N O N E D O S L A C K E N
N O N E C A N D I E
CW: Mentions of suicide and depression.
“My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
Where can we find two better hemispheres,
Without sharp north, without declining west?
Whatever dies, was not mixed equally;
If our two loves be one, or, thou and I
Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.”
-The Good-Morrow by John Donne
The click click click of small heels on cobblestone alerted Erich of his twin’s fast approach, yet he made no move. He was crouched above the streets of Karosgrad on the roof of the Barclay Bargains shop with a wet towel in hand. Once Isolde had stopped just beneath Erich’s perch, the boy smirked to himself. This will be fun, he thought. And he was right. In an instant, the wet towel nailed his sister directly between the eyes. Bulls-eye! Unfortunately for Erich, though, Isolde was not going to simply take the prank.
“VATER! MUTTER!” She screamed at the top of her lungs. She continued to scream until she had made it all the way back to Reinmar, where she curled up in her mother’s arms and cried over how awful her brother could be. Erich was on potato duty that evening.
Ingrid Barclay was a woman with many medical issues. Having her first child, Emelia, had taken quite a toll on the woman. But, still, she pushed through and gave birth to not one but two healthy children. A girl first and then a boy. The Baron of Sigradz had been born. The first child was named Isolde Klara and the second was named Erich Erwin. Perhaps in their youth, Isolde held some resentment towards her brother, but time would tell how wrong she would be. While Erich was the spitting image of his father, Isolde showed more traits from her mother as she grew up. She had a red tinge to the normal Barclay blonde, for example. However, they both took after their aunt, Marcella, in their personalities.
Isolde Klara always wanted to be like her aunt Marcella.
That is why it hurt so much for the girl when Marcella turned her away the night of her death. Marcie was the woman Isolde looked up to and the only person who she felt as though she could speak to following Koenas Mariya’s death. There were some nights Isolde laid awake, even as she herself felt her body failing, thinking about how she could have stopped her aunt from committing suicide had she pushed to stay with her.
Isolde Barclay, painted in the year 1819 (Age 15) (x)
Isolde Klara Barclay. She never felt like her name suited her. Her surname did, that was for sure, but Isolde Klara? As she grew up, she’d note that the femininity of the names never felt right. She took after her adoptive sister, Mariya, in how she enjoyed a good fight or hunt more than a tea party or ball. She caught herself in her teenage years feeling jealous of her twin. Erich Erwin had the title of Duke awaiting him. Isolde Klara felt as though her only future was an unhappy marriage.
There was a boy. Yes, a boy. He was a boy with bright blond hair and eyes the color of the leaves in the spring. He was a beautiful boy, and from the moment Isolde set her eyes upon him, she knew he would be important to her. And so, in the typical fashion of a girl raised by the combined forces of her parents and HRA officers, she broke a bottle of Carrion Black over his head at the age of five. From that moment she had decided that if she was able, she would marry that boy. Unfortunately, another had captured his heart in a matter of years.
When Isolde received the invitation to the wedding of The Right Honorable, Countess Halstaig, Lady Iduna O’Rourke and Elias Asul’onn, her heart sank in her chest. She knew it was coming, but she never wanted to believe it. She did not attend. Instead, she turned her attention to a man by the name of Aleksandr. He was not Elias, but he was nice. Wasn’t he?
Aleksandr surprised her, in a way. She had refused to speak most of her life and her elder sister was the rose. If Emilia was the rose, Isolde was the dandelion. She was constantly getting into fights which her father, being the Lord Marshal, had to get her out of. She laughed with him, yes. They had fun, yes. She told him she loved him, yes. But, she never felt anything. She saw what she had with him as a means to an end. She saw him and wished he was another. He was a way for her to do her duty to her family. She always wanted to have children, after all, and he wanted daughters. It was the perfect arrangement, until it wasn’t.
She also used it as a way to get her father’s attention. She found it increasingly hard to get through to him the older she got. Maybe it was the war.
She tried growing out her shaved hair. He looked at it and frowned.
When neither the courting nor the hair worked, she tried to wear the fancy dresses her mother always bought for her. That only made her father frown quietly once again.
Then, the girl cut her hair short and snuck off for a time. He didn’t even notice, aside from the choppiness of her hair.
One day, her brother presented her with a way out of her courtship. She took it, but she didn’t know what it would mean for her. Would she possibly be more unhappy? Her father and mother always told her they only cared about her happiness. When they asked her what would make her well and truly happy when the new deal was proposed, she stated she wanted what her Great Aunt Luisa had. She wanted to stay a Barclay until the end of her days. Marcella had done it, however awful her end may have been, and Isolde Klara always wanted to be like her Aunt Marcella.
Fortunately for her, the deal did not work out. She was unhappy, of course. He had ended the courtship right when she had begun to think she could love him, after all. In the end, though, it was for the best. She took to the roads, as her Aunt had before her, and found herself at the gates of Elysium not long after her cousin, Marie Vyronov, had died. Her friends, Amicia and Christopher de Astrea, welcomed her with open arms and gave her a room to stay in. This is where she stayed until her accident.
Ich have to go, Ich have to get out of here, Isolde’s thoughts were screaming. It’s too much, the walls are too close! Her breathing was ragged as she packed her things and abandoned the small room her friends had given her. She pulled her pack onto her back, strapped her weapons to her belt, and left the city without so much as trying to find them to say goodbye. They would understand, wouldn’t they? Vater had understood when she left. Erich had asked her to stay, but ultimately he understood.
Isolde stopped in her tracks. “What ist Erich doing now..?” The woman’s breath was visible in the frigid air of the north, and her words were scattered to the wind with it. She thought no one had heard. She was far from the gates at that point.
Oh, how wrong she had been.
A growl came from a nearby cave. With only a glance, Isolde could see the mother bear and her cub behind her. In her moment of shock, she couldn’t get herself to move out of the way in time to avoid that first fateful swipe. That was how Isolde Klara lost her eye.
Isolde’s wrinkled and scarred face broke out into a grin when she saw her home steadily approaching. Reinmar. Inside, she knew her family awaited her. She couldn’t wait to see her father, her mother, her brother. She urged her horse to go faster, making her way to the gates in a matter of minutes. Dismounting, Isolde withdrew an old and rusting key from her pocket. When she slotted it into the keyhole of the door, she was surprised to find it still worked. Bruder must have kept his promise to nicht change the locks, she thought. Her happiness only grew.
After leaving Orion at the stables to be tended to, Isolde practically ran towards the main doors of the keep. She pushed them open with ease and continued on towards the dining hall. “Erich! Erich, ich am h—” her voice cut off suddenly when she saw only her father, alone, at a table. He was well in his nineties by now and. . . He fainted.
In the hours to come, Isolde Klara learned that Erich Erwin had passed away not long after his last child was born. He had the shortest tenure of any Duke of Reinmar. Erich — her best friend — had needed her, and she hadn’t been there to help him.
That night, Isolde sobbed for the first time in years.
Yellow roses were Isolde Klara’s favorite. The older she got, the more she realized how little she had cared for her friendships in her adolescence. A yellow rose was one of the only roses that had no romantic meaning attached to it. To give someone a yellow rose was to show how much you appreciate their friendship.
Isolde Klara left her family for forty years without so much as a word about where she had been. When she returned, though, her father welcomed her back with open arms. He was close to his end at that point but he was happy to finally have one of his children home.
The rose fields of Reinmar were brought back by Reinhardt Barclay, but Friedrich cultivated the red roses on the rooftop while Isolde Klara cultivated the yellow roses in the far corner of the field; both in Marcella Barclay’s honor. They both still missed her dearly.
Isolde found Elias again, after uncovering an old wedding invitation he had sent to Reinmar. His second wife, Matilda, sounded lovely. She was gone all too soon. After Matilda had died, though. . . Isolde finally allowed herself to attempt to love someone. She knew he would never love her back, she knew he was grieving, she knew it wasn’t real. But don’t we all just wish to be loved at some point in our lives, regardless of if it is real or fake? That is what she told herself, anyway.
She never expected to live her life on the roads, nor did she expect to keep her last name. However, she wouldn’t have had it any other way. Despite the loss of an eye and a limp caused by a bear on her travels, she was truly happy. She never became a pawn, never had to force herself to be a lady of the courts, and she was able to be who she wanted.
The only regret she ever had was that she was never able to name her daughter Marcella.
It was an ordinary day. The sun shone over Reinmar, Rozenfeld, and the lands beyond as an elderly woman took her final steps down the stairs of her family’s keep. There was a promise on her lips, a final one she would fail to fulfill. In the days leading up to her death, Isolde Klara had cut her hair short and taken all of her meals in her room. The only person she allowed to enter was her father, Friedrich. He was on the verge of death himself, but he did not have his wife’s illness which had plagued Isolde most of her life. There were few moments she wasn’t haunted by her own coughing fits tainted with the blood which filled her lungs. She knew her time was up, no matter how many times she swore her father would not bury another child of his. Isolde Klara was a stubborn child who grew into an even more stubborn woman.
There were many regrets on her mind as she walked out towards the rose fields. She regretted how she treated Alexsandr first. He never deserved such cruelty. She regretted how she was never truly honest with Elias second. She never said she loved him. Third, she regretted never seeing her brother again after she left. She hadn’t even known of his death. The fourth regret was realized as she reached the roses, her eyes trailing over the patch of the now brown and dying yellow roses. She never had children, a family. She didn’t have friends. She was alone in her final days, moments, months. Even Elias had left her eventually. All she had was her senile father who couldn’t stand without a cane.
She was only ever honest with one person, who stood before her then. Once a friend, now a stranger.
Isolde nearly fell to her knees in front of them, tears slipping down her cheeks like the rivers they used to visit when they were young. The stranger held her up with a single, strong arm and led her to the nearby table. They both knew this would be Isolde’s final moments.
“I’m dying,” the elderly woman muttered, the wrinkles covering her face only accentuated by the dark shadows beneath her eyes.
The stranger only nodded and took her hand in theirs.
“Ich am glad you came—” her words cut off with a cough. The blood spilled onto the green and blue tablecloth, like a stain which would never come out. When she recovered, she continued. “Ich want to tell you everything. Ich cannot die with so many regrets, liebsten.”
“Tell me. Tell me everything, and I will listen,” the stranger’s voice was soft, friendly. Comforting.
So, Isolde told them everything. Every little regret, secret, and haunting moment. She spoke until her voice was failing her and she had little strength left in her body. The stranger never spoke, but they listened. They helped her stay upright when her body continued to fail her, and when she finished, they finally nodded.
Then, they spoke the final words Isolde Klara heard.
“I knew all of this and never said a word. It was never my place to tell you how to live yours,” they lifted a hand to hold Isolde’s cheek even as her tears continued to fall. “You deserve all the love in the world, and you will continue to deserve it when you are gone. All I ever wished was for you to be happy, especially when both of us were unable to be. I hope that in the Seven Skies you will find the happiness you sought— for both of us. Say hello to my family and yours for me, it will be some time yet before I can do so myself.” When Isolde’s eyes finally began to shut, the stranger quickly added their last words to their friend; “We will be fine, it is your time to rest.”
So, Isolde Klara finally allowed herself to rest.
When she opened her eyes next, she saw her brother’s grinning face.
“About time, schwester!”
The body of Isolde Klara Barclay was found right outside of the gates of Reinmar, wrapped in a thin linen blanket. When her rooms were finally cleaned and cleared, a letter addressed to her immediate relatives was found— with a second letter enclosed for just Friedrich..
“My dearest family,
I regret to inform you that I have finally passed on to the Seven Skies, as you likely have already realized. I have little else to say to anyone aside from my great niece and father, so please deliver this letter accordingly.
First, to my niece, Johanna. I wish I could have known you, your father, and your siblings better. You and Friedrich were all I had left, yet I hid myself away. For all of this, I am truly sorry. With my death, I am passing to you the living doll my own great aunt made for my father, which was passed to me. I hope you will consider giving Ser Adder to one of your children, as I never had any of my own. Unfortunately, he is my only possession of value I can pass on. Enjoy your life to the fullest, Liebelin.
Second, to my father, Friedrich. I know what I promised you, and I wish I could have kept it. I’ve said everything else I ever needed to tell you long ago, so please do me a final favor. I left a letter for Elias with this one. Make sure he gets it? See you soon, vater.
With love, always,
Isolde Klara Barclay”
Isolde Barclay, painted in the year 1885 (Age 81)
1804 - 1889