Sunday, June 1, 2014

Consul, Orb's Year 945-948


 Orb's Year 945
Ahriel Consul glanced across the room and saw Vincent sitting there, quite alone.  She wasn't sure why, but he grabbed her attention.  Their eyes met and he shyly grinned at her.
She hurried over to make his acquaintance, quite put out when the other girls saw where her interest lay and joined her.  Princess Jade was quite brazen, announcing numerous times that she had a royal lineage and had a king's ransom for a dowry.
But Vincent only had eyes for Ahriel, it seemed.
As a small token of her regard, Ahriel gifted him with a sign of her affection - her first kiss!


***

"A celebration is in order!" Prince Benedict, the head of the Royal Guard announced as he walked into the Consul castle.  "The bandit has been captured!"  The Royal Guard members collected cheered and raised their hands in victory.

"And who foresaw it being a woman?" Benedict's son, Earnest, asked in awe. 

Camelot Knightley shook his head. "Certainly not I!" he exclaimed.  "And to think of all the time we spent investigating the teenage boys!"

Finn served everyone a tall glass of ale and raised his glass in a toast, "To the Royal Guard!" he called out.

"Huzzah!" Camelot hooted as they clinked glasses.

Orb's Year 946
"Brother? What brings you by?" Cirdon Consul asked as he welcomed Dresden with a hearty hug. "Where are the children?"

Dresden chuckled, "They're not hardly children anymore, Cirdon!" He smiled as he thought of his youngest, Holden, and how fast he was becoming a man.  And then, the smile fell from his face.  "That's actually what I came to talk to you about," he said seriously.  "I have grave matters to discuss with you."

Cirdon led his brother inside, concern flashing in his eyes.
"...And so you see, this is a issue that requires great delicacy..."

Cirdon nodded his head thoughtfully.  "As it is..." he mumbled, analyzing his brother's problem.

"Can you help me?" Dresden asked eagerly, sitting forward in his seat.

Cirdon hesitated a moment, but then nodded firmly.  "Yes."

***

Finn slipped into the chair beside his uncle and smiled in greeting.  "You wanted to see me?" he asked, looking back and forth between his father and his uncle. 

Something was not right...
Dresden cleared his throat.  "The information I am about to provide you with can be damaging, to say the least, if not handled carefully," he began carefully.

Finn nodded his understanding and motioned for his uncle to continue.

"This isn't easy to admit, you understand?" Dresden said, stalling. Finally, taking a deep breath, Dresden plunged into the story about Prince Geoffrey L'Adventurer and his wife's affair.

"I don't understand, what does this have to do with me?" Finn interrupted impatiently. 

Dresden shot a look across the table at his brother.  "I will take my leave for you to have your discussion." 

Cirdon took the cue and focused on Finn.  "I would like you choose between Gwenivieve and Gwendolyn.  They are not your true cousins, being born of the affair."

Finn looked startled now.  "Chose? You mean... marry?! But why?!"  Finn stood up and began to pace around the room.

"He fears their heritage will soon be discovered as he's been receiving threats of that nature.  He would like them well settled and safe," Cirdon explained
Dresden sank onto the bench nearby.  "But marriage? Isn't that a bit extreme? Can't we just offer our protection, our support?"
Cirdon shook his head.  "Come now, what better way to show our support than in marriage?"

Finn was still having a hard time adjusting to the idea.  He tried to work out the implications in his mind.  "But, to marry one of the girls the kingdom believes is my cousin, wouldn't that all but announce their scandalous lineage?"

Cirdon nodded.  "It will, that is why we will wait to see if anything comes of the threats Uncle Dresden is receiving.  There may be no need to go forward with this plan.  But, I want it in place in case it becomes necessary."  Cirdon leveled his son with a hard look.  "Do I have your agreement?"

Finn sighed, agreeing reluctantly. "I suppose there is no choice in the matter!" 

Cirdon tilted his head. "But of course there's a choice!" 

***


"Would you like to marry Gwenivieve or Gwendolyn?" Cirdon asked when the two young ladies were presented to him.

Orb's Year 947





Camelot Bradshaw often came over after work to relax and unwind.  Finn personally thought he was attempting to avoid his disagreeable wife.

So, over the years, Finn had grown quite close to his compatriot in arms.  It was an easy friendship with no expectations or demands.

Until...

Camelot moved a piece and then glanced at Finn seriously.  "Finn, I was wondering if you might do me a favor..."

***

"Father, there is something I would like to discuss with you..." Finn said hesitantly, interrupting Cirdon's studies.  

***
 
"Are you sure this is what you want to do?" Cirdon's wife, Princess Catherine, asked uncertainly. 

Cirdon frowned. "Not at all, but what am I to do?  This whole thing has become a convoluted mess!" he said, extremely annoyed.
He sighed.  "You'll speak with her? I think it will come better from you..."

Catherine inclined her head.  "I will speak with her..."

***

Catherine stared at her daughter with a heavy heart.  Ahriel was so young and joyful, eager to have fun and make friends.  This could easily destroy her...
"Ahriel, I need to speak with you about something very important..."

Orb's Year 948
Ahriel had begged. She had pleaded. She had cried, thrown fits, and threatened to never speak to her family again.

But, her parents had remained steadfast in their decision.

When Vincent came at her summons, she reached blindly for his hand, squeezing it.  "There's something I need to tell you," she began sadly.
Ahriel couldn't stand the concerned look in his eyes.  "What is it?" he asked.

Ahriel withdrew her hand and clutched her heart, moaning in despair.  "I've been told that I cannot marry you as we had dreamed!"

Vincent rallied, "I'll speak with your father! I'll convince him of our love!"

Ahriel sniffed, shaking her head. "It's not that, it's... I'm pledged to marry someone else..." she wailed.
"You what?" Vincent asked, stupefied. 

Tears where now streaking freely down Ahriel's cheeks.  "My father and brother have arranged my marriage."

"But maybe..."

Ahriel shook her head. "No, it will do no good! I've argued endlessly and it's done no good!"
Seething, Vincent turned on his heel and stalked away.  His pride had suffered a mighty insult and his heart had taken a piercing wound. 

***

"It will all be for the best," Finn attempted to console his younger sister. 

Ahriel slapped his hand from his arm.  "I don't see you eagerly anticipating your own arranged marriage!" she snapped vindictively.

Finn swallowed heavily. "No, you're right. But, I know that I must do my duty anyways..."

"Duty!" Ahriel scoffed.  "Don't speak to me of duty! It's all fine and good for you to be promised in an arranged marriage - you had no love! But I... I love Vincent! And now he will hate me forever!  So explain to me how duty will make this better!"

Finn just shook his head sadly.   He had no answer.

***

Camelot greeted Finn warmly.  It had been decided that the teenagers should be given time to get to know each other before the marriage.
The silence was awkward.
"I don't see why we have to do this!" Ahriel complained.
"I don't even know her, father! And if she's not looking forward to it, it will be utter misery!"

"That's what these visits are for!" Camelot responded, looking both teenagers in the eye.  "To give you time to get to know each other!"
"Come, let us give them some time to themselves," Finn said, leading Camelot from the room.
"I don't want to marry," Guy said miserably, looking at her as though she were part of the conspiracy against him.

Ahriel stiffened in outrage.  "What are you looking at me like that for?! You think this is what I want?!" she demanded sourly. 

Guy glared at the girl across from him, ready to launch into an argument.
Hugh watched the two begin to bicker and then slowly smiled.  "Guys, I have an idea!"

Guy rolled his eyes. "It'd better be a good one to save me from this fate!"

"Wait, listen!" Hugh hurriedly interrupted before Guy and Ahriel could begin fighting again.  "What if they had no other recourse but to cancel the wedding?"
Ahriel glanced at the younger twin cautiously.  "And how would we do that?"  she asked suspiciously.  For all she knew the two of them would ship her off or send her off to a dungeon somewhere!

But slowly, as she listened to his plan, she felt herself begin to hope.  It might actually work!
Ahriel saw the twins off, satisfied that they each had their parts to play to put an end to this travesty of a marriage!

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