Joined: 04 Jan 2006
Location: the land of corn
|Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2007 5:52 pm Post subject: response to linnea's letter
|The strange man, that...Akizu...had left but moments before. Lord Devon read over the letter one last time, then set it down. He turned to call Linnea's mother only to find her looking upon him, the letter in her dainty honey-colored hand. He shook his head a little and rose stiffly, leaving her to it as he called Tam to bring certain boxes to the library from his study.
The muse was content to focus on the bit of absurd pink paper as he settled his arrangements. The daft young boy looked on her as he entered with the heavy boxes, and paused a moment, as he always did in her presence. He hardly blamed the lad, for She was wonderous in all her glory, so flawlessly beautiful, and filled the room in a way no human woman could. He set the boxes near the table, then tipped his cap to her and left in a slightly more respectful hurry than had been his habit. Tam was learning quickly, perhaps he would be an acceptable replacement for Giles one day.
He settled, drawing one of the boxes into his lap.
"She told them about the combs. She TOLD. How foolish did you raise the girl to be, Thomas?" She was settled sideways in the armchair. Her shining violet hair fell in waves over the side, nearly touching the carpet as she was. As shameless as always, uncaring that her slender legs were quite exposed, the folds of her flowing white skirts barely covering to the knees while she reclined so. The ocean in her voice sang of nighttime storms, of black and turbulent seas. "And this idea of hers...Ridiculous! I thought humans were more sensible than this, anyway."
Her flawless features were shadowed slightly by the bit of bright pink paper, with its rampant kittens. Her eyes were dark as her voice.
"Hers, though, assuredly hers. In perfect health. I felt her a moment. A moment, and a moment again, and then nothing. Nothing. Hardly long enough to tell if I could reach her or not. Idiot child! Truly yours, nothing of MINE, no part of ME, would be so blind." The smile had actually slipped. Only thrice before had he witnessed this, that delicate, taunting and yet wonderful expression changing. Souring.
Lord Devon made no reply, turning back to the box before him and beginning to sort through the collected papers and worn journals contained therein.
"You seem terribly calm, Thomas, considering she is yours. More and more, I wonder if it was a mistake, leaving her to you. You are clearly incapable of handling the simple task of caring for the girl."
"Her name," he said in a distracted tone, quiet, half spoken into the collection of papers and assorted little twists of this and that which filled the box. "is Linnea. After her grandmother." He kept his eyes on his work, opening one of the journals and taking a few moments to shuffle through the pages.
"Her name," She replied, and the ocean in her voice had become gray, bitter, icy. "...is something even YOU must not know. She is far too weak for any mere man to be trusted with such a control, and far too much a human to understand the true meaning of it."
"Mmm." He replied, seeming to ignore her. He balanced the book against his bad hand, setting it on the table.
"For all your fussing over the child, Linnea if you MUST...you seem terribly unconcerned." The ice was still there, in that even, beautiful voice that conjured such thrills that any onlooker would have wondered at how still the man seated across from her could be.
"You would have said, I am sure, if there was any trouble." This, too, was said calmly, distractedly, as Lord Devon began examining a sheaf of papers bound together with a bit of ribbon. "I can hardly imagine you restraining yourself from gloating at my failure." And his voice was as distant as hers, if without its thrills.
"Such confidence." And the little smile was back. There was a touch of turbulence in that ocean, still, but it was hardly the storm it had been moments before. "Such silly creatures, you humans are. She is troubled, yes." The page crinkled softly in her hands, as she turned to look on Devon. It still shaded her face slightly. "Even here, one can taste she tells less than she feels. There is a playfulness, she was honest in the change not being out of fear, but she seems to have a sense of..."
There was a pause, as though She were struggling with a singularly human concept.
"...fear that she might be punished, of all things. And there is most distinctly a strong confusion in her words about this Miss Miteka. The image tells me nothing, merely some human girl...a vague idea of power, though not held over the child. She thinks far too much of this little nanny you have secured her, though I imagine even you can see that, Thomas. And she thinks the lady of the house incompetent, perhaps mad. Kind, but mad. Should I be offended that this Rhyedeen minds her of me?" And there was laughter in the wavelets of her tone, there was sunlight at how very silly the child was being.
At the word 'troubled,' Lord Devon's work was forgotten. He watched her, quietly, as she rambled on, her eyes flashing with her shifting moods, the room flickering about her, reality attendant her whims. She'd a different set of combs, now, the little gold and pearl ones he had bought her in happier times. No illusion of the old, not since she had told him of her little ploy. It was a way of taunting him, he knew it, her teasing about her place, her wearing of little trinkets bought out of love, or worship, or some similar madness.They were hers, though, and he could hardly demand that she leave them as untouched as he had left her rooms since she had gone.
"Incompetent. That's promising." He sighed. "But does she feel safe? Truly safe? Or was that a load of rubbish to keep me from worrying?"
"She hardly attended this page for more than an hour, Thomas. I am not a miracle-worker." She let her head rest against the chair arm, her violet ringlets pooling on the carpet. The combs caught the light, pearls reflecting that rich, royal hue.
"She...trusts her guardian that she cannot be reached. There is a sense she feels...somewhat trapped, unable to leave even if she so chose. Hardly a surprise, she gets her gifts from me, and if I cannot reach her, how can she reach out? She is nervous. She did not rest well. Here..." She paused, brushing a finger over the purple ink, indicating a name. "...she dwelt on the one whose name that is, and I can see why she should refer to his compatriot as a beast. Do you truly wish me to continue?"
Her voice was calm, here. Little more than ripples under a still gray sky.
Lord Devon's pale eyes returned to the box. He returned to examining the sheaf of papers. "Countermagic. Wards. Know you anything I should be including?"
"How did you get so much? I know I never told you enough to fill so many pages." She swung her long legs over the arm, stood fluidly, and glided to his side, daintily resting a slim hand on his shoulder. She was fully aware of what her touch did, the smoky, sensual intoxication he must be feeling at that contact.
"You tell me. I am sure you know the whole of it." He smiled up at her, wryly, then returned to the box.
She looked amused. "You consulted other humans. And so many. Collection of tales, indeed. What I wonder at is why you would trust in such things."
"I am writing a collection of tales, though. I might well have some occupation to pass the time. It was my intent to ask Linnea to assist me, before all this rubbish came to pass. She would have enjoyed it, I am sure. The girl will be quite a scholar when she is grown. Perhaps she has no brilliance you can admire, but she is as clever as any man I have met, and gifted." He found himself feeling a little defensive.
"My sister would appreciate her." Her perfumed hair fell across his shoulders as she looked over them, considering the box. "I prefer more artistic endeavors. Though how do you suppose the girl should be a scholar if you intend to pass her off to some lesser man? I should hope you will require him to be your equal, at any rate. At least your equal before you let yourself fall."
She reached over his shoulder, sifted through the pile, held out another little bundle of letters tied with ribbon. "These. I would wonder at the bloodline, considering." And there was laughter in her voice, playful rollicking sunlit laughter. "She fancied you." And this was all the brighter, derisive wavelets.
"She was seventeen. Even if we were not still technically married, I am not so crude as to be taken in by a girl barely older than our daughter." His voice was stiff. "Intelligent, though. And well-informed, if not terribly good with words."
"Poor little thing. Sent her to a place with bells." And her voice stirred with dark waters. "Could they not tell? With eyes like that?"
"She was quite ill. I wondered, after Daniel's widow sent her on, at the change in letters. I suspected, though I am surprized, I should have hardly seen his first wife as quite your equal." And here, the room brightened with even greater derision on her part.
"That? My equal? Hah! Not at all, now that I focus. A watered-down child of a child of this land. He likely never knew, though by her talk, she did. Perhaps he never believed. You Englishmen are like that." And the brilliance would have been dazzling in her voice, if he let it touch him.
"Anything else?" He sifted through the stacks, held up another book. "This, perhaps?"
She took it delicately. "A few little problems. But the bulk is respectable enough. How long were you intending on your project? You were young."
"As though you could not answer that yourself, as well. Mother told me all manner of stories from the time I was very small. It was my intention to collect such stories from boyhood. Is that truly a surprise, considering at the great age of twenty I was still looking for faeries? Little did I know how intolerable the whole lot of you are." His tone was droll, the smile he turned on her wry.
She trailed her hand across his cheek. "Thomas, I am disappointed at you. Sour grapes. You cannot fool me, you know that. Being stubborn as a mule does not close you to me."
He cleared his throat. "You can amuse yourself at my expense LATER. Kindly do me a favor. Mark the pages of most value for Linnea. You know what truly works better than I."
"Do you know why I stayed as long as I did, Thomas?" Cool, dark, moonlit waters rippled in her voice. the room seemed closer, the scent of her heavier, the feel of her overwhelming. He closed his mind to it, as best he could.
"And this. This one, for certain." He lifted out a very old journal, now, with a leather strap wrapped about it to hold it closed, pages yellowed, the scent of age and wear heavy about it. His hand trembled slightly as he set it down."Great-Grandfather's. They all imagined he was balmy, my brothers, Father."
She trailed a hand along his chest. He cleared his throat. "Mark the pages, please. Unless you fancy her remaining unreachable indefinitely."
The silken curls flowed across him as she moved, kissing him a moment, then standing fluidly. She drifted back to the chair, taking up the worn book as she did so. There was a kind of triumph in those eyes, like the dancing, sunlit sea.
He was a little breathless for a moment. No mere human stubbornness could entirely resist the sheer intoxication of a Muse's kiss. However, once he had shaken off the dizzying, drugging bliss, he began calmly picking through the box again. "Thank you."
He could feel her laughter, the flicker of the room. The intensity of her presence. But he would not, could not, give her the pleasure of showing his discomposure. And of course, of course he wondered why she had stayed, when he could no longer create. He would hardly give her the satisfaction of asking, though. It was her way of baiting him, tormenting him for her own near-feline amusement. Horrible, heartless, entirely wonderful creature that she was.
She would be gone soon enough. Linnea would be home, and that haunting, beautiful, untouchable wonder would leave as coolly as it had gone before. There seemed to be no question of seeing the girl, speaking with her, on Her part. Perhaps he had lied, when he said She truly cared. It was a wonder she fretted so little about the combs, something she had only slipped from those tresses when she lay down beside him in years past. Because she trusted him.
Hopefully, the girl would heed his directions, and She would be able to reach her. He was not fool enough to wish her to draw Linnea back...as confounding as this all was, he was inclined to agree she was safest elsewhere. What good would it do to have his daughter brought home to him, only to have her snatched away again, and used ill by some madman?
But to know, to truly know, through more than nervous writing that could lie as easily as the girl herself when she suspected some delight might be snatched from her, or the words of that creature...no human, and transfigured, so She assured him, filled with a being she could not, in her knowledge of the otherlands, explain...that she was safe. That meant the world to him. She was clever, and kind...perhaps in anger he had claimed she had nothing of her mother's grace, yet the child was something amazing, a thing of wonder, more than just the last lingering part of Her he was permitted to keep near.
He had never thought he could care about another's well-being so, until the day the little red-haired babe had been settled gently into his arms by Sara, his wife looking more vexed than pleased, still upset, more than like, at the pain of birthing a human child. She was well, Linnea must be well. He hoped to God she was as well as she said.
His former Lady's presence was still heavy in the air, even as She sorted through pages, slipping in markers here and there. It occured to him now he had forgotten to provide anything, yet she had something, in her usual way. Hardly surprizing. At least she seemed mostly distracted from irritating him, for the moment. He knew better than to dream. She had sworn herself to heed his call if ever Linnea were in need, and Linnea was most assuredly in need. He had humiliated himself to call Her. For no other reason did she sit there, fingers lightly ruffling through pages, pausing only to tuck another mark in.
This was why he ignored her teasing, pushed back his desire to put human emotion to her, imagine she might share that madness, that worship, that love he held for her. He shook his head, continuing to skim the aquired lore of twenty-odd years for whatever would help his little girl come home to him.