Chapter 5 — The Trial21 June 1138, the bishop’s residence, Dhassa
Denis Arilan was mildly annoyed when someone knocked on the door to his apartments, where he was reciting the office of Terce. Sighing, he got up from his prie-dieu and answered the door. A young clerk stood there, short of breath as if he had been running.
“My lord bishop, you have an urgent message from Archbishop Bradene,” the clerk said, handing Arilan a rolled piece of parchment.
“Thank you,” Denis replied, taking the missive. The clerk disappeared down the corridor. Denis opened the seal and began to read, his mood shifting from vexation to outright anger. The short version was that he needed to get to Valoret posthaste, because Bradene was calling a meeting of the Curia to deal with the rogue former bishops. Denis was outraged at the contents of the letter, which indicated that he himself was in significant danger, but he knew he needed to calm himself before he left. He knew it would be best to travel via Portal since the conspirators had not all been rounded up, and his prominent place on their list meant that more conventional means of travel would be highly unsafe.
A light from the corner of the room distracted him from his irritable thoughts. There in the light stood Jorian.
“My old friend, our time has come,” the saintly figure said plainly.
“What do you mean?” Denis asked, genuinely puzzled.
“Soon I think you will know exactly what I mean, but in short, a goal that has been forming in your mind for some years now is about to come to fruition,” the apparition explained. Denis continued to look bemused, but the figure simply blessed him with a gesture and disappeared again.
Denis shook off his perplexity and packed clothing for his trip to Valoret. He realized that despite the circumstances, he was looking forward to seeing the other bishops, and a more vengeful part of himself wanted to see the conspirators—of whose existence the letter from Bradene had informed him—suitably punished.
Bishop Arilan went downstairs to inform a monsignor of his impending absence and the reason for it, and then he went to the sacristy, stepped on the Portal there, and disappeared for Valoret.
Thomas Cardiel, Archbishop of Rhemuth, had already arrived in Valoret with the assistance and in the company of Father John Nivard when Denis materialized in the sacristy. Denis met the same clerk who had been so surprised by Morgan a few days earlier, and the clerk directed him first to a guest room so he could put away his belongings and from there to the hall where Bradene was convening the Curia.
Cardiel immediately got to his feet when he saw Arilan. Greeting his old friend, the human archbishop embraced his Deryni confrère. “I’m so glad to see you. When I heard, I was very worried for your safety in particular,” Cardiel said, ending the friendly hug. Nivard likewise stood.
“Oh, thank God you’re here and all right, my lord!” Nivard exclaimed to Denis after exchanging a similar relieved embrace with his mentor.
“I’m all in one piece,” Denis said on a laugh. “Now, I understand from His Grace’s letter that we will have the duke of Corwyn and His Majesty sitting in on the trial once the culprits are in custody?”
Cardiel nodded. “It’s in their interest too, especially given that they were targets of this conspiracy, and Bradene is seriously considering excommunicating d’Estrelldas, Desmond, and de Kierney for their actions, so in that case, it will become a matter for the king’s courts. Also, I believe we’ll have the duke of Cassan with us, too, since he was a target as well.”
“So what’s the progress on finding these three and their hirelings?” Denis asked.
“I’m not sure. I think Bradene’s captain is coordinating it with the king and Morgan, but Morgan is pretty upset—understandably—and I think there’s something he’s not telling us yet, like how in the world he knew what was happening to Duncan McLain in time to save his
neck,” Cardiel answered. “Not, mind you, that I’m sorry Morgan was able to intervene; Bishop McLain has been a fantastic auxiliary and is doing a wonderful job with the schola. I’m just left wondering how
“Well, we’ll have the opportunity to find out soon enough, I should think,” Denis replied. “But I must admit that piques my curiosity as well.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~22 July 1138, Sheele
Kenward Calder, Earl of Sheele, was not surprised when a messenger, accompanied by fifteen archiepiscopal guardsmen, arrived from the Archbishop of Valoret, since Alaric Morgan had essentially promised him such a visit. The messenger informed him that he was expected in Valoret posthaste to face both the archbishop and the king for questioning and likely trial.
What Kenward did not
expect happened during the short ride from Sheele to Valoret. He saw what he thought was the filmy form of a young man in a priest’s ordination robes standing in the path directly in front of his horse. The horse reared too fast for Kenward to react; he was thrown directly backward, landing almost comically on the back of his head. The lieutenant of the guard looked back at the path, but the apparition—whatever or whoever it had been—was gone. He turned back to see to the earl, but it was too late. The landing had snapped Kenward’s neck, and he was dead by the time the lieutenant dismounted.
“Well, I suppose His Majesty is going to be disappointed with this
,” the lieutenant began. “But I think justice comes in a variety of ways.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~30 July 1138, Valoret
The three priests who had once been bishops had been found. Dhugal MacArdry McLain, Duke of Cassan, had sent his kinsman Jass MacArdry to find Mir de Kierney, and Jass had not let him down. Mir de Kierney, despite Dhugal’s direction not to harm the man, looked a bit roughed-up by the time the Cassan contingent arrived in Valoret. The priest was still wearing his clericals. although they were torn and dirty, and he also sported an impressive black eye on the left side of his face. Jass had not taken kindly to the priest’s intention, and while de Kierney was very much alive and not badly
harmed, he was looking decidedly cowed.
Nevan d’Estrelldas had been captured in Coroth by Tolliver’s episcopal guard and brought completely unharmed but under heavy guard in Tolliver’s party to Valoret. He carried himself proudly and rather as if he felt himself wronged by the entire proceeding.
Arilan found himself, in addition to angry at the audacity of the man to plan an attempt on Kelson’s life, quite disappointed in Gilbert Desmond, who had once been his ally during the long-ago Interdict Schism. Prince Nigel’s guard had found Desmond, and Nigel had been hard-pressed to ensure the man’s safe conduct to Valoret from Rhemuth, given that Desmond made no secret of his intentions toward Kelson. However, Nigel’s sense of honor prevailed, and Desmond had, like d’Estrelldas, been transported to Valoret on horseback with his hands tied to his saddle horn and several soldiers of the Palace Guard watching his every move.
Kelson was indeed a little disappointed that the Earl of Sheele had not survived the trip to Valoret, but like the guard lieutenant, he felt a certain philosophical satisfaction that God had dealt with the earl as He saw fit. Kelson declared the earldom of Sheele forfeit to the Crown for the participation of the Calder family in the conspiracy, the earldom to be disposed of in a fashion he had not yet decided upon. Bradene was interested in his lieutenant’s report of seeing what he thought was a man on the roadway, but the lieutenant seemed a little hesitant, as if he were not entirely sure he had seen anything at all.
The outcome of the trial of the three men was almost a foregone conclusion. Since not one of the three seemed repentant in the least, Bradene had no scruples about turning them over to the royal courts for trial. As Kelson had mentioned before, he left the actual presiding to Prince Nigel since he did not trust his own impartiality, but he attended every minute of the proceedings.
When Morgan was called to testify regarding Calder of Sheele, Cardiel’s curiosity got the better of him.
“Your Grace, how did you know that your cousin the bishop was in such danger, and how did you know where to find him?” the Archbishop of Rhemuth asked.
Alaric hesitated. “I’m not sure you’d believe me if I told you, Archbishop,” he said.
Cardiel chuckled. “Try me.”
“I’m not sure you were even in Gwynedd when this happened, but many years ago, a young Deryni priest named Jorian de Courcy—” Denis Arilan, who sat beside Cardiel, nearly snapped the tendons in his neck to look in Morgan’s direction but the duke of Corwyn continued speaking as if he had not noticed. “—Was executed at the stake. My—um—well—my political enemies insisted that I attend his execution.” Arilan was paying rapt attention to Alaric now, as was Father Nivard, who was on Cardiel’s other side. Cardiel merely nodded and gestured for Alaric to continue his story. “I was thirteen, and the experience, as you might imagine, made quite an impact.” Alaric paused.
“Go on,” Cardiel urged.
“I saw him—Father de Courcy—the morning that I rescued my cousin. He came to me at Coroth and told me what was happening and that I needed to get here to Valoret and from here to Sheele to save Duncan from death,” Alaric finally said, clearly reluctant to tell the outlandish story.
Bradene interjected. “Your Grace, are you saying that the image of a man who died nearly thirty years ago came to you to tell you to rescue Bishop McLain?”
Alaric looked almost embarrassed. “Yes, Your Eminence,” he said. “But I don’t think I was seeing a ghost exactly.”
“He wasn’t a ghost, no,” Nivard said. Alaric’s facial expression changed from abashed to surprised.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, let me put it this way. If you’re haunted by this ghost, so am I,” Nivard said on a slight smile. “I saw him before my ordination, when Bishop Arilan took me under his wing. I wouldn’t have known his name but for Bishop Arilan telling me.”
Alaric looked over at Denis in something approaching shock. “How did you
Denis hesitated in his turn. Bradene gave him a look of stern indulgence, and Denis spoke. “Jorian was in the seminary class before mine; I was at his ordination, and I was at his execution as well. I didn’t know you
were there, although I don’t suppose I’d have known you by sight at the time anyway.”
“I’m going to let this line of discussion go on because I’m
curious,” Bradene said on a smile. “Continue, Bishop Arilan.”
“I’ve—well—I’ve seen him several times since his death,” Denis went on. “He showed up to me the night after my
ordination, he told me I needed to be in Rhemuth when Duncan McLain was ordained to make sure he wasn’t betrayed the way Jorian had been—it was merasha in the Chalice—and he showed himself to me the night before my consecration as a bishop, but the first time I saw him that I knew for certain I wasn’t imagining things was when I met Father Nivard for the first time.” Denis said. “He seems to take an interest in Deryni priests in general, from what I can tell.”
“What did he look like in life?” Duncan McLain spoke for the first time in quite a while.
Denis described Jorian quickly. “So that’s
who that was. I’ve seen him too. He—um—he sort of helped me get some sleep the night before my ordination, and he came to me at Sheele, although I didn’t at the moment know where I was or who he
was, but I saw him there and he told me that help was on the way.”
Bradene smiled. “All right, that’s enough of this for now. When we’ve finished with these conspirators, I’ll reconvene the Curia to discuss the sanctity of Father de Courcy, did you say the name was?” Denis, John, and Alaric all nodded at once.
Even without the distraction of Jorian’s decidedly posthumous intervention, the evidence against the conspirators was overwhelming, and Bradene addressed the court.
“Your Highness,” he said to Prince Nigel. “I do not see any reason that these men—” he indicated d’Estrelldas, Desmond, and de Kierney with a wave of his hand. “—Should be able to claim benefit of clergy since they decided to kill a good number of the Curia, plus two dukes and the king. Therefore I am turning over the final decision of their disposition to the royal court. I will, however, offer them the chance of confession to a priest before their disposition is carried out.”
Nigel nodded. “Then hear the decision of the court, Nevan d’Estrelldas, Gilbert Desmond, and Mir de Kierney. You are all to be hanged by the neck until dead, punishment to be carried out as soon as possible.”
Desmond looked abashed, de Kierney’s expression was hard to read because of the black eye Jass had given him, and d’Estrelldas still looked haughty and unimpressed. None of them said a word, but d’Estrelldas looked around the room with a sullen expression of hatred on his face. The three, bound at the wrists, were led out by a couple of archiepiscopal guardsmen and a few royal soldiers to be held in secure cells until the executions could be carried out.