Vignette: Suffer

Who: Isolwyn and Lord Fort
Where: Fort Hold
What: Isolwyn visits her dying uncle.

“Leave us.”

The staff were accustomed to the order, if more accustomed to it coming from her uncle, and well used to leaving her with him for what information she had gleaned from her various sources, associates and supposed suitors to be talked through. The command was far more harsh of tone than she would have delivered to her own staff at the Weyr, but she was unwilling to be argued with and was not going to let her uncle believe that she had become anything but an imperious leader.

The door closed and Isolwyn moved to sit herself down at the side of Lord Fort’s bed, deliberately near enough that there was no chance that he might not hear every word she spoke. He still breathed, blinking listlessly up at the ceiling in what moments his eyes lifted open.

She crossed one leg over the other and let herself relax as she dragged her gaze over him from head to toe.

“I’m afraid I can’t bring myself to feel sorry that this will be your end. I’m sure others of the family will shed the tears you likely think you deserve, but then they don’t all know you like I do, do they?”

She made sure that her sigh was audible.

“A wiser man would have realised that the game was up the moment that Eosyth chose me. I stopped being your informant at that moment. I stopped being yours and anything to do with you. Perhaps if the Harper Hall had never decided to let dragonriders marry, you might have left me alone, or if I’d been destined to be a junior for the rest of my days. If Eosyth had not gained a reputation for being as powerful as she is.”

Leaning forward, she adjusted her skirts a little, the waistline of her dress pinching awkwardly in places it never had before, and propped her elbows on her knees, perching her chin atop laced fingers.

“I wouldn’t put it past you for you to have given orders for one of those irritating suitors to force me if I didn’t comply. Only, I don’t suppose that you knew that there are less than a handful of men that I let myself be alone in a room with. Someone else got there with the attempt before you thought to start sending those idiot boys to me… I wonder if you knew that you were risking their lives in sending them? I can promise you that the bronzerider who sought to force me to his will no longer walks among the living. Maybe the two of you will cross paths in whatever comes after. Whatever despicable place I hope you end up in.”

She closed her eyes for a moment, then opened them again to settle them upon his unseeing ones.

“Your error was your persistence in targeting me. And in choosing to carry that over to my child. The one that you’ve chosen to label a bastard and yet has a better Blooded lineage than your own grandchildren would have. If you were to have any. And even if my child were only to be of any Blooded note because they are Fortian, that would have been my decision. I chose their father. He doesn’t own me. I own me. Not you and not him, and who I chose to give myself to ceased being any of your business years ago.”

Sitting back, she folded her arms beneath her chest.

“I did your dirty work because I chose to. I’m not sure you ever understood that either. It was fun and far better than sitting embroidering cushion covers and waiting for you to assign me a husband. I liked manipulating those fools you wanted me to entrap and I was good at it. What I don’t understand is why you would doubt that my intelligence or my willingness to take steps that others might not would… be erased by Impression or distance from the Hold. You seem to have laboured under the idea that you made me and therefore I am yours to do with as you please. You are lucky that I chose to ignore your insulting efforts to command and control me for so long; that I spoke as if you were so far beneath my notice that it didn’t matter.”

Isolwyn leaned forward again as it seemed her uncle might try to speak, waiting him out while she knew he never would again.

“As I said… your mistake was degrading my child. The healer who informed you has been sent back to the Hall and I’m assured that they’ll have a good, long time to think about patient confidentiality while they relive their apprentice years and attempt to earn their Journeyman knot back. My child is not a bastard. Their father has not disowned them or me and they will live a far better life than anyone under your hand. They will be mine to raise and I won’t have to look them in the eye and wish their father was someone I respected or actually wanted.”

She smirked. “If you’d only considered your actions… Now you leave me with the opportunity to have my ‘bastard’ child, or another that might follow, signed into the line of succession of your precious Hold. And you can be sure that, if they want it, that is exactly what I will work to do.”

Isolwyn stood, smoothing her skirts into their proper lines. “Everything that you hold dear will be theirs, if they wish it to be. They will have the choices that you never gave me. You kept my parents out of my life… and I’ll take myself Between before I ever let anyone do that to my baby.”

Slowly, she began to make her way towards the door. “You taught me too well. And you made it hurt too much, in the end. You were a fool to believe you wouldn’t pay for it. Away from you, I learned how to love. And that is why you are lying there. And why I hope you live long enough to suffer.”

Without looking back, she swept out.

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