July 2, 2014

In Which Rina Yearns for Another Purpose

June 2, 1186

Rina's brother was now a sophomore at the university. He'd been in the country a whole year and hadn't called once. She wasn't sure why today had to be any different, or how it could have been a good sign. The occasional letter from her paternal grandmother aside, the immediate family in Dovia hadn't bothered to acknowledge her existence since she'd left--and with her father's sway over all of them, it was probably for the better.

But Arkon had never paid her much mind, the epitome of the aloof older brother. He tended to side with their father when the anger flared, but he never maintained that agreement when their father wasn't around, leading Rina to suspect it was more self-preservation than a genuine alliance. At the same time, he'd never cared enough to assert any true feelings privately, unless the only true feeling was apathy.

But today he'd shown up and told the steward to fetch her. It hadn't been good timing. She was in the tail end of her monthly and had spent the last several days in bed. Even today, she hadn't felt up to receiving company. But if Arkon was here, then it wasn't a social call.


"Sister." He stood. He'd grown taller since she'd seen him last. He hadn't had that beard back then either. "We need to talk."


"Because you're my sister. And I'm going to be count one day, and part of the responsibility of being head of a great house is protecting the family name." She could point out that technically, the head of House Tamrion was Lord Nythran. Felron would be head of the equivalent of their grandmother's dying House Ysettra, and possibly not before the two remaining Ysettras were gone. But it was a point she'd raised to her father one too many times and while she knew Arkon couldn't punish her directly, the memory was a harsh enough deterrent. "You have to take the veil."

If only she had the strength to fight her own battles. Had Nanalie or Garrett or Grandmother Renata been in the room--had Severin been in the room!--Arkon would have been massaging his ass outside the castle gates in less than a minute. But Rina couldn't make him leave. The best she could do was prove this a waste of time. "No."

"Look, I get that you don't want to go along with what Father wants, but if you think about it, it's your only option." He reached for her hand--probably for the first time ever. And he blinked when she recoiled. "Rina... you're not a virgin and you're no longer fertile."

"You think I'm not well aware of either of those facts?"

"No. I'm just stating them for the record. I can't count on ever being able to find you a suitable husband, and you know how people talk about maiden aunts."

Severin would have told him that said people could go fuck themselves, probably adding that no one else would do it for them. Rina was not so bold--but all the same, she had no desire to just sit back and take this. "Good thing I'm not a maiden, then."

"Don't get smart with me." Her brother sighed. He spoke more out of some tired old sense of duty than actual belief, but she couldn't make herself care about the distinction. "If you're not married, and you're not a nun, then people will start asking questions about you. Then, those questions will become questions about the family. Before you know it, we have a reputation for being pathetic and undesirable. Surely you don't want my future children--your nieces and nephews--to inherit such a house and the problems it brings."

"Don't talk to me about future children!" It was all she could manage, but it was enough. He didn't need to hear about the thirdborn son named Tertius that she would never have, nor did she care to speak of him. "I don't know how this hasn't occurred to you, but this is my life--not yours, not Father's, and not your children's. If you think I'm going to rot away in some stuffy old convent for the benefit of a so-called family that didn't do a damn thing to help me, then your head is emptier than my wreck of a womb!"

"Damn it, Rina, just listen! What else do you honestly expect to do with the rest of your life?" The side of his right hand slammed into the open palm of his left. "This is just as much for your benefit as it is for everyone else's. Taking the veil would give you a purpose!"

"No!" She yearned for a purpose more than anything, but not just any purpose. And--by what precious little she had left in the world--not that purpose. "I won't give my life to any god who just stood by while Father ruined it."



Van said...

For the record, neither Garrett nor Nanalie was home at the time of this incident. That probably should have come up at some point, but it just... didn't.

Penelope said...

I wonder if anyone in Rina's family feels badly about the way that she has been discarded.

Van said...

She does get support from aunts and uncles who aren't fully informed on the situation, plus her grandmother, who is--though, alas, they can't override her father, who has a stranglehold on the closer family.

I think the father is the only one who doesn't feel badly, which may just make the whole thing worse since the others are so obviously powerless (and afraid to even write to her!). Her mother misses her, but she doesn't dare write her or express that because Felron can and will make life more difficult for her (we'll be seeing Rina's mother again in July, actually). The younger brothers don't know all the details and don't pester anyone about it because they get that it's not something that's spoken about, but they probably do at least wonder where their big sister is and why she went away.

As for Arkon... well, I think he's trying to find a middle ground in which he can go along with his father's wishes but still express concern for his sister's well-being, but the problem is that any "middle ground" he finds is bound to favor Felron because there's no compromising with Felron, so it's all about getting Rina to "come around" and see how this works "in her favor". For now, he's telling himself he's not a bad guy here, but who knows how long that can last. He also has a rather petty personal reason for wanting Rina to take the veil that didn't come up in this chapter, but it will the next time we see him.

Ekho said...

As much as I feel for Rina, I can understand her brother's view on things. It's not enough that she's been sent away - she will always be his sister, and as long as she carries their family name, she will be haunted by it.
I think Rina needs an intervention of fate, if people thought she were dead, she could be free to take a new name and have control of her life. OR if she were married... ;) ;)

Once again I have to apologize to you for lack of existence lately! Fate has stepped in and I've been picked for jury duty, so for the next 5 to 7 weekdays I'll be non-existent online.
I'm home for the weekend though, so I'll catch up pretty quick :)

Van said...

Yeah, Rina is not the Naroni character who would least benefit from faking her own death. Luckily, the presence of the university has given her a few more years before she has to be married to avoid suspicion, so she's got some time there. If she doesn't find a mutual liking, and she finds a career she wants to pursue, changing her name wouldn't be out of the question. I doubt she wants much to do with the family anyway after all this.

No worries! Good luck with the jury duty. Here's hoping you turn out to be one of the jurors who finds the job stimulating. :)