The Birth of Wren Chastain (Part 4 of 6)

Eventually Kaelyn chose a fabric, a dark blue and white checked design that looked like it would stand up to her work fairly well. She had taken long enough that Rowan was starting to show signs of nervousness as Kaelyn counted out the coins to pay for a few yards of fabric and tucked them into her satchel.

“Now then, shall we go see how your mother is doing?” She said, and started walking up the path out of town.

They were just passing the last houses of North Strand when They spotted Kent Chastain running down the path towards them.

“Rowan! There you are, lad, and you found the healer, excellent. What took you so long?” Ken said, sweating and breathing hard.

“Has the situation gotten more serious?” Kaelyn asked and Rowan's face went entirely still.

“Didn't you tell her?” Kent said, turning and heading back towards his house. “Miss Kaelyn, Ava's waters broke not long after you left, she's been laboring hard and feels that Wren is in distress, we must make haste!”

“Yes, indeed we must,” Kaelyn agreed, and broke into a gentle jog to match Kent's harried pace. He nodded and the three of them ran back towards Riverside. The path was at a steady uphill climb the entire way, of course, and soon even Kent wearied of running. So they walked as fast as they could, all sweating and thankful for the breeze whipping around them.

Clouds were racing in now, from over the sea, and they were just passing through a small copse of aspens when Rowan cried out “Miss Kaelyn!”

Kaelyn had been ahead of the Chastain men, going through her satchel and mentally preparing for a delivery. She turned to see what had distressed rowan and gasped.

Kent had fallen to the dusty road, and was shuddering, his eyes rolled back in his head, limbs thrashing. Kaelyn gasped and headed back down the path to where Rowan knelt, holding his father's head in his arms. Quickly Kaelyn reached into her satchel, pulled out her new dress fabric, and cut a roughly shaped patch off, rolling it into a tight tube.

“tip his head back, please, Rowan” she said and pulled Kent's jaw down, then slide the fabric into Ketn's mouth, sideways, so that his teeth couldn't fully close.

“Shouldn't we use a stick?” Rowan asked.

Kaelyn shook her head. “Aspen branches are too brittle. He could bite through the wood, and then we would have suffocation on top of his condition. Do you have his medicine?”

“No, don't you have it, healer?” Rowan replied. Kaelyn looked up at him with wide eyes. “He's stressed,” she told herself. “A healer's job includes letting people be stressed”. But a numb feeling started spreading from her heart to her fingertips. Dread, and guilt. If she had done her job, if she had stayed in Riverside and had been at the Chastain home, none of this would be happening.

“We'll check his pockets when he settles,” is all she said out loud. Rowan just nodded.

Kent was a strong man, and there was no way that Kaelyn or Rowan could keep him perfectly still, but that wasn't the goal. For what seemed like an eternity they both did their best simply to keep him from hurting himself in his seizures. Kaelyn held his head in her lap so that he wouldn't injure his skull. Rowan sat at his father's side and kept his limbs mostly straight and away from anything that might cut him. They didn't speak during this time; what on earth would they say?

Only after Kent's thrashing had stilled did Kaelyn notice that rain had started falling. Kent was unconscious at this point, eyes still rolled back in his head. The Riverside Road was the path of least resistance, and soon would be a small stream in its own right.

“How long does he usually stay unconscious after an episode?” Kaelyn asked.

Rowan shrugged, not making eye contact. “Shouldn't a healer know that?”

“Three deep breaths,” Kaelyn told herself, but it didn't help, not this time. He was right. She should know, she was assigned to this family, she knew that Kent had this issue. But she did avoid answering back. Instead she said, “Let's move him gently into those trees, so he's not laying where the water will run,” and Rowan nodded his agreement.

Between them they were able to get Kent into a copse of aspens that provided some slight shelter from the rain. If she had had any plans to move Kent back to his home this brief scramble in the mud dispelled that.

Kaelyn spread her cloak on the ground and they laid Kent on it, then she took her new fabric from her satchel and put it over him, sprinkling it with crushed, dried lily pads and weaving a waterproofing spell into the fabric to keep Kent dry.

They sat, not talking, watching over Kent as his breathing slowed to a regular rate again. Suddenly from up the path they heard a voice calling.

“Rowan? Rooooow-aaaaaann!”

Rowan looked up and called back “Hazel?”

“Rowan!” and the sound of quick footsteps.

Hazel appeared from around a bend and took in the whole scene all at once. She was already scared, soaked, extended beyond her emotional limits and seeing her father like this didn't help.

“Papa! Oh no! Is he okay?” She asked, running over to kneel by her father.

“He's fine, Hazel, he just had an episode. Why are you here? Couldn't you find the Master healer?”

“What?” Hazel asked, wiping the water from her father's face.

“Did you find Master Colm?” Rowan repeated.

“Oh, no, but I found Miss Daisy, she's with Mama.”

“Daisy?” Kaelyn asked. “But not Master Colm?”

Hazel looked up, seemingly seeing Kaelyn for the first time. “Oh, Miss Kaelyn. No, Miss Daisy was on the path back to your cottage with Mrs. Marion, so Daisy came to our house and Mrs. Marion went to find Master Colm.”

Kaelyn looked upset. “Daisy doesn't know your mother's condition.”

“At least she's there” Rowan said, quietly enough to pretend he didn't say it, but loud enough that Kaelyn heard it.

“I should be there,”

“But our father—” Rowan began, panic creeping into his eyes.

“Will be fine, he's safe and dry, he'll wake up soon. There's nothing more I can do for him here, but Daisy isn't prepared to take care of your mother herself.”

“Miss Kaelyn, Marion said the Master would be there soon,” Hazel said softly, not wanting to gainsay a healer.

But Kaelyn wasn't to be deterred. “Daisy isn't the right person to see to Ava Aviana, I am,” she told herself internally.

“Nevertheless I should be there. Rowan, stay with your father.” She dug a leather cup out of her satchel. “Hazel, go fill this from the river and bring it back.”

Hazel nodded and went down to the river while Kaelyn found some salts and some willowfine—at least she had that on hand— and mixed them in the palm of one hand. When Hazel returned she poured the mixture into the water.

“His head will no doubt hurt when he awakes, this will help, and will help his blood return to normal operation as well.” Kaelyn said, and handed the cup to Rowan. “See that he drinks this when he awakes, and try to keep him calm. One of us will be back here soon.” She said.

“So you're abandoning both my parents in one day?” Rowan asked, tears in the corners of his eyes.

Kaelyn laid a hand on his shoulder and he took a shuddering breath, and didn't shrug it off. “Rowan, your father is coming out of his episode, he's stable, and he's dry, I've done all I can for him now. But your mother—and your baby sister—are just starting into their troubles.” She said, her voice as calm and reasonable as she could make it. She hoped she was hiding her own fears. Rowan looked away from her eyes and just nodded. Kaelyn squeezed his shoulder once and then said “okay, Hazel, let's go back to your house.”