They are led by the young guard Byran, Draake’s childhood friend turned Flamekeep soldier, to the chamber of the Bishop Adakul. Draake watches the boys face pinch with anxiety once they are just outside the door. It looks as if he does not want to enter either. Despite this, he pushes open the hinged wooden door and beckons to Draake to enter. Inside, the red-robed bishop sits behind a desk looking with studied intensity at a scroll there. His hair is perfectly groomed, the cut of his robes immaculate, and his face shows him totally engrossed in his reading- but the pose comes across as just that- a pose. A scene contrived for the benefit of the supplicants entering his demesne. In a small hardwood chair next to the desk sits Lord Chorister. Where the bishop appears occupied and important, the portly man is practically wringing his arthritic hands together. His expression is a fairly even mix of apprehension and relief as he sees Draake enter, giving him an excuse to leave his chair and hurry towards her as quickly as his tortured joints allow.
From a distance, it looks as if he still has stray sand-colored whisps marking his beard, but once close enough to touch, the illusion is revealed as almost translucent white hairs sprinkled in with the grey. He nods to both Cenn and Byran in dismissal and his voice carries a hint of exasperation as he ushers Draake into the room, “My Lord the midwife has arrived.”
Byran backs out, but though he is quite obviously not invited, Cenn doesn't bother to comply with the friar's dismissal. Instead, he keeps himself at Draake's elbow, not touching her or speaking for her, but not allowing her out of arm's reach.
A look of apology crosses her face as she speaks to the Fryer, she is simply not accustomed to being brave, yet, “My Lord, this man is not a soldier of the Flame. He is my husband, and you have disturbed me on my wedding day.”
The bishop's mouth drops in a visibile show of shock, but he recovers quickly and speaks without standing, his voice smooth and flowing as heavy cream, "Congratulations are in order, I'm sure... and from the looks of him, a paladin as well. We welcome new devotees to the Flame."
Lord Chorister’s eyes look as if they might fly out of their sockets when they scan the large, good-looking man at Draake's side. “I didn’t know you were … you always seemed so ho-..” he stops himself, but the word, ‘homely’ hangs about the air between them. He visibly changes his mind as to what he is saying, and swallows hard. “err..... Who performed the ceremony?”
“Brother Augustus,” Draake answers without hesitation. “This is why I didn't come when you asked me.”
The fat friar leans in close to Draake, speaking low but intent. The words, however, carry loud enough for Cenn to hear them. “You know I had always hoped that you would learn someday to accept Sir Temryn as a husband.. An established man... and pious... Alas.. it appears my hopes were misplaced.”
Cenn sees no need to correct the bishop's erroneous assumption that he would be pledged to the flame. Instead, he crosses his arms across his chest, visibly flexing the thick wad of muscles in his biceps as he fixes the friar with an unfriendly look. There is a wealth of scorn in his voice as he says, “That jackass of a mon doesnae deserve the dust from her boots.”
Draake stares at the fryer, not knowing how to respond. Can he truly be so blind as all that? She had found Temryn self-serving and cruel, willing to immediately eradicate anything HE claimed as evil, which of course meant anything not of the Flame that he objected to. Rather than get into a fruitless discussion on that subject, though, her voice is a bit on the tart side when she asks, “My Lord, what is this all about? My mother is very upset that your guards came into our home and tore her kitchen apart.”
He straightens his simple brown robe and looks pointedly at Draake, “Well, that is the thing isn’t it…”
The bishop interrupts by making a sound to draw everyone's attention back to him, indicating to Lord Chorister with a gesture that he'll take over the conversation from here.
“It saddens me to even think it, Mistress Draake...” He says with a dramatic sigh, an exaggeratedly mournful look in his eyes, “Word has come that you may have come dangerously close to a moral precipice... If not leaping outright into the chasm of heresy!”
The fryer indicates a chair centered in front of the desk, “Ye had better sit down, child.”
Draake moves forward, feeling as if she is being forced to walk the plank of a very ominous pirate ship. She does not wish to lie, nor does she desire that her husband learn such an ugly truth about her in this way. For a moment she considers asking him to wait outside, but immediately regrets it. The simple truth is, she needs him. She can FEEL his presence like a source of heat behind her, without the need to turn and see that he is there. This comforts her.
“How may I be of service, my Lord Bishop.”
The bishop's mobile features show what seems to be genuine regret as he pushes his fingertips together, making a steeple with his hands. “My dear midwife... We simply cannot allow representatives of the Flame to flaunt the rules. Need I remind you, you have had it explained to you that your actions would be required to... adhere to the principles of service. No woman under your care was to receive drugs that would alter their consciousness.... and yet... it has come to my attention that you've been growing and harvesting these harmful substances all along! Willfulness, I say!”
Like a mouse in an open field while the falcon circles, Draake feels as if she has nowhere to hide from this man. Now she must either confess to heretical sins, or lie... in front of the man that she loves. A stabbing pain rushes through her chest along with a cold trickle across her skin, and Draake has to concentrate very hard to keep her features placid when Adakul's face hardens and he taps his chin with the points of his index fingers. “You've been a very naughty young lady.... “
Cenn cuts the man off, not caring how rude this is as he knows the bishop's type: This man has his own agenda to serve, and Draake has some role to play in it. He's setting her up with this farce of an interview, plain and simple. Cenn would be a total fool if that wasn't cause for concern. "What would ye know about harmful substances? Are ye daft, man?"
Draake flinches inwardly at Cenn’s words. She does not want her transgressions brought to light.. not here….not like this. His hand rests on her shoulder and he continues before the bishop can lift his jaw from being spoken to in such a bold manner.
“The only harvestin' that's been done since 3 days gone was done by my own hand. Aye, some of the herbs were medicinal in nature, but none that served as harmful or caustic 'drugs' And what should it matter tae ye what plants I pick?” The tone of voice is combative to match his stance as Cenn challenges the bishop's claims.
She grips the seat under her until her knuckles ache and thinks to herself, “What in all the hells is he doing?”
The bishop is nonplussed by Cenn's defiance, but his assertion recovers quickly, and he glares at Kain. “You expect me to believe that YOU have a use for plants used exclusivley to purge a woman's womb of a living child?” he scoffs.
“My Lord,” Draake stands before her seat to address him, “My trainer, Mistress Dorris, would have done no differently… and if you had forbade her to use herbals on her patients, she would have resigned the Flame… as I think I should do now.” Her hands tremble and she places them behind her back so only Cenn can see the attack of nerves, then continues to speak, “I have done nothing wrong, I have broken no laws laid down by the Coin Lords, or the Twelve-”
Lord Chorister cuts in, “Your laws are laid out by God, Mistress! You may consider the Bishop to be the Voice of the Flame in Stormreach!” While he scolds her a thick fingers waggles in her direction.((more to come...))
He has a good idea that the bishop knows exactly what plants were in those sacks, and Kain has no intention of giving him any more useful knowledge to use as ammunition. The bishop tugs a bell-pull that summons Byran from out in the hallway. His is a triumphant stare as he speaks to the nervous young man, “Tell me, my son, what you found in the sacks found secreted in Mistress Draake's domicile?
In response to him, Draake falls silent, and sets her jaw. Now they'll spread her dirty laundry about for all to see. She prays silently for the wisdom to do the right thing and the strength to carry it out- the Flame is all she has ever known, to leave it would make her feel alone. She cringes at the question and then listens for Byran’s response.
The boy shifts, his body still a bit too small for his uniform. “I.. um… we found only kitchen spices my Lord. Nothing of note.” When he speaks, Byron looks especially uncomfortable, as if just being in the same room with the Bishop is enough to put the fear of the Flame into him.
The bishop's eyes snap irritation at the boy, promising retribution even as his bluff voice soothes, “Come now, my son. I know you are friends with this woman... but I forgive you your evasion.. Tell me what the contents looked like. You were instructed quite clearly that any plant or plant-like substance was to be confiscated... yet I see no contraband...”
Byran shifts uncomfortably again, “Well y'see, sir.. the mistress of the house…” He stops,
not wanting to confess that a pair of halflings had wrested the bags away from his men. “I think they looked mostly like green plants sir… fuzzy… shaped like…” he makes an elongated-shaped leaf outline with his fingers, “smelled.. fresh.”
‘Like mint,’ fills in a sarcastic little voice in Draake's head.
Almost as if there is a mental link, she hears Kain speak her thoughts, “Like mint.”
“Yeah.. it was a bit like mint now that I think about it…” the boy adds in. He looks a bit more relieved at the Bishop and says, “We found a large bag of mint my Lord Bishop.”
The bishop's hands seperate as he pushes his palms flat onto the desk before him, leaning forward as if the answers Byran has given disappoint, and that the boy had better give exactly what he wants to hear from this point on. “Is that all that was in the bag?” From his intent posture and the glitter of something unpleasant at the backs of his eyes, it's a fair bet that he already knows the answer.
“No my lord… only the mint and... well... some other weed… in the shape of a star....” Byran's voice trails off to nothing.
Draake flinches at this- if any of the guards touched the twisted devils they might very well be laid up sick with cramps at this very moment! Yet another sin to lay at her door, the inflicting of suffering upon servants of the flame through carelessness.
The bishop's gloating smile barely has time to form before Cenn speaks again, “Those herbs ye've named are used for the treatment of stomach ailments. I know an alchemist that uses mint as a flavoring and an agent tae soothe minor upset. The twisted devils are vital in managing irregularity of the bowels.”
Adakul's self-satisfied smirk turns to a glaring fit of pique as Cenn interrupts his carefully scripted scene, while Lord Chorister shakes his head and covers his eye with his palm. “My child, I thought I had raised you to be a proper servant to the Flame! Piety, service, and obedience! If I had the presence of mind, I’d beat you with my own stick to within an inch of your life. You should be begging the Eternal Flame for mercy!” His voice steadily raises as he speaks, and he seems ready to match action to words as he comes far too close to Draake for comfort, invading her personal space until she cringes back a bit. For a moment she considers falling back on her first-known spell of hiding to camoflage herself from view.. There is no disappearing from this mess, however.
“Lord Chorister, please…” Draake tries to make her voice as calm as she can, and feels a small spurt of pride that it doesn't waver at all, “I remain a servant to the Flame…but if we cannot agree on this point, I will resign immediately.” Despite the ultimatum, her face softens as she looks at the Bishop, "Does God not love all of his children equally? Even the ones who are not servants to the Flame but could be... someday? Even the ones.. " She takes a deep breath and watches him closely, "from Three Barrel Cove?"
For the majority of her life, Draake has been held to the standards of strict obedience of church ordinance. The past few months as a midwife have opened her eyes a great deal. There is not always GOOD or EVIL… the two cross paths so very often that it makes it very difficult to tell one aspect from the other. If it is so wrong to use the medicines, why had Dorris taught her how, when, and where to apply them? From the set of his face, the Bishop does not see things this way, not at all.
The portly friar speaks up, his face red and puffy and visibly upset. “Who are you to challenge the will of the church, child? I have spoken with you on the subject of Three Barrel, and I had THOUGHT you understood WHY you cannot go there. If the place were not so far out of our reach…” He stops speaking for fear of uttering blasphemy.
The bishop avidly watches the byplay between midwife and friar, and his eyes glitter with self-satisfaction as he waves away Chorister's bluster. "Regardless, whether the herbs were medicinal in nature for...” He makes an ahem noise as he clears his throat and flicks fingers in Cenn's direction, “Him... or whether the midwife used them in defiance of Our order is no matter as I've dispatched Temryn to see to the matter of their source. HE at least is a pious servant of the flame that does not question the word of God."
Draake drops to one knee to show her earnestness, “My Lord, I am as pious a servant as anyone standing in this room.” She takes a deep breath, drawing courage from some unknown place inside of herself, “But I will assist any woman in need of my help…Even if she does not serve the Flame. I will use herbal medicines as I see fit that are not outlawed by city ordinances… and I will try and keep families together whenever possible.” She shocks herself at her own words, and continues, think of what had Cenn told her... Keep the enemy off guard and push any advantage…. “It may be best that I leave the church my Lord, as it appears our views of piety seem to vary so greatly from one another.” She holds her breath and watches his face.
The bishop's smile is as sweet as honey to the tongue, “Oh, but darling girl.... you WILL be expelled from the church.... and retribution will be forthcoming. We do not suffer heretics.” The elegant hands flick in Draake's direction and two more guards step into the room, flanking the young man that had tried to smoothe things over for Draake.
“Put her in the stocks.” He sounds bored, unconcerned, and in fact is no longer even looking at them. He seems to have forgotten that Cenn is even there.. until a very large hand suddenly snatches him halfway across his desk. The new guards have swords halfway free of their sheathes, but they are too slow to effect any change when Kain's fingers circle the bishop's neck. His voice is conversational, pleasant even, “I tell ye truly, should ye attempt tae incarcerate ma wife due tae some asinine orders that dinna align with the law, I'll see ye chokin up yer own kidney afore the first guard lays a hand upon her."
Draake gasps as she hears the word, 'stocks' and becomes very cognizant of the danger growing in the situation. Seeing her husband manhandle the Bishop gives her an oddly satisfied swell in her chest, but she is well aware of how quickly this could go very badly wrong. She swallows a hard knot in her throat, and squeaks, restarting her voice after clearing the knot again, "On what grounds am I being arrested?" Her eyes shift and she scrambles to her feet when the guards make a threatening move toward her. She is deeply conflicted- her ingrained obedience to the law is strong, and she WANTS to comply with authority... So she says, "Cenn.... please stop...." She is standing very still with her hands folded in front of her. He is the last person she would want to see arrested because of her, and attacking a Bishop is not the best way to accomplishing diplomatic relations.(more to come... )
“I've no' attacked the man yet, Lady. We're simply... conversin'... “ His pleasant brogue is thicker than usual as his fingers tighten for a moment, and a part of him enjoys how the pompous fellow's face turns red, but then he relaxes his fingers to let the bishop go. Even though his voice is affable his glare when he catches the other man's eye speaks volumes of antipathy. There is an audible threat in his voice, and a dangerous tension in his body as he speaks. “Aren't we, Bishop?”
The bishop coughs a little and rubs his throat. Though it's obvious he relishes his power, he would be a fool to forget his own mortality, so he waves the guards to stand down, “Maybe some kind of... accomodation can be reached.” Though he is a coward and a bully, the bishop is also a savvy politician, else he would not have risen so high in the hierarchy of the Church, and like any politician this one has plans within plans within plans. After all, one does not make bishop solely based upon one's piety....
“I actually have a use for a woman of... hmm... shall we say... flexible morals?” he says.
Draake crosses her arms in front of her before realizing how defensive such body language appears and dropping her hands back to her sides. It irritates her that he's calling her reputation into question as it's one thing that's never been tarnished. She swallows back an acidic retort, though she is uncertain weather or not she really would be so bold as to tell the Bishop to go to hell, like she wants. After a long, uncomfortable silence, she modifies what she wants to say to a simple query, "What is it?"
His smile is still that false sweetness, with a nasty glint at the backs of his eyes, “You speak passionately of the... “ His nose wrinkles, “Brothel... Now I am a godly man, but even I can understand how pious men may need to... assuage certain physical needs... shall we say... but this chaotic, sinful environment in the midst of a pirate community is certain to provide too much temptation... a sure path to corruption. If those women can show that they are willing to convert.. and serve the flame. they can stop spreading their legs for coin and begin showing worth in service to some of our more... worthy acolytes.”
It take concious effort for Draake to keep her jaw from falling to the floor as he speaks. Oh, she knows perfectly well what he means by “service to worthy acolytes”; it's his way of enslaving the women under the guise of saving their souls, and rewarding people like Temryn. Nevermind that the women he speaks of like cattle are people, with feelings and lives of their own, or that Temryn is a bastard most certainly. She remembers fighting with Temryn, the man who wanted to burn the brothel to the ground as it stood, full of customers and women alike. Now this man expects her to win them over for him, and hand their souls over as a trade to absolve her own sins? If she agrees, it will be an affirmation that she is every bit as sinful as the whores that make their livings on their backs. Her face is strained but resolute as she refuses in a firm voice, "I can't.. no, I won't do that.... My Lord.... Whatever you may say, what I have been... what I AM is a loyal servant to the Flame. I may not be the most pious woman but neither am I heretical. I will remain faithful to the Eternal Flame, and I will not allow you to force me into trading the sins of others for what you see as my own." Her position stated, she stands straight, ready now to face whatever consequences may come.
"I should have known you wouldn't acquiese to such a simple request. You've refused to follow direction too many times for me to reasonably expect any common sense now.." His chair scoots back, conveniently placing the full length of his desk and a little extra space between himself and Cenn.
"Take her away." He is confident in the abilities of his two guards, nevermind the failure Byran, in handling one woman and an unarmored man. His confidence remains unchallenged as Draake gives a tiny shake of her head at Cenn, begging him with her eyes and a silent “no” to restrain himself. Her wishes in the matter are the only thing capable of preventing the situation from degenerating to violence as the guards approach. They show surprising respect as they allow her to walk unhindered, without manhandling her or even touching her in any way. She repays that respect by not showing a struggle. Had she been able to see her own face, she would have been surprised at the serene expression reflected there. Inside, though, she feels as if she's swallowed a mouthful of chrystalline slivers, jagged and sharp in her throat and belly as she worries over what Cenn must think of her now.
He follows directly behind Draake's escort, stopping at the door with his fists clenching and releasing in an effort to keep from stomping on her independence by acting like a brute. He wants so badly to break bones and scatter bodies but he knows good and well that the best way to turn her new-found confidence to dust is to trample on it in such a way. His voice is harsh and low as he makes a promise, “Ye'll no' spend a single night apart from me, woman. Ye're my wife, and that is what ye need tae remember.”
The words ring in her ears like a glad cascade of church bells, and she turns her head back to him, letting the placid mask fall away from her face. The edges of her mouth are pinched with worry as she tries to smile at him, only to catch the sour glare the Bishop sends her way from the corner of her eye. Her smile smoothes back into a blank look and she follows without protest as the guards lead her away.
The fat friar is stiff with indignation, stunned at the Bishop's words. Surely a man of God would never advocate such a reprehensible course? It must have been some kind of test of Draake, for no faithful leader in the church would condone such a thing... mustn't it? Lord Chorister gives an absent wave to Cenn and says, “You are dismissed sir knight. May the Flame light your way.” Then he shuffles over to the Bishop with concern etching his face.
"My Lord, are you certain this is necessary? Perhaps a sanction, or a fine... strict attentive counsel for the girl.... " He trails off when the Bishop waves a hand at him to desist, still trying to convince himself that the suggestion to use whores as rewards within the church was nothing more than an attempt to test the girl's piety.. Despite his best efforts his forehead breaks out in greasy trickles of sweat and a kernel of doubt in the Bishop's faith is planted...
It is a simple room with a cot, a chair, and a chamber pot in the corner. Draake had not anticipated being arrested- but then, she had not anticipated being married twice to the same man, for that matter. The stray thought almost succeeds in making her laugh until she remembers the last look she had of his face: he had been livid as she was led away. Does this mean he is angry at the clergy... or her? He had only really shown her disfavor once, and that because she had struck him to the heart by calling his love a sin. After wringing her hands and running circles in her own mind, Draake finally decides that it must be them… because Cenn loves her. Didn't he promise her that she would not spend a night apart from him?
Incarceration is not so much a torment in and of itself, but the idleness begins to get to her. She folds her hands in her lap and goes over all that has transpired again. Had she not used the Twisted Devils on Felicia, the woman would have died. A dead fetus that cannot be born by natural means is a sure death sentence for the unfortunate mother if left alone. That would have meant one less believer in this world, and the Flame does not condone raising the dead. The servant is joined with the Flame in the afterlife, so the resurrection of her body would be thought to weaken the Eternal Flame, and would be a powerful blasphemy upon the soul. Better to save the woman here, that she might continue to serve in this world until her time has truly run out and she can rest in peace well-deserved for an honest life, forever joined with the divine.
For a moment, she worries that her husband might have consented to help her convince the ladies in Three Barrel to comply with the Bishop's demands. This thought makes her shiver with apprehension. What had the Bishop said… 'begin showing worth in service to some of the more... needful acolytes…. Like Temryn'. The very idea leaves a sour taste at the back of her mouth. Men like Temryn demonstrate their “loyal service” by hurting the innocent and claiming it needful to purify them… needful indeed! In Draake's mind that makes him a bully, and nothing more.((more to come))
Moving a strand of sandy hair behind her ear, Draake stares hard at the wooden floor. The Bishop had said he dispatched Temryn…. She closes her eyes to try and remember his exact words, then they fly open and widen with fear. Temryn has been sent to find the valley where she grows and harvests the forbidden plants! If the man is, in fact, following her trail, he might just discover far more than medicinal herbs. Another shock of fear races through Draake as she remembers the half-drow baby delivered and placed with Felicia. What of Rebecca and Daniel and their son Nigel, the child she had defied orders to remove him in order to keep him with his birth parents? Surely Cenn will see to their safety? A new thought occurs, and Draake cringes as she thinks of her mother's reaction to the news that her daughter is being held in the church's stockade. “Lessah!” She speaks her mother's name aloud under her breath. There's no way that the feisty little woman will stand for this. Draake's lips move again, but silently in a prayer to the Silver Flame for redemption and guidance through this whole ugly mess.
Cenn, meantime, is far from idle. He starts by hiring a horse and catching up to the man Temryn, tending to him with decisive finality. Completing his self-appointed task he returns as quickly as possible to begin gathering people.... Silver Flame acolytes, representatives and knights whose dedication and worth are above reproach- and who have frequently availed themselves of his services since his arrival in Stormreach. By the time he has spoken to each of them and gained their assurances that they will stand for his cause, it is close to daybreak. He's done as much as he can, and judges it to be enough to secure her freedom once the church offices open for the day. He makes his way to the stockades, and approaches her cell.
Draake is jolted out of her thoughts and bolts upright on her cot when she hears a familiar, beloved voice outside her door, “Ye'll be after openin tha' door, now.”
A young voice comes, no surprise that it's Byran. It would seem he's being punished for his earlier attempts to lessen her fate with the Bishop by being assigned to stand night watch at her door. He sounds genuinely regretful, but firm... even when his voice cracks again, “I'm sorry, sir. I can't let her out. It would mean my expulsion from the church, I'm certain... I'm in enough trouble as it is...”
Cenn's response is gentle, but a tad impatient, “I dinnae say fer ye tae let her out. Ye'll be letting a man in tae spend what remains of the night with his wife. Where in the rules does it say that ye cannae let a body enter?”
Byran replies after a thoughtful silence, “Well sir, I don't think there are any... uh.. Ok.” The sound of the lock giving precedes the door swinging open and Cenn's bulk filling the doorway. His face is worn and tired and he spreads his hands as he speaks, “If ye willnae have me with ye, darlin... I just dinnae know where I'll go.”
Draake feels a subtle shockwave pass through her heart... he had promised. How could she have doubted? Her lip quivers slightly and her hands shake. For a moment she stands there looking at him in disbelief, then she casts her doubts to the side and rushes to him. The impact of her body against his is solid, and she finds herself thankful once more that he is such a hulk of a man. Finally able to lean on someone else after hours of enforced solitude, her shoulders shake as she clings to him, silent sobs closing off her throat. Never before has she thought of being alone as such a burden as now, when she isn't alone any longer.
He makes soft soothing noises and pets her hair, her shoulders, her back. His hands are gentle cradling her close while he croons, “There no' darlin. Did I no' tell ye, never another night apart?” He pays it no mind as the door closes quietly behind them, the sound of a turning lock noteiceably absent.
She wipes her eyes, suddenly feeling very awkward, "I thought... I thought you would be dissapointed in me. I should have told you the truth." She avoids his eyes, keeping her forehead pressed to his jaw, "I'm sorry."
“Truth about what, darlin?” His hands have settled on her lower back, rubbing small circles while they talk.
"About the plants..." She swallows hard, "The forbidden plants. I told you I had been breaking church ordinance- using the herbs is what I referred to. I suppose I deserve to be here."
“Ye dinnae deserve such shoddy treatment... and I knew about the herbs. Ye didnae think it was ONLY yer arse I was watching when I was picking mint, did ye?” He winks as he teases, trying to give her morale a little lift with his attempt at humor.
"I.. I didn't think you knew,” Hearing herself stutter, she takes a deep breath, then continues, “I was afraid you would think ill of me.. that you still might. Are you going to leave me?" As soon as she says it she feels like a silly chit, but she can't retract the words; she still needs to hear his response.
“I'll no' be leavin ye. No' now, no' ever.”
Her mind satisfied on that score, she cringes to think that Temryn had been sent out to find the origions of the plants. Thinking of this, the panic rises in her once more. "Temryn... the Bishop sent Temryn to find Beauty's valley!"
Now that she's learned to read him better, the spark of grief and rage spilling through his eyes is easily discernible to her, but there is another emotion there that she has a hard time identifying- Perhaps it's satisfaction?
"Oh Sweet Silver Flame... if he finds the drow child... the Stillwells... Beauty..." Her mind races as she looks up at him, then skids to an abrupt halt. He had deduced the same thing? "What? What happened? What did you do?" Had he gone after Temryn himself? She searches his features for some clue of what has happened while she's been stuck in this little room. Her bottom lip quivers while she waits for the answer she fears she already knows.
“I didnae get there in time tae save the valley, or the wolf, love... I'm sorry.” He hurries on when tears well up and tremble at the edges of her eyes, “Dinnae fash yerself love. I'm afraid the bitch didnae survive but one of her pups is safe with...” He pauses and his eyes flick to the door and back, “The foundling. Twould seem our man of the dragon tattoo harbored a powerful dislike of Temryn... moreso than you or I.”
The tears spill over to make silvery tracks down her cheeks and a lifetime of self-taught emotional discipline flies out of the window as Draake collapses against Cenn, her forehead making hard contact with his breastbone. Convulsive sobs and whooping gasps for breath are too much for her body to bear, and she begins to slide to the floor.
Cenn bears her weight easily as he lets her cry, sharing her greif over the loss. That valley may not mean half as much to him as it obviously does to her, but it had gained a greater importance after the day and night they spent there together.
Her grieving continues as she thinks of what has been ruined. All of her efforts, reduced to nothing... The memorium of Doris, charred... The herbs so vital to her work, ash. She tries to pull the tatters of her composure together, then her tear-soaked eyes fly wide once more, "You saw Char-" she catches herself before she can speak the full name, in case someone is listening, "The baby?"
“He's safe and fat, darlin. The pup took an instant shine tae him.” What he doesn't say, but that she understands, is that whatever differences they might have between Charlie and themselves, this matter will not be an issue.
The bitter thought occurs that she will gladly put an arrow throught Temryn's eye if he so much as touches any one of her charges.
She curls herself closer into the strength of his arms, utterly exhausted. Her precious valley is gone... the she-wolf she had befriended brutally slaughtered by a so-called knight. What will he do next?
"Cenn..." She looks at him with puffy eyes and a nose red from her crying. Her feelings are so conflicted. An apology hangs on her lips but is just out of reach. If she had not taken him on her rounds, this never would have happened. Conversely, had she not taken him.. this never would have happened. The fact remains- she is his wife now. She has willingly bound herself to him, “... What am I going to do?"((more to come))
She narrows her eyes at his wording. Had he killed Temryn? For this answer, she is far too afraid to ask the question. Instead she rubs her eyes and tucks her chin against him. "I don't know what I ever did to deserve someone that loves me like you do."
The fact remains, she is still in a great deal of trouble. She feels almost too tired to ask if Lessah knows where she is, and instead moves herself to the small bed in the room and looks up at her husband. She needs him, but she still feels odd about asking for him to do anything for her. Though the room is small, she tries to put a distance greater than the space they occupy between them, withdrawing into herself, as she's always done when threatened or uncertain. This is unacceptable to him, so he invades her personal space and joins her on the bed, scattering her barriers by the simple expedient of drawing her back into his arms.
She stiffens at first, then slumps and finally whispers, "I need you..."
“Love, ye have me.” The statement may seem basic, but it is exactly what he thinks and feels- she has him, all of him.
She bows her head and cries fresh tears, letting go of the emotional restraints. Everything she holds dear to her heart has been affected by this situation. She tries to talk to him through her tears, finding that she needs to stop and start again to get past the thick obstruction of her weeping. "Lessah? Does mother know?"
She can feel his head moving as he nods, “'Twas yer mother that contacted most of the people that needed finding this day... Her influence is far more widespread than m'own. I'm just a simple man, darlin... as such I prefer simple solutions wherever possible.”
His lips brush her hair, close to her ear, “'Tis still yer wedding night. Regardless of where we spend it, 'twill be together.”
Both hands smooth the line of her back, down to the gradual curve at the base of her spine, “'Tis no' what I would have planned, but 'tis private, and quiet....”
Her hands spread across his ribs and she almost laughs... What she wouldn't give to be in the sumptuous new bed Lessah had purchased, nestled against him as they sleep. She wouldn't be thinking of scolding her mother now, that's for sure. The slope of her shoulders turn in towards him in surrender- she has finally gathered the courage to whisper to him, “I want you to hold me.”
His hold relaxes and he slips a hand between them. The backs of his knuckles graze her chest, but it is not with the intent to seduce. Instead, he pulls a flat flask from the breast pocket of his jacket and allows the garment to fall to the floor behind him. “I brought some wine, just a nip.. perhaps t'will help ye tae relax... then I'll be content tae hold ye all through the night.”
Draake looks at the flask with an odd expression on her face, "I seem to only drink when I'm around you." Surprising herself with a laugh, she accepts the flask and holds it up to look at it, a slight reddish glow filters through the thick glass, illuminating the amber liquid within.
"I suppose this has been the best and worst day of my life so far. With a very close second best being the day I met you." She offers a tentative smile and pulls the cork, lifting the open flask in a short salute before tipping it against her lips. Sweet, honey-rich mead spreads liquid heat across her tongue and burns as it coats her throat. At first she fights a convulsive cough, but the immediate infusion of a buzzing warmth into her bloodstream makes the cough reflex subside. Her words blur a little as she watches him and sips carefully at the potent liquor. “Second-best day, of course, when I met you..”
Letting her sip at the spirits, he picks up the jacket and lays it, as well as his shirt, across the floor at the foot of the bed and toes off his boots to set atop them. He is preparing for bed, and he intends to hold her close to his heart through the night, just like she asked... even if it kills him.
Exhaustion and the loose relaxation of alcohol has settled into her, and spreads in waves that match the pulse of her heartbeat. She can no longer focus on the events of the last three days, it's all become such a confusing jumble. She is married, has been made a mother, AND a grandmother, AND accused of heresy all in the same day! Putting all of that aside is much easier as Draake looks over her new husband, then places herself in between his legs to lie with him and arrrange herself against his chest. The last coherent though she has is to tell herself that tomorrow will be a new day... (end)