1866-10-15: Future, Faith & Fragility
Future, Faith & Fragility
Summary: Talia reflects on her future and the fact she is with child after a ceremony performed to some of The Many.
Date: 1866-10-15
Related: None

She drew the knife out, slowly. The blade, as the handle and even her fingertips, were wet with blood. This, though, was sacred blood. She set the blade at the foot of the small obelisk admist the torchlight in the bottom most reaches of the castle.

The small room, unknown to even the majority of the servants, had long served as the Temple to the Many for the t'Corbeau.

And as the now-corpse fell to his death, his lifeblood, as had others before in rare need, would stain the stones beneath him. Others would see to the corpse. And, the pigs would feast. The few who'd gathered with her, here, now, for this … special occassion, this unusual worship, begin to file away. To leave Talia to her thoughts, and let her commune.

The ceremony was not one she performed often. She was not surprised at how many people thought that human or animal sacrifice was so commonplace to worship to The Many. Yet this one had been offered to Death, Blood, Pain, and Murder that her child might be formidable, strong, and live long. This sacrifice's life and days in agony spent an offering to replace what otherwise her unborn child might otherwise experience. The more traditional ceremonies to the rest of The Many, such as Hearth and others would come in the new day with the rising sun to represent the new beginning.

Secretly, she wondered if the Masque did not hold some odd sort of connection to the Many, though she knew no reference. But it was the second year, now, that she'd dreamt of Them. This last dream wasn't nearly as vivid as the first. But she could latch onto snatches of it, images, more than words, as if carved into her being. She knew they were watching her.

She knew, too, that they blessed her House, her family. As they always had done, as long as the t'Corbeau followed their tenants. And Talia made certain her family did not fail in that regard. The Many were what gave the t'Corbeau their power, their title, their land, their money.

And now? They gave her a child.

Andre had been the name of the slave who had tried to escape. The dead thing, whose blood now empowered the prayers she had given up to The Many for the benefit of her unborn child. He had thought himself clever, failed to see that his weakness would ruin the careful structure of society that the t'Corbeau, and the many people within the villages in her County had carefully contrived to ensure mutual benefits for all. A strength in that unity.

And those who could not unite? They were cattle. To be culled. Sacrificed.

She felt the comfort, warmth, of the robe being pressed around her shoulders and knew, without looking, Sophia was tending to her. She pulled it closed, and as she did so, she laid her hand over her stomach. It would be several months yet, before she would actually feel anything. But she knew it was there. Son. Daughter. It didn't matter to her. It would be her child. And, likely, her only.

It would be Corvin's child, too. Of that she was convinced.

She had known the time had been close, strangely synched with the Wedding Masque. Corvin, and the lovely damsel with him had proven more than entertaining. And to make certain that no unpleasentries or accusations could be had, she had then turned to her husband, and slept with him, less suspicions be cast.

Corvin, of course, would never know. And, in truth, she, herself, could never know for certain that it was Corvin's, and not Dominic's. But that thought was so far back in her mind and it would soon be eradicated as she convinced herself otherwise. Yet the dream from the Masque suggested to her that Fertility and Hearth had seen fit to bless her with how she had protected her family, her realm, from the threat. And they had given her a gift to reward her, that she would cherish. That she would refine, sharpen, and hone, just as her father had with her.

Dominic, of course, was another issue entirely. She was not sure what to make of him. He seemed eager to learn the ways of the Syndicate, and unfraid to soil his hands in the blood and sweat that came with being a t'Corbeau. But, he clearly had a warm side to her and was - infactuated with her. And he seemed a poor fit, the more she knew the man, to the dirty work that the Syndicate did for the betterment of King and Country.

Still. He was one of the few choices that would not draw attention, as well as potentially be an asset to her family, and their work. And so the wedding had happened. Philippe's idea to further delve into the man's mind had been a good one; Philippe often had such good ideas, she thought momentarily.

But where she might have dwelt further on what an asset Philippe was to her, her mind drifted to her child as she moved to her room to change into a set of leathers. To Dominic. And how the child would be raised. She could not afford her child to be coddled. Pampered. No. She would raise her son, daughter, she would raise them as her father did her. Efficient. Ruthlessly. Instill a drive for perfection, and a bond of loyalty, and a body shaped in bone and steel. These thoughts solidified as she fitted the straps around her flesh that bound the leather to her.

Her child would worship the Many when it was old enough to understand how to disguise and hide the truth from the public, just as her father had instilled the tenants without the fact in herself. These were truths she knew well. And that - well. That would be hard to hide from Dominic. She, too, would have to test the man in her own way. And the first test would be to tell him of her condition. Of the child to come. Gauge his reaction. There would be many tests for Dominic. Philippe had been the third to see it, after herself, and Sophia.

Still, Dominic did have a purpose. And she could not make him disappear, even if he failed the tests. There would be too much suspicion. At the very least he would need to stay until after the child was born. Dominic, afterall, still had a use. And still could be valuable. There were still possibilities. And she was not one to waste possiblities, or potential. Philippe was proof enough of that. And she knew what war, and death could bring to a man's mind, and Dominic was a knight. She would try to cultivate that in him.

Her lips twitched. She did not puzzle why she had revealed her condition, first, to Philippe and not to her husband. But she wondered if Philippe did. It would be one question she would never ask him. She made her way through the castle, to the training yards. Soon, it would be time to meet with her husband, to inform him he would be a father. And, to determine his future as well. If he, like Philippe, would be someone worth saving. Or, if after her child was born, if it would better to cut her losses.

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