Story for the day: Death in the Family
In honour of World Book Day, I give you a piece of a chapter from book 7 of the series.
A Death in the Family
|A lovely WIP of Sheamas and Bou by Twisk|
A summons from the castle had come to take the commander and Den Asaan away from the cottage in Sethshire a few days before their departure for Diras had been planned. Although the directive came from the capital, it was not from Alasdair but from Tyferrim. The writ, short as it was, was conveyed by Sheamas Donnegal and addressed to the commander. She was surprised at seeing the butcher come to the house and though she was delighted that he should come all this way to bring a communication, the means of his coming meant that something unpleasant had come to pass, as Sheamas came without his wife and with an uncommonly sad expression.
The message that Sheamas came to relay was that Mr Donnegal, his senile and ailing father, had unfortunately passed away. The butcher was sat at the table immediately and given tea and something to eat, but he would take nothing for his stay there was not meant to be long.
“My Ma asked me to bring you to the funeral, kin,” Sheamas said in a hopeful tone, holding his cap in his large hands.
The commander agreed to go with some confusion as to why she to be applied to for attendance when she was only intimately acquainted with Sheamas and his sister Martje and not the whole Donnegal family. She supposed that perhaps something had been left in Mr Donnegal’s will to her father for all the assistance he gave to his wife and children during his illness and as her father was no longer around to take possession of whatever it was Mr Donnegal had to purvey, she must accept it in his place. This was her silent conjecture, as Sheamas could say little else in his dejected state, but when she told her mate the news, the giant had almost expected her to be invited.
Rautu was disappointed to hear of Mr Donnegal’s passing and expressed his sympathies with a few honourable words about his father. He told Sheamas that in the small amount of time he and Mr Donnegal had spent in one another’s company playing games of Boghans together after Ailineighdaeth dinner he learned of his shrewdness even through his illness and recommended him as an ingenuous and forthcoming man.
“Thank you,” Sheamas murmured. “It makes me feel better to hear you say that. It’s strange to me to feel so miserable, not because I generally enjoy everythin’ given to me but because I’m the only one of my brothers and sisters who never really knew my Da. He was too ill to ever remember me, but I still loved him all the same.” Sheamas gave a despondent sigh and supported himself as he sat by resting his cheek in his hand. “I don’t really know what to feel, kin,” he said quietly to the commander looking down at the table.
“Well,” she inhaled, placing a hand on Sheamas’ arm, “I shall not tell you death is easy, whether you are related to the person who has passed or not. The feeling of loss beggars description. I cannot tell you how I felt when I saw my father murdered, and when I found him later with two Galleisian swords in his back, I was utterly impoverished for words. I remember feeling anger and confusion. I wanted to retaliate for what they had done to a poor farmer who had worked so hard all his life only to die in poverty. Even after Commander Vyrdin and I killed his assailants, I did not feel any relief from my anger. I took the rage with me to Tyferrim Company, I carried it through the war, I eventually began to feel the loss of my father, and I succumbed to crying about it nearly every time a captain could skulk away from her men.”
The commander half-smiled and passed a fond look to the Den Asaan who responded in kind with favorable looks as though recalling the many evenings he caught her performing so sorry a practice. He grabbed her hand beneath the table and crushed it in his mighty clasp while giving her a momentarily subdued look. She smiled to herself and press against his hand in reply to his hidden proof of consideration.
“Even after I recognized his death and began by private grief,” she continued, “accepting that my father was no longer alive was an impossibility. I would not admit it to myself. I still held hope that he was somewhere just waiting for me to save him.”
“But you buried him,” Sheamas softly said.
“I have come to understand that the notion of death and loss defy reason. We will make any excuse to believe our loved ones yet live. Even after the war I thought I had done with the business of denial. I was wrong, however, and I didn’t realize how much so until I met my grandfather for the first time. I cried upon that poor ancient Haanta like five-year-old child,” she said, fleering and shaking her head at her own conduct. “I still have not returned to my father’s land.”
Sheamas’ expression suddenly brightened and his usual jovial manner was restored. His head perked up and his blue eyes sparkled in delight. “That’s the other piece of news I came to tell you, kin. My brothers just finished rebuildin’ your Da’s farmhouse,” he said with a wide and eager smile.
The commander humphed to herself in wonder at how Sheamas could be so gracious and accommodating given his misfortune and she recollected that he his sensibilities would recover much quicker than hers had done under the difficulty they shared. Though the circumstances were dissimilar, so were their natures, and where the commander had a propensity to revel in her rare rage, Sheamas seemed to rejoice in his insatiable happiness.
The invitation to the funeral, which was to be held tomorrow, the commander could not evade and it would give her the excuse she required to finally visit the land she and her father worked and upon which they lived together until the day came that changed the course of her life and had meant her father’s bereavement. With a nod, she submitted to be off and her mate equally acquiesced to return to Tyferrim with her.
“Will your charming wife be joining us?” the commander asked Sheamas as they began gathering their effects.
“Naw, she’s an emotional one, kin,” Sheamas said. “I told her she could stay in Diras and mind the shoppe if she liked. It would be too hard for her to watch the burial. When I broke the news to her about my Da’s passin’, she cried herself to sleep on my belly.”
The commander simpered to think of the small and sweet Margilesse weeping on her husband, using his shirt as a means of drying her eyes, and then succumbing to the usual headache and slumber that usually accompanied the long history of profuse feminine cries.
The party said their quick goodbyes to Unghaahi, Otenohi, Obhantaa Leraa and Kai Linaa and promised they would meet with them at the castle in a few days time. They bid them to enjoy the remainder of their stay at the cottage in Sethshire and reminded them that as it was Kai Linaa’s they would be pressed to visit the house as often as was tolerable given their respective stations in Haanta society. Otenohi remarked that as he was the leader of the islands’ armies, he could order his people to attack Diras and use the diversion to slip away to the south but this plan was immediately banned by Unghaahi and Leraa, the Den Amhadhri declaring an assault on their beloved allies as dishonourable even in jest and Obhantaa proclaiming that though he would do anything to make his sister Kai Linaa happy attacking Frewyn would not be accepted as a means to her contentment. Kai Linaa laughed at Otenohi’s offer and told him she would be perfectly well visiting the cottage with only her mate if there were nothing else to be done for their absences. Otenohi sighed with feigned disappointment for his machinations being ruined, and everyone parted with sympathies for Sheamas and vows of returning to the Diras Castle keep where the commander and Den Asaan would see the others off on their return journey to the islands.