Boys Will Be Boys

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Clack went his scabbard as it whacked the back of his calf, almost causing him to miss a step. It was supposed to look impressive, but so far it had caused far more trouble than it was worth. He’d seen plenty of knights wear it like this, even Erik managed to make it look easy, but it wasn’t working. It must have been the balance on this sword.

Henry stepped back, regaining his footing.

Erik paused. Both of them took the opportunity to catch their breath. Then Henry swung again. It went wide, careering through the air, and then smack into Erik’s sword. Henry held it for a moment, until Erik forced him to drop it. Not even Henry could hold against Erik’s strength like that.

“I’ll give you a moment” Erik said, walking away himself “I’ll be in the library”

* * *

 

If Erik was still moping over his books, Henry was going to use the fact that he was the Crown Prince and make him come outside to practice. Not that Erik would probably listen to him… Everyone had been so boring and moody lately. Things had always been entertaining with Ava there – she’d gone. His father was a bit vacant lately, mother was always with him. Erik had been spending ridiculous amounts of time in the library – a library of all places – and there wasn’t really anyone elses of interest. The only other person was Adalric, but when she even decided to show up, she was looking down her nose at them. She was an Adalric as well, and Ava had told him enough about them.

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Henry was considering how to face Erik – drawing his sword then and there and demanding a match, then remembering the bruise Erik had given him… maybe later – when he passed Adalric, just leaving the library. She didn’t bother smiling at him, like she used to, she kept her head down and kept walking. Why did she look so cheerful?

Screenshot-458.jpgErik was in the library, but not reading… Just pacing. His friend was strange sometimes.

“Erik! I knew you’d be hiding in here” Henry told his friend. “I know you’re too scared to fight me but I promise I’ll try not to hit you. Too much.”

Erik looked blank for a moment.

“C’mon Erik… There’s some pretty girls out there. Oh. Sorry. But I’m not married to Ava yet so -”

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“Henry” Erik looked at him, finally “You’re not going to marry Ava” Henry’s chest fell… He liked Ava, he did, and he thought that she might like him too. She was making a show of not, but weren’t ladies always pretending they weren’t into it? He had hoped that when their marriage was announced that would change… Who was he going to marry now?

“Lets go.” Erik was already on his way to the armoury, and Henry forgot all about his other problems.

“Running away again Sjo?” Henry called after him, knowing full well that he had yet to beat Erik.

“I’m going to beat you, Henry” Erik threw back over his shoulder and his quiet laugh an answer to the curse Henry threw back.

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Long time no see! Hopefully more updates are on the way – I have lost my notebook which I plan my updates in though, so if there’s any random storylines going on, you know why now.

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In My Heart We Belong

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If you’d asked her two years ago, Cora would never have said she would be here.

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Elizabeth was so pretty as she smiled up at her Mama. How could she ever have regretted her? This wasn’t the way things should have turned out… but she didn’t regret her.

If you’d asked her two years ago what she’d though of someone like Ida Ernis, she would have dismissed her as a common tavern wench, one of the usual slatterns. She let herself shrug. When your father was a mayor, you could afford to think like that.

She was little better off then those women now, she had a ring on her finger and a baby born in wedlock – but only just. Neither, if you had asked her two years ago would she have ever thought she would be married to a  man like Thomas.  For Elizabeth, she wouldn’t change it though. For her, she would never allow Thomas to become like Cora’s own father had. He had loved her, always, but that wasn’t enough for him to put aside his gambling and his debts. In the end, it had broken their family and wrecked their lives, before it had broken him. Better for him not to see his daughters end.

Elizabeth gurgled up at her, asking her for a hug, and if Cora thanked the watcher for nothing else, she thanked him for this moment. For Elizabeth, she would make everything well again.

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The daughter of a mayor kept good company, the wealthy merchants and the like. Unlike most of the villagers, she was fairly well spoken, and she wouldn’t let her little girl have their accent either. All except a few of these folk were illiterate, only one or two could form their own name for signing occasional documents, and not much else. Cora had spent a good few years learning hers, with her father or one of his friends, occasionally with some of the other burgher’s children and a tutor, and that was something she could give to Elizabeth.

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Her daughter had been named for Thomas’ mother. If she had been a boy, they would have named her Samuel, for the last name Cora sacrificed. A broken name, true, run down and shabby, but in its day a good name, a once proud name, and one that she would be proud to pass on.

It was with no joy, but enough resolve that she went outside, hauling the empty baskets and nets towards the house, before cleaning them down. When Cora met Thomas, he had never spent a day of his life that he wasn’t forced into fishing or forced into doing any real work. Sometimes he just didn’t. Cora knew that, she’d met him on afternoons in taverns often enough. Since Elizabeth was born, he had left in the early morning with his father, before his wife or daughter woke. He had never returned home with anything above what they needed to get by, but it did keep them going. After a while, she realized that a small face was watching her, and she put down her work for a moment – she would have to come back to it – to pick up her daughter. Aye, he grumbled, grumbled at her sometimes, but she suspected that Thomas would always mutter and curse about work.

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No, two years ago… This was never what she would have thought. It was messy and … harsh. Her hands were like an old womans after a year. She would get by though. All of them, they would get by. For Elizabeth, it was worth it.

Only If Useful

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“What is your name?”

“I gave you it”

“Your family name”

“What does it matter?”

“It matters if you want my help. If you would prefer, please, step outside and be gone.”

“I have no family name”

A new wife. A new family. A new business.A new name for who was once a bastard.

He had Johanne du Val waiting on his word, and the du Val’s behind her, to ship his metal into Eos. Tristan Bell, her husband was there too, but he was none the wiser. Arthur would rather have not dealt with Tristan Bell, and his Johanne had been so easy to manage anyway. The woman must have been desperate for some entertainment, to jump at his offer so quickly.

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First of all, he let his new father-in-law have a chance. Edward Reddirn was an impatient and money-hungry man, who had never known the ease of being already on top that the du Val’s did. He would let the Reddirns have their chance, then, if and when it sold well, he would bring in the old money. Even if he sold out to them – which he wouldn’t – he would still have enough money to make his own business in whatever he chose.

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Not that there was any chance of him failing. As soon as he landed in Eos, he went straight to the nearest jeweler, or smith, or whoever would know. He had happened upon Lawrence Forbes, dropped a lump of the metal in front of him, and watched his eyes light up, and his grin. When Arthur first found it, it was no more than a hunk of unpolished metal. The wealthy trod on it, never looking twice at it, but Arthur had known it for what it was. He had found the iron mine not far away, sure enough. The Smelts had no appreciation for refining their crude weapons, and with a promise of help from the du Vals, it was easy enough to get the owner on his side.

There were things to be done still. The production of the mine would need to be increased, a few more workers perhaps, the shipping improved, but they were for later. First, he had to make some money.

How had it all happened? How had a young orphan made himself into, almost, if not quite yet, a successful merchant. It was no trick of fate, it was all his doing.

The orphanage found trades for it’s inhabitants, when they reached 12 years of age, or thereabouts, as often the orphans didn’t know when they were born. Arthur had been given a place as a cabin boy upon a merchant vessel bound for the vast Smeltic lands, to the north of Eos. He left the orphanage with not even a backward glance, at his bethrothed or at those who had raised him. It was in the Smeltic lands that, after making his discovery, Arthur had decided he could gain no more from the ship. He was bound to it, but his station was low enough that no one would notice him slipping away.

The journey from the Smeltic lands to Llamaland had been a long and weary one, a time in his life that Arthur had decided to put behind him now it was done. It was quite by chance that the merchant he had managed to trace was an Eosian, and that was where Johanne Bell had come into the equation. From that point, it was easy enough to involve the other merchant family, the Reddirns, and get his wife.

“You will need to take a new one. Before you wed your bride, before you meet her family. Give me a new one”

Arthur had lied, he had been given a last name. It had been his mothers name, or so he supposed, but they’d only ever muttered about his mother. It meant nothing to him, so he had let it be forgotten.

The Smelts spoke an uncounted number of languages, each clan had their own, and as languages did they diluted and changed each other. The Smelts he had stayed with had a word: iasg. They would point to the sea and the fish that leaped through it and say it. It had stuck with Arthur. It even sounded like the Eosian word for sea.

“AnIasc? A strange name, but very well.”

He was not a man to ask questions, and obviously he hadn’t deemed it worthy of asking, so Arthur hadn’t told him. He had picked that name for a reason. He was no peasant, who cast a line out in to the sea, and hoped whatever came back would see him and his family through the winter, but he had known one thing about his father, so when the Smelts asked, he told them that, and because of that, they had given him that name. Whoever his family were, it was meaningless to him, but this name had stuck with him. Fishers son.

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 I made up the metal to fit with this story, Sorry to anyone who does have a working knowledge of metals out there! Also a thank you to this website: http://medieval.stormthecastle.com/essays/a-guide-to-medieval-weapons-for-writers.htm which popped up on google and was very useful!

From now on Arthur, Margaret and any family they may or may not have will be tagged under AnIasc.

Bridging The Gap

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Luis bounced on his mother’s knee, and she smiled back at him.

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Noll could not help but be reminded of that other child… His other son, who last time he had seen him had looked so much like him. The boy must have eight years now, or nine? Every month some money went to the family, but he hadn’t seen the child in years. It was easier not to, especially not with that damn family always appraising him with their eyes. Who did they think they were, anyway? Nothing more than a bunch of peasants.

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Did Isolde ever know about his other son? Probably not… She was growing old. Neither of them would mind right now, anyway, as she crouched down to laugh with Justine over the baby.

“Look at that!” Almost everything he did got some sort of similar response from Justine. “Is that normal?”

“That’s absolutely fine, dear. If Noll had been half as bright as him, I would have been impressed.”

Noll flushed slightly “Mother”

“You’re my son, but you were a silly child” He gave her a look, and she just grinned.

“Why doesn’t he want to use this one?” Justine was determined that Luis was going to play with this toy, and she kept giving it to him only for him to abandon it. “It’ll be good for him” She was determined to start his education from a young age, but Luis seemed as headstrong as his mother in that moment, as he picked up the toy and hurled it across the room.

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“He’s strong too” Remarked Isolde. “Or perhaps it’s just pure willpower” Noll retrieved the toy, handing it to them. If he hadn’t been just a baby, Noll would have thought that when Luis reached out for the toy, he had a bit of a grin on his face. When he threw it halfway across the room again, he definitely did.

* * *

Luis slept in an ajoining room to Noll and his wife. There was no door, but it afforded them some peace… and some privacy. When his wife finished tucking in Luis, he was already lying down, but a quick glance at her reminded him that Luis was tucked up, everyone else in bed, and they hadn’t had any alone time in a while. Noll flashed Justine a grin, and she looked back at him. He had wrapped his arms around her almost before she had sat down.

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It wasn’t a bad thing that Noll was already unclothed, and he began pulling off Justine’s nightdress, kissing her – when he heard crying. Inwardly, he cursed, he loved his boy but he had the worst timing. Two minutes, just two minutes alone with his wife, perhaps… Justine had frozen. Maybe she was thinking the same as him. He reached for Justine, but she was already gone.

Sighing as he rose from the bed, Noll pulled on his clothes.

“Coming Luis!” He called to his son, happily yelling in the other room. He wouldn’t be enjoying his wife’s company tonight, he knew.

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Credits for toys here: http://omegassims3stuff.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/bassinet-and-toys.html

Wahh another update! Next one is ready to go, so hopefully no more waits. Forgive the photos please. I’ll mess around with this computer and will try to get them reshot. 🙂

Hello! Remember me?

Yes, I am still alive.

It was however, been three weeks since I posted anything. I’m going to pass the blame though – my computer is in computer hospital, I have a loan computer, it doesn’t like the sims, I was too lazy to try and do anything for a week .  Contrary to the facts, I am very much still lurking, I’ve now been catching up on blogs, so while mine is pretty inactive, expect to see me on yours more!

If anyone does have any advice, I would appreciate it, I’m not very good with computers. Hopefully, I will get it fixed, I have a whole load of chapters written, just without screenshots as yet, but hey, gives me more time to edit.

Hope everyone is enjoying their mid year, and if anyone is on holiday they’re having fun. 🙂

Snake Eyes

Alice was terrified. She had known terror only a few times in her short life – once when the kitchens caught fire and she had to run for help as fast as her tiny legs could have carried her, once when one of the servants dogs had caught a live rat and brought it back for her, and once, not so long ago, when her fathers wife had fixed her eyes on Alice. The Duchess was more a stranger to her than even a stepmother or a lady, Alice only knew her when she swept into the kitchen, upturning things and seeking out misdemeanors. When you were very small, and the castle very big, it was easy to go unnoticed, so thankfully, most of the time, Alice escaped from her view. The servants all looked the other way, as did Alice, hoping that it would save them from being the unlucky one to be picked. For them, it never did. It hadn’t for Alice either.

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She had stared down at Alice, judging and evaluating her. Certain she was in for a scolding, Alice ran through all of her chores, making sure she hadn’t left any undone. Were the pans cleaned enough? Had she left something? She was sure there was nothing. Then the Duchess had told her that she would be going to be a maid to Nadine, her half sister. In no uncertain terms, she listed Alice’s duties, her mouth turned down all the time, but it made no difference to Alice – she had missed her sister so much. Then, only a hint of not a smile, something a little nastier began to creep onto her face, she had told Alice that in no circumstances would she see Richard before she left.

Alice didn’t know how she had met her half brother. Maybe it was both being children in a big, barely filled castle, maybe it was some bond tying them through their shared blood. He said some strange things, about himself, about both their mothers. Sometimes he said things that Alice thought were a bit mean, but she didn’t say anything. Often, she had learned, it was best not to argue with Richard. That was probably because he was his mothers favourite. Or that was what everyone said. He never said anything nasty about their father, he never really spoke about their father at all, but that didn’t bother Alice – she didn’t know him well enough to speak about him, or want to know about him. He did some funny things as well, like when he ordered the servants around (Alice would hide her face when he did this and hope they didn’t hate her for it) or when he puffed himself up, so he looked just like a bird in the summer.

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Alice was scared of Cecily, so too she was of not saying goodbye. Richard would probably be annoyed with her, and then he might not forgive her when she came back again… And Alice could be quiet. Her mother sometimes said she was like a little mouse. There were only a few other servants, and they would be busy, no one would notice her as she creaked open the door to the servants quarters, as she padded down one long dusty hall, past the duke’s study, into the guest bedrooms, dust billowing around her, and out again, through the nursery, her half-brothers and sisters cribs unused, the only inhabitants of the rooms it’s discarded toys. Down a short ladder, that Alice would have sworn no one else knew of, and, there, through one more door, would be Richard.

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This door didn’t squeak as she opened it and, quiet as the mouse her mother said she could be, Alice poked her head round. If Richard wasn’t there, she had missed him but she would have to hide if he was there with his tutor, or worse, his mother. Thankfully, it was empty. She could hear Richard somewhere within the chamber, but could not see him. Richard had the biggest chambers in the castle, after his mother and father, and Alice could see a rug, and wall hangings, and even the Adalric coat of arms as she edged into the room.

Richard might have done something silly, like call for the servants or his mother, but for all that he was her brother, and if she hadn’t seen him, hadn’t called to him and hugged him, she would have regretted it for all the time she was away from him.

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No, No, Not Too Late

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“Ava”

No reply.

“Ava!”

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That was enough. Margery had been checking for some time, calling up Longhall’s drafty staircases, even in the courtyard outside. If she wasn’t going to come down, Margery wasn’t going to keep calling for her. She had checked in the library, jumping when the door groaned open, she had looked in the observatory, trying to avoid looking through the mirrors and glasses of long dead Sjöbergs, so she had deduced that Ava had to be in her room. From here, if she listened carefully, she could sometimes hear her banging about telescopes or glass…

If only Olaf was here. Ava always seemed to listen to him, more than her, Ava’s mother. Maybe it was to do with the two of them looking so alike…

It was her son, Erik, who looked like her, but he had stayed at the castle. Her older children had a funny sense of things, her scholar children. It must have been inherited from Olaf.

Olaf. Whenever he left, Margery would miss him, the way he was so calm and the way he always seemed to be in control of everything, and the way he frowned a little when he was thinking, and when he came back, she forgot everything, happy to have him around. When Olaf left, she always hoped that he left her with a baby, and this time was no different. It had been some time since Syvlia, but Margery wasn’t too old…

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Margery went to the nursery next, where her two youngest were. It could be a funny time for girls Ava’s age, maybe that was why Ava was acting strange – all this talk of no marriage and study, as if she was a wrinkled old crony.

Margery had been married by the time she was Ava’s age. Helaena was too big to be held the way Margery did Slyvia, but not too big for Margery to wrap her arms around her. She always got so grumpy when her mother picked up Slyvia first, and her pretty face would turn into a pout and sometimes she would even make her lip quaver, but as soon as Margery showed her enough affection, she was laughing and happy again. Syvlia only smiled at her sister.

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Ava should have been born a boy, then she would have been able to follow her schemes, and become a…philosopher? Was that what she wanted to be? No, she wanted to be – Margery had to think for a while – an astronomer. Margery had never really been able to understand sims that locked themselves away in silent, dusty, attics, with just books and telescopes for comfort. Neither was she sure the point of astronomers anyway. For the first few weeks of Ava being home, she’d called to her, cajoled and coerced her into having fun, being a normal young woman! Each time, Margery had met with refusal and rejection, so she had given up. If Ava refused the hand that Margery was offering, she would just have to make her own way. She was sure she would though, once this silly phase passed, when Ava was a woman she would realize that she wanted children and a husband to look after and be looked after by.

A short walk took her back to her chambers, and she saw the back of Olaf, sat with a book in hand, back to her. There were no sounds in the room except his steady breaths, and for a moment he reminded her of their daughter. He didn’t move as she walked up behind him and wrapped her arms around his. She could feel his skin, wonderfully warm under hers, as his muscles tensed and relaxed, then he pulled her round to face him. Margery kissed him, loving every minute that he was back with her. No, it wasn’t too late…

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Poses credits:

http://modthesims.info/d/459505

http://fyachii.blogspot.com/

We got a bit of a Margery internal monologue in this post, sorry guys! I tried to make it so she was doing things, rather than just thinking about things, so hopefully it was still reasonably interesting. 

Keep Your Eyes On Me

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The hall was a wash of colour, as couples as young as herself danced round each other. Euphoria came to her, only for a moment, as she swirled round, and strong arms caught her. She could feel eyes on her and she welcomed it, she basked in their disapproval and admiration. Fresh, and beautiful and desired.

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Let Isabel tut away to herself, let her sister concern herself, let the old mutter and the ones who wanted Ferri throw green daggers at her. Let them, she laughed. Ferri and her made a striking couple, they were young and fit and beautiful, and they were in their element, and so she was almost disappointed to be taken away when Ferri took her elbow and pulled her from the room, facing her and weaving through the other bodies.

“Come on, I want to show you something”

“Ferri” Margareta whined “I want to dance”

“What, you don’t want to see it?” He teased, grinning all the while

“If you dance with me, then can we go?”

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“Close your eyes, Reta” He said it with a smile, and she did as he bid, and felt his arms wrapping around her neck, then, when he removed them, he left her with a weight that had not been there before. She looked down, to see a necklace draped over her. It ended in a heavy cross, laden with jewels. This was no trinket, Margareta knew as soon as she saw it. Around her neck, she saw a metal chain, and what seemed a thousand tiny drops of jewel winked back at her. This was worthy of a far higher lady than her, and it must have cost…Screenshot-451.jpg

“Ferri, you don’t plan to bankrupt yourself on my account do you? This must have cost… a lot.” When she took it off, he frowned, until she explained “Saving it for later” With a wink.

“Oh, it did.” His eyes twinkled “I wanted something as precious as you though” With that statement, he laughed, knowing well how over the top he was being. “Besides, I have a lot of money. I need to spend it on something. Otherwise Vince or Francois will think I’m after their seat.” Now he was being serious, or as serious as he ever was, and he was close to making Margareta remember her responsibilities, her duties, and the barriers that stood between her and Ferri.  She didn’t need or want that, so she stopped him talking by wrapping her arms around him, and pulling him closer to her, before she found his mouth. Between their mouths, he could feel her smiling and her hands trailed down, along his back… He pulled away and took her hand.

 

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“Didn’t you want to dance?”

At her throat, the new jewels glimmered, and she led Ferri back into the hall.

But for all that Margareta longed for eyes on her, she never saw the pair that watched her now.

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Poses: http://simsfans.forumfree.it/?t=69254091#entry561049193

The Day Grows Late

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“Henry?”

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Helaena called from her bed, her voice tiptoeing to the edges of her chamber. By many mens book’s it was still early in the night but waiting for Henry had begun to fray her nerves. She had already sent the servants away, and all but her bedside candle had been extinguished. The corners of the chamber were consumed in shadow, and the space around her flickered in the candle’s strange orange glow. Nevertheless, its light was better than none, and she took it with her as she rose and padded across the floor.

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“Henry?” She was quieter now, more anxious.

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The last days of Jonathan III. She had never known her father in law, but stories always reached her, no matter how hard you tried not to listen. By all accounts, when he was a young man, he had been an ideal prince, and king. Gallant, golden-haired, glorious. Attractive and a good father to his own family, and his realm. He had been struck down by some plague of the mind. It had began innocently enough, a few missing days, an odd comment here and there, but as a plague does, it spread, infecting him more as it went. Soon, he was absent from most of his duties, and not long after, even when they took him to his courtrooms, his mind wasn’t there. For a time, his wife took over his duties, along with her husbands brother, only a young man at the time. Henry had been around ten and five years of age at the time, his brother, Jonathan, a few years older, but no less inclined to watch his father waste away. When Jonathan IV inherited the illness, he took it differently, but no less severely. By turns violent and melancholy, he had been found dead in his ancestors library one morning.

Now Helaena feared for another Namaris king, her own gentle, golden-haired husband. The monks had promised that it was unlikely to affect him, but had it not plagued the Namaris’ for generations? Even in the songs of the old warrior kings, it was mentioned. For whatever else they were, worthy of fame, did it not take a type of madness to travel and conquer unknown lands?

Surely, surely the chance was limited by their mothers. Elizabeta Namaris Helaena had loved and admired. Almost too assertive for a queen, but in the situation, she had handled herself well, and pulled the realm and her sons through a time that another woman could not have. She had had to do what she did, for her sons and Eos, and Helaena was grateful to her. As far as she could know, there had been no hint of madness in her family, so why would Henry…but why had Jonathan?

And more than that, what of her own children. Perhaps, if the watcher had been good to her, it had died out with Jonathan, and neither her husband nor children would be affected. Anne – like her namesake – had a wandering mind, but some young people did. Henry was still a boy. The Namaris men were always golden and shining, as boys and young men. Perhaps, having inherited some of her looks, he would remain free from illness. And Isabel, who looked so much like her, was named fittingly. Helaena’s mother, Isabel, had been more like her daughter than she could know, for all that she had never met her grandmother, the Queen of Llamaland, may the Watcher rest her soul.

Helaena went by the small, personal library and wondered if he was in there, repressing a shudder as she remembered his brother. Once, she had sent the servants to look for him, and she didn’t want to do that again, not to Henry.

It was midsummer, and the Dawncity, Eos’ capital lived up to it’s name. If she opened the shutters, the glow from the outside would filter into some of the room. Helaena wouldn’t have complained, but she thanked the Watcher that the Namaris’ residence wasn’t any further north. In the north, the nights fell dark and silent, almost through all the seasons. Anne Namaris had been known for her night time ramblings in Longhall, but if it had been Helaena, she would never have dared.

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She would have given up for lost, or gone to pray to the Watcher, when she heard a creaking of floorboards and perhaps a faint mumbling. It could only have been Henry, unless it was an intruder. She found him huddled in a large chair, book in hand. Even when she called him again, his back remained facing her. Slowly, she approached him and gently placed a hand on his shoulder. He froze for a moment, looking shocked and confused, before he turned to her, understanding now written upon his face, then shame. He said nothing to her and said a short prayer, but he still leaned on her, heavily, and she prayed she could support him more.

Friendship, but First…

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While Ida watched the two babies with an absent gaze, Cora’s dark eyes were beady, following every move that Robert made towards her child. Cora had always looked haughty, aloof, but now she looked drawn and tired, some of from the birth, some from the following sleepless nights and more than a few from being married to Thomas. The watcher forbid that motherhood should turn us all old, although the Watcher was likely in a mood to smite her anyway, for her sins.Screenshot-417.jpg

Thomas looked even worse than his wife. Typical of Thomas, when all he did was wait for her to birth her. He had looked so proud of his baby, as he held Elizabeth though – even if he did hold her wrong.

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They had named their daughter after the boys’ mother, and it brought back memories, of when her own mother was working, afternoons with Elizabeth and Gregory – Thomas had only been a little boy – helping with the house or the odd plant they grey, mainly helping Elizabeth with the fish. Elizabeth had never been less than lovely to her, even when she got ill, she would only frown a little and grip on a chair, or sit down, but she still welcomed the children, even Ida, right up until she died.

On her way in, she had caught Gregory. She hadn’t expected to see him, and he probably hadn’t expected to see her, but it had been years since she had seen her best friend, and although the two of them only had a few minutes with each other, they could always make it seem worthwhile. Gregory had never seen Robert either, and he never once blinked when Ida introduced them to each other.

Fendrel was already out, trying to catch some food for them, and when Thomas left as well she had been a bit surprised when Cora started making conversation with her, given that Ida had barely met the woman, only heard nasty little bits of gossip about her, and Ida never thought she would have associated with someone like her. She was quick to take offence, Ida had heard, and slow to forget it. Her father had been a merchant or something from another town, but had fallen, hard, and Cora still imagined she was a well off, respectable woman, with no time for women such as herself – or so they said.

Ida was more than happy to help her, from one new mother to another. Cora had once been respectable, they said, perhaps it would rub off on Ida. The watcher would appreciate someone lessening his load a little.

Robert never rushed in his movements. He would crawl a little, then stop and calmly assess the situation. He was not much older than the other baby, but there was a different. All the time the women had been speaking, he moved slowly closer to the other baby. Ida had noticed this, and accepted it – he was a friendly baby. When he moved into Cora’s domain, she paused, quickly snatched up her baby, then continued talking as if nothing had happened.

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Words bounced around her head, reminding her of what people would think about her. Most of those she knew were aware of what had gone between her, and who they thought was a mysterious stranger. Most of those she knew had no cause nor place to judge her for it anyway. The gossip about Cora, maybe it was true. Wife of Thomas or no, Ida would never take that. Cora had been a freewoman, a respectable person, and it occurred to Ida how she could easily judge her. This woman had barely had her child in wedlock! But before Ida could say anything, Cora asked her own question.

“Do you regret him?”