Previously: The Prophecy about the succession has everyone worried, confused, or both! You can read this bit here.
While Orydia is absolutely livid with regards to the Prophecy, she feels the potential enmity of her brother Andrion just as keenly, if not more so.
He on his part also has some things to get off his chest…
XI Song of Orydia –Evening Lament
The brother of my heart has become my enemy
My elder brother, my rock, no longer wishes me well
Not by my choosing
Not by his wishing
My beloved brother, who used to protect me
Who made me safe always
Who filled my days with laughter
With tremendous adventure
Who helped me to bear the great task awaiting
Who now takes it away
Not by his wishing
Not by my choosing
When we were children not a day went by
Nay, not an hour, that I was without him
We ran through the Palace together
And all the gardens
We fell out of trees
We fell into ponds
We played in the Temple
We were punished together
We ran off again after
When we were children
We were as one
Where one ended the other began
We are children no more, my brother, my loved one
Those days are long gone
Not by my choosing
Not by your wishing
But I remember them still
I remember them still
XII Meditation – Midnight
My walls hear whispers
My floors feel tremblings
My windows are tearful
My rooms fill with anguish
My halls fear the darkness
My gates feel it coming
Great conflict is growing
Peace will be abandoned
No singing but mourning
I will soothe my people
I will end their nightmare
I who am growth and love
I will reconcile them
I will flood them with love
This brother and sister
XIII Song of Andrion – Morning
Morning sun has barely started
To fill the courtyards with warmth and light
But already there are shouts and a clatter
And laughing sounds in one of them:
Prince Andrion and some of his friends
Are practising their sword fighting skills,
Wrestling and stick fighting as well.
His dark hair neatly clubbed, his smooth
Olive back gleaming with youthful sweat,
Andrion is beating his companions. And they
Are not even letting him win. His temper is
Too short for that these days. But for now he
Smiles, parrying their every stroke, breaking
Their defenses, and maybe some small bones.
Just when his friends try to surrender, laughing
And Andrion starts toweling down, a hush
Surrounds him, and looking up he sees approaching
Falchion, the wise Vizier that he has always trusted.
He smiles in welcome, but his eyes are wary.
His friends don’t need a warning: they slip off
As dogs at an approaching thunderstorm.
Falchion, as always, sees him with affection,
Not tall, but well-built, with beautiful smooth skin
And a winning smile, that now seems to be fading.
Andrion leans against a sunlit wall, his arms crossed,
While Falchion, after bowing, is permitted to sit down
On a nearby fountain rim. Even so, he barely has to
Look up at Andrion, he is so tall, his back so straight,
As is his gaze. The prince is not disconcerted by this,
He no longer is the child that used to hide
Spiders and fire ants in the Vizier’s boots, or mislaid
His scrolls or writing tablets. But they both remember
Those days, and this is a power between them.
So Andrion speaks to him respectfully, in words
Such as follow: “O Falchion, I know that you have come
To speak to me about the Oracle our Mother has received.
And I think you know already what my feelings are
Regarding this matter. I have been happy enough
Being my mother’s son, my sister’s brother, doing
Whatever needs to be done. I have my place here at
The Palace, working hard an learning many skills
To be someone the House and Land can count on,
To be someone in my own right, valued for who I am.
But now it seems that I am of no more consequence
Than a fine breeding stallion, a young bull, to be
Useful in his offspring only.” He frowns, for he
Did not expect to feel quite so angry suddenly.
He struggles to regain his composure. Falchion
Raises his hand, and speaks soothingly: ”My Lord,
Permit me to speak freely. I know that this is a sore
Point for you, and always has been: the question of
Your perceived unusefulness, you being a man
And not a woman. This Oracle has shocked you
And has shaken your confidence. But Highness,
You and I both know that it was just a matter
Of time until the serpents would sing words
Amounting to the exclusion of your sister.
What is new is the great honour that could be
Bestowed on you.” Andrion looks at him mockingly:
“What honour could this be? A new ceremonial function?
Keeper of the Royal Stables?” Falchion smiles patiently.
“My Lord, what I mean is the fact that in your case
The Blood could be passed on in the male line. This is
Unique, and will likely cause complicating precedents.
Since custom does allow family names and possession
To be passed on by sons by lack of daughters, this will
Not be so revolutionary, speaking in general. But the
Royal Priestess Line has never before continued
Without direct descendence to a daughter. The Goddess
Who guides us must have seen in you a possibility
There never has been before. Some unique quality that makes
You -possibly- a portal for the new Mother Queen to arrive.
This will require sacrifice, as sacred duty always does. Your mother
Knows all about that. It is why she never could speak about these
Matters to you and your sister before- “ But Andrion is furious.
“So my sister is so inadequate, is she, that even a man could be considered
A means, if needs must be, to save the Line? Please do forgive me
For taking no pleasure at my sister’s misfortune, she who has always
Been more than fully dedicated to her future task, only to have her sacrifice
Flung back in her face! And forgive me I am not much
Honoured at being a possible portal for a fabled incarnation
That won’t be due for many years! I was right, the Royal
Stables it is- oh pardon me, the Sacred Royal Stables.” He fumes.
Falchion slightly clenches his fist, but retains his composure.
“Highness, please. Believe I do understand. Things are as they are.
You have to admit that at least you would be permitted to acknowledge
Your princess daughter, as no other Royal father ever has before.”
Is there a tiny glint of pain in his eyes? No, it is nothing.
“And other than a breeding stallion, who has his brood mares
Picked for him, you will choose your own bride, just as a Queen will
Choose the father of her children. You are indeed in a unique position.
Spirit Herself will guide you to be the key to her will. Permit yourself,
My Lord, to become used to this new task. It is not the least, but very much
The greatest that you have been given, even if it is not what you
Have ever expected.” Andrion turns white with rage. His voice however
Is low and even. “What is this, Falchion? Why do you want to see
Me and Orydia pitted against each other? Why do you, her tutor,
Suddenly seem to be on my side? Is it her, my scheming sister, who
Has always known how to enrage me? Or is it my mother, who is
Less subtle, but just wants you to get me courting seriously, like the
Grown up she never took me for? To see me encumbered with a pregnant
Girl already? What does she know, that Orydia will fail? Or is this a ploy
To have us both start rutting like mad, a breeding competition?”
Falchion rises. Through clenched teeth he manages: “Not at all. I do
My duty by you: to advise your best course of action.” Andrion laughs
Scornfully, already leaving: “Best for whom? I did not ask for your counsel.”
He turns, stands still: “And for things being as they are: all things that live
Can be changed. Anyone living in this Living Palace understands that.”
And he is off, shouting for his chariot and dogs: another hunting day.
The High Priest-Vizier can only shake his head, and slowly walk away.
Next week: Andrion makes up his mind, while the approaching Full Moon awakens longings & dreams…