November 15, 2009

In Which Octavius Finds Nothing Profound

October 16, 1163

"She was a good woman."

"That she was."

"Oswald must be a wreck."

"That he is. He loved her so."

It shamed Octavius that he had no better response than a nod. He could not claim to have known his sister-in-law well--Athalia and Medea, after all, had never been close--but she was someone he would have liked to have furthered his acquaintance with. They had exchanged the occasional letter, both before and after Medea's passing, and of course they had spoken whenever they met, but there had always been this unspoken awkwardness between them, this painful awareness that the only thing that connected them was his wife, her sister.

He had thought that they might have become friends following his marriage to Holladrin. Perhaps they had, so well as people could become friends through mere correspondence. Athalia had been Holladrin's best friend, and that, he figured, might have eased their stiff formalities, even if it would never dispel the shadows that loomed between them.

Ah, but it was selfish to waste such thoughts on himself; it was Athalia's husband and children who deserved his sympathy, and of course, Holladrin herself.

"I shall write him a letter," he told Rudolphus with a sigh. "Would you mind delivering it yourself? Or if that would be too much trouble, I could always send a messenger."

Rudolphus nodded, unsmiling as ever--not that Octavius blamed him in this instance. "It wouldn't be a problem. I'm spending the night at my brother's castle; have your steward bring me the letter tomorrow morning."

"All right."

The other man sighed, his blue eyes somber and quiet, his lips tight and grim, as though he wanted nothing more than to fall asleep and never wake. "Good luck breaking the news to Holladrin when she wakes from her nap. I would do it myself, but I've never been good at the whole sympathy thing, and I imagine she would rather hear it from you in any case."

How was it that each spoken word contributed to the silence of the room? "I will tell her."

"It's always the good ones, isn't it?" mused Rudolphus mournfully. "Those who deserve nothing but pure happiness meet such early ends, while the most horrible of us all reach a creaking old age."

Octavius took a moment to consider this. The study blurred, faces of loved ones dancing in front of his face: Holladrin, his children, his friends, brothers, nephews and nieces... finally, the swirling forms and colors settled back to the gloom of the office, Rudolphus staring at him expectantly. Perhaps the other man thought he might say something profound. In truth, he could not; there was nothing profound in any of this.

"I should hope that you are wrong," he muttered at last. "I would not wish to linger on while all those I love die before my eyes."

NEXT CHAPTER:

7 comments:

Dinuriel said...

Since the cause of death didn't come up in the post, I'll say it now: Athalia died giving birth to twins. She rolled up the random death date of October 9, 1163 (it's about a week's worth of travel from Dovia to Naroni), and I noticed that considering the year, there is a lack of childbirth-related deaths in this story, so this is one of those pregnancies that was rigged and not random.

Penelope said...

Holy poop, Van, someone is either dying or being born every other chapter and in this one, both happened!

Will Octavius then live to be a sad old man with nothing but his memories of loved ones passed? And why is it so easy for me to imagine that happening to him?

Phoenix said...

That last line made me want to grab LOTR and watch them all over again! It's such a Gandalf thing to say!

Man, that totally sucks for Athalia!:(

Dinuriel said...

Pen: Heheheheh, funny how that works.

I can't seem to recall Octavius's lifespan at the moment, but I don't think he's one of the few who makes it past seventy or eighty. But he does kind of seem like the kind of guy who would just go on and die of old age as opposed to someone who would die suddenly, quickly, and young.

Phoenix: I miss LOTR. I watched it on the internet a few weekends ago, but it's just not the same as it is with the home theatre system :(

Yeah, poor Athalia. At least she did have a good life though--loving husband, happy kids, good relationship with her family (with the obvious exception of Medea).

I'm actually feeling pretty bad for Cambrin about now. He lost both his sisters in two years :(

Gayl said...

I just loved the description at the end of all those images and colors dancing in front of Octavius. That was an amazing visual. But seriously, what do you say when someone like that dies? There are no words really.

And your preview pic! Interesting!

S.B. said...

I'm always behind...

Octavius - he does seem like someone who will end up with no one. And what do you say when someone like that dies? "She was a good woman" doesn't seem quite adequate. And sometimes the bad do die along with the good.

Your preview shot is fascinating!

Wonderful update!

Dinuriel said...

Gayl: Thanks :)

Yeah, there just really aren't any words for it. I'm sure Holladrin had a more obviously emotional reaction, since they were really close, but I don't particularly blame Octavius for being totally dumbstruck in this instance.

S.B.: Thanks :)

He does seem that way. It's probably just because he's such a passive, unadventurous personality that he's not really at high-risk for any freak accidents. When he goes, it'll probably be age or illness, or possibly age in conjunction with illness.

Of course, he probably still has a few years left, so I could be wrong... *whistles*