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Marshend- After The Struggle: Merivel and Ranulf


(Continued from Marshend - After the Struggle: Derron, Mariam, and Visitors)

Aerin had been attempting to clean her nails with a knife, not too dissimilar to Shade's actions. She looked up at Derron, then nodded to Ranulf. "Go ahead. Shade and I will watch the doors. I'm not sure all the trouble is done with yet," she explained.

Ranulf looked anxiously at Derron before obeying. "What did you tell him?" he asked. "What did he say?"

Derron said, "Speak freely with him. I doubt he will judge you."

At the moment, Merivel was finishing the mug that Mariam had given him, and had gotten into a detailed conversation with her regarding the exact herbs and ingredients in the poultice that she had used.

Ranulf came slowly into the room, looking pale and apprehensive.

Merivel stopped his discussion with Septa about a particular herb as Ranulf came in. The Maester in training of Clearwater turned and regarded Ranulf.

"Yes, Ranulf?" he said.

"Will she be all right?" he asked anxiously. It's my fault ... I know it is. But ... I do love her, Maester Merivel!"

Merivel's look to Ranulf was one of complete surprise. He blinked momentarily, uncertainly, and then inclined his head.

"She's past the decision point, but her condition is still poor. If we are fortunate and nothing else goes awry, she will recover. You have Mariam to thank for that." He gave a nod of respect to Mariam. "As I told her, it would be difficult for me to improve on her results, even if her method was different than what I would have tried."

Ranulf nodded gravely. "She is very clever," he said. Then he looked up anxiously at Merivel. "I'm sorry I stole your poison," he said simply.

Merivel blinked his eyes. "You stole one of my poisons?" he said, pronouncing each of the words slowly and carefully. In his eyes was not anger, but as yet undecided emotion behind his gaze.

Ranulf gave a gulp, but nodded.

"For Mama," he said. "because she wanted to die."

Merivel considered this for a moment. "Your mother has been unhappy for a very long time. A very long time." he said somberly. "I've known, ever since the time she tried to flee Clearwater."

Ranulf looked at him, as though considering whether the Maester might actually be an ally and not an enemy.

"But you didn't give her the poison," he said. "And you have lots."

"Ranulf, lad." Merivel said, regarding him with the same uncertain look. "Sometimes, what we might dream of doing is impossible thanks to one's station, or training, or innermost beliefs."

Ranulf's lips trembled. "And which of those stopped you, Sir?" he asked, his dark eyes fixed on Merivel's face.

"All of them did to one degree or another." Merivel said somberly. "Know this, Ranulf. I only wanted the best for your mother. I cannot say that I approve or applaud your actions, but I suspect that your mother, herself, now free, would. You've given her peace at a terrible cost, one that I do not think I could pay in your place."

Ranulf nodded. "By my Septa has paid the price too," he said forlornly. "Did Steward Thorne tell you? She lied to protect me, and Father has cast her out too. I think he cannot bear any of us who ... who were part of Her."

"Then" Merivel said, his voice holding steady only by careful modulation. "Are you saying that the Lord of Clearwater will treat me similarly?"

Ranulf looked shocked. "Why should he? You weren't even there!"

"His Lordship may not see things that rationally." Merivel said after a moment. "And he may remember my role in the events of her near-escape, not that she is gone. I will have to tread carefully around his lordship for some time, to see what his mind is on the matter."

"People do not always do the logical or rational thing, Ranulf."

Ranulf looked at him with those sad wise eyes that had always seemed to old for the boy's face.

"You are useful to him, Maester Merivel. We were not."

And then a moment of sudden change. "Did Steward Derron tell you about the attack?"

Merivel looked surprised, with as sudden a change as Ranulf evidenced in himself. "No!" He blinked his eyes. "What happened, Ranulf?"

His eyes looked at Ranulf hard, as if he were ready to shake the answer out of him in his anxiety.

"We were attacked by mercenaries as we travelled here," said Ranulf. "They talked about wanting a woman and her wolf - but then they thought that maybe it was Aerin and Shade ... but we killed them - and the musician ran away and then we met some other mercenaries but they were friendly but we killed them anyway, out there in the garden."

He sighed. "When is it right to kill people, Maester? I don't understand."

"You killed two sets of mercenaries?" Merivel looked at Ranulf with a quizzical look, seeking clarification. "One on the road, and one in the garden?" "I didn't," said Raulf. "Although I wanted to kill the man who shot my Septa - and with a poisoned arrow! But Derron Thorne and the others did - apart from the minstrel, because he ran away." "To answer your question from a moment ago, Ranulf." Merivel said seriously. "One should be reluctant to kill, unless it is in the direst of circumstances."

Merivel paused a beat. "I know from experience."

Ranulf's eyes were wide. "*You* killed someone? But I thought ... Maesters were meant to save people!"

Merivel gestured with his hand to get Ranulf to lower his voice.

"As I was going to say and continue, the matter of killing someone is complex, Ranulf. It is not to be done lightly, and anyone who can do so without conscience or consideration is not human."

"For example." Merivel continued. "To preserve your own life, is it permissible to kill he who would kill you? Or to preserve the life of a wife, a child, a lord, a king?"

Ranulf considered. "Yes," he said slowly. "That is what I think." He looked up at Merivel. "So ... who did he seek to kill, Maester? That you stopped him from killing?"

Merivel held Ranulf's gaze for a long few moments before speaking, lowering his head as if confessing a terrible, unspeakable person.

"Myself." Merivel finally said. "I slew someone who sought to slay or perhaps bind me."

In a twist of fate, although nearly healed, the wound he had taken in that encounter with the two mercenaries suddenly flared up, and Merivel gave off a groan.

Ranulf looked at him in horror and then suddenly darted away. Merivel could hear him shouting.

"Come quickly! The Maester's hurt!"

After a moment, Mariam came hurrying in, wiping her hands on her apron.

"Maester, what is it? What's wrong?" she asked, her concern evident.

Merivel gingerly found a place to sit down. "A flare up of a recent injury. Its something I should have consulted you with when I came in, but we had the other concerns." Merivel said. "In my journey here, I was wounded. I found care, but I'd like other eyes on it, too."

"Let me look," said Mariam, moving forward to tend it.

She unwound the dressing carefully.

"Who dressed this wound?" she asked by and by, perhaps a little too offhandedly.

"An acquaintance I met in the wood." Merivel said. "That found me after...after I received the wound." Merivel said. "I've pledged not to say much about it."

"How does it look to your eyes?" Merivel asked. "Its sometimes difficult to see wounds and ailments in oneself."

"The wound is healing well as long as you don't strain the muscles," said Mariam. "The dressing ... it looks as though a Wilding was responsible for it."

Her level brown eyes met Merivel's.

Merivel met her eyes and waited a few moments and then gave a small nod of his head. "It would be accurate to say that the person who dressed the wound probably knows of Wildings and their ways."

"Strain the muscles." Merivel groaned slightly. "I've not really given it that much rest, not as much as I might. I've been on the move."

"Then you shall rest here," she said decidedly. "Your Steward means to remain here a few days, I think. And such rest will be good for you too.

"Come - let's find him. By now the firepit should be finished and you can rest there."

"I had thought he wanted to put Marshend behind him as quickly as possible." Merivel countered. "But if there is need for him to stay, I shall be glad of the opportunity to convalesce, and perhaps help him if required."

Merivel slowly got up, winced slightly and made ready to follow the Septa.

She led him outside - and he saw that Ranulf, under the guidance of Derron, had started a small fire in the freshly dug firepit.

(Continued in Outside the Septa's: Derron and Merivel)

Page last modified on January 25, 2007, at 09:12 PM