|The Gift of a Story|
|Summary:||Keelin tells his sister a story.|
|Sept of the Seven|
|The Sept of Terrick's Roost was never a grand spectacle, but has been hit especially hard by the occupation. Recent repairs have made the sept usable, if in less glamorous fashion: the broken roof has been replaced with thatch, the broken statues with cruder clay representations, the smashed windows boarded up. The few surviving pews have been supplemented with simpler seating. On the floor is lain out with a bright seven-pointed star in representation of the Gods, defaced by hammer and chisel and not yet restored.|
|November 25, 289|
Night and day have blended together, fever dreams from an infection hold Dania in its arms in a loving embrace. For all she knows the world is smiling and it is snowing out despite it being summer and warm. She shivers in her sleep. Blankets have been piled on her. One of the Sept healers has been working to tame the infection and break the fever. She has not been aware and when she is they dose her with Milk of the Poppy. When she is awake she cannot tell difference between reality and the dreams.
Keelin has heard of his sister's return to the Roost and made his way there. He slips in, confers briefly with the healer and then steps the rest of the way to find his sister. Once he spies her, his expression tightens somewhat, and then he settles down beside her for a bit, a brooding look on his handsome mug.
Her eyes open as she feels eyes on her. Shadows shift around her and her eyes are wide, she is focused on him but not focused on him. "Do mother and father know you are here? They will be cross with you. The black flag flies the city my dear brother. How did you get in? I got a letter from our brothers, they do not like writing but I brow beat them to do so. Have you found a girl to court, you should. You need to give mother a grandchild to keep her from hounding me." She holds a hand out to him. "I thought you were with the hunt? Why are you brooding so? You know they say that if you do that when the west wind turns to east your face will freeze in that position."
Keelin reaches a hand to Dania's, a roguish smile finally breaking the brooding look, though it doesn't quite reach his eyes. "I walked into the Sept, Dania, the healers let me in. Mother and Father are safely in Riverrun, so there's no need to fret." He pauses and then says, "If my face freezes in a brooding look, you know there will just be more wenches finding me interesting."
"Why am I at the Sept, I thought I was at the shop? I am confused, you are not helping maters." Dania points out to him. She holds on to his hand and her teeth chatter as she shivers. Sweat beads on her brow. "Of course they are in Riverrun, it is a perfect place for them to be brother. Mom is a handful. I cannot argue with you, there are woman that would, I fell for Kian." She points out to him. "They really would, that is an alarming thought, you having children with woman like that. There is possibility you could have monkeys for children. Wait that did not come out right! What I meant to say is that, you should not brood it is not good your stomach or mind. Maudlin thoughts are never healthy, what are you brooding about?"
Keelin sort of sits there for a long moment, as he listens to Dania rambling. As she goes through all the children, women, and monkeys, he cannot help but laugh, a low rumbling sound that is generally easy on the ear. "I am just brooding about you, sister," he admits after a moment. "You are going to get well, as soon as you can, yes?" Seems reasonable to him, at any rate. "If you will promise, I will promise to try not to brood."
"Brother do not brood for me, I am young and strong. I love you, but do not waste those thoughts on me. I will try and get better, when I get better I will rest at your cottage for a good long while before I head back Heronshurst. I promise you I will get better; if anything so I do not have to see you brood. It makes me worry about you. They are just making a mountain out of a mole hill. Mother would never forgive me if something happened to you. Besides, I need to see your Monkey children." Dania holds on to his hand as she continues to shiver.
Keelin squeezes Dania's hand as he sits where he is, noting that she's feverish, and of course worried about her. "Of course you will," he says, not too worried about what he says, figuring it's his voice and tone that Dania needs to hear right now. "And you will have to babysit any children I might have. But no sitting on them for real or else Mother will tan your hide."
She smiles at that and cannot even laugh as she is shivering. "Mom, I wish she was here. Do not tell her I said that. She would drive me to distraction. She and I would be arguing. I will watch them and teach them to turn each other blue." His voice and tone reassure her and she smiles a little. "I got stung." She tells him. "It hurts and I do not want to get stung again, I think it got Sparrow. I cannot recall. I hope he does not have a reaction to it. The stinger was long. Damn near skewered me to him. Biggest wasp I have ever seen. Please do not let them take my leg Keely, not unless nothing else can be done. Tell them to use maggots first. They tried the Firemilk."
Keelin gets at least a little bit of reason in the conversation, though not a lot. "I promise," he says, though whether he's promising the first or the second part, he doesn't specify. "They are chasing that wasp, to make sure it harms nobody else ever again," he says softly. "Don't worry, Dania, we will take good care of you. For once, you will need to listen to the other healers so they /can/ save your leg, yes?"
"They need to save the leg, if not it means the infection spread too far. That is when I dance with the Stranger again, I have danced with him before. He is a kind dance partner and does not step on your toes. But it was not time, this will not be time. Do not worry mother and father with this mess. What happens, happens and no brooding my brother. Or sadness. Tell me a story." She smiles as she says this.
Keelin shakes his head as he listens to Dania. He's got a fairly good picture now between his short conversation with the healer and Dania's own words. "They'll save your leg, Dania," he says soothingly. "You need to do all you can to help them though. Promise me that." He leaves the rest of the conversation to fade, since he figures it's just extra.
"I will Keelin, I will try. I will not do anything stupid. I will try and listen and not give advice. I will not argue with them. I will not call them names. But, they will not let me take bath. We may have a fight over that. Now about that story?" She presses as her mind starts to wander. "A good story and I demand there be a white knight in it and his name has to be Keely."
Keelin chuckles softly, as he listens. "I am sure they will bathe you, Dania. But you might not remember it," he says. Then he thinks for a moment, before he says, "Once upon a time, a long time ago, there was a white knight named Keely who had defeated all the evil monsters in his kingdom. The king was a little worried that the people liked Keely more than him, so he sent Keely off to help the kings of foreign countries, seeing the world and killing evil monsters wherever he went," he starts.
"What happen to him when he went to the foreign lands and did he fall in love with a beautiful princess? Did the kings kick him out?" Her face contorts in pain for moment and she breathes deeply and she focuses on his voice and the story. She swallows hard. "Of course the people like Keely more than the King, Keely is well Keely. They can reach him he is touchable. The king is more Mythical than Keely is." She pauses. "I am quiet, you can continue."
Keelin listens patiently, his gaze noting the pain that Dania is showing. There's a damp cloth nearby that he uses to wipe her forehead, gently. "Keely travelled from kingdom to kingdom, killing a bandit king here, a giant monster there, a horrible pirate there. It was a life he was well suited to, and he was very very good at it." Of course, he did meet many beautiful princesses and he treated them all gallantly, but for a long time he didn't fall in love with anyone. Then he came back to the first kingdom, he'd started in. Only by now, the king had all but forgotten him, as had the people, thinking of him as just a story to tell scared children."
"What happen to him when he came back to the Kingdom, brother?" She holds on to his hand tightly a few tears start to slide down her cheek. "Poor Keely, to be forgotten like that after all he did." She licks her dry cracked lips. "I want mom and dad, it is so stupid. Just ignore me and tell me what happens with the story."
"It's okay, Dani. I'll get Mother and Father for you," Keelin says softly. He reaches a hand to wipe the tears away gently, though his hands are calloused. "And you think it's sad that he is forgotten, but really, it was a good thing. Keely found that in the time he was away, an evil monster had moved back into the kingdom, and was demanding sacrifices. The king, without his brave white knight, was unable to get rid of the monster, and the lottery had come up and the king's own daughter was next to be sacrificed, at the next full moon."
"Mom is not feeling well let them be." She leans into his touch as her lower lips start to quiver and more tears come. Despite the tears, pain and fever she is listening to that story of his. "What happen next? Did monster get the King's daughter or did the Daughter turn out to be too sour tasting and the monster and it spit her out? What did Keely do?" She says this through her tears.
Keelin gives Dania as much of a hug as he can, given her status as wounded and feverish. "Shush, don't worry about Mother and Father, they are okay," he says, with a nod of his head. He continues to try to soothe her, his hands gentle on her arms, and wiping the tears away from her cheeks. "As for the king's daughter, well, that is a great question. See, the next full moon was in three days, and the sacrifices took place at the coast, all the way across the country from where Keelin crossed the border. It was a four day ride to get there, so it certainly seemed an impossible task. Keelin heard the story from a storekeeper who was very glum about the loss of the princess, who he called as beautiful as a rose. This daughter would have been only a child when Keely was last in the kingdom, so he didn't really remember her. But the storekeep also told him that the king's son had already perished, trying to kill the monster and failing."
"So the monster did not spit her out. I know a lot of spoiled noble ladies whom it might spit out." She says between tears. "Heat is not my friend. The King must have been in morning for his Son. Did he even notice his daughter was going to be the next sacrifice?" Her skin is hot to the touch. She leans again into his touch when he wipes away her tears for his hands feel cool to her. "Did he still have his weapons and did he plan to fight? Was the king going to try to save his daughter? What did Keely do?"
"Hey, are you telling the story or am I?" Keelin asks; a gentle amusement in his eyes and tone. He might even be a good father, if he ever has children he knows about. He listens to the nonstory things she says, making a note to tell the healers, if he gets the chance. In case it helps. He waits a moment more, stretching it out, and then he says, "Keely was a white knight, of course, as requested, and he had to try to help. In fact, he swore right there, he would have to slay that monster. But the only problem was - 4 days."
"But he is Keely and should be able to do it. I still think the monster should eat her and spit her out. You are the one telling the story and it is a very good one brother. Continue!" She closes her eyes and her tears continue to fall like rain down her cheeks. "So he only had four days to slay the monster or the princess would be eaten. How did he do it, who helped him? Also what did this monster look like?"
In Sept in the sick area Dania lays on bed. At her bedside is a very handsome strong man, he is talking to her, and wiping her brow and tears away. She is not looking like herself. Outside of the Sept the dusk has faded into night. Crickets serenade each other and frogs add their voices to the chorus.
Keelin has had to deal with many things, including injured folks and his sister, but not usually is it his sister who is injured. He laughs though, as she bombards him with questions about the story. "You have to wait to find out how the monster looks. Keely hasn't seen it yet, after all." He takes a moment to think, and then he says, "And you are going to owe me a lot of tea once this is all done." He takes the damp cloth and wipes her forehead once more, and then he continues with the story. "So we have Keely at the shop, swearing to slay the monster. Meanwhile, the king, in mourning for his son, was taking his daughter to the coast to the point where she was to be sacrificed. It was a very sad time at the castle, everyone in tears. Keely knew he wasn't going to have enough time to get there, but he really needed to do so. So - he went to the nearest Sept, taking a few moments to pray for the help of the Seven. And since Keely was a white knight, Dani, just like you asked, the Seven heard him. And as he stepped out of the Sept, guess what he saw? A fluffy white unicorn was there waiting for him."
Not so fluffy is the Terrick Lord entering the Sept carrying a bundle of roses. His version of a get well present. Lord Keenan Terrick is in a spry and happy mood today - but there was always something mildly manic about him. He is dressed in attire that makes the Terricks look unostentatious at an event where one was expected to dress ostentatiously and is meticulously groomed. Not so long ago however he was covered in Dania's blood. He hears the last part of the story and remarks, "Ooo story time - don't let me interrupt."
Keelin gets a weak laugh from her. "Brother, thank you." She chuckles and a smile appears on her lips. "So the king took her to the ocean. I am confused is the unicorn the monster or is it some squid beast that is going to rise out of the ocean and try and eat her.” She pauses thoughtful for a moment. “I got it the unicorn is to be his help and mount that is why he prayed to the seven." Hearing another familiar voice Dania looks at Keelin startled she blinks and tries to wipe the tears away. She takes his hand and holds it tightly. She blinks as the Terrick lord comes into view. She swallows hard and she is quiet for a moment as the wheels in her head turn as thoughts and names swim through her fever addle mind. She says at last. "Ser Keelin Dorsey may I introduce you to Lord Keenan Terrick. He has a ship and he gave me some herbs he brought with him for me to experiment with." She says in introduction. "My good brother is telling me a very good story, would you care to join us and listen to it, Lord Terrick?"
Keelin looks over at the new arrival, offering a seated half bow politely. "Lord Terrick," he says as Dania does the introductions. "Please do join us. And as you wish. I can certainly continue the tale." He notes the clothing, but makes no comment, simply turning back to Dania. "You are correct, the unicorn is white knight Keely's help, sent by the Seven. As he came out the unicorn bowed one leg, and he suddenly knew that if he were to ride the unicorn like the wind, he would be able to make it to the sea in time." Keelin pauses to let that sink in, and then he says, "So he made sure his armour was ready, his sword and shield set for battle, and he mounted the unicorn. Which whinnied at him, and then started to walk towards the sea. After a couple steps it started to trot, and then run. Soon enough, the countryside was just a blur, as the unicorn raced towards the sea, as fast as it could. Even with that speed, it was going to be nerve wrackingly close if the unicorn and Ser Keely could make it there in time."
Lord Keenan bows in, "Yes indeed I am Lord Keenan Flashman Terrick at your service Ser Keelin. And you are the spoken of brother good to see you here." The roses are given to Dania and the flamboyant Terrick lord sits down, "Please do continue…"
Her eyes are closed as the images dance in her head that Keelin’s the story is creating. Tears start to leak out from the corners of her eyes and shivers again. She opens them as the flowers are given to her. "Thank you Lord Terrick it is a very kind gift. I appreciate it they are lovely." She says to the lord with a smile. She looks back to her brother. "So he rode the unicorn to the sea to save her. I can see the sunlight rushing by Ser Keely as he rides. How long did it take them to reach the ocean and did he have to fight the beast underwater. What is the beast for that matter?" She shivers and closes her eyes again.
Keelin glances over at Keenan, and nods his head, at the polite permission given to continue. He reaches to wipe the tears automatically, continuing to take care of his sister. "Easy, Dani," he says, his affection for his sibling showing clearly. "Ser Keely rode the unicorn for three days, stopping only when he absolutely had to, and for the bare minimum time. By the time the air was smelling of sea salt, both he and the unicorn were tiring, and it was getting very close to sunset, the time of the sacrifice." He pauses, looks at Dania, and then continues. "Ser Keely and the unicorn raced out to the sea, where the tide was out. A very dashing figure he cut, the white knight, in shining armour, atop the unicorn. As they neared, they could see the princess, all in a flowing white gown, chained to a rock. And over on the shore ,the king and his retinue, all in black mourning. From the sea, the giant monster began to rise, each step it took a large thud on the ground, shaking it like a small earth tremor. It looked not like a squid, but like a giant man, only one that could breathe water and air."
"Anytime dear lady," Keenan says to Dania and continues listening to the narrative. Fine eyebrows arching at the description of an amphibious man. He would open his mouth to draw analogies with the Drowned god but it was not appropriate under the circumstances.
A healer quietly moves in not wishing to disturb the story. She gives Dania a spoonful liquid that causes her to make a face and for once she does not protest or argue with the healer. Instead, she takes what the healer is giving to her. Dania closes her eyes as the healer moves away. She leans her head into her brother's touch and she nods. "Brother is it one of the drowned gods minions?" Where others will not ask she will. The story he is weaving has her attention fully despite the questions. Her body starts to relax despite the shivering. Her eyes remain closed and she holds on to her brother's hand. "I think that Lord Terrick likes the story too."
Keelin smiles at the healer as they bring whatever goop it is for Dania. And then he turns to his sister. "I think it must be one of the Drowned God's minions, perhaps. Though it is just a legend from times long past." He glances over at Keenan, then at the roses, a thoughtful look on his face, but he then goes back to the story. "Now where was I? Oh, yes. The giant man, coming out of the water, slobbering over the poor princess, chained to the rock. And racing in at top speed, Ser Keely on the unicorn. And just as they got near, the unicorn tripped, sending ser Keely flying through the air. It seemed to be the end of everything, but Ser Keely had trained long and hard, and he wasn't a white knight for nothing. He hit the ground with one shoulder and rolled, so that he came up to his feet at the end of it. And lo and behold, he was facing the monster. And between the monster and the princess."
Keenan folds his arms and listens patiently offerning no commentary but pulling aside the healer when she is done and quietly asks, "How is she? Is there an infection? Is she going to be okay?"
"Then what happen, brother?" Her words are little slurred. "I can see it in my mind and I can hear the waves crashing and the earth trembling." She relaxes more her eyes remain close and she continues to hold on to Keelin's hand but her grip getting weaker. She shifts her weight a little bit to try and get more comfortable.
The healer, "It is an infection or what some call wound fever, we are trying combat it. She is young and strong." to Keenan.
Keelin moves automatically to help Dania get more comfortable. He glances over at Keenan and the healer, brow furrowing, as his concern flickers across his face. "The white knight drew his sword, and shouted out his challenge. And then there was a battle to be told for ages. A fight that lasted all through the night, between the giant and the white knight. The unicorn was left to the side to watch, as Ser Keely struggled mightily with the giant, each wounding the other, but continuing to fight. Until, with the first dawning rays of the sun, Ser Keely found a weakness in the giant's armour, his sword piercing through into a gill, and killing him. With his success, Ser Keely dropped to one knee, exhaustedly tired and he thanked the Seven right then and there for his victory." Keelin's voice softens, as he comes to the end of this tale. "And then he got to his feet, as tired and wounded as he was, bleeding, and he went to unchain the princess. She was most grateful for him, and so was the king. Of course, the king recognized ser Keely, and so did a lot of his retinue. It didn't take long for the king to announce that Ser Keely would marry his daughter, and thus remain in the kingdom to keep it safe. The unicorn came forward to touch his horn to Ser Keely, healing him of all his hurts, and then the unicorn loped off, vanishing never to be seen again. But Ser Keely married his princess, and they lived happily ever after."
She is quiet for while after his story comes to the end of the story. She opens her now drug dull eyes as she speaks. "Brother that was a beautiful story. I owe you lots of tea. I will make you griddle cakes and honey cake as well. Where did you learn that one?" She asks him. "You are truly blessed and I am by you telling us that tale." She frowns little bit as she hears her own words and she tries to figure out if she is making sense. "I have kept you here long enough; can you stay with me until I fall asleep? I will be right as rain in the morning." Her eyes droop shut again.
Keelin inclines his head, still holding Dania's hand with his bigger one, and staying right where he is. "Don't worry, Dani. I'm not going anywhere," he says, softly. He does glance over towards the healer and Keenan, just to check what's going on, but for the moment, he is taking care of his little sister, and that's the important thing. "You go ahead and sleep, and when you are better, we can talk about the griddle cakes and tea."
Dania nods her head a little and her entire body relaxes as the drug and sleep claim her. Her hand is limp in Keelins larger hand now.
The healer in the meantime looks over at Keelin and smiles. "Thank you for coming to visit her Ser Dorsey the story will rally her spirit. The Mother will watch out for her Ser. I was telling Lord Terrick, that she has wound fever. But she is strong and young. If we cannot draw the fever out from the leg we will to amputate it but it is too soon to tell and she made me swear on all that was holy to the seven that we would exhaust ever effort first before we resort to amputation." The healers speak in soft tones so as not to disturb Dania.
Keelin nods his head, as he gets the information. "Thank you," he says softly, staying with Dania for the moment. "I will see if I can let our parents know. I am sure they will come if they are able." He shrugs a bit, understanding what is being said, and yet not able to do anything about it. "And please do all you can to bring her back to health. I will see if I can find out what is going on."
Keenan waves a hand at the healer, "Let's just hang back on the amputation talk lady Septa…" Keenan had seen enough of that kind of thing at sea. "Nice story Ser," he says to Keelin. "Mistress Dorsey - mind if I stay as well?"
Keelin glances at Dania, who is out cold, and then over at Keenan. "I don't think she'll mind if you stick around, my Lord. She seems to be sleeping though, so you will have to make do with my company." He pauses a moment, and then says, "And thank you. It's not just anyone I'd tell such a tale for."
"As you wish Ser Dorsey. I will send word if she gets worse and if she starts to get better." The Healer promises. "The seven will look after her." The healer looks at Keenan next. "Yes, Lord Terrick. We will continue to look at other options first. But, I want you both to be prepared if it comes to that." The healer then steps away, leaving the two men to talk.