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Captain Joscelin - Changeling: The Lost

So, this is a bit of blurbness for my prospective Changeling character.  Yes, much of this is subject to change...however the basic story will stay the same.

            The storm battered the hearty ship, tossing the occupants from side to side.  For days now, they had been carried along by the storm; their main mast irreparably damaged from the winds that had crept upon them unannounced. 

 A young girl - the gem of the ship - crept through the underbelly.  Her arms were filled with a veritable feast; a flagon of spiced red wine, the last heel of crusty bread, a large wooden bowl filled with a stew comprised of vegetables and chunks of pork, and a fresh apple – the last fruit upon the ship.  Balancing it all carefully, she rolled with the ship as it moved, making her way down a short hallway to an elegantly carved door.  Pausing to knock once, she pushed her way inside, carefully juggling the food.

 The room was dark, flickering candles failing to drive the shadows from the corners.  A dark smell pervaded the room, a stench of sickness and despair.  She moved quickly to the far end of the room, where a simple cot was set.  She could see the outline of his face in the dim light, drawn and sallow, his skin stretched taunt over his cheekbones.  The man looked to be upon his deathbed, his breath labored.

 Quietly, quickly, she set the meal upon a small tray, carefully settling it between her knees so that the food she had procured would not roll about.  Reaching into a basin of cool water, she found a rag and wrung the water from it, carefully touching it to the man’s forehead.  She murmured softly to him, attempting to rouse him from the fever induced sleep.

 “Father?  Father, I’ve brought food for you.”

 His eyes fluttered open, the sparkling blue of a clear day faded to a hazy gaze of half-conscious thought.  He looked to his daughter, his face working as he tried to speak.  Quickly, she brought the flagon of wine to his lips – attempting to imbue some strength into his body.  “Drink this, father…it will make you stronger…”

 He drank deeply, sighing softly as he struggled to make the words.  She could see the fever still working in his eyes, she knew that he was unaware of his surroundings.  “My Angel…oh, Angel…you’ve come for me…”

 “Yes, yes father…it’s me…I’m here.”

 The smiled that crossed his cracked lips brought a tear to her eyes.  It was not a smile he had ever bestowed upon her before – it was a smile of a man about to be blessed; a man who knew that his time was near, and was waiting only for the absolution one can only receive from a priest.

 “Maria…you’ve come for me…I always knew, you would come…”

 She furrowed her brow and shook her head.  She was no nurse, but she would not dissuade him from his fevered dreams – he would not remember them anyway.  Even if he did live.  Maria, her mothers' name.  He had never spoken of her mother before this moment, and it made her feel uncomfortable; hearing the words that he would not speak, the words that only spilled while he was delirious.  But she did not wish to harm him, only to comfort him.

 “Yes.  Yes, Robert…I’m here…”

 She saw tears spring to his eyes as he lifted a clammy hand, gently brushing hair back from her face, “So beautiful, Maria…so beautiful.  I am so sorry, angel.  So sorry…”

 For a moment, the young women hesitated.  She knew that in this state, he would possibly speak of her mother – speak of their relationship.  She had always yearned to know, always yearned to understand how they came to know one another and how they came to love one another.  She could not help her curiosity as she pushed him, gently, to tell her more.

 “No, no Robert…you’ve nothing to apologize for.  Nothing at all.”

 He shook his head, one hand taking hers and clenching it tightly, “I do, angel…I do.  I wronged you, horribly.  I know…I know how I hurt you.  Gods above…I wish I could take it back…”

 “You did not hurt me, Robert…”  She could hear the note of trepidation rising in her voice, but she could not stop now that she had set her course.

 She shuddered as her father began to weep openly, closing his eyes tightly against the palpable overwhelming wave of emotion.  “So much pain, Maria…so much pain.  I hurt you in a way I can never atone for.  Please, please forgive me.  Forgive me.”

 “I…of course, Robert…of course I forgive you…”

 He turned those fever addled eyes up towards her, pleading in them as he whispered, “I am thankful you were given Joscelin…even though I hurt you…you have her, right?  She is so beautiful…so like you.  I pray, Maria, every day I pray, that she does not become like me…a monster…”

 “You are not a monster, Robert…I forgive you, for everything…”  She could feel the uncomfortable pit of dread in her stomach.  He had done something terrible to her mother – something that had resulted in her birth.  She had always been told that their relationship had been one that was doomed, though happy.  This…this was something she had not expected.  Her father begging forgiveness from a woman long dead.

 Shuddering, Joscelin turned away slightly from her father, attempting to compose herself.  After several long moments, she turned back, her face resolute as she gently touched the heat of his forehead with a rag.  She watched as he slipped back into slumber, tossing from side to side and moaning as the ship pitched to and fro around them.

 As the night faded, the storm around them began to abate.  She continued to hold her vigil, carefully cooling her fathers’ head with a rag and speaking softly to him.  Stories of her childhood, songs from her home…anything to break the silence punctuated only by his ragged breathing.  Several times throughout the night he awoke, and she attempted to persuade him to eat and drink a little.  And each time, he blessed her, called her by her mothers’ name, and begged for her forgiveness.

 The sun finally rose over the waves, the storm leaving them bobbing calmly in the seas.  As the sun rose, rays of morning breaching the heavy curtains of the cabin, she saw her fathers’ eyes flutter open once more.  He looked up, giving a weary smile to his nurse, taking her hand gently in his.  She could see the fever had broken, the first bright sign of his worrisome illness.

 “Jos…thank you.”

 “I…you’re welcome, father…”

 He saw the look in her eyes, worry crossing his brow, “What is it, sprout?”

 She looked away, embarrassed for the confessions she had heard during the long night, “It is just…you spoke in your sleep.  A lot.  A lot of feverish talk…about my mother.  About your relationship…”

 He sighed deeply, wincing as he attempted to shift himself upon the pillows.  With a frown, a look of worry, she reached forward to assist him, earning a deep chuckle from her father.  “Ahh, look at me.  Needing help from my sprout.”

 She spoke softly, shaking her head and looking down at her hands, “I don’t mind, father.”

 “I was not kind to your mother, Joscelin.”

 She looked up at him, sharply, her eyes meeting his, “What did you do to her?”

 “She…”  he sighed again and shook his head.  She knew that it was a difficult topic for him, as difficult to broach as it had been for her mother, “It is a difficult story for me to tell.  May I have some more of that wine?”

 She nodded and handed him the flagon, watching silently as he drank deeply.  Pulling her legs up beneath her, she sat cross-legged in the chair, watching him with a hesitantly curious look in her eyes.  She watched as he closed eyes, beginning to speak softly.

 “Shortly before I met Maria, my crew and I had a bit of a skirmish.  Damage was dealt on both sides, but we came away the victors.  Barely.  We limped to shore, taking on water, massive damage dealt to the hull.  We’d lost 8 men, 12 more were wounded.  Including myself.”  With that, he pulled open his shirt, showing her a scar she had seen before.

 “We were not sure that I would survive the wound, not after it began to take on an infection.  But I refused to sleep, and I got us to shore.  We ran aground near your mother’s home, and reparations began immediately.  I knew that if I didn’t do something more, get something more then we had – I was going to die.

 “I put on my most intimidating clothing, strapped my rapier and my pistol to my belt.  Though I could barely walk on my own, I was determined to make myself appear as large and threatening as I could.  I knew, from the scouting parties, that there was a home not far from where we had landed.  With my second in command and two of my most trustworthy men, we made our way to the home.

 “Ahh, Jos…I remember that day.  The first day that I saw your mother.  We made our way through a field of poppies, a violent looking group of Pirates attempting to not look as desperate as we felt.  She stood there, in the field, looking at us with fearlessness in her eyes.  Through the pain, I was still struck by her beauty.  And I wanted her for myself, more then anything else.  I desired her, and I would have her.”  His eyes began to cloud over with the emotion of the telling, and he leaned back, looking past his daughter into days long gone.

 “I greeted her, put some pretty words out there before demanding that she take us to her home.  If she was frightened of me, she never showed it.  She never showed fear, that one.  Told me her name was Maria as she led us towards the house…and from the way she eyed me, I knew that she saw my injury, and saw the situation for what it truly was.

 “Your grandfather was a mountain of a man.  He saw us a-coming.  Four men, pirates by the look, following his beautiful maiden of a daughter.  He gathered the family, and with a set look in his eyes, we were invited into his home to discuss matters.  He knew what we were about – and he knew that we would have qualms about mudering them all, if he did not comply.  So, he agreed.  I, and my men, would be housed at his home while I mended. 

 “He would bid the local doctor come assist, if his wife was not handy enough to heal me, and if the local doctor said a word; we would kill every last one of the women and children in the village.  He believed me…he had heard of our ship and my crew before, and he was not a stupid man.”

 He sighed, wincing slightly as he shifted, taking another long drought of the wine.  She knew that he was trying to avoid the inevitable, but she stayed silent, allowing the story to spin out before her.

 “Your mother…she was barely 17.  And a beautiful lass, Jos.  Absoloutly beautiful.  Dark hair, dark eyes, ivory skin…a smile that seemed to light up the room.  Despite my infirmaty, I was taken by her.  As I said, I wanted her.  She assisted your grandmother in caring for me, being the eldest child and the one handiest with medicine.  Her father would not allow the two of us in a room alone together, but I could see from the ways her eyes followed me that she wanted something more then just covering my wound.

 “As my strength returned to me, I only wanted to have her more.  The repairs on the ship were nearly completed, and I was nearly ready to travel once more.  Our luck had held amazingly well thus far – the doctor had not alerted anyone, afraid of losing his own children.  And your Grandfather held to his word – housing and feeding my men.  It would have been the perfect set up, and we would have left peacefully…were it not for your mother.

 “You have to remember, Jos…I was young.  I had been on the seas for several years, but I had not yet lost that impetuous streak.  I felt as though I could have anything I wanted, that no one had the right to deny me anything.  One night, I decided that the only thing I wanted in this world; the only thing that I could not live without – was your mother.

 “I called your Grandfather to my room one evening, surrounded by three of my men.  I was nearly fully healed, and we planned to leave within 3 days.  I told him…”  At this point, the man hesitated, closing his eyes again briefly, before plowing on.  “I told him that while we would be leaving soon, our trade was not yet complete.  I did what I could to keep the emotion from my voice, the desire from my eyes…and I told him that I would have your mother.  Have your mother, or kill all that he held dear.

 “He tried to resist.  He tried to talk me out of it, tried to convince me otherwise.  I pulled out my pistol, and I shot his dog; his huge mastiff that was nothing but a big stupid bundle of energy.  Then, I think he realized I was serious.  With all the bitterness he could muster, he told me he would bring her.”

 The pain in his voice was obvious, his tone dropping to barely a whisper.  “He brought her before me, and I ordered them from the house.  My men took her family to the forest, forcing them at knifepoint to stay there for two hours.  And she…your mother…she…she came to me, and gave me a look of pure hatred.  I forced her.  I thought, then, that the only way to have love was to take it by force.

 “I think she realized that I wanted more from her then just physical pleasure.  She came to me, expecting to be abused and harmed.  I think I surprised her by worshipping her, by showing her my love to the best of my ability.  In the end, she clung to me and begged me.  I’ll never forget, what she said to me.  As we lay together - my arm carefully around her, my heart light as I tried to forget that I had forced this woman into my bed – she whispered softly in my ear.  ‘Robert’, she said to me in that honeyed voice that haunts my dreams, ‘I would have come to you willingly, had you only asked…’

 “The look in her eyes when she spoke, the tenseness in her body as she waited for me to recoil…it broke my heart.  Here was a flower, a delicate blossom that I had wanted; and I had plucked her.  Cruelly, I had taken her against her will.  And even though I know I am a horrible creature, I felt shame in my actions.  I could not look at her, could not face her.  I left my bed then, slightly wobbly on my feet, wincing as I felt her place her arms on my back to steady me.  Despite what I had done – she was still gentle towards me.  I did not deserve her kindness.  I did not deserve her.

 “I wanted to take it back.  I hated myself for what I had done…and I wanted to take it back.  I could not stand to look at her, and I sent her away.  I know that hurt her more then what I had done for her – but I couldn’t stand to see her.  When my men returned, I informed them that we would be leaving with the dawn.  Not a single one argued with me, they knew better then to say a word back when I was in that type of mood.

 “As the dawn broke, I approached your Grandfather.  I knew that he would have killed me if he could.  Without a word, I handed him a heavy bag; a bag that clinked with gold.  He scowled at me, threw it on the ground, told me he wouldn’t take my blood money.  ‘Fine.’  I said to him, picking it up, ‘Then give it to your daughter, or use it for her dowry.  Find her a good husband, someone who will care for her.’  I turned then, not allowing him to deny the money, not allowing him to deny me some semblance of peace over the issue.

 “’Why, Captain?  Why do you care what happens to my daughter?  For that matter, why do you care about any of us.’  His words made sense, you know.  There was no reason for me to give him the money…no reason for me to do anything other then kill the lot of them and run off.  That was what I did, afterall.  That was who I was.  ‘Because I’ve shamed her, sir.  It was not my place to do so…and…she is the best thing I have ever met.  She deserves better.’

 “I did not see them again.  I turned and I left.  No…I fled.  I couldn’t stand to see him.  I could not stand to see your Grandmother looking at me with pity.  I couldn’t bear to see your mother, knowing what I’d done to her.  So I left, and I did not look back.  At times, I sent her letters and money.  And she sent me news of your birth.” 

 He grew silent, his eyes downcast as he drank deeply from the wine once again.  The silence spanned a lifetime between father and daughter.  Neither could move, and neither could speak, their emotions too heavy for anything more then the cool silence of dawn.

 Finally, she broke the silence.  Her voice was thick with unshed tears, her body tense with unfettered rage.  “Why…why didn’t you tell me?  You let me believe that you…that you loved her.  That she loved you!  That it was a romantic tale!  How could you?”

 The grief was evident in his voice as he moved forward with some effort, moving closer to his daughter, “Ahh, Joscelin!  I wish I had answers for you.  I am not a good man, sprout.  I have never claimed to be so.  I…I wanted to protect you.  From the truth.  From me…I couldn’t protect her, but I wanted to protect you.”

 She stood, holding herself with dignity, glaring down at the man who she had come to adore and follow.  “I am leaving, father.  I won’t stay on this ship.  Not with you…”

 “Joscelin…please, no.  Please don’t!  I’ll...I’ll do anything to make it right to you, love.  I don’t want to lose you, not like I lost her.”

 She paused for a moment before shaking her head in disgust, the fall of braids bouncing against her back.  “No, father.”

 With that she turned, leaving her fathers’ life as abruptly as she had entered.

April Horinek


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