Tuesday, 14 June 2016
Jovinda and Noli, Part 6 Tragedy
Two years passed quickly, and Carthinal was toddling about. Noli came in from the embassy where he was still working. It was Carthinal's second birthday and he had brought a huge toy dog for the little boy.
'Dada,' Carthinal said as he ran towards his father.
Noli gave him the dog and he struggled with it, dragging it towards the sitting room where he had been spending some time with Jovinda. His mother laughed at his difficulty, then went to help him bring it in.
'Say thank you to Daddy, Carthinal,' Jovinda said.
'Fan choo,' Carthinal said, looking at his father. 'Fan choo. Doggy.'
Jovinda kissed her husband then said, 'I'm a bit worried about Carthinal, Noli. Most of my friends children his age seem to be much more advanced. Even some of those much younger are more advanced than he is. I'm afraid there's something wrong. Perhaps he's not very bright.'
Noli laughed. 'There's nothing wrong with our son, Jo. Half of his blood is elf. Elven children develop more slowly than human ones. In fact, he's in advance of most elven children of his age.' He paused for thought for a minute before continuing. 'I don't know how quickly or slowly this mixture of elf and human should develop, but probably about half way between an elf child and a human one, I would say. It'll be interesting to find out. In the meantime, stop worrying.'
Jovinda smiled up at her husband and picked up her son, dog and all. She kissed him as he struggled to get down again.
'Down,' he insisted. He clenched his small fist and tried to punch her. 'Down' he repeated.
Noli took his hand. 'You must not punch your mother, Carthinal. That's very naughty.'
'Want down,' he repeated.
Jovinda put him down and sighed.
'That's another thing. He seems to be developing a temper. That must be nipped in the bud.'
'No one said bringing up a child is easy, love. In fact. it's probably the hardest thing in the world. You're doing a great job.'
The couple wished for another child, but the years passed and there was no sign. Noli said it was probably due to the infertility of elves and that perhaps it would happen in due course. Jovinda went to the temple of Bramara and prayed, but it was to no avail.
When Carthinal was six, he was in the garden, playing on a swing that Kendo had fixed to the branch of a tree in the garden. He heard his nurse calling for him, but took no notice. It was nice in the garden. The sun was shining and he liked the swing.
Shortly, Jovinda came out and saw him.
'Oh, there you are. Didn't you hear nurse calling for you?'
'Yes, but I don't want to go in. It's nice out here.'
'You must come in now, Carthinal. It's time for your tea and then it's bathtime and bedtime.'
The little boy's face clouded over and he fixed his lips into a straight line.
'Oh, don't be naughty, Carthinal. Be a good boy and come for your tea.'
'No.' His eyes began to look, not like the blue summer skies, but dark stormy seas. Jovinda noticed the change ans she went and picked him off the swing and carried him, squirming and crying into the house where she handded him over to Blendin who took him away for his tea.
Jovinda went into the sitting room and smiled to herself. She had become used to these infrequent outbursts of temper and knew that in a few minutes her son would be his normal sunny self again. His temper never lasted long.
Noli arrived soon after this and sank down in one of the chairs.
'There's a problem in Rindisallaron,' he told his wife. The elflord has died and there's a problem with the succession.'
'I thought that the elflord was succeeded by the eldest male child of his nearest female relative.'
'Yes, That's true, but in this case there are identical twins.'
'So! The elder twin inherits, doesn't he?'
'Ah, therein lies the problem. You see, when the twins were born, their mother was seriously ill after the birth and in the rush to treat her the twins weren't labelled. Now both twins are claiming to be the first-born.'
'I see that would be a problem. What's going to happen?'
'The father told the midwife that the first child was to be called Frissillimidor and the second Grimmshollin. She claimed she knew in which crib she'd put each baby and so they were named.' He stood and walked round the room before continuing.
'I believe the midwife would have been correct and that Frissillimidor is the elder, but factions have grown up, as you would expect. Now war has broken out.'
'That doesn't affect us herein Bluehaven though,' Jovinda said 'We aren't involved in Elven politics.'
Noni came and sat beside his wife and took her hand.
'You aren't involved. Bluehaven isn't involved, but I'm an elf, and so I am involved, like it or not. Father is packing at this minute to go to help the rightful heir.'
Jovinda turned and looked at her husband, understanding beginning to dawn on her face.
'So you plan to go and fight too.'
'You'd leave your wife and child for this war?' Jovinda was getting angry rather than sad at the thought of Noli going away. 'You care more for this Frissi-whatsit than Carthinal and me?'
Just at that moment, Carthinal came to the door, but neither of them saw him. He had come to apologise for his outburst earlier. He heard his parents arguing. He had never seen that before and it frightened him. Nevertheless, he stood just behind the door and listened to an argument he could not understand. Carthinal fled back up to the nursery, his apology forgotten.
No matter what argument she put forward, Noni was adamant he must go to fight for the rightful heir. The couple went to bed that evening barely speaking and that continued until three days later when Noli had packed ready to leave for the Elven lands.
Jovinda said goodbye to Noli with a heavy heart. They had made up their quarrel and she stood on the doorstep of their house with Carthinal as she waved him off. She blinked back her tears as she stood waving until he could no longer be seen.
'How long will Daddy be away?' Carthinal asked.
'I don't know, dear. He'll come and see us when he gets leave.'
Two years passed. Noli came home as often as he could, but he needed a long leave to make the journey to Bluehaven from Rindissillaron and back and he had little time when he was there. Jovinda had to rely on his letters to tell her of the progress of the war.
In one letter, Noli wrote of how the war was nearly won. Grimmshollin had retreated to a very small area and was barely holding it. It would be only a few days before the war was over.
Jovinda was delighted at this news and eagerly looked forward to welcoming Noli home. Every day she expected a letter, or even Noli himself to arrive. The letter came in just over a sixday saying that there was one more battle to end the war and then just a few things to sort out before Noli came home. She was ecstatic and began to prepare a welcome home party.
A couple of sixdays later, there was a knock on the door. Their butler answered and showed an officer into the drawing room where Jovinda sat reading to Carthinal. She rose as the officer entered.
He saluted and introduced himself as Roshinderal, who was Noli's friend.
'Yes, he's spoken of you often in his letters,' Jovinda told him. 'Do you know when he'll be home? I'm planning a welcome home party for him, you see.'
The young captain cleared his throat and looked embarrassed.
'Perhaps you'd better send your son out of the room, Madam,' he said.
Jovinda's heart began to beat quickly as she told Carthinal to go to the nursery. At first she though he would refuse as she saw tell-tale signs come over his face, but the boy thought better of it and left.'
'Please, sit down,' said Roshinderal, as though it were his house and she were the visitor.
Jovinda sat down as requested, heart sinking. Then Roshinderal cleared his throat again and began to speak.
'It was the last battle, and nearly the end of that too. The enemy was retreating. Noli laughed and said he always knew we'd win as we were in the right. Just then, one of the enemy archers turned and drew his bow. The arrow took Noli.'
Jovinda's hand went to her mouth.
'How is he? Can I go to see him? Is he badly injured?'
Roshinderal took Jovinda's hand in his.
'I'm sorry to be the bearer of this news, but I'm afraid Noli died of his injuries soon afterwards. The arrow ruptured an artery, you see. He knew he was dying and asked me to come and tell you and to say he loves you more than he could ever express. He said to take care of Carthinal. He was very proud of you both.'
Jovinda looked at Roshinderal with a blank look in her eyes. All the life had gone out of them. Then she screamed.
'No! No! No! No! It's not true. You've all made a mistake. He's not dead. He can't be. Go back and check. I'd know if he was dead. I know I would.' She shook her head in disbelief, refusing to accept what Roshinderal had told her.
Her screams brought the butler, who was passing the door.
'Madam,' he said, 'What's the matter? Is it this man? Do you want me to escort him off the premises?'
Roshinderal turned and said, 'I've just brought her bad news. Her husband was killed in the last battle of the war. Is there anyone who I can get to be with her?'
Between them, they decided that Jovinda's parents would be the best people to get and so Roshinderal set off to their house to get them.
As soon as they arrived, they took Jovinda and Carthinal, along with Blendin, his nanny, back to their house. Ellire took Jovinda and put her to bed in her old room with a soothing drink and soon she was asleep.
Jovinda remained in her room for the next few days. She refused to answer the door, so Ellire left a tray outside. Some days a little of it disappeared, but others Jovinda did not touch it.
Ellire tried talking to her daughter through the door, but got no response. She tried to get her to come out to see Carthinal who was wondering what was going on. The six-year-old understood that his father had been killed in the war and had been inconsolable for a few days, but then, in the way of children, he seemed to bounce back somewhat. He could not, however, understand why his mother was ignoring him. Ellire tried to tell Jovinda this, but either the young woman did not hear or she was still too much enveloped in grief that she did not care.
Three days passed and Jovinda had not responded to anything. The trays of food and drink had been left untouched and no sounds came from her room. No sobs, no crying, no prayers, nothing.
Kendo decided that he would go in. After all, no one could go without food and drink indefinitely, especially drink, and Jovinda had not drunk anything in three days. He knocked on the door. No sound from inside. He tried the latch, but the door was locked.
Frowning, he called again, and when he still received no answer he said, 'Jo, if you don't answer me I'm going to break the door.'
Still nothing. Kendo put his shoulder to the door and pushed. There was a cracking noise as the hinges gave way and he fell into the room.
What he saw there broke his heart. There was his daughter, swinging from the beams overhead, a belt around her neck. He quickly cut her down, but it was to no avail. She had been dead for quite some time. A couple of days probably.
He left the room and told Ellire not to go in and to keep Carthinal away. The boy had taken to sitting outside his mother's room talking to her through the door, even though there was no response. He went out into the garden and sat under a tree thinking. Was there something he should have done? He ought to have broken the door down sooner. They should have insisted Jovinda come out and eat her meals with them. She was obviously brooding in there alone. All these thoughts went through his head until he felt he was going to go mad.
The funeral was held in the temple of Kalhera a few days later. The family was surprised at how many people turned up. Jovinda and Noni were popular figures in Bluehaven. Kendo knew he would never get over his guilt about his daughter's death, but he buried it deep.
He said to his wife after the funeral, when everyone had left and Ellire was weeping softly to herself.
'There's Carthinal to consider, Ellire. He'll need a lot of support and help. We need to be his anchor now that Jo's gone.'
Ellire blew her nose. 'Yes, of course. We'll need to bring him up. We should sell Jo and Noni's house and put the money in trust for him. He'll live here now with us.'
'Should we tell him how his mother died, do you think?'
'No. At least not for a long while. The poor child's had enough to cope with without knowing his mother killed herself.'
Thus Carthinal lived with his grandparents and they brought him up. No one ever told him how his mother died.