January 7, 2015

In Which Landus Sees How Long Since

December 31, 1188

"Christ, Landus! What are you drinking to grow so tall and where can I get some of it?" Lady Leonora greeted him with a peck on the cheek, sure that he noticed her standing on her toes. But whatever she might have lacked in height--or thought she lacked, since Landus tended to tower over most men, never mind women--she made up for in other aspects. How old was she now? Forty-five, forty-six? She could have passed for one of her own daughters. And nine children did nothing to ruin the effects of that tight, bare-shouldered gown.

A pity he hadn't found a wife at university. He was tired of scolding himself for thinking such things about happily married women. "Height is overrated, my lady. I miss being able to look people in the eye."

Lady Leonora laughed. "I have a name, you know. None of this 'my lady' nonsense."

"Uh, all right. Nora." God, that was awkwardly informal. Perhaps he ought to have used her full name? But no one seemed to call her 'Leonora' without the accompanying 'Lady'. "I'm sorry I'm early."

"Nonsense. You're not the first one here. Besides, it's been so damn long sense we've seen you around here that we need our fill of you before the other guests can steal you away." She winked. Not for the first time, Landus wondered if the Kemorins were only interested in him because he might have been Lady Viridis's stepson. Lady Viridis's stepmother, however, never seemed insincere.

"I take it Neilor and Tivie and the children will be along later?"

"Yes." Though, if the moaning behind the door had been any sort of hint, he wouldn't tell her exactly why. "I think Neilor had an issue with his tunic." That issue being keeping it on his body.

"Ah. Well, we've seen them more recently than we've seen you, and of course you see them all the time. So, are you missing university? Or are you glad to be--?"

"Landus?"

They both turned their heads to the newcomer, a monument to splendor in royal blue and gold. It took Landus a minute to realize who she was.

"Lyssa?"

Damn. He hadn't thought it had been quite this long since he'd set foot in Veldora Keep. What he remembered of Lyssa was a seven-year-old who used to follow him around like a puppy, pestering him with every inane comment she could think of just because he was too polite to tell her off. He'd certainly never seen this young woman, thick auburn locks in an elaborate tail, blue eyes like moons and freckles like stars on the sky of her lovely face. How old was she now? Fifteen, sixteen? Surely not old enough that he ought to have noticed her!

But apparently, old enough that he had. "You, uh... you look nice."

"Thank you. Though I suspect my Aunt Rona will be rather annoyed that I had the seamstress copy her dress." She twirled about with a smirk, skirts flying and folding like a flower sped up. Lady Rona, Landus recalled, had a two-month-old baby; who knew if she'd even show up for the party.

"Perhaps. I can't say I remember what dresses everyone has, but I believe you wear it better."

Lyssa smiled.

When it occurred to Landus to look back at Lady Leonora, her eyes had darted between him and her step-granddaughter more than once. "Perhaps I ought to review the wine selection before anyone else arrives. Lyssa, I trust you'll show Landus into the hall?"

"Yes, Grandmama."

Lady Leonora nodded to them both, then hurried off out the same door through which Lyssa had entered. Now that it was shut between them, Lyssa ventured further into the room. "So. Congratulations on graduating."

"Thank you. I take it you'll be starting university... soon?" He hoped it was soon!

"Soon enough, I suppose. Not this summer, but the summer after that." Damn. "A pity our times there didn't overlap. I should have liked it if you'd shown me around."

"Perhaps I could. I should still be in the area at the time." What a filthy lie, given the duke's hints that he was the first on the list for a possible posting in Carvallon. Why had he even said it?

And why didn't he take it back?

"I should very much enjoy that."

Landus swallowed. "So should I."

"Oh, good!" Such wide eyes. Such wide, pretty eyes.

Why had he lied to them?

"I'll show you into the hall now and let you mingle--but I'll warn you now that I fully expect a dance later on."

NEXT CHAPTER:

3 comments:

Van said...

Last of 1188--but not the last of this New Year's Party, which shall henceforth be known as the Party of Teenage Hormones.

Alas, it will be a while before we see the not-so-thrilling conclusion. Now that 1188 is officially done, I've decided to take a two-week break from Naroni to focus on some other projects. It's not that I've grown bored or that my computer is acting up or anything like that; I just have some other things I have to do, and it will be easier to get them done if I put Naroni on the shelf for a while.

This break won't be longer than two weeks, though I won't discount the possibility of other similar breaks throughout 2015. Barring any unseen catastrophes, Naroni will resume on or around January 21st.

Thanks for your patience and understanding. I'll still be around Tumblr and the Keep, and reading other people's updates.

mimusofbellingar said...

Good luck with your projects. :)

Good thing that Landus lives in the 12th century. Today such thought processes would land him in jail. ._.'
Which is honestly a bit silly, he's not that much older, is he?

Lyssa Looks rather like her aunt Riona did at that age, though, doesn't she?

Van said...

Landus is twenty-one and Lyssa is fifteen. It's not the biggest age difference in the story, but yeah--if this took place in the modern day, he'd have to keep his distance for a few years.

As for Lyssa's resemblance to Riona, I'm not sure I see it. Aside from her jaw, she's always looked more like Xeta's side of the family to me, but maybe the eyebrows in that last picture do have some Riona in them. XD