Elaine 11: "Moments of Revelation"

       I let the target become the center of my focus, let it become the source of my displeasure...


       It was an old exercise my father had taught me for dealing with anger. To let it flow along my arm, and release it with the arrow. But this time it just wasn't working. I released it with each draw of the bowstring, but I always found a bit more ire welling up. And I was running out of room on this target, which looked something like a rather annoyed porcupine.


       But was it really anger? Yes, I was angry that he'd not outright told me of the possible consequences, and I was also angry at myself for not realizing there was more to it than he said. But more so than anger at either him or myself, I felt something darker, and more dangerous.
       Fear that I could quite possibly lose him. I was momentarily startled by that realization. I knew I was very fond of Harlan, but I had quashed anything else beyond that in the face of my duty to the crown of Glorethien, for I had seen how uncomfortable my impending marraige made him. Deep down I knew I loved him, but some part of me was reluctant to admit it. But now, in the face of losing him... He loves you, my mother's voice rang in my mind, and the memory of that look of disapproval in her eyes still caused my hands to shake with fury. What did she know of me and my capacity for love? Nothing. Because she had abandoned everything she loved for her nebulous cause. As if she had any right to tell me how to love...
       Soft footsteps caught my attention, bringing me back from my thoughts, but I didn't turn to the new arrival. I had a fairly good idea of who it was, anyway.
       "Hi." For some spiteful reason, his voice only goaded my anger/fear on further.


       The arrow slammed home into the target, and I saw him wince out of the corner of my eye, and felt a dark twinge of satisfaction.

       We returned in the early evening. The visit with Griselda, Raphael's grandmother, had been a pleasant diversion from the situations in Amber and Gloerethien. As had Rufus, Griselda immediately decided I was as much family to her as my brother. It was a gratifying, and comforting feeling, to be so quickly accepted by Raphael's kin. I was quickly developing a fondness for both Rufus and Griselda, and was saddened when it came time to leave.

       I stood there looking at the scene before me. It wasn't something unfamiliar, by any stretch; I had seen Jero and Randy like this on innumerable occasions during our adolescence. And here is was again, this time jero was with Harlan and a woman I recall seeing among the knights, howling some bawdy song, quite out of tune.
       I pried Jero away with some difficulty, as he was going on about Harlan's last days at the top of his lungs. I gave Harlan a kiss as I left, but I don't think he was coherent enough to notice.
       The next morning, in Glorethien, I knocked on Jero's door a bit more loudly than was really necessary, and was rewarded with a pained groan from within.
       I am not normally a spiteful person, but Jero and I have a long history of pointing out each other's less than brilliant behavior in the most blatant terms possible.
       I announced myself, and after he mumbled something mostly unintelligible, let myself in, moving diretly to the window and flinging open the curtains.
       In response he burrowed deeper under the blankets, which I almost yanked off of him until I realized his state of dress, or more pointedly, lack thereof.
       Ignoring his triumphant grin at my sudden embarrasment, I inquired sweetly, "And how are we this morning?"
       Annoyed, he grumped, "Dragging me out of there when I was just trying to be a friend of a man who might die soon."
       "What is all of this talk about Harlan dying?" I snapped.
       "His ordeal," Jero muttered        Everything suddenly fell into place - Harlan's reticence in speaking of the ordeal, the drunkeness the previous evening... For a tumultuous moment, anger and agony warred in me.
       Anger won out, and I stormed out the door.

        I lurked at the outer edges of the merry group, waiting for a convenient time to catch my quarry alone. I was angry, but wasn't about to make a public scene. I'd leave that sort of behavior for such as Belia.
       The redheaded woman I'd remembered seeing earlier was still there, watching the scene with some amusement. I didn't recognize her, nor did she appear to be with the knights, though something about her struck me as familair. But I saw Harlan break away from the group, and for the moment, forgot about her.
       I caught him as he was returning to the tavern. It took him a moment to realize who I was through the alcoholic haze. "Elaine," he said with drunken cheeriness, not noting my less than pleased countenance.
       Within a few moments I realized that my indignation was completely lost on him in his current state, and I left before I did make a scene. I wandered the castle grounds for a bit before finding myself on the achery range.