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Before the Saga "Legends of the Force"(epic drama with OCs), book 4

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by AzureAngel2, Apr 13, 2020.

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  1. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    The hospitals are in even greater distress right now then they were in October. C´est la vie!

    But also a big hug to you, @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha. And thanks for reading and commenting.

    PS: How can you possibly know that I have the bird´s seasons greetings lying next to this laptop?!? I intend to send it of tomorrow.
    (Well, writing her actually made me appear here on the boards tonight.)
     
  2. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    *De-lurks* Poor Lucien. He can never catch a break, can he?
     
  3. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Interesting times for Lucien.
    And for you, just as difficult as it is here. I care for my mom and don't have time to be on the boards that much
     
  4. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    @Cowgirl Jedi 1701: No, he can´t for I hardly can catch a break in RL. ;)


    @earlybird-obi-wan: That´s good to know. Keep up the Christmas spirit!


    Okay, I will get my surgery on Tuesday (8th December) and then I do not know how much sitting in front of a computer will hurt.

    Therefore a quick update:


    Chapter 19:

    On my return from a fishing trip with Skje and the boys several days later, I find a letter on my kitchen table.

    Vicomte Ankoù, You are summoned to be the private secretary of prince consort Agathos Aletheia from this point foward. Skje will help maintain the royal stables of Dún Barr. You are both allowed a break on the weekends, as well as regular holidays. I also want to see my three great-grand-children more often at court. The terms of your employment will NOT be discussed.

    Narthex Kyrene, Keeper of the Holy Isle and Grand Steward of Dún Barr

    I kick the table in anger.

    Old human men can be even worse with their intrigues and blackmail than the ducal pride. I have to obey. The master valet is desperate enough to have me under his thumb.

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

    Around the spring equinox a healthy baby boy is born – half Elf and half Tjiehenet. He has ginger hair and light blue eyes.

    Shortly after the birth, Temperance shows up and delivers a letter from Agathos to me. The Lantern Feast is coming up in the River Valley of Cunabula. He writes that he wants to see his niece and her two sons for this special occasion.

    A couple of hours later I bring Sionnach, Garou and Skylt on board the Paraceus. There is no need to worry about the farce we need to put up for the royal family. Agathos and Narthex know what is at stake. They want to protect the young woman from Lidérc protocol as much as I do.

    Éibhear does not mind being the one left behind. He started a new tree house project, this time on Draíocht’s property. He could not care less about a rain forest that needs to be discovered.

    Once we set foot on the Holy Isle of Cunabula, it is more than obvious that I am not welcome. Our reception committee are six of Agathos children. They gaze at me wide-eyed, with a mixture of curiosity, fear and contempt.

    Yearning for Grianán, my sunshine par excellence, I reach out with my mind, but only silence answers me. That makes me unbelievingly sad, more than it actually should. Why is she hiding from me? I wish she would give me the chance to offer my heartfelt apologies.

    While we are led through the jungle, it is only Èibhear who is addressed directly by his royal great-cousins. They seem to get along well.

    Finally, we come to the large veranda of the bungalow that Agathos, Narthex and Isabeau inhabit together. The air is sticky and hot as we are seated. My war mask smothers me and the chair that I sit on feels torturous.

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

    By the time Isabeau chooses to appear for dinner, I am drenched in my own sweat and wish myself many parsecs away from Cunabula. With a dry mouth, I take my step-sister’s stunning appearance in. In her tight bast corset she looks like a clan mother of the Draconian desert region. Her once-lovely hair is done in dreadlocks too. Aloof, she states that Grianán is too ill to attend, but I do not believe that. It is clear to me that the girl is forbidden to come anywhere near me. That hurts me more than it should.

    Carefully, I scan Isabeau with my gaze, trying not to make her more annoyed than she already is.

    My step-sister is twenty-five now, two years my junior. Since Arcānā’s death she has been the new mater familias of the Tjiehenet family. They even made her the Holy Consort, which means that she is the head of state until the new crown princess is fit enough to reign. Knowing the dreamy, mild-tempered Caelestris fairly well, that day might never come.

    My muscles abruptly lock and I am unable to move. A thin thread of fire blooms across my chest. I cannot hear or see the apparition, but feeling Arcana among us sets my teeth on edge.

    The conversation at the dining table is totally lost to me until I hear Sionnach say, “Honoured sister-in-law, my husband and lord is very disappointed about the shadows of the past. My lord tries to make amends by all means. Against his father’s wishes he offers his services to the royal house of Tjiehenet. He does not seek power or more vengeance. Healing is his purpose. For that, he would serve as the lowest vessel.”

    Sacré bleu!
    This is not happening. Since when are we married? Has she any idea what she just did to us?

    “That may be, mon sœur,” answers Isabeau almost viciously, acknowledging that Sionnach is my lawfully wedded wife by refering to her as her sister. “But the children and I were never asked.”

    My mouth opens in protest. “I...”

    Isabeau stares me down with the heat of a thousand suns. I drop my look to gaze down on Garou’s head.

    It is pointless to explain myself. Narthex and Agathos are like the saints of old for her, infallible and upright. She would never believe me that it is because of them that I am here, with a job position that I never sought in the first place. Or the status of a husband.

    Words hold much importance on Sapuruh, even more than rituals. The divine word was the first thing that sprang into existence. And I am sure it was not ’husband’.

    “Since Agathos has already made his decision,” Isabeau continues sourly, cutting through my bitter thoughts, “Seeking neither my council nor common sense, I will only say this to my step-brother: this family suffered enough in the past. If there is any more heartbreak and he is the cause of it, I will finish him off. I am not afraid of him.”

    My lips curl in a sardonic smile, hidden well by my war mask.

    I am born to be the scapegoat. That is the price for being the scythe in a field full of rambling briars, mowing down those who refuse to repent.

    Suddenly, a shiver runs across my shoulders. My bones begin to stiffen.

    The texture and odours of the jungle air seem to have changed. There is a peculiar smell, confusingly familiar to me. I frown, while I try to sort it out for what it is. Something like salt, like rotting meat. It feels foul in my mouth and, even more, on my soul.

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

    Not much later I stand in front of the royal crypts. Damp air wafts out and I blink in confusion at the unfamiliar warning sign, that says “Keep out!” in eighteen different languages. I regard it as a mere suggestion, not as a prohibition.

    Determined, I step onto the deeply grooved basalt steps. The passageway is narrow, the floor an uncertain affair. There are places where the ceiling is bowed. Overall it is heavily cobwebbed, but I do not mind that. Tarantulas and other vermin are no threat for me. Without a candle or a torch I move along.

    As I get near the centre of the crypts, the chill of the dark side bites deep into my bones. It settles in the pit of my stomach, but I will not flinch away from the ritual of exorcism. The choir of unholy voices will never be heard again when I will leave this place.

    As I bend down to draw a protective circle with a piece of chalk, a hand falls on my shoulder. It is solid and warm.

    “Are you unable to read, milord?” a concerned voice asks in heartbreaking honesty and a bright light sweeps the crypts.

    A petité woman stands by my side. In her left hand rests a large natural quartz crystal cluster. It sheds a soft, pleasant light, whose range is surprisingly high. In that pink brightness I recognize that I am up against snake priestess of Ischáh. Yellow garments conceal a thin body that looks shaken by illness.

    “Why, in the Name of the Great Mother, are you down here again, Lord Ankoù?”

    I frown, but then I remember. I remember her voice, her name. “Clementia?”

    “You never learn, do you?” She shakes her head and her anguish about my obvious failure makes me ashamed. It almost feels like I failed her in person. “Always running in circles,” she moves on. “Blocking your own growth process by clinging on to old pain.”

    A dark shade forms behind her. It pulses with a dull malignance. “We invited him, crypt keeper.”

    “Crypt keeper?” I explode. “You look like a phantom menace yourself. They should have found somebody healthier for that job.”

    When I beheld her last, she had been a teenage girl with a wide-eyed fresh beauty. Now she looks like a hag. Her once clear, unblemished skin has turned into a leathery substance. It is scorned with countless wrinkles. Her voice is rasp, her breath wheezy. What has not changed though are her lime green eyes. They are still bright eyed and full of love for the entire creation.

    “This is not about me, milord. It is about the peace of this place. The salvation of others. I am but a servant of the Great Mother.”

    A face, old beyond imagining, lurks behind Clementia. Its sight sickens me. The skin of the creature is shrivelled and shrunken, allowing the bones shine through. A pair of strangely illuminated eyes has sunken deep into the hairless skull. The awry mouth, framed by rotten teeth has collapsed inward. Even though the lips do not move, a voice echoes in my head.

    “Thousand years of Star Wars and what do we get as a reward for our deprivations and self-sacrifices? A priesthood that is weak with mercy. Women who preach forgiveness and tenderness, instead of giving us our due blood sacrifices every day.”

    Clementia smiles, her eyes brighter as a cloudless day. “I serve, therefore I am.”

    A horrifying noise comes from the creature’s withered mouth. It sounds more like hacking up phlegm than a laugh. “The code you live by is useless, you soft-hearted fool. ”

    Clementia radiates a serene calmness. Her right hand is raised to shoulder height, the arm bent and the palm facing outward with the fingers upright and joined. The left hand simply hangs down.

    “And why don’t you conquer the cancer that you have?” the phantom sneers.

    Silence floods the crypt and all that I hear is the wild thumbing of my own overtaxed heart. My eyes narrow. There are extremely ugly dots in the snake priestess’ aura that I did not notice before. Marks of the darkness eat into her white light.

    “If it is the will of the Great Mother that I get healed, then it will happen.” Clementia joins the tips of her right thumb and her index together to a circle. Her hand is now held with the palm inward toward the heart. “I am responsible for each entity that is down here. You made the wrong decisions in life and continue to do wrong in death. I will not let you alone in the dark. Nor will I let in the living unguarded.”

    Baffled, I let the snake priestess take my hand and lead me outside.

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

    During the next two weeks I am moody and unbearable to everybody around me, except Garou. His presence is enough to hold back the darkness within me. I sing lullabies for him, tell him stories. When Sionnach is busy with her new baby boy, I take care that my son does not feel lonely or even worse, overlooked.

    One morning, after a rather vicious and inexcusable verbal attack of mine, Sionnach startles me with a sudden announcement. “You wanted to stay here forever. I never agreed to anything. You both can go on killing each other slowly without me and the boys.”

    She will not be begged, she will not be forced. Narthex carries her bags to the waiting space shuttle.

    I am allowed to hug Garou good-bye and hand a letter to Éibhear. But that is about it.

    When I am at the breakfast table, only Agathos sits there, reading a book. He lowers it when I approach. “Isabeau and the children went on holidays,” he informs me.

    I clench my fingers around the back of a ratan chair.

    “Luçien, we need to agree on some things here,” he sighs and scratches his bushy beard. “Otherwise this will never work.”

    “You forced me to be here,” I cajole and kick against the chair in ire.

    “Narthex and I hoped that you would have the ability to deal with your new duties to House Tjiehenet with more grace.” He puts his book away. “We really would like to integrate Sionnach more into the family. But with you and Isabeau behaving like two quarrelsome teenagers this is impossible.”

    I swallow my sharp remark.

    “Another thing?” he says and rises his voice almost apologetically. “Don’t go down the crypts again. Not for my sake, but for your own.”

    “Did Clementia come running to you?”

    Sorrow spreads over his features. “She died last night. Her body could not fight her various tumours any more.”

    I close my eyes and hang my head.

    “But yes, she confided to me that you are open to the suggestions of the Undead. Arcānā was the same. She looked for power to stop her from feeling helpless. What draws you near the crypts? Your grandfather’s teachings?”

    The news of Clementia’s death stuns me too much to be angry with him. “I want to destroy them,” I growl.

    “The royal ancestors already destroyed themselves, my friend. Leave them be!”

    I jerk my chin upwards. “You should order that place to be erased.”

    “You cannot erase a wound that easily. I fear we all need to live with it, in one way or the other, and learn from it. By the way, what will you do with the marriage announcement that my niece made? I could convince Isabeau that her ears played tricks on her, you know.”

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

    After watching Clementia’s cremation from a safe distance, I inform Agathos, Narthex and Skje that there will be a hand-fastening ceremony around the Feast of Samhain. It will be a farce, but Sionnach is not to know it. Her lack of knowledge is to keep her in line in future. No more pregnancies. To the rest of the universe she will be my flawless wife, while in fact I will protect her affair with Skje by all means.

    Taran does not like the entire plan, either. It will cost me the rest of my credibility that I possess with Sionnach. And it certainly will increase the grudge of Draíocht and her clan. But I have no choice.”

    “I happen to have good connections with the Korriganes,” Taran announces while he helps himself with more bacon quiche.

    The mention of the Elfin outcasts, makes me feel uncomfortable. They are bizarre creatures, their bodies marked by dark energies. “Why should I want them at the feast?”

    “Néné taught you to provide a romantic atmosphere when wooing a female, right?” Taran chuckles and takes a deep gulp from his grog.

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

    Once I meet the invalids of the Star Wars, I have to admit that the Korriganes are more honest and joyful then the members of the Elfin High Court. They do not care for the outer appearance of a being, nor its social rank. The true person matters. I like that. They put up a beautiful feast for Sionnach, but she could not care less. She feels betrayed by me once more.

    When we stand in front of the langhús she is somehow pacified, even invites me in. I refuse polity. Perhaps tomorrow morning I can face Skje, but not right now.

    “Is there another?” Sionnach wants to know.

    “Apart from the occasional night flowers I happen to come by in the House of Healing, no.” To speak of Irmgard or Temperance would be my undoing. “I have not found her yet, Sionnach. But you will be the first one to know, even before my mother will.”

    “Can you even love?” she suggests.

    I am deeply hurt. “What makes you believe that I am indifferent to such feelings?”

    “You are of the Brotherhood.”

    It makes me nervous that she wants to touch me. I find myself babbling, “I love my parents. I love old Minou like a family member. I love Telenn and her clan. I...”

    “This is not what I am speaking of, Luçien. The dark side makes you think in absolutes. It poisons your heart. To love somebody means...”

    “Don’t!” I advice her, shocked that she joined the circle of those who believe me to be tainted beyond any repair.

    “There might be somebody willing to share her life with you.” Her hands cup my head, while she talks. Making me gaze down on her. “Be true to her! Try not to make her a victim of your...”

    I push Sionnach’s hand roughly. “My heart is my concern only, not yours.”

    “No, you made it mine tonight. We just married. I cannot take it as lightly as you do.”

    Choler rises in me, mixes with my dry laugh. “If you cannot make me happy, nobody can.”

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

    The next day Agathos invites me into the loyal library of Dún Barr. There he makes an unusual request.

    “You want me to help you to re-categorize your book collection?” I repeat. “Who do you think I am?”

    He sips calmly from his tea mug. “My private secretary,” he answers after some well measured time.

    Aghast, I stare at the billions of books that surround me. “This will be the work of a life time.”

    “This is why I hired you, besides for my little heart problem that is.” He smiles his usual winning smile. “The pen is mightier than the sword. Learn to control your feelings around here! Practise patience, humbleness even!”

    I snort in disbelief.

    “Books have something about them that calms the mind, opening new horizons, my old friend.”

    Grudgingly, I set to work.

    But only one hour later I feel more at ease.

    The smell of old paper is wonderful. The texts that I skim through enlighten me. This work is a blessing.

    At noon Narthex brings tea for two and Agathos joins me.

    The three of us talk for many hours like in the old days. And much later on, I help Skje to tend to some sick animals at the royal stables.

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


    All is well and peaceful until Isabeau and the children, apart from Grianán, arrive for the midwinter holidays. After a very nasty scene at the dining table Agathos suggests that I have a holiday, too. I am to come back for the Feast of Light. An event that is about one month away.


    After being briefed by Narthex, Sionnach allows me to go ice fishing, skating, sledding and skiing with my sons. They can even stay overnight. This way I can have raclette evenings with them and tell them their favourite bedtime stories. Like real Lidérc boys, they want gruesome stuff. Stories that make the blood freeze.


    The Feast of Light arrives far too soon, and I need to make new arrangements with Sionnach. She is not overjoyed about my proposal to spend some time at Dún Barr with the boys, but she agrees that she owes regular contact to the members of the Tjiehennet family.


    I know that her exhaustion has nothing to do with me. She prefers the simple life of the langhús.


    Sionnach is not the only one who dreads the royal mountain stronghold. I am slightly irritated by the staff of Dún Barr. They are too friendly, too precise in all they do. I feel exposed to their discrete glares. They seem to know too much about me.

    I am relieved when spring turns to summer again and I get three months off from work.


    With the warmer temperatures I am able to have barbecue evenings with Éibhear and Garou. We also go fly fishing and swimming. I introduce them to weapon training and exercises.

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

    When Alezan summons my boys and me, we follow his invitation to Sapuhru immediately. The man who raised me as his own is overjoyed.

    Flor has to keep a distance between herself and me. As far as I am concerned I am a motherless child.

    Soon, the Council of the Brotherhood asks for me. I am anxious about leaving my sons behind. They are not to go anywhere near the evil woman that has granny lust written in her eyes. I give special orders to the ducal guards to lock up the monster in her chambers.

    After the exchange of the usual pleasantries the Council comes out with the delicate contracts they have for me. They promise me that they will not bother me for the next decade if I take out various persons:

    Monsieur Corentin, a well-respected businessman who is into human trafficking.

    Mademoiselle Gwenneg, an evil witch in the making.

    Monsieur Corentin and Madame Katell, engaging in an extramarital affair with one another.

    Grand-mére Rozenn, daring to predict the future for coins.

    I bring them all down in the way the Holy Scriptures demand that from me. It is an arduous work digging all those holes into the sand, but I will not deny any of my victims a decent burial.

    Suddenly, I feel my boys hiding behind a nearby dune. “Why?” I call out and sink to my knees.

    They flock around me, high on emotions and concerned for me.

    “Why?” I ask again.

    “We needed to see this with our own eyes. Words can be so meaningless,” suggests Éibhear, his voice a bit shaky.

    “Be glad that the laws of my people will never be fully your laws. I try to keep you both out of reach,” I mumble.

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

    On my return to Draconis, I find myself in front of O’Gradaigh’s grave. A small bouquet of Forget-Me-Nots rests in my gloved hands.

    Carefully, I reach into the rock crevice. The familiar bulk of the jute bag is there as usual, but it has sunk in a bit.

    I drop the flowers on top of the sad remains of the Elfin noble man.

    “Who lies here?” Temperance asks, who has insisted to join me on my walk.

    “A friend,” I find myself answering. “Somebody who knows how heavy wrong accusations can weigh.”

    Her gaze is clouded. “Did he kill himself here? Or did you want him to get a burial site with a view?”

    “The latter,” I mumble.

    “That was nice of you,” she beams, her eyes brighter again.

    “I suppose.” I turn away from the crevice to face her again.

    Temperance looks as stunning as ever. She wears one of those tight flight suits of the Draconian Air Force, a black leather coverall with a zipper. Her honey-coloured hair has grown considerably since I last saw her.

    “I heard you have accepted a new master,” I say, verbalizing suspicions I have since weeks.

    “Yes, there is somebody who keeps me in line.”

    “Anybody that I know?” I probe, narrowing my eyes.

    “Sorry, Luçien, I cannot tell you.” Her regret is genuine and stops me delving into her mind. “All that I can say is that he does not shrink back from his responsibilities.”

    “Sorry that I was such a disappointment.” Upset with myself that I even considered spying her thoughts, I stare at my boots.

    “You were not. I just demanded things from you that you cannot give in a relationship.” She steps closer, trying to renew our eye contact. “Between the two of us, anyway. You are more romantic, and into large gestures that don’t suit my personality.”

    “Ah,” I say, unable to think of anything else and still looking away from her gaze.

    “You know what you really should try?” I feel her fingertips on my left cheek.

    “Wax play?” I snort. “Because its colourful patterns can brighten up my life?”

    “No,” she laughs. “You should find yourself a kind widow. Somebody whom you can spoil, whose tears you can dry. A woman who understands loneliness and loss as much as you do.”

    “You make me feel like some charity case.”

    Her smile widens. “Getting another chance for happiness is but one point on your extremely long bucket list.”

    “I am more than happy with my two stunning sons,” I counter.

    “Your kids are great; I am not disputing that. But your love life is in ruins.” She lightly strokes my cheeks. “It does not have to be.”

    Sources:
    Wookieepedia – The Star Wars Wiki
    Hidden quotes from SW movies and the SW universe
     
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  5. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Changing seasons and circumstances and tensions continue for Lucien with Isabeau and Sionnach
     
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  6. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    'short' ???
    A great update and care for yourself before getting back
     
  7. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Greetings from the Charité University Clinic in far away Berlin, dear @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha & @earlybird-obi-wan.

    Around 4pm my surgery should take place and I am nervous as hell. I have not eaten since 7pm last night and I have not drunken anything since 11am today.

    At least I have a room with a view. And the two of you reacted to my update and gave me a kind feedback.
     
  8. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Er is een kaartje onderweg.
    Nogmaals heel veel sterkte
     
  9. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Well, @earlybird-obi-wan, on the 8th December at 5:15pm a doctor came and asked me to go home. They would not have the necessary staff for my operation any more. Due to emergencies and the care for the Corvit-19 patients. Perhaps I would like to come back on the 28th December to discuss a possible surgery on the 29th Then she was gone.

    I struggled out of the stupid surgery gown and tried to concentrate to gather my stuff together in order to put it into my luggage.

    It took me about 10 minutes to find a nurse because I wanted to check out. The person in question gave me a document and rushed off again. Before I could tell her that I felt dizzy and nauseated.

    45 minutes later and somewhere else on the vast campus a kind pharmacist gave me a chair, a glass of water and dextrose.

    That brought me enough stability to dragg my Darth Vader trolley towards the main railway station and take a regional train home.

    Luckily, I am on sick leave until the 11th December. Because I have caught a nasty cold with strong headaches and vertigo feelings.

    DarthUncle and I live on chicken soup and herbal tea.

    I am not sure if I can update in the weekend.

    Please stay healthy everybody!
     
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  10. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    OH NO! OH, :eek: [face_nail_biting] @AzureAngel2 ... I was thinking of you all day Wednesday, thinking with relief that your surgery was done and you didn't have to struggle with the symptoms and wondering "is this gonna get worse?"

    [:D]
     
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  11. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Well, actually I will not be able to have surgery any time soon. Not only are Berlin's hospitals in severe trouble, but in more and more regions of Germany. Plus, some old traumas were stirred in me in the way my whole check-out went. I will not even be able to see any doctor for some time now without freaking out.

    But well, on the plus side, I might read more fanfiction the upcoming weeks, because they keep my mind busy with SW.
     
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  12. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    WOW that's trouble with capitals
     
  13. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    What I actually did, dear bird, is reading books off-line, which is a very satisfying hobby. And the nine animal water colour paintings that I did in-between ended up as presents for my neighbours. I also got used to three of the new games we have in the house. Still another three to go, plus 6 "Escape Room Games".

    Anyway, this is my second holiday week and I found some time for another update:


    Chapter 20:

    Draíocht grants me a malicious smile when I offer to accompany her to the monthly meeting of the local widow support group. Her Elfin eyes, gleaming almond shapes in the twilight, are calculating for a moment. “Of course you can help me to carry some food, Luçien,” she finally says.

    Then she starts packing me with baskets like some donkey. We also walk a detour.

    At our arrival I am forbidden to enter the home where the women meet, even though it starts pouring down from the heavens.

    Four hours later, the meeting is over and I dutifully take my place at the door like some manservant.

    From my observation post I start watching Coire MacGhillie through the window. She is a heartbreakingly thin Elf woman about three-hundred-seventy years old and flaxen-haired. Her violet eyes are puffed and her gaze is empty.

    In the weeks after the meeting I come to know that her husband was a tiarna, an earl. He died in a boat accident on the river five years ago. There are no children, causing the locals to gossip about the “inevitable dissipation” of her small estate.

    There is a deep problem embedded in Elfin society. Whether married or single, all Elfin woman of higher birth are expected to be weak and helpless. They have to be fragile, delicate flowers, incapable of making decisions beyond selecting the daily menu. Their prime use is to maintain a smooth family atmosphere where a man need not bother himself about domestic matters.

    On Sapuhru, descent and relationship are determined through the female line. Women are the core members and the primary hunters for each pride or social group. In the cities it is not as openly displayed as in the open desert itself, but in principle my culture is as much matriarchic as the one of the Ophidiae.

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

    One month later I decide to pay Coire MacGhillie a visit. With a sense of comfort I take in the dim and misty landscape. Instead of my desert outfit I put on a midnight-blue over tunic that is tight fitting across the chest. It has a simple button and loop of thread to fasten the neck opening. The keyhole neckline is high, since a garment that reveals the chest is considered effeminate here in the North. Underneath the kyrtill, I wear a broad skirt that covers trousers that have been tailored for my comfort.

    By now I have drawn near the tract of moorland. Rush and moss overgrow the marshes. I seem to have a huge landscaping project ahead of me. Perhaps I should suggest to Coire MacGhillie that she might keep sheep or to begin selling turf. Growing wheat or vegetable here without using Elfin magic is impossible.

    After walking for a while I come to a gate, framed by holly bushes on each side.

    Árda Wuthering itself is a Tower House from the Star Wars of old. It is a bleak affair to look at. The narrow, five story tower is only eight square metres. I suspect each level has only a single room, with a winding stair, built into the thickness of the walls, wrapping around and linking the floors. At the basement level I can spot a low vaulted cellar with its own outdoor access. The main door at the first floor level is likely to give me access to a small hall. Over the top of each window is an ornate hood, but it does not distract from the fact that the openings are protected by iron grills. It looks more like a prison than somebody’s home, even though the surrounding stones are skilfully decorated with plaster.

    It is no wonder that Coire MacGhillie is always visiting other widows in her neighbourhood. This place needs flowerbeds or at least an herb garden.

    I knock at the massive entrance door, holding on to the glass plate in my right hand.

    A human matron opens the door. Her ash-blonde hair is covered decently by a knotted handkerchief, which shows her marriage status. She wears an ankle length linen shift over her hangerock, a traditional apron-skirt that is suspended by shoulder straps, fastened by brooches.

    “God dag!” I greet her. A good day to you.

    “Yes, please?” she asks suspiciously in Basic, her hand cramped around the handle of her frying pan. If I moved too hastily, I am sure she would knock me out without regret. I love fierce loyalty in a servant.

    “I am a neighbour of Draìocht Mössa,” I introduce myself. “She asked me to bring back something that Her Ladyship forgot during the last club meeting.”

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

    I do not know whether it is the name or the cake plate that I hold up in front of me, but I am ushered inside immediately. All distrust is gone. I am led inside a small, but cosy room with a fire already going.

    While I look at the ornamented tapestries and other needlework of Coire MacGhillie, I hear hushed voices in the background. It is definitely the Udaler woman together with a male voice.

    I vaguely remember Draìocht mentioning that Árda Wuthering had not many personnel. The cook is the chambermaid and gardener. There is also a man-at-arms who is also the coachman and butler whenever necessary.

    Leaning back in the large wing chair, I close my eyes and tune into the conversation. My ears are not as accurate as those of other Lidérc, but the Force assists me.

    “But I am sure it is him, the Ankoù.”

    “Kol, you make it sound like he is death himself.”

    “Aska, the Ankoù is far worse than death. On his home planet, he used to be the greatest contract killer and witch hunter that there ever was.”

    “Perhaps he retired when he came to Draconis?”

    “A hog in satin is still a hog. We can be glad if he leaves Her Ladyship alive before the Brunscrackers are served.”

    Their tone of sorrowful audacity pains me. My reputation always precedes me. It is a curse I carry with me, no matter where I go.

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

    A small eternity passes until the lady of the house herself appears. Not everyone can pull off pastels, but a blonde like Coire MacGhillie can. The soft yellow of her long, silken dress – scoop necked – flatters her. The fabric is heavily beaded with gems and jewels. The wide sleeves that make give her an angelic look.

    But there is a huge disharmony in her careful arrangement. Her facial make-up makes her look more like a painted doll than a living-being. I feel a pang of regret that she follows the court etiquette of the High Kings. It destroys the natural beauty of any woman.

    “Milady.” I bow stiffly in the fashion of an Elfin gentlemen and achieve a shy smile for my effort.

    “Vicomte Ankoù, I presume?” she asks carefully, her aquamarine eyes scanning me.

    I stifle a smile.

    Coire MacGhillie is eyeing me with a hunger I know she has not given in to for ten years. I sense her desire for company, and reciprocate it.

    Adrenaline rushes through my veins. It also has been a while for me to be with someone who was a worthy challenge. This woman is beautiful under all her layers of rigid make-up. Intriguing. And perhaps exactly what I am looking for at present.

    I stride forward and take her right hand to kiss it in courtly manner. “Indeed,” I breathe on her snow-white skin. I hear her quick intake of breath as she takes a step back.

    “It is an honour to finally meet you. I have heard so much about you.” Her voice turns husky.

    “I hope Mistress Mössa did not give you the impression that I am some madman and a heartless murderer.”

    She frowns deeply. Then she cocks her head from side to side. “I do not think that Mistress O’Conghaile married you without considering your character, your status in life and holy duties as a defender of your people’s faith.”

    I am glad she brings that up, but before I can think about an appropriate reply, Coire MacGhillie continuous speaking.

    “A rich desert prince like you is obliged to have a mistress next to his main wife, is he not?”

    I look intently into her eyes, which suddenly seem so much older than before. “You are well informed about my culture, milady.”

    She smiles and makes herself comfortable next to the fireplace. “When my good husband was taken from me so suddenly, I took refuge in books. They gave me not only consolation, but a lot of information as well.” She folds her hands together in her lap, trying to keep her excitement in. “Sapuhru seems to be a fascinating place and your race, the Lidérc, are much more than the bloodthirsty pets of the Tjiehennet dynasty.”

    Coire MacGhillie is not only beautiful, but also literate and witty.

    “So, I can stay for tea time?” I enquire and give her a playful wink.

    “I expected nothing less of you.”

    “And you are not afraid of your reputation, milady?”

    “Kol Blåbär and his wife Aska have served me since their teens. My reputation is safe with them. No one would need to know.”

    Surprise grips me at the earnestness – and urgency – in her tone. She already considers becoming my lover, even though I have not brought it up yet.

    I sit down in the arm chair opposite to her. “You would not tell Sionnach?”

    A shadow falls on her face. “From all the conversations I had with her in the past, I learned that the girl knows almost nothing about your culture. I suppose you have your motives so I will not question them. But allow me to say the following...”

    I hold my breath, not sure what she wants to address next. It could be anything from my urge to control the situations that I am in to the tricky subject of bride grooming.

    “Her heart belongs to somebody else,” Coire MacGhillie says. “She loves you like an older brother, like some blood relative she admires and fears at the same time.”

    “Ah,” I murmur.

    “You would not be here, milord, if you did not already carefully consider your marriage vows and feelings for your wife. It actually pleases me that you enter an affair this discreetly.”

    From her words, I can make out that Coire MacGhillie is willing to trust me as her future lover. I swear myself not to break this trust.

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

    Elfin courtship advances by gradations, with couples first speaking, then walking out together, and finally keeping company after mutual attraction has been confirmed.

    Luckily, I learned Floriography, the language of flowers, from Néné. It is a means of cryptological communication through the use or arrangement of flowers. I show up with Hollyhock - ambition - for my first tea time invitation.

    Coire seems pleased, so for my next visit I bring along light pink roses – desire, passion, joy of life, youth, energy.

    Regular invitations for tea soon end up in long walks over the heath.

    I find Coire a pleasing and obliging companion – docile, good tempered, and well-principled. Never do I weary of quoting poems to her or reading her favourite novels. There is a pleasure in my services. I can clearly see that she grows fonder of me with each visit paid. But it is no true love which relieves me. Love destroys.

    During one walk on a hot summer day, Coire is extremely quiet.

    “What is the matter, my dear?” I ask after I cannot stand her atypical silence any longer.

    She licks her lips, her chest rising and falling with her rapid breaths. “We have known each other for seven weeks now, but... would you consider staying for dinner tonight?”

    I breathe out, my shoulders sagging in relief. “I can stay the whole night, if you want me to.”

    Coire reaches out to touch my cheek, her elegant fingers just grazing my jaw. “I want it all tonight.”

    My eyes widen at her passionate speech. “Are you sure about that? So soon?”

    “All those conventions of courtship make me sick. The moral code that Her Holiness, Mórag MagUdhir, pushes down on all of us is inexcusable. An Elfin heart should beat fierce and free!”

    With that she grips her bodice and tears it open. I stare at the wonderful result with a sly smile. “Perhaps we should have dinner right here and right now,” I suggest and struggle out of my coat to make us a bed between the ferns.

    “Am I dinner?” she asks sneakily.

    “You are dessert,” I grin as I sweep her into my arms.

    It startles me slightly, that Coire took the imitative, but on the other hand she knows all about good timing.

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

    Later on, as I cradle my new mistress against my chest and idly play with her locks, Coire mumbles, “What are you so afraid of?”

    “Pillow talk,” I rumble ruefully. “Because I am too honest to the women that I make love to.”

    She sits up and gazes at me. “Are you afraid of us?”

    My lips curve to a half-smile. “I actually love women a lot. The universe is a much better place with them.”

    “But you never give all your heart,” Coire states matter-of-factly. “I wonder who hurt you in such unspeakable ways.”

    I close my eyes, but she keeps looking at me. I owe her an answer. “Growing up in a pride of lionesses hardens. It is a world of mirrors, make-up and murder.”

    She kisses my closed lids. “The Elfin Court is pretty much the same. Yet, my arranged marriage led to a love match. One day you will find your true love and it will be pure magic, I promise.”

    Magic.

    I am reminded of Grianán and her binding spell. Of all the power she possesses as a member of the ancient Serpent Family. “I would rather do without magic,” I proclaim. “It leads to eternal damnation.”

    “Now I understand what you are really afraid of,” Coire muses. “Opening your soul to a force that you do not understand. Being vulnerable to somebody else. You hate to be at a woman’s mercy.”

    My eyes snap open and I kiss her long and hard.

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

    During the next three years, Coire and I are involved in a very passionate affaire. We engage ourselves in card games and chess, have poetry sessions, and ignore the lack of a love that will never be.

    All comes to a sudden end when she dances with a Sleah Maith during a party at Midwinter Eve. It is love at first sight. He is a horse merchant and able to bring the long-dead butterflies back into her stomach. They marry shortly after the spring equinox dance and I am their guest of honour.

    Draíocht gives me one of her critical glances when she spots me at her arrival at the wedding party. When no one is watching, she drags me into a relatively quiet corner of the barn.

    “Why are you invited, Luçien?”

    “Support groups are nice. We should found one, you and I. People who face the dark side of the Force on a daily basis.” I smile broadly, not willing to let her ruin the night.

    “So you were the reason why Coire changed so dramatically during the past years.”

    “Is that a reproach?” I ask, keeping my manners polite and flawless.

    Draíocht’s face clouds, but not for long. “Why can’t you be like this with Sionnach? Why did you not support her the way you supported Coire?”

    I shrug. “We already have too much history. And there are things that I cannot tell her. About me.”

    Coire and Rory wave at me.

    Not waiting for Draíocht’s permission I rush over to them. It was a boring conversation anyway.

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

    After Coire’s marriage, I start look after my own property again, which has been sorrowfully neglected. Poison ivy is all over my garden. To get rid of it is an arduous work.

    As the days grow short and cold, I do much in the lodge itself. I construct two chandeliers made of gigantic antlers. Taking my favourite hammer and a box of nails, I also hang up some of the stuffed animals that Taran and I hunted together.

    After the first frost touches my garden, I start practising the violin again. It is not the one that Enderv gave to me in my youth, nor is it the one that I had on Amnion. This one is an instrument that Taran gave to me after our first winter spent together.

    Inspired by my own music, I soon do some wooden figurines, including a unicorn.

    When the first snow covers my vegetable beds, I try out various Udhaler cookie recipes: epparkakor, krumkrake and fattigmann.

    After trying the fruits of my labour, Agathos wants me to stay for the Midwinter holidays.

    “I do not want to spoil it for your children,” I say with a sour smile. “This should be a jolly season and not one of blood and claw. Isabeau and I have our issues.”

    “But if she knew that you are such a great chéf...”

    “My cookies will not convince her that I have stopped being the villain. Besides, my boys might visit me any time soon and Taran is long overdue.”

    Hesitantly, Agathos releases me into my winter holidays.

    Instead of teleporting, I walk all the way back to the lodge.

    The snow blanket is still nothing but a dusting, but it is bound to become worse.

    My boots have a good tread and my Udaler coat keeps me warm enough.

    Above me a star cruiser flies towards the castle. On-board, I feel the royal princesses and princes with their ever anxious nanny.

    Quickly, I move on, becoming one with the wintry, barren landscape.

    About three miles away from the place that I learned to call sanctuary, a rider with two horses passes by. Dead game hangs from the saddle of the second animal. The stranger greets me friendly.

    I return his wave and state, “A successful hunt, I see.”

    Soon we are into deep conversation about rabbits, deer and other game of interest in this region. Because I enjoy myself to much, I invite the young man in. He is happy to oblige.

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

    Draň Syn od Kerb is the son of a warlord from the Eastern Prairies. He was seeing the Holy Consort for an audience, but he arrived one day too early. So he decided to go hunting.

    We are pleased with each other’s company, and he stays on for another four days. His urge to speak with my step-sister Isabeau has been forgotten altogether.

    But then it is time to say good-bye. Draň cannot stretch his schedule for me any longer. He is expected back at Dún Barr.

    Once my new acquaintance is gone, the house is dressed in silence again. It smothers me.

    But instead of praying with the flagellum, I free my violin of its black case. My fingers wander over its shiny surface, play with the body, rest at its neck.

    After a moment of contemplation, I summon the bow, an inwardly curved wooden rod with white horsehair, into my left hand. Then I nest my head at the chin-rest.

    I wince when I attempt to play.

    My violin, last used during the night of Beltane, needs urgent tuning.

    While I listen carefully to each string as it tightens towards the desired pitch, I play each of the required notes continuously. In no time, I achieve the resonance of a perfect fifth, grinning wide. I should have sought the comfort of music more often.

    I breathe in and out reverently.

    Then I close my eyes and start to play one my favourite tunes.

    Getting lost in music is one of the greatest pleasures of my life. The physical world around me disappears.

    I let the melodies surround me, swallow me whole. The bow, the violin and I became one unit.

    Suddenly, something else sets my spirit soaring. I am half in agony, half in hope.

    With the violin pressed to my chest I race towards the tool shed, which I had turned into a stable for Czarny, a gigantic kallblod horse. The animal gives me an astonished look. His tail indicates a hyper-alert state.

    “We are going out. I hope you don’t mind,” I explain cheerfully. “It looks like I have a visitor today. Let us hunt some rabbits!”

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

    I feel her heartbeat syncing with mine the closer I get to the girl. This is not only the katadesmos, her binding spell, doing that to me. It is true happiness, reflected in her grey eyes.

    “Where have you been, Grianán?”

    “I never really recovered from Polysýndeton,” she answers, her words muffled by the thick hood of a winter cloak. “Isa thought it better to keep me in a warm climate.”

    “So I heard. But I find it hard to believe. I know you. You would survive even the hostile climate of Polaris.” I am desperate to gaze at her face. “Let me have a look! May I?”

    She nods.

    I take my gloves off before I remove her hood. “There you are.”

    Grianán is grinning so wide, that I cannot suppress the urge to tick her nose in a playful manner.

    “Could you even see where you were walking with that thing on?” I ask.

    She smiles on.

    “How old are you now?” I ask her despite knowing it all too well. “Eight?”

    “I will turn nine in spring.”

    “How time flies.” It feels not right towering above the girl so I kneel down in the snow to be face-to-face with her. “You have quite a suntan here. Something tells me that you live in a place where it is much warmer than here. And it is not the Holy Isle.”

    “Perhaps.”

    “I must say you look healthier than everybody wants to me to believe. You are definitely not at the brink of death.”

    A cloud darkens her face. “Not yet.”

    “I like you best alive! And fearless.”

    Abruptly, she breaks her eye contact. “Is that for Sionnach’s household?” she inquires.

    I follow her gaze. “No, actually those rabbits are for my own dinner.” I am glad she noticed my prey. My plan is progressing. “I have a hunting lodge nearby that I built myself.”

    “You know how to build a house?” Grianán wonders, astonishment making her face even prettier.

    I laugh, happy that I can finally speak out my invitation. “What about a cup of tea and some cookies at my place?” I wink at her. “Then you can judge my carpeting skills for yourself.”


    Sources:

    Wookieepedia – The Star Wars Wiki
    Hidden quotes from SW movies and the SW universe
     
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  14. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    What a pleasant surprise and wonderful as always reading of Grianan :)
     
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  15. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Actually, dear @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha, I prepare another fun surprise for the best beta ever and my readers...

    I am still busy in the background.
     
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  16. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Captivating chapters, as ever! =D= Though I rarely make it to the boards with my commenting brain on, I've been reading along and enjoying the journey.

    Really intriguing to see Luc's thoughts on the differences in how the many cultures he has lived in operate. He's lived in so many places and situations, though how much of that gets filtered through his own point of view is hard to say. Sapuhru doesn't seem matriarchal in that the ultimate authorities of their very strict society are mostly men. But I can absolutely see where he gets that idea, especially when he sees Coire and other Elven women dismissed as fragile and helpless. Anyway, here I am getting wrapped up in the worldbuilding of this series again. :p Needless to say, I like the complexity of it all!

    Wuthering... sounds familiar. ;)

    Draìocht seems to be one for petty revenge, making her feline sort-of-in-law wait in the rain. :p

    Yikes. The past sure does follow him. Though the past will do that, especially when it tends to repeat!

    Was glad to see that Coire found someone to fall in love with, and it would be good for Lucien if he took her prediction to heart. (Also if he was honest with Sionnach; she is in love with someone else and he's rather silly thinking he has to hide things like this given the purely for show basis of their continued relationship. :rolleyes: Though perhaps I am oversimplifying.)

     
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  17. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Yepp, @Kahara, you caught me red handed here messing around with the classic novel "Wurthering Heights". [face_whistling]

    Anyway, nice to see you around with your commentary brain being switched on.

    Lucien thinks that the females have the say on Sapuhru, but he is not the most reliable storyteller that there is. And as we can see his history with females in common is a mystery.

    * thinks about a very funny Hugh Laurie song now that is some decades old by now:

    Mystery
    All my life has been a mystery
    You and I were never ever meant to be
    That's why I call my love for you
    A mystery
    Different country
    You and I have always lived
    In a different country
    And I know that airline tickets don't grow
    On a tree
    So what kept us apart is plain for me to see
    That much at least
    Is not really a mystery
    Estuary
    I live in a houseboat on an estuary
    Which is handy for my work
    With the Port Authority
    But I know you would have found it
    Insanitary
    Insanitary
    Hated me
    I'd be foolish to ignore the possibility
    That if we ever actually met
    You might have taken a really violent dislike to me
    Still that's not the only problem that I can see
    Dead since 1993
    You've been dead now
    Wait a minute let me see
    14 years
    Come next January
    As a human being you are history
    So why do I still long for you
    Why is my love so strong for you
    Why did I write this song for you
    Well I guess it's just a mystery
    Just a mystery
    Mystery

    You should check this one out on YouTube! It´s worthwhile!

    Anyway, dear readers (perhaps even @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha, @Darth_Furio, @earlybird-obi-wan, @Nehru_Amidala & @gizkaspice), I make a quick update before I get sort of kidnapped by two "Dungeons & Dragons online" fans, aka my dear Dutch husband, @DarthUncle, and his twin who works & lives in CZ since ages. I promised the boys I would come along to their adventures and be a criminal dwarf woman with reddish brown hair & a bow-caster. [face_blush]

    A happy new year to everybody with the promise of a much brighter future! [face_good_luck]

    Here we go:


    Chapter 21:

    A wonderful day passes between Grianán and me. I show her my home and the hobbies that I turned my head to since Doom’s Day. Fearlessly, she strolls around, touches everything that catches her interest. As if she needs her hands to believe that I have changed for the better.

    With great enthusiasm, the girl munches on my cookies when we retire in front of the fire place. She has many questions for me. I answer each one of them with a smile.

    I want Grianán to stay on forever, but at a point I have to escort her back to the castle. One of her royal sisters died in an assassination in the woods many years ago. There is no way I will have her march back through the forest all by herself. Agathos, Narthex and Isa follow strange pedagogical concepts at times.

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

    It is a pleasant ride back. The girl talks non-stop about her daily life in the Mare Coloris. I am sure she leaves some details out, but at least I know where she spends most of her time.

    When we come closer to the drawbridge, I start praying that nobody recognizes me, more for the her sake.

    “Thank you for the nice afternoon!” she beams, while sliding out of the saddle.

    “I owed you as much after our last unfortunate meeting in the Embassy.” It costs me a lot of strength I struggle to keep my feelings in check. There are so many other things that I would like to say. “I suppose we will not see each other for a while now. You will go hiding again from me.”

    With a careful nod she agrees, “It’s a trait I share with my mother.”

    A nameless fear claws into my heart. “Does that have to do with witchcraft, Grianán? Because if it does, you are in great trouble.”

    “With you?” she prompts. “I thought we had established by now that I am but a girl and not a zombie.”

    I ride off without even saying good-bye. Not after what happened to me in the crypt of her ancestors. Dark magic is dangerous.

    The chilly temperatures turn my silent tears into ice.

    “Force, have mercy on her.
    Sodalith, have mercy on her.
    Calme, have mercy on her.
    Force, hear me.
    Moon goddesses graciously hear me.
    Have mercy on her.”


    Czarny, his ears turned towards me, makes a concerned sound.

    “You like her, too, don’t you?” I pat his broad flank. “She bewitches everybody that crosses her way.”

    Czarny does not like getting teleported, but I give him an extra big carrot for his displeasure.

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

    At my desk I start writing the longest letter of my life. It is addressed to Agathos, but I am sure he will share its contend with Narthex.

    I am as jittery as an eopie stitched by a desert scorpion.

    Therefore I start scrubbing the entire house, do the windows and clean all surfaces.

    I put vases with white asters into the guest rooms. The beds get freshened up by me and I hang lavender bags hang in the closets.

    When I am finished with my cores, the dawn settles in.

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

    Narthex wears his smug master valet expression when I hand my envelope over to him in front of his master’s bedchamber. “You want Agathos to read this before the breakfast?” He raises an eyebrow. “I am not sure he is even up yet.”

    “Please,” I get out, my voice heavy with emotion.

    “I see what I can do.”

    I have to wait more than an hour before I am summoned into the bedroom. Much arguing is heard through the door.

    Finally, Narthex opens the door. His expression is grave.

    Agathos sits in front of the fire place, drinking kafés. When I step towards him, does not get up, but gestures me to sit down opposite to him.

    The long hunting knife on the kafés table makes me highly uncomfortable. “A blood oath, seriously? Again?”

    Narthex stares me down with burning eyes. “It is either that or you leave this bedroom at once.”

    “As you wish,” I sigh and roll up my sleeve until my left arm is completely exposed.

    “It is not about you, nor about us,” the master valet growls with a fierceness that startles me. “And certainly not about the shield of lies we will erect to make your request work.”

    Suddenly, I realise what my old friends risk for me. Isabeau can be a dangerous foe when enraged. The safety and well-being of her royal protégées comes first. For them, she would even sacrifice bonds of friendship and murder in cold blood.

    The stakes are awfully high, even for Grianán. It is very likely that her brothers and sisters would feel utterly betrayed.

    Caelestris is the only child among the Tjiehenet serpent-spawn that really likes me and her twin Èleos tries to act polite at least.

    It is Agathos, who openly speaks about my darkest fears. “The black arts are more than communication with the deceased. An agency of evil is forged between a witch and a multitude of demons. Arcane powers can be learned, such as the terrible ability to awaken the dead with false life.” His grey eyes are like a calm ocean. “Do you believe that my youngest daughter is such an agent of evil? Or are you able to give her a joyful midwinter experience?”

    “Yes,” I answer, but I sound more feeble than I want to.

    “Let me be very precise, my old friend. What you want is unheard of, could even be misunderstood to your disadvantage.”

    “I can keep my temper. I can keep the girl safe. I only need the chance to prove it.”

    “Narthex, we should give him a chance,” Agathos pleas. “Together we will make Grianán strong from the inside. She will win the contest of wills against Mórag. She will not end up like her mother, a broken toy.”

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

    Finally, a mumbling Narthex is send off to fetch Grianán. When she enters the room, my chest expands ins a deep breath.

    The girl wears a simple, but elegant Elfin dress with trumpet sleeves. It is emerald green. The light of the chimney fire turns her blond hair into a halo.

    And then, there it is, that sweet, quirky smile that I love so much. “I am to spend these holidays with you, Luçien,” she greets me. “Is that true?”

    I nod.

    Cheering, she zooms straight into my arms. I feel the quickening beat of her heart. It passes from her to me, becoming mine.

    “I need to pack my bags and fetch Bertha from the Nursery,” she thinks aloud.

    “Bertha?” I muse.

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

    Hours later, save from the ever jealous eyes of my step-sister, Marquise Isabeau Riwalan, I spoil Grianán and her beloved toy bantha with raclette and marshmallows. Hesitantly, I also let her have some honey mead. It is a common midwinter drink for this region. Even small children have some around this time of year.

    At a point the girl becomes strangely silent.

    “What is thy bidding, my mistress?” I joke, cautious and curious alike. In the Force I can feel that there is trouble ahead.

    Grianán flutters her eyelashes with breathtaking speed. Somehow she is under the impression that this works on me. “Luçien,” she pipes up. “Can we have a midwinter tree?”

    “Non,” is the only answer that I have for her.

    “But Father says you bake midwinter cookies each year.”

    “I would never dare to deprive Agathos of that innocent pleasure. He has so few left being a widowed father. I am told his children feed like very hungry caterpillars.”

    Grianán twitches her nose and dares to copy my pose, including my irritated frown.

    A dry laugh rumbles through my chest. “I am desert-born and simply do not do midwinter as such, my little dreamer.”

    “But you always claim that you serve the light.”

    “That I do,” I underline. “But my religion does not have a holy celebration midwinter.”

    “So your religion is just about blood, pain and severe punishment? Never any acts of mercy or charity? Nothing about the light?”

    My nostrils flare in cold anger. “We will not speak of religion under this roof.”

    “You are the religion of your people,” she replies. “So, you should stop living here? Just like that? Place a house ban over yourself?”

    I take her in, speechless. Normally, I kill people for less. I hope it is just the alcohol speaking.

    “Where would you go? Who would take you in on this planet? You never really can escape being yourself!” Grianán nearly shrieks.

    I storm outside towards the wood shed. It does not take me long to find what I am looking for.

    “There you are!” I say triumphantly.

    The axe handle feels smooth in my shaking hand.

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

    To swing the axe is a rather liberating act. Again and again the sharp blade find its goal. Precious lifeblood is spilled into the snow.

    “Sanguis vita est,” I murmur to myself. Blood is life.

    After a while I hear the soft rustling of a silk dress from behind me. “Luçien?” Grianán asks uncertain.

    “Just stay back!” I growl without looking behind me. “Axe heads have been known to come off when I’m angry.”

    Her answer comes softly, meekly almost. “I am very grateful that you will get a midwinter tree, but I did not mean you to cut it down.”

    “How else am I supposed to get it into the Hall of Fire?” I force the axe to stay at my side. “It is still attached to the ground. I cannot teleport with it that way.”

    She hugs me gently. “I could not kill a tree for the sake of a splendid midwinter feast,” she says. “Mother wouldn’t either. She would search a possible candidate, ask its permission...”

    “Your mother talked with trees?” I snort towards the little ghost whisperer, who just makes me break with my holy oath as a witch hunter.

    “Trees are luminous beings, too.” Grianán frowns at me.

    I step back and wave the girl forward as if I was escorting her through a door. “You do it then.”

    “But first you must heal its wounds. Your axe has hurt it badly. It is in pain and will not listen to me.”

    This girl will be my ruin one day. Of that I am certain. But I do as she asks of me, because there is no point in arguing with her. Like her grandfather, Narthex, she always talks her way out.

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

    When my midwinter angel is tired of dancing and singing around the tree, that I erected in the Hall of Fire, she scrambles onto my lap. That forces me to put my book away.

    “Do you have more insights you want to get rid of, Grianán?” I ask hesitantly, not sure how many blasphemous things I can to hear out of that sweet, silly mouth tonight.

    If she pushes me too much, I have to punish her according to the Holy Laws of my people.

    “Life is not only about pain, distrust and hate,” she announces.

    “Oh really?” I pick up my book again, pretending that I am reading on. “How good of you to point that out.”

    She places both of her hands on my hot cheeks. “Mother was good at denying herself comfort.”

    “Look closely at my beard. Can you see it? I am not your mother,” I say, keeping my voice flat.

    “This is why I hope that you better yourself before one of us gets seriously hurt.” She snuggles even closer, burying her face in my left shoulder.

    “What I will tell you now, I never shared with anybody alive before,” I say.

    She becomes solemn, and rises up to lean back on her heels. I notice that she is focusing more intently than when I tutor her.

    “I do not fully believe that I am the Messie either,” I explain. “If he ever shows up he will be a more perfect being than I ever could be. My mission is to spread the message that work and the circumstances of everyday life are occasions for growing closer to the Force, and...”

    “For serving others, and for improving society,” she concludes. “I hear the Holy Scriptures talking, but not you. Do you have a voice left? One that is your own?”

    “Killing you for being an infidel would gain nothing, Grianán.” I hold her small chin in my hand.

    “There is no blessing in pain.” She gives me a queer look. “Are you forced to hurt others because the Holy Scriptures demand it from you?”

    “Exactly.”

    Her gaze becomes bitter-sweet. “It is wrong of adults to feel it is their right to force a child to abide by their religious choices. Were you...”

    I make a low sound at the back of my throat and shove her off of me. “Get out of here before I truly get angry.”

    She blinks once before blowing me a kiss. “Don’t make it too late, Luçien! Brooding is bad for you.”

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

    The next day I awake later than usual. My own hands are clawed clasped around my throat, almost crushing my windpipe. The mattress under me is damp from my cold sweat and urine.

    It takes me a while to erase the evidence of my nightmare.

    Fortunately, Grianán has made breakfast for us without burning the kitchen down. I find out that she can roast bread and boil the perfect eggs. Not too soft, not too hard.

    “About yesterday...” she begins, shy and full of guilt.

    I stop her with a raised hand, staring at my plate. “Your main task for today is to get us a nice midwinter decoration for the Hall of Fire. Just for there, nothing for upstairs! I would hate to find holly and ivy in my bed.”

    Grianán jumps off her chair so quick that it loudly topples over. “Are you serious?” she gasps. Her iris is wide.

    “I am seriously late today. That is for certain. This calls for a vendetta.”

    She pales considerably.

    “With snow balls,” I put her at ease.

    I am rewarded with the most beguiling smile. My faux pas in the bedroom fades into oblivion.

    Grianán plays me like a harp and the truth is that I do not mind. But I know that I should.

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

    Right after breakfast we have a snowball fight. After that we build a snow man together. The end product looks very much like a looming Narthex, stark raving mad with me for some reason.

    Then there is a real obstacle.

    Taran arrives by far too early for the midwinter celebrations. Luckily, Grianán quickly is at ease around him.

    Soon more laughter fills the lodge, accompanied by music.

    My hunting pal and I try to get the girl to dance with us, but she refuses.

    After a few nights of cajoling she agrees to appease us and I begin to understand her hesitation.

    Ceiporeia is a dance of its own. Fluid, graceful movements betray Isabeau’s teachings. The heritage of the Riwalan clan has survived after all. It will unsettle Alezan if I ever chose to tell him, but it pleases me.

    Grianán is a wondrous weapon. I wonder if I can ever yield her or if I have to destroy her.

    “The Force may have mercy on both of us!” I whisper one evening after she gives me and Taran a good-night kiss.

    My hunting pal eyes me suspiciously but says nothing.

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

    When I wake up in the middle of the night, soaked through by sweat, I cannot move my legs properly. I initially fear that it is one of my grandfather's sophisticated torture instruments before reason comes to me and I realize the weight is familiar. I smile into the darkness.

    Removing Grianán becomes a difficult process. In deep sleep, she clings on to my knees.

    After half an hour I can move my loyal guardian angel into a position that is more comfortable for both of us. She does not wake up.

    It takes me another half an hour to stand on my own feet and carry Grianán, still rolled into my blanket, into her own bed.

    I stay at her side until my lids become too heavy to enjoy her face any longer. Only then I sneak back into my own room. But loaded with guilt, I do not stay there for very long.

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

    The lines around Agathos storm-grey eyes deepen in amusement, while I cling on to his mattress in the semi-dark. “Grianán slept at your feet?”

    “On my feet,” I correct him.

    “Well, perhaps my daughter is under the impression that you are attracted to her.”

    “Ah,” I get out, completely flustered. This family will be my ruin one fine day. “But that’s not how I feel! I have not said or done anything to—”

    “Hush, my friend. I know you are not at fault. No, I am very grateful that you are so honest with me,” Agathos moves on, which I am grateful for. “Grianán can be glad that you are considerate for the two of you.”

    I nod at him. “This is exactly why I want her to be gone from Varykino tomorrow morning.”

    He pales. “But she has three holy days left with you and Taran.”

    “It is the right thing under the circumstances. A line was crossed last night. I am so sorry, but I cannot go on this way.”

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

    When I leave Agathos, I have Temperance secretly fly me to the Holy Isle. I mask my presence so I can easily sneak up the royal crypts and enter them.

    Although Clementia is gone for a while now, no new crypt keeper has been installed. The locals believe that the choice for evil is a very personal one.

    Countless entities pour into the crypts once I am standing in its centre. They all snigger while they try to touch me in improper ways. Their flesh is in varying degrees of putrefaction. The freshly decreased green and pliant skin, while the older ones look more grey and brittle.

    I keep my, square my shoulders. “I am here about Princess Grianán Arcana Tjiehennet,” I say. “She once put a binding spell on me. I would like to break it, for the sakes of both of us.”

    A girl comes to stand in front of me. She was about twelve years old when she died. Her eyeballs are long gone and replaced with the fire of the dark side. Withered lips are pulled back into an everlasting skeletal grin. “We have a counter-spell for you, Ankoù.”

    My hand moves to my scimitar automatically. “I am a man of faith, creature. Not a wizard.”

    “Put your weapon away.” With authority of a god queen the girl reaches out for my fingers, plucks them off the handle with inhuman strength. “I mean you no harm.”

    Uncomfortable, I allow the entity to press both of my hands to her corroded chest which is filled with unnatural life. She starts mumbling a spell into my head.

    “I bind your feet from bringing you to harm me.
    I bind your hands from reaching out to harm me.
    I bind your mouth from spreading tales to harm me.
    I bind your mind from sending energy to harm me.
    If you continue to do so, let all negative energy be cast directly back at...”


    I tear away from the evil creature.

    This is not the advice that I wanted concerning Grianán. The thought of harming her sickens me.

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

    When I return home from work in the evening, I find Grianán and Taran dancing around the midwinter tree enthusiastically. The landing that I lean on to watch them is highly adorned with a garland of holly and ivy.

    Suddenly, I notice a more striking difference. “Grianán, can you tell me why our beds are downstairs?” I call over the singing.

    “Oh, Luçien, you are back,” she beams. Her face is flushed and radiates pure joy.

    “While I appreciate you leaving the wardrobes and cabinets upstairs,” I offer, grinning sardonically, “I really would like an answer to my question.”

    “Old spoilsport,” remarks Taran. “The lass had some sweet ideas. It will be like a camping holiday for us.”

    I lift an eyebrow. “I hope you will still use the toilet upstairs, wolfie. Because this is her beloved midwinter tree. She fought hard and unfair to get it from me.”

    “You are outrageous,” Taran calls out.

    “Outrageous? Me?” I duck when a pillow flies towards me.

    A soft noise makes me look upwards to the sky lights. It is snowing and the wind brushes the powder across the glass.

    Grianán follows my gaze and starts cheering immediately.

    Taran squeezes her gently in his arms, infected by her happiness.

    I cannot help but watch them with an indulgent smile on my lips. The words that could lead to the girl’s condemnation echo through my head.

    I should have never entered the crypts of Cunabula. She is as pure as the snow. Even if it will cost my soul, I must make sure it stays this way.


    Sources:

    An altered Roman Catholic prayer
    An altered Wiccan prayer
    Wookieepedia – The Star Wars Wiki
    Hidden quotes from SW movies and the SW universe
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2021
    Darth_Furio and Kahara like this.
  18. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Always enjoy Luc/Gri moments :)

    @};-
     
    Kahara likes this.
  19. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    sweet moments and a nice poem
     
  20. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Thanks, @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha & @earlybird-obi-wan.

    I hope the rest of you is also on-board still, such as @Kahara, @Cowgirl Jedi 1701, @Darth_Furio, @Nehru_Amidala & @gizkaspice.

    This seems the moment to close Act 1 of Lucien´s story and to begin Act 2.


    Act 1/ Epilogue:

    I never get the chance to go on with my story. For my descendant, Anakin Skywalker, interrupts me. A shadow he has become tonight. In the truest sense of the word.

    Instead of accepting the facts, he kindles the hope of his mother’s survival in his heart. But that is not how the Force has decided. This is why I was send here in the first place.

    I am still l'ange de la mort - the Angel of Death. And since my own demise so many aeons ago, on my own account. This task I took on with great devotion. I guide the souls of my family members into the Netherworld of the Force. To make their passing as peaceful and tranquil as possible.

    The Tusken outside the ritual tent are not my concern, but their unnecessary deaths through Anakin’s wrath disturb me greatly. He cuts through them like a scythe in a field. Even the women and children are not safe from the wrath inside the young man.

    As a Jedi knight he should know better.

    There is no emotion, there is peace.

    There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.


    There is no passion, there is serenity.

    There is no chaos, there is harmony.


    There is no death, there is the Force.


    Shmi takes my offered hand, but cannot help to turn around for the boy she has born into this universe. “Will Ani be alright?”

    “He will be what he decides to be,” I answer frankly.

    “Then I have to stay on,” she prompts and her fingers glide away.

    I stay calm. “You will be stuck in between. Less than a whisper in the desert wind. He will not be able to hear you.”

    Before Shmi can defy what I just said, another Force ghost comes to my aid. Qui-Gon Jinn, the Jedi master, that Anakin decided to ignore earlier on.

    “Luçien has a point,” he smiles and his blue eyes glow more intense than ever. “Come with us!”

    Shmi hesitates.

    His winning smile widens. “There is always hope,... though it often comes in forms not looked for. The key is knowing how to see it and seizing that opportunity.”

    Trust a Jedi master to produce a clever quote like this at any given moment in time and space.

    While Qui-Gon seizes Shmi’s hand instead of me, I remain behind. Looking at the slaughtered tribe.

    Anakin has inherited so much from me that it scares me. It’s the Palpatine blood line in him, but that also grants him Grianán’s DNA at the same time. I do hope that the light inside him will never truly vanish.


    Act 2/ Prologue:

    I am only visible to those who are of my blood and at the brink of death. But this is not what is written in the stars for her Royal Highness, Princess Leia of Alderaan. Even though she has the feeling that her skin is on fire right now and that her flesh is torn apart.

    It is but an illusion. Cleverly created by somebody who is wrong about many things in his life.

    While I silently gaze at the young woman in her darkest hour, I cannot help to admire her inner strength. She reminds me so much of the love of my life.

    Besides, Leia’s adoptive parents have raised her to give up her freedom, her dignity, and even her private self in the service of a larger whole. An upbringing that I am very familiar with.

    From my point of view the princess should have been the one training to become a Jedi knight. Not her twin brother. Luke Skywalker is more like a bantha. Impetuous, headstrong, unruly, and inattentive.

    My eyes wander towards the being that over-towers the young woman.

    Neither his psychic powers nor injecting a powerful mind-altering hallucinogen into her veins have helped Darth Vader to make Leia susceptible to suggestion at all. His daughter will not divulge any secrets. Not tonight, not ever.

    But she certainly feels like being on the brink of death. This is why I got summoned here by sheer accident. And why I have to leave again. Unless…

    “Concentrate on my voice,” I declare. “And on my voice only!”

    I have Leia’s attention. Which is a good thing. I can make her stay in the light a bit longer. She will survive this night on the Death Star stronger than before.

    And I begin with a lesson, that I would like to put straight into her strong beating heart.

    “I would rather be a monster that believes in something, that would sacrifice everything to make the galaxy better, than be someone who sits on the sidelines and watches as if it has no consequences to them.”

    This is perhaps not fair, turning her heart into a diamond, but all the pressure that Leia is under right now, will set a lot into motion inside her.

    When the rest of my story is forgotten, my quote will outlive everything else and be her guiding star.
     
  21. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Poignant and insightful epilogue/prologue =D=
     
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  22. Nehru_Amidala

    Nehru_Amidala Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 3, 2016
    Ugh, that was amazing. You are the kind of writer I aspire to be.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  23. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    *De-lurks* I'm still here.
     
  24. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha: Thanks. But Luc is not finished yet. He just begins his next half of the story for Leia. [face_blush]


    @Nehru_Amidala: That´s sweet of you to say! Thanks! :D


    @Cowgirl Jedi 1701: Good to know! I am happy. Perhaps @Kahara is also still around.


    Please be aware that the following chapter contains scenes of violence and self-harm, and references to abuse and trauma recovery!



    Chapter 22:


    The silence that surrounds me is excruciating. Without Grianán by my side, the house suddenly seems too big, too empty, too full of shadows.

    Taran is also gone. We parted in anger on the morning our confused midwinter angel was flown home by Temperance.

    The following days fly by in a daze.

    Each night I fail to keep sleep at bay and then I am right back at Châtiment’s office. Nightmares that I had fended off the past years are rushing back in my life.

    One morning, I am hopelessly entangled in my bed linen. Instead of urine there is excrement.

    Cursing, I get up on trembling legs and try to clean the profound mess that I made.

    I stop and quickly rise when I hear noises in the kitchen.

    “Éibhear!” I sigh, wishing that none of my sons would care much for me. It is a love that I do not deserve. Draíocht was right; I am such a lousy father to them.

    Wearily, I leave my bedroom, leaving the door wide open.

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

    His Elfin ears tremble for a brief moment, but Éibhear does not stop his breakfast preparations. “You have no fresh bread in the house,” he comments while forming another croissant. “Why are there just dusty shelves in the pantry?”

    I walk down to him with heavy steps.

    “I should have come earlier, but I know that you hate being taken care of.” Without looking at me, Éibhear continues to shape the dough. “Minou and I spoke about that once.”

    “You should not have,” I say, barely above a whisper.

    Sacre bleu!” he curses and swirls around. His eyes are puffed and there are traces of fresh tears in his long eyelashes. “You need somebody to love around here. If you won’t let the little one or me do the job, then find a woman again.”

    I take him in speechless.

    “You can be such an ass,” Èibhear sniffs and smears dough all over his face in the attempt to wipe away his tears. “Garou and I do not want you to be alone, no matter how much you believe to want it.”

    I take five shaky steps and then I sweep him into my embrace. He tries to be brave, but our physical contact makes his composure crack completely.

    I do not know how long we hug one another, but our reunion is interrupted by the front door banging open.

    “What is going on here?” Draíocht shouts, accompanied by a vexed Ciall.

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

    “Breakfast, tante!” Éibhear answers dutifully. With an undeniable pang of regret he pushes out of my embrace. “I am making a bloody breakfast for my bloody stupid father.”

    Draíocht wants to say something, but Ciall intervenes. “I told you before,” he says in his accented Basic. “The boys want more time with him. Sionnach and you should not worry so much.”

    “What is wrong with you people?” snorts Éibhear. “Stop freaking out each time I leave the langhús on my own. I am not a toddler any more.”

    Guilt and shame stand written in Draíocht’s features now, taking away their usual sharpness. “I...”

    “I know you could not care less what happens to my father, but I do.” My heart races at Éibhear’s heated words. “He lives like an animal in this lodge. Living from moment to moment, day to day. The bad things of his past stay with him. He cannot escape them, as much as he wants to. And now you embarrass him by coming here uninvited and disturbing my breakfast preparations for him.”

    A tremor goes through my body and I need to sit down.

    My teenage foster son is on my side.

    I hardly notice the shuffle of feet, the murmured excuses and the closing of the front door.

    Éibhear places a mug with steaming café into my hands.

    “Okay, they are gone and now we will talk.”

    My stomach clenches in nausea, but I nod.

    “You know sometimes I wish you would be just an alcoholic like Dian.”

    I do not know what shocks me more – the revelation or the name of the man that I killed in the most painful, madding way possible.

    “Do you believe Garou and I are stupid? You can fool mama and a lot of other grown-ups, but not us.”

    I close my eyes, but that does not shut out his persisting, calm voice.

    “Trust me, I will not make you talk, but I insist that you have breakfast with me now.” Quickly, he adds. “And that you feed yourself decently from now on. I hate crying in front of you. But if this is the only way to force promises from you, to make you act normal again, I am prepared to do much worse.”

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

    It is my duty to appear at the royal court again after the end of the Midwinter holidays. Sionnach is also summoned and I am made to share a bedchamber with her again. An arrangement that makes me tense for many reasons.

    Agathos and Narthex have weird methods to test out my equilibrium, despite how my assumed wife and I both feel about the situation. Sometimes the huge canopy bed does not seem large enough.

    I attach a chalice to my left thigh, hoping that the constant pain makes my nightmares stay at bay.

    As a result of my lack of sleep, I am groggy and tetchy non-stop irritable.

    Sionnach brings me over the edge has questions that frustrate me even further. “What would you do with a family member that could see the future?”

    “It is forbidden and an act of witchcraft,” I answer in a voice that is menacing. My heart sinks at the possible though that Sionnach is involved with necromancy in any form. To be a beaton is one thing, but a spiritual healer a totally different matter.

    “Witchcraft?” She stares at me for a moment and then says in a low tone, “You can produce energy shields and heal persons by touching them. You can throw lightning bolts and kill from a safe distance. You have strong reflexes and read minds.”

    “So?” My lips are stiff and I can feel that I am slightly shaking. I hope that Sionnach does not see my fear. Or that she will misinterpret it as arrogance. “The future is forbidden terrain.”

    “Says who, Luçien?” She has eyes of steel suddenly and her mouth is set hard as well.

    “The holy laws of my people,” I answer and for some reason the same fear that turns my stomach into liquid, sends a strange burning sensation throughout my body. I know there is near-physical fire in my gaze.

    She turns away from me, like most of the women that I questioned in the past. “What else do those laws of yours say?” she mumbles.

    Soon we are in a wild discussion that gets totally out of hand becomes an argument with neither of us listening to the other. But it comes in handy that Sionnach believes me to be Grianán’s nemesis. I do not want the girl to get into trouble being associated with me. So I play the villain, which is not a great effort on my side. I have bad blood.

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

    A written invitation from Draň surprises me. It has been a while since I heard from him. I decide to meet my friend in our favourite Inn. The owner has a private room ready for us.

    “Elk hunting is common in this region,” I state, cleaning my mouth of beer foam.

    “What about Gwyllion?” asks Taran with wild flickering eyes, who also has shown up for the meeting.

    Draň sighs. “The Tjiehenet family unfortunately has put a stop to that. Sorry, friend.”

    “We could make an exception. They really spread like a disease in this part of Ceilonwyn. I am sure nobody would miss a single specimen.”

    My stomach churns. I cannot believe that they really discuss this in front of me. “Hold on!” I get out. “We are talking about Elves.”

    “Elves?” Taran looks down at me in disgust. “Gwyllion are vermin like flea or ticks.”

    “But they will not bite you,” grins Draň. “Or give you relapsing fever.”

    Their laughter fills the air.

    Other people in the pub, not aware of what is discussed at our table, smile at us. Friends, who have a good time together.

    “Enough,” I state flustered. “I am the master of the hunt and we will not commit homicide.”

    “More like pest control, if you ask me, Luçien.” Taran’s eyes look more feral than usual.

    Before I can say anything, the barbarian prince sputters, “My current love interest is out of reach for me.”

    “Who is it?” Taran leers over his beer.

    Draň blushes like a maiden. “Nobody of interest.”

    “Ah go on, go on, go on!” urges the werewolf.

    “Her grandfather would not let me anywhere near her. The old man is very determined about us not making out.”

    We nod in heartfelt unison, Taran and I.

    “She has this younger sister, who already started make out with stable boys and other servants. Imagine, she is barely ten.”

    I am glad that my Grianán is a decent girl and will stay this way.

    “That royal master valet is really trouble.” While Draň takes a hasty gulp from his ale, I feel my blood freeze. “He is a trained assassine. Knows some nasty combat moves. Caelestris begged for my life when he found us together in the royal stables. She is an angel though.”

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

    Five days later, I hold the cut off head of Princess Gwenynen Tjiehenet in my wild trembling hands, I have to realise that I cannot even organize a proper hunt.

    Taran sits next to the headless corpse on his wolf heels, trying to look guilty at least.

    “I had to do it,” Draň claims. “It saved her a life full of misery each full moon. The legends say a person bitten by a werewolf turns into one...”

    “Nonsense,” I bark. “This is no illness that spreads. Only zombie bites do create other zombies. There is no werewolf curse.”

    While I close my eyes in agony, I try to figure out where it went all wrong. I had a hunt to lead. Taran had been behaving odd since last night and Draň, … I give him an aghast side look. He kneels down to the dead Gwyllion woman and tries to do more copping.

    “Hold your blade!” I command him.

    Suddenly, the shrill cry of a baby fills the damp morning air. It stirs painful memories.

    “Hush, little one, nobody is going to hurt you,” I rasp, rushing towards the wicket basket.

    Princess Heulwen Tjiehenet cries even louder.

    My anxious attempt to communicate with her via telepathy intensifies her horror. I am an intruder for her, a bad person. She will forever link me with her mother’s murder.

    “Taran, you get my special bag from my tool shed! The one for hunting witches. I need the cotton bandages that I use for the burial service after the purging is done. Oh, and bring Czarny to me! He is a good horse and knows who you are. Perhaps we will even need Heathcliff, the donkey.”

    The werewolf runs off into the undergrowth. Even in his animal form he is still a soldier that is used to following orders from a superior.

    I turn to Draň, trying my best to keep my temper. How can he be so superstitious about werewolf bites? The princess’ death was not necessary. “And you will go back to the Inn, rent a room and stay there until I come back for you.”

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

    The following hours are like a bizarre nightmare vision. I am completely overtaxed with the wailing baby that I continue to hold. Nothing that I try helps to sooth her.

    And suddenly there is Prince Sereno Tjiehenet, sending blade sharp thoughts into my mind. He is on his way, eager to finish me off for his wife’s death. I do not block his curses and demands for my head in return. After he has finished ranting there is silence.

    I take this as an opportunity to contact Grianán. Her mind is so gentle, so friendly.

    After the exhausting communication with her elder brother, I am tempted to let this connection stay open, to continue it forever. But it would be a great violation of her privacy. With her suggestion to sing for Heulwen, I draw back from her.

    My own voice startles me at first, but when I see that it has effect on the baby in my arms, I carry on. I sing all the lullabies I ever gave my own children. I even try a chant from Cunabula.

    “The leaves on the trees
    Reach up to the skies
    As their roots reach down
    Through the deep dark earth.”


    The puffy face of the baby princess gets smiley. Recognition shines in her eyes.

    I repeat the song until she is asleep.

    Soon after, I can spot the property of Draíocht. I am hoarse by now, but I have no right to complain. My own carelessness and stupidity puts others in grave dangers. I see that Châtiment Goañv was right about one thing: I am useless.

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

    There is some drama when I enter the lánghuis, but in the end both my sons insist to follow Sionnach to Dún Barr. There is no use talking them out of it. They are determined to protect me.

    At our arrival at the midwinter castle Prince Sereno Tjiehenet forces me into a fierce duel. He is determined to die, sinks into his own sword before I can hinder him.

    The eyes of my step-sister Isabeau burn with such ire, that I take all the blame for the hunting party. My friends need protection from the Draconian crown.

    The following weeks are like a bad dream. The misery is enhanced after my visit at the tree village of Fan Cill, where Heulwen’s clan lives. I leave the tribe in even greater shame.

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

    Parhelion is at my lodge, waiting for me. Before my older half-brother can rant on my misgivings, I ask him to marry Caelestris and Draň. Grumpily, my half-brother agrees to my request. He even wants to fetch the groom for me.

    Getting the bride in question to the place of the ceremony is a more delicate matter. She does not even know of her luck yet. I wait until supper time and teleport into her chambers.

    The dauphine sits on front of her mirror, brushing her hair absent-mindedly. She reminds me very much of her younger sister. Both have a dreamy look in their eyes and are pale blonds.

    “Ce,” I address her carefully.

    She swirls around in blind panic, but relaxes visibly once she recognizes me. “Luçien! How in the Name of the Great Mother did you get in? I bar the door every night.”

    “Maybe I came through the chimney,” I chuckle.

    Caelestris frowns. “You are not covered in ash.”

    “Through the window perhaps?”

    She rises and paces through the room to come eye to eye with me. Like her mother she is a tall woman. “Could it be that you are not only a conjurer of words?”

    “Have I ever lied to you before?” I ask her.

    She shakes her head. “In comparison to Isa, you were always honest with me.”

    “Do you trust me with your life?” I move on.

    At this she sighs and her gaze clouds. “Why do you ask me all these questions? Has this to do with my brother’s death?”

    “Yes and no,” I volunteer.

    “Would you like to talk to me about it?” Her cheeks colour. “I mean, about how Gwenywen really lost control.”

    My stomach lunges, but I keep myself in check. “The truth would do more harm than anything else, Ce. The lives of too many people depend on it. ”

    Her shoulders slump and this makes me think of Grianán again. The sisters have much in common, despite the difference in ages.

    “Why are you here then?”

    “I would like to make amends for this terrible drama.”

    “I cannot see how.” She turns away from me, but I grip one of her wrists firmly.

    “Let us say that there is a young man out there, madly in love with you. He wants to be at your side and help you through this difficult period by all means possible.”

    Her colour changes, while her lips start to quiver. “But you... you never...”

    “Ce, I said a young man. I am in my thirties.” Laughing, I let go of her wrist. “Think again. Is there nobody that your heart desires? A liaison that your grandfather opposes of very much?”

    She puts a hand against her heart. “Draň, you know of Draň? Is he well? Why does he not write as promised? Are his letters kept away from me?”

    “Why don’t you come with me and ask him all those nagging questions yourself?” I suggest with a smile.

    “Isabeau knows when I leave the castle.” Sorrow washes over her. “There is no way...”

    “Yes, there is.” I take a step towards her. “Do you want me to show you?”

    She places a hand on my shoulder. “By all means, do.”

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

    The secret wedding in front of my waterfall is a success. Unfortunately, Isabeau is furious when I return to Dún Barr with the newly weds in tow. She refuses to give her blessings.

    Not much later, Sionnach dares to make negative remarks about the marriage as well. There is a new fierceness to my official maîtresse-en-titre. I need to talk with Skje about it.

    That night I do not find much sleep. Too many things are on my mind. And the death of Princess Heulween ’s parents weighs heavily on me.

    When Draň approaches me in the loyal library in the early morning hours, his gaze flickers nervously. Fear catches in my throat. Something terrible has happened.

    In a daze I follow him in silence to the bedchamber that he shares with his new wife. The curtains in the royal bedchamber are still drawn, which is odd because Caelestris rises as early as I do. We often meet in the dining-room. My stomach crashes downwards with a nasty feeling. My feet surge towards the outlines of a body.

    “What have you done?” I croak.

    The answer is silence.

    With my mind, I reach out and drag the curtains open.

    The dawn’s light shines on a scene from my deepest nightmares.

    “I cannot believe that she gave her consent for that!” I yell, fighting against my impulse to sink down on my knees and cry.

    It was taking over during the night,” gurgles Draň. “I just woke up with the taste of her blood in my mouth just before I came to you.”

    Him?” I inquire incredulous.

    He runs a nervous hand through his hair. “Berserkergang. I have it, my father has it, most male members of my family have it. But usually in battle. Not with a wife. I cannot explain what happened.”

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

    With great care I free the still unconscious Caelestris from her bonds and gather her broken body in my arms. My mind reels for a solution. The life of my friend is at stake. But so is the health and sanity of a princesse du sang, a princess of the blood.

    “Prepare a hot bath for your wife now!” I order Drañ, who has been behind me, shuffling his feet. “I will take care of this. We will talk later.”

    There is just one way to deal with this incident: a complete cover-up, for now at least. In the long term I will need to send Draň into therapy and try to find the right drugs for his blackouts. I cannot let his darker side win and destroy a marriage that I need to heal the wounds of the Tjiehenet family.

    As for Caelestris, she needs to forget what has occurred after the ceremony. When all her physical injuries are gone, I sink deep into her consciousness. Blissful oblivion settles in her.

    As I put her into the bathtub, her eyes flutter open. “Luçien?” she croaks in astonishment.

    “Hush, Ce.” I sink down on my knees and place a hand her lips. “You hit your head very badly on your way to the bathroom. Your husband asked me for help.”

    “Where is he?”

    “I am here, my darling.”

    She beams at Draň, my presence forgotten.


    Sources:
    A Wiccan chant
    Wookieepedia – The Star Wars Wiki
    Hidden quotes from SW movies and the SW universe
     
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  25. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    scary happenings with Lucien trying to save some
     
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