Ysandre de la Courcel

Ysandre de la Courcel

Ysandre de la Courcel is the Queen of Terre d'Ange in Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Legacy saga, a member of House Courcel and thereby a direct descendant of Elua. For further information on the royalty of Terre d'Ange see House Courcel.

During Kushiel's Dart Ysandre is introduced as the Dauphine, daughter of Rolande de la Courcel and Isabel L'Envers, and granddaughter of the reigning king, Ganelon de la Courcel. She is an exceedingly lovely young woman, with pale blonde hair, violet eyes, and a voice like cool water. Most of her looks come from her mother's side of the family, but she has the traditional long, graceful neck of House Courcel. Ysandre proves an extremely capable leader, and also a woman of great intelligence, possessing a wry sense of humor. She becomes a lifelong friend of heroine Phèdre nó Delaunay.

Kushiel's Dart

::"For main article see Kushiel's Dart."

The Princess

Ysandre first appears in the series at the age of fifteen, during the celebrations of Isidore d'Aiglemort's and Baudion de Trevalion's victory over the Skaldic forces.

As Ganelon is old and Ysandre is his only heir, there arise in Terre d'Ange a great many plots to either overthrow the young Dauphine or marry her as a path to power. The first involves her aunt Lyonette de Trevalion, and Lyonette's son Baudoin de Trevalion. Both are executed on charges of treason because they tried to usurp the throne for Baudoin. While Lyonette's husband and daughter might have shared the same fate, Ysandre advocated for their banishment rather than death as punishment for knowing of the plots but doing nothing to stop them. It is at their trials that Ysandre displays what Phèdre nó Delaunay describes as "steel beneath a fragile bloom". She asked Baudoin whether he would have wed her off to a foreign potentate or killed her outright. When he has no answer ready, she considers that answer enough and votes for his death.

She was, however, secretly betrothed at the age of sixteen to Drustan mab Necthana, the nephew of the of Alba who will inherit the throne. This engagement is kept secret because of the difficulty of making the marriage a reality. The two nations have been literally divided, unable to contact each other for hundreds of years, due to the Master of the Straits who controls the narrow channel between Terre d'Ange and Alba. Perceivably randomly, the Master of the Straits lets the Albans cross the straits when Ysandre is sixteen but only for that one trip and back.

Ysandre trusts Anafiel Delaunay because of his relationship with her father and meets him secretly in the theatre in the Palace, using a secret passageway from the Queen's quarters to the theatre. Their conversation is overheard by Phèdre nó Delaunay, who witnesses Ysandre ask for Delaunay's counsel. Ysandre trusts Delaunay because she knows he is oath-sworn to protect her, a vow made to her father when she was only an infant. When Delaunay is murdered and Phèdre nó Delaunay and Joscelin Verreuil have suspiciously disappeared, Ysandre does not hesitate to have them tried and convicted in absentia and considers this a great betrayal.

The second attempt to seize her throne begins with a bid by Isidore d'Aiglemort to marry Ysandre. When this is turned down, Isidore makes a bargain with Waldemar Selig, the ruler of Skaldia, to try and take the country by force.

During the events of the novel (see Kushiel's Dart), Phèdre discovers Isidore's plan, and that it has all been orchestrated by the Melisande Shahrizai. By the time Phèdre escapes from Skaldia, Ganelon is on his death-bed, and the Skaldi invasion is just about to begin. Phèdre first contacts Thelesis de Mornay, who brings Phèdre and Joscelin to Ysandre. Ysandre is initially not inclined to trust them or their story but is convinced by Phèdre's words, Hyacinthe's use of the "dromonde", and the affirmations of Thelesis and several of the guards who had witnessed Phèdre attempting to reach Ysandre months earlier.

Phèdre then sees again the steel she witnessed years earlier: Ysandre refuses to let her emotions get the better of her, bolstering herself to stare down the terror although she is young and untried as a leader. Once she has accepted the truth, Ysandre wants to clear Phèdre's and Joscelin's names immediately, but is persuaded by Phèdre that to do so would be to reveal their hand too soon, so she instead takes the two of them and Hyacinthe under the custody of the throne.

When King Ganelon dies, following the funeral, Ysandre states that she is retiring to a Courcel estate to mourn. In actuality, she is summoning a council of those few she can trust: Thelesis, Gaspar, Percy de Somerville, the Duchese Roxane de Mereliot of Marsilikos, her uncle Barquiel L'Envers, Tibault the Comte de Toluard of Siovale, the Prefect of the Cassiline Brotherhood, as well as Phèdre, Joscelin, and Hyacinthe. At this meeting, Ysandre reveals her betrothal to Drustan mab Necthana; a betrothal made between two young monarchs-to-be in love with each other and with the dream of uniting their nations.

The Queen

Ysandre also reveals the truth of Anafiel Delaunay's heritage to Phèdre: that he was the son of the Comte de Montrève, who disowned him for his unwillingness to marry and produce heirs, and an Eisandine woman named Sarafiel Delaunay. Delauany was the lover of Prince Rolande de la Courcel and for this reason, swore to protect Ysandre. Anafiel Delaunay was helping to fulfill the alliance because the Cruithne had come seeking not power, but a dream. Needing as many allies as possible, Ysandre decides to recall the exiled Marc de Trevalion and his daughter Bernadette, and to have the loyal Ghislain de Somerville wed Bernadette to cement the bonds. She also decides to send the Glory-Seekers of Prince Baudoin to Isidore, knowing that they will not be overjoyed at serving the man who betrayed their Prince.

At this meeting, Ysandre also decides to send Phèdre as her ambassador to Alba to convince the Dalriada to help Drustan reclaim his throne, which has been usurped by his cousin Maelcon. This is in return for Drustan bringing his army to Terre d'Ange defence against the Skaldi before they wed. Phèdre agrees, if somewhat reluctantly. Joscelin, who is loathed to leave her, asks to swear his sword into Ysandre's service and accompany Phèdre to Alba. Ysandre accepts his sword despite the protests of the Prefect of the Cassiline Brotherhood, stating that the Precept of Blessed Elua outweighs the dictates of the Cassilines.

In a demonstration of her benevolence, Ysandre declares Phèdre and herself "bed-cousins" and secretly brings the marquist Robert Tielhard to Phèdre so that her marque may be completed before her journey, allowing her to leave as a truly free D'Angeline citizen. In a tender moment, Ysandre asks to see the completed marque, and then explains to Phèdre the importance of honoring her betrothal to Drustan mab Necthana, describing herself as a "bond-slave to the throne". She also gives Phèdre the diary of her father Rolande, as much was written there about Phèdre's master Anafiel Delaunay.

In the following weeks, Ysandre has to face the Skaldi invasion while waiting to hear from Alba. She travels to Troyes-le-Mont rather than remaining in the safer City of Elua, intending to stand or die with her country. She refuses, however, to let her handmaidens come with her, not wanting to be responsible for their deaths. Only a couple come with her, not wanting their Queen to be unserved and alone. Troyes-le-Mont comes under siege.

The Battle of Troyes-le-Mont

Surrounded by Skaldi, late one evening Ysandre hears that an urgent message has been left to her by someone outside the walls. Apparently Phèdre nó Delaunay has returned and risked her life to tell Ysandre that Alba's forces will be attacking in the morning, trying to coordinate a final strike against the Skaldi. Phèdre, however, was dragged away almost immediately and taken to Waldemar Selig, the warlord of the Skaldi.

Outside the walls, outside of arrow range, Ysandre witnesses Phèdre being skinned alive by Waldemar Selig. This is obviously done as a show to enrage Ysandre and/or dishearten her troops. From the wall, Ysandre can see that Selig is interrupted almost immediately, however, by Joscelin Verreuil - who followed Phèdre from the camp in the woods - who challenges Selig to the holmgang. Selig agrees but as Joscelin realizes that even if he wins the fight they will not escape alive, he goes into the position of the "terminus" (the final act where a Cassiline kills himself and his ward at the exact same time). During this distraction, however, Ysandre has managed to put together a rescue party who are just leaving the fort. Joscelin sees this just in time and quickly changes his mind and kills Phèdre's captor.

Joscelin and Phèdre are rescued and brought inside by Barquiel L'Envers. Ysandre immediately brings her own Eisandine healer to Phèdre who urgently informs her face-to-face that an army of seven thousand, half Albans and half Isidore's men, are approaching the city and will attack in the morning. She also assures Ysandre that Drustan is alive, has been crowned, and rides to war joyfully because he is riding towards her. The problem of the Master of the Straits has been solved and their dream can be realized. Ysandre is highly skeptical at first, but is persuaded of Isidore's sincerity when Phèdre assures her he wants revenge on Melisande Shahrizai.

Ysandre spends the battle with Phèdre and Joscelin, watching out of an arrow-slit on the walls. When the battle is over, she allows the remnants of the Allies of Camlach to hunt down the fleeing Skaldi, and accepts ransom for those Skaldi that surrendered. She and Drustan meet before their armies as monarchs of equal standing, with dignity and respect, keeping their emotions behind closed doors. Ysandre then has to deal with the fallout of the war: she portions out the Skaldic ransoms, using some of the money to restore Troyes-le-Mont, some to pay off the army retainers, and some to restoring the rest of Namarre and the Temples of Naamah that were destroyed during the invasion.

Melisande Shahrizai

Before Ysandre leaves Troyes-le-Mont, the Duc de Morhban brings her Melisande Shahrizai, who has been sold out by her kinsmen Marmion and Persia Shahrizai. Initially Melisande denies all the charges put against her, until Ysandre surprises her with Phèdre nó Delaunay, who steps forward to accuse Melisande. Ysandre sentences Melisande to die at dawn.

Melisande requests for Phèdre to visit her in her cell during the night. In that conversation, she reveals that rather than allowing Selig to rule Terre d'Ange, she had every intention of seizing control of Skaldia. Phèdre leaves her and spends the night alone on the battlements of the city, thinking. In the morning she learns that Melisande has somehow escaped her cell before daybreak. Ysandre interrogates everyone, including Phèdre but then apologizes for casting any suspicion on her.

Happy Ending?

Ysandre clears Phèdre's name entirely, and bestows all of Anafiel Delaunay's estates onto her. She also rescinds her grandfather's edict against Delaunay's poetry.

At her wedding, Ysandre wears a gown of periwinkle silk and a crown laced with gold filigree entwined with blue forget-me-nots. She and Drustan mab Necthana are wed in the spring, and accompanied to the bridal chamber with good and bawdy wishes, pelted with flower petals.

Kushiel's Chosen

::"Main article: Kushiel's Chosen"

Phèdre's Quest for Melisande

Kushiel's Dart ends with the arrival of a mysterious gift at Montrève, the Comtesse Phèdre nó Delaunay's quiet country estate. Kushiel's Chosen picks up immediately after an Italian merchant and former acquaintance presents Phèdre no Delaunay with her sangoire cloak, last worn when she was betrayed by Melisande Shahrizai. Phèdre takes it upon herself to find out how Melisande escaped from Troyes-le-Mont and bring her to justice.

Phèdre keeps the Queen informed of all pertinent information she gains in the City of Elua as a Servant of Naamah, which is unfortunately very little. This investigation includes having an assignation with Ysandre's visiting cousin, Nicola L'Envers y Aragon.

Phèdre nó Delaunay decides she must follow the missing guardsmen of Troyes-le-Mont to La Serenissima. Ysandre receives a fake letter saying that Phèdre is continuing on the trail to Ephesium and continues to plan her tour of allies (the "progessus regalis"), inaugurating her reign. This is a tour that is done by most monarchs of Terre d'Ange, unless they are at war, but has not been done in a long time.

The "Progessus Regalis"

She tours much of Caerdicca Unitas and visits "the Little Court" in La Serenissima, where her kinsman Benedicte de la Courcel has lived for the past several decades.

At the same time as her "progessus regalis" reaches La Serenissima, the Doge, Cesare Stregazza, is changing hands to his son, Marco Stregazza. Ysandre is of course invited to the ceremony of investiture at the Temple of Asherat-of-the-Sea, the main religion of La Serenissima. In the Temple there is a long ceremony by the Temple Priestess and large crowds outside in the Campo Grande. Just before the Dogal seal can be passed on, however, the voice of Asherat speaks! Among other things, Asherat says that Benedicte seeks the death of his Queen! The voice, however, turns out to be Phèdre nó Delaunay, who reveals herself on the balcony, with Joscelin Verreuil and Ti-Phillipe appearing at the top of the stairs to protect her from the coming Temple guards.

Ysandre turns ashen and demands that Phèdre explain what she is up to and why she is here. Phèdre replies, "Your majesty, you allowed me to go in search of the traitoress Melisande Shahrizai. And I have found her. There." She points to the young veiled second wife of Benedicte de la Courcel. At this moment the doors suddenly open and rioters enter the Temple, throwing everything into chaos. Ysandre's four royal Cassiline guards surround her and defend off the rioters. Ysandre is scared but mostly angry, taking in all around her with composure.

During the chaos, Joscelin Verreuil suddenly shouts, "David de Rocaille!" and comes sliding down the banister from the balcony. As she stares, wondering what the next threat must be, Joscelin then throws one of his daggers at one her Cassiline guards, who she learns was going into the position of the "terminus". The thrown dagger forces her Cassiline guard to block it away, thereby making him loose precious moments.

The Cassiline's cover is blown and one of his fellow Cassiline guards turns on him, though still shocked and surprised. Drawing his sword, the traitor-Cassiline kills him. Her next loyal Cassiline does not have enough time to draw his sword and is killed as well. Before the traitor can move on to the third and final Cassiline guard, Joscelin Verreuil appears. They duel, one Cassiline against another, causing the whole Temple to go silent in awe. Phèdre describes the battle as mesmerizing and beautiful. Eventually, realizing that he can not win, the assassin-Cassiline kills himself on Joscelin's sword, having failed to murder Ysandre for her mother's killing of his sister, Edmeé de Rocaille.

Melisande tries to escape but Phèdre, Ti-Phillipe, and Severio Stregazza stop her. Meanwhile, Prince Benedicte de la Courcel is dying, having fought to protect Melisande and his men. Melisande is not arrested or killed, however, as the temple of Asherat has given her sanctuary. Her royal son, however, is nowhere to be found.

The Missing Prince

Not being able to find Melisande Shahrizai and Benedicte de la Courcel's son, Prince Imriel de la Courcel, she sets up a meeting with Melisande. Melisande is treated as a Queen in the Temple and meets with Ysandre as an equal.

Ysandre offers to raise Imriel as is his proper due and as her own child. Melisande refuses saying that if Ysandre took her son, she would hate her for it and become her enemy. Ysandre replies that she already hates Melisande and sees her as an enemy and, that by the love of a mother, Melisande should not allow her son to be a pawn for people worse than her in the future. Melisande refuses harshly saying, "Do not presume to teach me love!"

Melisande replies that she has never seen Ysandre as an enemy and that Ysandre should be grateful for this. Melisande states that, had she wanted Ysandre dead, she could have used David de Rocaille at any time in the past two years. She didn't because she understands, even if Ysandre does not, that it has all been a game - a game for the throne. She could not kill Ysandre unless she could win the throne after.

During this time, Melisande places a hand on the one remaining Cassiline guard, who is shaking and blushing and nervous. Joscelin Verreuil then steps in and tells her to stop, drawing his sword. Melisande tells him that, if he kills her, he will loose Phèdre's affections forever. Everyone looks to Phèdre's reaction, who yells at them all to sit down. No one does but Melisande backs off.

Phèdre then offers herself to Melisande if she will give over the boy. Melisande refuses. Phèdre then asks the Queen if she wants her advice. Ysandre accepts. Phèdre tells her that she will get nothing from Melisande. She should go home and save the realm instead. Ysandre accepts.

Still, with Ysandre and Drustan having no children yet, this missing boy is the heir to the throne.

The Voyage Home

But all is not yet solved. Phèdre tells her that Melisande Shahrizai has sent riders on fast horses to secure the City of Elua and set about rumours that Ysandre is dead. She also says that the Royal Commander, Percy de Somerville, has been blackmailed by Melisande to take the City and rule as a Prince of the Blood, on behalf of Benedicte de la Courcel, until her arrival in the city.

However, Phèdre has sent a letter from Kriti to Barquiel L'Envers via Marsilikos, using the command word of House L'Envers to close the city to all, including the Royal Commander, Percy de Somerville. Ysandre and Phèdre hope it has reached him but they can not be sure.

After organizing their affairs in La Serenissima, they ride after Melisande's couriers as fast as they can, taking with them all who can carry a blade. Phèdre begs her to allow her to go back with her to Terre d'Ange. While Ysandre is reluctant, with all that Phèdre has gone through, she allows it. Two of her servants also beg her though and she is forced to aquiese, so long as Joscelin Verreuil swears he will guard them.

On the road, Lord Amaury Trente, the captain of the Queen's Guard for the "progressus regalis", urges her to get Milazza's aid of troops, in order to be able to fight the traitor Percy de Somerville. Ysandre strenuously refuses; she will not come back to Terre d'Ange with a foreign army. She is certain that to have foreign troops with her will mean civil war and will only support the rumours of her death and that the D'Angelines trying to re-enter the city have an imposter-Queen trying to seize the throne. Trente has to agree but is not comfortable with the decision.

As Ysandre enters Terre d'Ange, she learns that Barquiel L'Envers has closed the city, having received Phèdre's letter, but that all of its surrounding area is controlled by the Royal Commander, who is also the ruler of L'Agnace. Ysandre disproves the rumours that she is dead and am imposter by throwing coins that bear her image to the crowds and soldiers on her way to the City. Ysandre, largely unarmed and unguarded, marches right through de Somerville's army who are awed that it is really her. She reclaims the throne of Terre d'Ange and charges him with treason.

After Ysandre has fully restored the realm, she throws a party with Parliament in full attendance by way of awards ceremony. There, she decorates Phèdre with a royal order, the Companionship of Elua, for acts of extraordinary gallantry. Ysandre offers along with the decoration a royal boon that can be redeemed at any time, and which cannot be refused once asked.

Kushiel's Avatar

::"Main article: Kushiel's Avatar"

earch for the Prince

The Comtesse Phèdre nó Delaunay de Montrève is contacted by the traitor, Melisande Shahrizai, to find Melisande's son Imriel de la Courcel. The Prince has been missing for nearly ten years because Melisande had hidden him (see Kushiel's Chosen). Now it appears that he has gone missing from there as well. Melisande has tried to find him through her extensive list of allies but has been unable to. Knowing Phèdre to be loyal to the throne, Melisande asks her to find him.

Melisande reveals to Phèdre that all these years the Prince has been hidden in an isolated Temple of Elua in Siovale, raised having no knowledge that he is a royal prince and believing that his parents are dead. Phèdre tells Ysandre, who agrees to her search for the missing Prince as long as Phèdre will bring him to her in the end rather than Melisande. Phèdre is also given a royal escort and funds from the royal coffers to find the Prince.

Phèdre departs on her journey, which takes her far indeed. The first stage brings her to Aragonia with Ysandre's cousin, Nicola L'Envers y Aragon. From there Phèdre goes to Menekhet and then on to Khebbel-im-Akkad. In Nineveh, Ysandre's other cousin, Valere L'Envers, rules as a Queen. From there Phèdre enters the dark kingdom of Drujan, writing a letter to Ysandre letting her know of all that has happened.

Upon Phèdre's return to Khebbel-im-Akkad, with the missing Prince Imriel, there is an assassination attempt on Imriel's life. This turns out to be by Valere L'Envers though without the Queen's approval. In Khebbel-im-Akkad, Imriel de la Courcel learns his true identity as a Prince of the blood and the son of two notorious traitors, Melisande Shahrizai and Prince Benedicte de la Courcel. This is told to him by some of the D'Angeline royal guards without any niceties. Upon learning all of this, he now hates who he is and refuses to travel back to Terre D'Ange as was planned. Phèdre nó Delaunay then talks to him and tells him a kinder version of his parents, though she can not deny what they did. This brings some solace to the Prince and he agrees that he will travel back to Terre d'Ange with the royal escort while Phèdre and her companion, Joscelin Verreuil, travel onward on their own personal quest. Imriel, however, pays a boy to pretend to be him so that he can stow away on Phèdre and Joscelin's ship headed for the city of Iskandria in Menekhet.

Ysandre's royal guard are outraged to find out that the Prince is not with them. Ysandre is equally upset. Phèdre, however, sends her a letter from Iskandria saying that she is taking the Prince along with her on her quest rather than waiting in Iskandria and missing the travel season. By the time the royal guard get this message, Phèdre, Joscelin, and Imriel are long gone. This upsets the Queen but there is nothing to be done.

Her Predicament with Phèdre nó Delaunay

Upon Phèdre's return, she presents Prince Imriel to the Queen. Phèdre tells her all that happened and the Queen replies that she has been put in quite a predicament. Phèdre is a loyal friend but she cannot be seen to be able to get away with anything she wishes. There must be some punishment for her disobeying her Queen. So, for her taking Imriel with her without royal permission and breaking their agreement, Ysandre decides her punishment is that she must stay in the City of Elua until Drustan mab Necthana returns to Terre D'Ange in the spring. Phèdre is upset about this, since she knows the Name of God and wants to help her friend Hyacinthe immediately, thus the punishment.

For A Price

Phèdre nó Delaunay, however, has her own boon to ask. Phèdre asks Ysandre for custody of Imriel, as foster parents. Ysandre refuses. But Phèdre uses her promise from over ten years ago -- an unnamed future favour that the Queen has given and must grant without question. This is the favour that she asks. The Queen agrees reluctantly and insists that Imriel and her daughters must still have a relationship and that visits by the prince will need to be frequent and by the Queen's decree. Phèdre humbly agrees.

Phèdre does have a piece of good news, however. She has made a deal with Melisande Shahrizai. Melisande promised Phèdre that if Phèdre herself would raise Imriel, Melisande will never raise a finger against Queen Ysandre's daughters and will never use any form of trickery against the D'Angeline throne.

Kushiel's Scion

::"Main article: Kushiel's Scion"

Prince Imriel and the Family

A couple years after the events of Kushiel's Scion, Ysandre learns from her people in in La Serenissima that Melisande Shahrizai has vanished from the Temple of the Asherat-of-the-Sea. Imriel, who is now 14, is summond to court instead of spending his summer at Montrève, as he has done for the past few years. Phèdre nó Delaunay and Joscelin Verreuil also attend the meeting as both his foster parents and Ysandre's trusted advisers, especially on Melisande. Queen Ysandre is convinced that Imriel has not been told or given any information from his mother as to where she is.

Also at court are some of the younger Shahrizai kin, who request to be able to spend some time at Montrève to try to heal the wounds between House Shahrizai and House Courcel as well as have a relationship with their cousin, Imriel. Ysandre grants this though not without caution. They will spend a month at Montrève next summer.

Imriel's relationship with House Courcel is varied. Ysandre treats him well and as a trusted kin member, however, her eldest daughter, Sidonie de la Courcel, is wary of him. Sidonie and Imriel have little of a relationship as Sidonie is always cold him and the feeling has become mutual. The younger daughter, Alais, is as a sister to him.

At a royal hunting party all of the family and most nobles are in attendance, including Imriel. They are hunting a wild boar when Sidonie's horse rears and charges off, carrying Sidonie away. Imriel is the fastest to chase her and when Sidonie is thrown from the horse, he dismounts to help her up. Imriel then hears rustling in the bushes and fears it is the angry boar, come to gore them. He dives on top of Sidonie to save her life, only to have the animal that leaves the bushes to turn out to be a deer. Sidonie is exceptionally shocked but breaks out in laughter at Imriel's face. Alais' beloved dog, however, is badly hurt by the boar. Imriel stitches the dog right there and ends up saving his life. He then affectionately jokes that he is "Imriel: saviour of dogs, protector from deer." This event causes a change in Sidonie as she realizes that she can trust Imriel and that he does not desire the throne over her. Ysandre thanks him for his bravery and is very grateful for his composure during the hunt.

A Marriage to Solve it All?

A few years later, Prince Talorcan, Drustan's nephew and heir apparent, comes to visit with the King who brings Princess Dorelei with them.

It becomes apparent that as much as Drustan would like to name Alais as his heir, he cannot without risking another civil war. If Alais were to wed Talorcan, she would rule at his side but their children wouldn't inherit the throne as Alba works by matrilineal succession. However, if Imriel were to wed Dorelei, their son would become Cruarch and Terre d'Ange's influence in Alba would not wane.

As such, Ysandre and Drustan make efforts to match-make and tell Imriel, who is now 18, what they would recommend. While they would never make him wed someone he dislikes, or anyone against his will, they are aware that often love can grow after a marriage when it may not have been there before the marriage. While not pressuring Imriel in any way, Ysandre does ask him to seriously consider it. He says he will.

Imriel, however, does not seem happy and very distracted. He goes through a period of turmoil upon which he decides to leave for University in Tiberium. Ysandre does not disapprove though she wishes that he would go with a royal escort and live in an appropriate style according to his status. Imriel, shirks the royal escort and, when he arrives in Tiberium, claims to be a lowly noble of Montrève and not of royal blood at all, the latter being unknown to Ysandre.

Hostage Taking in Lucca

A friend of Imriel's from university, Lucius da Lucca, is getting married and he has been invited to the ceremony. His friend is wedding the only daughter of the ruler of Lucca, a city-state in Caerdicca Unitas. When Imriel arrives, however, disaster had struck. The bride-to-be is being kidnapped. Imriel manages to rescue the bride but cuts off the assailant mercenary's hand in the process.

While all of Imriel's other university friends manage to leave Lucca on the grounds of non-combatants and foreign citizens, Imriel can not. Ysandre sends a large D'Angeline host to negotiate but the leader of the mercenaries insists that if Imriel wants to leave he must pay the same price, the loss of his hand. The D'Angeline host refuses but does not have the troops with them to challenge the mercenary. So Lucca comes under siege with Imriel trapped inside.

At the end of the siege, Imriel is alive and well and returns to Terre d'Ange. Upon his return, he agrees to wed Dorelei, to Ysandre and Drustan's delight.

Kushiel's Justice

::"Main article: Kushiel's Justice"

A Wedding of Nations

Imriel de la Courcel returns to Terre d'Ange. When he presents himself to the Queen, he tells her that he has decided to wed the Alban Princess Dorelei.

During the next winter, Imriel and Princess Alais prepare for their lives in Alba. There are many social events in which Ysandre appears, though with no major role in any. She is pleased with Imriel's decision and grateful that he would make this sacrifice to Terre d'Ange. The next summer, Prince Talorcan and Princess Dorelei accompany Drustan on his annual trip to Terre d'Ange in the spring. Dorelei is sweet and kind-hearted but Imriel is distracted with his love for another. He still agrees to wed Dorelei though. The wedding is a public affair with all persons of import in attendance. During the wedding everyone is happy except for Prince Imriel, who is brooding and moping though smiling at all the right moments and doing his duty. A couple days late, Imriel, with a large D'Angeline escort, Drustan's family, Phèdre nó Delaunay and Joscelin Verreuil depart for Alba.

Ysandre hears that Imriel has had problems in Alba. An Alban renegade named Morwen has cast a spell on Imriel, trying to control him. While Alban magic from the royal Ollamh is keeping him safe, Ysandre is worried. Imriel seems to be fine in Clunderry, however, and Dorelei has become pregnant.

Terrible News

Late that spring there is terrible news. A couple days after the Day of Misrule, Morwen appeared out of the woods right in front of Clunderry's men. Ysandre hears of the deal Morwen made to free Imriel of her control and the ensueing disception: Berlik, the Maghuin Dhonn leader who can shape-shift into a bear, has killed Dorelei and her child and has badly hurt Imriel. Imriel is in a deep depression but has been transported to Bryn Gorrydum so he can be treated by an Eisandine healer. Alais keeps him company most days but vengeance is what keeps Imriel alive; he wants Berlik's death. Drustan leads the hunt for Berlik in Alba but is unsuccessful. Hyacinthe, the Master of the Straits, however, sees a large bear swim to Azzalle, across the straits. While he could not be sure it was Berlik, Imriel is. Imriel swears he will bring back Berlik's head and bury it as Dorelei's feet.

The Split

When Imriel is finally well enough to travel to Terre d'Ange he is greeted by a country in mourning for his loss. Ysandre expresses her condolences and offers to help Imriel on his quest to find Berlik. Upon Imriel arriving at the Palace, Sidonie covers Imriel in kisses, shocking all those around. Ysandre is furious. Sidonie and Imriel have been in love for more than a year! While Drustan does not like Imriel's affair with Sidonie, he does not take a public stand against it and tries to convince Ysandre to calm down, to no avail. Mavros offers the Shahrizai hunting estates outside of the City of Elua for Imriel and the Albans to stay out of the turmoil of the City.

Sidonie comes to see him a few times. Once, a royal escort led by Lord Amaury Trente comes to take her back home. She refuses, saying she is a grown woman now over the age of majority and that she will love who she loves freely as is Elua's wont, despite her mother's disapproval.

In this turmoil, Imriel quickly gathers all the supplies and funding he needs, including from the royal coffers despite Ysandre's opinion of his affair with her daughter, and he and the Albans depart for the north and their hunt for Berlik.

During this time the books do not tell us what happens but the country becomes split in its opinion of Sidonie and Imriel's love for one another. Imriel is the son of two of the most infamous traitors of the realm and his love for Sidonie may not be genuine. Perhaps Imriel is trying to reclaim the throne for himself? While Ysandre does not believe this, she can not allow such a contentious marriage that would split the realm. Ysandre, as the scion of Elua and ruler of Terre d'Ange, also can not forbid their love if it is genuine. As such, the stalemate begins.

Vralia & Justice

Imriel is gone for a long time and Phèdre and Joscelin go in search of him upon their return from their mysterious quest. They bring back news of a new kingdom named Vralia. Maslin of Lombelon, who was sent by Sidonie to find Imriel, has also decided to stay in Vralia as a D'Angeline representative because he has fallen in love with a local woman there.

Upon his return, Imriel hurries back to Sidonie's side. Ysandre de la Courcel has calmed down considerably but cannot countenance the relationship because of Imriel's parents. In the meantime, however, Imriel must return to Alba to bury Berlik's head. Ysandre promises Imriel that there will be much to do when he returns.

Imriel, Sidonie, Phèdre, Joscelin, Alais, Drustan mab Necthana, and an Alban and D'Angeline escort return to Clunderry to bury Berlik's head at Dorelei's feet, to Drustan's thanks. On their trip back to Bryn Gorrydum, Sidonie, in front of everyone, takes Imriel into her tent.

Kushiel's Mercy

::"Main article: Kushiel's Mercy"

The Stalemate

On their return to the City of Elua, Imriel and Sidonie are greeted by a large group of people including some with black armbands, signifying death. They all hold out their fists, thumbs pointed downward. They are the victims of Melisande and Benedicte's machinations who disapprove of Imriel and Sidonie's relationship.

Upon reaching the palace, Imriel thinks that the Queen has seemed to have cooled off since he had last seen her. He has time to bathe and talk to his cousin, Mavros, before being summoned for a private audience with Ysandre. The audience is in her private chambers but viewed by the Secretary of the Presence. The Queen thanks him for avenging Dorelei's death, then promptly dismisses him, telling him they'll talk about the "other matter" at another time. She also tells him that a Priest of Elua would be by to see him soon. In the meantime, as a way of delaying her decision, she decides to ignore Imriel and Sidonie's love like it does not exist.

Within a few days, the Priest of Elua, after talking to both Sidonie and Imriel, tells Ysandre that he and the other religious leaders of the City of Elua deem their love to be genuine. The time has arrived for Ysandre to deliver her decision. Before a packed Hall of Audience, Ysandre asks both Sidonie and Imriel if it is still their wish to be united and acknowledged in the eyes of the realm and the throne. Upon their consent, she declares that she will not forbid their relationship because the priests declare their love to be genuine and she must abide by Elua's precept. But, their relationship is causing much turmoil in the kingdom, which is on the verge of civil unrest. Ysandre says if Sidonie declares Imriel her consort she will not acknowledge it and thereby give it no legal binding. However, if Sidonie marries Imriel, Ysandre will disinherit her and her title to the throne will go to Alais. The only way around this vow, unofficially understood, is for Imriel to find and bring his mother, Melisande, to justice.

Soon after, Imriel tells Sidonie about the Unseen Guild as he thinks they can help him to find Melisande but not without danger. Sidonie decides to go and find her mother to tell her about the Unseen Guild. We do not know what was discussed but, upon her return, Sidonie tells Imriel that Ysandre had already known of the Unseen Guild from Phèdre a year earlier.

In the months that follow, everyone settles into a routine; there are Parliamentary decisions to made, parties to attend, plans to be made. The Longest Night approaches and Imriel and Sidonie attend it together as Night and Day. The Palace Ball goes smoothly except for a minor lord from one of the estates of Imriel's holdings. The lord, who is more than a little drunk, begins to insult Sidonie publicly. It becomes clear that the lord has been put up to this by Barquiel L'Envers and both are promptly thrown out by Ysandre herself.

Finally, with the arrival of winter, the time had come for Imriel to put his plan into motion and he writes to the Unseen Guild member, Diokles Agallon.

In the meantime, the skirmishes between Aragonia and Carthage become more intense and diplomatic relations are broken off. Terre d'Ange is clearly aligned with Aragonia but Ysandre wishes to avoid war as best she can. She is also trying to broker a peace deal with Euskerria, which wants to ceceed from Aragonia. Ysandre agrees to give Euskerria the regions of Siovale that they inhabit if Aragonia will give its territory reciprocally. Aragonia, however, maintains that Euskerria is part of Aragonia and will not budge.

Upon the arrival of spring, people begin to wonder at Imriel's lack of action. As well, a group of Carthaginian ships have arrived at Marsilikos and would like to bring their compliments to Ysandre and Terre d'Ange. Ysandre is of course wary, given the situation with Aragonia, and is about to call an Assembly to decide the issue when Imriel's response from the Unseen Guild arrives. To all outward appearances, the letter seems to be a love note from a besotted peer. Upon further inspection, however, the note contains a hidden message that says that Diokles does not have the answers Imriel wants but someone in the Carthaginian entourage does. All Imriel had to do is push for their delegation to enter the City of Elua and the answer will present itself to him.

The 'Marvel' of Carthage

The Carthaginian delegation has been awaiting approval for entry into the City of Elua for a weeks now, with no decision having been made yet. The new general of Carthage, Astegal of Sarcal, wishes to make alliances and become better friends with his neighbors and he claims he is enamored with Terre d'Ange.

Upon this news from the Unseen Guild, Imriel and Sidonie go to speak to Ysandre about it. Ysandre does not seem too upset about the proposal but is curious and cautious. Soon after, as planned, Ysandre convenes a session of Parliament with the intent to decide on whether or not to allow the Carthaginian delegation into the City. After hearing the long list of tribute General Astegal has to give them, Parliament, almost unanimously, votes to allow them entry.

About two weeks later, six Carthaginian ships sail into the City's docks. As the tribute is being unloaded, Astegal of Sarcal comes to speak to Ysandre, Drustan, Sidonie and Imriel. He says many flattering things and actually seems genuinely interested in the City of Elua. He also brings news from his horologists that a great occurrence in the skies will happen soon. He has even brought his horologists with him to show the entire city a "marvel" which can only be seen when the moon falls under the world's shadow and the planets are aligned just so. That night, the Queen throws a fête in honor of the Carthaginians. At this fete, Gillimas Hiram, approaches Imriel bearing an offering from the Council of Thirty as an apology for Imriel being abducted by Carthaginians. Imriel notices the gift contains the symbol of the Unseen Guild, the inverted lamp. Gillimas also says that, should it catch his fancy, Imriel should make a journey to the isle of Cythera, where the wood to make the gift had come from. It was thus clearly hinted by Gillimas that he is also a Guild member. However, no more than this is exchanged and Imriel unfortunately loses track of him before the end of the party.

The next day the horologists spectacle is to take place so Imriel's 'trip' to Cythera will need to wait a few more days. Imriel keeps having a sense of impending trouble about the horologists' "marvel" but without any real reason. He goes to look at the progress of the set up; large mirrors are being carefully placed all around the walls of the city, being headed by Astegal's half-brother, the scholar and mage, Bodeshmun. While the city will be well protected, Imriel's gut feeling still says that something is very wrong. He and Sidonie go to Ysandre but, since there is no good reason to call it off and no proof of something wrong, they all agree that spectacle will have to go ahead. Ysandre says she too does not like the idea of this show but that the entire city guard will be there to keep everyone safe; the city is well guarded and the preparations have been closely watched including by D'Angeline horologists, who have no idea what this "marvel" behind the lunar eclipse could be.

On the evening of the spectacle, everyone in the City is gathered around Elua's Oak in the central square to watch the show. Just before it begins, Sunjata, a member of the Unseen Guild whom Imriel has already met, appears and asks Imriel for a private word with him. Though reluctant, Imriel is sure that it must be related to the Unseen Guild and his mother and thereby is very important. The show is nearly beginning and everyone is looking into the sky and mirrors. Alone and off to the side under the large oak, Sunjata leans in and tells Imriel somewhat before stabbing him with a long needle. Imriel falls to the ground in agony, with no one noticing, as the "marvel" begins. Sunjata tells Imriel that he is sorry and that it is hard serving two masters. He tells him that the fever will break in a month, that he is lucky his mother loves him, and that if he wished to undo what has been done, he must go to Cythera and speak to Ptolemy Solon. Sunjata then steals his ring - the simple gold ring with a knot in it of which Sidonie has the matching one and is a token of their love - and leaves. Writhing on the ground, confused and alone, looking at all the city staring at the sky, Imriel sees a green flash then passes out.

Imriel is absolutely crazy for a month and is cared for by Phèdre and Joscelin. During this time, Ysandre has aligned with Carthage and Sidonie has left with Astegal to marry him. All in the City of Elua are sure that Carthage has always been their ally and has forgotten of Imriel and Sidonie's relationship entirely. When Imriel returns to his sanity, he tries to tell Phèdre and Joscelin that they are wrong but instead they wonder if Imriel is still mad. Later, he overhears a conversation between a guard and a chambermaid that Barquiel L'Envers and Ysandre had been in a shouting match, with L'Envers telling her she is mad to align with Carthage. And then it occurs to him: everyone in the city seems to be under the same madness as Phèdre and Joscelin, but L'Envers had not been in the city that night. He thinks that this must only be affecting those who saw the "marvel", of which no one can seem to explain what they saw and what it was other than that it was amazing. He sees a thread of hope and demands to speak to L'Envers. After a bit of a scuffle, Barquiel agrees to see Imriel, realizing that they both are not under the madness that has gripped the City of Elua.

Imriel tells him everything - including the bits about the Unseen Guild and Cythera. Barquiel tells Imriel that Ysandre was considering sending the D'Angeline army to the Aragonian border in support of Carthage's new war on Aragonia! Barquiel L'Envers and Imriel quickly realize, grudgingly, that they must trust each other despite their long history of anamosity, for the good of Terre d'Ange. Imriel asks Barquiel to help get him out of the city and to Cythera. Barquiel is reluctant at first but Imriel says that he still has to try. He also tells Barquiel that, one way of diverting at least some of the madness, would be to send to Alba for Alais and try to talk some sense into Ysandre and Drustan. She would be the only one capable of sitting the throne, Imriel reasoned, and Barquiel grudgingly agrees that it might actually be plausible. Barquiel agrees to assist Imriel but also swears a vow to him: if he proves false or fails, Barquiel will make it his life's work to hunt Imriel down and kill him. Imriel agrees, and the plans are set. Imriel manages to escape the City and leave for Cythera.

Civil War

During this time the books do not tell us what happens back in Terre d'Ange. When Imriel returns with Sidonie, to Marsilikos, they are stopped by a ship from Admiral Rousse's navy, but who is loyal to Alais. They explain what has happened and the details of the spell. Apparently, the more one tries to talk sense into the people affected, the more belligerent they become and Terre d'Ange is now on the very brink of civil war. They are secreted to Turnone, where Alais, Barquiel L'Envers, and a shadow Parliament are ruling everything outside of the City of Elua. They learn that Ysandre, seeing plots and deceit everywhere, has decided to declare war on Alais and Barquiel and vowed that, after one month to think about it, she will begin to sack one town every day until they kneel before her and surrender. Horrified, Sidonie hatches a quick plan.

Sidonie takes Imriel and Kratos, Imriel's loyal man from Carthage, to the City with her posing as a grieving widow with Kratos as her husband's most loyal bodyguard sworn to protect her and Imriel as her still-mad cousin who seems besotted with her but eases her soul. While Imriel has used an Alban technique of bindings to keep Sidonie immune from the spell causing the madness in the city, it is clear that these will fade with time and they do not know for how long Sidonie will remain immune.

Reaching the City, they are admitted and Ysandre and Drustan await them. They listen gravely to her story and then dismiss Imriel to Phèdre and Joscelin, with Kratos staying to guard and comfort Sidonie. It is clear that those in the City have been deeply affected by the spell. Violence is far more common-place, as are severe punishments. Phèdre now treats her servants as non-equals, Joscelin has sworn that if Ysandre seems to be loosing that he will perform the "terminus" for her, and Mavros has blood-lust and has joined the military. Truly, the spell has evil at the heart of it.

Sidonie, at the funeral for Astegal, proposes to the whole City that they scour the City for a green gemstone that Bodeshmun gave Terre d'Ange to protect it's borders. In reality, the gem is the key-stone to the spell and must be opened with the word on Bodeshmun's talisman, which Imriel has, in order to reverse the spell. After five days of nothing, tempers begin to flare. At dinner one night, with nearly all of House Courcel gathered, Imriel offers a suggestion to Ysandre and Drustan. They over-react and throw him out, forbidding him to call on Sidonie and thus ending their contact for the time being. The next day, Ysandre declares an official end to the search for the gem.

Several days later, staying with Phèdre and Joscelin, Imriel awakes to a summons to the palace. There is a delegation from Alais. At the hearing, Imriel sees that Sidonie has removed her bindings but still seems to trust and rely on Kratos. Ysandre, after hearing that Alais is not going to surrender, throws Alais' delegation into the dungeons. The next day, Ysandre and Drustan declare war on their 'traitorous daughter'. At the declaration at the palace, which is a public affair, Imriel, filled with divine presence, walks up to the front of the Hall of Audience, giving an empathetic speech, "Your majesties, you must no do this thing. The gods themselves forbid it." Joscelin, protecing the Queen, however, comes from behind and knocks him unconscious. Ysandre and the D'Angeline nobility with her go to Elua's Square for the public declaration of war.

Just after the announcement, Kratos and Imriel reach the Square and, in front of everyone, Imriel scales the tree, searching for the gem. Just as he is about to give up hope, he finds it in a mud-covered hollow and removes it, attempting to break the spell by saying the word of power. He tries and tries several times, but nothing happens. Meanwhile, the guards have been alerting and Kratos is trying to guard Imriel. In desperation, Imriel takes Sidonie hostage. He speaks to her of his love for her, tells her to look into her heart for the truth, to forget her memories, feel her love for Imriel. He gives her the stone and tells her to read the word of Bodeshmun's talisman. After a pause, with a whisper she reads it. Imriel throws the stone away and it suddenly explodes, showering many people with shards of emerald. Imriel protects Sidonie, shielding her with his body, but receives many shards of emerald in his back. The demon at the heart of the spell who was trapped in the gem, bursts from the stone and shoots through the city towards its home, now free to return to.

Healing

In the aftermath of the spell's release, confused and horrified at their behaviour while under the spell, everyone looks to Sidonie and Imriel for answers. Ysandre, ashamed and horrified with herself, tries to abdicate the throne and give it to Sidonie but Sidonie refuses, saying Ysandre had fallen under the spell's influence the same as everyone else and that there is no fault in it. Sidonie does, however, agree to serve as regent for the duration of one month while Terre d'Ange is brought back to order. During this time as regent, things return to a semblance of normalcy. Imriel, as Sidonie's consort, is treated as co-regent and his word is seen as interchangeable with Sidonie's. The shadow of doubt about "Melisande Shahrizai's son" is completely gone; the people of Terre d'Ange trust and respect Imriel as a saviour.

A delegation is sent to bring back Alais and Barquiel, and reunite the realm and House Courcel. A week later, they arrive, with Hyacinthe in tow. At a ceremony in Elua's Square, Ysandre presents the Medal of Valor to both Alais and Barquiel for holding the country together in its time of need.

Months pass and things in Terre d'Ange are righted. Ysandre resumes the throne from Sidonie and agrees to end Alais' engagement to Talorcan so she can become an ollahm. Imriel and Sidonie's betrothal is announced throughout the realm to a happy reception. The wedding date is set for one year later, the next summer, so as to give the land some time to heal and also to allow the occasion to be as joyous as possible. Word comes from Aragonia that the Carthaginians had surrendered. A year later, Imriel and Sidonie are married.


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