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The Marshal's Lover -- Mother of the World

One of the things I love about writing the Numinous World books is the way the stories weave in and out, threads passing through history, even when the participants in the stories are barely aware of them. In The Emperor's Agent Elza became more aware of the threads, of her own past and of the stories. In The Marshal's Lover it's time for her to take control of her abilities and to make deliberate choices about the course of the story. This scene is from very early in the book. Elza is in Warsaw with Michel, Napoleon, Corbineau and the army. Corbineau has just asked her to take a look at the young woman the Emperor is enamored with, Countess Maria Walewska. That night, Elza dreams....



I dreamed, and in my dream I was a child again in Amsterdam. In my dream I walked through the house my father died in, the one my mother called cursed. I went down the hall, everything monstrous and huge, just as it had seemed to me when I was eight years old, antique black teak paneling absorbing the light of the candle I carried. In my dream I walked through it in silence, knowing that my father was dead.

As happens in dreams, one place becomes another with a thought, and I stood in the nave of the church. I stood among the mourners, and my father was dead. This was his funeral, I thought, looking up at the painted ceiling far above. My father was dead, and I dreamed his funeral as a child, a black clad, golden haired little girl standing among my brothers and sisters.

Only that could not be right. I had only my brother Charles, and he died before my father.

Yet there they were, two sisters and three brothers, walking with me down the aisle toward the front of the church to kneel in prayer together, all of us fair, my sister's long pale hair hanging loose. My sister stood beside me, my age exactly, her hair the same color as mine, her eyes the same shade of sapphire. "Our father is dead," she said. "He has died for his country, and we are all that is left."

"I know," I said, and felt tears start in my eyes.

"We are all that is left," she said, and her gaze did not waver, my sister, born in the same year, born under the stars of winter. "Our country is dismembered by our enemies and our people ruined. There is no one left but us."

"And what can we do?" I asked, my voice that of a child, clear and dreaming. "We are little girls, not soldiers."

"We must ask Her," she said, and her eyes sought the front of the church.

Behind the altar there was a vast icon, the Virgin enthroned with Her Son on Her lap, robed in a blue so dark it was almost black, spangled with gold like a thousand starry heavens. Her skin was mahogany, dark as an African's, two long scars marring one cheek. At Her feet sat the orb of the world, and behind Her long curtains sursurrated, moving in a silent wind.

"We must ask Her," my sister said, and took my hand to lead me forward. "We asked Her before."

"We did," I said, and I followed, making the genuflection at my sister's back as she sunk to her knees.

"Mother of the World," she said, her child's voice firm and clear, "Maria, Queen of Heaven, listen to your daughter!" She lifted her face and her eyes were bright with tears but none spilled down her cheeks. "Not for me, but for my people! Not for me, but for those who weep! There is a wind through the world, and it is blowing!"

I caught my breath, words returning to me as though long forgotten. I knew what she would say before she said it.

"Not for me, but for freedom! Not for me, but for our survival as a people! I call him by his bones, by his bones that rest in our soil, by old blood spilled on his behalf long ago, by his name and by his oaths! Come to me."

"Come to me," I whispered. A memory, a ghost. What wind is this that shakes the flames? It is the wind from Egypt….

"Come to me," she said, and lifted her eyes to the icon, to the living woman who bent Her scarred face over my sister's head in unsmiling benediction….

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
ashabardon
Sep. 5th, 2013 04:06 pm (UTC)
I love this passage! I honestly think it's my favourite - especially as you know how much I adore Hand of Isis.

So nice to see the three sisters reunited, albeit in another time and place far from Alexandria!
jo_graham
Sep. 5th, 2013 09:24 pm (UTC)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Czestochowska.jpg

This is the image Elza saw.

Reflections of the past, and of the present too. A girl whose father died serving his country, who now has another chance...
ashabardon
Sep. 7th, 2013 05:36 pm (UTC)
One of my favourite icons - I knew that course on Russian orthodox art would come in handy.
gilraen2
Sep. 5th, 2013 05:11 pm (UTC)
mine came today!
jo_graham
Sep. 5th, 2013 09:25 pm (UTC)
I hope you enjoy it! :)
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )