Ocean Crossing

I stared up at the rich oak ceiling of the stateroom. Yep. Still there. Just as it had been for the last two days.

I rolled on to my side, staying under the covers of the bed that I had not left for the aforementioned two days. Across the stateroom, on the opposite wall, Azul sat at a desk, head bent over her books, immersed in her study. I closed my eyes, pulled the covers tighter and sighed.

Tired...so tired. The last two days felt more like 2 hours to me, although that's basically what they had been as I had only been awake that long over the last 48.

I had been completely disoriented when I had initially awoke in this bed, in this stateroom. I did not even realize that I was on a ship at first. I blinked groggily around the luxurious room, wondering in whose manor I was, and if I had imbibed too much Champagne at a Ball and I had been put to bed in a guest room.

But then Azul's face had appeared above me, her blue eyes intense with worry.

"Gabi...Gabi? Oh thank goodness. Wake up sweetie. You've been out for almost eighteen hours."

"What is...where are we?", I asked her.

And then I remembered.

The scene in front of Coughton Court. The Linden officials that had come to evict me from my home. The intense argument that had ensued. Azul arriving and pulling me out of there. Away from there. Away from my home.

"We're on a ship darling", Azul said gently. "I was not sure of the political climate in Caledon, what with these sudden changes. I did not know if we would be safe there. I was able to send a telegraph message to Hypatia Dejavu, and she responded, agreeing with me...that I should take you far away."

I blinked at her and numbly repeated, "far away...?"

Azul continued, "Yes. Hypatia has asked us to come to her. To New Boston Station. We are on our way now, the ship actually left port eight hours ago."

"The ship...?" I felt like a parrot.

"Yes, I got us on the RMS Campania. It was utter good fortune that it was in port and only hours from departing."

The RMS Campania

I was trying very, very hard to wrap my brain around all this. I was on a ship...headed for North America???

"Azul, this can't be right. Why are we running away? I need to go back! Go back and fight! There has been some mistake. There is no way that Desmond would let this happen."

Azul took my hand and looked at me with a deep sadness. "I know this seems impossible, but those papers the Lindens had? Were valid. They've passed these new harsh, restrictive laws, with insane tax increases. Caledon was in an uproar when I took you away."

"Desmond tried to reason with the Lindens, but they would not compromise. He had no choice, or they would have destroyed Caledon."

Then I gasped in horror. "Oh God...what about Eva? What about the other Dukes and Duchesses?"

Azul gently stroked my cheek. "Shhh...it's ok. They're ok.", she reassured me. "It turns out that Eva actually left Loch Avie a few days ago. Nellie was in a state, obviously sensing the impending upheaval. Nellie left the Loch, and Eva and Colonel Somme followed her."

"Nellie left the Loch??" I was back in parrot mode.

"Yes, several days ago. She lead Eva to Winterfell, to a very specific place in Winterfell. She took Eva to the land of her father's ancestors. She is there, and she is safe."

And what of the land of her mother's ancestors, I thought bitterly.

"As for the rest of the Dukes and Duchesses, they were either able to escape or to raise a massive amount of money in a short time to pay the taxes, and save their land."

Money. Wait a minute...I have plenty of money, I thought.

"I do not care how much they have raised the taxes. I can pay it! It's my home Azul, it's our home! I will pay whatever I have to in order to save Carntaigh...for my father...for my grandfather and grandmother!"

"Oh Gabi..." Azul looked despondent. She took a deep breath.

"I wish you had been conscious before we left. So you could have seen it... so I could help you understand. It's like the world turned upside down."

"Then explain please!", I begged. "Please help me understand."

Azul sighed. "Gabi... it's not just about the money. Well, the money is at the root of it all, but it's about a complete social and societal turnover in Caledon. The Lindens have their eyes on Caledon and they have their own reasons for wanting it to stay on the grid...but this "new state order" does not have room for "aristocracy", at least not in the way it has existed in Caledon until now."

"The Lindens hit the older Duchies first. Anyone whose families had been in Caledon since its early days. Eva was gone already when they tried to serve her. Kami was traveling and did not learn of what had happened until she returned and found the papers. Lady CoyoteAngel set the papers that they gave her on fire, then she set fire to Primverness. After that she moved on to setting the other Duchies on fire in protest. And well, you know what happened with you...."

Azul trailed off sadly. "Honey", she said gently, "It's over. Your time...your family's time in Caledon is over."

I stared at the ceiling. The workmanship on it was amazing. I could count the panels over and over and over...

"I...I can't listen any more...I can't think... Please..please, I need to sleep."

Azul smoothed the covers around me and kissed me on the forehead. My body was shutting down again. I could feel it. I closed my eyes. I allowed the darkness to take me away, where there was no pain.

And that was where I floated most of the time. Drifting in and out of dreamless sleep over the past two days. Azul was always there when I did wake up, and she tried to get me to eat something, but I simply couldn't. She tried to pique my interest by mentioning the stunning dining room and the elegant ballroom and then just looked worried when her social butterfly turned her down and then turned over and went back to sleep.

This time I did not let her know that I was awake. I watched her, so absorbed in her work and studies. And all I could do was sleep.

Sleep. What a fabulous idea.

I turned over and drifted into the darkness once more.


Eva Bellambi said…
*sighs* There are times I miss Loch Avie so much.......but I should also say that I do love my Isle of Skye where you are always welcome, my dear cousin, though it is not OUR family's land. I am so glad that grandfather did not live to see the days you have described and we have all lived through.
Gabrielle Riel said…
Thank you Eva.

It's taken many months for me to come to terms with it all, and only now can I write about it.

I hope that someday I can find land with a Throckmorton connection...or just find new land where I can rebuild Coughton Court.