Back to the WIP for this one. I’m still working out the details, how fact will slip seamlessly into fiction, who knew what and how. Thanks to Sue Vincent for asking questions with her photos and provoking hypotheses that could turn out to be the answer, or at least, the answer I choose.
She doesn’t know which one she is mourning. The tears that rise in her throat until she thinks (hopes?) she too will drown are for which of them, the child or the husband? The world has shrunk to this glade by a river that she knows is important but not why. They took her husband away to bury him in the cathedral. He lies now beneath a stone effigy that looks nothing like him, because its eyes are stone hard and he had never clutched a sword to his breast like that in life.
They took him away because he was a king and a king has no rights over his own body not even in death. In life he held his title in fief to the king over the water who could order him to his banner whenever he made war, wherever he made war. In death, the king ordered him to lie in stone pomp beneath the vaulted stone of the cathedral in the stone city. But the king has no rights over his infant son. The child at least, she will keep by her.
She brought the small body here, to the leafy glade by the river and placed it in a stone casket like a bullán. His drowned body was surely as full of magic as any spring. She did not see how it happened. The scene had been muddled and misty, Riseárd had cried out, holding his leg and she had run to him, seen Art appear, his face full of wild victorious laughter, the sword drawn. In the spaces between Art’s laughter and her screaming she had heard the child’s terrified struggling to call out when water filled his mouth.
Riseárd fell, crumpled into the shallows, the water too dark to show the blood, and before she could reach Art, wrench the glee from his face with the narrow blade of Damascus steel, the water had stirred and risen. There was mist and spray and a sound like the hissing of waves in a blowhole, and Art had staggered, fallen back, and out of her sight. It was only when the mist had cleared and the spray, and silence fallen that she had seen the bundle of red wool, rocked by the ripples, washed up among the rushes. The red wool of Gileabard’s leine.
Forgive me. He did remember.
The voice, if there had been a voice and not the suggestion of words, the rustle of sedge, wind on the water, is fading now from her memory. The glade is still and hushed. Riseárd will never walk here by her side. Nothing will wake her child again.