Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Power of Recognition

Prompt: Put this into your story – “Time out! Time out! We can call that, right?”

Authors Note - This ties in with my recent Rromani stories and will feature in the next update on The Astonishing Adventures of Captain Juan.

Marcus pulled at his white satin doublet uncomfortably. The red and white corded lacing felt as though it may slowly strangle him. Cautiously looking about the Doges palace, he felt a stab of jealousy at the opulence and obvious wealth accumulated. Although not as famous or powerful as the Doges of Genoa or Venice, Doge Raimondo of Pisa called upon favours from both church and old nobility with his economic saavy clearly demonstrated in the surroundings. Marcus adjusted the gold trimmed red cloak which slung fashionably over one shoulder. On a younger or more distinguished frame, it would look dashing, but coupled with the tall black hat festooned with a feather, Marcus looked overstuffed and pompous.

After traveling to Florence on the pretense of purchasing merchandise for his gentleman’s outfitters, he’d had word to undertake an important task in readiment for the week long memorial celebrations planned for his long lost, and assumed dead, father.

As his first semi official duty as an heir to the DeLume name, Marcus was not willing to present himself in anything but the height of fashion and courtly manners. He initially had doubted his half brothers true intentions but felt the rush of power that this token task had given him and was keen to prove his worth.

The guard suddenly grasped the door mechanism and effortlessly pulled the large wooden door open. The impoverished face of an acolyte nodded at the entrance and motioned Marcus to follow him into the chambers.

“Doge Raimondo” Marcus bowed grandly, “blessings from Spain and from my family.”

Upon the giant wooden chair, the richly be garbed figure motioned Marcus forward. “Welcome Brother Marcus, it pleases my heart to see the small incidents in Roma have been forgiven and you are united publicly with your family.”

“Not quite your Eminence. I no longer belong with the church. Though your sources are astute in their findings about my family, but nothing will be truly public until after the Ball.”

“Please accept my condolences on the loss of your father. A devout Christian and tireless politician. I suppose there is the time that one must accept he will not be returning from the New World. And of course for the shocking recent loss of your wife.”

“Thank you my Lord. Dreadful business on both accounts. She was a faithful and beautiful bride and I am still heartbroken at the manner of her death.”

Marcus managed to squeeze moisture from one eye and he dabbed it with his handkerchief.

“The authorities never managed to find the deranged culprit who desecrated her body like that?”

Marcus brought his lace handkerchief to his face and feigned grief, shaking his head and bewildered at the speed in which gossip and planted evidence was able to travel.

“She’s with the Lord now Marcus, she is at peace.” As he leant forward and patted Marcus on the hand.

Marcus stuffed his handkerchief inside his doublet and stared at the large chair, unable to pick the wood it was made from.

Noticing the interested look, the Doge replied, “Alder. A water loving tree and mostly used in Venice these days for their foundations and bridges.”

“An interesting choice of wood for your seat of power your Eminence.”

“It has certain qualities I find valuable. So you are here for official business as well I see?

Marcus nodded. “The Gypsies.”

“Rromani tribes. They gather here for our annual games and …… I believe you will be selecting some of the performances to entertain at your celebrations?”

“Yes your Eminence. My…brother Earl Fedele wishes me to handpick the best to travel to our estates and enchant our guests during the week long memorial for our.. father.”

“Your celebrations have caused quite an interest for many of the tribes, some traveling long distances to vie for the honour.”

“Gypsies have no honour, my pardon, your Eminence. They are heathens, thieves and liars.” Despite himself, Marcus spat the sour note from his mouth. He could see Rubys flashing godless eyes and almost smell the basket of barbarian herbs and potions she carried around.

“And they are welcome guests within my realm.”

“Of course your Eminence. Begging your forgiveness.”

“Time out, Marcus, Time Out”

“We can call that?”

“Right away. Whilst you are a guest here you will be civil and you will observe the laws of Time Out with regards to the Rromani. I would suggest you adopt these guidelines when you contract your performances for the De Lume Estates.”

Doge Raimondo motioned with his bejeweled left hand and a servant darted in from the side holding quill and parchment.

“These are the terms of agreement you must sign before you can engage any of the Rromani. You will notice that the letters of travel you supply must be dated for a year.”

Marcus sucked air in quickly. “That would appear a long time for rag tag band of jugglers to stumble less than 40 miles to La Spezia.” Granting letters of travel allowed the bearer to migrate freely within the country, answering only to the Lord who issued the papers. With the new residency laws established with Spain, many Rromani had been evicted due to their lack of ties to a province and were keen to gain some protection.

The Doge arched his eyebrow.

Marcus stumbled, “Your eminence, it seems a little excessive; going through this paperwork, just in order for me to view their performances. They are common gypsies, landless.”

Doge Raimondo retrieved the parchment and held it in the air. “You are of course welcome to find your entertainment elsewhere.”

An icy dagger stabbed Marcus as his body crept cold with dread. Earl Fedele had issued him a simple task as a public acknowledgement of his trust and acceptance of his half brother. Was he to fail in his first role?

“Aldo, Why are you doing this?”

The figure straightened in his chair, breathing in quickly and stared at Marcus for long moments. “I have my own reasons. Just as I am sure you and Fedele have your own for planning this week long façade. Eyes will be watching Marcus. Ensure you step lightly.”

Marcus dropped his eyes and meekly reached for the parchment understanding the thinly veiled threat.

“When you have been officially recognized within the family, come back to see me Marcus. You’ll need a suitable wife and introductions. I owe you this at least.”

Marcus bowed and kissed the ring on the Doges outstretched hand.

“Unless your tastes have changed, you will be warmly welcomed in your rooms when you return. The competitions and performances begin in two days. Until then, please make yourself at home.”

The sweeping arm signaled the large wooden doors to open and Marcus’s audience had been called to a close.


Bill said...

Hi Annie, always entertaining reading your posts. I am intrigued by the adventures of this Spaniard.

My post is here:

James Ashelford said...

I liked it, a very left-field choice for the prompt. I'll admit a bias here in that I love stories of Early Modern politics and you're Doge interests me for his political savvy in dealing with his visitor and in his protective attitude towards the Rromani.

I'll definitely be coming back later to read through the past stories in this series, thanks you.

Jodi Cleghorn said...

Ahh Marcus - you have so patiently bade your time in the Green Room waiting to enter from left of stage once more :)

I am intrigued Annie to know of the past connections with the Doge - who obviously knows him well. Has he been telling you secrets?

Thumbs up for the weaving in of the prompt. I want to see how TIME OUT works in Juan's world!!

M. D. Benoit said...

An intriguing story that makes me want to know more. You have succeeded very well in using the "medieval" tone and rhythms of speech, transporting us into that time period.

For that reason, such anachronisms as "time out" and "paperwork" didn't quite work for me, but hey. Minor stuff.

Joanna Lee said...

I'm definitely intrigued! Did Marcus kill his own wife? Why doesn't he grieve for his father and how does the doge know?

I guess I must read the other stories and wait impatiently for the next episode;)

Have a lovely weekend!

Uncle Tee said...

I enjoyed your story. Good use of the [Fiction] Friday cahllenge.

Unknown said...

Thanks one and all - be sure to go and visit to find out about Ruby ( Marcus's wife) what the festivities are really all about and get involved with the courtly intrigue spinning around.

It is a first draft - so things do need tightening up - but heck - thats what this is about - getting blood on the page.
I appreciate all your comments