Monday, July 11, 2016

City of Curses: Little Ainesia 2 (Maralda's Notes)

Here is part 2 of the story Maralda is getting from Unatoly.  How a young woman fled her homeland for #Crux.  The price of revolution for a noble girl who didn't know any better.  

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"Una?  Wake up."

Her father, not a maid or some other servant, shook Una.  His black beard looked unkempt.  His clothes were ragged, dirty.  His bloodshot eyes oozed with concern.  He stank of sweat.  Bruises covered his face.

Una rubbed her eyes.

"Papa?"  She asked.  "Where is Taria?"

"Away.  I sent them all away.  Una, get dressed."

"Father, it's late.  What time is it?"

"After midnight."  He said.  "This is the best time, Una.  You and Zhamon need to leave.  If they see you leave Draketor in the morning light, they'll just take you."

"Take?"  Una tried to straighten her back.  "Father I don't understand what you're saying.  What is going on?  Did Grandmother return safely?"

"The Comtesse is dead."  His deaden words didn't quite shock Una.  She tried to wrap her head around it.

Her grandmother.  The Comtesse of Dragunrun.  Una knew she cared for all their local common folk.  From the fishmongers to the gardeners that kept Draketor verdant, her grandmother had cared what happened to them all.  Una had learned everything about nobility from her grandmother.  Her grandmother had groomed the salish noble-blooded teenager to take the title of Comtesse.  When she was ready to relinquish the title, of course.

The folk of Dragunrun loved their Comtesse.  They wouldn't kill her.  Una couldn't believe they'd hurt a hair on her grandmother's head.

Dead?  Shouldn't they be preparing for the funeral?

"Dead?"  She echoed.

"Una."  Her father pulled her to her feet.  "Your grandmother is dead because she was the Comtesse.  Get dressed.  You need to hurry."

Una began to gather clothes to wear.

"How?  Why do I have to leave?  Aren't I Comtesse now?"

"Una, the mob in Dragunrun proper ripped her to shreds.  They killed her.  The Straw Pastor sent the crowd into a fervor.  They ripped her apart, then they took your mother."  He let out a sigh.  "I nearly died traveling back here.  It's still too dark for them to mount a proper attack."

"Why would they do that?  Don't they know the Straw Pastor is just manipulating them?  That grandmother took care of them?"

"Anger doesn't care for logic."  He told her.

Father left the room, hurrying to tend to her younger brother.  Una closed her eyes.

"I'm the Comtesse now."  She told herself.  That didn't untangle the knot in her stomach.  Una got dressed and went downstairs.

She tried to gather some sort of meal from the kitchen.  The empty halls of Draketor shook her.  Oft busy rooms were coated in black shadows.  Her steps echoed.  Una felt uneasy.  This felt less like her home, more like a tomb.

"I'm the Comtesse now,"  Una repeated.

Una went into the kitchens.  She fumbled for a bit.  But she managed to fill a basket of bread and dried meat.  She didn't know how much food she'd need.  But she'd ordered baskets like this for picnics before.

"Una?"  Her father's voice called.  It echoed from the shadows deeper inside the manor.

Una grabbed her basket.  She hurried to find her father, her skirts swirling as she went.  She bit her lower lip.  After a bit of hesitation, she left the kitchen.

Memories of spending time with her maids and the cooks boiled to the top of her mind.  Una couldn't believe they had betrayed her family.

But her father's face had been enough.  She'd never seen him so scared before.

She found him in the foyer.  Una's younger brother hung asleep in his arms.  The boy wasn't older than six.  Father hadn't woken him up.

"Father-"

"There's a horse ready outside."  He told her.  "Ride to Selas.  Take this, it should be enough to help you pay your way to Ith."

He handed her small bundle.  Una looked inside the bag.  Family jewelry.  Her grandmother's necklace.  Her mother's silver earrings.  Una pushed down a shiver.

This wasn't a dream.

"Father-"

"I love you, Una."  He gave her a kiss.  "I can't go with you.  If I can, I can convince the mob you died here with me.  Maybe they will just burn the manor down...  You're Comtesse now.  Understand?  Avenge your family name.  Be patient.  Remember us.  Remember Dragunrun."

Unatoly got on the white and black horse.  Her slumbering brother in her lap.  Strapped behind her a bundle of food she wasn't sure would be enough for the full ride to the port of Selas.  She looked back at her father, his Tomish features standing out in the night.  She had some of his black hair, as well as the stark white hair of her mother and grandmother.

The Straw Pastor and his mob would descend onto the manor.  He'd driven her from her home.  Una didn't believe that he could twist everyone against her.  She'd been to Selas dozens of times in her eighteen years.

Una knew she could find someone, anyone who could help.  Then she could come back and save her father.  Una knew they would flock to help their Comtesse.  They'd always had helped her or her grandmother in the past.