December 7, 2013

In Which Searle Mourns as He Has for Years

December 25, 1183

Merry fucking Christmas.

It was only a little past dawn, and that was the sole thing for which Searle was grateful at the moment. The steward had woken him a few hours prior and given him the news in the study while Ren and the children still slept, all the while not knowing that anything was wrong. Searle dreaded having to tell them, especially his nieces.

Those poor little girls knew they didn't have a daddy any more. But how could he crush the hope that one day, that might have changed?

He should have known. He'd been shocked, sure... but he hadn't been surprised. Some part of him must have been expecting that some chambermaid would one day walk into his brother's bedroom to find him dangling from the rafters. Ietrin just hadn't been the same since Ramona died.

The steward had brought the will. Ietrin had no sons, and his daughters were very young, so he'd left almost everything to Searle, with a portion set aside for their mother and half-siblings and instructions for his daughters' dowries. Or, Laralita and Ramona's dowries, at least. A brief footnote gifted Ramona's twin to a nunnery.

Not "Renata". Not "Ietrin's third daughter". Ramona's twin.

The elder Ramona had died giving birth to the twins. The first twin, who would later be named for her mother, had been an easy delivery, but the second had been breached. The baby had barely made it out alive, and Ramona herself had not been so lucky. Ietrin had never gotten over that, nor had he ever forgotten his grudge against his youngest, despite the fact that she hadn't done a damn thing.

Searle remembered the day he and Ren had ridden out to Ietrin's to take the girls into their care, when everyone from Ietrin's mother-in-law to King Oswald himself had agreed that his intervention would be for the best. The twins had been about a year and a half. Ramona, while sweet-natured, had been plump and spoiled, dressed more finely than Searle's own children, Ietrin's choice staff at her every beck and call for all she could not yet beck and call; Renata had been a scrawny, near-mute little bundle of loneliness, every cry she dared venture falling on deaf ears. If the girl's grandmother and aunts and uncles would have stood for it, Ietrin probably would have let her die.

The girls had been in Searle's care for over two years now. They received the same levels of care and attention, and as a result, were now more or less developmentally equal; Renata was even a little more clever than Ramona was, though he wouldn't have felt right saying so aloud. Both girls seemed happy, or as happy as they could have been with a dead mother and a deadbeat father. The issues only arose when Ietrin visited, when he doted over Ramona and Laralita while Renata's older cousins tried their darnedest to make up for her father's disinterest.

Perhaps it was wrong to disrespect the wishes of the dead, but Searle had told the steward to pass along the will to his head secretary, who had once earned a dubious living as a forger. He'd provided instructions to duplicate the will exactly, except for the part about the girls' futures; that was to allot an equal dowry to each daughter, with no mention of any nunnery. If Renata--or either of her sisters--chose to take the veil, then Searle would support that decision, but if she didn't, then he could and would dower her himself.

He would not see his three-year-old niece more or less exiled from the family, cloistered away to forever atone for the apparent sin of her birth. If that was what Ietrin would have insisted for her, then perhaps his suicide had been for the better. Searle would not mourn the man Ietrin had become, the bitter, useless wreck who blamed all of his problems on a toddler.

He would mourn his little brother, as he had now for years.

Searle stood, making his way out of the study and toward the stairs to the stables. The untroubled of the continent would be waking soon, and he supposed he'd best break the news to his mother himself.



Van said...


Anonymous said...

Merry fucking Christmas indeed ...

Poor twins. Poor (little) Laralita, too. Poor Ietrin, even, so depressed and unable to move on.

Well, poor Ietrin Minara, I don't think I'll ever be able to force out a "Poor Ietrin Jamoran" without needing to get my head checked afterward ...

And poor Searle especially. Having to pick up the pieces from that. I have no doubt that Ietrin's children will be in excellent hands with him (and Ren, to smooth over the edges of Searle being Searle). And I WHOLEHEARTEDLY support forging the will. Ietrin should not have any more control of his daughters' lives beyond the grave than is necessary. And he shouldn't be allowed to single out poor Renata like that.

Searle's shoulders are more than broad enough to handle even this, but I can't help but think he would be much happier if they weren't.

(And ... when you said for big Laralita's fortune that she would be outliving two more of her kids ... is Ietrin one of the two? Or might we lose more of Laralita's kids? Yes, I'm reading and enjoying them a lot, but I'm not commenting because I don't have a Tumblr.)

Van said...

Yeah, that whole family does deserve the sympathy, Ietrin included; he was dealt some grave misfortunes in life, even if he clearly didn't handle all of them well.

Searle and Ren will be excellent foster parents to their nieces--or continue to be so, since they've had them for a while now. I couldn't see Searle going with the original will, and frankly, I don't blame him in the slightest for it and probably would have done the same. Ietrin's daughters are young, and they have loving relatives to look after them, they each have some money (whether from their father, or from Uncle Searle)... they should be set for their childhoods with that, and no, Ietrin doesn't get a say in their adulthoods, nor is it fair to designate one of them for a different fate based on no fault of her own.

The girls will be well-loved, and they'll never want for anything financially. Searle's dowering Renata isn't even an issue. He was born a wealthy man and he's just been getting wealthier and weatlhier; even if he had six or seven more kids and all of them were girls, he'd still have no problem shelling out a dowry for his niece.

But you're right in that this is overwhelming for him, even if he can ultimately handle it. Searle would have much preferred that his sister-in-law had lived and his brother were still alive and hadn't lost the will to live and loved all of his children sufficiently and equally.

(Yes, Ietrin was one of the two.)

Mimus said...

...You know what that reminds me of right now? Of this Searle's uncle and his second daughter Danthia (for all I don't like her), even down to the suicide of the father.
It's a good thing that Searle's the one now in charge. This way we can avoid another sociopath.
I will probably never get why someone would blame a child for their mother's death. It's not like Renata asked for a breach birth.
And now I wonder, if it is okay to kick a dead, fictional character, because I sort of want to right now...

Van said...

Good catch on the Koradril comparison. ;)

Renata is definitely better off being raised by Searle. She's still young enough that she doesn't have much of a personality yet (in my mind, at least), but I'm sure she won't end up at all like Danthia. Not if Searle and Ren can help it.

I suppose that Ietrin couldn't help how he felt any more than anyone else could, but yeah, I'm with you there. Renata's mother's death was absolutely not her fault--and who knows, maybe wherever her parents are now, her mother is clarifying that for her father.

I don't see any harm in kicking dead fictional characters. They're dead and fictional, right?

Ekho said...

Well, at least now all three girls can live long lives without the limitations of their father's favoritism. In a sense I can understand Ietrin's pain, but blaming an innocent is not the healthy way to deal with it. At least Searle has the brains and the heart not to point the blame on a little girl.

Van said...

It's true, the girls will ultimately have more freedom to do what they want with their lives, at least to the extent that that's possible for a noblewoman in Medieval Dovia.

Ietrin was hit with a grave pain that he handled badly. Searle knows better than to think Ramona's death was Renata's fault, so he'll do his best to make sure that Renata doesn't start blaming herself either.

Winter said...

It's interesting that Ietrin was the one who developed the truly dangerous grudge in the end. It would be easier to tone down a tough, jaded exterior than to build one up from nothing at a moment's notice, though. I'm glad little Renata is safe from the nunnery and from growing up knowing too much about what her father thought of her. Killing himself will be quite enough trauma for any of his kids.

Searle has come a good way from playing escort to a ritual sacrifice. He's still prickly, but his decency level has shot way up. I would hate to be in his boots when he tells Laralita about Ietrin, though :/

Van said...

Interesting indeed, since he was the one who seemed to forgive and even pine for their mother while Searle wants as little to do with her as possible. But I suppose Ramona's death was the breaking point of Ietrin's already-strained psyche.

Yeah, I think the suicide will present enough daddy issues in itself. :S At least the favouritism won't be a factor any more.

Searle's not a bad guy, though he's certainly prickly and can be objective to the point of insensitivity when it doesn't involve anyone he truly loves. Breaking the news to Laralita won't be pleasant. :S

Penelope said...

You know, if I were to receive heartbreaking news, I'm pretty sure that I would not want Scary Searle to be the messenger. :O

Van said...

I can't imagine his manner of deliverance is particularly sympathetic. :S