*Author’s Note; Previous Parts of ‘Their Story’ can be found on the left sidebar under the same entitled heading.*
â€œTell me you didnâ€™t sneak out of Corbaire.â€ David said as he shook his head.
â€œI did, and donâ€™t lecture me on it. I got enough of that later.â€ I half joked.
â€œHow did you get out?â€
â€œThe same way I figured Catarine got out, and the same way that enemy force got in. The creek drains.â€
David shook his head and threw more wood on the fire as he spoke. â€œBut you didnâ€™t even know if she had left Corbaire.â€
â€œYes I did, in my gut. She wasnâ€™t stupid David. She knew as soon as that note was read, theyâ€™d search until they found her. There would be no where safe to hide in Corbaire. And we had talked about feeling trapped by the walls we needed to protect our cities. She went under that wall David. I was sure of it. And I followed suit and did the same thing.â€
â€œOh Christ, Lornon is going to kill you.â€ David warned me as he got back into bed.
â€œThank the Gods we were in the south because I was soaking wet when I immerged on the other side. I snuck my way along the wall until I got to the outer edge of the encampment outside the gates. Once within that, I had plenty of anonymity. I asked around, found out there were people selling horse, and in time, and paying a fortune in gold, I got a horse and headed south. I wasnâ€™t a mile outside of Corbaire when I picked up a single set of horse tracks leading right where I suspected.â€
â€œDuring the night when Catarine and I talked, she told me of the small city to the south of Corbaire just on the edge of the kingdom named Inoka. Inoka had been hit with a plague months ago, a deadly one. A number of times Catarine had mentioned how upset she was about the deaths occurring there and how no one within the palace would allow her to go help. That is where I figured Catarine had headed and I hoped to get to her before she got there.â€
â€œWhy didnâ€™t you tell anyone else before you left Cyl?â€ David suddenly interrupted.
â€œHELLOâ€¦she was heading to a city that had a deadly plagueâ€¦. The palace pomp and circumstance made everything move as slow as molassesâ€¦.I wanted to get to her before she became exposed to the deadly plague!â€ I sarcastically shot back to David.
â€œYou mean the plague was on going?â€
I suddenly felt sheepish. â€œWellâ€¦.noâ€¦.â€ I admitted softly. â€œBut I thought it was!â€
David started laughing, slowly at first and then it grew.
â€œI was worried about her Davidâ€¦.and it was late and I had barely slept and come onâ€¦donâ€™t laugh at me.â€ I begged. David muttered an apology as he stifled his giggles. â€œI really was worried about her. You donâ€™t understand David.â€ I said softly.
â€œIâ€™m sorry Cylâ€¦â€ he said quietly. He wasnâ€™t laughing anymore, although he did still have a grin on his face.
â€œI felt responsible that she left.â€ I confessed suddenly. I turned my eyes to our fire.
â€œBut it wasnâ€™t youâ€™re fault.â€
â€œNo, but I still felt responsible somehow.â€
I grew quiet. I could feel David staring at me. I knew thereâ€™d be no way to explain to him why Lithie felt responsible. Silently I begged David not to ask me to explain.
â€œDid you find Catarine?â€ He wisely changed his line of questioning.
â€œYes, but she didnâ€™t go to Inoka. I caught up with Catarine about twenty minutes outside of Corbaire. She had stopped at a small pond to water the horse and I found her sitting under a tree crying her eyes out. I hate crying people.â€ I moaned. â€œBut I sat down and I listened.â€
David smiled sweetly at me.
â€œI heard her side of the story, told her everything from the moment Severin burst into our room and I told her about watching Severin cry as Lornon tried to console him. â€œCatarine, he loves you. He went looking for you immediately after you ran off. If you hadnâ€™t locked that door, we wouldnâ€™t be here right now.â€ I told her. â€œHe wonâ€™t take me back Lithie, not now. You know heâ€™s just like Lornon; stubborn.â€ She cried as she spoke. Nothing I was saying was getting through to her. Sheâ€™d waver from being mad, then sad, to almost hysterical.â€
â€œFinally the lack of sleep and pain in my back from riding caught up to me. â€œAlright Catarine, youâ€™re probably right. Heâ€™s probably called off the wedding by now anyway. They were almost through with searching the city when I snuck out. But we still have to go back, even if it is to get our possessions and leave Corbaire forever.â€ I said as I stood up. I held my hand down to a surprised Catarine. â€œI canâ€™t go back now, no one will understand.â€ She wailed. I shook my head. â€œCatarine, I understand. I do. Iâ€™ll stand beside you all the way. I wonâ€™t let you face this alone. But we have to go back. They donâ€™t know where either of us is. Those who want me dead are still out here somewhere.â€ I told her as calmly as I could.â€
â€œCatarine looked up at me and she almost laughed. â€œYou snuck out to find me?â€ â€œYES, but we have to go back. Lornon is going to kill me. Please, come back. Iâ€™ll stay with you as you pack. Iâ€™ll protect you from everyone, even Lornon or your motherâ€¦but we have to go back. Please?â€ I begged her. Catarine stood up and she reached for her horse. â€œTheyâ€™re going to kill us Lithie.â€ She whispered in a voice filled with fear. We mounted our horses and reined them north. â€œYouâ€™re probably right Catarine. But at least if were dead, we donâ€™t have to listen to your mother anymore.â€ I quipped as I tried to keep my thoughts light.â€
My voice faded off as I shivered. David offered me his blanket as he dumped more wood into the fire place. I sighed. â€œCyl, whatâ€™s wrong?â€ David asked.
â€œNothing really. Itâ€™s just that during the talk with Catarine, I used Lornon and his weird protective ways as an example of how he cared for both me and Kline. Every time Catarine tried to make what Severin said by forbidding her to walk on the terrace alone, I used yet another example of Lornon doing something similar to me. But instead of bitching with her about them, I used Lornonâ€™s actions as a good example.â€ I paused and shook my head.
â€œI see whatâ€™s wrongâ€¦.your pep talk meant for Catarine suddenly had an affect on you.â€ David surmised as he crawled back in bed.
â€œYes, it did. It didnâ€™t make me love him and it didnâ€™t make me want to fall into his arms, but it did make me appreciate him, okay?â€ I snapped without thinking. David smiled evilly. I continued as I sat up an focused on my memories.
â€œWe rode back, and I donâ€™t know what time it was, but it was still rather early in the morning. I hadnâ€™t thought about our return, in as much as how weâ€™d enter the city. But As we got closer to the gates, I heard some people in the crowd murmuring. By the time we got to the open gates, which by the way were heavily guarded and inspections were happening as people entered Corbaireâ€¦.we were recognized, well Catarine was.â€
â€œSo much for a quiet return eh?â€ David chortled.
â€œExactly. The military surrounded us, blockaded the masses away from us, and unfortunately sent runners to the palace to inform them of our safe return. By the time we reached the palace grounds, they were waiting for us.â€
â€œYep. That is what I thought too. I was all prepared to go toe to toe with anyone for Catarine, but you know what she did? As soon as she saw Severin and Lornon standing at the base of the palace stairs, she started crying. I tried to say something to sooth her, but nothing seemed to work. The footman raced out to help us and Severin and Lornon stepped off the steps. I heard Lornon command everyone else in the family to remain where they were and I knew we were in for it. And then Catarine floored me. She saw Severin walking our way and she flew off that horse and into his arms as she swore sheâ€™d never leave his side again!â€
David started laughing. I had to smile too. â€œYep, miss, I donâ€™t ever want to see him again, turned into Miss, I love you more then anything right before my eyes – leaving me to take the heat!â€ I confessed. With a deep sigh I continued.
â€œSo there they were locked in a passionate embrace and I might have smiled at the happy ending had I not caught glimpse of Lornon stalking my way. I really feared heâ€™d blow up right there, despite the entire royal family and his family being present. I braced myself for the worst and watched as he waved off the footman and extended his hand to help me dismount.â€
â€œDid he yell at you?â€
â€œNo, I didnâ€™t give him a chance. As soon as my feet hit the ground Lornon attempted to release my hand. I held on though. â€œLornon, I was wrong for sneaking out of the city and not letting anyone know where I was. Iâ€™m sorry.â€ I immediately apologized.â€
I felt the smile that crossed my lips. â€œLornon suddenly looked shocked David. His eyes truly looked surprised and he opened his mouth to say something but nothing came out. I watched as his eyes softened and his jaw became unclenched. â€œI was worried.â€ He said without malice or anger. â€œThat is my fault. I will try not to let it happen again. I wasnâ€™t thinking. I was wrong, completely and there is no excuse. I am sorry Lornon.â€ I sincerely told him.â€
â€œLornon did the strangest thing just then. He was watching my eyes, like he does when he is trying to determine what I am up to, and then slowly he allowed himself to look towards Severin and Catarine who were now holding each other as they sat side by side on the palace stairs. â€œHe loves her Lithie.â€ Lornon whispered. Lornon almost looked pained as he admitted that a man loved his baby sister. â€œThank you.â€ Lornon added sweetly.â€
â€œI donâ€™t know what happened to me in that moment. Maybe it was seeing Lornon love another human being, his sisterâ€¦I donâ€™t know. But as I watched his eyes gazing at his sister who was now beginning to laugh with her future husband, I became mesmerized with Lornon. â€œShe loves him.â€ I whispered to Lornon. I turned to look at the pair of lovers. â€œThey will be very happy together. Theyâ€™re made for each other.â€ I said to no one in particular.â€
â€œIt took me a minute to realize Lornon had stopped watching Catarine and Severin and he now focused on me. Hesitantly I looked up into his eyes. â€œWhy did you go after Catarine Lithie?â€ Lornon suddenly asked me. He was searching my eyes and it became difficult to breath. â€œSheâ€™s my friend and was in troubleâ€¦â€ I started to say, but then I shook my head no. â€œSheâ€™s familyâ€¦â€ I truthfully whispered. Lornonâ€™s eyes grew intense and I had to look down at my feet.â€
â€œI wasnâ€™t used to a kind Lornon gazing into my eyes willingly. It unnerved me. But Lornon wouldnâ€™t allow me to look away. I felt his finger gently guide my chin upwards so I was forced to meet his gaze and his eyes had this look in themâ€¦they werenâ€™t like the night before, filled with lustâ€¦. This time his eyes reflected a soft longing.â€ I took a deep breath and knew I was speaking in whispers, but I couldnâ€™t help it. â€œAnd I could see it in his eyes, just before he started to lower his lips towards mine. I knew he was going to kiss me, and this time I wanted him to.â€
â€œHe was so close to kissing me David. I could feel his breath on my lips and our eyes were still locked together. But suddenly something grabbed my hand and Catarineâ€™s delighted voice startled both of us. â€œOh will you two love birds stop thatâ€¦.come on Lithie we have a wedding to prepare forâ€¦you can see her later big brotherâ€¦â€ Catarine yelled as she ripped me away form Lornon.â€
I nodded and felt familiar tears of regret sting my eyes. â€œI was still straining to look back towards Lornon as Catarine dragged me rapidly up the stairs. I wish you could have seen the look on his faceâ€¦â€
â€œIâ€™m glad I canâ€™t.â€ David admitted with a strained tone to his voice. I looked to him and saw he had closed his eyes. â€œGod Cylâ€ David painfully said.
â€œI knowâ€¦.trust meâ€¦I knowâ€¦it left me completely ruffled for at least an hour.â€ I admitted as I laid there. â€œCatarine was ordering people to do this and that, and she dragged me all the way to her suite, where her mother, sister, future sisters in law waited and I was still thinking about Lornon almost kissing me. Catarine actually shook me out of my thoughts as she excitedly said, â€œIsnâ€™t that right Lithie?â€ and I nodded, automatically.â€
â€œSuddenly the room exploded. Lornonâ€™s mother was furious and shouting obscenities, Elspeth was actually crying and Melanie and Celina looked highly uncomfortable. I had to shake off my thoughts of Lornon in order to understand what had happened. The queen arrived, thankfully and began playing peace maker between the three Dubuai women as I stood there trying to listen.â€
â€œThatâ€™s when I heard Catarine and Severin changed their plans slightly. I wonâ€™t bore you with details of that morningâ€¦it was hectic, but during all of the prepartions I learned the story. When I didnâ€™t return with my troop of guards, Lornon knew at once I got out of the city and went after Catarine. He shared this news with Severin and the two men spent hours apparently talking deeply about dealing with wild, rambunctious women. I guess they had as much in common as Catarine and I did.â€ I chuckled slightly.
â€œI donâ€™t know details of their conversation, but basically as I sat trying to change Catarineâ€™s mind about not marrying Severin, Lornon sat doing the same. Severin confessed that he hated Oliviaâ€™s plans of having large groups of dignitaries and family standing with Severin and Catarine as the ceremony was performed, so Lornon suggested Severin and Catarine change it and choose only who they wanted. While Lornon and I stood beside my horse, Severin had mentioned Lornonâ€™s suggestion and Catarine agreed to it. And when I said yes to Catarineâ€™s â€œisnâ€™t that right Lithieâ€ what I said yes to was Catarine informing her mother and sister of the change of plans, telling them that only Lornon and I would stand with them during the ceremony and if anyone challenged Catarine, I would defend her as I promised earlier.â€
â€œManâ€¦.â€ David snickered.
â€œI know,â€ I agreed with David. â€œHow can one person get in so much trouble without trying? Hell if I knew, but once again I was smack dab in the middle of an all out war and it sucked.â€
â€œAnd Lornon had created the war for you.â€ David quipped. I nodded with a smile. â€œMy only consolation was that he was even more uncomfortable in the spotlight then I, and I knew heâ€™d be a busy, miserable man all day long too!â€
David and I laughed and this time I got up and put more wood on the fire. I knew once we reached a good solid bed of coals the house would be easier to heat, thus our constant feeding of the fire. As I fed the fire, I kept speaking.
â€œI am so glad I had Jesiune spy on the fashions months ago. Because suddenly I was stuck playing a larger role in the celebration then I had originally thought. So the super fancy gowns I had made came in handy. Catarine had sent hand maidens to virtually bring my closet to her, and she went through my gowns until she found which one she liked. She sent message to Severinâ€™s servants so Lornonâ€™s attire could be chosen based upon what I was wearing, and then as servants threw us in bathâ€™s and then did our hair, I was handed a practice piece of cording.â€
â€œAt first I was confused. Then Catarine explained to me that the God this region worshipped had female priestesses that performed the verbal part of the ceremony. However these priestess were scared in the Godsâ€™ eyes, and as such they could not bind mere mortals in the marriage ceremony. Thus, Lornon and I would be tying the intricate knots as each step of the ceremony was completed. That is why Catarine and Severin were opposed to Oliviaâ€™s choices of people standing by. They wanted their hands bound by those who recognized and held sacred their love.â€
When I turned around to get back in bed, David was making the same astounded face Lithie once had. â€œYep I know, this kingdom was whacko about certain things. Redheads, crows, and who tied knotsâ€¦.it was weird!â€ I answered his look.
â€œBut thankfully those who serve the priestessâ€™s came to Catarineâ€™s room and I spent my day being beautified as I learned what knot to tie and when. I also learned what each sacred binding meant and how I was to act in accordance with the sacredness. What a bunch a malarkey.â€ I admitted to David. â€œBut every time I was about to say I quit, Iâ€™d look at Catarine and see this beautiful young woman who was so happyâ€¦how could I crush that? And Lornon, the look Lornon had given his sister and Severin earlier in the day still weighed heavily on my mind. It genuinely touched Lornon that his sister found love. And I think a part of me was excited to for once be part of a happy celebrationâ€¦so I learned knots.â€
David smiled sweetly and winked at me. â€œOh stop, I was still a cold hearted bitchâ€¦but that day I decided for the sake of otherâ€™s Iâ€™d act as if I werenâ€™t.â€
â€œSure you didâ€¦â€ David teased. I ignored him.
â€œThe wedding was being held in the late afternoon. It was also being held on this massive wooden platform that was atop the front gate of the palace compound. This platform was big enough and high enough that the wedding itself could be witnessed not only by safely protected rulers and the king and queen from inside the palace walls, but the citizens who gathered outside the palace walls would be able to see as well. I was actually impressed with that ideaâ€¦safety and practicality while including the commoners as they were known to be.â€
â€œThen after the ceremony itself, the happy couple would be paraded through the streets of Corbaire in a heavily guarded carriage while the guests were allowed to change and ready for the massive garden Masquerade ball.â€ I looked at David and grinned. â€œIn other words, this was high dollar affair and I did become easily mesmerized by all of the accoutrements that accompanied such and event. But the best partâ€¦.the very best part nobody told me aboutâ€¦they surprised me with it!â€ I suddenly confessed to David.
â€œYouâ€™re getting ahead of yourselfâ€¦â€ David warned suddenly.
â€œYouâ€™re going to skip the wedding and tell me only your favorite partâ€¦thatâ€™s no fair.â€ He complained gently. I blinked. â€œYou WANT to hear about the wedding?â€
â€œYes!â€ he said as he reached up and knocked on my head. â€œWhat part of leave nothing out do you not understand?â€ he sang to me. I shook my head but laughed. How many guys wanted to hear about weddings? Only hopeless romantic ones.
â€œOkayâ€¦wellâ€¦uhâ€¦about an hour before the wedding we were finally fully dressed, coiffed and bejeweled and we were carefully escorted down to the carriage that would take us from the palace to this platform base.â€
â€œWhat were they all wearing?â€ He asked me as he turned onto his side to watch me. I shook my head in amazement but allowed myself to go back into that time.
â€œOh wowâ€¦wellâ€¦David I can honestly say I had never seen such clothing in my life. I mean I had been stunned at the three gowns that were made for me for the wedding itself. Back in Kline as I would stand for fittings, I kept thinking Iâ€™d look a fool. I am so glad I let others do the choosing as far as that went, because instead of standing outâ€¦for once I actually fit in with the other women. Melanie and Celina were obviously in their Royal Family attire. Complete with these beautifully bejeweled tiaras.â€
â€œAnd Queen Allissa, oh Davidâ€¦.wowâ€¦when she walked in just the sight of her made me bow down deeply.â€ I admitted as I languished through the memories. â€œThe Corbaire Royal Colors were this brilliant sky blue and pale, shimmering silver. And The Queenâ€™s Crown was in platinum and brilliant diamonds and sapphires. Her gown was so exquisiteâ€¦It had high shoulders, kind of puffed up but not a lotâ€¦and it had what they call today as a princess neckline.â€ I showed David the way a princess neckline fell on my own chest by drawing it out. â€œAnd the bodice was in this brilliant shimmering pale sky blueâ€¦.with touches of silver throughoutâ€¦..and off the back her gown had the same thing mine and the other womenâ€™s gowns had.â€
â€œI donâ€™t know what it is called in the fashion worldâ€¦.but across the back neckline of our gowns, which were squared by the way, the tailor had sewn this length of fabric used in each of our gownsâ€¦so it hung off the back of our necks, went down to the floor and dragged behind us as we walkedâ€¦.separate from the rest of the gown except where it was attachedâ€¦does that make sense?â€
â€œyes, I know what you meanâ€¦ it would be like a train right?â€ He asked. â€œYesâ€¦a train, but an attached one, attached at the shoulder not the base of the gown, exactly!â€ I excitedly agreed with Davidâ€™s description.
â€œOkay, well on the Queenâ€™s gown the outer or top part of the train was the sky blue, but the underside was the soft white-ish silverâ€¦..so it picked up any light and reflected it out upon and around the Queen. It was absolutely a beautiful effect. It made her radiate this lightâ€¦.oh it was beautifulâ€¦.and the sleeves came down puffy until right above her elbow, and then they became tailored to her armâ€¦. She truly was a magnificent sight.â€
â€œMelanie and Celinaâ€™s gowns were similar but had differences enough that you knew who the Matriarch of the family was by gown alone. But they were also so beautiful, especially with their deeply tanned skin and their blond hair and blue eyes.â€
I sighed and forgot to talk as I sat there in my mindâ€™s eye once again reliving the first moments I saw the three women that day.
â€œStay right in that memory. Iâ€™ve got to use the bathroomâ€ David suddenly announced.
As David left the bed, I didnâ€™t move. I could still feel the honor I felt to be in the presence of the Queen ad the Princessâ€™s. I didnâ€™t want to give up that happy feeling.