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Author Topic: Coins of Memory - Chapter 13  (Read 2273 times)

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Offline Laurna

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Coins of Memory - Chapter 13
« on: May 21, 2013, 03:54:28 am »

Previous chapter: http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php/topic,1082.0.html


Chapter 13  WIC  11.11.985   4th Coin           

 
The night, as it passed, was very long.  Wash leaned heavily against the pillows at the head of his bed, with his protective arms around the injured maiden who had stolen his heart.  Lady Lisa sat on a soft chair by the low burning fire.  Her hands held some sewing, but it had long been forgotten as she had fallen asleep.  Wash closed his eyes too, but he could not sleep.  With a mental spell, he pushed back the throb of pain behind his eyes, and ignored the presence of the icy swelling that stiffened the cut on his palm.  These were tolerable when compared to the misery Jessa suffered from.  Father Pernal’s medicine gave her some relief from the burns, but nothing seemed to counteract the effects of her merasha-induced headache that was embedded behind her closed eyes.  To reduce the torment, Wash purposely willed Jessa to sleep.  It worked for about an hour, until the nightmares began.  Jessa moaned and churned as the visions of fire engulfed her senses.  He made a few desperate attempts to follow her nightmares, but the drug’s disruption allowed him little more than a quick glimpse of flames that were larger and more terrifying than the horror from this terrible night.  What he could discern was the view from a child’s eyes; she was held in a nobleman’s arms, with an inferno of flames all around them.

Washburn wished he could decipher her nightmare.  The torture from it only served to enhance the pain from her real burns.  To clear the imagery, Wash was forced to wake her.  He would soothe her fear, contend with her pains, and then, once more, he would try to ease her mind with sleep.  He did this several times during the night.  Each time he prayed the peace would last longer than it had the time before. 

When Jessa slept, Washburn’s own discomfort would grow.  Without the distractions, the pounding of his head was nearly as bad as that which was caused by the drug.  He dismissed it as caused by the links he made with both drugged victims.  Instead, he tortured himself with guilt; a friend had somehow lost his way.  He should have seen it.  He should have known.  He should have done something to prevent it.

The morning came drearily with his squire’s arrival in the room.  There was obvious concern in the boy’s continual glances at his mentor.  Wash attributed it to the woman in his bed.  He eased his numb arm from under Jessa and left her sleeping against the pillows.  Shaking his stiff hand to get some felling back, he followed Robby into the wardrobe.  He had not changed from yesterday’s clothes and he was hoping the fresh fabric might improve the new day’s outlook.  However, Robby moped unhappily until Wash asked for an explanation.

“Last night on the wall, I thought you had died.  Thank the heavens, you breathed.  My lord, please forgive me, but this morning, in the light, you don’t look well to me.  Did you not sleep at all during the night?” 

Wash shook his head.  “No, I’ve not gotten any sleep.  Although, I am not the one who requires your concern today.  Is there news from the earl this morning?  Is my brother well?” the knight asked deeply concerned.

“I have been informed that Lord Muir is resting well.  Sir Artimus has said for you not to worry, many hands are seeing to his needs,” Robby said, as he set out fresh breeches and tunic on the dressing stand.

Wash reached for the fur-lined cloak after Robby had tied his knight’s belt.  “It’s a chilly morning,” Wash stated with a shiver.  He looked into the mirror, noticing how the black tunic made his complexion appear ghastly pale in the early morning light.
 
“As soon as you’re able, Robby, would you summon chambermaids to relieve lady Lisa and care for the novice?  And please find me something warm to eat.  Damn, it is cold this morning.”  He pulled the cloak across his shoulders huddling his left arm in the thick fox fur.

Robby had a few quiet words with Lady Lisa as he dutifully placed a log of wood on the fire.  The squire shivered as the flames leaped upward.  It was apparent that Wash was not the only one who had frayed nerves from the memory of last night.

Three chambermaids soon arrived, and Lady Lisa suggested that for propriety’s sake they move Jessa to her own bed.  Washburn disagreed, his reply nearly hostile.  The older lady, subdued and intimidated, let the subject lapse, but the women whispered among themselves whenever they thought their lord was out of hearing.  It did not matter what they said, he was beyond caring about gossip and petty rants.  The scandal of a woman in his room was trivial next to the real threat of losing her if he let her out of his sight.  Lady Lisa did manage to usher him out of his room so they could care for and dress the injured novice in fresh garments.  At least they were kind to Jessa.  It appeared she had made friends in her week’s stay at the castle.

Robby returned, carrying a warm breakfast stew and mulled spiced wine that he placed on the table.  Wash sat to eat, but after a bite, he lost interest in it.  He sipped the wine, absently finding it too sweet for his taste, and pushed the goblet next to the discarded meal.  Feeling cold and anxious, Wash began pacing the floor.  Without Jessa to distract his mind, he continued to worry over last night’s horrid mix of events, and the death of a friend.

A bit further into the morning saw Washburn settled in his front room attempting to answer some correspondence he had left from the day before, but his concentration had abandoned him.  He pushed the letters next to a plate of bread that had replaced the uneaten stew and listened to the chattering of the chambermaids in the next room.  He should have been irritated by what he heard, but instead the noise lulled him, finally, into a state of forgetfulness. 

Later, he did not know how much later, Robby shook his shoulder, bringing him up with a start.  The breath he took in seared his lungs, as if he had forgotten to breathe for a very long time.

“My lord Washburn, Lord Muir is here to see you,” Robby announced, appearing overly concerned before he stepped back, revealing Muir already in the room.  The older brother stood at the bedroom door, studying the semiconscious woman in the younger brother’s bed.  Wash stepped up to Muir’s side, seeing what he saw.  The chambermaids had just finished brushing the girl’s silken hair against the pillows; it was the only beauty she retained.  The heat blisters and burns marred her youthful face.  Her shallow, harsh breaths tore at his heart.

With a wave, Muir dismissed the women from their ministrations.  Then he dismissed Robby with a nod.  After seeing everyone else out, Robby bowed low and then closed the outer door as he left.  Muir closed the inner door to the sleeping room and came to the small table that held the discarded letters and an untouched plate of bread. 

“I want to thank you for taking care of me last night.  I have never felt so helpless in my entire life,” Muir said.  Wash noted how his brother still looked unwell.  Without shields to protect his mind and without Deryni perception, Muir looked like the recently blind trying to cope in a room where all the furniture had been moved. 

“You’ve not recovered, my lord.  I can sense the drug still has you at a disadvantage.  It is not wise to wander the halls in such a defenseless state.”  Wash stated his voice full of concern. 

Muir just nodded his head and then mumbled about Dillon having guards at his back.  “I actually had to order them to stay outside your door.”  He gave a wry grin as he circled the chair and sat down.  He looked up more seriously at his brother who brooded by the bedroom door.  Repeating an account he had heard of last night’s disastrous events, he then waited for Wash to respond. 

Wash nodded; all of that was true.  His expression grew serious as he came back to the table and looked across it at Muir.  Hiding his irritation, Washburn asked for the truth.  “I know you were sending Jessa back to the convent last night.  Arty told me.  He said Thomas found out.  What happened after you sent for Jessa?”

Muir knew there was no use in denying his actions.  “Jessa tried to persuade me from forcing her return to the convent.  She did not name you as the reason, but she begged that I let her stay.  I denied her request.  That’s when Thomas came to my office.  He already knew I was sending her back, and he asked to be her escort.  There was something odd in his tone that gave me pause, so I denied his request as well.  I was surprised when he dropped the subject so quickly; instead, he offered up a flask of wine to thank the healer for saving his life,” Muir said this as his thoughts raced back to the previous night.  “Neither she nor I detected the betrayal in that flask.  There should have been some hint— I just never expected an attack from that quarter.”

Washburn shivered from the possible consequences of Sir Thomas’s delusions.  “He would have killed her on the road, if you had let him take her.  You know that, don’t you?” 

“Yes,” the earl said sadly.  “I am sorry, I did not know it then, but I do now.”

Anger at the betrayal from a friend flared in the Knight Captain’s eyes.  “The man was my sword master in youth and my friend since then.  How could he have turned against me like that?  How could either of us have missed that he was Deryni?”  Wash ranted, upset at the betrayal.  With a desperate sigh, he stopped at the table and absently grabbed a piece of bread.  Without answers, Muir put his head in his hands closing his eyes in obvious distress.  Wash was too overwrought to notice.  He nibbled the bread but found it distasteful and tossed it back on the platter.

“The signs were there.  I have spent the whole night in self-reproach, cursing myself for not seeing them.  Did you know that on the day after the battle Thomas followed Father Harmon back to the abbey?  The man nearly died while protecting my side and yet once he was healed no one took the responsibility to check on his condition?  He was distraught, trying to understanding his healing.  He was looking for an explanation for the apparition he had seen— an apparition that only a Deryni can see!”  Wash turned back to the table leaning heavily on his right hand.  His left hand curled up in a fist over the swelling of his wound.  He pounded the table with it, barely registering how hard he had banged the wood.  Muir jumped at the sound.  “Who would have ever imagined the hate-mongering Harmon would have interpreted that visitation of a Saint that healed the body, to that of a devil worshiping demon that consumed the soul?”

There was a long silence.  Wash stared at his brother.  Muir’s eyes rose from the knight captain’s hands to meet his brother’s angry stare.  Muir’s features twisted with both his outward concern and his inward pain.  Wash sighed and sat down at the table.  He desperately wished in some way he could reverse the cause of the previous night’s ordeal. 

“I’m sorry.  I know you don’t feel well.  This is probably not the best time for this conversation, as we are both out of sorts, but I need for you to explain to me why we are sending an exorbitant amount of funds to the convent twice yearly.  And why, for God’s sake, would you risk everything to send Jessa back into that hostage situation?”  Washburn pulled out from the inside of his tunic the letter from their aunt, written nine years earlier.

Muir’s eyes went wide at the sight of it.  He started to say several rhetorical comments then stopped himself.  “I guess there is no use lying as you can see into my soul right now,” Muir admitted.  He read the letter with a shiver, and then handed it back to Wash.  “Sister Meris is our father’s sister Merissa, as you have guessed.  She has been a nun at Saint Clair’s for forty years.  Our grandfather started the payments in good faith, protecting the wellbeing of the Deryni within those walls.  Some years ago, father was late on a payment.  Before the payments were renegotiated, two women were burned at the stake.”

“Aunt Merissa?”  Wash asked with his eyes wide.

“I get one letter from her every six months.  This is the abbess’s way of reminding me when the next funds protecting my ward are due.  The letters are never written in our aunt’s hand but they do allow her to sign it.  From the short messages in the signature, I am assured Aunt Merissa is still alive.” 

Washburn stared at his brother.  A word struck a chord and an inkling of understanding began to appear.  “Your ward?”  he asked.  “I was never told you had a ward.”

“A Deryni child has been a ward of the Lords of Lendour since the day she was found within a tavern in the city twelve years ago.  The funds protecting my ward also protect the five other Deryni nuns living within the convent.”

Washburn watched Muir’s downcast eyes for a long moment.  “Are you saying that Jessa is your ward?  You have known of her all along.”  It all began to make sense.  “Did you know that she was a Healer?  Is that why you sent Artimus to the convent those weeks ago?”

Muir put his head between his hands.  “Yes, yes, I have known of it from the day I inherited the earldom from our father.  It is a decades-old negotiation made between our house and the convent.  There are six Deryni women held hostage for the funds we give twice yearly.  To make the money justifiable in the eyes of the Church hierarchy, it is said to be a gift for the care of my ward, the girl Jessa.  If the day came when she left the convent or took her full vows, the biannual payments would cease.  The dowry for a common girl would not be enough to satisfy the abbess for long.  If the house of Cynfyn no longer had a respectable reason to send money to the convent, then I have every reason to be concerned for the welfare of all the Deryni women living there.  In very concise terms, Mother Phyla Mary has assured me that if the payments stop, she will lose her incentive to care for the well-being of those women.”  Pain filled the earl’s face.  “Her current letter reminded me of this.  I see no other options here.  I’m sorry.”

Washburn let Muir’s words sink in his mind; his sleeplessness was degrading his concentration.  “This is the tolerance of the Church?  They threaten these women’s lives! Women who have freely given themselves to our Lord.  You cannot send her back, I won’t let you!  Jessa is done with the Church.  Father Pernal assisted her in drafting a letter yesterday, which has already been sent to Bishop Michael, requesting her release from the vows she has taken.  I will defend her from the Church, from mad men, and from you if I have to.  It is time we stop the ransom payments, and as it seems necessary, save those women in danger from the Abbess of Saint Clair.”

“And just how do you intend to do that?”  Muir questioned his brother.  Neither man had an answer.  “Well, for now we have a delay; Jessa is injured, and cannot be moved.  We have earned a few days to get our heads back into functioning order.  When we are both thinking with clearer minds, we will need a solution.”

The Knight Captain nodded, but could not imagine what that solution could be.  Looking up, he studied his brother’s furrowed brow and saw the difficulty Muir was having keeping his thoughts in line.

“I’m pestering you when you should be in bed, recovering.”  Wash held out his hands, concerned.

The older brother’s face fell, giving up the charade of control.  His eyes wilted from the pain hiding behind them.  “You remember that day when we broke into Father’s private wine cellar.  We drank down two of his prized bottles of Fianna Wine.”

“Yeah, I don’t know which was worse, the lash or the hangover.”

“Well, take both together and add tenfold to it.  I don’t even think that would come close to this headache I have now.”  Upon hearing this, Wash touched his brother’s wrist with dismay, but Muir lifted his hands to forestall him.  “Melina has been a God-send to me.  Since last night, she has seen to my needs.  It is good to have a wife who can give me a strong bairn and loves me with caring arms as well.”  His eyes passed over to the closed bedroom door.  “Do you truly love this girl as you say you do?  It’s not just a fascination with her healing talent, or because I have told you that you can’t have her?”

Wash closed his eyes.  “Maybe it is because of her healing talent.  Part of it anyway.  Maybe because she is innocent, and beautiful, and kind.  Muir, I have fallen in love with her.  I need her as much as she needs me.  Together, we bridge the gaps that have caused pain in both our individual lives.”

Muir accepted the statement, unable to judge the truth without his Deryni abilities.  “Very well, you solve my problem with the Deryni nuns at the convent, and I will consent to your marriage.”

Washburn smoothed his hands flat on the table and gave an appreciative nod.  “Thank you,” he said.

Muir’s face softened.  “Both of you deserve a little happiness.”  Muir tilted his head and rubbed his brow.  “This is far worse than blindness.  I cannot read anyone around me.  When will this drug let me be?  I can see color and hear sound, but everything is so empty.  There is no depth, no inner essence, no weight of consciousness, and I can’t tell truth from lies.  How do humans survive with so little perception?”  Muir looked like a man lost.  “I’m going back to bed,” he finally proclaimed.  The Earl of Lendour stood, careful to maintain his balance.  He walked to the outer door.  Before he opened it, he turned and made a final remark.  “I already told Arty and Dillon they have the run of things, so you better get some rest too.  You look as exhausted as I feel.” 

After Muir stepped out of the room, Wash watched the door for a time, trying to reason out the problems at hand.  It was useless; his mind was too thick with sleeplessness to make sense of anything.  He gave up and walked through the doors to the bedroom where the frail, injured young woman slept in his bed.  Her beauty, in his Deryni perception, was beneath the blotchy red-blisters on her face and the rope burns around her wrists.  Jessa was a caring soul, a woman with love to give, wanting so little in return.  Merasha was a harsh teacher.  Both Jessa and Muir were battling the difficult test forced upon them.  Wash sat in the chair at Jessa’s bedside and wrapped his hand over her’s.  He sent energy through his touch.  He would will her back to health if he could.

*******

“My Lord Washburn, wake up!”
called a familiar voice that seemed somehow strange and distant.  It shook Wash out of his frozen state of sleep.  His head rested on the edge of the bed.  He felt Jessa’s hand urgently holding his hand tight.  Her unshielded mind echoed her fear when he was slow to wake up.  He lifted his head and barely saw through a haze of fog.  One of Melina’s maids stood at the far side of the bed.  She had been here all day to insure that nothing untoward occurred between himself and the maiden.  His eyes next looked up at Robby who stood wringing his hands together near the foot of the bed.  But it was Artimus whose hands shook Washburn’s shoulder and whose voice urgently called in his mind. “Wake up, my friend!  Tell me how you are feeling!”

Wash blinked the blur from his vision.  “What?  Arty, I’m fine, just a bit sleepy.”  He blinked several more times, but his sight remained fuzzy on the periphery.

“I have been trying to wake you for the last five minutes.  My lord, you are not fine.”  Arty wrapped his hand about his commander’s wrist and turned his left hand over.  The palm and fingers were swollen and red from the cut of Arty’s sword.  “With all of Father Pernal’s ministrations, you did not think to have him properly treat this?”

Wash smiled a bit dizzily.  “It was a clean cut; I have had far worse than this.”  Wash pulled his hand away.  But a strange look crossed his lieutenant’s face, and Arty refused to release his commander’s wrist.

“You’re not hot from fever, your cold, cold like ice.”  His eyes turned toward the hearth that was blazing, like on a deep winter’s night.  Washburn had made the servants stoke it high, attempting to dispel the chill that ran through his bones.  “How long has he been like this?”  Artimus asked of Washburn’s squire.  “Why did you not come to me sooner?”

Robby quelled at the lieutenants gaze.  “I….”

“Arty, leave him be.  I told him several times that I was fine.  There is no need to be alarmed.  It is just a temporary numbness, it should ease in time.”

“No need for alarm!”  Artimus sternly admonished.  “You’re not fine and that is not temporary.  Black magic is not to be shrugged at.  Curse that Thomas!”  Artimus picked up a book he had placed on the end of the bed.  “Recognize this?” the man asked with a frown.

Wash nodded, as did Robby, even Jessa stared at the book with fear in her eyes.  They had all seen this tall, thin tome in Sir Thomas’s  hand as he ranted before the flames he had built to burn a Deryni.

“One of the guards brought this to me while I was seeing to Sir Thomas’s boys.  Both boys are devastated by their father’s death.”  Wash ducked his head low in guilt as Artimus explained.  “When David, the older boy, saw the book, he fell to his knees and told me that his father had brought the book home after his last visit from Saint Foillan’s.  The two boys said their father changed as he read the pages.  Both are young and neither one knew what to do.”  The dark haired knight shook his head sadly.

“By the way, I scanned the boys.  They both carry the Deryni heritage, but Thomas never told them, and I am starting to believe that Thomas had not been aware of his own blood until yesterday.”

“Is that even possible?”  Wash asked.  “How can you be Deryni and not know of it?”

“If a parent or grandparent blocked those thoughts when he was a child, he would never have been able to even consider the possibility.  Many parents hid their children that way fifty years ago.  Sadly, it can lead to devastating consequences.  The more serious question is how did the priests of Saint Foillan know he could make use of a book such as this one.  How did they find out he was Deryni and then use that knowledge against us all?”  Artimus was angry.  “I’ve only perused this in brief, and what’s in here scared the hell out of me.  This is a compilation of several ancient scrolls, which describe demons and hellions and the like.  At the back are several Deryni spells, including the three Thomas used.  The last spell is referred to as the final form of ‘Banishment’.”

Arty looked his friend over very seriously.  “I had not realized the darkness of the spell he had used on you.  I was so focused on reducing the fire and saving Jessa that I….  Washburn, this spell was not only meant to kill, but its words are written to entrap its victim’s soul in the depths of the underworld.  When you vanquished Thomas, the spell should have released you as most dueling spells are meant to do.  But this spell was never meant to be used in a duel, it is meant to rid our world of evil.  The spell was weakened when Thomas died but its lingering effects still have a hold over you.”

Wash stared at the book, suddenly realizing the depth of his own plight.  “Is there a counter spell within the text?”  asked the Deryni lord.

“No,” stated Arty, deeply concerned. 

“Entrapment of my soul— My God!  That is what it feels like.”  Wash put one hand out for the book and the other hand pointed to the fire.  “We have to burn it!  Burn it now!  No one should have this power.”

Arty pulled the book back from the other’s reach, realizing this required more serious attention.  “This is more than a collection of old scrolls.  I would not want to just burn this in any fire.  I can feel magic on the very pages.  If we are to free you from this curse, we need the old ways.”

“The old rituals died with most of the Deryni, seventy years ago.  I know of the warding ceremony, but the rest….”  Wash looked at his friend, feeling the gravity of a cold weight upon his essence.  He was gradually losing all his senses to the world about him.  He had only a faint sense of hunger but without taste or smell, food had a nauseous appeal.  The ringing in his ears, which he had ignored all morning, was finally on the verge of driving him mad.  Only his concern for the maiden had bolstered him this far.  “You know, getting it wrong is more disastrous than not doing it at all.”

“Well, doing nothing will certainly lead to a bad ending.  I think it is time we talked to Muir.  He has knowledge in these things.  He will know what to do.”

                                             *******

The compline hour had passed, and a small room of the earl’s had been opened and aired for the workings.  It was a private room of his father’s in the eastern tower.  Wash could not recall ever being in it before.  He briefly looked over a small shelf of books locked behind carved wooden doors; the engraved titles were of Deryni origin.  Normally he would have been very interested, but now he could only manage the focus of his eyes for short periods.

He had left Jessa full of worry in Father Pernal’s care with Lady Lisa to watch over her.  Before she would let her rescuing knight go from her sight, Jessa had removed the medallion from her neck and slipped it over his head.  “May Saint Camber protect you and return you to me safely,” she had whispered to him, unable to hide her fears behind tattered shields.  As he turned away, a stream of tears fell onto her pillow.  With all his heart, he wanted to hold her, tell her all would be well.  But he did not know what the night might bring.  The possibility that she would never see him again was too real.  He had turned back, kissed her forehead, and whispered, “Whatever happens, promise me you will be the best Healer this land has seen in generations.  Follow your heart and your gifts.”  With a decisive turn, he left the room.  The ringing in his ears drowned out the sounds of her crying.  When he reached the hall, his sight dimmed, forcing him to seek the hands of others to guide him away.

Muir, Arty, and Dillon had led Wash to this room.  They had all discussed thoroughly what had to be done, but Wash could barely recall what was said.  Muir was starting to feel his powers return, and all would have rather waited for the earl’s head to clear more, only the spell’s effect on the younger brother was worsening with each hour.

Washburn was barely aware of the ancient ritual of warding that began when Dillon walked the four quarters of the room.  He swung the thurible three times into each of the compass points; censing first the East where Muir stood then moving around the room to the South, the West, and the North where Wash sat.  At each point Dillon invoked the protection of the four great Archangels who guarded the Quarters and ruled the elements.  The second pass of the ritual began with Artimus’s voice echoing strongly across the tower room.  He first aspersed the East with three shakes of the holy water and then he moved onward to the South.  Wash focused on the motion of the knight’s hands as his hearing became muffled and then was nothing more than an intangible hum.  He remembered the three men discussing whether Father Pernal should be included in the ritual.  A priest’s touch would bring reverence to what they were about to do.  Nevertheless, they concluded it was far too much to ask of the man that was only now shifting his views to a more open understanding about Deryni.

 Muir followed the circle with a third enchanting; his sword held at mid-height emitted a red ribbon of energy as he passed by each quarter.  When the ribbon ends of the circle met, Muir stepped back and motioned for Artimus the complete the Ward.  The earl chose to preserve his slowly reviving energy for the ritual yet to come.  Lifting his hands outward and up, Artimus called for the four Archangels to protect them.  The red ribbon spread both upward and downward, arching around the room in a full sphere of warding.

The buzz in Washburn’s hearing cleared as the three men took a breath to confirm the Ward complete.

“Very nice, Arty,” Dillon was saying.  “This young warrior is impressed.”

“I told you I studied more than knighthood in my youth, it’s just when do you ever have the need to use the old ways anymore?”

“When ignorance dabbles in ancient ills,” Muir lamented.  “Time has come for this ill to find a cure.”  Wash heard the words, but his eyesight had once more blurred.  It seemed he could have one sense or the other, but to have both took every ounce of his control.  A hand touched his forehead and a wave of concern and energy refocused his attention.  Wash blinked to see his older brother’s worried look, and heard him say, “It’s time.  We will make the center warding together.  Wash, I will guide you, but you are the one that has to escape this entrapment.  Only you alone can complete the final step.”

Attempting to lighten the grim faces, Wash retorted, “Well, if I had shown even the remotest interest in learning arcane dueling, rather than all sword play, I would have dropped Thomas into unconsciousness when his game began and not played the fool to his ignorance.” 

“That is never as easy as the words make it sound, dear brother,” Muir said, not amused.  “Men in Thomas’s condition are very unpredictable and dangerous.  He only gave you time for an offensive spell because he thought he had beaten you.  There are other spells in that book.  He might not have had the energy to use them all, given his lack of training, but he was a fit warrior and these are not dueling spells.  This tome should never have been compiled in the first place.”  Muir pointed angrily at the tome on the center floor.

“It’s time.  We will make the center warding together.”  Muir guided Wash to the north side of the four thick candles already set on the floor.  Artimus opened the tome to the last written page containing the spell Sir Thomas had cast.  Dillon filled a goblet from a pitcher of holy water, a gift from the cathedral, and set it beside the book.  Muir moved to the east candle, Dillon to the south, and Artimus to the west.  All four men leaned down as one and lifted up the white candles before them, to chest height.

Standing tall at the east side, the high lord’s eyes closed and his mind dropped into trance.  He began the ritual that would call the powers into play.  Even an hour ago, he would not have been able to perform this act.  Only now, the last dregs of the merasha had finally departed from his mind.  His voice called out clearly in the stillness of the tower room.

“We stand outside time, in a place not of earth.  As our ancestors before us bade, we joined together and are One.”


Centering on the candle, Muir began the ritual verse.

“I call the mighty Archangel Raphael, the Healer.  Light our path and heal our hurts.  Justly bind the forces of air.  Mayest thy winds be gentle in thy touch.  Correct the wrong and guide this man in need.” 

His hands passed over the candle and it flared upward in a brilliant gold flame.

All eyes turned to the south.  Dillon placed his hand palm down over his unlit candle.  His voice fluctuating as he pronounced the old verse,

“I call the mighty Archangel Michael, the Defender, Keeper of the gates of Eden.  Justly bind the forces of fire.  As the fiery sword guards the Lord of Heaven, may thou lend thy strength.  Right the wrong and protect this man in need.”

Dillon’s hands rose upward, leaving a deep red flame shimmering on the wick of the candle.

Staring at the red flame across the space, the periphery of Wash’s sight faded to black.  For a long moment, all he saw was a dancing shimmer.  He heard Artimus’s next words, but they were shrouded and hollow, as if he stood in a distant cavern, one that he had become lost within.

“I call the mighty Archangel Gabriel, The Herald, who didst bring glad tidings to Our Blessed Lady.  Justly bind the forces of water.  Through water at its purest, mayest thou light the path with thy wisdom.  Cure the wrong and lend knowledge to this man in need.”

A blue flame shone in the black of Washburn’s right periphery.  He forced himself to breathe, for he realized he had not done so for many seconds.  His sight cleared a little.  He focused his mind on the unlit candle in his hands. 

“I call the mighty Archangel Uriel, Angel of Death,”

Washburn’s voice quivered before he found strength to continue.

“He who bringest all souls at last to the Nether shore.  Justly bind the forces of earth.  As the land holds life and death in balance, mayest thou stay thy hand and restore the gift of life.  Humbly, I ask thy to not take this life.  Only take the wrong and leave the man, for I am the man in need, and I require your mercy.” 

The candle flared pure white.  The brilliance of the white light filled the whole of the room to its corners before that brightness of the candle’s flame faded to the intended green.  Wash blinked several times and took in more breaths.  The seizure of blindness passed him by.

The flames of the four candles rose high, free of any smoke or scent.  Muir reached across to his brother, gripping his shoulder firmly.  As he did he called out the final words of the ancient ritual of warding.

“May Air, Fire, Water, Earth— and the Spirit come together in this time and this place to cast out twilight’s grasp and free the unjustly condemned.” 

The colors of the flames broadcasted their light to form an extended arch that shimmered upward to the height of a man in the center of the room.
Muir picked up his sword and swept the tip across the ward, opening a gate for a man to pass through.  Three concerned faces looked across to the man in need.

“You think I can pass this test?”  Washburn asked, feeling the foreboding possibility of failure.

“You must pass.  I have no doubts and you must have none either,” Muir responded with conviction.  “Washburn Cynfyn, you are a good man.  The weight on your soul is not your sin.  Believe in the light.  Tell me you can defeat this darkness.”

Envisioning the light, the image of the golden- haired healer gave him strength.  The Deryni knight centered his mind and calmed his muscles.  “I can do this!” he announced as he stepped bravely forward and through the gate.  He felt Muir close the warding behind him.  He would have to make this battle on his own.  The energy would harm others if they became involved.

Attired only in a black robe with the red stag of Cynfyn on his breast, Wash knelt down beside the evil tome.  He was here without armor or weapon to defend himself; as a warrior, he felt naked.  Even the rings on his hands were gone, having been placed aside or given to another.  With a nervous motion, his hand pulled the medallion from his robe.  He brought it to his lips.  “Saint Camber, if you can hear me, defend the girl who has your heart.  Defend her from all forms of evil.”

Washburn forcefully cleared his thoughts, desperate to say the words before he lost all his rationality.  He lifted up the goblet filled with holy water.  He poured some across each hand, forcefully steadying the tremor in his fingers.  With a fervid tone, feeling anxious and alone, Washburn recited his plea to the heavens, slowly pouring the water across his brow.   

“I am a man in need.  From the powers of the heavens above, I ask for guidance, protection, wisdom, and an honorable death, but mostly, I ask for life.  Life cleansed of this curse that has befallen me.  Judge the essence of my being, and if thou find me unworthy, then take from me this life.  It is my gift.  But if you judge me deserving, then take from me this evil, and free my life from this dishonorable end.  To my Lord for this I pray.”

Wash placed the empty goblet beside him and lifted his hands out palms up, requesting benevolence from the Spirit.  A purple haze began to froth around his fingers.  The evil energy from the banishing spell awoke from its slumber, threatening to consume the knight’s hands.  It bubbled in a swirling cloud, growing and moving, claiming the victim that had already been chosen.  Washburn’s hearing rang in sudden deafness and his sight went black.  He teetered on his knees, uncomprehending.  Desperately, he grabbed the medallion at his neck. “Light my path, and have mercy on my soul.” 

A white light emitted from his closed hand and pushed his fingers open.  The medallion glowed with brilliance and warmth.  The light surged outward and pushed back the devouring haze.  A presence that no other saw enveloped the man in need.  With eyes opened wide, Washburn dropped his inner shielding, allowing an energy to surge through his mind.  His past deeds were viewed and his past deeds were judged.  Suddenly, a brilliant light filled the inner ward, pushing the banishing haze back into the words on the open page of the tome.  As the last of the purple cloud left Washburn’s fingers, with one swift cast, he ignited the parchment with a spell of burning.  The old pages of the book curled over from the heat of the flame.  When the fire caught the ink of the spell written there, black points of energy swirled off the letters reaching outward to ensnare the flames.

In a dazed state, Wash crawled away from the book.  Behind him, voices called, and he turned to see an open gate in the ward.  Muir was yelling, “Come away, now!”  Wash stumbled too weak to stand.  Half-crawling, he pushed his way to the gate.  Several hands grabbed his arms and pulled him beyond the ward.  When he was clear, Wash forced his body to turn to be certain that Muir had closed the warding behind him.  Assured, he collapsed into the hands that gave him support.

As the book burned inside the ward, a maelstrom of black and purple energy arched to battle the flames.  It thickened and blackened, stirring faster to gain victory.  The complete inner warding became a black sphere, not unlike the sphere of Washburn’s encasement.  Having experience that devouring orb from within, Wash felt his fear return.  With it, the chill in his bones dissipated.  An amazed sense of warmth filled his body.

As all four men watched, the glow of the fire illuminated the black orb from within.  The orb pulsated from black to purple, then to black again; it fought the inner fire that burned ever hotter.  With each pulsation, the sphere compressed inward, getting smaller and denser.  When the size condensed to a mere two feet in diameter, the pulsation stopped.  It stayed static for a heartbeat, and then the holy inner fire exploded through the shell.  The searing flame devoured the entire black orb.  In an instant, all was burnt to ash and then gone.  All that remained was the shining red warding.  There was nothing inside.

“Banishment!” was the only word that echoed through the room.

Next chapter: http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php/topic,1088.0.html
« Last Edit: July 09, 2013, 10:38:51 am by Laurna »

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Coins of Memory - Chapter 13
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2013, 08:36:01 am »
Magnificent!

Now all they have to do is free the captive Deryni nuns, safely marry Wash to Jessa, and deal with Father Harmon.  No worries!  :D
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Offline Laurna

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Re: Coins of Memory - Chapter 13
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2013, 03:38:26 pm »
How are you this morning Jerusha,  Everyone at my house is well.
As for the "No Worries!" Absolutely none what so ever. You sum it up quite nicely.  Now if only... Nah, that was not a worry.  Then there is.... Humm. Should I consider that a worry. Oh dear. lol  never mind.   We will go with the "No Worries at all!" lol ;D
Thank you ever so much.
Have a beautiful worry free day.
Laurna

Offline derynifanatic64

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Re: Coins of Memory - Chapter 13
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2013, 06:21:59 pm »
It makes me wonder that the abbot of Saint Follian's may have some Deryni being forced to help terrorizing Deryni.
We will never forget the events of 9-11!!  USA!! USA!!

Offline Laurna

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Re: Coins of Memory - Chapter 13
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2013, 03:03:14 pm »
Hi there, DF64. It is wonderful to see your comments.
I sense a streak of deviousness in your words. I can guess that an antagonist in one of your stories could be a truly, cleverly evil person. lol

I am going to apologize, as I am going to delay the delivery of the chapter 14. Some of it did not meet with approval and has required substantial rewriting.  Alas, my time this week is short, and the upcoming holiday weekend will take me to dog shows and family visits. I am doing my best to make the next chapter read better, so I will postpone it until the week after. I appreciate your understanding in this delay.
Hope and happiness sent to everyone on this board.
Do go out and make an enjoyable three days out of the upcoming holiday.
Laurna

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Coins of Memory - Chapter 13
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2013, 06:42:10 pm »
"No worries."   :D  We'll be here when you are ready...and still reading....
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

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