Author Topic: A Leap of Faith - Chapter 7  (Read 3325 times)

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Offline AnnieUK

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A Leap of Faith - Chapter 7
« on: December 23, 2010, 02:29:31 PM »
January 1121 to February 1121

I did return to our bedchamber, a few nights before Bran was due back from Rhemuth.  I had been deeply shaken by our angry exchange before he left, and did a lot of thinking while he was away.  I knew I could not refuse him when he got back, and the thought of what he might do if I hadn’t returned to his bed scared me.  

His reaction to my goading had worried me.  I had thought that if I forced him to see that he was behaving like Rhiannon had meant nothing to him, that he might have denied it – even come to see that he did love her as much as Brendan, maybe want another daughter to fill the gap she had left.  But as I replayed the argument in my head time after time, I could see no hint there that Bran had ever cared for her.  He didn’t even acknowledge that I was grieving, far less show any sign that he might be.

So maybe I had better bear only sons then, I thought wretchedly to myself, if only I had a choice.  I hardly dare give him another daughter if she would be as unwanted as Rhiannon.  I remembered my close relationship with my own father and realised that it was not just Rhiannon who had missed out on a loving relationship – did Bran not realise what he was missing out on?  I thought of my lovely blonde girl and remembered her giggles and curls and the feel of her arms around my neck and thought that at least I had a year and a half of happy memories of her, where Bran had scarce any at all.

I took Bran’s place in Marbury at Twelfth Night as I had several times before, distributing alms to the poor at the Cathedral where Rhiannon had been laid to rest.  Brendan accompanied me wrapped up in his winter cloak against the chill, learning his duties and shaking hands and bowing with great solemnity when called upon.  All the memories of that place came flooding back – the trips to church as a couple and then as a family, Brendan’s and Rhiannon’s baptisms and then that painful funeral the week before Christmas.  I was struggling to hold back the tears by the end, and I hoped no-one had noticed, although they probably would not have thought the worse of me if they had.

I had to get away.  Marbury held too many memories now, and I needed to be gone from there for a while.  The obvious place to flee to for a time was my father’s house in Rheljan, but I could never go without Bran’s permission – not even I was impulsive enough to risk something like that.  The thought of Bran in a fury riding to Rheljan to reclaim me was too much to contemplate.  The thought of him taking Brendan and leaving me rejected at my father’s house worse still.  But I had a sudden longing for home: to be with my father and brother Murdo.  Suddenly it wasn’t enough for me that Bran loved Brendan so much – I had a need to be with people who loved me too.

Bran too had obviously reflected on things while he was away.  I had expected him to be unforgiving for what I had said to him before Christmas, and dreaded his arrival and the nights to follow. But when he did come to me it was without the anger that I had so badly feared, and I dared to hope that things might improve between us.  That was life with Bran Coris, never knowing how my feelings – or his - would lie from one day to the next.

After Bran’s return I left it a few days before asking about visiting Rheljan.  He agreed that it was a good idea, but pointed out that winter travelling with a young child might not be easy, so it was left that I would go in a few weeks when the weather improved.  For my part, the spring could not come fast enough.  I needed to get away from Marbury, and I hoped that I would not fall with child again for then Bran would forbid me to travel.  I wondered if I dared defy him again, if it came to that.

Bran would be away from home soon, potentially for several months, as Wencit of Torenth was again threatening our borders, and he would be required at the head of an army to help defend Gwynedd.  Planning and provisioning of his men were his main concerns and I saw little of him.  He was to hold Llyndruth Plain, at the foot of the Cardosa defile – a responsible task for a young commander, but location made him the obvious choice.  Wencit was expected to make his move in the late spring or early summer, so Bran had his soldiers working hard together to ensure they were at peak fitness, and that all their equipment was well maintained and ready to go when the king sent for him.  

The levies for Marley had been agreed long since, and Bran sent notices to the villages to let the nominated men know they would be required soon.  Although most of Bran’s army were regular soldiers, this campaign would need extra men as the threat from Torenth was so great and the attack could come at any of several points along the border.  The campaign was likely to be prolonged, keeping the men away from families and livelihoods for several months.  The timing of the call meant that spring sowing would likely be affected, and the men folk would be away for much of lambing and calving season, and Bran wanted to avoid the hardship that would follow later in the year if these essentials were disrupted.

We settled back into something approaching our normal routine.  Bran spent as much time with Brendan as his duties would allow, and started teaching him to ride on a well-behaved pony called Streaky.  Streaky was an old compliant chap, who looked after his novice rider well, and had been in the family a long time, judging from the affection with which Bran treated him.  Riding on Streaky soon became Brendan’s favourite thing to do, and was a useful bargaining chip sometimes when all other threats failed.

Then one day as February came to an end and I began to think of spring weather and the possibility of my trip to Rheljan, Bran came up with an alternative idea.

“I know you wanted to go to Rheljan, Richenda, but what about Stonelyn instead?”

Stonelyn was Bran’s manor house near Dhassa.  He visited only infrequently as it was out of the way for us, based as we were in Marley, and had been earmarked as Rhiannon’s dowry.  Bran had been there when Rhiannon fell ill, as he suspected that the estate wasn’t being managed as well, or as honestly, as it might have been.   I had visited only once since our marriage and remembered it as a pleasant place, set in woodland to the south of Lake Jashan.  

“Why Stonelyn?”

“War is coming, Richenda, and I want you and Brendan safe.  I don’t imagine that Wencit would bother with Marley, at least to begin with, but if Gwynedd should fall then he will occupy even Marley eventually.  Rheljan is much too close to Cardosa for comfort – I don’t want Brendan to be anywhere near there when war comes.  Kelson will be calling up every man he can into the levies, so Rheljan and Marley will be virtually undefended.  I want you out of here before the fighting starts.”

“We will have little enough protection in Stonelyn, and Wencit is more likely to head for Dhassa than for Marley.  It’s pretty much on the way to Rhemuth and he’d want to take the capital.”

“I don’t think even Wencit would sack a holy city, and Stonelyn is close enough to Dhassa that you could move into the city if things start to look bad.  I’m sure your great-uncle Thomas would arrange apartments in the city for you, if you asked him.”

Yes, my great-uncle Thomas Cardiel, who was Bishop of Dhassa.  I was fond of him, although I saw him only rarely and had last seen him when Brendan was tiny.  I knew that he and my mother had corresponded occasionally, and she had kept him up to date with the family happenings, but I didn’t know whether my father had kept up the contact since my mother’s death.

“Are there children at Stonelyn for Brendan to play with?”

“I think two or three, maybe a little older than him, but I’m sure he’ll find plenty to do.  It has nice grounds, you know, and he’ll enjoy exploring.  And when you move into Dhassa I’m sure you will find that many noble families will have had similar thoughts and moved women and children into the city so I doubt you will be short of company.  Take Joan with you – Brendan is attached to her and it will help you settle him.”

“If she is willing.  I know she is looking forward to another grandchild coming soon, and I would not take her so far from home if she were reluctant to leave her daughter.”

“As you will dear,” he kissed me quickly on the forehead, “you know I leave domestic arrangements to you.”  Chapter 8

« Last Edit: December 27, 2010, 03:26:46 PM by AnnieUK »

Offline AnnieUK

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Re: A Leap of Faith - Chapter 7
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2010, 02:30:33 PM »
Likely to have a break of a few days now, since I am visiting family for Christmas.  Good news is that your belated Christmas present is the appearance of one Alaric Morgan to the story.  :)


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