by Ruth Davis Hays – 2011
He was suffering, wracked by fever and nausea. His Fae blood putrefying. The monks tried to give him nourishment, but even water flew back out of his stomach. He could be dead within a week.
But, unbeknownst to him, the women in his life that loved him had set into motion events that would save his miserable arse and all the fleshy bits attached to it that had just started to prove themselves as a promising benefit in a young man’s life rather than an embarrassing annoyance.
For her part, Lauralei continued to listen as old Kora laid out the happenings of the previous day…
The heavy, wooden door to Solomen’s tower laboratory opened easily with a spellsong. The dark room was cold and foreboding. Ammarron stepped in with determination. She had a suspicion of the thing for which she looked, but had a deep hope that she was wrong and would find nothing. She called a flame from the air and lit one of the sconces on the wall. It glinted on many metal items around the room. Her eyes surveyed them all, and then her hands flew to the drawers and cabinets.
Her search was proving fruitless until she glanced over at the reclining chair that was used for minor tooth extractions. Something gleamed in the darkness, behind it.
Something that had been thrown aside in a rage and forgotten.
She stepped lightly over and looked closely. There in the shadow of the chair was a small, intricately carved dagger. It was no longer than a dinner knife. There were tiny, dried droplets of blood on its blade and it glowed to her faerlin eyes, a shimmer of red mingled with black. She recoiled in disgust knowing that she had been right. She knew better than to touch the foul thing with her bare hands. Grabbing a cloth from a side washbasin, she snatched it up and stormed out of the room, slamming the heavy door behind her. The light in the small wall sconce was snuffed out of existence.
…Kora had seen her go up to the laboratory and saw the dagger wrapped in a white cloth as she descended the stairs in an indignant fury. So, being the dutiful gossip hog that she was, the housekeeper had kept close to the beautiful, faerlin woman until Solomen came home from town and she confronted him.
The stern man was startled to see his lovely bride out of her rooms, but was even more taken aback when she flew at him in the entryway, in front of servants and his boys, shouting accusations and thrusting a swaddled dagger in his face.
“You foul, wretched beast!” Ammarron screamed, her face pink with outrage. “How dare you do such a thing! You cut my son with a Cursed Blade! How could you? This thing is a scourge to Fae flesh, you know this! I hate you for what you have done! You have killed me! This knife is making him sick! And you knew he was suffering. Have you done nothing to save him? He will die if it’s not properly dealt with, and you know it! Foraeth mi aver! Mi Aver don martyeant!” She wailed in Faerlspeak. “I shall die of grief if he perishes from this, and I will curse your soul even in death. For I will never forgive you if he dies, Solomen Khnyghtsyde!”
Grabbing her by the wrist to keep the blade far from him, Solomen escorted her into a nearby receiving room where he could shut the door and speak with her privately. They did not emerge for some time, but when they did, Kora was the only one still milling about the area looking busy.
Solomen was silent, his face stern and his eyes holding resentment, but his posture was sagging and defeated. Ammarron glided past him without a word and retreated to her rooms upstairs. Her mood indiscernible.
Kora made herself available for the rest of that evening and was soon called to Ammarron’s room. The faerlin woman handed her a letter addressed to the Monastery of Coreigan in Bulliaton. She was asked to send it by courier immediately and then to prepare a carriage and escort. Kora obeyed, though not till she had softened the seal and quickly read the letter, reattaching the Khnyghtsyde mark afterwards.
It read, “To High Priest Illis,
You have my son in your care. He is a descendant of the venerable House of Bhaalaweiss, and I demand that you treat him accordingly. He is of Faerlin blood and the wound he has sustained was given by a Cursed Blade of the Unseen Beasts. It will poison his body if left untreated.
The wound must be reopened with a Blessed knife of Phorein. The infected skin removed and then the healthy skin bound together to heal. But, to ensure complete recovery, his blood must be purified as well with Thrice Blessed Apthia Water. It must be given internally as well as applied to the wound twice a day until the skin begins to heal on its own.
I am aware of the cost of such treatment, but if you treat him well, I will see to it that you are amply compensated by my husband, S. Khnyghtsyde.
If you do not use everything within your power to heal him, I swear by all that is held sacred that I will call down a Dark Djinn upon your dwelling and all the souls within it. Hear this and mark it well!
~~ A. Khnyghtsyde”
Lauralei smiled at Kora’s news, ate her supper ravenously and slept well for the first time that week. Her heart content that ’Khiall was in good hands and would be safe.
It was not until she awoke the next morning that the shadow of impending doom blanketed her mind again, for the Bonding Day plans for her were progressing swiftly.
The Conte Monteforte was coming to pay his respects that evening. The household was busily preparing for a large dinner party.
Lauralei felt as if she were picking out her best dress in order to meet her executioner.
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