May All Evil Sleep

Title: May All Evil Sleep
Time Period: May 27, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: After being kidnapped, some people need a little help sleeping, whether by herbs or by prayers.

There are too few quiet days, these days it seems, but this is thankfully one of them. All of the usual rounds have been taken care of earlier in the day, and there have been no unexpected emergencies to make the afternoon hectic. In fact, it's been a blissfully quiet day, with no more than a few visitors.

Cordelia mans the front of the apothecary, perched on a stool as she crushes dried herbs with a mortar and pestle; on the counter are fresh herbs to sort and dry or cut or mix before they can be put to use. It's apparently inventory re-stocking day, since there's time to do it. Not every day gives such a blessing.

There's only a handful of ways to comfortably get around for Cas Blackburn right now— one of them is with a walking stick, and the other is via horseback. And even those aren't exactly without pain. Legs are still needed for both, and the bites, while clean of infection and healing well, still hurt quite a bit to walk on.

A soft thump of wood and wood is heard, a knock of sorts, before the door pushes open and a head peaks in. Hair longer than it was before hangs partially in his face, which could use a closer shave. His eyes show immediately that he's tired, possibly worked a long day, or not gotten much sleep. "Oh hey— I was hoping to see you here," he says, resting the walking stick on the floorboards as he limps in, favoring one leg over the other.

When Cas enters, Cordelia looks up, expecting any customer, and not Cas. She jumps off her stool and drops the pestle into the mortar and its dust. "Cas!" she exclaims, wiping her hands on her apron and moving around the counter to come look at him.

"How are you? Come, sit down," she says, moving to the table and chairs and pulling one out for him. "Are you okay? I heard things, but I … how true are they? It sounds like fairytales, and all very confusing. I wasn't sure I heard right. Can I get you some tea? Do you need anything for pain? Should I get Aislinn?" Perhaps she's had too few people to talk to today, since all of these questions rush out at him in one breath.

The stablehand's smile grows at each of her questions, unable to answer any of them until she stops talking and using the intervening time to limp over to the offered chair and plopping down in it. The stick he used is leaned against the table.

"It was pretty confusing for me and I lived through it," Cas admits first, taking in a slow breath as he lifts his leg up off the floor to let it hang in air. "I could use a little something for pain, but it's not why I'm here exactly— and I… you don't need to get Lady Aislinn." He looks around as if expecting her to pop out of the back or something. Maybe the boss' wife makes him more nervous than her assistant.

"Here," Cordelia says, moving forward to put the other chair in front of him. "Go ahead and put it up, and I'll make you a tea that should help."

She leans her hands on the back of the chair, however, before turning away to go make the tea. Her head tips curiously and her eyes follow his before addressing Aislinn's presence. "Oh! She's not here. She went out on an errand, since it was so slow today. What can I do for you? Is it a secret from her?" That idea makes her nervous, it seems, and she bites her lip, one hand reaching up to shove a strand of hair out of her eyes.

Putting his foot up, Cas makes a small hissing sound for a second as he shifts his weight around trying to avoid putting any on the healing cuts. "My cuts are in the itching annoying hurting stage right now, but I can actually stand it sometimes," he explains, possibly trying to downplay it. Or maybe he was upplaying the need to use the stick that leans against the table near him.

"It isn't a secret exactly— I just already— I mean— she's part of the reason that I was even able to be rescued and— I guess I feel like I owe her. And she's the boss' wife and…" he trails off, shaking his head.

"I'm just having trouble sleeping, really. Even when I work all day. It's somewhat good cause I'm catching up on the chores I couldn't do when I was… taken."

One brow arches and she heads back behind the counter to find a cup, and then add a mix of this and that from the jars there, before finally heading to a tea kettle already full of hot water. This she pours into the cup and brings to him. "Let it sit a few. I'll say when it's ready, aye?" she asks, and puts a hand on her hip to consider his words.

"I am pretty sure I can speak for Aislinn and say you don't owe her anything but thanks for whatever she did to get you saved, so don't worry about that," Cordie says. "Are you asking for some sort of sleeping aid? Valerian might do it. I can give you some, and also show you what it looks like and where it grows, so you don't have to worry about paying regularly." The last is said gently, knowing he likely doesn't have a lot to trade with.

From the look on his face, Cas must not entirely believe in not owing people for saving him. Aislinn or anyone else involved, it seems. "The first week not sleeping much was fine, but now it's getting a little… stupid. I just can't seem to stop… Sometimes it feels like I'm back in that theater with all those other…" he trails off.

"I thought if I just kept working I'd forget about it, but when I stop working it just…" His voice trails off a little shaky. Until he laughs and adds, "I figured something that makes me sleep is probably healthier than something to keep me from needing to."

Her brows knit together and she turns away, quick and quiet footsteps taking her back behind the counter for a moment. She returns with a jar and with a sketchpad. "This is valerian," she says, giving him the jar to look at. "But that's dried, so hard to see what the plant looks like. During the spring, it looks like this, except, you know, a little less crooked and tilty." She's not the best artist. "And summer it blooms, and looks kinda like this, but a little prettier." The picture depicts a stem blooming into a cluster of tiny flowers.

"When you use the roots, don't use boiling water for the tea, or it makes it too weak. And you should only drink one cup, and not let it steep more than a few minutes. It shouldn't have any bad effects, but if it does, you might be allergic to it."

A small bag is pulled from her apron pocket, and Cordelia takes the jar back from him, shakes out a few of the roots into the bag.

"I don't always sleep right either, not after being taken," she adds in a small voice, with her head bent over the bag as she folds the top of it neatly. The bag is handed to him. "But it gets better."

"I think I've seen this stuff before," Cas says in a soft voice as he looks it over, nodding as he listens to the instructions. Though now that he's mentioned having trouble sleeping the bags under his eyes are more dramatic. Looking up at her, he tilts his head and takes the bag handed to him, putting it into a pocket on the inside of his vest.

His hand lingers there, oddly, for a long moment, as if he's feeling for something.

And having trouble finding it cause he's too bussy actually looking at her.

"I remembered hearing you got… taken. How long did you have trouble sleeping? Did you… did you use this stuff when you did?"

"That should do til you can walk a bit better, and I can take you to find some in the woods, or if you think you find any, you can bring some in and I can make sure you're not eating something poisonous," Cordie says, reaching to push his tea toward him for him to drink.

She sits down in one of the other chairs, gaze darting to the vest and back up. There is that curious cant of her head, but she shakes her head. "I didn't. Um. A few weeks, but it doesn't sound like as bad as you. And now and then, still, I wake up with bad dreams and can't get back to sleep," she says with a hushed voice, as if this is the first time she's said as much to anyone.

Of course, that's because it is.

"It's normal though," she says, a bit louder, back to bedside manner. "So don't worry about it. Is there anything in particular you're thinking of, when you can't sleep? Sometimes I tell myself a story about something else in my head… the more complicated the better, because I'd get tired of trying to figure it all out and fall asleep because I'm a pretty bad storyteller and apparently pretty boring." There's a grin at this.

"If I find any, I'll bring it in. I don't usually eat things I'm not sure are good for you," Cas says with a nod of agreement. "Or you can help me. Maybe tell me some of these stories you insist are terrible. Just don't leave me out there if I fall asleep. I have bad luck waking up in the wild lately."

It sounds like a joke, only it's not really one.

"I kind of have nightmares too, but mine are…" he trails off, looking down at his vest until he finally pulls out something from the pocket. A silvery metal bracelet with a windy design, which he holds in his hand as he looks back up at her. "What kind of nightmares did you have? Of the people that took you or of— just being taken?"

Dark eyes move to look at the bracelet, and when he asks what she dreams of, she glances down and shakes her head a bit jerkily. "Just… how it all ended," she whispers. If those stories made it to him, she doesn't know, but she's not about to explain it all.

The jar is picked up and once again she's out of her chair to put it back where it goes among the supplies. A few other jars are straightened, and then she turns to the fresh herbs, leaves and buds that were laid out on the counter, starting to pull leaves off a branch and placing them into a nearby jar.

From the way he opens his mouth and closes it again, Cas had considered asking for more details. Perhaps he didn't hear what happened. But from his decision to close his mouth and think again, he must have observed her hesitance to give details. "I dream of what happened— and even before that I… don't dream of what happened. I just kind of… start to think it did and start awake when I begin to…" he trails off.

The bracelet is turned over in his hands a few times as he looks back down at it.

"I got turned into a puppet. Well, not exactly turned into one, but my— I was inside a puppet. I actually kept it. I found what pieces I could after it was broken to get me out and I brought it back with us. It's in the stable," he explains. "It felt… weird. Not being in my body. Having limbs made of wood that had joints that didn't quite… move right. So everytime I start falling asleep I kind of… feel like I'm back. In the puppet. And I wake myself up trying to make sure I'm still… me."

Once he gets all that out his shoulders seem to relax. Likely he hasn't said so much outloud.

Her dark brows knit again and her lips purse as she listens, finally looking up, putting the lid back on the jar. "I can imagine that would be hard to forget," she says softly. "I think … maybe with time you'll realize you're safe. Maybe there's a little charm or prayer or blessing you could say right when you go to bed to make yourself feel safe…?" Cordelia suggests, leaning on the counter and watching him.

"When I was little," Cordie says, "I'd sometimes be scared to sleep all by myself, and I'd make up my own little spells. I don't know. I knew it was silly and that I'm just me, and not magic, but a little rhyme and ritual can make you feel safe. Or maybe one of the magic types can actually give you something, a talisman or something. I don't know what you'd do to keep someone from doing that… Aislinn might know."

"I already went to the gypsies once for a un-curse, which I'm starting to think failed," Cas says, gesturing at the leg he propped up on the chair. "It was supposed to keep me from dying after seeing what I thought was a Black Dog. Course I got bit by real black dogs a season later." It makes him laugh. "A prayer or something is a good idea, though. I wonder if I can remember any of the ones me mom taught me…" He looks off for a moment, as if trying to recall one. But it doesn't last long before he looks back at her.

"I never really wished I had magic, but living here I kinda do. Probably cause there seems to be so many of them," he says with a grin, as he shifts around in his seat. Once he's comfortable, he waits til she's looking at him before he throws the bracelet at her, underhandedly.

Cordelia tips her head, looking a bit to the left and murmuring something, as if trying to remember, but then she glances back and there's a bracelet coming her way. She catches it in both hands, and turns it onto her palm to look at.

She tips her head back toward him, that errant lock of hair falling back into her eyes before she shoves it away with her free hand. "What's this for?" she asks, shaking her head. "The roots are nothing big. Valerian's not rare; it grows here. If you bring some with you to replace it, we'll call that one even, aye?" She offers the bracelet back.

"It's not just for the herbs. You keep calling it even, but… just take it," Cas says, with a shake of his head as he raises his hand and gestures her off, choosing to instead finally pick up the tea she made him and drink from it. Perhaps he'd been so preoccupied he'd forgotten it was there—

After the first long generous drink of the painkilling tea, he adds with a nod, "If you don't like it you can trade it in for something more your style. I won't mind. I've been holding onto it for a while now and…"

"I… no, I like it," she says quietly, turning it in her hand, cheeks coloring a little. "Thank you."

It doesn't seem enough to say, but she slips her fingers through the bracelet, not pushing it up to her wrist but just letting it lay across her knuckles.

"I didn't know real ones, back then, when I was little, but I've learned this one since. It might do…" Cordie suggests, looking back up at him finally.

"May the hills lie low,
may the hills lie low,
May the sloughs fill up,
in thy way.
May all evil sleep,
may all good awake,
in thy way."

The blushing makes him look down into his cup and drink again, as if he's trying to make up for lost time. Or hide his own face for a moment. The dark stubble helps with that. When Cas looks back up, he tries to repeat what she said. And only make sit as far as the first two lines before he forgets it.

With a grimace, he looks down at the cup and ponders, until he looks back up. "Can you write it down for me?" He leaves out that he may have to get help reading it the first few times, but… he's been trying to learn.

"Sure," she says easily, rummaging about on the counter until she finds a pencil. She returns to the table and sits again, picking up the sketch book to quickly jot down the words. Her handwriting is neither meticulous nor girly, but it is legible. She pauses over 'slough' and writes 'sloo' after a moment's deliberation — for his benefit or because she doesn't know how to spell it, who knows.

The paper is pulled neatly from the book, folded once, twice, and then handed over to him with a smile. "I'll think it too, and maybe it'll work two-fold, aye?"

Cas doesn't try to read it right now, but he continues trying to repeat it in his head. Which is probably why he looks distracted, even as she writes. When she hands it over so carefully folded, he is equally as careful with it, putting his cup down so that he can press it into a pocket that isn't full of random things so it won't easily get crushed. Or anything else.

"Thanks— for the prayer and… that you'll think it too." That part makes him look away for a moment, before he looks back and says in a serious non-joking voice, "What's a … slough? and what's it filling with?" No wonder he got stuck on that line.

"Like, the marshes. The inlets. Fills up with water. Meaning, I think, but you know, may the hills not be too big to climb, and may the water be plentiful… not a drought, right? I think. I might be wrong. Poetry's not really my area of expertise," Cordelia hazards, then laughs as she looks down at the sketchpad. "Neither's drawing. Aislinn's a good teacher, but I think I'm hopeless there."

She rises to get his stick where it leans for him, so he'll be able to use it for leverage upon standing. "It'll get better. All of it. I promise."

"Oooh, kinda like some people call them lakes and other people call them lochs," Cas says quietly as he tries to recall everything. With his tea cup put down, he takes the stick into his grasp and gets back to his feet, with barely a wince of pain. Either the tea worked or he's hiding it better. Or was faking it before.

But he still keeps off the leg as much as possible so maybe he's not.

"You're better at it than me," he nods towards the sketch with a smile, one that dimples his cheek. He still looks tired, but it looks less drastic. Somehow. "It'll get better for you too, and if you ever need someone to talk to about it… I've been there. Just…" He looks to the side as if trying to think of how to correct himself. "Not quite the same way."

Cordelia moves back to the counter to resume her leaf crushing. "I know what you mean," she says with a smile. "Thanks for the offer. I appreciate it."

She's quiet a moment, and the only sound is the pestle against leaves and then she glances up. "If I don't… talk to you about it? The offer's still appreciated, aye? I just… I don't talk about all that, really, with anyone. It's too … complicated." Like being a Ross-Rowntree. "Remember not to boil the water. Let it cool a bit, before you pour it, and no more than one cup, and no more than one of the wee bundles."

RX given, she returns to her task, the bracelet still wrapped around her fingers.

"And here I thought getting turned into a puppet was the most complicated," Cas says with a grin, trying to sound light-hearted about her saying she very likely won't be taking him up on the offer. It doesn't sound as if he's insulted, as he makes his way limping toward the door with his walking stick.

As he nudges the door open again he glances back and spots the bracelet on her knuckles and smiles again before adding as he slips outside, "See you later, Cordie."