Prologue: The Scandals of Duke Baxter
Let me tell you a tale about the man called the Scandalous Duke in the country called Sylrona.
Out of the Five Dukes of the country of Sylrona, Duke Baxter was hailed as a fair ruler, an impartial judge, and a brilliant military tactician.
But it’s not his successes that adorn the housewives’ gossip.
Although his political life could be said to be a bed of roses, his personal life was the bed of thorns beneath the petals.
The sad fate of Norman Baxter began thus:
At the age of 16, Norman Baxter had fallen madly in love with the Lady Kerina, the second daughter of Count Perton, but at that time he had not obtained the achievements that led him to become the next in line for the Baxter House’s Dukedom.
As she was nearing the age of marriage, the beautiful Lady Kerina was married off to Earl Reginald, a man 15 years her senior.
In frustration, Norman ground his teeth together and vowed to never love another woman.
But when he became a Duke, it was impossible not to be married.
Especially in this country where polygamy is encouraged to maintain the bloodlines of the Nobles.
Lady Urisa was his first wife. Although older than him, she was a woman of dignity and grace who was the ideal that all noblewomen hoped to be.
Not long after their marriage, she gave him a beautiful daughter named Karol, a woman who became known as the Saintess for being skilled with light magic, and son, Daryl, who became a leading Knight of the royal family’s personal army.
Norman Baxter then married Lady Bellatrix, followed by Lady Nerisse. Both were, as one might imagine, political marriages.
Lady Bellatrix was a timid woman, but beautiful and resembled the Lady Kerina. To that end, Lady Bellatrix was Lady Kerina’s cousin. Although one might believe that Duke Norman would fawn on her as a replacement, instead he treated her slightingly, being deeply mired in spite over the past, over a different woman, and over a situation that had nothing to do with her.
Lady Nerisse was the opposite of Lady Bellatrix. A woman with a firey temper, she was frustrated over her position as the Third Wife, but endured it while swallowing the bitter feelings that threatened to spill out from her mouth. After all, Third Wife though she might be, she was the Third Wife of a Duke, which was far above the position of First Wife of a Count or Baron.
Lady Bellatrix gave birth to a boy, Sir Isaac, and barely a year later Lady Nerisse bore a boy as well, named Anders. Lady Urisa, the First Wife, conceived once more and had another boy named Joseph.
And then Lady Bellatrix gave birth to Lawrence Baxter.
All of Norman’s children had their faults; Saintess Karol was stern and unforgiving, Knight Daryl was impulsive and overly strict, Sir Isaac was too straightforward and easily manipulated, Sir Anders hot-headed and prone to fighting, and Sir Joseph was sickly and conniving.
However, Sir Lawrence was something of an enigma.
In such a stifling atmosphere, where the love between father and mother, between wives, and between parent and child were stagnant, Sir Lawrence grew up with a laugh and a mischievous grin. He hated sitting still for tutoring, disappeared in an instant when it came to sword-training, and regularly slipped into the nearby city and mingled with the commoners once he was able to walk and talk.
To the Baxter Household, he was an embarrassment, but he was popular with the servants. Although secretly.
What a light-hearted child! It was almost impossible to think of him as the Duke’s son … could Lady Bellatrix have …
Although they were just idle rumors, Lady Bellatrix’s nerves became so delicate that she trembled and hid in her room to cry whenever she was whispered at. For such a woman to be able to perform adultery, most decided it was impossible and the rumor died away.
Lady Nerisse, however, couldn’t resist taunting her in subtle ways.
Various scandals like that popped up and subsided, due to the scandalous nature of a household where three women were married to one man, and none of them being in love with anyone else.
But the biggest scandals are yet to come.
To the eternal embarrassment of all the women involved, Norman Baxter had a tryst with a commoner woman. No one knew of this until the Duke brought back a young girl.
If it weren’t for the fact that Noble blood usually sparked magic in the bearers, he might have abandoned her.
Although he now cut all ties to the unknown commoner woman, all the members of the House of Baxter were now aware of his misdemeanor.
The First Wife, Lady Urisa was so insulted that she vowed to never let Duke Baxter touch her again. However she still had her pride, and with the amazing self-control she was prized for, she simply removed herself and relocated to a villa at the southern edge of the Dukedom, devoting her time to supporting the Baxter Dukedom while away from the Duke.
The Second Wife, Lady Bellatrix, became a nervous, frail woman who took to staying shut up in her quarters, avoiding even the servants of the house. The only people she allowed into her quarters at their leisure was her trusted maid who followed her from her father’s house, Lady Urisa’s youngest, Joseph, and Lawrence, her youngest son. Of course Duke Norman was never allowed in. If he ordered her to see him, she would reluctantly leave her quarters, but she never allowed him within her rooms again.
The Third Wife, Lady Nerisse had always resented her position, but after the Duke’s infidelity, her poisonous anger was completely unleashed. She tyrannized the servants, scorned any child who wasn’t hers, and was openly cold towards the Duke himself.
The balance between the 3 wives and the Duke was fragile on a good day even before he brought back the girl.
It was completely destroyed after they found out he had slept with another woman.
This was enough to send bards and poets into a creative frenzy, but the biggest scandal was still to come.
When she turned 6, Duke Baxter tried to marry the illegitimate daughter off. Of course, the age of marriage is 14 in the country of Sylrona, and the marriage was set for 8 years later, however she was to be sent off to receive ‘training’ in her future husband’s house.
Baron… hm. Slandering a Nobleman is still Lese Majeste, so forgive me from naming names, but the noble she was betrothed to was heavily rumored to be a pedophile, so such a maneuver, while it may rid the Baxter House of one source of stress, it would garner quite the bad attention from the citizens.
In stepped the eccentric, young Sir Lawrence. At the exchange of dowry, he broke out of the Baxter House’s holding cells, unveiled an amount of assets double the dowry that had been agreed upon, and whisked his half-sister away.
In one fell stroke, Duke Baxter lost two valuable pawns as well his face, and the rumors of the incident spread through out the country.
As for the two siblings, they had disappeared.
Whether they withered away and died or lived happily together in incestuous matrimony, who can tell the fate that they lived out?
The Sons and Daughters of Norman Baxter in order of birth:
Karol (1st Wife, Lady Urisa)
Daryl (1st Wife, Lady Urisa)
[Isaac] (2nd Wife, Lady Bellatrix)
Anders (3rd Wife, Lady Nerisse)
Joseph (1st Wife, Lady Urisa)
[Lawrence] (2nd Wife, Lady Bellatrix)
<A/n: Ok, so I have a really bad habit of always coming up with new stories. I thought I learned how to control that recently, but apparently not.
My writer’s block recently was largely due to me trying to resist writing this story, because that’s a lot of stories and I really want to start drawing more again, but alas, it refused to leave my head.
And of course, as soon as I relented, my writer’s block went away.
*throws up hands in frustration*
Anyway, synopsis [here].>