main
side
curve
  1. Welcome to the new boards! Details here!

Saga - ST "Legends of the Force: book 3, 22 Ch. with fanart, FIN"

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by AzureAngel2, Oct 3, 2019.

Tags:
  1. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Love to see Taran as the tutor
     
    DarthUncle, Kahara and AzureAngel2 like this.
  2. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    @Kahara: Gri´s home base will always remain her family. Growing up with them and having dear friends helped her in to grow not only in the Force, but also in her character. (Which is a different approach than the Jedi Council will have many centuries later. But they are a bit like the Catholic church when it is about serving the higher good. No distraction from the world and worldly things such as love and family!!!)


    @earlybird-obi-wan: I hope you will be equally happy about the new update, because I added a TROS Spoiler inside it.


    And I equally hope that I still have eager readers left for this fic (such as @DarthUncle, @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha, @Cowgirl Jedi 1701 and @Darth_Furio).



    Chapter 14:

    In the years to come I do not grow much in height, but my body begins to change in exciting ways. When the soft arch of my breasts become visible under my dresses I am asked to stop scrambling on Taran´s lap. I am also forbidden to have regular topless sunbaths in front of the cave.

    Shortly after my thirteenth birthday, I wake up feeling ill. When I kick my bear felt aside, I find the horrible reason for my womb aches. It has happened, finally.

    Tears fill my eyes.

    Taran becomes worried about my whereabouts. “Are you all right in there? The pancakes have become cold.”

    “No,” I whine. Too shaken to get up, I remain sitting on my straw mattress.

    He swings the curtain open.

    “Please do not look at me!” I cry, hiding my face in my hands.

    “Oh,” he beams. “You have now crossed into young adulthood.”

    ********************************************************************

    When I have stopped crying completely Taran runs off and comes back with a mug, that holds something right under my nose. “Drink!”

    “It smells funny,” I protest weakly.

    “It is an herb that will help you with your abdominal pain and the feeling of nausea. It's genus alchemilla, also known as 'lady's mantle'. Please drink! I almost emptied the entire jar of honey into it. You might as well die from a sugar shock here.”

    The tea unfolds its strength after half of my mug is empty. My sore womb calms and so does my soul.

    “Luçien could use his healing powers on your pain, but I want you to deal with it by yourself,” he smiles. “Besides, he is not to know that you were here with me all the time. The sheer jealousy of it would kill him off.”

    A kiss lands on my brow.

    “Your Father and your Grandfather need to be informed that you are no child any longer.”

    ********************************************************************

    Barely six hours later I am on board `Paraceus’, the star ship that my father owns.

    I cling to the harp casket. Neither Grandfather nor Father force me to talk to them.

    We land outside the village of the Adar tribe that is located high at the tree tops of the gigantic mammoth trees.

    The Gwyllion lead a secret and calm life, always alert of possible invaders. Their cousins, the Daoine Side and Sleah Maith, conduct murderous raids on them, which they call ’the Clearances’. It is an almost innocent word for all the bloodshed and destruction that is caused.

    Via large wicker baskets and hauling ropes, we are lifted up into the village itself.

    Not much later there is a great feast given in my honour. Only due to the transition that I have undergone that morning. Helygen is the master of ceremony, which is as sacred as it is secret. I enjoy every heartbeat of it, despite missing Taran.

    Late at night, after tearful goodbyes to both Father and Grandfather, I move into Helygen’s hut, which is located at the edge of the village. She has retired as the official shaman of the community long before the birth of my niece Heulwen. Every so often though, she takes on apprentices.

    “One sun year should be enough,” Helygen tells me through the dense smoke of the sage fire. “Your body and mind are flexible. Your powers considerable. Before me you had other teachers. They did good work. Normally I would start training you as a toddler, but I can work with you due to your background.”

    The sage burns strongly in my lunges. I cough before saying, “What do you want to teach me exactly?”

    “Becoming one with the heartbeat of creation. Not via the mudrās that Clementia taught you on the Holy Isle though. There are other ways.” She pokes my chest. “Your body is just a vessel. But your soul, it can dance between the stars and the planets.”

    “How?” I asked curiously.

    “The Living Matrix is everything, and everything is the Living Matrix.”

    “You mean the Force.”

    Helygen chuckles, her owl like eyes shimmering brightly. “Call that power what you want. You Grianán, can leave your body behind like a snake leaves behind its old skin. Your spirit within is perfect, whole, and aligned with creation. Your spirit never dies. It cannot be injured, hurt, or betrayed for it is perfect.”

    And thus begins my apprenticeship under Helygen.

    ********************************************************************

    I follow my new teacher deep into the spirit world. There I find out that my totem, my spiritual guide, is a raven. It makes me sad that it cannot be a wolf.

    The raven is regarded as a creature of metamorphosis. Some Gwyllion tribes even consider it to be a naughty trickster. In general it is called upon in ritual so that visions can be clarified. It reveals the true nature of things, because it sees with its heart and not with the eyes.

    Furthermore, it is the bearer of magic, and could also act as harbinger of messages from the Circle of Heavens. Those are truly qualities that I possess. What I like most is that the raven is thought to provide long distance healing. Luçien needs healing and I am the only person able to touch his scarred heart.

    Another trade that I share with my power animal is that we were both keepers of secrets. As a psychic, I am obliged to remain silent of the things that I find out about others.

    The more that I learn from Helygen, the more it becomes clear to me that Luçien will not approve of my new-won knowledge. His views are too rigid and strict. It is a pity because much love, wisdom and guidance can be found in the spiritual world of shamanism.

    I share my concerns with Helygen one night. “To discuss religious matters with him will be impossible. His thinking is too rigid, dyed by the religious piety of his Brotherhood. He does not believe in free choices, only in what has been written down as a code of behaviour.”

    “Yet you tore half of your soul out of your chest for him,” the old crone chuckles. “Just to bring him the light that got out in his own soul. What foolishness! What bravery! What glory!”

    I blushing I throw more sage leaves into the fire.

    The life force of your bond…a dyad in the Force. A power over life itself. Unseen for generations.

    My skin is on fire as much as the leaves.

    “The cosmic plan seems to be that you must help Ankoù become balanced again, my sunshine.” She chuckles again, that warm sound that makes her shrunken chest tremble and me smile in return. “But beware! He makes the wrong choices all the time.”

    I smirk. “Because he is an appallingly bad learner who ends up running around in circles and fails to see the way out?”

    “The villagers believe me to have the power to rid a sick person of evil spirits.” Helygen takes a sip from her swamp tea in order to create a dramatic pause. “But in the end it is up to the person to get well. I am paid for my work whether the person lives or dies.”

    Nervously, I am chewing on my button lip, considering my own options.

    “You will die if you fail.” Helygen voices tenderly. Her eyes are hooded now. “It is as simple as that.”

    “Then I must not die and keep in good health,” I suggest brightly.

    Roaring laughter floods the shaman hut. “I love working with you, my sunshine.”

    I should be pleased about that compliment, but my stomach knots. “Where you serious about what you said about psychic attacks and dark negative energies?”

    Helygen moves closer to the fire. “There are indeed dark spirits and entities that can move into physical bodies. Negative auras that affect what somebody feels, how he or she acts out in the real word. To such a degree that there appears to be a complete personality change of the victim.”

    I lower my voice. “Do you believe Luçien is haunted, possessed even?”

    “That would explain a lot.” Helygen blows into the fire.

    My chest turns tight. “I have this suspicion that it is somebody that he killed.”

    “He was a master assassin long before he became a witch hunter. And he is thirty-three now.” She rolls her eyes at me. “You might face entire armies of entities here.”

    ********************************************************************

    Exactly one sun year later, I set eyes on Mórag in her private audience room. “You have come,” she says triumphantly and rises from her wooden throne.

    “A promise is a promise,” I answer with an even voice. But inside, I am quivering in fear. She knows though; her crocked smile is proof of that.

    “Fear can be a powerful ally to defeat the enemies of the true religion, Grianán.”

    I realize that she is speaking about Darach, the White Goddess that the Elves worship. “But fear can also dull the mind and turn a person into an animal,” I consider.

    “You already are an animal. Reptile genes in a human body.” She cups my chin with mild violence. “And your fall will not end there.”

    “I have wings,” I say calmly, fondly thinking of my totem.

    “You are no angel, Grianán,” Mórag laughs dangerously. “Your mother brought you back with necromancy. That alone taints your immortal soul.”

    “I am tainted in your eyes, because you want me to be so. Parhelion has the same problem with me. You are truly siblings. Luçien is less fanatic than the two of you. I am sad that none of you inherited Dealg’s open...”

    My godmother’s resounding slap sends me on the stone floor and I split my lip.

    “In time, you will learn when to speak to me and when to remain silent.” Anger glitters in her dark eyes. “For now I give you the allowance of inexperience. Do not think you will get another chance.”

    By instinct I suck my hurt lip in. My vision is obscured by the sheen of tears that threatened. I am so sorry for Mórag. For the first time I see the fear that accompanies her anger.

    “What else do you have to offer apart from a polluted soul?” She walks around me with critical eyes. “And having formed a dyad in the Force by accident?”

    Out of nowhere, spiked clubs come flying towards me. I am able to defend the first attack wave with the techniques I was once taught. But I have to best the second wave with plasma fire.

    My godmother crooks an eyebrow. “Marquise Riwalan raised a little fighter, I see. Perhaps you can serve the Holy Inquisition as a punisher like your mother did.”

    “You can forget about that,” I mutter. “I will not be an aire échta.”

    Mórag uses her paranormal powers to choke me until I lie curled up to a ball, dangerously drained of oxygen. Tears string in my eyes. I have underestimated the madness and the cruelty of my opponent.

    Something sails past my face. It is a handkerchief. I take it and freeze. The vision that I get is too gruesome to describe. I lie screaming until I am hoarse.

    “Ah! That is much better.” Mórag is delighted. “Now I see your true value. What a fine tóraí na fírinne. So, you are touch sensitive. Imagine what crimes you can discover to save my people!”

    She kneels down in front of me and drags my head into her lap.

    “Hush now, Grianán. That child is dead and your tears will not bring him back to life. His soul is free now and redeemed by the mercy of Darach.”

    That does not convince me. It was the most dreadful death one can imagine for a two-year-old boy.

    “Learn to live by my rules and all will be well. Defy me and I will break you like I broke your mother.”

    ********************************************************************

    While my slow descent into the heart of darkness begins, I find understanding in the tortured souls of both my mother and Luçien. In learning of the reasons for their actions, I am able to make different choices for myself.

    In the sound privacy of my mind take refuge in a chant Helygen taught me. A powerful shaman woman called Starhawk composed it on Terra centuries ago.

    Snake Woman, shedding her skin
    Snake Woman, shedding her skin
    Shedding, shedding, shedding her skin
    Shedding, shedding, shedding her skin


    Bird woman, taking flight
    Bird woman, taking flight
    Taking, taking, taking flight
    Taking, taking, taking flight


    Star Woman, shinning bright
    Star Woman, shinning bright
    Shinning, shinning, shinning bright
    Shinning, shinning, shinning bright


    Moon Woman, riding the night
    Moon Woman, riding the night
    Riding, riding, riding the night
    Riding, riding, riding the night


    Blossom Woman, opening wide
    Blossom Woman, opening wide
    Opening, opening, opening wide
    Opening, opening, opening wide”


    ********************************************************************

    As time goes by, Mórag punishes me more than once for my insubordination, but I bare that with dignity. We both know she cannot damage my body permanently. She is too clever to provoke another Star Wars on my behalf. Her personal reasoning though is that I have rare gifts that are too precious to destroy.

    On its own, Clairsentient is the most commonly overlooked psychic ability. My power in it though is augmented by other psychic skills. I cannot help being a ’seeker of truth’. For me, the past is entombed in the presence, always.

    Over the course of the year, my godmother takes me with her on journeys like a lap dog. During witch trials, I have to gather evidence and present it to her. She knows exactly when I am withholding information, and punishes the accused even more dearly for my act of rebellion.

    [​IMG]

    One afternoon I take mercy on a young boy before Mórag can do her worst. Quick and efficiently I give him a heart punch. He is dead before he hits the ground.

    “Quod erat demonstrandum”
    , I choke out in the language of the Holy Isle. Which was to be proven.

    “A ghalla! Thug thu chreach dhomh!” My godmother’s eyes round in shock. ***! You *** me over!

    “Chan eil mi a’ dèanamh càil,” I reply in earnest. I’m not doing anything.

    Mórag rises from the doom seat, starts walking towards me. Her lips part and I wait as she collects her thoughts. A myriad of emotions crosses her face. Finally, she grips one of my arms. Her fingers dig deep. Our gazes are locked.

    “You consider yourself very clever, girl.”

    “Actually I don’t,” I answer calmly. I kneel down in front of her, my head bent down and my arms stretched away from my body. “I am but a vessel of the Force like the Celestrials were once.”

    A murmur goes through the village hall, which is filled with hundreds of spectators.

    I do not look up to see that Mórag drags a girl out of the crowd. It’s the boy’s younger sister. “Anything more you have to say, Grianán, or do you want the girl to share her brother’s fate?”

    “You took the last living family member from her.” I gaze upwards, dizzy with pain. There is more than one bone fracture piercing my skin. I feel like bird woman, taking flight. “Nothing that you can do to her can be possibly compare with that pain she feels inside. Death will only be a relief.”

    Invisible hands break the bones in all of my fingers. I cry soundlessly, biting my lip to prevent myself from screaming. Like snake woman, I will shed my skin once more. “This is not about diminishing evil; this is about you being hurt,” I comment softly, but audible to everybody. “By your father who...”

    A single Force lightning goes through me. I convulse, fall on my back.

    Perhaps I will turn into star woman and shine brighter than a thousand suns. That should banish my godmother’s darkness once and for all.

    “You are a hopeless case,” she cries. “You never do what you are told and you never shut up.”

    With that, Mórag stalks away and leaves me on the floor. The parish community looks uncertainly down on me. Two men, who have thus far masked their presence, move forward to help me. One holds me close, squeezing my shoulders reassuringly. Our brows touch.

    “Èleos,” I sniff with relief.

    “My little sister, trying to improve the universe and ending up hurt as usual.”

    “Her blood loss is extreme,” I hear the other man say. There is steel in his tone.

    “Most of the things Grianán does are extreme, Val,” my brother chuckles. “She puts the safety of others first. Always.”

    “Let us bring her into the major’s parlour.” A finger brushes over my left cheek. “Princess, I will send you into a healing trance now. No more pain. Just peace and rest.”

    At this promise relief, sweet and heady, rushes through my veins. The world blurs around me, but I do not fight against it. Instead I close my eyes, clinging on to Èleos.

    A wonderful blue light cloaks me. It reaches into the very heart of me, spreading more warmth and contentment.

    ********************************************************************

    When I reopen my eyes, Luçien sits next to me, dark and brooding. He looks haggard, completely strung out. Like a man who has forgotten what sleep is.

    “There will be consequences.” His voice is clogged with emotion. “If violence is the only language that Mórag speaks, I will answer in the same way.”

    “Please, you cannot win this.” I shake my head, hysteria rising.

    “It is not about winning or losing.” Luçien looks exhausted. “It is about what is right.”

    I am at the brink of panic. “To answer blood with blood is never right.”

    “Leave that to me.” His hands cup my face. He pauses, then his eyes turn oddly tender. “How old are you now, fourteen? Fifteen? You should be at the royal court, having sweethearts like your sisters do. But your blasted mother forced you down on her path, playing an aire échta...”

    A tear makes its way down my right cheek. “Please promise me to not do anything stupid,” I breathe.

    “You know that I never make promises that I cannot keep,” Luçien says firmly, his jaw clenched tight.

    “I beg you!”

    “My decision was made the very moment a dead boy was carried out of this building. I want such things to stop happening.”

    “And you will kill to get there, well done!” I rant.

    “Anger does not become you, my little dreamer.” Lightly, Luçien bends forward, kisses my brow and then he is gone.

    Lisiére is not.

    “Hi there, little spirit,” I greet her.

    The tiny spot of light settles down on my nose tip.

    “I also fear that your brother is up to something, but I can see no way to stop him. Perhaps you can stick to him for a while and let me all about it.”

    The spot jumps.

    “It is not betrayal, Lisiére. We both love him despite of what he became. Let us watch out for him. We are both his angels.”



    Sources:
    Wookieepedia – The Star Wars Wiki
    Jedipedia, a free German Star Wars-Encyclopaedia
    Hidden quotes from SW movies and the SW universe
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2020
    DarthUncle and Kahara like this.
  3. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Morag is vicious and deserves all the justice all those who care about Grianan feel like imposing. Helygen is a good mentor in contrast.
     
    DarthUncle, Kahara and AzureAngel2 like this.
  4. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    guardian angels
     
    DarthUncle likes this.
  5. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha: Well, the half-sister of Luc is a complicated one, true. Thanks for reading and commenting as usual.

    @earlybird-obi-wan: This story underwent some changes since I posted its first version on these boards.

    Long story short, a lot of things going on in private did not help me to write fanfic or read it.

    Tonight, I thought an update of this fic might do some good, @DarthUncle, @Kahara, @Cowgirl Jedi 1701, @Nehru_Amidala & @Darth_Furio:



    Chapter 15:


    After this incident, I end up in the Monastery of Suaimhneas. It is a wonderful place to be. It is located high in the Montes Nubii mountains, where I find peace and enjoyment amid the eternal ice and snow. I am to be a care taker and teacher to a new generation of beanmna feasa. Èleos has made this unusual bargain with my godmother and I will forever be grateful for this present. It saves my soul.

    I am asked to teach music, art, and history. And when we are not in the classroom, I teach the children about life and love.

    To get used to my new lifestyle is not difficult. In the grey hours of dusk, I get up and make my way to the dormitory where my twenty-four protégés sleep. Then I sneak into the kitchen, where the cook, our steward and my fellow bean feasa sister, called Mair, wait. We always let the girls sleep an hour longer and take time to plan the day together over several pots of hot tea, served with short bread fingers.

    When the children awake, we have breakfast together. Then Mair and I split them up in groups of eleven. We teach them separately until lunch. After that, we let them work in groups on their various assessments. Between tea time and supper, we play games with them, make music or read stories. Gáire, the elderly cook, and her husband Dóiteán join us. We are all a big family.

    I receive many parcels and letters from Aranea, Luna and Mora. My siblings also write from time to time. Father and grandfather visit regularly, loaded with presents.

    Luçien never sends anything. Nor does he ask about me. It seems that he can not be bothered since our last meeting. According to Father, he does not even want to know where exactly I am. That makes me unbelievably sad, but it does not break my heart. I have my life and he has his. Fate, I believe, will bring us together again, when the time is right.

    Taran is a keen writer though. I love him for each word he writes to me.

    Occasionally, I am approached by the Elfin High kings to solve crimes in their communities, but luckily that does not happen very often. In general my life is filled with happy children.

    ********************************************************************

    One morning, I wake up with a bleeding nose. In amazement, I stare at my filthy pillow. Nosebleeds can occur spontaneously when the nasal membranes dry out and crack. Many of my students have this during the winter months when the air of the common rooms is dry and warm from the open fire places.

    Extreme temperatures never have been a problem to me. I can just remember two incidents in my life, when I suffered from nosebleeds. Both times, dark energies had been involved.

    I shake my head, trying to drive away the muddled confusion swirling in my mind.

    An awful silence is all around me. Something is wrong, dreadfully wrong.

    I reach out with my sixth sense.

    Something moves like a predator in that complete silence.

    My heart thuds painfully against my chest wall.

    There have been rumours from many people, especially since my eighteenth birthday, but I have refused to believe them.

    Just dressed in my nightgown and bare feet I run to the dormitory.

    A hooded person stands in the middle of the room, radiating madness. And all around Luçien are my students, dead. I want to yell at him and force him to look me straight in the eye, but then something hits my skull very hard.

    ********************************************************************

    The sky is nearly dark when I awake to pain shaking my limbs. I cough droplets of blood, while I try to piece together where I have failed. My enthusiasm for redeeming Luçien certainly has not been helpful.

    “Te bhan, te bhuidhe bhan, cho tairis ris an or,” speaks a husky voice from the shadows that gathers around the aisle. A fair haired girl, a golden fair haired girl. Sincere, pure as gold.

    A pair of slanted Elfin eyes are shiny slits of yellow in the fleeing day light. The passionate, noble face of my old master hovers over me.

    I attempt to prop myself up on my elbows, which is a bad idea. My stomach lurches. The scalding tide of sickness makes me turn my head and throw up.

    “It is handy that I know remedies for such injuries, my sunshine.” Taran keeps calm. “Had them myself several times in the war.”

    He presses one of his pointed ears against my chest. I close my eyes automatically and focus on breathing.

    “Good lass!” he praises me and listens on.

    His stubbly beard tickles me. We are both aware of the whistling that I make every time I inhale.

    “Thanks for being here,” I pipe up.

    “Any time, lass. Now spare your breath!”

    I swallow, especially when my old master cups my face and turns my head gently from side, to side.

    “Bruising in the eye sockets, blood in both ears. It must have been Draň who cracked your skull. It wouldn’t surprise me if he used a brick-stone. What a brute! Luckily, you have sturdy bones. Comes with being a serpent-spawn of the Tjiehenet line.”

    I do not doubt that for one heartbeat.

    Taran feels along my ribcage with his delicate fingertips. I yawn loudly in the middle of his light probing.

    “Three ribs broken, one might have punctured your right lung. I need to cut you open to check that. I will bring you to the infirmary now,” my old master informs me. “For this I need to lift you. It will hurt a lot.”

    He scoots an arm under me, before he has finished speaking. At the same time he applies his other hand steadily to my backside.

    I scream, especially when I end up dangling from his broad shoulder.

    “What does not kill you makes you only stronger, soldier. Hang on! We are almost there.”

    ********************************************************************

    While Taran carries me towards the infirmary, I felt weightless and airy. I am like seed fluff, that the wind takes from the meadows on its journey through the mountains.

    “Luçien became gloomy after your last meeting. Then one thing led to another. Parhelion began to visit him too often, filling his ears with religious talk. You know how pious our tom-cat can be and how unhealthy that is for his direct environment.”

    We enter the infirmary.

    “I never joined Luçien, Parhelion and Draň on their hunting trips. I am not cruel by nature, and witch hunting is another matter.”

    A single tear runs from my eyes on to his pale skin. He shivers a slight bit before continuing.

    “The tension between us built up over the years. Had I known that Suaimhneas was on their black list, I would have stopped them.”

    I smile, shyly placing my free hand on his wild beating heart.

    “Oh look at you, shaved and marred with tattoo needles.” The anguish in his features is palpable.

    “What tattoos?” I ask sleepily.

    “Later,” my old tutor considers.

    ********************************************************************

    With the remedies of Taran come new pains. During my brief moments of wakefulness in the infirmary I have to face them. His voice is soothing during all the field surgery he does on my body, but it does not help much as I am without painkillers.

    “Lie still, lass!”

    Perhaps I scream when he cuts open my chest, perhaps I do not. It does not matter.

    “No, no, don't move, lassie!”

    I fade in and out of consciousness.

    “Can you breathe properly, Grianán?” His hands skim over my ribs. “Slow and shallow, if you are able to.”

    Night comes and day again. I lose sense of time, only feeling poison hissing through my body.

    “I need to examine your urine! Do you need assistance?”

    Somehow we manage to strike the chamberpot together. There is also a bucket, where all the food and drink ends up. My body will not keep it either.

    Taran remains cool about it. “Go ahead if you need to be sick, lass! Get it all out of your system.”

    [​IMG]

    ********************************************************************

    One morning I awake not only to sunlight shining into the infirmary, but also to a lot of greenery.

    I blink.

    Perhaps I have become mad after my ordeal. There are flowerpots with ferns, heather and field flowers.

    Taran sits on a footstool, studying me through his gleaming eyes. “You were born into the Mother Jungle of Cunabula. To be aligned with plants is essential for you.”

    With that he feels my pulse.

    “Better, much better, lass!”

    His smile warms me from the inside.

    “Your inner damages were as great as the outer ones. You had absorbed too much of the dark energies. They twined themselves around your veins like the tentacles of poison ivy, leaking into your blood stream. I suspect those Undead from the Crypts of Cunabula are to blame for this. And the blockhead that they gave it to.”

    With this dreadful knowledge, I collapse.

    ********************************************************************

    In my fever nightmares I remember all that has occurred to me. There is no escape from the brutal truth. My skin always finds it. It is the curse of a Seeker.

    I am lying on my belly in the empty common room. Iron shackles bind me to the low table I am on. I am rather exposed clad only in my underwear.

    Luçien is in a frenzy. One of his hands flashes out to grab a fistful of my hair, yanking my head upwards. At the same time, one of his leather boots comes down on my back very hard. Two ribs break, maybe three.


    “I will leave you alive for one reason only, witch. You will bear a message from me to Her Holiness!”

    Only madness rules him. He is lost in the darkness that he has created by his own doing.

    He shaves my head hair off, until I am bald.


    Soon his tattoos spin around my entire arms and legs, crawling up my belly and my chest. They are like living snakes, slithering through me. He has laced the ink with a poison. No cosmetic surgery can ever undo his work.

    When the needles are withdrawn, Luçien promises me, “Mórag will come for you, witch. You played your part well.”

    With that he leaves my unconscious body behind.


    ********************************************************************

    Bit by bit my body eases in the green room that Taran has erected around me. I stay awake for longer periods and manage to keep nourishment inside my system. There is also no need any longer to support me when using the chamberpot.

    One afternoon my loyal protector stands in front of my bed, stiff and formal.

    “I will humbly take my leave of you, lass. It has been an entire month now. The abbess is on her way to see you. I can feel her coming though the mountains.”

    Before I can wonder why my godmother comes so late for me, my old tutor puts a letter in my lap. It has been composed in my handwriting. Understanding dawns in me. He has kept her away from me all the time, not trusting anybody else with the task of healing me. He has even pretended to be me.

    “You copied my handwriting?”

    “I hurry to get to Dún Barr. Help is coming. Hold on!”

    “Mo ghaol ort,”
    I whisper. My love is with you.

    Before vanishing into the misty autumn afternoon outside, Taran squeezes my hands. I will miss him very much.

    ********************************************************************

    Mórag sweeps into the infirmary with the swiftness of a winter storm. My heart sinks when I behold her temper. The plants around me become grey as ash; the leaves curl up and crumple into dust.

    I swallow against a surge of nausea. My stomach is not stable enough to master another meeting with somebodies bad karma so soon.

    Her voice is like the cry of an attacking raven. “Why do you look like one of your ancestors? Are you already practising how to be a mummy?”

    My answer is faint. “I am also happy to see you, godmother.”

    “Spare me the niceties, Grianán!” she yells. “They are all dead. An entire generation of beanmna feasa! I saw their graves in the in-yard. Did Marquise Riwalan teach you nothing all these years?”

    My shoulders tighten, but then inspiration strikes me. “I would have joined my students in death, if I could have. Luçien had other plans for me. As it is, I have a message for you.”

    “More messages?” Mórag spits. “You seem to think that I nothing better to do than read from dusk until dawn. I am not your father.”

    It is pure and mindless madness, but I answer, “With all the investigations going on and bonfires burning, no. You are very occupied bringing order and peace to the realm, just as your half-brothers claim to do with their own cleaning actions.”

    “Careful!” she warns me.

    My skin prickles though I stand firm. With slow movements I start removing the bandage around my left arm.

    Dumbstruck, Mórag looks at me when the damage became obvious. “Tattoos of the Brotherhood?”

    I start freeing my head. “Yes, and they are spinning all over my body. Once Luçien started writing, there was no way stopping him.”

    “But he cares for you! How...?” She is bewildered.

    “His hate for you clouds his judgement. He did not recognize me.”

    I hear a soft gasp, when my face is bare. Cold anger explodes around Mórag, causing currents in the Force. I feel gritty, but I hold her gaze with my own. I catch a glimpse of my reflection in her midnight like pupils. I look very young and vulnerable and lost. Is that hairless creature really me? My lips give a bitter smile.

    “Luçien merely wished to make a point. No more arrests. No more investigations. No more torture. No more bonfires.”

    Mórag draws breath to speak, but then she shakes her head. She is speechless, disgusted by the proposition.

    I am not finished. “Do me the favour and agree to this peace treaty! I do not wish to be trapped between the two of you again. Get it over with or more will end up hurt or dead.”

    She stands fixed like an exquisite marble statue. “I will not be emotionally blackmailed. Neither by Luçien nor by you.”

    My fingers cramp into the bedlinen. What was it with religious fanatics and their lack of vision? Their lack of sympathy; their lack of humanity; their lack of everything.

    I drag myself up to sit cross-legend on the bed. Sweat trickles all over me. “As if I had the power to bring changes to your iron rule. You make me so tired.”

    It is a challenge, but I have been silent all these years.

    “If you could hear yourself at times, godmother! How can you be so unreal? You are the darkness that you try to fight. It is you who is wrong about so many things.”

    Mórag takes my outburst in with her eyes wide. Her pupils flicker like candle flames.

    “I am done with being another casualty. It is your turn now to stand where I stand. No more hiding from me. How does crying make you feel? What did it cost you to turn into the woman that you are? Talk about your life, for I honestly would like to know. You are keeping secrets; I can see them in your eyes.”

    Her words are as cold as the steel needles that Luçien has used on me. “I am not one of your suspects, Grianán. Do not dare to use your gift of touch on me.”

    This time I will not take ´no´ for an answer. I sway to my feet and dart through the air within several heartbeats.

    ********************************************************************

    We fall to the ground hard and I touch the hollow of her throat, before she can stop me. “Give me some truth and stop making me cry!” I say compassionately.

    Pictures and feelings explode in my head. Passion and tumult. A life exposed to my skilled touch.

    My godmother's grief and weariness brakes over me like an avalanche in the mountains. It is tinged with anger, so much anger. That anger chokes her own life force from her. She hates a father that never had been there for her. This she shares with Luçien and Parhelion. But there is something that sets Mórag apart from her two half-brothers; a great amount of self-loathing for being different. She regards herself as impure. I have guessed all these things already, but finding confirmation is liberating.

    My fingers run gently through her silky hair. “Pardon me for saying so, but you chose this. All of this. There could have been love. You turned your back on it. And on me.”

    I release her from my embrace. Gathering my failing energies, I stand up and say with short breaths, “Recently... you said... that you... wanted to be... proud of me. I... always wanted that... myself. Therefore... I cannot... be... your dark... acolyte.”

    Mórag shivers violently, but holds her gaze with a measure of defiance.

    “I will never meet your expectations of me. You know it to be true. I am NOT my mother.”

    “I have noticed,” she snaps. “Once I tortured her several times, Arcānā was as obedient as a young lamb. But you, you are indifferent to all that I do to you.”

    The room darkens around me. It is hard to tell if it was my godmother´s anger causing this or my recent trauma. I sink to my knees again and slump on my side. “I love... you very much,... Mórag,... but... your heart... is not open.”

    She has not seen that confession coming. “You love me?”

    “Of course... I do. You are... my godmother.” One of my cheeks rests against the chilly flagstones of the infirmary. I breathe faintly, but got the words out that I wanted to tell her, albeit softly. “But you are... guilty of... making a problem... with... your own father... the problem of all Elves... on this... planet. Including... me.”

    “How dare you!” she rants.

    “How... could you... ever dare... to bring... so much... destruction... and misery?” My eyes close and I whisper. “I... will return... to court... and remain... there. In... the Name of... the Draconian crown... you... are ordered... to set... me free.”
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2020
    Kahara and DarthUncle like this.
  6. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Oh, @AzureAngel2 - so many amazing moods/tones! First we get the great and endearing picture of Grianan with the younglings, then her attack [face_nail_biting] ... Taran's arrival and assistance is timely. Lucien's silence not surprising. :p But it is her confrontation with Morag that is especially compelling! =D=
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2020
    DarthUncle and AzureAngel2 like this.
  7. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Thanks, for always being the first to read my gibberish, @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha. No matter whether it´s via PM for beta-editing or here out in the open on the boards. You always make me feel welcome! [:D]

    I wrote you a summery of my adventures the past weeks. In private though. [face_blush]
     
  8. DarthUncle

    DarthUncle Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Mar 20, 2005
    Since I haven't been commenting , I'll add some quotes from previous posts too, which I felt needed highlighting :)
    LOL, never change Aranea :)

    Well, greedy for love, though he doesn't quite know it. Just like his siblings - this quote, though I didn't fully realise it until I read the last update, very much is about him, his siblings, and their father, I feel. More on him later, though.

    Aranea again, what did I say? Well, that's what you have friends for, right? Save you from yourself.

    Aww.

    Well done Isabeau, a predator who knows what realistic goals are for these girls :) Also for later "1)"

    See, throwing letters you do not want to know about away hardly ever leads to good results. Just take the quick pain and be done, or it might fester and get worse.

    That, and maybe some wilful naivety to help her do what she needs to do?

    Needs to do, because of this; thanks Dealg for the wise words before.

    Taran is such a chaotic good/evil/neutral guy - love a lot about him. Helps that he has little illusions left about who he is, so does not fool himself, which makes him a valuable ally, and a good friend if you let him.

    One: grandfather, being a good steward and knowing what is going on; Two: a good ally, and a friend with heart.

    For brevity, I left the long list of people out - but, quite impressive, and good that she realises how much work it is for a lot of people to keep that place, and in extension, their whole empire, going smoothly and in peace/one piece - that's maybe part of the grounding that I think their father brings her, and her other siblings.

    Yes, indeed, Lucien. I know, he was forced into it, right? But, dear tomcat put down the book, and go play outside with good friends - no not those, and no, bad kitty, that is not playing - oh, right cats tend to be pretty cruel, right, even/especially when they look cute; did I just now contribute to the events happening until the end of your post? - hm, or rather, you know, go find empathy with others, and sympathy with yourself Lucien; but not that book!

    Yeah, Cassandra, no one likes to know you know, sorry dear ;)

    I know the feeling, very much. But, let's hope Grianan gets her good ending and in the mean time, let us also savour the good that is still in Lucien - nurturing it is not a bad thing.

    Yep, though like Cassandra (no not Cassie @AzureAngel2 ), she will not be thanked for it, I think. But, feels good to see Lucien being told thruths he should speak and deal with himself, doesn't it?!

    sweet!

    Heh, well, clearly Grianan isn't the only one who wants to save the world; also something they got from their father?

    3) - so three woman in these updates who insist Grianan learn their type of fighting with the world and elements; yes, different motives, but it still struck me.

    Yep, very much so; good that someone appreciates the glorious folly and hope in it.

    The motive of a lot of your work, captured in the words of an old crone @AzureAngel2 - not quite coincidence I suspect.

    Indeed. And, yeah Dealg - not sure what his deal is but he seems to have either bad choice of partner and/or isn't very good at using his powers to well, heal/prevent hurting what really would have made this bit of universe a lot better: his own kids! Sheesh man, I know Lucien and the other two make wrong choices a lot, but with all his benevolence, he is a very un-empathetic d**k, and I at this point do not really care what is so important that he is doing, if he didn't have the time/energy/ability to deal with them, maybe he should have kept it in his pants, sheesh. I mean, yeah having recently been watching American Gods, Odin and him (oh, and Zeus is a bit similar, right?) have definitely something in common, and he is not the one who knows and acknowledges he isn't good at that bit! Well. So, of course, without him, we wouldn't have this very interesting story, so yeah, the world turns etc. but really, he is not the good guy in this epic.

    Aww - again, back to overarching theme, well put in.

    Lack of Empathy, big issue, sad; sigh.

    So, these updates were fast paced and thrilling great stuff.
    Well said. Yeah, I like Taran as her tutor as well by the way, works better because there isn't the angsty/hopefully not creepy thing - I do think that Lucien's honour and the good that is in him would have ensured it wasn't actually creepy, but at the same time, well, this is better, and feels more natural, and it also fits well with Taran coming to help nurse her back to live there near the end, so she can have that confrontation with Morag.
     
  9. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Morag is bad but she can be handled
     
    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha likes this.
  10. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha, @DarthUncle & @earlybird-obi-wan: Thanks for always taking the time to leave a comment for me, no matter how long it is and how much time goes by. It is always nice to get appreciation and encouragement from you guys.

    Okay, here an update, before the weekend is upon us (also with a poke at @Kahara, @Nehru_Amidala and @Darth_Furio):


    Chapter 16:

    There is a curious rancor, sniffing at me with gigantic nostrils. It means me no harm. I laugh at it with glee, kissing its face. The cow purrs and nuzzles at me.

    Mórag´s mouth is near my ear. “Too bad you decided against any communication equipment. It cannot be helped now. We need to return to the main temple, Grianán. I am not good at far-distance telepathy. And I am certainly not a healer. Hurting people is so much easier.”

    I close my eyes, hearing her anguished comments and her heart beating even louder.

    My transport through the mountains proves to be difficult. I stir too much in the large saddle and have to be tied to it.

    Large snowflakes, falling straight downward from a dull winter sky, drift through the air. We have three sun weeks to midwinter, maybe four. The world seems hushed as the rancor hurries through the majestic stone hallways.

    Each time I wake up, I tug steadily at the disturbing rope. It gnarls my flesh. Fascinated, I watch some drops of blood falling into the snow. With a hoarse voice I sing a chant of the Holy Isle.

    “It's the blood of the ancients
    That runs through our veins
    And the forms pass
    But the Circle of Life remains”


    Mórag tries to shut me up, but I am not willing to listen. After a while she gives up on me.

    ********************************************************************

    The attack comes in the evening. There is an arrow. That much I notice. Mórag is dead immediately and knocked out of the saddle.

    The rancor is furious. Bone-splitting roars of protest echo through the mountains.

    Two more Elfin arrows fly through the air with deadly efficiency, drilling straight through the beast’s eyes. I feel the twin impacts, just a half heartbeat apart from one another, more than I see them.

    “Poor you,” I sniff.

    A shield of blue Force light erupts from my entire body, just before I fall hard to the ground. I have to breathe shallow and very slow to save air.

    Then there is more pain. Sharp fangs are in my left shoulder blade, dragging me into the bright moonlight.

    “Cancra?” I wonder.

    A pressed “woof!” answers me.

    A mentor is always there for an old student. Of course. All is at it should be.

    I pass out again.

    ********************************************************************

    Taran holds me in his lap when I wake up. Judging by my surroundings he has carried me into a cave, one of his many sanctuaries in the winter. Animal pelts are wrapped around me. Yak, I suppose, or even bear.

    “Hallo there!” I breathe.

    My old mentor is furious. “It took me an entire month to stabilize you! That mad old bat ruined it all. Now we have to start all over! It delays everything!”

    My trembling fingers reach out for his sturdy beard that is smeared with dry blood. My blood.

    He brings my chin up to the level of his slanted eyes. It is clear that he wishes no further arguments from my side. “No more travelling for you. Midwinter is cancelled. We stay in here until you can walk out on me by yourself.”

    “We both know that the poisonous ink damaged my bone marrow.” My voice rasps, and a heavy cough brings forth blood.

    “Save it for the enemy!” He cleans the mess off with the back of his hand. “Save it for Luçien.”

    “He is not my enemy,” I mutter. “I still love him.”

    “Then may the Force be with you, you stubborn thing,” growls Taran. “You bloody need an alliance like that.”

    ********************************************************************

    In the fever visions that follow my rescue, I am consistently tempted by the darkness, that once has swallowed my ancestors’ souls. Unlimited power is offered to me if I only free them from their tombs and seek new bodies for them.

    Luçien is also there, wrapped in filthy bandages. He promises me to be my slave for all eternity; as long as I do what he says, dark pleasures will be mine. He will even take my constant pain away by healing my bones. I decline all.

    Throughout my nightmare visions Taran stays at my side like a loyal brother-in-arms. It is very touching. He lets me rest in his solid embrace. Cool compresses are put on my brow continuously. He shares his body warmth with me when I break into shivers. His hands keep me safe from harm.

    Cearcall a claidheamh. Circle of the Sword.

    But the best part is the singing. My old mentor knows many songs of his ancient race. I like to listen to them, no matter how sad and longing they are. Sometimes he sings of war, too. Of the glory of the battlefield; the ruthlessness of the Elfin warriors cutting down Ophidea like trees; werewolf corps fighting against Lidérc. Claw against claw. Fangs hurting each other. Violent words of dark beauty. I like them, too. They stir something in my blood.

    Cearcall as oran. Circle of the Song.

    Now and then there are hot beverages. They taste awful, but they make me feel better with each sip that I have to take. I also hear spells of Elfin magic, arcane and furious.

    Cearcall a drùidheachd. Circle of the Spell.

    Outside the bear’s den that we inhabit, winter rules the land.

    ********************************************************************

    One evening I wake up completely fever free. Taran throws his head back and howls with unconcealed happiness.

    Soon I am allowed to get up and walk a little around. My legs are not used to holding my weight, so Taran supports me gallantly.

    During one occasion my old mentor tells me, “When I picked up your trail, you were reeking with illness. There was also fresh blood. From my experiences with Force witches I concluded you were in a hostage situation. Know the mission, know your enemy, achieve the mission, kill the enemy.”

    I sigh.

    He looks down at me. “I did not want to take any risks with Mórag. The rancor was harder to get down. It was a pity that you were squeezed between them. Without your light shield you would be dead as well. But I counted on the Force protecting its most valuable adept.”

    ********************************************************************

    Taran has burned both my godmother and her mount. In a conciliating gesture he has put their ashes in small graves. “Figured that she would hate to come back as a brainless zombie.”

    “Thank you!” I whisper, tears dripping from my eyelashes. “I appreciate that very much.”

    I swear to myself that I will get the Order off his back. No bean feasa will hunt him down for Mórag’s unfortunate death. Taran is simply a soldier who does not know any different way to react. About a thousand sun years ago he has sworn an oath to protect and survive. He still lives up to it.

    “I also thank you for burying my students and my friends.”

    “Don’t mention it,” my old mentor murmurs.

    “Can you forge another letter for me?” I breathe, looking down on the graves, hard in the frosty air.

    “There is no need. Mórag knew your qualities.” Taran places an envelope in my hand. The seal is open. “Before I burned Her Ladyship I searched her thoroughly. She had this document in her possession. I took the liberty of reading it. It happens to be her testament.”

    I stare at him in shock, and his large hands catch me before I can crumble to the ground.

    “Yes, Her Ladyship loved you in her own special way. You are her heir now with all the duties and rights that come with it.”

    I begin to sob hysterically.

    Taran holds me close as I cling to him for a while.

    Why me? I am the most unlikely High Inquisitor that there is. Mórag must have done this on purpose, to teach me some sort of lesson.

    ********************************************************************

    For the next few days, neither of us brings the will up in conversation. Taran breaks the silence one morning. “With your godmother dead, let me take her place at your side. You need protection from yourself.”

    His offer is a surprise. “Are you sure that you really want to do that, Carcra?”

    “Around a certain age Elves start getting sentimental.” He clenches both hands around mine, touched as usual when I call him by his soul name. “You and Sionnach are the only family that I have left.”

    I take care not to remind him of Ruadhan Ahearne, his only son. “Then I will be your godchild.”

    A werewolf will do a better job than a real fairy godmother.

    We wait another two sun weeks until Taran gives me clearance, and we set off together.

    ********************************************************************

    Travelling around in the Vallum Ventii around midwinter is always dangerous, but it is a challenge we both are prepared to take.

    It is like leaving the world of the Living with all its distractions and obstacles. Time, space and fears play no role for the traveller. We simply focus on the task ahead of us and that is reaching Dún Barr.

    The breathtaking beauty around us is our reward: frozen glaciers, the colour games of the sun shine on the vast surfaces and the purity of the land.

    We take care of ourselves and each other.

    We make enough breaks to keep our strength and eat well.

    We warm each other at night like wolf whelps in a bed nest.

    There is so much to gain from each other in the hostile climate that we move in. Talking is no necessity, and we spare our wheezing breath. Our cooperation lies mainly in touch and eye contact.

    ********************************************************************

    When the Saxum Lucis drew close, I give my new godfather the traditional Elfin travel blessing in Basic.

    “May the blessing of light be on you – light without and light within.

    May the blessed sunlight shine on you like a great peat fire, so that stranger and friend may come and warm themselves at it.

    And may light shine out of your two eyes, like a candle set in the window of a house, bidding the wanderer come in from the storm.


    And may the blessing of the rain be on you, may it beat upon your Spirit and wash it fair and clean, and leave there a pool where the blue of Heaven shine.

    And may the blessing of the earth be on you, soft under your feet as you pass along the roads, soft under you as you lie out on it, tired at the end of day; and may it rest easy over you when, at last, you lie out under it. May it rest so lightly over you that your soul may be out from under it quickly; up and off and on its way to the Goddess. And now may Darach bless you, and bless you kindly.”


    With a wry smile Taran shifts his shape. He had asked for my permission before he did so. I am even allowed to watch. It reveals much to me.

    The myths take no account of the agonizing pain that goes hand in hand with the transformation into a werewolf. There lies open madness in the act itself, but also wild joy. Taran embraces the animal in himself.

    While I carefully fold his clothing and put it into a hollow tree that he marked, the large grey wolf with its massive paws and many scars watches me good-natured. His nostrils take my scent in. He remembers our comradeship, the ties that bound us.

    “Have a wonderful winter, Carcra!” I get down on my knees very slowly, reaching out for him with my palms turned upward.

    The wolf passionately licks my hands and goes on to my face.

    “Off with you!” I laugh. “Take care until we meet again!”

    There is so much that I wanted to say, but I do not. I am not his conscience.

    It is his stomach that makes the choices in the end. It is the law of the wilderness.

    ********************************************************************

    The closer I come towards the midwinter castle, the more my heart grows heavy. I will not only be reunited with my family, I will see Luçien again. Tears prick my eyes. I tilt my head back as grief and longing lace through me.

    Luçien’s irrational fear for my safety and personal development have brought us both to the darkest place imaginable. If I am to save him, I have to believe again. I have to somehow reclaim what I have lost with the temple raid; my faith in him and the healing power of love.

    A sheen of sweat gathers all over my body. My scalp prickles with dawning apprehension. As the unwelcome memories of Suaimhneas flood me, I hug myself tightly.

    In order to cool my thoughts I take off my winter boots. I need to feel the snow between my toes. Immediately it distracts me from the constant pain I feel since the tattoo session.

    When I reach the mighty draw bridge of Dún Barr, I find it wide open.

    Rancors and huntsmen alike shift in anticipation at the thought of a winter hunt. Familiar thoughts wash over me.

    I draw my grey felt coat closer around myself, calling on the Force to mask my presence. It is egoistic of me, but I need some moments for myself.

    Steadily, I walk on, taking great care not to leave footprints in the snow. I glide inches above the ground and take the entire scene in.

    My siblings Caelestris, Iocus, Blandita, Rubio and Calathus are there, fighting for the best mounts in humorous ways.

    Shesha guards, whom I know and others that I do not, are on duty.

    Father, looking older that I remember him to be, will not join the actual hunt, but is out here to give his blessings. Soon he will retreat into the library.

    Two paladins eye the rancors with great concern and suspicion.

    Prancing horses want to run wild and free through the snow.

    My brother-in-law Draň, who has never been introduced to me officially, checks the weapons of his choice. He is the type of man who goes for a slow and painful kill. It makes me nervous, even though he is no witch hunter with a shrewd logic. Just a bad person, hiding under a layer of sparkling charme and good looks.

    Three loyal household servants, all faces from my childhood, serve hot beverages.

    And of course, there is Luçien. His sight makes my heart beat faster in excitement. He is in his desert robes, including that long, thick travel cloak of his and that cruel war mask.

    But it is Nanny who notices me first, when I let go of my concealment.

    “Bonjour!” I speak quietly, but her excellent hearing catches my words despite all the noise.

    “Ma petite!” she calls out.

    Her emotions are strong, and are send to me in waves of delight. I have missed her very much.

    I let her take down my hood for I am done hiding.

    The shock of recognition goes deep into Luçien’s bones. I hold his anxious, burning gaze for a moment, but then my attention is drawn to something else.

    “What happened to your hair?” Nanny is outrageous with grief. “And what has happened to your eyebrows? Why are they shaven off as well?”

    I have to ease her distress. “It is only hair. It will grow back.”

    Doubtfully, she stares at me, her cat eyes wide with alarm. “And what about those dreadful tattoos? Will they go away by themselves?”

    I do not want to lie to Nanny so I remain silent. The truth will only devastate her and drive her straight into a double murder.

    “When I agreed on your training it had never come into my mind that Mórag would cripple you beyond recognition.”

    Were the circumstances different, I would have laughed out loud. She believes my godmother has done all this. What a fortunate coincidence for Draň and Luçien! I feel their investigating gazes on me. Impassively, I stare ahead of me, making my expression unfathomable.

    The voice of an elderly man, saying my name as reverent as a prayer to Parhelion, echoes over the yard. “Grianán.”

    Páppos! I missed you so much,” I cry in delight before I lurch towards the entrance of the castle kitchen.

    There Grandfather stands with his walking stick, a gentleman in every way. It seems that he has been waiting for me at the door since I have left Dún Barr.

    “Come inside, my child.” His kisses rain down on me. “It must have been a long journey for you from the temple. Especially with those bare feet of yours.”

    ********************************************************************

    The kitchen always has been my favourite place in the entire castle. Our kitchen staff does not spoil all surprise visitors that drop by. I always have been an exception. Everybody loves me. I am kissed and hugged by everyone before I am left with Grandfather, Nanny, and Father with a mountain of cookies and sweets.

    [​IMG]

    “Are you sure you want black tea? I can remember that hot chocolate was your favourite.” His real concern is obvious to me. He knows that it is not Mórag who has maimed my skin. “You have loved xocolatl in all possible forms since you were able to walk,” he moves on, deep love shinning in his wrinkled eyes. “I cannot imagine you without it. Have a sip!”

    I am confronted with a mug of steaming hot chocolate. The coca beans do their ancient magic. In my veins the jungle unfolds in all its rich beauty. So much green; so much life; so much death. And all in balance.

    It is Father’s hand on my shoulders that brings me back to this world and this reality. “I think we all had enough excitement this morning. What about looking for a nice bedchamber now? You can pick one of your own if you like. This castle has so many rooms.”

    This makes me laugh despite all. “Let me first use the toilet.”

    “Of course,” Nanny says eagerly, biting down her nagging questions.

    “You really want to know, do you?” It was better not to look her straight in the eyes. I could not have her to find out the truth at this point. So I prompt, “I cannot give you the details, Isa. There is an unbreakable vow. I have to obey.”

    With that I leave the kitchen.

    ********************************************************************

    Three half-blood Ophidea in fovea centralis uniforms wait straight outside. Their faces are vacant, their posture stiff. No badges give their ranks away. But I know.

    “Let me guess,” I offer, playing it cool. “You would be happy if I could join you?!?”

    They nod in perfect unison.

    While I take a hesitant step forwards, I feel Luçien lurk in the nearby shadows and so do the women before me.

    My amour foú has grown so self-assured that he does not even bother to conceal himself properly. Arrogance has become a major weakness in him. Or is it simply worry for me? His mood is difficult to interpret.

    One of the agents grabs my left upper arm brutally. “You better hurry up, mio bellissimo principessa! There are some urgent questions you need to answer us.”

    I bite my cheeks. “Am I under arrest?”

    “We are just the real home coming party,” an agent with lime green eyes grunts. “You have been a naughty girl. Did you think that there were no consequences for you?”

    I shake my head defiantly.

    “That was already the wrong answer.” The third agent looks at me disapprovingly, taking every detail. “You will bleed for that. Make no mistake!”

    I let them drag me away.

    There are places were Luçien will never go. The women’s rest room is one of them. And for that I am grateful.


    Sources:
    Inspirational terms from sean ciall, literally the Old Way
    A well-known Scottish blessing, slightly altered
    Wookieepedia – The Star Wars Wiki
    Jedipedia, a free German Star Wars-Encyclopaedia
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2020
    DarthUncle and Kahara like this.
  11. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    and where is she going?
     
    Kahara and WarmNyota_SweetAyesha like this.
  12. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Great encounters and steady healing.
     
    Kahara and AzureAngel2 like this.
  13. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    A short life sign from the Harz Mountains/ Germany. Right now I was too busy to update. But now its just me and my older brother, because my husband had to leave for hospital checks in the Netherlands.

    So when I am not eaten by a wolf or a linx (there are no bears since the last century) when my "kulning" attempts go utterly wrong, I should be able to update soon.

    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha already made sure that all the next chapters are okay to be posted.

    And @earlybird-obi-wan, today I send off an old-fashioned postcard to you.

    I promise that I will finish what I started. So, Gri will be able to tell her story. And Luc will be next.

    But for new OC's of mine like Cassie, I am not sure...
     
  14. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    As you may have guessed I enjoyed my holidays so much, that I had no time to update. Even though I have it all nicely in stock as @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha already knows.

    But now that I managed to fall badly on the old military road that leads up to the Brocken Mountain peak, I am having a little break today. (For all who want to know, there was no snow, just concrete, ice and grit. So I was walking with my ski boots, carrying my ski on my right shoulder. And all of a sudden I slipped and crashed down with the left side of my body. The formation of haematomas has only started today, but I hurt badly since yesterday. Stupid road!)

    And @DarthUncle wants to get some work done. So we are not having a ride with my older brother, who would like to try out the cross country ski run around Sonnenberg.

    I am told though to have everything wrapped up nicely around 4:30 pm. Then we are off to the hot spring & sauna in Altenau again. By that time my husband might be ready with his amount of home office work, too.

    So enjoy reading @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha, @earlybird-obi-wan, @Kahara, @Nehru_Amidala, @Cowgirl Jedi 1701 , @Darth_Furio & @Kahara. This ends with Chapter 21.


    Chapter 17:

    The four of us step into the same toilet box, closing the door properly. As Ophidea we are all used to crowded spaces and awkward situations without wondering about them too much.

    I give my three childhood pals a long-lasting hug.

    “Thanks for all the letters and parcels, girls, I really appreciated and needed them,” I finally beam at them. “What have I done to deserve this welcome?”

    “We missed you, silly,” Luna prompts. Her lime green eyes are filled with tears of joy.

    Mora puts her hands on my skull, her fingers stretched out wide. “You never wanted a tattoo, not even a little tribal at your ankle. Now look at you! How daring. Mi piace davvero,” she says. I really like it.

    “We’ll stay in here for a bit.” Aranea growls. “Ankou’s hearing is not as accurate as that of your common Lidérc.”

    “Speaking of which, doing a psychological profile on a person from an entirely different culture...” starts Mora, but my pleading look forces her to pause. Then she goes for the short version. “Well, my team of researchers declared that he might suffer from a controversial mental condition. He may be bipolar but the results are inconclusive. Some argue that he’s on the cusp; others think it may be more severe than that.”

    “Personality disorders are relatively resistant to treatment,” Aranea interjects. “Some can be treated, but the treatment is likely to take many sun years. You do not have that much time. And if it is borderline...”

    I shake my head, ruling out the possibility. “There is no mental problem. It is just the dark side of the Force. He can overcome it. There is still good in him.

    “Yeah, right.” Anger darkens Luna’s features. “You sound like a family member of a person with drug problems.”

    Mora pokes her softly in the ribs, silencing her effectively. Then she turns to me again. “Fact is: your beau has great difficulties controlling his emotions. There seem to be a lot of stress-related breaks with reality lately. The temple raids are just one of many examples.” She gives me a searching glance. “But you might know that already, don’t you?”

    “There is no way that I will give up on Luçien right now. I have already gone too far,” I yelp. “My latest sacrifices have been dear. I have to go on. There is no alternative.”

    “There is always an alternative,” Luna pouts. “We get an able shaman woman and excise the congeniality between the two of you. It must be treatable. This dyad in the Force.”

    I blanch with fear. “You make it sound like a tumour,” I stammer.

    “Listen very carefully.” Mora cups my face, leans her brow against mine. “Taking Luçien’s history with his true father into account, I’ve noticed that there is obsession with abandonment. We can clearly see how that worked for Isa and Sionnach thus far. The way he treats both of them have a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships.”

    “Characterized by alternating between extremes of ideation and devaluation,” observes Aranea coolly.

    ********************************************************************

    I let out a deep breath, step away from Luna and tell my best friends what I really want. “Let me undergo all the medical, physical and psychological assessments that you all had to do for fovea centralis.”

    “What?” Aranea blinks at me. “The complete intensive training of the academy alone takes between seventeen and twenty-two sun weeks, and that doesn’t include the battery of assessments.”

    I lower my head into the toilet while starting to strangle myself.

    “This is madness!” I hear Mora, while she tries to drag me away from the toilet.

    The outer door flies open with a bang.

    ********************************************************************

    “Seriously?” my sister Daná shouts. “What is wrong with you four?”

    “Go away!” hisses Aranea.

    “We are busy in here,” Luna protests, while blocking our door with her body.

    “Say word?” Daná glares down on us from the neighbour box. Her brows furrow when she beholds me. Then she states with a cool, levelled voice, “To hurt a princess of blood on purpose is high treason. And to try to flush her down a toilet is madness.”

    “Up yours!” bites Aranea.

    My sister’s eyes narrow. “Out with you, nut cases, before Isa finds you. She might give you all a good thrashing with her bamboo cane.”

    The girls push our toilet door open and pass Daná in grim silence. I can see them all making our secret sign behind my siblings back. Despite my utter irritation I have to smile.

    “Explain!” Daná scowls when we are alone again.

    “Girls just wanna have fun,” I mutter, not willing to say that I was prepared to inflict wounds to myself to make it look more real.

    “With water-boarding? Non mi rompere i coglionil!” She trembles with rage and hits me in my face with full force. Do not bother me!

    ********************************************************************

    While I am dragged outside by my right elbow, I notice that Luçien is still there. He is unmasked and hides behind a column. His eyes widen at my appearance. A confused array of emotions rushes over his features. Finally, a hard line presses in his mouth. It is dismay. Daná is only focused on her anger and so she does not notice him.

    “I wonder what thoughts go through that head of yours. Your stay with the weird sisters did not improve your brain functions.”

    I stare down at my hands, as my twelve fingers knot together.

    “Did you become her dark acolyte? What’s with all the tattoos?” My sister’s voice becomes louder with each question.

    As we head through the castle, her pressure on my elbow increases.

    Daná rants on about the beanmna feasa, never allowing me a word in edgewise. “And why are you shaven? Were you accused of witch craft? Please do not tell me you talked with dead people again, stupid.”

    Luçien, who has eagerly followed us until now, goes rigid, tension visibly boiling off his body. His face is a wreath of mortification.

    I squeeze my eyes shut. “Daná, please!” I yawn. Heat suffuses my cheeks. The worst case scenario has happened.

    “When dead people talk to you, then do not talk back,” my sister snarls. “It’s as simple as that.”

    My nostrils flare and I suck in deep, steadying breaths.

    “You won’t listen to reason,” Daná says bluntly.

    ********************************************************************

    When we reach my new chambers, I am ushered off into the en-suite bathroom. There, I am almost thrown into the copper bathtub. I moan softly at the pain, which increases the flow of Daná’s abusive words.

    “Porca miseria!” she scolds. Miserable pig!

    New anger flashes in her eyes as she scrubs me hard with a sponge and lavender soap. She has grown strong from endless exercises in the gym and her instructors, including Nanny.

    “I would search for new friends if I were you.” Her discontent cannot hide the worry she feels for me, and her voice drops an octave at my silence. “ I never liked those girls. If they were not so damn good at the things they do, I would have Caelestris remove them from court.”

    Daná dries me with fresh towels more gently than she has cleaned me.

    Soon, I am helped into a soft cotton nightgown and am confined to bed. To be honest, I welcome sleep. The room is starting to blank around me.

    “I will call for Valiant,” Daná bites out. “He is a very skilled healer, almost as good as Sionnach. I do not want anybody else to see you this way.”

    I yawn at her.

    ********************************************************************

    Not much later, an unmasked Lidérc is let in by Daná. His presence wakes me from my slumber. Uncertain, I blink at the visitor. His face is triangular with narrow lips and a nose that has obviously been flattened by opponents more than once. His feline eyes shine with mirth. I think I have seen this man some place before. If I only could remember where and when that had been.

    “Val, may I introduce you to Gri?” offers Daná.

    “Enchanté!” The paladin gives me a perfect bow. It is a real pleasure.

    I grant him a weak smile, remembering our brief encounter in the mountain village of Càrn Bothan now.

    Meanwhile, Daná crosses her arms in front of her chest. “My sister has crossed the line with her... experiences,” she explains. “Somebody tried to flush her down the toilet. Fortunately for her it did not work.”

    Looking at the paladin, who has an unreadable face, I mumble, “The girls had issues with my new hair style.”

    Daná goes purple. Her veins pop in anger. “You are a bad liar! Always were! Why did they do this to you?”

    Even though it causes me pain, I shrug. “There is a problem with my hair style anyway.”

    “I could force the rat pack to tell me the truth,” she snaps. “They are servants of the crown and I am a royal princess.”

    That threat I am able to deflate immediately. My words slur though for my tongue feels too thick in my mouth. “I have returned... to court on behalf... of the beanmna feasa. The Draconian crown... has to support... my... investigations. I am... the chief... seeker... of the... Holy... Inquisition.”

    “I am beginning to understand why they were so eager to beat you up. You dare to bring the Holy Inquisition straight to our home. Mora, Aranea and Luna should have called me for help. Vai a morire ammazzato!” Shouting this, Daná storms out. Go and be killed!

    I sink back into my pillows.

    Lying to my family does not become me, but there is no other way to protect both Luçien and my plans with him. At least the girls back me up and we will have more training sessions coming up in a more private setting. They will not let me down, no matter what I ask of them. Together we can make a difference for the man that I love.

    “If you want me to, Your Royal Highness, I will challenge my cousin for those tattoos at dawn.”

    To my embarrassment I notice that I have forgotten about the paladin. He has not moved one inch. And he is family to Luçien, of course.

    “Just call me Grianán! Gri will also do.” I leap out of my bed, ignoring the immense pain that I am in and say sternly, “Also, if you honour what I fight for, do not intervene!”

    “He mutilated you!” he protests.

    “By doing so he harmed himself more than me. He is a victim of his own darkness. I can help him to become something even better.”

    I fall on my knees just to hug those of the paladin in a submissive way. It is the Lidérc way in a family argument with an elder.

    “You should give your heart to somebody more trustworthy and sane, Your Royal... Grianán.”

    “Love is patient.” I lean my head against his legs, surprised by the information that this delivers to me. Pushing my special gift aside, I insist, “Love is kind.”

    “Do you have any clue how many decades your cousin Sionnach has tried to do just that?” His anger is controlled and just an outlet for his great concern. “Have you seen how broken the girl truly is? And they do not even love each other.”

    “This is where I come in,” I say eagerly and looked up at the paladin. His face shows only pity for my innocence.

    “Dancing next to a lava river would be less dangerous than the liaison that you have in mind.”

    My face flushes slightly at the thoughts I have had of becoming Lady Ankou.

    The paladin waits until my gaze has cleared up. Then he says, “On my world they call Luçien 'le angle noir', the black angel. Can you imagine why that is?”

    Carefully, I suggest, “Because Death follows in his wake?”

    He nods. “Many believe him to be the Messiah, destined to bring peace and order to the entire sun system. Between us, I believe him to be at the edge of madness.”

    I am persistent. My path is chosen. “I have seen seen a spark of brightness so many years ago. This is why I forged a soul bound between the two of us.”

    “The most sacred bond that there is. Just like that.” The paladin strips off his dark brown leather gloves, beaten. “If you wish for any further training with fovea centralis finest again, take me with you. I can be there to stabilize you if needed. Your family does not need to know. Isa will never ever know.”

    Something in his look tells me that the paladin has experiences with keeping injuries hidden. “You are a member of the Brotherhood as well,” I guess.

    He says nothing and just gazes down at me with a small smile.

    “It is whispered that they have a department of healers,” I say evenly. “It 's not always a smooth process to train warriors and assassins.”

    The paladin chuckles, instantly reminding me of Luçien, only with less sarcasm and more genuine humour. “Perhaps I am good at concealing the mess that others make, but is my honoured cousin aware that you are a Seeker?”

    I feel a light grip on my right wrist. My entire arm is carefully moved upward. Warm, tingling fingers play with my palm.

    I recall all my training sessions with Nanny and remain silent, my eyes fixed on his shiny boots in submission.

    “All those secrets your small, white hands found out by accident. I wonder if this is your motivation. You know things about Luçien nobody else does.” The paladin and releases my hand again. “Things he wishes to remain unknown. Even to himself.”

    In a fluid movement, I grab both of his hands and press his knuckles against my mouth. According to the social protocol of his people I kiss them one by one. “His secrets remain safe with me. So will yours, companion of the Holy Consort. May I call you 'uncle' in private?”

    The paladin is not surprised that I have gained knowledge of the best kept secret in the realm. Actually, he is relieved. “There is no need to call me thus,” he laughs. “Izzy and I always have been careful. It is more comfort than love that binds us. We give each other a semblance of normalcy while we’re both far from home.”

    I feel his hands wandering over my skull lovingly.

    In the privacy of their homesteads it is common for Lidérc to be gentle with one another.

    “The first time it happened we were both surprised,” the paladin continues, his voice dreamy. “We told ourselves it was an accident, a common circumstance where a man is drawn towards a woman four years his senior. Then it became a habit. A very nice one I must say.” He hesitates for a moment. “If Luçien ever finds out, we will have a problem.”

    “I certainly won’t tell,” I ensure him, even though I believe the love of my life to be actually very open about his step-sister having an affair.

    “Only Éleos knows; as my commanding officer, he had the right to know.” The paladin strokes his goatee, changing the subject abruptly. “Can I heal you now, or will you wait for Luçien to do so?”

    My smile grows radiant. “I can heal us both.”

    “May the moon goddesses protect you!”

    ********************************************************************

    Luçien comes around in the late afternoon, after I have allowed myself to doze off a bit.

    “Your mutilations speak a clear language,” he says. His flat voice indicates he has been crying. “I am so sorry, my little dreamer, so sorry.”

    When I peek up to face him, his face is but a strained and weary surface. The cat eyes in it are large and luminous. He wears a simple house tunic, nothing fancy. The white cloth contrasts against his copper skin. His black hair is as loose as his sash.

    [​IMG]

    My heart squeezes and twists, because he wears the colour of moaning. For me. “Give me a hug!” I yelp and open my arms.

    He inhales sharply. His expression is pained. “Grianán, I possibly could not...”

    “Please,” I beg and use my ultimate weapon. His guilt. “I need this.”

    His lips part as his breathing audibly increases. The agony that he radiates is tormenting to watch.

    When I already begin to fear that I have stepped out of my league, Luçien's look turns feral. With a strangled groan he flings right inside my embrace. He sobs like a little boy.

    Tears begin to ooze my own cheeks as well. Prolonged tension can hold a certain amount of weariness only.

    “I feel so lost.” His voice is thick with tears. “What if I am going mad? Like Mórag, or even your own mother? I maimed you in a bad temper. I didn't even know that it was you until I spotted you among the hunting company this morning.”

    “You have your moments. Not many of them, but you do have them,” I find myself whispering into his hair. “Admitting that you have a problem is a good start though.”

    He laughs and stretches his neck to kiss the back of my head. “Those agents, will you report them?”

    His lips are so warm and soft, the changing of the subject more than abruptly.

    “I asked for it, did I not?” I state calmly.

    Right now, I concentrate on reasonable arguments for I definitely do not want him chasing after my best friends.

    In the end I hurt myself in that toilet box to make it look more convincing.

    ********************************************************************

    Luçien draws a breath of sheer puzzlement. I fear he is not finished discussing the subject at hand, yet. “You are their princess.”

    What indifference he had towards people at times! On the other side I had never told him of Aranea, Mora and Luna.

    “It was about my engagement with the Holy Inquisition,” I lie.

    “And what did you do before you became a teacher for the new blood of the order?” Curiosity resonates in his voice.

    “Let me just say that I deserve every injury that I got.”

    Abruptly, Luçien lifts me off his chest, his eyes blazing. “Wait, are those hand prints around your throat?” He runs anxious fingers over the damaged skin, causing me to wince. “I want the names of those agents and I want them now.”

    “Can't help you there. Sorry.” Nervous that he will harm the girls and Daná, I add hastily, “Know that this happened in the line of duty. Each of those officers is a loyal subject of the crown.”

    “As you wish, Your Highness,” he slurs acidly.

    “Now you can do everything with my body that you feel is required.” Realizing how wrong that sounds, I add hastily, “As a healer that is.”

    “Are you flirting with me?” He spins around. His cat eyes are intense and he is so tantalizingly close to me. My skin begins to tingle pleasantly. It seems as if Nanny has never taught me an ounce of self-control.

    Blushing, I walk away from him and lie down on the bed as decent as possible. “Focus now!”

    “You are flirting with me,” he concludes, looking down on me with such impact that I gulp audibly. “Why would you do that?”

    “Because I am traumatized?”

    “Nonsense! This has nothing to do with Suaimhneas.” His tone is accusatory.

    Suddenly, Luçien is next to me on the bed, pressing his brow against mine. With our faces so close his cat eyes blur into one large blue orb. We both jump a bit when he starts purring.

    “Hush,” he pleads at once, his voice dark and husky.

    Then I feel his thumbs stroking my cheeks in a slow and even rhythm. I answer by moving forward until our noses touch.

    “No,” he mumbles and moves on to my mouth. “Not the Lidérc way! Please.”

    Our lips touch.

    It is my first kiss, and it feels like walking on clouds. Eagerly, I deepen it. Such sweetness!

    A blue light encloses us both.

    All the while, I feel his healing touch. Deep inside he has never quit on being a Force healer.

    ********************************************************************

    When my amour fou lets go of me again, his eyes are shining bright with disbelief, shock, desire and awe. “How can you love somebody like me? I have brought you nothing but fear, pain and shame.”

    “No!” I defy Luçien in an outbreak of passion, “You showed me glimpses of the wonderful man that...”

    “You never give up, do you?” he interrupts me, rubbing his nose against mine. “And I thought only your father was a desperate romantic.”

    “He taught me that true love knows no rules and no boundaries.” My voice is firm. “It does not judge. It simply is.”

    “What about your damaged bone marrow?” he inquires, taking me off guard with this sudden query.

    “I don't know what you're talking about.” My voice sounds small and lost, contrite even.

    “Perhaps you can fool your family, Isa and all the paladins, but not me. You live in a constant state of pain since I tattooed your skin.”


    Sources:
    Lines from Corinthians 13:4-8
    Wookieepedia – The Star Wars Wiki
    Jedipedia, a free German Star Wars-Encyclopaedia
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2020
  15. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Terrific interactions and I especially love this marvelously warm and snarky remark:
    “You have your moments. Not many of them, but you do have them." [face_laugh] =D=
     
    DarthUncle, Kahara and AzureAngel2 like this.
  16. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Lucien can be nice. Why not always?
     
  17. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Great, @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha, I know. @DarthUncle came up with it.


    @earlybird-obi-wan: Lucien is a feline alien, minus the pelt. Cats are mysterious creatures.

    Okay, an update in strange and dire times for all of us.

    In addition I better I notify @Darth_Furio, @Cowgirl Jedi 1701, @Kahara & @Nehru_Amidala.



    Chapter 18:

    There is a deep sorrow in Luçien's eyes that I cannot explain. He runs a slender hand through his hair. What is he hiding now? “You should lie down for a while,” he suggests. “We can continue this conversation after dinner. But first, I think you need some rest.”

    I can feel my ears burning while he tucks me into bed. It is so nice to have him around me and care for me.

    “Agathos is still one of my best friends,” he says, while smoothing out my blanket. “I need to tell him what just has happened between the two of us. This changes everything.”

    “Maybe, then, you should consider marrying me,” I reply sleepily and close my eyes.

    “All we did was kiss and now you want to marry me? Truly, you do have some kind of trauma,” he complains. “I never should have allowed you to read those love novels. You picked up some odd ideas from them.”

    “Fancy that!! Nobody will get abducted and hidden away in a dungeon. My ideas are perfectly sound.”

    “Sleep now!” he moans. “And rest assured that I will report every word of our conversation to your father, Grianán. Perhaps he will make you see sense.”

    That makes me giggle. “Good luck with that.”

    Quickly, he leaves.

    So much about sense and sensibility.

    Lisiére stays behind though, forming a soothing blanket around me out of love and light.

    “Of course you could not intervene at the monastery. I do not blame you.”

    The energy blanket draws tighter.

    “Taran came to my rescue. Let me tell you all about it.”

    And so I entrust the bodiless spirit all that I can not yet share with Luçien at this crucial point. For him I am prepared to climb the highest mountains, to dive into the deepest ocean, all to make him whole again. But he does not understand my deep connections to the spirit world, mistakes it for necromancy.

    ********************************************************************

    My siblings Iocus, Blandita, Rubio and Calathus come to fetch me for dinner. They attack me with hugs, questions, pokes and kisses. I make sure parts of my mind stay closed to them.

    Caelestris, whom we meet in front of the dinning room, stays at a distance. “Benvenuto, mia sorella minore!” she says. Welcome home, little sister!

    When I go to embrace her, she draws back from me. I do not press the issue, knowing I will find out what it is sooner or later. There are other methods for me than skin to skin contact. For now I am hungry and not only for food. I need company.

    Having my family at a dinner table is wonderful, even though Draň is there. Seen in candle light, I like him even less than before. He is the kind of man who was too beautiful to be true.

    “Where is Sionnach?” I ask while chewing my roast venison with cranberry sauce.

    My siblings look at me with blank features, while Nanny makes a face. “Forget about that clone! She is not family. We are!”

    I do not ask again, but just before dessert Blandita tells me via telepathy, “Sionnach hates to be around when Draň is here. Luçien is pretty annoyed about that.”

    “Do you want to have any more sauce, Grianán?” My evil twin Daná almost shoves the bowl into my face.

    “If you are going to ask in that tone, no thanks!” I warble like a little bird, trying to be extra sweet.

    Nanny grins. “All back to normal with the two of you, I see. If you keep behaving like this, I can set up a training session at dusk.”

    “That will not be necessary,” I answer quickly.

    My body will not allow me a hard training session. I am glad that I am able to hide my constant pain.

    When I leave the dining room with the excuse that I am tired, the girls wait for me in the corridor. I can tell that they are not here for pleasure. They hold themselves tensely, telling me they want an emergency briefing. They have news for me.

    ********************************************************************

    Despite all the technical equipment, the conference room feels more like a preparation for an Amnionian party. I spin around in the office chair enthusiastically, laughing the entire time.

    Luna sniggers. “I can clearly see that you lived in the complete wilderness for quite a while if a simple piece of furniture can excite you so much...”

    I beam at them. “Taran finally became my godfather.”

    It is Luna who is keen on breaking the silence. “Networking is your hobby, is it not? I must say I am impressed. What other alliances have you created since Luçien screwed up your life with his tattoo session?”

    “That's about it.”

    This is not exactly how everything happened, but that story needs to wait. “You all brought me here for a reason, did you not?”

    A computer screen switches on in the middle of the table, showing an image of Luçien in the royal library, unaware of the camera. The bluish projection reminds me of a ghost.

    Luna says rather agitated, “There are some concerning developments about Cat Litter. We felt that it's time for you to know.”

    Cat litter?” I muse.

    “Our official code name for Ankoù.”

    I give her a thin smile. “Do I have a code name?”

    “Of course, Bright Eyes,” Luna replies.

    “So what is it?”

    “Gah, Bright Eyes.”

    “Oh.”

    She rolls her eyes at me. “Love certainly makes you stupid.”

    My smile freezes when Luçien's image disappears.

    “It is not the first time that he has done that,” Luna states gravely. “I have gathered more than fifty recordings from our surveillance cameras this winter. He jumps through the rooms of this castle like a grasshopper.”

    “Oh,” I say, biting back words.

    “Face it!” Luna glares. “Luçien can be anywhere at any time. No door can hold him back. There is no prison cell in this galaxy that could trap him for long. Reconsider this match. His psychological profile is unstable, his presence simply unpredictable.”

    ********************************************************************

    The girls insist on staying with me over night, keeping me safe. In Aranea's office there is a sofa that can be transformed into a bed nest large enough for all of us.

    Soon, our limbs entwine like vines, granting me all the comfort that I need.

    This is how Grandfather finds us the next morning. He is not surprised in the least. The smell of chocolate surrounds him. He has a tray with four steaming mugs on it.

    “Good morning, ladies!”

    He inclines his head to us, while we are busy untangling ourselves. There is something homely and nostalgic about waking up this way.

    “Páppos, you should not carry that!” Eyeing the tray, I feel awful. “It is too heavy for you.”

    He gives me a mild look of displeasure from under his bushy eyebrows.

    A nervous fovea centralis agent appears behind him. “There is a paladin with a trolley full of cereals and other breakfast items...”

    “Clearance granted,” says Aranea. She jumps out of bed with only her lingerie on.

    I stay where I am, even though I am the only one fully dressed. “How did you know where I was, Grandfather?”

    His smile warms me. “If the girls were at the other end of a black hole, you would dive for them. And they for you. Nothing can come between the four of you for long.”

    “You are not easily fooled. S'agapó!” I raise and walk towards him. I love you.

    He puts down the tray, which by now holds only my mug. “I have heard it say that true love is blind. Are you aware what the symbols on your skin mean? Those are curses that surround you.”

    “Words cannot hurt.”

    “Needles can, Grianán. As can ancient secrets you may not be privy to.”

    “I will be Luçien's mirror and confidant, and everything in between,” I promise Grandfather.

    ********************************************************************

    Luçien returns the following afternoon while I am napping in my chambers. I wake up when his presence flares up in my breast like a shooting star.

    “Hi there!” I beam, pushing aside the excruciating pain that sings in my bones.

    “Room service,” he jokes and pushes away from the door frame.

    “What a nice surprise.” I smile at him as he came near.

    Once more Luçien is not in his desert robes, but dressed casually. I like him best this way. A tray with jasmine tea and cinnamon cookies rests in his large hands. “How are you, my love?” he asks, making me blush with this new title for me.

    “Tired, but happy. Please sit down!” I pat the mattress.

    Reverently, he comes closer and puts the tray on my night cabinet. “Do I need to give you anything against the pain you are in? You must have had a hell of a winter, even though Mórag had her best healers waiting on you.”

    I long to tell him that it has been only Taran who cared for me. Instead I say, “The pain comes and goes. The healing session that you gave me yesterday helped a great deal.”

    “We can have more sessions.” He looks hopeful. “Not that the pain will ever fully...”

    “You brought tea and cookies. And yourself,” I interrupt him, not willing to hear the depressing diagnosis of my health. “I appreciate the gesture.”

    In silence, Luçien watches me eat and drink. I can tell that there is much on his mind. When I am finished, he pulls a little bottle out of his sash.

    “Argan oil?” My heart begins to race.

    His eyes are bright as sapphires. “If I would ask you nicely if I can be allowed to regularly administer massage sessions, would you consider my offer?”

    I twitch my nose. “After consulting my calendar, I might.”

    “On my terms only.” His face changes into a forbidding mask. “There will be no funny business. I promised your father as much.”

    “What are you afraid of?” I get up, smoothing down my nightgown. “I am not afraid.”

    “You should be. This is a betrayal of the Draconian crown.”

    “Luçien,” I laugh, “I am last in the line of succession and besides, all of my siblings have liaisons.”

    Liaison? Is it that what I am for you? A pet for a Tjiehenet? Or a pain killer?”

    “Of course not.” I can feel myself burning in embarrassment. “You are...”

    “Yes?” he encourages me.

    It is too early to speak the three words. At this stage it will only send him running. “I would never dare to play with your heart,” I say instead. “It has enough scars already.”

    Luçien glances sideways at me. His look is hard to judge. The next thing he says takes me aback. “Could you please undress behind the paravent and put on a towel? There is no need for me to see more of your skin than necessary.”

    This is not how I have envisioned it.

    Disappointed, I do his bidding. I cannot argue with him, if he talks to Father. I take time undressing myself though.

    ********************************************************************

    “I do not know if this will help against your frustration, but please give me time to consider your amazing offer, Grianán.” Luçien smiles, adorning his hands with the massage oil. “You are very young and very beautiful. I still do not believe I really deserve you.”

    I lie down on my stomach. “Let me decide that.”

    He clears his throat. “And if such a relationship is even proper, considering your current state of health.”

    After that, he works on my back in silence. I cannot help but make sighs of content every so often. His hands are gentle and rough at the same time.

    My thoughts stray as my body relaxes. I can feel his aura struggling against my vivid wishes. He wants to keep it a simple massage. His urbane reserve is more than maddening and dampens my mood.

    His voice breaks into my thoughts. “Would you take potions that I mix for you?”

    “If you would take care to share their contents and effects with me, I might.”

    “What do you know about belladonna?” he prompts.

    “That it is one of the most toxic plants found in the Western hemisphere.”

    “In small doses however, the plant causes a feeling of euphoria, followed by a deep sleep, engendering vivid dreams.”

    “I never dream like that.”

    “Then it is about time you have the experience,” he offers. “Please. I want to do what I can to ease your suffering.”

    My thoughts are chaotic. Trust is not automatic, especially not for Luçien. And it takes time to grow. I need to make the first step. “Do what thou wilt,” I say, my words muffled against the pillow.

    Luçien lets out a long breath, his fingers wide splayed wide on my back as if reassuring himself of my steady heartbeat. “And it harm none, do as you will. An it causes harm, do as you must,” he whispers, his voice nearly gone.

    Panic sears through my brain, rendering me incapable of speech.

    “Why would you quote 'the Rede' to me, Grianán?” he says in a stricken voice. “I am a witch hunter. You talk yourself into trouble here.”

    I blink, struggling to find the right words. “I was not referring to the counsel of the Wise Ones.” I shiver underneath him as his fingers tighten at my waist, his fingers flexing spasmodically. “I actually meant: ama et fac quod vis.”

    “Love and do what you will,” he translates hoarsely, smoothing his hands down my arm. “Of course. I am sorry that I got you wrong. Old habits die hard.”

    A hot flush travels from head to toe. “Is this about what Daná said earlier on?” I inquire sourly. “Me, talking to the dead?”

    Heavy breathing answers me.

    My lips twist ruefully. “How many times do I need to tell you that I am not involved with séances? That restless souls simply have messages which they want me to pass on. I never raised an army of zombies in my entire life.”

    “Please do not wind yourself up, my love!” Clumsily, he pats my head. “You are right. There is a zombie in this room. And I am the necromancer.”

    I do not know whether to laugh or to cry. All I can do is to bury my face against his tunic, sucking in deep breaths as my chest heaves against us. He rubs his hands up and down my naked back.

    “I messed up your skin, ruined your health forever. Coup de poudre, datura...” He makes a sound of exasperation. “If I could only turn back time.”

    “Please!” I croak. “Stop beating yourself up about it once and for all! I will survive.”

    “In a state of pharmacologically induced trance for many years?” Luçien bites out. “Wonderful. This is exactly what you always dreamed of, is it not? Me being in absolute charge of your life.”

    I manage to lift my gaze and meet his blazing eyes. “As long as you do not make me build entire pyramids completely on my own, I do not mind.”

    A smile splits his agitated face. “I do not deserve you.”

    “You probably don't.” I grin cheekily. “But who am I to argue about it?”

    “Indeed.” There is a mischievous glint in his cat eyes. “Now lie down again. I was not finished with your healing session.”

    My lips twist. “Better me than any of my students. They were children.” The words break out of me before I can stop them. “How could you? Twenty-four young and innocent girls. They were like my family. The youngest one was only two.”

    “Grianán, please! I already know that I was wrong.”

    Luçien's agitation is real and reminds me so much of Mother's reactions in the past, when confronted with her own darkness. “Wrong?” I repeat. “Just wrong? What you did was abysmal.”

    He lowers his gaze. “For the record; you still can tell your family what I did and clear my half-sister's name.”

    To think about my godmother's ashes in an unnamed grave somewhere in the mountains hurts my chest. “Mórag's reputation is a matter between her and me. Stay out of it!”

    “You want to keep what happened at the monastery a secret?” He takes a sharp breath. “Why?”

    “Mórag understood your message well enough.”

    “But your own family,” he inquires. “Surely...”

    “There is too little to be gained from exposing you to everyone”

    Luçien leans his chin on my left shoulder. “I already talked to Agathos and Narthex about the temple raid.”

    “I am not going to change my story towards the rest of my family now. We are not done, you and I,” I breathe into his hair. “Until we are, Isa and my siblings don't need to know.”

    “I stand to my failures. If you wouldn't mind, I would like to write to the families of your deceased students.”

    “No, leave it to that. It would do more damage than good.”

    “As you wish,” he agrees unwillingly.

    “But what about Draň? It was him who knocked you out with that brick stone.”

    My body remembers the impact of the stone too well. “I cannot destroy his marriage now, can I? From recent letters I take it that Caelestris is very happy with him.”

    ********************************************************************

    While Luçien's fingers do their Force magic, I give my best not to buck and wither. I want him to be proud of me instead of thinking that I am positively wanton.

    “When did you decide that it had to be me?” I hear him say.

    I sniff, not willing to tell. If he ever comes to know the truth that I am a Seeker, I am finished.

    “Oh, of course,” he exclaims. “Polysýndeton. Teenage hormones and romantic novels cannot be the only reason. Trauma bonds you to me.”

    “Please, drop it!” I moan into my pillow, not able to keep the anxiety from creeping into my voice.

    He rises from the bed, but instead of leaving the room, he erects an arm chair next to my bed.

    “What are you doing?” I inquire.

    “Night vigil. I am not leaving you alone when you are hurting, my love. No way. I am done with leaving you behind. I will stay with you.”

    “You will get cramped,” I warn him. “This bed, on the other hand, is queen-sized.”

    “Out of question,” he says incredulously. “We are still not married.”

    My mouth goes up in one corner. “Are you indicating that we are engaged?”

    His features derail completely. “Grianán!”

    “Must be the pain.” The words are gruff in my throat. “Gives me delusions.”

    Nevertheless Luçien stays at my side through the entire night, my left hand resting in both of his hands while I sleep.

    ********************************************************************

    Despite all my various obligations at court and the strong drugs Luçien has put me on at night, I manage to contact the main temple. I am respected as the new head of the order without further ado.

    Soon, a myriad of messages goes back and forth from Dún Barr, without alerting my family to them. The death of Mórag remains top secret for the time being.

    Overall, I am happy and content, despite my physical suffering.

    Only one thing truly dampens my spirits. My niece Heulwen, the daughter of Sereno and Gwenynen, keeps at a safe distance from me. The nine-year-old seems afraid of her 'spooky aunt Grianán'. That hurts a bit, but it is not in my power to change her attitude towards me.

    Each night after dinner, I am with Arena, Luna and Mora. They try home-made popcorn, chocolate fondues and many other sweet sins to distract me from brooding too much. It is also their mission to lure me back into the company of my siblings, especially for the nights. But I will not hear any of this. It is a blessing to be absolutely pain free, at least in sleep, thanks to Luçien’s concoctions.

    [​IMG]

    Each morning, my amour fou helps me wash and dress, fussing over each wince my sore body creates. He does not try to kiss me again, but he keeps saying 'my love' to me. That sends tingles through my body each time. I would not mind us continuing this way for the rest of my life, even though it makes me vulnerable and dependent on him.

    In public, Luçien and I do our best to ignore each other completely. He usually visits me after my afternoon naps.

    While working on my skin with a mixture of esotherical oils and his healing skills, we have pleasant conversations. He rarely speaks about himself though or his feelings, but he keeps saying 'my love' to me. That sends tingles through my body each time.



    Sources:
    Extract from the Wiccan Rede, first publicly recorded in a speech around 1964
    A quote from church father Augustinus (354-430 after Christ)
    Wookieepedia – The Star Wars Wiki
    Jedipedia, a free German Star Wars-Encyclopaedia
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2020
    DarthUncle and Kahara like this.
  18. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Delicious with Lucien - their interactions are full of humorous teasing and unspoken caring. :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2020
    DarthUncle, Kahara and AzureAngel2 like this.
  19. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    As usual, a lot of changes in a short time for Gri! :eek: The horrifying massacre at her school and the torture by Luçien (which seems to have long term effects of unknown extent), and then the tense abduction by and then loss of Mórag. (There was some really interesting stuff with her, and it's a bit sad to see her go just when she was showing something other than rage. I can absolutely see why Taran felt it was the only way to keep Grianán safe -- but one is left thinking what a sad waste of a life.) And then she has to part ways with Taran, though at least that is more of a bittersweet thing -- I loved his transformation to winter-wolf and Grianán's understanding about it.

    Gri's been through a lot, even before coming back into contact with Luçien. It's good that she has the support of Luna and the girls with their spy skills, even though they (and Daná, and Luçien himself) aren't really helping her judgment by constantly comparing her to a silly teen for her feelings and trying to diagnose her with various kinds of trauma-related impairment. Which I kind of think she does have, but there's a wrong way to go about telling someone that. I think her well-meaning nearest and dearest are just strengthening her resolve about Luçien. :oops:

    If only. I think Luçien can't really make such promises, though I am sure he means them at the time. That said, I really enjoyed their conversation. Lots of caring there, even with all the problems that aren't really going to go away from Gri's compassion.

    [face_laugh] Loved that exchange!
     
  20. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
  21. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha: He can be the occasional LOL cat. :D


    @Kahara: I feel honoured that you had time to read and leave a longer comment.

    As we all see now life is full of changes. It is a constant flow. Good things happen, bad things.

    Gri has a good home base. She is not from a toxic family as Luc. That helps her to feel compassion and see the positive in others. But yes, she needs to stay in the light. The dark side is keen on her soul...


    @earlybird-obi-wan: Every cat can thus... ;)

    Okay, here the long overdue update. Also for @Darth_Furio, @Nehru_Amidala, @Cowgirl Jedi 1701 & @DarthUncle, who is stuck with me in a Berlin flat these days. I wonder when we will start to kill one another. Like in "The Shinning". But in so far we are doing well. We have enough groceries, a big supply of tea (that is bags AND the real stuff!!!), lot of games & deadlines from work. (Yes, even I have those as a kindergarten teacher!)

    Well, keep safe and sane everybody. But most important: stay healthy! [face_good_luck]


    Chapter 19:

    My daily schedule changes abruptly with the arrival of Sionnach O'Conghaile, my royal cousin. I happen upon her in the kitchen. She is talking to Grandfather. I have trouble taking my eyes off her.

    The last time I have seen Sionnach was ten years ago. I must say that she has turned into a self-aware woman with a calm dignity. Where Isabeau is fire, she is water. Her nature is sweet and forgiving, too forgiving perhaps. The shadows of Luçien have crept into her soul, but she still comes back to visit him regularly. Like me she is afraid of his final fall from grace.

    [​IMG]

    Grandfather pulls me aside after I have made my presence known. “Grianán,” he says in a slow voice. “I believe this is my night to leave this world, this life. Give me a hug, a kiss, and don’t despair. I’ve lived long and all things must die.”

    I do as he asks. There is nothing that I can do, only accept his fate. “Then please, allow me to bring you to your room,” I answer. It is clear to me that he does not wish any other family members present. He wants it to be a calm and dignified affair.

    Cousin Sionnach stands up in one swift and elegant move. Her azure eyes show concern. “Can I help?” she asks me with her melodious voice.

    It lightens my heart to have her around, to share this burden. “Thank you,” I breathe.

    Death comes when the struggle to cling to the flesh gives way. Grandfather already accepts the journey that his spirit needs to take. I am not quite there yet.

    ********************************************************************

    Once Grandfather rests in his own bed in the servant quarters, he speaks softly, “Twilight is upon me, and soon night must fall.”

    I brush my lips over his brow. “Mother and Grandmother will wait for you on the other side,” I assure him, trying to be brave.

    “I am grateful to have known you, child.” His brown eyes are full of tears. “And you, Sionnach. Together the two of you will make all well.”

    And with that, he dies.

    My cousin and I hold hands in silence. I lose track of time. Only the moment counts and it stretches into eternity. Then I feel her gaze rest on me.

    “I will just speak about this once and then never again, Grianán. Who did this to you?”

    I owe Sionnach the truth to some extent. “You already carry the answer inside you.”

    The shock of confirmation drains all colour from her lovely face. But she keeps on holding my hand, squeezing it even harder.

    ********************************************************************

    Èleos joins us many hours later, overwhelmed by the news of Grandfather's passing. After a short conversation, it is agreed on that I will spend the night in the company of Sionnach.

    Valiant is asked to tell Luçien that his official companion is off with a healer's errant. I am fully aware that this will not work to keep him away from us, but I decide to keep my mouth closed.

    Tired, I lead Sionnach through the castle. When we enter my chambers, I notice immediately that something is wrong.

    My fingertips glide over the door when I close it behind us.

    In my long absence, Aranea has arranged secret surveillance cameras to be installed. I mask my anger as much as my physical pain.

    Once I lie down in bed next to Sionnach, I reach out with my thoughts. “Luçien?”

    “Yes, my love?” he gives back immediately.

    “Grandfather is no more, but I would like to be alone tonight.”

    After a shocked silence, Luçien replies very determined, “Nonsense. You need company. Let me be the shoulder you can cry on. Please.”

    “You cannot visit,” I insist. “I'd rather have you stay with...”

    My transmission is ended by a pair of slender Elfin hands that send me straight into a healing trance.

    ********************************************************************

    At dusk I wake up between a snoring Èleos and a tear-smeared Sionnach. But there is more. I feel three strong presences just outside the door.

    Aranea, Mora and Luna have come for me. They take me to Grandfather's chambers, armed with skewers and marshmallows.

    We sit down in front of his fireplace and silently lit dry wood to roast our sweets. Then we solemnly remember Grandfather and begin to giggle when each of us brings up his favourite quotes.

    ********************************************************************

    At noon, I am dozing in my copper bathtub. I enjoy the heat of the water and let myself be carried away by the lavender essences.

    Within one heartbeat, Luçien appears next to my left elbow, dressed in his breeches only. His hair is tightly braided. For once, he is not wearing eye make-up.

    “You had guests last night,” he states in a questioning voice.

    “I did not mean to shut you out,” I reply, feeling guilty. “You loved Grandfather as well.”

    He nods, not able to say anything proper.

    When I get up to hug Luçien he immediately hands me a nearby towel to create a barrier between us. His eyes are fixed on my face only. “Cover yourself before you catch a chill! I cannot have you any more ill than you already are.”

    I still do not accept the towel.

    “Get dressed!” he insists. “I cannot talk to you like this.”

    “Why not?” I probe.

    “You are naked and vulnerable,” he tells me huskily, turning his back to me completely. “Please stop torturing me! I cannot take any more. This is a dangerous game that you play.”

    This is the second time that he warns me about playing with his feelings.

    A goofy grin spreads on my lips. He is head over heels in love with me.

    I quickly dress, finishing with a green Elfin dress. It has a high neck line and an ornamented hood.

    “Ready!” I call out, covering my bald head.

    Luçien's brow crinkles with concern. With a sigh he walks over, takes the hood off again and strokes my cheeks. His touch sears my skin, filling my veins with fire.

    “There is no need to have that hood on when you are with me, Grianán.”

    “I... I... feel so ugly at times”, I stutter.

    “You are not.” He has to stop and clear his throat, before adding tenderly, “To me, you will always be beautiful.”

    “But I feel like a freak.”

    Impulsively, he gathers me into his arms. “Don't!” he whispers with his head bowed.

    I stand up on tiptoes, pressing my lips to the hollow indention at his collar bone and enjoying this connection.

    “I have no right,” he sighs and gently lifts my face away from his skin. His thumb brushes lightly against my lower lip when he does that.

    I try not to blink.

    “Your Grandfather just died and, mince alors... ne me regarde pas ainsi, tu me rends nerveuse,” he curses all of a sudden. Damn it. Don't look at me like that. You are making me nervous.

    He vanishes, leaving me in emotional turmoil.

    ********************************************************************

    Aranea orders the fovea centralis to be extremely alert when I slip into the unused dungeons. Nobody is to follow me. It is as dark, moist and gloomy as it has always been.

    Some entities, all ghosts of tortured prisoners, try to make themselves known to me, but I calmly state into the never-ending night, “I am just a humble visitor. Please let me go my way! I do honour your sacrifices and will not forget them. For today, and all my visits to follow, I beg you to grant me and my Elfin cousin the right of passage. Our mission is urgent.”

    My honest plea works for the restless souls draw back.

    I need no light to find the sleeping porta nigra. My heart remembers every step that I need to take.

    Lovingly, I stroke the ancient stone arch with my finger tips. It recognizes a legitimate heiress of this castle and activates immediately.

    I sing an old chant of my people anyway, feeling better with each note that leaves my throat.

    “Mother of darkness, Mother of light
    Earth beneath us, soul in flight
    Songs of love and love of life
    Guide us to our heart.”


    Green light shines through the torture chamber, illuminating the gruesome scenery. Nobody had ever bothered to clean up the mess in here, and the torture instruments are still there.

    ********************************************************************

    Each sage leaf that Helygen throws into the ceremonial fire gives the memories more clarity and intensity. I hold on to a very special one – the day that Luçien's life became infected by religious fanaticism.

    As I surface from the past, I find Helygen watching me with hooded eyes. She reaches out for my hands and squeezes them with her claw-like fingers. “When was the last time you went on a soul journey, sunshine? A real one, I mean. Not one into the dark hole that is your kittie's soul.”

    Her words hurt me with a bitter-sweet ache. I close my eyes again, pressing the heels of my hands against my lids. “Forgive me, but those days are gone. If Luçien ever catches me doing soul journeys, I will be a dead woman.”

    “If you cannot be what you truly are around him, you will never flourish,” she says wearily. “You will wither away like a flower that has sun and rain, but no roots to nourish it.”

    “He will not approve of the Way of the Shaman.”

    “Then wisdom, healing and insight will not come to him.”

    I want to weep, but instead defend his views. “Parhelion thought a Force healer like Sionnach could help him physically, from the inside out. But that was wrong. Love is the answer. And I love him with all my heart.”

    The fire crackles on.

    Finally, Helygen begins chanting an old Ophidiae song that I know since my early childhood. Her usually harsh raven voice turns soft.

    “Earth my body
    Water my blood
    Air my breath
    And fire my spirit”


    Soft light glows all around my tutor.

    “Helygen,” I address her. “Please believe me, that there is more than anguish and hatred in him. Luçien can be so much more than the sum of his fear and anger.”

    The ancient crone smiles, genuine and startling alike. “Our common ancestors believed in blood sacrifice to keep the universe in balance. How far are you prepared to go, Grianán? All the way?”

    ********************************************************************

    That evening, Luçien swirls into my bathroom like some sand devil. He is in his desert robes, war mask and all.

    My heart sinks immediately. With each obstacle I try to overcome, he erects another barrier between us. I cannot win this.

    “Please do not puke out your medicine again, Grianán!” he bellows in an accusative tone. “It is disgusting.”

    I gaze up from my washing bowl, dizzy and miserable.

    The entire afternoon I tried to leave my body for a brief soul journey, but I have failed utterly. Helygen, myself.

    To reconnect with the Cosmic Force is impossible for me when I am drugged. But there is no way to rub his nose in. It would be signing my own death warrant.

    Luçien already looks implacable. I wonder what I did wrong.

    “Throwing up my medicine not only renders your healing process useless but causes damage to your organs.”

    I give him a pleading glance for my tongue is unable to function properly. Like a zombie I am bereft of speech.

    There is a blackness and rage in Luçien's eyes that makes me shiver. He is furious. No doubt there.

    “Show me how good you are without me and the sleeping draught,” he shouts. “But if you fail to do so, I will be in charge for tonight and all the nights to follow. And I will make sure that you keep my medicine in your system.”

    ********************************************************************

    For the first night in ages, I sleep with a calm stomach. My dreams are tormented though. Hours later, I manage to shake away the heavy veil that weighs my eyelids down and return into the real world, that is only lighted by a small honey candle.

    “Why are you awake?” Luçien mutters, his voice accompanied the sound of a pencil moving over a piece of paper.

    I glance frantically around. He sits in a chair and I see that he is just wearing a nightgown. This has never occurred before. “Are you drawing me?” I inquire.

    “Perhaps,” he says, elongating the vowels, “But I will only show you when you behave like a good girl again.”

    “I am good,” I protest. “Always am.”

    His jaw bulges, and he clenches it. He gets up from his stool. “You are burning with pain. I will give you the drought now and you will take it.”

    “You will turn me into an addict if you go on like this,” I warn him urgently, while he holds the cup already in front of me.

    His features are harsh, lines forming at his mouth and his temples. “You should trust my judgement as a Force healer. I swear by all that is holy to me, I will not let you down.”

    I take the cup from him. “You should not let yourself down either, Luçien.”

    Then I drink in deep, even gulps. I feel my consciousness leaving me.

    Alarm races down my spine.

    My amour fou has increased the dosage threefold. Without discussing it with me.

    I blink excessively to ward off my sudden dizziness, but the bedchamber continues to sway around me.

    “Do not fight it!” he begs. “It is for the better.”

    I break off in a garbled laugh. “For me? Or for you?”

    Luçien gives a soft moan, loaded with guilt.

    “Can... can you... at least... tell me... a story?” I stutter. “And ho-ho-hold me?”

    He hesitates. “That would not be right. You are only wearing a nightgown.”

    With a big yawn, I drift away into unconsciousness.

    ********************************************************************

    Next day, Garou joins me in the window seat that I am sitting in. I am writing in my leather-bound diary, which has been a midwinter gift from Nanny. In order to focus my mind and keep my dream alive, I write in it as much as possible.

    The boy waits until I am finished with my entry before speaking. “Can I talk with you?” the boy asks politely. “It won't take long.”

    “Of course you may.”

    “I would like to thank you for being so nice to maman. She needs a friend like you.” He gives my diary an interested side look. “I bet you also need her.”

    I smile at him as friendly as I can. “Why do you think so, little lord?”

    His cat eyes, so dominant in his Elfin features, flare with humour. “When I am upset with papa, I have Éibhear and Rúne to talk to. You seem to write everything down in that book of yours. Talking is not an option for you, even though you have friends who love you more than their own life. And family to whom you are as precious as gold.”

    “Your point is?” I inquire carefully, spooked out by his wits and maturity.

    “I am sorry that we had to increase the strength of the potion. Papa was not happy when I suggested it to him.

    My stomach clenches together and so do my hands. “You help him out drugging me?”

    “Of course I do. He is worried he may accidentally poison you otherwise. Of late, he cannot count two and two together.”

    ********************************************************************

    That night, I watch Luçien attentively while he prepares my medication. The dose of belladonna is alarming, but I have to trust both him and Garou with this. When he is finished and turns around to face me fully, I gather the courage to ask him a question that has been on my mind for hours.

    His reaction is mild panic. “Are you out of your mind?” he practically screeches.

    “Laying next to me has to be more comfortable than sitting on that chair the entire night. How long will you continue to ruin your posture?”

    “I will not crawl under that blanket with you.” Luçien's eyes narrow. “That is out of the question.

    I gaze at the dancing patterns that the candlelight plays on the ceiling. “If you do not give in to my most reasonable request I will not drink the potion tonight.”

    He snorts. “Empty threats do not impress me much, Grianán. Do not act like a child! You will turn nineteen in a couple of weeks.”

    My eyes wander back at him and I give him a level look. “You cannot stand to see me suffer. And you have unfounded qualms with forcing the potion down my throat.”

    Luçien sits down next to me, exhausted and annoyed. “I swear, Grianán, you will be the death of me.”

    “Would you feel safer if I would allow you to place your scimitar between us? Gallant knights do that in Elfin legends.”

    He rolls his eyes. “Just drink the potion.”

    ********************************************************************

    I am not prepared to drop the subject that fast. Instead, I drop the mug on solemn purpose.

    “So here's what we'll do.” Luçien gives me an exhausted glare. “You stay under the covers and I'll stay on top of them. You will keep your hands to yourself and you will not ask me to oppose the few morals I still hold.”

    I nod.

    He has no trouble to replace the mug and pulls me another portion. After I have finished it off, I sink back into my pillows again. My head starts spinning.

    “I heard that some Amnionian men give party drugs to young girls to get them into bed.”

    Luçien shakes his head and tucks my blanket tighter around me. “I do not drug you for senseless reasons, Grianán. Stop being silly!”

    I close my eyes.

    “You have been spurting a lot of nonsense of lately.” He comes to lie down behind me. “I should reconsider the dosage and the ingredients.”

    An urgent question pops up within my hazy mind. “You will... not get up... again... once I am... knocked out?”

    “A promise is a promise for me.” His warm breath stirs over the skin of my skull.

    “Arm?” I ask sleepily.

    “Well, I guess it can do no harm.”

    Carefully, he slides one of his arms around my waist and presses a cheek against my back.

    Soon, there is only darkness, warmth and peace. And a girl, shivering in my arms.

    I address her carefully as if she is a frightened eopie calf. “I also lost a sister,” I whisper into her dense hair. For that I get no answer. “You know, I can be your elder brother.”

    “Mama would not like that,” she protests weakly.

    The piercing scream of a woman echoes through the nomad camp, followed by the victorious roar of Alezan. The men around me start to hoot and jeer.


    I begin to mentally see disturbing images. Something bad is happening to Isabeau's mother. Something that Alezan does to her in front of all the gathered warriors. From their reaction, I gather that it must be part of traditional war making. I do not fully understand it, so I shut the images out and concentrate on my new sister.

    “I am here for you,” I tell Isabeau.


    She looks up to me with her tear-streaked face and I wish nothing more in the universe than for those tears to stop falling.

    I take her small head between my palms. If I only could make all the horrible pictures inside her vanish. It is bad enough that I cannot forget the way that my grandfather prays, a whip in his hand.

    My finger start to massage her temples.


    “They took papa's head,” she whispers. “Can I have it back? Perhaps it grows on again.”

    Isabeau should not remember what happened here tonight. I want her to live a blissful life.

    My gift unfolds all by itself. I had not known it was there. It races through Isabeau's brain. Her eyes roll back and she begins vomiting.

    I feel guilty; my good intentions have gone wrong yet again.



    Sources:
    A Wiccan chant
    Wookieepedia – The Star Wars Wiki
    Jedipedia, a free German Star Wars-Encyclopaedia
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2020
    DarthUncle and Kahara like this.
  22. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Touching with the passing of Narthex. The relationship with Luc continues to be complicated. ;) Grianan wants to make it easy but he won't let her. :p =D=
     
    DarthUncle, Kahara and AzureAngel2 like this.
  23. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Narthex was a very nice man. And Lucien has his quirks
     
  24. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha: Yeah, he is a bot stiff and old fashioned.


    @earlybird-obi-wan: Quirks, that is a nice way to put it.


    Okay, next chapter, @DarthUncle (best partner in exit games ever!!!), @Kahara, @Darth_Furio, @Nehru_Amidala and @Cowgirl Jedi 1701.
    Plus everybody who is still on board this strange journey.


    And I must warn readers because it is not child friendly with very graphic description of violence and Swedish being spoken.

    (Yes, somehow the "Millennium" Trilogy by Stieg Larson did inspire me here. Do not ask! It is very complex.)


    Chapter 20:

    Luçien's voice is the first thing that I recognize as I swim slowly back to my senses. My eyelids are too heavy to lift. And my head hurts with splitting pain. All I can do is to lie still and listen to him. I wait in agony of suspense.

    “You are a Seeker? A tóraí na fírinne?” he repeats over and over again.

    He stands at the edge of my bed, keeping a disturbing distance from me. “That was your secret?”

    I utter a deep, stifled moan. My stomach turns to liquid fear.

    “And you read my memories like I am one of your father's books? How dare you!” Tears of anger make his voice thick. He has eyes of icy steel. “I trusted you.”

    It is difficult to speak, from both the drugs and guilt. “Never... told... anyone... like... Irm...Irmgard...”

    “Oh, you better shut up.” His eyes pierce me mercilessly. A world of pain and sorrow lies in them. “And leave Fräulein Hagenwald out of it!”

    I struggle free from my blanket and try to reach out for him, but he will not let me touch him.

    “Enough, Grianán. Enough!” He draws in a sharp breath, as if to gather his senses again. Then he gives me an intense gaze that is almost despairing. In somewhat more sombre tones, he says, “You have betrayed me.”

    “But...” I rise so quickly from the bed that I become entangled in the blanket and fall to his feet.

    Only darkness is in front of me heartbeats later.

    I hide my face between my hands and start to cry soundlessly.

    Luçien is so amazingly vulnerable in many ways. How could I have been so stupid?

    I collapse back on the bed.

    ********************************************************************

    After a horrible night with nightmares, I crawl out of bed. I feel more like a zombie than ever before. To get dressed all by myself costs me enormous strength. My fingers are not very cooperative and my body feels so strange. I will never be able to wield a sword again. Not even a wooden one, made for practice exercises.

    I have a quick breakfast before any family members can bump into me at the morning buffet. Then I hide away in the library, hugging one of my favourite love novels instead of reading it.

    After weighing the odds, I decide to pay Nanny a visit in her study. My eyes and face look normal again. Having spoken countless Force mantras has calmed my soul to a bearable level.

    Nanny gives me a kind welcome and orders a tea tray for us. Soon, I sit at her desk writing in my diary, while she reads through her correspondence.

    After a long, enjoyable silence, we have green tea and ginger cookies. Luckily some things never change. We engage ourselves in a deep conversation about Heulwen. My niece is a complicated girl and I have trouble bonding with her. No matter what I try, she shuns me.

    Éleos startles me with his sudden appearance, revealing the fact that he is a teleporter too. He explains that there are some serious issues with Daná and her latest love interest, Boreas Kyrene. Isabeau goes with him to the stables immediately.

    Longing for company and distraction from my pain, I decide to go down into the kitchen. I do not pay much attention to my surroundings. I end up colliding with Caelestris.

    Lemon tea sprays into every possible direction and pictures of dark violence flood into my consciousness.

    Is Draň conscious of the fact how ridiculous he looks with his trousers down to his knees? His usually attractive features are mutilated by anger and pain. Some saliva runs from a corner of his mouth. It gets caught in his black beard. His brown eyes are wide open in shock and his face was red.

    “You will come back and let me finish what I have started, shrew!”

    I take a deep breath, remembering my mother, Arcānā. She always has been strong. I wish I could be more like her. Daná has spirit. Even little Grianán has guts. At least Isabeau has taught me well in martial arts.

    I kick straight into my husband's face. My right foot catches him under his chin. He staggers, hindered by his barbarian clothing. His skull collides with the marble floor.

    I start running, the scarf still clutched in my hand.

    Vicomte Ankoù appears out of nowhere. “Draň, I am getting tired of this. Look at her! Bruised and battered again. Why can't you get intimate with your wife like a normal man? She is such a lovely person.”

    “Boli mnie glowa!” I hear Draň growl behind me.

    “You have a headache? So what?” Vicomte Ankoù spits. “Look at her throat. This is appalling. You will get a divorce from her before you kill her. The therapy is not working. You living at the other end of this planet will.”

    “Please give me another chance, Luçien! Just one more time!” howls Draň. “I will do as you say and double my efforts to become a better person.”

    “I told you before that there is a limit to eliminating her bad memories of you. Her brain will become damaged beyond repair if you continue.”

    I do not like this revelation. My fist swings into the stomach area of the tall Lidérc.

    “Ce, we have been here before, even though you do not remember it.” There is a lot of regret in the cat eyes of my opponent. “This will be the last time, I swear it. His bags will be packed straight away. By me!”


    ********************************************************************

    Before I can say anything to Caelestris, she sweeps away. All this had happened to her this morning. Her skin still remembers what her mind was forced to forget.

    I am furious with Luçien. He dares to accuse me of betraying his trust while he plays heinous mind games with my poor sister. After what he has done to Isabeau in their childhood, he should have known better than to mess with the memories of others.

    It is madness to prosecute the truth any further, but I have to know. Sionnach once has lost a memory. She told me so some days ago. I need to retrieve it from her. I fear it was connected with Caelestris.

    ********************************************************************

    When I reach the smithy, I call out my cousin's name, but it is Malm Mössa, the bulky giant of a blacksmith, who answers me instead.

    Princessa Grianán. Sionnach is not here.”

    While turning around, I touch some items on his work bench by sheer accident. My gift of psychometry unfolds, unasked for and with startling precision. The poker falls out of my hand, while my mind relives past nightmares of Caelestris.

    “No!” I wither.

    Blood runs down my legs. There is no strength left in me. Dying seems to be the best option that I have. But then fingers slide under my chin. Their touch is so gentle that I cannot help but to respond. Soon my gaze meets burning ice.

    “Draň, what goes on in that sick head of yours?”

    The words are softly worded and Vicomte Ankoù never looks at my husband once. His eyes are solidly fixed on me.

    “I can't believe we are in such a situation again! What makes it even worse this time is that you killed your own child.”

    “Forgive me, I did not know what I was doing before it was too late!” Draň whimpers somewhere in the background. “I want to be good but then I lose control.”

    I feel the Lidérc stiffen momentarily. “Control?” he murmurs. “Pray, what is your definition of control?”

    There is no answer from my husband.

    “I thought so,” Vicomte Ankoù says, heavy sarcasm laces his voice. “And now leave us! I don't want you anywhere near her for the next days.”

    “But...” Draň grits out.

    “Out!” roars the Lidérc and surges to his feet. I flinch away from him, ignoring the agonizing pain in my body.

    The bedroom door clicks shut.

    “Ce?” My name comes out in a cautious whisper as Vicomte Ankoù kneels in front of me again.“Please stay with me!”

    Arms wrap securely around me, their power coiling tautly through me. I almost forget to breathe. My breasts are crushed against a hard chest.

    “Parental grief is boundless.” Lips press to my forehead. “A piece of yourself is lost, and your future is forever changed. But this is not the end. Believe me, I can take away your pain, all of it. Even the memories.”

    Emotion rushes up inside me. I press my face more against the Lidérc's reassuring chest. The smell of him, so familiar and soothing, makes fresh tears well up. “But I don't want to forget my little baby girl.”

    Vicomte Ankoù pulls back and gazes down on me. With one ungloved hand, he wipes away the errant tear. “You should. It would be better for...”

    “For whom?” I snap. It is a loaded question.

    His intense blue eyes soften. “This is all about you, Ce. You were always kind to me and I would like to pay back that kindness.”


    ********************************************************************

    I try to hold on to the working bench, where Malm Mössa has laid down one of his smaller hammers. The sensations ripple through me in huge waves of pain. I cry out, the sound pushed from me.

    The splintered bones pierce through my skin, but it is not my husband who holds me lovingly and strokes my hair to calm me.

    “If you skip your therapy session one more time, Draň, I will use that hammer to crack you open,” Vicomte Ankoù promises. “Make no mistake of that!”

    I sniff against his chest.

    Endearing, the Lidérc moves his slender fingers through my hair. Then he starts singing a nursery rhyme, that I know from my childhood.

    “Soft kitty
    Warm kitty
    Little ball of fur
    Happy kitty
    Sleepy kitty
    Purr, purr, purr”

    A smile splits my face as healing powers ease my pain. I stop crying.

    Vicomte Ankoù scoops up my tears with his thumb. “Don't be afraid, Ce. I will always take care of you. No more pain, no dreadful memories of it. All will be well, you will see. I make you whole again from the inside out.”


    ********************************************************************

    I make a shrill sound, startling myself as much as the blacksmith. Struggling with my conflicting emotions I attempt to make a mudrā. Actually the one of wisdom against anger.

    By sheer accident, my fingers brush a branding iron and more echoes of the past flood my conscience. For the fourth time in a row I am sucked in by the bitter truth about my sister's marriage.

    My cousin is a vision of beauty and goodness. “Sionnach, I am so happy to see you!” I tell her.

    “Did you wake up with that dreadful back pain of yours?”

    It amazes me that she can sense the very spot the pain came from by just standing in the door way. Sending for her had been a good idea.

    “Draň was already gone and I hardly can move,” I explain to her. “It was fortunate that Garou was passing by in the corridor. I am not very good with long-distance telepathy. If one of my siblings touches me directly it is easier for me to express myself with thoughts. It has always been that way for me.”

    My agony intensifies when she pulls the curtains open. The light is scorching me. Drops of cold sweat tickle over my brow.

    “Let me have a look now!” Sionnach orders sternly.

    “Oh please take this dreadful pain away, cousin! I would hate for Draň to find me this way. He might think that he is married to an old woman, not able to enjoy intimacy with him without breaking apart.”

    Her hands clutch my night gown. She shivers like a leaf in the autumn wind when she lifts it and stares at my bare back. “Right...!” she breathes.

    “Sionnach? What is wrong?”

    “That is a very good question. Perhaps you can tell me how you managed to hurt your back.”

    I blush. “I think that I must have twisted it somehow, when Draň and I... you know. He is a bit wild in bed.”

    “Wild,” grunts Sionnach behind me.

    Then everything happens very quickly. The door opens and Sionnach leaps off the mattress. “I am not here!” she tells me with a lowered voice.

    Draň marches in with Vicomte Ankoù in tow. They both look grief-stricken and guilty.

    “Caelestris, my dear.” I can clearly see now that Draň had been crying. His voice is shaky. “I thought you looked a bit ill this morning and so I brought Luçien with me to check on you.”

    My gaze wanders towards Vicomte Ankoù, who has equally swollen eyes. Uncertainly, I pipe up, “How thoughtful of you, milord, but I rather have Sionnach to check on me later.”

    The tall Lidérc inclines his masked head to me. “I am a master of healing. She is just my disciple.”

    Suddenly it occurs to me that I have brought Sionnach into a situation that is perpetually dangerous. Even though I can detect no evil intentions in her master, my mind is alert. “I find her to be very skilled,” I disagree with hem.

    The look that Vicomte Ankoù gives me reminded me of my belated mother.

    My stomach cramps in knots. She used to have that flicker of guilt in her eyes each time after somebody had died due to one of her fits.

    “There is no need to alarm Sionnach,” he assures me nervously. “Please let me see what pains You, Your Royal Highness! I will be as gentle as my former student, I promise.”


    ********************************************************************

    I am hoarse when I finish screaming. My head feels pressured and swollen. Through my blurred eyes I see a large shape standing next to me, trembling as hard as I do.

    “Vat fattas dig?”
    Malm Mössa gets out. Can I help you?

    Vehemently, I shake my head. With a stricken voice I get out, “Det är jag inte betjänt av. Bäst att smida medan järnet är varmt.” I gather my pieces of evidence. This won't serve my turn. One should strike while the iron's hot.

    It does not seem to benefit a person to be good and play by the rules. The universe is an evil place. Only the strong and ruthless ones survive.

    I will feed Luçien and Draň their own venom. My anger will grant me the power to strike them both down in one go.

    With my head held high, I leave the smithy.

    Right now, I do not mind the consequences for my own soul any longer. The girls do though. They come out of nowhere and block my path.

    [​IMG]

    “Stay away!” I hiss at my childhood friends.

    “Never!” they send through the Force in unison, closing in around me like a school of river dolphins on their prey. “You will remain with us until we know it is safe to let you free.”

    “There is no time!” I protest. If they step between me and my revenge, I will not be able to spare them.

    “We will make time!” Aranea whispers aloud.

    Luna's eyes are filled with love and wisdom. “It is called anger management,” she adds in an equally hushed voice. “There has been an awakening.”

    ********************************************************************

    Before I can stop them, my best friends make me part of their circle. Their arms are interwoven with one another and around my neck.

    I press the smithy tools against my chest while my head sinks against theirs automatically. It is not easy fighting settled habits. We did this as children in the River Valley.

    “Please leave me alone!” I nearly sob, not willing to share my darkness.

    “Circle beginning,...” Mora breathes into my face.

    “Circle ending,” Aranea finishes, her face grim, yet tender.

    “No, no, no!” I wince.

    Luna's loving grip intensifies. “Circle beginning,...”

    “Circle ending,”
    Mora finishes the prelude of the ancient chant.

    “I cannot show you!” I shriek. Their gentleness hurts me.

    Unimpressed by my protests, they sing the main verse over and over again.

    “We are a circle
    Within a circle
    With no ending
    And no beginning...”


    My eyes burn with more tears. “It is too horrible!” I insist, but the words of the chant clash against my mental wall. They attack the bubble of anger, that makes me feel stronger and less vulnerable.

    Love and gentleness corrupt me, being persistent against the darkness that spreads in my soul.

    ********************************************************************

    After a while, the singing ceases and Mora stares at me unblinkingly with her lime green eyes. A bleak expression lies on her face. “Remember the law that the Holy Isle is based on since the dawn of time.”

    I gape at her. It is so unfair of her to bring that up right now.

    “Bide within the Law you must, in perfect Love and perfect Trust,” Mora moves on. “Live you must and let to live, fairly take and fairly give.”

    “But they hurt her!” I shout aloud. Telepathy is too intimate for me right now. Desperate, I move on, “I cannot allow this! She will go mad if I do not stop them!”

    Luna reaches out for my cheeks and I let it happen. “Easy now! Who has hurt whom, and why?”

    “Luçien and Draň!” My throat feels tight with shame. I point towards the wing of the castle in which the family quarters are, my face streaming with tears. “Caelestris!”

    Aranea is the practical one, as usual. “Do you have any evidence?” she cuts in.

    “I am a Seeker!” I shriek. “Get me a team of psychics and they will testify to what I have to say.”

    “We would like to see your evidence first!” Mora begs me. “If a crown princess is subject of a crime, then the ordeal is a state affair.”

    After more soft pleas, I lift all my mental barriers and share what I had seen.

    ********************************************************************

    Luna is the first to break the circle because she is close to getting sick. She fears for my well-being in a future with Luçien. Mora holds her, while Aranea concentrates on me.

    “We can go straight to war if you want us to. Against the House of Ankoù and against the clan of your brother-in-law.”

    I feel drained and empty. It is Mora, who focuses my mind again.

    “But you can also force Luçien to look into his bright mirror: you. All that you need is one final confrontation. You have the freedom to choose when, where and how. That is more than your mother had.”

    I search inside me. My childhood dreams are still within my heart, untouched by my recent trials. “Yes,” I breathe finally.

    Mora comes close, her hands forming the mudrā for bestowing fearlessness. “Then go and conquer!” she says flatly.

    The others fall in. Their right hands, with all fingers extended, are held in front of their trembling chests. A silent warrior salute.

    “It is a fine day to die!” I whisper with a shaky smile.

    ********************************************************************

    Thoughtfully, I stand in front of the kitchen entrance. The staff at Dún Barr is a loyal group of Udalers, Ophidea from the Holy Isle and Elves of various backgrounds that have pledged themselves to the Draconian crown generations ago. I regard them as family members. They have my absolute trust.

    The wheels of my mind turn around like Elfin prayer wheels.

    Caelestris should be kept in the nursery when her body goes into hibernation. I also need cover when I snug into her chambers in the first place. There is nothing that I can do against Luçien seeking me out. But at least I can make sure I will not be disturbed by my brother-in-law where ever he is right now.

    I open the door to a bustle of activity.

    Everyone is in the vast kitchen, accept Malm Mössa, the Shesha and the paladins.

    The Circle of Heavens is with me. So is the Light Side of the Force.



    Sources:

    A certain children's song, popularized by the American sitcom“The Big Bang Theory”
    A Wiccan chant
    Wookieepedia – The Star Wars Wiki
    Jedipedia, a free German Star Wars-Encyclopaedia
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2020
    Kahara likes this.
  25. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Grianán is as bold as ever in the face of overwhelming odds. I can only hope that her innate optimism doesn't come back to bite her yet again! It's really horrible for her to find out that her sister is being abused, and that Luçien -- however well-intentioned with his desire to salve Ce's pain and cure Draň's violent swings -- is just perpetuating her suffering by wiping her memory every time. :( And Aranea, Luna, and Mora are wonderful here, supporting and comforting Gri when she's nearly lost to her anger. @};- I do worry that their advice has set her on a path that she may not survive, though. [face_worried] Luçien does sometimes want to help in his way, but (even as we see early in the chapter with him freaking out that Gri saw his past) he's never really safe company for anyone. He might want to be, but he's just not.