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The Chronicles of Claudia Labelle -- Part XV
By
ZMahnke

The Chronicles of Claudia Labelle -- Part XV

Claudia and the Prior make amends.

Entry XXI –

My living quarters have become a little dusty since we left for Sigtuna, and it seems Sister Agnes has continued to make her rounds despite my absence. There are a few things that are not where I left them, but that does not bother me.

When we gathered up our things and set off for Saint Ansgar Priory, the Prior was yet again quiet, and again he would not look at me. It was something of a nuisance, really. My patience had worn thin and my confidence to say something was growing rapidly. He kept his eyes closed, with his chin down, and hands together in his lap. He sat there unmoved, even as the wheels of the carriage bumped on the snowy uneven road.

Clearly, something was not right.

And so there I was again. Sitting lonely, staring off into a forest of frozen pine trees as a carriage with a nameless coachman transported me to Saint Ansgar Priory. Once again I felt as though I was in a foreign land, unaccustomed to such an environment . . . and within those few moments, I was nauseously homesick for the French Kingdom.

I wanted to cry, to drain the overwhelming sense of abandonment out from my eyes. But, ultimately, I refused to let myself break down.

No, no I was not going to allow that. I perked my shoulders, crossed my legs, and sat up straight like the young noblewoman I am. I convinced my conscience to wait for the Prior to speak first, whenever he is ready; even, if I were to spend the entire journey to Saint Ansgar Priory in complete silence.

But it was quite the futile attempt to hold my composure. As much as I attempted to keep my attention away from the Prior, my eyes always returned to him; and it is not that there was much to see, for he had not moved an inch since he sat down. I suspect he barely breathed. Over the course of a few minutes, I sighed three times, hoping that it would turn him to me. But nothing, not even a flinch. Finally, I could not take the silence any longer and nearly shouted with the robust nature of my French heritage. “You must answer my questions.”

He raised his head and opened his eyes. “Ask, and thou shalt receive; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.”

“What is the matter with you?” I asked. “You have been so distant throughout much of our time together in Sigtuna, and it is trickling into our return to the Priory. Is this truly what we have become? Was this little adventure all for nothing? What have I done to destroy our friendship?”

“. . . It is nothing you have done, Miss Labelle. I do not know why you insist on believing that my actions are the result of some great offense you have committed against me. No . . . in fact, it is quite the opposite. For I feel as though I have committed a great offense against you. I have kept you in the dark for much of this excursion, and I sincerely apologize. But it is that I worry for you, Miss Labelle, that I retire myself to concentration and meditation.”

“Why do you worry for me?” I asked. “There is no reason to.”

“But there is. I worry that your gift will consume you as it did Edda, and dare I imagine you suffering the same fate as she. I worry that my knowledge is not enough to keep you sane and healthy. And sometimes I worry that you are not ready to begin practicing your gift, and with that, I am only pushing you toward your untimely death. Perhaps this little journey was indeed all for nothing.”

“I am not Edda. Nor will I ever be, not with your guidance. You must remember that her mind was already rotten when you and she met. She was plagued for years with ghastly sights and obscene images of the past. Sure, I have had a few. Some more frightening than others, but nothing to the extent of Edda's experiences. It is my belief that if I learn to conquer this power while I am young, it will not affect my future. If I learn to master this power now, it will not damage my marriage to Henry Beauclerc; and I will go on living as the Queen of England, bearing children into this world, and growing old until the day my time on the earth has expired. That is my life's work, Prior Anders. And I will not let anything stand in the way, not even the darkness that lurks within my mind.”

The Prior sighed, and a smile formed from his bearded lips. “The maturity for your age is remarkable. Your parents should be proud. You truly are a noble woman, Miss Labelle. And you will make for a wondrous Queen.”

From that point forward it was a peaceful journey between the Prior and I. He said that we should suspend any more training of my gift until we reach the Priory, lest we scare the coachman by having him believe we are committing some sort of witchcraft in the bed of his carriage. I did tell the Prior of how I practiced my gift when I was alone in my room, and what terrible spirit I saw that night. He warned me of telling anyone else at the Priory what exactly it is that I can do, or what we did while staying in Sigtuna, especially to those who are royalty. God only knows what those in a position of power would do with me and my gift.

I must go now, dearest Reader. Jovan Vukan, the Grand Prince of Serbia, awaits in the Library. I can only wonder what he wishes to say to me. I will write of our meeting later tonight, or perhaps tomorrow.

 

Claudia Labelle

23rd of November 1097

 

 

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Copyright © 2017 ― Zachary W Mahnke

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