Story for the day: Jaicobh MacDaede
The commander marched toward the gentry estates along the eastern edge of the farmlands with her mate thundering beside her. She muttered many ill phrases and vile names much more audibly than was permissible for the time of night but she felt they were warranted given the circumstance. She was wronged numerous times by the machinations of her mother’s family but never so secretively, never with such willful indignation, and never with so little regard for her father’s memory or her want to preserve it. To set any wrong to right or even to clarify any unfamiliar dealings between Mrs. Flagstone and her father while the commander was made to visit her abhorrent grandmother on the matter of her unwelcome letters would have been a reconciliation by some means, but there was no mention of her father’s questionable history when she had come and she was led to believe there was nothing left to be told.
The commander had done with all of Mrs. Flagstone’s designs to confound and mislead her. She wished for the commander to secure her estate and attempted to win her affections after years of absence, disinterest, and selfishness enough to allow a wayward daughter to die and compel a supposedly errant son to care for his daughter while being plunged into poverty. The ignorance under which she was kept must be ended and when she came to the gate of her grandmother’s estate, she screamed for the attendant to receive her.
Poole came, but when he witnessed his mistress’s visitors and the incensed state in which they had arrived, he grew terrified that he should come into his inheritance too soon. He was hesitant to permit them entrance but his impediment mattered little when the Den Asaan began to make his ardent demands for entry.
The giant’s rage had billowed to a dangerous height and what little patience he retained for the attendant’s delay was over. The Den Asaan had taken the iron bars of the gate into his large hands. He permitted his inbred fury to enthuse his strength and he roared as he pulled the gate apart. The iron bars bent under his overwhelming might and were torn from their place, giving his mate the advantage she needed to enter. Rautu forced aside the remainder of the gate and stormed forward, drawing his blade into his hands as his mate drew her weapons from her back.
They leaped toward the Flagstone Estate prepared for certain eventualities. When they came to the doorway, the Den Asaan lifted his leg and released his foot into the door, forcing it from its hinges. The commander entered once the door was moved aside to find Mrs. Flagstone sitting in the drawing room, enjoying a cup of evening tea. She seemed to have no symptoms of the illness she professed to assailing her and looked rather well for a woman so ailing in her years. She started when she saw the livid commander rush toward her and thought to run but when she turned to leave the drawing room, she found herself on the ground. In her endeavors to flee the furious woman, she was impeded by Rautu who stood steadfastly beside her blocking her escape.
“You will not leave here until my mate has spoken,” the Den Asaan seethed in rage.
Mrs. Flagstone looked up in terror at the enormous and wrathful monster. He held his sword over her to keep her in her place, his eyes were wide with violent vehemence, his mouth was tensed and his muscled body flexed with indomitability.
When the commander approached, she smiled at the woman’s horror of her immense mate. She placed her foot on Mrs. Flagstone’s shoulder to gain her attention and laid her blades down at the sides of her neck to quiet her whimpers and force her to listen. “You’re not really ill, are you?” the commander scoffed.
There was no reply.
“You were hoping I would return to care for you and cure you of you wretched loneliness, and with time, when I should grow to form an attachment for you, wish you would not die and therefore I would be happy that you were never ill at all. Your only infirmity shall be the mistake you made in telling me you were.”
The commander made a swift motion with her wrists and made small cuts into the old woman’s skin enough to bleed and alarm but not enough to severely wound. The crone cried out for aid but there was no one who came to aid her.
The commander sneered at her fright and leaned toward her, crossing her blades at the front of the woman’s throat. “These are the blades I found in my father’s body when I came to rescue him from the invasion on our farm,” she said with a darkening countenance. “I will consider it retribution if they should take your life for the one you allowed slip away. I am very angry, madam. You have tried my patience on numerous accounts and you have lied to me in every way possible. You will tell me everything you know about my father’s parents and the crime he was accused of committing. If you refuse, I will kill you for being entirely useless and allow my mate to dismember your corpse.”
Mrs. Flagstone began to cry. The fear of her wretched life being taken from her was one enough for her to commence her quick divulgence and she promised to say what she knew if the commander’s blades where put down. Her wishes were not granted and her pleading only sought to exacerbate her captivity.
“Tell me now or I drive these blades through your neck,” the commander grimly said.
Mrs. Flagstone stammered. “I’ll tell you what I can,” she said. She watched the blades around her neck and heard them scrape together as she spoke. “Madeira was my only child and I was concerned for her,” she said, attempting to impress upon the commander her just reasons for her beliefs and actions. “Jaicobh MacDaede was an odd man. He had always been on the MacDaede plot. There was never a time when he wasn’t recalled as being there with his mother. I knew Deidra, your father’s mother. She was quiet and withdrawn. She rarely attended any of the social events in the assembly. There were rumors that her husband was harsh with her and wouldn’t allow her to go out even when he was gone on business. Your grandfather was a trader and was often gone for weeks at a time but she would stay shut up in that house, only coming to town for the markets. She had no children of her own to comfort her but she enjoyed sitting by the Church and watching the young ones in the yard once her husband was trading in Farriage.” She paused, remarked the commander’s attentive expression and sighed. “One day, there was talk of Deidra finding a young man wounded in the woods. She took him in, nursed him and sent him on his way. Her husband was not pleased when he found out there had been another man in his home during his absence and left her completely when he discovered she was pregnant.”
The commander fleered at such a tale. “So this is your reasoning for treating my father so poorly, because he was a bastard son?”
“There were other unusual things about him, Boudicca,” Mrs. Flagstone asserted. “This happened when I was young. Your father was a grown man when I was married. Everyone thought it was strange that he never seemed to age. He hid on his farm so others wouldn’t be suspicious but I saw it. He never rested, he never went to Church, never celebrated any of the holidays in town, never had friends. Jaicobh was at least seventy when he asked my husband to marry our daughter.”
The commander loosened her blades around the old woman’s neck. “That’s impossible,” she argued.
“It is the truth, Boudicca. He was the same man from when I was young until I grew old.”
The commander averted her eyes to think. She deliberated on her father’s apparent agelessness and wondered why not many others seemed to question it if it was true. “Who was the man who visited my grandmother?” she asked with wariness in her voice.
“I don’t know who he was.”
“What did he look like?”
“There isn’t much I can tell you,” Mrs. Flagstone said with a shake of the head. “Not many people saw him. I merely know that he was a strange-looking man. Straight stature, tall, black hair, blue eyes like your father’s, and skin so pale is was almost grey.”
The commander nearly dropped her blades. She exchanged a frenetic look with her mate who was staring back at her with the same unbidden sentiment. The suspicion that began forming in the commander’s mind was disquieting and undue. The impossibility of such an occurrence, the peculiarity of it, the providence and the outcome were as awkward as they were sensible. The commander endeavored not to speak or believe anything said until there was proof of some of these claims and she regained herself, lifting her blades once more.
“And this crime my father was accused of committing?” she demanded of the old woman.
“There was only once that I know of when Deidra’s husband returned after he left their house,” Mrs. Flagstone uttered. “His business had sunk from bad dealings in Farriage and he wandered through the town drinking away the remainder of his small fortune. He returned to his farm to see the wife and child he left behind. He was found dead a few days later.”
“He could have died from anything,” the commander affirmed.
“He was found on your father’s land, Boudicca. He had been beaten to death.”
The commander’s eyes flared at the insinuation. “And your first assumption is that my father, the most kindhearted creature who ever walked Tyferrim, was the one who did it?”
“What else was anyone to think?” the crone said in meager defense of her declaration.
“I was told he was tried and found innocent of such an offense. The court’s ruling should have been enough for you.”
“Everyone knew Jaicobh killed him,” Mrs. Flagstone bitterly shouted. “No one was willing to say it because of what a strange man he was. Everyone seemed to overlook his little crime when Deidra died but I never forgot. I never forgot the murderer who took my daughter from this house. And my husband let it happen. He let that man have my daughter. I never forgave him either for giving our daughter away to so scandalous a man. A man with no age who was permitted to gallivant about and slaughter others with no repercussion? Surely, you can understand why I was unwilling to help him.”
Mrs. Flagstone had shown the trueness of her character by openly condemning the son she had acquired through marriage. The gentle landowner and kindly farmer who had led a charitable and solitary life was being harangued by a woman who knew little of suffering, little of toil, little of graciousness and nothing of constancy. Her daughter’s affection for so commendable a man was nothing in comparison to the disrepute her family would gain by a union with him. Mrs. Flagstone had felt the sting of their daughter’s tarnished standing by her matrimony and had waited for her death so that she would rue the day she had disobeyed her mother’s superior wishes.
Whether the commander’s father was an everlasting executioner or a simple farmer, she had known him to be the epitome of selflessness and civility. There was not a day when he did not protect her from the unjust discourse of her mother or defend her from allegations of her faithlessness by the Church. She felt her father had not deserved such a cruel accreditation and though he may or may not have been responsible for man’s death, she could not denounce him, as she had been conscientious of the many she had slain herself.
“My rank as commander prevents me from killing you without cause,” she breathed in simmering fury at Mrs. Flagstone, “but I may certainly wound you.” She acted upon her words and quickly stabbed her blades into the woman’s aged hands, pinning them to the ground. There were shrieks of pain and pleas to be let go but there all ignored. “You may accuse my father of a murder I know he did not commit but you, madam, are guilty of murder yourself. The allowance of a daughter to fester in scarcity and illness when you could have saved her, and in turn the cruelty of keeping my father on a destitute farm after Allande took his land from him, is an inexcusable shame that I sincerely hope will consume you for the remainder of your miserable life.”
Poole entered the drawing room when he heard the screams of his mistress. He was allowed to near and when the commander removed her blades was allowed to tie off the old woman’s hands.
The commander jeered at the crone’s suffering and wiped her blades. “I have taken the use of your hands in penitence for the damage you have done,” she resentfully uttered. “Now you may enjoy lapping your tea as the bitch you are.”
The commander returned her blades to their sheaths to signal her want to leave and the Den Asaan followed her as they parted the estate. The remainder of their journey to Diras was spent in a baleful silence. The commander’s only concern was to find substantiation of her father’s trail in the Frewyn registry and she hastened along the Western Road eager to disprove this vilification. Half way through their return journey, she was lifted by her mate and told hold to him as he tore through the Western Expanse. There was nothing to stop the relentless giant from reaching their destination by sundown and when they came to the capital gates, they forwent the pleasantries of their arrival and went directly to the office of the Herald.
The messenger and record keeper lurched backward to see them arrive in an ardent state and he followed every demand they laid out for him. He was to call up the accounts and proclamations of the Tyferrim court dating back one hundred years. He did as he was bid immediately and brought the commander and Den Asaan to the library where the records were currently being kept. He was asked to assist them in finding a specific name but before they could tell him the means of this search, he had discovered the account of Jaicobh MacDaede at the head of the registry.
The commander thanked the herald and ordered him to leave them to their work in the library. Once the herald was gone, the reading ensued.
“This marks the account of one, Jaicobh MacDaede, accused of murder by the hand, Tyferrim,” the commander iterated. Her glance darted across the page to mark the year written in the corner of the parchment. “This cannot be right,” she murmured, her voice wavering.
The Den Asaan leaned over his mate to observe the date inscribed. “This was written over one hundred years ago,” he said in mild confusion.
The commander inhaled and went on. “It is necessary of the keeper of this court to state that one, Jaicobh MacDaede, was found innocent of the crime which he has been accused of committing. He will be kept in custody until the body of Drainas MacDaede is fully exhumed and subject to examination.” The commander stood back from the page. “It was my grandmother’s husband,” she whispered. She took a moment to gather herself and continued. “It has been found that Drainas MacDaede was killed by a blow to the head marked by the imprint of a hand. His neck had been crushed by a similar opposing hand to suggest he was murdered by one person. The immense size of the imprint and discolorations of the flesh show that he was killed by an unnaturally large creature. Skin was found beneath his nails to mark signs of struggle. Jaicobh MacDaede was examined for wounds of the flesh but his work as land-labourer has concealed any attempt at proving these accusations. There were no witnesses Drainas MacDaede’s death. Therefore, the court has ruled that Jaicobh MacDaede be acquitted.” She removed her unblinking eyes from the page and looked up at her mate’s stern expression. “Iimon Ghaala,” she said breathlessly, “my father may have very well killed his man. This account would mean he was nearly a hundred and twenty years old when he was murdered himself.”
She looked blankly out onto the open page before her and force of the shock caused her to sink to the floor. Her mate cradled her descent. She was overwhelmed with misunderstanding and confounded sentiment that tears began to form in her eyes. “It is true,” she said softly, looking at the ground. “My father was an odd creature indeed, but to what extent?” She stared at the Den Asaan as if to beg him for an explanation. His only response was to hold the commander against him and lower his head to rest it upon hers.
The description of the visitor to Tyferrim who had bewitched Deidra MacDaede was perhaps the matter most uncomforting. Skin so pale it was almost grey was the distinction made and it was one that had fixed itself in the commander’s mind. There was no other race of beings in her acquaintance who matched the depiction than the one to which the Den Asaan belonged. She did not wish to think of it, her heritage being divided and then reunited by some fortuitous event. Her mind attempted to render the circumstance not so in all manner of ways but every situation and consequence delineated that it was. She knew herself to be separated from others in the discretion of her youth but never understood why it should be so natural a partition.
“Iimon Ghaala,” she repeated with great anxiety. “Could it be that I’m . . . ?” but the question was discontinued. There was no need for its finish. It was well understood what she had meant to propose.
The Den Asaan did not wish to deny the possibility of his mate having a shared lineage with his people for the notion of it gave him immense pleasure. The prospect that he should have been united with the one tolerable woman in all of Frewyn and that she should be given his inheritance was a tremendous realization, one to make the giant smile unreservedly. He did so while his mate was distracted with the ground and though this accusation could not be directly proven he had meant to write the Den Ashan Ghodhina on the subject the instant he was able.
“Who among your people could have come to the southern continent over a hundred and twenty years ago?” was the commander’s bemused question.
“Before I learned of the Otolaa’s heritage, I believed that none of my people had ever crossed the Dremmwel Sea,” the giant quietly said. “Tarhontaa was born near the time of your Ambesari’s birth. I will request reports from Ghodhina. Perhaps there is something he knows. Do not believing anything your registry says until I have received correspondence from him.”
The commander nodded and gave her mate a look of sincere gratitude. Although the giant attempted to hide his happiness for the unusual news, his satisfaction had given the commander a small reprieve from her agitation and she resolved to be soothed by the Den Asaan in the quiet of the commons for the remainder of the evening.