Thursday, May 9, 2013

Day Four-Fifty-Four: Once upon a time...

I remember the day I met Libby so vividly. As if it was the first day of my life, and everything else before… just unworthy haze.

My parents met Libby's parents through a mutual friend, a farmer turned logger who moved from Villeinville but kept in touch with mom. Y'know, letters and all that. Considering he was a friend of dad's I'm surprised he knew how to write, but, such is the way.

My parents wanted me out of the house (by which I mean, of course, the ever benevolent Oswald wanted me out). They (he) figured it was time I 'embrace my name' and become a danged guard. Villeinville already had a guard, and a place watched over by a trigger-happy lord only needs one watchman. Cannonbottom's always scanning for targets, always. No jobs for me there.

So this guy, this logger, was travelling to the lake countries when he came across a fledgling castle on the edge of the Grand Chasm. He asks the name of the place, and, whaddya know, it's called 'Castle JobsAvailableInquireWithin'. Wondering if he might find a better opportunity inside, he checks with the castellan. No jobs for loggers, sadly, but guards? Yes, oh, yes, sir, they needed guards. Guy continues to the lake countries in the north or south or west or whatever, I can't remember which direction (but bloody well not east, he'd wander right into the Chasm), and sets down roots to become a logger.

Guy doesn't do so well. He gets a job with a cosy little family-run logging and carpentry company, as they've just lost their previous labourer in a freak mass sponge migration, but they can't pay him. Strictly room and board. The dad, really nice guy, keeps talking about sending his daughter somewhere else to look for opportunities. She has too much talent to waste away in the backwater.

Eventually, Guy (that was his name, now that I think of it, Guy) scrapes up enough cash to mail a letter to my mom. He sends word of the job opportunity… and of the talented daughter who needs to stretch her wings. Her parents can't afford to pay her way elsewhere, though, and they're afraid she might get mugged or worse if she sets out on foot. (Apparently Libby's the weak one in the family? The muscle runt? That gives me shivers.)

Upon reading the letter, my mom hits on an idea. She doesn't necessarily want me to leave Villeinville… but if I must, I shouldn't be alone. Robert has already left home by this point, and she's disappointed at his poor family-building skills. She has higher hopes for me. She wants grandkids, and she wants them sooner rather than later. Hell, she may have used the 'I don't want you out there alone' excuse just to shack me up with a girl. Mom's a wily woman.

She sends a letter back - without my approval! - asking if Guy might help her arrange a marriage between me and his boss' daughter. A few days later, whaddya know, Libby and I are engaged. And married. Officially. Without ever having met! Stupid remote Weekendist weddings.

I'm sent out, alone and confused, a few dozen gold in my pocket, to meet my brand new wife. In a place I've never been. At that point I'd barely set foot outside Villeinville, let alone travelled a hundred odd miles solo. The trip was nerve-wracking, even if I did stick to the roads the whole time. I don't remember much of it…


That was when the… bandit…

Also, my… hands…

Fuck. Anyway.

Eventually, I reached the castle. In one piece, I might add. The first person I ever met was Morris, bless 'im, and he gave me the false impression that EVERYBODY inside would be pleasant and dopey. That idea was swept slowly away as I was herded to the 'secret' entrance, away from the Neck that would probably see me horribly killed. (Back then the Neck was a long row of spear traps. Much less inventive than what it became, gotta admit, though still deadly.)

My mom had arranged for us to meet a Weekendist priest in the main thoroughfare. He would sanctify the marriage and give us marital donuts. Y'know, to commemorate the occasion. I was most definitely looking forward to the donut more than I was meeting this woman with whom I would now be sharing a bed for the rest of my life. Hell, my stomach was so tied up in knots that eating the donut was barely an option.

The priest was waiting for me by a vegetable cart. (Classy place for a wedding.) Libby hadn't arrived yet so we waited and chatted idly, the priest amused by my country boy naivet√©. It’s a horrible thing to say, but… the dreams I have occasionally… the predictive dreams… his death was the first thing I saw in a dream. Gorged to death on chocolate. What a way to go.

Our chatter faded after ten, fifteen, twenty minutes of waiting, and the priest went to the Beefiary (I didn't know it was manned by Robert at the time!) to grab a drink. Waiting alone was even worse, and I feared I might wet myself in front of my bride. Not the best first impression a man can give. Fleeing into the wilderness and hoping for the best seemed a viable alternative to this marriage.

In my nervousness, I grabbed a turnip from the vegetable cart and began to chew. The vendor immediately noticed this, took exception to it, and demanded a gold piece for the turnip. I'd run out of gold by then, and I tried to stutter my way out of the situation. It didn't work.

That's when somebody tapped the vegetable man (his name is Ted, by the way - nice guy when you get to know him) on the shoulder. "Hey."

The vendor whirled. "What?! I'm busy, 'ere! Come back in a minute, I'll sort you -"

She brushed past him, watching me. Such dark eyes. Such dark hair. Such dark bags under her eyes. "You. You a farmer?"

Trembling, now aware of the massive muscles under her shirt, I nodded. The flood was building.

She sneered. "Name? Dragomir the Guard?"

Nod. Visible quaking. I was married to a giant, or so she looked at the time. Perhaps because I was shrinking into my clothes.

"Hey!" The vendor cut in, pointing at the turnip. "Don't care who 'e is, he stole one of my damned turnips! Pay up, you bloody thief, you -"

Without turning, Libby punched the man in the nose. Nothing more than a flick of the wrist, but it sent poor Ted sprawling onto the street. More shocked than actually hurt, he ran off to get the guards. A difficult thing to do when there are only a few guards and they're hoping to hire more, but a man must do what a man must do.

Libby grabbed me by the back of my neck, yanked me in close, and ground her teeth. "You were supposed to get here yesterday. I had t'sleep in the street. Do you know what it's like sleeping in the street in this place? It smells like bird shit. From the fuckin' ostriches."

I screamed inside, straining against the floodgates. They wouldn't last much longer.

Libby's breath was hot on my neck, the musk of her sweat overpowering my nose. I could feel the might of her muscles through the death grip on my shirt. Her eyes were made of flame, each of her teeth a weapon ready to maim me for wasting her time.

"I don't like bird shit. If I have to wait again I will shove you into a cage and throw rotten apples at you until y'die of malnutrition. Get me?"

"N…. no…."


I got her just fine on the repeat. Pissssssss. I'm not sure whom the small knot of onlookers pitied more at that point: the husband for being hitched to a behemoth, or the wife for being hitched to a dude who wets his pants as an adult.

Our marriage improved, of course. I learned to stand up for myself, Libby cooled her temper, and we found… actual… love. That's pretty rare in arranged marriages, I imagine. Never thought it would happen on that first day, though. No, I thought she would kill me, and that… that's really what did it.

Libby made me feel alive. She did it through fear, sure, but the point stands. I exist, these days quite literally, because of my wife. So I'll wander for as long as it takes until I find her. I don't care if I have to send for Eve and spend my days restlessly searching every forest and cave and plain and swamp on this damned planet.

I will find her.

1 comment:

  1. H...o...l...y...shit...Dragomir found his damn spine! Good for him!

    Today's entry was a good one. Gave some neat backstory and helps explain ALOT behind his marriage.

    Although I pity that Weekendist...gorged to death on chocolate...what a way to go. I've seen some sick stuff in my day, yet it never gets any easier to deal with chocolate related deaths. Did you know that 7 out of 5 chocolate related deaths also involve Dark Chocolate? Or that 18% of all Sloth related assaults involve White Chocolate? That poor priest, suffered a fate worse than any other kind of death...the sweet sugary kind...