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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 28

Started by Evie, July 26, 2010, 10:00:27 PM

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Chapter Twenty-Eight

   The Transha party arrived in Pelagog late one evening, their progress hampered over the last couple of miles of travel by blinding snow which had begun to fall, lightly at first, but in ever increasing flurries until the towers of Porgonnedd Keep came into view in the distance.  Then, with the capricious fury that winter often unleashed with little warning in the Borders, it had come howling down upon them.   But they had pushed their way through finally, a few hours later than they'd thought they'd arrive when they'd set out that morning, but with all members of the party arriving at the Earl's Court safe and whole.

   Earl Albree had been most welcoming.  After the Earl's grooms had led the horses away to the stables, Dhugal and his retinue had been escorted first into the warmth of a large withdrawing room just to the side of the Great Hall, where mulled wine and hot food had been set aside for their arrival, and a roaring fire brightened the hearth.  The Earl's liveried men took their damp cloaks off to dry in another room, and other members of the Earl's household busily readied rooms for the new arrivals and brought up baggage.

   The Earl looked slightly taken aback to see Ailidh in the party.  "I wasn't expecting a fair young lass to be traveling with you."  He gave Dhugal a sidelong look and smiled.  "Dare I hope that my neighbor of Cassan has a new Duchess?"

   Dhugal gave him a ready grin as he leaned back against the fireplace.  "I'm afraid not.  She's Sir Jass's new bride, Ailidh is.  I've brought her because she was Caldreana's closest friend growing up."

   "Ah."  The Earl smiled.  "Caldie will be glad for the company, I'm sure."  He glanced at Jass, noting the protective arm he'd draped around Ailidh, and grinned.  "So, newlyweds, are you?  I imagine you won't want to bunk down in a room shared with other men, then.  I'll make the necessary arrangements."  He turned aside, quietly whispering to one of his retainers, who nodded and headed up to the guest chambers to instruct the chambermaids on the room reassignments.

   A few minutes later, the Earl's castellan came down, saying something to his master in a low voice.  Earl Albree nodded then turned to the assembled guests.  "My castellan has just informed me that my Lady's chambermaids have set up hot baths in your bedchambers, so if you'd like to change out of your damp clothing and ease the stiffness of the week's ride, all has been made ready for you.  If there's anything else you should require during your stay, please inform my household."  Turning to Dhugal, he added in a lower voice, "Caldie is probably sound asleep by now, but I know she'll be eager to see you in the morning.  I'll let my son know that you've arrived safely.  She's had the best midwifery Pelagog can provide, but I know she'll be eager to see if there's more you can do for her.  And this came by special courier for you this morning."  He reached into his doublet, producing a letter sealed with Kelson's signet.

   "Thank you," Dhugal murmured, tucking the letter away into his own doublet to read later.


   "Come in," Dhugal said absently, not lifting his eyes from the letter Kelson had sent.  Jass and Ailidh entered his guest chamber.  "You sent for us?" Jass asked.

   "Aye."  Dhugal glanced up.  "I've received a message from Kelson about Ailidh's disappearance.  Apparently, the Contessa d'Alcara di Fianna never received your note, Ailidh.  Where did you say you'd left it?"

   "On the sideboard just inside the main entrance to our apartment," the lass replied, looking confused.  She sent a mental image of the location to Dhugal.

   "Hm.  Odd."  Dhugal shrugged.  "I'll let Kelson know.  He's wanting a full report back.  I'll let him know you're safe and sound, and married to Sir Jass.  And that Jass had no foreknowledge of your plans."  He sent the images of Constanza's angry reaction to Ailidh's mind.

   "But...how....?"  Ailidh stared at Dhugal, confused.

   "How do I have Kelson's memory of that?  He's imprinted it into the seal.  See here."  He took her hand, brushing her fingertips against the royal seal so she could sense the faint tingle of magic there.  "You've not been trained in that sort of magic yet, I take it?"

   She shook her head.  "No, not yet."  She sighed.  "And I don't suppose I'll ever be, if Constanza's that angry with me."

   "Oh, aye, because the Contessa Constanza is the only Deryni in Gwynedd capable of taking you on, I suppose."  Dhugal rolled his eyes at Jass, who grinned.  "Don't worry about that, Ailidh.  You'll get your training.  Though you might be right about not getting it from the Contessa; Kelson's letter also says she's planning on taking Lady Celeste to Andelon to be trained by Deryni who are more adept at cording lore."

   "Oh."  Ailidh considered that for a long moment.  "It never even occurred to me they might not be there when I got back."

   Dhugal nodded.  "Things wouldn't be the same in any case, even if they remain."  He grinned.  "I don't think the Contessa would be agreeable to having Jass move in with you, Celsie, and Sophie, even though he might think that arrangement would be the closest he'll ever get to Moorish heaven."

   Jass slanted a rakish smile at his bride. "Aye, seventy virgins might wear me bits out, but I could settle for one or—"  He let out a loud whoof of air as Ailidh's elbow connected with his solar plexus.

   "Is Sophie going with them too?"  Ailidh asked, looking upset at the thought of her friends going separate ways without having a chance to say goodbye.

   "Kelson's not sure yet.  He thinks Sir Seisyll might convince her to stay.  I'll be sending a message back to Rhemuth in the morning, if you'd like to include a letter of your own."

   The chamber door opened, and a chambermaid wearing Lord Philo's household livery entered carrying a bucket full of steaming hot water.  She plodded across the room, emptying the water out into a large tub by the fireplace, then picked up another bucket already resting nearby and dumped that water in as well.  She tested the temperature, gave a loud grunt of satisfaction as she wiped her sweaty brow with one sleeve, and stamped back out.  Dhugal raised an eyebrow at Jass.

   "She's a healthy strappin' filly tae be sure," Jass whispered, highly amused.  "I think she could lift ye intae yer saddle wi' one hand, Dhugal, even in full armor.  Did ye see those muscles?  Ye'd think she'd jus' carry th' tub itsel' in an' out for fillin' an' no' bother wi' totin' th' buckets back an' forth!"

   "Shhhh!" Ailidh admonished with a giggle as the footfalls returned.  The door burst open again, the Pelagog Heir's chambermaid toting another bucket of near-boiling water in and hefting it over the tub's edge, following this up with the remaining bucket of cooler water that stood by.  At last, she straightened, balling her hands into fists, planting them on her sturdy hips and studying the two men before her.

   "Which o' ye's th' Earl o' Transha?" she demanded.

   Dhugal sent Jass and Ailidh a bemused look, then turned to bow courteously at the chambermaid.  "I am."

   She's go' arms like hams an' an arse like my horse,
Jass mind-spoke to Ailidh, suppressing a laugh.  An' she's wearing Philo's colors; do ye suppose Caldie sent her?

   "Well, are ye goin' tae strip down sae I can lather an' scrub ye, or is yon red-haired wench doin' for ye tonight?"

   Dhugal's eyes widened with horror as his mind struggled for a courteous reply.  

   Ailidh choked down a giggle.  "Nay, I've my own man to see to."  She smiled angelically over her shoulder at the dumbfounded Dhugal as she pulled Jass out of the room by the sleeve.  "Good night, Your Grace!"


   Lord Philo arrived early the next morning to collect Duke Dhugal.  "Caldreana just woke up," he informed the man he considered a brother-in-law, "and is asking for you."

   "I'll be right there.  May I bring Ailidh nic Ardry as well?"

   The older man raised a sandy eyebrow at Dhugal.  "The Ailidh nic Ardry? That's the friend of Caldie's who rode in with you?"  He stifled a laugh.  "God help us; I should've guessed, just from hearing the stories.  Yes, bring her; Caldie will be thrilled.  I've also asked the midwife to attend you.  She can tell you what's going on with Caldie much better than I can."


   "How are you feeling?" Dhugal asked his sister/aunt a short while later.

   "All right, I suppose," she told him with a weary smile, "aside from being a bit sore from having to lie abed all the time, and sick to death of being cooped up.  How was your journey?"

   "Long, but it's over now."  He raised a coppery-bronze brow at Caldie.  "And I can scrub my own back, thank you very much."

   Caldreana giggled.  "What, you didn't appreciate the comely lass I sent to tend to your every need?"  She turned sparkling eyes towards Ailidh, who suppressed a chortle.

   Dhugal grinned.  "If you sent a comely one down, she ended up in the wrong room.  I had the one who looks like she butchers cattle.  With her bare hands.  By slamming them against her face repeatedly."

   Caldie laughed to the point of weeping.  "Oh, heavens, Your Grace, dinnae stir her up so!" the midwife protested, alarm in her voice, though her eyes betrayed her own amusement.  "It's no' good for th' babe in her present state."

   Dhugal sobered instantly.  "Can you tell me what happened, and what's going on with her now, so I'll know what to look for?  I don't know if I can help, but I can at least try."

   Caldie glanced up at the midwife, then back at Dhugal.  "I went outside after one of the winter storms and slipped on a patch of ice on the stone steps.  I landed hard, and...something tore a bit inside, I think.  Mistress Eilis can explain that bit better than I can, though."  Her fingers twisted at an edge of the sheet.

   "Well, first off, it's no' quite as alarmin' as it sounds, put like tha'," the midwife assured Dhugal, noting the look of alarm that had crossed the young man's face at the thought of Caldie having some sort of internal rupture.  "But it is serious for th' babe, an' could become so for Caldie as well if infection sets in."  She studied the young Duke, wondering how much a battle surgeon knew of female reproductive systems.  Not something he'd be likely to encounter in the field, not from a surgeon's standpoint at any rate, she decided.  "When ye were a wee boy, did ye ever play wi' a pig's bladder?  Ye know how ye can clean one out an' blow it up intae a ball, or fill it wi' water and tie th' end off?"

   "And lob it at boys' heads," Ailidh supplied with a smirk at Caldie, who grinned.

   "Aye...."  Dhugal looked baffled, wondering where this was going.

   "Well, right now th' baby is floatin' in a sack tha's a bit like tha', an' it's full of water—well, some sort o' liquid, at any rate.  An' th' sack is supposed tae stay intact until it's time for th' bairn tae come.  It usually breaks when the mother is laborin', or just before." She patted Caldie's hand.  "When Caldie fell, the sack ruptured just a wee bit, and her labor started.  But it was too early yet, so I fixed her a tisane tha' got the labor stopped for now.   But she's still leakin', an' it's worse if she stands, so tha's why she's no' allowed out o' bed until it's time for the wee 'un tae be born."

   "And that leaking is dangerous for the baby?"

   "Aye, it can be.  I'm givin' her lots tae drink, tryin' tae keep her fluids up so her body will replace th' water she keeps losin', but if she loses too much before th' babe's ready tae be born, it could die.  An' th' tear makes it more likely tha' Caldie could get an infection, which could lead tae fever, and...well, I'm sure ye know how tha' can progress."

   Dhugal nodded.  "Do you know where the tear is?  Can it be stitched closed?"

   The midwife shook her head.  "Nay, that I cannae tell ye, no' wi'out bein' able tae look inside her.  An' I dinnae think stitchin' would help.  For one thing, we'd havetae cut her belly an' womb open tae get there, an' it's much more likely she'll get infected if we do, if she doesnae bleed tae death first.  But besides tha', I'd imagine if we go tryin' tae stitch up th' sack wi' needle and catgut, she's only likely tae leak more."  She tilted her head at him.  "Yer a Deryni healer, they say.  Can ye fix it?"

   "I don't know."  He frowned.  "I have to be able to visualize what I'm doing, but I don't have to see the actual injury, I just need to be able to picture it in my mind."  He thought back to healing Kelson's injuries at St. Kyriell's the previous spring.  "I think you've given me enough of an idea of what to look for that I might be able to find the tear and heal it.  At least I can try."


   That evening, Lady Caldreana sat up for the first time since her fall, regaling her husband with the tale of Dhugal's healing.

   "I don't know what he did, exactly.  From my end of things, he just seemed to run his hands over my belly for a bit, and then he paused over a certain point, and I felt...sort of a spreading warmth, like...."  She giggled.  "I don't know.  Warm butter melting over toast is the first thing that springs to mind, though I hardly want to compare myself to toast!"

   Lord Philo laughed, glancing past his wife to give Dhugal a grateful look.  "Well, you and your company are good and snowed in here for a while, so you might as well count on staying until the babe arrives.  I'm sure you and Caldie have a lot of catching up to do...not to mention Caldie and Ailidh."  He grinned at the lass sitting on Dhugal's other side, between Dhugal and Jass.

   "Aye, let's not mention that," Dhugal said with a quirk to his lips.  "Caldie and Ailidh under the same roof again.  It's probably the start of my epic descent into Hell."

   Philo chuckled.  "I'll try to keep Caldie reined in, if Jass will do the same for Ailidh." He glanced at his wife fondly.  "Going back to the healing, though, is she fully healed now?  Everything's safe, she can...ah...go back to normal activities?"  His rising flush alerted his wife to his real question.

   "Philo!"  Caldie turned scarlet.

   Jass coughed to conceal the laughter he'd nearly burst into before his wife kicked him in the shin.  Dhugal chuckled.  "I'm a battle surgeon, not a midwife, Philo.  You'll need to take that question up with Mistress Eilis.  All I can tell you is that I'm pretty sure the rupture is fully healed."

   "Were you able to tell if the baby is a boy or a girl?" Caldie asked, swiftly diverting the conversation to less personal topics.

   Dhugal smiled.  "I think you're carrying a boy.  But don't hold me to that.  Sexing unborn babies is a bit more difficult than candling eggs."

   "Oh, I don't know," Lord Philo said.  "She's roughly egg-shaped now.  We can try to hold her up to the light...."

   Caldie giggled and smacked her husband's arm.  Dhugal laughed, feeling relaxed and fully at ease for the first time in that long and arduous week.

Chapter 29:  http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=573.0
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!


When he mentioned holding her up to the light, my first thought was:

Philo.  As in Philo Farnsworth, the inventor of television?


LOL!  You'll have to ask either KK or whoever wrote the Codex with her.  I didn't name Philo, Caldreana, or Albree, or for that matter the Earldom of Pelagog and its seat in Porgonnedd.  All of those names come straight from the Codex (mainly from Cauley MacArdry's entry, but some from Dhugal's as well and the listing for Pelagog).

OK, here's a possible Codex discrepancy.  Earl Albree is the current Earl in the listing of the Earls of Pelagog, but in both locations where I've found him listed (I believe in Cauley's entry and his late wife Adreana's, listed as the spouse of their daughter Caldreana), Albree's son Lord Philo is listed as the "Hereditary Count of Pelagog," not the Hereditary Earl.  I know the titles are equivalent, but still, you'd think a future Earl would be listed as "Hereditary Earl of Pelagog." 
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!


Was the Codex written originally in Latin?  "Pelagogiae Comes" could be translated as either "Earl" or "Count" of Pelagog.  The inconsistency could be explained by there being more than one translator.

(Classical & Romance Languages major; can you tell?)


Liked this chapter, and I think the last line says it all:  
QuoteDhugal laughed, feeling relaxed and fully at ease for the first time in that long and arduous week.
I think the readers are right there with poor Dhugal and the others!


Quote from: Elkhound on July 26, 2010, 11:32:25 PM
Was the Codex written originally in Latin?  "Pelagogiae Comes" could be translated as either "Earl" or "Count" of Pelagog.  The inconsistency could be explained by there being more than one translator.

(Classical & Romance Languages major; can you tell?)

I wanted to take Latin, but never got any further than "Coca-coli, Coca-cola, Coca-colarum...."   ;)

Anglo-Saxon was bad enough.  A beautiful language, but the grammar nearly killed me.  Still, I think "The Battle of Maldon" fragment is one of the most lovely bits of literature in the (Old) English language.  And I love to sing "Caedmon's Hymn" set to Kemper Crabb's music.  (If anyone else here even knows who Kemper Crabb is, I might fall over from shock!  :D )

I can manage a small bit of French, although je parle francais comme une vache espagnole, and have no idea how to type in all the little accent marks.....

"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!


Loathed Latin with a passion, although I suspect that was more the teacher than the subject.

May have to do a crash course next (academic) year though as DD is supposed to be doing a Latin qualification, and doing it in a year instead of the 2 it normally takes, so we will all be studying it, I suspect!


"like a Spanish cow"?  What a wonderful image?  What would the Gwynned equivalent be?


Yep, like a Spanish cow.  :D  Though the original etymology of the phrase is thought to be "...comme un Basque espanol," i.e. a Spanish-speaking Basque, but that's not nearly as funny. Somehow the idiom ended up being transformed to the "Spanish cow" variant instead.

I have no clue what a Gwyneddan variant would be, since part of the humor (for people knowing the origin of the phrase, at least) is knowing the word-play between "Basque" and "vache".  So "I speak Torenthi like a R'Kassi stallion" just wouldn't have the same meaning.  Translations are tricky that way, when you have to consider nuances as well as literal meaning.
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!