Viviane ran her hand through the water of the brook. “Ahh, very nice,” she stated. She turned to her sister. “There’s power in flowing water, you know.”
Jean nodded. “I’ve seen it kill men, so, yes, I do.”
Viviane coughed. “Oh. Right. Sorry. I… forgot.” She looked at Jean intently. “What was he like? Gautier…?”
“Dad…?” said Jean idly. She caught herself. “Well… actually, he wasn’t… really my father at all, was he?”
“I wouldn’t go that far…” began Viviane.
“Did you know him?” asked Jean. “My… real father…?”
“Amaury Maganza,” said Viviane. “We met, quite a few times. Nice guy. Died fighting against Shaddad in the Shadow Woods.”
Jean’s nose crinkled in disgust. “Ewww,” she said. “I’ve got Maganza in me?”
“One of the cadet branches,” said Viviane with a shrug. “Actually, I think Amaury was the last of that one. So you might have property coming to you…”
“Yeah, yeah, but still… Maganza.” Jean shuddered. She glanced up. “Umm… I know this is personal, but… who was your father?”
Viviane shrugged. “Some Milesian Count named Ulfius. At least, that was what Mom always said. Never did find out who that was, exactly.” She shook her head. “Mom… tended to keep secrets. It was… her way.” She peered at Jean. “So… Gautier…?”
“Oh, right,” said Jean. She frowned slightly. “He was… wonderful, really. Knew the Murkenmere like the back of his hand. Taught me every trick he knew--though I’m afraid I didn’t pick most of them up.” She sighed. “How… do you suppose he and Mom knew each other?”
Viviane shrugged. “Mom knew a lot of people. I mean--she was the Badb--and the Nemain for years before that, and before that she was… well, before that she traveled a lot.” She chuckled. “Really, I always thought she liked that part of her life the best. She never wanted to be the Badb. She loved… freedom, more than anything.” Viviane shut her eyes, and took a deep breath.
“Am I… stirring things up you’d… rather not have… stirred up…?” Jean asked.
Viviane opened her eyes. “Yeah, but… it’s a healing thing. Mom… and I had issues that… well, I was only starting to understand when… she went and died on me.” She bit her lip. “Like I said… she never wanted to be the Badb. Or the Nemain. Or grow up. And then her sisters tore the family apart. And she was all that was left. All that stood between Lord Shaddad and the Marsh. That man ruined many lives, and cut many stories short. There are things I will never say to my mother, until we meet again by the Bright Crystal Sea, where the souls of all our line are gathered, save those who fell into the Devouring Flames…”
Suddenly, Jean stepped forward, and wrapped her arms around her sister’s waist. “It’s all right, Viv. It’s… all right,” she muttered.
Viviane smiled and stroked Jean’s hair gently. “No. It just… is. And… I’ve… moved on.”
Jean nodded, and stepped back. “Right.” She looked around for a moment. “Something tells me I’m going to really, REALLY have to study up on the whole Nightfolk religion thing. I mean--our family gets its own, personal afterlife? That is just… damn neat.”
“Have to say, I’ve got mixed feelings about it,” noted Viviane. “A lot of our family… I really wouldn’t want to spend to much time with. I mean… Angrboda, Armed With Sorrow used to wear the skins of those she’d slain. And Luned, Bringer of Woe…” Viviane shuddered. “Yeah. Fun to read about. Don’t know if I’d like to actually spend time with her.” She stepped back. “So… shall we begin?”
“Ordeal by water,” said Jean, glancing at the stream. “Well… it doesn’t look like it’ll be that bad.”
Viviane began to snicker.