Anyway, let's pick up with this chapter and move along. Not a whole lot left to this book now! Events are speeding fast to their crisis points.
Lionheart’s dream: There are a couple of things that may or may not have happened during Lionheart’s dream . . . the dream which he seems to share, however briefly, with Rose Red. Obviously, Rose Red is down in the depths of the Netherworld, which is quite a separate realm from the Near World, a spiritual realm unlimited to mortal restrictions. So it is possible that Lionheart’s spirit traveled into those depths and took on a sort of solidity. It wouldn’t be beyond the Dragon’s powers to call him down to the Netherworld temporarily. I don’t think the Dragon could call him there for very long without more specific willingness on Lionheart’s part (or Lionheart’s death), but for such a short dream, it should be possible . . .
The other possibility is that Lionheart and the Dragon formed a sort of psychic bond. That while the Dragon assumed Lionheart’s form in the Netherworld while dancing with Rose Red, Lionheart himself experienced the dream in his own mind. This would also make sense, since to create such a believable impression of Lionheart, the Dragon would probably need some sort of connection to Lionheart himself. And Lionheart did breathe quite a lot of dragon-poison all those years ago, and much of it likely still lurks in his lungs.
Anyway, those are two different possibilities of what may have happened. Either are reasonable conclusions to draw, based on the rules of this world (and further rules revealed in later books). But, as is the practice with Veiled Rose, much is left open to readerly speculation.
Dreamlike voices: Following the dream or vision that Lionheart experienced, he wakes up to hear the Dragon and Life-in-Death arguing in the depths of his mind. Just faint echoes of their argument . . . but their wrath is so great, and his connection to both of them so intense, that he can hear it even when waking, on the very edge of consciousness.
Years had passed since he’d spared a thought. Here we learn that Lionheart has forgotten the promise he made to Rose Red; the promise to think of her now and then. He has all but forgotten her while away on this quest.
If you think of Rose Red as representing all that is good, all that is best in Lionheart, it’s no wonder that the Lady should drive him far away and oust all thoughts of her from his mind. But it’s very, very sad.
Eanrin! Other than in Goddess Tithe, our fan favorite poet-cat of Rudiobus has made at least a brief appearance in every Goldstone Wood novel thus far. We spied him momentarily during Lionheart’s performance a few scenes ago, but this is his one “big moment” in Veiled Rose. As a Faerie and a knight, Eanrin (currently disguised as Princess Una’s pet cat, “Monster”) is probably at least partially aware of the strange things plaguing Lionheart in his dreams.
And he definitely knows that Lionheart needs help. Powerful help. In fact, that there is only one person who can truly help Lionheart now . . .
Lionheart, the consummate cat hater. Lionheart is one of my favorite characters in the series . . . but in this respect, he and I will never see eye-to-eye! However, it does make for some interesting drama in the next book . . . when you’ll never guess who Lionheart’s primary travel companion turns out to be!
Snatching the jester’s hat. At the time I wrote this scene, I didn’t have a cat in my life who would really snatch anything that large. In fact, I doubted it was particularly realistic, but justified it by the fact that Eanrin isn’t just a cat. So it worked.
Since then, we have adopted Makoose. Makoose who will swipe and run with anything. If he can possibly budge it, he will try to steal it. Recently, I purchased a 2lb bag of oranges (you know the kind, the red netting?) and set it on my counter. Minutes later, Makoose had grabbed it and was trying to haul the whole lot off the counter and away down the hall!
So, yeah. If a “normal” housecat is willing to do that, then I have absolutely no problem with Eanrin swiping the jester’s hat.
An Overheard Conversation: Here in this scene, we catch a little bit of a conversation between Aethelbald and Una from Heartless. Who would have thought that Leonard the Jester had overheard their parting?
Hate him! Loathe him! For all the Lady of Dreams referred to Prince Aethelbald as the Dragon’s enemy, she obviously has some intense feelings regarding him herself! Hatred and loathing, which she communicates with all her most potent poison into Lionheart’s brain. Her icy calm is broken as she, through Lionheart’s eyes, faces the Prince of Farthestshore. She becomes as fiery and wrathful as her own brother.
Perhaps she and the Dragon are more alike than first meets the eye . . . Perhaps there is yet more to be learned of the Lady Life-in-Death.
One of mine is threatened: In Heartless, Prince Aethelbald made this same statement to Princess Una when telling her that he must go. At the time, however, we did not know to whom he referred.
Now, we can pretty safely infer that it is Rose Red of whom he speaks. And the Prince of Farthestshore, clad in a mortal body (a far more unusual, even phenomenal situation that we realize in these first two books), must go to her aid, down to Southlands, and down much, much deeper still.
But as he tells Lionheart, she is one of his own as well. And Lionheart should return with him. He should give up his current, hopeless errand and turn to one who can truly aid him in this dangerous mission.
And what might have happened had Lionheart gone? Might they, together, have defeated the Dragon before he even got to Parumvir? Might Princess Una have been spared her coming suffering and Prince Lionheart his coming shame?
Ultimately, it was not meant to be. And while the Prince of Farthestshore gave Lionheart the option, the Prince’s ultimate purpose and will were not thwarted by Lionheart’s refusal. Somehow, I think the Prince knew all along that Lionheart would refuse. That Lionheart had a much darker, harder, longer journey to pursue. But in his kindness, the Prince gave him the chance anyway. And continues to give him chances over and over again . . .
Questions on the text:
1. What do you think happened to Lionheart during his dream of Rose Red, based on the two suggestions given above? Or do you have a third idea?
2. Any cat-lovers out there? Have your cats ever tried to swipe anything surprising? (Or are you more on Lionheart’s side in the issue of cat-love?)
3. What do you think might have happened had Lionheart followed the Prince of Farthestshore now rather than insisting on his dream?
4. Any favorite lines?
Allison wants to know: "My question is... did The Divine Comedy at all influence your Netherworld? It reminded me of it, what with the lost souls Rose Red meets, the despair, and the journey through it to some higher place."
Yes, but probably in more of a subconscious manner. I more consciously modeled Rose Red's journey through the Netherworld after the Orpheus and Eurydice theme. But, as a former English Lit. student, I'm sure passages of The Divine Comedy are firmly lodged in various nooks and crannies of my subconscious, offering subtle inspiration along the way!