February 12, 2016

In Which Arkon Estimates a Thousand Things

April 19, 1198

"Arkon, are you even listening to me?"

Arkon put the fire poker aside, gnawing at his lip to stifle any audible exasperation at risk of slipping from behind it. He wasn't sure whether it was his father's death that had done it or his own resulting status as Lord Beretrin, but he hadn't known until recently that his sisters hadn't been exaggerating when they'd complained of how insufferable their mother was. There was a nagging guilt to his not realizing how harsh and critical she could be before he'd been thrust into a role were she could scrutinize his every move himself--but his sisters, at least, had developed their ways of dealing with her. Cladelia had avoided her when possible, which had been easy enough for her as she was merely the stepdaughter from their father's first marriage, and her stepmother had never been particularly interested in her. Renata, stubborn and defiant to the end, had boldly done exactly the opposite of what her mother demanded of her, to the point where she was now a lady knight in Naroni. Maelle had taken a more subtle path of resistance, appeasing her mother to her face, then doing what she pleased with any freedom her alleged obedience got her.

Arkon, so far, could only nod along and wait for her to leave him alone--which was never. "Yes, Mother."

"Don't lie to me. You haven't been paying any attention at all. Surely you'd have something to say about this!"

Sighing, Arkon turned around and tried to force his face to look interested. A constant twitching of his cheek betrayed its lack of cooperation. "About what, exactly?"

"Your cousin, the Arkon of Rexus." His mother folded her hands, in enough of a fuss over whatever she was talking about that she might as well have been praying. Arkon, meanwhile, had not heard a damn thing about any business of his cousin's recently; surely anything of concern would have reached his desk before the ears of an unpopular widow who rarely set foot outside of her son's castle. "Apparently he's displaying great interest in a young woman in Naroni."

"So?" It wasn't as if his mother could have wanted that other Arkon for one of her own daughters. Renata and Maelle already had husbands, and his father had made a point of mentioning in his will that neither Arkon nor his mother were to marry Lileina off until she had completed her studies at the university. Given that Lileina was thirteen and that their cousin would probably want heirs sooner than his father's will would allow, it wasn't a likely match. "He's allowed to have an interest in someone. I thought you were of the opinion he ought to arrange a marriage for himself anyway."

"A suitable marriage! This girl's mother is an illiterate peasant."

Arkon raised an eyebrow. If she wanted to shock him with the scandal of the thing, it wouldn't work. Besides, she probably took a secret delight in this anyway. Lord knew she was only happy when she had someone to judge. "Statistically speaking, I suppose most people's parents are."

"But the parents of a future baroness?" His mother waved her hand, as if to brush aside the very idea--which was about the last thing she wanted to do. "You ought to write to him, young lord to young lord. Tell him he could do much better than Cladelia Sadiel."

"She's a Sadiel?" Must have been Searle and Koradril's younger sister, then, if his mother could justify referring to hers as a 'peasant'. "Mother, the Sadiels are one of the most powerful families in Dovia! Uncle Tarien is Grandmother's own brother."

"Yes, well, your grandmother has always been off her rocker, and it wouldn't surprise me if her brother was too." Of course, because only a woman 'off her rocker' would opt to move to Naroni with her husband of convenience over staying with her nagging daughter-in-law. "And your Aunt Riona got that in spades, so if her son wants to marry this girl, of course she's not going to do anything about it. Therefore, you should."

Arkon glanced over at his desk and the short stack of parchment upon it. He'd have to have more cut soon, but a pointless letter this cousin was no reason to hurry on that front. "Mother, I could probably name about a thousand things I care more about than Cousin Arkon's love life."

"Hmph. I should at least hope that those thousand things include finding a wife of your own."

Arkon fought to keep his face stone. In fact, he had been considering potential brides, and he believed he had chosen one who would both complement him well and make a splendid Lady Beretrin in her own right. But, while his mother may have deemed her more suitable than Cladelia Sadiel, she was only a knight's daughter herself--and a somewhat infamous one, at that. "I suppose it would crack the top six hundred or so."

"It had better. It's not good for a young lord to be alone. I expect your father was in shambles between his first wife's death and our marriage."

Somehow, Arkon doubted that. He also doubted that the woman he fancied would even half-consider marrying him if she ever had to spend five minutes alone with his mother. "It isn't as if I was there to vouch for that, Mother."


1 comment:

Van said...

Today was one of those days that was just all around stupid. Maybe it's unfair of me to take it out on Lady Odette, but better to channel my frustrations toward a fictional target than an actual one.