June 21, 2013

In Which Roderick Sees the Last

December 31, 1181

"You know, Roderick, I'm quite glad you talked me out of throwing that New Year's Eve party." Laralita let her head fall to Roderick's shoulder in a deliberate, practiced slouch befitting of a queen, the crown on her head not slipping in the slightest. Roderick could not have asked for a better end-of-year companion than a woman who made poor poster so regal. "Who would we invite, really? Severin and that peasant he married and their undisciplined mob? I'm sure you would have loved to see your older daughters, but Camaline would have brought Sparron and Octavius, and of course Leara would have had Lorn's entire family come. Celina is lovely, of course, and Ovrean is my own dear brother, but I never know what to say about that undead son of hers. And of course I haven't spoken with Tarien since that woman was so rude with you.

"Besides." A charming giggle chimed from her lips. "If they all have their little separate New Year's Eve parties, then we get to host a magnificent New Year's Day. Oh, Roderick! Everyone will be trying all year to top it, and none of them will--until we outdo ourselves at Christmas!"

Christmas? That did leave several empty months. "An excellent plan, dearest... but what about Midsummer?"

"Oh! I forgot about Midsummer. Perhaps we will let someone else try and fail with that." She laughed, and he did the same. If his count was right, it was Severin's turn to host Midsummer. That would be a spectacular failure, to the point where it would be painful if it weren't so horribly amusing. Severin ought to have known better than consorting with the help, or he might have landed a wife who could throw a decent occasion--not that every man could be lucky enough to find a Laralita, of course. "It will make Christmas even grander."

"It will be the best party yet--even better than tomorrow's." Roderick kissed her on the forehead, just in time to look up for the knock on the door. "Who is it?"

"Master Finessa, your majesty. Your son wishes for you to sample his choice of wines for tomorrow before you retire."

Ah! Good! Ietrin knew little about wine and Roderick wasn't sure he could trust his choice blindly. He'd been generous in allowing the boy to have his pick in the first place. "You may enter, then."

The wine master--and thank God tonight was his last, as he was surely no expert!--entered, a curt-yet-respectful nod in place of a bow; Roderick assumed that was only due to the bottle he carried. "Your majesties. Would you care for a sip too, my queen?"

"Thank you, but I couldn't. I prefer not to drink so soon before bed." How ladylike! The Arydaths and Noras of the world would not have abstained from the fine wine they'd coveted as peasants, Roderick was sure of it--even if it was wasted on their palates. "Is it true that you are leaving us tonight, Master Finessa?"

"It is, your highness." He crossed the study floor and placed on the table the two goblets he'd brought, then uncorked the bottle and took to filling one cup. "I have an aunt in Italy who is very ill, and I'm the only family she has left; the decent thing would be to go and care for her, wouldn't you say?"

"Admirable," Roderick agreed. And not just because it paved the way for him to hire someone better, though that was in truth his main concern. "Your aunt is lucky to have you."

"You flatter me, your majesty." He sealed the bottle and took the empty cup in hand. So that was it--the last that Roderick would see of yet another servant. It never did get any more difficult. "Best of luck in the New Year."

"You as well," Laralita bade him, out of politeness rather than obligation. "Safe travels, Master Finessa."

"Thank you kindly, my queen."

And with that, he'd shuffled out of the room, shutting the door behind him, leaving Roderick once again in more pleasurable company.

"Well." Laralita propped herself onto his lap and planted a peck to his lips. No doubt Ietrin's choice of wine would not taste so sweet. "I believe I shall retire now, but I'd like for you to join me before I fall asleep. I don't plan on dreaming before I've had my last kiss of this year and my first of the next."

"And I shan't have you greeting your dreams without my granting that wish." He eased her off of him gently and watched her trim figure as she rose. All those children later and still with the body of a maid of eighteen. The Lord had owed him after Geneva, and He'd certainly delivered. "I'll be with you after my wine."

"I'll hold you to your word."

Oh, that wonderful, wonderful woman! "My dear, I am a king; I always keep my word."

*




NEXT CHAPTER:

12 comments:

Van said...

So, things are ridiculous here--tons of flooding. Left work early today to get across the river before all the bridges closed (from what I've heard, I left just in time). My family is in an area that is not at risk (high ground, far enough away from the nearest river), but much of the city was evacuated, as well as several nearby towns. The rains have finally stopped, but things are going to be strange and sad around here for a while.

That said, this is the last post of 1181. After a stressful day of storing drinking water and waiting for messages from everyone I know to confirm that they're okay, it's a relief to move on in some way or another.

Ann said...

Heh, always huh? Well, perhaps we can count his intentions as good at least, even though he won't be fullfilling that promise.

I wonder what Laralita will make of that. Perhaps she'll be the one to find him? Poor her, if that's true, little as she deserves the sympathy in my eyes. (Honestly I just wanted to strangle them both there. Just for spite Nora should make Midsummers into a hell of a party!)

In other words: Good riddance!

Van said...

To be fair, there aren't many instances in which Roderick hasn't kept his word, at least since becoming king--it's just that he normally takes the unreasonable option right away and stubbornly sticks to it.

At least a handful of questions will be answered in the next post, but I don't know if Midsummer will end up being a huge concern of Nora's, besides ensuring that there's plenty of alcohol to go around.

Winter said...

Van, I'm so glad it sounds like you and yours are okay up there despite the circumstances. It looks absolutely horrible!

As much bad as I could say about Roderick and Laralita, they are just right for each other. And since they're together, nobody else has to suffer them, and they can puff each other up for all eternity. Or, rather, they did until now, it seems.

Unlikable as Laralita sometimes is, I was a little shocked at Fred offering her a glass of the wine. You probably can't/won't answer this yet, but was he just going to leave Laralita's fate up to whether she wanted a drink or not? Maybe questioning the morals of an assassin is stupid, but you made him so likeable....!

Awesome chapter.

gayl said...

Oh crap. 1182 should be interesting...

Van said...

Winter: Thanks! As far as I'm aware, my friends and family are all fine. The southeast looks fine as long as you don't venture near the river, but yeah, some of those downtown/river-side districts are more suitable for boats than cars right now. :S

If ever there were a pair of "soulmates", it's Roderick and Laralita. You're right--not only do they puff each other up, but they keep each other from being someone else's problem.

I'm glad you noticed that Fred offered Laralita a drink. I don't know how much I want to say about that right now, but note that she gave a reason for not wanting a drink. And then note that Fred has been here since at least October. ;)

Gayl: Yep. And here I was, thinking 1181 was a crazyfest... :S

gayl said...

I meant to say something about the evacuations...glad you and yours seem to be unscathed.

Obviously Fred (Rick) knew she wouldn't have a drink but not asking would have been rude...I wonder if anyone will suspect Ietrin of killing the king...or if they will even know it was poison...

Van said...

Thanks! Sadly, not everyone was so lucky. There is much rebuilding to come in the area.

Fred has been around long enough to know Laralita's patterns. It was interesting that this was Ietrin's choice of wine...

More to be revealed in the next post. Stay tuned.

gayl said...

I know, I saw some of the images. My publisher lives in Deer Run. I'm not sure he knows if his place is alright or not.

Van said...

Yikes! Hopefully everything is okay!

morgaine2005 said...

Glad to hear that you're ok, Van. That flooding sounds awful.

And ... *sigh* RIP, Roderick. You were a terrible king, but you made a great court jester as long as you didn't realize you were the joke. And I'm sure your wife and children (except maybe Ietrin) will miss you if no one else will.

... Frankly, I hope no one will. Because if Roderick is badly missed ... that can only mean Ietrin is worse as a king ... *shudders*

The King is dead. Long live future Queen Dea!

Van said...

Thanks! It was and still is awful, but I was one of the lucky ones.

Roderick the court jester. XD Well, I think Ietrin would miss Roderick at least somewhat, for all Roderick annoys him. He is his father, after all, and he could have had a much worse father (though he also could have had a much better one).

I don't know what to say about King Ietrin. I'm sure he'll be more competent than Roderick, but I doubt his personality will win him any points with anyone.