(1867-10-01) The Sooner The Better
The Sooner the Better
Summary: Tensions in Normont rise….
Date: 1867-10-01
Related: Related Logs (If there aren't any, use None. Don't this entry leave blank. If there is a log, use full URLs, like logname)
Symon  Dora  Rhea  

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Early afternoon in Falconhome, in the Duchy of Normont, finds Duke Symon Gerrell in his private study, though for the moment it's not entirely private, as his wife, Dora Gerrell lounges on a couch near his desk while he whittles away at a pile of paperwork . A fire burns in a small hearth nearby, chasing away the remnants of an early fall chill that left the ground frosted this high in the mountains. Not to mention keeping Dora warm in her current condition, which is that of quite visibly being laden with child.

"So…when were you going to speak to me about it?" Symon speaks towards Dora, not immediately looking up from the missive he's reading, but after a moment his eyes seek out hers, "About the Masque? I'm surprised you haven't already brought it up."

"I had assumed you'd be wanting to go," Dora replies with an amused smile. "We've gone often enough when they've been held— well, my family. They are socially one of the greatest functions on the Edge." She stretches languidly, then rests one hand on her swelling stomach. "I had been waiting for you to have time to discuss costumes."

"Well." Symon frowns a bit as one missive is replaced with another, "Wanting to go isn't the problem. I'm not entirely sure things are in a place where I should be departing the Duchy. Much less to that of the l'Saigner. Push for peace or no, our two houses took the biggest bites out of each other during the Thirty Years War, and some still remember those days far too vividly to make friendship easy." Symon leans back in his chair, studying his wife with a bit of a mischievous grin, "But, if we're speaking merely of the possibility…I would imagine you already have some idea in regards to costumes."

"Hmm." Dora studies her husband with some interest. "What about a Greathawk for you? You have the lithe build that would look good in the feathers, I think. For me… something rounder," she teases. "Or perhaps a brown bear, all warm and snug." She laughs lightly. "But I do think a hawk would suit you well." His comments about not finding it necessarily politically wise to go she seems to all but ignore outright.

"A Greathawk?" Symon's brows quirk upward in an amused smile, "I suppose that'd be appropriate. If it were going to be my first, I may as well go with something…somewhat obvious." He taps at his chin, before turning his eyes back to the missive he's reading, silent a few more moments, then muttering, "Of course they're protesting the opening of their gate…"

The door to the study swings open, and Lady Rhea Gerrell, Symon's younger sister, stalks in. "You're not thinking about going to that heathen celebration of debauchery in Couviere, are you?" she asks sugar-sweetly.

Symon glances up at the door opening, frowning at the intrusion, before realizing who it is…one of the few that can get away with it. The frown fades, but there's a tension in his jaw that Dora would easily note, if not Rhea herself. "The amount that I was considering it is likely directly tied to how long you were listening outside the door." He sets his current missive aside, but this time doesn't take up a new one. Rhea will only be more insufferable if he looks like he's ignoring her, and while he's annoyed, he's not yet annoyed enough to deliberately provoke her. Key word being "yet."

"It would be quite unwise for you to go," Rhea points out with extreme patience. "First, you'd have to go through the unholy faegates to get there this late in time. Secondly, that celebration profanes sacred marriage rites…" and she cuts a glances towards Dora, a disapproving look at the young woman's swollen belly. "Something you've already done by getting your wife with child long before you wedded her properly. Ancestors be kind to us, Symon, but you cannot continuously spit in the face of tradition and expect that things will go well."

Symon does start to shift towards a scowl now, a touch of annoyance entering his voice, "The "Unholy" gates are operated by the Church of the One Faith, Sister. Are you accusing his Holiness, the High Priest of Sanctum, whom the Order of the Vigil operates with the blessing of, of being a heathen or heretic?"

He takes in a deep breath, reaching up to pinch at the bridge of his nose, "In case you're unaware, Dukes are generally expected to produce heirs. Our contract was signed, and nothing short of a death was going to prevent the marriage. Even if producing an heir ahead of the marriage were a sin in the eyes of the Faith….which it is not, I might add, both the laws of the Kingdom and the writ of Saint Bartholemew recognize the full legitimacy of the child if a marriage follows."

He's silent for several moments as Rhea concludes, his expression darkening further, "No? Perhaps I should try imposing our traditions on the other Duchies of Rivana instead, is that it? That did, after all, work out so well for our family last time, didn't it?"

"You could have waited," Rhea says sweetly. "Shown respect for your marriage and your wife to be."

At that, Dora coughs, just loudly enough to make a point that she is there and disagreeing, but without jumping in further than that.

Rhea lets out a put-upon sigh. "Symon, you know as well as I do that the Church allows more 'wiggle room' because the vast majority of its adherants are sinners. We hold to the way things should be. That is what being a Gerrell, being from Normont… that is what it means. If you go to this 'masque' and allow yourself to step outside the bonds of your marriage, even while hidden from the eyes of others… The One will know your shame, Symon."

"The One help you, every day you sound more and more like Mother." Symon says with an acid tone, his face remaining a glower towards his eldest sister, "Do you even understand the position she left us in, Rhea? Do you understand why some of our traditions need to die? Do you realize how close you and I and Tia and Aaron were to joining our parents in excommunication and execution?" He shakes his head, "Eyes are upon us, Rhea, and will be for the duration of my rule. If the One God wants to judge me for proving the loyalty of Normont to the Kingdom of Rivana, and for trying to make us something other than the laughingstock of the Edge for our backwards ways, then he is welcome to do so. But if you believe you can shame me into being a puppet on "Uncle" Tarquin's strings…or your own…you are sorely mistaken."

"You can prove you loyalty without shaming your ancestors or throwing aside all tradition!" Rhea's voice pitches a bit higher and she places a hand on her hip. "It's bad enough that you bring an outsider into the family, but unnatural congress with your so-called friend from Venderos? Opening the gates that we've had shut for generations? What kind of influcence do you think you are having on our poor brother and sister, so young and vulnerable? You send Tiadora away to court where she is exposed to debauchery and heathen ways… you really care nothing for us at all, do you?"

"That's just it Rhea, I'm not throwing aside all traditions." Symon shakes his head, "I still light my candles for our ancestors who remain in Grace, and for Uncle Paul…always for Paul. I still celebrate the feast days and attend all the masses, and I don't even do so reluctantly most of the time. I still believe in the One God, Rhea. I just don't believe in the same way you do. I never have, because if all were as our Cardinal preaches…if suffering were the one scourging us for our sins, then I ask you, what sin did we commit in our mother's womb, to be born to our parents? Did you truly never see it, Rhea? Did you think all the bruises Aaron and I suffered were from training? Did Mother never force you to enact mortifications even when you felt you'd done nothing wrong?" His expression softens, "Tiadora understands…I think Aaron does too. But they are free to believe as they see fit. Tia often reminds me to observe our traditions, but it is just that…a reminder. Not a demand. Not a threat of holy punishment should I choose not to, or simply forget. Tiadora is being exposed to the world, Rhea. She is seeing what lies beyond our borders, because for too long we have tried to hold ourselves completely apart. That cannot be our future. Stand in place too long, and you will only be trampled as everyone else passes you by." He adds, "And if I am exerting influence upon Tia and Aaron, then what of it? I am the Duke of Normont and the head of House Gerrell. It is my right and responsibility to do so."

Symon looks up, a bit surprised at that last, before shaking his head, "I do care about you Rhea. You are my sister, and I love you as my sister, and always will, but I know that you will never agree with me on these things, and I will never agree with you. There is too much of Mother in you."

Rhea's eyes narrow. "Outside this duchy," she says coolly, "they allow… encourage, even… the worship of the Many. Mother and Father did what they had to in order to ensure we were pure and we were repenting of our sins. You embrace your sins. Next you will be welcoming heathens into our duchy. The gates bring creatures of chaos— our teaching tells us that true, from our ancestors to us now. We covered up the gates here. We blocked the monsters from coming. And you may say they no longer exist… perhaps they do not. But I will not be the one to risk our people to be swallowed by creatures of nightmare should they come through the gates now."

"Tia is being exposed to dark things. Does she have proper escorts? Is she wearing proper clothing or is she dressing like a whore of court? Is there someone to assign her penance when she behaves as a glutton? Prince Tristan Tracano is there, you remember him. How long until he takes advantage of your sweet younger sister? But you do NOT care. You throw her willingly into the fire."

"No, you're right, you won't be the one risking anything, because I am the Duke of Normont, which you seem to have forgotten." Symon finally rises from his chair, his expression going cool, "Now, if I were the last Duke of Normont, for your effrontery in accusing your Duke of deliberately endangering his kin and his Duchy, I would beat you black-and-blue from your neck to your ankles." He almost looks like he's considering it. There is, for the briefest of moments, a cold gleam to his eyes that, while he would never admit it, is altogether reminiscent of his father. But then he shakes his head, ever-so-slightly, "But I am not the last Duke of Normont. I will not be the monster that our father was to us to you, or Tia, or Aaron, or my own children. But that does not mean I will allow you to make such accusations freely."

Symon lifts his chin slightly, his eyes moving to the guards that stand just inside the study door. Men who fought for Paul. Men who agree with his path. "My sister is clearly feeling unwell. See her back to her quarters and insure she is not disturbed for the remainder of the evening by any other than her personal servants or her confessor, nor should she wander in her current state." He glances to Rhea, his face still stoic, "You are dismissed, Lady Rhea. Your supper will be sent to you."

Rhea draws herself up, looking as if she might argue with him, but sees the guards and lets out a long breath. "The One sees all, Symon," she says before turning on her heel and leaving for her chambers.

After the door shuts and there is silence for several moments, Dora says cheerfully, "So. The masque."

Symon waits until Rhea is gone, and sits down heavily in the chair once more, shaking his head slightly and rubbing at his temples. Then Dora speaks, and he glances to her for a moment, silent, before he half-grins and replies, "See to having the costumes made. The Greathawk will be fine for me. And I'll let you send the acceptance note for the invitation." Well, looks like that conversation managed to change his mind. Or angered him enough that he'll go just to spite Rhea.

Dora moves over and begins rubbing his shoulders. "You think we'll see my sister there?" she asks casually. "We could… spend some 'quality time' with her and her husband. Perhaps the four of us could all get to know each other quie well at the masque."

"I would imagine she would be there, given she's wed to the host's brother." Symon quips, albeit without real snark. At Dora's next suggestion, he tilts his brow, looking amused, "Quality time? Well…that's an…interesting idea. Are you sure they would be…interested?"

"She would be. And I'm sure she could convince her husband…" Dora smiles brightly. "Don't you think that could be fun? Consider it doing our part to improve crossborder relations." She winks at him, massaging his neck.

"Ha!" Symon laughs at the crossborder relations joke, shaking his head in amusement, "Well, I'm certainly willing to entertain the notion, at least. We'll just have to see how things unfold at the Masque." He pauses, "I have to confess I'm not exactly keen on the idea of…sharing you…but it would be rather unfair not to if it was your wish, all things considered."

"My sister and I have shared every lover we've had," Dora shrugs. "It wouldnt be fair not to share you." She grins at him, her eyes twinkling. "Besides, you might even find that sharing can be… exciting."

"Well…I will keep an open mind, at least." Symon replies, then chuckles, "Perhaps I just worry you'll enjoy him more than me. I wasn't exactly…teeming with experience when we met." He grins wryly, "But we have certainly tried to make up for lost time."

Dora chuckles. "I've had him before," she admits. "At the last masque I attended. You may not have been as experienced, but what you've lacked in experience you've more than made up for in enthusiasm." She laughs lightly. "I have no cause for complaint, my dear. I am quite pleased with you." She frowns. "Maybe not as pleased with your sister…"

Symon grimaces, shaking his head, "Nor should you be. But if the contract goes through…she'll be well away from here before long. I would've liked to find her a place she could be happier…but I can only take what I can get. Unfortunately Manfred l'Faust is too canny to not realize what I'm doing, and he's making certain I pay accordingly. Not utterly unfair…she's still a Duke's sister, but…just on that side of things." He drums his fingers on the desk, "It won't break us by any means…but it will be costly."

"We can only hope the contract is agreed to soon," Dora sighs. "The longer she stays the more she entrenches herself. Your brother isn't sure whether to follow her lead or yours. Among other problems she presents." She doesn't suggest killing the girl. She had already once before and Symon had made it clear that was not an option.

The first and very nearly only time Symon had been angry with his new wife. He hadn't been lying when he said he loved Rhea. But he knows she's broken, and he can't fix her. That's not her fault though. "Yes. Hopefully soon. The last round of revisions was fairly light. I'm just waiting to hear back from the Archduke now. He's usually prompt about such things."

Dora nods. "Hopefully soon." She looks towards the door Rhea had departed through.

"The sooner… the better." she murmurs.

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