Summary: What happens when the Senior Grove Born Companion is so tired by his normal duties that he allows a Companion who is almost ready to go out and Chose someone? What if the Offical List of 'These are the things you must never do' hasn't been memorized quite as well as Rolan thought?
The UnForeSeen Incident
The woman who entered the Herald's Court in Haven was a bit better dressed than most of the folk who came seeking Justice but every bit as worried looking and harried as any Herald Ranvet had ever seen. She handed him a sheath of paperwork as she adjusted the little girl on her hip. The child was no more than three years old and getting fussy. Herald's Court was nearly empty, only the woman remained and she was the last one on today's list.
"I know, I know." She said to the eyebrow he'd sent soaring into his hairline as he read her copy of an earlier judgement...in the Field, no less. "But there's one bit of testimony we...or rather Herald Croslen, wasn't able to get...he said he couldn't manage second stage Truth Spell...and the witness is Darci, here. The incident was six months ago and he thought that Second Stage was the only sure way to make sure a child this age could remember everything that the gentleman in question promised her...and it's a touchy situtation."
"Ah...so that's why you came here."
"You, personally, are closer than the Hill and I'm exhausted." He got a chair out for her and she sat down with a sigh, "I think everyone in the country knows that no matter which of lot are assigned to this court, you can do the Part Two, next level bit." She sighed again, tiredly, "I'm really, really not looking forward to what I think she just might say, but if I'm correct, it's really, really something you lot need to have addressed. Before he promises something you Heralds can't produce. And it's not Bernar's fault someone let him out on his own without making sure he knew better than to promise things. Babies and animals just don't understand the difference between teasing and promising. For Darci, if you lot don't back something like that up, you could hurt her very, very badly. Her family burned to death in that big forest fire out west last year...she's the only survivor and that's only because she was with other children with a few minders when most of Harstaum Village went out to fight it. You wouldn't want to scar her for life, would you? More than she already has been, I mean. She was two when she became an orphan and I'm not sure how well she remembers her parents, actually."
"There are a lot of people named after the Senior Groveborn, Miss..." He glanced at the paperwork from Herald Croslen. "Miss Landgrove."
"Yes, there are. I never said he made the girl a promise. I said Benar may have promised the child something FOR him. That's what you need to find out from Darci. If he did, that means someone isn't making sure that all the new ones going out Searching know better than to promise little kids that Rolan would be more than happy to have said little call him 'Papa' and mean it."
"Hmmm. You may want to get a Gifted Healer down to monitor her during, though. She hasn't had a nap and she could just decide the fuss is tantrum worthy." Mariah Landgrove told the middle-aged Herald. "She's three, that should explain everything needed."
"Jemson is relaying this...issue. There's a Healer and someone from the court coming. Probably the former Heir."
"With the Groveborn junior mare I heard about, I suppose?"
"Probably. Her name is Gwena."
"Just as well, provided Darci isn't just talking nonsense, if Gwena's Senior let someone out without making sure he knew not to do certain things...he may not be the only one that..." She paused to eye the paling face of the Herald. "Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves...let's find out for sure first...before I start scaring you with 'maybes'."
"Too late." He sighed. "Just the ramifications..." He murmured, shuddering slightly just as Lady Elspeth walked into the Courtroom along with the requested Healer. "Elspeth, this is Mariah Landgrove. She's the one who thought to check...not sure why."
"She was placed in my household after the fire that killed her parents, because I'm a receiving...I can't send mind, empath."
"Oh dear." Murmured the Healer. "A receiver that can't also soothe..."
"Just so." Mariah nodded. "YOU try living with a toddler who keeps alternating between screaming tantrums because she's mad and hurt that her 'new daddy' hasn't come to fetch her home yet, and crying fits because she doesn't understand what she did 'wrong' that her parents 'left' her. It's going to be a few years before she's old enough to understand." Mariah snorted. "That second bit I can't do much about, but I can address the first one. Either way, she's going to need this fine lady's help." Mariah finished with a nod at the Lady in Greens. "That's why I asked for a FULL Empath. I can't help her because I can't Send, but she can." Mirah paused, looking around at the other people there, then locked eyes with the former Heir.
"Before we get started, Lady Elspeth, please inform your Companion I've got plenty of journals and diaries at home. Any attempt on her part or that of anyone else, to make me or Darci forget anything will be considered mental RAPE. I've heard a few things about her nudging you around to her satisfaction and I don't want her thinking that just because YOU tolerate that kind of interference, that I'll let it slide too."
"Ouch." Gwena said with feeling. "I never thought of it like that, I'm so sorry Chosen."
"As well you should be. But I forgive you. You are my Companion, after all." Aloud and to Mariah, Elspeth nodded. "She's standing as a witness from Companion's Field while Rolan reams out Benar. He's already admitted to 'promising things' but says he doesn't quite remember the details."
Herald Ranvet groaned, then nodded dazedly when Mirah tutted and said, "Makes you want to bang your head against a tree, doesn't it?" There was a good deal of sympathy in the young woman's voice.
She handed the fussy baby to the Healer just as the young one started to squall, so she could dig into the 'baby bag' on her shoulder to get the child, a snack which she handed to the Healer. "Mashed apple with a bit of nutmeg." She told the woman as she handed the tightly lidded container over along with a baby sized spoon. "Oh, yeah, by the way...she's teething again, too."
The lady in Greens sighed. "Molars?"
"Yup, plus she didn't have her nap and it's not only past suppertime, but also really close to her bedtime. All of which contribute to the reasons I asked them to bring an Empathic, Gifted Healer with them."
"Makes sense." The Healer said and concentrated on easing the child's teething pain. It was easier to ease the teeth through the gum at the stage Darci was in, then simply Heal the gum. It only took a few moments. "I got the molars through and Healed the slight tearing in the gums, but the rest of it...the Empathy will have to do. Well, that and something more than mashed apples for dinner. Let's get on with questioning her before she goes into a raving hissy."
Once the Second Stage Truth Spell was in place on the child, it didn't take long. Ten minutes of careful questioning and a thought to the Vrrondi from Elspeth that the child was too young to have much memory and needed their aid to recall what had been said to her. That the child didn't intend to lie, but her memory was still undeveloped, was all that it took to get the helpful little air elementals to gently prod the infantile recall and bring the entire conversation to light.
"Fifth Year Companion Stallion Benar did in fact promise that Senior Groveborn Companion Rolan would adopt the, at the time, two and one half year old, now three year old orphan, Darci Mattack as his daughter." Elspeth sighed, smiling a bit at Talia's dumbfounded expression. "And it wasn't just a promise, it was a Promise...capital letters. Gwena said so. So, since your dear befuddled Stallion has no thumbs, her legal caregiver had the right to select another Herald to stand 'in loco parentis'...besides you, that is."
"Who'd she pick?"
"Alberich." Now Elspeth stopped to snicker at the expression on the Weaponmaster's face. "She said Rolan would hardly be the first choice when she starts puberty, to beat the boys off with...whatever."
"She said dandling a baby on his knee would be good for him...in his advanced years. Kantor hasn't stopped laughing at the poor man for three days."
"Lessons, she will have."
The Queen chuckled at him and to the quirked eyebrow gave him an answer in her own fashion. She handed him Darci. "Meet Darci ne Rolan." She grinned as she let go and left him no choice but to support the sleeping child.
"A red-head she is. A Terror she will be."
"Around her fingers tightly bound, you and Kantor, will be, I think." Talia chuckled. "She's got at least two or three years before it's safe to hand her anything sharp...or until her mind is developed enough to start training her to do more than use a potty. Mariah started for Haven the day after Benar encountered Darci, but she came by horse-drawn cart. While traveling, it made more sense to put the child back into diapers..." She grinned heartlessly at Alberich's expression. "Since Rolan doesn't have thumbs, you're going to have to retrain her to use a chamber pot.. I'm busy enough teaching my own..."
"Pot-training...it is in trouble I believe that I am." He groused, just as the toddler anointed his chest in her sleep.
~ TBC ~