October 9, 2013

In Which Riona Is Not the Only One Tired

April 19, 1183

"I suppose she'll see her parents again soon."

It was blunt and thoughtless and maybe a little bitter, but Riona could have expected worse from Danthia. Some nonsense about Lileina missing the wedding tomorrow, she'd feared--as if a dying girl confined to hospice in a convent, a skeletal ten-year-old, head shorn having lost the strength to support her own silky red tresses, was still obligated to attend her sister's wedding.

Riona had half a mind to miss Danthia's nuptials herself. Everyone else would be at the wedding, if only out of sympathy for the plight of Farilon's family, and surely Lileina would appreciate it if she saw someone tomorrow, at least someone who wasn't one of the nuns who tended her? Who knew how many days she had now. How few, more like.

That said, Danthia was just as like to be alone, despite it being her wedding. She had no close friends--not that Riona had to think too hard about why. Their mother could not dress her and prepare her because their mother was dead, as was their stepmother. Their father could not walk her down the aisle because he was dead as well. Their brothers would attend, but she'd never been close with either of them, and whatever gradual illness had laid its claim to Lileina, Riona suspected it had now made its mark on Hjalmar as well.

She had their grandparents, of course, and she'd always been their grandfather's pet, but her grandmother had always been wary of her. Something's not quite right with that girl, Riona had heard her tell one of her uncles once, shortly after their father had remarried, after some incident between Danthia and Svanhild of which Riona had never learned the details. Not right at all.

"Father will enjoy having her back. He did love her best."

"Father didn't hate you," Riona muttered, though even if Danthia heard, she wouldn't believe it. Riona wasn't sure she did either. Their father had not wanted more than two children, but as heir to Valcria, he'd needed a son. Riona's being born a girl hadn't been a major hindrance, but Danthia's had required the birth of a third child--their brother Searle, the birth that had killed their mother.

Whether he'd known it or not, their father had never forgiven Danthia that.

"Pity, though. I did like having a little sister."

"I know you did." Satisfied with the flames, Riona stepped away from the hearth and joined Danthia by Lileina's bedside. She'd compromise, perhaps--attend the wedding, make an appearance at the reception, leave early to tend to Lileina. And possibly Primus would be willing to fore-go the wedding and keep Lileina company before Riona could get away? Her husband had never liked Danthia much...

"I've heard that miracles happen in Naroni. A pity that Farilon is no longer heir, or I'd be going there. I could have brought Lileina with me."

"Mmm. I don't know." She didn't want to say it in case Lileina woke, but Riona doubted she'd survive the trip. "But it's a nice thought."

And for not-so-nice thoughts, she would have gnawed off her own arm if that was the only reason Danthia wished her betrothed was still heir.

"You'll still be a princess."

"An honorary title. You'll have higher standing as baroness, once Primus's father and grandfather are gone."

"I'm not wishing either of them dead." With Lileina as she was, and Hjalmar less than a decade behind, there would be enough death in the coming years. "Don't go wishing that of Farilon's brother and nephew." Though in truth, not much of what she'd heard of King Ietrin was flattering.

"Wouldn't dream of it." Danthia leaned to the side, looking past Riona to their sister on the bed. Danthia was the opposite of squeamish, but even the iciest could tire of death. "But unusual circumstances arise on occasion. It wouldn't be horrible to hope for that."

"No. But don't be disappointed if it doesn't happen." Riona didn't need to glance back at Lileina to prove her point. Danthia had always responded best to unbroken, unblinking eye contact. "You're still marrying a prince. You'll never go hungry, and you have your health. You could have it a hell of a lot worse."



Van said...

I've already had a few entries (thank you, entrants!), but there's still plenty of time for university name submissions, so I'll be plugging the link again:


This probably won't be the last you see of this particular URL. ;)

Ekho said...

Typo at the start^

Poor little girl, someone ought to have a little faith and take her to Naroni!
Hmm, I think Riona's grandmother had the right idea about Danthia. She's unnerving.

Mimus said...

Heavens, Danthia is unnerving!
I suddenly felt like watching/reading an episode of Criminal Minds. O.o'
Danthia is even worse than Deian and Remiel in her coldness, it creeps me out. That woman is a psychopath, methinks.
Poor Lileina, being the one with the illness. Sounds almost like cancer, but maybe I only think so because she has no hair anymore...
This family is really screwed up, but not too surprising for the Sadiels, sadly.
The Sadiels of Naroni seem to be the only stable Sadiel-families...

Van said...

Ekho: D'oh! Thanks for the catch!

Alas, Lileina probably wouldn't survive the trip to Naroni at this point. :(

We'll actually be seeing Riona's grandmother (also named Riona) soon-ish, though it won't be in the context of Danthia. We've actually met her before, a loooong time ago--when Lileina and Cambrin got married (yeesh, that was ancient history! Renata was pregnant with the triplets, and Searle Kemorin was conceived at that wedding).

Mimus: When I first conceived of Danthia's character, I imagined someone with almost zero empathy (though, note the "almost"). I have no plans for her to go on any killing sprees, certainly not on a Criminal Minds level of sadistic, but she's not exactly the sort who considers other people.

I haven't decided exactly what Lileina's illness is, but I don't think it matters too much. She and her full brother rolled up similarly short lifespans (pre-teens/early teens), so I decided that they had a genetic illness or susceptibility inherited from their mother's side. I don't know if their mother was only a carrier or if she had it too and just died later, but she did die of something.

Yeah, Naroni seemed to luck out in getting Ovrean and Tarien for Sadiel brothers, though from what I've got in mind so far, the Marsden branch is also fairly stable. This branch, the Koradril branch (and I'm including the grandparents here because Koradril was the oldest son)... yeah, not so much. First the mother dies, then the stepmother dies, then the father kills himself, and now Lileina's sick and Danthia's got some severe psychological problems going on. Riona's life probably stabilized quite a bit when she got married, and that's saying something because her husband is an Andronei. :S

Mimus said...

I wasn't expecting Danthia to go on a killing spree, but I just get that creepy wipe from her รก la unsub. Some are very similar to her in their behavior.

Maybe diabetes? Before insulin injections came along, those who had it died very early and it's possible to inherit it. If I remember correctly, the patients also got very thin and at the end were unable to move much.
Of course, since it's 1283, no one would know what it was, so you have all the possibilities. XP

I guess, the farther you are away from the main branch of those families, the better for you.
And maybe the Sadiels (Koradril-branch) are even worse than the Androneis...
On top of that, Haldred seems to try a bit of a turn around in his old years, what with trying to apologize.

Van said...

Oh, I won't deny that there's something off about Danthia. :S

Diabetes is a possibility! I won't commit to a concrete answer before I have to (if I ever do; like you said, they wouldn't know what it is in-story), but based on what we know of Lileina's illness, that is a good guess.

The main branches do seem to be where most of the drama originates, at least in most cases (though the Royal Family of Dovia seems mostly sane). And yeah, no matter how messed up the Androneis are, at least they're a (relatively) small clan; everybody and their dog is connected to the Sadiels, and there are enough of them that there are bound to be major issues.

Haldred... well, he knows it's too late to undue most of the damage he's done, but he does seem to be in atoning mode. Also, Riona's husband (Tarien's eldest son... so two barons after Haldred, assuming everyone dies in the expected order) is fairly laid-back.

Ekho said...

Danthia could be a psychopath. They have little to no empathy for others, but are often charismatic and charming, with the only emotion they feel being a sadistic kind of pride/egotism for themselves. I could definitely see her playing the part well ;)

Van said...

She does fit the lack of empathy part, though we haven't seen much charm or charisma from her. Then again, we've only seen her with her sisters (who she knows well and wouldn't have to "act" for) and her betrothed (who she's probably assumed would be thinking along the same lines she is).