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New Chapters (24)

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I've three new chapters, but I think at least a couple of them exceed the character limit for a blog:lol:, so I'm goiing to post them as parts. It looks like the most current part of my story was numbered 23, so I'll just start here calling it part 24.

Enjoy,
Meg

Next Chapter

Arabella had barely dressed when she was pounced upon by an exuberant Philomina. Allarick was already gone for the morning. He had awoken her just briefly at dawn to give her a lingering kiss and to tell her that he must attend the council. There would be much to talk of this morning as it became known that he had taken a mate. A touch of apprehension had coursed down her spine as she worried over the tumult that his news would bring. It was not likely to be well received that he had claimed her, whom no one really knew much about, but he had kissed her soundly, ordered her not to worry, and then left her to attend to his duties. She had spent the remainder of the morning lazing about in bed savoring the moment until she decided it was past time to be up.

“Tell me Nechemya is not carrying tales Bella. You have been claimed by Allarick,” the smile on Philomina’s face was bright enough to have lit an entire city. There was little question that she was pleased by the situation, “I knew there was attraction between you, but I could not believe my ears when I was informed of your mating. I had not dared to hope that Allarick would really take a mate, and yet, Nechemya assures me that it is so. Even if he had not, the band upon your arm tells of you status.”

Bubbling over with her joy, Philomina circled Arabella surveying her from all sides. Then she moved a little closer as she took in the beauty of the mating mark.

“I have never seen one so intricate. Normally the bands are solid with a single design in the middle similar to the decoration hanging from a necklace. It looks as if someone has woven the vines around you and they have since bloomed.”

“Allarick claims that I am his tamore Mina,” she couldn’t help ducking her head a little as she spoke. She was pleased with their mating, but Arabella was still a bit embarrassed with the speed with which it happened. At home, nice girls did not run off to marry a man who they had only known for such a short time. There was little reason to add the argument of their magnetic attraction as this would only be scoffed at as lust. Maybe it was, but she felt quite certain that it was more than that. The band now decorating her arm only proclaimed that fact more loudly to her brain, which was racing to catch up with what her heart and body already knew.

“His tamore,” she replied in a shocked whisper, “why, that would make you the first couple with such a bond in almost an entire generation. Our parents were one of the last couples to have found their destined mates, and since it has become rumored that our gods abandon us. Only a handful of couples could claim such a thing in the last fifty cycles. If Allarick says it is so, then it explains quite a bit about the beauty of your mark. My parents had one, not as intricate as yours, but it was still lovely to see.”

“It can not be as rare as that Mina. Allarick seemed to know exactly what we were to one another, but how could he be so certain if all that is left of such things are mostly tales. I know you saw the bond between your own parents, but I still wonder how he could have believed it with such conviction.”

“Simple really, nothing short of finding his tamore would have moved my brother to break his word. If it had been mere attraction that he felt for you, then he would never have chosen to take a mate.” Philomina sighed a little. It seemed that she had talked to Bella a bit about her brother and his goals. She had spoken of his virtues before, but this would take a bit more to explain since politics and not mating were not easily linked to one another.

“Allarick has been the Syine for many years, but, as I’ve said before, I remember before he took on such a great responsibility. He was always laughing and singing, dancing a playing with those around him. He loved all people. Not just those of our same lot in life, but he enjoyed the company of those deemed beneath us as well. Many of the working class were called ‘friend’ by him. That is partially how Nechemya came to serve us here. You would not know it to see them now, but they were the best of friends many years ago. There is still closeness between them, but his time as ruler has caused my brother to withdraw from all around him in a misguided attempt to shield us from his responsibilities. Even still, Nechemya is not only trusted with Allarick’s life, but he is the one entrusted to help see to our safety as well. He is much more than a mere servant in our house, and I treat him like a beloved member of my family,” Philomina began to ramble on about what it is that Nechemya was to her family.

Arabella had come to find that Mina had the tendency to flit from idea to idea as she was talking to you. It made it difficult to understand her sometimes, but it was one of the things she found so endearing. Instead of becoming impatient at Philomina’s launch into a tale of Nechemya, she merely smiled her encouragement for a continuation of the tale.

“Anyway,” Mina said as she noticed her digression, “when Allarick had been Syine for a cycle or two, he came to see that there was very little likelihood in being able to balance a mate as well as do all for his people that he would like. He is very dedicated to providing more rights to those of the working classes as I’ve told you once before. Both of us believe laborers and slaves alike should have certain freedoms and he has worked tirelessly to make them reality. It is mostly because of his efforts that it is not more common to see people beaten in homes. Phelon, for example, and some of his cronies are some of the only ones who are still holding to such barbaric tradition.

Allarick has also been working to see that the laboring and slave class are given some representation within the ruling council. At the moment the entire council is comprised of only the lords who hold a title to each tract of land. What is proposed is that the council be divided into three bodies. There would be three people from each area that would sit on the council. One from each class, and while my brother would still preside over it all, he hopes to bring our people, all our people, an opportunity to help create their own destiny. Allarick has decreed that it is to be set in motion at the coming council meeting. This will be the first time that there is a delegate from each class in attendance.

Many of my brother’s policies have made him beloved by our people, but it has also given him many enemies. There are those within all classes who would like to see that life here never changes. Much of the opposition comes from ruling families, but there are also those who barter slaves or skim wages from other laborers. These men would not like to see a society where their opportunity to take advantage of those weaker than themselves come to pass.”

“But Mina,” Arabella queried gently as it seemed the younger girl was off on another tangent, “what does all of this have to do with Allarick’s vow to never mate?”

“Oh,” Philomina had the good grace to blush at her little speech of her brother’s good deeds, “when Allarick came to see all the work that must be done to alter beliefs, and the opposition to such changes, he vowed to never mate. Publicly he said that it was solely because he wanted to be devoted to his people… Married to them and all that nonsense, but really he just didn’t want to place someone in danger by making them his mate. Anyone whom he joins his life to would become a target for those same people who wish him ill. It would have been worse if his chosen mate did not believe as he did about giving back to all since they may be harmed for a cause that they didn’t support. Personally, I tend to think that Allarick had just never found someone who would be the type of mate he needs. He needed someone who is not fragile like many of the other women here, and someone that will be in full support of his desires to make this world better for all. You show the same compassion to all that my brother does, and rumors of your standing up to Phelon to save Tamarin from a beating a circulating through the palace. You are the exact type of mate that my brother needs, blending together the same qualities of caring and strength that Allarick has.”

“That story is going around the palace?” Arabella couldn’t hide her embarrassment at being talked about by others within the palace.

“No need to worry about trouble. It is only passing around amongst the servants, and most of them avoid Phelon and his associates.”

“Mina, I don’t know how to respond to what it is that you have told me. This thing between Allarick and I is complicated at best. Even with the attraction that is between us, there is still the problem of my return to my own world. There is much good I could do here, but there are people in my own world who are counting on me to return to them. I’ve family and friends who will worry at my absence. I may never be able to return, especially since in the weeks I’ve been here I have not made any progress on determining where here is, but I must keep trying. I can not betray all the others that I love by not continuing to look for a way to return to them.”

“What about my brother? What is to become of him when you leave?”

“I imagine that he will go on living, just as I will have to go on with my life as well. It is going to destroy a part of me to leave him, and our love is still new. I fear what it will cost me to leave if I am not able to find a way home soon. I care deeply for your brother Mina. I do not understand it entirely, but even I know love when it has claimed me. I do not wish to cause him unnecessary pain, but just as he has responsibilities he can not leave here I have the same. I’m not looking after an entire planet of people, but there are ones who count on me. My mother and sister rely on me to support them though it is a well kept secret. I left home at a young age, but I send money each month so that they can have good food, a roof over their heads, and most importantly so that my sister can have some hope of building her own future. They need me, and there is no way for me to disregard their needs. Not even for my own happiness would I have those that I love suffer. The only way that I could be at peace here is to know that those I’ve left behind are cared for and safe.”

“I know that you have others who depend on you Bella, but we shall worry over that problem if it comes to pass,” Philomina customarily brushed the unhappy subject away by changing it, “Today is a happy day for you and Allarick, and I would like to welcome you as my sister with a trip to the market. It is traditional for a mated pair to exchange gifts publicly after the announcement of their mating, and perhaps you will find something you wish to give to my brother.”

“A gift, but I have no money to purchase anything.”

“Money is not an issue. Allarick will be happy to cover anything that you choose,” refusing to give Arabella any time to decline her offer of an excursion, Philomina breezed from the room with a smile and instructions to join her outside as soon as she was dressed to leave.

Arabella laughed lightly at the younger girl’s antics. Mina was quite fond of leaving a discussion at just the right time to ensure her target would do as demanded. She had seen the younger girl using the same tactic on both Allarick and Nechemya who would both give a bewildered look as they wondered how they had been conned into doing Mina’s bidding. Maybe it would be a good idea to cultivate the same manner since it was often met with the desired result. Even knowing the trap, Bella had managed to be caught within it as easily as all the others.
* * * * * * * * * * * *

The market was an amazing place to visit. Philomina had not lied when she said it would be a bit of a walk, but with such pleasant weather it was a nice diversion. The city streets were teeming with people going about all their daily routines. There were women carrying baskets of food to their homes to prepare the evening dinner. Children were running about playing a game call borschell that was similar to soccer with sticks. They were using a ball sewn of animal hide and stuffed with grasses as their ball, and they were hitting it around with stout limbs taken from the forest.

Philomina spent the majority of the day dragging Arabella around the many stalls. When she noticed that Bella was still hesitant to purchase anything, Mina couldn’t help but take on the task. With an impish grin she had pulled her friend into a stall full of luxurious fabrics. By the time she had finished making choices of what would suit her friend the stack of fabric was enormous.

“Mina, this is entirely too much,” Arabella started to protest as she was giving directions for the fabric to be taken to the seamstress in the palace.

“Nonsense, you need new garments that have not been borrowed from another’s wardrobe. These colors will look amazing, and I’m certain that Allarick will be pleased,” it was a subtle manipulation, but Philomina knew that pleasing her brother would cause his new mate to cave in quickly.

“You don’t think he’ll be angry for the money that is being spent,” the capitulation was in Arabella’s eyes and posture.

“Of course he will not be unhappy. The little bit spent here today will not concern him in the least,” Mina smiled with triumph. She knew she had one so she pressed a little further, “Why do we not go and search for a gift that you can give to Allarick.”
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