XIX. Night’s Visitor

Morgain did not know what to make of this new world, but it was as though the God she nearly deemed negligent recompenses: she found that she came to a world not entirely different from her home, for it still harbor enough energies within the atmosphere for simple spells, and the language was familiar. Another miracle was that she found herself under the wings of a couple wealthy enough to care for a stranger they found unconscious on some corner of the road, but not affluent enough to patronize. For, as soon as she was well enough she was determined to set out against the world, though the woman forcefully insisted for her stay after learning that Morgain knew not even a soul in proximity. The woman, who Morgain had come to know as Veronica, only found greater justification as she learned that her guest was with child.

“At least for a year, my dear,” She took her hand gingerly and with a bright smile that drew crow’s feet about her excited eyes. “God forbid your stubbornness should harm the child.”

So, Morgain gave in and attempted to distract herself from memories though to no prevail as she spent most nights sleepless, dreading that if she should fall asleep she would see it all again, the devil, her father and…Lucem…When sleep eventually conquered her exhausted body, she only woke from her stupor covered in cold sweat and painful remembrances. She did not know how time passed, or if it passed at all.

Still, Veronica seemed to pretend oblivion, for which Morgain was thankful, while Veronica’s husband did not seem to be too pristine of an observer. And, Morgain eventually recovered a patch of home from local herbs similar enough to behave in synonymy with some of the plants she knew, returning a fraction of the couple’s goodness on an occasion when she saved Veronica from a severe cold with one of her concoctions. From then on, she was revered, despite her chagrin, as a gifted apothecary.

Her development of friendship with Veronica accompanied the growth of her child, and with more joy than dread the days crept by much faster now, most of which spent in cultivating her mind alongside her little plot of earth. Finding company in the couple, the neighbors, blind worms and preying birds, Morgain told herself that she was as blessed and happy as she could be.

*******

Luctus knew something was wrong.

Despite the Old Priest’s efforts, it only took him a little over a year to find Morgain within the web of existence. Still, he was not able to do much, for that careful woman had measures against him, talismans hardly enough to qualify as major hindrances…And there was that inexplicable force biased against him, gravitating him away from any proximity to even the park she was residing in, repelling him, protecting her…

…Until a midnight.

It was as though the spell became undone: Luctus, for the first in a very long time, felt his throat ran dry and tasted the unfamiliar gall of dread. What happened? The talismans had lost their stings, the unknown force replaced with withdrawn silence…He had to investigate.

When he arrived upon the grounds, he knew, yet he was unbelieving.

In the cover of the night he slipped past the small park to the back doors, pausing in his path to note a patch of herbs out of its elements, a beacon in the darkness as a distant remembrance of laughter at his youngest brother’s propensity to mix up all the names of the herbs worth knowing. He always insisted in replacing their names with new ones that altered everyday: perhaps he merely fell into the inherent ailment of men with their earliest ancestor doing nothing but naming objects?

Oh Lucius…

Luctus went on to intrude upon the household, a building so impoverished to the point that there were no servants waiting at the door: he merely went past it and ascended a series of stairs.

Then he found her.

She was surrounded by the peasant filths claiming to be her friends. The woman knelt by the bed, her dirty hands clasped about porcelain ones, her thin shoulders shaking subtly. The man stood as though just to obscure Luctus’s vision with his arms crossed.

Not only were the peasants dumb, they were blind to his presence. As he drew closer to the room, he finally saw a glimpse of her face, pale and petrified in its perfect frame of long locks in stark contrast against the white sheets and cushions, her full lips parted, her last sigh frozen.

The man turned around, and Luctus saw then the author of the greatest of all miseries tugged in a cocoon of warmth in the man’s arms, fast asleep. At this point, the woman’s sobbing had become unbearably annoying, and the man have fully noticed the intruder. He cried out, and demanded for him to state his name. The woman took a break from her useless musings to face the stranger, sorrows briefly replaced with confusion and fright. Luctus did not think it necessary to declare himself, for he rid himself of their company with a simple spell, and they both crumbled to the floor in silence.

Useless, all of them, useless and hypocritical: if they so cared for her life, then why did they not find a physician? They were as guilty as the bundled creature, who now coohed softly in protest for the disturbance. And, to his greatest surprise, it merely wormed in its wrap, struggling in the dead man’s arms without bursting into a mess of slobbering snot.

Luctus did not know what propelled him, but he stooped and reached out for the child, who did not understand and coohed some more, a little hand freed from the bundle to flail favorably at the stranger. The same inexplicable motivation prompted him to pick up the little thing, wrenching it out of hands’ lingering warmth and bringing it under closer inspection.

It was merely a week old, maybe less, wrinkly, warm, and…so fragile. He could have easily snapped its little neck with a pinch, yet…From the corner of his eyes he once again glanced over her shrouded in an ethereal perfection reserved for death. He returned his full attention to the infant in his arms. He remembered overhearing her mind as she insisted upon the name even when that stupid peasant woman laughed at her…Luctus had to admit that he liked the sound of it, too, the way it seemed to play upon optimism. If only he could remember…was it Serin? Sarriel?…Oh, it was Soulran.

With that, he decided.

And just like how he came in the faithful cover of the night, he left, taking with him the last kin to light.

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