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Once upon a time...on Barrayar

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Once upon a time there was a tall, handsome Vor Lord who lived on the highest floor of the highest apartment tower in Vorbarr Sultana.  He had dark hair and beautiful long lashed brown eyes that seemed to laugh all the time, as much as he did infact. He was loyal, popular, had many friends and girlfriends and although life had its unhappy times now and then he got over them quickly.  He worked hard, socialised relentlessly and loved his life. 

But then something started to change. The Vor Lord started to feel despondent with his bachelor life; a despondency that increased as he began to spend more and more time at his cousin's house. And what was the exact cause of this change?  Children.

A reluctant and terrified uncle at first, the Vor Lord overcame his fear due to much strategic encouragement by his cousin's wife.  She made sure the Vor Lord was on hand so she could request his 'help' during baby feeding times or to babysit.  The result of these many visits was that the Vor Lord grew quite attached to his nephew and nieces and could not recall what his life was like before they were born. 

The Vor Lord even began to re-arrange his social life to babysit and when the children were a little older he regularly gave them swimming lessons (also the mother's idea).  The children's father was not very confident about giving his cousin that much responsibility with his young children but his wife was proved right; not only did the swimming lessons prove successful but the regular contact ensured the children and uncle grew closer.  (Also it has to be said that it gave the parents a few hours of much needed respite from their demanding brood!) 

The Vor Lord though was constantly surprised how much he enjoyed the company of the children and equally surprised how much they liked him and loved him.  

But this was not enough for the Vor Lord; for the first time in his life he knew what he wanted. What he honestly and truly wanted. He wanted to be a father. This was something he could do, something he could be good at. He wanted children; his own children. And so the Vor Lord set about finding himself a wife and mother for his future children.

But trying to find a woman to marry him and who wanted his children soon proved difficult.  The uterine replicator, which the Vor Lord had no objection to, was proving a different kind of obstacle.  All the women he met wanted children in five, ten or even twenty years time.  They wanted to wait.  And he began to realise, very early on in his search, that there did not seem to be that many women who wanted to marry him

Everyone told him he had waited too long, that he had missed his chance and the Vor Lord started to despair. The years began to pass and it seemed to him that there was no choice left to him; he would have to leave his home and search further away for his future. 

But then he met her.  The Vor Lady

She was as tall as he (and he was very tall); she was more beautiful than he was handsome (and he was very handsome) and he thought her a Goddess.  She had pale skin with beautiful blonde cropped hair that framed her perfect high cheek- boned face. She had large violet blue eyes that pulled you in and made you the centre of her world.  Her smile dazzled you, it was part of a beauty that was hard to take; a beauty that terrified you with its perfection. It was glacial and you basked in its too bright light when she spoke to you.  You could not help but look, you could not look away.  And neither could the Vor Lord.  The Vor Lady pursued him and the Vor Lord wanted to be caught.

But where had she come from?  No one was quite sure.  Discreet investigations provided little detail. All they knew was that the family hailed from an obscure small district and that the Vor Lady and her mother had travelled far and wide over the galaxy for many, many years.  But although they were not the High Vor family the Vor Lord's mother would have wished for her son, she could not find anything objectionable about the family.  Nothing to explain the nagging in the back of her mind that something was amiss; nothing to forestall her son's eagerness to marry.

Because yes, the Vor Lord wanted to marry soon as did his Vor Lady.  The Vor Lady wanted children soon as did the Vor Lord;  Four children all born one year apart.  They agreed on everything, they both wanted the same things.

It was perfect, she was perfect. 

Within six months after their first meeting, they were married with a baby already growing in the Uterine Replicator, a baby that would be born six months after they married. It was unusual but not unprecedented to do it this way round but he was sure about her and everyone loved his Vor Lady. Everyone.

And so one day the Vor Lady and Vor Lord, newly wed, left on their honeymoon. One month later, the couple returned and separated. The Vor Lady went to stay with her mother and the Vor Lord went to his apartment. Alone.

The Vor Lord continues to work but as time goes on he sees less and less of his family, he sees less and less of his friends and when the baby is born it becomes his world. 

His family and friends cannot reach him, they ask him questions he will not answer. Some think he has become colder; some think he has become lazy and neglectful of his wife, of his family, of his friends and of his duties.

And some are just waiting.

The Vor Lady lives her life as she always had when she first arrived in Vorbarr Sultana; she entertains rarely but she attends all the best parties and dinners that High Vor society has to offer. People sympathise with her plight, everyone wants to be around her, everyone wants to know what happened and although they ask she never answers their questions, everything is implied but nothing is stated.  But everyone has heard the rumours, they know she is blameless. They know who is to blame.


The Vor Lady visits her Vor Lord once a month.
They are still married.
She says he has until Winterfair to make his decision.
An appalling decision.
A decision no one should have to make.
He cannot think of a way out.

And he is running out of time...