The Birth of Wren Chastain (Part 6 of 6)

For some reason, the next forty minutes would stick in Kaelyn's mind, though very little happened in that time. At least, from her perspective. It took her ten minutes or so to get back to where Kent and Rowan were still seated under a tree, relatively dry compared to Kaelyn by the time she got back.

Kent was awake and sitting up, groggily and wearily, but seated. He looked up at Kaelyn's approaching footsteps.

“Ava? Wren?” he asked, no verbs required nor given.

“Both fine. Master Colm, Mrs. Marion, and Miss Daisy are all there, taking care of them. Hazel is safe in the house as well.”

Kent nodded and his shoulders slumped. For a moment his breathing was slow and heavy and Kaelyn wondered if he had fallen asleep again. She knew that his episodes took a lot out of him, his entire body fighting against itself.

But a moment later it was obvious that he wasn't sleeping, he was crying.

“I've never missed the birth of my child before,” he said under his breath, and his words were a knife of ice in Kaelyn's heart. Rowan looked at his father, grief in his eyes and then looked up at Kaelyn. “Isn't there anything you can do?”

She wasn't going to screw this up, not again. She had a stimulant in her satchel but giving it to Kent would put his already overworked heart under more stress. But she also had the healer's best medicine: suggestion.

She nodded and asked Rowan to fill the small leather cup again. Rowan went down to the river while Kaelyn gathered ingredients from her satchel. When Rowan returned she put a pinch of ground rosemary and some powdered dried dandelion leaf into the water. She stirred it briefly and then added a drop of vinegar, and lastly, of course, a small drop of honey from a hive kept by Master Colm himself.

“Drink this, ” she said, handing it to Kent. he nodded and she continued.

“It won't taste good, but please drink it all. Dandelions grow under almost any conditions, and the honey is local,” she explained, and every word she said was true. “once you've drunk it all, we'll go when you feel up to it,” and that was true as well.

Kent shuddered after his first sip, but bravely drank it all, and in only a couple of minutes Kaelyn could see it taking effect. Which was impressive, really, considering what she had given him were the ingredients for a salad dressing.

“Very well, I am well enough off,” Kent said, and Kaelyn and Rowan helped him to his feet.

the walk back to the Chastain house was agonizing. Kent was unable to move at the speed he wanted, especially given that it was all uphill, but in time they arrived. Before they even entered the front door Kaelyn said “Kent, you cannot wear those muddy clothes in to see your wife,” and before she could continue he began removing his outer clothing, he took his shoes off just inside the front door, and entered the sitting room wearing only his underthings.

“Kent!” Ava cried out as he entered, her voice still agonized, and worryingly weary.

Marion sat in the front room, still holding the sleeping Hazel.

“How is it going in there, Mama?” Kaelyn asked, hanging her wet and muddy cloak on the stand next to the door, and the long yards of now muddied fabric as well.

“It's been rough, but the Master feels that the worst is passed.” Marion said.

“He's come out to talk to you then?” Kaelyn said and Mama laughed. “Why would he need to do that?”

Kaelyn turned to look at Marion, who had a quiet, satisfied smile on her face but didn't elaborate.

A moment later Daisy came out of the sitting room, her face covered in a literal combination of blood, sweat, and tears, the most potent mixture. Her arms and apron were also covered in blood.

“Master Colm sent me out to get cleaned up and to prepare a cradle for the baby,” Daisy said, her voice weak and bordering on a sob.

Daisy nodded, and Kaelyn grabbed her cloak, then led her friend out to the courtyard, where the pump was. Rowan, temporarily forgotten, made a move to follow them but Marion said, “Rowan, dear, please go gather linens for your little sister's cradle and bring them back here.” eh started, nodded, and went to the linen closet.

At the pump Kaelyn started pumping water for Daisy to wash her hands and face in. The puddles around Daisy's feet ran red and Daisy started crying as the blood covered the ground, and cried harder as it kept running red. She stripped off her apron, throwing it far from her in revulsion, scrubbing her arms. She looked down and saw that blood was on her dress as well and with an anguished growl ripped that off as well, standing only in a shift. Kaelyn stood between Daisy and the door, then handed Daisy the long and much abused new dress fabric, letting Daisy scrape herself clean. Then Kaelyn removed her own dress and handed it to Daisy. they weren't quite the same size, but close enough.

Daisy looked up in surprise at the proffered dress and made a motion to refuse, but Kaelyn nodded and handed the dress over. No words spoken or needed. Daisy nodded and put it on. Kaelyn wrapped herself in her cloak, then helped Daisy wash her face. then the two novice healers sat on the bench and Kaelyn put an arm around her friend as Daisy settled.

Finally Daisy said, “I am never having kids. EVER!” and Kaelyn nodded, unsure of what to say. Daisy laughed an unsteady laugh and sighed. “Well, probably.”

Daisy stood and said, “Okay, let's go do our job.”

Kaelyn said, “Go ahead, I'll clean up out here first.” Daisy went back inside and Kaelyn filled the washtub leaning against the side of the house. Methodically and quietly she scrubbed out Daisy's apron and dress, then hung them to dry. Then she emptied the tub and leaned it where it went, and this was part of being a healer. When the courtyard looked as it should, no signs of blood and Daisy's clothes clean and drying, Kaelyn wrapped herself in her cloak, and, holding it closed with one hand, opened the door.

When Kaelyn entered the house the front room was empty, but there were quiet and peaceful voices coming from the sitting room. Walking softly Kaelyn approached the open door.

In the sitting room Master Colm was seated on the floor, leaning back against the wall, his head leaned back, eyes closed. He was still bloody but seemed content.

Ava Aviana was sitting, covered in a blanket, and looked radiant. Exhausted, still sweaty, pale and worn, but radiant. Daisy was standing to one side of Ava, Kent on the other. Marion was making up a small cradle, assisted by Hazel. Rowan stood next to his father.

Ava looked up first, and smiled warmly as Kaelyn entered, and motioned for her to come closer. As Kaelyn approached, Ava said,

“Miss Kaelyn, I have the honor to introduce you to Wren Daisy Chastain.”

And Daisy's eyes went wide, and filled with tears again.

“What a beautiful name,” Kaelyn said.