"You shall not die by my hand in England." proclaimed the King in front of Anne and his inner court.
Nell replayed this scene, over and over again, and she and Fulk dug their shallow, Welsh, graves.
"You shall not die by my hand in England." proclaimed the King in front of Anne and his inner court.
Nell replayed this scene, over and over again, and she and Fulk dug their shallow, Welsh, graves.
Well, well, well, well! Thank you, froggy, this is shaping up nicely to my way of thinking...
I agree, Godit makes for a very convincing spy, and perfectly placed given her flirtations with Fulk. But surely he has said nothing to her about the planning.
And as for intellect, you are surely correct that Trempy has a bit more on Eleanor, but I should think it fairly close. Nell doesn't always use her intellect, but it is surely there, especially when presented next to one much lower like the Hugh from the previous seen. In fact, I wonder if that isn't what gets William's goat so much - he realizes she beats him in mind, so he uses force instead. An interesting thought.
I am not sure that I buy Godit as Trempwick's spy. I think she surely would have heard/reported enough to Tremp that he would have stepped in and had Fulk killed long ago if she was the spy. He couldn't risk Nell even starting to run away with Fulk. Think of the ridicule that she would bring on him and herself. That is if her dad didn't kill her first. No, I Don't think Tremp would have let it get this far if he knew all that Godit knew.
I've upped my standards. Now, up yours!
Well... It really was all an act of will, most impressive.
Since everyone is starting anti fanclubs now I might as well throw one in for Hugh, he's my least favorite charecter for some reason. Very good story, around 300 pages now hu? Well that's pretty good now I'll have to calculate how much time I've spent reading it.
Anne sat tactfully on a different bench to the one Eleanor and Fulk occupied. The little queen had not been able to hide her delight at finding Fulk waiting for them in the garden; now she kept watching the elder pair as if waiting for something magical to happen. She was probably already disappointed, Eleanor thought, and if she was not then eventually she would be. True love, as Anne had determinedly labelled it, was supposed to be far more exciting than sitting cosily together on a bench, doing and saying nothing, although they did have a queen acting as accomplice and there would be excitement aplenty if this were ever discovered. But for now she treasured her time, relishing the sense of peace Fulk’s solid frame and quiet, assured calm brought her.
She and Anne had entered through the main gate, telling the gate guard that they were not to be bothered. The entire trip from castle to garden had been filled with wedding related chatter, and Eleanor had carefully timed things so she was repeating the main part of her vows under Anne’s patient tutelage when they approached the guard. As long as they kept their voices to a normal level once inside the sheltering walls they would be safe from spies. Fulk had been equally careful in his approach; he believed no one had seen him.
Eleanor’s happy peace of heart was soon being assaulted. Anne’s blissful enthusiasm slowly began to wear thin, then vanished, then she began to fidget and looked decidedly uneasy. When Anne began giving the impression she was seated on an ant’s nest Eleanor asked her, “What is wrong?”
“This is a terrible risk, if this is found out Fulk will die and we will be utterly ruined.”
Anne had said exactly what Eleanor had expected, although it had taken longer for the gloss to chip away than she had anticipated. The statement presented a very good starting place for what she had come here to say … but Eleanor cringed away from it, daunted and more than a little fearful. “My father created this garden for my mother, long before I was born. I have always heard he did it simply to make her happy.” Eleanor adjusted the arm she had resting around Fulk’s waist so it sat more comfortably; safely out of Anne’s line of sight she began to tickle his ribs with her thumb. “I wonder if they ever sat here like this?” She glanced up at the knight; he was managing to keep a straight face. Fulk glanced sidelong at her and winked.
Surprisingly Anne answered confidently, “They would have, but without the chaperone. The notches cut into the back wall were done at his order so he could climb over to meet her in secret, without half the court waiting outside with petitions. A rather transparent deception, but it worked.” At Eleanor’s reaction she asked, “Why are you amazed? They were a happy pairing.”
“William often speaks of her. Have you heard that old song, the one which starts, ‘Though I wander far, you are always in my heart’? He wrote that for her, anonymous, and had his minstrel play it. Back then everyone knew who had written it and who it was dedicated to, even if it was never openly said. It fell from favour when the queen died; now it is mostly forgotten, he had to tell me of it himself. He thought I would appreciate the tale, and I did … for several reasons.”
“My beloved regal ancestor played courtly lover? But he seems so …” Eleanor let it lie at that; Anne seemed quite attached to her husband.
“He was young once.”
“Songs and gardens.” She snorted. “As if that could make up for the rest.”
“What rest?” asked Anne curiously.
Eleanor found herself reluctant to speak, to explain a past and maybe predict a future too. Anne sat up and stopped swinging her feet, waiting. Fulk’s hold on Eleanor tightened and he answered for her, “A wife is much more convenient to vent your temper on?”
“Yes,” agreed Eleanor sadly. “She was an English noble; her family was powerful but very small in number, and many of her close relatives had died one way or another. That is why she was a better catch than a foreign bride; she was incredibly wealthy and she brought direct control over large parts of England. She had no real protection, even assuming her family would have cared anyway.”
Anne shook her head and declared vehemently, “You are both so wrong about each other. It is really sad.”
“Wrong?” Eleanor sat bolt upright, pulling away from Fulk. “Oh yes, he is really a saint. I saw his halo once. Flowers sprout under his feet as he walks, butterflies come out of his nose when he sneezes, and a choir of angels sing him to sleep each night after a day full of charitable acts of mercy.”
“I was terrified of him after what he did to you; he saw that and explained himself. He will only ever hit someone if they have given him cause, and he insists he never draws blood or does lasting harm. So he would not have hurt his first wife without cause, just as he would not harm me.”
Eleanor said scathingly, “If you believe that you are a fool and denying the evidence your own eyes have seen.”
“I asked about you, because that was obviously not true. You are the exception to his rule, but only the part about drawing blood. I asked why again. He said, ‘Because that is the only way to make her take notice; she ignores anything less.’ Then, after a pause so long I thought he had forgotten I was there, he added very quietly, ‘And because she makes me lose my temper.’ For the rest, he was not lying; if anything he is merciful. He had his cause once but did not use it; he let me go. So your mother would have been quite safe unless she really upset him, but that is the case in most marriages.”
“He broke my ribs and beat me unconscious because my brother betrayed him, my brother, not me. He claimed otherwise but I could tell my ‘failure’ to entrap John was just an excuse. He always loved John, but not me. Never me. So when John hurt him he took it out on me, just as he did that night here in the palace, just after John was dragged home, just as he has done many times in the past. Cause, excuse, whatever you want to call it, has nothing to do with it.”
“He did love you; he chose your name because-”
“I don’t want to hear!” shouted Eleanor. Fulk’s hand exerted a gentle, warning pressure on her wrist. Eleanor allowed Fulk to pull her back into sitting comfortably against him, grateful for his quiet efforts to calm her down before she let her temper get the better of her and did something very regrettable. She moderated her voice, “He is what he is, clearly different to you than to me. Leave it at that.”
“You think I want to wonder why he can be so kind to you but never, ever to me? Why nothing about me pleases him and never has? Everything I am is wrong, or inferior to one of my siblings; he made that quite clear from the very beginning. It does not matter what I do now, and perhaps it never did; he will always hate me, and believe me that galls.”
Anne looked almost as if she were about to start crying. “You are both so wrong-”
“I don’t care. This is not why I arranged this meeting; it is a waste of time far better spent. If you must preach about Saint William do it later, and not to me.”
Anne opened her mouth to say something else; Eleanor glared at her, willing her to admit defeat before matters became even worse. Anne closed her mouth again so abruptly her teeth clicked. The queen stared intently down at her clasped hands, shoulders slumped. Eleanor felt a stab of guilt; involving Anne in all this was bad enough without snapping at the girl.
Fulk continued his soothing efforts, only to unintentionally spoil them with a single question. “You said you wanted to explain something?”
Left no way out, and seeing how her last diversion had turned out, Eleanor nodded. “Yes.” She got a firm grip on her emotions, searching for a place to start. Slowly she said, “It is hard to begin … it all links together, circling around and intertwining, one thing to another and another …” Now she was on the brink, after days of inching her way towards this point, taking little baby steps and focusing only on getting here. She could still stop, stand still and let everything continue as it had been and let others, and God, decide the outcome. Perhaps there was no need for her to do this. Perhaps there was. She took a last breath of this calm before the storm, gathered her courage and took the next, irrevocable step. “No matter how good you are it only takes one small mistake…”
“Then don’t make a mistake,” said Fulk simply. “Don’t do anything to put yourself at risk. You know what I wish, but as you told me wish and want are two different things, one possible, one not. I want you to be safe; I can’t protect you from a king and a spymaster. I’d die to save you, but it would only leave you to face them alone. But don’t misunderstand; if you leave then I follow, I’m your knight and always will be.”
“Remember I said you were all I had?” asked Eleanor. Fulk nodded. “I was wrong. I had a home, I had Trempwick to make all the hard decisions, he gave me some protection from my family and the world, I had a purpose and something to do with my life, even if it promised to be short and end with my death.” Eleanor hesitated. “The mistake I meant was not mine; it was Trempwick’s. Now I don’t know what to do; he was always the one to worry about things, the spymaster while I was only an agent.” Eleanor considered the many different ways she could say this. With a sigh she settled for the bluntest, “Trempwick is a traitor; he plans to put me on the throne as his puppet.” After a brief pause Eleanor added honestly, “I think. I do not have evidence, just a thousand little things which all add up this way when taken together. He was always the one to worry about proof and to interpret the gathered facts; he was the one I went to for help. What am I supposed to do without him?” In the shocked silence which followed her announcement Eleanor once again drew on the peace and clarity of mind Fulk’s presence often brought her. Refocused she said, “From Constance’s eating habits I think Hugh may be more willing to listen than I had thought; thank heaven for small aids.”
Anne picked on this easiest starting place. “Constance’s eating habits?”
“One of those interlinking titbits; if you assume Trempwick is a traitor and has been planning this for some time then it is logical to also assume he does not want Hugh to have heirs. Therefore all those miscarriages, including the few on other women, begin to look suspicious, rather than a simple fault with Hugh’s seed. Therefore someone must have been dosing Constance, and the others, with something like hyssop shortly after each pregnancy was discovered. A spymaster could easily set that up; even placing the guilt elsewhere and covering up his tracks would be relatively simple. Now she is making it very difficult for anyone to add something unexpected to her food and drink, therefore she, and probably Hugh, must be suspicious of foul play.”
Fulk said, “Let’s take this to the main point; could you be a queen?”
“While my father is alive, no. When he is dead and only Hugh is left? Quite possibly. My brother is not terribly popular; he is competent but not outstanding, and he does not have a gift for winning people over to his side. Hugh is rumoured to be a bastard; untrue but insidious, it provides an excuse for disloyalty, and some do honestly believe it. As everyone knows bastards cannot inherit anything under law, certainly not kingdoms. There are no other legitimate male heirs unless you go to underage grandsons, distant grandsons off in Spain, the product of a mother who is a famed adulteress. Poor Adele is another of these little tangents; assume everything is as publicly acknowledged for now. Both of my surviving elder sisters are married; they have better claims but are far away, and their husbands have their hands full with their own realms. That leaves me as the best example of royal blood available, though my niece, John’s daughter, would also have a claim, inferior to mine and she is less useful.”
“She’s just a baby; controlling minors is difficult when half the country wants to play with the baby,” said Fulk.
“Indeed. She is also with her mother, locked away safely because of John’s treason. She may or may not be barred from possessing or passing on any right to the throne; I do not know the details of the decisions made there. Assuming she is not barred I am still better by far. I could marry Trempwick, binding me to him, making it harder for others to take control over me unless widowed and remarried, and, importantly, I could support Trempwick actively. I could be loyal to him, exactly as he trained me to be. I am also old enough to make a reasonable figurehead, far better than some toddler barely able to talk. To the main question: a woman on the throne; tricky, but possible. There would be fighting at the start, to oust Hugh and scare off anyone else who might try their hand. I could be competent if I put my mind to it, and given enough time to prove myself most worries could be dealt with. Of course the husband is vital; if he was unpopular, incompetent, or a hindrance in some way people would try to remove him, and possibly me also.”
Eleanor drew a deep breath. “Trempwick is powerful, noble, although only midlevel nobility by birth he has recently risen dramatically, a friend of our current king, and as spymaster he has been able to set things up, I think, clearing the way of his most dangerous rivals and wooing allies covertly. Approaching people openly with his plans would be madness; he must have set up fronts, broken things up into small pockets of seemingly unrelated grievances. I am not sure about this part; I have no evidence, just guesswork. But with this in mind it is not hard to see the old Duke of Northumberland as a man lured into folly and removed - with the blame falling on my father, mark you - because he was somehow dangerous to Trempwick’s plans. That, typically, leads on to John also being led into foolishness and removed … but that is another tangent. Trempwick could remove people easily, placing the blame openly on the king, or working through agents of agents of agents to kill and put the blame on others. I think he must have been doing this for years.”
“As far as ruling goes, and loyalty, as long as Trempwick was competent and supported by much of the nobility, and as long as I did not annoy people, it could work. People will go where they see advantage; so long as the powerful felt they profited by my rule they would side with me until they saw a better opportunity. Some few would stick with me because my royal blood is undoubtedly pure; sentimental family loyalty, and royal blood counts for a lot. Once crowned and anointed I would gain a few more of the steadfastly loyal. The clergy may present a few problems, but I feel only a fanatical few would quote a woman’s inferiority and God defined place as subject to men as a reason to keep me off the throne – widows and heiresses already control their lands and all that goes with them until marriage. There might be a few people wondering how I could be properly subordinate to my husband while still being queen, but that could be handled somehow. A split between private life and public life, maybe. I do not know and nor do I really care. It would only be a small number of people worrying about that anyway; everyone else would have an eye to their gains, and I think many would admit that a queen sounds far easier to exploit than a king. The Pope’s official blessing could be secured via the usual methods; a large quantity of gold and some diplomatic bargaining. Where the Pope leads most others follow.”
Eleanor paused so they could digest the influx of information, also to rest her voice. She was not used to speaking so much, and her throat was becoming sore. “Back to Hugh, my father and weddings. It is possible to say that my father intends Trempwick to be his heir, knowing Hugh is a bastard. He publicly betrothed him to me and stated very clearly he intended us to marry; that says he trusts, likes and approves of Trempwick. I was reluctant to marry, but perhaps I changed my mind when it was explained this was a part of my beloved regal ancestor’s plan to make me his heir, or so the story could be spread. In the future my father could announce I am his heir. It will not happen, but it could easily be claimed he intended it to be so but never managed to make the change to his will … or a forged will could be produced, and then he never managed to make the announcement. Games, nothing but games, but important ones. The nobility might not honestly believe such a thing, but the peasants and townsfolk might; a story of a king foully betrayed by his wife and tragically dying before he could alter his succession because his illegitimate son hindered him so he could hold on to his power and status for as long as possible does grab the imagination, and if told correctly it can convince those ignorant of court affairs. Or you can put a somewhat different twist on this theme and say that I was intended to be the heir and Trempwick was considered the best person to support me.”
All in all only the beginning would be tough; once crowned, anointed and settled on the throne with resistance dead or put to flight the worst would be over and the largest problems defeated. As long as, and mark this as it is most important, my father is already dead in a way which does not link back to Trempwick or myself he stands a chance of pulling this scheme off. While my father is alive it is impossible; no one would support me over him. Trempwick is not ready to move yet; he need to be married to me publicly, and he needs me settled down and happy in that marriage. It would also be suspicious if the king died too soon after our wedding, only for Trempwick to begin his attempt on the throne.”
“So what was Trempwick’s mistake?” asked Fulk.
Eleanor lightly tapped his leg where he had been wounded. “Those bandits, or perhaps more accurately what came shortly after. He sent them with several ways to gain that I can see. He could kill you without turning me against him, depriving me of your influence and allowing him to comfort me and prove how caring he can be. He could possibly play hero and save me if I was captured. He scared and shocked me, giving him excellent reason to be kind and sympathetic. He blamed Hugh for the attack, turning me a little more away from my family. Was it Hugh? No. Trempwick trained me to think how he wants; this one time it came back and bit him. I obediently came to the desired conclusion, that it was Hugh who was responsible, and he agreed and continued to encourage me to think that way. The subject was then neatly dropped, except for the rare reminder that I was in danger, and they focused more on the future than on the supposed past. Most of those reminders were started by me to check his reactions and try to learn more. But, and here was his error, I had also been trained to think carefully, and so I did when I was safely out from under his scrutiny.
“Hugh gains nothing but risks plenty by trying to kill or kidnap me. He could not possibly hope to keep his involvement quiet; he would upset both my father and Trempwick, and also me, if I count at all. Unless you assume someone is slowly twisting things to give me a good chance at the throne I pose little threat to Hugh’s position. He could not marry me off to someone of his choice either; most consider my betrothal with Trempwick to be binding even though it was forced. Also the marriage would count as forced, and unless I stood by it it would be easy to dissolve, and having had my bodyguard murdered, been kidnapped, and then forced to marry someone who would more than likely rape me to consummate the marriage I would not be the least bit inclined to help them out. Any fool could see that. Also, Hugh could have found much better men than those bandits, and in larger quantities; if you are going to take a risk you make as certain of things as possible. But Trempwick only had a very short time to get his men hired and in place, if my theory as to why he suddenly sent us on that mission is true. He was not fooled by my excuses; he believed Gerbert. I think Gerbert may have been the horseman following us; if you remember he stole my horse, and the horseman appeared to be riding a grey.” Eleanor waved her free hand dismissively. “But Gerbert ties into the bit about servants; so forget it for now. My whereabouts are very carefully guarded; only a few know of them. Trempwick would have done better to assume one of his servants was in outside employ and a traitor; it would have been far more believable.”
Eleanor wearily let her head drop onto Fulk’s shoulder. “Once I realised it could not be Hugh I began to wonder why Trempwick wanted me to think it was, and from there I found suspecting him added a new twist to several other things, then I began to see a few other new things, which also added a new understanding, and after that I found many odd little things which count as nothing alone but add up with everything else to cast real doubt on Trempwick. We were stupid to think we had fooled him; he knew how we felt from the beginning, perhaps before we knew ourselves. He did not see or know everything though; he was furious when we met here, in this garden because it meant he could not find out what we were doing. He was also fooled with the necklace, and unless he hired someone who could see through walls there is no way he could have us watched when we were alone in a room together. We assumed he would act if he knew, but he needed me to like him, trust him and rely on him. He watched and he learned, then applied what he had learned when it was safe for him to court me. I only noticed the little things he stole from you because I was wary; he made your words and actions over into his own. It was only a small part of what he did; most of his courtship was his own.” Eleanor paused, and admitted truthfully, “There was some attraction there, and fondness, just not to the depth he claimed.”
Anne exclaimed, “But everyone thought you liked him! William, Hugh, even Fulk all told me how you liked Trempwick. I did not want to believe, but they were so instant, and they all told me separately.”
“Good; I may have fooled him then.”
“I would rather not talk about that, but I suppose I must.” She pulled on the arm Fulk had resting about her waist, pulling it tighter. She took a firm hold on his other hand. “I am a fast learner when I want to be; I studied what he did and turned it back on him. I got him used to the idea it took me a while to do anything if he threw something new or unexpected at me. I used what emotion I did have as substitute for what I did not; fear, in particular, makes a good stand-in for passion.” That could be left precisely at that; they did not need to know that on a very few occasions, mostly when Trempwick was not pushing things very far and she was feeling very keenly the loneliness Fulk’s departure had left, it really had not been entirely unpleasant.
“I used all the cunning I had and it nearly was not enough, or perhaps it was not and he is just letting me hang myself. One night ...” Eleanor broke off, frowning as she thought. If she told them about Trempwick’s repeated seduction attempts Fulk would be very upset on her behalf and Anne would be equally unhappy, not to mention she’d nearly die of embarrassment relating it. No, she would not mention any of that unless she had to. “He got his mother, or she decided of her own accord because I did not fool her, to ask what he could not, to ask why, for all my supposed liking for him, I would not sleep with him. Some very nasty accusations were made, but I think I managed to allay his suspicions by losing my temper, shouting about a lot of the excuses I had been using in a very hurt manner, and then adding that it felt like incest.” And that too could be left at just that; they did not need to know there had been a lot of truth in her hurt anger and what she had said. She had told Fulk last night that her feelings towards Trempwick had always been so mixed up she could not hope to unravel them; sadly that was still all too true. “I really do not want to talk about it.”
Eleanor looked up at the sun, gauging how much time had passed. “There is plenty more, but I do not know how long we safely have here, and there can be no more meetings like this. Trempwick has spies everywhere.” Eleanor looked at Anne. “One of your maids will be a spy, possibly more than one.” And at Fulk. “You have a squire? He may be a spy also. Trust no one.” Back to Fulk. “It is going to be hard for me to see you again; I cannot risk meeting you secretly again. I trust no messengers. So I will ask that you wait and continue as normal; if I need you somehow I will find a way. Hugh may summon you and question you, if I manage to get him to listen to me he might. Be truthful, but be sure not to let slip anything which might lead him to suspect we love each other.”
“Of course; I like not being maimed and dead.”
Eleanor pulled away from Fulk, sitting back so she could study his face. “One more thing; when they were … persuading me to get betrothed to Trempwick you were locked up? At whose order?”
“The king’s.” Fulk’s answer was quick, positive, and the same as the one he had given two months ago. “He told me so himself; remember he gave me his ring in compensation. I still have it.” He indicated the leather pouch fastened onto his belt.
“If you had been free would you have tried to help me? Honestly?”
The look on Fulk’s face was nearly enough to break her heart. “Of course I would have,” he said softly.
Eleanor considered this, nodding slowly. “I need to talk to my beloved regal ancestor; typically he is not here and will not be back for a long time.” She sighed. “That man is just plain inconvenient.” She spent a few moments meditating on what promised to be a miserable meeting if it ever happened. “Anne? Do you know why he ordered Fulk locked up?”
“I know he has heard good reports on Fulk and his loyalty, but that is all.”
“So … he may have thought there was a tiny chance you would intervene because you are loyal … maybe. But if he does not know you love me then the only motive you are left with for your probable suicide is loyalty, and that is a rare commodity. A failed rescue attempt would have left me feeling even worse, so it would have been almost useful for him. If Trempwick had asked him to lock you away … now that would make sense because of what he knew … but then it would have been in Trempwick’s best interests to have you loose. If you had tried to rescue me you would more than likely die; the blame would be firmly at my father’s feet, and Trempwick could comfort me over your loss as well as all the rest.” Eleanor sighed again, fed up of thinking herself around in circles and running into dead ends. “Trempwick wants you free; my father does not have very good grounds to lock you safely away … it makes no sense!”
Anne considered, then suggested, “If William kept hearing of Fulk’s loyalty he may suspect there was a small chance he might interfere, and so locked him up to ensure that could not happen. Believe it or not, but William does not like unnecessary killing and he prizes traits like fidelity.”
“And so once again we end up back with the elusive Saint William!” growled Eleanor. “I need to talk to my father; I never thought I would say that, and I do not like it one bit, but it is sadly true. There are so many things only he can say; I need his account of that council the three of them held on the night of John’s return I have Trempwick’s version; I need Hugh’s and my father’s too.”
Fulk patted her on the back. “At least you can’t complain you’re bored now,” he said encouragingly. “I know how much you like to keep busy, and you do love a challenge.”
Eleanor smiled and said warmly, “I did miss you, you know.”
“I should damned well hope so! When I think of all I survived at your hands … I still have nightmares.” Fulk sniffled and rubbed at his eye. “Casual cruelty, insults, belittlement, torture, attempts on my life, out and out attacks-”
“And you enjoyed every minute of it, you lying wretch.”
“Sorry, every second of it.”
“You are impossible!”
Eleanor beamed. “That is so sweet of you.”
“And here I am again, lured back into a vicious life of gooseberry inflicted torment,” lamented Fulk. “I should have run away to live with my mother while I had the chance.”
Eleanor kissed him on the cheek. “Thank you,” she said softly.
Fulk smoothed her forehead with a thumb. “If I left you sitting about frowning and fretting all the time you’d soon end up with wrinkles, oh beloved mine. I’d rather you got laughter lines.”
“I shall remember that next time you make a prat out of yourself and will laugh heartily.” Reverting to seriousness Eleanor broached the reason she had called this pathetic little council of war. “I have three main choices from here; I can go to Hugh now and tell him what I know, but I have no evidence so it may look like the last ditch attempt of a troublemaker to avoid her unwanted marriage. I can delay a few more days, two at most, and try to find out more before making my decision. I can marry Trempwick anyway and do what I can to wring some gain from the situation.”
Eleanor paused to take stock once again. “The last is not tolerable; I can just about forgive him for killing Stephan when left no other choice by my father. But he is probably the reason John died, plans to remove Hugh, possibly set Adele up to remove her and her children from the competition, tried to kill Fulk, and planned to exploit me. I do not want to be queen, and I do not want people fighting and dying in my name, even less so when they are fighting to remove my brother from a throne I do not want. Since it appears Constance, and therefore surely also Hugh, is distrustful and suspicious of foul play my brother may be more willing to listen to me. I doubt he has any evidence himself, so he may be a little more appreciative of my own problems there. I do not love my family, but they suit my purposes far more than Trempwick does, and I think I hate them less. I know Trempwick will never allow me to have the one thing I want, so I gain nothing by helping him and lose everything. Problem; I cannot bring in any of my facts which relate to a certain rather unfortunate love affair involving a princess and a rust heap. It would cause entirely too much trouble, and possibly ruin everything. I can carefully twist most facts to remove anything … unseemly, but it does make my case even weaker.”
“So you’re not going to run?” asked Fulk. “And it’s a gooseberry and a noble, gentle knight.”
“No,” said Eleanor flatly. “I will not run; I will stand and fight. If I lose then at least he will have to be honest; no more honey coated poison and endless lies, and I shall wring whatever advantages I can from the situation. I am sorry for deceiving you, but it was a safe excuse. If we are discovered with this excuse he will be furious, but he cannot tell my father about us unless he wishes to lose me entirely. I would make it very clear, once again, that if he harmed you I would never forgive him, and he could not harm me too much or again he would turn me against him. That is not to say we would escape lightly, but I could shape the situation into something we could both survive well enough. In the end that is what it all comes back to; turning this mess to my best advantage, and doing what I can to look after those few I care for. Well, it may prevent a war as well, or then again it may cause one where they may not have been one; I cannot see the future. And perhaps …” Eleanor trailed off, afraid to put this last, fragile, deep wish into words, terrified of how hopeless it would sound when isolated. Her grip on Fulk’s hand tightened. “Perhaps if I do well enough, and if you distinguish yourself … perhaps somehow we might … if I save Hugh’s throne he will owe me … somehow we might come out of this married and safe. They will owe me, a lot. You too; without you I would never have seen any of this. It is a distant, forlorn, unlikely, probably impossible hope, but some hope is better than none.”
The prospect of a wedding had Anne swinging her feet happily again. “I shall do whatever I can to help that.” The feet slowly swung to a halt. “But as you say it is most likely impossible. What did you mean, you would not have seen this if not for Fulk?”
“He must have been planning this since shortly after he took me from the palace, perhaps before.” Eleanor let her head drop back onto the solid curve of Fulk’s shoulder and wound her arm back around him. “You he did not expect; you threw his plans slightly, loosened his hold over me. In you I have someone else to rely on and trust, someone else to be kind to me, someone else to fend off those who attack me in some way. I have something I want that does not come from him, something I would risk myself for. If not for you I would have accepted his suit, been grateful for it almost. Until you appeared he must have thought it inevitable I would accept him; who else was there? In my closed little world he would have been the only one showing me the least bit of kindness, and as soon as he could pursue me fairly he did so. Actually, looking back I suspect he had been dropping hints he might love me for a while but I did not see them; I simply did not think it possible. As things were he could do his best and it would not work; I only had eyes for you, and you were doing everything Trempwick was, only completely honestly, and aided by real, mutual attraction and love which, I freely admit, produces far more enjoyable results. Trying to remove you was his mistake.”
Eleanor paused, thinking of what she had just done. The feeling of being lost, overwhelmed and unsure swept back along with the burning anger mingled with sorrow that came from Trempwick’s betrayal. “Now you really are all I have; I have thrown the rest away.” Fulk just held her, stroking her back and not bothering with empty words. After a while the tide of emotions receded. “I shall have to talk to Hugh without it looking like I want to, alone. I suppose I shall have to see what I can get out of him before telling him what I can; I only hope he listens. I doubt he will, and he is so …” her nose wrinkled, “thick. Quite where that comes from I do not know; he was smart enough as a boy.”
Anne crossed her legs and paid very careful attention to rearranging the folds of her skirts, speaking in a measured voice as she worked, “Your brother is a very frightened man. I know; I recognise myself in him. He clings to duty because it is a comfort, a guide and a shelter to hide behind when you are lost and alone, trying to do something that you know you cannot, something you are not suited to. All you need to is let go, let yourself be buried and absorbed into duty and it tells you what to do, how, when. You do not need to think overly much, or to worry beyond getting your clearly defined duty right.” Anne looked at Eleanor with a kind of simmering envy. “We are not all strong like you.”
“Stubborn,” corrected Eleanor. “And probably stupid too.”
Anne’s brows locked together and she said with exaggerated, angry precision, “No, strong. You went to your unwanted betrothal a mess and said your unwanted vows before a sizable audience and you were still yourself – you hesitated right before everyone and you refused to look weak. I did mine to perfection, exactly as required because I drowned myself in my duty. My vows were not really what I wanted, though I admit they have turned out well. Your brother does exactly what is expected of a man, a knight, and the heir to the throne. Hugh-the-person is hidden safely behind it all, terrified. I did not want to marry a stranger decades older than me and become queen of an empire while the whole of Christendom watched but I had to; my fate was decided by older, wiser heads and I lacked the courage to even ask for some consideration of my age. Duty said I had to come to England and get married, duty said I should accept the absurdity and horror of being treated as if I was a few years older, duty told me when and how to accept gifts and well wishes, duty told me how to act throughout it all, so I clung to it, worked to the exact letter of it, and when I found myself stood at the church door with my hand linked to William’s and a huge crowd watching duty supplied the words and actions when all I wanted to do was cry and run away to hide. Hugh is the same; the man wants to run but he holds on to duty because it is all he can see which will get him through whatever he is afraid of.”
It is impossible to have too many books. Instead one has a lack of space and time.
Eleanor mused, “Hugh was the second son for twelve years, made into the heir suddenly and unexpectedly. He was always very different to Stephan … he had none of our brother’s talent for making friends or love of attention. He was quiet and serious, shy in many ways.” She rubbed her chin, deep in thought. “So Hugh is struggling to fill his brother’s place and terrified he will fail, and so he buries himself in what he thinks people expect and want?”
Anne nodded. “Hugh-the-person is no use, so Hugh-the-prince takes over, just as Anne-the-person is no good when Anne-the-queen is needed. Present your brother with a situation where there is no instructions or guidance and he falters.” Anne nibbled her lip thoughtfully. “Duty did not help me with you though; our meeting was unexpected, and you were not what I expected. I imagine you have the same effect on poor Hugh; he does not know want to do with you.”
“Nice insight. I shall have to think of some way to make use of this,” Eleanor announced resolutely. “Fulk has his orders, now for yours … if you are willing to help further?”
“Of course!” replied Anne eagerly.
“Pick a fight with Aveline, announce you do not like her and then keep on getting rid of her as much as possible. Keep me away from her. Claim my time as much as you can; say you want to do something about the wedding, play games with your pet princess, or similar, I am sure you can think of the type of excuse I mean. Also try to get me away from maids and other company; Constance is … tolerable, she at least is not going to be spying for anyone and will let me think. If you manage to get a moment alone with Hugh tell him I wish to speak to him in private, but do not go out of your way to get such a meeting. I have a few ideas of my own to get my brother to summon me. Lastly, please get me away from Llwellyn at dinner! He holds more than a small grudge over my refusing to marry him and the effects that has had on his status. Dinner and death wishes might be very fitting for an agent but it grows very tiresome, especially when those snide comments are couched in flowery compliments. Above all I need your cooperation; I have to work this so it looks as if I do not want to talk to Hugh, spend time with you, or anything aside from get married with as little fuss as I can manage and go home as soon as possible.”
“I can do that.”
“Then there is only one small thing left.” Eleanor stood up and shook the creases out of the heavy skirts of her dress. Ruefully she hand a hand over the coiled braid at the nape of her neck; that would have to stay as it was, tradition or no. It would take too long to loose her hair and then put it back as it was. She said to Fulk, “I believe I somehow managed to inveigle you into marrying me. That is, if you still want to.” Quickly she warned him, “It will be nothing more than words known only to the three of us, probably never anything more.”
Fulk rose and took her right hand in his. He looked into her eyes and spoke his words clearly, eschewing the lengthy formal vows, but not quite dropping to the simplest ones, which were more a statement of ownership. “Eleanor, here I take you as my wife for better or worse, to have and to hold until the end of my life; and of this I give you my faith.”
“Fulk, here I take you as my husband for better or worse, to have and to hold until the end of my life; and of this I give you my faith”
One customary, but not very proper, kiss ended this ceremony also.
Fulk grinned. “So, you escaped promising to be meek and obedient for the rest of your days. I wondered how you’d deal with that in the fancy ceremony.”
Eleanor shrugged. “I was going to lie outrageously.”
Jesú! (to steal that popular swear/exclaimation) I tried to post and I got told my post was too long. I had to cut it in two!
:wavers … collapsed into an exhausted heap: Oh, that was hard! Very hard, and I still don’t think I have it right. Unlike every other bit of this story posted so far that scene did not come to me whole; it came as self contained little snippets, sometimes just a single line, sometimes a lot more. I had to piece them together into something which worked while trying to avoid the info-dump and ‘telling, not showing’ effects. Having such huge quantities of dialogue sloshing about is a pain; I had to break it up somehow, and indicating who was speaking was not nearly as easy as usual. I think really it is too much dialogue in one big block, and far too much of an info-dump. As for telling, not showing … well, much of this has been there all along, if you only know to look. There are so many things I had to put into that scene, so many it was frightening, but worse than that this scene is the turning point, the explanation of loads of little things, the big shock (which got given away ages ago thanks to crappy writing as so is about as shocking as a dead power socket), the beginning of something complicated, critical. If it gets stuffed up then everything will probably just implode. And then I have to be careful so a later scene does not end up too similar to this one …
The episodic nature and long delays in the last few parts have already done their harm; there is going to be no forced happy sappy ending involving Fulk and Nell running away because that was never the plan, not that I could tell anyone that. I get this horrible sneaky feeling I lost a lot of readers with people throwing up their hands in disgust … or maybe that is me being paranoid about view counts, and thinking of my own reaction. Hmm, no, I’d be furious but keep on reading just to see how big a mess the author made. But who wants to wait a little over two weeks for something 22 pages long before it is spaced out for easy reading?
So, if this were a house I think the structure has a few cracks, none of them really dangerous but some rather unsightly and inconvenient when putting up wallpaper. I’ll just have to cram them full of polyfiller and paper over them while praying for the best
A princess and her knight, shoving a rocket up the world’s backside. But the rocket was lit by Trempy; the duo only found it and moved it to somewhere it could be found.
Now this is written maybe I can get a bit of peace? I’ve been hearing a lot of those lines echoing in the back of the Eleanor-space in my mind for months now! “He is what he is, clearly different to you than to me. Leave it at that.” And “He always loved John, but not me. Never me.” Stand out as the worst offenders; been hearing them endlessly since right near the beginning. Actually, the most common line I hear is the duo exchanging their wedding vows. They kept on trying to get me to write that early and out of place. Gah! Unruly characters!
I’ll come back to the comments in a separate post later tonight; I’m exhausted and I want a bath. Food would be good also, frogs need to eat at least occasionally.
It is impossible to have too many books. Instead one has a lack of space and time.
The plot thickens...
canonized on 11/08/2007
Overall Best WW player is Avernite with 7 wins overall (Dec 2006-sometime 2007)
General Jac: Except Avernite , that's why I kill him every game
Jopi: I'll vote Avernite. He's a hard player to read, and therefore always dangerous.
Avernite: Avernite is a very mean person because he always comes up with great ideas
Zenith of Empires - World at War 1880-1936
Mmm, freshly laundered frog The food's not bad either
Trempy: 2 members
Anne: 2 members
Fulk: 4 members
Nell: 3 members (now openly wishing for an army of followers)
Godit: 5 members
Constance: 1 member
Anti-Trempy: 2 members
Anti-Aveline: 1 member
Anti-Hugh: 1 member
If Godit is also a spy ... that would mean Fulk really has a weakness for shady women His mother would not be happy.
Welsh graves? I think Llwellyn the-dumped-by Nell-oh-so-very-nearly-a-prince-but-not-thanks-to-her would like to watch and impart sage advice like, "If you had only agreed to marry me when you were five none of this would ever have happened."
Well, it was shaping up nicely, maybe. Quite what it is doing now is anyone's guess but mine.
Intellect: Now this part is posted I am a lot more able to talk about these things. Nell and Trempy. Nell is close to Trempy in general intelligence, but her hotheadedness holds her back, as does her temper when it comes into play. If she is calm and collected then the gap is at its narrowest. Trempy has a far cooler, more controlled nature and this allows him to exploit his intellect to a greater extent. He also has years of experience on our Nell. But as Nell said, it only takes one small mistake…
Nell and William, she is ahead of him and that is one of the many factors at play between them. The gap is not huge, but it is there.
Hugh ... he is not the brightest bulb in the packet but he is not stupid; he is, as Anne said, terrified, uncertain, shy, and trying to do his best to fill the shoes of two other, more capable and gifted people. There is more to him which has not been said bluntly in the story; while it has been hinted at I won't reveal it bluntly now.
Some nice reasoning there, igaworker. For the sake of argument I shall add that it takes a minimum of half a day for a message to travel from the palace to Woburn, half a day if you send it by messenger bird (hard to get hold of for most people) or get someone to ride out on horseback as fast as they can. Nell has been at the palace for all of 19 hours.
Impressive, Crusher? Nell should get an Oscar! She's better than that Gweneth Paltrow any day, and I'm sure the awards ceremony would be interesting. Well, an Oscar unless she didn't fool Trempy. If she didn't fool him she doesn't get squat.
408 pages of book formatted point 12 Times New Roman in MS Word now. Page 400 is the bit where Nell bluntly says "Trempy is a traitor!".
Finally, to the two comments after the new chapter. I'll simply say thanks
It is impossible to have too many books. Instead one has a lack of space and time.
Never suspected, never suspected such depths and ramifications.
Oh no fair, whenever I get in a good rant about a charecter the author decides to humanize the person and make it impossible to continue my dislike So Hugh is still bad, only now not as bad now I have to quit that fanclub before it even gains another member!
Truth be told I almost don't want this to end, it's a great story and well written, if your making another one after this ( hopeful thinking) I will be sure to read it. Great work and thank you very much!
EDIT-Throw me in the Trempy fanclub, he is so much smarter than I gave him credit for, also a good patient plan. I gained respect for that guy. Now I need to go off and fortify my place before I get mobbed.
Good God! Now I know - a planned AAR like yours is infinitely superior to an AAR - like mine - that's just rambles on and on and on...
Still, I would like some sort of (traditional) happy ending.
publish a book froggy im sure this stoy would become a best seller who knows you might even make a series out of it like the wheel of time, forgotten realsm or the other fantasy series stuff out there
great post btw totally unexpected by me things have thickened quite considerably.
Well, you have been hinting for some time that there are some who would like to see things change at the top, but I must be honest and say I had not thought of Trempy as that person, at least recently. It does, of course, make perfect sense and adds a whole new layer to his oh-so-very disgusting attempts to woo Eleanor.
And I completely see the dilemma you had with 1. holding back in discussing their intellects and 2. with the need to post all of that at once. I would not call it too much of an info dump as you have set much of it up quietly since day one. This is more the tying them together post. But you are right that the serial nature of posting makes it harder for some people to recall certain little tidbits you added say 200 pages ago or something.
And Anne's part at the end did quite a bit to explain Hugh. Still think he shouldn't be King though - I just don't think he can handle it well enough - but that wouldn't be the first time an incompetant was put on a throne (and no, I don't think Hugh is a total incompetant - just not suited to be King.) It's too bad Eleanor does not wish to be Queen. She could marry Trempwick and then get rid of him as a traitor once she sat on the throne. Only problem there is having Anne as an accomplice. I doubt she would like very much the thought of losing William at the juncture.
Plenty left to go, it sounds. And if it keeps getting this exciting, I am sure we will love it. I know I will. Great stuff, eggy!
Clever plan on Trempy's part, quite clever indeed. Except for the bandits. Why did he think that was a good idea? That's what confused me about the bandits: None, and I mean none, of the characters in this story would have enough to gain from pulling a stunt like that to justify the risk.
A slip-up like that just seems out of character for Trempy. Unless something's distracting him...
Still, aside from the bandits, a nice plan. Personally, I wish Eleanor would just quiet up and go along; she would end up queen, after all!
SHEEP ARE THE FUTURE
While Thou Shalt Flourish Great and Free (Saxon England, pt. 3) (Started 11 October 2010)
Scenario progress: Base maps complete, pops and diplomacy in progress.
How do you know that everything that Nell has said is true? With the way she was hesitating to start with, I am not sure I buy her whole story. It just seems awfully convenient. I am not sure, but wondering whether she cooked this whole story up herself as an excuse for Hugh to get rid of Trempy. She knows it would never work while her father was there, but now that Hugh is in charge at home she has a chance.
I've upped my standards. Now, up yours!
Fulk nursed his mug of wine in one hand, turning over the sealed letter with his other. The parchment was obviously cheap, and faint ghosts of text indicated it had been used not once but twice before, then sanded clean for reuse. The sealing wax was nothing more than plain candle wax drizzled on over the join, meanly done so the letter threatened to unfurl on its own accord. There was a telling lack of a seal’s imprint in the wax. Fulk smiled slightly; a mark would have boded ill – it would mean his mother had not replied to his message and someone else had, and that would probably mean the worst. He would have questioned the messenger but Simon had been the one to accept the letter, and the boy had sent the man on his way without anything more than the rest of the money Fulk had set aside to pay him.
Fulk turned the letter once more, examining the back side. He squinted at the writing, managing to decipher the odd word here and there of the second, less faded usage. The parchment had previously been a list of foodstuff brought and sold; the quantities were too great for it to belong to a single family, more suited to a tavern. So the parchment had not come from the one who had sent this letter, not unless his mother had set up business as an innkeeper. Given how much she liked people making a mess out of her nice, clean floors that was unlikely.
Fulk sipped his vernage, set the cup to one side and drew his dagger. He prised the seal open with the tip of the knife and set the letter back down unopened, taking his time to carefully clean shavings of wax off the blade with the hem of his tunic. Deliberately he unfolded the letter and read.
Edmund Reeve to Sir Fulk FitzWilliam, this day the eighth of February in the Year of Our Lord Thirteen-thirty-eight, dictated and taken down by father Thomas, village priest of Walton.
It’s my sad duty to tell you of the passing of your mother, my stepmother, some two years hence. She died peaceably and at good age, surrounded by her family. She was much loved by all of us, my father especially.
You’ll want to know what happened, so I’ll set it out. After a goodly period of time had passed since the news of your father’s, and your own, death arrived here my father, also Edmund Reeve, resumed his suit, being tired of his widower’s state and both of them honourably free. A while more passed, but before the year was out your mother and my father married, as they’d intended to do before your father claimed her for his own. No children were born of this marriage. The years they had together were happy and contented.
Fulk drained his cup and tossed the letter back onto his table. “Pack of lies,” he muttered darkly. His father had claimed no one, even if it’d been his right. Emma had loved her lord, and she wouldn’t have done that if he’d bulled in, reminded her she was his property and then snatched her planned future away from her like this Edmund chap claimed. Thinking back he remembered nothing untoward or special between his father’s reeve and his mother, nothing at all. He did remember this younger Edmund Reeve as a boy though; a few years his junior, a snivelling coward, a tattletale, a self righteous little oik, or so he’d thought.
Fulk’s hand dropped to his dagger hilt; he’d have to go home and see what was what, and while he was there he’d remind this Edmund Reeve that aside from her long dead parents and siblings who’d died as children Emma had only had two people as her family – himself and his father. His plans for a trip were stillborn; he might be able to beg a few days grace from his royal duties but he couldn’t leave Eleanor behind. She needed him, and he wasn’t too inclined to wander without her anyway. Next time he saw her, whenever that’s be, he’d ask her if they could go to Walton at their earliest chance.
Er, busy. You know the usual by now, so I’ll spare the repeat.
Trempy: 3 members
Anne: 2 members
Fulk: 4 members
Nell: 3 members (tapping her foot impatiently)
Godit: 5 members
Constance: 1 member
Anti-Trempy: 2 members
Anti-Aveline: 1 member
Anti-Hugh: closed for the winter
Depths and ramifications … I like the sounds of that
Hehe! It’s not exactly intentional, Zeno, or at least not so far as the timing goes. With a few exceptions I really don’t like black and white characters; that is why even those who look bad to begin with slowly get the chance to explain themselves.
Different kinds of story for different effects, Thames. You started the game up to do more than make a map to put at the front. Your story is far more on topic than mine, and I bet you had a little more fun in putting together some of the events. Planning some parts of Eleanor, most particularly the bit between the bandit attack and a certain point off in the future, has been really hard work, and I’m still not satisfied that everything is wholly logical and convincing. I feel the story really needs to go to a second, revised draft for everything to really fly. This reminds me, haven’t read any AARs here for ages. I don’t even know what is going on with the CK 1.5 patch. Oh, I need more time! :cries:
I am working on a book, still plugging away at the first draft actually. That story is far more complex then Eleanor, far longer too. I’m doubtful that I’ll ever get into print, but at least I will have tried. A frog can’t do more than that. Heh, so many people say “start with short stories!” but I just can’t do them. I like to develop plot and characters, to build things, reveal things, deceive, twist, play with the reader a little – basically what I’ve been doing here.
Coz1, you hit on exactly why I disliked writing Nell/Trempy mush more than Nell/Fulk mush – I knew what was behind it. It was also mildly discomforting knowing that in parts my work looked badly clichéd, or as if I only knew how to do one type of romantic male character. That was by design rather than the bad writing it must have appeared. That’s not to say it was a blanket dislike though; there were bit I almost liked, bits I did actually like, and one part I found very, hmm … sweet (the stammering, embarrassed spymaster. I just love the way he calmly catches the cloak she lobs at him and shakes it back out while trying to get a word in edgeways, that and his general attitude for much of that scene).
The bandits … ah yes, the bandits. If you read the whole thing over again, even without this new information in mind, the bandit thing makes more sense. As things are though you are needing to think, remember and compare things which happened half a year ago for readers to things which are happening now, things which looked honest to things were are admitted to be tricky. You also have the handicap of the uneven writing quality and style. So I’ll recap briefly and do a tiny bit of explaining.
Right back at the beginning, when Fulk first arrives at Woburn and the adult Nell/Trempy relationship is shown for the very first time, Nell is obedient and compliant, almost completely. She does as he says, and even when she does try to speak up for herself she is not very forceful and quickly subsides. If Trempy says jump she jumps, or at worst asks how high. She is quite the loner, though she will accept Trempy’s company well enough. Trempy is very much in charge.
Slowly this changes, thanks to Fulk. Fulk stands up for her, and gives her opportunities to assert herself a little. He shows her Trempy can be argued with a little. He reminds her of who she is. Fulk slowly gains her trust, liking and confidence, going from very grudgingly accepted follower to friend. And then this happens:
Eleanor moistened her dry lips with the tip of her tongue, “Actually, I would prefer he stayed. He was part of this mission, it is only right he sees how it is tied up.”
Trempwick reeled back as if she’d slapped him; he almost looked … hurt, as if he considered it a betrayal. It only lasted a half second; the spymaster stepped back from Fulk and gestured him to a stool with an elaborate, mocking bow, “Your seat awaits, bodyguard.”
She slowly begins to stand her ground. The more time passes the worse she gets, openly arguing, then defying Trempy. She begins to lie to him, keeping information back from him with the sole aim of controlling her own life. She begins to really fall for Fulk, and Fulk for her. Trempy knows, and he tries to carefully steer them apart. He fails, and can only watch as they keep on getting closer, and as Nell keeps on slipping out of his grasp. He does keep on trying to get things going his way, but it is not exactly working as well as he’d wish. As long as they are together they gravitate towards each other, and he cannot effectively put Nell back into her place without causing more trouble – Fulk would get upset and start complaining and/or stick up for her. Any effect Trempy has on her is temporary at best.
While Fulk is around it is hard for Trempy to make any headway in his attempt to win Nell’s heart. She loves someone else, and much of what Trempy is offering (kindness, companionship, someone to talk and joke with, care, concern, a boost to her self respect, reassurance, the assorted physical stuff) Fulk is also giving her (much of Trempy’s unique benefits come from the fact they are two of a kind, both agents and slightly apart from their world. He also does a more comprehensive line of protection than Fulk is able, and some assorted stuff based on the mentor/second father background they have). Even worse the more she does with Fulk the more she notices the unfortunate lack of natural chemistry between herself and Trempy; the whole “like comparing a simple rushlight to the noonday sun.” thingy Nell herself was mentally commenting on at one point. He knows she is not going to be happy with a simple rushlight when she could have the sun, and she will not give things a chance to grow into something brighter when she has an alternative.
Trempy also knows (thanks to his own poking about) Fulk has a history as a heartbreaker; Maude is especially worrying to our spymaster. Incidentally he knows what happened to Maude after her last meeting with Fulk (the one where he refused to marry her until he was a knight). Cicely (the girl from his home he used rather badly) is also a source of worry. He’s had other romances, but they were of a different sort with more experienced women. But Nell is far more a Cicely or Maude; innocent, rather naive, in love, not overly religious or prudish, and actually quite clueless as to what she is getting herself into. Based on past history Fulk is likely to take advantage if he can safely do so.
Then comes that day in the snow, the day Gerbert overheard some suspicious things and walked in on a Fulk who was still dressing after changing his clothes and a furiously blushing, dishevelled Nell. Knowing how they feel about each other, but not privy to the insider’s view of what they had been doing that the reader has, you have to admit it looks very bad indeed. Not only has his princess gotten out of hand but she is now dangerously close to flinging herself away one some idiot knight, if she has not already one so. Something which would place her in danger, make Trempy’s life more difficult later, take her further still out from under his control, and generally bugger things up something rotten.
Fulk has to go. Now. Trempy can’t act openly, nor can he confront Nell; to do either of those things would be to risk losing her. He has all of half a day to plan and set things in motion, a distracted half day which is mostly night time (with her right next to him, alert, tense and suspicious) anyway.
Was Trempy also distracted? Not saying Well, Nell’s presence was certainly distracting him a little Ahem, but away from that the frog is staying silent.
So the tiny, unforeseen happening that is Fulk swearing allegiance to Nell was the stone which caused a series of ripples in a calm pond. Fulk introduced many, many little factors scattered widely across both plot and characters, none of them really large or important alone, but taken as a whole …
This story really does benefit from re-reading once you know certain things. Go right back and you’ll see Trempy hinting he loves her with steadily increasing bluntness, assorted odd moods explained, comments with alternate meanings, little details suddenly picking up new significance, characters thinking things you know are wrong but previously believed (e.g. Nell thinking her mother must have suffered badly) and so on. All those pointless looking scenes have something in them or will have some use in the future, even if it’s just the one line.
“Love, fear, control of something or someone they care about; those are the three main ways to gain control over a person. Pick a person apart to see how they work, then apply that proverb and they are yours.” – Raoul Trempwick to his king, 295 pages ago.
So suspicious, igaworker! Good! None of the characters are entirely trustworthy; only I am, and I keep my froggy mouth shut on a great many things. While I’ve backed Nell up here I will say that there is still plenty of room for lies in what she said, and it is even noted at places in the text she is being economical with the truth. Slippery bunch, these characters.
It is impossible to have too many books. Instead one has a lack of space and time.
if when you finish the book and do not get to publish it can i get a copy of it by email.also when nells story is finished do you mind if i copy all the chapters into one word document or something to read again whenever i feel like it.