All her adult life Madelaine Marquise had been wholeheartedly dedicated to the precepts of her faith. Clearly she remembered the events leading to the first time she'd seen the goddess whom she dedicated her life to, she'd been ten years old, a young and carefree child revelling in the springtime wonders on her family estate.
"Mistress Madelaine!" called Garrest, her father's oldest and most trusted servant and her childhood tutor. "Where are you young miss?"
Madelaine dropped half the armload of wildflowers, which she had picked to make a wreath, as she waved happily across the field at her beloved mentor.
"Mistress," Garrest said solemnly as he sat on a nearby log, after collecting himself from the strenuous jog accross the field. "Sit by me a moment, I bear sad tidings."
Madelaine was quite mature for her age, and being already well versed in ettiqute and decorum, she quietly did as she was instructed. Once she was seated and listening intently, the elderly manservant continued.
"Mistress, erm Madelaine," He decided intimacy was more important than protocol in this situation, "It is about Lady Marquise."
"Mama?" Madelaine inquired, smiling inwardly as most people did when they thought of the charming noblewoman.
"Yes child, I'm sorry," his voice caught in his throat, "there was an accident."
Madelaine's young mind froze, she was silent and still for an eternal moment.
"I'm afraid so."
Madelaine's mind screamed in anquish.
"The temple clerics did what they could for her," Garrest sensed her pain, "I'm told she felt no pain at all."
Madelaine looked him dead in the eyes, tears free-flowing down her face, "That's supposed to make it alright?! Mama's gone! I'm never going to see her again!" she took off in desperate run toward the keep, not stopping till she was in her mother's room. Throwing herself on the bed, where only the night before her mother had read to her from her favorite book, Madelaine sobbed uncontrolably.
Madelaine didn't speak at all during the week leading up to her mother's funeral. She didn't have any dark colored clothes, much less black, but she wore an ill-fitting black dress of her mother's instead. Though both men tried, neither Lord Marquise nor Garrest could reach the mourning girl, eventually they chose to respect her need for solitude and left her to mourn in piece until the day of the funeral.
Although she hadn't made it public knowledge, Lady Marquise had been a Heartwarder of Sune, and prior to her wedding to Lord Marquise she had held high office in her order. As such her funeral was to be an extremely lavish affair, laiden with the most beautiful flowers and the finest fragrances available. A fine feast with honey mead and spiced wine was laid out and all in attendance was welcomed warmly to feast and share tales of the joy Lady Marquise had brought to their lives.
Madelaine stood in shock as she surveyed the festivities, she had a great deal of trouble understanding how the sudden terrible loss of this wonderful, charming, beautiful spirit could be celebrated so.
"We do not celebrate her death," The woman who stood by her side told her, as if responding to her unspoken thought. "We celebrate her life, and the love and joy she brought to those around her."
Madelaine slowly looked up at the woman, she was clad in a tastefully revealing gown, woven from a semi-transparent white silk, which draped off her shoulders and large firm breasts like a cascading waterfall, and her brillant red hair fell to her hips framing the most beautiful face Madelaine had ever beheld.
"Mama?" Madelaine asked honestly, as the likeness was uncanny.
The woman chuckled lightly, a delicious little sound like the jingle of sleighbells. "No my sweet little one, your mama is needed elsewhere now. But I hope you and I can be friends." She smiled warmly, and it was a warmth Madelaine could feel physically, it made her smile too.
"Ok," she responded innocently, offering the flame headed beauty her hand in friendship. "I'm Madelaine, but you can call me Maddy."
The woman took the hand gracefully, "I am Lady Firehair, but I'd love it if you'd call me Sune."
That had been the begining, not just of a devout faith, but a devoted friendship. In time Madelaine had become a Heartwarder, just like her mother. She brought love and beauty to everyone and everything around her.
Recently though, the revelations of Sune had become tinged with sadness, or distress of some kind. It was as though some force was actively opposing Sune's power. Madelaine tried to convince her friend to confide in her, but the Goddess would just smile meekly, kiss her cheek and tell her not worry. That is until she told Madelaine to seek out Talon.
Now she was confused, nothing she had learned as a novice of Sune had prepared her for the deceit she had to employ to get him to do as Sune had requested. Madelaine really couldn't believe what Sune had told her, that Talon was a force against love.
Episode 8: Love and Loss.
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