fannyfae: (WWII)
[personal profile] fannyfae
Rage, the temerity of it all, of the Nazis to have burned the church at Orandeur-sur-Glane was unthinkable. Francoise de Rochefort’s heart nearly stopped in her chest when she saw her friend, Colonel Robert Grayson carrying the limp form of Amarante from his car to the front entrance of the chateau. The girl’s face, body and limbs were smudged with, blood, soot and ash. Her hair was singed and matted with blood, her clothing in tatters, shoes were also now missing. No, it couldn’t be like this, not like this! Not her!

The other servants had come into the halls and dropped what they were doing. Some, particularly the cook and some of the other matrons were wringing their hands, asking if there was something that they could do. Robert ignored everyone’s expressions and queries except those of the lady of the chateau. His black, boots rapped sharply on the marble, followed by Francoise’s own footfalls, up the stairs he carried Amarante to the Comtess’s own suites. The Colonel had not needed to ask his Anam Cara where she wanted her protege’ to be placed. He knew.

When he had lain Amarante on the bed, he stepped back to get out of Francoise’ way. Immediately she was examining the girl, tearing fabric away as she ordered one of the maids to draw a hot bath immediately. “Who is responsible for this?” the Comtesse growled, “When I find them I shall kill them myself!” she shot a withering glance backward at her friend who gazed back at her evenly.

“There is no need, Francoise,” he said, not bothering to avert his eyes as Francoise continued to examine Amarante’s prone form, “They’re already dead.”

Francoise stopped, surprised. There was no need for Colonel Robert Grayson to confess any involvement. She knew he would have killed his own men for something like this. What was France coming to now, the Comtesse wondered. “I am sure that the SS will be quite interested to know why you shot men from your own ranks, Dieter Hag. Collaboration does not mean collusion with the French people.” Francoise’s turned back to Amarante, her eyes stung but she would not cry.

The bullet had gone through Amarante’s body cleanly, the entrance and exit had missed vital organs, and hopefully with diligence, Francoise would be able to stave off infection or any complications. But much of that would depend on what Colonel Grayson was able to do in keeping further SS involvement in the area.

After determining the depth of the wound, the Comtesse banished her anam cara from the room. If the child were to awaken, however unlikely from the shock, she would be traumatised by the Colonel being in the same room while she was not dressed. There had always been an air of fascination tinged with fear that Amarante had with regard to Grayson. He had never been anything but kind to her, but it was the uniform of the Germans that she could never see far past. That, Francoise thought, was not too different from the rest of the French who now lived under occupation. Now with the unspeakable horror of Orandeur-sur-Glane, that distrust and even loathing would surely deepen.

The child had been bathed, her wounds tended with the finest herbs and unguents that Francoise found in the Chateau de Rochefort’s apothecaries. Both had been ritually prepared, the myrrh and goldenseal from the Americas with Yarrow and lavender in beeswax and the finest olive oils. The bandages smelled sweet, relaxing and almost camphorous. Amarante, her honey-coloured hair now washed and barely damp but lovingly combed as the child slept in a clean white nightdress. Even in the low lamplight, the child’s rest was fitful, and far from restful. Nightmares would rise up, and Amarante would murmur softly as if speaking to someone in the room. One in particular, caught Francoise’s attention.

‘Non, non, Monsieur. The lady, she knew nothing! Qui? Non..non..”

The Comtesse regarded what she had written and once again lit the brazier within her magical chamber, deep within the crypt beneath the Chateau de Rochefort. Unbinding her hair she let it fall and invoked the words that would awaken her husband’s shade. He haunted these halls and even without the rite itself, he would not refuse her summons and come to her call. But for this, this time, she could leave nothing to chance. This rite was to protect not only she and Amarante, but also Sebastien. The Giovanni and the Rochefort had been allied as families since the Renaissance, and there were others, very powerful others, who wished ill to either side, or even to both. The Halfling Countess could not afford to be careless.

A spectral wisp snaked through the caverns and stone arches beneath the Chateau, past the wine caves that its human form had so carefully tended when he was alive. Slowly it weaved its way, beyond the stone sarcophagi of endless ancestors that stretched back even before Merovingian times to the room where the wife of its last incarnation stood. Slowly, swirling around her as if once again alive, seductively moving about the Comtesse de Rochefort as her husband might have done.

In two breathfalls, she caught the scent not only of the musky dark of a mouldering grave, but that sweetness of leather and finest oils from the East that had been his favourite. The Comtesse closed her eyes and smiled, letting out a long exhale that sounded almost like a purr.

“You need not have been so formal, lady wife,” the spectral voice spoke to her mind, “I would have come…”

The Comtesse nodded, savouring the feeling like a brush of air against her neck that trailed over her breast. The sensation fell far short of what they had known in life. In the dimly lit chamber she could see the shadow move to formation. She allowed herself a small smile that bordered on adoration. Remembering why she had been moved to the crypts on a second consecutive night, her lips turned downward. “I know, mon amour,” she whispered in archaic French that few living understood and even fewer ever spoke. “I need you to leave the chateau’s halls and go to Venice.”

The shadow that had been once man was silent for a long moment. Francoise set the letter she had penned in sorceror’s ink on the parchment alight and continued. “I light this smoke to mingle with thine own essence….” Her voice trailed off and immediately the smoke and the shade became infused as one upon the air. She could feel its mood shift as the flames licked and consumed the parchment to one of anger. His ville had been trespassed upon and worse, those who would have been under his charge had he been alive had been attacked. The very temerity of the act sent up billows of heat that caused the comtesse to step back from the last shred that was being swallowed up by flame, consuming her very words:



Signore’ Ambrogino:

I send to you the shade of my most beloved husband, Sebastien, as the only safe means by which I might deliver my message to you during these difficult times. The fascists have spread their iron grip over nearly all of Europe and I fear it is now that they are at my door.

My beloved protege’, Amarante, as I am sure my husband shall tell you, was herded along with the people of Orandeur-sur-Glane into the church by a unit of Hitler’s SS. Those who were not immediately gunned down were left to die by burning alive inside. It is only by a miracle that this childe, whom I love as my own, was saved. She was found under many bodies and has suffered a great trauma. The ville of Rochefort has been terrorised, for Amarante’ is one who comes from both the red and the white tree, and the reverberations of this cannot be understated. Those responsible were themselves executed without trial by one of their own who is loyal to Us.

Though her wounds are healing well, the deepest cuts that were incised upon her soul are still the main cause for my concern. Amarante is now haunted by the spirits of the dead, of those who died around her and also the ones who were slain for the deed. One of Amarante’s ancestors, Marie LaGarde, was tortured and burned at the stake because of this. I cannot allow this to happen again, for surely, if she is thought mad, the Nazis will put her to death as they have far too many already.

This situation, I fear, is beyond the scope of my own expertise. The torment of those voices do not quieten and I have done all that I might. I know that your cousin, my sister witch, as you, are skilled necromancers and it is to your combined and certainly superior knowledge that I now turn. The Giovannisi have always been held in high esteem, by myself, my husband and Amarante herself, who even if foolishly, sent you a gift of her own regard.

I will depart for Venice shortly after dispatching my husband’s shade with this message. If we are able to maintain secrecy. I implore you, Signore, to aid us in this and in return, you have but to ask us for recompense at some future time and it shall be granted.

Regards,

Faelyn


Each word remained and was nothing but feathery, glowing curls of etched parchment that cooled and almost immediately disintegrated into dust. With a zephyrous gust, the last ashes were put out and Faelyn heard her husband’s words hiss inside of her brain. “You send me into a necromancer’s trap with the child as bait, Faelyn?”

“You know better,” she snarled back, “I am out of my league in this and I do not want to relive the hell that we did with Marie.”

Another long silence then a large gust swept through the crypts. There were no other words of adoration, no sense of anything but the same sort of focused resolve that the man who once made up the shade had within himself. It sucked the air out of the chamber and out of Faelyn’s lungs until it blew back through the crypts and into the night air with a thunderous rumble and the slam of doors rattling on their hinges. It was as if Sebastien had mounted upon his black stallion and spurred him through the very halls of the Chateau de Rochefort, sword drawn.

Faelyn crumpled to the floor gasping, swallowing hard in an attempt to regain her composure, but the crushing heat of anger from her husband’s shade remained.

Her message had been sent.



Muse: Francoise de Rochefort
Fandom: Original Character
Word Count:1819

Ths post originally appeared in the online novel "World Under Siege" on Pan Historia. Special thanks to the amazing scribes of[personal profile] all_for_me, [personal profile] sunandshadows [personal profile] ambrogino_giovanni, [personal profile] isabel_giovanni and [profile] civ_barbarian for the use of their musess in this work and for thier hard work and friendship over the long haul.

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