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03 October 2009 @ 11:34 am
A Little Like Fate by Jinxed Wood  
Title: A Little Like Fate
Author: jinxed_wood
Character: Rebecca
Prompt: Rain
Word Count: 2,500
Summary: The rain drummed against the thick, warped glass, and Rebecca put her hand to it, palm flat, and tried to keep her mind still; but the bell still rang out in the distance, a grim messenger that never let go…


~~~A Little Like Fate~~~



The rain drummed against the thick, warped glass, and Rebecca put her hand to it, palm flat, and tried to keep her mind still; but the bell still rang out in the distance, a grim messenger that never let go.

"Bring out your dead bring out your dead!"

The people of this time called it the end of the world, and while her Mycenae roots reminded her that even the end of the world wasn’t as final as one believed, she could not help but feel that the clean wash of water, and it’s subsequent trial of destruction, was preferable to the slow despair of watching one’s loved ones die slowly, with no cure to abate the fever and no prayer to alleviate the loss.

Rebecca sighed, lifting her hand from the window. The November light was tempered by the rain, but the stained panels still cast their colours across her skin. She waited as the bell drew close, and then trailed away slowly, without pausing. Nobody had died in the hostelry during the night. It was a mercy of sorts, she supposed.

A low cough disturbed her reverie, and Rebecca turned slowly. “Yes, Anne, what is it?”

Anne sketched a curtsey before handing her the folded vellum in her hand. Rebecca recognised the loop and curve of the writer’s hand, and tore the seal..


My Lady,

I do not have any quarrel with you. We all have our pleasures, and mine is one I savour. Do not interfere.

Richard of Monard.


Rebecca’s lips tightened, it was obvious that this Immortal had not taken her warning seriously, another sure sign that he was a young one.

“I presume the messenger awaits?” she asked.

“Yes, my Lady.”

She crossed the room to the table that served as her writing desk in these small quarters, and ignored Anne as she craned her neck to watch. The art of writing was a rare one in these troubled times, the preserve of monks and Lords. It was practically unheard of for a woman to be well versed in letters, even one of high status. She dipped her quill in ink, and wrote:

“My Lord,

I have abided in these lands for many years, and I consider them under my protection. Meet me outside the castle walls on the morrow, an hour after dawn, or quit this place, never to return.

Rebecca Horne.”


She blew on the paper until it dried and then folded it. A lit candle provided the wax, and she pressed her ring hard into it, as if trying to seal her words indelibly into his mind.

“Shall I take it to him, my Lady?” Anne asked.

“Not quite yet.” Rebecca strode across the room, and opened her travel chest. She took out her blade and scabbard, and buckled it to her waist. Anne watched silently, her expression tightening, as she swung her cloak around her shoulders and pulled the deep cowl around her face. “Say a Hail Mary thrice, Anne, and then give the letter to the messenger,” she instructed.

Anne turned to look at her in the eye. “You are coming back, my Lady, aren’t you?”

Rebecca smiled at her, and they were, for a private moment, old and dear friends, rather than mistress and servant. “Don’t I always?”

“There’s always a first time,” Anne said, with a tilt of her chin.

“Oh, Anne,” Rebecca said. “You’re still as stubborn as the day when I found you on that hill, eating my apples.”

“But you still asked my mother if you could take me into your service, My Lady,” Anne reminded her tartly.

Rebecca laid a hand on her shoulder. “So I did.” Anne looked up; her eyes were wet, and she could trace the lines on her face. Rebecca felt something inside her twist

“I’m no longer eight years old, my Lady,” Anne said softly, as if guessing her thoughts, “And I’ve got eyes in my head. This man does not wish you well.”

“Of that I am sure,” Rebecca said, somewhat ruefully. “But if I ignore him today, he will only return to haunt me, tomorrow.”

“You cannot be sure of that, my Lady.”

Rebecca’s mouth twisted into a smile. “You said it yourself, Anne; you’ve got eyes, and this man does not wish me well.”

~~~*~~*~~*~~~


The cobbled walkway was slippery, drenched in rain and slick with mud. She sat on her horse, in the shadow of the stable doors, and watched as the messenger navigated the puddles in his bare feet. He had a harsh cough that caught him more than one wary look, but he did not have the waxy pallor of the plague ridden, he was merely weary and underfed - not that the truth of it would save him if one of the town’s bell tollers decided differently.

Fear made monsters of men.

She followed at a slow walk as he travelled uphill, towards the church. She was not surprised when he slipped inside it. Richard of Monard did not strike her as the trusting man, and if the messenger knew where he bedded, it would have made it all too easy for her to extract his location, if she so wished.

She tied off her horse, and climbed the church steps, letting the warmth of holy ground envelope her she pushed open the doors and walked up the aisle. He was kneeling in one of the front pews, waiting for her. She threw back her cowl, and genuflected. One ignored the traditions of the church with impunity.

“Let me guess,” he said, his voice mocking, as she slid into the pew beside him. “You are going to harry me until I agree to your terms.”

“It seems a reasonable course of action.”

“I do not understand why you are taking this so personally. She is but a child, and of no importance to you – a street beggar.”

“She is fated to be an Immortal, just like us,” she countered.

“She is fated to die at my hand,” he said. “And if you’re not careful, so will you.”

Rebecca, slowly leaned into him, and spoke flatly. “You think I’m an easy mark, boy, and easily intimidated - but you wear your youth too plainly on your sleeve. This is not a mortal game, and we do not play by mortal rules. Look at me, Richard of Monard, did not you teacher warn you of judging your opponent too swiftly? Leave now.”

He looked into her eyes, but did not see the warning hidden there. “My answer is still no,” he said “And there is nothing you can do about it.”

“Oh, but that is where you are wrong,” she said coolly. “I merely have to wait until you leave holy ground - and, I shall wait.” She stood abruptly and strode out of the church.

“she is a slut and a thief, I am worth ten of her - a hundred!” he shouted at her back.

She ignored him as she left the confines of holy ground, and stepped outside. The town was coated in a shimmering veil of rain, but it didn’t quite dampen the smell of smoke, and the heavy odour of burning flesh. Sometimes, she wondered if she didn’t truly live in a hell of sorts, it seemed that humanity had forgotten how to hope, of late.

She crossed the lane, and looked for a place to lie in wait. She was confident that his impatience would get the better of him. He was a man struck low by a dark impulse to abuse those he deemed vulnerable and, in the world of immortality, none were as vulnerable as an Immortal who had yet to meet their first death.

She had heard of Richard of Monard before she became aware of his presence. and knew of his inclinations. It had not occurred to him that a reputation such as his would precede him, but he hadn’t felt the weight of age yet, and did not know the bittersweet sense of comradeship that rose up amongst their kind, despite the game. To win is to become more alone and so, sometimes, Immortals drank and reminisced, instead.

The town walls loomed over the church, and Rebecca nodded. With an exchange of coin, and a rather vague tale of romance and intrigue, she gained the wall and waited. Just as she surmised, he stepped out of the church and halted; his head tilted, as if he was listening for a distant sound, but Rebecca knew differently, he was trying to discern whether or not she was in range.

The stone of the wall’s walkway was slick, and she curled her fingers around the edges of the wall as she leaned forward, her fingers growing numb in the chill rain. She ignored it, as she watched him stalk across the lane. Like a fool, he didn’t look up. Elevation was one of the few tactics that one could use to circumvent the limitations placed on an Immortal. She could see him, but he couldn’t sense her.

She watched as he mounted his horse and headed towards the poorer end of town. He was seeking out the girl, again. Rebecca’s mouth fell into a thin line, the town was not extensive, and Rebecca has sensed the girl’s nascent immortality a few years back. Since then, she had cast the occasional eye on her, and watched with wary amusement as she relieved the market revellers of their wealth. She may not be a harlot, but she was definitely a thief – but she had worked with harder clay, before.

This Richard of Monard, however, had not the impatience to wait for the girl’s first death, and wished to take her head before she even knew what it meant. Well, she would not stand idly by and let it happen.

She ran down the steps and towards her horse, leaping onto its saddle. She broke into a canter, determined to catch up with him before he found his prey. At least it would not be difficult to find a private place to cross swords with him. This part of town had long gone silent, their doors marked out with an X.


The cobblestones gave way to mud, as she left the better streets behind her, and the presence of another Immortal washed over her. She turned the corner, and found him waiting.

“Can you not leave this well enough alone?” he asked, exasperation bleeding through his voice. “Have I not made it plain that I do not desire your head? Why do you persist in following me?”

“Why do you persist on taking the head of an unarmed beggar girl?” she shot back, unsheathing her blade. “It may be best if we dismount, although if you insist on pursuing this on horseback, I will oblige.”

He sneered as he slid out off his horse. “This will not take long,” he said.

“On that, we are agreed,” Rebecca said wryly, as she dropped to the ground, feeling the slide of mud under her feet. She kept her feet wide, in an effort not to loose purchase as he circled her, holding his longsword lightly. He sliced through the air, and Rebecca realised that the blade had been tempered and folded. Clever - the reach of a European sword, without the overbearing weight.

Rebecca struck, stepping into him, as she slammed into the edge of his blade, using her momentum, and the lightness of his blade, against him. He stumbled back, eyes widening. It was obvious he had never fought someone with who had experience with a lighter blade – the blade was a gift from his teacher, then? If so, it was a princely one. She shook the thought away; she had no time for musings.

She threw back the edges of her cloak, as he backed off, and held her position. The rain made it nigh impossible for him to be quick on his feet, but the soft mud also dragged the hem of her skirts down. She ignored the extra weight as she tried to discern the details of his movements through the rain.

He stood just outside reach, and Rebecca’s eyes narrowed as she sensed another presence hovering on the edge of her range. It was a fragile sensation, floating through her senses, and she watched Richard stiffen.

“The girl,” he said.

“You have to get through me first.”

It was enough. With a howl of frustration, he rushed her, and Rebecca stepped neatly to one side. His momentum carried him on, as he slithered on the mud, and Rebecca’s sword carved a line into his stomach. He collapsed to his knees, as if she had pulled the supports from under him.

“I don’t understand,” he said, hoarsely.

“And that was part of the problem,” she agreed, as her sword sliced cleanly though his neck.

The quickening reached into the sky, a column of bright, white fire, and it found an answering spark in the dark thundering clouds above. The smell of ozone almost suffocated her, as the sky seemed to boil over, the lightening and quickening twisting around each other, in a brief dance, before it dove back to earth, and struck her from her feet.

She screamed as the quickening rolled over her, attacking her mind, describing his all too brief life, and filling her with a mixture of pain, and horror, and ecstatic relief. She felt the earth beneath her pop and crack, drying out in an instant, under the burning power of the quickening. Steam rose from the earth, cloaking her, and she dimly heard hesitant feet patter across the street.

For a moment she wondered at the fact she could them so clearly, but then she realised the rain had stopped.

“’Ello? Are you alright?”

Swiftly, Rebecca got to her feet, pulling up her hood around her face before sheathing her sword. “I am well, child, it’s best that you go.”

“I’m no child!”

“Then that is an even better reason to flee,” Rebecca advised her, through the haze of hot steam, “For they shall be looking for an explanation.”

“But I had nothing to do with it!”

Rebecca sighed, feeling the weariness fall over her, and she looked for her horse. It was nowhere to be seen, she would have to walk. “Leave now,” she said over her shoulder, as she turned towards an alley. “Don’t look back.” She hurried on, trusting in the girls’ common sense to keep her out of trouble. There was only so much she could do for her at this stage, she was not yet her charge

~~~*~~*~~*~~~


Two months later, by the Augustinian calendar, the girl met her untimely end. With no market worth the title, and no more purses to cut, she had resorted to stealing bread from the dead, and they had knocked her to the ground with a rock for her troubles, before loading her onto a cart laden with plague victims.

It was happenstance that Rebecca had stumbled across them before they threw her on the pyre - but when the girl held her hand out, as if begging for a different life. It felt, to Rebecca, a little like fate.
~~~FINIS~~~
 
 
 
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Black Rook: Rebeccagrachonok on October 3rd, 2009 01:47 pm (UTC)
That's marvellous! And Rebecca is always Rebecca. Poor youngster, he had no idea with whom he had crossed:).
She went that-a-way...: Reb-Ama-Duncjinxed_wood on October 4th, 2009 04:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you! This is the first time I wrote from Rebecca's POV, so I was trying to get the a firm grasp of how I thought she'd think :-)

fuzzyenviropony on October 3rd, 2009 04:39 pm (UTC)
Oh, how close Amanda came to an untimely end!

I love stories where male immortals underestimate female ones. There's such a sense of satisfaction when they get what they deserve. :-p Nice fic!
She went that-a-way...: Amanda and Rebeccajinxed_wood on October 4th, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC)
I love stories where male immortals underestimate female ones. There's such a sense of satisfaction when they get what they deserve.

And I'd say that it would happen a lot - from the middle ages right up to the present day - especially with young male Immortals. They were so used to seeing the world through the prism of their upbringing, they couldn't see the reality in front of them!

.

diane: Pretty Amandar done by Kathyhdswdiane on October 3rd, 2009 09:38 pm (UTC)
Very nicely done. I love Rebecca stories.
She went that-a-way...: Amanda lightfingeredjinxed_wood on October 4th, 2009 04:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
fractured_sun: Rebeccafractured_sun on October 3rd, 2009 09:40 pm (UTC)
Ooo, I loved this one. Lovely to see this side of Rebecca
She went that-a-way...: Reb-Ama-Duncjinxed_wood on October 4th, 2009 04:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you, honeybun!
Rhi: barbara and ianvipersweb on October 13th, 2009 02:43 am (UTC)
Lovely. I like this look of how Rebecca protected Amanda even before she was her student. Also nice to see a nice sword fight between a woman and a man. Like the portrayal of Rebecca quite a bit.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )