January 21, 2014

In Which Nora Meets a Certain Standard of Honesty

July 2, 1184

Falidor had not lied. There was a girl waiting in the front room, a girl surely no older than ten or eleven, dressed in boys' mail and wanting a word with Nora's husband. But Severin was in the royal shire, putting a stop to some royal bullshit Ietrin wanted to pull, so the task of dealing with her had been left to Nora herself.

It would be easier once she had a chance to get a read of the kid. "Can I help you?"

"My lady." The girl practically leaped from the couch, grinning. Unsure, Nora tilted her head a couple degrees; usually, any business lone children came to present was bound to be unpleasant, but this child seemed much too eager to be here for that. "I heard that Lord Severin is in need of a new squire?"

That explained the armor. "That is true, yes." Interesting. Nora took a few seconds to look the girl over again. Her mail and leathers were of good quality, comparable to what the local knights and noblemen wore on excursions, but she wasn't a recognizable face--and she lacked the look of any Dovian family Nora knew. Carvallon, perhaps? No, there would have been a hint of an accent. "What is your name?"

"Ah, sorry." The girl raised her arm and rubbed at the back of her neck, like many did when they were embarrassed, but any reservation was short-lived. She didn't even show a hint of a blush. "I'm Renata Mokonri. You've met my grandmother and my father, I think."

"Renata Sadiel and Abrich Mokonri?" A nod. So Renata must have been a child of Abrich's second wife, the French noblewoman. If she took after her mother, then that explained the lack of resemblance to the rest of the Dovian families. "Yes, I see your grandmother quite often, and your father and I have met." And while Abrich had never struck her as too narrow-minded, she struggled to see him allowing his young daughter to pursue a post as a squire. "Um. Does he know that you're here?"

"He should by now. I did leave a note." She shrugged, as if she failed to see why it mattered beyond common courtesy. "Anyway, I was never allowed to be a page, but I've been training with them ever since I could hold a wooden practice sword, and I'm really good. I'm also a decent shot, and while I'm not the best rider you'll ever meet, I can hold my own in a race. I've even jousted a couple times, though my mother would have an apoplexy if she knew."

A ten-year-old jousting? What mother wouldn't? But Nora thought she could guess the other issue there. "She probably would have preferred you working on your embroidery?"

Not without a certain force, Renata laughed. "Even embroidery is too exciting as far as my mother is concerned. How could she live with herself if I was poked with a needle?"

"Ah, yes. I've come across the type." Though for good measure, she allowed herself another study of the girl. Renata was tall for her age, and she did look to have some muscle on her. Scrawnier boys had been sufficient squires. Ietrin would be pissed, of course, but no one cared and it wasn't his decision besides. Abrich and Odette might not approve, but if the elder Renata had no objections as the nearest relative in the country, perhaps there was no harm in giving her a chance before her father showed up looking for her. "Well, you'll have to speak with my husband when he returns, but I can't see him objecting."

"That's what I was told." Renata smiled--and this time, there was no conscious effort behind it. "Thank you, my lady."

"Please, call me Nora." She nudged a few strands of hair behind her ear before getting to the other half of what she'd just heard. "By the way, who is it who told--?"

"Renata? Oh my God, you actually came!"

A blue-clad blur bounded from the door and sprang upon the newcomer with a friendly embrace. Though her eyes widened, Renata didn't seem to mind too much. "You must be CeeCee."

"In the flesh." A pat to the apparent contact's back later and the pair of them broke apart. That answered that. "Mother, this is Renata. Remember? The baroness thought we might enjoy corresponding?"

"Well, now I do." And if Severin wouldn't have taken Renata on before, surely he had to now. CeeCee was by no means a shy girl, but she nonetheless struggled to find common ground with her peers. It would be good for her to have a friend who wasn't the much older Farilon, especially now that Lorn and Ovrean were hinting about a betrothal there--never mind that CeeCee was probably still a few years shy of a first course, much less marriage.

"CeeCee, your mother agrees that your father will probably consider me. Isn't that great?"

"It is, though you'll learn soon enough to trust my word on its own. I'm not much of a liar, am I, Mother?"

Nora shook her head, though she doubted that was so much due to lack of talent as it was to sheer lack of bother. "Indeed, sometimes, my daughter could stand to be a little less honest."

CeeCee smirked. Of course she'd take that as a compliment. "But the important thing is that you're here, and you'll get a fair shot--and now that you know my mother agrees, that's got to be even more reassuring. Father will absolutely let you squire for him."

Renata looked to Nora again, a hopeful gleam in her eye. Nora nodded. It wasn't up to CeeCee's standard of honesty, but a simple 'yes' answer was not a lie. Severin--CeeCee's father--would absolutely let Renata squire for him.

She didn't have the heart to point out that Renata's own father might be a different story.



Van said...

Morning update? Whaaaaaat? o_O

I'll be out most of the day, and I had this mostly finished last night anyway, so I figured this was probably the way to go.

Ann said...

Niiiice! That's wonderful for CeeCee!
I wonder what kind of face Severin will make though when he hears of it, since the girls have already decided he'll take Renata on. ^^
And oh, to be a fly on the wall when Ietrin hears of it!! He might just die of apoplexy. XD

Van said...

It's about time CeeCee had a similarly-aged friend. :)

I'm sure Severin will just be glad to have the post filled. He'll probably be a little surprised by the prospect of a girl squire, but he won't see any problem as long as she can do what she needs him to do.

Oh, Ietrin will no doubt be scandalized. XD

Ekho said...

Sorry I disappeared for awhile there :(
But I'm back, for now haha!

I have to say I really like this Renata, and I think all of the equality-minded women of Naroni will be quite ... "Smug" about this arrangement, I mean, I would be. I'd be pointing it out every time a man made a demeaning comment, especially if Renata is skilled and manages to make a fool of some noble lads :P
I think Severin might actually like to indulge her as a squire, not only because he is so open-minded but also to tick Ietrin off :P
Excited to see what type of character she turns out to be, Naroni is certainly the place to be when it comes to following your heart, regardless of sex or position.

Anonymous said...

Mimus here. Blogger doesn't let me enter my pennpame.

Well, Renata sure is a whirlwind.
Reminds me a bit of Ronja Robbersdotter. xD

Though now that I read about the betrothal Farilon's stepfather and brother want, I feel a little bit guilty of pointing the possibility out last time. ._.'

Van said...

Ekho: No worries!

Yep, I'm thinking the women of Naroni will be quite pleased with this development. If a woman can be a squire and potentially a knight, then what on earth can't she be?

I'm sure Severin will be willing to take her on. Pissing off Ietrin will be a happy bonus. :)

Mimus: Ack, sorry about that. Blogger can be so ridiculous.

I am admittedly not sure who Ronja Robbersdotter is, but I'll look her up. Suffice to say I expect to have some fun with Renata.

As for why Lorn and Ovrean are thinking Farilon/CeeCee would be a good match, they've actually got some decent logic on their side. Farilon is more or less functioning at his expected age level now, but he needs some time on his own and it will be several years before he's ready to get married and start a family, and by the time he gets there, most of the women his age will probably be settled one way or another. They also know that Farilon gets along with CeeCee, and they have some common ground, and I think Lorn sees how buddy-buddy Severin and Octavius can be in meetings some times, and he may think that strengthening marriage ties to those families could get him a piece of that action (Lorn's daughter Neva is engaged to Prior).

Of course, Severin doesn't like betrothing his kids against their will, and even if he did, he and Nora would still object on the basis of A) CeeCee is much too young to be engaged and B) there is a nine-year age gap (though guess who also has a nine-year age gap? Severin and Nora). But if CeeCee and Farilon decided to get married on their own, when CeeCee is several years older than she is now, I'm sure they'd get used to the idea.

Mimus said...

No worries, it's not your fault. It could also be my internet. just don't be surprise if you find an anonymous in your comments-section. xD

Actually, it's "Ronja Rovarsdotter" or "Ronja the robber's daughter", that's what I get for mixing two languages. >.<
It's not a person, but a book by AStrid Lindgren. And the Protagonist has a similar personality as Renata.

Van said...

It could be Blogger or the browser or any number of things. But I generally don't worry about link-free anonymous comments unless they're nonsensical or talk about something that has nothing to do with the post.

Ah, okay--I guessed she was a fictional character in something, but I had no idea what. I don't know if it's my growing up in North America or just a weird case with me and my peer group, but I'm not too familiar with Astrid Lindgren's works. I have a superficial knowledge of Pippi Longstocking because there was a cartoon about her at one point, but that's basically it.

Mimus said...

It could be about where you grew up. I'm from Germany and more or less grew up with them since they were rather popular back then, especially Pippi Longstocking and Michel.
Ronja isn't quite so well known, I think, probably because television could not make it into a series like the rest. There only exists a movie which actually is rather close to the book.

Van said...

Yeah, that's probably it. The books are Swedish, right? They were probably doomed to semi-obscurity over here.

Mimus said...

Yep, they're Swedish.
And they seem to start sinking into obscurity here, too. It has been a while since I last seen any of them on television, whereas they used to be everywhere before.

Winter said...

Out of all the insanity that goes on in Naroni, a female squire (in Veldora, of all places) is almost normal. Ietrin will huff and puff, and Severin will give Renata a fair chance. I think she'll do quite well for herself. If Elarys starts using the Heiress to cause problems, Naroni might be grateful for a lady knight (or knight-to-be.)

Van said...

Mimus: Ah. Well, I guess that's to be expected. The books have got to be getting up in years by now, though who knows? Plenty of old books experience random surges in popularity, it seems.

Winter: Indeed, the idea of a female squire might technically be a novelty, but it's not even close to being the strangest thing that most of the Naronians have seen in their lifetimes.

I finally picked a year for the Heiress plotline, and it might be a little soon for Renata to be too involved, based on her age. But I'm sure many more troubling situations will come along in her later squire years and adulthood, and she could very well be the best person to handle some of them.