#NaNoWriMo : Once Every Year
A piece from "From Frewyn to Sanhedhran", the second book in the series. Alasdair has difficulty remembering the family he has lost:
Once every year since his grandfather’s death, Alasdair had contrived to pay a visit his family’s plot in the royal memorial. The memorial grounds, maintained by the castle gardener, with their fine hedge rows neatly trimmed, their flower beds prettily worked, and the ivy kept in tolerable order, was situated on an elevated and private plot of land between the Royal Theatre and the hunting grounds. The entrance of the immense and intricate monument was marked by two large granite columns and a few stone steps leading to the various sections where the royal families kept their ashes. While much of the bereavement was reserved for the crones of the kingdom who had lost their sons, wives who had lost their husbands, and children who had lost their brothers and fathers during the invasions, Alasdair had a more aggrieving office to fulfill. He was forced to mourn the loss of his entire family: a brother lost to tyranny and madness, a mother lost to childbirth and a father lost to the throes of anguish for being made to live without his beloved wife, a grandfather to illness and old age, and a mentor and friend lost to the horrors of war. Making the yearly visitation with his grandfather at his side to honour his parents had been one thing, but to mourn the loss of his ever contracting family by himself was entirely another. He had not been to the memorial since before the Galleisian War, and though his brother had died just before his coronation, he had not the heart then to see the names of those who loved him most carved into the headstones of the memorial just before he must supplant them and honour their memories in another quarter. He could not have borne standing before his grandfather’s memorial without having restore the ill that Allande had wrought upon the kingdom, but now that Frewyn was in its preparatory stages of convalescence, he must go and pay his respects in the traditional manner, though he said his entreaties for their peace and wellness every night at his bedside. He must go, as it was right to do, he must force himself on exertion, he must find valor where he can and resume his yearly visit regardless of how much anguish it should cause him.
All agony and agitation, Alasdair walked to the memorial with a heavy heart, the few remembrances of his parents, mentor, and grandparent tucked in his hand. He made a shuddering sigh when he came to the two stone pillars, glaring askance and with chariness. He inhaled, remarked the trinkets in his open hand, and said to himself, “I cannot let them think I’ve forgotten them.” They would never think so devoted a son neglectful , but here was the conviction requisite for his entrance, and with a step almost forced, he entered the memorial grounds.
There was a quietness here that astonished and disconcerted him, the rows leading to the now silent hall of the kings and queens of old. Here were the stones belonging to the first of Frewyn’s leaders: of First King Allun and his Beloved Queen Morghan, of King Dealac the Ugly and his son Fair King Ghalmere, of Clever King Wilc and Mute Queen Midge, all of their detailed busts and statues bearing their likenesses staring at him lifeless through their mould of chiseled and refined stone. Here was all Frewyn’s legacy, begun almost a thousand years ago, a nation preserved by its perseverance, honour, and tenacity on the backs of leaders far nobler than himself. Their unresponsive expressions and smiling faces oppressed him, and he was forced to keep his eyes low until he came the end of the row and stopped before a large plot set with numerous stones. He looked up at the lintel, read the name Brennin, and his heart leapt into an already tightening throat. He turned and raised his foot to descend into the square plot, but where his body was prepared overcome his apprehensions, his mind was unable to concede to the same notions. A few moments spent in recollection allowed him to pass the threshold with downcast eyes. He could bare all the grim discomfiture of the place if only he would not be made to acknowledge the names etched upon the headstones before him. To be spared the sudden consternation of remembering their warmth and their smiles was all his aspiration, but the moment he thought he safe from these pleasant and wretched cogitations, his eye caught the names of his parents, Prince Draeden and Princess Brighel, and Alasdair must turn away. His welling eyes were immediate reminders of how his preparatory speech to himself had done little to check his sadness. The ignominy of not having visited the memorial of his parents, the two fated lovers, in a few years overpowered him, and while owed Allande no quarter for the tyrannical manner in which he ruled their grandfather’s kingdom and the vicious conduct he showed toward himself, in scorning him, he had neglected those he had loved and admired: a grandfather who doted on him and who spent every day with him, a mentor who was a friend to his parents and who died protecting the throne, and a mother and father, though unknown to him in person was well-acquainted with in memory. It was a tormenting practice, venturing here with only the muted and distant sounds of the celebration in the royal parlour to furnish his failing spirits. He closed his eyes, inhaled, clutched his trinkets in hand, resigned himself to reading the names of his departed despite what images in his reverie they might revive.
The names of Draeden and Brighel he found he could regard without succumbing to tears. Seeing the name High Commander Bryeison on the headstone between that of his father and his grandfather, however, supplied some fresh agitation, but when his eyes flickered to the left and inadvertently read Good King Dorrin, the name he had always been used to speak and hear without difficulty, produced an inundation of sentiment for which Alasdair had not been prepared. He would look away- he must if he wished to keep some semblance of composure- but the small etching of his grandfather’s likeness captured his attention, and he could no longer resist. The fullness of his aggrievement burst on him: the word “grandfather” escaped from his quivering lips in a dreadful whisper, he lay his family heirlooms aside, and cried bitterly into his hand.
Enjoy the story? Enjoy the first book in the series: