Bitterosemary: I am starting my book, probably at the end of this week as I'm having a minor op tomorrow and will be off work for a fortnight, so I though that now would be as good a time as any. Thank you for all your reviews! Celuna Cirrus: Thank you! The longest chapter of the story was actually Lammas III! That was mammoth! I have an idea for a longer DN that will be called Stones, and I will be back to write it in a couple of months. Thank you for all your reviews! Feyrey: Thank you – I had no idea I was doing a double scene, it just happened! Thanks for all your reviews. Expect the first chapter at the end of the week (if that's okay?). Music Nerd: Thank you for your reviews! I hate the idea of them aging! When I do do another DN fic it will be set when Daine's 17 and Numair's 31 – keep 'em young! Sonnet Lacewing: Thank you for the reviews and looking through, you're a star! You'll probably get chapter 1 at the end of the week, but I'll 'talk' to you before then! Ttyl Neal's Chick: Thank you for all your reviews. My book is going to be contemporary fiction rather than fantasy, and if I ever manage to get it published, I'll PM you! Dolphin Dreamer: I dreaded this final chapter to. Fanfic is so safe to write. I feel quite scared going it alone so to speak. I will PM you about the reader bit for my book. Drop Your Oboe: Thank you – I will let you know if my book will ever be published! Its funny, but writing that chapter I thought a similar thing! Thank you for your reviews! Poodle14: Thank you for your reviews. I will probably do another DN in a couple of months! Daine's Daughter: Thank you I will check it out. Thank you for all your reviews. Silverlake: I will miss updating! Thank you for all your reviews! Goldeneyedwildmage: Thank you! I certainly won't forget fanfic – I'll still be reading it, and I will more than likely write another one in the near future. I'm really going to miss updating (sob sob). Thank you for all your reviews! Aravilui: Thank you! I have really appreciated all your reviews. Good luck with the rest of your cheerleading comps!
Thank you to everyone who has reviewed, you've all been stars and have really encouraged me to write my own book. If I ever do manage to get something published, you'll be to thank!
Disclaimer: It's not mine, it's Tamora Pierce's.
Mabon Part III
Chapter 3 – Up All Night
George looked worriedly at Numair. "When did this happen?" He asked.
"Just now. The man on board the boat must be a mage. He's used a herusectic spell to pick Onua up and transport her over to him," Numair said angrily. "It's a complicated spell and it would almost drain me, so either the mage is s strong one or he's got energy stored in a black opal he's tapped into." Numair began to walk to the cliff face that dropped down to the sea. "I'll have to get her. I imagine he's bound her rather like I did with the raiders."
"How are you going to get to the boat?" George called.
"Swim," Numair replied. "I'll jut make sure the boat won't move anywhere first." He held out his hand and George watched as a bolt of black lightning speckled with silver flecks wrapped itself around the vessel. "How deep is the water here?" Numair asked, casting a quick look at George before pulling of his robe and throwing it to the ground.
"Deep enough to dive into," George answered. "Will I be any use to come with you?"
Numair considered for a moment and nodded. "I can entertain our friend while you help her get back to shore. Luckily, the boat's not too far out."
George pulled off his shirt and followed the mage as he dived in. He opened his eyes under the clear water and saw Numair hold an open hand to him and a jet of the same Gift fly out. For a moment George wondered if he had been attacked, and then realised he hadn't, he was just now able to swim remarkably quickly.
They reached the boat in good speed, and George felt remarkably alive and unexhausted. Numair had located the ladder that led up to the deck and the two men clambered aboard with as much silence as they could manage.
George could see that Numair was sensing where the mage was, his eyes were stony with concentration and his expression stern. He followed the tall man down some steps to the cabin. Numair pointed for George to enter a room, understanding the signs he used to mean 'stay there till I call you'. He waited patiently for what seemed an eternity before he heard a bang followed by the sound of something falling over. He figured that Numair had found the mage.
Numair recognised the woman as soon as he saw her. She had been one of the few female students at the university in Carthak when he had been there, although she had been three years older than him, he had shared some classed with her. She was Scanran in descent, and he knew that she certainly had not at any point been allied with Ozorne, and was unlikely to have been associated with Scanra in its war against Tortall. Likely she had rallied some men in order to try and attain herself some wealth. He faced her, having already noticed Onua unconscious in the corner, looking like she had been stunned with a sleeping spell. The mage he faced was a powerful one, but no more so than the average Carthaki student. He had correctly assumed that some power had been stored and he noticed the black opal on a silver chain around her neck.
"Nice to see you again, Zilya," he said, smiling at the woman.
"You too, Arram," she replied. "Still quite the heart throb with your clothes sticking to you. Very much the hero."
He was surprised at how she had aged; the deep lines around her eyes and the grey streaks in her hair, which surprisingly she hadn't dyed. He wondered briefly if he looked very aged compared to when she had seen him last. His still took care of himself, his hair showed as much grey as it had at the age of thirty, his skin was still smooth and he thought he could pass for younger than his forty years. It also helped, he knew, having a young wife and a very demanding baby daughter. His heart softened and ached for the two women in his life and he had the sudden urge to be with them immediately. Zilya looked at him, her hand raised, about to strike. Numair laughed, slightly moving his hand. Within a second she had dropped to the floor, collapsed unconscious in a heap. He reached down and moved her head so he could get to the black opal around her neck. Touching it he felt the magnitude of its magic and wondered how many people with the gift she had injured or even killed to own their power.
Numair called for George, bellowing out loud enough so that he would hear him. He had been quite surprised by George's compliance with going into the room and not attempting to follow him. However, Numair knew that George did not play at being a hero. He would not have been able to defend himself had Zilya struck him, and would have distracted Numair from capturing her through having to defend him. Numair was surprised when no answer came. He shouted again as he examined Onua, uttering a few words that would remove the spell. The water that dripped off him as he leaned over her seemed to work almost as well as wake flower and her eyelids peeled open, revealing blood shot eyes.
"Where am I?" She asked, disorientated.
"On board the ship that the raiders came on. The mage who was with them decided you'd be good as bait for a ransom," he told her. "George is here too, and I really must find where he's got to. Will you be okay here for a moment?"
She nodded. "I think I'm going to be sick anyhow and I'd rather do it alone," she gestured for him to leave.
Numair stood and exited the room, not enjoying the sway of the boat on the water. He reached the room where George had gone and opened the door. The assistant spymaster had lit several candles, giving light to the small room and was standing completely still, looking a funny contraption sat on the middle of the table.
Numair regarded it in horror. It was a fizzing bottle, held over a large candle and was now at boiling point. He had never seen one before in real life but had read enough and seen enough diagrams to recognise it. He looked at George who was paralysed with fear, not taking his eyes on it.
"It's an explosive potion," Numair said in a low voice. "It's a crude one, but I imagine it will work well."
"What are we going to do with it?" George asked through gritted teeth. He had no problem with magic, but not having a gift like Numair's or his own wife made him slightly nervous when he came up against an enemy he couldn't attack with a dagger or words.
"If I pick it up it will probably blow. I need to get it off the ship and into the water somehow without moving it. Look, George, get Onua and start swimming. You should still be able to swim fast with that spell I sent you. In five minutes you should be nearly back to shore. Get Alanna to push the waves back so the ship moves further out to sea, then I'll drop the ship to the bottom of the sea and trigger the potion. That way it won't affect Pirate's Swoop," Numair instructed. From what he could see of the potion it would be a large explosion and would likely reverberate a few miles round. Where the ship was now was too close to attempt to diffuse it or try a controlled explosion. He realised that Zilya was about to trigger it and would have killed all who was on board.
George looked at him strangely. "That's suicide. You'll end up blowing yourself up!"
Numair shook his head. "You'll see me stood beside you in no time at all," he reassured, the tiniest hint of fear in his chest.
George tentatively left the room and Numair waited, giving them him time to grab Onua and vacate the vessel. He heard the splash as both hit the water and then waited for George to return to the Swoop and Alanna to throw the wave.
He didn't have to wait long. He felt the boat rise and his stomach churn as he was carried along high on the water. He wondered what would happen if the bottle fell of the table, whether it would explode, but the room did not seem to tilt too much, staying level enough so the bottle merely moved a little along the table.
Numair felt the boat sink and waited until the waves had calmed. His eyes remained on the bottle, knowing with some relief that if it exploded now he would be the only one killed or injured.
He drew on his Gift and muttered an incantation that would begin to let the water in. After a few minutes, water began to flood at his feet and quickly immersed the room. He pushed open the door, forcing it open, not wanting to blast it for fear of setting off the potion too early.
As he climbed up the stairs and left the cabins he found that the vessel was nearly all the way under the water. He dived off the side and swam as far out as he knew he could go while still be near enough to carry out what he needed to. Treading water, he managed to hold out one arm and shout an incantation that set any visible wood on fire. He dived under the water and swam as quickly as he could away from the sunken ship.
Then he felt the power of the blast push him further and trigger a wave that helped him along in the direction of the shore. The potion had exploded and no one had been injured. He came up for air, inhaling rapidly and spotted Alanna looking out to sea for him. He waved weakly, drained, and then felt the tug of the water as the Lioness began to pull the water back in, and Numair towards dry land.
George was waiting near the cliffs, when Numair got their.
"You'll need one last gulp of breathe," George instructed, then inhaled and dived back under water.
Numair followed him, going through a hole in the cliff face and into chamber into which the sea created a whirlpool. Numair followed George around its sides to where a flight if stairs led up into the underbelly of Pirate' Swoop. Daine had once described the building as a bit like an iceberg, with more rooms and caverns underneath and hidden than there were on top. He wondered how deep the pool went, and then decided to leave finding out to another day.
Although he was tired and drained, and Alanna had suggested that he ought to rest before attempting the journey back to the Tower, Numair was now on the back of his horse, accompanied by the rest of his friends and heading back to Daine and Sarralyn. He hadn't even had the strength to send out a speech spell to his wife to let her know that everyone was alright, so she would get a surprise when they arrived. George had left the care of the prisoner in the capable hands of the men who worked for him and seemed relieved to be leaving the place to cal down before he returned. Sarge had not left Onua's side, continually watching out for her. He had been crazed with anger when he realised what had happened, and his thanks to Numair had been gruff but filled with sincerity; he had brought his love back to him.
They galloped along quickly, and were around an hour and half away from the Tower when Alanna had managed to open up a link with Thayet. The conversation was short as it was all that Alanna could do over the distance between them, but she had learnt one important fact. Buri had gone into labour.
Raoul looked flabbergasted when he heard the news, his jaw dropping and his eyes widening as he tried to take in the thought that in a few hours he would be a father. Numair smothered a smile at the look on his face remembering all too well when the emotions he had felt when the same thing had happened to Daine. At least Buri's labour would not be as complicated as giving birth to a baby shape shifter.
"Don't worry," he rode up to Raoul. "If you're lucky most of it will be over by the time we get there."
Raoul laughed, his expression returning to normal. "I'd have been less worried if I'd heard that they had been attacked by bandits or something. This is scary."
Numair nodded. "But it will be over soon, and then you're life will become a whirlwind of night time feeds, diapers and lung exercises. I am sure Sarralyn is destined to become a town crier!"
"How did Daine's pregnancy go?" Raoul asked. "I know she had to keep shifting her lower half when ever the baby changed shape, but what about other things, like cravings?"
Numair wondered what had brought this on. Obviously Buri had had some odd cravings or something else he wouldn't have mentioned it. "She had a phase or needing to eat a hair potion I use. At first I thought it was Kitten up to her old tricks again, until I caught Daine scooping it out and devouring it like she'd never been fed. The other strange things was eating dandelion heads, but that was partly due to Sarralyn having a few weeks where she seemed to prefer the form of rabbit above most other things. What's Buri been like?"
Raoul laughed and shook his head. "It's only been one thing, but it's lasted all the way through. Chewing candle wax."
"That's bizarre," Numair said with a laugh. "Was it a shook that she was pregnant?"
Raoul shook his head. "No, it was what we'd been wanting. She just came out with it when we were walking down to dinner at the palace one evening. It nearly fell down the stairs. She said it so matter of factly that I was stunned. Naturally she found my reaction hilarious!"
Numair grinned, recalling how Daine had broken the news to him. She had taken off her pregnancy charm the day they had gotten married, although they had worked out that Sarralyn was conceived at Lammas.
They had celebrated the Lammas festival at the Tower, just the two of them. It was still very close to their wedding and the novelty of being married had not yet worn off. There had been no pressing work for either of them, so they had too much spare energy, and Lammas eve had been spent making love in the fields, knowing that there was no one around bar Kitten to catch them, and that she was too busy with Raelyn in the kitchens to notice that they were gone.
Three weeks later, once they had returned to the palace, Daine had met him after he had given a lecture to the pages. She had come armed with a picnic basket and a bottle of water and demanded that they took a walk to the woods while they had the chance. The day had been a warm one, although summer was dying away and the nights had become chilly. They had sat down by the river that ran through the woods and Daine had begun to open up the basket. She passed him a cloth to unfold, which he did, and then told him to turn around and close his eyes. At her word he spun round, his eyes open, expecting, and hoping, to see a feast as he was famished.
What he did see took his breath away. She had laid out tiny baby clothes, a diaper and a small stuffed animal amongst the food, and sat there looking proudly at him. He saw that her eyes had filled with tears and gathered her in his arms, managing to knock over the bottle of water which mercifully still had its cork in.
For a few moments they were silent. Numair's hand went to her belly, still flat, but knowing that within her their baby had started to grow. Automatically he felt more protective over her, clasping her tightly against him.
"Are you pleased?" She had asked him quietly, large eyes looking into his.
He nodded, a large smile spreading across him face. "I'm ecstatic," he murmured, kissing the tops of the curls. "When did you find out?"
"This morning. I went to the healers and they confirmed I was. I knew anyway, but I didn't want to say anything until I was sure," Daine said, the look of wonder still on face. He kissed her deeply, discovering a sense of being that he had never had before, and then pulled away, aware of how his body was reacting.
"It won't harm the baby, you know," she whispered, making him smile.
Eight months later he had been at work in the university when a messenger had sent for him to go to the infirmary. He had found Daine lay on one of the beds, glaring at him.
"Are you alright?" He had asked rather stupidly, a question which was met with another look that could have killed.
Her labour had been long and tortuous and Numair felt guilty, feeling that he had somehow inflicted the pain on her. Finally, Duke Baird had decreed that they would have to help the baby out another way, a procedure that Numair found agonising to watch, although Daine couldn't feel anything.
The pain had gone away as soon as they had held their offspring in their arms. For the first minute she had stayed as a little girl, and then continually altered, shifting every few minutes until Numair felt worn out watching.
He smiled at the memory, smiling more when his daughter had finally decided to be a daughter and not some baby elephant or giraffe. He imagined that Sarralyn would find a way to continually amuse her parents and tear their hair out until well after she had her own children - a thought that Numair didn't particularly want to consider much at present.
He saw the Tower in the distance, and found himself encouraging his mount to hurry, desperate to see his wife and daughter. Raoul was already beating him to it, and for the next twenty minutes they pushed their horses to the maximum.
They had managed to get Buri upstairs and lying on a bed, both Daine and Thayet going through the experience of their own pregnancies to try and help her. The time between contractions had shortened and Thayet was certain that the baby would be born at any time. Daine had asked her Ma for assistance, praying to the Green Lady for all she was worth.
Although the labour was seemingly going to be short, which for Buri was probably a good occurrence, Thayet was concerned about the element of shock it would have on her friend, and desperately prayed for Alanna to hurry up and take charge of the situation. Even with Daine's Ma giving them advice she was still unconfident and knew that Buri needed something to help with the pain, or at least ease her temper. Thayet was sure that she had never sworn that much while she was giving birth.
Buri's screams had increasingly grown in volume, enough to drown out the two pairs of feet that were running up the stairs. Raoul and Alanna burst in the door, Raoul immediately checking how Buri was and Alanna checking the health of mother and baby.
"Not long," she announced to the room. "How long ago did she start with the contractions?"
"About three hours ago," Thayet said, relieved that someone else who knew more than she was there to take over.
Alanna nodded. "The baby's head is beginning to crown," she announced. Raoul looked at her as if she had spoken in Scanran. "You'll be holding your child in a few minutes." She began to give instructions to Buri, who was now swearing profusely.
"I never took you to be a midwife," Thayet said to the Lioness.
Alanna shrugged. "I helped a village girl once before, but it seems like I have someone giving me instructions of what to do here now."
"We asked the Green Lady for assistance," Thayet replied. "But I'm glad you're here now."
Alanna smiled. "Why don't you and Daine go and inform the rest of the party what's happening and that in a few minutes we'll have another Raoul or Buri here."
Thayet nodded, grabbing Daine's hand. "Let's just pray they don't inherit their mother's mouth," she muttered, as her oldest friend spat out another obscenity, this time directed at her husband who was looking incredibly meek and awed.
Daine laughed. "I don't know, it's quite nice seeing Raoul being submissive."
Thayet laughed and they went downstairs to inform the rest of the party what was happening and find out the outcome of the events at Pirate's Swoop.
An hour or so later Raoul ventured down the stairs clutching a tiny bundle wrapped in a pink blanket that had once belonged to Sarralyn. His face was alive with joy and his eyes shining brightly as he clutched his new daughter. The rest of the room stood up and cheered, Numair slapping him on his back. "Congratualtions!" was called and he tentatively say down with her.
"How's Buri?" Thayet asked, peering at the baby.
"She's doing fine. Sleeping now, and I expect she will do for a bit. Alanna said she'll be up on her feet in no time," Raoul replied, not taking his eyes off the child.
Daine peered at her through her long lashes. "She's very pretty already. What are you going to call her?"
Raoul shrugged. "We haven't decided. I want one name and Buri another, so we'll have to see."
Jonathan laughed wryly. "I think I know that outcome of that debate even if you don't!" His laughter was joined by most other people in the room, including the new father.
Numair watched Raoul as he handled the baby nervously, not quite sure of he was holding her right and tentative in his own movements, and Numair recalled holding Sarralyn after her naming ceremony. When she had been shape shifting it had been a nightmare to hold and rock her, but he hadn't felt that she was a delicate as once her shape had stuck as a little girl. Then he had been just as cautious as Raoul at first, soon becoming adept at picking her up as instinct had taken over. He looked at his own daughter, amusing her self by batting about the soft toys that were attached to a mobile above her cot and felt the same sense of pride and completeness he did each time he saw or thought about her.
The festival had been a strange one. Mabon was about the waning away of the sun and the kidnapping of Mabon until Midwinter, although the place of his hiding was actually in Modron's – his mother's – womb. Numair stood up and looked out of the window, considering the events of the past day. Raelyn had prepared the banquet, now in honour of the festival and of the birth of Raoul and Buri's daughter, and they would feast on all the good food that had been harvested and give thanks to the Great Mother. On the morrow he imagined that they would take a walk out to the nearby burial mounds and pay their respects to those who had passed over to the peaceful realms, including his own father who had been buried there. The birth of the child today felt significant to Numair. It illustrated how the cycle of life continued, and how the pattern of life was unbroken. Numair knew that in ridding the country of Zilya, there would still be someone with equally as bad intent somewhere, planning to wreak havoc and provide themselves with power and money.
Daine came to him and put her arms around his middle, resting her cheek against his back. His hands automatically reached back to her, knowing that he needed her presence as much as he needed water or air. She had not been happy when she had been told of how he had diffused the spell at risk to himself, lecturing about how he needed to stop being a hero and consider his daughter. But her words had been spoken only half seriously. He knew that she, in his position, would have done exactly the same, and she also knew, as he knew of her, that he would never do anything that would deprive Sarralyn of one of her parents. He had been confident today. Years of experience had taught him his boundaries, and although he occasionally pushed them, he knew how far to go.
Raelyn called them in to the large kitchen to eat the food she had made. Thayet and Jonathan had requested an informal occasion, so the rather grand table that was in the large sitting room would not be used. The kitchen contained cupboards made of oak, stained dark, with brass handles that gave it a rather ancient effect. It was tidily kept and the pride and joy of Raelyn. Spotlessly clean, with utensils and crockery that had cost Numair a small fortune but had kept both Daine and Raelyn happy until the next fad had come along.
Raoul had taken his young daughter back to the room where Buri still was, although he was joining them for the meal. The baby and mother were sleeping, which Alanna declared was the best thing for them, and Buri would be given something light to eat once she felt like it.
The banter was light and joyful; any negative aspects of the day now erased by the birth of the baby. As usual, Jonathan made half serious proposals to Raelyn to come and work at the palace and was duly shot down by Numair. Raelyn had been their housekeeper and cook for ten years and he was not in the slightest bit inclined to have her leave them. She had been the only worker he had hired and had never had to complain of their interference with his work. He doubted that she would leave them anyhow, having turned down three marriage offers already as they would have meant leaving the Tower.
The night drew on, the moon rising high in the sky and casting its eerie shadow over the land nearby. Daine and Numair were the last to bed, checking that everyone was alright and no one was in need for anything. Sarralyn had been fed and winded and was now snoozing quietly, a state that Daine hoped would last for a good part of the night at least.
She sat in the sitting room with her husband, both enjoying the silence of the house after the business of the day. She sat on his lap, curled up, enjoying the time alone. He smiled at her softly and tweaked her nose.
"One day ends and another begins," he said, looking to the time.
"Like so many other things," Daine smiled back, tweaking his own nose in return.
"Still happy, Magelet?" He asked, hoping he already knew the answer.
She laughed, her fingers playing with his horse tail. "Always, Numair," she replied, leaning toward his face for a kiss which he gave passionately. They were interrupted by the sounds of the new born baby crying, which then roused Sarralyn, causing a small yell from her, letting her parents know that she was awake.
Daine stood up, sighing, and went to her daughter, picking her up and cuddling her, soothing the cries. She looked at her husband and passed Sarralyn to him. She tended to quieten automatically when she was held by him.
Daine smiled. "Another day begins with the sound of Sarra's yells!" She paused. "Are you still happy, Numair?"
He looked at her then back to his daughter, his smile broadening. Gazing at his wife once more he looked at her with eyes filled with signs that said she was his world and gave her his reply, "Yes."
The night grew, and the couple with their daughter made their way to their bedroom, surrounded by the gentle sounds of sleep coming from their friends and began to rest their way into the next day of their lives.
And so, the last chapter of the last part of the last story – for the time being. I hope you've enjoyed it – drop me a line to tell me what you think – REVIEW!
I'll be back!