” . . . much longer?” Kelvin heard someone say as the fog began to lift from his brain.
“If it wasn’t for his helmet, even with the dulled blades they were using we’d be having a completely different conversation right now,” Cooper said sternly. Kelvin recognized the voice of the doctor. He tried not to move. As the youngest child in a large family he had learned long ago that feigning sleep often led to gaining knowledge otherwise unattainable.
“I need to go, take care of him Coop,” Kelvin’s oldest brother Michel said.
The door opened and closed and Kelvin used the noise to groan softly and roll over toward the wall. He was beginning to get his bearings, he knew he was in his own room, in his bed and there were still at least two people in the room. His head throbbed and he groaned again.
A soft hand touched his shoulder and he immediately knew that Kate was in the room with him. Michel’s oldest daughter Katherine was in genealogical terms his niece, but they were brother and sister. After Kelvin’s mother died when he was very young Willem’s wife Bethany took on the job of raising both Katherine and Kelvin. She was only a year older than Kelvin and until he had a deep conversation with Katherine when he was ten, he had always considered Katherine his true sister and not his niece.
“Keep an eye on him Kay,” Cooper said. “They’re getting ready to head out and I need to check on them.”
“I’ll be here,” Katherine said quietly.
Kelvin heard the door open and close again as Cooper left the room. He started to turn back but before he could move very much he felt Kat’s hand tighten on his shoulder. Something was trapping his feet and someone else was still in the room.
Kat patted his shoulder and kept her hand there. Kelvin’s right ear was buried in his pillow and, although he wasn’t sure, it felt like the whole left side of his head was wrapped in bandages so he couldn’t hear much at all until finally a loud sigh exploded and someone pushed a chair away.
“I need to check on them as well Kay,” Seth said.
“I know, I will stay with him,” Katherine said.
“Take care of him, you mind them better than Cooper these days, ” Seth said heavily.
“You know I will, I think he will be coming around soon,” she said with a slight squeeze to Kelvin’s shoulder.
The door open and closed but Kelvin did not move even as Kat removed her hand from his shoulder.
“C’mon Kelly, roll over, you need to drink something, you’ve been out for eighteen hours,” Katherinesaid.
Kelvin rolled over and opened his eyes, but only his right eye responded. His groan turned to a moan and he focused on his room and his sister standing next to his bed holding a cup of water. His movement and noise caused the large orange cat at the foot of the bed to look back at him, stretch and then jump down with an audible thump.
Katherine wore a simple brown baggy dress; Kelvin noted that she was wearing baggy clothes more and more lately. Her hair was dark brown, almost black and it hovered around her face, enhancing her sky blue eyes.
“Drink. You just about bled out from the cut in your head and haven’t had anything to drink to almost a day,” she said.
Kelvin tried to glare at her but had a hard time of it since he was reduced to one eye.
“What happened?” he asked.
Katherine set the cup down and sat back down next to the bed.
“You’ll have to be more specific Kelly. Do you mean what happened when your brother tried to brain you in the courtyard? Or what happened after you passed out? Or why your father is deploying a large portion of the army a week before everything will be snowed in?”
Kelvin wanted answers to all of these questions and tried to prop himself up on his elbow but the pain was too great and he plopped back down on his pillow with an audible yelp.
“Wha?” was all Kelvin could manage.
“Your brother hit you in the side of the face with a very large sword and nearly took your head off,” Katherine said loudly enough that every word she enunciated hurt Kelvin’s already throbbing brain more. “And I’d like to tell you about how your asinine relatives are emptying the city just before first winter, but. . .”
Kelvin finally managed to prop himself up and reach for the cup of water which she was holding again. He gulped it down and gave it back and realized he was famished. Katherine filled it several more times and returned it to him and he drank all he could.
“Father is deploying. . .now?” he asked when he was done.
Katherine nodded and started to speak when the door opened again and Bethany entered.
Bethany was Willem’s wife and Katherine’s mother which made her his Aunt. But Kelvin knew no other mother. She entered and softly closed the door and looked at him. He could see the look of concern on her face and instantly felt a lump in his throat. Tall and regal, with crisp features and black hair, Bethany was the sharper version of her daughter. She walked to the side of his bed and he could see that she was crying. Kelvin could count the number of hugs he and Bethany had shared on one hand and the last one was when he was nine.
Kelvin knew something was terribly wrong when she sat down on the side of his bed and gathered Kelvin to her in an embrace. Kelvin hugged her back and began to tear up himself, wondering what was happening.
“You’re awake,” Bethany said after she finally released him and looked at him. “I thought he’d finally. . .”
“Mother,” Katherine said interrupting her sternly.
Bethany looked at Kelvin, then turned to her daughter and gathered herself and stood. She turned back to Kelvin and cupped the unbandaged side of face in her hand.
Then she whisked out of the room and was gone leaving Kelvin and Katherine alone again.
His head throbbed but he managed to swing his legs off the side of the bed and sit up.
“Do you want me to take the bandages off? They’ve been on for twelve hours now and. . .” she trailed off.
“And what Kat?” he asked.
“And I need to see if Seth blinded you and the only way I can do that is to remove the bandages,” she said flatly as she pulled her long dark hair away from her face and tied it in a pony tail.
Kelvin slumped back down into his bed as Katherine produced a scalpel and went to work.