Under a completely different and long forgotten name, Hope would be born to a relatively well known family towards the end of the 11th century in France. Her family held no prestige above the more renowned families in the village however. Their only source of well esteemed and recorded social impact originated from Hope’s parents and their efforts to advance their trading business. For the most part, her parents were involved in near constant travel in and out of Europe. Though their journeys were indeed perilous ones, the riches they brought back, and the danger imposed by their treks earned them respect and semi decent finances to live on. Still, at the time, a well founded economy was difficult to build even with drive and wit. At the time, a royal bloodline or a well established family name and standing was required to assert financial prosperity.
Upon Hope’s birth, most people seemed to be mesmerized with how cute the baby was. While it wasn’t odd at all for adults and children alike to find beauty in the untainted innocence of a baby, there was truly inherent beauty in the child. Her parents, Abel and Sarah, spent the large majority of their time after their child’s birth, parading her to people of her social class and above them as they relished on the blessing of her birth. The gift of natural beauty in the child did not go unnoticed by the higher stratum of social classes however. Quickly catching the eye of the very well known Duke of France at the time. The aged man proposed arranging Hope’s marriage with his eldest son. With such a fine and established future, arranging the marriage meant that Hope along with her family could also enjoy a secure future that was devoid of any chance of financial distress. The Duke’s son, already in his 20s was quite a bit older than the just born Hope, but arranged affairs like those were not rare in the slightest. And agreeing right away, Abel and Sarah would forego their merchant lifestyle to take better care of the child and prepare her for the brilliant future they had prepared for her.
Even as a growing young child, Hope was able to discern the difference among people in social classes. Most times, wealth and position seemed to be the biggest defining factors. For the most part, though social standing played a big role, it seemed as though wealth was paramount. The issue was however that wealth was difficult to come by or retain if one did not belong to established and known families. The hate, discord, and jealousy produced by people who already attained wealth jeopardize the chances at anyone else obtaining what they already had. She was used to seeing people begging in the street. She was used to seeing people starve and die from not being able to afford food. On the other hand, she was also used to seeing people enjoy the luxuries of economic wealth. She was used to seeing the finest clothes and the most exotic foods. Neither of the polar opposites traumatized her to any extent however. For as long as she could remember, she was reminded that her future was secure. She was reminded that her life had been arranged for her own benefit and that of her family. She was reminded each and every day that if she acted as she was intended for her, the life she led would be filled with abundance and happiness. And while none of the things she was taught had a real or tangible way of being proved, there was only one thing she could truly know and understand even at such a young age. Wealth was everything. It translated to power, it translated to an ease of life, and in a way, it should have translated to happiness as well.
Food and education abounded the young girl. With the vast influence from a plethora of neighboring countries, she was expected to know how to communicate with ease among them. She was taught Medieval Latin, Old French, and even a bit of the Arabic languages. She was taught how to behave like a socially adept and upstanding lady. After all, if she was to marry the heir of the Duke of France, she needed to play the part. She had been chosen primarily because of her innate natural beauty despite having been from a much lower standing than the Duke’s own reign of influence. It was up to her and her family to stay up to par and meet the expectations. The Duke did help tremendously however. He had devoted wealth and time to instruct Hope in a way in which he saw fit for a lady of the time. She was indoctrinated into loving her future husband, even years before she actually met him. She was taught to be kind and proper, and ladylike at all time. Unfortunately for the young girl however, a series of unfortunate events would lead her to question her own actions , and bring her closer to endangering the future that had so carefully been arranged for her.
After the age of 10 or so, Hope started noticing odd occurrences around herself. From time to time, she saw what looked like shadows walking past her. However, every time she turned, the figures and the shadows she had thought to have seen would no longer be there. The first few times she fault it to a lack of sleep or extra time dedicated to her studies. However, with the events occurring more and more often, she quickly started to feel as though she was either losing her mind or being enchanted by some kind of dark malevolent being, jealous of her, her beauty, and the future she had. It was rumored that witches indeed exist, and it was not unlike jealous people to try and bring down through curses the ones that seemed destined for the life they wanted for themselves. Her ideas were simply that however: ideas. The thought of telling her family would never cross her . Because even while the notion of it could be true, however unlikely, it would raise way too many questions. The mere thought of her being possessed or tainted by a witch would have been enough grounds to jeopardize her future. As such, Hope would keep her thoughts and the shadowy figures she saw away from her family and the Duke’s.
As she inched closer to the dawn of puberty, Hope began to notice even more changes happening around herself. Books and scriptures that challenged her mind seemed to be much less dauntning. It wasn’t like she just needed less time to understand scriptures however. Sometimes, just by placing her hand over a lengthy book, she seemed to understand its contents to its entirety despite the inherent difficulty and archaic style of the language being used. While interesting and somewhat scary to her, everyone else seemed to be fascinated for different reasons. Not being aware of the power she possessed, the Duke and those around her simply saw her as a rather gifted scholar, a truly brilliant and beautiful mind. It only helped to enhance her view as the best trophy wife for the heir of the Duke of France.
With her odd and newfound power, Hope sought to, secretly continue to test the lengths of it. Any book, regardless of size or language would have its contents dissected and redirected back to her in streams of information that made sense to her and were easy to understand. Thanks to that, she was able to learn all the academic materials she was meant to be capable in. More than that, out of fun and curisotiy, she even delved into more complicated and religiously enigmatic matters that were often left for the elderly and more religiously inclined individuals. Since women at the time were not expected to work or fight, the knowledge she possessed was actually seen as a great asset. Beyond being able to birth children, knowledge was a useful and non harmful outlet to have, or so most believed.
As she neared the age of 15 however, a rather sudden event would change the way her life and her future would go. The unforeseen death of the Duke from an odd disease would leave his then 35 year old son, Godfrey, the new Duke. His first action was to be married right away to Hope. Supposedly, there were more than a few reasons fueling his decision. He had never met the young girl, and had only heard of her stunning beauty and vast amounts of knowledge for her age, and for being a woman. He also wanted to father a child as soon as possible. Plus, with the impending notion of the First Crusade, he would have to answer the calling and go to Holy War. If he had his way, he would have seen his future blessed by having his future wife await him with child in arms upon his return. With no real choice in the matter, Hope would of course accept, and marry Godfrey. Her future had been created for her ever since she was born. It wasn’t just the Duke and herself who had high hopes for the union. Her parents also relied on her. They relied on a successful union to secure their lives into elderhood. She also needed to continue to prove herself worthy of her man, make him happy, and give him child to continue to secure the wealth she knew was necessary in her world in order to survive.
The wedding was short; much shorter than she had imagined it to be. It had however been grand nevertheless. There was no shortage of food, the finest silks, and the most esteemed and famous spectators as well. It was truly a wedding fit for royalty. Still, in the back of her head, she had simply imagined it lasting longer, and meaning more. And though she would never speak of it, everything seemed rush. The wedding felt like simply a rush to get her to bed, steal her innocence, and get her to birth child. While there was certainly some form of truth to it, Hope didn’t see anything wrong with it at the time. Even if she would’ve liked her husband to act differently, it was the expectation. Whether she liked it or not, she was expected to do as he pleased to ensure those relying on her, as well as herself had the future they were meant to. After all, her parents had told her that love was a very uncircumstantial thing. One could grow to love someone with time, even if it didn’t look like it, or so they said. Good standing and money seemed to help quite a bit too.
The consummation of the marriage was not unlike the actual marriage. It was short, it felt forced, and it was painful. It was of course meant to be painful since it was her first time, but still, it seemed rushed. Hope couldn’t sense any form of care or love in it. Godfrey simply wanted to claim what was his and secure the womb for a child before anyone else had a chance to. Once again, though she would remain quite, the blonde lady really did not like the behavior. Despite it, she would smile and accept her fate as it was the expectation, and she would not jeopardize her future and her parent’s just for feelings of discomfort. The sexual encounter however reminded her also of her first time meeting Godfrey. He had saluted her parents and her, commented on her beauty and her potential child bearing qualities, and taken her away. It was a familiar sight for husbands to see their wives as trophies, and since the notion was common it didn’t upset her. While not upset however, she had admit she disliked being treated as such a lesser form of being.
Not long after several sexual encounters did Hope find out she was indeed with child. At such a young age, merely past 15, she was already ready to fulfill the desires of her husband. Though the idea of being a mother scared her, she was nevertheless proud of the way her lfie was turning out. Whether she liked it or not, she was slowly meeting every expectation set out for her. There was no reason for her husband or her parents to be displeased with her. Being ready to bare child, she had officially secured her financial future and that of her family. Though Godfrey seemed just the slightest bit more caring after finding out she was pregnant, his behavior did not change all that much. Either way, her husband wouldn’t be by her side much longer anyways. With the First Crusade officially underway, he was called to his duties to reclaim the Holy Land. It was a call he would not allow to fall upon deaf ears. Godfrey would leave soon for battle, but not before declaring that he would return to Hope to meet his child and whom would become the new heir to the position of Duke.
During the time of the Crusade, there was much upheaval throughout France. Most well known men were out fighting and reclaiming the Holy Land. Most of them had made attempts to father a child before their departure. It was their way of securing a legacy upon their return. Hope would not receive word from Godfrey throughout the Crusade. She never faulted him however. The distance between his home and the battle field was a lengthy one. And at those times, it was difficult to get letters across, and the chances of them being lost or stolen were very likely. Still, the Church instructed the women, the wives to continuously pray. It was thought to be the only way to keep their husbands safe and the Crusade victorious. Regardless, despite the endless prayers of many wives, most of them seemed to receive ill news at some point or another. That was a fate Hope never feared however. Her knowledge of the Bible and its contents assured her that devotion and faith triumphed over all. As such, she was sure that her prayers would ensure a safe return to her husband, so she never worried. Unfortunately for the Duke’s wife, her worry would stem from something else. Her powers, and the effects they had on her and those around her would change her forever, even more than the potential outcome of the Crusade and the fated return of her husband and future father of her child.
Chapter 3 extension
Above it all, Hope was delighted and excited at the thought of soon being a mother. It was a feeling that went beyond her parents. It was a feeling that went beyond her duties, and what she believed was necessary. The idea simply seemed beautiful Despite the odd and largely secretive nature of her powers and how useful they seemed, the idea that she could grant life by birthing a child was amazing. There were simply far too many questions. Would she look like her? Would she like what she liked? Would her talents and powers be passed on to her? The thoughts would simply continue in a near endless cycle of excitement and happiness.
Farther into her pregnancy, the blonde lady decided to try and help her unborn child as best she could. Through recurrent use of her powers she had discovered she was able to affect more than the intellectual. She seemed to possess the power to bring the best she believed an items could be or so she believed. For instance books would have their knowledge and contents delivered to her. Difficult scriptures in foreign languages their contents and even the language made easier for her taking. Ragged pieces of cloth would turn into fine looking silks, and pieces of stone would turn into ruby or gold. For the sheer oddity of her power, Hope had tried to do her best to keep it in secrecy. Her power did not seem malign. There was no ill intent or way to possibly misuse her power that she could see. As such, it was difficult to believe her power was a result of a curse or the workings of a witch. In that case, it didn’t make sense to show or tell anyone. With the Crusades still taking place, and with the mentality of those around her, the Church was likely to misunderstand.
There was an ongoing habit of judging and punishing things people couldn’t understand. It would be beyond Hope to judge the Church or the man the ruled her land, but she would not try and cause unneeded reasons for others to question her standing or the house of the Duke Godfrey. The blonde lady was renowned as a lady, ready to birth child to the Duke, and there was simply no need to bring questions and shame onto the house. Still, whenever possible, the young woman would retreat into her chambers to test out new ways to use her powers. If anything, it stemmed out of curiosity in regards to what she could do, and what she could create with them. The idea that she could make almost everything around her better was simply fascinating. Wooden chairs were turned into golden chairs, flowers into emerald beauties, and paper into fine silk. Soon, the wealth of the Duke would have skyrocketed due to the sheer amount of items she had secretly tinkered with. At the start, the rest of the well known families were startled as to how quickly the riches of the Duke grew while he was away. Eventually however, the notion started raising eyebrows, and the jealousy gave way to hate and discord. Since there was no other means for wealth other than the Duke himself, people started suspecting Hope. It was unheard of that women would work and earn a wage that mattered at the time, let alone possess unnatural powers that allowed them to perform the feats she did in secrecy. As such, rumors started going around with the only seemingly possible cause. People started to believe that Hope was seeing another wealthy man that was feeding her with his riches during her husband’s absence. It was even questioned whether her child was truly the Duke’s and not anyone else’s.
To avoid further questions however, Hope would need to be smarter about the way she used her powers. She couldn’t simply keep on adding items and wealth to her family , as noticing the skyrocketing increase would be too easy of a way to send prying eyes towards her. Instead, she kept them all in a reserved private room of their mansion. It was kept away from prying eyes and away from sale. It allowed for the wealth of the family to stabilize somewhat, and at the very least, diminish the surging number of rumors that arose around her. It didn’t mean she would stop testing out her powers, but at the very least, she had found a way to continue to do so without endangering her name and that of her husband. Eventually however, curiosity did get the best of her. She was curious how much she could help her child by trying to use her powers on her own body. Perhaps by trying to pull the best possible value and worth from to her womb, she would be able to bestow her child with abilities similar or better than her own. If not, then perhaps she could at least elicit a pre birth change that allowed her child to be gifted intellectually and or physically astonishing. In an effort to try it, Hope would have placed her hands over her enlarged tummy and wished and thought of the best for her child, before succumbing into deep slumber.
The morning after her attempt, the lady would awaken with horror at the sight of her body. Her stomach no longer bulged as it did with a pregnant woman. Instead, she possessed the flat midsection that was indicative of someone without child. And, when she ran into the hands of a doctor, he confirmed what already seemed somewhat obvious. She was no longer pregnant. The issue however was that it didn’t seem like she had a miscarriage. Instead, the child and the space that had initially being created by the latter was gone, as if it had never existed in the first place. The only possible explanation was that her powers had impacted on her attempts to help her child. It seemed as though her powers had acted on what it believed was the best form or the most worthy or wealth-possessing state of her body. That state or form however was that of a woman without child. With the technology of the time, it was pretty common for mothers to die during childbirth or quikcly after. As such, the safest and longest lasting means to see worth on herself was to not be pregnant at all. And so against her wishes, Hope had accidentally seemingly removed from existence the child she so lovingly wanted to help with her own powers. Though grief and sadness would surely ensure, the result of her actions on her and the effect of it on those around him was just beginning. Her troubles as a result of her unnatural powers, were just about to start taking a negative turn on her youthful life.
It didn’t take long for the word to spread. It didn’t take long at all. Pretty soon, the mystery of her unborn child disappearance and her pregnancy was rumored all around. Some people chose to believe her secret lover did not want someone else’s child and had it removed. Some however could not conceive how the doctors weren’t able to find any traces of a miscarriage at all. For the most part, the large majority attributed the oddly unnatural event to equally unnatural reasons. Behind her back, most of the well known families labeled her as a witch, and her name seemed to be doomed to shame. The only reason she hadn’t been sought out and ripped away from her home was the Duke. The man that still continued to fight in the Crusades was the only reason she was allowed to remain as she was, at least until further notice.
Though money and by extension, near endless wealth seemed to be at her fingertips, it looked like luck did not abound the young woman. Just about a month after the unfortunate tragedy that befell her unborn son, news would arrive about the demise of her husband. Though the Church had been largely triumphant in the incursion of the First Crusade, the death toll on both ends had been very large. Among the dead, Godfrey had the misfortune of counting himself among them. It was told that during the siege of the Holy Land, an ambush inside a treasure room had claimed his life among with that of most of his men. Oddly enough however, Hope did not seem to mourn as much as she felt she needed to. She did behave in a manner that was indicative of someone in pain, and also dressed like someone that held such feeling. However, she did not cry, and neither did she go to the lengths of seeming agony that women were expected to at the time at the thought of their beloved’s demise. Frankly put, she didn’t really love Godfrey. She loved what he had done for her family, and she loved what his name and his position could do for her. But to be honest, she didn’t really love him at all, and neither had him. And more importantly, her tears had all been used up in her agony of crying and punishing herself for the heavy burden of accidentally ending the life of her newborn child.
Godfrey’s death however would mark a turning point for Hope. No longer protected by her husband, the rest of the wealthy families were quick to step in with claims that were absurd, and most like based on lies. Many came and spoke of huge debts owned by Godfrey as well as deals that had not been seen through by the late Duke. For most part, the blonde beauty simply assumed most of the claims were lies to try and steal the fortune her husband and secretly she had created herself. Unfortunately at the time, going against such claims, usually made by the men, would place Hope in a position that would only bring further chaos and ruin on her already pretty tarnished name. Fully knowing the woman was in a precarious situation because of all the rumors that had been spreading around her, wealthy families simply came and took what they wanted, knowing she would do little against it. It wasn’t until there was nothing left to take that she was left alone. Even her parents, ashamed of the way she had turned out, the fate of her unborn child, and even blaming Godfrey’s death on her lack of love, had abandoned her. They had taken off to areas nearing the Holy Land, using their merchant skills just as they had before their daughter’s birth.
Through her own powers and in private however, Hope would continue to amass her wealth from nothing. Turning curtains into silk, metal bracelets into silver, and most of the rocks outside of her home into rocks of pure dense gold. It didn’t take long for her fortune to skyrocket back up, and even higher than what it used to be. Of course, it also didn’t take long for the rumors to skyrocket once again. The wealthy families just couldn’t allow her to regain her standing. Plus, having stripped her of all her riches, it didn’t make sense her finances would grow so much and so quickly. Hope knew from the start it would happen, but she didn’t really stand to face too many choices. She either gained wealth through any means necessary to live, or did not and simply died a horrible death through starvation. With a fate that imposed sure death, and one that imposed likely death, she waged on the one that extended her life, even if just the slightest bit. As she would soon come to find out, jealousy and hatred were very strong feelings. And those feelings would soon cause men and women to march up against her home, with torches and pitchforks at hand. The Church would follow quickly after as well. With many claims of witchcraft and consorting with the devils, it seemed as though Hope’s fate was starting to seal and become destined to one that spelled death and suffering through torture and malicious intent.