Posted by Darth Krzysztof
Three months after the fall of the Silent Lord
“Madame Oriane Mirobelle de Rocfort,” the servant announced, then stepped aside, allowing Oriane into the great hall. She shrugged out of her fur, thrusting it into the servant’s arms without looking at him, striding toward the horse-faced woman on the ostentatious throne. She stopped just short of the raised platform and sketched a perfect curtsy.
“Lady Adèle,” Oriane said in Orlesian. “I thank you for seeing me on such short notice.”
“Lady Oriane,” the horse-faced woman replied. She was bonier even than Oriane, with coal-black hair and a dazzling, false smile. “It’s been too long. I cannot help but wonder what business a traitor’s wife might have with the court of Armagnac that could be so urgent.”
“Indeed, my business is most urgent. I would have come sooner, but your late husband dragged me into Ferelden, then I visited Val Royeaux before coming here…”
Adèle’s smile disappeared. “Late husband?”
“Indeed. Gervais Fèvre Lorrain d’Armagnac is dead, struck down by my husband’s sword.”
Adèle worked her mouth like a fish’s. “What… how… Lothaire will pay for this treachery!”
“My husband is also dead.” Oriane closed her eyes, but only for a moment. “And believe me, whatever treachery he may have committed pales in comparison to Gervais’s. He became a reaver, milady.”
“Ha!” Adèle made a dismissive wave of her hand. “You cannot be serious! What proof can you possibly offer?”
“The fell blade and black leathers his patron granted him are marked by the symbols of the Speaker of Oracles.” Oriane flipped her fan open, clacked it shut. “I delivered those items to the Chantry. They will verify their origin, and their wielder.”
Adèle started to stand up, but couldn’t quite manage it. “You’re serious, aren’t you?”
Oriane shook her head. “Terrible, I know. I expect you held out some hope that he still might come to care for you.” She wasn’t being mean. Like so many arranged marriages, the one between Gervais and Adèle was strictly political – and widely known to be so. Oriane blessed the Maker again for her time with Lothaire; brief though it may have been, many of their days had been bright.
“How dare you!” Adèle left the throne this time. “Is this why you’ve barged into my home like this? To cast doubt on my husband’s love for me? To feel better than me?”
“No, Lady Adèle. I’ve barged into your home to tell you that it’s now mine.” When Adèle could find nothing to say, Oriane added, “Or it soon will be, anyway.”
“Your treacherous husband has filled your mouth with lies and nonsense,” Adèle spat.
Oriane turned to one side so that Adèle could see her rounded belly. “And your husband filled me with a son.”
Adèle gasped. She went to sit on the throne, missed, and her bottom struck the floor. “No,” she half-whispered. “How… how can this be?”
“Probably during one of the many times he raped me,” Oriane replied. “It’s definitely his. And it’s definitely a son.” She didn’t bother to explain to Adèle that Dalish medicine had told her so. “You never bore Gervais any heirs, did you?”
“And his brother’s dead. By the by, I’ve convinced the Chamberlain that it was Gervais’s fell influence that doomed Alphonse. Lothaire’s blade was only the instrument of that doom.”
Adèle spluttered before saying, "The Empress – "
“Has no love for you, milady. And her cousin’s slayer, my husband, is dead, now. And the Chamberlain won’t deign to bother her with this matter, I assure you.”
“You can’t do this.”
“It’s already done.” Oriane knelt at the edge of the raised platform to look Adèle in the eye. “When Luc comes of age, Armagnac will be his. And I’ll serve as its regent until then. I could use your help running the place in the meantime. I’ll make sure you’re well taken care of. If you’d rather be thrown out on your bony arse, we can arrange that… but why should we?”
The horse-faced woman sniffled. “You’ve changed, Lady Oriane.”
She nodded. “I suppose I have. But I’m not your enemy, Adèle.”
“This is… this is your way of getting back at him. For what he did to you.”
Oriane nodded. “And to Lothaire. If I were you, I’d get back at him for what he did to you by helping me.”
Adèle’s dazzling smile returned; this time, it looked genuine.