The Hand That Rocks The Cradle

Participants:

Garnalla (NPC'd by Max) and Auren (NPC'd by Ahnika)

Date: 2010.11.16
Location: Tillek Hold
Synopsis: Collab Vignette: Auren receives Max's note and starting to become ever more concerned for the wellbeing of his daughter, sends him a missive pleading for his help.
Rating: PG13
Logger: Max

Heading toward late winter on the northern continent, coupled with the winds that tended to howl in from the coastline, driving icy rain and sleet in before them, has Garnalla in more of a snit than usual. Not to mention that toady little weaver missing the appointment for her latest wardrobe fitting and then to top it all off, the steward, who riddled with a winter cold, had sneezed and spilled klah all over her favourite pair of slippers. The Lady Holder's stomach lurched and she swallowed hard as she swept down the hallway in search of Auren, heels clicking out imperiously across the wooden flooring. Yes, and then there was that little problem too, one that was becoming increasingly harder to deny. So it is that by the time she reaches the door at the end of the hall, her tone lofts out somewhat shriller than usual. "Auren! I told you I wanted it dressed and down in the parlour," the 'it' being her turn old daughter, "This just won't do. I don't know why I keep you around!" All this before she's even fully opened the door and taken in the room beyond.

Thank Faranth for that shrill voice heralding Garnalla’s arrival, enabling Auren to stuff that letter from Max into the pocket she’d sewn into the waistband of her skirt before the door could be opened. She moves then to pick up Larissa from her crib where she was extremely preoccupied with a wooden rattle, carefully straightening the baby’s luxurious and unnecessary (on a baby) gown. “Beggin’ your pardon, m’lady. Was just comin’ down. She had a bit of an accident on her other gown I dressed her in, she did, so I had to send it down to be laundered quick and got her in something … suitable,” Auren lies smoothly. She’s had a lot of practice at this point, doing her best to keep the child out of the cruel woman’s attentions as much as possible with various tales of messy diapers or rough nights of sleep likely being the reason for her tears when Garnalla holds her too firmly or just wrong. Auren’s never had children of her own, considering her husband’s … disappearance, but the eldest of a large family of siblings, she helped her own mother take care of the younger ones and is no stranger to attending to the needs of a baby. It’s not only a matter of trying to do this for Max, but Auren, herself, couldn’t stand to have the poor babe under Garnalla’s severe gaze let alone her thumb. It was bad enough Garnalla treated the child as a dress-up doll, an object, a trophy, and not a baby. If Auren could help keep Larissa from the brunt of her mother’s actions, she would, even if it meant lying.

Icy blue eyes take Auren in barely sparing the dark haired, dark eyed child in her arms a glance, the Lady’s pert little nose wrinkling in a show of distaste. Babies, such disgusting little creatures. Always making a mess, and a noise and just….horrid. She’d never seen the appeal in them. Except of course when her Lord was around, then she made all the right noises and petted and fussed over the child only to have it spoil everything by screwing its face up and rudely crying. Luckily Lord Elisser was besotted with it despite the fact that it shared none of his colouring and she’d had to use all her feminine wiles to explain away eyes that matched neither of theirs. How bothersome! As had been trying to convince him that a baby of perfectly normal birth weight was supposedly delivered prematurely. But what did he know. He was male. Men knew nothing of these things. Well that was neither here nor there, for right now, the harper was waiting downstairs to start a touching portrait of mother and child. One she intended hanging in the front parlour for all to see. Again her stomach lurched as nausea rose up. Himself better arrive home soon or else this latest little problem…wasn’t going to be as easy to explain. An irritated little sound spilled from her lips for the excuses given by the nanny and she reached for it, “Oh just give it here and go and….fold a diaper or something.” Hands grabbing around Larissa’s middle, completely ignoring the little rose coloured lower lip that almost immediately set to quivering with the baby girl’s arms tightening instinctively about her minder’s neck.

Auren instinctively held the baby a little closer, which was a mistake in judgment, and she knew it, so covered up with, “Best ta let me carry her down, methinks, m’lady, in case she sick-ups again. Wouldn’t want any of it to get all over you and your fine dress, would we?” The nanny rubbed Larissa’s back in an effort to be comforting subtly. She knew nothing of Lady Garnalla’s condition, but she knew the woman seemed more irritable than usual and that had Auren more antsy. There was only so much she could do to protect the baby from a woman of Garnalla’s rank and station without actually getting the child out of the Hold altogether, and where would she go? How would she get away? Lord Elisser would surely hunt her down and Larissa would simply be back where she was, and without Auren to try and deflect the worst of it. Things were getting worse, but Auren wasn’t sure what she could do about it. She didn’t want to alarm Max unnecessarily, but she knew he’d know what to do. He was clever and best of all he cared about Larissa and her well-being. He’d know what to do. She’d write him back as soon as she could get a few minutes to herself to do so. For now, her dark somewhat beady eyes and bird-like features were fixed on the Lady of the Hold, not challengingly as much as patiently expecting the woman to see reason here, at least when it comes to protecting her expensive gown. Auren quietly swallowed the bile that rose up in her throat over the fact that the Lady held her clothes in higher regard than her own flesh and blood.

At first, it was a flash of irritation that overtook Garnalla’s finely set features, and then a brittle little smile arranged itself upon a seductively shaped mouth, hands quickly falling to smooth over the fine silk brocade of her gown. “You should carry her down,” stated in such a ways as to suggest this had been her idea and not Auren’s. “I’ll take it once I’m settled.” And looking down her snooty nose to be captured for all posterity by a harper’s cunning hand. Completely fooled by the nanny’s demeanour, the Lady swept back out of the nursery in a whisper of skirts designed to flaunt her hourglass figure to the maximum. “Come along then, don’t dilly dally,” heels clipping along the wooden floors and on down the sweeping staircase to where Hathro, the harper whose misfortune it had been to draw this assignment, waited in a semblance of patience.

Auren smiles slightly, dipping her head a little in deference, “Very good, m’lady,” as if the lady’s suggestion was a pure stroke of genius, though she knows better by now than to lay the flattery on too thick and keeps the statement to that simple phrase alone. Garnalla was egocentric, but not stupid. Far from it, in fact. With another comforting pat against the back of the baby, Auren moves to follow a little distance behind her, cooing sweetly to Larissa as she goes in the hopes of sweet talking the babe into feeling disarmed enough to be handled by her own mother when they get to the parlor without setting the child into tears. Not expecting things to go well, Auren simply prepares herself for a very long and tense day. She definitely needs to get word to Max, and soon.

The moment she came into view of Hathro, Garnalla’s entire demeanour did an about face, as a softly seductive smile pulled into place for the reed thin harper. The rest of the day was a trial and a testament to her acting skills with the Lady flirting shamelessly with the artist, laughter tinkling out like a crystal drops whenever she could draw a comment from him, blue eyes flashing with invitation and promise. Transforming her from brittle beauty, into bewitching siren and leaving it clear to see how she easily has the Lord and other men, so easily eating out of her hand. The only downside was the child refusing to co-operate as it wiggled and squirmed, as if trying to get free of her until eventually a little fist tangled up into its dark curls and it simply let loose with a distraught wail, its other hand reaching for Auren. Eventually Garnalla gave up, stating that she’d do the sitting on her own and Hathro could simply paint the baby girl in afterward. And for all that he’d initially been captivated by the raven haired beauty, the harper couldn’t help but turn a thinly veiled look of distress onto Auren and then it was quickly gone, hidden beneath a cool exterior as he put his entire focus onto the canvas before him. It taking all his harper training to get through the rest of the day as deflected the Lady’s attempts to draw him back in again.

A stressful day is putting it mildly. The only good thing about the drama is the fact that usually it means Garnalla has had her fill of “playing mummy dearest” for a while and gives Auren and Larissa a break from her. Having finally gotten the baby down for her nap, Auren then moves to the desk in the nursery, taking out a sheet of paper and starting to write with a renewed sense of urgency:

Dear Max

I’m grateful to hear from you. Your letter couldn’t have come at a better time. I have managed to secure a position as a nanny here for “Little Bit” and have done my best to keep her well and safe and happy. It hasn’t been too challenging as the Lady seems more interested in doting on the contents of her wardrobe rather than pay us any mind until she has to put on a proper motherly show for others, including the Lord.

Lately things are getting harder, though. The Lady’s manner has grown more irritable and cruel by the day. I don’t wish to alarm you unnecessarily, but I am beginning to fear for the child’s fate here. I cannot take her away. The Lord will surely hunt us down. I am not certain I can continue to protect her here. The baby does not take well to her own mother, which is not surprising, really. However, the Lady threatens to dismiss me from my post often enough to make me think it might happen soon. I dare not think of what will happen to her when the doors close behind me, and the Lady can no longer convince her Lord that “Little Bit” is of his own flesh and blood.

I’m at a loss of ideas, Max. Please send word on what I’m to do. Until then, I’ll protect her with my life if I must for as long as I can. Rest assured in that.

Auren

Unlike most of her letters, Auren actually wraps and seals this one, considering the urgency and the manner if dire implication. She will make sure it gets in the hand of the rider personally, as well. It was too important not to.


Closing Credits Music: Selena Gomez - Cruella De Vil


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