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Longing of a Maiden Rose: Ch. IV: The Town in No Mans Land 2

by MailicedeNamedy


The fact that Léonard was now bringing up Mönchsberg Abbey to back up his lies was Claire's proof that he was planning something. They had learned it in class. There was little information about it in the textbooks provided, but one thing was certain; the Mönchsberg Abbey had been banned nearly four hundred years ago and the order had been dissolved. She condemned Emma´s stupidity and how she could not see that he was an impostor.

In her brain, the synapses were sparking in every nook and cranny, trying to find the name Mönchsberg again. Only after Auntie's return at night was she able to rest for a few hours.

***

The next morning was blessed with no clouds. Light blue tones dominated Regenschloss. A golden eagle flew over the Norbertshöhe as Claire came to the breakfast table. Giselle consulted the newspaper. With a quick glance at Claire's wrinkled nightgown, she was able to reconstruct her night's struggle.

"You look more tired than yesterday."

"Barely slept," Claire mumbled.

"You can stay in bed," Giselle recommended.

"I´m too awake."

"I know what it's like," she shared, "Eat something and you'll feel better."

She looked for a slice of bread and butter. Just as she was about to get up to get a knife, Giselle offered her hers.

"Here you go," she smiled, "I don't think there's a bigger sleepyhead than you in Regenschloss."

"Thank you."

The rustling of the newspaper warmed the kitchen. Claire liked this sound. It took her mind off things as she ate her bread.

"Failed negotiations in Gnomonpol," read Giselle, "This has been dragging on forever... why don't they give in?"

Claire did not listen to her. Mönchsberg Abbey returned. In her mind's eye, yesterday played itself out. Léonard was a liar. The abbey no longer existed.

"Can I ask you something?" she interrupted her sister.

"Of course."

"Have you ever heard of Mönchsberg Abbey?"

Giselle looked at her perplexed.

"At school. Besides, Father dealt with it."

"Really?"

Claire was blindsided.

"You were too young to remember. It was after you were born. During that time, he was interested in the history of the country. Aunt Waltraud looked after us all the time. He stopped doing that after he got his job back."

"I didn't know that at all."

"Understandable. Father was often out of the house. After Mother's death he could hardly get himself together and in the sanatorium, he became interested in the abbey. Auntie even said that he was fascinated by the occult. As if he wanted to bring her back to life. For him it must have been a terrible blow when Mother passed away."

Claire felt guilty.

"You shouldn't worry about that," Giselle comforted. She clearly noticed how her younger sister's face had changed, "Father has always been a friend of history.”

Ashamed, Claire thought of her childhood. Whether her Father was there or not, she had had a happy one. At least from the point of view of others. They were more prosperous than most. They never had to worry about their existence, quite unlike Emma, who lived with her mother and her sick grandmother. All her money saved for a year went on the trip to her grandfather.

Waltraud once said that Claire was the greatest happinessin her Father's life. She asked herself whether it would not have been better to die herself than her Mother. On her birthday - shouldn't she lay flowers at the grave instead of celebrating? Then Giselle realised how little Claire knew about her parents.

"Forget all that. It doesn't matter anyway. How did you even get the idea?"

"While falling asleep," Claire lied.

Giselle rolled her eyes.

"To fall asleep is to sleep. Not thinking."

"I know... sometimes the strangest things pop into my head. Don't you?"

"No." her sister replied. "I'm going to Kerner's. Would you like to come with me?"

"I'm busy."

"All right. See you later."

Just as Giselle was saying goodbye, another question occurred to her.

"Could it be that you smoke? You smelled strongly of cigarettes yesterday."

"Léonard smokes," Claire said in a flash.

"I see. You're too young to smoke. Bolderich smokes one now and then. Father doesn't like it. Besides, it's not proper for a young lady."

"I am not a young lady!"

"Miss."

"Neither."

"But really, I have to go. See you later, Claire!"

Claire was alone. Waltraud was asleep. She treated herself to a bath.

In the tub, she worried more than relaxation could heal. Who had her Mother been? What kind of person was she?

There were no family photos in the whole house. Father had never spoken of her. Never mentioned her in a letter. There were no albums with all the family memories. Nowhere did a picture of a woman resembling her or Giselle exist.

Claire turned away from Emma and Léonard.

As little as she wanted to have anything to do with him, she wanted to know more about her Mother. As little as she knew about her, she made enquiries. Before Claire dared to enter her Father's study, she went to the town hall for information. They could not help her there. When Claire then also replied that she did not know where her Mother was buried, she was told to leave and not to make a fool of herself.

A visit to the Regenschloss cemetery was in vain, she found no grave there with the name Chloé Silberlilie.

In her eagerness to solve it alone, Claire had grabbed the key to Father's office. Immediately afterwards, she was caught by her sister, who started packing her suitcase. Claire could think of no excuse; her imagination had failed her.

The fanatical idea of finding out more about her Mother made her visibly forget that Giselle had to leave. Saying goodbye was easier than she had thought. The next day Claire had waved to her as the locomotive left the station, then stormed straight back to the office.

There was nothing.

Frustrated by the search, Claire thought of writing a letter to her Father and asking him about this. But she did not dare. Waltraud had noticed that something was not right with her niece.

The days had flown by, the novena was approaching and so was the new year. Emma and Léonard had not shown themselves since their trip. Claire was happy about this and at the same time thought she had been forgotten. Emma, of course, wanted to have her Léonard all to herself. That liar was going to get her into a lot of trouble. She wished it on her.

***

Angry at her frustration, Claire agreed to have dinner with her aunt at the restaurant. The evening was pleasantly noisy. It felt different from usual for Claire. She enjoyed being part of a crowd, the long-winded and plodding conversations about the feast and the war buzzing in her ears, underpinned by clanking, laughing guests and peppy music.

Waltraud was sitting opposite of her, a little tired, but always satisfied and trying to look good.

"Giselle was gone all of a sudden. I didn't think she would miss her husband so soon," she babbled, giggling.

The monologue was kept alive with a second glass of red wine. Claire's interest was focused on the rolling peas on her plate.

"It was like when we were all living together."

"That's how I felt too," Claire admitted absently.

There was a pause. What could she have said in reply? Strangely enough, it often happened that she could not keep her aunt's conservations alive.

"You seem to miss her a lot," her aunt said thoughtfully, "You even forgot to check the mail. A letter arrived for you."

"For me? What's in there?" she asked, astonished.

"It arrived yesterday. It's from your Father," Waltraud replied, handing her the envelope.

Presumably, belated birthday wishes.

With a cautious expression, so as not to let on anything, she opened it. Enclosed with the actual letter was a brochure and another paper addressed to her aunt.

"This is for you."

Waltraud began to read it straight away. Claire looked at the text for a long time before she started.

Happy birthday, Claire!

Everyone turns eighteen only once in their life. Congratulations from the bottom of my heart! Many congratulations also from Bolderich.

I am extremely sorry that I could not attend your special day. In the meantime, events came to a head and I was forced to cancel the visit at short notice. I hope you were not too disappointed. I hope you forgive me. I hope you understand.

Nevertheless, I am pleased to be able to write these lines at last. Soon we will be able to see each other. We will meet in your last holiday week for New Year. At the moment I commute daily, so I have little time to catch my breath. That's why I took a few days off after New Year.

You know how important you are to me.

As soon as you come to me, you will start your education at a private girls' school. It should help you to master the most important tasks in your future life with flying colours. Please read the brochure for further information. I don't have the time to write everything down. We will get the most important information on the spot when we introduce ourselves to the headmaster - he is a friend of mine.

I hope you're happy to come to a big city. Haven't you always wanted to get out of Regenschloss and discover the world?

As the novena restricts the train timetable, I will call you in the coming days to discuss how you will travel. I need to see when I can pick you up. Be so kind and be at home between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. for the next few days. I usually finish work then and contact you then. You will be the first thing on my mind as soon as I get off work.

That is all I can write now. I look forward to the moment when we will meet again.

With love, your father

B. Silberlilie

Claire picked up the brochure. The front picture showed a new-fangled building in a natural area, probably a small suburb, surrounded by rich villas. She could decipher the heading in this old-fashioned spelling, with some effort.

Petra Schröder Private Girls' School

"Training to be a chambermaid... lovely wife... and midwife?" she whispered as softly as she could.

Claire was stunned, dismayed, befuddled, speechless.

A second time she read the letter. Now it became clear to her. This was how her Father wanted to treat her? Was she seriously going to become a chambermaid...? No, she was to become a wife. Probably be given a husband as soon as her education was completed. The headmaster most likely, whom he called his friend. Just like Giselle. The way her sister was lured by him and never came back.

Anger welled up inside her. Did she now have to do what her Father demanded of her? The one who was never home when she was unwell? Did he think he could do his duties as a Father in those short letters? To make up for the lost years of her childhood in these lines?

Claire was overwhelmed by her heated feelings. In a sheer tantrum, she crumpled the brochure. Grimly, she noticed her aunt. The frenzy stopped as soon as she saw she was being watched.

She also had a letter. Claire fervently wished she could turn back time to know what it said. Slowly she unfolded the brochure and put it aside. Remorse was in her entire body. Waltraud looked at her with a worried expression.

"I didn't think it would come to this."

She tried to put on a tasteless smile.

The petrified Silberlilie would have liked to get up and leave. As she rose, she could not think of any places to retreat to. No matter where she fled, reality haunted her. Even in her mind, she banged against a wall. Like a malfunctioning record, the music kept repeating. Each time it had the same ending. There was no confidence.

Claire sat down and took a deep breath.

"So, you can fulfil your dream, aren't you pleased?" continued Waltraud as if nothing had happened.

Claire said nothing in reply. She looked at the peas.

Waltraud excused herself briefly to go to the cook. Claire quickly picked up the envelope. It was even worse than hers. Inside her, the world was collapsing. Trapped in a cage with ripping threads, she had no chance of walking without hurting herself.

It became even more momentous.

Father told a lie. A bold-faced lie.

When Aunt Waltraud returned, Claire was already gone. The two letters, the brochure, the envelope, everything she had torn up and thrown into the river. Crying, she ran home and locked herself in her room.

To the next part: Chapter IV.3.


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Wed Sep 15, 2021 3:48 am
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Liminality wrote a review...



Hi again Mailice! Lim here with a short review. This was quite a harrowing chapter. I really like how realistic the dialogue is here, especially between Giselle and Claire. It all feels very somber and subtle up until the part when Claire opens the letter and the bomb is dropped.

"Understandable. Father was often out of the house. After Mother's death he could hardly get himself together and in the sanatorium, he became interested in the abbey. Auntie even said that he was fascinated by the occult. As if he wanted to bring her back to life. For him it must have been a terrible blow when Mother passed away."
Claire felt guilty.

Oh that’s so sad. I can sympathise with Claire not knowing much about her father. I thought her feeling guilt here was realistic. I’m guessing she feels that way because she resents her father, but also just found out about his struggles, and yet cannot stop resenting him for how he treats her. It’s also interesting that Claire’s mother is being discussed here, since recently only her father has been in the story.

As soon as you come to me, you will start your education at a private girls' school. . . . Please read the brochure for further information. I don't have the time to write everything down. We will get the most important information on the spot when we introduce ourselves to the headmaster - he is a friend of mine.

I like how this shows the father’s attitude towards Claire – previously we only know of it through Claire’s internal monologue. He doesn’t seem to hate her or anything, but he definitely has a vision of her in his head that isn’t accurate to how Claire is actually like. Saying “I don’t have the time” also makes it seem like he generally doesn’t have time for her, and mentioning the headmaster being a “friend” also contrasts the mechanical attitude he has towards Claire.

When Aunt Waltraud returned, Claire was already gone. The two letters, the brochure, the envelope, everything she had torn up and thrown into the river. Crying, she ran home and locked herself in her room.

I’m curious about what was in Waltraud’s letter. Was it proof that the father lying about caring about her? Waltraud seemed uncomfortable with it, given that she left the room, so that’s my guess for now.

I’m also guessing that this event is what drives Claire to pursue the ‘adventure’ with Emma and Léonard, despite her skepticism. It seems that unhappiness at home is likely to make her want to escape and become a ‘main character’ somewhere else.

Saying goodbye was easier than she had thought. The next day Claire had waved to her as the locomotive left the station, then stormed straight back to the office.

Somehow it feels odd to gloss over Giselle leaving, since they seem to have a pretty good relationship, all things considered. I wonder what Giselle would say to Claire before she goes.

"You can stay in bed," Giselle recommended.
"I´m too awake."
"I know what it's like," she shared, "Eat something and you'll feel better."

I like this conversation. Their interactions feel very ‘real’, and family-like. It made me sad when Giselle left, because she seems to care very much about Claire.

Another thing I’ve been liking in the chapters so far is the character consistency, especially for Claire. I like that her booksmartness has plot consequences, for instance in the beginning here when it’s revealed that Léonard was contradicting a known fact. I do wonder if the schools might have taught her some things incorrectly, though, since it’s been established before that they are full of propaganda. Might lead down an interesting road, if that’s the case.

That liar was going to get her into a lot of trouble. She wished it on her.

I also like how this picks up on Claire’s contempt for Emma, despite them being friends.

That’s all

Hope some of these comments were helpful, and feel free to ask me anything about what I’ve said in the review. (Or ask for more feedback.)
Keep writing!
-Lim
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Sat Sep 11, 2021 6:16 am
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ForeverYoung299 wrote a review...



Hey! Forever here with a review!

I am extremely sorry that I could not attend your special day. In the meantime, events came to a head and I was forced to cancel the visit at short notice. I hope you were not too disappointed. I hope you forgive me. I hope you understand.

I don't know if it was intentional but in total there were three "I hope you". It feels a bit repetitive.

Mönchsberg Abbey. Seems like despite being banned, they have still managed to get some people and make up the order again and this time with a lot more precautions. We are still a bit unsure about the motive of the order but well they do have an intention to get the original copy and I am afraid if they get it, they will teach people wrong things.

As little as she wanted to have anything to do with him, she wanted to know more about her Mother. As little as she knew about her, she made enquiries. Before Claire dared to enter her Father's study, she went to the town hall for information. They could not help her there. When Claire then also replied that she did not know where her Mother was buried, she was told to leave and not to make a fool of herself.

A visit to the Regenschloss cemetery was in vain, she found no grave there with the name Chloé Silberlilie.

In her eagerness to solve it alone, Claire had grabbed the key to Father's office. Immediately afterwards, she was caught by her sister, who started packing her suitcase. Claire could think of no excuse; her imagination had failed her.

I do understand that this portion will not play a great role in the story but still it feels like it was a bit too rushed. It seems like everything happened in no time which is untrue. Decrease the pace a bit and also it's a good place for foreshadowing if you want to do it. If Claire continues the search, she can find something valuable.

Something which I noticed is the personality of Giselle. Her character doesn't seem to be fully fleshed out. I thought that you will give her a character in the course of the story but she already left. As she is the one to hand over the information that their father was one of the poeple to deal with this order, I think it makes her an important character though not as the main ones. All we know about her is she is extrovert, she cares about Claire and anything else? I can't recall... Her dialogues too don't possess that unique voice.

Her father doesn't at all seem to understand Claire. He doesn't even understand his own daughter and haven't met for many days. After the death of Claire's mother, one would expect the father to look after the children but he sems to be the different. I hope that Claire will not go to her father or will she? There are odds and ends of both. So let's see what happens.


Keep Writing!


~Forever






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Mon Sep 06, 2021 12:01 pm
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RandomTalks wrote a review...



Hey Mailice!

RandomTalks back with a review!

I really liked the way you handled Claire's emotions in this chapter. Everything was so delicately dealt with, and her family attachments dealt with such care. I was a little surprised that it took a different direction from the previous chapter, but I liked how it was more focused on Claire. Sometimes I feel like she is the only sensible person, whom one can actually trust in this story. So, I really enjoyed this chapter.

I am a little curios about Claire's mother. I understand that she died giving birth to Claire, so it is not possible for her to anything about her. But how is she only curios about her own mother after 18 years? Also, the way people turned around, refusing to discuss anything about her mother made me feel like there is something more going on here. But I really liked her reflection on her mother. You presented her thoughts and her wonderings in a very realistic manner that made it easy for us to sympathize with her.

I will have to say though, Giselle's departure came off as a bit sudden to me. You opened the chapter with a conversation between the two that came off as very natural, but then as Claire started looking for information about her mother, and breaking into her father's study, the whole part felt a little rushed. I feel like you could have explored the rush of feelings that made her do all these things, her disappointment when she found out nothing or even Giselle's surprise when she found out about her breaking into their father's office. Instead, suddenly she was going away, and it felt like it threw the entire development between them in the last couple of chapters. After all, her sister was the first one who Claire had a real conversation with and I quite liked their sibling relationship.

You also managed to evoke a great reaction from the readers with her father's letter. Personally, I think that he is doing what he has always done with her - controlling her, training her and shifting the responsibility of her from one guardian to another (her aunt to her new principal). It is evident that there are several issues between the father and daughter - there is a lot of resentment, disappointment, guilt and years of negligence and I am sure some day they are going to have to address that. It still breaks my heart, because I want more for Claire than just becoming someone's husband. I hope the story gives her a better ending.

Still, I think you managed to portray a lot of different relationships of Claire in a very realistic manner. I really like these dimensions to her, and I a interested to see where this goes.

Until next time!




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TheWordsOfWolf wrote a review...



Hi, Hello, greetings, salutations, good morning, good evening, good night, good afternoon and many other pleasant things that I do not have time for as I am here to leave a review. Anyway, Wolf here.
Okay, so probably wasn't my best idea to start reading this on the fourth chapter nut not having a good idea has never stopped me before and I have to say you have me hooked on this now. I was first drawn in by the title, its so beautiful. And now I am drawn in by the characters and storyline. This is a very interesting tale and I look forward to catching myself up on the rest. Keep up the good work!






Thank you for your review, TheWordsofWolf! I'm glad you enjoyed the chapter and I hope you find the time to read the previous chapters!



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Mon Apr 05, 2021 6:21 pm
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quitecontrary wrote a review...



Hi Mailice! This story is starting to take a very interesting turn... I no longer know what's going to happen next, and I don't even know who to trust except for Claire. I'll get right into it:

Claire had known the name for a long time. She had heard of it even before she went to school. As she lay in bed at night, tossing and turning, she tried to remember it.
I wasn't sure how necessary these lines were to the story, because you've already told us Claire knows the abbey was disbanded. It's kind of a weird transition, and I would have her wondering where she heard the name of the abbey instead of what the name of the abbey was.
Claire did not listen to her. Mönchsberg Abbey returned. In her mind's eye, yesterday played itself out. Léonard was a liar. The abbey no longer existed.
If Léonard is a liar, is it also possible that he is part of Mönchsberg Abbey? He is starting to look very suspicious...
Waltraud once said that Claire was the greatest happiness inher Father's life.
Just a quick nit-pick, but does "the greatest happiness" need to be italicized? I didn't see any point to it except to possibly show her Aunt lying to her as well.
Then she realised how little Claire knew about her parents.
"Then Giselle realized how little Claire knew..."<I'm not sure if Claire was supposed to be think this or Giselle, but this would make it more clear if it was supposed to be Giselle thinking it.
I don't know exactly when I can find the time, I usually finish work then and contact you.
"I usually finish work then, and I'll contact you then" or "I'll finish work and contact you"<this sentence just needed a little rephrasing.
The way she was lured by him and never came back.
This sentence was confusing because I didn't know if it was Claire or Giselle being lured in, and whether it was her father or the headmaster/husband luring them. I'd rephrase it, possibly like this: "She was lured in by him and never came back.">this would make it more clear that Giselle was lured in by her father.

I didn't find much to fix, but this chapter did leave me with a lot of questions that will probably take me to the end of the novel, like is Léonard a part of the abbey? Is Claire's father a part of the abbey?! Is Aunt Waltraud hiding things from Claire, possibly out of the goodness of her heart? Why doesn't Claire know more about her mother? As you can see, I am desperately relying on the next chapters to figure out these answers :D Overall, this is very clearly another turning point in your novel, and especially one that takes into consideration Claire's position in society. If she doesn't go to that school, what will her father do and what will she end up being in society? Her world is absolutely falling apart in the face of all these lies, and something's going to come from it. The question is what? I'm really excited for the next chapters, and I hope to see Claire triumph as the main heroine!





When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.
— Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind