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Rhiannon

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Rhiannon

Roberta Gellis

 

The Roselynde Chronicles, Book
Five

 

Possessing an unusual combination
of shyness and wildness, Rhiannon is the raven-haired daughter of a Welsh
prince. Notorious for loving and leaving the most beautiful women in the realm,
Simon is the handsome nobleman and youngest son of Lady Alinor of Roselynde.

When the two meet, romance sparks
and burns into a love so strong that it endures battles, betrayals and their
own fiery passions. While rebellion rages across medieval England and divided
loyalties claim their hearts, they risk everything for eternal love.

Ellora’s
Cave Publishing

www.ellorascave.com

 

 

 

Rhiannon

 

ISBN 9781419931949

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Rhiannon Copyright © 1981, 2011 Roberta Gellis

 

Cover art by Syneca

 

Electronic book publication May 2011

 

The terms Romantica® and Quickies® are registered trademarks of
Ellora’s Cave Publishing.

 

With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not
be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written
permission from the publisher, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.® 1056 Home
Avenue, Akron OH 44310-3502.

 

Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this
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Please purchase only authorized electronic or print editions and do not
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This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons,
living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The
characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.

Rhiannon
Roberta Gellis

This book is dedicated to the many faithful readers
who wrote the publisher and me requesting a continuation of the Roselynde
Chronicles. I wish here to thank them for their interest and the trouble they
have taken.

 

Preface

 

In 1233 Richard, the Earl Marshal, raised rebellion against
King Henry III because of the intolerable behavior of two ministers the king
had appointed, Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester, and Peter of Rivaulx.
These men advised the king to turn out nearly all his past officials and
appoint new ones, thereby concentrating power completely into his own hands.
Whether or not their advice was given for the king’s benefit (it probably was),
it was very bad advice for England, which had a long tradition of shared power
between the king and his barons. In addition, the barons had a written
guarantee of the power of the barony in the Magna Carta—to which the king had
sworn when he was crowned.

For the family of Roselynde this problem raised dangerous
strains. The older members, Ian and Alinor and Geoffrey and Joanna, remain
faithful to Henry—Ian out of honor, Geoffrey because he is the king’s cousin.
Geoffrey has been greatly favored by Henry, and feels he cannot “bite the hand
that has fed him”. When we first meet them, Simon, Alinor and Ian’s son (now
twenty-two), and Adam, Alinor’s son by her first marriage (now thirty-five),
lean strongly in the other direction, and they are joined by Sybelle, Joanna’s
eldest daughter.

Cast of Characters

 

THE LORDS AND LADIES OF ROSELYNDE KEEP

Alinor de Vipont, Lady of Roselynde

Ian de Vipont, Alinor’s husband

Adam Lemagne, Alinor’s son by her first marriage

Joanna FitzWilliam, Alinor’s daughter by her first marriage

Simon de Vipont, Alinor and Ian’s son

Gilliane Lemagne, Adam’s wife

Geoffrey FitzWilliam, Joanna’s husband

Sybelle FitzWilliam, Joanna and Geoffrey’s eldest daughter

 

THE COURT AND BARONAGE OF ENGLAND

Henry III, King of England

Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester, Henry’s primary
adviser

Peter of Rivaulx, Winchester’s nephew

Richard of Cornwall, Henry’s brother and husband of
Isabella, Earl of Pembroke’s sister

Richard Marshal, Earl of Pembroke

Seagrave, Ferrars, Norfolk, barons torn between their loyalty
to the king and the terms of the Magna Carta

 

THE CHURCH

Roger of London, Bishop of London

Robert of Salisbury, Bishop of Salisbury

 

THE OUTLAWRY AS DETERMINED BY THE KING

Hubert de Burgh, Earl of Kent, Henry’s former tutor and
adviser

Gilbert Bassett

Richard Siward

 

THE WELSH

Llewelyn ap Iowerth, Prince of Gwynedd, Rhiannon’s father

Rhiannon uerch Llewelyn

Kicva, Rhiannon’s mother

Gruffydd, Rhiannon’s bastard half brother

David, Rhiannon’s legitimate half brother

Gwydyon, Rhiannon’s grandfather

Angharad, Rhiannon’s grandmother

 

NOTE: There is a glossary of feudal terminology provided at
the end of the book.

Chapter One

 

“It will kill Papa!” Joanna hissed, holding Simon, her
little brother, by the wrist as hard as she could.

“And I will die of frustration myself if I do not speak my
piece. The barons must not tolerate King Henry’s behavior,” Simon snarled, but
his voice was low, and he cast a glance over his shoulder toward the stairwell
where his father and mother might appear at any moment. He looked in vain for a
sympathetic face among his gathered relatives.

Restraining Simon was like clinging to a living version of
the black leopard painted on his shield. Joanna could feel the ripple of
steel-hard sinews under the skin and the quivering tension in his whole body,
but he did not pull loose. His eyes were full of flickering green and gold
light, and his beauty could have stopped a woman’s heart. He had Ian’s face and
Alinor’s eyes, Joanna thought, and until this visit, Joanna would have said he
had the best of both their natures.

“Ian is not so frail as that,” Adam rumbled. There was a
defensive note in his voice, however, and his eyes, too, went to the stairwell.
He adored his stepfather and, simultaneously, resented the implication that Ian
was aging and secretly feared that any exertion might in fact be a strain for
him.

“That is not what Joanna means,” Gilliane said. Her voice
had none of Joanna’s whiplash quality, but there was a silken strength in it.
Fourteen years of happy marriage to Adam had changed her from a fearful,
anxious girl to a very strong, though quiet, woman. “You know what kind Ian
is,” she continued. “What he has sworn, he will abide by. You will break his
heart, Simon, if you openly defy the king.”

“Why?” Simon asked passionately. “I have not even sworn to
Henry. But cannot you all see that he intends to make you slaves?”

Gilliane, too, was wondering what was wrong with Simon. Not
only was his disposition usually very sweet, but he had never cared a bit about
politics. There was a wild streak in him—not in the usual sense of drinking and
gambling, but in disregarding practical matters. Unlike the rest of his family,
he was totally uninterested in land and had little sense of possession. He did
not wish to be encumbered by the management of property. So, usually, he did
not care what the king did, but after Henry had dismissed the Earl of
Pembroke’s deputy from office—which he had no right to do—Simon had come
roaring out of Wales to demand that his family defy the king.

“I have sworn to him, and I am still of your mind, Simon,”
Adam growled. “There can be no question of oath-breaking if we refuse to go to
this summoning. The king has broken his oath first. Does he hold by the great
charter that he has sworn to more than once? Well, Geoffrey, what have you to
say?”

Geoffrey, Joanna’s husband, had been sitting in one of the
deep window embrasures, staring out into the beautiful garden of Roselynde
keep. Roses made a blaze of color against the wall, and their perfume, mixed
with the sweeter, stronger scent of the lilies that edged the beds, came up to
him on the soft, sun-warmed breeze of June. He was only six years older than
Adam, but his face was graven with deep lines of worry, and his eyes, golden in
laughter or rage or passion, were dull mud-brown.

“What can I say?” he replied to Adam’s prodding. “The king
has broken that oath and others, yes… But he is no John, Adam. There is no evil
in Henry. He wishes to be loved. He desires to do good.”

Simon made a strangled, furious sound and Geoffrey’s eyes
moved to him.

“I cannot blame you for your anger,” Geoffrey admitted, “but
what can I do? There is a close blood tie between us—he is my cousin—and he has
cherished me and mine. William and Ian are in his household, and he is as kind and
indulgent to my sons as a fond uncle. Can I turn on him like a mangy cur and
bite the hand that has fed me?”

“And what will you do when he bites you?” Simon challenged.
“Has he not turned on those closest to him already? Did he not call Hubert de
Burgh ‘father’ on one day and imprison him in chains in a deep vault the next?”

“Henry will not turn on Geoffrey.” Ian’s voice, deep and
slightly hoarse, came across to them from the entryway.

Everyone tensed a trifle. Gilliane rose from the window seat
opposite Geoffrey and drew Alinor forward to sit with her, while Geoffrey
smiled a similar invitation to Ian. Now Ian looked around at the assembled
faces. The profusion of black curls was gone and his olive skin was sagging
somewhat over his jowls and throat, but the luminous dark eyes were as warm and
bright as ever and the good bones beneath the aging flesh showed where Simon
had inherited his looks.

“Blood is a sacred tie to Henry,” Ian reiterated. “He will
never strike at Geoffrey, just as he has never acted vengefully toward Richard
of Cornwall.”

“Sit down, Papa,” Simon urged.

“Do you think I am exhausted from walking down the stairs,”
Ian teased, “or do you want me to sit so I will not collapse with shock when
you tell me you want all of us to join Richard Marshal’s party?”

Joanna frowned furiously at her half brother, and Ian smiled
at her, slipped an arm around her waist, and kissed her brow. Alinor laughed.
She had grown somewhat heavier with the years and her black hair was now iron
gray, but her acerbic personality had not changed and her eyes snapped and
sparkled as clearly as Simon’s.

“Perhaps it is time you presented your lord with a new young
one, Joanna, and stopped trying to be a mother to Ian and to me,” Alinor
remarked, smiling. “We are neither blind nor stupid. We hear quite well—even
what is not said aloud.”

“Then I assume you have heard that Henry is become
insufferable,” Simon snarled.

“It is not so much Henry himself as the Bishop of Winchester
and that bastard of his,” Adam said, trying to smooth over the vicious tone in
Simon’s voice.

“Peter of Rivaulx is said to be Winchester’s nephew,” Ian
corrected absently, while his mind was obviously elsewhere. Then he sighed and
went to join Geoffrey. “Winchester has been too long out of this country. He
seems to have forgotten everything he once knew about the English.”

“No,” Geoffrey said softly, “no. He has not forgotten. He
remembers very well. He always hated the fact that power in this realm was
divided by right between the barons and the king. He was as strong for the
king’s uncontested right in John’s day as now, but John was so hated that
Winchester realized any effort to curb the barons would bring war. In the end
John tried it, of course, and it did bring war.”

“You would have thought Winchester would have learned
something from that,” Simon remarked caustically.

“Yes. I am disappointed in him. We were good friends once,”
Ian mused.

“Oh, he loved you well. You were always faithful. Why should
he not love you? And you always see the best in everyone, my love,” Alinor
said. “Those who desire power seldom see the truth and never learn.”

“That is true and not true,” Geoffrey amended. “Winchester
assigned the wrong reasons of the resistance toward John. He thought it was
because John was hated for himself.”

“Well, he was,” Adam put in, his mouth set in grim lines.

“Yes, which made men spring to arms faster,” Simon cried
passionately, “but even had they loved him, they would not have permitted the
king to trample on their rights, seize their property without reason or
justice, and set himself above the law. Nor will they endure it now.”

“Nor should they,” Ian agreed, “but Henry is not John, and
there is no reason to fly to arms. I did not take up arms against John, and I
certainly will not offer violence to the king who trusts me and to whom I swore
when he was a child.”

“There is no question of taking up arms,” Joanna said
quickly. “Even Richard Marshal has no intention of taking up arms. We are only
discussing what to do about this summons to a council on the eleventh of July.”

“What is there to discuss about that?” Ian asked.

“Whether to go or not—that is what there is to discuss,”
Simon snapped.

“Do not be a fool!” Ian responded sharply.

“Are you afraid to defy him?” Simon taunted.

“Simon!” Alinor exclaimed. “You shame me! I knew your father
should have used his belt on you more often, and if he did not, I should have.
Thus are we justly rewarded for our indulgence.”

Simon had crimsoned so much that tears came to his eyes, and
he knelt down before his father. “I am sorry, Papa. You know I did not mean
that—not that you are afraid for yourself.”

Ian touched the unruly black curls of the bent head. “I know
what you meant, and I am not ashamed that I fear for my loved ones. When you
have what I have in this family, you will also be less daring. But that is not
why I said you were a fool, Simon.”

“What your father meant,” Geoffrey remarked dryly, “was that
absenting ourselves from the council can accomplish no purpose beyond angering
the king. We have already used that method to no purpose. Now, since Henry will
be enraged in any case, it is reasonable to tell him what we think in plain
language and anger him that way. If there is to be a measure of bravery, Ian’s
way is more courageous than sulking from a distance.”

“You are right about that,” Adam put in, his eyes
brightening. “I was half-minded to go back to Tarring and tell my vassals to
close themselves into their keeps, but I like Geoffrey’s notion much better.
First I will tell the king what I think of him, his ways, and his new
favorites, and then I will seal my keeps.”

“You will need to seal them if that is the way you go about
it,” Gilliane pointed out tartly.

Alinor laughed. “Sometimes you remind me very much of your
father, Adam. He could be horribly honest at just the wrong time, so that he
ended by running his head into a stone wall.”

“But not about managing a king, beloved,” Ian reproved.

“Oh, yes,” Alinor insisted. “He crossed the last Henry so
unwisely that he was told to go sit on his lands and not stir lest worse befall
him.”

“That Henry and this are not to be compared—unfortunately.”
Geoffrey sighed. “The one was a man—sometimes overhasty, greedy, and unjust,
from what I have heard, but a real man in every sense. This one is a spoiled
child who never grew up.”

“Such a man is not fit to be king,” Simon said, lifting his
head. “Richard of Cornwall, however—”

“Do not let Cornwall hear you say that,” Ian ordered
sharply, “or he will kill you where you stand. Henry has many faults, but lack
of love for his brother and sisters is not one of them, and they return that
love full measure. Richard of Cornwall may stand up in full council and roar at
the top of his lungs that his brother is a coward and a fool, but he loves
Henry dear, very dear. He will never rebel against him. That door is closed,
Simon.”

“Yes, it is,” Geoffrey agreed forcibly. “I tell you that if
Henry died in battle against rebels, Richard would pursue them until the last
man was dead. He will not take the throne while Henry lives, and he would never
forget or pardon any man who had even the remotest connection with those who
caused his brother’s death.”

“I know it,” Simon said ruefully. “I do not know why my
tongue is running at odds with my head today. I just feel that if I cannot do something,
I will burst.”

“The only thing you could do in the mood you are in is
harm,” Ian remarked wryly. “Why do you not go back to Wales? This is a most
beautiful season in the hills. No doubt Llewelyn can find a nice little war for
you if you feel you must break heads.”

“No!” Simon exclaimed, and stood up abruptly.

Ian looked very much surprised. He had, with his overlord’s
approval, ceded the Welsh lands Llewelyn had bestowed upon him to his son as
soon as Simon had won his spurs. It was a happy arrangement for everyone. The
Welsh lands needed closer attention than Ian had been able to give them since
he had married Alinor and taken up the responsibility of defending her huge
estate. Simon was so wild that he would have made endless trouble for his parents
idling about the rich, smooth-functioning estates in England. Llewelyn was glad
to have a strong, eager fighter to lead Ian’s men. Alinor and Ian, although
they worried about him a little, were delighted to have their son usefully
occupied instead of making mischief.

Wales and Simon suited each other as a hand fits a glove.
There was something feral and untamed about Simon that was more at home in the
untouched forest and precipitous mountains of northern Wales than in the tilled
fields and softly rolling hills of Sussex. The young man had always loved the
Welsh estates passionately—which was why Ian gave those to him rather than the
northern lands—and Simon was always happier there and in Llewelyn’s court with
its barbaric undertones than in England. Thus, Ian was startled when his
suggestion was rejected so violently. In the past Simon had been delighted to
be sent to Wales.

“Joanna, have you been advertising my imminent demise
again?” Ian asked his daughter-by-marriage, half exasperated, half laughing.
Nothing Joanna did was ever really wrong in his eyes, especially not the
anxious care of him that so clearly demonstrated her love. “I know my lungs
were affected again last winter,” he complained, “but I am hale and hearty now.
There is no reason for Simon to hang over me, expecting me to fall on my
deathbed at any moment.”

“No, I did not ‘advertise your imminent demise’!” Joanna
protested indignantly. “Anyway, the way Simon has been acting, he is more
likely to throw you into your deathbed than help you out by his presence.”

“I simply do not wish to go to Wales now,” Simon said in a
more controlled voice. “I have been thinking it over and I, too, believe that
Geoffrey is right. We should go to the council, and we should make clear our
displeasure at the king’s behavior.”

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