Meh, I was up late, so I wrote another chapter.
"Anything?" Balian asked desperately. "Anything to make her smile again?"
Elizabeth, one of Jocelyn's friends, shook her head. She was rather fond of Balian and his family, even though others in the village were not. "She needs time to heal." She said sadly. It grieved her to see her friends suffer from a stillborn, and a son at that. Jocelyn had been praying and praying for a healthy baby boy. The woman still remembered the joy in her friend's face when she discovered that she was with child, and the voice choked with sorrow that Balian had spoken with when he announced that his son had died. "It takes a long time to recover from the grief of a stillborn, especially a son."
He shook his head as well. "I just want her to be happy." He said softly. The only thing he loved more than his siblings was his fair wife. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, and he thanked God every day for her. "Maybe Emma's baby will help." He suggested hopefully.
She shrugged half-heartedly. "Maybe. But I do not think-."
He looked up as Robert came sprinting towards him through the town square, dust following him in a large cloud. "Balian!" Robert shouted again, his eyes wide and panicked, like a hunted deer's.
Balian caught his brother's arms as he stumbled into him, gasping for breath. "What's wrong?" He demanded, feeling what his siblings called his 'secret inner mother' take over.
Robert looked up. Balian saw tears in his eyes and felt his heart stop. "Jocelyn… the girls…" He placed a hand over his throat and gasped. "Come... quickly..."
Balian paled, and he sprinted towards the house. Robert kept pace with him, even though he was panting with exhaustion. They burst into the house to see Emma curled up on the floor holding Lila in her arms over her swollen belly, both women hiding their faces in the other's hair. "Lila!" Balian raced towards them, crouching in front of them and placing his hands on their shoulders, as if they would disappear if he didn't touch them and hold them close. "Lila, Emma, are you alright?"
"Jocelyn…" She whispered, tears in her voice as she curled into a ball. She used to do the same when the village boys threw stones at her and pulled her hair and jeered at her.
"Where is Jocelyn?" Balian demanded, dread and terror mounting in his mind. His heart was pounding in his ears; but, he told himself, Jocelyn was alright. She was fine... "Lila, look at me. Where is she?"
"Turn around," Emma whispered, sobbing into Lila's dark hair.
Balian turned and was met by his wife's empty, glassy eyes as she dangled from the rafters by a thick rope around her neck. His breath left him. "JOCELYN!" He flew to his feet and cut her down. She fell into his arms like a rag doll, her head lolling back into the crook of his arm. The girls sobbed and Robert stared blankly while Balian screamed and wept and shouted Jocelyn's name. But she would not wake. She would never wake again…
Emma screamed as the pain racked her thin body. The child was born, but they could not stop the bleeding. There was so much blood, covering the ground, her clothes, everything, and there was always more coming. "Emma." Robert said desperately, his eyes filled with fear as he took his wife's hand and Balian took the other. "Emma, listen to me, love. We have a daughter, Emma. We've named her Rachel, like you wanted. Emma, don't leave. Don't leave me, please…"
She looked up at her husband. "I… love… you…" She whispered, then closed her eyes and went limp. Balian dropped her hand and looked at the blood on his. He turned and ran outside as his brother screamed and sobbed, clutching her body to his as Balian had done only a day earlier. The cold snow stung mercilessly at his face as he wept. God had abandoned them, he knew it… deep down, he knew it…
Balian sat up with a shout. He covered his face with his hands and calmed his loud, ragged breath, his thudding heartbeat. He looked around the darkened room he shared with his brother; Robert was still asleep, not surprisingly. He crawled out of his bed and crept into the forge. Working would help him, it always did.
"Another dream?" He turned and saw Lila sitting on the low wall, staring out at the land as she hugged her knees to her chest. Her eyes shifted from the stars to her brother, and he shivered; his sister's eyes knew too much sorrow, more grief than any child her age should know. "I did too. I miss them… so much."
He took her hands and sat beside her. "They're in a better place." He said quietly.
She hugged him, nestling into his shoulder. She always felt safest there in his arms; he was perfect for hugs. "I know, Balian. Believe me, I know." She whispered.
They stood together and started working. They didn't worry about Robert, he could sleep through Samson hammering his head against the wall. She could work the forge almost as well as the boys. She had insisted that she learn, so that she would not feel completely useless. She went to work on her latest project, which Balian could not begin to guess at just yet, and he worked on a sword.
"Balian." A voice said behind them, as cold and unmerciful as the night surrounding them.
"Richard." Balian said flatly without looking up.
The town priest and their brother looked at Lila. He was not fond of the girl, even though she was his sister. "Leave us." He ordered.
"Do not order her around." Balian said sharply. He would not put up with it.
"You should have gone with Godfrey." Robert said, dropping the matter of the girl. "You have nothing here. God has abandoned you and your siblings. You should have gone to the Holy Land, erased your sins."
"What of Jocelyn, and Emma?" Balian said levelly. He noticed that Lila had stopped working, staring at the metal, straining her ears to hear. "Or Lila, and Robert, or Rachel? How could I leave them in good conscience?"
"God has no pity for the wives of bastards and the children of whores." He said, even though he knew he spoke ill of his own mother in doing so. He could live with that. Lila's eyes flashed. "Perhaps, if you work, if you join the Crusade, you may relieve their places in hell, and I assure you, they are in hell." He stepped forward. "Though what your wife does there without her head, I know not."
Lila sucked in a breath and clenched on her hammer. "Jocelyn," She whispered, glaring at her brother with hate. She wished that looks could kill, because that would mean that Richard would be dead.
Balian turned and saw something, frowning slightly as he peered at it. He suddenly froze as he realized that it was; Jocelyn's necklace, he would recognize it anywhere. He reached over and lifted it from where it rested on Richard's chest. Lila gasped as she saw it. She had made it for Jocelyn's wedding day with her own hands.
Then a blind rage seized both of them; she screamed and flew at their brother, her nails digging into his face. She held him while Balian shouted and plunged the red-hot sword into Richard's belly. Lila threw him into the fire behind her. Balian reached into the flames and plucked Jocelyn's necklace from his screaming brother's neck, wincing as the shape of the cross was burned into his palm.
Richard screamed and rose from the flames before he flew at Lila, who was staring at what she had done with horror. She screamed and covered her face with her arms as he reached out with flaming arms, then collapsed on the hay, setting the forge on fire.
She looked up, eyes wide and frightened. "Balian!" She gasped, covering her face.
"Lila, get up!" Balian ordered, his heart thudding again. Was this a dream? What had they done? They had to leave, and quickly. He raced into the boys' room. "Robert! Robert, wake up!"
"I'm up." He said groggily without lifting his head from under his pillow.
Balian threw back his brother's covers. "Robert, the forge is on fire!" He shouted to get it through the boy's thick skull. "Get Rachel and get out! NOW!"
They fled together as flames consumed their life and they rode away into the night.