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Author Topic: Kelson Era FanFic Nothing Was As It Should Be 3 (AU)  (Read 1185 times)

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Offline drakensis

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Nothing Was As It Should Be 3 (AU)
« on: May 17, 2017, 05:28:59 pm »
Nigel Haldane could not remember when he first laid eyes upon the great golden throne of Gwynedd, backed by the vibrant crimson and gold heraldry of the kingdom's Haldane Kings. It had been his father's, his brother's, his nephew's and he had stood before it or beside it on so many times...

Page, squire, knight. Duke, which meant leader in war. Prince, which meant first among men.

Now king, which meant crushing responsibility, guilt and grief.

Lord, take this cup from me...

But he had been bred to duty and he had given his word. An oath as sacred as that to Meraude, though lacking all of its joy. And at least today he would not have to sit on the throne.

For the life of him, he could not say if that made it better or worse as he dropped to one knee and placed his hands between those of the man sat upon the throne of Gwynedd. "I, Nigel Cluim Gwydion Rhys Haldane, King of Gwynedd, Duke of Haldane, Lord of the Purple March do become your vassal of life and limb, and do homage for all the lands of Gwynedd, held by right of succession. Faith and truth will I..." His breath caught as it never had before, but he forced himself on: "...bear unto you, to live and die, against all manner of folk, so help me God."

The man upon the throne Wencit of Torenth, closed his hands briefly upon Nigel's. "I, Wenzel Zsubit Kyprian Nimur Furstan, accept your fealty and pledge justice for loyalty, reward for virtue and death for betrayal. Thus on heaven, thus on earth, amen."

There was a rumble through the court - thinly populated for the lords of Gwynedd had in many cases made their pledges already and been dispersed. A small host of Torenthi stood in a strong block on one side of the room but they seemed to have little more certainty of what the future held than their western counterparts.

A subtle twitch of Wencit's hands signalled for Nigel to rise and he took the familiar position of standing at the right hand of the throne. If he fixed his eyes forward he might almost deceive himself as to who sat upon it.

"Upon the morrow, the late King will be laid rest among his ancestors." Wencit's voice was as polished as the rest of his courtly manners. It filled the room silky precision. "Let it be known that the late prince, though my adversary, was worthy of my respect, and yours. In light of the solemn purpose of the morrow, I shall not prolong today's court beyond the most necessary of requirements."

Out of the corner of his eye, Nigel saw Thomas Cardiel lower his eyes slightly in relief. It was hard to remember anything else, but the Bishop of Dhassa had lost a close friend upon Llyndruth Meadows. The new king made a mental note to do what he could to help Cardiel. The matter of Loris still needed to be settled and Cardiel remained prominent amid the men who must settle the treacherous Archbishop's fate.

"I deem it necessary, however, that those of ducal rank and higher, must offer their oaths and support to the King of Gwynedd and his Overlord upon this day, rather than waiting for the formal coronation when the counts and barons must join them in that." Wencit's mustache twitched slightly. "Bishop Cardiel, do you serve as our herald in this."

Cardiel swallowed. "Let the Prince of Meara step forwards to make his obeisance to our King."

Nigel saw a shadow in the eyes of his son as Conall dropped to his knees and, their hands joined, swore vassalage to his father, homage to his king... and with jarringly unfamiliar phrases in the oaths, to the overlord of Gwynedd. There had been some talk that Wencit might style himself Emperor but for now at least the tall King of Torenth was restraining himself.

Next called was the Duke of Claibourne and Ewan MacEwan was stiff with both age and pride as he placed his hands between Nigel's. There was an unspoken question in his eyes: though most of the lord's retinues had returned to their own demesnes, enough Haldane men were in Rhemuth that the Torenthi could be overwhelmed - not quickly or painlessly, but it could be done.

Nigel's own eyes had the unwavering answer. He had been haunted at night by the possibility but to break faith with oaths sworn was not in him. And so many of the Torenthi must be Deryni. It was outside his calculation what might happen if he yielded to temptation.

With a muttered oath that might have been mistaken for prayer if one didn't listen too closely, Ewan said his own oaths and glared dourly at the throne as he backed away.

"Your grace of Torenth, the Duke of Cassan is dead," Cardiel reminded them. 'By your order' was not added but everyone heard it anyway. The deed was already infamous. "His sons are also dead and he has no close kin of the male line."

"Indeed, yes." Wencit leant forwards slightly. "Too powerful a land to be left without a strong hand as matters stand. Kierney might do well with a younger son but Cassan must have a ruler." He raised his hand and indicated one man - black of beard and hair, the latter worn long and tightly braided. "Mahael, come you here."

From a distance Mahael might have looked almost Haldane but his eyes were dark and heavy lidded in a way that made mockery of the comparison.

"Mahael is the Count of Amassy, and brother to Duke Lionel of Arjenol. A man of noble blood and upbringing." Wencit's voice lowered perhaps a fraction. "He was husband to my own daughter and, alas briefly, father to my grandchild. Mahael, would you swear to King Nigel as his loyal Duke of Cassan?"

No question who he is loyal to, Nigel thought. A Dernyni, no doubt. Worse for the folk of Cassan, an outsider.

"I stand ready to serve, my king."

He couldn't bring himself to speak at first, but Nigel knew that rebelling in this would be no better than any other form so he gestured for the man to kneel and accepted his hands and his formal submission.

Wencit held up his hand to still Cardiel. "Yes, Bishop, one need not remind me of the Duke of Corwyn. A shame he had not wed, and thus ends an ancient and noble bloodline. I do not think that his lands should be left leaderless, particularly with rebellion so recently rife there."

Again he summoned forth one of his Torenthi, a man who shared much in feature with Mahael. This, it seemed, was the new Duke of Cassan's brother, Count Teymuraz of Brustarkia. Nigel did not have to guess at Deryni blood (though Arjenol's heritage was no mystery to him), for the man let his shields light up the hall slightly as he said his oaths.

Trying to shake me? He might be new to kingship, but Nigel remained a prince and was sure he kept his eyes cold and level as he accepted the oath. I may not be Deryni, but steel kills as well as any spell and you aren't receiving a safe sinecure, Duke Teymuraz. Warin de Gray left our camp almost before Kelson's death was known and I doubt he went anywhere save Corwyn.

It was a relief after those two that Wencit made no proposal when Cardiel observed that Carthmoor was, of course, Nigel's own demesne. Not the first time it had been granted to a younger son who later succeeded to Gwynedd. Rather than seeing the towns and villages he had ruled - first in name and then in truth - for all his life passed to another Torenthi, Nigel was able to invest Rory with those responsibilities. Pray god that Rory would not be fifth Duke to drink from this bitter cup.

"Enough, Nigel." If Wencit could fill the room with his voice, he could also murmur so quietly that no one closer than Cardiel could have overheard these words. "The rest we can manage in more private council."

Nigel nodded, feeling as if he was a puppet on the other man's strings. He'd never felt that way with Brion or Kelson. "Court is dismissed," he announced firmly and then stepped aside, nodding with stark deference as Wencit rose and turned towards the stairs that led to - among other places - the chamber of the Royal Council.



In that room with its long, polished table and dark-stained walls, Wencit unhesitatingly took the throne that had belonged to Brion. He glanced at the table and then ran one finger down a gash that Nigel's brother had made once with a dagger in emphasis of a particularly trying point. Automatically standing by his usual seat, Nigel recalled many dark day here. That nightmarish meeting when Morgan had so nearly...

No, there was no use dwelling upon it.

There were four of them, not a formal convening of the council. Himself, Cardiel, Wencit and one more of his kinsmen - this one with paler eyes and a manner Nigel found less... adversarial than many of the foreigners who had thrust themselves into Rhemuth's halls and apartments.

"A tale here," Wencit mused and Nigel blinked before realising he meant the scar in the table. "Sit," he said, but indicated the seat next to him - where Jehana had sat. "We are no longer enemies, King Nigel and thus we shall not find ourselves on opposite sides of this table."

"Do you believe that?"

"I say that. And since you are a faithful vassal and a man of honour, you will also say that. In time, men will come to believe." He did not lack confidence, Wencit of Torenth. "You've met two of Matyas' brothers now, he is the youngest of them."

"Lord Matyas." Nigel inclined his head courteously as he sat where he was directed. "I regret I have no further duchies to distribute you."

Wencit's lips pursed. "Your anger is to be expected. I also expect you to control it."

Matyas inclined his own head. "Frankly, your grace, I would be content to return to my vineyards at Komnene and trouble you no longer but my king commands and I obey."

"Unlike his brothers, Matyas has studied outside of Torenth," the Furstan informed Nigel and Cardiel. "He's more the diplomat, which will make him well suited to sit on your Royal Council as my ambassador. If you wish to invite Mahael or Teymuraz to do like wise then you may, but I do not insist upon it. They will do us both more good keeping their new lands in order."

"They seem ambitious men."

"Ambitious and able. My cousins, so the first would follow. The second, not so reliably. Just as I hold you to your oaths, I expect you to hold them to theirs. If you cannot rule them then I will regret my misjudgement and act accordingly. Do you understand?"

"I do."

"Good. It will please you, no doubt, that I will not remain in Rhemuth overly long. It will serve nothing if a large presence of my people here causes relations to falter in the first steps. Both our kingdoms will lower their guards only slowly."

Nigel nodded slowly. "I agree."

"Then you will understand that the young Duke of Carthmoor will be accompanying me."

"I had anticipated you would want hostages."

Wencit steepled his fingers. "Yes. the young Earl of Derry too, since I was rough with him earlier and he is too valuable a man to expend."

"He is intensely loyal to Morgan."

"Yes. There is an eastern saying you might not have come across. The truest victory is not to annihilate one's foes, it is to make them your allies."

"He won't serve the man who killed Morgan."

Wencit tilted his head to one side. "I can be very convincing. In any event, he and your son will acquire some courtly polish and perhaps suitable marriages. Carthmoor may also be able to learn some of what we Deryni have to teach."

"Rory knows nothing of magic, less even than I do. And I don't have the slightest idea who could activate the Haldane powers." Nigel shook his head. "So far as I know, Kelson and Morgan took those secrets to the grave."

Matyas looked over at Cardiel. "Does this concern you, Bishop?"

"Before he died," the Bremagne-born bishop said calmly, "Denis Arilan and I had some interesting conversations on the topic of Deryni. You were fostered in Andelon, I believe. I have some connection with the principality so while I don't claim much personal knowledge of Deryni I know that many lands have a less... negative impression of them than Gwynedd."

Wencit's voice was deep with sarcasm. "How very broadminded of you."

"I also know that the Statutes of Ramos are the product of scars left on Gwynedd's people by some Deryni." Cardiel didn't shrink from the challenge, Nigel thought admiringly. "If your race are not by nature ungodly, King Wencit, then nor are they unreservedly saintly."

Very slowly, the King of Torenth raised one hand and pulled on the end of his moustache. "Your nephew had a way of attracting talented adherents," he noted. "A few more years and he would have been truly dangerous."

"I was very proud of Kelson." Nigel's voice somehow didn't tremble.

"Understandably." Wencit lowered his hand and made a dismissive gesture. "Get you gone, Bishop Cardiel. Tell your peers that I have but two commands for your Curia. Abide by them and I will not interfere in the Church of Gwynedd any further."

Cardiel rose and bowed, pectoral cross swaying. "The first I can guess. The Statutes of Ramos to be revoked."

"I do not demand that you love the Deryni as God commands that thou shalt love thy neighbour," Wencit confirmed, "But no longer will they be subject to systematic persecution."

"I will tell them that." The bishop made no comment on the likely reaction, although anyone with any wits must have known it will come. "And besides that."

"Besides that, Loris is mine."

"You want him?" asked Nigel.

Wencit smiled tightly. "I want him dead, Haldane. But I will not make a martyr of him. Instead, I will take him to Beldour and let him rot away in a gilded cage surrounded by those he hates, an example to everyone of the depths to which Gwynedd's church had sunk. You may assure the Curia, however, that his suffering will be merely spiritual."

Matyas cleared his throat. "One further point, before you go, Bishop?"

"Yes?"

Wencit's own brow was as furrowed as Cardiel's.

The lord of Komnene unfolded a document and slipped it deftly in front of his king. "You're an uncle of Countess Richenda of Marley, I believe. The dowager countess, that is."

"Ah yes." Wencit's face smoothed. "Very good, Matyas. Be so good as to advise her that I will speak with herself and her son after Kelson's funeral." Gwynedd's overlord seemed to find this amusing. "Her husband served me well and it's important that a king should reward that."

"I doubt she has much want of your gratitude, your grace. I will tell her."

"She has her son back, which I was not in any way required to allow," Nigel's overlord pointed out drily. "I don't think that is lost on her."

"She is a formidable woman," Nigel warned, wary of bringing wrath down on the lady - she had, after all, been faultlessly loyal. "And Marley is a county of Gwynedd."

"Then I shall be sure not to introduce her to my sister," the other king snorted. "Don't worry, I won't ask you to find a spare duchy for young Brendan. I have Tolan should I find that for some reason suitable."

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Nothing Was As It Should Be 3 (AU)
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2017, 06:35:54 pm »
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear....

Is all lost?
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

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Offline revanne

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Re: Nothing Was As It Should Be 3 (AU)
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2017, 11:57:41 pm »
Poor Nigel.
Wonderfully written and all too realistic. I'm waiting to  see how this will unfold but with dread rather than expectation.
I'm especially upset about Derry.
"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 revanne

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Re: Nothing Was As It Should Be 3 (AU)
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2017, 01:26:13 am »
It occurs to me to wonder whether Wencit does not trust the self-seeking ambition of Mahael and Teymuraz and wants them fully occupied outside Torenth.

"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 Laurna

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Re: Nothing Was As It Should Be 3 (AU)
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2017, 02:43:32 am »
"Count Teymuraz of Brustarkia. " given the Duchy of Corwyn!!!!

NO!!!!!! NO!!!! Came Laurna's mental scream that could be heard clear across the forum pages.

Here inscribes the pivotal moment when the Eleven kingdoms should have turned to the Age of Enlightenment, but rather instead, history will count it as the beginning of the Dark Ages.

Sniffle for Nigel, for Rory, for Derry, and mostly for Richenda  :'(

« Last Edit: May 18, 2017, 03:38:58 am by Laurna »

Offline Evie

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Re: Nothing Was As It Should Be 3 (AU)
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2017, 08:43:27 am »
As always, I love your AU vignettes!  A very chilling peek at what might have been if the events of High Deryni had ended differently.
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Offline drakensis

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Re: Nothing Was As It Should Be 3 (AU)
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2017, 03:20:30 pm »
Here inscribes the pivotal moment when the Eleven kingdoms should have turned to the Age of Enlightenment, but rather instead, history will count it as the beginning of the Dark Ages.

That's not necessarily the case.

Wencit was ambitious, but he was a very able king and wasn't 'evil for the sake of evil'. Certainly he was an enemy to the Haldanes, and for some selfish goals, but at the same time no one is a villain of his own story and he intended to rule Gwynedd, not to destroy it.

One of the stronger aspects of the Deryni books is that no one is a cardboard cut-out villain: they're people with their own goals and beliefs that happen to put them at odds sometimes. Sometimes those goals and beliefs lead to them doing things that we find objectionable. And I'm not saying we shouldn't.

I'm not saying that Wencit was secretly anguished over the idea of executing the prisoners he'd captured, or what he did to Derry. On the other hand, it's very likely he did them after very careful thought about his alternatives (he's not exactly impulsive) and later went to confession, recognising them as sins.

I didn't write him as treating Gwynedd the way Kelson actually treated Torenth - they're very different people. But he does have standards.

Offline revanne

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Re: Nothing Was As It Should Be 3 (AU)
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2017, 04:03:18 pm »
Drakensis, to a great extent I would agree with your assessment of Wencit. Neither were the Haldane Kings free from calculated brutality -a history written from the Mearan p.o.v. would look very different, and Kelson is certainly not above summary execution. However where I think Wencit comes close to evil for its own sake is in his treatment of Derry which is surely unnecessarily sadistic;  a Deryni of Wencit's power could have imposed his will without creating the utter self-loathing which was to haunt Derry for so long. I think it is possible he misinterprets the relationship between Derry and Morgan and his humiliation of Derry is in fact an attack on Morgan but he enjoys it just a little too much.
"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 Evie

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Re: Nothing Was As It Should Be 3 (AU)
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2017, 08:52:26 am »
Here inscribes the pivotal moment when the Eleven kingdoms should have turned to the Age of Enlightenment, but rather instead, history will count it as the beginning of the Dark Ages.

That's not necessarily the case.

Wencit was ambitious, but he was a very able king and wasn't 'evil for the sake of evil'. Certainly he was an enemy to the Haldanes, and for some selfish goals, but at the same time no one is a villain of his own story and he intended to rule Gwynedd, not to destroy it.

One of the stronger aspects of the Deryni books is that no one is a cardboard cut-out villain: they're people with their own goals and beliefs that happen to put them at odds sometimes. Sometimes those goals and beliefs lead to them doing things that we find objectionable. And I'm not saying we shouldn't.

I'm not saying that Wencit was secretly anguished over the idea of executing the prisoners he'd captured, or what he did to Derry. On the other hand, it's very likely he did them after very careful thought about his alternatives (he's not exactly impulsive) and later went to confession, recognising them as sins.

I didn't write him as treating Gwynedd the way Kelson actually treated Torenth - they're very different people. But he does have standards.

I agree with this in general, aside from the bit I set off in bold font. In the "duel that ended up not happening" scene in HD, based on his statements to Kelson, it doesn't appear Wencit has any belief in an afterlife or fear of eternal consequences for his actions, so I can't really see him feeling the need to go to confession and seek absolution in a religious sense (though he might have gone through the motions to pacify his clergy), although certainly I can imagine him feeling guilty for some of his behaviors and perhaps seeking to make amends in some way. That said, I also don't see any indication that he saw any of his actions in the story as being sinful, wrong, or even mistaken in any way.  He seems to have considered them perfectly justified from his POV, if only in a "the ends justify the means" sort of way. I'm sure he did have some sort of moral code, and even high standards (according to his own personal code, at least) that he set for himself, but I think compared to many others Wencit's personal code of conduct comes across as rather ruthless.  That said, he seems to have a higher standard of honor than, say, Teymuraz, although I'm not sure if that comparison is damning with faint praise or praising with faint damns....   ;D
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Offline Jerusha

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Re: Nothing Was As It Should Be 3 (AU)
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2017, 01:21:44 pm »
I do wonder how it came to pass that Wencit became the last man standing on that fateful day. Though unless Wencit decides to tell the tale (and I would not trust him to be entirely truthful), we will likely never know.
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

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Offline revanne

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Re: Nothing Was As It Should Be 3 (AU)
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2017, 01:38:53 pm »
I do wonder how it came to pass that Wencit became the last man standing on that fateful day. Though unless Wencit decides to tell the tale (and I would not trust him to be entirely truthful), we will likely never know.

I'm now wondering whether Bran survived the duel. Wencit's language is a bit ambiguous "Her husband served me well", almost seems to imply a past service. If I am right then I wonder what Wencit has in mind for Richenda...
"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 drakensis

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Re: Nothing Was As It Should Be 3 (AU)
« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2017, 01:55:21 am »
While it didn't make it into the finished version, my original plan for this idea was to have Richenda playing a part in the final scene, discussing Brendan's future with Wencit. It didn't fit in the end.

Nor did opening at the aftermath of the duel, which was a possibility.

In summary, Rhydon wasn't Coram in disguise and thus the duel took place as Wencit intended. While he was surprised that Denis Arilan was a Deryni, he was relatively prepared for the extent of the Haldane magic and unfortunately Duncan and Morgan's limited training actually leaves them as the weaker elements when pitted against Deryni just as talented but who've had years of formal training. (I'd imagine Wencit would catch some criticism for killing the first two Deryni Healers seen in either country for a century or so).

The outcome, for this purposes, was that Wencit and Lionel are the only survivors. Lionel took a considerable portion of the Torenthi army back home and is likely acting as Wencit's regent during his time in Gwynedd.

With regard to Wencit's thoughts for Richenda, the scene would have been him considering having Brendan raised in Beldour to provide Marley with a lord who would be pro-Torenthi in the future. There would also be the possibility of engaging Brendan to marry one of the candidates to inherit the County of Gwernach (one of Charissa's titles) which is fairly close to Marley - it's important for Wencit to visibly reward his supporters, but a duchy like Tolan would be too much (that was just Wencit being sarcastic).

Richenda herself would interest Wencit and one idea would be for him to turn to Matyas after she left and arrange what amounts to a background check since Wencit isn't too old to marry again and marrying an acceptable lady from Gwynedd (even morganatically) would be one more way of binding the kingdoms together. (While I never envisaged taking the idea so far, Matyas response after even a cursory check would be 'Sire, that would be a disastrous choice' and Wencit would drop the idea). Another prospect for ending the story would have been Richenda later approaching Nigel with an offer to help him assume the Haldane magics.

(These are things that came up in about a day of brainstorming the idea, followed by perhaps 2 hours writing the finished product. These little scenarios frequently develop very quickly inside my head).

Offline revanne

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Re: Nothing Was As It Should Be 3 (AU)
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2017, 02:39:31 am »
So many hares running around inside my brain now!

I would be very surprised if some instructions as to activating the Haldane potential hadn't been left somewhere or with someone. I can’t imagine that Morgan and Duncan would have wanted a repeat of the scenario on the death of Brion. So was Nigel lying to Wencit? Probably not consciously,  because although I am assuming that the loyalty he is bound by is not to Wencit but to faithfully carry through Kelson's commands, it would be stupid to openly lie to a Deryni of Wencit's power and Nigel is definitely  not stupid. So have the instructions for his activation been hidden in his mind to be revealed when it is safe to do so, possibly when Wencit has returned to Torenth?

I love these "what ifs".
"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 Laurna

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Re: Nothing Was As It Should Be 3 (AU)
« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2017, 12:21:11 pm »
After the great shock of loosing Alaric Morgan and Duncan McLain, my mind has dulled in its no small grief and tried to find a positive light somewhere in this tunnel. Strangely, the only person I see to benefit from this happenings, beside Wencit and the other Furstans, would be Prince Conall. He is no longer in the shadow of Kelson. He is now heir to the throne and Prince of Meara. Will these duties settle his avarice nature and allow him to become a better man.

And will we never hear again from the Heir of Transha, will Dhugal never learn he is Healer and even if he does stumble upon the ability, will he never learn where the ability came from. :'(

Interesting for this cause and effect to be centered on Corum not using the Golden Protocol of Orin in which he assume Rhyden's life. That offers up so many questions I can't even begin to contemplate.   

The trouble is Drakensis, is that your writing is too good. It causes the what-should-not-be to be too real.
Good job!
« Last Edit: May 21, 2017, 12:15:24 am by Laurna »

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Nothing Was As It Should Be 3 (AU)
« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2017, 06:49:21 pm »
Interesting thought about Conall.  While the Haldane assumption ritual might be lost for Nigel (and this might be good to lull Wencit into a bit of complacency) Conell was able to tap into the Haldane potential without being the rightful king.  Might the Camberin Council again try this experiment to restore the Haldane once again? What kind of king might Conell be freed from Kelson's shadow?

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