Jaqueline de Montluc
- Love-Child of Claudette and Armand -
Claudette de Montluc was the daughter of a Stuard priestess (High Guardian) of the secretive boccord realm of Ros Crendor. She was raised with the weight of future responsibilities and her mother's hopes on her shoulders.
To evolve in her mastery of Terrameer's (The Earth Mother) secrets and wisdom she chose early to create life, as many other priestesses do. A man that was deemed suitable to provide her with a physically and mentally strong child was selected by her tutors of LiManch Convent. This was Armand, a Tokrem tribesman who worked among the Uritay tribes of the northwest. He was the estranged son of a Meer Reverans of the southern lands and therefore deemed perfect for the task.
They moved into one of the Union Houses outside LiManch peninsula to complete their holy union. As soon as Claudette had conceived they would move apart and continue their lives, as is the way of the priestesses of Ros Crendor. If a son was born, he would be sent to Armand's village in the south to be raised there. If a daughter was born, Claudette would present her to the priesthood to be schooled in the secret teachings of Terrameer.
But, although Claudette had been blessed and prepared in accordance with all the ancient traditions, she did not conceive during the first cycle of Ebba. During this time, feelings started to evolve between Claudette and Armand. When Claudette finally conceived, they two attempted to hide this fact from the priestesses. It was against tradition for a priestess to have feelings for the one granting her a child and was deemed most inappropriate for her to bond with a man.
After another three cycles of Ebba, the priestesses became suspicious and discovered, after some invasive investigation, that Claudette indeed was with child. Against their will, Claudette and Armand were separated. Claudette was taken to LiManch to complete her pregnancy there while Armand was banished home to his Tokrem nomad tribe of the dry southern lands. Heartbroken, Claudette swore during their separation on the name of Terrameer to return to Armand when the child was born.
During the remaining time of the pregnancy, Claudette could not stop thinking about Armand. In the year of the Stone House People 3474, Claudette gave birth to a healthy baby girl in accordance with all the traditions of Terrameer. She was named Jaqueline after Claudette's dead sister.
However, Claudette could not forget the promise she had given Armand. Crazed by her love for him, she escaped from the LiManch convent with her young daughter and travelled to the Tokrem lands. There she found Armand's tribe in their joined crith camp and she was reunited with her lover.
Seeing their disastrous and untraditional actions, Nemi, the Meer Reverans of the Tokrem tribes, (and actually Armand's mother) of the area persuaded them to separate. She declared their union unholy and made the tribesmen reject them. Instead of following tradition, the two fled together into the wilderness and settled in a remote Valley of the Pagra Mountains to live together in peace.
What the two did not know was that the valley was cursed. It held the crypt of a powerful Dreamlord, whose spirit awoke to their presence after an eon long slumber. After having nightmares and becoming mentally distant at times, Armand finally fell to the power of the Dreamlord. His mind destroyed and replaced with the evil spirit of the Dreamlord, he became a shadow of a man. He left Claudette and to walk the wilderness among the forbidden ruins of the Dreamlords. He became known as the first among the ragged ghost-like Wanderers of the region.
When Claudette realised what had happened, she returned in shame with her daughter to Armand's tribe and begged the priestesses there to help her. Feeling compassion for this lost priestess, Nemi summoned the agari (the holy condrij priestesses) from Obiss. Together with Nemi and the agari, Claudette ventured into the valley to wrest her lover from the Dreamlord's devastating grip. Not much is known of the battles of the body and mind that were fought in that valley. What is known is that while Armand was freed, his mind and body was broken and he died when the Dreamlord was banished from him. Claudette was also mortally wounded and died beside her lost lover.
Showing an unfitting sign of emotion for her estranged son, Nemi placed the two in a grave outside the Tokrem crith camp, where they could rest together forever.
The young, orphaned Jaqueline was raised under the close supervision of her grandmother Nemi, so that she would not also show the same weakness as her mother. Nemi also watched her closely for any taint of the Dreamlord. Together with the Meer Reverans, Jaqueline travelled with the tokrem tribes throughout the northern reaches of the Doben-al and experienced a few years of childhood freedom and joy.
At the age of 8 she was finally sent to the LiManch convent to complete her training. There she spent many years of hard work, endless study and hours upon end in the library. Prayer and meditation were mixed with the secret teachings and traditions of the Terrameer priesthood. Jaquleine specialised in the weaknesses of men and the learsis skills of mending broken bodies and minds.
During her childhood, Jaqueline heard tales of her powerful grandmother Jolassa de Montluc, Stuard of Ro-Obiss, but never met or heard from her. Claudette's mother showed no interest in her granddaughter. It was as if her own daughter's betrayal had severed the frail bond that might exist between a priestess and her female offspring.
At the age of 14 Jaquleine was allowed to travel with the older priestesses to the Lands of the Acubon and to other places of wonder. There the priestesses of the convent traded for special and secret goods they needed. The trips to foreign people and foreign lands give her some insight into the ways and strangeness of other people.
During one of these trips she met the Burdothian trader Josep Alarwin of the Jahadda klade of Ardoth. His caravan had been attacked by crugar raiders along the northern Doben-al trade route and had a badly injured and infected leg. Despite her young age, Jaquleine treated him and saved his leg with her knowledge of the learsis arts. As a token of gratitude, Josep gave her a jewelled dagger that she still bears with her today. Josep promised to help her and house her if she ever came to his city as a reward for her services.
This event nursed her interest in the way of the learsis and in the years to come, she studied all scriptures she could find about the learsis arts and the knowledge of limilates and their preparation. Men came to her to heal hunting or farming injuries and women came to give birth to their children.
At the age of 16 Jaquleine underwent the physical maturing of farsé when fevers and pains wracked her boccord body. She passed out of farsé with an uncanny control of respir (Fransei: breathing = signature skills) and soon had the physical strength to master the boolanj (Ros Crendorian longbow). She was now a woman and an adult in the eyes of all Ros Crendorians. The ordeal of farsé had left her strongly devoted to her calling as a priestess of Terrameer.
She also realised that she preferred a woman's touch to that of a man. Men were easily corrupted and the weak link of the people. Their weak minds were far too easily distracted by a woman's beauty and their goals in life seemed simple. Men were used as breeding tools and their physically stronger bodies were used for feats of strength where the body of a woman not yet had reached perfection.
Upon reaching adulthood and the title of Prétess, Jaqueline was faced with the choice of settling in a village, helping and leading people while giving insight into the balance of Terrameer; or prepare herself to create life in order to gain greater wisdom and insight into the mysterious powers of Terrameer.
The thought of mating with a man and a resulting pregnancy did not interest Jaqueline, as she preferred the company of women to that of men. Remembering a fond childhood, she chose to settle with her grandmother Meer Reverans Nemi of the Tokrem tribes.
For a few years she aided the permanently settled Tokrem tribes as well as the nomad tribes. Her learsis skills soothed their ailments and her devotion to her calling strengthened their love for Terrameer.
One of the tribes best hunters, Pjire Fickie, proved to be her equal in boolanj skills and respect for Terrameer and a friendship soon evolved such as a friendship can be between a stern prétess and a devoted protector. The years passed while destiny raced to catch up with Jaqueline.
The Return of Groschraurr, Dreamlord of the Pagra Mountains
As the years passed, Jaqueline had many opportunities to ponder upon her parent's fate. The thought of somehow avenging her and striking a blow to the mythical Dreamlords was ever in her mind and she often sought the mysterious and cursed Wanderers of the Pagra Mountains for revenge.
Always, watchful, Meer Reverans Nemi soothed Jaqueline's anger and always tried to direct Jaqueline's talents elsewhere. To the sick or to the ever needed skills of midwifery.
One day however, strangers came to the lands of Jaqueline's tribe. They were Stone House people from the so called civilised lands of war to the west or east. Like all Stone House people they were greedy and curious, meddling with things they could not comprehend. So it happened that they awoke one of the most powerful Dreamlords from his slumber. In their search for an ancient artefact they had broken the sacred seals to the foul tomb of Groschraurr the Devourer.
As Meer Reverans Nemi called in all pretésses of the area to seal the tomb and lay the restless spirit to rest, Jaqueline came to realise that this was the fiend of her bad dreams, the evil Dreamlord that had cursed her father and destroyed her mother. Aiding the strangers, she, Nemi and Pjire managed to remove the Unholy Staff that was the focus of the Dreamlord's power. In the great struggle, Nemi sacrificed herself by drawing the attention of the living green fires to herself, so that Jaqueline and the strangers could flee from the accursed tomb.
Standing at the smoking brink of the collapsed tomb, Jaqueline swore to continue fighting these fiends and avenger her family.
But evil corrupts and the Unholy Staff could not be possessed without risk. The curse of the Earth Mother was upon all who had touched it. Her Breath (isho) became stale and sour, the Earth Mother's children (animals) became aggravated by the new polluted copra and the body turned weary and sick. Finally the bearer of the staff succumbed to the ancient evil that had created it and fled from the pretésses who attempted to take the staff to the LiManch convent.
The captured foreigners that were being escorted to their judge in Kerteyga had to be used once again to find the staff. The chase took them and Jaqueline throughout the realm of Ros Crendor. Over desolate mountains, petrified forests, blasted plains, eerie hagroo clusters and through underground ruins of the Dreamlords filled with foul creatures still residing there. Finally the staff was brought to the convent.
However, the Unholy Staff seemed to attract evil men. Great enemies from a distant realm raided the holy convent where no man was allowed to set his foot and stole the staff. Another and more frantic chase began and finally ended in the great and ancient Brynkwood forest where the staff and its bearer fell to their doom into the roaring white waters of Crooked River.
In the second year of the Whiptails, Mother, Terrameer's incarnation and daughter of the flesh, sent word through the Speaking Waters to the Meer Reverans of the LiManch convent. Terrameer had Whispered to Mother about a young Pretéss and Stone House strangers who had defied a mighty Dreamlord, without the schooling of the agari - and survived. The name of the pretéss belonged to one of Mother's Stuards and held potency.
Therefore, the girl and the strangers were summoned to Ro-Obiss were their newly won kree was evaluated. The girl was not a Creator but yet seemed to hold power to heal and to destroy. It is not known what Mother discovered about the young pretéss in the ancient scrolls, but she was deemed important enough for a Meeting of the Minds.
Ever listening to Terrameer and ever seeing the nuances of the Balance that remains unseen to others, Mother decreed that fate had locked the young pretéss to the foul Dreamlords. They would find and battle each other - until one of them was vanquished.
The girl will be the one who will rise highest in the time of need, but also the one who can fall lowest, was Mother's doom over the girl.
The young pretéss was the last to pass the Sign of Skelos ritual, before the Skelos became corrupted. She and the strangers were sent to hidden Obis to study their foes closer and for the pretéss to become an agari.
However, the foul forces of the Awakened awaited the pretéss underground and the Realm of Darkness enveloped the far from ready students.
Details to how the young pretéss once again defeated the Dreamlords are lost, as this was just before the Fall. However, somehow stronger, the pretées rose from the subterranean caves and met for a last time with Mother.
Mother spoke Words of Wisdom to her and gave her the Searching Quest.
Our lands are changing and Terrameer trembles from the force of the Dreamlords trying to break free from the prison of her flesh. Darkness is descending upon us and we, the Guardians of Ros Crendor, will be tested the hardest. You have battled the Dreamlords three times already and you are destined to do this again and again until you or they perish.
But the evil of the Dreamlords stretches beyond our realms, to the realms of the Stone House people who do not know this foe lurking in the darkness of night.
You must therefore go out into the world and seek the places our ancient enemy reside in. Learn as much as you can of the elder enemy and the extent of their awakening. Do not return until you are once again Summoned to my halls.
The Sign of Skelos will bind you and your allies together and is a weapon against the Dreamlords. Use it wisely.
Use also your Tokrem kinsman. He will be your shield and your sword. He will be the arm you can rest upon when your mind is tired.
Bearing the quest of Mother, the young pretéss went out into the world to do battle with the Dreamlords - until one day
The Weaknesses of Men
Men cannot create life
Men cannot use their mind while the lures of the flesh influence them
Men's minds are weak and cannot withstand attacks upon it
Men have a strong body, but a weak mind. Like a boolanj with a weak bow cord
Men always take far too great or dangerous risks
Men have difficulties analysing the world around them and seldom see more than the tip of the problems at hand
Men rarely see the balance or understand the true purpose of Terrameer
The Powers of the Dreamlords
What my eyes have seen so far.......
[More to come.....]