(I am not going to lie… After that dice roll, I spent most of the night scouring the rules to see if there was something missed to keep me from writing this; but alas, I came up with nothing. I am putting a disclaimer here: The content of the clicky contains extremely emotional content! If this is something you are not interested in, please read the TL;DR. There is no gore, but the feelings are very raw and at times dark. The parts I think which could really bother people I am going to blur in the clicky.)
The Loss of Lowenna.
At Cubeth’s wedding, it was apparent Ullin’s wife Lowenna was with child. When they presented her with the fur cloak, Cubeth shot Ullin a knowing look and smirk, while congratulating them, thinking to herself: Ahhh, I heard he stayed behind to lead several patrols around Salisbury in the Earls absence… But he sure knew how to keep busy while not on patrol or garrison duty! During the wedding feast, she on occasion turned her attention to them while they talked and lightly danced on the day thinking to herself: What it must be like to marry for love… It is something one can acquire after some time… But it would have been nice to have started with it… She sadly smiles, very briefly, and shakes the gloom away before anyone can notice.
Though well along with child, Ullin felt it very important both Lowenna and he were both there to support Cubeth on her wedding day. Especially after the strange and disturbing disappearance of her brother Narwar. Lowenna was the picture of perfect health, her pregnancy had been flawless. She had not been hindered in her normal activities in any way, though she had started to delegate tasks rather early on to help make a seamless transition to when she would be eventually put into seclusion and unable to perform her normal tasks. Even after the return from Cornwall, she was in good health and only suffering from very mild fatigue from traveling. Nothing more than any Lady suffers from a trip that far.
Several months past after the return to Burcombe from Terrabil, Lowenna eventually stopped performing her tasks, in accordance with the midwife’s instructions, and went into labor almost exactly when it was predicted. She was perfectly fit and healthy when her pains began early that morning, but soon after things took a drastic turn. Ullin waited patiently in the main hall of the stone manor house Earl Roderick had built for them. He could hear Lowenna’s screams of anguish echo off the masonry and he felt for the first time in his life absolutely powerless to do anything. Only a few weeks before had he given the orders to the workers on the estate to start planning to build fortifications. He had plans to protect all he was hoping to add to the land his forebears built upon in Salisbury and in this moment his fears of losing what he cared most about were seeming to become reality.
Dark thoughts soon crept into his mind as he agonized over the cries of pain encircling him: This is an enemy I cannot defend her against… I cannot protect her… Only powers greater than I can help her now, and I must have faith she and the child will survive this. He tightly held the small box she first gave him, now eyes welling up and thinking even darker thoughts: If I had not given this to Sir Balen back in Bayeaux… I could have used its original contents if the worst were to happen… He opens the box and looks at the vial that currently resides in it and thinks back to the cave. His head spins with various outcomes of what he could have done differently, what if he would have chosen differently, why he did what he did…
He closes the box, She would not want me to give this to her… I can now only pray these horrific cries are normal… He sees a woman leave the private chamber at the far end of the hall and rush outside briefly to come back in with a hand full of herbs. He glares at her, wondering what was going on, as the screams continue to penetrate him burning his mind and soul with empathetic pain. He then continues to stare at the closed box in his hands, his mind swimming.
When it was obvious things were not normal, Ullin called for his squire Ean. He instructed him to take the three fastest horses and ride to Tisbury to see if the pagan priestess, the Armello, was still in residence at the standing stone there. If she was, Ean is to politely request for her to come to Burcombe.
Finally, many hours later after nearly a full day of labor, the screams of pain suddenly stop. Ullin bolts up from his seat and puts the box in his pocket. He looks across the room and hopes to hear the cry of a child, but he hears nothing… Then after what seems like an eternity, he finally hears it. Soft sobbing coming from the far end of the hall trickling through the door from the small room. She lost the child… he thinks to himself.
Instinctively, he quickly covers the hall making his way to the door on the far side. As he makes every step, he feels an intensifying desire to tell her it is OK and to comfort her. He feels relief that her suffering was over, and took solace in the fact that now was a time to heal. His hand presses against the door to the room and he pushes it open, later regretting he ever did. Before opening the door, his wife was alive and most likely their child was dead; but alas, to his horror, once he opened the door he discovered that both Lowenna and their son had died. Though at a passing glance he could tell the boy would have never been able to be a knight; if he would have survived, it would have been a small consolation. He heads straight to his wife and holds her still body in his arms. He fells the desolation in his soul and falls into a state of isolated dolor. He brushes her hair back and sees in her eyes her spirit has left and has passed on to the realm of her forebears. He thinks to grab the vial from the box in his pocket, and it takes every ounce of strength in his body to not reach for it. He does succeed in this one task, he leaves it there not knowing what it is or what it would do to her.
The midwife explains what happened, he kneels holding Lowenna nodding, pretending to be listening to what she is saying but only thinking of the pain she had to endure before finally getting peace, She was in pain for so long… At least on the battlefield, death can be merciful and come quickly… His mind for a moment flashes to Sir Berenie.
He asks everyone in the room to leave him and his family, his grief is deeply chiseled on his face and is clearly inconsolable. When the room clears, he openly weeps sorrowful tears, he wonders what could have been done differently, and how he could have prevented this fate from happening.
The world is thrown into turmoil, Ullin is heartbroken and despondent shaken by the greatest loss he has ever experienced…
TL;DR: Lowenna up until labor had a perfectly healthy pregnancy, her death was painful and drawn out, Ullin is torn with potentially having something which might save her, but knows she would not approve. He chooses not to use it, not knowing what would happen if he did.
The birth of Cubeth's Child.
As the remains of the wedding are packed up and carted away, Merion and Cubeth set up residence at Terrabil until her obligations there are fulfilled. In the early days of being newly wed, Cubeth finds the change in routine to be refreshing, yet tedious. Merion is a bit more demonstrative than she expected. Though it is an adjustment for her, she finds it a little endearing especially since he is ‘easy on the eyes’ compared to most of the men she has encountered.
A little more than a month and a fortnight after the wedding, while engaged in sword training with Sir Owain, she becomes violently ill and vomits on her opponent’s boots. She profusely apologizes to the knight, blaming the food and drink from the night before on her sudden illness. She goes about her day thinking nothing more of it. However, this was not to be her only bout of sudden illness, as every morning she would wake with a horrible feeling in her stomach and become sick. After a few weeks of this prolonged feeling, she was sent to chirurgery and was informed she was with child.
Cubeth, knowing full well it was a very real possibility, initially thought the sudden and complete halt of her training was a preposterous idea. She instead relented to two conditions, she would no longer participate in riding exercises and would forgo contact combat training. Instead she, reluctantly, would focus her attention on other areas and, if she must, engage in solo weapons training. She very much wanted to keep her daily routine as normal as possible… given the circumstances… but she found it very hard to as time progressed. Eventually, she would have to forgo training in her armor as her belly began to grow and frequent trips to make water impeded her sessions. Gradually, the burden of carrying the child was putting a strain on her bones. Her knees and ankles ached and she was more irritable than she could ever remember. She still fought on, determined not to let her condition prevent her from performing her duties and being useful around the castle. Though she never heard about this, Nico made a nice bit of coin as some of the Salisbury squires placed bets on how long she would go before resigning to her condition and stop her training regimen. Nico knows her well and knew she would go until something would convince her enough was enough.
Just past the middle of the winter, a messenger arrived at Terrabil bearing woeful news. Just a week before, Lowenna, Ullin’s wife, died giving birth to their son. The boy did not live. The news shocked Cubeth and put her into a panic. What have I been doing? she thought to herself, What am I trying to prove? Lowenna was perfectly healthy at my wedding and did not seem to suffer or show any indications of the issues I have been having… Has my stubbornness caused me to be blind and am I inflicting harm on myself, or my child? What if I am putting my life at risk? In the evening Cubeth sits in silent contemplation and decides to be more realistic with her pregnancy and her abilities. She voices her concerns to Sir Owain, though she insists she must be allowed to do something to help with the running of the castle.
More time passes and eventually, the day arrives. Cubeth’s labor was very short, but the most excruciating and exquisite pain she had ever endured. The child is presented to her and she looks at him saying, “He looks just like his father. We shall call him Warion…” Though she smiles when he is handed over to her she thinks to herself: He has too much of his father in him… He will never be strong enough to be a knight… She will hide the disappointment from others, but deep inside it will eat at her as she wonders if her extended training caused to the child to be weaker or if it was just random chance.
She will never speak it freely, but she will admit to herself the pain of childbirth must be the most agonizing sense which could be experienced; and because of this, female knights are truly superior to their male counterparts, as they will never have a chance to feel “true pain”.
TL;DR: Cubeth pukes on Owain’s boots, realizes her limitations in spite of her stubbornness, and secretly is disappointed to have a son who will never grow up to be a knight… She names the child Warion.
(My normal end of the Winter wrap-up! Yay!)
With the death of his wife, Ullin slips into a deep depression. In the hopes of not losing his sanity, he focuses himself and sets his mind to reflect on the past in the hopes of bettering himself. In the end, he picks apart some instances which he found himself wanting and this self reflection yields in some insight to how to better present himself to others and some errors he had made in some previous battles. His squire assists him with the analysis of his previous battles and learns quite a bit about leadership and formations on the battlefield, and in his spare time improves his riding skills.
Cubeth, after hearing of Lowenna’s passing, shifts her training from physical efforts to mental. She was rather embarrassed by her lack of hunting knowledge and felt rather useless during the hunt. She will request to speak with Sir Owain and Sir Cynian to speak on hunting techniques and methods, if they are available to do so. Her squire, Nico, improves his riding skills significantly under her guidance, granted she at the time was unable to ride herself. He also learns some new ways to stab people with his dagger…