This story is mostly revanne's fault, because she's the one who suggested that Jorian de Courcy be canonized. However, Evie had a large hand in helping me polish it and get it ready for posting, so author's gratitude goes to both revanne for inspiration and Evie for editing help. ETA: Aerlys also helped get this story written by answering my questions about saints, as I grew up United Methodist and am therefore pretty much clueless about them.
There will be five chapters plus a short epilogue.
Chapter 1 -- The First Witnessed Miracle10 June 1121, the Cathedral of Saint Senan, Dhassa
Denis Arilan, Auxiliary Bishop of Rhemuth, was not entirely sure why he had decided to go to the sanctuary in the middle of the night, but when he walked in, he heard what sounded like a muffled sob. He heard the quiet sound again and followed it to a prie-dieu tucked into an inconspicuous part of the sanctuary. There knelt a young man, probably no more than eighteen or nineteen years old, apparently praying and crying simultaneously. The young man looked up, and Denis noted that he was dressed very simply, probably a student at the seminary. The student had striking green eyes which were presently red from crying, his curly brown hair looked badly in need of a comb, and his cherubic young face was tear-streaked.
“Why are you so upset, my son?” he asked the young man.
The student choked back another sob. “I—I don’t think you’d understand, my lord.”
Denis sent out a very gentle tendril of thought and found, to his surprise, shields. He pulled his mind back so as not to upset the crying young man any further. “I might surprise you, my son.” Denis smiled much more gently than was his usual wont. “You might start by telling me who you are.”
The young man took a deep breath and calmed himself. “My name is John Nivard. I’m a student at the seminary.”
“If you don’t recognize me, I’m Bishop Arilan,” Denis said gently. “And I’d like to know why you’re crying at a prie-dieu in the middle of the night.”
John took another deep breath, working on calming himself further. “I hate to bother you, Bishop Arilan,” he began. “I have a vocation. Being a priest is all I’ve ever wanted to do with my life.” He stopped, on the verge of tears again.
“There’s nothing wrong with that, son,” Denis said, still gently, hoping to elicit further explanation.
Just as Denis finished that sentence, John looked over Denis’ shoulder. His green eyes widened hugely. Denis frowned at him briefly but John did not move. Denis turned on his heel to look behind himself and was equally dumbfounded.
There in the sanctuary stood the filmy figure of a young man with plain features, straight brown hair neatly barbered and tonsured, and kind brown eyes. The figure was dressed in a plain white cassock such as a priest would wear on his ordination day. Denis recognized him immediately and simply stared at the figure of the long-dead Jorian de Courcy. The figure’s face broke into a gentle smile as he looked first at Denis and then at John.
“My son,” he addressed John. “You are doing the right thing. You are the spearhead, and soon it will not even be remarkable to do what you are doing. In a few years, you will look back on your moments of doubt and laugh in the joy of your faith in God.”
Denis was absolutely floored. He had seen this figure several times since the execution of the man in life. Just as the bishop was about to speak, the ghostly form turned to him.
“My old friend.” Jorian smiled at Denis briefly before his face became solemn. “I come to warn you. There are many who would see you brought down and would see this student brought down with many others. You must be vigilant and you must be faithful.”
The figure of Jorian smiled again. “Be blessed, both of you, and know that God loves you both, you and others who are not here.” He raised his right hand, made the sign of the Cross over the two men, and disappeared.
Denis stood, still speechless, watching the space where Jorian had been, but the apparition was gone. After a time of silence broken only by a breeze from outdoors, Denis turned to John.
“Since—since he spoke to you, I assume you could see him?” he asked hesitantly. John nodded, no longer crying. “Well,” Denis said quietly, turning away again. “That puts an interesting perspective on a number of things.” He paused again. “I’ve seen him many times, the night after my ordination being the first time I saw him like this.” He stopped.
John regarded Denis silently, not wanting to push the older man. Denis was not looking at John but rather at the place where the apparition had been.
Denis began again. “I knew him in life. His name is Jorian de Courcy, and he was executed for daring to be ordained a priest despite being Deryni.” Denis stopped again, and he heard John make a sound of shock. “It was a long time ago, before I was even ordained, but we were in seminary together, although he was older than I.”
John took a breath as though to speak, then stopped. Denis heard the indrawn breath and actually looked directly at him for the first time since the figure had appeared. “Yes?”
“Bishop Arilan?” John began, then stopped again.
Denis took a deep breath in his turn. “My son, maybe this will be easier.” He rested his hands on the seminary student’s shoulders and brushed his shields with a stronger tendril of thought. John’s tear-reddened eyes widened again, in wonder this time.
“Bishop Arilan?” John said again. “You’re—”
Denis nodded and slid his shields down so that John could brush his mind. John barely dared to breathe but very tentatively reached out his mind to touch the bishop’s. John abruptly dropped the contact and fell into tears again. Denis allowed his shields to return to their normal position but left his hands on John’s shoulders, allowing him to cry for a few minutes.
“A bishop? A Dery—”
“Shh,” Denis whispered. “It’s not safe to say it, even quietly in the middle of the night.” Denis paused. “Suffice it to say, I agree with my friend. You’re doing the right thing. If you have a true vocation, then there is nothing for you to do but become a priest. As to the other thing, I think we can assume from tonight’s—visitation that you have God’s blessing, even if man is a few steps behind.” The bishop paused. “And you have mine.”
John smiled through the remains of his tears. “That makes me feel better. Immeasurably better.” He paused. “I have a question for you, but I’m afraid it’s going to sound very forward of me.”
Denis smiled. “Go ahead.”
“What happened to Father Jorian?”
Denis’ smile disappeared. “Do you want to know how he died, or how they knew?”
John hesitated. “Both, if it’s not too much bother for you.”
“Do you know what merasha is and what it does?” he asked John, who nodded. “There was merasha in the wine at his ordination. That’s how they knew.” Denis stopped and frowned in old pain. “He was...he was burned at the stake.”
John sharply drew in his breath. “Oh, God, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to—”
Denis raised a hand to stop him. “I think, from tonight, he’d have wanted you to know.”
John managed a wan smile. “I guess so.” He paused again. “I have another forward question, my lord.”
Denis smiled in response. “We’re long past the point of shyness, my son.”
“Does it make you uncomfortable?” he asked hesitantly.
“Does what make me uncomfortable?” Denis returned, somewhat confused.
The young seminarian paused again. “Being noticed by a saint,” John finally blurted. Denis’ blue-violet eyes widened as hugely as John’s had when the apparition first appeared. He did not speak for a few moments, and when he did, his voice was extremely quiet.
“I never—I never actually thought of it that way. Before tonight, I—well, I thought it was my imagination or wishful thinking or something, that my friend was somehow still with me, but you obviously saw him.” John nodded. “In any case, he’s clearly taking an interest in me—and in you. And you, do you feel better now?”
“As I said earlier, immeasurably,” John said, almost on a laugh.
“Then I think it’s time you went back to your bed, and I’m going to go to mine. Just remember you have friends—some in very high places, from tonight.” Denis smiled and John did laugh this time, quietly. John straightened his back and rose from the prie-dieu, and Denis extended his hand as if to shake hands. John dropped to his knee, this time on the floor instead of at the prie-dieu, and kissed Denis’ amethyst ring.
“Good night, then, my lord bishop, and thank you. More than I can ever say,” he said, his head still bowed over Denis’ hand.
“You’re very welcome, my son, and good night to you,” Denis replied. The young man stood then and disappeared in the direction of the seminarians’ dormitory. Denis returned to the guest room in the bishop’s palace where he was lodged, but it was a long time before he slept that night.