On Mondays I'll be posting short glimpses from Mystic Valley in the form of previously unpublished stories. This particular one is about the big surprise that Wrenna and Traveller presented when Llyon dropped by to check on them.
Tyger and Llyon happily packed up and moved to Eppie’s vacant cabin. Robyn came with them to pack the few things Eppie wanted from the cabin. Llyon shoved his files and patient records in a spare basket until he could build an addition for a home workroom.
“Ly? Where do you want the bath sheets and bedding?” Tyger asked as he carried in a huge basket of linens.
They looked around the cabin and finally Llyon shrugged. “I don’t know. What’s in that big cupboard in the corner?”
Tyger checked the cupboard and reported, “It has a couple of blankets and a pillow. Why don’t we make this the linen cupboard?” When Llyon nodded agreement, he put the linens away, emptying one more basket. “Ly? When did we get so much stuff?”
“Twenty years of never throwing anything out.” He finished making the bed and tossed the pillows back on top. “Papa said that the first time he moved, it took a cart bigger than this house to move everything. He called it a truck.” Llyon shook his head. “Why would anyone want a cart that big?”
Tyger looked around the small cabin. “In the spring I want to build on a bathing room and an office for you. I don’t know how Eppie did without a tub.”
“She used the wash tub.” Llyon pointed to the tub hanging by the back door. “I don’t think we’ll fit in that. Papa says that we can have that old portable tub from the workshop at home, but I have a feeling that emptying it will be more trouble than it’s worth.”
Ty shook his head. “I agree. Well, we can always go back to Mama and Papa’s house to bathe until we get ours built or in an emergency, there’s always the brook.” They looked at each other and smiled. “It will still be nice to have our own place.”
“I’m glad Mama suggested it,” Llyon agreed. “There sure isn’t any peace or privacy at home.” He grinned. “I sometimes wonder how Mama and Papa got enough private time to have all of us.”
“You don’t really think they were actually sleeping when they made everyone take a nap?”
“Nah!” They laughed and then Llyon said, “Food is our last trip and we’re through. Do you want to sleep here tonight or back there? If we sleep here, then we have to bring the cart with the food tonight.”
“I want to sleep here. Let’s go get the food now. We’ll pick up extra supplies for Wrenna and Trav, too. We should be back before dark. I may even have time to run out to the cave at the bonding circle and check on them.”
Llyon walked around the circle, and passed the pool. When he got to the waterfall, he called out but they didn’t answer. Uneasy, he sent a mind call, Wrenna? Trav? They didn’t answer so he decided that he would just have to walk in, whether he interrupted them or not. Something was not right. When he got into the cave proper, there was no fire, no light, no sign of life. Fumbling around in the darkness, he found a light stone and twisted it on. Shivering in the cold air, he turned to see Wrenna sprawled atop Trav. They were only covered with a thin sheet.
Tyger! Papa! Come now. Something’s wrong with Wrenna and Trav!
After checking for pulses and finding them reassuringly strong, he covered them with as many blankets as he could find. Then he located their hot rocks and fired them to start warming up the cave. Trav’s feet were turning blue so Ly found two pairs of his socks and slipped them on.
Merlyn answered first, Llyon, what’s wrong!
I think they’re in burda. There was no heat, no lights, and they weren’t even covered up. I can’t rouse either one of them, but they have pretty strong pulses.
Check the baby, Merlyn suggested. Make sure nothing is wrong there.
Llyon squatted and slipped his hand under the covers, between Trav and Wrenna’s bellies. Three times he went in to ‘look’ because he couldn’t believe his senses. Then he dropped his head on his knees and groaned.
Tyger came pounding into the cave in a panic. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m pretty sure they’re in burda. It’s early, but I think I know why...”
“She has three babies.”
Tyger’s eyebrows shot up. “Three? No one has ever had three!"
"Can you talk to Papa? I'm busy linking with them until we can get them warm. Tell him about the babies and ask him to bring extra bedding. And hot rocks. Then, can you please bring some stuff for me? I've got to stay here." Gently, he pulled the socks off one of Trav's feet and held it between his hands, trying to warm it up. Tyger came and worked on his other foot. Trav's circulation was still so poor from his injuries Llyon was worried that there would be permanent damage from the cold.
"I told Papa about the babies. He said they’ll bring everything we need. When they get here, I'll go get our bedding and things." He saw Llyon's startled look. "Did you think I would leave you here alone? Never. We're a matched set now."
Llyon sank down in the sand and leaned against Tyger. "Oh, Ty. I am so glad that you're here with me." By the time Merlyn arrived with Dancer and Eppie, Trav's feet were beginning to lose their blue tinge and turn a more healthy pink. They replaced the socks, and tucked the blankets back around them.
Dancer perched on his heels next to Trav and took his hand in his. Muttering under his breath, he scolded Trav, "You don't ever do anything the normal way, do you? Always the hard way, if there is one. Trav, wouldn't one baby be enough? What are you going to do with three babies?"
Trav stirred slightly and mumbled, "Dance, go away. This is my honeymoon. You have Eppie." Then pulling his hand away from Dance, he groped under the covers until he found Wrenna and hugged her closer, before sliding back into sleep.
Merlyn checked Wrenna and confirmed Llyon's diagnosis. "Definitely three. How did we miss that?"
Llyon dropped his head. "I never thought to check. Too many other things going on... They shouldn't have been in burda for another three or four weeks." He shrugged. "I knew that she was pregnant right away, but as long as everything seemed normal, it just didn't occur to me. Until Silence, Mama was the only woman to have twins in the last century."
"Strange things are happening," Merlyn agreed slowly. "The oath-binding storms, all of these sudden pregnancies, it's like the valley is trying to replace all of the elders we've lost. I think we better check every single woman. There may be other multiples out there. I'll notify Dai and Henry to check the other villages."
Dance looked up at them in puzzlement. "I don't understand," he said. "Why are the pregnancies unusual? I would think with no birth control here, that women would be pregnant all the time!"
"No." Llyon shook his head vigorously, setting his chinkas clinking in the silence. "Most bond mates don't have more than two. Very fortunate couples have three. The reason Papa was chosen clan leader is all of us children. When Tyger and I were born, the people saw that as a sign that Papa and Mama were blessed. And then, after Wrenna was born, well...?"
"I think Papa is right," Eppie agreed quietly. "The valley is replacing all of the elders we lost. If that's true, there will be a lot more babies in the next little while."
Dancer gave them all a peculiar look as though he was really afraid to ask, "How many elders did you lose? And why?"
Tyger chuckled. "Don't panic. They all died from extreme old age. Over the last two years we've lost one hundred and three. Unfortunately," he added more soberly, "they were our best artisans and craftspeople and archivists and healers."
"What do you consider extreme old age?" Dance inquired softly.
Merlyn smiled at him. "Average age was one hundred and twenty. Your Grandfather is over seventy and he's just reached middle age. You and Trav are youngsters." Looking down at Wren and Trav, he sighed. "This bed looks like a rat's nest. There's no way to tell how much padding they have between them and the cave floor. We need to make them a new bed with a lot of padding under them and move them." He studied the pile of bedding they had brought with them. "I'm not sure we brought enough with us," he said doubtfully.
"If not, I'll go back to the cabin and bring more," Tyger volunteered. "Let's see what we can do with this stuff first. We can put all of this under them and use the blankets covering them now for the covering over them. If we drape a couple of blankets over those two boulders there and put some hot rocks underneath, it will warm the blankets for them."
Merlyn nodded. "Good idea. All right, let's get started. The faster we get them settled, the faster they'll get warmed up."
It took a while, but finally, they had Trav and Wrenna settled. While the men worked moving them, Eppie fetched water from the pool and began brewing tea. When they finally moved Trav, they found one thin feather mattress between him and the sand. Dancer carried it outside and draped it over the stone bench near the circle. Tyger gathered up the used sheets and carried them out to dump on top of the mattress. He figured he would take everything back to the cabin when he went to fetch his and Llyon's bedding for the night.
Once they truly warmed up, Merlyn and Llyon were able to rouse them enough to feed them crumbled food bars and warm tea. When they sank back into sleep, Llyon heaved a deep felt sigh of relief. His skin crawled when he thought of what he might have found if he had waited until morning to check on them.
Tyger came and put his arms around him, "Don't think about it Llyon. You didn't wait. You came and checked and now they're going to be all right. We'll stay with them until they can take care of themselves." When Llyon started to shake in delayed reaction, he tightened his hold, "I tell you, they're going to be alright! You came and they're safe now."
Llyon began to cry very quietly, "I almost didn't come, Ty. I was so tired and I almost didn't come."
Pulling Ly's head down on his shoulder as he rocked him, Tyger said gently, "And you are only one man, Llyon. Only one. We will arrange for more people to watch and this will never happen again. Now! Be happy for all of these babies we're going to have around us!"
Merlyn came and hugged both of them. "I've talked to Dai. We will make sure that every pregnant bonded couple is checked every day until all are out of burda. Now, while Dancer and Eppie and I are here to watch them, why don't you two go get whatever you need from your cabin?"
Tyger led Llyon past the waterfall, bundled the sheets up for him to carry and grabbed the mattress himself. "Come on, Ly. Let's get these things home, pick up whatever you need and get back here. We're both tired from moving."
Llyon plodded along in the dark. "I seem to be tired all the time, Ty. Do you suppose I'll ever reach the point that I'm not feeling like I could sleep the days away?"
"I think that watching Trav and Wrenna could be a very good thing," Ty pointed out. "No one will come there. No one will want you to do anything. You may sleep as much as you need because I will be there."
"And what will you do while we're all sleeping day and night?" Ly asked with a slight smile.
"I have a lot of thinking to do. I must decide what I will do now that we have settled our covenant bond. Much as I would enjoy lazing around, that won't feed us."
"You don't think we could live quoltania tea and cookies?" Ly teased softly.
"You're skinny enough. When we fatten you up, we'll worry about that. In the meantime, you will rest and I will think. When Wrenna and Trav are ready to move, we will talk about what we will do next."
As always... copyright January 19, 2009.