January 3, 2014

In Which Renata Discounts the Sufficiency of Punishment

April 10, 1184

Renata had never liked her son-in-law. Not even when he'd been a child, the firstborn son of a wonderful cousin who'd never been anything but kind to her. He'd been a terrible infant, beyond the level of most--and while his parents had insisted he must have had some sort of discomfort or condition, Renata had seen her fair share of sickly babies, and Felron had not been one of them. Impossible it may have been to think of a baby, she'd firmly believed he'd made himself a nuisance out of pure spite.

He hadn't gotten any better as he'd gotten older, always pushing his siblings around and scheming to get the servants in trouble for no more apparent motive than his own amusement. Renata had once caught him having cornered an old stray dog in a dingy alcove at the threat of torches; the poor thing had wet itself, and she'd hauled the boy herself up to his father's study--interrupting a meeting, even--flung him through the door and let Tertius take care of the rest. Apparently he hadn't done enough, but Renata had long suspected that was not his fault.

Today, she'd learned she had been right. Tertius had not sufficiently punished his son--but only because, somehow, no amount of punishment could ever get through to that vile, downright evil boy.

Rina's life was not over. She would go to the university if Renata had to pay for it herself. She would study what she wanted, and become whatever she wanted to be as a result of that. The world at large was not kind to women, but parts of Naroni were better than most; if Rina cared to be a doctor or a lawyer or pursue some other career in Tetran or Veldorashire, those in power would make sure that no one stopped her.

And if she wanted to marry... well, it was certainly possible that she would! Not all men concerned themselves first and foremost with the prospect of children, for all fools like Felron seemed to think wives little more than biological ovens, baking seed into children like dough into bread. Some men--Renata's own stepson came to mind--came from ailment-ridden lines and sought not to continue them, but still cared for the companionship of a wife and lover. Some men spent months on end away from their homes and needed capable ladies to keep things running in their absence, the thought of babies atop of that load more of a dread than anything else. Hell, some men already had children, children who had no mother, and who needed one, and whose father wished to love again. And some men, like some women, simply had no interest in becoming parents.

Of course Felron had not considered that. All he'd considered was that he had a daughter who was no longer a virgin, and no longer fertile. His only response to that had been to mark her for a God he judged to be as cruel as himself.

Whenever Felron met Him, Renata hoped He would be.

Renata lifted herself from the couch and strode toward her husband's desk. Most of what she could do now had little to do with Felron's punishment, and everything to do with Rina's rehabilitation. She would call on her granddaughter daily, and she would pay handsomely for any comfort the girl might need. She would ask Camaline to excuse Rina from classes on the days her courses called, and she would talk to Raia about every program the university offered, so she could present that information and Rina could make an informed decision when the time came. If Rina wanted it, she'd even start on a list of potential husbands.

If she wrote to Felron, the letter would meet the flames of his hearth rather than his eye. She still recalled the way he'd glared at her as he'd left the church with her daughter, as if he knew she saw right through him. Sometimes, she feared he'd aimed for one of her daughters for the sheer satisfaction of taking something that was hers.

But Xetrica was still her daughter. She may have been too terrified of Felron to stand up for Rina, but she deserved to know that her baby girl was safe and loved, and that Renata and Garrett and everyone else would take good care of her--and that her mother's arms were always open if she ever had enough and wanted to come running back.

She would write to Xetrica. And she would write to Nearina, reassuring her that not all sons were reflections of her mothers, supporting her if and when she chose to further assert her protests. And for all the little point there was, she would write to Tertius, just in case he recovered.

And then she would write some more. She would spare the intimate details of Rina's recent past, but she would make sure that every other lord in Dovia knew that their next Count of Tagrien was a man who had made his gravely ill daughter march all the way to Naroni tethered to the back of his horse, who had been ready to march her back when Mother Elwyna had refused.

Knowing that, perhaps they would not accept him. A count was hardly untouchable in the reach of dukes and kings.



Van said...

Well, I guess that first 2014 post doesn't look so lonely in the sidebar any more. Still, it's weird seeing it so collapsed.

Ann said...

Renata = awesome! One can't say it often enough. And I can only agree with all her hopes!

Xetrica should pack up the boys and come to Naroni until that miserable bastard of a husband gets his comeuppance (and I sooo hope that Oswald, Lonriad, Searle, Abrich and the other Dovian lords will Kick. His. Ass!!).

Van said...

Renata does probably feel relatively powerless in this, but at least she can raise awareness among the Dovian lords, and at least she can help Rina directly now that she's away from Felron.

If Xetrica packed up her younger two boys and head to Naroni (her oldest will be going to university in the not-too-distant future, so he'll be coming to Naroni anyway; I have some brief plans for him), Renata isn't the only one who'd welcome them with open arms, and who'd tell Felron to shove it if he tried to make them come back. That said, leaving an abusive marriage is easier said than done. :S

Yeah, the other Dovian lords will not be pleased to hear this. Oswald is firm, but he is fair, and doing that to a kid is not fair.

Orilon said...

Wives are afraid of leaving abusive marriages today, and I would imagine it would be harder back then because of the lack of resources (i.e. shelters for abused women etc)

Hopefully Renata's letters to the nobles in Dovia can have some effect.

Van said...

Exactly. There would be a lot of social opposition to Xetrica leaving Felron as well, what with the idea that she and her kids are his property and he can do what he likes with them. :S

With any luck, Renata can at least convince one or two of the higher-ups to keep an eye on Felron's behaviour. If anyone can put a leash on Felron, it's Oswald.

Anonymous said...

Good luck to Oswald in muzzling and leashing that ... thing. I think Renata might have dropped a new biggest problem into his lap.

But I'm with Renata in all that she's been thinking -- certainly that Felron's personality isn't Nearina I and Tertius's fault. Some people are just born ... rotten. Since Tertius and Nearina's other kids came out so well, I'm guessing the fault lies with the kid who didn't.

And I have to wonder -- maybe, once Rina has healed a bit more physically, she might want to move in with Renata? I think that Nanalie is a good choice for now, given her physical condition, but I think Renata might be better for her psychologically. Garrett and Nanalie might be a bit out of their depth (through no fault of their own!), but Renata seems like she wants to make Rina her project, and that might be easier if they're both under the same roof.

Of course, this does all depend on what everybody else -- Octavius, Sparron, Camaline -- in the house thinks. If Sparron starts getting in a bad way again, it might be a good idea for Rina to stay where she is.

*sigh* Poor Renata. And Rina. And everybody who isn't Felron and who has to deal with him.

Van said...

Whether Felron survives the Might of the Pen or not, at least Renata has thrown him a curveball. I think every other Dovian lord has a reason to take issue with Felron's treatment of Rina, whether on principle or because she's somehow related. If he could, Tertius would probably lead the charge.

No, Felron is not his parents' fault. There's certainly nothing wrong with their next two kids, Valira and Garrett; we haven't seen any of the others (yet--I have plans for at least Nythran, who I'm thinking is a lot like Garrett), but I don't think any of the others are much like Felron. If Nearina is beating herself up about the way he turned out, then she's sorely mistaken.

Rina's moving in with Renata is certainly possible once she's recovered physically! Renata would be thrilled, and I doubt Octavius or Sparron would have any objections, at least while Sparron is relatively healthy. Camaline is the wild card; on one hand, she might find something of a kinship in Rina, but on the other, it may just hit too close to home (though for the record... if Roderick had known for sure that Camaline could not have children before she got married, while he wouldn't have been thrilled and might have tried to steer her a certain way, he wouldn't have been intentionally and unapologetically cruel).

Ekho said...

At least there's still some level headed realistic people around to help Rina. Her grandmother by the looks won't let anything stop her from helping Rina achieve something in life. And she's right, not all men require children, some already have them and would be more interested in finding someone to mother them. I'm Naroni is the best place for Rina, right now and in the future. And as for her father, I really hope he doesn't make a reappearance in Naroni, he doesn't sound like the best kind of person to have around! Though I'm sure a few of the men in Naroni would like to put him in his place, so I wouldn't mind that :P

Van said...

Yeah, Rina has found a sanctuary in Naroni, at least geographically (and, strictly limiting it to more intimate parties rather than society at large, socially as well). And yeah, not all men needed or even want children, and a man worth having wouldn't care if she can have kids or not (if they really want them, adoption in Naroni is not unheard of...).

I'm sure her father will show up a couple more times, but hopefully with someone who can put him in his place.

Winter said...

I loved the pictures in this chapter. Renata's emotional state was clear, and we never even saw her face. Those were really well done.

Rina has a good champion in Renata for as long as she needs one. Something not related to her innards, like the university, would be a good focus for her. She may not care to blaze any trails, but it will be an opportunity to build herself up independent of the inclinations of a potential husband.

Oh, and though I'm very late, happy birthday!

Van said...

Thanks! I wasn't sure about the pictures, so I'm glad they worked.

Once Rina gets adjusted to Naroni and has a chance to figure out what she wants to do with her life, Renata will still be there to put the nay-sayers in their place. And when Renata goes, there's still Nanalie and Garrett, and hopefully others.

Thanks, Winter!

Penelope said...

Ohhh, boy! Felron messed with the wrong grandma. May his misery be prolonged and also, lasting.

Van said...

Yeah, Felron may eventually get a rude awakening about there being cons to not caring who you piss off...