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My Name is Honor: Chapter 2
In the days following our discussion, I came close to receiving one of Kaya's well known back-hands several times and yet every time I braced for impact, it did not come. Instead, I would find her staring at me, eyes smoldering. The malignant look on her face was clear enough; she would like nothing better than to strike me but somehow my knowledge that she was not my mother had robbed her of her power. It was almost as if she were afraid; and she hated me for it.
Carrick was as obtuse as ever, refusing to acknowledge any reference I made to what he'd told me, carrying on as usual. It had been about a week since that night when a question came into my mind as I helped Carrick bandage the leg of a young ram who'd been injured in the field, and I could not forget it.
"What was my name?"
"My name. My parents would've named me, was Nora what they called me?"
"I don't know what they called you, child."
"He was your brother; my father. He must have spoken to you before you killed him. He must have said something"
I surprised even myself with the impudent line of questioning, but not more than "Father" surprised me when he sprang from his crouched position next to the injured animal. In an instant I was hauled up by the collar of my shirt and pinned against the wall.
"My brother was lured away by your sinful, whoring mother. What he said to me in the moments before his death was for me, not for the ears of his bastard offspring, who has been a burden upon myself and my family since the day she was born! Who I should have thrown over the falls as I was instructed to! You will FOREVER be a black mark on my lineage! " his rant began as a low grown and ended in a roar which reverberated off the barn walls.
Never had I heard him raise his voice all these years, even when I was being punished and he brought the lash down across my back, he was silent. Now, facing his hulking frame and booming voice I was truly afraid and yet still could not stop myself.
"I didn't know my parents, thanks you to and your Council, but I'll bet my mother was no whore and your brother was no idiot, and that they both made their own choices based on what they wanted for themselves, not what a group of old men sitting in the woods decided for them." The words spilled forth as I willed my gaze and voice to be steady and tried not think how easily he could snap my neck, this giant bear of a man with an immeasurable amount of rage concealed within him.
"I took you you into my home and raised you to respect the one final request of my brother, whom I loved, in the hopes that if you were raised without knowledge of your parents and their unfortunate demise, you may grow into a decent, productive member of our society. You have not, and so I can only think it must be in your blood, your mother contaminated you just as she did your father." His voice came through gritted teeth as I continued to stare at him defiantly. "Nora, you can leave this path now and live a good life. You don't have to be a victim of your bad genes, and hopefully with the balance of a good, dutiful man like Orin, your children will have an easier time than you."
I could not believe the lunacy that flowed form his mouth. He actually felt he held no blame in the brutal abuse I had endured all my life, that it was all my fault, for not overcoming my "bad genes." I writhed under his grasp, and when I was unsuccessful in freeing myself, a wave came over me, the same feeling I'd had the night I caught Kaya's wrist mid-strike. The next moment Carrick was standing away from me, cupping his face in his hands and I had a dull ache in my forehead.
"Ungrateful wench!" he was roaring, blood flowing through his fingers from his broken nose. "I will see you gone from my house in a week's time! I have done what you asked, brother! My conscience is clear! I can do no more with this burden!" He'd fallen to his knees now, and did not seem to be talking to me any more. I slipped quietly out of the barn as he continued his rant, and I sincerely hoped my father, my real father, could hear him in the next world...and that he would never forgive him and Carrick would be haunted by his ghost forever.
Carrick rode to Orin's family farm that night, to speak about moving the wedding up. Before he left, he called me into the kitchen where he sat with a cold steak from the ice-house on his swollen nose. He'd told Kaya he'd been kicked by the ram, I did not understand why he wouldn't tell her the truth knowing she'd be all too happy to assist him in administering the beating I surely deserved.
"Orin and his parents, if they accept my proposal, will be here in a week or so and the two of you married and then you will be gone from my home. Orin will take you to his village and we will not see you again. Your children will not be our grandchildren, I have washed my hands of it. You have deep-seeded evil inside you and we have done all we could to help you. I will give you one last thing." - he paused and pushed a weathered, dirty scrap of paper, tightly rolled, toward me with one finger as if it carried disease. -"This is the tree and lineage your parents scribbled in the wilderness in the days following their escape. My brother begged me to keep it and pass it to you should you be allowed to live. It was his very last dying wish and I made a promise, albeit reluctant, I am a man of my word. Take it."
After I gingerly took the scroll from the table, so afraid the old paper would tear or fall apart, Carrick left the house without another word and soon after I heard the hoof-beats of his saddle horse loping away from the house.
Later that evening, after Mother had gone to bed, I turned up to oil lamp next to my straw mattress and carefully unrolled the stiff paper. Scrawled across it were several names. It was barely legible, but they were there. My grandparents and great grandparents and so on who I knew of, then my parents, Aengus and Hazel, then at the very bottom, a name I'd never heard....my name.