Stars Over Llorleya- Chapter 4

Fiction By Anna // 12/10/2007

Chapter the Fourth

One month, Aria thought. Then everything ends.
She was at the archery range, firing arrows at will. She was a pretty good shot, usually, but the wind was making a total mess of things. She frowned, letting her bow drop to her side. Fall was coming in fast. She drew her cloak tighter around her, the familiar royal purple cloth warming her. Then she drew another arrow from the quiver at her feet and straightened. Drawing the arrow back steadily, she narrowed her eyes, aiming for the dead center of the target. She fired the arrow straight and true, but it went askew, turning off to the side with the wind and diving headlong into the ground. Aria snorted and drew another arrow.
She felt someone brush up next to her, silently lining up beside her in the stance for shooting an arrow. She smiled, glad of the presence. It was Gilligan. He held her hand and helped her pull the arrow behind her ear, tilting the bow slightly upward so that they were looking down the shaft of the arrow.
"Now let go," he whispered gently. They released the arrow together and it zipped forward in an arch, landing smack in the bulls-eye when it dived down again. She felt the tips of her ears tingling pink, but whether from pride for shooting straight or shame for not being able to do it herself she did not know.
"Now that’s how you shoot an arrow," Gilligan said simply, not at all proud or arrogant. He selected a crossbow for himself off the rack, along with a quiver of red-feathered arrows. "I forgot my bow and quiver," he said, by way of an explanation for his choice.
"I though I was forbidden to…" Aria trailed off, a question in her eyes.
Gilligan, eyes set on his target as he drew back his first arrow, didn’t look at her. "I already talked to the Queen. She’s definitely the one to ask when you want a small favor, that’s for sure. She told me that we could still spend time together while you were here- that includes holidays when you come home." Twang. He lowered his bow and strung on another arrow in satisfaction.
Aria clapped her hands delightedly. "Wonderful news!" Oh, thank you, God! Then she returned to archery.
She shot a few more arrows in the way Gilligan had showed her, but noticed that Gilligan’s arrows always were more toward the center than hers. He shot with a fatal accuracy; his arrows hissed forward, intent on striking the bulls-eye.
"How do you shoot so well?" she asked after some time of observation.
Still shooting, Gilligan replied, "I have to; it’s part of a knight’s training. We don’t only use swords; we have to be adapted to other weapons too, and archery gives us a good sense of aim."
"Well, all that I know is that you’re a much better shot than me."
"I bet I’m a better swordsman, too," he said, grinning.
Aria’s lips tightened into a hard line. Gilligan thought she looked the same way she had appeared as a child when told humans couldn’t fly. (That incident had ended with mild amusement on the adults’ part, and frustration, disappointment, wounded pride, and badly bruised knees on Aria’s.)
"Would you like to prove it?" she asked, her eyes alight with pride.
"Sure," he answered, "if you don’t mind losing the fight."
"Oh, you’ll regret saying that!" declared Aria fiercely.
The two went out to the Great Lawn, each having chosen a sword that was to their liking. Each edge was slightly dull so that they wouldn’t slice each other to pieces.
Aria took her position. "Bring on your best!" she laughed.
"You’ll regret saying that." He grinned again, handling the sword deftly.
"Begin!" she announced.
The two were immediately at the fight. Aria dealt some quick, light thrusts, but Gilligan blocked them expertly. Though Aria could sword fight fairly well, she soon knew by his skill that Gilligan was doing to outdo her quite easily, so she decided to play her best while she could and devoted her attention to defense. It was amazing some of the things she could do when she tried. But nevertheless, Gilligan’s sword point soon found its way to her throat.
She dropped to her knees, her cloak flying off as she did so, in mock surrender. "O mighty warrior," she cried dramatically, sweeping her arms to the side in a gesture of defeat, "you have certainly deserved this victory; I pray that you might have mercy on me, your servant. I am nothing but a dead dog if you refuse me thus- Please, allow me to live."
Gilligan laughed. "You are far too well-spoken to be a barbarian fighter. You have read too many storybooks. Rise, fair one, and take up your sword!"
"Who says I was playing the barbarian?" she said indignantly, rising up. "Well, you may be a better archer and sword fighter than me, but I bet you aren’t as good a dancer!" She thrust out her chin defiantly.
"Is this a challenge, Princess?" he inquired with a smile.
"You may take it as such," she answered.
"Then I accept. I have longed for a good dance," he said merrily. "Let us begin!"
Aria shook her head. "No, Gilligan, not like that. The gentlemen bows, first."
Gilligan did so, and Aria curtsied in greeting.
She continued in her instruction. "This means they acknowledge each other. Then the gentlemen offers his arm, and says-"
"I know this part," interjected Gilligan, nodding. "I say, ‘May I have this dance?’"
"Yes, Gill," said Aria impatiently, "But the gentlemen does not interrupt the lady." (This was spoken sternly, in mock severity.)
"I beg your pardon," he said politely. "May I have this dance, Lady Aria?"
"Yes, Sir Gilligan. I’d be honored," she curtsied again, taking the offered arm.
"I don’t quite understand all this curtsying and bowing!" he laughed.
"You wouldn’t," she retorted curtly.
Then they began to dance. Aria was to be correct here; she was a better dancer.
"Watch out, fumble-foot, that was my toe!"
"Really? I can’t make out a single thing that’s happening down there, so I can’t really be responsible for what my feet may do. Ow!" He winced in pain. "That was my toe!"
"The difference between my stumble and yours was that I did it on purpose. Now pay attention!"
"Well, that’s certainly not very nice. This is dangerous, I tell you, simply dangerous! You didn’t tell me this contest would risk me my life. Confound dancing!"
"Be careful- here comes the twirl! Don’t drop me!" she said in a very pride-wounding mock terror.
"Dash it all, Aria, you win! I surrender! Just don’t sentence me to any more of this torture!" Gilligan let go of her and sat heavily on the grass, panting and laughing all at once.
"I think I might be merciful," she said, a smile twitching on the corners of her lips. "But just remember, if you ache all over it’s not my fault. Mostly, anyway." She was hardly even winded.
Neither of them noticed the stern eyes that were fixed upon them from an upper window.
Once again Becky makes an interruption. This is the third time, I believe, that she has done this, to the same person, in the presence of the same people, for the same reason. I suppose you may guess what she has to say.
Becky approached cautiously. "Aria, your uncle would like to see you- he’s in his study."
Aria sobered quickly. "What has he to say now? Something unpleasant, I presume?"
"He looks disturbed by something… but nothing serious, I think," she said slowly.
"I’ll go," Aria said, sighing resignedly. "I don’t think there’s a cause to be alarmed…"
"Would you like me to come along?" Gilligan asked it helpfully, but he looked worried, remembering her reactions to former conversations.
She looked over her shoulder as she walked away. "No, I was the only one summoned- besides, I think I can face him alone." Then she left.
****
"Uncle?" Aria peeked into the king’s study. It was a spacious room, with shelves on all sides. The shelves contained annals of the kingdom, including some journals of former monarchs. Also a few of King Marcus’s personal books were placed there. A desk sat against the wall, and a wooden chair was pushed up against it. On the other side of the room, wedged into a nook between two bookshelves, was large, comfortable rocking chair- perfect for snuggling into when you wanted to spend a cozy afternoon reading. Many a time Aria had read there- from the time when she was little, when her uncle would somehow find the time to read to her, to now, when she found the cherished moment that studies would allow her in for pleasure reading. Between the desk and the chair was a wide window, overlooking the Great Lawn. It was at this window that King Marcus stood waiting.
"Hello, Aria." He actually smiled fondly as she entered. "I’m not so much of a beast that you cannot come to me to talk, am I?"
Aria smiled. He was acting like he had before- when she had been younger. Almost gentle, really, as he walked to his reading chair and sat down in it.
He looked disappointed when she didn’t immediately step forward and embrace him. What Aria didn’t, no, couldn’t know was what he was thinking. Determined to prove to himself that she wasn’t quite a woman yet, he said, "Come, let’s see if you’re still small enough to sit on my lap."
She walked over, still reserved and careful, partly because she was suppressing the growing urge to leap onto him. She carefully sat down.
Though the king was not an impulsive man by nature, he felt words leave his lips that he had never meant to say. "Aria, please hug me."
The whisper was so soft that at first Aria wasn’t sure it was meant for her to hear. It would have been easy to ignore it. But he sounded so longing…
The king, dignified, majestic King Marcus, soon found himself wrapped in her embrace. "Oh, Uncle… I missed this." She laid her head confidentially on his shoulder.
"I missed you, Aria… You’re almost grown up…. I feel as though I’ve wasted the time God gave me with you. You’re not a child any longer."
Aria raised her head. Was he actually crying? To be sure, the tears were not pouring down heavily, but Aria had never seen him cry before. She was shocked. "Uncle- Uncle, don’t cry- please, it’s horrible-"
Have you ever seen a full grown man cry? It’s odd and frightening. Since there is really no true way to describe a scene like this, I must pass over it and leave it to imagination, despite any indignation that you, the reader, may show.
Once the king was composed again, he was rather embarrassed and Aria was very uncomfortable- physically and emotionally. She was suddenly completely absorbed in twisting a lock of her hair. They were both quiet for a long period of time.
"There was a reason I called for you- two, in fact. But we have been so…" He trailed off. "I had forgotten it."
"Had? Have you remembered it now, Uncle?" said Aria politely, almost sounding bored. In truth, she was very much relieved that their thoughts were being deflected from their unpleasant former subject.
"Well, firstly," he began, "I saw you earlier."
"Saw me?" Aria cocked her head confusedly.
"I saw you dancing with the knight, confound his name…"
"Gilligan?" Aria’s cheeks flushed lightly.
"Yes, that’s the one- the dashing rogue with brown hair."
"He’s not a rogue…" murmured Aria, reddening even more.
"The point is that you were dancing- You’re barely fourteen, Aria. Much too young for courtship."
Now Aria’s ears were bright pink, and coloring even more. "It wasn’t courtship- the dancing was my fault- We were matching strengths, contesting. He was better than me at archery and sword fighting, so I, on the spur of the moment, challenged him to a dance. I was foolish, I’ll admit. I’m sorry, Uncle. I’m just impulsive. I just-"
"Didn’t think," he finished for her, actually somewhat relieved that it was only for amusement. "I’ve heard it before. Thoughtlessness is a fault, certainly, but admonitions do not really correct it. You must train yourself."
Aria nodded. "I truly am sorry, Uncle," she said, resting her head on his shoulder apologetically.
"That will do," he replied, fondly tousling her hair. "Now, for the second thing. Stand up."
Aria did so, her curiosity growing. In her shame, she had almost forgotten that there had been something else.
The king searched under the folds of his robe, finally retrieving whatever he was looking for.
"Here, Aria," he whispered. "See how it catches the light."
She held out a trembling hand, hardly daring to touch the thing for fear it should shatter. He gently laid the cold, thin object on her fingers. Hanging off tightly woven black cord was a silver medallion, hardly thicker than a silk scarf, engraved skillfully with Celtic knots and rings and curlicues. In the exact center a diamond glittered in the room’s dim lighting, and seemed to glimmer and shimmer with a quiet, soft shine. "It’s breathtaking- like a star caught from the sky," she breathed.
"It was your mother’s. No one knows about it except the royal family- Aunt and you and I. I thought now was a good time to give it to you. Here, I’ll fasten it around your neck."
Aria obediently bowed her head, holding her hair off the back off her neck so that her uncle could clasp it. His big, rough hands were clumsy with the tiny, fragile clip. Aria, suddenly afraid he would break it, stayed his hand.
"No, I will do it," she said. He understood and gave it to her gently. Her hand trembled slightly as it found the delicate clasp. How could a necklace so weightless be so heavily laden with faint, far-off memories? But after what seemed to be half of forever, it somehow found its way to be hanging off her graceful neck on a slender chain.
She let the medallion fall underneath the neckline of her dress, hidden to prying eyes.
"Our secret?" he asked her.
"Our secret," she nodded, smiling.
"I love you, daughter," he whispered, pulling her close.
She hardly breathed. It was the first time he had called her his daughter. "I love you, too, Father," she whispered back. The word felt awkward and heavy on her tongue. Oh, well, she thought, I’ll get used to it, I suppose. Or I won’t use it… But she didn’t particularly like that answer and shook it off.
"Come here!" He picked her up lightly around the waist and spun her around as she laughed. She hadn’t done this since she had been six or so… and- oh- it was wonderful.
****
Presently they calmed down, and Aria looked down at her silver circle thoughtfully.
"Are you- okay- now?" Marcus asked softly.
"Yes." Aria smiled. "God is gracious."
After a pause, "Tell me about my parents, please." She settled into his lap again, fingering her new necklace contemplatively.
"Erik, my younger brother- your father- was tall and handsome, with a mop of curly hair, dark as yours. He was rather of a practical, sensible sort. I suppose you get you imagination from your mother.
"Erik went off to travel some time after my coronation. He said he was going to ‘see the sky’, whatever that meant. He said a certain book had piqued his curiosity about it. To this day I don’t know where he went, what he did, or what he meant. But when he came back, he brought a bride. Her name was odd- Cera.
"She was slender and small and graceful- like you- and beautiful as the moon and stars, all clad in white and silver and gold. She carried herself and her head like a queen, and her hair was like starlight and she seemed to shine from within.
"Neither of them ever said where she was from. She held herself a bit withdrawn from the rest of us. She was very much a stargazer- seemed to love the sky. She was up at night a lot- one might even say that she glowed faintly in the darkness."
"Did she?" Aria asked. She had very little asked about her parents before, but she already knew her answer.
"No, dear. That’s only myth, as far as anyone knows. But fantasy becomes you- believe it if you like.
"Well, then you were born. The castle rejoiced. I’d never seen a man so happy as my brother, nor a woman so bright as Cera. She really did seem to shine, then. We’d never seen her so smiling and gay as she was with you- just like a merry little lass."
"I’m glad I could please them- before they died, you know… It wouldn’t seem right if I had been a disappointment. I’m not sure I could bear it," Aria said half-happily that they had liked her, half-quietly.
"You were certainly not a disappointment.
"Cera said you must be named Aria- ‘melody’. Apparently her people are much given to song."
"It makes me wish I could play an instrument, or sing," said Aria contemplatively. "Perhaps I could learn to play the harp. I’ve always liked the sound of a harp. Or a flute- there’s something happy and whimsical in a flute, like a fairytale forming in the trees."
Marcus smiled at her. "Perhaps you will."
"How did they die?" Aria asked solemnly. She had never asked this part of the story before.
A shadow darkened Marcus’s face. "It started out odd. One day, your mother went into your room and sat by your cradle, looking very determined and sad all at once, as though she were about to do something right and good, but very sacrificial on her part, that she would really rather not do at all. When she came out again, she looked older somehow- not old, understand, but older, whereas she had always seemed very young before. And if she had ever shined beforehand, she didn’t now. She looked- well- more earthly, less ethereal… human, almost.
"My brother looked at her, and he seemed rather astonished, knowing or guessing what had happened. She went into a room with him and they began to talk. I think she was crying. After that, I knew no more of what they said or did, but they seemed to look at you differently, sadly, as though they knew something of your future that could be very sad."
Marcus shook his head.
Aria was silent in contemplation of and sadness for the mother she had never known.
But her uncle continued.
"Then she got sick, and died. It was all very sudden and immediate. It wasn’t a very bad sickness, by all standards, but it’s as though she had never been sick before, and had never built an immunity to it. She had certainly never been the slightest bit sick while she was with us, anyway."
"And of my father?"
"He tried to live on, for you, but…" Marcus shook his head again. "After Cera died… he just… well… it’s as though his heart still lived entwined with hers. He never got over it."
Aria did not cry. Why should she? She had never known them, and was perfectly happy living under the care of her relatives, who, she had sometimes thought, were just as good, if not better, than parents. But now, for just a moment, she wished she could have seen her mother…

Aria successfully forgot the strange things told her about her mother, and wouldn’t recall it for some time, as you will see. But she will find it to be very important to her when she does remember.

In the meantime.

A servant boy popped into the room unexpectedly. "The princess’s cloak, Sir. She left it outside," he said quickly and dropped the purple cloak she had left on the Great Lawn into her arms.
Aria smiled guiltily at her uncle. "I didn’t think," she said.

Comments

I love it! especially ~ A

I love it!
especially
~
A servant boy popped into the room unexpectedly. "The princess’s cloak, Sir. She left it outside," he said quickly and dropped the purple cloak she had left on the Great Lawn into her arms.
Aria smiled guiltily at her uncle. "I didn’t think," she said.
~
That's hillarious!

Sarah | Tue, 12/11/2007

"Sometimes even to live is courage."
-Seneca

Blogging away!
busyscribbler.wordpress.com

Thank you! It gets better, I

Thank you! It gets better, I hope.
Out of curiosity, who's your favorite character so far? (Note: Whatever you say, I'll probably reply somthing like "I feel sorry for you" or "Too bad" or "crudmonkeys". Just because I feel like it.)

Anna | Tue, 12/11/2007

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

idk :D

idk
i like Aria
also Gilligan
also Wynd
also Rayne
also i always have a BILLION
fav carachters in any given book.
:D

Sarah | Tue, 12/11/2007

"Sometimes even to live is courage."
-Seneca

Blogging away!
busyscribbler.wordpress.com

Okay, I'll divide it up,

Okay, I'll divide it up, fav. girl and fav. boy.

Anna | Wed, 12/12/2007

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

:D

I really don't know who my fav carachter is.

Sarah | Wed, 12/12/2007

"Sometimes even to live is courage."
-Seneca

Blogging away!
busyscribbler.wordpress.com

:D

boy-Gilligan
girl-Wynde/Aria/Rayne
:D
did that help????
lol

Sarah | Wed, 12/12/2007

"Sometimes even to live is courage."
-Seneca

Blogging away!
busyscribbler.wordpress.com

:D

boy-Gilligan
girl-Wynde/Aria/Rayne
:D
did that help????
lol

Sarah | Wed, 12/12/2007

"Sometimes even to live is courage."
-Seneca

Blogging away!
busyscribbler.wordpress.com

tell me what you like

Tell me what you like about them and what you don't like. That could help for story improvement. Of course, I can't make them perfect... but still.

Anna | Sat, 12/15/2007

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

Oh my

Fav Guy: Gilligan
He fun, humorous, talented, and a big tease.
Fav Girl: Rayne
She's bookish, kind, but still a little selfish and there's something "different" about her, like Wynd said.

Gilligan and Aria are so cute when their together. A shame the King and Queen are going to split them up...

Okay I must have formed a dozen different theories about a dozen different things right now, hehe.

Anonymous | Wed, 07/09/2008

Once again this is really

Once again this is really good.

"This is most inconvenient, as I have swarn to loath him for all eterinty". Elizabeth Pride and Prejugdice

Alecia | Sat, 03/14/2009

It awoke with a shrill shreak that can be trnaslated "How dare you leave me in this bed, when I am asleep and helpless?" My sister

Awesomeness!!! Fave

Awesomeness!!!

Fave guy:
Definitely Gill, he's offically on my fangirl list now!
Fave girl:
Hmmm....Idk....

This comment was made by Erin!

"Never, never give up. Unless you get really tired." -Ellen Degenres

Erin | Sat, 03/28/2009

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

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