Lochan meets a ghost

28th October 1103

“I’m sorry,” Cordell murmured, “I just couldn’t bring myself to leave Miriamele there with that man. Nobody deserves a fate like that. Especially a little girl.”

Miri was watching the other men’s faces as Cordell tried to defend his actions. Eanraig’s expression was unreadable, congenial as it seemed to always be, his lips set in a half-smile. It was hard to know what he was thinking.

Lochan on the other hand was easy. Though his face was blank as he listened to Cordell explaining what had happened, she could see his clenched jaw, the tense set of his shoulders, the ropey muscles of his neck as he swallowed.

“I know that what I did was a betrayal of your trust. I would have asked you but I was sure that you would say no,” Cordell continued in a soft voice.

And suddenly Lochan exploded, “You were sure I would say no! That is not a reason not to tell me. That is a reason not to do it. I would have said no! What you have done, we cannot begin to imagine the consequences of it at this point.”

This was excruciating. I have to say something.

Lochan was continuing, his voice a rumbling growl, “Did you not think of what could happen. You just went in there hoping it would all be fine. And now we find ourselves in posession of not one but two of N’nkasha’s wives. God help us Cordell. What do you think N’nkasha is going to do to us now? He will tear apart the known world searching for Mhalwae.”

Miri tried to rise to her feet but the wave of nausea was so intense she had cling to the armrest of the chair to stop herself from plummeting to the floor. She sat heavily. Beside her Estan had his head in his hands, his face an alarming pallor. He looks worse than I feel.

She coughed trying to clear her throat of the bile and said, “He was just trying to help me.”

Lochan and Eanraig stared at her, as though only just now aware of her presence. Cordell did not turn around.

“What was that lass, speak up a bit,” Eanraig said in a kind voice.

“I just said that he was only trying to help me. If anyone is to blame it’s me not him, please don’t punish him.

Eanraig gazed at her with a sad look on his face, “None of this is your fault Miriamele. Not a single bit of it. You are entirely innocent. Don’t mind us men, you know how we like to fuss and fight.”

Lochan said nothing, but was gazing at her and Estan with a curious look on his face. He turned back to Cordell.

“You have betrayed your King and your Lord,” he said in a hushed voice, “not only that but you have betrayed my trust, trust I did not give lightly. What you have done is unforgivable.”

“Oh for goodness sakes Lochan, isn’t this all a bit melodramatic,” Estan said, straightening beside her.

“I did not ask for your input,” Lochan growled, “and who the hell are you anyway?”

Miriamele felt Estan sagging beside her. Perhaps he had not realised what a changed man he was until this moment, the moment when his own cousin could not even recognise him. Estan had not yet seen what his face was in a mirror, how N’nkasha had ravaged and destroyed it, so that it was criss-crossed with scars and bloody with open wounds.

“God, has that bastard ruined me so much you don’t even know me?” Estan replied sadly.

Lochan looked at him strangely, “Have we met? I’m sorry, I don’t recall.”

Estan was struggling to rise to his feet, so she swallowed her nausea and helped him. Trying to hold him upright, they staggered towards Lochan who seemed suddenly appalled, his face belying the beginnings of recognition.

“I must be pretty messed up if my own cousin doesn’t even recognise me,” Estan said with a chuckle, that rasped off into a dreadful cough.

Lochan’s face went white, his mouth dropping open. He looked as though he had seen a ghost. Miriamele supposed he had.

He took a step forward, tentatively reaching out his arms to his cousin.

“Estan?” he whispered.

“That would be me,” Estan wheezed.

“We though you were dead,” Lochan said softly, his eyes roving over his cousin’s wasted body.

“I may as well have been,” Estan murmured.

Lochan grabbed him in a fierce hug, “God it’s good to see you.”

“And you, well at least most of you,” Estan pointed ruefully to his eye, “this hinders things a bit.”

Lochan squeezed him harder, “You’re safe now.”

Then Lochan’s face broke into a wide smile, “And your sister! She’s going to be so happy to see you.”

“Little plumpy? God, she must be a grown woman now.”

“That she is and a mother. Her eldest is Atholt and the little one is Isabelle.”

“She named her son after our father?” Estan asked with a sad smile.

“She did lad,” Lochan replied patting Estan heartily on the back.

Miriamele knew Lochan would not have done that, had he known the agony that lay beneath Estan’s shirt. Miriamele had seen it, the raw sliced skin, the open, festering wounds. But Estan didn’t even flinch.

But when Lochan released him, he began to cough again, an awful wet sound that went on and on, ratcheting up out of his lungs. Suddenly he clutched at his belly, but not before she saw the growing red stain, one of his wounds had pulled open again. She held her breath and tried not to throw up.

Lochan must have noticed it too, “You’re not well cousin, we must find a healer for you, perhaps one of the people from Branwhuld. You must rest. You can have my cabin.”

Miri heard the door clicking open, the guard Osras had returned.

“And Osras,” Lochan turned to him, “you can take Sir Arawaduhn down to the hull and lock him up.”

Arwaduhn, Hwratar, Murchadh, Tadhgar

One response to “Lochan meets a ghost”

  1. Van says:

    Geez, Lochan, I get that you’re under a lot of stress and it’s a delicate mission and what Cordell did was seriously risky, but it’s not like he’s a criminal. His actions weren’t selfish, he understands why Lochan would have said no, and it’s not like it can be undone without doing even more damage. And who says N’nkasha will suspect Mhalwae? Is Mhalwae common knowledge outside of Branwhuld? If so, does anyone think it’s more than a myth?

    Locking up Cordell is a bit harsh, and a bit impractical. If I were in Lochan’s shoes, I’d maybe ban Cordell from any sensitive missions and have him scrubbing the decks all his waking hours, but I really don’t see the point of locking him up beyond maybe a few hours of “thinking time”. They’ve got a small crew and they need all the help they can get, even if it’s just the chores on the ship. It’s not like Cordell is a flight risk.

    I’m not too worried about any punishments for him when they get back to Mhalwae though. I’m sure the combined forces of Lisbet and Cindra won’t allow for anything beyond a slap on the wrist after Cordell rescued their siblings.

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