Going up to see him

The day he got sick was the day neither the Baroness or her son came down to the orphanage. Winter, with Summer in hand, went up to the castle.

Castlehaven might have been called Castlehaven and the place the Baroness lived might have been the castle, but she was fairly certain, though the place was massive and made of stone, that this was not a castle. Nevertheless, she waited at the front.

“Do you need something, child?”

Winter was certain this man’s name was Tumelo. The Baroness’ son had talked about him. “Um… I was just wondering…” It was hard to say.

“Is he going to play with us?” Summer asked.

Tumelo didn’t smile, but Winter had a kind feeling from the man. “The young master is not feeling well today. Would you like me to pass on a message?”

Summer pouted, but Winter managed to keep her quiet with a few pats on the head. “Get well soon. We miss you.”

Fortunately, not for long.

Child be Child

Even at his young age, the next Baron of Castlehaven knew his mother was a tall, strong, proud woman. If he hadn’t understood such concepts, he would have had to make an educated guess from what other people around him said. If they were obligated to say so, because she was the Baroness, he couldn’t tell.

He caught a spider in the library. It was as big as the palm of his hand and couldn’t possibly be native. It had crawled over the shelving and landed on a book that had been close to where he had been playing. After staring at it for some time, he reached over and plucked it off of the spine and stared at it.

“What do you have there, young lord?”

He showed Tumelo his catch. As usual, the chamberlain wasn’t frightened, merely quietly annoyed.

“Put that down.”

“I want to show Ma’mer.”

“She will tell you the same.” Tumelo didn’t stop him from going to find her. He looked out the window as he walked by one that opened out low enough to the ground for him to see through it and downward in passing. Even more people coming from elsewhere. He ran to the Baroness.

When she first heard of him

Nemissa first heard of him from her trusted chamberlain. He spoke of the newcomer in a rather absent manner during his morning report, occupied as she was with brushing her son’s hair.

“It appears as though a member of the undead has arrived in town.”

Nemissa settled her son in his chair, smoothing his black curls back. “Undead?” she asked Tumelo. “In what way? I thought revival was impossible.”

“That is simply the umbrella term for the creatures who should be, by all rights, dead, but are alive. Other societies shun them for this difference. Your people have also had little experience with such things, but haven’t found themselves worried about him. He has been in town for a week and has been warmly welcomed.”

Nemissa thought about that for a few moments. “That’s interesting. I would like to meet a member of the undead.”

“That would be wise, my lady. While he has not come to introduce himself as a representative, he most certainly is to your people, no matter his true status. It would be quite strategic to learn who he is, why he is here, and make certain that terms remain positive for both he and Castlehaven.”

Nemissa smiled, pressing her lips against her son’s head for a moment before letting him toddle off the chair and try to make his way around the room. “Those are all important, Tumelo, but I also have another reason: pure curiosity. As you must have guessed from my question, there are no such concepts where I came from.”

“Where come from, Ma’mer?”

“A place far away from here, my flower.” She watched as he interested himself in a cabinet. “Is he staying at the Eternal Drink, Tumelo?”

“Yes, my lady.”

Nemissa tore her eyes away from her son long enough to look out the window. “Then I might go and see him there.” She ignored the very mild protests of her chamberlain, who suggested that he be invited up here to meet her. He was used to her doing this.

Everyone was.

The Baron of Castlehaven

The inhuman roar preempted the shaking of the doors by a total of five seconds. Nemissa’s breath caught in her throat. Either mucus or blood streamed down from her nose, she couldn’t tell. It would all feel the same in a moment.

“My lady?”

“There’s nowhere to run now. He’s here.” Giving up wasn’t an option though. She didn’t have that opportunity. “Where is my son?”

“Safe.”

“Thank you,” she told her chamberlain. Wiping off her face, she saw that very little of it was blood. Satisfied, she stood up on her chair.

“My lady?”

“Be ready to defend yourself.” Nemissa yanked the window curtain down, jumping back off of the chair as the rod clattered to the ground. She knelt down, picking it up.

The chamberlain swallowed, then cast his eye about. “Y-yes, my lady.”

He would hesitate to strike against his lord. As much as she would hesitate to strike her husband. But the man out there was no longer her husband. Whatever this illness had done to him, he was no longer there.

She shifted her hands around the rod and faced the doors. They shook again – they wouldn’t be able to hold up for much longer. “Ready?”

Her chamberlain had picked up a chair. Less reach, more mass. “As much as I can be.”

“That makes the both of us.”

The creature then entered the room and the two of them descended upon the Baron with their weapons.