July 28, 2015

In Which Vulcran Acknowledges the Zest

July 3, 1193

"Papa!" Agathe shuffled across the bench and snuggled up to Vulcran's side. He had no idea where she'd learned to be so affectionate, or how she hadn't unlearned it. Her mother had always brushed her aside, and he himself just couldn't manage enough of the touchy-feely to more than tolerate it. He loved his daughter--at least, in so much as a useless old drunk like him could love--but it just wasn't in his nature to hug and cuddle.

Neither was it in his nature to tell his daughter that her mother was dead. So, if he had to tell her that, he might as well hug and cuddle her too. "Agathe... sweetie..."

How to even start? He barely remembered firsthand just what had happened; he'd been refreshed by his steward only an hour prior. He'd come home from the inn the night before, about half a drink away from not being able to keep himself atop his horse. He'd stumbled into the castle, about to drag himself into bed, when Eumelia's maid had approached him, screaming. She'd dragged him and the steward to Eumelia's corners, where they'd found her cold body, clothed and meticulous as ever. Beside her lay a bottle of sacramental wine, plus whatever poison she'd stirred into it; his steward had sent it to a local apothecary for examination.

It had only been a matter of time, he'd supposed once he had a sober moment to process it all. She had always been more interested in spending time with God than with any mortal, though Vulcran's sickest imaginings couldn't conjure a deity who'd find Eumelia good company.

"Papa?"

It was his own damn fault, really. Ought to have released her to a convent years ago. His daughters might not have been born, but at least he wouldn't have known that heartache of Riona's death. And at least Searle might have been somewhat well-adjusted, or at least as well adjusted as a son of Vulcran Sadiel could be.

"So... what were you doing here in the chapel?"

He regretted the question as soon as he asked it. The chapel was where Eumelia could usually be found, and the first place Agathe would go had she gotten it into her head to seek her out.

But, he'd worried for naught. "Just praying.

"I don't know why God wants us to pray in this dingy old room, though. I think a field of flowers would feel closer to God--but Mama would call that blasphemous."

"Maybe. I think I prefer your field, though." Not that Vulcran was much of a praying man at all.

"Thank you! The way I see it, God made fields. Stuffy old priests made chapels."

Stuffy old priests. Such an obvious zest for life.

How had he and Eumelia managed to make this girl?

"Agathe... I have to tell you something..."

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