case.  How else had the woman managed to stay clean?  Or had the maid merely meant that her former mistress had preferred early baths?  Mirjana reminded the recalcitrant young maid that in any case, she was Duchess of Cassan now, and she would like a chance to freshen up before bedtime.

   It should not take a full hour for bathwater to be heated and brought up, even from the kitchens below.  Mirjana frowned, wondering if the maid had forgotten the request or had deliberately ignored it.  She stood, walking towards the door to go check when she heard a quiet knock.  A moment later, the door swung open, and Dhugal entered, meeting her gaze with a baffled look that, as he glanced around the chamber, swiftly turned to anger.

   "My lady, have you been installed in these quarters since your arrival?"

   The question startled Mirjana.  "Yes, my lord.  Should I not have been?"

   "No, you should not.  I had assumed you'd been given the chamber adjoining mine, but when I went there to check on you a few minutes ago, it was evident that no one has been using it recently.  This is the room my brother-in-law normally uses when he is visiting....Sweet Jesú!"   Dhugal's eyes landed on the large portrait on the opposite wall from the bed.  A storm began to brew within them.  "That was moved in here on my instructions, but you weren't meant to be moved in here with it.  My most profound apologies, Mirjana.  I'll have the staff move your belongings at once."  He strode out, returning after a few minutes with two somewhat cowed looking Cassani men and a trembling chambermaid.  It was obvious to the new Duchess that they had been treated to a blistering stream of rapid-fire invective in that too-fast-to-follow Borderer speech her husband occasionally tended to lapse into among his own people.  She had heard him as soon as they'd entered the corridor, and had been glad she wasn't on the receiving end of such ire.

   He resumed the Court accent she understood more easily as soon as he had returned to her side.  "Bring Her Grace's belongings to the Seafoam Room immediately."  He glanced at her, then modified the order.  "No, on second thought, bring them to mine."

   "To...to yours, Your Grace?"

   "Yes.  She is, after all, my wife."   His thunderous expression brooked no argument.  

   "Ah...Yes, Your Grace!"


   Dhugal watched Mirjana as she looked around his bedchamber, her eyes quickly taking note of the surroundings.   One of his liveried men set down the last of her storage chests against the wall and bowed.  He granted the retainer his leave to depart, watching as the man swiftly scurried off, closing the door behind him.

   Mirjana sighed.  He turned back to her, gathering her in his embrace.  "I'm sorry.  I should have noticed the mix-up sooner, but to be honest, I've been falling straight into an exhausted sleep every evening since I arrived, and it simply didn't occur to me to check earlier to make sure you'd been moved in next door.  I just assumed you'd been placed in the Ducal Suite."  He stepped back, taking her hand in his and leading her to a beautifully carved wooden door set into an arched doorway next to his bed.  "This is where I thought you'd be."  He opened the door, revealing another cozy looking chamber beyond, and illuminated the dark room before them with a sudden glow of pale handfire.

   The room was chilly—unsurprisingly, since no fire had burned in the hearth in recent days—but Mirjana curious gaze took in a beautiful bedchamber decorated in soft shades of pale green and ivory, the fabric of the bedcurtains and pillows decorated with a motif reminiscent of the sea.  Various paintings and tapestries adorned the walls, and above the hearth was a painting of Dhugal in his Cassani court finery, looking every inch the Border Duke that he was.  It was obviously a companion portrait to the one now hanging in the guest bedchamber, painted by the same artist in the same style.  

   Dhugal stood behind her, one hand resting on her shoulder.  "You are welcome to share my chamber with me.  I must admit, I quite enjoy waking up to a warm wife.  But should you prefer more privacy, you're welcome to use this chamber as well."  He paused, feeling a bit awkward showing off his late wife's private bower to his new Duchess.  "Catriona sometimes opted to retreat here if one of us was scheduled to have an unusually late night or an early wake-up, or when she was feeling unwell, or when Duncan Michael was being fretful in his early months.  She preferred tending to him herself rather than handing him over to the nursemaids when he was colicky."  He looked around the room.  "I had her more personal items removed before your arrival, but if you'd prefer to refurnish the room entirely...."  His voice trailed off, his heart still reluctant to make the offer even though his mind understood that his new bride would probably wish to put her own personal stamp on the chamber.

   "No, it's quite lovely," Mirjana assured him quietly.  "I do not wish to impose."

   Dhugal turned her to face him.  "You're not imposing.  You are the Duchess of Cassan now.  My home is yours.  This chamber—if you want it—is yours now."

   "Your Cassani people do not accept me as their Duchess yet, though."

   "Then they shall have to learn."  He kissed her brow.  "I have no intention of shipping you back to Liam-Lajos."

   Mirjana chuckled softly.  "Laji would have no idea what to do with me, I'm afraid."

   His eyes smiled down at her.  "That's fine.  I have an idea or two about what might be done with you."  The smile traveled down to his lips, tugging them upwards at the corners as he gestured to his own bedchamber behind him.  "Now that I finally have an evening to myself, might I demonstrate?" He raised a hopeful brow at her.

   She laughed and followed him back into his chamber.


   January 19
   Ballymar Castle

   The young tiring maid assisting Mirjana dutifully adjusted the back lacing of her gown, but it was clear she would much rather be elsewhere.  She had looked disapproving from the moment she'd arrived that morning, clearly annoyed to find the Duchess in the Duke's bedchamber instead of relegated to the exile of the guest wing.  Well, that was fine, Mirjana mused; if the girl found her duties so onerous, she could soon find new ones.  Surely not every young woman in Cassan of suitable age and abilities would be so reluctant to work in a Duchess's household, even if that Duchess were from despised Torenth!  A decent wage was a decent wage, after all, and a tiring maid's duties were certainly not too difficult.

   Perhaps she had good cause to fear her new mistress, though.  Maybe her father had been killed in the war against Wencit, or perhaps a much older brother had fallen there.  Mirjana decided to attempt a friendly overture.

   "Thank you so much for your assistance, Agnes.  I'm looking forward to venturing out this morning.  Are you originally from here in Ballymar, or one of the surrounding villages?  Maybe you could recommend someone who might give me a tour of the castle grounds?"

   The girl frowned, feigning an inability to understand.  "I'm sorry, Your Grace. I'm afraid I can't understand your words for your thick accent."

   Mirjana sighed.  She knew full well that her Torenthi accent was not that pronounced.  The lass hadn't shown any difficulties in understanding her requests up until now.  The Duchess added Agnes to the growing mental list of household staff she would need to consult with her husband about replacing.


   Mirjana had her breakfast in the small withdrawing room just off the Great Hall.  Dhugal and the Dowager Duchess were already eating when she arrived, the latter looking up only briefly to give her a chilly smile.

   "I was beginning to think you'd gotten lost," Dhugal teased as Mirjana took her seat beside him.  

   "No.  I just seem to have some problem with making myself understood.  My requests, at least.  My maidservants seem to have no trouble understanding me if I'm simply making comments or giving them leave to depart.  It must be my selective accent."

   Her husband raised a coppery-bronze eyebrow at her.  "Indeed?  Are you certain it's not simply a bad case of selective hearing?  There seems to be a lot of that going around of late.  I hope the epidemic ends soon, or we might be seeing a rapid turnover in household staff in the near future."  His voice grew subtly louder with each sentence, pitched so that the Cassani retainers standing just outside the entrance would be certain to hear it and, most likely, pass the word along.

   "Oh, Dhugal, is that really necessary?" Duchess Margaret protested.  "Some of the staff have been part of our household for years!  You must admit, they have...some reason to have reservations...."  Her voice trailed off as she picked at her food, not meeting Mirjana's eyes.

   "I quite agree, my lady.  Reservations are one thing, however, and outright disrespect and insubordination are quite another.  If I cannot manage my own household, what kind of message does that send to the rest of Cassan and to Kierney?  No, I understand they might not be very happy with their Duke at the moment, nor with my choice of Duchess, but I'm not going to stand for disloyalty in my own household staff.  If they can't bring themselves to obey my lady's orders, they can seek employment elsewhere.  Dishonor done to her is dishonor done to me.  I will not tolerate it."

   "Oh, I know, I know...."  Duchess Margaret looked flustered.  "But you can at least give them a little more time to come around, surely!  Some of them...their families...have already lost so much...."  She bit her lip, flushing.

   "Believe me, my lady, I certainly have no wish to see anyone deprived of their livelihood," Mirjana assured her quietly, "but if they are truly so unhappy with their situation here that they cannot perform their regular duties, perhaps it would be the best for all concerned if they could find work they will be happier with?  Would Your Grace happen to be in need of an extra maid or two, perchance; if not here, then perhaps in Kierney?  I do not wish to be unreasonable, but when you ask your own maidservants to draw you a bath or to help you with your wardrobe, do you not expect them to obey? If one does not wish to serve, one ought not to enter into another's service."

   "But when they entered service...."  The dowager duchess's voice trailed off, though the distress on her face only grew.

   "Yes, we realize that when they first entered my service, there was a different Duchess of Cassan."  Dhugal kept his voice as gentle as he could despite his growing frustration, mindful of his step-grandmother's own loss in the war against Wencit.  "And if they don't wish to work for the present Duchess—or for that matter, the present Duke—there is the option of resigning from service.  But for those who wish to retain their positions in my household, there is no excuse for shirking their assigned duties."  Raising a hand to stifle another protest, he added, "My lady wife did not ask to be born in Torenth, nor was she given any choice in being born a kinswoman of Wencit, distant though the relationship was.  She was a mere child, a couple of years short of her first decade, when Wencit and his officers perpetrated their wartime atrocities against the men of Cassan and Kierney.  Do you honestly believe she was in any way complicit in those actions?  Or that, even if she had been there, she could have stopped Wencit had she known what he planned?  Has an eight-year-old girl such power?"  He glanced at Mirjana, who sat silent, gazing down at the faintly trembling hands in her lap.  "My lady is blameless in the matter of Llyndruth Meadows, Duchess Margaret.  And not all Torenthi are monsters, any more than all Deryni are evil."  He raised an eyebrow at Margaret's startled expression.  "Aye, remember that the evilness of Wencit's actions was ascribed just as much to him being an 'evil Deryni sorceror' as it was to him being a ruthless Torenthi king.  And yet I don't think you believe the lie that Deryni are inherently evil, knowing my father Duncan as you do, and having come to know me over the past few years as well.   If one can be Deryni and yet be a good man, can one not also be Torenthi and be a good woman?   Is there no possibility that there are good people of Torenth just as there are evil ones, and that all should not be blamed for the wicked actions of a few?"  He took a sip of small ale, allowing the dowager duchess a moment to absorb what he'd just said.  "Do not forget, the Pax Kelsona we enjoy with the Kingdom of Torenth now was not forged unilaterally.  King Liam-Lajos of Torenth is as much Kelson's ally now as Kelson is his.  And Liam-Lajos is also a kinsman of Mirjana's.   It would seem it is possible to be a Furstán and not be the enemy of Gwynedd.  Or, mayhap, not even of Cassan."

   Dowager Duchess Margaret sighed.  "It all sounds so rational when you put it that way, Dhugal, but what you forget is that people think with the heart just as much as with the head.  And no amount of logic or reason will ever erase the fact that this duchy suffered great losses in the war against Torenth, and not merely the kind of loss that one might expect from any major battle, but treachery of the gravest sort."

   "I agree."  Dhugal sat back, studying his grandfather's widow.  "But that treachery came as much at the hands of an Earl of Gwynedd as from the King of Torenth, yet I suspect the people of Cassan and Kierney hold the present Earl of Marley far less culpable for his late father's actions than they are choosing to hold my lady wife for her distant kinsman's.  At least I hope they are not viewing Earl Brendan in the same light.  He was even younger at the time, and equally as guiltless."

   "Oh, well...that's a bit different, though!"  the dowager duchess protested faintly.

   "Is it?  How so?"

   "Well...young Brendan was mostly raised by the Duke of Corwyn, and no one could possibly fault Alaric's loyalty!  And besides that, the current Earl of Marley has proven his own loyalty to the Crown since then, when he saved King Kelson's life a few years ago."  Her lips tightened.  "From another Torenthi attack."

   "Aye," Dhugal said evenly.  "One which was meant to kill the rightful King of Torenth as well as our own King.  Surely no one believes the present King of Torenth was complicit in an attempt on his own life?  As I said, my lady, the blame lies in the individuals committing such acts, not on their race as a whole.  Being born in Torenth, or even in the Torenth royal family, no more commits one to a lifetime of evil actions than being born in Cassan commits one to a lifetime of good deeds.  Or has criminal activity ceased to exist in the Duchy, and I've not been made aware of it?"  Dhugal gave her a skeptical smile.  "Murder, mayhem, and wartime atrocities happen even in the Borders.  Believe me, madam, I know.  I only have to think back on our recent war with Meara for the reminders.  You cannot have forgotten what happened to my father not so far from our own Cassani borders, in the hands of people with no links outside this kingdom at all, or to the nuns of Saint Brigid's Abbey at the hands of men whose Border blood runs as deeply as my own.  Torenth hardly holds the monopoly on evil, any more than we hold here any monopoly on virtue."

   Margaret's eyes brimmed with tears.  "But Dhugal, dear, you simply can't apply cold-hearted logic to every situation!  You weren't here when the Cassani survivors brought back your grandfather and a few of their fallen comrades back from Llyndruth Meadows.  So very, very few, compared to the number of slain...."  Her tears spilled over, falling onto pale cheeks.  "Some of us can never forget that sight, can never forgive the waste...the treachery...."  She shook her head.  "It is easy for you to say we must learn to forgive and forget, that some Torenthi people might be innocent, but you have never lost anyone dear to you to a Torenthi attack!"

   Dhugal's eyes blazed with amber fire.  "Have I not, my lady?  Must I remind you that I lost my own wife to such an attack just this past summer?  Do you believe I am indifferent to that?!"

   "But Catriona....I'd heard she died of the fever-flux...."  Margaret's eyes widened.  "Was that planned by Torenth as well?"

   Dhugal bit back a blistering curse at his own lapse.  He had not meant to fuel his step-grandmother's irrational hatred for Torenth by bringing up the source of the previous year's killer plague, but his temper had momentarily caused him to forget that what was well-known in Kelson's Inner Circle was hardly common knowledge elsewhere.  He sighed.  "It was not planned by Torenth, madam.  Though it was a magical attack, carried out by a man formerly of Torenth but now exiled from that Kingdom and believed to be living in Byzantyun.  He was also attempting the overthrow of Torenth, not merely Gwynedd."  He gave her a wry smile.  "So, purely by coincidence, you both share a common enemy in that, at least, for Teymuraz has no more reason to be fond of Torenth than you do.  Teymuraz of Byzantyun seeks power, pure and simple.  He cares not who he slays to get it, whether they be people of Gwynedd or even his own kindred."

   "But....Surely you must see he was a product of his culture, though?  A culture which is indifferent to the suffering of others...."

   "And what was Archbishop Loris's excuse?  Was he indifferent to suffering because of his culture?  His Gwyneddan upbringing?"  He glanced at Mirjana, sitting silently beside him picking at her meal.  "And what of my wife, who is innocent of all bloodshed?  What of her four-year-old son?  What does it say of our Cassani culture that we should treat them in such a way that shows our own indifference to their suffering?  My lady, it might be the easier course to blame all of Torenth for the suffering they have inflicted on yourself and on the people of Cassan, rather than choosing to lay that blame on those few foes who have truly earned it.  But my lady wife has known her own share of suffering as well.  She does not deserve our people's enmity."

   The dowager duchess's mouth dropped open in indignation.  "Suffering?!  I beg your pardon, but what could your lady possibly know of suffering!  She has merely endured a bit of snubbing from a few maidservants who have cause to distrust her, given our great losses at Llyndruth Meadows!  Granted, they should not act so, but still, that is hardly great suffering, Dhugal!  Not when you consider the husbands, fathers, brothers and sons our women have lost!"

   Dhugal considered sitting on his own hands to prevent himself from lunging across the room to grab his step-grandmother by the throat.  He took a deep steadying breath then glanced at his wife, whose lips had tightened with the question, turning almost white.  "Perhaps you should ask her that question, since she is sitting right here, though you seem to have forgotten her presence.  Would you like for me to answer that question, my lady, or would you prefer to address it?"

   Mirjana lifted her eyes to the woman across the small room from her.  "I had a peaceful childhood, Your Grace.  As a young girl, I had the sort of comfortable life you probably imagine I've always known.  I wanted for nothing.  In fact, as my father's cherished only daughter, I might have been a little spoiled.  All that changed shortly after my fourteenth birthday.  A former Duke among my people—this Teymuraz of whom my lord has just spoken—thought to please one of his minor lords by granting his wish to wed me, despite my father's objections and my own desire not to be wed to him.  They killed my father and abducted me from my homeland.  I was forced into a marriage with a man I loathed and raped repeatedly until I bore him a son.  I bore him daughters also, but all were killed because they were mere girls and therefore despised.  I lived in this hellish existence until Duke Alaric Morgan—may God in His mercy bless him and his heirs forever!—freed me from it and the King of Gwynedd granted my request for sanctuary.  And now it is my very great honor to be married to your late husband's grandson."  

   She smiled at Dhugal then turned her attention back to the dowager duchess.  "The acts that were committed against me are not condoned by my culture any more than they are accepted in yours.   They were the actions of vicious criminals, though one was born a Duke and the other a Lord.  High birth does not make a man's deeds noble any more than being of Torenth makes one evil, Your Grace.  And now my former husband is dead, and his master exiled to a faraway kingdom precisely because Torenth, for all the sins you may wish to lay at its door, does not condone such atrocities either.  At least the Torenth of Liam-Lajos—long may he reign—does not.  I cannot speak for Wencit; as the Duke my husband reminded you, I was only eight when he died."

   Duchess Margaret's mouth dropped open at Mirjana's quiet yet fervently uttered speech; slowly closed again in dismay.  "Oh."  She stared at the younger woman in shock.

   Mirjana glanced at Dhugal.  "I am no longer hungry, my lord husband.  May I be excused?"

   "Nor am I." The Duke stood, nodding shortly to his grandfather's widow.  "Pray excuse us, Duchess Margaret."  He offered his arm to his wife and escorted her from the room.

Chapter 10:  http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=585.0
"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!


You go, Mirjana!  And Dhugal, too, for that matter.  Lady Margaret clearly has some thinking and re-thinking to do. :)
"If having a soul means being able to feel love, loyalty, and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans."

James Herriot (James Alfred "Alfie" Wight), when a human client asked him if animals have souls.  (I don't remember in which book the story originally appeared.)


I suspect Dhugal will be blistering quite a few ears over the next few days  :)    Looks like there will be some job opportunities amongst the household staff, too, unless their comprehension miraculously improves.

And go Mirjana!  Devastatingly polite - and deadly accurate  :D

Although, given that Dhugal was warned about likely Cassani reactions, it might have been better for all concerned if he could have at least anticipated Lady Margaret's reaction (her hostility and anger are understandable) and had a word to her beforehand about Mirjana. 


That was a bit of a *clang* moment about the feverflux though, eh?

But yay, Mirjana!  (Waves pompoms)


Some major house cleaning is definitely in order.  If I should ever need to get a new job, Dhugal would get my undivided loyalty.  I have a feeling that Cassan and Kierney could see a reduction in population.  Some people may decide to emigrate elsewhere if they refuse to accept Mirjana.  I understand their pain because of what happened at Llyndruth Meadows, but I guess some people refuse to forgive and forget.
We will never forget the events of 9-11!!  USA!! USA!!


Quote from: derynifanatic64 on October 15, 2010, 06:58:45 PM
Some major house cleaning is definitely in order.  If I should ever need to get a new job, Dhugal would get my undivided loyalty. 

Good to know!  Let's see...I think he's currently got openings for a horse groom, several manservants, and possibly another guard or two.  Wages are as follows:

Groom - 6 pennies/day
Servants - 1 royal/day
Guards - 1 vice-royal/day

Household livery, room & board are also provided.  The colors of Cassan are green, black, and white.  Kilts are optional; as this is January, trews are recommended.  Ability to travel with Ducal retinue desirable. Deryni powers not required but might prove advantageous for certain positions.  Serious inquiries only, please.  Send to Lord Deveril, Ballymar Castle, Ballymar, Cassan.

QuoteI have a feeling that Cassan and Kierney could see a reduction in population.  Some people may decide to emigrate elsewhere if they refuse to accept Mirjana.  I understand their pain because of what happened at Llyndruth Meadows, but I guess some people refuse to forgive and forget.

Yes, some will find it a lot harder to adapt than others.  (Though Mirjana's only just got there, so there's hardly been time for the dust to settle.  We'll see how things stand in another month or two.  :D )   One problem with living in a feudal society, though, is that most people really can't just up and move if they don't want to live in the area anymore.  A few could--musicians like Gwydion could find a different patron, or traveling peddlers might be able to find a different region to sell their wares in--but the middle class of free (i.e. not land-bound) tradesmen and craftsmen who might have a better chance of finding work in another part of the kingdom was still extremely small compared to the population at large.  The vast majority of the population would either be the landed nobility or else peasants who are bound to the land and to the manorial lord they owe homage to.  A nobleman's land was the source of his livelihood, so he would only sell it if he were in extremely dire straits (and even then would probably only sell enough of it to pay off whatever debts had him in that much of a crisis to begin with), and because of that, it wouldn't be easy to find land to buy elsewhere in the Kingdom either.  Not many lords, no matter how much they might resent their new Duchess, would be willing to give up their inheritance in order to probably have to spend the rest of their lives working in another lord's service.  Though if their lands were profitable enough, what they could do is turn the management of their manors over to their steward, and then spend most of the year in Rhemuth or some other place outside of Cassan.  It's a rather high-cost way to live, I'd think, but I suppose if one were really bitter and unforgiving enough, it might seem worthwhile.

Peasants would also be stuck, since they were bound to the land even if the lord died and someone else inherited it, or if the lord sold it.  Even to marry someone in another village outside the manor, a father would not only have to save up for the girl's dowry, he'd also have to pay the lord a fee in order to have her released from the lord's service and free to move to her new husband's manor.  Free laborers have the best chance of being able to relocate...IF they can afford it, but unless they have family elsewhere they can move in with, and/or a promise of a job elsewhere, that's really risky.

So, given the lack of opportunities to "vote with their feet" that we moderns have, I suspect that most Cassani would become at least grudgingly resigned to learning how to live with their new Duchess in time.  Especially since most of the common folk will never actually have to interact with her, so it's really mainly the landed folk who will have to learn to just cope.   ;D

@ Alkari--Yeah, it might have been nice if Dhugal could've given Margaret a bit of a heads-up, but I suspect she arrived from Kierney without much if any advance notice, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he just didn't manage to find out in time to intercept her in private before that awkward meeting with the new bride.   His last word from Deveril was probably that she was in Kierney, he'd hoped to tell her in person rather than via a letter, and then whoops, who should happen to arrive in Cassan just as he was bringing his new family there himself, and greeting him on their arrival?  Yeah, sucky timing, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.   ;) :D
"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!


Yes, if Margaret just arrived unexpectedly, it would make it very awkward.

In addition to your comments about the lack of freedom of movement for most people, I think there could also be a 'why should WE leave our homes just because our Duke married a (choose your own expletive ) Torenthi'.   Even if some of them 'could' leave, I reckon many would stick there out of sheer spite and orneriness: after all, if they leave 'she' has won by forcing them out.  And they would be much too proud to allow her to do that.


Quote from: Alkari on October 15, 2010, 11:02:34 PM
Yes, if Margaret just arrived unexpectedly, it would make it very awkward.

I'm thinking it's an almost certain bet, given the timeline:
January 7 - Jass tells Mirjana that Dhugal plans to set off for Cassan (overland) "at the end of the week".
January 15 - Mirjana is in Cassan meeting Margaret
January 18 - Mirjana is thinking back over the three days she's been in Cassan.

So basically, for Dhugal to have brought Mirjana to Cassan on January 15, he'd have taken about a week to get there (assuming the travel conditions are roughly the same as they were when he traveled along roughly the same route several years before in "Maidens of Mayhem"..might have taken a day or so less if they were better), which would have given him just enough time for a quick consultation with Deveril before he went through the Transfer Portal to let Jass know it was safe to bring the women and children through.  At most, he'd have rested overnight first.  But what most likely happened is that he got to Cassan, checked in with Deveril, got the highlights re: the Castle's security status, grabbed a quick bite and maybe a nap or fatigue banishing spell to refresh his energy, went back for Mirjana and Mikhail, Jass and Ailidh got the rest of the kids through, then they all head up to the Great Hall and "Oh, hello, when did YOU get here?!  Dagnabbit, I was really hoping we could talk in private first, but oh well.  By the way, here's my bride.  Oops, awkward...." 
"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!


Dughal might suggest that granny remove herself to the Dower House, or perhaps to a nearby convent, if she can't accept her new grand-daughter-in-law.