Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "The Lord's Night"

This poem is spillover from the June 4, 2019 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] ng_moonmoth. It also fills the "Yes - you" square in my 6-1-19 card for the Cottoncandy Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] fuzzyred and [personal profile] ng_moonmoth. It belongs to the series Frankenstein's Family.

Warning: This poem contains some controversial topics. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. A newlywed couple both desire a large family, but the groom has a family history of low fertility. Under local custom, the bride prevails on Victor for assistance. When he admits that he is unable to help in this regard, she turns to Igor instead. This leads to a not-quite-orgy in the pursuit of propriety and procreation. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.


"The Lord's Night"


In June, Costin and Ruxandra
said their wedding vows.

Victor and Igor were
no great fans of church,
but they attended the event
with the rest of the village
to show their support.

Ruxandra was radiant in
her bridal crown of punched tin,
and Costin stood tall and proud
as the walked under the arch of
green boughs held by their friends.

The children threw flower petals
to match the pink-and-yellow bouquet
of flowers that Ruxandra carried.

The mazil's wedding gift had been
a whole cow for the feast, now
roasting in a large firepit.

Soon Costin and Ruxandra
were ensconced at the head table,
with their families to either side,
more or less -- Ruxandra's was
much bigger than Costin's, so
her relatives spilled over.

Victor and Igor had
their own table at
the far end, to avoid
distracting anyone
from the newlyweds.

That gave people a chance
to drop by and talk with them,
and they enjoyed the shifting flow
of company as villagers came and went.

The food was delicious -- roast beef with
the first fruits and vegetables of summer.

After the feast, Costin and Ruxandra
came over as Victor was getting up.
"If the mazil has time?" Costin said,
bowing his head in deference.

"Yes, of course, the farm,"
Victor said. "Let's find a place
to talk away from the crowd."

There was a niche between
the buildings not far away, with
a blooming bush to shield it
from nearby onlookers.

"My father has finished
making arrangements to move
into town and work at the mill,"
Costin said. "He still says that he's
getting too old to work the fields, and
wants to leave the farm to us now --
with your approval, mazil."

He held out his hands, and
Victor clasped them between his.

"Do you swear to tend the land and
bring forth its fruits, tally them honestly
and give a portion to the poor?" Victor said.
"Will you abide by the laws I have lain,
and work with a good heart when I
call for your days of service?"

"I so swear," Costin said.

"Ruxandra, will you keep
the house and its gardens
in good care?" Victor asked.
"Do you swear to follow
the rules of hospitality, and
the rest of a farmwife's duties?"

"I so swear," Ruxandra said.

"Then the farm is yours, and
Costin, your father may claim
a widower's rights in the village,"
Victor declared. "Congratulations."

"So noted in the valley records,"
Igor said, writing it in his book.

Costin looked at his bride.
"It's yours to ask it of him,
if you still want to do so."

"I ask for the lord's night,
if the mazil will," she said.

Igor nearly dropped his book
in shock, and Victor stared at her.

"What in the world for?" Victor said.
"You two are so in love, you're
all but glowing with it!"

"I don't -- I can't -- this is --"
Costin stammered. "The men in
my family often have a hard time
getting babies on the women."

"Ah," Victor said, enlightened.
Costin was an only child, his father
had one sister, and his grandfather
had also been an only child.

"I want a large family, and
so does Ruxandra," Costin said.
"We just ... need some help."

"It's no hardship for me,"
Ruxandra said, looking at
Victor. "You are wise and
gentle when you can be,
and fierce when you must be.
If I cannot have children from
my own husband, then I would
be happy to have yours instead."

Victor sighed. "I cannot," he said.
"Understand, I am unable, and
not unwilling. My body cannot
do what you need. I am sorry."

"Oh," Ruxandra said, crestfallen.

"It's a hard thing to bear," Costin said.
"I'm sorry to hear you share my sorrow."

"An old regret," Victor said, waving
his hand. "I am happy with the family
I have now, odd though it may be."

Ruxandra lifted her chin.
"Well then, what about Igor?"

"Me?" Igor said, shocked
all over again. "Why me?"

"Yes, you," Ruxandra said. "Igor,
you are the mazil's right hand,
near enough to a brother -- and
when a husband can't serve, then
his brother may take his place.
So it is with a lord's second, too."

"Ruxandra, are you quite sure?"
said Igor. "I can perform with women,
but well ... you have seen my back."
There had been an incident with a pig,
and she'd helped scrub him clean.
"It doesn't run in my family, as far as
I know, but there's no guarantee
that I couldn't pass it to a child."

"If it happens, it happens," she said.
"You are as kind as the mazil, and I
would welcome a child of yours. If one
comes with your condition, then I can
seek another father later on, but ...
I would rather not just sleep around.
At least the lord's night is a tradition."

"Costin, how do you feel about this?"
Igor asked. "It's is your wedding night."

"It's her decision, and I stand by it,"
Costin said. "Ruxandra and I will
have all the nights to come."

"All right, then how do you
want to do this?" Igor said.

"We'll come up to the castle --
tell everyone it's for the farm,"
Costin said. "If it's to be
the lord's night for us, then
we should all share the bed."

"What?" Victor said. "I've
already explained I'm no use!"

"You are the mazil, and so
your presence makes it proper,"
Costin said. "I'd rather not leave
my bride alone with two other men
on our wedding night, so yes,
all four of us, if you please."

Victor made strangled noises.

"We know that you don't show
your body much," Ruxandra said.
"I wouldn't expect it of you, just ...
a little something, to satisfy custom."

Here was a woman who desperately wanted
a child, and just as desperately wanted not
to commit adultery on her wedding night.

"Oh very well," Victor said. "You may
share our bed for the night, and I will do
what little I can, but my clothes stay on."

"Agreed," Ruxandra said. "Thank you,
both of you, for helping us. It is a great gift."

"Thank us after you're pregnant," Victor said.

"I'm sure they will," Igor said. "Besides,
try to look on the bright side of this."

"There's a bright side?" Victor said
in a dry tone. "Enlighten me."

"At least our bed is big enough,"
Igor said with an impish grin.

The villagers had conspired
to build them a lordly bed, and
they did need one that size
because sometimes they
shared it with Csilla or
the werewolf pack.

"All right, you have a point,"
Victor conceded. "Let's go
before anyone comes looking
for us. We can leave Adam
with Janika and Mircea tonight."

Adam was all for it, because
the werewolves would let him
run about like a wild thing.

So Victor and Igor took
the newlyweds to the castle.

Everyone changed out of
their festive clothes into
something more comfortable.

In Victor's case, that meant
leaving off the corset which
normally mastered his shape.

"Please don't touch me,"
he muttered. "Let me do
the necessary touching."

"I would not be so forward,"
Ruxandra assured him.
"It is up to you how much
touching you want to do."

They piled into the giant bed
with Ruxandra and Igor in
the middle, Costin behind
Ruxandra and Victor
lying next to Igor.

There was a good deal
of nervous giggling because
it was, after all, their wedding night
and neither Ruxandra nor Costin
had any experience at this.

Victor's was patchy at best,
and Igor had more than his share
of miserable experiences with women,
but at least they knew enough anatomy
to ensure that Ruxandra enjoyed herself.

Igor determined to take his sweet time
warming her up, and he did it well enough
that Ruxandra wound up face down in
the bed, screaming into a pillow.

Costin regarded him with a look of awe.
"How are you ... um, doing that?"
he said. "What are you doing?

"Oh, there's a little bit of
a woman's body that when
you rub it, acts kind of like
your cock," Igor explained.

"Do you give lessons?"
Costin said wistfully. "I mean,
my father told me what to do, but
he sure didn't mention that."

"Not his fault," Victor said.
"Most men haven't enough
knowledge of anatomy to know
such things, or what to do with them.
It's not that difficult to learn, though."

"Yes, lessons, please," Ruxandra said
when she could form words again.

"Gentlemen, a little distraction,
if you please," Igor said, shifting
his position. "This next part
is likely to hurt at first."

Costin wasted no time
in kissing his bride, and
Victor reached over to pinch
her nipples now that Igor was
on top instead of beside her.

Ruxandra yelped, and
the three men paused
to soothe her through
the pain of penetration.

A few minutes later, though,
she went back to moaning,
and dug her heels into Igor
by way of encouragement.

Igor huffed his way to the finish,
Ruxandra following a moment later.

When she tried to move, though,
he said, "Ah-ah. Stay where you
are and let things settle if they will."
He put another pillow under her hips.

To keep them from getting bored
and restless, Igor regaled them
with lessons of intimate anatomy.

Victor chimed in with his own points,
couched in more academic terms
than Igor's earthy explanations.

Costin and Ruxandra giggled.
"Why doesn't everyone know this?"
the young man said. "It's useful,
and it's not that hard to learn."

"Not everyone wants to talk about
sex with strangers, or even with
casual acquaintances," Igor said.

"May I suggest that you don't run home
and tell all your friends," Victor said dryly.
"They might wonder where you learned it,
and we needn't attract attention just now."

"I can keep quiet," Costin said. "Maybe
let it out someday, though? You already
teach people all kinds of good things."

"I suppose there's no reason we can't
offer it if the topic comes up," Victor said.

"Teach the midwives," Ruxandra said.
"Then they can teach the women, and
the women will tell their husbands,
who will learn it or else!"

"I'm learning as fast as
I can," Costin protested,
but he was laughing.

"Time to put it in practice,"
Igor suggested. "I'll just
get out of your way now."

He crawled over to Victor's side
of the bed, leaving the other half
to Costin and Ruxandra, who
quickly took advantage of it.

There really was plenty of room,
and Victor spared a thought of
gratitude to the villagers for it.

Igor cuddled up to him, and
Victor automatically wrapped
himself around Igor's back
to help keep him warm.

It wasn't always easy
sharing each other, but
they had more practice now
with Csilla and the werewolves,
not to mention Adam climbing
into their bed whenever he felt like it.

Victor hoped that they could set
a good example for the newlyweds,
who might need more than one night
to conceive the child they wanted.

Though not for lack of trying.

With a little luck, the lord's night
would prove fruitful and then they
could all rejoice in the results.

"They sound happy," Igor whispered.

"Mmm, young love," Victor replied.
"They will tire out soon enough,
and we can get some sleep."

Igor snorted. "They just got
married. Surely you don't think
they'll be satisfied with one round?"

"Touché," Victor said. "I suppose
one night of short sleep won't hurt."

Besides, a celebration of life and love
was something to be savored, even
if most of that was secondhand.

Victor had his own blessings
for which to be grateful.

He pressed his face into
Igor's shoulder, smelling
the spicy scent of sandalwood,
and let himself drift into a doze.

* * *

Notes:

Ruxandra Bălan -- She has pale skin, blue eyes, and long straight blonde hair. She is short and curvy. She has a knack for embroidery, and makes items such as handkerchiefs and scarves to sell in the town market. Ruxandra marries Costin, whose family has a history of male infertility, so they ask first Victor and then Igor for assistance conceiving offspring.

Costin Bălan -- He has pale skin, brown eyes, and short blonde hair with a little wave. He is tall and sturdy. He a farmer, growing primarily grains. His family tends toward male infertility. Costin is an only child; his father has one sister; and his grandfather was also an only child. When he marries Ruxandra, they ask first Victor and then Igor for assistance conceiving offspring.

* * *

The Lord's Night
Historically, some feudal systems allowed the local lord to take a turn with a bride on her wedding night before making way for her husband. While widely considered an abuse of power, it also relates to various other methods used as a hedge against male infertility in times when producing offspring was necessary for survival. Within the context of this setting, it is largely a relic but still exists in two forms: the aforementioned abuse of power by unscrupulous nobles, and a type of service that newlyweds are entitled to ask for from their lord. In this case, the groom's family is generally known for low fertility, so he and his bride come seeking assistance. Once Victor and Igor are convinced that everyone knows what they're getting into, they agree to help.

When one party cannot perform marital duties, a brother or sister may take over instead. Similarly, if the lord is unable to perform, he may send a second-in-command or other substitute in his place. In some traditions, the activities took place in private between only two people at a time, but in others, three or four people would pile into bed together to create a semblance of the "proper" coupling. A modern version mixes the semen of an infertile husband with fertile donor semen for artificial insemination, ideally creating more of a connection with the resultant offspring. This was a lot more popular before genetic testing made it easy to prove paternity.</user></user></user>
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