A moment to Grieve
The mask hid his face, but that was not the most disturbing thing about Gulmont that day. The robes had certainly been something Moira hadn’t been expecting. They were nothing out of the ordinary, she’d seen acolytes of Grenth wear them at the statues that lined the walls of the Reach when she went to pray, but having someone wearing them in her home was a bit disconcerting.
She daren’t say anything though, not out of fear, but out of respect. For the last few weeks there had been something off about Gulmont, she just couldn’t put her finger on it. He hadn’t been his usual cheery self; he’d seemed almost to be in mourning. Now it seemed he was at the height of his grief, a black cloud of misery hovering over his head.
This morning she’d opened the door for him, as usual, greeting him with a friendly smile. But the smile had not been returned. His face had been completely expressionless, as if he had been drained of all emotion. The light in his eyes that usually danced with an infectious joy had dimed to a non-existent, dull mist, as is all happiness had been clouded over.
She’d let him in all the same, though with a bit more apprehension that was her custom. He’d moved through the house like a soulless wraith, all light and joy a distant memory. The baby had greeted him with the same exuberance as she always did, but he did not meet her with the same joyous enthusiasm. He seemed to be lost in a sea of pain, one of which nothing could bring him out of.
For once Moira had been glad to leave the two to run a few errands for the house with the maid. The girl was quite capable of doing the tasks on her own, but Moira quite enjoyed going out into the city and taking in the hustle and bustle of the city streets. She went to have tea with a few friends, where they discussed the events of the day before and spoke of the possibilities of lavish parties at grand estates. It was when she got home that the true depth of Gulmont’s grief became clear.
The house had become unusually cold for this time of year, so much so that her breath formed in plumes of smoke in front of her face. The chill extended throughout the house and she had to get the maid to light several fires so that the house could warm itself through again. What she found most curious though, was all the servants seemed to be talking in hushed tones whenever she approached. When it finally got on her nerves enough to ask one of them what all the fuss was about, all they would do was point towards the garden.
Moira was quite proud of the garden; she’d paid the gardeners a considerable amount to make sure it far outshone the neighbours. Lucio had almost thrown a fit when he had seen the bill, but with a little coxing she’d managed to convince him of the values of a good garden for Lyra to play in. Despite his initial complaints, Lucio had eventually given in and admitted the garden’s beauty.
Magnificent blossoms littered the boarders of the lawn, their colours dazzling to the eye. Trees of oak and ash sprang up around the corners, their glorious branches spreading in a luscious canopy that twinkles with the light that the leaves let in, streaming through in heavenly beams of sunlight.
It was here that Moira had found Gulmont, who had changed out of his hunting gear and into the outlandish robes that covered every inch of him, sitting high up in the branches of one of the trees. At first she thought that there was an intruder on the grounds, but then she had seen Lyra resting quietly in his arms. There was only one person that the baby was this comfortable around.
Gulmont looked out over the city walls, the tree a perfect vantage point to see for miles around the expansive city. That morning he had awoken to Ehbrel lying next to him, watching him quietly. They had eaten a light breakfast and then gone about their business, Gulmont going back to the Reach to see to Lyra. Up in the tree in the Arminio estate, he was safe and alone with his thoughts. He didn’t want to burden Ehbrel with his sorrow when she was already dealing with her own.
He let his mind drift, Lyra providing a soothing comfort that he found he got nowhere else. He listened quietly to the baby’s quiet breathing, music to his ears. It was then it truly hit him. His friend was gone and there was nothing he could do. He’d never see her again. He tried to keep his partition up for as long as he could, but the barrier broke down, falling to the wayside.
As Moira approached, Gulmont turned his head, the two fiery points of light beneath the mask focusing on her. She shuddered, an eerie feeling of both fear and wonder coming over her. Her voice caught in her throat for a moment before she found it again, her question coming out in an uncertain concern, “are you alright?”
Gulmont paused for second, and then removed his mask, making sure the shadowy illusion covered him before he did, showing only his normal, living face. But the illusion could not hide his tears. They flowed down his cheeks in a constant steam of woe, seemingly unending. “No,” he replied in a shaking voice. “I’m not.”
With a nod of respect, Moira turned on her heel, heading back into the house as Gulmont held Lyra to him, sobbing soundlessly. The baby reached up, her fingers running through his dark hair, cooing quietly in the way babies do.