I Am Not the Goddaughter
Table of Contents|
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
appeared in issue 205.
appears in this issue.
The Bride of New Fairy
The window is fogging up, but I can still see the white flakes falling down, puffy like the cheeks of spoiled children. You cannot see the grounds now; there is a soft white covering all over them, making the demesne look pure and virginal. The Matera trees seem like snow giants; their hanging-man limbs like victims crushed in their grip.
I am standing there, feeling the draft. Caer Rhiannon is old, its first bricks forged from clay and straw just after the portal’s opening, with many cracks in the stone; it is drafty. Across from our bed and at a diagonal from the window is the fire. Roaring, its heat contrasts with the chill I am feeling from the wind. I am cold, even though outside I would be more than cold; I would be freezing. Trapped outside I would turn blue and die.
It is the first month of winter, and the first month of my now yearly confinement. I cannot leave the castle, except that I do, sometimes. I run through the snow, only to be captured by Rosalyn, who is always called to bring me back. I risk the chilblains, but I have to rebel against my condition, as the first woman rebelled against the first man for her enslavement. I wonder if it she could have avoided her fate, as I could have avoided mine. Offworlders say we are equal to the stronger sex, but they, too, treat their women like vassals.
I think of the jewels that the Goblin King said could warm me. Except I, too, am beginning to believe that Raoul is not real. I have taken Branwen to his cavern, to prove his existence. Only there was a sheer wall where the vault was, and no other way in or out. The mountain was no longer golden; its crags no longer diamonds. I have been told golden mountains do not exist, but I have seen the summit of one.
Rosalyn says she does not remember being accompanied by a little green man in our latest adventure, and gets a deep, worried look on her face when I bring the subject up. I pat her on the knee, assure her that I am sane by yelling at her for some stupid, little thing, and clam up inside. My father was driven mad by my nakedness, but it makes me see more clearly than ever before.
Father, who Raoul claims knows him, is of no help, for his madness is now almost complete. He plays his strange offworlder game endlessly, hitting tiny white balls into sand and into streams; always cursing when he achieves that. He calls himself now the tiger of the woods; it was some such offworlder beast which created the game, according to legend.
I have evidence of the Goblin King’s reality, though. The death sword mysteriously showed up again, hanging with my other swords in the armory, reeking of garbage and the end product of digestion. It remains thus that only Rosalyn and I can wield it. It goes limp in the hands of any one else, like a tongue of butter melting in the suns’ inner furnace. Only no furnace leaves the burn marks that it does on anyone but Rosalyn and me. And when I throw it, it comes back to me.
But there is neither hide nor hair of its forger.
Branwen’s minister of justice has issued an arrest warrant for Jean-Paul. It took them long enough and it only has one count on it. The fraud he perpetrated on Branwen, which cost her not only the one hundred thousand New Prydain crowns for my “purchase,” but also thousands of crowns in what Jean-Paul called, strangely, “therapy.” She feels humiliated by it.
“I told him things I have told no one, not even you,” she sobbed to me when confronted with his duplicity. “If he tells all, I, too, will be naked before all.”
I had asked the minister why no counts of kidnapping and abduction of royalty, and he simply stated, “there is a good faith exception to the law. When a man believes in good faith that the woman he has appropriated is a slave, then he is entitled to put her on the block.”
“Good faith!? He knew that I was no slave.”
“But try telling a jury that, Rhiannon. Look at you; the men jurors would want you to be a slave so they would delight in your sexual servitude; the women will be worse. They will blame you for getting yourself in the predicament. If we can even get a judge to hear you. You have to present the claim, and you being naked, a justice might treat you like a slave and have the whole thing tossed out of court.”
“You are saying then that one’s rights depend on one’s clothing in New Prydain?”
“’Tis so, I am afraid,” the prosecutor said lugubriously, rubbing his nose. An incredible place, New Prydain.
I have no such constraints of due process. I have written a bill of attainder. I declared Jean-Paul guilty and ordered him brought to me. I would have written it ‘Dead or Alive,’ except I want to know where the Goblin Ice gems are. And I want to be the one to torture them out of him. I will let Rosalyn have a turn as well, as she has told me that he did her an injustice as well, although she does not wish to talk about it. I do not know what it is, but I sympathize with her.*
Rosalyn comes in. “Get away from the window, Rhiannon. You will catch your death of cold.”
She stands by the fire. Removes her red-dyed woolen outer garment. Then pulls her skin colored dyed woolen gown off. She has enveloping white mummy wrappings underneath, which she also sheds. She leaves them on the ground for another servant to pick up. Naked, she beckons me to her.
I wrap my arms around her; press her milky body to mine. I wish to steal her body heat and she knows this. That is why she is naked. She is very warm. I know this cannot last; once she is cold too, I will order her back into garments. Not the shed ones; they are for Dulcimer to take to the laundry. But others that will do. Rosalyn has many clothes, as once, I did.
“Still no word on his whereabouts,” she says softly, her breath showing.
“He will be found, little one. In the meantime, I must endure my nakedness.”
“And be loved in your nakedness.” I smiled wanly. She is mentioning the condition for my release. “I mean it, Rhiannon. Your people love you, as you love them.”
“Tell me that at a council of barons meeting.” I hold her head and look at her, as she looks back at me fondly. Her body is already feeling tepid.
“I mean the people of the kingdom. The men and women who died or were injured for your lost honor, the men who cheer you on, who do not come to you with lust or derision, but simply to see their princess.”
“If my people love me in my nakedness, maybe it is them that I should marry. Maybe I already have.”
“What means this?” Rosalyn stares at me.
“Maybe the joke is that I am never to marry the one who will love me in my nakedness because I am already married.”
“To whom?” She trembles but I do not know why.
“To New Fairy, Rosalyn. I am not the goddaughter of the Goblin King, I need no goblin gems to cover me; I am the bride of New Fairy. It is right for my people to see me naked, as I am theirs. It is a lover’s right.”
“Can you be content with that?” She is firm of tone and watches my eyes for their meaning.
“I will have to be, little one; I will have to be.”
I shiver and hug her with all my might. I whisper again, and wonder if the goddesses hear me...
“I am not the goddaughter of the Goblin King. I am the bride of New Fairy.”
* As recounted in “The Most Exasperating Woman on the Planet, in issue 171.
Copyright © 2006 by Rachel Parsons