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Bishop Romance (Not Named Yet)

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Prologue: The Druidess and the Barbarian

Esmerelle could not forget the night she left. It had been spring; frosty grass had crunched under her sheepskin boots and the winter chill in the air had been replaced by a damp, flowery cold. There were no birds yet; no crickets or animals to greet her as she slipped out of the hall and into the quiet, outside world. She was a druidess, she was supposed to feel at home under the stars with nothing but the wind to keep her company, but as the great, oaken doors of the hall had shut behind her, Esmerelle felt nothing but a deep, aching loneliness; a loneliness that would stay with her forever after.

“Are you ready to go?” the cloaked man at the door had asked. The tears in Esmerelle’s throat had felt like tiny, biting shards of glass, determined to cut her flesh until she bled.

“I’m ready,” she’s whispered. The man, a barbarian by the name of Roganvald, had handed her a gnarled staff and grasped her tiny hand in what felt like a massive bear paw.

“You’re doing the right thing,” he told her assuredly. They had started together down the icy stone path, a dark cloud seeming to hang ominously over their heads. “For the baby, I mean. This is no life for a child.”

“I know,” Esmerelle had choked, but that hadn’t made it any easier. She shut her eyes tightly for a moment, trying to stop the tears. “I know.”

“Do you think you can make the journey in your…condition?” he’d asked. Esmerelle had only smiled. She was one of the Ffolk; all her life she had grown up hearing stories about the barbarian Northman; about their cruelty, their idiocy, everything from their lack of hygiene to their slaughtering of innocent women and children, and now…

Now, she was placing her life in the hands of these men, these ‘barbarians’, and she couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by their kindness.

“I’m sure,” she’d said quietly, and her hand had gone instinctively to the small bulge of her stomach.

“You don’t sound sure. Maybe if you just waited, until after you had the baby-”

“No.” she said a little too quickly. “If I stay here any longer, I won’t be able to leave.”

“I understand. If Ragnar found out you were with child…”

Roganvald’s rough voice had trailed away; sucked, it seemed, into the fresh, springtime air. If Ragnar found out she was with child, he would never let Esmerelle go, and Esmerelle would never be able to leave him. In that moment, her whole life seemed laced with irony- Ragnar, a barbarian war leader from Alaron and a sworn enemy of her people, had kidnapped her and made her his slave. Esmerelle had sworn to kill him, but then…he had fallen in love with her. Esmerelle was a beautiful woman, after all, but Ragnar had had lots of beautiful women, and when he let them all go and pledged his allegiance to a her, a half-elf, a slave, and an enemy, something inside her had broken, and she had found herself drowning in those dark blue eyes as surely as if she was left at sea. The Ffolk were wrong about the Northmen, but one thing they’d said was true- they were a warlike people, and Esmerelle knew that, while she had been spared ever seeing battle, the baby in her stomach would not.

And so, she left.

“If you ever need anything,” Roganvald had begun once they reached the shore. Being an island, nowhere on Alaron was far from the sea, and the sun was only just beginning to touch the waves when the duo arrived.

“Tell Ragnar I’m sorry,” she whispered, “if you ever get the chance.”

“I will.”

And with that, Esmerelle had boarded the ship, not daring to look back at the island that had become her home, at the great hall that still housed her sleeping lover, or at the suddenly painful beauty of the pink-tinged waves. That life was gone now; she was headed to West Harbor, and the child in her belly would have a good, peaceful life. That was what mattered, wasn’t it?

Months had passed. The baby was born not long after she arrived, but the joy of motherhood was always wrung with sadness. She had deprived Ragnar of the thing he had wanted most- a child- and every time she looked at her baby daughter, all she could think of was how much she looked like him.

“What a pretty baby,” Shayla, the wife of the old friend who had taken her in, had cooed. “What are you going to name her? Give her a nice, Moon Elf name, like Lutheriel, or Enelya, or-“

“She doesn’t look like a Moon Elf.” Esmerelle had said bitterly. “She’s three fourth’s human, and she looks like her father.”

The woman had gone silent; Esmerelle never spoke about the baby’s father or the mysterious circumstances under which she arrived in West Harbor, and as Wood Elves, she and her husband Daeghun had respected such silence.

“What will you name her, then?”

Esmerelle ran her fingers through her thick, auburn hair, a look of sudden affliction on her pale face.

“Tora,” she said suddenly. “And she’ll have her father’s surname, Feilan.”

“Tora Feilan.” Shayla echoed. “It sounds nice.”

Esmeralle ran her fingers tenderly over the forehead of her sleeping daughter, smiling sadly as the baby wrinkled her tiny nose. If only the warrior could see her now- his little girl, who looked just like him.

And then, for the first time in longer than Esmerelle could remember, she felt the slightest flicker of joy, because she had given their daughter something Ragnar never could; peace.

And she was convinced that peace would last.

Bishop Romance- not named yet © Mary

Migrate Wizard: 
First Release: 
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