Pirouette remembered the day as if it were just yesterday. It was the day when they brought her the news that her father was slain in battle. The messenger, who knelt before Pirouette’s mother offered her his sword. She looked upon the steel blade with horror, and then shouted, “Take it away! Take it away at once!” Pirouette watched as her mother bit into her fist and then bent over, as if stabbed in the belly. The mournful, desperate cry that her mother emitted sent shivers down the little girl’s spine and the memory of it had the same effect.
As one memory often leads to another, so it was with young Pirouette. Not long after her father’s funeral, refusing to open her door to anyone with the exception of the cub bearer. She ate no food, nor drank any water. The only thing she imbibed was wine- lots of wine. When her confessor knocked on her door, she cursed him and told him never to come back. When Pirouette’s governess knocked on the door, she too was told to go away forever. It was only a matter of time before she didn’t even allow the cup bearer admittance in the room.
When Pirouette’s father went off to war, he appointed a castellan to run the affairs of the estate during his absence. This man, who was named Guy de Lusignan, finally gave the order for the door to be taken down. Concern for the well-being of Pirouette’s mother, over-road propriety, and so the axes were applied to the door. Once a hole big enough to allow a grown man to enter was made, the castellan entered her ladyship’s bed chamber. What he saw was enough to sober up the most besotted of drunks. There lay la duchesse de la Grande Montagne Noire dead by her own hand. A gash across her throat created an obscene, leering clown mouth. Dried blood stained her bodice, bed covers, even the floor. It appeared that even though she was at the very nadir of despair, she was fearless enough to cut her throat with one single stroke of her dagger.
“Your mother was a very brave woman,” said her confessor to Pirouette. “Unfortunately, she was not brave enough to face the world without your father.” While she had wept at the news of her father’s demise, she could not summon the same amount of grief for her mother. Suicide! Thought Pirouette ten years later, The coward’s way out. “I’ll never forgive you,” said Pirouette to her long-dead mother. “Never!”
If one were to leave the capital by the Eastern Gate and travel in an easterly direction for two days, stopping only to change horses and to use the facilities, then one would reach the place where Pirouette spent most of her childhood, Castle Rising. As far as castles go, it was neither large nor small. While the doors, shutters and even the drawbridge were made of wood, the rest of Castle Rising was made of stone. The Keep and the storerooms were made of granite, as were the outer walls. The Chapel was made of fine white limestone. While the stables were made of brick and wood. The original mote was dug by her great-great-great-grandfather over a hundred years prior to her birth. Over the years, as the castle walls expanded, so did the mote.
Until she became an orphan, Pirouette’s childhood had been fairly idyllic. Although her parents never had any other children, there was no shortage of playmates at Castle Rising. Nearly everybody who worked there had children, some of whom were just the right age to play with Pirouette. Although the other children were advised by their parents to show Pirouette deference, she refused to recognize any class or caste within her circle. She loved all of her friends equally, each and every one, and she hoped that they would love her in the same way.