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A Lucky Escape (1/3): Three Months

Writers: Estelle, Miriah
Date Posted: 24th November 2020

Characters: Tarani, Rorigraff
Description: Tarani's fate is decided at the Lord Holder's wedding
Location: Sunstone Seahold
Date: month 5, day 24 of Turn 10
Notes: Mentioned: Asaile, Bryvin
Notes: Tarani is now a PC :) I'd love coposts for her!

Tarani breathed a sigh of relief when the wedding ceremony finally came
to a close and the guests were freed to stroll around the hall,
congratulate the married couple and greet old friends and rivals. She'd
had to admit to being the tiniest bit jealous, watching Asaile in her
gorgeous wedding gown, ring glittering on her finger, at the center of
everyone's attention. And now she'd be Lady Holder. In the unspoken
competition between all the fosterlings, she had won the greatest prize.

She slipped away into the crowd, keeping an eye out to avoid her
parents. There was clearly more than a tiny bit of envy in their
expressions, though her mother did better at concealing it. Instead, she
sought out her uncle, who was also attending as the Lord Holder of Flint
Hills, their ancestral Hold.

"Never mind, youngling," he said, accepting the drink she'd brought him
with his usual bluff, straightforward manner. "You've scrubbed up well
for this grand occasion. You'll be fighting the young lads off once the
dancing starts. Eh?"

That thought was a consolation. She didn't like to disappoint her uncle,
who'd had hopes of an alliance with a prosperous Hold like Sunstone, and
she couldn't deny her pride was hurt, but - she was still free! The boys
who were fostered here could vie for her attention, she could dance with
whoever she liked and flirt and gossip and not care a straw for the
dignity required of a Lady Holder. No, she was very glad that she wasn't
yet married.

And as the evening progressed, she did just that. Her dance card filled
up with hopeful young men from good families, some confident, others shy
and awkward. She laughed and teased and let them bring her glasses of
sparkling wine and sugared desserts while she caught her breath between
dances, cheeks flushed from her exertions. She was having such a
wonderful time that the sting of jealousy was all but forgotten.

Later on, her feet were beginning to ache and the harpers were playing a
slower dance, so she decided to sit it out and found a secluded corner
near one of the windows that looked out onto a balcony above the harbor,
where the air was cooler. She was feeling pleasantly dizzy from the
excitement and the wine, and kicked off her shoes and hopped up to sit
on the windowsill next to another of the young ladies.

"Oh, look. Poor Asaile." She pointed to where the new Lady Holder was
politely smiling as a stocky, balding man with the knots of the Smith
Hallmaster rambled on about something or other. "She's spent half the
evening talking to boring old men. I wouldn't be in her place for anything."

A deep, gravelly voice answered her from behind, sounding mildly
amused. "And where exactly would you be, hm?" Lord Rorigraff, sipped
on a glass of wine, eyes sliding over her with arrogant presumption.
He glanced at the other ladies and flicked his fingers at them. "All
but one of you," He randomly pointed at one girl, "you, leave us." The
man stood tall, his reddish hair streaked with silver and white at the
temples. His thick, dark slashing eyebrows jutted over eyes so
dark they could be considered black and the features of face, despite
being lined, screamed of good breeding. He was not a large man, but
neither was he stooped with age, though clearly he was one of the
older Lords at the ceremony.

Tarani let out a squeak of surprise. She'd not even thought that anyone
else might be there. And if she hadn't guessed from his voice and
confident manner that he was of high rank, the way in which the others
quickly curtsied and backed away made it very clear. **Oh dear.** Not
daring to look at the other girl in case she burst into giggles, she
slipped down from the sill, the stone of the balcony cool under her bare
feet as she made her own curtsy. "My Lord. You startled us."

"I can see that. You may rise." Yes, they'd been chattering about
uselessly instead of attending to their Lords and Ladies. **Poor
upbringing,** he thought, **but this one, she shows spirit enough to be
interesting.** He'd been immediately entranced by her while on the dance
floor, pleased by her look and healthy shape. Birthing hips and a bosom
that would suit him. He imagined her then, spirit bent beneath his
boot, kneeling at his feet, hands caressing his thighs; his smile grew
warm at the thought. He imagined taking her for the first time,
hearing her cry out in pain, then soft gasps as he finally broke her
into submission. Then again, her slender waist swollen with his heir. He
managed to control his immediate reaction to that lovely fantasy. She
would do nicely indeed.

He kept his warm smile. "I am Lord Rorigraff of Beryl Peak Hold. Lord
Bryvin was kind enough to point you out to me as one of my
granddaughter's companions that he thought well of." He sipped his wine,
then lowered it, tapping his finger lightly against the stem of his
goblet. "I've been watching you dance and I must say, you were lovely."
He took her hand presumptuously and kissed her fingers then kept a hold
on her hand. "I spoke to your father and he's agreed to a match. "

Tarani had responded to the compliments with a sweet, if insincere
smile, wondering how quickly she could excuse herself and get back to
the dancing without being impolite. But at his last words, her mouth
fell open in unfeigned astonishment. "What?" She raised her free hand to
her mouth but couldn't quite stifle a derisive snicker, as if he'd made
a joke in poor taste. This was too absurd. "My Lord, I'm flattered, but
we hardly know each other." She tried, lightly, to pull her hand away.

His hand immediately tightened on hers, his lips thinning at the
snicker. How dare the little wench? He was a Lord Holder, his wealth
rivaled compared quite well to or exceeded the other Lord Holders in the
South! She was to be his wife and he would have respect from her, first
meeting or not. "It's done, Lady Tarani. It's agreed. Your consent
isn't needed and I'll pay a pretty price for you. You should be
thankful that you've found an acceptable match to me and not some
slovenly, poor minor holder. You'll be living in wealth and comfort
while you bear me my heirs." He stared at her, already excited at the
prospect of breaking that spirit low, making her submissive to his
every whim. "Now, show me your gratitude."

"I can't think what you mean, Lord Rorigraff." Tarani's spirit was not
cowed in the least, and she spoke in the icy cold tone of a lady of rank
who'd suffered a great affront. "I'm certainly not going to show
gratitude for being sold off to a deeply unpleasant man who's old enough
to be my grandfather. If there ever was any such agreement, and it
hasn't been invented so that you can foist your unwanted attentions on
me. My uncle is the Lord Holder of Flint Hills, and when he learns how
you've treated me, he'll make you regret it." Her chin lifted in
defiance. "Take your hand off me before I ask my friend to call the

Lord Rorigraff chuckled as he looked down at her. Faranth, it would be
a pleasure to bed her! A son with that fire, could rule Pern. But such
fire didn't belong in a woman. Did she not know that he could crush
the Lord Holder of Flint Hills under his boot like a crawlie? All it
would take would be a few messages from him and trade negotiations and
deals would fall apart. "I like your spirit. For now. It bodes well
for our sons." He smirked and released her hand, letting her believe
that she'd had her way this time. She'd pay for it later when he
belted her backside and he made her beg him for forgiveness. That
would be a sweet victory. "Go to your father, girl. He'll confirm it.
I'll expect you at Beryl Peak within three months."

"Then you will be expecting me for a long time, my Lord, because I have
no intention of setting foot in your Hold. Or of ever seeing you again,
if I can help it. Goodbye." Tarani tossed her head, turned on her heel
and walked swiftly back into the hall, the other girl following
wide-eyed in her wake.

Lord Rorigraff watched her walk away, narrowed eyes sliding down to
watch her hips as they swayed. He wanted her even more now and he
would have her. He'd break that mouth quickly and she'd apologize for
the offense. The thought aroused him as he walked to the window to
wait until she walked out. His eyes slid to where her father stood. He
waited and watched, his smile growing ever larger.

The next dance was about to begin, but Tarani walked straight past the
couples forming up and approached her parents, who were standing to one
side, conversing quietly. As the harpers struck up a tune, their words
couldn't be heard, but the moment when she flinched as if she'd been
struck couldn't be missed. Nor the angry remonstrances which followed,
or the way she turned to appeal to her uncle when he arrived. Then,
finally, she looked back across the hall at the window, at the man who
stood there, and for an instant her eyes were wide with dismay and
suppressed fury.

He laughed then and gave a bow, amused at both the dismay and the
display of anger. She kept her emotions so near the surface and
obviously felt them strongly. She would be a fitting wife, once she
was properly subdued and filled with a son. He looked forward to his
wedding night. It was a pity her father had insisted on a three-month
wait. If he'd had his way, it would have been a month at most.

She turned away, her back straight and her head held high. A few more
words were exchanged, and then Tarani turned and walked swiftly out of
the hall where the celebration was being held, without looking back, not
caring what anyone thought of her departure. She refused to let the
defeat show, but inside she was in a cold panic, the term of her
remaining freedom echoing in her head.

Three months...

Last updated on the December 2nd 2020

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