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As they walked towards Lord Hardy's room Lady Celia laid a hand on Mervel's arm to stop him.

"Tell me," she said. "Tell me tyruly - what do yuou think of his illness?"

"Are you sure, my lady." Merivel says gravely. "that you would not prefer the counsel and opinion of someone far more experienced, like Maester Sewell?" he asked, looking at her. "Even if healing is the first and only link that I have, and a specialty, I have not the breadth of knowledge he has, or his wisdom."

Something more, Merivel's opinion, lurked behind his eyes, but he watched her reaction, seemingly needing another request from her to release it.

"Maester Sewell will, of course give me his opinion," said Lady Celia. "But your training is fresher - and you see him with fresh eyes. Please ... Maester Merivel ... what hope do you have for him?"

There was a little catch in her voice as she spoke.

Despite his training, Merivel could not stop from giving off a small sigh.

"I don't think that more examination of him is going to change my current opinion." Merivel began. "I think there will be function that returns to the Lord." he began. "However." Merivel's voice was grave. "I am sorry that I don't think that he will ever be the man he once was."

Lady Celia winced. "But you believe he will live?" she asked. "And ... will he have his reason? Even if he is crippled, he will still be able to command?"

He sensed a real fear lay beneath her words.

Merivel stopped. "My skills are not so well developed as to give a true and accurate answer to that, my lady." Merivel said. "I can only guess, but I think such a guess is less than worthless. If it is too optimistic, the disappointment would be terrible, if too pessimistic, it would dishearten the recovery process."

"I understand," said Lady Celia. She continued to walk towards her Lord's room at Merivel's side, and he caught her elusive scent; it seemed to suggest to him golden flowers in a southern meadow; the very essence of warm summer. Merivel walked quietly, his eyes half closed in thought as he did so.

"What is the best way to help him, then?" she said presently. "When he tries to speak to us and when cannot undertsand, he becomes frustrated, and that seems to make him worse.

"Is there anything else we can do? Is there anything else he needs?"

"Be patient with him." Merivel said quietly after a moment's thought. "It is as difficult for him as it is for us around him. That is the best balm that I can offer. Patience."

Lady Hardy gave a little laugh that seemed to hold a little bitterness.

"My patience has rarely been a problem, Maester Merivel. My Lord, however, has never been famed for that particular virtue." She turned suddenly to look at him. "You were late for dinner. Did my Lord try to speak with you?"

"Yes" Merivel said, almost too quickly. "It was difficult for him to do so, and it was more a matter of trying to interpret what he was saying. His words were..." Merivel paused to try to find a word. "Elliptical."

Lady Celia nodded. "What did he say?" she asked.

Merivel looked torn. He bit his lip noticeably before answering. "It is not proper to speak of such matters with a Lady."

"Believe me," said Lady Celia, "the secrets of the sickroom - of the death chamber even - is something I have encountered before. And it is a responsibility that even a woman must accept." Her voice was remarkably free of irony. "What did he say, Maester?"

"He spoke of a need to find his progeny, my lady." Merivel winced outwardly and then continued. "To find a Snow, my lady."

She shrank away, back against the wall, her colour suddenly livid, and her colour livid. Her lips seemed to move independently of the rest of her face ... Mel Mason wrote: "There's no such person," she whispered.

Merivel swallowed audibly, and then nodded.

"I am sorry, my lady. If that is the case, then what your husband spoke was from delirium and the trauma of his malady, not from the truth." Merivel said. "I did not wish to impugn you or he by insisting otherwise; I am but a visitor here."

"Yes," she said slowly. "Yes, of course. And a most welcome one. We must trust that we can make your stay here one of happy memories, as well as rewarding you for your care of our Lord."

"It may be too late for that now." Merivel replied with a trace of sadness in his tone. "The events of the last few hours have apparently seen to that, as well as the immediate need that awaits me back at Clearwater."

She stared at him in shock. "You ... you're going back to Clearwater? Now?"

"I must, Lady." Merivel said as he nodded quietly. "Just before dinner, I received a message that was sent by Raven. There has been a death at Clearwater. My services there are needed and so I am recalled. Immediately. I leave in the morning."

"I see," said Lady Celia. She was silent for a few moments as they moved back towards Lord Hardy's room before she said, "And are they many preparations that you need to make? How do you propose to travel?"

"Arrangements are being made by the Steward." Merivel said quietly and simply. "I won't walk alone the way back."

"I am glad to hear it," said Lady Celia. "We would fear for your safety else. We will make sure you have a suitable escort."

She smiled at him, very sweetly.

"My brother shall choose them himself."

"That would be a kindness." Merivel said, trying to shake the chill that went down his back. "The Lord of Clearwater would appreciate his Maester returning with such protection to ensure his protection."

"As do I." Merivel added.

"Then that's settled," said Lady Hardy, pleased. "In fact ... if you will go on to my husband, I shall see my brother and tell him to attend to the matter personally."

"I will see to your husband, Lady Hardy." Merivel said with a nod, and began a half step. "Once again, thank you for your hospitality while I have been under your roof."

Lady Hardy left him with another of her sweet smiles, and Merivel continued to Lord Hardy's room. Sewell was there, looking aomewhat weary by now, but he was reluctant to leave his patient, whose condition was much the same as before Merivel left. He did consent to doze in the easy chair by the fire, on condition that Merivel would take his place later for, as he pointed out, Merivel would need to rest if he purposed to travel to Clearwater in the morning.

Merivel agreed to the scheme.

After a few hours they did indeed change places, but it seemed to Merivel that he had slept no more than a few moments before Sewell was shaking him awake.

"I've sent for Ser Kenrith," Sewell said quietly. "Lord Hardy has begun to ask for him."

"How long did I sleep?" Merivel asked blearfully as he struggled to full consciousness. "And we both should be there."

"A few minutes, no more," said Sewell. "For which my apologies."

Lord Hardy was tossing restlessly on the bed. He seemed to be speaking, but the words were thickened and unintelligible.

"Do you know of any ways in which we could ease him?" asked Sewell. "My arts ... are limited in this area."

"I can use the preparations I've used over the last three weeks. It seems to have some effect." Merivel replied, with a weary nod. "I have others as well. It is fortunate that my arts are strongly focused in this area." More so than you can realize why, Merivel added in thought.

He moved reluctantly to his kit of supplies and began making yet another analgesic concoction.

  • At this point, Kenrith enters*

As he was working on this, there came three crisp knocks on the door. Sewell moved at once to open it a crack to see who it was - and then opened it fully to admit Ser Kenrith.

"Your father has been asking for you," he said, speaking quietly - but nevertheless in a voice loud enough to be heard by Merivel.

Kenrith nodded mutely at the senior Maester's words and walked to his father's bedside. His strong right arm was behind his back, perhaps in lopsided imitation of a soldier at ease. His crisp steps too were martial in their gait as he clicked rhythmically across the ancient stone floor between the rugs. While he wasn't consciously puffing up his chest, he was clearly standing at his full height, and might be holding a deep breath to steady his nerves.

He nodded to his earlier dinner companion, Merivel, as he grew close to the head of the bed, then studied the lines of his father's face...

The Lord Hardy looked so old to Kenrith's eyes... his memory of his father had been frozen years earlier, and this was not the same man... perhaps both of them were half of what they should be, he mused to himself.

"How is he... how are you?" Kenrith asked the Maesters, and then his father, without looking up from his father's face. His face wore an expression of concern, and he held to this face to avoid the deeper emotions of sadness and fear which his father's pain evoked within him.

(OOC - This is a slight mistake, as Merivel is still working at the bench and so isn't available to answer the question ... )

His father, with infinite effort, slowly turned his face towards him. Even more slowly, he lifted one hand towards his son, reaching for him. The low confused murmur of words stopped - perhaps because he found some comfort in Kenrith's very presence.

Kenrith took a half-step closer to his father took a hold of the hand he outstretched, and said nothing. He kept the thoughts which boiled up out of the deep dark places of his mind quiet for the time being, and tried to allow his father some peace... without allowing an internal debate as to whether Lord Hardy deserved it.

"Son," his father said at last. "My ... son."

Kenrith simply nodded in response... then it occured to him that perhaps his father could not see him well. "I am here, father."

The pressure on his hand told him that his father wanted him to move closer, closer, till Kenrith was almost bending over the bend.

"Snow," whispered the old man. "Snow ... my son."

Continued in Return to Lord Hardy

Soon Rhys found himself at the door of Lord Hardy's room. Kenrith and Sewell were close by the bed, while Merivel was mixing some sort of preparation on the table to one side.

Rhys nodded to Sewell with a look that clearly said he needed to talk to him later, then headed over to toward Merivel.

"Good evening. Have I missed much?" he asked Merivel.

"I was going to ask you a similar question, given the manner of our last parting." Merivel replied quietly, looking up from the preparation he was making and nodding to Rhys.

Rhys passed a hand over his face. "A lot has happened on my end since," he admitted. "I'd like your advice on a matter, if you can be spared here."

"I think Kenrith and the Lord need some privacy in any event." Merivel said, as he finished what he was doing and offered the mortar and pestle to Sewell. "This should be dissolved in some water with a dram of spirit." Merivel explained to Sewell.

Sewell took it with a nod and continued, leaving Merivel and Rhys free to withdraw to the other end of the room and talk together.

"Let's go back to the tower," Rhys suggested to Merivel. "What I want to ask your advice about is there."

Merivel glanced toward Lord Hardy, Kenrith, and Sewell. "If I might be excused?" he asked, clearly addressing the elder Maester.

Sewell, who was watching Kenrith, still speaking to Lord Hardy, nodded at this.

Rhys lead Merivel out of the room and back toward the tower. "Did you get the message from Clearwater?" he asked. "I hope it's not bad news."

Categories: WinterChillsGameLogs, CastleHoldfast

Page last modified on April 19, 2006, at 01:15 AM