Thursday, August 22, 2013

Diebin, Orb's Year 929-932


Orb's Year 929
Although Debbie Baker Diebin didn't suspect her husband of cheating on her, she still had no love for Rebecca Wood, the woman trying to worm her way into her family. 

They fought bitterly over anything and everything, except Debbie's fear that Alibaba was in love with the woman. 
Needing air to clear her mind after her last battle with the she-warrior, Debbie stepped outside to be away from the horrid woman.
She'd been so blind her fuming that she didn't see the man approaching before it was too late to scurry into the woods.

Geoffrey L'Adventurer glanced around when he spied the woman.  She was not carrying bags, which meant she was close to home.  "I've not seen you around these parts before.  Who are you?" he demanded.

Debbie put her hand on her hips and asked, "Who wants to know?"

"In the name of the crown, who are you?" Geoffrey repeated, stepping closer still.

"The... the.. the.. crown?" Debbie stuttered.  It seemed that she might be in more danger than she had thought. 
"I am just a lonely baker woman," Debbie lied, "taking a rest before heading home from the Abbey."

"My name is Geoffrey L'Adventurer, brother-in-law to King Barron.  I am searching for the man known as the Prince of Thieves."  Geoffrey bowed regally before her and glanced up in time to see her blush. "I would have your name, lonely baker woman."

"Debbie..." she stuttered.  Cursed Orb, the King's brother-in-law!  They were doomed if he found their hideout!
"Do you come this way often, Debbie?" he asked.

"Only every once in awhile to donate baked good to the Abbey."

"Where is your basket for your goods?" Geoffrey asked, not missing a thing.

Debbie floundered for an answer, "I... uh... I leave it at the Abbey."
"That must get awful pricey for a peasant such as yourself."  Geoffrey crossed his arms and considered the woman.  She was lying, he would bet on it!  Which meant he was close! 

Pausing momentarily, he considered the best way to ferret the information from her.  Even an older woman like her was turned by a pretty compliment...
Running his hand down her shoulder, he looked at her with speculative interest, "I just want to talk to the Prince of Thieves about a business proposition.  No harm would come to him... or his loved ones." Trailing his fingers down her arm until he reached her fingertips, he lifted her hand for a kiss.  "Perhaps if you could pass the world along through the grapevine... I would be forever indebted..."

Debbie preened as the royal showered attention on her.   It had been ages since Alibaba had looked at her with any tenderness.  "I'm not sure I'd know where to start the gossip chain," Debbie said cautiously, "but I'll see what I can do..."

Geoffrey slowly pulled his hand back from Debbie, "Anything would be helpful.  Just send me a missive if you hear anything."  As he started to walk away, he glanced back with a smoldering gaze, "I look forward to hearing from you again... Debbie, the lonely baker woman."

***

Debbie had thought to tell Alibaba about the stranger conversation she'd had with the royal, but something in her held back. 

When he'd asked her how her day had gone, she had shrugged.  Not that he had paid any more heed to her.  He'd immediately hurried over to Henna and showered her with affection.
"Have you been practicing?" Alibaba asked his daughter.

"I have! I am sure to beat you this time!" 

Alibaba and Henna held their hands out, "1 - 2 - 3..." Henna counted out loud, "Rock!"
"I beat you!" she announced, feeling so victorious.  "Now you must train me how to use a sword! You promised!"

Alibaba grinned at his daughter.  "That's right. A promise is a promise.  You have earned it fair and square!"

***

In the still of the night, Rebecca awoke in the bed from a frightening nightmare.  She had stood in a room full of babies, all of them crying and reaching for her, calling her mama. 

Sighing, she laid back down, thankful that there was no way she could be pregnant.  Cursing mid-thought, she counted back the days to her last monthly.  It had been all too long...

***

"I can't believe this has happened to me," Rebecca moaned to Alibaba.  "I respected your wish to remain faithful to your wife.  It seems fate is mocking me!"
Alibaba was still in shock from being told he would be having a baby with Rebecca.  Gently, he stroked her cheek.  "I have tried to stop a million times, but I cannot help myself...  I love you!"

Rebecca covered his hand with her own.  "We are doomed, Alibaba.  For I have tried a million times to tell myself that I should not love you, but here I am."  Opening her eyes, she stared at him full of regret.  "I should leave. I do not belong here, with your wife and daughter."
Alibaba dropped to his knees and pulled Rebecca to him, cradling her growing belly.  "You cannot leave!  I know I am being selfish, but I'm not sure I can live without you near."

Rebecca hugged him to her and sighed.  "What are we going to do?" she asked him sadly as she sank to her knees with him.  "What are we going to do?"

 ***

Alibaba assured her that all would be well and he would work something out soon, so Rebecca had done to sleep, with her heart relieved.
***

Debbie couldn't believe the utter gall!  Right under her nose!  Did they not think she knew what a pregnant woman looked like?  She had delivered enough brats in her life to know the signs of a woman's pregnancy!
Running out into the night, Debbie looked up to the sky with anguish.  Fisting her hands, she beat her chest and waved them in the air.  It wasn't fair, she thought angrily.  She'd given up so much to be with Alibaba and this was how he repaid her?
Sitting down, she gazed sightlessly, making her own plans.

Orb's Year 930
Alibaba had showed Henna a few moves that she was to practice faithfully until they were second nature to her.  Religiously, she went out into the woods and practiced each day, attempting to mirror her father's movements.
She'd been so busy lunging that she hadn't notice a young man approaching.

"Oh!' she gasped.
Stuart blinked his eyes and wondered if he was watching a fairy creature.  She was so stunning and beautiful! 

Before he had a chance to speak to her, she'd turned and run deeper into the woods.

"Wait!" he called out to the girl.  "What's your name?! Are you a fairy of the woods?!"
Stumbling through the woods, he looked everywhere.  She was gone.  Disheartened and wondering if he had imagined it, he headed back the way he had come. 

Maybe his mother was right.  These woods were haunted...
Henna had been raised in these woods and knew every nook and cranny, every leaf and limb.  She'd learned to blend into the background and not be seen. 

But, for the first time, as she watched the boy walk away, she wished she hadn't needed to hide...
Back inside, Henna was writing in her journal about her feelings when Rebecca walked in. 

"Oh, I'm sorry, Henna," Rebecca said as she walked over to rest nearby.  "Your mother was glaring at me fiercely, so I came in here.  I hope I'm not intruding."

Henna closed her journal and slid it under the bed as she glanced at Rebecca.  "No, you're not bothering me."  She knew that she was supposed to hate Rebecca, but it was hard to hate someone she admired... and someone that made her father smile.
Gingerly, she climbed up on the bed and chewed her bottom lip as she regarded her father's mistress.  "How did you know you were in love?" she asked quietly.

Rebecca gasped, "I'm not sure I should be talking to you about this, Henna."

Henna made a face, "No one talks to me about anything! But, how am I ever supposed to get married if no one is ever allowed to see me?"

"Ah, I see your dilemma.  But, you know your father will look after you.  You're too young to be considering this!"  Rebecca tilted her head and considered Henna.  "What brings upon this sudden interest?"

Henna glanced at the door and quietly whispered, "Can you keep a secret?"

Rebecca laughed, "It depends on what it is!"

Henna eagerly plowed on, "I saw a boy in the woods today!"

Rebecca was more alarmed than excited.  "Did he see where you ran?" she asked.  "You know that no one should know where we are!"

Henna scowled, "Of course not! I know the rules!" Sighing, she put her chin in her hand.  "I didn't even get to talk to him.  But, I dreamed for just a moment that he came looking for me and wanted to marry me!
Rebecca stood up and hugged Henna tightly when she saw how unhappy she was.  "Oh Henna, everything will be all right.  Your father will arrange your marriage when the time is right.  You must have faith!" Pulling back slightly, she touched the tip of Henna's nose, "In the meantime, tell me more about this boy of yours!"

Henna giggled.

***

"I received your summons, Debbie baker woman," Geoffrey said as he sidled closer to where Debbie sat, anxiously wringing her hands.  "What news do you have?"
"First, promise me that no one will get hurt, no one except that brunette witch! She's seduced my husband and is flaunting her child in front of me! In my own house!" Debbie raged. 

Geoffrey smiled kindly and stroked Debbie's cheek.  "How could anyone ever treat you in this callous manner.  Of course, we'll take care of your small problem.  You will show me where the Prince of Thieves is?"

Debbie nodded.  "But he won't be home for some hours."

Geoffrey nodded, "That's okay.  We'll wait patiently for him, then."
Leaning closer, he whispered his plan in Debbie's ear.  Winking, he held his finger up for absolute quiet.

***

"Rebecca!" Debbie called harshly as she entered the hideout.  "There is something I wish to speak to you about immediately!"

Debbie walked over and beckoned Rebecca over so that her back was to the door.  Hands on her hips, "How long do you plan to live in my home, rubbing my nose in your dirty laundry?" she demanded.
Rebecca gasped, "You know?!"

Debbie waved her hand, "As if I could not recognize a pregnant woman! I've known since the beginning, you cheap harlot!"

Rebecca paled, "Alibaba was going to talk to you soon... he was hoping..."

"I don't care what he was hoping.  Soon you won't be our problem any longer!"

Rebecca's eyebrows furrowed together in confusion, "What?..." she began to ask.
"You've killed her!" Debbie hurled the accusation in a harsh whisper.

"I have not," Geoffrey whispered back, "Now help me get her up and to the other room."

"You said you would take her away!"

"Ah, but the flaw in the plan is that I need to speak with the Prince of Thieves first.  And I doubt he'd hardly let me take her away when I'm done," Geoffrey replied smoothly.

"You lied!" Debbie whispered.
"Rebecca?" Henna whispered quietly as she came out to see what the noise was.  She gasped when she saw her mother and a stranger standing over her lifeless body.  Her eyes darted to where her father kept a sword on the wall.

"A girl?" Geoffrey demanded.  "You didn't tell me there was a girl here!" he yelled as he pushed Debbie out of his way.
Henna started to lunge for the sword, but Geoffrey was faster.  She attempted to shove him away and Debbie stood fretfully in the background wringing her hands.  "You lied to me," she wailed.
"Mother!" Henna screamed as Geoffrey flung her over his shoulder and carried her into the bedroom. 

"Don't hurt her! Debbie cried, "You promised you wouldn't hurt us!"

"Mother!" Henna screamed one more time.

"What have I done?" Debbie whispered as she dropped to her knees.  "Cursed Orb! What have I done?!"
Rebecca came to several hours later with a ringing in her ears.  The first thing she noticed when she woke up was that she was bound to a chair.  Glancing to her left and right she saw Henna and Debbie tied along with her.

"What happened?" she asked, testing the knots that held her tight.

"Ask Mother," Henna replied acidly.  "She's sold us out."

***

Alibaba walked in and immediately saw the well-dressed royal lounging on his couch.  Eyes darting around the room, he asked, "Where is my family?"

Geoffrey smiled grandly at the man before him.  "Ah! The Prince of Thieves! So good to finally meet you!  Please! Sit down!"

When Alibaba made a slight move towards the swords, Geoffrey shook his finger, "Tsk, tsk.  Is that any way to greet a guest?" he asked.

"Perhaps not a guest that has been invited."

Geoffrey smiled again, "And how do you know I was not invited?" Winking at Alibaba, he whispered conspiratorially, "In the future, you might not want to impregnate your mistress where your wife can find out.  They tend not to take it too well." 
Alibaba sat down in the seat with a thud.  "Where's my family?" he repeated.

"Oh! They're fine! They just wanted to give us some time to chat and get to know each other."

"What could I possibly want to know about you?" Alibaba asked.

Instead of answering, Geoffrey nodded towards the sapphire-crusted trinket.  "Such pretty things.  It would be a shame if my brother-in-law, Prince Benedict, head of the Royale Guard were to ransack this place!  You'd lose all of your pretty things!"  Faking a grimace, he added, "And probably your head!"

"What do you want?" Alibaba asked, determined to send the vile man away.
"Ah! How astute of you! I am in need of something!  I care not about the trifling issues of Celestia! For all I care, you can rob the King blind and abscond with his wife, although I'm not sure you need any extra females here!" Geoffrey laughed at his own wit as Alibaba gritted his teeth.  "Hell, I'll throw my own wife and brats in, as well!"

"Get to the point," Alibaba grated.

"The point is that MY kingdom was stolen from me by my Uncle.  I will take what is rightfully mine!"  A gleam appeared in Geoffrey's eye.  "At the King's castle, I noticed a curious mechanical man! King Baron has forbidden any knowledge of his creation to be kept secret.  I want you to sneak into the castle and get me the blueprint!"

"Are you crazy? Break into the King's CASTLE?  It would be impossible!"

Geoffrey sighed and frowned, "Aw, well, I had to try, didn't I?  It will be such a shame to see your little family destroyed.  Hopefully they won't kill all of you, even your pretty little daughter."  Geoffrey tapped his finger to his cheek, "Although! I'm sure I could persuade the King that I am in need of a servant!  Little Henna would fit in quite lovely at my home!"
Alibaba grit his teeth and glared at the man who so casually spoke of destroying his life.  "You leave me no choice, then, do you?"
Geoffrey smiled as he hopped up.  As he walked past Alibaba, he thumped his shoulder hard.  "I'm glad you saw it my way."

"Where's my family?" Alibaba called out as Geoffrey sauntered out the door.

"In your bedroom, waiting to be rescued!"

***

Alibaba raced into the room and saw his women tied tightly to chairs.  Debbie silently wept as he ran in.
First he reached to untie Rebecca and ran a tender hand over her burgeoning belly.  "Are you okay?" he asked, worried at the blood he saw on the side of her head. 

She nodded quickly.  "I'm fine now.  All else will heal."
Next her reached for the binds that tied Henna.  "Are you alright? He didn't hurt you?"

Henna threw herself into her father's arms.  "I was so scared! I thought he was going to kill you!"

Alibaba ground his teeth.  "No, I am too valuable to him alive."

Next he looked at Debbie, his wife for ten miserable years.  "I should leave you bound and throw you out of the house," he said, seething with rage.  "You brought that man to us!"

Tears filled Debbie's eyes.  "It wasn't supposed to be like that." Her eyes darting to Rebecca, she buried her face in her hands.  "He was supposed to get rid of her!"

Alibaba roughly pulled the binding from Debbie's hands and pushed her from the room, following close behind.

Orb's Year 931
"Do you have any idea of the danger you have brought to us?  That man is evil!" Alibaba yelled.  "Did you think of your daughter before you invited the serpent into our home?!"
Debbie buried her face in her hands.  "I just wanted her gone! I wanted you to love ME again!"

Alibaba gazed at his wife dispassionately as she sobbed into her hands.  "Getting rid of her wouldn't have changed anything," he said sadly.  "I love her.  If she had disappeared, I would have scoured the lands for sign of her."

"No!" Debbie protested.  "You love me!"
Alibaba shook his head, "I'm sorry, Debbie.  You've brought me nothing but pain and misery all these years.  When I get back, I will deal with you.  But, I want you to understand... it's over."
"Of course it's over, you imbecile! You put a child in another woman's belly! I can't stand the sight of you!" Debbie railed.  "Geoffrey is going to come back for me! Ah! Jealous?!" Debbie asked when she saw Alibaba's jaw tighten.

"Not in the least, you desire each other."  Turning, he walked for the door.

"Where are you going?" she screamed after him.
"To fix the mess you made!" he called back, jogging from the woods.

 *** Months Later ***

"No word from father," Henna told Rebecca sadly. 

"I know, but we must remain hopeful," Rebecca said, although her supply of hope was almost extinguished.  It had been months and they had not heard from him again. 

Worse yet, the lying she-devil was still in the home, as well.  She claimed that Alibaba had said she should wait here until he came back.
Gasping, Rebecca put her hand to her belly.  "No!" she cried, willing her body to be lying to her.

Henna glanced at Rebecca oddly.  "What is it? What's wrong?"

Rebecca leaned to support herself on the couch.  "It's time!" she said, glancing up at Henna with fear in her eyes.  "I'm not ready!"
Ready or not, Rebecca labored well into the night with Henna right by her side.  Rebecca placed her tiny daughter, Ash Wood, into her half-sister's arms.
Minutes later, her brother, Birch Wood, surprised everyone with his unexpected arrival!
"Twins!" Henna said with a smile as she tended to her new siblings as Rebecca rested, "How about that!"

***

Debbie was beginning to get quite nervous.  Geoffrey had not responded to any of her summons.  She'd requested that he come save her.  It was beginning to look like he'd used her..

Desperate to somehow weasel her way back into her daughter's good graces, Debbie appealed to her her, "Please, you must not hate me!" Debbie begged.  "I did it for the family! For you!"
Henna scowled at her mother, ashamed of her cowardly behavior.  "You didn't do it for me! You did it for yourself!  How would having my brother and sister sent away do anything for me?"

"Please..." Debbie cried as Henna sideswept around her clinging mother and walked away.

***

"Finally!" Debbie cried when Geoffrey deigned to appear before her.  "I've been waiting! What has happened? Where is my husband?  What did you do?"
"What did I do?" Geoffrey raged.  "What did your husband do?! I'll tell you what he did! He's gone and turned himself into the King's justice and admitted to his crimes! He's been thrown in the dungeon!"

Debbie gasped.  "The dungeon! For how long?"

Geoffrey thrust his hands into his hair.  "Do you know what this does to my plans?" he railed.  "It ruins everything! He cannot get me the blueprints locked within a cell!"

"But, what about your deal? You were going to take me away," Debbie pouted.  "I can't stay here. Rebecca and Henna know that I helped you!"
Geoffrey reached for his sword.  "You are worthless! Absolutely worthless to me!" he yelled.  "And since I have no more use for you..." 
Debbie stepped back in horror as Geoffrey approached with his sword drawn.  "No!" she cried...
Henna watched from behind the tree as the man with the scar cut her mother down. Suddenly, he looked up and she swore his eyes saw through to her.
Swiftly, she ducked behind the tree and held her breath, praying that he had not seen her.  Soon, she heard his boots crunching through the leaves as he left.  A long time passed before Henna trusted her legs to move.
***

"What is wrong?" Rebecca asked when Henna came charging into the hideout sobbing.
"It's mother..." she cried haltingly, "he's killed her!"

"Who killed her?" Rebecca asked

"The man with the scar! He said... dungeon!  And... he said...  blueprints!"
"Slow down, Henna!" Rebecca said, clasping Henna's shoulders.  "Slow down, and start again... What did you see?"

Much later, Rebecca thought she had the full story.  With grim eyes, she sent Henna to check in on the babies.  She would need help for what she planned next...

Orb's Year 932
"Thank you for coming, Crystal," Rebecca said as she greeted her old friend.

Crystal's face remained impassive, "'Tis grave news you bring me.  I would not be anywhere else but here."

"Come in, we will plan."
Crystal glanced towards the girl.  "Are you sure the girl should be here?" she asked, eying Henna with distaste.
"He's my father! I will be a part of this!"

Crystal rolled her eyes, "You're a baby."  Glancing back at Rebecca, she asked, "Can we trust her?"
Rebecca nodded, "Of course.  She is Alibaba's daughter.  She knows all his secrets."

Crystal nodded once and then ignored Henna. 

Rebecca took a deep breath, "I've been studying the layout and this is the plan..."

***

Henna hugged her sister to her chest and snuggled her, tears falling against the child's skin.  "Everything is going to be okay, I promise," she told the little one.  "Just you see... your Mommy is going to fix everything!"

***

In the middle of the night, Rebecca and Crystal prepared for the task at hand, arming themselves with swords and knives.  With one shared glance, they headed towards the hill leading up...

***

Geoffrey did not seem to be able to stay away from the woods.  He knew that killing Debbie had been dishonorable, but she had enraged him to the point of no return.  It had been her fault, he thought angrily. 

So why then did her spirit haunt him so?

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