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A Lucky Escape (3/3): Reprieved

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

Characters: Brina, Tarani, Asaile, Noriya
Description: The ladies receive the news of Lord Rorrigraf's death
Location: Sunstone Seahold
Date: month 7, day 18 of Turn 10
Notes: Mentioned: Yriadha, Bryvin, Riadem


Brina
Brina
Asaile
Asaile

The afternoon was warm, and some of the younger ladies looked as though
they were about to nod off over their embroidery. Brina had just
finished a letter to her daughter, and she watched them indulgently.
They were fewer in number now there wasn't an eligible Lord at Sunstone,
and those that had remained were genuinely here to learn ladylike skills
as fosterlings. Her work was much more peaceful, these days.

Her gaze passed from them to the Lady Holder, and then to Lady Noriya
and Lady Tarani, sitting nearby. The bright, reckless redhead had been
subdued since the wedding, and her sewing lay untouched in her lap as
she gazed out of the window towards the sea. Brina might have thought it
was jealousy, had she not known that Tarani had been betrothed to a Lord
of equal rank, and would soon begin her journey to Beryl Peak Hold.
Several gifts had arrived from her husband-to-be, elaborate jewelry that
the other girls had sighed over, but which Tarani had so far declined to
wear.

That seemed unexpectedly sensible, Brina thought, but she wasn't
convinced, remembering what had become of Lady Oufelle. She had asked
the Headwoman to see to it that no-one else slipped out of the ladies'
bedchambers at night.

A sudden gust of chill air blew through the room and marked the arrival
of a bronze firelizard, his wings beating rapidly as he searched for a
suitable perch. He circled the room and landed on the back of Tarani's
chair, offering his forelimb where a message tube was tied.

Tarani roused herself from her listless daze and turned, gently
caressing the firelizard's back. "It's my uncle's bronze, Racer." She
slid the message out and unrolled it. Moments later, there was an
audible gasp and she rose to her feet, her hands trembling.

"Lady Tarani?" Brina asked. "What's the matter?"

"Lord Rorrigraf is dead." The girl looked around her, wonderingly, then
back at the note as if she couldn't quite believe the words she'd read.
"Murdered."

Lady Asaile paled immediately and began to tremble, her hands shaking
as she dropped her embroidery in her lap. Tears sprang to her eyes
with a soft sob. "My...my grandfather was..." Her face crumpled as she
began to softly weep, covering her face.

Noriya dropped her own hoop on the side table next to her chair and
rose to go to her friend. "Asaile," she knelt down next to the girl's
chair. "I"m so sorry." She shot a rather pointed stern look at Tarani.
"No one should hear news like that about a loved one cold."

For once, Tarani didn't bridle at Noriya's words; she hardly seemed to
notice them. She felt light, airy, as if a great weight had been lifted
from her shoulders, though to her credit she managed not to show any
pleasure. "I suppose I'm not getting married any more."

"Let me see that." Brina stood and took the note from Tarani, reading it
quickly. "There's going to be a meeting of the Conclave. Lord Bryvin
will already have been informed." She turned to Asaile, her voice
softening. "Until he decides how he wishes to handle this news, I
suggest we keep it between ourselves. He'll know what to do."

"My grandfather..." Asaile's voice was low with grief and shock, then
looked up at Tarani. "I'm sorry, Tarani." She gave little shaking
breaths as she tried to confront both her own sorrow and what she knew
must be Tarani's as well. "You must be as heartbroken as me." She leaned
against Noriya's embrace and closed her eyes tightly. She knew what the
conclave meant. Bryvin would have to leave. "What happened to him? Who
did it? Why would they do such a thing?"

"I don't know. They don't say." Brina folded the note, her lips tight
and her thoughts troubled. Who would dare kill a Lord Holder? Where were
they now?

Tarani glanced at Brina. She'd spent so much time hoping that something
would happen to break off the wedding, it seemed like a dream, one she
was almost afraid to wake from. She wasn't sorry at all that Rorrigraf
was dead, she'd had no illusions about how he'd treat her when she was
his wife, but she also knew she had to keep those feelings to herself.
She was in Lady Asaile's Hold now.

"I hardly knew him. We met only once." She came to sit at Asaile's other
side, taking the Lady Holder's hand, her voice contrite. "But he was
your family. I'm sorry, I was so shocked that I didn't think before I
spoke."

Tears flowed as she looked at Brina, then Tarani. "I was hoping to call
you family." She held Noriya's and Tarani's hands a moment longer as she
swallowed thickly. "I feel sick. I think I should lay down." She rose,
releasing the hands that offered comfort. "Excuse me, Ladies."

Brina watched her, concern in her eyes. "Of course. Would you like us to
send for Journeyman Riadem? Perhaps he can give you a calming draft."

Asaile's eyes went to Noriya for a moment, then shook her head,
swallowing hard. "No, thank you. I'd just like to lay down. I'm truly
sorry, Tarani. For your loss as well. Even if you didn't know him
well, he was to be your husband. Your loss is greater than mine. Lady
Brina, Lady Noriya, perhaps you can help Tarani with what she needs to
do." Asaile slipped into the side door leading to her bedchamber from
the parlor.

"I need to do something?" Tarani sounded bewildered. They weren't going
to expect her to go into mourning for him, were they?

Brina gave her a considering look. "I expect you'll want to attend the
funeral." She couldn't blame Tarani for not being overly upset by the
turn of events; the marriage had been arranged and the prospective
husband was rather old for her. Still, she would have to see that the
girl behaved in a suitable manner. "We'll wait until the situation is
more stable, though." Who knew what chaos Beryl Peak would be in, with
the Lord Holder dying by violence and no obvious heir.

She didn't like to speculate, though, not within earshot of Lady Asaile.
"I'll speak to my brother, ask him to find out what the state of affairs
is at the Hold. You should write to your uncle, and ask for his advice."
She turned to the other young lady. "Lady Noriya, would you mind
remaining here, in case the Lady Holder needs you?"

"Of course, Lady Brina," she nodded and returned to her chair and
embroidery. She could keep herself occupied right here until the
Lord's sister or Lady Asaile returned.

Last updated on the December 2nd 2020


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All references to worlds and characters based on Anne McCaffrey's fiction are © Anne McCaffrey 1967, 2013, all rights reserved, and used by permission of the author. The Dragonriders of Pern© is registered U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, by Anne McCaffrey, used here with permission. Use or reproduction without a license is strictly prohibited.