The Armsmen kept watch all night, the full twenty, since none of the household could sleep. The midwife came, then the doctor. Just past midnight, the Count emerged pale and swearing in Russian. Armsman-Commander Baranov gave him a glass of wine, and for a while they stood together trying not to listen to the Princess's cries. Then the Count, as grim as if facing a battlefield, returned to his wife.
A little after dawn, the thin wail of a baby echoed around the waiting house. In the guardroom the Armsmen embraced in relief and toasted the birth of Lord Aral.
Only three survived. The rest of their brotherhood lay dead, defending their Count. Baranov had dragged the Count away, not permitting him to stay and fight. Tomas had carried Lord Aral--Lord Vorkosigan, now. And young Esterhazy had snatched the baby from beneath Armsman Golkov's corpse. They had fled to the meagre safety of General Ezar's camp, five thousand soldiers around them. Baranov was inside with the Count and General and young Lord, the baby slept. Outside the door, Tomas and Esterhazy sat with their backs to the solid wood, and young Esterhazy had his head in Tomas's lap, weeping uncontrollably.
They were killing the pigs at Vorkosigan Surleau the old way, and the off-duty Armsmen went to watch and calculate their share of the meat. But the new guy, Bothari, went green and reeled back from the bloody throat-slit carcasses.
"City boy," someone muttered, and the others laughed. Esterhazy frowned and went over, then had to catch Bothari as he stumbled.
"Steady," he said. "Come sit down." At another laugh, he added, "My da never liked the slaughterhouse either. He was a brave soldier, but this turned his stomach."
Bothari only grunted, but he stopped trying to push Esterhazy away.
"He's not a mutant," Jankowski proclaimed again. "Not a mutant. No mutants in our House. The Count wouldn't have it." He threw his arms out expansively and leaned against Armsman Bogdanovitch of Count Vorpatril's twenty, adding confidentially, "But he's a holy terror, I can tell you. Questions, questions, all bloody day long. I was spelling Konstantine yesterday and he never shut up. How do lightfliers work, can he have one, do they work the same way as spaceships, when would he go into space... I tell you, I needed a drink after that." He took another. "But not a mutant."
Armsman Ralloch walked into the kitchens, his spine rigid, a thousand-yard stare on his face. Roic smothered a smile. At least he wasn't the new boy now.
"Welcome to m'lord's service," Pym said austerely. "A good first week."
Generously, Roic waved Ralloch to a chair, and Ralloch fell onto it.
"Is it ... always like this?" he asked finally.
"It's been average," Pym replied. "A little busy, but nothing unusual."
Ralloch slumped until his forehead touched Roic's tunic. "Average," he mumbled. "Even that awful swamp business? God help me."
Kindly, Roic put an arm around him. "You'll get used to it."