Summary: A tragic day for Sir Jaren Cassomir.
Date: 08/01/1325
Related: None

January 8th, 1325 — Cassomir Keep

Sir Jaren Cassomir paced the length of the sitting room, unable to keep from wringing his hands. The cries from above were muffled by the door, but unmistakeable. Edwina sat in the corner, busying her hands with needlework and occasionally casting concerned glances both towards her brother and the stairway.

"You really should sit down, Jaren. You're making me tired with all that moving around." Edwina chided him gently, her hands still moving deftly to continue her knitting as she offered a small, ever-so-slightly humored smile.

Jaren stopped, turning to glance at Edwina, staring at her almost blankly for a moment before shaking his head, "I'm sorry, Edie. I'm just…" He glanced towards the stairway as another cry rang out. "Mishala has been so frail since the fever. The healers warned us when they learned she was with child…"

"It will be fine, brother. All will be well." Edwina spoke with confidence that she did not fully feel. Mishala had been little more than a slip of a girl when her brother had married her, and while she had grown a bit taller and fuller in the years since it still often seemed she could float away on a strong breeze. Even more so since she had miraculously survived the fever that had left Edwina and her brother the last of House Cassomir's bloodline. "Marius is thrilled at the prospect of becoming the Uncle that will spoil your child rotten." Edwina noted, smiling brightly over towards Jaren, trying to bolster his spirits. So much had been lost in the last two years: Their parents, their siblings…so many of the commoners they held responsibility for. The War had left the lands of House Cassomir blessedly untouched, only for the White Fever to ravage it as surely as any Corsair warband ever could.

"I hope so." Jaren glanced towards the fire that burned in the hearth nearby as he answered his sister, his voice quiet, "I hope so…." When she spoke of her husband, a bit of a wistful smile painting his features, "She was so happy when she told me. I hadn't seen her smile like that since before the fever. Even when the healers…" He shook his head once more, the smile fading to that same worried frown he wore before, "I should have been more careful."

"This is her choice as much as your own, Jaren. She wants a future for House Cassomir as much as any of us." Edwina carefully set her needlework aside, rising from the chair and moving over to place a hand on Jaren's forearm, "Now stop worrying so much, the Guardians wil-"

"Something's wrong." Jaren's head turned sharply and his dark eyes looked towards the stairwell as he interrupted Edwina's words.

His wife's cries of pain had stopped.

The room was silent save for the crackle of the fire. For a heartbeat, utter stillness reigned.

Jaren glanced briefly towards Edwina, seeing the growing dread in the pit of his stomach reflected in her own eyes. He raced up the stairway as though he had grown wings, only to halt when he saw the Healer and his two assistants emerging from the room, ashen-faced and somber. The balding greybeard looked up at Jaren and shook his head.

"I'm sorry, milord, but…" He shook his head, pained grief painting his features.

He didn't finish his sentence as Jaren rushed forward, shoving him aside and to the floor with an inarticulate, anguished cry. He burst through the door, and made it but a few steps before he halted.

The healers had done a remarkable job of keeping the birthing bed clean. It was an odd thing to note, but nevertheless a detail he took in as his eyes seemed to study everything in the room except the two figures laying on the bed. And then he forced himself to take them in as well. Mishala was pale, her eyes closed, but for all the world she looked as though she was simply in gentle sleep, her light brown hair unbound and splayed across the pillow beneath her head, the dampness of sweat and cool moist clothes having been pressed to her forehead still touched her forelocks…but there was no rise and fall of her chest. A small bundle of cloth lie beside her, equally still, pristinely white…a ghost before ever the child had entered the world.

Fear gripped Jaren. He had ridden into Corsair ranks without an eyeblink…faced death on seemingly a hundred battlefields without pause. Oh, he felt the fear, but never had it stayed his hand, never had it frozen him in place as the icy terror that washed over him now did. Eventually, a foot lurched forward, then another, and then his knees hit the floor beside the bed, and his shaking hand reached out to touch Mishala's.
It was already cold as he gripped it.

His vision blurred as tears streamed down his cheeks. He barely felt Edwina's arms wrap around him, her own chest heaving with shuddering sobs.
They both remained by that bedside for several long minutes, as Jaren wept until he knew he had run out of tears. As he felt all the warmth in his life die away, leaving only cold, numbing emptiness.

His wife was dead. His child was dead. House Cassomir was broken.

He was broken.

It was hours before Jaren and Edwina emerged and came back down those stairs. He wasn't sure if he was supporting her or she was supporting him as they moved arm-in-arm, but it didn't matter. The fire of his heart had died out as surely as that which had been raging in the hearth when they first went upstairs.

Only ashes remained.

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