She stirs, rolling toward him as she awakens. Whatever Farrell had expected to find when he travelled to the past, it wasn't this.
"I want to wake with you beside me everyday," he says, pulling her close, "You'll come with me, won't you? To my time? I know I can find a way to do it, I just need to know that you will come."
"I've never felt anything like I feel with you, Farrell," Aouregan says, "I'd go anywhere with you. But, if I am to live with you, I'd like to be married."
"Of course," Farrell says.
They set out together in the morning and the long day's walk across the woods brings them to the little village by the river.
"I was born here," Aouregan says, "For generations, my family had served the Lady, here, in this sacred grove. Or, it was a sacred grove. When the Landgraabs came, they cut down our trees and built their stone church here."
"For centuries, this image of our Lady stood in the center of the grove, but the Landgraabs took her and enclosed her here in their temple. They say they do her honor, but they've cut her off from the people. And, out here on this arch above us, they placed the image of their Watcher. You cannot see the Lady now without looking past him. You cannot approach Her except through their house."
"And that's why you live so far out from the village, in the woods by yourself?" Farrell asks.
Aouregan nods. "My parents died trying to defend the trees here. I wanted to fight with them, but I was just fifteen then, and my mother sent me and my brother away with Moth to hide in the woods."
"What happened to your brother?"
"Come," Aouregan says sadly, pulling the church doors open, "You shall meet him."
"Kaourentin," she calls gently to the priest praying before a stone altar, "I'd like you to meet someone."
"I'd heard you had a man living with you lately, sister," Kaourentin answers, "Happily, Trifine Brannon's misadventures have been the center of most of the town gossip, and your scandal is just a distraction."
"Farrell and I wish to be married," Aouregan says as her brother turns to face them.
"I'm glad to hear it," Kaourentin answers, "It would be my honor to perform the rites myself."
Uncomfortable with the obvious tension between the siblings, Farrell fidgets and looks away from their conversation. And he notices two round holes inset in the walls of the church, looking very much like the holes he'd found in the Landgraab chateau in Champs les Sims, holes which hid trigger mechanisms to reveal secret doors. What secrets to these holes hide? Farrell wonders.
Farrell's attention turns back to Aouregan as her voice rises.
"I want the old rites," she says, "I will not be married in the sight of your Watcher."
"Sister, you know I cannot do that," Kaourentin protests, "I serve the Watcher."
"You serve the Landgraabs," Aouregan accuses, "And you serve yourself."
"What use it if I die like Mother and Father did?" her brother asks, "I don't want to live hidden out in the forest like you. Here, I can serve our people better, close to their homes. What does it matter if I invoke the Watcher's name instead of the Lady's, when the result is the same?"
"It matters, Kaourentin, because you've become a tool of the Landgraabs, you help subjugate to the people to their will rather than helping them resist."
Kaourentin sighs, "Helping them to die, you mean. The Landgraabs have shown their power over and again. Those who resist, die. Those who accept their rule are allowed to go about their lives in peace. And I am here to heal their bodies and give peace to their souls, while you hide out in the woods, helping no one."
Aoregan glares at her brother.
"And you," Kaourentin turns to Farrell, "You wish to marry my sister. Are you still an adherent o the old ways, as she is? Or would you prefer to be married by the new rites?"
Farrell had been utterly fascinated in watching the religious debate, this piece of history unfolding before his eyes in the form a family argument as one sibling clings to the older beliefs while the other turns to the new. Farrell of course knows hows this fight ends, who is declared the winner, and how meaningless it all becomes once the Age of Reason begins and the world largely gives up on superstition in favor of empirical knowledge. If he were to answer Kaourentin's answer truly, he would say that it was all nonsense. But for Aouregan's sake, he stops short of the truth and just says, "I've never had much use for the Watcher, myself. I don't believe he exists."
Kaourentin's eyes grow as large as saucers and he turns back to his sister, "The Landgraab's eyes are always on me," he hisses, "I've had to work hard to earn their trust. Just having you here in this temple is suspicious enough, I cannot allow this blasphemy on top of that. Go, now, and do not come back until you decide to embrace His teachings."
"I'm sorry," Farrell apologizes once they are out of the church, "I didn't mean to make things worse for you and your brother."
Aouregan shakes her head, "You aren't the cause of this rift in my family, it is the Landgraabs I blame, for everything. I'm the only one left who serves in the name of the Lady, and I cannot officiate at my own wedding. I've heard there is still an old priest in a village some miles from here who still performs the old rites. But the walk is at least a week, and I haven't the money to get a horse..."
"In my time, we don't need anyone to officiate a marriage," Farrell tell her, "You just take vows, and it's done. Well, that and you need to file at City Hall for it to be official. But there are no rites needed at all, Aouregan."
"You told my brother you don't believe in the Watcher," Aouregan says, "The Brannons here still adhere to the old ways, they are one of the only families left who do so, though they are quiet about it so as to not bring the wrath of the Landgraabs down on them. That's why they came to me rather than to my brother to help Trifine. But you also told me on the day we met that you do not know the Lady, either. And now you say you have no rites for marriage. Tell me, who do the priests in your time serve?"
"We have no priests," Farrell says, "We have doctors to heal the sick, and scientists to explain the world, and we have a secular government to make laws."
"And you have no gods at all?" Aouregan asks.
Farrell shakes his head, "And no magic either. Things like fairies and werewolves, and people like you, witches, are just characters in children's stories.'
"And that's the world you wish to take me to?" she asks, pulling away from him.
Farrell reaches across the space between them to caress her cheek, "It's the only world I've ever known, before now. If you don't want to live there, then I will stay here with you."
Note: Kaourentin Avendale is made from a clone of Heaven's Xander Avendale from her Avendale Legacy.
Readers of my Summerdream story know that Aouregan is descended from Uvie, and many have assumed she is also the descendant of Auberon, since at the time Aouregan was introduced here, Uvie and Auberon had just had a daughter together. I didn't want to spoiler events in Summerdream here before they happened so I didn't want to come out and deny those rumors. I am now free to inform everyone that Aouregan is descended from Uvie and Ardax.