Once again my over-estimations come back to haunt me. Here’s part of the first ‘chapter’ of Delphinium, about a 4th of it. This is why I gave the vague ‘day or two’ for estimations. Slow and steady did finally win the race though, so I’ll keep writing even if it’s only a little at a time.
She had become ill. A cough began the day of their departure and lasted throughout the journey, bringing with it chills and taking away her appetite. Three days from Piques’s capital they were commanded to stop and rest in town, her suitor refusing to go further until she improved. As his orders were that of duc and doctor none could argue.
He carried her to the most elegant suite at the inn as if he were already her husband, laying her down in bed, but then moving to the hall while a maid helped her undress. When he entered again she was curled up under the covers and shivering. Ignoring the maid he made his way to the lady, kissing her forehead and letting his lips linger to both comfort and asses a fever.
“I am unfamiliar with what ails you, my dear,” he said, stroking back her curls. Her blue eyes were unfocused, her skin pale save for blotches on her cheeks. “I will consult with local physicians about this. You will be better soon.” His studies had been in surgery, not illness, but he would take extraordinary measures to make her well.
“Forgive me for being so much trouble—” A kiss silenced her. The thought that he could catch her illness entered his mind for a moment, but the desire to show her no blame won over. And if he did fall ill and feel the symptoms himself, at least he might be able to hold back the spirits that plagued her.
She broke the kiss to cough, spots of red betraying how much worse her condition had become.
“Rest for now,” he said softly. He took out a handkerchief and wiped away the blood from her lips, then tucked her in. She lay facing away and only mumbled a reply. The duc remained standing by her side, not wanting to leave her, one hand still stroking blonde hair that was damp from fever and sweat.
“There is drink for Lady Elizabeth by the bed, Your Grace,” the maid spoke up, breaking into his thoughts. “And chimes to the servant’s room for when she wakes.”
“Thank you, you may go,” he replied over his shoulder. Pouring his love a glass of diluted wine he paused after setting down the glass- the maid had left and the door was barely ajar. He took off his gloves and, with a pin taken from the folds of his clothing, he pricked a finger. Blood seeped out, becoming dark first with saturation and then in hue. When it dripped down his hand the trail left behind was black.
He let several drops of blood fall into her wine before putting on his gloves again. They were black as well, and by sight one would not see the bloodstains.
“Sleep well, Lizzy. Do not forget to drink. I will have a light dinner brought to you later.” She did not reply a second time, already asleep or too weak to answer.
He closed the door behind himself softly, uncertain if he wanted to leave without making her at least drink first. But no, she needed to rest, it would do her good before any magic enchanted her. And he needed his own rest before using any cræft.
He went to his own rooms, smiling when he walked in to see his cat lying on a pillow. A pure black queen, she was his constant companion and confidant. He sat beside her and pulled her into his lap, not a care for the expensive clothes that would be covered in fur. He held her close as a pet from childhood and not the Familiar she usually was.
“She is very ill,” he told her. “I do not know what to do, Pluta. I don’t know how to feel. A doctor has been sent for, what if they can offer no help either?”
Pluta pressed herself to her master. He did not often worry, but Elizabeth had become close to him again these last few weeks, a childhood friendship becoming an adult’s desire for true companionship and love.
“What is the worst that can happen?” the cat said. To most it would sound like purring or mewling, but to him and those that knew necrocræft it would be human tongue.
“She could suffer,” he replied. “And I might not be able to do anything.”