Rebuilding the future that was nearly lost.
When the Tourmaline Seas limped back into port, everyone in Raelin’s family was stunned that she’d made it. She’d lost a mast and had so many holes in the hull that it was only with the Goddesses’ blessings that her crew and cargo had survived. More than anything, Raelin wanted to see her back on the seas, blue Dana sails snapping in the wind as her crew sailed around the world. To her shock, Raelin got to observe Mistress Chie, owner of Sunrise Shipyard, as she rebuilt the Tourmaline Seas.
Raelin’s joy in repairing the Tourmaline darkened as the Delbhana plotted to steal the Tourmaline away. When that didn’t work the Delbhana struck straight at the heart of the Dana Clan, trying to steal all the children, Raelin included. If she failed, Raelin knew that she might never see her family and home again.
Repair and Rebuild is a fantastic coming of age story set in the Matriarchal world of Muirin.
Chapter 16: Victory
“Stop!” the lead Guard said as she strode into the room.
“That brat–!” the severe woman started to say only to stop when the Guard grabbed her wrist.
“Is asking a perfectly reasonable question,” the Guard growled. “Who are you and what’s going on?”
Raelin blinked as the severe woman bristled, not answering for long enough that the Guard put her hand on her sword hilt. Given that the Guard was twice as wide at the shoulders and easily as tall, Raelin was pretty sure that the severe woman would lose a battle between them.
She started when Gavin’s hands appeared on her shoulders, dragging Raelin back and out of range of the potential battle. His grip was firm enough to be uncomfortable but when Raelin looked up at him, Gavin’s face was far too pale so she let him do it. All of her siblings and cousins were quiet behind them.
“I’m Delbhana Cahan,” the severe woman said, glaring when Raelin gasped. “I’m the principle of the school. These children were to start taking classes immediately. They’ve been untaught for far too long.”
“Actually, we’ve been home schooled all our lives,” Raelin said, glaring back defiantly. “And we weren’t supposed to be starting school. We were supposed to be tested because the Delbhana Clan got our home school disqualified, probably because I’m apprenticed at Sunrise Shipyards and that messed up their plans to claim the Tourmaline Seas as ‘reparations’ for their sunk ship. If we can’t apprentice there then they can try to claim the next ship.”
The way Principle Cahan’s face went white and then bright red told Raelin that her guess was right. She didn’t move towards Raelin again but that probably had more to do with the Guard’s firm grip around her wrist. When the Guard looked at Raelin her expression was disapproving enough that Raelin dropped her hand and straightened up to meet the Guard’s gaze.
“She did that,” the Guard said.
“Yes, ma’am,” Raelin said. “And your name is, please?”
“See!” Principle Cahan almost shouted. “Disrespectful and disobedient, the lot of them!”
“Actually, I just wanted to use her proper title and name,” Raelin said, rolling her eyes. “It’s rude to not use a person’s name, especially when they’re someone in authority.”
The Guard swallowed a laugh, her eyes twinkling with amusement. She let Principle Cahan’s wrist go but stayed firmly between Principle Cahan and Raelin. The other Guards that the first man had brought moved to bracket Cahan so that she couldn’t attack anyone else. To Raelin’s surprise, the man looked as though he was hoping Raelin would win but then if she lost he’d have to teach Anwyn and Gwen. The brawls would probably get pretty bad quickly.
“I’m Guard Captain Shea Moncha,” the guard said to Raelin with a little nod that might be approval but might also be ‘watch it, young lady’.
“Thank you for your assistance, Captain Shea,” Raelin said with a respectful little half bow that was probably too Chinwenduese to be appropriate. “We really are worried about this. We were explicitly told that our education levels would be tested and then we’d be released to go home so that the adults could work out whether or not our school was good enough. What Principal Cahan has been saying contradicts that badly so I requested that our mother be brought here so that she could work it out with Principal Cahan.”
Captain Shea nodded slowly before turning to the man who’d brought them in. He gulped and shrank in on himself, curling his arms against his chest protectively when Principle Cahan glared at him. One of the Guards who’d come with Captain Shea smacked Principle Cahan’s shoulder hard enough to make her stop.
“What were you instructed?” Captain Shea asked.
“Ah, we were told that the children were to start school,” the man said with enough quivering that his voice was almost incomprehensible. “Um, by Principle Delbhana, that is. The actual instructions we received from the court stated testing only, though.”
“Uh-huh,” Captain Shea said, glaring over her shoulder at Cahan who flushed and glared back. “I wonder why that is.”
“Oh, that’s because the Delbhana have tried to claim us before,” Gavin said in a tone that was almost cheerful if it hadn’t been for how tight his fingers gripped Raelin’s shoulders. “They’ve tried to take all the children away from the Dana Clan several times now. The most recent time was when Delbhana Siobhan almost murdered my little sister Anwyn.”
“It wasn’t murder!” Principle Cahan shouted.
“She stood on my ankle and tried to kick my ribs in!” Anwyn bellowed.
Cadfael slapped his hands over Anwyn’s mouth, muffling everything else she tried to say. Given the way Anwyn’s arms flailed and the fury in her eyes it was probably a good thing that Cadfael had done it. Raelin huffed and glared at Anwyn, making her whine and grumble behind Cadfael’s hands.
“The courts ruled that it wasn’t attempted murder,” Raelin said sternly to Anwyn. “So it wasn’t murder. It was however a very severe assault that resulted in Siobhan being sent into military service even though she’s quite young for it.”
Captain Shea blinked at Raelin as if she was surprised that Raelin had scolded Anwyn. From the expression on Principle Cahan’s face, she thought it was just for show instead of something that was normal when Anwyn got upset. Raelin looked back at Captain Shea waiting.
“Right,” Captain Shea muttered. “Why does this have to happen on my shift?”
“Because trouble never happens when it’s convenient,” five year old Cousin Jayrn offered with a huge grin. “Mother said so this morning at breakfast.”
“So much truth in that,” Captain Shea agreed, patting his head gently. “All right, you. Teacher. What’s your name?”
“Dagha Damhlaic, ma’am,” the man said, bobbing a little nervous curtsey at Captain Shea.
“Well then, Damhlaic,” Captain Shea said. “Test them. Let’s see if they’ve got their letters and numbers.”
Damhlaic gulped but nodded, turning to Raelin with one of the ‘this is going to be miserable’ smiles that new tutors always used back home when they started teaching. Behind him, Principle Cahan shook with anger, her hands in fists that Raelin was highly aware of. Fortunately, the two Guards flanking her seemed to be equally aware of it because they grabbed Principle Cahan’s arms so that she couldn’t do anything.
“Can you tell me what forty-seven times nineteen is?” Damhlaic asked.
Ita and Jayrn both squealed, their arms shooting into the air before Raelin could open her mouth. Jayrn jumped up and down, waving his arm while Ita squealed so happily that she looked three instead of five. All the adults in the room stared at the two of them as if they couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Raelin shrugged and gestured towards Ita and Jayrn. They could answer it just as well as she could.
“Ah, all right,” Damhlaic said even more hesitantly. “How much is it…?”
Ita beamed and clapped her hands. “Ita, sir! Forty-seven times nineteen is… eight hundred… ninety-three!” She counted on her fingers with Great-Grandmother Anwyn’s special calculation technique, nodding firmly.
“Eight hundred, ninety-three, sir,” Ita confirmed.
Captain Shea looked at Damhlaic who was staring at Ita as if she was a genius. After a moment Damhlaic shook his head and stood a little straighter, something like excitement in his eyes despite his nervousness. Jayrn bounced on his toes, clapping his hands.
“Ask me something!” Jayrn exclaimed. “I can answer a question too!”
“How many days are in the year, month and week?” Damhlaic asked.
“Oh, that’s easy,” Jayrn huffed. “There are four hundred, ninety-five days in the year. In Aingeal they’re divided into twelve months, each of which is forty days long. Each month has four weeks that are ten days long. In between each block of three months are three days which don’t belong to any month. At the New Year in midsummer, there’s another three days so that there’s six days in a row that don’t belong to a month.”
He drew a big breath, grinning widely because this was something that Raelin knew the little kids had just been taught. Cadfael had gone on and on about how interesting it was that other countries had different ways to count the year. Damhlaic blinked and drew back a little as Jayrn’s grin expanded.
“Other countries don’t necessarily count the days that way,” Jayrn said even though Ita was poking him to stop, apparently so that she could answer another question. “In Ntombi each week has nine days and there are five weeks in each month. That means that there are eleven months in the year with no days that aren’t accounted for in any particular month. Also, their New Year is counted in the middle of winter, not in the middle of summer like here. Historically speaking, the year has been divided up many different ways. Our current system has been used since early in the formation of Aingeal though the oldest legends talk about a year with three hundred sixty-five days instead of four hundred ninety-five days. I think that’s silly though. How could the length of the year change that much?”
“These are uneducated kids?” Captain Shea said to Principle Cahan. Her wave made both Ita and Jayrn be quiet but both of them looked angry about not getting to answer any more questions.
Principle Cahan glared at him, her mouth firmly shut. The lack of answer seemed to be answer enough for Captain Shea. She turned back to Damhlaic with a jerk of her chin at Ita and Jayrn. Both of the little kids stiffened and glared as if they were getting ready to get mad at what Captain Shea had to say. Raelin glared at them forbiddingly. Jayrn tucked his chin in a little bit but Ita glared right back.
“You ever teach kids that young that knew that much?” Captain Shea asked.
“Ah, no, ma’am,” Damhlaic said. His glance at Principle Cahan made him go white and shiver.
“Ignore her,” Captain Shea ordered him. “She’s toeing the Clan line on this and it’s against both court order and logic. How old are kids when they learn that in your school?”
“Oh, not until they’re several years older,” Damhlaic said with a little sigh of defeat. “At least ten or eleven and I wouldn’t expect them to be that confident about it. It’s very unusual for children so young to even know their numbers.”
“We learn because we help out in the family business,” Raelin said. “All of us do. Pretty much everyone grows up to be a part of the shipping business so we all need to know our numbers to help with inventory. We need to know the year because we travel and have to help make sure things get shipped in the right timeframe to arrive when they’re needed. And we learn to read early on for the same reason. History is because you can’t trade well if you don’t know what’s happened before in a country.”
“Politics because understanding how people work together is important with our family’s tempers,” Gavin offered. “Rae’s the best of our generation for staying calm. The rest of us are likely to punch people when they offend us.”
Raelin grumbled and tried to shrug Gavin’s hands off his shoulder when Captain Shea turned to look at her curiously. It didn’t work but then Raelin hadn’t tried very hard to get him to stop. Captain Shea looked at the kids for a long moment before turning back to Principle Cahan.
“The kids are going home,” Captain Shea announced. “If they need to be tested then they’ll be tested by someone independent of both the Dana and Delbhana clans. You’re under arrest for violating a court order, Principle Delbhana. I suggest you go quietly. I’d hate to frighten the kids that go to this school.”
When Raelin made a curious noise Captain Shea turned and grinned at Raelin. She ruffled Raelin’s hair, chuckling when Raelin squawked and tried to smooth it back down again. Captain Shea didn’t look like she minded the glare Raelin leveled on her.
“I don’t figure much of anything would surprise or frighten you Dana kids,” Captain Shea said. “Already seen enough brawling.”
“I don’t like brawling!” Aravel whimpered tearfully enough that Raelin slipped out from under Gavin’s hands to give her twin a hug. “Brawling is scary!”
His tears seemed to be the drop that broke the dam. As Raelin cuddled him Captain Shea straightened up and glared at Principle Cahan. She looked away, her expression so defiant that the guards holding her glared at her and gripped her elbows even tighter. Damhlaic cooed as he patted Aravel’s back in an attempt to soothe him.
“I want to go home!” Aravel wailed, ‘home’ breaking into several syllables because of his tears and hiccupping sobs.
“See they get home,” Captain Shea told Damhlaic. “Then come back to work.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Damhlaic said, bobbing a curtsey at her before coaxing Aravel into motion.
Captain Shea pointed at Raelin, raising an eyebrow. “Nose broken?”
“No, ma’am,” Raelin said with a big enough grin that Captain Shea’s other eyebrow went up. “I broke it a couple of months ago. It’s not broken this time. I know how to tell now.”
That made Captain Shea laugh as Raelin followed her siblings and cousins out of the school and back towards home. Her head was still painful enough that Raelin didn’t resist when Gavin took her hand. The world felt a little bit wobbly. After Raelin tripped the fourth time Gavin sighed and scooped her up in his arms.
“You’re getting too heavy to carry, Rae,” Gavin complained.
“I can walk,” Raelin grumbled right back at him.
“Not really,” Gavin said. “You’re weaving. I suspect that you’ve got a minor concussion. No shipyard for you if so.”
“Gavin!” Raelin wailed even though it made her head throb. “No fair! I only just got to go back to work!”
Gavin shook his head solemnly as he carried Raelin towards home despite Raelin’s poking his shoulder and Damhlaic staring at the two of them. By the time they got home Raelin had given up with arguing with Gavin. When he got a worry about their health in his head Gavin was as stubborn as Uncle Jarmon and twice as determined as Cadfael at his worst.
“Want to go back to the shipyard,” Raelin complained quietly as Gavin carried her up the stairs to the gaudy formal entrance to the Dana Clan House.
“I know,” Gavin murmured. “But if you’re concussed you’d only hurt yourself and maybe someone else. Best not to risk damaging the Tourmaline or hurting anyone.”
Raelin grumbled some more but she could see that. She didn’t really mind her injuries. Taking a few slaps to keep them from being forced into a school that wouldn’t teach them what they needed to know was okay. And if Gavin was right that it had been the first step to try and take them all away from the Dana Clan then it was even better to take the blows. Still, she would much rather be back at the shipyards working with everyone else. A bad day there was better than the best day dealing with stupid Delbhana politics and plots.
Find this book:
On Amazon $5.99 ebook
On CreateSpace 5″ x 8″ $18.99 TPB
I love writing. I love sharing my writing. I hope that you love reading what I share. If you enjoyed the story but can’t afford to buy the book please consider leaving a donation. It will help me keep writing and sharing my stories with you for a long time to come. Thank you!