Saturday, August 23, 2014

Chapter 9: Fool's Dream

Kieran stares out the ice encrusted window, his eyes distant and vague as he struggles to keep his thoughts on the situation at hand. His son needs him, and he won’t let him down. Not again.

“But what can we do?!” Griffin’s voice rises irritably. “I promised to protect her, and I’ve failed. The duke must have threatened her somehow. Why else would she stay with him? No,” he declares, shaking his head in angry determination. “I will just storm in and take her back.”

“You and what army?” Kieran’s quiet words reverberate off the frozen stone walls. “Besides,” he pauses and turns around to face him. “How do you even know that she wants to be saved? How do you know that she feels the same way about you?”

“I just know!” Griffin sounds both frustrated and desperate as he clings to this final thread of hope. “Dammit, Kieran, love doesn’t just vanish overnight. I wanted to marry her, to start a family and settle down for real this time. I-” he hesitates, watching his father carefully. “I sold the vineyard to pay for a new place for us in her village. I really do love her, Dad. ”

Kieran sighs and glances toward the cat perched gracefully near Griffin’s shoulders.

“Pardon me, but have we met?” he asks suddenly, addressing the animal in a strangely formal tone of voice.

Ari mews, his blue eyes flickering toward Kieran in a bored, leisurely fashion. Perhaps, he retorts with a lazy yawn. However, you would more likely recognize the name of My Lady Delia.

Kieran stiffens visibly. “Delia?” he scowls. “But why do I find her familiar here with my son? What does the Goddess want with Griffin?”

She fears for the boy, Ari answers simply as Griffin looks back and forth between the two of them in confusion. The Gods watch Georgia closely, and My Lady worries that they will discover him.

“They still hunt him? After all these years, after all I’ve given, they still want to punish me?”

“Fine,” he growls after a moment of thought. “Griffin, I will help you get Georgia back, but we must play this smart. Before you attempt anything rash, let me figure a few things out.”

“Like what?” Griffin demands. “I don’t want to wait. I-”

“You won’t have to wait long,” he promises gruffly. “Cat, take me to your Goddess. We have some business to discuss.”

As night falls over Everly Isles, Marcellus Draven downs another pint of ale and drunkenly slouches over his now empty tankard.

“Stupid bastard,” he slurs to no one in particular. “Damn fool, that’s what he is. Letting her influence him like this, and for what? Some God forsaken prophecy?! He needs to leave for Praaven immediately to prove his loyalty to the kingdom, especially after that unfortunate mishap with Cecily, but no! He can’t possibly abandon her now! Not if she might need him. To think, he’s giving away everything we’ve ever worked for just to remain with that vile peasant girl! Fucking idiot, that’s what he is!”

“Reminds me of an old acquaintance of mine,” the slender young woman beside him comments as she casually slides in closer. “He’s throwing away his life to chase a silly dream that will never come true.”

“A dream, yes!” Marcellus declares emphatically. “That’s what Georgia is! An unattainable, nonsensical dream. Alasdair needs a taste of reality. He needs a taste of life outside his cushy manor.”

“It sounds to me like he needs this woman out of his life.”

Marcellus nods and glances over at his companion. “Yes, yes! Get rid of the wench. But how?”

Grabbing her glass, Amara smiles back at him innocently, her eyes briskly taking in the rich silk fabric of his tunic and expensive polished leather of his boots. “Why don’t you take me back to your place tonight and we can discuss it in more detail?” she whispers suggestively. “Surely together we can come up with something.”

“Focus!” Lieutenant Albright hollers, his deep voice booming in Alasdair’s ears.

“Dammit, Albright, give me some slack,” the duke snaps in response. “Georgia could give birth any minute now, and-”

“Are you in labor, Your Grace?”

“No, but-”

“Then I don’t want to hear it!” the soldier roars. “Now FOCUS!”

An entire day passes before the healer allows Alasdair in to see his wife, but now that he’s with her the duke doesn’t quite know what to say. “Oh, Georgia,” he breathes. “Is it-”

“A boy,” she smiles at him blissfully. “And a girl too.”

Alasdair inhales sharply and glances between the baby in her arms and the baby in the bassinet. “Twins?!” he whispers.

Georgia nods as he walks around behind her and gently kisses her flushed, but glowing cheeks.

“Are you-” she pauses. “Are you happy?”

“Darling, I’m thrilled. They’re beautiful.”

“What shall we name them?” Georgia asks as she sets the sleeping baby down beside his sister and quietly tucks him in.

“Hmm,” Alasdair taps his chin thoughtfully. “What about George for the boy?” he grins. “George, after his mother.”

Her mouth falls open in stunned surprise. “You mean it?!” she gasps.

“Yes,” he chuckles softly at her reaction. “I love you, and I want our son to carry a bit of each of us with him wherever he goes. He will inherit my surname and title, but his first name should come from you.”

Georgia throws her arms around Alasdair’s neck and sighs contentedly. “Thank you,” she beams, fighting back tears. “You have no idea how much this means to me.”

“What about the girl?” he asks after a moment.

“I like the name Henrietta for her,” Georgia tells him in a somewhat reluctant tone. “If you approve, Your Grace.”

“George and his sister Henrietta. Yes,” he nods. “Very nice. Strong, striking names, yet eloquent and refined. I like it.”

Gazing down at Georgia, his eyes grow tender and concerned. “You did wonderfully, my dear.”

“So you’re not upset with me any longer?” she asks him timidly.

Alasdair leans in and kisses her deeply, savoring the sensation of holding her in his arms. “How can I stay angry with you?” he whispers in between kisses. “Not when you’ve given me everything I’ve ever wanted and so much more.”

As they lie in bed together later that night, Alasdair groggily cracks open his eyes. “Georgia?” he murmurs in a sleepy haze.

“Yes?” she smiles and glances up at him expectantly.

“Do you love me?”

The words hang in the air for a moment too long as Georgia contemplates her response. “Yes, of course,” she says with a small shrug, but her husband has already fallen back asleep.

Do I love him? she wonders to herself as his breathing resumes a slow, rhythmic pace. It’s a question that she once would have answered with speed and certainty, but now she isn’t so sure. She wants to love him, desperately so, but some tiny part of her believes that she never has and never truly will. After all, how can she love a man who has stolen so much from her and hurt her so terribly? Perhaps this whole time she has just been fooling herself into believing that she cares for him in order to make her life at the manor more tolerable. The idea leaves her feeling more confused and despondent than ever before.

“You know him?” Marcellus watches Amara skeptically.

“Yes, I do. I knew him very well at one point.”

“And you are sure that you can lure this Griffin fellow into our trap?”

Yes!” Amara exclaims, rolling her eyes in annoyance. “I will simply tell Griffin that Georgia asked us to meet her down by the docks. I guarantee you he will fall for it, and then you and your little soldiers can arrest him, the duke can order his hanging, and I can explain to little Miss Sunshine that her husband arranged the execution of her lover. Georgia will be stricken with grief and self-loathing, driving your brother mad with jealousy, and then you can swoop in and suggest that he permanently uproot his family to Praaven as a way to distance his beloved from the painful memories in her past. They will argue, he will insist, she will refuse, and their marriage will collapse. And even if it doesn’t, they will be exactly where you want them, at the palace in Praaven, and you will be left to rule over Everly Isles uninhibited. A win-win situation.”

“What’s in it for you?” Marcellus demands.

“So suspicious!” she pouts. “All I want is a bit of… security once you gain control of the islands.”

“Money?” he surmises.

Amara smirks at him. “What else?”

Author’s Notes:

Not my best work, but I’m eager to get caught up to where I am in game so I’m attempting to spend less time tweaking every single little word, phrase, and sentence. AND I’M SO CLOSE NOW!!! Seriously, just a couple more chapters (or one big one… or maybe three big ones depending on how wordy I get), and I can actually start playing again. SO excited!

Anyway, I *promise* I will do my very best to reply to comments in a timely manner from here on out. I feel awful about how late/spotty I’ve been with my responses, but I do read everything you all write and I really appreciate the feedback. <3 Y’all rock.

I received a really good question a couple of chapters ago about how the living arrangements look in game right now, and I would like to address that real quick. Everything from chapter seven onward has been shot in an alternate save. I still have a couple of twists in store that I don’t want to spoil yet, so I’m not going to reveal my family structure roll right now, but I promise it will come to light very soon! These past few chapters are solely about the story and do not necessarily reflect with 100% accuracy the in game events, timeline, etc. Same goes for the next few. Honestly, at this point in game, Georgia still lived with Amara in that tiny little cottage that she started out in. Well, technically up until the start of this chapter. ;) But more on that later! =D

Thank you for reading!

P.S. I know Georgia has no clothes on in that picture and that’s totally unrealistic considering the timeframe I laid out, but… I re-wrote that part of this chapter and needed a picture for the text, and I was waaaay too lazy to go back in game just for one more screenshot, so I used what I had. XD Sorry for the immersion breaking moment.