The Untied End: Part 2
Here in Edmonton it's nearly a quarter past eight in the evening on July 11, 2020, which means I am technically still updating on Saturday as promised by my home page. I mean, in a lot of the rest of the world it's already Sunday, but here in the far west of the global land masses I can claim not being late. Yay! Time Zones! LOL
How's you're weekend going? We're having a garage sale. I interacted with more people in the six hours our stuff was available to buy today than I think I've spoken to in person for the past five months. The awesome part was that likely half of everyone who dropped by was wearing a mask, and the unmasked folks were 100% cool with physical distancing while speaking. My hands are raw from sanitizing after every cash exchange, but that's just my eczema flaring because my husband – with his partly iron-based skin – did the majority of the cash taking and change making.
I also just want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who's buying our stuff. You people are wonderful for getting things out of our basement! :)
On the writing side of things, I'm playing with the cute romance more and got some good writing time in with that story. The changes I'm picking away at for the big manuscript unlocked a few new scenes that are percolating at the back of my brain... soon they'll be ready for committing to draft status mwa ha ha ha! (They're not actually evil scenes, so the "evil laugh" can stay non-caps and little. Kind of a half-hearted, evil chuckle.)
Otherwise, it's just been summer break at our house. Not much going on and even less happening. It's a lovely change of pace and I'm enjoying it immensely. I hope you're staying safe and well this weekend!
While stitching the thick canvas, Gabby reviewed the short conversation for anything that could have a double meaning or different connotation than what she’d originally thought he’d said. As usual, she was exhausted from the multiple meanings of everything he said only a few minutes later. The cut was mended, however, so at least that was done. She put the needle and remaining sinew away and sat on her cot beside her sword.
“What do you think about it?” she asked the blade, resting one hand on the sheath. The desire to slit her father’s throat raced up her arm and she chuckled. “I know exactly what you mean, but…” She let the sentence die and shrugged.
Killing her father would force her bother into combat; defense of honor and family retribution and all that. Her father’s Generals would be honor-bound by the death of their Liege to attack her lands and people as well. Those arguments amounted to only so much garbage, but would mean she’d be the one responsible for rushing the war into reality instead of sticking to her plan to stop it. Starting a war that would decimate thousands of lives and ruin so many lands was something she could not live with.
The blade on her bed whispered a sigh and offered only the warm comfort of cold steel. Negotiations and information were still what she knew to be the best options available, and the hardest considering what she was going to have do for them.
Ignoring the pending assassin supposedly from her brother – but paid for and organized by her father – until they arrived and then killed her was the easiest option… for her. Her death, the death of Liege Gabrhyne, would mean tens of thousands of people without a leader or protector, though, and her army would be without a General. Her land’s longest border was with her father, a second small border was shared with a quiet Liege who Gabby respected and protected from her father, and then a long stretch of coastline. Her brother’s lands were on the other side of their father's.
Many of her people were seafaring, but there wasn’t anywhere else to go. The sea was only so large, and other lands they’d discovered were not places that could support families. Of course they built huts and sheds on the barren rocks they’d found, maintaining the buildings as outposts for fishing seasons, but that was it.
If she failed at avoiding the war Liege Gabron was trying to start and then lost, or was successfully assassinated and her people were forced into an honor-bound war and lost, her lands would fall to the victor. Liege Gabrick (her brother) was too far away physically to hold peace between tribes, even if he tried, and Liege Gabrhyne didn’t have a chosen heir yet. Gabby’s people would be at the mercy of her father until the old man died, with no guarantee of how soon that event would occur. And her father, Liege Gabron, was well known for the extent of his mercy; it was usually measured in widths of mouse whiskers and not known to exceed amounts into double digits.
Gabby’s ears finally popped. Her father had gotten bored of waiting for her to say anything of importance to her sword and finally ported away. Everyone on her father’s side of the family could port. That was their talent. Her mother’s family was untalented, as was normal for an arranged wedding match. The more powerful families had talents, and married into untalented families to ensure talents remained pure, whatever that meant.
Legends said Dorgand was the reason why some families had talents, although there wasn’t anything except legends to say so. None of those stories ever explained how the talents came to be. Every time he’d walked the lands before, recorded throughout history, familial culls occurred or new talents in previously untalented families began. Gabby had been a child the last time the sorcerer had walked, and her brother Rick hadn’t been conceived yet.
It was the first memory she had of her father’s unending cowardice, and the last of her mother’s devoted bravery. Dorgand had walked into their home in the middle of the night, slaughtered the few bastards her father had fathered with other women around the manor, and crossed swords with Gabby’s mother in Gabby’s bedroom while Gabby hid under the bed. In hindsight and with a General’s experience, under a bed wasn’t a particularly useful place to hide. It was the only hiding place among the traditionally barren furnishings of the bedroom that her mother could quickly use, though.
Gabby’s mother had attempted to barter during the duel. She’d offered anything and everything available to her, including every part of wealth behind her and Gabron’s families, and then vowing per the sacred rights – to swear and seal, which had shimmered as her family crest like a watery memory before being slashed aside – to take Gabby away and disappear into obscurity. None of it had swayed the mission of the sorcerer. Dorgand had apologized first, tried to reason for something he called a Wrote, and then pleaded for Lashiss to step aside. Then he’d cut her down when she wouldn’t allow him access to Gabron’s final remaining child. When Lashiss fell, so did he; weeping and clinging to her hand after completing the task of killing her.
Against the logic of anyone but a nine-year-old child who’d just witnessed their mother being killed defending them and knowing they would now die now no matter what, Gabby had crawled to her mother’s side. It was better to die there, with her, then alone under the bed.
“Why did you do that? I was never here to harm you,” Dorgand whispered, his voice tight and pained. He was leaning over and stroking Lashiss’ face, not seeing Gabrhyne’s approach until she picked up her mother’s other hand and sobbed. Lashiss then turned her eyes to her only child, smiled, and breathed her last.
Legends and rumors say that being immortal means Dorgand has no ability or comprehension of mortal emotions. The conflict of raw feelings etched on his face when he’d stared at her then was just as firmly carved into her memories now. He'd been unable to speak, unable to answer her demands to know why he’d killed Lashiss; why he’d done it if he didn’t want to. He’d sobbed once, dropped Lashiss’ fingers, bitten the knuckles of his own hand, and slashed out at Gabby as he spun to his feet.
At first she thought he’d spared her. His running footsteps had carried him out the door and sped faster away once he was in the hall. Then the alarms in her mind started ringing and she’d looked down. Her insides had spilled outside onto her legs, as if her craft for today was to sort out and reassemble herself from all the pieces dumped in her lap. She’d cried out weakly, then tipped sideways and passed out.
Waking up had been the most unexpected thing which could have happened. With no other heir, her father had poured half his wealth into another sorcerer’s talents and saved her life. When asked what had happened in her bedroom, she’d found her tongue unable to move and her teeth and lips solidly closed. She was prevented from saying anything about what had happened from the day she’d woken and every day after. Even now, Gabby couldn’t utter a sound about it – or even write a single mark to begin the first letter to write about it.
The sorcerer who’d healed her invented the accepted theory that a single blow from Dorgand had both slain Lashiss and cut Gabrhyne, but was stopped from being a deadly blow to Gabby by Lashiss taking the brunt of the hit. Gabby couldn’t even shake her head to agree or disagree with any of the theories people around her invented.
She sighed and looked across her tent to her mirror. Blink once for yes and twice for knowing every detail of how your mother was killed, Gabby thought, staring at her unblinking reflection. Her sword vibrated in the frustration it shared with her about not being able to act on the knowledge Gabby carried. Not even alone and only thinking about the topic was she able to make her body respond in any way to answer the questions she was asking herself and already knew the answers to.
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A weekly blog updating on Fridays with quick personal blurbs about me, as in what's going on during my life as an Author and mom, and that doles out my short stories and novellas in bite-sized parts for everyone to read for free!