By Lady Olivia Chapman, 2014-06-29
I had slept for what felt like days. My lids were heavy from too long a slumber, and when my maid, Emma, pulled back the sashes, letting in the glare of light, I raised my hands to shield them. "What time is it?" I queried, even then, too lazy to move but for sliding deeper into the soft mountain of blankets and pillows upon my bed. "Nearly ten o'clock, milady" she replied, bustling about gathering old clothes and seeing that creases didn't form in the gown she had just pressed. "Would you like breakfast in bed again, milady?"
The winter had been so long, and although tempting, I had scarcely answered spring's verdant beckoning, preferring instead to keep to my quarters, with an occasional trip to the salon to visit with my parents, when they weren't busy with affairs of their own. Mama insisted that I must travel with her to Paris for some of the new fashions, while Papa tried to be nonchalant in asking about suitors. The unspoken issue, was that if I were not married, the estates could not properly be managed, and eventually, the income that I might inherit would dwindle away, whilst I did the same, as a spinster and social outcast. I did my best to remain patient with them both. Truth be told I simply wanted to be left alone. That was not to be the case.
One afternoon in April's misty rains, a coach arrived with a gentleman who dropped off a gift to me from Papa. A sweet ivory-coated dog, with a note attached to her collar "Her name is Athena, and she is under strict orders to keep you company, my sweet dear girl." At first, I admit to being wary of the gift; Papa was many things, but he was not often so sentimental. I thought perhaps he might have an ulterior motive in mind. The Baron may be gone some time now, but I still live in anxious apprehension of another match being made without my knowledge, and a dog - while a lovely companion - might have been some excuse for me to attend a grouse hunt and suddenly "oh, dear, Sir Whoever You Are, how unexpected that you joined us, do you know our daughter, Olivia?" Thankfully no mention of a shoot, or any other such social engagement was mentioned and after two month's time, I found myself calling for Athena to join me in my walks through the park, or to join me in my travels.
Two white paws appeared on my bedside, followed by the sound of familiar panting, accompanied by her perpetual smile. Emma hustled over, but I waved her away, stroking Athena's fur and with one final stretch, acquiesced to the canine's wishes that I should stop being so lazy, and take her for a walk.
We had traveled by ship to La Rocca two days prior and were met with the penetrating warmth that never quite seems to get as far as England. I had cloistered myself for too long; the social season was nearly upon us, and I had to reacquaint myself with its trappings. I washed and had a light breakfast. Emma managed to outfit me and style my hair without tripping over Athena. I leaned toward the mirror, looking intently for any signs of my advancing age of twenty-four, and tamed some unruly tendrils of hair before turning to Athena, dancing around in joy at the prospect of a long stroll.
I opened the door and immediately,the summer air enveloped me in its warm embrace. Athena trotted down the path of our rented villa and paused, turning to be sure I hadn't decided to abandon her before galloping over to a group of leaves that were swirling in the breeze. She inspected every inch of ground, no doubt learning the comings and goings of everyone who had passed there recently. A smile crept across my face. and as I watched her, the shadows began to reach for the sea.
We must have covered all of the island by the time we reached the amphitheater. The church bell rang out, calling the faithful to evening mass and I gazed out at the great immensity of the sea, feeling rather small and insignificant beside it. The soft wind caressed my face and Athena sidled up to me looking weary and loving. In that moment nothing mattered but that moment. No pressures of a stable future or an advantageous marriage, no worries as to how I would save the family's estates, or manage to survive without a husband's supervision or income.
In that moment, I was safe and warm, loved and cherished, and happy in summer's warm embrace.
By Lady Olivia Chapman, 2014-04-27
I've been absent lately, and before that, I was less than reasonable at times. Rather than try to power through RP or interactions in a text-based environment (which we all know can be dicey, in comparison to face-to-face interaction), I should have simply taken a break, recognizing that the stress that was in my reality was seeping through to my in-game persona.
On December 19th of last year, my mother went into the hospital. She had pneumonia. She had been feeling poorly, but didn't want to ruin Christmas. Typical Mom. For over three months, she went from hospital to rehab to hospital and back again. Each time she would recover enough to be released, she would be struck down with another infection. Each time she went back into the hospital, my family's hopes were dashed. She finally grew too tired, and on March 27th, with 2 of my siblings and I holding her hands and telling her it was ok to let go, she took her last breath at 12:25 a.m. I like to think it was her last tap on the shoulder, and gentle reminder of Christmas being her favorite.
Since then, I have been dealing with my grief, checking in on my father (her husband of 64 years, and companion for 75 years), and taking stock of my own life.
I wanted to apologize specifically to Aldo, Sere and to Leena. I've not been myself, but I didn't explain what was going on, and that left you probably thinking that I had just turned into a jackass overnight (and not just the goofy kind that I usually am.) I'm also apologizing to anyone else who might have felt insulted by any of my interactions throughout that time.
I appreciated the in-game IM from you, Leena, but I was still sorting out my emotions, and that was the wrong time to have a conversation.
I can't say if I'll be back to Rocca specifically, or Baroque in general, but it seemed right to tie up loose ends and let you all know what was going on.
Wishing you well,
R a/k/a O
By Lady Olivia Chapman, 2014-01-05
I felt the wheels still beneath me turning, even long after having alit from the carriage. My parents had tried; nay all of my friends had tried to cajole me out of leaving the country too early. I had taken some day trips to socialize with some friends of my youth whom I had not seen since that time, and had barely been in one place long enough to enjoy the country.
I would miss the best fox hunts, they said. I had not been to a one.
I would be lonely in town all alone, they said. They knew not the value of solitude!
The season would not start again for another 3 months, but I could not stay in the country. No amount of snow-covered road nor harsh warning of a broken down carriage in a frozen wood could dissuade me. At last, a quiet house in which to gather my thoughts!
Packing and arguments aside, I made it to the London house in rather short order and happily found it empty but for a cook, assistant housemaid and a young boy who could manage, and would do for a valet should the need arise for any livery duties.
A mere day after arriving, I heard of changes made in my beloved La Rocca, and thought that may be just the sort of socializing I might be able and willing to do after all. I charged the staff with seeing that the regular housekeeper, butler, valets and maids might return when I return from the island, and no sooner had I arrived, than I departed.
I look forward to seeing my friends after such a long time away, and hope that the warmth both of the land and its inhabitants might wash the winter cobwebs from my mind.
By Lady Olivia Chapman, 2013-10-19
"The solicitor is here to see you, milady."
My recent discovery of poor Lieutenant Angarano, and his subsequent confinement in my home left me with no choice but to ask that the solicitor visit me at Ravens Landing, rather than travel to his offices. Mister Warren arrived precisely at ten o'clock, making me grin and think of Herr Naumen's obsession with punctuality. Alas, he had returned to Germany, and with him, my lessons; but I had resolved to maintain the practice.
"You are in good spirits, Baroness. That is a relief."
I looked at him curiously and gestured that he should follow me outside. "I thought we might take some tea in the sun and fresh air. And seeing as you appear rather tense, I think that is a very good idea, indeed." I turned, hoping to replace his somber expression with amusement, but saw no change. Not a good sign, I thought.
Finally settled, a steaming cup before each of us, he began. "I have spent the entire journey trying to think of a way out of this, but as there appears to be none...." he paused "Forgive me, let me start at the beginning."
I leaned forward, my expression now as solemn as his, as it appeared that less than happy news was on the horizon. Noting my change in demeanor, he raised a hand, "Everything is.... is alright, Baroness. There has been, well, something of a discovery, which changes your position, but all is not lost."
The disclaimer failed to bring me relief and I sat looking at him, waiting.
"When we met some time ago, I was assured that the Baron had been quite successful, and that has not changed. However, we did find some..." his lips curled into an uncomfortable sneer "... other business dealings of a rather distasteful nature."
I sat, dumbfounded as Mister Warren detailed the treasonous acts of the Baron during the early stages of the colonies' revolution. He had set up a trade under the auspices of attaining provisions for the regiment, and all the while, he had been stockpiling weapons for the rebels.
I grew pale.
Mister Warren continued, "As such, under a writ of attainder, all of the estate of the Baron is being posthumously seized." I recoiled at the use of the word "attainder", the corruption of blood.
Before I could ask the question, Mister Warren consoled me "You have no involvement in this, but your title will of course be removed. As your father is a Duke, you shall revert to Lady Olivia, no mar or mark on your name or that of your parents..." Thankfully, he let the last of it remain unspoken.
The wind kicked up momentarily, sending leaves twirling and rattling. I sat, listening as he spoke of meeting with Papa, and that they had seen to the removal of my personal belongings from the estate at Portsmouth. I turned, looking out at the hills, seeing the shadows reach for the water's edge and sighed.
Mister Warren had done what he came to do. He apologized profusely, asking if there was anything in particular that he might do for me. I looked at him, then beyond him, upwards to the window of the room where Lieutenant Angarano rested and thanked him as gracefully as the moment would allow.
The solicitor gathered his things, bowing deeply "My lady...."
As he walked toward the house, I turned to look at the water. I was back to square one: in need of a husband, and an heir.
I reasoned that I was not worse off. I was being extricated from the soiled grasp of the Baron for good, and forever.
It dawned on me that I was sorry he was dead. I would have enjoyed seeing him hanged.
By Lady Olivia Chapman, 2013-10-13
The summer season had ended in spectacular fashion, and I decided to move northward for the colder months. Ravens Landing, a family estate, just outside Chelmsford, would be far cozier, and more appropriate than Portsmouth for the autumn and winter. I longed for the country.
The journey was long and arduous and the house required much work upon arrival; it had been shuttered for more than a year's time. It took over three weeks for the grounds and downstairs rooms to be restored, and only the family rooms and adjoining sitting room were seen to. The guest quarters could wait, as I was sure most were busy doing the same as I, and returning to other homes after the season had come and gone.
A short time after arriving, I received word from my solicitor that certain information had come to light about the late Baron Clive that I should be advised of immediately. As I read the note, my spirits fell; it seemed that the horrid man would haunt me for the rest of my days. Resolute that I should get it over with, I told the footmen that I should be traveling to London in the morning.
We were no more than three miles from our destination when the carriage slowed. I looked out the window to see a horse, saddled and bridled but with no rider. I found it curious, indeed. Then I saw the body on the ground and I hammered my fist on the box to signal the carriage to stop. I knew that there was a chance this was some sort of trick; highwaymen were renowned for their creativity. But should this be a person in actual need of assistance, we could not simply ride on.
I scrambled from the carriage and stood a fair distance off, still unsure, until a strange feeling overcame me. Somehow, I recognized the horse. How could that be? I stood there, flexing my aching hand until it dawned on me that it was Pyramis! During the last weekend affair in Portsmouth, I had learned quite a bit about some of my newer acquaintances, and one in particular, about his horse. I felt queasy suddenly in the knowledge that one of my guests who had, mere weeks earlier, been dancing in my ballroom, lay on the ground. Had he been thrown? Had he been robbed?
The thirty or so paces from carriage to his form took what seemed hours. The footmen had already been to him and turned him, to determine if he was alive. As I drew closer, a mark on the man's face brought a queasiness to my stomach; not because it was an injury, but because it was familiar. Lieutenant Angarano lay still in the grass.
After determining that he was not bleeding, I directed that he be placed in the box with me and that we would be tending to the Signore at the house. The accompanying rider raced ahead to inform the physician he was needed, and Pyramis was tied to the rear of the carriage. I bade the footmen to be careful as they carried him, and without some effort, managed to set him reclining next to me. With his head gently cradled in my hand, the carriage slowly turned around and made the short distance back to the house at a snail's pace, with the solicitor's message easily forgotten.
Upon arrival, servants were waiting near the back stairwell, and the Lieutenant was carefully carried up to the family rooms, and laid on a bed. I waited in the adjoining sitting room while the physician tended to his wounds and determined his condition. My feet made a path from the sill of the closed doors to the fireplace, and back again. Over and over, I paced, waiting for the physician, until finally the knob turned and I dashed to the doorway, looking past the physician as he silently closed the doors behind him.
"Doctor...?" I left the question open. He must have seen the distress on my face.
"Baroness, that man is fortunate you came upon him. Who knows what might have befallen him, if he were left out there past nightfall."
I shuddered to think of all of the grisly possibilities "And....?"
"Well, there are no signs of internal injury, and should none arise in the coming days, I see no reason why he should not recover fully. Though I imagine he will have some issue with his vision for some time, I should think that will resolve itself in due course."
Breathing a sigh of relief, I walked past the doctor to open the door and he moved to block my way "Forgive me Baroness, I...." he faltered, obviously finding it difficult to find the words "We have ample room at the hospital, and nurses aplenty to see to his recovery, should you wish to retain some level of .... well.... privacy.... and propriety."
Both irritated at his presumption and amused at his caring for my reputation, I merely shook the good doctor's hand, thanked him for his services and his concern, and asked if he was familiar enough with the house to see his own way out. He bowed, offered a parting "As you wish," and left.
Lieutenant Angarano was in good hands; capable hands.
Later that night, after a small meal alone, I found myself again in my room, an open book lay in my lap as the candle next to me set shadow creatures to dancing on my wall. I could not sleep.
I walked across the sitting room and opened the door slightly and watched as the valet took up the coat and shoes of the unconscious gentleman to be cleaned, and walked in. Thomas stood upright "Beg pardon milady, I didn't know you were...." I lifted my finger to my lips to silence him, and moved next to the bed.
I looked down on the gentleman and in the dim light, I could barely make out any scratches at all, though his forehead was wrapped with the gauze and some blood dried there... and there. I leaned over, pulling the blankets up to keep him warm and laid my hand on his chest, feeling it rise and fall gently with each breath "Have no fear, Signore," I whispered, "You will be waltzing again in no time." My hand lifted, and gently moved his hair from his face and lingered longer than I should have. Thomas averted his eyes and studied a loose button on the man's coat and I stood, smoothing invisible wrinkles from my skirts "Well then.... you see to those clothes and shoes, Thomas." He nodded, taking up the shoes again from the floor and made his way out the door. I turned to follow him and paused at the door, watching the soft blanket rise and fall. Lieutenant Angarano lay still in the bed.
[all photo credit goes to the talented and charming Rinaldo Angarano]
(Written in conjunction with Rinaldo Angarano's blog:Crossing Paths - Rinaldo - Chapter 1
By Lady Olivia Chapman, 2013-09-22
Herr Naumen was very clear about punctuality. "You must be punctual. Dance is precision, and precision is time." I, so eager to learn, was obedient, and always exactly on time. I knew that should I fail to make any of our meetings at the precise hour, that he would abandon my instruction; and that, I could not bear.
"Straighten your leg, Baroness! EXTEND!" he would bark, and I would wince as the muscles, unaccustomed to such abuse, would strain "Serenity! Always, in the face, serenity! Your body may resist but you MUST remain graceful despite the discomfort!"
After the first lesson, I doubted my ability to continue, but my determination took me through the aching muscles and weariness.
Every week, three times a week, Herr Naumen's carriage would arrive exactly at the prescribed hour. He would alight, his walking stick in hand, and walk confidently through the front doors of my home as if he were the owner. I would be waiting in the ballroom, stretching my limbs beyond comfort. The musicians would be in place and he would rap his walking stick on the wooden floor, each solid thump resounding,like thunder, in the empty room as he bid me stretch this way, extend that way, twirl, jump, reach...
Each instruction left me exhausted, but the joy -- oh, the unequaled joy of such movement astounded me! And so on the days between instructions, I stood alone in the ballroom, the musicians playing the music of dreams and beauty, and danced to the imagined tempo of his walking stick, extending my arms beyond their reach, and becoming a bird whose wingspan could encircle the world. My legs were on full view, which should have made me ill at ease, but to move and leap through the air with the grace of a doe was beyond the scope of social expectation.
After six weeks of instruction, Herr Naumen stopped calling me "Baroness" and began to address me as his dove; I took no offense at the familiarity -- it was the symbol of my accomplishment, and yet, I have so much farther to go. I barely sleep, for needing to maintain my proficiency in other arts; painting, embroidery, music. But when I do sleep, it is to the tempo of a stick on the floor as my body bends like a tree to the winds of the music, and in my dreams, I fly.
By Lady Olivia Chapman, 2013-09-10
Today marks the twelfth anniversary of the last day where sense and reason ruled my world; where everything was fine, and the future bright and assured. Tomorrow, the twelfth anniversary of everything changing.
To those of you who, like myself, lost a loved one, felt the impact, have the nightmares, and find it hard to breathe sometimes...
To those of you who, like myself, still stands in shock, looking back and remembering...
To all of us, who had our hopes stolen from us, and our peace of mind disturbed,
I wish you peace, comfort, the love of friends and family, and a restoration of hope.
The driver behind Oliva
By Lady Olivia Chapman, 2013-09-06
Upon returning home, I found myself determined to unearth more secrets from my past that those around me were unable or unwilling to assist me in discovering. In a small drawer of a bedside table, I found something, wrapped in red silk and tied with a white satin bow. It looked to be a gift, and I wondered to whom I might have failed to bestow it upon.
I carefully unwrapped the parcel and discovered something that knocked the breath from me. Prior to marrying my husband, whom I was ashamed to have not even the slightest memory of, I had apparently been very much in love. But not with my husband!
I sat on my bed, and with trembling hands, turned the pages of a sonnet corona that I had apparently written to someone named Edward Stafford. The inscription on the inside cover read:
To my beloved, Edward,
I dream each night of the day that I might place this in your hand, when finally we meet in Belgium, and my heart, which beats within your breast, shall be reunited with your own which beats in mine.
Forever and always,
I read and re-read the inscription, trying in vain to find some sense of memory of him; his face, his manner... but it was useless.
Finally, I read through, and found myself awash with a wave of regret that he might have met the same fate as my husband. Perhaps he had perished in some manner - perhaps during the very crossing to Belgium of which I wrote! I held the small book to my breast and grieved the loss of so great a love that it inspired something which I did not believe came only from me, but from the adoration of this gentleman.
. . . One . . .
In sitting down, with quill in hand, I write.
The writer, seeing empty page, laments.
This labor must be set in black and white;
Until it's done, my heart won't be content.
For in this month, two days of great import:
A lovers' destined meeting two months past,
And an escape those lovers do exhort
And I - for these - begin a wearing task.
Each day that passes, leaves me less aloof.
The burning need to follow to the end,
Committed that my love should have the proof
And so, despite this challenge, I ascend.
Will I accomplish this which I desire?
Will words be frozen in vexation's mire?
. . . Two . . .
Will words be frozen in vexations mire?
When all I long for is the words to bind?
Oh, can I write as well as I aspire?
Or will this finish in a muddled mind?
Eyes rising from the page, I look around.
No evidence of him in sound or sight.
Yet ev'rywhere his presence does abound,
Just thoughts of him diminishing my might.
And yet, though weaker made by reverie
I find a strength like mountains rising high
As stony pinnacles that pierce the sea,
The words begin to flow as time draws nigh.
There is no barrier to stop this flow
Upon my love, this message to bestow.
. . . Three . . .
Upon my love, this message to bestow.
Push aside my ever-pressing doubt;
The dearth of words I wittingly outgrow.
Thoughts of him bring rain upon the drought.
The ground, once cracked and dry; devoid of life
Where sustenance was nary seen or found,
Still showing scars and memories of strife,
Now bears a fruit more sweet and more profound.
Even at the time we turned away,
Seeking out an unknown requisite,
And blinded to the future's sweet replay,
No choice but our devotion to admit.
Though to outward eyes my heart is cold,
Your love does advocate that I be bold.
. . . Four . . .
Your love does advocate that I be bold
As winds o'er meadows drive away a scourge.
Our love, the kind of classic stories told,
Each prior failure from my heart is purged.
Each setting sun, the promise of tomorrow.
The rising sun alighting love renewed.
No more, our hearts entrenched in a past sorrow
And ev'ry day love's interest is accrued.
The ending week brings anxious plans to bear
As lovers, come together, hearts alight
We, deeply love, utterly aware
A simple touch or word sets us to right.
No devastating storm could hope to spoil;
This enchantment's web cannot uncoil.
. . . Five . . .
This enchantment's web cannot uncoil.
Meticulously woven with such care
Shrewdest malefactors hope to roil,
Our hearts too tightly bound to rip or tear.
A distance seeming half a world away,
Though daunting in its vastness, breadth and scope,
Does not prevent, discourage or dissuade,
But fortifies the harbor of our hopes.
Humbled by your constance and belief,
My fears and superstitions held at bay,
Your ever-stoic love provides relief,
And sets my sights upon a brighter day.
With each unflagging step, our love evolves.
You energize and strengthen my resolve.
. . . Six . . .
You energize and strengthen my resolve;
Though thought the one of fortitude, verdure.
Around your heart, my own, a moon, revolves.
I find, with you alone, I can endure.
The 'weaker sex' I never thought defined.
Independent, almost to a fault.
Until your adoration, once entwined,
My heart has softened, almost by default.
Thus, lead by you to softer, gentler ground,
Thereby coerced into a slower pace,
T'was there, within myself a heart, I found.
So shed of callous nature, dressed in grace.
You, couturier, bedeck my heart.
So swathing, generate a work of art.
. . . Seven . . .
So swathing, generate a work of art.
The inner self emerges, quite enthralled.
Willfully, my guarded self departs.
Free and joyous; never more be walled.
And as this lover's task comes to an end,
I hope with all my might that I impart
Upon your love and kindness, I depend.
Perhaps more now, than at our very start.
It seems, through all this space I've had to use,
I've not articulated well my view.
If love were words, you'd surely be my muse.
For only one thing spawned this venture: You.
Though meager as my amity requite,
In sitting down with quill in hand, I write.