11 - Chapter 11 - The Madness of the Wicked By: Martine A. Lynch
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The Madness of the Wicked  

 

 

Chapter 11   

 

 
Dhugal gradually shook himself out of his blood lust, coming to more even senses as he stood over Geoffrey’s expiring body and turned to Duncan, stooped over the still form of his son.

“Father?” he quivered, desperate hope shining in his face. That hope was murdered in turn when Duncan lifted his head, where tears streamed down features pale and drawn with grief.

“I tried,” the bishop gasped, apparently unable to move. “I tried, but I could not-”

NOOOOOO!!!!!” Ailín wailed, crumpling back onto the floor. “Caulay!!!”

Dhugal’s own knees grew weak, and his freckles starkly popped from his face as it went ghastly white. “My son is dead?”

“I am sorry,” Duncan cried. “He was too far gone when I got to him. I tried to follow, but I could not bring him back.”

Dhugal collapsed onto his knees, Kelson too stunned to catch him. Kelson’s hands immediately went for his blood brother’s shoulders, taking them in solid grip as he tried to give comfort and lend strength, but that strength seemed to leave Dhugal as fast as he could give it.

Oh, my wee Caulay!

Conor was attempting to comfort his sister, trembling as he tried to tell her it was his fault for not keeping close enough hold on the babe. Dhugal forced himself to rise to shaky feet, stumbling the short distance to his wife, shoving Conor away as he would a barrel blocking his path. Ailín was in his arms now, and his father was coming with the body of his son, which Ailín took, and held it between them as he shook with choked sobs, and she keened a mother’s grief. The world dissolved around Dhugal, leaving only the lifeless form of his week-old son and his wife’s shared anguish. Oh, my wee, braw son, blood o’ my blood! I should ha’e been here. I shouldnae ha’e let Geoffrey alone, but I didnae know, I swear I didnae know! I am sorry, my wee Caulay, I failed ye unforgivably. Oh, my precious son!

Duncan retreated from their inconsolable grief, shaken by the dim memory that remained of his journey, bearing his sorrow alone until Kelson knelt by him and put his hands on the bishop’s shoulders. “I am sorry, Duncan,” he whispered. The bishop could only nod, unable to find his voice. “I am going to take Conor away to Rhemuth, for I think his face bears too great a resemblance to his father for him to be a welcome guest just now. I will return by day’s end, and bring Mairona for Ailín’s sake. Be with them until then.” Duncan nodded again, reminded of the duty to his son Maryse had charged to him, and Kelson released him so he could shuffle to Dhugal, taking both him and his wife in a helpless embrace.

“He is with your mother now,” Duncan choked quietly, so only Dhugal and Ailín could hear. Dhugal shuddered, then nodded, taking his father’s words in blind faith.

 

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