In Serein

3-5-2 The End Of Service

Marani speaks.

My life has become too long.

My time has become one that should now be left alone, I am too tired and I have seen and been too much.

I can no longer pretend nor can I even fear as once I did so easily, so readily, so willingly.

He has pushed me beyond my limits once too many times.

I don’t know if it was the destruction of the children and their worlds which finally did it and broke my spirit at last.

I don’t know if it was the exile and starvation amongst those strange savages.

I don’t know if it was having to serve him again in that demonic lair of his and seeing him with his new women when somewhere, my dear young lady lay suffering.

I don’t know if it was returning to Headman’s Acre and finding the house torn to pieces and stripped of the flooring, the furniture and even the mosaic from the courtyard had been scraped up and carted off. They had smashed and taken the windows for the precious coloured glass.

I don’t know if it was the sight of young lady Isca, heavily pregnant and entirely insane.

Perhaps it was all of it together, and perhaps it was simply my age.

It was too much and though I would not stop for all their sakes, I had the heart for it no more.

The children did not dare or simply could not to do their magic, and I found it hard to do almost anything; my eyes would hurt and my head would hurt from doing the simplest things, and I didn’t have my stone to help me any more, of course.

Chay helped and without him, I don’t know what any of us would have done. Him and young Ricco, perhaps more used to working than the others were and younger of heart still than me, they repaired things, gathered things, got provisions, took charge in a way but there wasn’t one of us who could be here and not remember how it used to be, before he came and destroyed us all.

Reyna, Jilean, Taray, and little Vona were listless and silent. Reyna struggled with every day as hard as I did so myself. We had no strength to give to each other and avoided each others glances and hardly ever spoke and never touched with our minds at all.

Cyno was different. He had a mission in life and that was to be near young lady Isca at all times. He slept in her room in a corner like a dog and we said nothing about it.

He came one morning to me but I had heard her sounds already and was struggling to get dressed. A birth was always a time of mixed blessings, but this one, what could it ever be than even more suffering, even more darkness to add to us all?

I don’t know why I have always loved that young one so very much.

I would gladly trade my useless old life to spare her suffering, and she suffered terribly.

The baby did not come, not after hours and hours, and there was nothing I could do about it. What little pattern work was still remaining, it was useless in the storm that she  produced in her agony and I could get nowhere near her.

It went on for the whole day, the whole night and she was nearly at the end when finally, he came.

By that time, I was too exhausted and I just wished he would end it here for all of us, for none of us had anything left to give.

I was in the room, and Cyno who would never leave, and Reyna who could not. Poor Chay had run away hours ago and I was too exhausted to even feel for him, let alone try to help him.

He arrived and we did not fear him any longer.

He sat on the bed and took her hand and she subsided immediately and became calm. Only a few moments later, the baby was born and he gave it no heed at all, looking at her as he was and holding her hand and stroking her hair.

It was Reyna who brought a rough towel and gathered the child within, unsure as to what to do about the chord, kneeling at the foot of the blood soaked bedding.

I tried to make myself move, to help her, to say something but I could not.

She looked at me with her big black eyes and once more, I tried to send her something.