Monday, February 11, 2013

Chapter Two

In this second chapter the villains are more clearly defined, in Beatrice and Rosaline and the spark of hope in Amara is made brighter by her lover, do you see her gaining strength with her actions ore does she appear to fall into the traps laid before her? Comments strongly urged.

In Dreams The Solitary Road  A Novella By S.I. Hayes 

Copyright 2013 Shannon I. Hayes

Chapter Two

   After the appeasement, many thought that Amara would have, should have, fallen into despair, but in so few years she had been loved enough to fill her heart with hope. While her mother and those elders collectively referred to as The Five, ran the Isle making sure that the men did not interfere in their politics, keeping them around as figureheads, and not allowing them any say traditionally, Amara found that it was the men who treated her the most kindly. This included Rosaline’s new husband. Jeremiah had only been dead four months, when Rosaline left the Isle, returning after six months with David. He was only seventeen, to Rosaline’s thirty-six but the man appeared to be smitten by the woman who was carrying his child.
      They were quickly married, and Amara quietly hated him, but only at first. He was the older brother she never knew, and often stood, like her father had, in between Rosaline and Amara, reminding her that it was Rosaline’s own laws which said a High Priestess should never have any marks on their body. For his interference, he had taken several lashings from the whip, although one could scarcely tell, as he had scars already from a similar, but long gone time in his life. He never tried to be anything but her friend, another man with kindness to her, and he doted upon his daughter Ileana, to no end, but always, always keeping Amara included in anything and everything. This left Amara feeling that there was something wrong in her education. She was being taught that as High Priestess it was to be her job to keep men in check. Women had to be kept strong, unyielding, so that the passions and warmongering of men would not over take the Isle. But Amara saw nothing of these words in the men she knew, the women, especially her mother, seemed to be the real problem. She tried to raise her questions, but learned quickly to keep those thoughts, as the one time she questioned the motives of her mother she was answered with a hard thrashing from Beatrice. Silence as it were, was the only way to take care that it never was repeated.
   For many years, in the early parts of the week, she was instructed in edict, and ritual, and in the later days she was shown how to hunt, and to fight. But always she was kept away from the other children her age, of which there were many, but as she was being groomed to rule, they were said to be below her. The only time that she was allowed to mingle with others was during festivals and rituals, which fortunately were monthly. Even then, however, she was instructed as to which children she could, or could not spend her time. She had been pressured into a friendship with Beatrice’s children, she had three daughters close to Amara’s age, but they liked to gang up on her. It was stopped only when Amara, having had enough, shattered the nose of the oldest Carmine, for torturing the youngest Herin, with the broad side of a toy sword. She had not been punished for the altercation; it appeared that she had been being tested, as she was always being tested, Rosaline wanted to see how she would deal with those who treated her badly. Amara had taken a bit longer than hopped, but her action was deemed acceptable, this confused Amara, she felt remorse for her actions, she had wanted to apologize, the moment she saw the pain she had inflicted. It was for that thought she was chastised.
   Amara’s favorite part of any festival was when Aaron Dogwood or Isaac Whaler regaled the crowd with tales of adventure. Aaron read mythic stories, which were acted out by some of the people, and Isaac told tales about the Malbougese War with the Toicine. These were Amara’s favorite tales as they were true, even if only in part, as Isaac was said to have embellished some parts as to his involvement and as she learned later through books brought to the isle by Aaron, he had omitted what the people looked like. Rosaline suffered from Anthropomorphobia, having such distaste for anything non-human acting as humans, she made him change the descriptions of such people.
   The Malbougese and the Toicine were only people in the understanding that they had a culture and civilization, but they were not men or women in the human sense. The tallest of the Malbougese was only about four feet, they hand short, clawed paws and long fleshy tails. In the beginning, they lived underground in tunnels, which they dug out by hand, rooting through the earth for food and materials with their long whiskered snouts. They built a city, and now are the leading source of beautiful glass objects. The Toicine, were more human in appearance, but they were silversmiths and devourers, it was said that they possessed eyes of the same mineral, and that they were very closeted as to their personal lives and dealings.
   After the festivals, Amara would reel, and it did little for the improvement of Beatrice or Rosaline’s attitude. The saving grace was that Amara was a success, in anything, which required competition, games, hunting, she was not particularly refined, but she was able to bring a flush to even the eldest man’s cheek, with an easy smile. This was a high commodity talent, one that allowed her the fortunate reprieve from the cruelties of her home. At the age of sixteen, as was customary for many of the girls of the isle, Amara was allowed to leave. Given a sabbatical to travel the land, and if she were lucky enough, find a suitable husband. Suitable as per Rosaline’s specification, a proper husband was to be physically strong, from a family that did not show any signs of illness, be it physical or mental, and above all else be proven to produce children of the superior kind, that is to say, that daughters were in abundance. While there were herbs that would aid in the production of girl children, it was believed to be far easier and safer if it was in the father bloodline as well as the mother.

   In the country known as Kenrik, Amara found all of these things in a man called Lexan, and the two fell madly in love, at first sight, as it were. Amara had not been warned, before leaving home, that it was not wise to make it known to just anyone where she came from. In a tavern, just on the outskirts of Kenrik Major, she found herself in an altercation with a man who began spouting xenophobic lies about her homeland. Saying that they were a land of murderous and crazy women, who consumed their men for fun and profit. She did not hesitate to take the man outside, and although he thought of her as a joke, he had stopped laughing when she put her dagger in his knee from fifteen paces. It took five Kenrik guards to get the bleeding drunkard off of her, before she stuck the blade in his throat. Lexan was one of those guards.
After subduing the man, and Amara, Lexan was the one to find out what happened in questioning, and it was he that pleaded her case before the Queen Cheyenne Van Charlemagne

   In Lexan’s strong arms, Amara found peace, and for the first time in years was able to sleep without the rhymes of her childhood. Amara was happy, and Lexan was a good man, he was a member of the Kenrik Royal Guard, and the plus was that he was the baby, having four sisters before him. Amara would have loved him either way, but this would make him more favorable to Rosaline. Her mother was always in her mind, she knew that she could be most happy with Lexan away from home, but also knew that her people would suffer if she did not return. They spent many months together, until Amara found that she was pregnant. This meant that there was no way of ignoring their affair, Lexan immediately wanted to marry her. He loved her; it didn't matter where she came from. Amara wanted nothing more, but home called, she could not marry him, unless he came with her. Which meant that he must agree to give up his most notable position in life, and be her husband in a world that, until she became High priestess would not particularly hold him in much esteem. De’Corlen was the only place she really knew, and although she knew it was in need of a major change in management, it was where she needed to be.
   In noble fashion, Lexan resigned his post, and the couple left for De’Corlen. They were determined to see it through, and promised each other that this would not change them, that the hopes for the world their child was to be born into would be made true. Amara would become in time, High Priestess and Lexan High Priest, and the new family would begin to create a land with policies that would create the world that they believed should exist. It was a bittersweet time, Rosaline seemed to be truly happy, knowing that her line would continue in a strong match, when it was discovered that Amara was carrying twins, Rosaline’s demeanor was described as nothing short of jubilation. The marriage was unlike her mother’s second, to be held off until the child was born. Amara had things to learn. The homecoming was however much celebrated as it fell in line with the spring festivals. Amara was eager to show Lexan the beauty of her home, and share him with the people she trusted. Aaron, and Isaac, their families, and of course David and her baby sister.
It was a time to tell those she trusted of her plans. That she was indeed going to get them out of the messes that Rosaline and Beatrice had caused and perpetually kept making darker and more sinister. While Amara was gone, they had begun increasing the distribution of the Trialade to parts of the world that required flying. Not simply the boats. They were working with Maggie, the eldest daughter of one of The Five. She would be allowed to live off Isle so long as she continued to bring new contracts to them. Amara found this distribution strange, and it filled her with a sense of foreboding. A sense that proved to be right, only not in the way she had believed. Her happy but cautious world was soon to be torn asunder. A complication during Amara’s delivery resulted in the death of one of the twins, the dark haired boy, could not be saved, leaving his goldenrod haired sister alone.
   Rosaline seemed almost happy at the couples loss, an observation for which Lexan never forgave her. Soon after, Amara’s nightmares returned, although Luria was the light of her life, she was sure that the loss of her son was proof that something dark had returned to her world, and that disaster hung in the wings of her happy and loving home. The fires, although she could not remember them, left her restless and despotic. The dreams that she and Lexan would one day make a better place of De’Corlen, faded and she grew cold. Taking refuge in her studies, making sure that Luria was with her most days, which meant the little one could not attach as strongly to her father as Amara had her own. This of course pleased Rosaline immensely. She saw it as a sign that her own daughter finally understood that there was a time and a place for love and that it belonged behind tightly locked doors, hidden away from those prying eyes.
   In proper hypocritical style, Rosaline had Beatrice preaching the ways of keeping the male of the species under toe. That outwardly, where the people were concerned, a husband was to act and be treaded like an obedient dog. But in the private chambers of a marriage bed, the woman was to bend. To be as pliant as the man may ever want. Allowing any hunger to be fulfilled it was the means of subduing him. This was the role of the woman, if she could not satisfy her husband than as High Priest, Lexan was to be allowed a selection of any female of the keepers sect of the populace. Amara thought this was a terrible way to show love, that it should be something different, what, she was unsure, but not “this thing,” which was being told to her.
Nights before the marriage was finally to happen, Amara was again away from Lexan when the unthinkable was put to the test.
   While Beatrice kept Amara in her studies, one of the keepers was sent to Lexan’s chambers. She was called Dana, and was young, pretty and her body boasted about by several of the guards with whom Lexan had become familiar. Even though he was to marry Amara, he was very rarely left alone; always he was accompanied by at least one guard, supposedly for his own safety, but he believed it was more for Rosaline’s need to keep tabs on a him. When Dana met with the guard outside Lexan’s room it only took a few moments of her wandering hands and promises of further encounters for the guard to let her pass. She found Lexan not in the majority of the room, but the shower was running and hot steam ebbed from under the door. Walking to the door, she found it to be unlocked and quickly she stripped down, leaving her dress on the floor as she entered the room. The blast of cool air alerted Lexan that the door had been opened, but he could not see through the steam. Not thinking anything tawdry of the event, he smiled, assuming that it was Amara, as Dana wrapped her arms around his waist. Her bare breasts pressed firmly against him, and he spun around, the height of her was wrong, he knew this was not his Amara and he shoved her away, not hard enough to hurt her, but enough to break contact.
   He was appalled at finding this girl child in Amara’s place; wrapping a towel around himself, he threw another at Dana, while demanding to know what she thought she was doing.
She laughed, explaining that she was there to help him. Boasting that she could take care of his needs in ways he could not imagine, Amara was a lucky woman, but she squandered the opportunities afforded to her. Dana sauntered over to Lexan; her lean hairless body glistened with water, the pale curls on her head only slightly dropped by its weight, as they framed her amble bosom. Lexan tried to hide the affect her movements made on him, but she knew. There was little he could do but turn away, while ordering her out of the room. The guard was gone, there was no one to come and rid him of this pestering girl, who again had her hands on him. Her lips were soft and when she ran her short nails down his chest, he let her sit him on the bed. He tried to keep his mind away from her, his gaze off of her, but she would have none of it, as she made him look at her by grabbing his face in her hands. He was excited by this act of boldness, it had been several weeks since the last time Amara had looked at him like that, and he could not control his body’s ache, no matter how hard he tried as Dana ran her hands down the length of his body, her hair just barley touching his still wet skin. He let out a soft moan as she grasped his hardened flesh firmly in her hands.
She laughed, more like a giggle. ‘A giggle? Amara was not a giggler, Amara.’ The thought that his love was not the woman with him, that did it. In an instant, he was on his feet, wrapping the bedspread around Dana, and shoving her out the door. The guard was just coming around the bend of the hallway as they emerged, and Lexan demanded that he get this diluted child out of his sight. That he was not one to be seduced by such a child and that the guard should never have left his post.

   When Amara returned to their room, Lexan was a mess. Guilt and shame covered his face, as he sat at her desk, staring out the window into the darkness. Amara could not ignore the pain that blazed off of him, and she kneeled down in front of him and inquired. He pulled her to her feet and sat her on the table, telling her all that had happened. He begged her to forgive him, insisted that he loved her and that he had not asked to see the girl. She was the only woman he wanted, their family was all that mattered to him. He swore to her that he would never do anything to put that family in jeopardy.
   Amara did not blame him, she knew that he was human, that anyone put in that position, having been ignored for so long as he had been would have actually succumbed to the advances more so than he had. She loved him for his honesty, and told him not to feel as though his honor had been dispelled. He did the honorable thing, he told her. For that honesty, she took him to bed, and they did not leave it until late the following afternoon. When they did, it was to approach David, as they were not sure what action if any could be taken. David as acting High Priest, and often imbiber of Keepers seemed like the obvious one in which to seek council. They learned from David that while it was true that Lexan had the right to fulfill his lustful needs with others, that it was not allowed until after the couple were in fact married. That before the marriage had been consummated in the Divine’s eyes, theirs was a promise of pure, and tireless devotion. It did not matter that they had been together, or that they had the blessing of a child. The engagement was a time only for the two of them, and was not to be invaded by any other. David was confused by the young girl having so flagrantly ignored such a rule, until he learned who it was. Dana was known to play more than other girls did, she was not old enough to go off Isle, but was getting plenty of practice, with many of the guards. As an engaged man, and one to become High Priest, had Lexan gone along with Dana’s actions, he could have forfeited both of their lives. But as Lexan had refused the girl, it was only her life that could be called for.
Amara was aghast at the thought, if it was such an offence, she asked herself what person would have gone through with it, unless pushed to do so. She knew that since a guard, that was not particularly loyal to her was involved that she was going to be asked about the incident before long, and that if she did nothing, then she would be putting her place as Priestess in peril. To this design, she went before her mother and The Five, interrupting their meeting of isle affairs to engage them as to her motives for the girl who tried to bed her soon to be husband.
   The women seemed surprised by the event, all except notably Beatrice; she was in Rosaline’s ear as soon as Amara started talking. Amara kept that quiet observation to herself, as she stated that since the situation was quickly under control and the instance brief, she did not call for the girls life. This made Beatrice’s stern face grow slack. Instead, Amara told the group that the girl would have the life of a keeper thrust upon her. That since she liked to bed the men of the isle, that she should be allowed only them, and not be given the chance to impose her will on any outsider. Rosaline seemed happy in this sudden take-charge stance by her daughter, and ordered it so, although she did amend the sentence to including maiming the hand of the girl, the ring, and middle finger of her right hand were severed for the offence of her wandering hands. As much as Amara wanted to protest, she knew that to do so would lose her the obvious footing she had suddenly gained with her mother over Beatrice. It was a quiet victory no matter how short lived....

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