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Author Topic: Balance of Power--Chapter Twenty-Four  (Read 4768 times)

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Offline Evie

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Balance of Power--Chapter Twenty-Four
« on: December 01, 2015, 10:40:30 pm »
Previous chapter:  http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php/topic,1625.0.html


 Chapter Twenty-Four

Morning
The Barrough Garden
Coroth Castle
December 26, 2021


“And to the left you will see the Green Tower, one of the oldest intact features of Coroth Castle . . . .”  Gregory Torrence turned to look in that direction along with the rest of the tour group, only half listening to the guide, since unlike the rest of the tourists he was not really there to sightsee. He did happen to note the position of the flags flying atop the tower, but that was hardly as informative as he’d hoped. Under normal conditions, the position of the Corwyn banner might have indicated whether the Duke was in residence at present or not, but with Gwynedd still under a heightened state of alert, he suspected that Corwyn’s security staff was hardly likely to make the Duke of Corwyn’s presence or absence a matter of public knowledge. And of course the flag of Gwynedd remained steadfastly at half staff due to the period of national mourning.

“Prior to 1052, according to ancient documents found in the Ducal Library, all of the Castle  towers once contained windows of colored glass, and each of the towers was named for the color of the windows it contained. In addition to the Green Tower we see before us, Coroth Castle also boasted a Blue Tower, a Gold Tower, a Vermillion Tower, and a Black Tower. The precise configuration of these towers has been lost over the years. As you can see, the glass in the other towers was later replaced by clear diamond-paned windows. The original colored panes were ordered to be destroyed by Duke Stiofan in 1052 after a disastrous attempt at a magical working by Lewys ap Norfal, the intent of which is now unclear. Various speculations abound as to what the Deryni mage was attempting to do, but what is known is that the experiment failed spectacularly. . . . “ The tour guide continued on to describe the extent of the damage that had befallen the original castle structure due to four of its towers being boarded up and unused for several generations, and the restoration of these areas and renovations added on at various later dates. Torrence feigned the typical mild interest of a tourist enduring the Castle of the Day spiel after several days of being shuttled from stop to stop, but all the while he was taking in as much as he could of his surroundings--possible points of access to the private areas of the castle, likely vulnerabilities, the level of visible security (and speculations on what other protections might exist but be less obvious to the casual bystander), and anything else he thought might be of interest to his lord.

He extended his senses outward, careful not to attempt anything more than the briefest brush against anyone else’s mind. He didn’t wish anyone to think he was attempting a mental probe and become alarmed, alerting security to his presence here, yet there was a particular psychic signature he was hoping to find, if it should happen to be within range. It would not be too out of the ordinary for a Deryni tourist to wish to take in as many of the sights and sounds of Coroth Castle as possible with a politely non-intrusive extension of enhanced senses to make the most of the experience.  As he did so, he suddenly felt a sensation as if someone nearby was watching him, someone to his right and slightly behind where he stood.  Several levels above as well, he thought as he paused to gauge where the observing gaze seemed to be coming from. Pretending to admire one of the evergreen shrubs in the garden, Torrence took a quick glance back over his shoulder toward the castle’s gatehouse. There! Four floors up, behind a window with some ornamental iron grille work that he suspected was meant to be as functional as it was decorative.

Torrence took a few more steps up the garden path, ostensibly to keep up with the rest of his group, but at a bend in the path he glanced upward at that window once more, extending his senses further in that direction. He was rewarded with a brief glimpse of a woman’s face in the window, her blonde hair pulled back to reveal finely sculpted features. A mere human would not have been able to make out much about her appearance from this distance, but Torrence was no mere human, and what he couldn’t glean from his physical senses alone, his psychic impressions and memories were able to fill in. She was here!

Now he just needed to figure out some way to get to her.



Noon
The St George Street Mission
Rhemuth
December 26, 2021


“Father Dev’s ‘ere! Father Dev’s ‘ere!” An excited tumble of lads nearly fell over each other, each boy trying to get to Father Devlin first. A more sedate Father Lachlan Reilly brought up the rear, his jovial features smiling in greeting as he tried to calm the tumult.

“‘Ave ye seen th’ Queen yet, Father? Is she as pretty as she looks on t’ telly?”

“Wot’s Eirian ‘Ouse like, then?”

“Can y’ bring th’ Queen here, Father?”

“Don’t be daft, he can’t bring ‘er ‘ere! What’d we do, give ‘er spag fal?” A good-natured scuffle broke out between the last two speakers, stopped almost before it started by Father Lachlan’s admonishing touch on one boy’s shoulder and Father Devlin’s affectionate headlock on the other, which led to the boy’s laughing sidestep away.

“All right, where do I start with all that?” Devlin replied to the torrent of questions. “Eirian House is lovely, so is Her Majesty, and she might like Mrs Maggie’s Spaghetti Fallonese,” he replied. “She likes Lion Burgers.”

“With real lions?” the youngest lad asked, wide-eyed, to howls of laughter from the others and a light smack on the head from the oldest.

“Does that mean ye’ll bring ‘er ‘ere, then?”

“Well, I don’t know about that,” Devlin demurred. “Not that she’s not visited Rhemuth missions before, so if she’d like to visit St George’s maybe I can bring her by someday, but at present we still haven’t caught all the terrorists involved in the Castle bombing, so security is pretty tight around Her Majesty at the moment. But enough about that; what’s been going on here since I’ve been gone?”

Another loud hubbub arose as the youngsters clamored to fill him in all at once on the events of the previous week. Devlin moved down the hallway into the common room, raising a hand to capture their attention. “All right, then, one at a time!” Taking a seat, he addressed an especially eager young lad. “Tommy, why don’t you start?”



Afternoon
Coroth Castle--the Long Gallery
December 26, 2021


“Now here’s a part of the Private Collection that might especially interest you.” Morgan Haldane stopped in front of a magnificent portrait that was centuries old. The man gazing down at them from the painted wood panel appeared to be in his late forties, no longer in his first youth yet no less healthy and hale looking for all that. Even now, nearly a millennium later, Jen could almost sense the power emanating from the man--not simply his magical potential, but the charisma exuded by this particular former Duke of Corwyn.

Alaric Morgan, the Seventh Duke of Corwyn, was apparently no longer in what costume historians had jokingly phrased his “darkling” stage of life when he’d sat for the portrait, yet the artist’s palette conveyed this aspect of his personality nonetheless. He’d chosen attire of simple yet sumptuous black velvet and brocades relieved by flashes of brilliant emerald wherever the bright silk of his undertunic was revealed by the cut of his doublet. The rings on his hands equally revealed his identity to the viewer, but what struck Jen the most was the keen intelligence in the grey eyes that appeared to survey her. The golden-bright hair had become streaked with silver, adding a distinguishing look to the man’s appearance. A slight uptilt to the corners of his lips and a faintly arched eyebrow gave the impression that Duke Alaric was laughing at her, or at least that he’d been amused by something while the artist had captured her impression of him. Jen knew the identity of the artist in question; there were very few extant works of the second Duchess to the Eighth Duke of Cassan left to posterity, but she’d had an unmistakeable style to her work. One unusual aspect to this portrait was that the subject had been posed standing beside a portrait of another man, one hand casually resting atop its frame as if he were inspecting that portrait for approval. From the secondary portrait depicted in the painting, Kelson the Great’s likeness, identifiable by his Haldane crimson garments and a distinctive crown which in present-day Gwynedd was now safely housed in the Royal Treasury, also stared out at the viewer.

“He’s magnificent!” Jen breathed. “I’ve seen this portrait in my history textbooks, but the photographs can’t do justice to the original.”

“Yes, there are some aspects to the original that photography can’t capture,” Morgan--the current Duke, that is--agreed. “If you’ll step closer, I’ll show you one.”

Curious, Jen stepped forward.

“Hover your hand just above Kelson’s likeness in the portrait,” Morgan told her. He demonstrated what he meant, holding his outstretched hand just above the painted board, just a few millimeters above the painted surface. “Try not to touch the paint--my art conservators would hardly thank me for the addition of your skin oils to the artwork--but bring your palm as close as you safely can to the surface, and focus on what you sense there.”

Jen reached out as he’d indicated, holding her open hand just a fractional distance above the painted board. Her fingertips detected a faint tingle, some lingering effect of what had once been some powerful spellwork. It was some sort of connective link, she thought, although the connection had long since been severed. She glanced up at Morgan in question as she pulled her hand back. “What was the spell? Some sort of communication link?”

“Exactly.” Morgan pointed out Kelson’s miniature likeness. “Somewhere in Rhemuth there was a companion portrait to this one, probably one in which Kelson the Great stood in a very similar pose holding a painting of Alaric Morgan. During their lifetimes, it’s believed that other portrait was probably on a wall in the King’s private chambers at Rhemuth Castle. If they wished to communicate with each other across the long distance between them, it’s believed they could do so easily if both men were in touching range of their respective portrait. You’ll notice the paint on Kelson’s portrait is slightly more worn than on the rest of the painting.”

“So this was the fancy smartphone of Kelson’s day,” Jen joked.

Morgan laughed. “It would appear so, yes.”

“Did they have pre-arranged times to communicate, or how would one man know when the other was trying to reach him?” Jen asked. “I don’t imagine there was a ringtone.” She grinned.

“We really don’t know. If the other portrait had survived, we might know more about how the original spell worked, but sometime after Kelson’s death it ended up moved to the original Schola of Saint Camber for subsequent generations of Deryni scholars to study, or so the art historians believe, so it quite likely was destroyed in the Great Fire in 1366.”

“That’s a shame. There are few examples of Mirjana of Cassan’s art left for us to study. Sir Will said the spellwork in the rare pieces that survive was just as masterful as her talent in portraiture. Now I can understand why he thought so. This must have been quite powerful magic for us to still detect traces of it left at this late date.” Jen sighed.  “I wish we could time travel. I’d love to able to go back to Kelson’s time and meet some of these legendary figures in person.”

Morgan chuckled. “Probably for the best that we can’t. There’s some speculation that that’s what poor Lewys ap Norfal was attempting to do when he mysteriously vanished during his infamous experiment in the Barrough Garden--create a Portal that would allow travel through time, that is, not visit Kelson’s era, since that would have been in his future, not his past--and the repercussions of that disaster took a few more centuries to sort out. Besides, don’t forget that you could just have easily have ended up burned at a stake if you turned up in the wrong place and around the wrong people in Kelson’s day, at least in the earlier years of his reign.”

“Even in the later years, in some regions. Kelson’s reforms took a few generations to catch on throughout the kingdom, after all. Even late in his son Javan’s reign there were occasional horror stories of anti-Deryni incidents in some of the more outlying areas of the Kingdom, although far fewer of them than in the reigns that preceded Kelson the Great’s.” Jen sighed. “You’re right, of course. I really wouldn’t want to risk being stranded in the age of Deryni burnings. But it would be wonderful if there were some way to at least view that era of history as it actually happened and not through the foggy lens of distant speculation and piecing together of remaining clues.”

“Yes, viewing it as it actually happened would be interesting,” Morgan allowed. “Living in an era without showers and flush toilets, on the other hand . . . . “

Jen laughed. “I wasn’t proposing moving there, even in the unlikely event we ever discover the secret of time travel!”



Afternoon
The St George Street Mission
Rhemuth
December 26, 2021


“Father Devlin, got a minute?”

Dev glanced over his shoulder at the lanky teenager behind him. He finished folding the shirt he held and set it to one side, turning his full attention to the youth. “Sure, Toby, what’s up?”

The lad shot a quick glance behind him to make sure no one else was in earshot. “Beggin’ pardon, Father, but is th’ Queen really safe now? At Eirian ‘House, I mean?”

“As safe as we’re able to make her. Why do you ask?”

Toby took another nervous glance over his shoulder before stepping closer to whisper, “I ‘ate t’ say, but p’r’aps she oughter stay there on Friday rather ‘n comin’ ‘ere t’ Rhemuth. Might be safer for ‘er.”

“It’s her family’s funeral, Toby. I doubt we could convince her to stay away.” Devlin studied the troubled youngster with a concerned frown. “Why? Is there something I ought to know about?” Noticing the boy’s nervousness, he added, “You don’t think she’s in danger from anyone here, do you?”

“ ‘Ere? Naw, not ‘ere, Father! We all love ‘Er Majesty, it ain’t that. It’s just . . . . “ He took another few steps closer until he was standing directly beside Devlin before whispering almost sub-audibly, “Them Haitch-Ay fellers’ve been real active lately in St George Street, like what Jonny got caught up wiv. Word’s out sumfin’s in th’ works f’r New Year’s Eve, an’ that bein’ th’ day o’ th’ funeral an’ all, I couldn’t help but wunner . . . .”

“There’s a Humanity Ascendant plot in the works for the day of the funeral?” Devlin rephrased in the Queen’s Gwyneddan in hopes of getting more clarification.

Toby nodded. “Th’ same lot tha’ done for poor Jonny. That wern’t no accident, him gettin’ hit an’ run over like that. ‘E knew too much, see.”

Devlin nodded, thinking of the dying youth in the Royal Hospital Rhemuth whose warning to him slightly less than two weeks earlier had come just a little too late to prevent the cascade of events that had taken place since then. Hopefully this warning, coming five days before whatever was in the works this time, would allow for sufficient time to avert the terrorist organization’s plans. “Do you know anything about what the HA are planning on doing?”

Toby shook his head. “They know I ain’t one of ‘em--I ain’t no Deryni, but I don’t hate ‘em like some folks do--so they don’t say nuffink when they know I’m around. But word on th’ street is it’s sumfin’ big. Ever’body in the Haitch-Ay f’r miles around’s s’posed t’ turn up f’r it when it happens. An’ there’s sumfin’ ‘bout gas masks, I think. Some o’ the lads ‘ere’s been offered a few marks f’r stuff like nicking stuff f’r ‘em. They ain’t took th’ money, mos’ly, that I know of, but it’s temptin’. It’s good money they’re payin’, Father.”

“What sort of stuff are they being paid to steal?”

“Like I said, gas masks. Also body armor, p’rtective amulets, them portable shield things that’re s’posed t’ be sumfin’ like Deryni wards f’r humans, tha’ sort o’ thing. Pricy shi--stuff, Father. It’s like they’re gearin’ up f’r a fight or sumfin’.”

Devlin’s mind raced, trying to sort through the possibilities of what sort of plot might be in the works. “You mentioned gas masks. Have you heard any particular sorts of gas being mentioned in particular? Acrinious gas, perhaps?” Dear God in Heaven, he hoped not! Another acrinious gas attack of the sort that had been launched in the Camberian Council chamber, but on a scale large enough to affect the entire Cathedral, was a nightmare he did not wish to contemplate. Though surely even as dedicated a terrorist group as Humanity Ascendant wouldn’t wish to endanger so many of its own cell members, much less all the human mourners likely to be at the funeral, by using that particular form of attack at a state funeral. Would they?

Toby’s brow furrowed. “I don’t think so, Father. I ain’t heard o’ akernious gas, or whatever it was y’ said. It was somethin’ else, I think. Sumfin’ that’s s’posed t’ make Deryni easy t’ kill off, but not hurt reg’lar people, or only make ‘em very sleepy. I can’t r’member it now. Starts with an Em, I think.”

Merasha gas?  It was possible, Devlin knew, however unlikely under normal circumstances. The Camberian Council had heard rumors of merasha gas being developed for military and anti-terrorist applications, and reportedly being stockpiled in a variety of locations in the event some need should occur to quell a Deryni uprising.  The Council had not been able to verify the rumors, but if they were true, could Humanity Ascendant members have found the stockpiles first, or possibly even been involved in the development of a gaseous form of merasha? Devlin felt ill at the very thought of merasha being released into an unsuspecting population on a national day of mourning. This was something that the Council would need to know about immediately, especially James. The Duke of Corwyn, as the Queen’s Champion and heir, would need to know as well. And Her Majesty needed to know the seriousness of the threat that they might be facing at the end of the week.

Only five days to prepare themselves. Dear God, have mercy!

“Thank you, Toby. If you can remember anything else that might be related, please let me know. Do you have my phone number?”

The lad nodded, wide-eyed. “Ye’ll tell th’ Queen, Father? Keep ‘er safe from ‘em?”

“Absolutely. Now if you’ll excuse me, Toby,” said Father Devlin with a glance towards his prie-dieu, “I believe there’s Someone Else I’d better consult with as well.”



Late afternoon
Rooftop of the Green Tower
Coroth Castle
December 26, 2021


“All right, I had Martha hold all my calls, now let’s see what mischief we can get up to on the roof. Are you zipped up tight?” The Duke of Corwyn directed Jen up a tight spiral staircase as he spoke, bringing up the rear to help break her fall should she slip. “Mind the steps--some have got slippery from centuries of use. If you stay next to the wall, the stone’s less worn there.” He had to admit, he did not mind checking out Jen’s rear view at all.

“I think I’ll be warm enough,” said Jen, checking the closures on her coat to be sure.

“The roof’s warded, so the breezes mainly slip around the tower roof rather than directly over it, but some of the wintry chill still gets through. That coat should be fine, though.” He reached over her shoulder to press his palm against a door sensor, unlocking the rooftop door. They emerged into the sunlit space of the roof, taking a moment to let their eyes adjust to the shift from dimly lit staircase to the bright outdoors.

Once their eyes had adjusted, Morgan led Jen to the side of the tower overlooking the city and bay below. “All right, here’s a view of the city that few folks ever see. It’s not the Coroth of Alaric’s day, to be sure, but what do those historian’s eyes see?”

Jen surveyed the urban sprawl before her before unzipping her coat long enough to reach into a breast pocket for a folded chart. Unfolding it on one of the stone crenellations before her, she studied the street layout again, comparing it with an early map of Coroth. The original of the map she held did not date quite as far back as Duke Alaric’s day--it had been commissioned by his grandson, if memory served--but it would suffice.

“The street layout has changed significantly, but these main thoroughfares are still here,” she replied, tracing them on the map as she spoke, “albeit with the occasional small detour. I wonder how many of these buildings that are named on the map still exist in downtown Coroth or the port area? Precious few now, I’d imagine.”

Morgan angled his head to read the difficult script. After a few moments’ perusal, he pointed out one building that had been near the heart of Ancient Coroth. “This one still exists, I think, at least if that’s the inn I’m thinking of. The Great Dragon was in a bad state of disrepair about fifteen or twenty years ago and was scheduled to be torn down after centuries of being in use as pretty much everything from a public house to a brothel. The owner of the Astari hotel chain was looking at the neighborhood to build a secondary franchise of the Royal Astari Coroth there, but once he learned the building’s history, he changed his original plan and had it restored to a medieval-style inn and dining establishment.  It’s more of a B&B style living history establishment now, catering to tourists who want to get a sense of what it was like to stay in a medieval inn centuries ago--although hopefully without the lice and bedbugs, or sleeping six to a bed! And of course it’s got the usual sanitary amenities nowadays--no pisspots under the beds or cesspits out in the back garden.” He arched an eyebrow at her. “You might enjoy a stay there sometime; it’s nicely done, from what I’ve heard, and supposedly more accurately researched than those Medieval Jousts restaurants popping up in major cities here and there.”

“It wouldn’t be too difficult to be more accurate than those,” Jen allowed, rolling her eyes expressively. “Although those can be fun too, if one is willing to suspend disbelief by the neck until it’s dead, but this one sounds like it would be more my cup of tea.”

Morgan, standing slightly behind and to one side of Jen, shielded his eyes to peer out at some of the more distant landmarks on the skyline. “Over there is Eskill Head, the upper entrance to the Bay of Coroth. You can just see what remains of Great Roderick, the lighthouse that would have been there in old Alaric’s day. That was once the largest lighthouse in Mooryn. A good spot for a picnic, if you come back here in the warmer months, although the fort on the other side of the bay is in better condition. It’s part of the Coroth Bay Historical Museum now.”

“I’ve read that there used to be an iron chain that was strung across the mouth of the bay during wartime to keep enemy shipping out and assist in the city’s defense,” Jen said.

“Ah yes, Restrainer.” He stretched out a hand, tracing a line in the air between two granite jetties. “It stretched from there to there; you can still see the rust stains in the stone where the original chain was anchored, although the original iron work has long since rusted to the point of being unsuited for the original purpose anymore. It served the city well while it lasted, though.”

Morgan swept an arm to one side. “There were lush forests in that area--long since gone, but the lumber industry thrived for a few centuries after Alaric’s time.  And of course some landmarks aren’t going away anytime soon. Saint Matthew’s Cathedral’s worth a visit. And you may fancy some of the shopping down by Saint Matthew’s Gate, though I promise I have nothing to do with the extortionate prices you’re likely to find there.” He pointed out those features in the cityscape below. “I think they set their pricing specially for gouging wealthy Americian tourists.”

An especially strong gust of wind blew over them, setting the flags on their poles high atop the tower to flapping wildly. The mostly invisible ward shielded them from the worst of the icy blast, but Jen folded her arms tightly over her chest to ward off the increased chill. Morgan pulled her back against him--to help keep her back warm, he told himself. After a surprised glance up at him, she allowed him to enfold her in his protective embrace. He extended his personal shields around them both.

“Better?” he asked. “I wouldn’t want you to catch a chill out here. Maybe we should head back inside where it’s warmer.”

“I--If you’d prefer.  This is fine, though.”   Jen’s cheeks went slightly pink, to his amusement. He decided he rather liked sheltering feisty Americian historians. This one, at any rate. “Aren’t you afraid some paparazzi photographer will spot us, and you’ll end up on the cover of some tabloid rag, though? ‘Duke Romances Unknown Americian?’ You might not want to feed the gossip sheets.”

Morgan laughed. “How are the photographers supposed to know you’re Americian from a distance, are you going to start waving your flag?” He gave her shoulders a slight squeeze. “Besides, one of the benefits of the wards is that they’re camera-proof. We have a clear view out, but from the outside all they can see is the illusion of an empty rooftop. I could be dancing naked up here under every full moon for all the paparazzi know; they wouldn’t be able to see a thing.”

“I’ll put that on my calendar then,” Jen teased. “Come back with a video camera at the August full moon.”

He laughed. “Come on, you. Let’s see if I can find you some other interesting sights in a room with some hot drinks and a roaring fire. Preferably something you can enjoy gawping at without me having to shed any of my dignity.”

“Too late.” Jen grinned as she followed him back to the spiral stair.



Late afternoon
Coroth Castle Security Room
December 26, 2021


Jeannie FitzWilliam was slightly bored, but that was par for the course when staffing the security cameras at Coroth Castle, as she happened to be doing that day. Nothing truly exciting ever happened, aside from occasionally spotting some medical emergency or the sort of chance mishap that might occur anywhere, though she remained vigilant nonetheless, not simply because of the heightened state of alert in the entire Kingdom just now, but also because if something unexpected did chance to occur, she didn’t want anything bad happening on her watch.

The camera pickup on the Green Tower rooftop appeared on her monitor, showing the Duke’s beautiful Americian houseguest leaning cozily against his chest, from the look of things. Jeannie suppressed a pang of wistful envy and moved on to the next screen.

The corridors of Coroth’s ancient Keep appeared to be as peaceful as always, the cameras there showing nothing out of the ordinary sorts of activity there. Although wait--there was something odd! Jeannie tried to focus the camera in on one particular spot, but saw nothing there but a slight blur.

There shouldn’t be a blur hovering in the middle of an otherwise empty corridor, Jeannie thought to herself as she double-checked the location of that camera’s view. Once she’d verified which door the blur was hovering outside of, her inner alarms began to sound off even more insistently. She paged the castle steward. “Martha, there appears to be a warded intruder on the high security corridor in the Keep. I’m seeing a blur outside of that Camberian woman’s door.”

Martha’s voice replied promptly. “Call for backup, Jeannie. I’m on my way.”



Late afternoon
Coroth Castle Keep
December 26, 2021


Heather, deeply ensconced within Caroline Whitfield’s mind at the moment, was jarred from her concentration by the unexpected click of the door lock. She broke the psychic link with her patient, pulling back just in time from the Camberian woman’s mind to catch a fleeting glimpse of the new arrival before she found herself shoved back forcefully against the nearest wall as if by an invisible hand.

The intruder--Heather got the impression of a tall male, although she’d collided with the wall hard enough to have had the wind knocked out of her--grabbed Caroline’s arm. The patient put up a fleeting resistance, attempting to pull away. The man spoke an odd phrase--probably one of the trigger phrases meant to bring up the Alisandra personality--but Heather was gratified to see that the assassin’s personality failed to respond. She and Karim had done that right, at least.

She slid down the wall, finally catching her breath again with a loud hitch, which drew her assailant’s attention to her again. He raised a hand toward her, and she flinched, instinctively flaring her personal shields in self-defense. Sweet Saint Camber, please defend me; I have a child! she thought as a blast of magical energy seared the air around her.

Fearing for her life now, but feeling she had no choice but to stand her ground and fight, not simply for herself but also for her patient’s sake, Heather attempted to stand, but another blast of energies sent her sprawling once more. Her shields weakening, she briefly thought of trying to summon up enough defensive energy to send back the man’s way, but she was afraid she might harm Caroline in the energy surge as well. On the other hand, whatever the man was up to was surely not going to be in Caroline’s best interests anyway. First, do no harm--but which of them was likely to do her patient the worst harm?

Caroline had stopped resisting. The man took advantage of her lack of resistance to guide her towards the open door. She followed, docile as a lamb. Heather, finally ignored by the departing intruder, stumbled to her feet and attempted to follow them, making it halfway to the door before passing out.



Late afternoon
The Duke’s private apartment
The Green Tower
Coroth Castle
December 26, 2021


Morgan casually muttered a few words under his breath as he waved a finger at the hearth in his private study, causing a blazing fire to spring up in the fireplace in mere seconds. With a mischievous smile at Jen, he flicked the fingertip at the flames once more. Jen saw a brief pyrotechnic display of dancing green gryphons in the otherwise normal flames and laughed out loud.

“Show off!”

“I’ll admit it, I’ve been dying to show off that particular trick for months,” Morgan said with a grin as he took her coat and offered her a seat before hanging her coat beside his on a nearby rack. “Do you recognize what this room is?”

Jen took a look around the comfortably appointed room. It was decorated in an eclectic mixture of styles, a blend of the personal tastes of several centuries of inhabitants, but a rare few of the room’s objets d’art she thought might date back as far as Duke Alaric’s day, not to mention the seven tell-tale green windows.  “This wouldn’t have been Duke Alaric’s study at one time, would it?”

“Exactly. And for that matter, it’s been put to that use by nearly every Duke of Coroth since then, and possibly before his time as well, for all we know.” He smiled fondly at the familiar surroundings. “It’s my favorite room in the old heap.”

A miniature portrait on Morgan’s desk caught her eye and she crossed over to give it a closer look rather than sitting.  “This is lovely! Who is this?”

“Ah. That is the beauteous Duchess Richenda. Alaric was a very lucky man. Given the shifts in what passed for fashionable standards of beauty throughout the ages, some of the ‘famous beauties’ of previous eras look pretty dire to me, but Richenda there could still win some modern beauty contests, I’d think. I suppose you’ll want to see their children as well? Give me half a sec, I might be able to turn up some other portraits for you.” He went to a cabinet with a set of shallow drawers, opening them one at a time until he found the one he wanted. Lifting out a tray, he brought it to her.

Face up on a velvet background, several miniature portraits shone up at her, their colors nearly jewel-like in their brilliance even after nearly a millennium. Recognizing the appreciation in Jen’s eyes, Morgan added, “My art conservator is first rate.” Pointing out the various faces as he described them, he added, “We believe that one is Duke Kelric, probably painted several years after Duke Alaric’s death judging by the period of his clothing and the fact that he’s wearing the Ducal ring. This pair of fair lasses may have been Briony and Grania Morgan, and of course that one is another portrait of Alaric himself. The strawberry blond here in the Marley colors would be Richenda’s son Brendan Coris. And the man wearing the episcopal purple was almost certainly Duke Alaric’s cousin Bishop Duncan McLain. They were almost more brothers than cousins.” He thought of his own cousin Prince Kelric with a twinge of momentary grief.

“Wow.” Jen itched to pick up the miniatures, but settled for clasping her fingers together in a firm attempt to leave them untouched and unharmed. “That is one handsome bishop. I might need a confessor now,” she joked. “Those amazing blue eyes!”

“He had that effect, it seems. There’s a letter downtown at the Museum that was sent to Duke Alaric from Bishop McLain, basically inviting himself to Coroth Castle for a week or two in 1137, ostensibly on the King’s business, although he mentions needing to get away from an annoyingly persistent admirer for a few days before he strangles her.” Morgan laughed. “Maybe not the most Christian of thoughts, though I can empathize with the temptation.”

“Because you’ve had to fend off a fair few persistent women yourself?” Jen asked.

Morgan shrugged. “Well, that too, I suppose, though those are title-chasers, mainly. Easy enough to ignore.”

Jen privately thought he underestimated his own attractions, but she didn't want to come across as a title-chaser, so she said nothing.

“Well, now,” he said, crossing over to a small wet-bar, “what’s your poison of choice? I have beer, wine, cider, Cassani whisky, Torenthi--” She never found out what imported drink he had from Torenth, for there was a knock on the door just at that moment. “Your Grace,” said a voice just beyond it, “I’m sorry to interrupt you, but it’s urgent, sir.”

He moved swiftly towards the door, opening it to admit the steward whom Jen had met upon their arrival earlier that morning. “Yes, Martha, what is it?”

“Jeannie FitzWilliam has spotted what appears to be an intruder in the corridor outside of the Camberian woman’s room on D Floor. We’ve dispatched Security to have a look, but I thought you’d wish to be notified as well.”

“Yes, definitely. I’m on my way.” Reaching into a desk drawer, he pulled out a couple of items and pocketed them. “Head on over, Martha; I’ll take the passage route. It’s a little less direct, but an intruder wouldn’t be expecting someone to walk in on him through the wall.” Turning to Jen, he added, “This might be nothing, but it could be dangerous. I’d suggest staying put. I’ll come up or send someone else up to let you know when it’s safe to come out.”

Jen stood. “Heather’s in there. I’m going with you. You might need back-up.”

Morgan considered arguing the point, but there wasn’t the time to spare. “You told me once that you can shoot a gun, right?”

“Yes.”

He reached into the drawer again, pulling out a holstered pistol. “Only use this if you absolutely must. I’d rather you don’t use it at all, actually, but considering what we might be up against, I don’t want you going into that situation unarmed. Oh, and take this.” Handing her the gun, he reached for the hems of his sweater and undershirt, pulling them off over his head and starting to pull the undershirt on over her clothes.

“What--?”

“I’ll explain later,” he snapped. “Wear it. Let’s go.” He waved a hand at a section of wall, which slid aside quietly to reveal a hidden passage beyond it.



Late afternoon
Coroth Keep access corridor
December 26, 2021


Morgan went into light trance just long enough to focus his concentration on the walnut-sized shiral crystal he’d pulled from his trouser pocket, using it to view what was happening on the other side of the door. He didn’t want to emerge in plain sight of the intruder, after all, unless there was no other way around that.  The room appeared empty at first, but then he spotted a crumpled form on the floor. Biting back a curse, he whispered to Jen, “I see Heather. I don’t see anyone else in the room with her, but I’ll enter first to make sure it’s safe. Once I tell you it’s clear, I’ll need you to remain in the room to tend to her. Shut the door behind you; wouldn’t hurt to lock it either. He probably found a way through the lock, but unlocking it a second time would slow him down, not that I think he’d have any reason to want back in unless he wants to take a hostage. So keep your head down and don’t be a hostage. Got it?”

At Jen’s silent nod, Morgan slipped out the passage door and into the room, doing a brief recon before returning. “All right, it’s clear. Heather's still alive, but she looks to be out cold.”

“I know first aid,” Jen whispered. “Go!”

He left, casting his senses beyond the room’s main entrance before venturing carefully down the corridor towards where he heard a clamor of voices. The security team had apparently reached the staircase just before his arrival, and it sounded like his quarry might be trapped within. Morgan smiled grimly as he headed that way.



Late afternoon
Coroth Castle Security Room
December 26, 2021


Jeannie FitzWilliam gave a low whistle as the shirtless and extremely hot Duke of Corwyn entered her camera view. A second later, the implications of his state of undress occurred to her. “Oh, crap!”

“What’s wrong?” Richard Weaver, one of the other security team members, asked her.

“Man the cameras, would you? His Grace is unarmored. Gotta fix that. Be right back.” Slipping out of the control room, Jeannie sprinted up the stairs towards Morgan’s private apartments.



Late afternoon
Coroth Keep East Staircase
December 26, 2021


Morgan drew the small weapon he’d pocketed earlier along with his shiral crystal and thumbed the safety off. Flaring his personal shields, he changed their color wavelength from their customary green to a less obtrusive pale yellow which might have been taken for sunlight shining down on the spiral staircase walls from the windows several floors above before venturing a peek around the central axis of the spiral to the level below.

The intruder stood cornered (if one could call it that within a round stairwell) on the third level landing, his downward progress apparently impeded by Morgan’s security team coming up at him from below. The man held Morgan’s Camberian patient like a human shield, holding her against him with his left arm and keeping her between himself and the wall while holding something in his right hand. From his vantage point, Morgan couldn’t see what he held, but he assumed it was probably a weapon of some sort.

The man dropped whatever he held down the staircase. It clinked down the stone steps, the sound sounding ominously familiar to Morgan’s ears, but before he could react a high pitched chime of sound, nearly inaudible, filled the stairwell, followed by a brilliant flash. Morgan leaned back swiftly, closing his eyes against the flash of light out of instinct before opening them again. His vision swarmed with black spots, though his ears told him that the quarry was on the move again, from the sound of things probably through the third floor landing door and out into the corridor. Glancing up at one of the stairwell cameras, he told his security team in the control room, “Lock down the entire Keep if you’ve not done so already!” before heading down the stairs in swift pursuit.



Late afternoon
Coroth Keep West Staircase
December 26, 2021


Jeannie knew that her cameras had last spotted the Deryni intruder making for the East Staircase, so she headed down the West Staircase instead.  She knew the Duke would be making his attack on the invader from behind, so she attempted to gauge which level she needed to approach him from in order to get him suited up safely. He’d have made it down to the third level by now at least, surely? She’d start there, then, and with any luck he’d be directly below her once she got to the other end of the corridor to peek down the East Tower stairwell for him. She could deliver his shirt with its magical protections embroidered into the green gryphon insignia on its chest and return to her station knowing she’d helped ensure his safety. She wondered what he’d done with the protective shirt he’d been wearing that morning. He’d not been alone with the Americian woman in his private study long enough for her to have had half his kit off already, surely! She suppressed a twinge of jealousy; she had no claim on the duke's affections, and she needed her mind in the game just now, not speculating on what might or might not be going on between her employer and his foreign guest.

Jeannie emerged from the stairwell into the third floor corridor of the Keep. She was startled to discover the intruder mere feet in front of her, his movements hampered by the woman he was half-guiding, half-dragging along with him. She clutched the Duke’s shirt protectively against her chest with her left hand as she reached for her firearm with her right, but he was faster than she was. There was a loud bang and a flash, and Jeannie went flying backwards, her head and back slamming hard against the door through which she’d just entered. Her last conscious sight was of the Duke of Corwyn flying down the corridor towards her and her attacker, his hand rising as he charged. He was holding a weapon of some sort, although before she could make out what he held, her world faded to black and she crumpled to the floor.



Late afternoon
Third Floor Corridor
Coroth Keep
December 26, 2021


Seeing Jeannie crash against the landing door and slump to the floor, Morgan lunged forward, his finger tightening on the trigger of the ECD he held as the device’s sights aligned with his target. Not that Morgan was using those sights; instead, he relied on that inner sense that he used when shooting blindfolded on the rifle range.  His target whirled, gun in hand, its circular trajectory swinging into position to aim towards Morgan, but the twin projectiles from Morgan’s ECD reached their goal first, their barbed ends sinking into the intruder’s skin, completing the electrical circuit that sent muscle-locking electrical pulses coursing through the target’s body, disrupting all voluntary muscle control. The electrical pulses were not the only source of disruption affecting the man’s nervous system; Morgan’s probes were also tipped with merasha, making them doubly-effective against even the strongest Deryni’s attempts to resist the weapon’s effects upon the neurological system.

It was, he mused, a crude yet effective weapon, and although he’d have gained a savage satisfaction out of simply killing the intruder outright in his momentary rage, the more rational part of Morgan’s mind accepted that the less lethal ECD was a preferable weapon under the circumstances. He wanted this bastard alive--alive and able to answer questions.  And then, once he had answers to those questions, justice would be served. But that justice would be served by legal means. Sophia had enough on her plate at the moment without Morgan handing her a ready-made international incident in which she might feel the need to defend her cousin and current heir from a murder charge. Not that the charge would have been legitimate even if Morgan had needed to kill the man--the security camera footages would show it had been a clear-cut case of self-defense. But there were certain elements of society who were impervious to all reason where any acts of violence involving Deryni were concerned, and he saw no need to play into those unreasonable people’s hands.

Alaric Morgan, he reflected, had been born in a much simpler day in some ways after all, despite the risks of Deryni burnings. No one would have dared to question the Darkling Duke’s legal right to deal with a castle intruder with murderous intent as he saw fit. Then again, Morgan decided as several more security guards came bursting through the door behind him to secure the man and his cataleptic hostage and take them both into custody, at least his staff didn’t have any blood and gore to clean up after. Perhaps there was something to be said for modern life after all, despite its occasional annoyances.




Next chapter:  http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php/topic,1631.0.html
« Last Edit: December 06, 2015, 07:20:34 pm by Evie »
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Offline Shiral

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Twenty-Four
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2015, 11:11:54 pm »
Ahah.....The plot thickeneth! =o) Thank goodness though, that our heroes are getting some timely warnings that unpleasant things are on the way with at least a little time to prepare. 12th century or 21st....DO not mess with the Duck of Corwyn!
(Jeannie's not dead, I hope???)
Melissa
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Offline NavaWazr

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Twenty-Four
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2015, 12:40:17 am »
Jeannie can't be dead, especially holding the protective clothing; she must be just stunned. So glad she was on duty when this came down. The peaceful romantic chapters are over, the bad guys are back. I loved the Jen & Morgan scenes, and will we see the inside of that Astari B&B any time soon? I loved the keyed paintings!

Bad guys are back, glad Devlin is getting the word from the street. Merasha bombs in the square would be awful! Please don't! Gregory Torrence is now in captivity at Coroth, so Morgan knows that Caroline/Alesandra is of high value to the other side. Did Torrence get messages back to Malcolm before he was captured? What did he try to trigger in Caroline and what were the results? Heather made some progress but I don't think she knows what she stopped. Heather has to get better. How soon before Lord Aliran is in Coroth? Will Sophia's new cat be a friend to Aderyn and help Aderyn deal with this situation with her mother?
I realized that I wanted to be Deryni, would have loved to be another niece of Uncle Azim, perhaps living on a Fianna vineyard.... but I'm a never wazzer

Offline Laurna

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Twenty-Four
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2015, 12:41:53 am »
 :o Had to get His Dishiness shirtless  in the story, Yes?  ;D  I'm not complaining.  ;D
From now on I think our security lady well be certain there is an extra one of those protective spelled undershirts in the Green Tower, kept next to the ECD device. (Eck! Meresha tipped and shocked into oblivion at the same time.  That will be one heck of a nightmare to wake up from.) As for the good Jeannie FitzWilliam,  I so hope she was holding that Griffon shirt over her chest when she got shot. And I hope there were no flaws in the embroidery. Being knocked back like that could still cause a lot of damage. I hope she will be OK.

I love, love, love the description of Alaric's portrait standing next to Kelson's portrait. If you ever found an artist to draw a cover for this novel.  I want it to be a picture of Morgan and Jen looking sidelong at this portrait with Jen's hand hovering next to the painting. Perhaps this is only a small wonderful moment in this story, but it would entice everyone who ever loved Kelson and Alaric to read it.  ;D

Really good Chapter.

Online drakensis

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Twenty-Four
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2015, 02:47:07 am »
I was particularly taken by the idea of the portraits.

Offline Elkhound

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Twenty-Four
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2015, 08:34:15 am »
This is a most interesting chapter.  Lots of good developments.

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Twenty-Four
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2015, 10:03:27 am »
"...shirtless and extremely hot Duke of Corwyn..."  *fans self briskly*.    I liked the modern version of a chain mail shirt.  :)

Wonderful chapter!  So much happening, with so much about to happen.  Heather should be OK, I think, but I have some worry for Jeannie.   I am sure Her Majesty will not miss her family's funeral no matter what, so let's hope our heroes and heroines can foil the plot.

And I would not want to be in Gregory Torrence's shoes right now.

There may no longer be Deryni burnings, but knowing the powers that be could be massing stockpiles of merasha gas against your people would not be a comforting thought. 

Next chapter, please.   :)
« Last Edit: December 02, 2015, 10:24:12 am by Jerusha »
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Offline Shiral

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Twenty-Four
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2015, 11:22:18 am »
Forgot to mention last night, I liked the idea of the twin portraits as a method of communication between Rhemuth and Coroth. I hope Duke Kelric was able to utilize it to eventually speak to King Javan after their respective fathers passed out of the mortal plane.  As much as I like my little iPhone, it's acutely lacking a portrait of the Duke of Corwyn. =o)

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Offline revanne

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Twenty-Four
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2015, 11:39:09 am »
A wonderful chapter with lots of glimpses into the lives of our characters.

I love the relationship that Devlin has built up with his lads and the trust that Toby obviously has in him. I'm glad that Devlin is bilingual enough to be able to translate into the Queen's Gwyneddian. I knew a cockney once who claimed that his version of English was obviously the Queen's English given that out of all those present he lived the nearest to Buckingham Palace. I hope that Sophia can visit her loyal young subjects before too long.

I also hope that Morgan is reunited with his shirt before too long, for the sake of several ladies' blood pressure (both within the story and in its readership).
"All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts."
As You Like It.

Offline Elkhound

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Twenty-Four
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2015, 02:25:04 pm »


I love the relationship that Devlin has built up with his lads and the trust that Toby obviously has in him. I'm glad that Devlin is bilingual enough to be able to translate into the Queen's Gwyneddian. I knew a cockney once who claimed that his version of English was obviously the Queen's English given that out of all those present he lived the nearest to Buckingham Palace. I hope that Sophia can visit her loyal young subjects before too long.

The equivalent of the Baker Street Irregulars.

Offline Evie

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Twenty-Four
« Reply #10 on: December 02, 2015, 05:39:55 pm »
Ahah.....The plot thickeneth! =o) Thank goodness though, that our heroes are getting some timely warnings that unpleasant things are on the way with at least a little time to prepare. 12th century or 21st....DO not mess with the Duck of Corwyn!
(Jeannie's not dead, I hope???)
Melissa

Yes, Morgans (not to mention Haldanes) can be deadly ducks when provoked.   ;D  And at least they got more than an hour's advance warning this time. Let's hope they're able to make the best of it.  As for Jeannie, we shall have to wait and see.

Jeannie can't be dead, especially holding the protective clothing; she must be just stunned. So glad she was on duty when this came down. The peaceful romantic chapters are over, the bad guys are back. I loved the Jen & Morgan scenes, and will we see the inside of that Astari B&B any time soon? I loved the keyed paintings!

Bad guys are back, glad Devlin is getting the word from the street. Merasha bombs in the square would be awful! Please don't! Gregory Torrence is now in captivity at Coroth, so Morgan knows that Caroline/Alesandra is of high value to the other side. Did Torrence get messages back to Malcolm before he was captured? What did he try to trigger in Caroline and what were the results? Heather made some progress but I don't think she knows what she stopped. Heather has to get better. How soon before Lord Aliran is in Coroth? Will Sophia's new cat be a friend to Aderyn and help Aderyn deal with this situation with her mother?

Whether we see Astari's living history B&B again will depend on whether story events end up remaining in or returning to Coroth, either in this story or a possible sequel, not to mention whether that sort of setting would fit in with the plot needs.  Time will tell. Lots of questions. At least some will be answered.  ;)

:o Had to get His Dishiness shirtless  in the story, Yes?  ;D  I'm not complaining.  ;D
From now on I think our security lady well be certain there is an extra one of those protective spelled undershirts in the Green Tower, kept next to the ECD device. (Eck! Meresha tipped and shocked into oblivion at the same time.  That will be one heck of a nightmare to wake up from.) As for the good Jeannie FitzWilliam,  I so hope she was holding that Griffon shirt over her chest when she got shot. And I hope there were no flaws in the embroidery. Being knocked back like that could still cause a lot of damage. I hope she will be OK.

I love, love, love the description of Alaric's portrait standing next to Kelson's portrait. If you ever found an artist to draw a cover for this novel.  I want it to be a picture of Morgan and Jen looking sidelong at this portrait with Jen's hand hovering next to the painting. Perhaps this is only a small wonderful moment in this story, but it would entice everyone who ever loved Kelson and Alaric to read it.  ;D

Really good Chapter.

Of course I had to get Morgan shirtless; I knew you'd be reading!  ;)  Yes, the merasha would make being tasered (which is essentially what happened) an even more unpleasant experience. I could almost feel some sympathy for Torrence. Almost.  ;D  You might recognize the protective spellwork in the stitching as the same sort of magic Celsie was using (without realizing it) in Maidens of Mayhem.  The cover art idea sounds splendid! Too bad I don't know an artist who could draw that.  (Maybe Shiral?)

I was particularly taken by the idea of the portraits.

I thought that would be a really cool form of magic.  There's a book I read years ago, co-written by three fantasy authors, that was about magic being painted into portraiture--wish I could recall the title off hand, but I can't at the moment, just that it had a sort of Italian Renaissance flavor to the setting. So that may have loosely inspired the idea, although the magic in that book was very different from how I've used it in this painting.

This is a most interesting chapter.  Lots of good developments.

Thank you!  We're building up to the final stretch now, so the plot ball is just going to keep rolling faster and faster.

"...shirtless and extremely hot Duke of Corwyn..."  *fans self briskly*.    I liked the modern version of a chain mail shirt.  :)

Wonderful chapter!  So much happening, with so much about to happen.  Heather should be OK, I think, but I have some worry for Jeannie.   I am sure Her Majesty will not miss her family's funeral no matter what, so let's hope our heroes and heroines can foil the plot.

And I would not want to be in Gregory Torrence's shoes right now.

There may no longer be Deryni burnings, but knowing the powers that be could be massing stockpiles of merasha gas against your people would not be a comforting thought. 

Next chapter, please.   :)

Yeah, the idea of merasha gas was one of those fun concepts DesertRose and I bounced off each other in chat, including some other nightmarish scenarios such as what might happen if merasha got into a city's water supply....  And as for shirtless Morgan, I had to throw him in to give you hot flashes.  ;)

Forgot to mention last night, I liked the idea of the twin portraits as a method of communication between Rhemuth and Coroth. I hope Duke Kelric was able to utilize it to eventually speak to King Javan after their respective fathers passed out of the mortal plane.  As much as I like my little iPhone, it's acutely lacking a portrait of the Duke of Corwyn. =o)

Melissa

I'm not sure if Kelric and Javan could have used the portraits, since they weren't specifically attuned to them, but who knows?  As direct descendants of Alaric and Kelson, maybe there was enough genetic similarity to their psychic signatures to make the connection work?  I feel your pain; my new phone is missing a portrait of Duncan McLain, although I had him on my old phone.  I need to see about fixing that problem....  :D

A wonderful chapter with lots of glimpses into the lives of our characters.

I love the relationship that Devlin has built up with his lads and the trust that Toby obviously has in him. I'm glad that Devlin is bilingual enough to be able to translate into the Queen's Gwyneddian. I knew a cockney once who claimed that his version of English was obviously the Queen's English given that out of all those present he lived the nearest to Buckingham Palace. I hope that Sophia can visit her loyal young subjects before too long.

I also hope that Morgan is reunited with his shirt before too long, for the sake of several ladies' blood pressure (both within the story and in its readership).

I'm picturing Sophia eating Spaghetti Fallonese in the refectory of a boys' home now, the center of wide-eyed admiring glances.  LOL!


The equivalent of the Baker Street Irregulars.

Yep, that actually came to mind as I was writing that scene!
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Online drakensis

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Twenty-Four
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2015, 02:19:19 am »
I suspect the book you're thinking of is The Golden Key, by Melanie Rawn, Jennifer Roberson, Kate Elliott

Offline Evie

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Twenty-Four
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2015, 06:41:39 am »
Yes, that was it! I could remember it had the word "Golden" in the title, but couldn't remember the whole thing.
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Offline Marko

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Twenty-Four
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2015, 09:39:49 pm »
ECD?  What is it?

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Twenty-Four
« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2015, 10:51:21 pm »
ECD?  What is it?

One common brand name in the real world is Taser.  :)
"If having a soul means being able to feel love, loyalty, and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans."

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Karma: 28
DesertRose DesertRose
Karma: 19
Jerusha Jerusha
Karma: 17
revanne revanne
Karma: 12
Laurna Laurna
Karma: 11

* Online Time

TheDeryni TheDeryni
115d 20h 24m
Evie Evie
105d 11h 46m
DesertRose DesertRose
93d 19h 17m
AnnieUK AnnieUK
53d 22h 35m
Alkari
32d 18h 16m

* Forum Staff

Bynw admin Bynw
Administrator
TheDeryni admin TheDeryni
Administrator
DesertRose admin DesertRose
Administrator
Evie admin Evie
Administrator
Shiral gmod Shiral
Zipper Sister
Unicorn636 gmod Unicorn636
Zipper Sister
Laurna gmod Laurna
Donor
EvilEd gmod EvilEd
Global Moderator
revanne gmod revanne
Donor
KK gmod KK
Our Queen
gmod Alkari
Donor
AnnieUK gmod AnnieUK
Donor
Jerusha gmod Jerusha
Donor

* Board Stats

  • stats Total Members: 620
  • stats Total Posts: 16653
  • stats Total Topics: 1917
  • stats Total Categories: 12
  • stats Total Boards: 126
  • stats Most Online: 181

* Calendar

November 2017
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