The strange picture on the wall. Another little enigma found in the pages of Heartless with only half a resolution. Leonard is struck by something in this picture of the three identical men by the lake, two bound in chains, one wearing a crown. Then, in the center of the lake is a golden altar beside which stands a weeping woman.
And lying upon the altar is another man, a ghastly figure with a skull-like face. More strange still, Leonard the jester claims he has met this person . . . though he laughs it off and makes a joke directly after!
As for the other characters in the painting, they must remain a mystery. But I will give you a hint . . . you have, as of this chapter, already met one of the three identical men. But I'm not saying who!
This would be another interesting picture for one of you talented artists to tackle if you felt so inspired. According to the narrative, it's gracefully worked, though Una dismisses it as ugly.
Lunthea Maly, the City of Fragrant Flowers, is mentioned for the first time in this scene. We've heard tell of Beauclair and Milden, all countries near to Parumvir. But Lunthea Maly is a city in the Far Eastern empire of Noorhitam, ruled by young Emperor Khemkhaeng-Niran Klahan . . . which is a mouthful if there ever was one! We don't get much more information about the great nation of Noorhitam in this particular story. But we get to journey there briefly in Veiled Rose, so if you're curious, you should certainly pick up that novel.
And I sincerely hope to be able to set an entire novel there one day . . . one day very soon . . .
Misguided Protests: Una overhears her father talking to Prince Aethelbald. She doesn't hear what Aethelbald says, but she does pick up her father's end of the conversation. Including a particularly chilling phrase, "Southlands can burn to dust for all I care."
And so we hear of the kingdom of Southlands for the very first time. And we get our first hint of the drama unfolding there. But it is all so distant and so strange, hard for a man such as Fidel to believe.
He also the protest, "Parumvir has never been a temptation to their kind." Which is, quite frankly, wrong. Parumvir has not been dragon-plagued for many centuries . . . but there was a time in its history when it was very much a target for dragons! But that time has sunk into legend, and few people believe those old stories any more.
So Fidel can't believe whatever warning Aethelbald gives him. A warning that includes Una herself, judging from Fidel's statement of, "But you don't know Una, not as I do."
The opal ring again: As Una listens to her father's protests, her ring tightens up uncomfortably.
Quick question for all of you who have read ahead . . . can you remember whether or not Leonard has spotted her ring yet by this time? I'm sure it says something about it in Veiled Rose, but I don't have my copy on hand and can't quite recall at the moment!
A job for the jester. So Fidel and Una both brush aside whatever warning Prince Aethelbald has offered. Instead, Una begs her father to hire Leonard as their court jester. Despite a bit of hemming and hawing, we can see the Fidel does like to please his daughter . . . perhaps even more so after whatever he just learned from Prince Aethelbald. He sees her as the sweet, affectionate girl she was five years ago, bringing a needy cat home and wanting to give it love and comfort. Sure, she's a young lady now, and instead of a needy cat, she's got a needy youth with her. But surely such a darling girl couldn't be destined for anything too dreadful?
So Fidel agrees to give the jester a chance to prove his skills . . . despite learning that Leonard originally hailed from Southlands. The same Southlands which Fidel just declared could "burn to dust" for all he cared. Did Leonard overhear that remark? No one knows.
Una stops at the strange painting a gain on her way to her father's sitting room that night. She sees how the stone altar gleams gold (gold . . . stone . . . hmmm . . . .)
Aethelbald finds her studying it, and bids her come in, out of the dark hall (symbolism? Maybe. Not sure if I meant it or not, but it could be read that way, I think). Once more, he takes hold of one of her hands and tries to ask her to let him tend her wounds. But she pulls away quickly and hurries in to her father and brother.
But she has a feeling as though she has met the white-faced figure in the painting, the one sleeping on the gold stone. She simply cannot place where or when. But we know that this figure looks the same as the terrible dream Una keeps having.
Felix's game. I like the mental picture of Felix playing his game by the fire while Monster sits by. Being blind, of course, the kitty can't watch. But his ears are perked with interest! Sounds like my kitties, who always like to be involved in whatever I'm doing. But Monster senses Una's presence the moment she enters the room and goes sweetly to greet her, allowing himself to be scooped up. I think Sir Eanrin has become very fond of both Una and Felix during his stay in Parumvir. J
Contrast. Leonard is set up as quite a contrast to Una's suitors. Particularly to Prince Gervais, whom he resembles to a certain extent. Like Gervais, he's very charming (and he carries a lute!). Unlike Gervais, he doesn't seem to take himself quite so seriously, which makes him immediately more appealing! At least, I think so.
The jester's performance. I love that Felix tries to pretend disinterest when Leonard starts playing. Sounds like any one of my brothers in their teenage years, determined to be cool. But he is interested, and Leonard does get him laughing in the end! Leonard even gets Prince Aethelbald grinning . . . though it is a solemn night for Aethelbald, and he is aware of many more dark and dangerous things than the little royal family surrounding him. But he's not without a sense of humor, and the jester's antics are pretty humorous!
The jester is hired. Fidel compliments the jester on his skills . . . and remarks that he will have a job, so long as he is willing to work menial household tasks as well as jestering. The jester agrees, and sweeps another elegant bow. Not a bow such as one would expect from a mere Fool.
My Personal Favorite Lines:
She returned to the waiting jester and found Leonard contemplating a series of portraits in the hall where she had left him. They were not very good pieces; or rather, Una hoped they were not. If they were accurate, then her ancestors had been distinctly lacking in forehead and tended toward greenish complexion. (p. 124)
"What in the world have you dragged in this evening, child?"
"It's a jester, Father."
"It is, eh?"
"He is indeed." The jester offered the king a graceful bow. (p. 127)
"Another lost creature lugged in from the Wood, Una? Does this one just need a good meal and a bath as well?"
"Heaven help us, he'd be grateful enough," the jester muttered. (p. 127) Poor Leonard!
Una returned to her room for a light supper and a not-so-light scolding from Nurse, paying neither much heed (p. 128)
Questions for the Text:
1. There are several key moments of foreshadowing in this scene, moments that hint at the danger to come. Can you pick out a few of them?
2. So, what are your thoughts on Leonard at this point in the story? Hero? Villain? Romantic interest? Comic relief? What were your original impressions?
3. Any guesses about that strange painting? What do you think it means? Can you guess who some of the characters might be?
4. And again . . . favorite lines?
1. "Gervais is supposed to have an accent. What accent does he have? I'd always thought it was like a scottish brogue." -- Rebekah
Well, with a French name like Gervais, and a French-sounding country like Beauclair, I would imagine his accent is probably French . . . ;) However, this is a fantasy world! Not, our world. So his accent very well sound Scottish. I do not mind if that's how you hear it. :)
If anyone were to have a Gaelic accent in my world, however, it would Eanrin and all the folks of Rudiobus, who were inspired from Gaelic mythology. I don't write that way because I find written accents a bit annoying. But I hear it that way in my head even so!
2. "So, is the Bane of Corrilond a different dragon than the Dragonwitch?" -- Jennette
Yes, the Bane of Corrilond and the Dragonwitch are two different dragons. The Dragonwitch was the firstborn of the Dragon King, and she used to be a Faerie Queen, so she had three lives. The Bane of Corrilond was a mortal queen, so she has only one. However, her story is similar to the Dragonwitch's in enough ways (SPOILER ALERT!!!! For instance, they both destroyed their own kingdoms after transforming into dragons) that the Bane of Corrilond was declared to be "like the Dragonwitch reborn" (a reference you will find in Moonblood). But they are two different dragons with two different stories. You'll hear the Dragonwitch's story in Starflower and the rest of it in Dragonwitch. The Bane of Corrilond's story will have to wait for a while, however . . . .
3. "How far apart are Una and Felix?" -- Caitlyn
You know, I answered this question a few days ago, saying Felix was fifteen. I was WRONG!!! I actually just read in a later chapter of Heartless that he has his fourteenth birthday in the book itself. So they are actually a good four, nearly five years apart! (My bad.)
4. "Are you going to put any maps in your books?" -- Caitlyn
I hope to one day. I almost put one in Heartless . . . but then I realized that, as the series grows, so the world grows! I was afraid that if I put a map in Book 1, I would limit myself too much. I have maps for my own reference . . . maps of the various kingdoms individually and the Continent as a whole. But it will probably be many books before I'll have the courage to actually include one. I'm not like Tolkien where I invented my whole world and geography, then wrote the story into that. My world and geography keep morphing and growing along with the books! I make every effort not to contradict myself, of course. But I also don't want to corner myself early on . . .
Translation of The Geestly Knout:
Yesterday, all you lovely people worked to find the translations of the odd words in Leonard's Geestly Knout poem. I hunted up a few more, and this is the resulting first stanza (I've made a few tweaks with verb tenses to help it make some modicum of sense.
With biting wit sly, the Superficial Soil Scourge
Would baffle his supernatural water horse and try
To use his snout as a loop of rope for securing items on a ship at the poor tenant farmer
And be disreputable and sordid at the thread-producing fly.
Wow. I think that might be art. Raw, primal art. Or something.