Yssa woke still feeling tired. She must try to relax a bit more. She had been working far too hard on those books Carthinal and Basalt had found. They were very interesting though. She found it hard to leave each evening. Yesterday, Rollo had insisted she eat dinner with him. “For old time’s sake.” he had said.
She had agreed to do so. She and Rollo had been lovers once. He had been lonely after the death of his wife. She knew Randa did not remember her, the child had only been three or four years old at the time she and Rollo had been seeing each other, and she had not seen that much of her as the child spent a lot of the time in her nursery.
In the early days after his beloved wife’s death, Rollo had not wanted to look at the child he blamed for this event. He had provided her with all the creature comforts she needed with the best nurses that money could buy, but he rarely went near the nursery to see his daughter. It had been Yssa who had told him that a child needed love as well as food, shelter and warmth.
She persuaded Rollo to visit his daughter more often. Fairly soon, Rollo discovered his love for the child, and, to assuage his guilt at neglecting her in her earliest years, he lavished her with not only love, but attention and showered her with gifts, giving in to her every whim. Thus Randa had grown into a beautiful, but spoiled child who had become a beautiful, but wilful and snobbish young lady.
The door opened and admitted Emmienne. She and Tomac had arrived about three sixdays ago from Bluehaven. They were Mabryl’s other apprentices that she had promised Carthinal she would take under her wing. They were proving to be very good. The girl, Emmienne, had taken to bringing her tea each morning along with hot water for her to wash, and Tomac was excellent at lighting fires. She could hear him busying himself doing that job at the moment. She smiled at Emmienne.
‘Thank you.’ she said. ‘Put the tea there. I’ll be up in a minute.’
The girl did as Yssa bade her and then left. She was a plain girl, Yssa thought—about seventeen, with a slender figure and chestnut hair. Tomac was younger. He was fourteen, and had a shock of jet-black hair, which he found difficult to keep tidy. He tried to keep it tied back, but it kept escaping its confinement. She smiled. She liked her new apprentices very much, and if she were honest, she liked the attention they gave her too.
After drinking her tea, Yssa rose. As she did so, a feeling of nausea and giddiness overtook her. It had happened once or twice recently. She hoped it was not some illness or other. She did not want to lose time on her translations of the books. She dressed and the moment passed.
Later in the day as she gave some instructions to her apprentices. She wanted them to try to learn a simple spell when Emmienne asked about Carthinal.
‘When did he leave, Yssa?’ she asked.
Yssa looked at her. She wondered if the girl had a crush on the half-elf. She would not blame her if she had. She herself had fallen under his spell and she hardly an impressionable young girl.
‘He and his companions left on the twenty second of Khaldar. That will be five and a half sixdays.’
Something began to dawn on her when she spoke of that time. In her mind she did some quick calculations. She realised that she had not had her monthly bleeding since before that date. She had been working so hard on the books that she had not realised. What with the translations and the new apprentices to settle in she had been so busy. Now she realised what her nausea and giddiness meant. She was pregnant. She had little doubt. She was always regular as clockwork, and now, she calculated she had misssed two bleedings. She paled. What should she do?
Yssa finished her lesson with the two apprentices and then said, ‘You two have worked hard since you came to me. You deserve a break. Take this and go and have a good time in Hambara.’
She threw a bag of coins towards them. Tomac caught it deftly, and thanking her profusely, the pair rushed from the room, as anxious to be gone as Yssa was for them to leave.
Once alone, she contemplated her position. She did not want a child. She had never felt maternal in any way, but having an abortion seemed quite out of the question. Elves have a reverence for all life, even that of the unborn and Yssa was no exception in this respect. She was going to have a child, and she could not turn back. How had she been so careless? Her work, even before the finding of the hidden books had absorbed her so much that she had forgotten to take the herbs to prevent pregnancy.
As she thought about it she thought she should go away, back to Quantissarillishon, the elven capital, and to find refuge with her parents. Her mother would be scandalised at first, of course, but she would soon come round when she thought of a grandchild. She could leave the child there, to be cared for by her parents, and Carthinal need never know. She did not want him to feel he had any obligation to her or the child. The mistake had been hers and hers alone.
As the day wore on, she began to see that it was not that simple. She could not just go running off home like a little girl with a grazed knee. She had obligations here. She had taken on two apprentices, and she did not want to let them down after they had lost Mabryl in such tragic circumstances.
She considered the translation. No one could do it like she could, and the importance to magic could not be exaggerated. No, she must stay here. She still need not tell Carthinal though. He would probably be back before her pregnancy became obvious, and then he would go back to Bluehaven where he probably had family and friends.She suddenly realised how little she knew about this charismatic half-elf who had captured her heart in spite of herself; she, who thought herself so worldly wise.
During the next few days, she seemed distracted. Rollo noticed and she confessed her pregnancy to him.
Then she asked him, ‘Rollo, if someone were going to have your child and did not tell you, how would you feel if you later found out?’
‘You are considering not telling the father I take it?’ the Duke replied.
‘I won’t ask who it is,’ he continued, ‘but if it were me, and I found out later, I would be very hurt and maybe angry too.’
‘Yes, I thought you’d say that,’ sighed Yssa. He had not solved her problem and she continued to think hard.