Rest & Recovery

Reaching the door to his cabin at last, the wood shivers and creaks as it coils back away from the opening to allow him entrance. The familiar and welcome countenance of Rory waits on the other side, ready as always to assist his master in any way needed.

The servant quickly helps the Lord out of his ruined clothing, and then scrubs the blood and grime from his body with a cloth of the softest balna fiber soaked in zir. It's challenging to get really clean on board ship, especially the bone-deep clean that came from soaking in a hot bath, but the zir does more than clean away dirt. Its spicy scent also invigorates the mind and spirit, leaving him feeling refreshed.

As his stalwart servant cleans his body, Kendall explains in brief what occurred on deck so that Rory can share the information with the rest of the members of Chanicut as appropriate. The Lord's version makes no mention of communion between Margot and the now deceased enchantress, and he pays only cursory attention to his own role in their initial escape using the Celoith Flowers.

Instead, the explanation dwells mostly on the presence of the threat, the hair which reached through shadow to grasp her prey, and the efforts of Captain Adele and the crew to escape. Kendall notes that he was injured during a last-ditch effort of the shadow creature to regain her prize.

The Lord moves with the deliberate care of someone deeply sore as his servant helps him into clean garments: soft, loose pants and a roomy long-sleeved shirt of deep blue. Kendall then makes his way to the bed to recline against the pile of pillows and enjoy a restorative glass of good wine with a book. He knew Rory would know to bring him a meal of energy-rich foods, which he needed to support his healing. He knew also that soon the princess would return and he needed to be prepared for whatever that would mean. Prediction was impossible.

Rory makes sure his master is well settled and then returns to the other side of the small room to pick up the ruined clothing. The shirt had two sizable holes and was soaked with blood, but the blood-stained trousers were basically undamaged. It would be possible to remove the blood using the threadlike t'u'rm leeches, who ate blood — dried or fresh — and then excreted the aromatic regliss paste, a delicacy that some found irresistible. In spite of the slight risk of keeping the leeches, it was likely some could have been found on board a ship like Rhercyn that recently had come from Chaos.

But such a question was of interest only to servants whose purpose it was to supply their masters and mistresses with their every desire. It certainly did not matter to Kendall whether the clothing could be repaired and reused. Certainly it would never make its way back into his wardrobe either way. Shirt, trousers, boots, dirty silk cloth, and various other things duly gathered, Rory looks to his master one last time before departing.

Surprisingly, Kendall sits quietly on the bed with book still closed and wine goblet still full, staring through the porthole at the purplish sky visible on the other side. But such distraction could easily be explained by the recent trauma of such a severe wound. Though Kendall's body appeared whole on the outside, the matched holes and the amount of blood in his clothing told a different story. The Lord would need rest for several Turnings before he would feel completely himself again.

"M'Lord?" he ventures after a heartbeats' hesitation. "Is there…something more I can assist you with?"

Kendall blinks when Rory's voice breaks his reverie. He looks at his servant with the blank expression of someone trying to respond to a question he didn't really hear.

"No, Rory," he says quietly, at length. "Just the food. Also, please make the princess' maid aware that Margot is also well, but may require her presence."

The manservant nods, bows, and takes himself out.

Alone in the corridor near the door to the cabin she shared with Kendall, Margot hears footsteps approach and then a familiar age-roughened voice. "Princess? Princess Margot? Are you well?"

A gentle hand comes to Margot's shoulder, gently inviting the young woman to turn so the matron can squint into the young woman's face in the dim illumination.

"As well as can be expected," the young woman manages to answer in a voice that is soft but at least does not waver. Though clearly not well, she did not appear to be physically harmed.

"Things got—" She stops and shakes her head. "I am fine. I just need to change my clothes."

As Margot answers, they both hear creaky rustling as the door recognizes her and begins to open. Kendall reclines in the bed on the other side of the portal. His gaze flicks from Margot to the matron and then back, and he sets his book aside. Still pale, he has a faded look about his face and weariness in the set of his shoulders.

Margot wants to weep at the sight of him alive and resting. Her heart feels is as though it might burst with joy. She blinks rapidly to control her tears. But the blood staining her clothing is easy to see in the light of the room, and Desrianne makes an exclamation of dismay. Her hand around the girl's arm grips tightly and she helps the princess over to a chair, the door rustling itself closed behind them.

"Are you…?" Margot starts the question, but isn't sure how to finish it. She sinks down to sit on the chair without really noticing it.

"I am well, Margot," he answers the partial question.

"Poppy, let me help you with that," Desrianne says, taking the injured hand and stretching out the arm so she can investigate.

"It's fine, Caresse. Dara has tended and bandaged the wound," she says, not wanting to try explaining the miniscule spiders Dara had supplied for the task.

"But Poppy… how can you trust…"

"Because she is my Lady in Waiting," Margot answers wearily. "She defended me when chaos broke out on deck, and then she tended to my wounds afterwards. That is her role."

Desrianne does not look convinced. "Poppy…" she begins in a voice full of doubt as she examines the finely spun silk.

Margot sighs, exasperated, and reclaims her hand. "Honestly, Caresse. My lover is from Chaos, we're passengers on a Chaos ship, and we are moving to Chaos. If Dara wished me dead, there are a thousand-thousand ways she could manage it without being blatant about it. And I suspect that she'd prefer the brutality of a head-on attack over treachery. So, please, trust. For my sake, if nothing else."

The maid's mouth clamps shut, realizing there was naught else to say. Wordlessly, she begins to help Margot out of her dress, resolutely turning her mind away from the fact that privacy was not to be had under these circumstances with Lord Kendall mere feet away. She steals a quick glance over at the bed when Margot's outer coat is removed to reveal thin blouse, only to look away quickly after accidentally meeting the Lord's bright blue eyes.

"I'm glad to see you're not severely injured," she says diplomatically to break the oppressive silence.

She could think of nothing else to say, since she had no idea what had happened on deck or what might be wrong with the Lordling. She knew only that the bundle of clothing Rory had been carrying had been stained with an astounding amount of blood. And it had been normal looking blood, or as normal as blood could look when drying on grey fabric. Now she could see that Margot's arm and skirt were also stained with blood, though the young woman did not appear to be actively bleeding.

"Yes, shayna, how do you feel?" Kendall inquires into the ensuing pause.

"Relieved that you are doing better than when I last saw you," she says, her voice cracking on the last words. She swallows hard before she continues more steadily. "And grateful that we are past our obstacle. Dara has tended to my wounds. I am fatigued, but no more than to be expected."

She closes her eyes, feeling the tears beginning to slip from beneath her lashes. It was all she could do to sit calmly while Desrianne removed the layers of clothing. She didn't want to speak, didn't want her maid to know what a horrible person she was. A monster, like the Shadow Monster that had attacked them, seeking blood and death.

Margot wanted to plead that she had merely been defending her own, except she knew in her heart that she had been exacting revenge. She had let her rage get the better of her — rage for striking at her lover, for attempting to steal his life out of spite. And now she felt lost and helpless in the face of powers and instincts she had never experienced before, didn't understand, and couldn't comprehend.

Cool air brushes her skin when Margot is finally stripped free of her garments. A soft, clean robe lay nearby, but she has to catch herself on the end of the bed when she leans over to pick it up, almost falling out of her chair with a sudden spell of dizziness.

"Poppy!" her maid exclaims, helping the princess back upright. She plucks the robe from the bed and lays it over Margot's shoulders. "You need to let others do for you. Now sit here while I retrieve cloth and soap for your bath."

"Rory left some things for her, there," Kendall interjects, waving vaguely over toward a cabinet set in a small alcove with the other portal. The maid's gaze follows the motion, and with a stiff nod, she goes to look inside the cabinet doors to see what 'things' might be waiting there.

"Margot, come sit here next to me," he invites the princess while Desrianne attends to her own task.

Obediently, she rises and moves from the chair to the bed by his side. Kendall takes her clean hand when she approaches, and has her sit so that they can speak easily. Up close, she can smell a pleasant yet pungent scent from him, refreshing and energizing. The same scent rises from the bowl that Desrianne carries over, along with a soft ruby red cloth.

The Chaosian releases her hand so he can wipe the moisture from her cheeks. "It will not take long for your bath to be completed, and then you can rest here with me, should you like."

Margot nods. "I should like that very much," she manages without shedding more tears.

The Lord directs Desrianne to give Margot a full body bath with the scented liquid, not just her arm and face. He is patience itself as the maid tends to the princess, even closing his eyes so as not to cause awkwardness when the maid smooths the soft cloth over the princess' bare body. He rests his head back against the pillows, and in those unguarded heartbeats, his discomfort and weariness can be seen in the lines of his face.

Strangely, the blood from her arm and hand did not color the liquid at all, and it definitely made her feel… different somehow. Revived, perhaps. Maybe warmer. It was hard to say, except… better. Finished with her tasks, the maid eventually departs with the bowl and cloth, leaving Margot in the robe alone with the Chaos Lord.

Kendall waits until the rustling of the door ceases before he opens his eyes. "Come join me here, now that you're clean and refreshed," he invites her. "Rory will bring some food soon. I am particularly in need of sustenance, but we should both eat."

Margot slides over right next to him and tips her head onto his shoulder. His arm comes around her back as she moves closer, resting at her waist. She still trembles, but she tries to keep her tears contained, feeling mostly numb from everything that had happened.

"Thank you. The water was lovely. Soothing," she says.

Silence descends and he ponders what to do or say next. It didn't take much observation to see that she was distressed, even if it wasn't clear exactly what she was distressed about or how to soothe her. Or if he should soothe her. This was all new territory for him, and he was unaccustomed to stumbling around in the dark.

"You are very quiet," he remarks after a time.

A chagrined smile tugs at her lips. "That is new, isn't it?"

She waits a moment. "I am sorry you were harmed."

Several moments pass in silence as she tries to collect thoughts that had no real meaning. "The Sorceress is— was a shadow form of Queen Morgana. The Shadow of the Queen was a side of her I never thought could exist. Merciless. Cruel and evil and spiteful, but a shade of her nonetheless."

"Ah," he says into the ensuing silence.

"I don't understand what happened," Margot says after another pause. She stares into the distance, seeing nothing of the cabin where they sat together. "Everything is a blur. You were stabbed and then— and I thought you were dying." She gulps air into a chest suddenly tight with remembered terror.

"She couldn't have the ship. We were leaving Amber!" she exclaims in a voice infused with anger and indignation. "There was no need to attack. Her only motives were hatred and spite and vengeance."

He turns his head enough to press a kiss to her temple when she pauses again to collect her emotions. "We may speak of this later if you wish," he offers.

She continues as though she hadn't heard him, speaking in a distant voice as though she had watched things unfold rather than actively participated. "My world changed. Time changed. Sounds and colors changed. I had a piece of the weapon used to pierce you, soaked with your blood. I went to the rail and sliced my own hand, and bled into your vitae. Words spun in my head like a spider does with a web. I knew who She was. I knew her True Name. Morrigu."

A single tear rolls down her cheek, though her voice remains emotionless. "And I took her life. Seafarers will no longer be at the mercy of a Monster that claims lives for tribute."

Another long pause falls between them, she wandering the lonely halls of memory while he waits for some sign of what to do or say next. More silent tears fall from her eyes like raindrops. Margot had always believed herself to be a gentle creature, and here at first threat of danger, she had acted with vicious efficiency. That knowledge felt more damaging than witnessing any of the bloodshed or violence.

"You were right. My mother wasn't what she appeared to be… and it seems, neither am I," she whispers at last. "I was angry and afraid and things happened to me, in me— I just wanted to protect my loved ones and that meant protecting the ship… Which meant dealing with the root cause, not the symptom. And I am sorry this display may put you in a difficult situation. Ignorance is a feeble excuse. I… I just… don't really understand what happened to me."

"Mm." A sound of acknowledgement as he thinks for several heartbeats about what to say. "What do you not understand? The events of the attack? The motives of the sorceress? Your own actions? Something else?"

"Yes," she answers wistfully. Turning, she climbs to her knees so she can study his face. "But you should be concerning yourself with rest and not expending energy on my being lost in a labyrinth. What may I do for you? My wounds are superficial and you were run through."

"Sit with me," he answers her question. He takes her hand, carefully drawing her over to sit in his lap. "And perhaps a song…"

Margot hesitates, not because she doesn't want to sit with him, but because she doesn't want to harm him further. Timidly, she climbs into his lap with great care not to jostle him or bump his chest.

Kendall chuckles a little. "I am fine, shayna. Merely tired and somewhat sore." He rests his arms around her once she settles.

Softly, she begins to sing a melody in one of those languages she had learned in her Shadow. Though the words may hold no meaning for him, her tender voice fills the song with love. His eyes close and he lays his head back against the pillow again, relaxing with her in the quiet peace of the private cabin.

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