Thursday, 15 July 2010

Oh the romance of it...

Today seems to be a day of reflection. There is definitely a new story brewing in my um... head?... my fingers?... well, certainly wherever my head is at the moment.

We Rosespinners came up with a new little paranormal do do do do... did we ever say what it was to be? Well let me spill the beans....

Your job, for the next anthology, is to write approximately 11,000 words on a descendant of Phillipe Deveraux, who is presently (at the time you've set your story) in the Devon area of England. He or she has discovered the curse, and has a choice - to submit to it, or throw caution to the wind.

Stories can be set any time from 1100AD onwards, but they must be set around Devon because the land is an integral part of the curse and the family's history.

For Richer, For Poorer.
An anthology of romantic adventures through time.

1609: Nobleman Phillipe Devereaux moves to England from France after the Norman conquest. Keen to show his allegiance to King William, he takes lands in the Wessex area near Devon and sets about erecting garrisons and forts. He subdues the locals with remarkable vigour.

A local woman, Gytha of Wessex, a distant cousin to the defeated King Harold, is in desperate trouble. Her impoverished family face annihilation unless she can form an alliance with Devereaux. She approaches him with an offer of marriage – in return, she can guarantee the locals will obey her (and therefore him) and restore harmony to the land. If he refuses her, the land will rebel and she swears an oath the crops will fail.

Deveraux agrees to marry Gytha. Soon he gets her pregnant, then reneges on the formal marriage deal. In these times marriages are not a legal institution - and priests don't get involved until the 1100s - but they are binding. By remaining unmarried, Gytha's status is unsecured. At any time, Phillipe can marry someone and she could be cast out.

While pregnant with her first child, she creates a tapestry, decorating it with scenes from local life. She sews into the tapestry a curse to the Devereaux family, to last for all eternity.

Translated in today's words, the curse is an appeal to the Norse Goddess Friga (the goddess of marriage) that the richest Devereaux must marry the poorest in the land. If they do not, they will lose everything and the land will run barren.

Closest modern equivalent is 'By the will of Friga, the Deveraux lands of Wessex will turn barren and the rivers run sour, lest the richest marries the poorest.'

Phillipe ignores this curse and refused to marry Gytha. In years to come, they have four sons. Gytha dies soon after delivering the fourth. Phillipe then married a Norman woman but they have no issue. The curse is beginning. The crops begin to fail. An unusually cold winter sets in.

At the age of 18, William, Phillipe's eldest son, mounts a locally-supported revolt and overthrows Phillipe. William honours his mother's curse and marries the poorest woman in the land. Hard work soon restores the Deveraux family name to honour, and prosperity. The land produces abundant crops and the living is good.

William creates a family crest, featuring a golden dragon (common in old-English-Wessex mythology), and the motto, “Pour Plus riche, Pour Plus pauvre” For Richer, For Poorer.

William and his three brothers – Simon, Louis, and Estienne, make copies of the tapestry to pass on to future generations. To serve as a guide and a warning to future generations, showing them how they must keep the land prosperous by following his mother's instructions. If they disregard the curse, they will suffer the consequences.

In generations to come, the family name will change to Devericks and Derricks, and the ancestors will emigrate to parts of Africa, Australia and the Americas, losing their link with the Devon land and the curse.

Those remaining in the Devon area, descended from the four brothers, are the curse's captives.

Mine turned out as a rolicking Regency. As an Austen fan I came up with my own Darcy and fell in love with him.

He is itching to get published. Very itchy.