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Author Topic: Nothing Was As It Should Be 4 (AU)  (Read 375 times)

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Offline drakensis

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Nothing Was As It Should Be 4 (AU)
« on: March 10, 2020, 03:43:08 am »
There were guards between the girl and the horses.

Red-cloaked guards, serving the House that had slain her grandfather and her mother both.

Anonymity was her only guard, for her mother's Moors were trying - and failing - to cut a path through for her.

Soon their cloaks would be as carmine as those of the Haldane lancers who fought them, three for every one of the men who had sworn in the eyes of god to guard her.

To abandon such loyalty went against much that she had been raised to... but to do otherwise was to abandon the charge that she had been set by her mother and faced with that choice... the girl bolted for another door.

Her hood was up and no one - save the men dying for her - knew her name. Just another maid fleeing from the violence, so most would think.

This was not how the day should have turned out.

Men had died and bled for the great cause, the way so many had over the years. But these were men she had known and cared for. Loved and been loved in the way a girl-child often is by men who can have surprisingly tender hearts and no daughters to lavish those feelings upon.

And it was not lost upon her that all those other men who had followed the cause, had loved and been loved by others.

But most of all, most dreadful of all...

She was alone.

Her mother, her stalwart, was gone in that dreadful circle. And now she alone survived to maintain the cause.

There had been no plan for this because it was a desperate throw of the dice. If she could reach her kinsmen, she might persuade them of who she was and lay claim to some of the estates and wealth her mother had commanded... but first she would have to make that journey.

And even then, safety might not lie with them.

They were her father's kin first, her mother's only more distantly. And...

And her mother spoke little of her father saving in the darkness of evenings. Of a brother. And the man who had taken him from her, before he could be hidden as she - the daughter was.

No one that the girl had yet met had dared speak it, not where she might Truth-Read it, but her father's fate had been repayment meted out by her mother.

Oh such a legacy, she thought. If there is nothing left to me but revenge...

Revenge on that glittering prince who even now stood forward to receive the acclaimaton of his people.

The prince, who...

No, she would confess that later when she had time.

...who when she first saw him, had seemed too...

No, no, her mother would rage at her. Not raise a hand, but speak with such heartbroken...

...beautiful to be one of the devilish Haldanes.

But he had Morgan at his right hand, and all knew that that man, traitor to his entire race, had all the beauty of Lucifer.

So beauty was not good.

A door was ahead, with guards there but others were moving in and out. The girl slowed her pace to something less frantic, and sought to join that stream, only to find that she had misjudged their pace and flow.

Inadvertent bumps, incidental to one accustomed and one not half-blind with grief, set her stumbling.

Only a strong arm stopped her from falling.

"Here now, child, fear not." The man who had caught her was well-clad. At a glance she saw an Earl's belt around his waist and froze in terror. "The fighting is near done and no chore is worth having yourself trampled."

"Sir..."

"Now now, a moment now is better lost than a few hours recovering from a fall in this throng."

He ushered her politely but unrelentingly aside. "Bide her with my lady a moment." And to another: "Richenda, please, the poor girl is terrified."

The woman she was brought to was richly dressed and serene in the chaos. "My lord," she murmured and took the girl by her elbow, stepping back into the side of the great chamber. "Ah, such a day."

Words deserted the girl.

"Let us wipe your face and make you pretty again."

A touch on the chin, a handkerchief and her face was being dried. Her face, unshielded and revealed to an outsider for the first time in years.

"Now, you are a fair one." The lady gave her a mild smile. "What's your name?"

"Mar-y." She corrected herself at the last moment.

That got her a very direct look from blue eyes.

Oh Jesu, she's truthread me. But that was impossible. This was Gwynedd, the only Deryni of note was Morgan and his sister, who was unwed.

"You have the accent of Torenth, I believe. The north of that kingdom. Tolan, perchance?"

"What was that?" the Earl asked. His eyes were sharp and shrewd.

The girl tried to back away. Tried to cloud herself from them.

For a moment, the man seemed swayed but then the lady took hold of her more firmly and in a rush the enchantment broke.

Not just Deryni, a high lady. No one untrained or half-trained could have done that.

"Enough child. I will do you no harm, but nor will I let others come to harm from you."

"So you say," she retorted and heard her mother's haughtiness in her own voice.

The Earl's hand went towards his dagger for a moment but he simply secured it with a clasp rather than drawing it. "I don't think you should have this for the moment," he said instead and drew her own dagger with a practised hand.

She hadn't even considered reaching for it.

"Now," Richenda said with a tone of command. "Your name, please?"

There was no hope of dissembling and scant hope of aid, but scant was better than none.

"I am Marcissa Festiliana Furstana-Festila-mac Tadhg, and pray my lady let me go, lest I decorate a stake here before the day is out."

The Earl's eyes went wide and then narrowed. "My lady..."

"There is other precedent for those of your line living out their lives in safety here in safety," Richenda... what was her family name, Marcissa tried desperately to place the Earl's name from his colours but the facts jumbled in her head. "And you have a better chance with our King than with our bishops."

"Aye." The Earl - Coris! Marcissa forced her wits back into order. It was Bran Coris of Marley! - nodded. "And Kelson has the day. His will shall dominate, as it did the council."

"No!" It was a strain to keep her voice from being a shriek. Not that. Never that.

"Prince Nigel!" Coris stepped out against the throng, calling to a tall and darkly handsome gentleman in Haldane crimson. "Your pardon, but this cannot wait."

"Your mother would be queen-regnant." Countess Marley's words were not harsh, though the logic was. "And that has failed, but if you would see your children reign... then this is a kinder ending to the hatred between Festil and Haldane."

"I cannot." It would betray her mother, betray everyone who had died today.

"Your highness." The title she had been acclaimed to, but never owned. "A feud that endures in hatred cannot end save in blood or in letting that hatred go. How much more blood can your house commit, while the Haldanes are enriched in sons and cousins?"

Not far, Marcissa admitted. After her there was only her great-uncle, the king, and then cousins in Arjenol. And the king was childless now.

Coris was explaining the matter tersely to the Haldane. To Prince Nigel, whose brother had fallen to her mother. Well, so much for avoiding a stake - unless a quick dagger in the darkness...

There was grim anger in his first look, but quiet self-reproach in the second the prince directed towards her. "You will have our protection," he pledged quietly to her and then looked to the Countess. "May you keep her presence discreet while she grieves, Countess Richenda? I think my nephew will best be informed only on the morrow."

"Aye." Richenda promised.

"Gladly then. Please introduce her to my wife and she will assist you in quartering her within the palace." He glanced back to the Earl of Marley and gave him a respectful nod. "Wencit will be displeased, I think."

"Oh certainly." And when the Earl smiled it left Marcissa shrinking back. "But given the situation at Cardosa, I think him already provoked."

Marcissa felt a wetness on her face as Richenda drew her hood back up and took her more firmly by the arm, moving deeper into the Cathedral.

Nothing was as it should be...

But where had 'should-have-beens' ever led her?






A/N: According to the Deryni Codex, Charissa of Tolan, etc., married the future Aldred of Torenth in 1106 and gave him two children before his death in 1110... eighteen days after the birth and death of their son, which the codex blamed on Aldred. The elder child, Marcissa, reportedly died of a fall when she was two... while playing with Aldred. If she had survived, however, hidden from Aldred for her own protection - and then from Wencit for whom she was a dynastic rival (while at the same time being Charissa's only hope of an heir of her body) then she would be a year or two Kelson's junior. The dynastic mathematics of which would be instantly apparent to someone like Bran Coris.

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Nothing Was As It Should Be 4 (AU)
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2020, 12:05:47 pm »
Very interesting, drakensis.  I look forward to seeing where this leads.
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

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Offline revanne

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Re: Nothing Was As It Should Be 4 (AU)
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2020, 03:03:45 pm »
Very interesting indeed.
Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered;
    let those who hate him flee before him.
As smoke is driven away, so drive them away;
    as wax melts before the fire,
    let the wicked perish before God.
(Psalm 68 vv1-2)

Offline Laurna

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Re: Nothing Was As It Should Be 4 (AU)
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2020, 03:08:08 pm »
That is an interesting concept. Would this be Bran Crois attacking Tolan castle? That would be very brave of Bran to attack over the mountains into Talon.

Offline drakensis

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Re: Nothing Was As It Should Be 4 (AU)
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2020, 01:11:36 am »
I don't think that Bran would have taken Richenda with him in this case.

No, this is all taking place in the cathedral at Rhemuth (St George's IIRC) a few moments after Kelson's coronation.

Offline DerynifanK

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Re: Nothing Was As It Should Be 4 (AU)
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2020, 08:45:13 am »
Intriguing. Wonder where  it will lead. Certainly interrupting the cycle of hatred and violence is a high goal and one that should be pursued. Wonder what will happen to this young lady. I see a lot of possibilities in this character.
"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

 


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