I Know it Was You! (jp: Cuylar, Darrica [NPC]) 1/7
If there was one thing Cuylar enjoyed about visiting the North – aside from seeing his parents, of course – it was the perfectly cool weather during the Northern summer. Especially with the unusual cold snap at Arolos, it was delightful to be someplace where it was warm – but not too warm. Cuylar might have been accustomed to the heat, but that did not mean he liked it.
Sela, his mother, was well and happy and actually seemed to be enjoying the time away from the Hall. Making a difference, she called it. And having seen the state of the health of the residents in small, remote holds, Cuylar knew exactly what she meant.
And it did not seem that she minded too much being separated from her husband, Cuylar's father – Cuyen. They visited one another frequently enough, usually when Sela went back to the larger hold to which her present home was beholden, where his father worked. Of course, from time to time, Cuyen visited Sela at the remote hold, too. They both seemed happy, so Cuylar was content to be happy for them.
That morning, he had gone out with Elphith to hunt down something big and meaty and brought it back to the small hold's kitchen. He always felt better about eating their food when he went out of his way to conspicuously contribute.
Instead of roasting and slicing up the wherry he brought back, they had stretched it much further by making stew. It was more vegetable than meat by the time they ate it, but most cooks seemed to have an impressive knack for using meat to make the dish taste like meat, even when there was not much in it.
Sela was especially and unexpectedly busy the day that Cuylar came, and their visit had to be cut short, but he stayed for lunch. And when the young woman approached him with a scowl on her face, he was at a loss for why she might be so angry with him.
“You said you’d be back,” she said, with no pause to introduce herself. “You promised you’d be coming back. And now you do, and you don’t even bother mentioning you’re here?”
"Do I… know you?" Cuylar asked, gobsmacked. He was certain he had never seen the woman before. Though he supposed he might have passed her before on one of his previous visits.
For a moment it seemed she might slap him. She lifted her hand as though considering it, the fury on her face mingling with hurt, drawing her breath in sharply. “How many girls do you sleep with, not to remember?”
"How many girls? I've never been with a girl, actually. Well. Almost never. One or two might have caught me over the Turns, but never on purpose – who are you?" Cuylar asked.
“You sharding liar!” It seemed as though the anger might turn to tears from the way her face screwed up for a second when he said that. “After you-- and I was nice and didn’t even say anything in front of your wife!”
"My… my wife?" Cuylar's face softened at her near-tearful rage, but the surprise returned at that. "I'm not sure who you think I am, but I promise you, I didn't sleep with you. And I'm not married. I'm Cuylar. Rider of Green Elphith," he introduced himself.
“You’re a liar,” she said again, but the tears were coming now, even if she tried to sniff them back. “I saw you with her. Why are you lying?”
"Please," Cuylar said, his voice taking on an increasingly sympathetic tone. Did he have a doppelganger in the North he was unaware of? "I want to help you. I will help you. What can I do?"
“It’s a bit sharding late for that now, isn’t it?” she demanded. “About n-nine months too late I would say.” Her voice wobbled at that. “And I- I don’t know how you can-- she was even nice to me!” As though that last were harder to bear than any of it.
"OK. Hey. Sit down with me. It's OK. We're going to work through this," Cuylar assured her. "You've… you've had a child?" he asked.
“And she-- she even delivered it!” But the girl sat down obediently even if she was starting to sniffle. “And she was kind and-- you weren’t heeeere!”
"She… delivered it. Are you talking about Sela?" Cuylar asked. The wheels turned in his head. A doppelganger. His wife. Sela.
Burn it, Dad! Cuylar wanted to spit. His father had messed around with a girl at the very hold where his wife was assigned!? Cuylar was going to kick him in the shin.
She nodded “I saw you talking to her,” she said accusingly, and sniffed. “It’s okay. She’s nice. I’d probably like her better too, “ she admitted forlornly. “But-- but Riccard--”
"Riccard. Is that your child?" asked Cuylar. He reached out to touch her hand gently. "Sela is my mother," he explained gently. "And that's why you saw me with her."
“...Oh.” And that she got from how quickly the colour drained out of her face. “Oh.. Oh feck. You can’t tell her. Please don’t tell her. I didn’t mean-- I wouldn’t ever have-- it was an accident!”
"Shh, shh. It's going to be OK, shh, stop. Just listen to me. I'm not going to tell anyone," Cuylar assured her. "What's your name?" he asked.
“Darrica.” She looked down, twisting her skirt between her hands. “You mustn’t think -- I swear it’s not something I’d normally do. He was just.. Nice, your-- your d-- shit.” It felt tremendously inappropriate to tell someone’s son that.
"Dad can be very charismatic," Cuylar agreed begrudgingly. And considering his own sex drive… well, Cuylar had gotten that from somewhere. But just because he understood did not mean he approved. Their situations were wildly different.
"Listen, Darrica, I'm not going to judge you. Or be angry with you. Is Dad supporting you? Sending you marks? Do you have everything you need for the baby?" Cuylar asked. More important matters needed to be tended to.
“He doesn’t know,” she admitted in a small voice. “I didn’t-- when I found out he hadn’t been for a while and I-- I couldn’t exactly ask Sela where to write to him. So, I just--” her hands were tight on her skirt. “I told people it was-- I said I’d had too much to drink last Gather and someone must have--”
"I see," Cuylar sighed. Flame it all to ashes, Dad, what did you do? "Do you want him to know?" he asked. It would probably complicate things.