Part 3 – Through the Wall GentlyTehryn Keep
Barony of Tehryn
Jäna de Tehryn eased the door to Lady Amah’s chamber closed as quietly as possible. She stood looking at the closed door, extending her senses to make sure the older woman inside slept quietly. Satisfied that all was well enough, she turned and went to the window seat in the solar. She sat on the embroidered cushion, tucked her legs under her gown and turned to face the partly open window. She pushed it open farther and leaned against the frame, letting the spring breeze blow across her face, stirring the strands of dark auburn hair that always seemed to escape from her braids.
She closed her eyes to gather her troubled thoughts. The day had started well enough. First thing that morning she had sat with Amah in the solar, discussing possible purchases to look for at the market in town. The merchants were beginning to bring in supplies from the southern ports, transported up the Lendour River and then farther up to Tehryn Town, now that the mountain passes were clear enough. In a few more weeks, items would come in from the north as well. A renewed supply of beer from Marley and whiskey from Cassan would please her father; that thought brought a smile to her face, but it did not linger long.
After they had settled on a list of items to look for, Amah had suggested they work on her Deryni training, and Jäna had eagerly agreed. Amah had begun to teach her how to establish rapport through her shiral
crystal, and Jäna hoped that before too long she would be able to reach her brothers through the crystal. Amah continually cautioned her that it would take time to be able to cross the distance to Rhemuth with her thoughts, but Amah was very cautious with all Jäna’s training, and Jäna had lost none of her eagerness to succeed.
Jäna had gone upstairs to her room, which was located directly above Amah’s chamber. She had sat in the middle of her bed, removed her Saint Camber medal with her shiral
crystal attached, and held them in her hands in her lap. Each time she tried, it seemed to be easier to enter the light trance that Amah had taught her. It had taken her more than one try to establish rapport with Amah, but once she succeeded, it had been uncommonly clear. Questions and answers had flowed across smoothly until the sharp, agonizing pain had come through. Pain that came from Amah, shattering the rapport and breaking contact.
Jäna had fled from her room, back down the stairs to Amah’s chamber, where she found the old woman rigid in her chair near the window, eyes tightly closed, hands clenched around her shiral
“I’m all right child,” Amah had said, her voice tight against the pain. “Just give me a moment or two.”
Jäna had gently taken hold of Amah’s arm, to help her extend her powers to locate the pain. As she had found before, the pain was from somewhere inside Amah’s head. Guided only by instinct, she had let her healing powers extend to lessen the pain. She didn’t know what to do beyond that, but she had felt the tension in Amah’s body ease, her breathing steady, the pain recede.
Amah had opened her eyes and smiled at her. “You spoil me, Jäna.”
“Oh Amah, I wish I could make it stop and never come back.”
“I confess I would like that too. But you have done enough.”
“You should rest now. Let me help you have a little sleep.”
Amah had chuckled carefully at that. From the day she had been old enough to do so, Jäna had objected to the concept of a “nap.” “Little sleep” had become the accepted compromise.
“Very well,” Amah had said. “Just for a short while.”
And Jäna had known then that the pain had affected Amah more than the other times. Jäna had helped her remove her dark veil, guided her over to the bed, and once Amah had settled comfortably, extended her powers once more to encourage her into a gentle sleep.
Now Jäna stared out of the window, feeling a bit tired herself, but worried about the woman who had become the only mother she had ever known. A world without Amah was something she could not grasp and didn’t want to. What should she do? What could she do? But she knew who would know. Her father would know; he always knew what to do and if he didn’t, they would be able to figure it out together. She would find Papa.
Jäna stood with her hands on her hips, unconsciously mimicking the way her father stood when making up his mind about something. She was standing again in the withdrawing room behind the Great Hall where she had initially started her search. She supposed she could have tried calling for her father with her powers, but Amah was better now, so it wasn’t exactly as urgent as it might have been, and she didn’t like to disturb him that way unless something was very important. So she had tried the Great Hall first, asking Master Gregory if he knew where her father was when she spotted the steward standing near the screens passage. He had not known where her father was, so she had retraced her steps back to the withdrawing room and then tried her father’s chambers in the first floor of the tower that made up the corner of the manor beside the withdrawing room. When her father had not invited her inside after she knocked on the heavy oak door, she had climbed the circular stone stairway to the library on the floor above it. She had not found her father there either and had not lingered to scan the shelves of books and scrolls like she normally would have, returning back down the stairs to where she stood now.
She could look for him in the courtyard and its many outbuildings, but both her father and Amah did not like her wandering outside the Keep proper by herself. It had been so much easier when she could count on one of her brothers to be by her side! Pushing that thought aside, she looked toward the stairs that led down to the strongrooms under the main floor.
The strongrooms had frightened her when she was little. They were carved into the mountain rock below the Keep and were as old as the main part of the Keep. The rooms were dark and cool, yet surprisingly dry and well enough ventilated to keep the air fresh. Jäna had stayed close to her father’s side the first time he had taken her down the steep stone steps, and she had never ventured down there alone.
Except for the time her brother Jared had dared her to hide down there by herself in a game of hide and seek the triplets were playing. She had gone down the stairs bravely enough and hidden underneath her father’s counting table. The torch was lit at the doorway and threw eerie shadows on the walls. Her father had come out of the back strongroom, locked the iron door behind him, passed where she sat under the table without noticing her and returned to the main floor, taking the torch with him. Jäna did not want to cry out and spoil the game, so she had sat in the dark, waiting for her brothers to find her, thinking every noise she heard was a rat or something much worse.
It was her father that had found her later, bringing a lit torch with him and followed by her chastened twin brothers. Without a torch, they had been too scared to come down to try and find her, but Papa had come, scooped her up, and carried her back up the stairs. Justin and Jared had been confined to their room for two days; Amah had taught her how to make handfire.
The torch was burning at the foot of the steps, so it was possible her father was down below. Jäna told herself firmly that she was no longer a little girl and carefully descended the stairs. As usual, the heavy iron door to the main room stood open, allowing fresh air into the underground room. She looked around the large, rectangular room, noting the chests lined along the walls. The iron door to the smaller strongroom located at the back of the room was closed and locked with the heavy padlock; her father was not in there. No one was seated at the large counting table, but the chair was pushed back as if someone had been there.
The old and faded tapestry that covered the wall behind the table had caught on a part of the stone wall and was slightly askew. Jäna walked over to pull it back into place, putting one hand against the wall behind it to support herself while she tugged at the heavy tapestry with her left hand. Suddenly, she felt herself falling as her right hand passed through what should have been solid rock!
She didn’t fall far and landed on her side, spread out her full length on a stone floor. For a moment she lay where she was, not daring to move and then realizing with surprise that she was not in the dark. Jäna sat up carefully and looked around, brushing a few stray strands of auburn hair back from her eyes. Two torches set in sconces in opposite corners of the room provided all the light she needed as she looked with wonder at the room before her.
There were chests along some of the walls like there had been in the strongroom, but in this room there were also shelves like those in her father’s library, filled with scroll casings. The stone walls were smoothly cut and so well polished that they glittered in the torchlight. Many of the walls were covered with richly woven tapestries. Jäna stood up to get a better view, turning back to look at the wall behind her. It looked to be of solid stone again. Jäna started to reach out to it to feel if it really was solid, but changed her mind. She wanted to explore this room first.
Except for where she was standing close to the wall, the floor was covered with a thick green carpet woven with a spiral pattern in black that seemed to draw her forward toward a large oak table surrounded by four chairs. In the centre of the table was a large shiral
crystal, as big as her father’s fist, she was sure. It rested on the backs of three silver wyverns, each facing outward from the centre. It started to glow as she reached her hand toward it and then a rustling sound made her look up.
On the wall across from her, the Tehryn banner hung, large enough to cover most of the wall. She knew it must be very old, yet it looked new, and the golden wyvern looked so life-like. Entranced, she continued to stare at it, and as she did so, the great beast seemed to free itself from the banner and turn its head toward her, jaws opening wide in a growing snarl….
“Most people would have run screaming by now,” said a very familiar voice.
Baron Jerrill de Tehryn stood just to one side of the banner, closing one of two curved wooden doors across the corner behind him. He was wearing a plain, brown tunic of the sort he favored for everyday business about the manor. “It didn’t frighten you?” he asked.
“Of course not, Papa! I’m Tehryn. I could never be afraid of our wyvern!” She looked cautiously back at the banner, where the wyvern now stood in its usual pose.
“How did it do that?” Jäna demanded, turning to face her father.
“I don’t know, Kitten. But it always reacts like that the first time it sees someone it doesn’t know alone in the room.”
She tilted her head to one side, looking up suspiciously, not sure whether to believe him or not. “Did you come through the wall, too?”
“I believe I did,” he replied benignly, his full beard twitching as he tried not to smile.
“I believe so.”
“Papa!” Jäna said sharply, wonder giving way to exasperation. “What is this place? Why are you here? I looked everywhere for you!”
“Sorry, Jäna. I wasn’t hiding, but the room is hidden, hidden from anyone who isn’t Tehryn, unless they have been given special permission. Now the important question is why were you looking for me?”
With a pang of guilt, Jäna realized she had forgotten all about Lady Amah. “I’m worried about Amah,” she replied. “Something is very wrong with her and I don’t know what to do.”
“Best tell me all about it then, Kitten.” He extended his hand toward one of the chairs at the table, inviting his daughter to sit. Once she was seated, he sat in the chair opposite her.
Jerrill gave his daughter his full attention, listening carefully as Jäna related what had happened earlier that morning. When she lacked the words to describe clearly the pain that had come through the link, he reached for her hand, inviting her to share the memory directly. Trusting her father completely, Jäna took his hand without hesitation and sent all of her impressions across the link. Battle-seasoned as he was, he winced at the intensity of the memory of pain that she shared. He gave her hand a gentle squeeze when she had finished and then sat back in his chair, stroking his full, iron-grey beard, deep in thought.
“I have been aware of her headaches,” Baron Jerrill said after a few moments, “but Amah will not discuss them.
“Could your battle surgeon help her?”
“I doubt it, Kitten, and I doubt that Amah would discuss it with him. Women tend not to confide in battle surgeons.”
“Perhaps Father Auric?” Jäna knew Amah respected their parish priest, even though Amah still preferred the Eastern traditions of faith.
“She might, but if he thought it was part of confession, he would not give us any details. The good Father takes confession very seriously.” Father Auric had been chaplain at Tehryn since Jerrill was a young boy. Jerrill was well aware how very strict Auric was about confession…and penance. Father Auric would be retiring after the celebration of Easter this year and that gave Jerrill an idea.
“Jäna, my battle surgeon’s younger son is newly ordained and will be replacing Father Auric here in Tehryn. He is coming up from Carthmoor; I’ll send word for him to bring one of the nursing sisters of St. Perpetua with him. She can bring some of the southern medicinal herbs with her for Amah’s garden. That will give them common ground for talk and treatment of headaches could be arranged to be a topic of conversation.”
“Papa, I knew you would think of something!”
Jerrill looked across at his young daughter, her green eyes sparkling with delight and confidence in his plan. He hoped he would never disappoint her, though likely one day he would. Hopefully that day would not come soon.
“Now that is settled, we should go back up to the Great Hall. It should be time for the midday meal.” Jerrill rose and motioned for Jäna to come with him.
“Can you not show me more of this room before we go, Papa? What is behind the wooden doors in the corner?” Jäna stood but lingered by the table, hoping they could stay a little longer.
Baron Jerrill shook his head. “Another day, Kitten. But first, there is something we should do. Come and stand before the banner.”
Mystified, Jäna moved in front of the banner.
“Jäna, has Amah taught you how to flare your shields?”
“No, Papa, not yet.”
Again, Jerrill held out her hand to her. “I’ll show you what to do. It’s a little like handfire.”
Jäna set her hand in his and closed her eyes for a moment. “I can do that, Papa,” she said confidently as she opened her eyes.
Jäna faced the banner squarely and soon an emerald green aura encircled her head. The golden wyvern again moved from the banner, turning its dragon head toward her. It studied her briefly, nodded once, and resumed its place on the banner.
“Well done, Kitten,” Jerrill said with approval. “Now the wyvern knows you, but….” He paused for emphasis, “I don’t want you to come down to this room by yourself.”
“Yes, Papa,” Jäna said. “You will bring me back sometime, will you not?”
“Yes I will, or Amah will. You will eventually become very familiar with this room and all it contains.”
Very pleased, Jäna smiled at her father and willingly accompanied him back through the wall.