Page 572: Secrets and Confidences
Secrets and Confidences
Summary: A problem shared is a problem halved they say, but what if the sharing goes both ways?
Date: 15/Feb/2013
Related Logs: References to things discussed in The Worries of a Healer and other recent Roost logs.
Dania Mortimer 
Northern Orchard Road, Terrick's Roost
The road heads inland away from the coast, flat grasses and craggy rocks softening into lowland hills and stout trees, the woods for which the lands of House Groves are best known. Branches fan over the road like a cathedral ceiling, leaves breaking the light like glass in the summer and casting the southwestern road to Kingsrove in dappled sunshine. Bunches of wildflowers grow in bright patches along the flattened path. As the road nears Kingsgrove itself, the thick forest begins to give way to nature as crafted by man: orchards planted in delicate, methodical lines that seem to go on forever. In the spring, they sweeten the air with perfumed blossoms and hang low with fruit in the later seasons.
Fri Feb 15, 290

The sun is slowly descending in the sky and filtering through the tree canopy that stretches out over the road. The scent of ripening fruit and summer grasses hangs heavy in the air. Asters of ethereal purple bow their heads as the follow the sun. Pools of shifting golden light dapple the ground that creates the road beneath the cathedral of trees offer relief from the oppressive summer heat. The road has a few travelers on it this time of the day, one of them is Dania. She is perched on her horse who is walking on a loose rein. Her eyes are closed and she is dozing in the saddle. Her wide brimmed hat shades her closed eyes. The horse dutifully plods away as they head a direction that takes them towards the Roost.

Mortimer has been out on a fruitless search of a couple of the more westerly farmsteads. Word had come of a potential sighting of a wanted poacher but he's been able to find no trace and now is trotting back towards the Roost in hopes of making it back before sundown. His borrowed horse seems to be happy enough to be heading back to the comfort of the keep's stables and to be honest, neither pay much attention to the other horse when it comes in sight. It's only when they get closer, and Dania becomes recognisable that he starts to pay attention, speeding his horse up until he is alongside the other and glancing over to check if she is alright, "Mistress?"

Her eyes open for a moment she is startled and loses her balance but she does not fall out of the saddle. She blinks. "Yes, Deputy." She almost snaps and she catches herself. "I am sorry." She blinks again and looks around her to get a sense of her surroundings. "Day to you or evening I should say what bring you out this far out?" She asks him. "How is your head?"

Mortimer reaches out to offer support as Dania loses her balance, although he does look at least in part relieved as she wakes. THen guilty for having done so when she needs the rest. "Nothing to apologise for Mistress," he replies with a faint nod, "just wanted to make sure you were all right." He follows her glance briefly, in case she's looking for anything in particular then replies easily, "work. Probably just about evening by now I reckon, although there's a while yet before it'll be fully dark." And for the last question he just shrugs "still attached, still working. Can't really complain."

"Still attached, yes working sometimes yes, but not as I would like it. I think I will leech you after your weekend of debauchery with your wife." She says with some amusement. Then she looks sheepish. "I am alright. Just dozed off, which I should not have. Now that is dangerous. What are you looking for out here?" She asks, then she offers him a slight smile. "Still taking the medicine that I did give you?"

"Leeches?" Mortimer replies, eyebrows raised skeptically, "why leeches? An' yes, I'm still taking it." The comment about his weekend plans gets a faint smile before he shakes his head once and asks, "is it still debauchery after you're married?" Kicking his horse on again and assuming Dania will follow he glances back down the road they've just ridden and answers, "farmer reckoned he saw a guy we've been after for poaching. No sign by the time I go there but it might be been him."

"Poachers are nasty business, also they could just be feeding their families." Dania points out. "Takes awhile for things to completely recover in the outlying areas. Now to answer your question about the Leeches they help balance the humors." She explains to him as they continue to ride. "Yes it is depending on your taste. Enjoy each other and each other's company. You both could use some time in each other's company without distractions. Also one man's debauchery is another man's daily bread."

"It's possible," Mortimer concedes with a nod, "won't know til I get the chance to ask him but we also need the farmers to be able to feed the rest of us." He shrugs, likelihood is that it's just an opportunistic thief, but he'll keep an open mind for now. Nodding at the reply about leeches then asks, "how? I mean, you were talking about bleeding before an' maybe it's just the old soldier in me talking but when I've needed healers before it's usually to stop that. Not cause it." What worry and concern there is in his expression as that topic is discussed soon fades as he adds, "Oh don't you worry, we intend to. How about yourself? Any plans or are you going to just take it easy and sleep?"

"I would make a small nick and use the leeches. Measters bleed as well, but we do not bleed you until you are weak." Dania explains, "it would not be the same as you getting a wound. For myself I will sleep and I have a feeling I will be attending a birth or two." She then pauses. "You will be okay Mortimer, I am most likely filling your head with unneeded information." She pauses as she looks up at the slowly dying sun. "It will be fine, you will see."

Mortimer nods along silently as Dania explains, keeping half an eye on the road as well, just in case. Lifting one hand from the reins to rub across his chin he admits freely, "can't say I understand it, but then you're the healer, not me. How long is it likely to take? I mean I'll need to sort someone to cover work and such if it'll be awhile." Not something he particularly wants to do if he can avoid it as people might start to ask questions. "I'm sure everything will be fine," he agrees, "'s not like it's a bother most of the time."

"I would do it in the evening when you are not working so you can sleep the night away." Dania explains. "I know you are worried about other learning about this." She continues to rider her horse forward. With the reins loosely in her one hand she rubs the back of her neck with her free hand. "It will be, wear the helmet be safe and do not do anything I would deem as stupid." the last is said with a slight smile.

"I don't want anyone starting to question if I can do my job," Mortimer answers with a faint scowl, although it's in no way directed at Dania. "There's been enough upheaval of late and I know well enough that I'm not in favour with some of the Lords and Ladies who now rule us. Last thing I need is to give one of them that doesn't like me an excuse to have me out." Said helmet is with his gear on the back of his saddle and he reaches back to pat it as it's mentioned in silent acknowledgement of her words. "I try not to do anything I would deem stupid," he offers, tone a little lighter, "will that do?"

"That will work, are things really that bad at the Roost?" Dania asks him. "If you get booted out you could always move to Heronhurst." She points out. "It is quiet there and yes I do understand that starting over is never easy." She continues to ride onward.

Mortimer can only shrug in reply to that, and shake his head a little. "Honestly? I don't know. Lord Bolland has kept himself to himself pretty much since he arrived so we've no way of judging how he views things or what he wants from us. I'm content enough that Lord Ozric is satisfied and what with him being Young Lord thats a definite help, it's just some of his siblings I worry about." He takes for granted that Justin and Anais are happy enough with his work, know that they'd like as not tell him quickly if they weren't. He then thinks for a moment, unsure if he should add a final point or not and so takes a moment to scan the road both ahead and behind while he considers.

"We will just have to see what happens." Dania yawns and she tries to stifle it. "I learned a little bit from my apprentice, I am still not happy with his focus. But, apparently Anais had offered him the Inn and Bolland and Ozric said no. It would seem that Anais had over stepped her bound with the Bollands or the Bollands did not know." She tells him. "But I still have a feeling that he is going to pack his bags and moved on I just really hope I am not wasting my time."

"Lord Bolland overruled her?" Mortimer asks sharply, attention now firmly back on Dania and whatever he might have said forgotten. "That I did not know. It certainly used to be in her power, under Lord Jerold, to make such appointments and he hasn’t so far as I'm aware appointed anyone else." He mulls that news over for a few moments and while he says no more on it, it's evident that it doesn't sit well with him. Focusing instead on Ciaran he shrugs once, "as I've said, I can't claim to know him well, but he doesn't seem the most settled of lads. Hopefully though he'll stick at this if he has the talent."

"He is not, but we will see, I need the help and it will help him with his understanding of the art of healing. Now as for Bolland, he has the right as he has taken over the place and she is just a woman. At least that is my understanding. I am not certain if my limited understanding is correct." Dania says as they continued to ride. "If only she had a child. It would be different. This is one thing that I do understand and the reason I understand it is because of my dealing with nobles who are pregnant." She sighs.

Mortimer nods as Dania speaks. "Aye, he has the right. He is Lord of the Roost now, under Lord Jerold though, after the death of Lady Evangeline, Lady Anais did a lot of the day to day work, in preparation for such time as she would become Lady of the Roost. I must confess to knowing even less of Lady Terresa than I do of Lord Bolland, but perhaps in teh Vale they do things differently and he takes responsibility for all?" Speculation at best alas, but he's stil not happy with the news of such a change, especially as it seems that Lady Anais had been unaware of it as well. At the mention of a child though he just shakes head head, breathing deeply, "I fear if she had a child, or was with one, then they would be set aside the same way Lord Justin was and now it seems Lady Anais has been. It matters not that Lord Jerold has living issue, Lord Bolland has taken his place. Any child of Lord Jascen and Lady Anais would fare no better than it's uncle has." Which in his mind is not practically any better than bastardisation, but he's not stupid enough to say those words, not even here.

"You know that there is little we can do when the nobles fight over land. The only thing that we can do is trive to not let them crush us in their haste." Dania shakes her head sadly. "There is no good and there is no evil. It just is." She frowns. "As sad as it may sound. In some ways we small folk are no better than they are. Did I mention that I will either die in childbirth, or by the hands of a noble or sickness. I do not see me dying in my sleep."

"I don't particularly see you dying at the hands of a noble either," Mortimer replies, seemingly surprised at the suggestion, sickness and childbirth he can see well enough though. Sadly. He watches her for a few moments after that then turns his attention back to the road, and the first signs of the Roost that are appearing in the distance. "What is it the bards say?
In this mad age there's nothing firm
All things have their period and turn
For rising and declining.
Without our help affairs of state
They pass at their ordained rate.
We watch but neither cheer nor frown
Which e'er sides up, we're always down.
There's no use for cheers or whining.

Seems oddly fitting don't you think? Still, I suppose we must all soldier on as best we can."

"We will see." Dania says softly. "Be warned I do not know what will happen in the next eight or so Months. But I would suggest in seven months you seek a Maester or another healer you trust. If you do not hear from me in two months after that then you should continue to go to that Measter or Healer."

"That's an oddly specific time period Mistress," Mortimer replies, a frown of concern spreading across his features. Stepping his horse a little closer, even though there is no one else about, he asks quietly, "is there some specific threat that you are aware of? Forgive me if this is forward but I have to ask, you speak of a nine month period, is there… is there a child involved in this? This noble you speak of, is it a specific one?" His mind goes back to his dislike of the Ashwoods but he hopes his immediate suspicions are wrong.

"No, it is not a noble. I am staying away from them while I am moody. Yes, there is a child involved and no it is not the bastard of some noble. Yes the child will be considered a bastard but I am hoping that none will be the wiser." She tells him as he rides closer to her. "You are the only one I have told. I am not far enough along for any to worry or notice." She pauses. "I would like to keep it that way, the less individuals know a about me the better. I know how to stop the child from growing but I have wanted a child for so long."

Mortimer almost asks who the father is, but stops himself in time, she'll tell him if she wants him to know after all. He does at least content himself in the knowledge that his initial thoughts regarding the Ashwoods seem to have been wide of the mark. He starts to nod in agreement in response to telling no one else but then pauses and asks thoughtfully, "I'll give you my word if you want it, but I must ask this first. May I tell Freya? Or indeed would you like to? It's just we don't generally keep things from each other and I reckon she'd noticed if I tried and then she'd only worry." He's confident enough that his wife isn't about to go tell the whole of the Riverlands or he'd never have asked, but still, he won't mention a word if Dania would rather he didn't.

"You can tell her, just tell her I would like to keep it quiet. I have not told the father, he has been busy as have I. He says he is courting me again, he wanted to get married but I told him to wait and try and court me again. He tried once before, but did not work out. I never saw him, after he had asked my brother for permission." She tells him honestly as they continue to ride. "I have only slept with one man." She smiles. "I know I am a fool. But rest assured I will be able to work as long as I am able. I got a cart when it becomes too awkward to ride."

Mortimer nods once as permission is granted to inform his wife, "She'll understand," he replies then offers a faint smile, "although I can't promise that she won't start offering advice or telling you stories of her own time that way." He rides on in silence for a few moments as he digests the rest of her words then shakes his head. "I would call you nobody's fool, unconventional maybe, but no fool. Just promise me that when the time comes that you can no longer work then you'll tell me which healers you trust. I have already spoken to the one I do after all."

"I having a feeling I will be working until the day I give birth. There will be no laying in period for me." Dania says to him gently. "But I will tell you who I trust." She says to him. "I will let you know who to go to. I have birthed many children in my time. It will be alright, you are right it unconventional to say the least. Leave it to me to something like this. But honestly I do not think men see in the light having a midwife and healer for a wife. I should not lament anymore and I should be grateful for what I have and this gift I will have." She grins suddenly. "I am sorry to burden you and to say this. I know I should not have but it feels good to say it to someone."

"You know better about such things than I," Mortimer answers with a slight shrug, he after all had even managed to miss pretty much all of his wife's pregnancy. "You'll have to let me know what to tell them as well," he adds, "or write it down for them or such. I'm sure you'll be fine though and that there is many a midwife in these lands who'd be more than happy to assist you come the time." He fades off there though, as a cart from town comes the other way and he notes just how close they are now to town. "It's no burden," he adds, keeping care to be non-specific, "and I'm glad if it helped." Even in the time it takes to say that little, another cart and some foot traffic appears and it seems the conversation is over bar a final, "I'll bid you good evening then. Sleep well."