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Author Topic: Ghosts of the Past  (Read 49976 times)

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Offline revanne

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #270 on: February 22, 2018, 03:50:22 pm »
Columcil traced the sign of the cross on Washburn's forehead, aware as perhaps not before of just how hard it must have been to grow up as a hero's son. Running wild amongst the other lads at Transha, and though studious he had been as wild as any of the others, he had no-one to be constantly compared to and found lacking. His step-father had been kindly enough - and ready enough with his belt when Columcil's quick intelligence led him into more than acceptable mischief - and he had not felt the lack of a father or a name but until now he had not thought that perhaps he and not his noble kinsman was truly the privileged one.

"My Son, do not take too much upon yourself," - as he heard himself speak Columcil realised how quickly he was returning to the more cultured speech he had learnt at Seminary and which he believed he had all but lost in his years in the borders. Irritated with himself for his irrelevant self-absorption at such a time he continued, "if failing to take care of your belongings is a mortal sin then hell's going to be a mighty busy place."

Washburn gasped at such irreverent language from a priest and then as Columcil had hoped looked up and returned the priest's smile, albeit weakly.

"I could not fail but hear, linked as we were, but rest assured that I shall regard anything I heard as sacred as if it were in the confessional. That was her Grace the Duchess I take it?"

"My mother, yes, the Dowager Duchess," Washburn swallowed hard, willing no more tears to come.

"Well she has a son of which she can be very proud." Seeing that Washburn seemed inclined to debate the point Columcil turned away and mounted Spean, though not without giving a glance of wistful envy as Washburn in his turn mounted. It had been wonderful to ride Shadow even for such a short time. Again he rebuked himself and patted Spean's neck, "Truth is, my beastie, you're more suited to an old priest, take no notice of my haverings."

« Last Edit: February 22, 2018, 03:58:48 pm by revanne »
Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered;
    let those who hate him flee before him.
As smoke is driven away, so drive them away;
    as wax melts before the fire,
    let the wicked perish before God.
(Psalm 68 vv1-2)

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #271 on: February 22, 2018, 06:57:18 pm »
Darcy Cameron sat astride Sigrun, absently stroking her neck.  It was more to calm himself that his horse.  Every nerve seemed to be on edge.  He did not share Lord Jaxom’s sense of relief.  He had an uncomfortable feeling that their foe, whoever he was, might be counting on that.

Sir Washburn seemed preoccupied with something, standing as he was between his own horse and Father Columcil’s.  The good Father had joined the knight and together they seemed to be concentrating on something.  Darcy hoped it had something to do with contacting Duke Kelric, but he had not been privy to what transpired.

A movement beside him caught his attention.  Lord Alister moved his horse into position beside him.  Darcy nodded, careful to avoid any presumption.  Lord Alister nodded, carefully neutral.

Bloody hell, Darcy thought.  It had been easier when he had only known her as Lord Alister.  This would not do; there was too much at stake to lose his focus now.

“My Lord,” Darcy said to Alister.  “I think we are ready to leave.”  He looked ahead to Lord Jaxom.  As they had agreed earlier, Lord Jaxom would take the lead along with one of his men-at-arms.  Sir Washburn would follow, with Jaxom’s squire riding beside him.  Darcy and Lord Alister would come next, followed by one of Jaxom’s bowmen and Father Columcil.  The remaining bowman and man-at- arms would come last.    Sir Washburn had not been pleased at first with the arrangement, but finally agreed when Darcy pointed out that he made too clear a target for a crossbowman if he took in the lead.

Darcy had argued that the Watch Captain could spare two of his men to ride with them, but the Captain had been adamant that their duty was to Droghera.  Sir Washburn had reluctantly agreed; the Captain would not budge, and they could not delay longer.  The Captain’s party had departed with their captive and the body of the dead crossbowman, wishing them Godspeed on their journey.

Now Sir Washburn and Father Columcil were mounted, and Lord Jaxom signalled for them to move out. 

Darcy was not sorry to leave Droghera behind, but he fervently hoped safety for them, and especially Lady Aliset, would be found ahead. 
« Last Edit: February 22, 2018, 07:56:37 pm by Jerusha »
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Offline DerynifanK

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #272 on: February 22, 2018, 08:49:57 pm »
((Have to agree with Darcy. This is scary, hope they make it ok.))
« Last Edit: February 23, 2018, 06:35:21 am by Evie »

Online Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #273 on: February 23, 2018, 04:31:08 am »
The riders turned off the main road onto the rutted county path.  They waded through two small streams and past a thick glen of trees which cleared suddenly to drop into a valley between two mountains; opening to an inspiring view of  Gwynedd’s grasslands.



As far as the eye could see, rolling green covered every inch of land. Tiny farmsteads dotted the countryside. Not a castle could be seen. This was the hidden heart of Gwynedd. This land belonged to the hard working common folk, who eked out a fair living by raising sheep and cows, and tilling small patches of land to grow their food.

Washburn had been tense through the denser tree cover as the narrow road ran through it. His senses were heightened as he look for any signs of the third man who had orchestrated the last attempt to capture him.

(( 1d6  success on 4, 5 or 6, rolled 3 Verification Number: gj2w728l5m))

He sensed no one, yet he didn’t trust his own powers at the moment to not have miss what might be hidden. Therefore, he kept a wary eye on their surroundings. Behind him, he noted that Lady Aliset was doing the same.  When they breasted the hillock and looked down over the valley, a small sense of relief swept through the party. Below was open country. A follower would have to keep a greater distance to not be detected by one of their group. Wash took a moment to slow Shadow and move back level to the two behind him.

“Master Darcy. You are probably thinking the same as I. I want it to be understood that if you are questioned about it later, what I say to you are my orders and if it comes to pass, you are doing as I requested.” Darcy’s lips pressed together, certain he was not going to like what he heard. “I believe there is safety in numbers, and I believe we need to stay together. However, there may be circumstances ahead where that may be an impossibility. Your priority is not to me. It is to Lord Alister.” Darcy was nodding with understanding, even while Alister/Aliset was preparing to argue the point against it. “Listen to me, Lord Alister. You and Darcy must escape whatever trap is laid before us. You must make it to the king.  Darcy will be certain that he gets you there. I have no doubt the man is a capable protector. If at all possible, take Columcil with you. He is a good man with more talent than one would expect from a borderland priest.  Lord Jaxom and I will fend off the best we can to be sure you get away.”

Even Darcy wanted to protest, even though he knew in his heart this was how it had to be. “I will be condemned for leaving you behind.”

“That is why I am enforcing that these orders come directly from me. I am not without my own defenses. I can handle myself. And it isn’t my intention to fall into the enemy's hands. Trust me! If I know the lady is safe, it will be far easier for me to do what needs to be done. Do we understand one another.”

“Aye, my lord, we do.”

“Lord Alister?”

She was none to happy, never-the-less she complied. “Aye.”

“Thank you,” Washburn said. “What I am counting on, is that we will meet the Duke of Corwyn at the base of this valley, before the end of this day.” Better assured Wash spurred Shadow to move back in line ahead.

Wash cast out his senses again. (( 1d6 success on 4,5,or 6  rolled 4 Verification Number: 7drh5lgr23))   This time, as they moved into the open farmland, he was more assured that if they were being watched, it was from a greater distance. One that could not do immediate harm.

Offline Evie

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #274 on: February 23, 2018, 10:10:20 am »
((09:24   Valerian   !roll 3d6
09:24   derynibot   3, 3, 2 == 8
09:24   Valerian   !roll 3d6
09:24   derynibot   1, 2, 4 == 7

09:25   Aliset   !roll 2d6
09:25   derynibot   3, 1 == 4
09:25   Aliset   !roll 2d6
09:25   derynibot   1, 6 == 7))

Valerian watched from a distance, scrying for the Morgan stripling and the runaway de Mariot chit.  As the image of the travelers resolved into crystal clarity before him, he bit back a curse.  There, stretched out before them, was the wide-open vista of the beginning of the Gwynedd lowlands.  His minions had failed him, and he was beginning to run out of options.  He could not afford to stretch out his resources too thinly, after all; he needed to hold some reserves back for the taking of Ratharkin and eventually Laas.

But he was far from powerless to stop them, even at this remove.  He had a contingency plan. 

The table before him on which his scrying crystal sat also held an open map and a bowl of water.  Murmuring the words of an incantation, he began to sprinkle water upon the map, focusing his working over the stretch of terrain where the travelers rode, even now beginning their descent into Gwynedd.  As he sprinkled the parchment, he began to blow, his hot, heavy breath sweeping over the increasingly wet display before him.

================

Aliset surveyed the lowlands before her with a worried frown. Something felt...wrong somehow, but she could not say exactly what or why.  Those storm clouds in the distance were vaguely disquieting, though.  Summer showers were hardly a rare thing in Gwynedd or Meara, but what had started off as fluffy white clouds gathering like sheep overhead had begun to turn gray and ominous.  Could a storm be brewing?  She tried to cast out with her senses, wondering if perhaps they ought to find shelter, though she was loath to stop before their party reached the relative safety of Arx Fidei, or at least met up with the Duke of Corwyn's reinforcements.  However, distracted as she was by her growing sense of urgency to reach safety as soon as possible, she failed to detect anything unnatural about the gathering storm.

=================

Valerian frowned as he continued his weather working.  While the clouds looming above the escaping party grew darker and more ominous, large drops of rain beginning to fall upon them now and the grass bending under the winds he was creating, he had intended to wreak far more havoc upon them than that!  Slowly, never taking his eyes off the scene in the crystal before him, he stabbed one finger on the map above the unwary travelers, circling it above their heads, at first slowly but then with increasing fervor, attempting to create a vortex, a whirlwind to destroy all along its path.  But it was of no use.  With no one else at hand whose energies he might draw upon, the clouds in his view swirled uselessly above the escaping travelers, creating gusts and rain but little else.  All he had accomplished was a steadily more ruined map.  With a cry of fury, he hurled it across the room.

==================

With a cry of horror, Aliset saw the swirling clouds and suddenly realized this was no ordinary storm. 

"Sir Washburn!" she called out, pointing to the vortex attempting to coalesce above them.  "We must seek shelter, now!"

The knight, casting his gaze skyward, noted her cause for alarm. Searching the landscape below them frantically for someplace their party could escape to, the only shelter that seemed adequate was a stone-walled barn on a farm in the near distance.  Signalling to Lord Jaxom and Darcy, he indicated that they should all ride for cover to wait out the storm, hopeful that they might arrive in time to set up wards for additional protection, yet just as suddenly as the storm had arisen, it dispersed, leaving behind a cloudless, sunny sky.
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!

Offline revanne

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #275 on: February 23, 2018, 12:03:15 pm »
His Majesty the King ran his hands through his hair until it stood up on end. Dhugal and he had been friends for over half a century and sometimes his blood-brother was as exasperating now as he had been as a hot-headed young man.

"Dhugal, do you really need me to spell out for you the difference between a topic for discussion and an order!" But the expression in those grey Haldane eyes was less anger than frustration."

"Jesus Christ, man! - Sorry Duncan- Think, will you! I need you to return to Ballymar. I agree the rebels, whoever they are, are most likely to attack Ratharkin while Rory is absent, but sooner or later Laas will be in their sights. And short of a full scale invasion of Meara the best way of getting reinforcements to Laas is by sea from Ballymar."

Kelson looked at his glowering blood brother. "So I am not asking you, as you put it "to skulk like an old man by the sea while others have a share in the action" but ordering you to return home and ready that northern fleet that you and Richard Kirby have worked so hard to assemble."

Dhugal put down the goblet which he had been clutching tightly for fear he might succumb to the temptation to throw it at the King and, reaching over the small table which separated them, brushed his lips across the back of Kelson's hand.

"I'm sorry, Kelson and, to give you the answer I should have given ten minutes ago: as you command, Sire. I suppose I didn't expect to have to face this again. The fleet Richard and I have built has really been for trade with the Northlands. As you should know, my lord king, given how much more you've been extracting from my duchy in taxes." The red flush of anger and then embarassment faded from his face and his voice took on his normal teasing tone. Then more seriously he turned to look at borh his father and his king.

"How did we get here again though. Do you have any more idea of who is behind this.?"

Both men shook their heads and looked as worried as Dhugal felt.

Finally the king spoke. "There must be something that I am missing -some focal point but whoever is behind this has been far too clever. One thing though," and he paused as though thinking aloud. "Whatever the Mearan rebels may claim to think of Deryni, there is a Deryni behind this somewhere."





Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered;
    let those who hate him flee before him.
As smoke is driven away, so drive them away;
    as wax melts before the fire,
    let the wicked perish before God.
(Psalm 68 vv1-2)

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #276 on: February 23, 2018, 06:25:41 pm »
Darcy Cameron had seen many storms during his life at sea.  Many had come up as quickly as this one, but never had he seen one that was so suddenly gone.  Totally gone.  Bright sunshine dried his clothes as he rode forward.

He glanced aside toward Lady Aliset, in her guise as her brother, riding beside him.  She looked as disconcerted as he felt.

“Lord Alister,” Darcy said in a tone just loud enough to be heard above the sound of the horses.

“Master Darcy?”

“I suppose that was magic.”

Aliset sighed and nodded.  “I think it was a weather working, but it failed, thank goodness.”

“Aye, or we would not be in Gwynedd anymore.” 

Aliset gave him a surprised look and realized they had finally crossed from Meara into Gwynedd.  “Gwynedd,” she said softly.  “Do you think we can reach Arx Fidei before nightfall?”

“It may be farther than we can reach before the horses need rest.  And ourselves as well,” he added.  “It would stand us well if Duke Kelric reaches us before then.”

“Yes, it would.”

They rode on in silence.  The awkwardness they had both felt seemed to drift away.  It had been a chance moment, nothing more. 

Lady Aliset turned toward her man-at-arms and favoured him with a smile.  Darcy nodded in acknowledgement.  All was well, at least for now.
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Offline revanne

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #277 on: February 24, 2018, 04:13:25 pm »
Dhugal stood as though to go, began to make his bow, half-straightened, and slumped back into his chair, looking carefully at his feet. Part of what he had to say was a tad sensitive; although he was almost certain that Kelson would not take it amiss, shouting defiance at one's sovereign, however close a friend, was probably not the best way to mention something which if Kelson were so minded could be open to misinterpretation.

Kelson allowed the silence to continue, honest enough to admit to himself that both the man and the king in him were enjoying the other's discomfiture but before it could become really uncomfortable he spoke.

"Whatever it is you have to say, Dhugal, just say it. I won't bite your head off. I even promise not to start shouting first. And Duncan here can administer healing, absolution and penance, as appropriate, if it comes to blows."

Smiling, Duncan made a 'keep me out of this' gesture with his hand but the king's tone of voice was enough to let Dhugal know that he was forgiven. With more confidence he began,

"We both think that Ratharkin is a likely target and if that's the case then whoever is behind this will have most likely infiltrated even those we think to be loyal. God, I'll never forget poor Istelyn left to the wolves with those who should have been his protectors turning on him." Kelson looked ready to speak but Dhugal forestalled him, remembered pain in both their eyes though the martyred Bishop of whom they spoke had been dead more than half a century.

"There was no way you could have known," and he grasped Kelson's wrist in sympathy. "There was no way you could have known, and Rory has done miracles in winning most of the Mearans over, but there are always those ready to be bought."

Catching his father's eye he added, "And I'm as ready as you are, Da, to think that some at least of Rory's success is due to the intercession of Saint Henry Istelyn, as he is now."

Kelson knew that even a recently angry Dhugal would not have re-opened the wounds of the past without cause but he could not see where this was going and despite himself he shifted restlessly in his chair.

"Bear with me, Kelson," Dhugal begged. "Do you remember a young lad called Andrew McGregor?"

Kelson looked momentarily puzzled but Duncan gave a very unepiscopal guffaw. "The lad whose hide you tanned for him? And if I remember rightly he had to do with raising that ghost at Valoret? Well I'm assuming he escaped the gallows, though the way he was going someone must have been praying hard for him, but what became of him?"

"Well there were times when I thought I should have thrashed him a lot harder, and he's always been too clever for his own good, but give the man his due he was always utterly loyal to Jatham, and to Jatham's son when he succeeded to the Earldom. He was Jatham's master of arms for a stretch, not the most popular because even the wickedest of lads couldn't get away with a thing, but his mercenary blood was always wanting to get out and Rory and I decided to put it to good use. And, well for the last ten years or so he's been wandering through the villages of Meara in one disguise or another keeping his ear to the ground."

Dhugal looked sideways at Kelson, and murmured, "Forgive me Sire, if we should have asked your leave..." but Kelson smiled reassuringly. "Dhugal, you might make me pull my hair out, but I would never doubt your loyalty, nor Rory's. What worries me more is that he has had no hint of the latest trouble. Either he is not as good as you hoped or we have real problems. And I hesitate to ask this, but you are totally sure of his loyalty?"

"He allows me to Read his mind," Kelson raised his eyebrows questioningly, and Dhgal added, "Oh he bears me no ill-will, even at thirteen he was canny enough to know I could have inflicted far worse on him, and though he is a powerful Deryni in his own way, I doubt that he is skilled enough to fool both myself and Mirjana. As a spy, he's good. So good that what I suggest is that, this time with your knowledge and leave, we send him to Ratharkin. At best we'd have enough advance warning of any attack to bring the troops under Duncan Michael's command there in time, at worst a point of contact within the town."

Kelson continued to look dubious then nodded, "Like I said, you have my total trust. If you are prepared to vouch for his loyalty, then I accept it too. How soon can he get there?"

"As it happens he is in Culdi at the moment, had he been out in the wilds I'd not have mentioned him. Assuming I can contact him once I return to Ballymar, he could portal into Ratharkin tomorrow."

"Do that, then, and Dhugal, I really would rather have you here, but I fear we might be needing those ships. I have a feeling this is more than just a few Mearan hotheads."

Kelson stood up and when Dhugal stood in his turn - Duncan claimed the privilege of age and remained seated - and again made to bow Kelson seized him in an embrace and hugged him tight. "Go with God, my brother."

((Rolling for Dhugal to contact Andrew 3+4 = 7 rl533dxzzs- rats Dhugal must be too tired, or Andrew too drunk. He'll have to keep trying)).



Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered;
    let those who hate him flee before him.
As smoke is driven away, so drive them away;
    as wax melts before the fire,
    let the wicked perish before God.
(Psalm 68 vv1-2)

Offline DerynifanK

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #278 on: February 24, 2018, 05:54:03 pm »
((What ghost at Valoret? Did I miss something?))
« Last Edit: February 25, 2018, 04:09:00 pm by Evie »

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #279 on: February 25, 2018, 02:44:43 pm »

Youngsters minding their flooks turned to watch the group of men as they trotted by. It wasn’t often that nobility passed along this route. The sight was something to give young boys grand dreams of growing up and of knighthood.  Far from the thoughts of their sons, the farmers who watched were more alert and concerned.They watched the men pass, but their considerations ran more to what trouble was coming around. No one waved to the men, this was not a pageant of richness. Here was an armed group, serious in their attentiveness to their surroundings with dower expressions under their helms. The few farmers on the road with hay waggons and such were quick to veer off the path to let the riders pass.

On a better day, Wash would have loved to walk slower and take in the beauty of the valley. On another travel perhaps, he would come this way and do just that. Today, he was tense, looking at the faces they passed, assessing that each one ment them no harm. He almost wanted to apologize to the common folk for even thinking one of them might be an adversary. They didn’t deserve that judgement, yet he daren’t let his observations slip. Life and limb were dependant upon his not miss calculating the capabilities of their enemy.

At late morning they had traveled a good ten miles or more down the valley path. Aliset, I am going to try to contract my brother. Be even more vigilant while I am in trance if you would. He sent her in quick Mind Speech.

After she acknowledged him. Wash turned his gaze one last time around the green pastured land. He then pulled the Camber Medal from his tunic. He focused on the silver cowled face looking up at him. “Blessed Saint Camber, I beseech the, allow us an uneventful passage through this valley, may we come upon my brother with our party whole and well.” He whispered bringing the silver to his lips. With it cupped in his hands, he closed his eyes and reach out to Kelric.

((Washburn contacting Kelric. No longer at disadvantage, Maresha influence gone. 2d6 standard roll. Results 1-5= 6 success. Verification Number: 6pvsz44642))

There you are little brother,  Kelric answered his call with a sense of relief in the link. You’ve given the lady dowager a great deal of stress. It seems I am to get your delinquent self home, like I had to do in the old days. If she dishes out punishment it will not be my fault.

I assure you, I have endured punishment enough for my late coming. I will welcome maman’s punishment with a warm heart. Washburn replied. We are a third of the way down the valley. Did Her Grace contact you. Are you on the same road.

We are now, I recon would should meet you in less than two hours. Are you being followed?

We believe that we are, but that person has yet to show themselves. I do worry for Aliset’s sake. Baron Oswald means to make her his bride. And for some reason this man after us seems to think I would make a wealthy ransom. Who ever he is, he is a strong Deryni. Did you see that little storm dance earlier? I am glad that it failed.  Oh, and he plays with Maresha. Be wary.

Is that why we missed meeting you at Arx Fedei, last night? Concern tinging the duke’s words.

Aye it is.  Washburn said without elaborating more. We will step up our pace and met up with you as soon as can be. I need to go back to my surveillance.

Very well,  I will stay attentive if you need to contact me, the duke of Corwyn relayed.

Thank you, big brother, this isn’t the first time you've pulled me out of trouble, but it is the first time I will thank you ahead of time for doing so. Wash laughed thinking back on other times he had been in trouble-- better times.

Hah! I’ll take that. Just remember to thank me in front of maman. I want to see you be that humble.


Your rescue has a high price
. Wash said with a laugh. Very well, so be it.

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #280 on: February 25, 2018, 03:28:21 pm »
Feyd had positioned himself behind a small copse which kept him hidden from view but allowed him a good view of the path winding down the valley.  He had guessed correctly that they might come this way.  Nevertheless, he had left his few remaining resources along the road to Cuilteine, armed with merasha dipped crossbow bolts.

His own crossbow was propped against one of the trees.  He had thrust several of the tainted bolts into the ground beside it, ready for reloading.

He would have to make each shot count.  With luck, we would be able to get off a second shot before the others either ran for cover or charged his position.  He would aim his first shot at the Morgan whelp; the second would be for Lady Aliset; as lord or lady he would recognize her. 

Feyd saw the sudden buildup of dark, ominous clouds. The wind picked up and he caught his crossbow before it could be blown out of his reach.  The leaves of the trees gave him some shelter from the rain but not much. 

He had not expected the vortex that opened up in the sky between his position and Droghera.  It never touched the ground, instead it quickly dissipated along with the rest of the storm.

Feyd recognized it as a weather-working, one that had not succeeded.  No one in Meara could have produced that but the Grand Duke.  And he had failed.

Feyd considered his options.  Finally, he retrieved the bolts, put them back in their case, and with his crossbow still in hand, turned to retrieve his horse.  The plan had not gone well from the start, and the Grand Duke could not blame him for the final failure.  Nevertheless, he would not hurry to return to Grand Duke Valerian.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2018, 04:14:47 pm by Jerusha »
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Offline revanne

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #281 on: February 25, 2018, 05:44:09 pm »
I've realised that these scenes with Dhugal should really be happening the day before the latest action involving our characters. Please adjust your imaginations accordingly

(( First failed Roll for Dhugal to contact Andrew 3+4 = 7 rl533dxzzs. Second successfull roll 4+5 =9 7cvpf6z3m8))

Dhugal stepped out of the portal in his summer residence at Ballymar, pleased to note that the guard whom he had ordered to be in place at all time in the portal's antechamber had jumped to attention and stood with his hand on his sword hilt. Recognising his Duke he took his hand away and bowed deeply, beginning to apologise.

Dhugal gave him time to straighten then clasped his shoulder, "Padraig, never apologise for doing your duty. Understood."

"Aye, yer Grace. Thank ye - I didn't want ye to think I was aboot ta run ye through."

Dhugal smiled and continued through to the Ducal quarters, with a word for each of the guards he met on the way, thanking God as he did so for their loyalty. He was thankful, too, that though Ballymar was the place where he, Mirjana, and the family could relax away from the pressures of court life, being where it was up on the northern shore of Cassan and at the edge of the highlands, it was more castle than palace and accordingly defensible.

He knocked on the door of Mirjana's solar, and entered at the sound of her voice to find her sitting alone save for a maid who was dressing her hair ready for bed. The maid curtseyed deeply, and rose, flustered, when Dhugal gently took the brush from her hand and dismissed her with a "Ye can go now, lass, I can see to her Grace's hair." As the door closed, Mirjana teased gently, with that trace of a foreign accent which Dhugal had come to love, "I'll thank you not to scandalise my maids, my Lord," but one look at his face showed her that he was in no mood for jest or indeed for dalliance.

Briefly Dhugal told her of his conversation with Kelson and of the orders he had received. "Och, I shouldna 'a shouted at him like that, but he worries me when I'm no there to protect him. Wi' Alaric gone these many years and Duncan an old man,"

"And many good young men there, as loyal and as ready to die for their King as you," Mirjana interjected gently and took his head onto her lap. Dhugal lay there, as she gently brushed his hair back from his forehead with her hand. She was right. His head knew it, his heart just had difficulty accepting the fact that he was no longer the young warrior Duke who had saved the lives of both his father and his king and he wondered, as he had wondered before, whether Alaric was not in fact the most fortunate of them all, to die in his prime in the service of the liege Lord he had served so faithfully and loved more than life itself. As he was drifting off to sleep he forced himself awake with an effort.

"Andrew, I'm supposed to be contacting Andrew.!" He sat up, rapidly explained to Mirjana what Kelson had agreed to and began to hunt for the medal, the twin of which Andrew held, which would enable him to make contact even over the miles which separated Ballymar from Culdi where Andrew currently was, enjoying what was supposed to have been a few weeks of summer leave.

"My love, think! I think he'll not be expecting a contact at this hour, no? And he'll most likely be in a tavern somewhere, yes? And how will he get access to the portal in Culdi Castle, even with your token, at this hour of the night even supposing he is sober?

Dhugal was forced to agree (( failed roll)), he would try again at first light which came early enough in these summer months, when Andrew would be alone in his lodgings, and if past experience was anything to go by, none the worse for the copious amounts of ale he had drunk.

                                             ***************************************************
Dhugal rolled away from Mirjana and sitting on the edge of the bed held a small brass medal in his hand. He allowed himself to drift into a trance and reached out with his thoughts, far away, and then further still until he reached the mind he sought, the touch made familiar with long years of contact. He sensed drowsiness, a gradual awakening and then the sudden jump to full alertness of the trained spy, whose life might depend on his ability to regain his senses in a instant. ((successful roll for contact))

"My Lord? Is aught wrong?"

"Aye, least ways something's afoot. As soon as you can the morn come here to Ballymar."

"Aye, Sir. 'Tis near enough morn now, the castle'll be stirring within the hour."

The contact was broken but Dhugal knew that Andrew arrive through the portal before most folk had broken their fast. He'd best make sure that the guards knew to expect him.

       ************************************************************
The two men sat in the Duke's private withdrawing room behind the Great Hall, supplied with bread, meat and ale to break their fasts. Andrew McGregor was a very different man from the lad he had thrashed all those years ago, thickset and weathered rather than slender and raw, but the most important change was that he was comfortable in his own self and in his identity as Deryni. He might use his gifts in ways that largely went unnoticed but here was a man who had found his place in life.  As the Duke explained the nature of his task to Andrew, the latter frowned looking worried.

"I dinna ken how I've no heard nothing of this, my lord". And I'm not liking either of the reasons which I can speir. Either I'm losing ma touch at this game, or yon's a verra powerful deryni wha's ahint a' this."

"The last is my fear, and that of his Majesty the King. But maybe Ratharkin will be where ye can find something to gie us a clue."

Andrew stood, bowed and then hesitated, the scene reminding Dhugal of his own hesitancy before the king the day before. He gestured the other to speak; Andrew took a deep breath and began as though he already knew what the answer would be but felt he must speak anyway.

"Your Grace." - Another deep breath -"If we're dealing with yin as powerful as ye speir, maybe now tis the time for ye to set a death trigger. I'd sooner that than betray any of yous." ((Rolling to see whether Dhugal sets a death trigger in Andrew. Dice roll 3+4=7 5ts3wp3gdj))

This was an old argument and though Dhugal could see the sense behind the request he was no happier with the idea than he had been when Andrew had first mooted it. It smacked too much of dark magic for his liking, and his father had been vehemently opposed when he had mentioned the suggestion to him.

"I understand why you ask, but there is one thing about having an Archbishop for a father, you're left in no doubt as to what would be mortal sin. His Excellency says no, and so do I, but I make no doubt he'll be praying all the harder for you."

Whether or not Andrew found that a comfort, he was far too wise to say. Bowing again he merely said, "As your Grace decides," and went on his way back to the portal and thence to Ratharkin. Dhugal feared for what he might find there.

Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered;
    let those who hate him flee before him.
As smoke is driven away, so drive them away;
    as wax melts before the fire,
    let the wicked perish before God.
(Psalm 68 vv1-2)

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #282 on: February 26, 2018, 08:02:43 am »
Feyd was well versed in the old portal locations. He would use them again and take the nearest available portal to Rhemuth and wait.

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #283 on: March 01, 2018, 04:11:23 am »
Huntsman Rayne Lanackie could not appreciated Master Feyd’s order to be the one to race south on the road to Cuilteine. The orders were for him to contact the Mearan loyalists in that town; enlist them to detain any of the southward travelers until Master Feyd could interrogate them. The orders did not end there. Rayne was to travel further on the road to an estate near Arx Fidei activating the loyalist there. The huntsman considered these orders a poor use of his talents. He wanted to be in on the current action. But Feyd wasn’t the type of man you held your ground against. Rayne had said, ‘Yes sir, I will do that, sir,’ even if it went against the huntsman’s instincts.

Rayne was Sir Oswald’s man, Baron Oswald now. He had helped his master take down the old Baron de Mariot in an ‘accident’ that no one suspected to be fowl play until other family members started to die off too. Rayne was proud of his accomplishments. Oswald paid him well for those past deeds. But then the daughter got away.  T’was fortunate that the escape had not been Rayne’s responsibility.  The person’s whose responsibility it had been, had met with a nasty demise. Soon after the girl’s escape, Baron Oswald had come to Rayne demanding, “Find her, bring her back to me!  Harmed is fine, Dead is Not! Just don’t maim that pretty face of hers. My wife needs to be pretty. Use this and she won’t give you any trouble.” The baron had handed him a strange looking device. It was a hollow needle made of gold, shaped like a curved barb, attached to a tube with rings that fit on the inside of the index finger and a bulb at the end of the tube that rested inside the palm of the hand. A Deryni pricker the baron had called it. The bulb was full of Maresha. Touch any Deryni with the hooked needle, squeeze a little on the bulb and the drug would render the victim insensible. Rayne rather relished the idea of giving it a try. The device was in a tin canister in his bag, just waiting for a time when he could use it.

Master Feyd, however, had taken control of Oswald’s small group and Feyd’s instruction came from a Grand Duke. Rayne’s personal tasks would have to wait while he did as Feyd ordered. So on that morning, he had galloped his horse though the farmers and their herd of cows, causing the necessary distraction to bring about the capture the Lendour knight. He hated missing out on the excitement of capturing the enemy. So much so, that once he was out of sight of those on the road, he doubled back through the trees to see how it all played out.

Ha! Good, that arrogant knight was down. Two of Feyd’s men were dragging the unconscious nobleman to his doom. That would make his job of catching the girl so much easier.  He had a good notion that she would not get herself captured as easily as that knight just did, so his time to catch her himself would be forthcoming.

Oh! Look there, a wounded man was up in the big tree. This man, although weaving unsteadily, was holding himself firm to the tree branch out of Feyd’s reach. Rayne recognized him as the girl’s first protector. He would have happily taken this man out of his misery, if it hadn’t been for more men coming up the hill on horseback. Time it was to leave. Rayne raced his horse away, smug in his knowledge that the man in the tree would be soon dead and the knight wasting away in a dungeon cell. The Huntsman could complete his orders and then he would see to his real task of capturing the girl.

He galloped onward to the the town of Cuilteine. It didn’t take him long to find the contact Feyd had in that town. Feyd’s orders were passed along to the few loyalists there. They would stop anyone who managed to escape the ambush that had happened on the road. Rayne’s orders were not done, yet. Much as he wanted to stay in Cuilteine, he had one more place to ride to; he was to stop at a small estate outside Arx Fedei. This was the furthest out that the loyalists had infiltrated. As a last attempt, they needed to be aware of the game that was afoot. So Rayne had spent the night sleeping in that estates gate house, dreaming of using his pricker and seeing the effects of Maresha on that willful de Mariot runaway.

The sound of horses and men trotting up the main road had woken Rayne up to the first light of the new day. He had looked through the estates bared gates to see twenty or more riders. The banner was black with a green gryphon. Everyone knew the blazon of Corwyn. What in blazes was the Duke of Corwyn doing on the fringes of Meara? Feyd had to be warned.

There would be no passing the riders on the main road. Only one other way would get him to Droghera ahead of those riders and that was the Gwynedd Hidden valley road. Rayne’s mount was quickly saddled and he was off, up that road at a full run.

The huntsman made good time. By noon he was more than half way up the valley. That is when he saw the glints of shine on metal far ahead of him. The cloud cover had dissipated quickly to let the sun illuminate the zenith. Those strange clouds had been an oddity. But Rayne thought little about it. He was just glad he saw that helmed group of riders while he was some ways down the valley from them. It wasn’t hard to surmised that they weren’t loyalist. No they had to be more of those dratted king's men. Hum, think, he had time, if he could stop them, even slow them down, he would be doing his Queen a great favor.

Rayne veered off the road to enter an open barn on one of the larger farmsteads. Up in the vally's side hills, he had seen a man and several boys moving their cattle from one field to another. They would be too busy to notice him. He entered the barn and looked around. All sorts of tools and instruments hung from the walls and rafters. What would be a simple effective trap. With more time he could imagine several ways to take out riders. But what he had to do, he had to be fast and unobtrusively. He looked in a wooden bucket on a high shelf. Hah! That would do!

Still seated on his horse, he stood in the saddle and pulled the heavy bucked down. Cobwebs and dust came way with the bucket. It had not been moved in decades. Balancing the bucket before him on the saddle he examined one of the caltrops. Roughly made, not quiet as glorious as the old Rum war-caltrops with their barred ends. But these would do just as well. They had likely been made during the last Mearan wars. The farmers may have thought to use them to hold the Mearan army's back in the old days. There were at least two dozen of the four-pronged star devices, each metal prong three inches long. 

Rayne carried his toys back out onto the road. The upper edge of this farmer’s land was marked by a hedge three feet high and a gate that could be closed across the road. Rayne leaned over to closed the gate. Then at about three to six feet out, on the east side of the gate, he began to evenly spread out his toys. He knew many horses preferred jumping the wide hedges rather than the taller gate, so he tossed several caltrops into the grasses, both north and south of the gate.  All thirty devices were spread out, all standing with a deadly point upward to catch horses hooves, most were hidden in the grass and the few on the road would not be seen from the upside of the close gate. The huntsman looked about, assuring himself that no one had seen him, and then he galloped back down the valley, past the barn and past the next farmstead, he then ducked into a copse of trees to watch.  He waited about thirty minutes before he saw the riders as they galloped down the road. They most certainly looked to be in too much of a hurry to stop and open that gate. Most soldiers and nobleman would happily challenge themselves to a good jump; the sport of hunting necessitated the polishing of such a skill. Whether they jumped over the gate or the hedges, it mattered not to Rayne. Either way they would land right on top of his scattered little toys.

The hunter smiled with pleasure at the prospect of squealing tumbled horses and thrown injured men.

((Unless something occurs to stop the first two or three pairs of riders in the galloping group, a nobleman who is a good rider and knows how to take jumps rolls a 3d6 to see if they get over the hedge or gate. A soldier or less skilled rider rolls a 2d6 to get over the jump.  If a successful jump is made, a disadvantage 1d6 is rolled, 5 or 6=avoid injury.  2, 3, or 4= horse is lamed up. 1 horse goes down. Then if horse goes down, roll another 1d6  If 5 or 6 =rider is uninjured. 2,3, 4=rider takes one hit point. 1=rider takes 2 hit points because he lands on one of the caltrops. It will take two or three injured horses before the riders behind pull up and not take the jump.))
« Last Edit: March 01, 2018, 04:24:06 am by Laurna »

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #284 on: March 01, 2018, 02:34:28 pm »

The Gwynedd men were making good time at a good canter now that they were half way down the valley. Duke Kelric would not be too much further ahead, yet so far there was no sign of him. Just ahead there was a closed gate across the road, but that didn’t deter Sir Washburn in the least. If anything it caused the men around him to straighten their riding positions and to tighten their spurs against their horses flanks. Nothing like an invigorating jump.  Wash made a last sweep of the countryside looking for adversaries just as they were coming upon the closed gate.

10:11 Laurna Washburn seeking for adversaries anywhere near 1d6 roll succeed on a 4,5, or 6
10:11 Laurna !roll 1d6
10:11 derynibot 6 == 6
Wash detects an adversary far ahead.

There far ahead, much further than the range of a bow-shot, was an adversary in the distant trees. The group was nearly upon the gate. In the few paces before jumping, Washburn decided the barn ahead would be the best place to pull his group up, and decide then, how best to handle the enemy ahead.

“To the barn!” the knight yelled to everyone, just as Lord Jaxom prepared to jump the gate and the first man-at-arms moved to the hedge to make his jump.

 

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