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Author Topic: Ghosts of the Past  (Read 51185 times)

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Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #450 on: June 11, 2018, 10:55:21 am »
Robert O’Malley watched as the young lord proceeded to demolish the practice target with his sword.  Chips of wood and straw of varying sizes were rapidly accumulating on the ground around the target.

Lord Darcy, after being introduced to Sir Tomas, the weapons master on duty, had been given access to the target in the far corner of the practice ground.  He had stripped down to his hose, drawn his sword and lost no time getting started.  Robert noted that although Darcy was below average height, he did not lack breadth of shoulder.  The man was well muscled, but the scars that laced his back were disturbing and caught a glance from several of the boys who were finishing up their own training for the day.

His first blows were clearly fueled by anger, but it had not taken long for him to work into a disciplined, accurate style, albeit an unusual one.  After honing the strikes of his right arm, he had switched to his left.  He had changed hands several times, and soon Robert could not have said which arm the man preferred.  By now Lord Darcy’s torso was glistening with sweat.

Sir Tomas walked over to stand beside Robert.  He studied Darcy carefully.  “He’s not following the traditional forms,” he said after a few moments. “That uppercut was either learned from a pirate or a brigand.  Not exactly a clean fighter, but an effective one.”  Robert bowed as Sir Tomas drifted away.

There was one final piece left on the cross-arm of the target.  Darcy aimed a punishing blow, sliced it off and then stopped his stoke a mere finger’s width short of the centre pole.  His muscles bulged with the effort and then relaxed.  Satisfied with the result, Darcy picked up his shirt and tunic and walked over to Robert.

“If I may ask, Lord Darcy,” Robert asked as Darcy began to wipe himself down with his shirt.  “What drove your last move?”

“Ah,” Darcy responded while pushing strands of damp hair from his face.  “Sometimes you have to stop a blow when you least expect it.  We were being boarded by pirates in the Northern Sea.  This was a few years ago, mind.  I had two of the miscreants in front of me, and I knew I could take them.  Just as I swung my blade, our 10-year-old cabin boy decided I needed help.  If I hadn’t stopped the blow in mid-air, I would have taken his head off.  You never know when circumstances will change, so it’s good to practice such a move. Now, which way to my brother’s quarters?”

Robert wasn’t sure he believed the tale, but it could be true.  “They are on the other side of the main courtyard,” he said.

As Darcy started forward, Robert added, “My Lord, you should put your shirt back on.”  Darcy gave him a questioning look.  “This is Rhemuth, Lord Darcy.  Some degree of decorum is expected.”

Darcy rolled his eyes heavenward.  A man’s naked torso had never been at issue at sea.  Nevertheless, Darcy shrugged into the shirt, which clung damply to his skin.  “This is hardly an improvement,” he said.

Robert grinned at him.  “It will do, my Lord.  Though you might impress a few ladies on the way.”

Darcy sighed.  “The only lady I care to impress won’t see me.”

Robert wisely remained silent as he led the way to Sir Iain’s apartments.
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Offline Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #451 on: June 11, 2018, 02:30:02 pm »
His captor said barely a murmured word and Wash felt the restraints lift from his mind. For the first time in hours he legs responded to his own command and he could move. He tried not to think about the magic involved, rather instead he stretched his legs and enjoyed the rush of blood back into his feet. The bindings at his ankles stayed taught, his captor showed no sign of willingly loosening them. Wash thought of complaining, but then thought better of it. He did really feel an urgency now that he could move and the humility of losing his chance to save some honor kept him silent. As he used tied hands to roll on to his knees, he realized he still held the healer’s scroll, he didn’t want to loss that item so expensively gained, so he quickly tucked it inside of his tunic. Then with a push and a jump he was on his feet.

The scholar moved back as he stood, the palmed pricker held firm before him. Why did it seem such an impossible task to beat down this man, even with his wrists tied? Because not one muscle in a hundred would obey him to move toward his captor. With a harsh sigh, Wash knew that any attempt at escape would have to be all or none. He would never get a second chance. The man said this was not a good place to make that attempt. He looked around him from wall to wall. As he had guessed, the only entrance had been blocked by a mound of rubble. The steady glow of moonlight showed breaks in the walls above, one as low as twelve feet up. In normal circumstances he could escape this place easily. Nothing about this night was normal. The Scholar would have to be gone or incapacitated first. Unless his captor made some grievous mistake, his success of him taking down the Deryni Scholar was none.

Wash looked back at the warning scowl on the Scholar’s lips. Purposely, Wash eased the tension in his own shoulders, and with a genuine smile he claimed, “I really do have to go.” Making small two-footed hops toward the darkest portion of the ruined Portal room, he found a spot littered with stones and there he did what he had to do, much to his own relief.

A few minutes later he re-adjusting clothes and hopped on for another pace or two, careful to not trip on the rubble strewn across the marble floor. “This place looks to be as old as your family’s vengeance. Looks to have been destroyed at the time of the Harrowing. I’ll say this was a Deryni Establishment since a Portal is here. I am surprised the Portal is still functional." he looked around him contemplatively. "I wonder if the arched opening over there, had been brought down on purpose, possibly to give time enough for the people who lived here to escape.”

He had hopped to the place where the lowest break in the wall stood. It called to him, it wouldn’t be that difficult to scramble up those stones and to jump catching his hand on that out sticking beam. Then pull himself up and over to safety. That safety was an illusion. Already the the Scholar was stepping forward, his mouth preparing to issue a restraining command. A command Wash knew he could not defeat. Instead, he turned his back on the low wall and took a hop continuing to circle the room.  “I’ll make a guess that this may have been one of those outlawed houses of the Michealine Order? Weren’t several destroyed in quick succession?” He continued moving around the room hoping to get some answers of where they were and hopping with deliberate small steps too delay the inevitable return to his drugged state on those furs lying in the center of the floor. The scholar’s expression eased just enough to give an amused smile at his captive’s tactics, yet he offered no answer. “Surely there is no harm in confiding in me where we are at? If I had to make a true guess, I would say we are either in the destroyed Michaeline establishment at Mollingford or the smaller burnt out house at Cuilteine.  If we are near Cuilteine, I know of an evil troll not far from here that likes to seek out a good meal during the darkness of the night.”

A winning smile passed Washburn’s lips. The tales of the Troll were still clear in his memory, as was the comradery of the man who had been with him in that cave. Just now, what was Lord Darcy doing? He was going after Lady Aliset, that was what he was doing.  And Father Columcil too, would be at Darcy’s side. Together, they were a good team. Washburn looked up briefly at the moon. He whisper a prayer that his two friends would succeeded in all their endeavors, including most of all, winning back the freedom of Lady Aliset.

« Last Edit: June 11, 2018, 03:24:35 pm by Laurna »

Online Bynw

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #452 on: June 11, 2018, 03:23:47 pm »
The Scholar nods at Washburn. "So you are educated at least. It is old and Deryni. But the Portal here is new. The one that the Michealines used is quite dead. We are near Cuilteine, at least 3 days ride from Rhemuth. The singing are the sisters at the Abby nearby. Too far away when you cannot scream and even if you could, it would still be too far away. And the troll and other hauntings keep away the locals. Few come here, and there are Wards to warn us if they do."

He stops and watches Washburn move toward the perceived escape route. "If you miss, tied up as you are, you could hurt yourself or even die. I am not a healer. Don't risk it. This is not the place or time for heroics. But if I must bring your lifeless body to Meara than that is what I will do."

Offline Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #453 on: June 12, 2018, 05:07:22 am »
“Meara? Damn, I just spent a week escaping from that place. What of the lady? Did your accomplice take her back to Meara too? To Oswald?!” Wash spat the name with disgust.                 

“Not my accomplice.” The scholar denied. “I wasn’t contracted for the girl. His contract nearly screwed up mine. I almost willing killed him for you, because of it. But then….” the Scholar shrugged. “Things worked out. ” He stressed the next word, “almost as good as I had originally planned it to be. Sometimes things just happen because they are meant to happen. Like the Moor stealing your lady. And like you turning your back on me to protect her.” The scholar gave a wide smile. “Perfect moments like that, just don’t happen everyday. Trust me, this is exactly how it is meant to be.”

“Trust you? Never!” Wash turned back to the break in the wall. He made two long hops using his hands to push off a taller boulder

((14:52 Laurna Wash jumps to a boulder then leaps to grab the beam up above him. All actions are at a 6 only Disadvantage.
14:52 Laurna !roll 1d6
14:52 derynibot 6 == 6
14:52 Laurna !roll 1d6
14:52 derynibot 5 == 5))

Wash gets both his feet squarely up on the broken stone. With a great double footed kick off, he grabs for the beam over his head. His fingers touch it, but all too suddenly with a Word of Power from the scholar his arms go numb. (No need to roll, the Scholar’s controls are well established.)  In that second, his lifeless body fell from the height of the beam. Another yelled Word of Power and Wash felt his muscles return to his command just in time to take the brunt of his weight onto his ankles and knees He broke his fall with a roll on the ground, landing just to the side of the boulder he had leaped from. 

(( I need to see if Wash gets injured. 1d6 disavatage 1 yes, 2-5 mild, 6 no. This will help me decide how to play this.  Rolled = 6 Verification Number: 2h0mq4z3z0))

Furious with himself for even making such a try, the solitary knight, with loyalties to no man but himself, pushed back up onto his own tied up feet. He was utterly amazed he hadn’t broken anything.  With out a single word, in abject submission, he hopped back over to the furs and sat his butt down upon them defeated. “You know I had to try, damn you!”

“I told you multiple times, ‘not here’!”

“You say this was meant to be. I will tell you what is meant to be-” Washburn growled in the harshest of low tones.  “You get me to Meara, treat me as a beaten slave, that will not matter. What will matter is if something bad has happened to Aliset, then I swear to you heads will roll!”
« Last Edit: June 12, 2018, 04:16:57 pm by Laurna »

Offline revanne

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #454 on: June 13, 2018, 05:32:57 pm »
Dhugal stopped by a door in the corridor and without pausing to knock pushed the door open and entered, his eyes telling Columcil to do the same. There was a Haldane archer on the other side of the door with his bow strung at the ready but recognising Dhugal he made no attempt to intercept them. Columcil saw a man lying huddled on the bed, his face turned to the wall, with a healer standing looking frustrated next to him, though he was being careful not to touch him.

"He flinches away every time I even lay a hand on him, though physically he is only bruised, apart from a sprained wrist and an elbow that he has somehow managed to pull out of joint. Andras there said that you would be coming so I thought it best not to force the issue but to wait for you, Your Grace." As he spoke the healer drew away from the bed and bowed to Dhugal, deeply enough to show deference to Dhugal's ducal rank but also conveying the respect of one healer to another. Columcil he favoured with an interested stare and a courteous nod of the head.

Dhugal approached the bed and said in a low voice, "Richard?", but the huddled figure made no sign that he had heard. Dhugal spoke louder, but again there was no response. Torn by his exasperated compassion which left him unsure whether or not to shake a response out of his long-time friend, Dhugal was about to put out a tentative hand to take Richard by the shoulder when the latter heaved himself over and sat up. His face was drawn and white and there were marks of tears on his face but his voice was quite calm as he asked,

"Am I under arrest?" Then catching sight of Columcil he added in a much more strained voice, "Have you come to give me the last rites, Father, before I must meet my executioner?"

The pent up tension of the last few days and most especially the hours since Wash's capture sudenly found an outlet for Dhugal and he all but shouted,

"Yon archer is there for yer protection and we'll no be wastin' oor time healin' ye for a hangman's noose, so shut yer bletherin'."

Columcil and the healer exchanged shocked glances but perversly the outburst seemed to have had a better effect than the healer's more gentle attempts at persuasion, as Richard managed a shaky smile. Dhugal, aware of both the glances and the unnerving realisation of how much he sounded like his son when he allowed the long buried but still present Transha lad to surface in moments of emotion, swallowed hard and spoke more peaceably,

"There is no blame to you in any of this. You heard the King?"

"I thought I heard him, and felt the warmth of his touch, like the blessing of a saint. But lying here, with an armed guard over there and going over everything in my head, I can't make sense of any of it. Only that I saw Lord Morgan's youngest in need of help and I went to give it, only to find myself with my hands around your Grace's throat. As God is my witness I do not know how they got there. I would have torn my arms off before I did such a thing to you, My Lord,  and I cannot find it in me to blame the King's men for all but having my arms out of joint before they dropped me back to the floor. I had begun to wonder if I had dreamed the king's pardon. Please, my Lord, will you tell me what is going on?"

To hear such a proud man with pleading in his voice was almost too much for Dhugal but best see if they could heal him before distressing him further with the appalling details of what had been done to him. Allowing only calm authority to enter his voice he replied,

"I will tell you, you have my word, but first Father Columcil and I will heal those wounds. The King needs both of us back in Ballymar, and you're no use to him with no grip to your wrists."

Richard looked unsure, but as a man whose word at sea was law he recognised the authority in Dhugal's voice and responded to it, and besides if there was any man he trusted it was Dhugal.

"I'll not say I'll not be glad to be rid of this pain. Aye, I'll be grateful Your Grace, and to you too Father."

Dhugal noticed that the healer who had been with Richard was slipping out of the room, obviously feeling that he was not needed here, and Dhugal nodded to the archer to take up guard outside the door, feeling relieved when this man obeyed without question and shut the door behind him.

To Dhugal's surprise, though perhaps it should not have been, Columcil seemed totally at ease. He could sense no trepidation at the thought of healing with another and Dhugal realised that the complications of their relationship and the traumas that surrounded them had been swallowed up for him by his experience as a priestly healer and it was he that asked,

"Will you initiate the rapport, my Lord?" and offered his hands for the other to take. Dhugal took them, realising that he was far more nervous, but the other's shields rolled back with an ease that was again eerily reminiscent of working with his father and together they entered into healing trance ((4+1+6=11 6ll1ckgbq)).

Richard's own strength of body was already beginning to deal with the bruises and it was only a matter of encouraging the blood to flow more strongly to repair the injured tissue. The wrenched joints took a little longer but in truth it did not need both of them. Richard had spoken of the warmth of the King's touch bringing blessing and as they came out of trance Dhugal hoped that it was not presumptious of him to have felt the same blessing from his son's touch, both physical and psychic. ((Richard is healed 4+5+5= 14 6ll1ckgbq. Hit points recovered 3 3pf87j3bdr which given the scale of his injuries seems a full recovery to me)).

Richard swung his legs over the side of the bed but made no move to stand up. Taking the hint Dhugal sat down beside him - Columcil standing a little apart - and told him as honestly as he could what had happened. Richard said nothing for a while then spoke hesitently.

"My father used to tell me of the hatred the Deryni were met with, and neither he nor I could ever understand it, having only met with those who used their powers for good. I think I begin to understand a bit more now. Forgive me, Your Grace, Father! For all that I know what you just did for me was good, as is all I've ever seen or heard of what your Grace does, and I'm sure is true of a priest like yourself, Father, I don't know that I'll feel so comfortable around Deryni for a while if they can truly take over a man's mind like that with such ease."

There was nothing to be said to that so nothing was said until Richard continued,

"And far be it from me to speak against the king but I'm not so sure there is no blame to me. If I had not gone hurtling in there as I did without stopping to weigh the danger, if I had given place to your Grace, as I ought, and so not allowed myself to be used against Your Grace, then maybe Lord Washburn could have been saved alongside her ladyship."

Both Columcil and Dhugal did demurr at that and both tried to convince Richard that the King had meant just what he said and that it was not for him to deny the force of the King's pardon given so personally and publically.

Finally, feeling that there was no time for this and that the best cure for self-doubt lay in action, Dhugal got to his feet and pulled Richard to his,

"Enough of this! We have work to do in Ballymar" Going to the door he pulled it open and ordering the archer to follow behind he and Richard made their way back to the library.

Columcil watched them go,  left with the uncomfortable feeling that Richard's full acceptance of forgiveness was in words only and touched neither his mind nor his heart. His own mind and heart, though, were with another patient who had suffered far more than Richard at the hands of the unknown assailant -- as they were with Washburn suffering who knew what torments. Well there was nothing he could do about the young Lord for whom he had gained such an affection, other of course than pray, but in the morning he could perhaps find out how Aliset did. He turned his steps towards his quarters resolving that in the morning he would visit the Queen's tower in the hope that one within might be gracious enough to come out and tell him how she fared.

((Modified to allow for it being night by now)).

 

« Last Edit: June 18, 2018, 03:35:23 am 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 #455 on: June 14, 2018, 09:04:01 am »
King Kelson of Gwynedd and Prince Javan descended the stone stairs down to the Rhemuth Castle dungeon.  The steps had been worn smooth over hundreds of years, so care had to be taken not to slip and fall.  More than one prisoner over time had fallen down the stairs; one could never be sure if it was by accident or design. 

Two guards in Haldane livery proceeded the king and his heir and two more followed.  Water could be heard dripping as they reached the bottom of the stairs.  The air was damp and musty.  It was not healthy to be here; but then, it wasn’t supposed to be.  The depressing atmosphere helped to put prisoners in the proper state of mind for questioning.

Lord Jaxom had been put in a cell closer to the stairway where conditions were marginally better.  The Moorish prisoner had been placed in a cell farther down where little light penetrated except for that provided by the torches that were lit beside some of the cells. 

The guard outside the cell door snapped to attention.  “The prisoner has been pretty quiet since he was given the merasha,” the guard reported. “Except for the initial cursing and swearing.” 

“Did you find anything when you searched him?” Javan asked.

“A fair amount of coin, a crystal amulet on a leather cord, a belt knife; nothing else out of the ordinary.  They are wrapped in that cloth on the floor beside the door.  Duke Dhugal advised us not to touch them with our bare hands.  The guard unlocked the door and swung it open for the king and his party to enter. 

The Moorish tradesman huddled on the floor with shackles secured to his wrists and ankles.  Stout chains further secured him to a central ring in the wall.  He did not look up as one of Kelson’s guards entered with a torch; nor did he stir as king and prince entered.

“Look at me,” the king commanded.  The man on the floor before him did not move.  At a nod from Kelson, the second guard came forward, grabbed the man by his hair and forced him to look up.

The man was not a pretty sight.  The blood that had gushed from his nose had dried and caked the side of his mouth and jaw.  The eyes had trouble focusing, whether from the merasha or from Dhugal’s punch to his head Kelson could not be sure. 

Will Kelson set off a death trigger when he begins to question the prisoner?
Jerusha   !roll 2d6
15:41   derynibot   1, 1 == 2
(Failure can be a friend.  With snake eyes, Kelson may not be able to shut him up.)

Will Kelson be able to force the prisoner to tell him the truth?
Jerusha   !roll 2d6
15:42   derynibot   4, 2 == 6
(I’m reading a 4 as success, since Kelson is ritual trained due to the Haldane Potential.)

“You will answer all my questions with the truth,” Kelson said, sending the Truth-Say compulsion to the merasha soaked mind.  He could not read the man’s mind directly because of the merasha, but he could send the compulsion with minimal distress.  He drew back from the mental disruption as quickly as possible.

“What is your name?” Kelson asked.

The man glared at the king and spat.  “Jabir Ibn Habib.” 

The king noticed that the man had lost both front teeth.  “Where are you from?” he asked.

“Khasifa.”  Jabir looked at the king blearily.  “What if I make you a bargain?  What if I tell you what I know, and you release me after?”

Kelson barked a short laugh.  “You know I will not let you go.  But tell me what you know, and I will decide how swift your death will be.”

“How do I know you will grant me that consideration, if I tell you all?”

Kelson looked at him coldly.  “You don’t.  But you have my word I will at least consider it.”

“I will tell you what I know.”  The change rattled as Jabir shifted his position on the hard floor.  At a nod from Kelson, the guard released his grip on the prisoner’s hair.

“I was contracted to capture your Lady Aliset and move her by Portal to a destination in Meara.  I was not told the destination; I would be told after I captured her successfully.  I discovered two men best able to assist me, whose affections for the lady were plain to see if one looked closely enough.  My first choice turned out to be unavailable, having left Rhemuth in the morning, but the second played right into my hands.”

Kelson let him continue, keeping his face expressionless, as did Javan.  When he reached the end, Javan spoke for the first time.  “I have questions I would like to ask.”

Kelson nodded and spoke directly to Jabir.  “You will answer Prince Javan’s questions as if they were my own.”

“What poison was on the ring?” Javan asked, studying the prisoner’s face carefully.

“It is an old recipe, carefully guarded by those who know its power.”  Jabir’s grin displayed his missing teeth.  “I do not know the formula.”

“Where did you get it?” Javan asked.

“It came with the ring.” 

Javan decided to try a different approach.  “How were you to be told the location to take Lady Aliset?”

“I was to contact the man through mind speech,” Jabir responded.  “He would tell me once we made contact, and my possession of the lady was confirmed.

Was Javan imagining it, or was the man becoming nervous?

Will Javan’s closer questioning set off a death trigger in the prisoner?
Jerusha   !roll 2d6
15:43   derynibot   5, 5 == 10
Sigh….

“Who gave you the ring?  Who was it who contracted you to kidnap Lady Aliset?” Javan demanded.

“Stop!” Jabir cried out, but it was too late.  He gripped he head with both hands and collapsed, his body jerking in the throes of death until it lay still.

“Damnation!” Javan exclaimed.   

“I expected it,” King Kelson replied calmly, laying a hand on his son’s shoulder.  “We are dealing with someone too cunning not have covered his tracks with a death trigger.  We should have a careful look at that amulet.”

As they left the cell, the guard was staring at the cloth bundle as his feet. “It was the oddest thing, your Majesty,” he said.  “All of a sudden the bundle sort of jumped a bit.  I’m sure I didn’t imagine it.”

Prince Javan looked at his father and then crouched down by the bundle.  He drew his dagger from its sheath and carefully unfolded the cloth with its tip.  The inside of the cloth was blackened.  The coins, belt knife and the leather cord were still there, but small shards of crystal were all that remained of the amulet.
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 #456 on: June 15, 2018, 09:19:31 am »
Dhugal led Richard at a rapid pace through the castle towards the library and the portal which would lead them back to Ballymar and away from the nightmare of the last days. He spared a thought for his blood brother, the king, for whom there could be no such escape but he knew he would be grateful to smell the fresh sea air and rebuild his relationship with the man keeping pace with him as they set in motion the ships which would sail to protect,  or God forbid, relieve Laas.

His first inkling that it would not be so simple came when he went to grasp Richard''s hand to take him through the hidden veil protecting the portal. The seaman pulled his hand away as though burnt , ((Dhugal takes control of Richard to take him through the veil. 4+1=5 d9bsn2692p))

"I'm sorry Dhugal, I don't think I can do this! There's no offence to you, but I cannot stop thinking of what that man did to me."

It was a sign of his deep distress that a man normally so punctilious with the public use of honorifics should use his first name in the presence of three Haldane guards for, in addition to Andras who had accompanied them, there were two archers on guard in the library. Dhugal understood but he had to struggle to keep his own calm. What had Alaric said to him all those years ago?

"It's not the power that is good or evil, Richard, but the man who wields it, and when have you ever seen me use my power for evil?"

"Never, and I'm not sure whether it's you I don't trust or myself. I just know I don't want anyone else controlling me."

"Maybe, if I was to blur what I told you?"

((Dice roll 3+1=4 same verification as above. Nice try Dhugal))

Richard made an obvious attempt to calm himself as he replied more formally,

"I know you mean well, your Grace, but no!"

"Well yer canna ride to Ballymar, an' I canna manage oor ships a'  ba mysen."

"Well knock me out then, and take me through like that!"

Dhugal breathed deeply to calm himself, though he was sorely tempted to take the other at his word.

"Don't be ridiculous! How does assaulting you help?" He snapped. "There must be something we can do."

He beckoned to the guardsman who had accompanied them.

"Andras, isn't it? Fetch us some strong ale!"

Andras bowed but there was obvious hesitation in his manner and Dhugal felt his patience slipping perilously through his fingers.

"Well! The order was obvious enough and I daresay we can just about manage without your protection. Perhaps you would be good enough to explain your failure to obey an order"

Andras flushed at the sarcasm but stood his ground. "I'm not disobeying your Grace but if I go to the buttery and ask for best quality ale  for your Grace there'll be a right kerfuffle as they send down to the cellars and it'll be the best part of an hour before I'm back here. Always supposing I'm not questioned as to what I'm doing in the buttery at this hour when I'm on duty. I was only going to suggest that, if your Grace would so condescend I can fetch you some ale from my quarters."

"Thank you, but I doubt that watery stuff you get as ration would serve the purpose."

Andras reddened even further but replied easily enough,

"It's not exactly what I had in mind Your Grace!"

Neither Dhugal nor Richard could entirely hide a smile, and Dhugal felt a real sense of gratitude to the soldier who was prepared to quibble with a Duke to do what he could to help.

"Do so then, and you have my thanks. And I promise neither of us will have any idea where it came from."

Andras saluted and left. True to his word he was soon back with a leather flask. Dhugal took it and drank, then with an appreciative noise handed it to Richard.

"Here. Drink this, and see if that will help you relax enough to get us through that damned veil and the portal beyond."





« Last Edit: June 15, 2018, 01:58:42 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 #457 on: June 15, 2018, 12:01:31 pm »
The old tinker felt that luck had been with him today, and that made him nervous.  He did not trust luck; that elusive lady was likely to turn her back on you just when you thought all would be well.  He preferred to make his own luck.  He was not inclined to trust his fate to a roll of the dice if he could avoid it.

Nevertheless, when a kitchen servant had arrived at his lodging in the early morning hours with the news that he was needed in the castle kitchens to repair several pots, he had readied his cart and immediately made his way to the castle.  Even the castle kitchens had not escaped damage in the revolt, and pots needed to be repaired in time for the dinner to be held in the pretender queen’s honour that night.  As the tinker worked on a large pot with a deep depression in it, he wondered who’s head it had collided with.

Fortune had smiled further when Mistress Baker arrived later in the day with fresh white bread and sweetmeats for the dinner.  Although they did not exchange words, she gave him a slightly crooked cherry tart, and the tinker knew that Gelsey fared well.

Last night, when it was late enough he was sure no one would be looking for a tinker, he had moved along the hidden castle passageways to gather what information he could.  Loud voices had caught his attention; Oswald and Brioc were arguing about sending reinforcements to Ratharkin.  Oswald wanted more men as soon as possible; Brioc responded they were needed elsewhere.  They had been silenced by the third man, the man who held the true authority here.  He advised Oswald to be patient, and that when the reinforcements arrived, they would also be bringing the bride he so desired.  For her sake, the tinker hoped not.

He had made full report to King Kelson after he had returned to his lodgings.  He suspected that Ratharkin was to be used as bait to draw the king’s forces here while the main force of the rebellion struck elsewhere.  The likely target to him was Laas, though it was not certain.  King Kelson did not advise him of the identity of the Torenthi; perhaps Bishop Arilan had not yet determined who it was.  The more the tinker knew about the man, the better prepared he would be.

Now he sat at a table at the back of Ratharkin Castle’s great hall, treated to the leftovers of the earlier removes with some of the other tradesmen in appreciation for their services.  The high table was now being served Mistress Baker’s sweetmeats and other tasty treats.  The tinker noted that while Queen Sidana seemed attentive enough to the men and ladies around her, she did not engage in much conversation.  She picked at her food and had not taken more than one cup of the fine wine that was being served.  Her father and Oswald consumed more; the Torenthi was more moderate. 

The tinker could not hear any of high table’s conversations; the hall was too noisy.  Still, he studied them carefully without being too obvious; he had learned to read lips long ago.

Most of the conversation revolved around the “Meara-to-be” the rebellion would provide.  True independence from Gwynedd, return of lands forfeited in the last rebellion, prosperity for all. All the standard promises. But several times, in unguarded moments, the Torenthi had been addressed as “your Grace,” and once addressed directly by the queen as “Valerian.”  Could he be one of the sons of Teymuraz?  That would explain much. 

The dinner was over.  The tinker rose with the rest of the hall as the queen was escorted from the high table.  The tinker would not haunt the castle passageways tonight.  The queen was leaving in the morning, and Sir Iain Cameron needed to prepare.
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 #458 on: June 15, 2018, 05:24:26 pm »
"I'm sorry, Sir. I should have left you to do the questioning. There's nothing left in this amulet to give any clues as to whom he was serving, though it was by means of this that he was receiving his orders unless I miss my guess very badly."

Javan straightened and looked apologetically at his father who sighed but clasped his son's shoulder.

"Don't blame yourself, the question had to be asked and it was almost certain that a death trigger would have been set. I would  like to know whether our late friend was working with the fiend who took Washburn but either way it doesn't  help us to find him. I hope Alaric forgives me for not making more effort to find his son but after what happened to Sextus I cannot risk any others."

Kelson looked as grim as his surroundings, there in the dungeon corridor and Javan's next words were a seeking for what comfort there was, as much for his own sake as his father's.

"At least we know now that Jaxom is no traitor."

"I still want to thrash him for his obsession with Aliset. Did the man not realise his open lust for her put us all in danger, and provided enough distraction for Washburn to be captured."

"I don't suppose so" Javan replied reasonably "and you can't thrash people just because it makes you feel better." Then with a sidelong  look at his father he added, " Not that that stopped you when I was growing up."

Kelson growled but his expression lightened as he replied,

"You got far fewer beatings than you deserved, and you know it. Especially once you and Araxandra came up with that scheme for her to always take the blame."

"Until you worked out what we were doing and beat her as you would have me. I have never felt so much of a mean wretch in my life hearing her cry with the pain - it worked, though, I grant you. I watched my step a bit more after that. "

"If it makes you feel any better your mother wouldn't speak to me for a week. I'm not sure why being reminded of my sins as a father should have helped me feel better, but oddly it has. Thank you, Son."

Kelson smiled gratefully at him, feeling grateful for the adult Javan's concern for his father in this pass and recognising his reference to his childhood for what it was, an attempt to lighten the mood."

"Well let's go and see what stuff Jaxom is really made of, and I'll keep my hands to myself."

Father and son moved back towards the stairs and stopped outside another guarded cell.

"No sound at all until a few moments ago, Your Majesty," The guard reported, "and then only a low moaning. The healer came and bandaged his wound but thought it best not to heal him without your Majesty's say so. He said he seemed to be in some sort of a trance."

At a nod from Kelson, the guard unlocked the door and went in. The King waited until he heard him say roughly "On your feet!" Then he and Javan entered the cell, preceded and followed, as before, by the two pairs of archers in Haldane livery.

This cell was somewhat less menacing than the other. There was more light for one thing, from a narrow slit in the corner above a hole in the floor acting as a simple garderobe shaft, far too small to allow a means of escape but allowing for basic dignity. Along the far wall was a stone shelf allowing a prisoner at least to lie above the floor but there were still iron staples along the wall to which chains could be attached, and the rattling which they heard as they entered made it clear that Jaxom was shackled.

Jaxom was being hauled roughly to his feet looking pale and bleary eyed, but when he saw who he had entered he shook the guard's hands off him and fell to his knees, the movement clearly paining him. He looked up first at Kelson and then Javan and begged,

"Your Majesty, your Highness, I beseech you, have mercy and at least tell me for what I am being punished."

Kelson looked at him with hard implacability and replied,

"I suggest that you tell me."

Javan whispered to his father, do you want me to use Truth Say on him ((1+4 = 5 d9bsn2692p)) but the king replied "No, I want to see whether he will tell the truth of his own accord."

"God help me, Sire, I cannot. The last I remember I was walking along towards the Queen's garden and then a few moments ago I woke here, with this wound and these shackles." There was desperation in his eyes and he raised his hands, awkward because of the chains which bound them together, and scrubbed at his head as if trying to force a memory. Finally he continued hesitantly, "There was a man, I think, a foreigner he would be, who spoke to me, but as to what he said...." His voice trailed off and he let his hands fall, his head hanging with them in desperation.

"So far so honest," Kelson commented quietly to Javan, "let's see if he continues."

"What was in your heart as you walked towards the Queen's gardens, which it may interest you to learn are her Majesty's private preserve?"

Jaxom flinched at the ice in the king's voice and did not attempt to raise his head or to say anything for a long moment. Finally he buried his face in his hands and said something, too quiet for any to hear. One of the guards went as if to force his head out of his hands but Javan shook his head and crouching down by Jaxom firmly but gently took Jaxom's hands away from his face and said,

"Only the whole truth can save you. If it shames you, well, better men than you have endured shame and lived. Speak so his Majesty can hear you."

Jaxom looked as though Javan's gentleness would utterly unman him but swallowing his tears he said,

"I intended to use Darcy's",

"Lord Darcy," the king interrupted in no less a glacial tone.

"I intended to use Lord Darcy's absence as a chance to speak to the Lady Aliset. I...I thought that perhaps I could threaten to publically expose her unchaperoned journey to force her to agree to my suit. I acknowledge that I am dishonoured as a knight by that thought, and not worthy of the touch of your Majesty's sword on my shoulders. But I swear that I remember nothing else and I cannot say how I came by this wound," he touched his side and grimaced, "nor earned these shackles nor your Majesty's such extreme displeasure."

He looked around wildly, "I will swear on whatever holy relics there are, that I am telling the truth."

For the first time Kelson's expression softened and he said less coldly, "There will be no need for that. I have been reading the truth of what you say ((5+1+2 =8 6vjm016gt2)). You are absolved of the worst suspicions against you. Nevertheless you have been the tool of great harm. Look at your hands, do you see something you do not recognise?"

Jaxom did as he was bid and gasped. He made as though to remove the ring but Kelson stopped him with an abrupt command.

"No! don't touch it - it may still be dangerous although the man who put it there is dead, and I would guess that it was only then that his spell on you was broken. Guard, take a cloth and remove it without touching it. Gently though, he is no traitor."

The guard did as he was bid, hearing that he had been suspected of being a traitor having shocked Jaxom into utter passivity, and gave the covered ring into Javan's outstretched hand as the King continued,

"That ring has been the instrument of great harm and as your folly and dishonourable intent put you in the way of being used by another's evil it is meet that you should hear what has been wrought. But I do not think that you need any longer to be shackled. Guards see to it."

Jaxom still remained passive as the chains were removed from his wrists and ankles though he rubbed at his wrists once they were free. He made no attempt to rise from his knees though he made a movement as though to reach for the King's hand to kiss it. Kelson knew that the pardon symbolised by the offering of his hand would have to come, though it would be far more grudgingly offered than the pardon freely given to Richard Kirby, but he could not quite manage that yet and kept his hands firmly folded at his waist. Javan wisely said nothing.

As the tale of what he had wrought while he was bespelled was unfolded by the King's unexpressionless voice Jaxom looked more and more horrified. He blenched at the account of his kissing of the helpless Aliset, and his fight with Washburn, touching his wound at that moment as though glad of the pain it caused him. As Kelson began to speak of Aliset in the arms of her would be abductor he was interrupted by Javan's cry,

"He's fainting, Sir." And indeed Jaxom had keeled over, his face now completly grey. Javan beckoned one of the guards to bring the earthenware jug of water over but did nothing to rouse Jaxom while he spoke to his father,

"Maybe go a little more easily on him, Sir. You are utterly terrifying when you are angry" he held his hands up to ward off Kelson's retort, "justified I know but don't leave him without any hope. Dhugal has Sent to me that Columcil spoke well of his loyalty, though Dhugal had to drag it out of him. Give him a chance to prove himself. I think that he will fight all the more eagerly for you now. With your permission, of course, I'll take him and his men under my command."

Kelson reflected that his son would make a good king one day, he just prayed God that Javan would have the chance. He gestured to the guard to help the now rousing Jaxom to sit up and give him some of the water to drink and when the latter would have returned to his knees motioned to him to remain where he was.

Far more gently than he had yet spoken he was beginning his account again, "It is not good hearing I know," but the naked pleading in Jaxom's eyes caused him to stop and silently grant permission for Jaxom to speak.

"Please Sire, is the Lady Aliset safe?"

"Yes, though I cannot say she is well. Lord Washburn, who came to her rescue, was taken and as yet we have no idea where."

Jaxom seemed as though he might faint again and Kelson, even without Javan's look, knew that in mercy he must bring this to a close. Though it cost him an effort of will he held his hand out to Jaxom who scrambled up onto his knees and kissed it, wetting it with his tears.

"You have paid dearly for your folly, as have others, but the treason is not yours to atone for, neither are you to blame for the evil use made of you. Your behaviour towards the Lady Aliset I advise you to take into confession, and accept whatever penance is required from you. The recompense that I demand of you is that you publicly and humbly beg her pardon. I am also going to forbid you to seek healing for your wound, though you may continue to have it dressed, God alone knows what Lord Washburn is suffering in captivity and I think it fitting you should suffer too.  Once you are ordered to prepare to march out from Rhemuth you may have it healed to be fit to serve his royal Highness Prince Javan who is willing to have you and your men in his company. You will now be escorted to your quarters where you will remain until you are summoned to make your apology."

Javan was right, as he so often was, Kelson reflected. Jaxom was at the end of his tether. He knew he was. He allowed Jaxom to kiss his hand again then ordered two of the guards to escort Jaxom to his quarters, while he and Javan followed the two remaining guards back up the stairs. When he would have headed straight back to the council chamber Javan stood in his way.

"I will go and talk to Grania about Aliset, and the apology you have so kindly imposed on her," but his smile took any sting out of his words. "And you, my dearest father, will return to mother and allow her to look after you for at least the next hour. The council have more than enough to keep themselves occupied and you are too precious to wear yourself out."

Javan bowed over his father's hand and turned and went on his way followed by one of the guards. Kelson turned to the other, and said "As his royal highness has commanded." But there was no irony in his tone.






















« Last Edit: June 18, 2018, 12:48:21 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 Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #459 on: June 18, 2018, 12:30:55 pm »

Four men all sharing the same facial features yet expressing those features in varied shades of decades in age gained admittance into the king’s withdrawing room. The council meeting had now been going on and off for the entirety of day and well into the night. At the time that the Arilans entered, the king himself was not in attendance. Neither to was Prince Javan and gone to was Duke Dhugal, who was said to be returning to Ballymar after much delay. The six men who remained were mixed about the room either signally or in pairs. All working on various scrolls and counting sheets, piecing together the details required to move large numbers of men and arms to the northern Province of Meara. The sideboard was laden with trays of food, mostly uneaten. A few small trenchers of hand picked items were scattered about the main table within the reach of councilors to assuage their hunger as they worked. More importantly, half filled goblets of wine were near each councilor’s hand. A squire with a decanter was ready to ensure that no goblet went empty.

Upon seeing the casualness of the moment, the four Arilan men collapsed in chairs around the main table, each readily accepting the goblets of wine and plates of food that royal squires scurried to place before them. The six men watched the four with interest and concern. None but one dared to speak, knowing full that the news would not be good. The one was Brendan Earl of Marley who put his quill down and moved three seats over to sit next to Denis, the elderly Bishop of Dhassa.

“Your Grace,” the earl bowed his head in reverence, “pray tell me, even if the news is poor, what of my brother?”

Denis sighed, taking a long drink of wine. The bishop’s eyes didn’t meet Brendan’s until he had placed the goblet back on the table.  Every man in the room held their breath to hear what Denis would say. With sympathy the older bishop began to speak.

“We found the Deryni Underground Movement Portal of two centuries ago, down by the river docks. The trap on it is a nasty one. Not lethal, thank the Lord, but not easily broken either. Attempts were made, only to be meet with failure. We left guards at the Portal site and around the building. Brendan, you must hold faith that your brother is still alive. Sextus saw him in that place at mid afternoon. We can only presume that our blundering into there caused him to be moved quickly there after. Not much was left near the Portal to give us clues as to where, or by whom he was taken. The food we did find there has been sent to the apothicaires to see if they could help determine what drug, if any, lay upon it.  As for the signature of where Wash was taken…? We still have have some 20 hours of the 24 hours left to discover it. After that you know as well as I that the coordinate signature for Portal jumps tend to fade beyond recognition. We will try again at dawn, when we have regained our energy.”

“Damn it all.” Lord Angus cursed before Brendan could protest, “Ye’ a man of God’s Magic. How it be that this evil has beaten the?” The duke stood up and walked over to stand next to his earl, supporting Brendan in this time of stress. “And what’s this about Kelson forbidding anyone from taking that Portal jump until he deems ‘tis safe. How you supposed to know it’s safe if you don’t test it. I don’t even pretend to understand this fangled magic of travel. But surely something can be done before dawn. And then I ‘ear tell, that damnable Moor up and died before ‘e could’ answer ‘or his crimes.”

The bishop’s eyebrows went up at the news, but he nodded, knowing full well what Angus meant. A death trigger was not unheard of when dealing with Deryni from the east. “I am sorry, Brendan.” The old bishop meant it. “At the moment, your brother is beyond our reach.”

Despite Brendan Coris’s devastating paternity of a man who had committed treason four decades ago, Brendan, Earl of Marly had become one of the most highly respected men in the kingdom. His strong Deryni training and ferocious loyalties to the Morgans and the Haldanes were proof enough to Denis that some traits did not pass from father to son. Yet the Deryni trait from mother to son was passed on in full. Proved again and again, half-blood Deryni were capable of learning as much as full- blood Deryni. The old prejudices of half-bloods were unfounded. What seemed to matter most was the family blood-lines of at least one parent. Some families were simply stronger in the arcane than others. And Richenda’s blood lines were among the highest. As had been Alaric Morgan’s mother’s blood lines. That was why Alaric and Duncan as half-bloods had surprised the Cambarian Council back in the early days. It was the half of Whose blood that counted which made a men as good as another.

With both Alaric’s and Richenda’s bloodlines mix together, their children had been a pleasure to teach. Brendan, Kelric and the girls especially. With shame, Denis realized he was as much at fault as anyone else's for thinking Washburn immature and spoiled. He had not offer Alaric’s youngest son the lessons of advanced magic and had even discouraged Duncan from wasting his time in that effort. After the first few tries to keep the young page Washburn in his lessons, Denise simple gave up. If the rumors were true, that Washburn had the gift of Healing like his father, so much more guilt did Denis feel for not offering a challenge to the boy to do better. 

But at the moment that was neither here nor there. Denis noted the rebellion in Brendan’s eyes. “The first Portal jump was a warning, son. The closer we get, the more likely the next traps will be lethal. Kelson has put a halt on finding your brother in that way for good reason.”

Brendan bit his lip than said to the bishop under his breath, “You have certain connections. Can they not find Wash?”

“There has been some Rapport between us,” Denis failed to mention who the us was, knowing full well that Brendan knew they were talking about the secretive Camberian Council. “As yet, no one even knows who is behind this rebellion. We need more answers before we can make rash accusations.”

This please Branden not at all. He slammed his palm on the table, took a deep breath, murmured “Forgive me.” and then stalked over the the side board and the food only staring at the food without really seeing it.

For a long while after the room was quite. The Arilans ate sparingly and the others worked on their scrolls. At length the doors open and the king was announced.  Everyone stood and bowed at his entry. “I was informed of  your return. Your grace, I would have your report and I wish to share an item which I am in hopes you have enlightenment.” Kelson waived to the others, “at ease my good men." and then the king step with purpose to a far window embrasure, beckoning the Bishop of Dhassa to join him.

With all attention given to the two men, Brendan took the moment to catch Lord Jamyl’s gaze and signal him to join him at the side board. With trencher in hand, Jamyl came over and picked a particularly plump breast of fowl.

“Don’t react, but I implore you to take me to that portal,” Brendan begged very quietly.

“Against Kelson’s orders?” Jamyl mouthed back, a bit shocked.

“This is my brother we are talking about. I swear, I won't make the jump that the king forbids, but I have to know what the portal signature is to where he was next taken. Every hour wasted and that signature fades more. If we wait too long it will be impossible to find it. You have to help me.”

Jamyl looked over Brendan’s shoulder seeing his father and uncle in heavy conversation with Dukes Angus and Albin. Grand uncle Denis was in deep Rapport with the King in the far corner. No one else was looking their way.

“If it was one of your family, you know you would do it,” Brendan encouraged.

The younger Lord Jamyl had to nod with agreement. “Better that we leave separately. Give me twenty minutes after I leave to get the horses ready. Meet me at the gate house when you can get away.”

“Thank you,” Brendan breathed. “I knew I could count on you.”

Jamyl returned to the table to eat what he had picked up. After a few minutes, Brendan slugged down his wine, ate a meat roll and then returned to Duke Angus who was counting up the levees.

Online Bynw

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #460 on: June 18, 2018, 01:09:02 pm »
"Rest young Morgan." The statement by the Scholar was more of a command than a suggestion. "In the morning, you will be well rested and famished. You will eat the food and drink the wine I have prepared for you. And come the setting of the sun we will leave these ruins."

He doesn't bother to check on Washburn, knowing full well that the controls are well established that Washburn will have no option except to obey his commands. Although before sleeping himself, the Scholar rechecks the Wards that surround the ruins that will warn him of unwanted guests. And also the Wards Major that are covering the Portal itself. An age old trick to make a Portal hidden and unacessable even if those in Rhemuth managed to get its unique signature. They would not be able to reach out to it. And given the distance as well, few are skilled in long distance jumps as he was. The Scholar has a peaceful rest.

Offline Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #461 on: June 18, 2018, 02:13:13 pm »
"Rest young Morgan." Even as the irresistible command caused Washburn's eyes to ease from their stare at his tormentor and for him to find himself easing to his right side, the pain in the cut on his left arm was really beginning to bother him. The jump for the beam and the subsequent tumble to the floor had re-openind the cut Jaxom's sword had made. Wash would not complain about it, yet fresh blood ran down his arm. Under his black tunic, in the darkness of the ruins, Wash doubted the Scholar noticed it. Wash could not reach the gash with his hands tied. and he could not fight the need to sleep long enough to say something about it. If only he had that Healers gift of his activated. But the Healing energy was the furthest of all arcane energy from his use. Healing required such a delicate balance. He wounder then if he would ever be able to heal again. If the wound festered and he sickened what did it matter.   Washburn fell asleep on the furs with a horrid sense of nightmares filling his future.

Offline revanne

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #462 on: June 18, 2018, 05:19:14 pm »
The ale was good with a rich malty aroma and a smooth nutty flavour. Dhugal had to remind himself that he had given his word not to question where this had come from. Besides, there was no sign that Andras or his colleagues were anything other than punctilious in the carrying out of their duties and he knew that Kelson, as indeed himself, saw no reason why those who served him should not enjoy the good things of life appropriate to their station.

More to the point it appeared to be serving its purpose with Richard. He was drinking slowly and appreciatively - and Dhugal could not help but be amused that despite all that had happened and his current fear the seaman's taste for a good brew, as for a good vintage, was untainted - and gradually the fear began to fade from his eyes. He stood up, gave a deep belch and handed the skin back to Andras with a nod of thanks, then turned to Dhugal.

"I don't know how long this will last but there is enough good magic in that ale to counter my jitters so let's be done with it."

Dhugal hoped he had not heard a stress on the word "good" but there was no time to waste. Still anxious, he pulled out his St Camber medal from within his tunic and grasping hold of it prayed that the saint who was reputed to be the protector of both humans and Deryni would come to their aid. (( 5 + 3 + 6 = 14, 4l88zvrwf8 - thank you Sanctus Camberus.)) Then he put his hand on Richard's forehead and took control as he led him through the veil into the room beyond and onto the portal square. Grasping the energies with his mind he had rarely been so glad to see the familiar outline of the portal room in Ballymar.

Their feet had barely touched the ground when he released control of Richard's mind though he was careful to keep a hold of the other's arm lest he should still be disorientated.

"Thank you, My Lord, but it will take more than a skinful of ale to put a seafarer off balance." Richard's tone was deliberately jocular, if somewhat forced, and with a smile Dhugal released his grip and replied in kind.

"I'm glad to hear it, else there's few boats would ever come safe to port!"

Richard clearly did not want to speak about his fear, and now was not the time to raise it, though Dhugal did wonder if Mirjana might be the best person to help him. Though she was Deryni she too had suffered unspeakably at the hands of one who abused his power. That was for another day though. Please God they could both make for their beds and at least sleep through what was left of this night in comfort and undisturbed.

The hope was vain. As the two men walked back through the castle, Dhugal being greeted with deferential bows, and both men with warm relief, word spread that "himself" was back and Master Kirby with him. As they entered the Great Hall, Dhugal to go up the solar stair into the ducal appartments and Richard out across the Bailey to his own quarters the Master-at-arms met them. Barely taking time to bow he all but grabbed hold of the Duke and blurted out,

"Ships, Yer Grace. And comin' along at a grand rate. The wind tha's blowin' them, it's no natural. The wind doesn'a blow like that from the East this time o'year, nor just out at sea. There's many o'the men speirin' it's the work o' the de'il himself. And I'd no say they were wrong." He crossed himself fervently as he finished speaking.

((They could well be right at that. Valerian does some weather working to aid ships from Tolan. Only rolled 2d because although Valerian is extremly skilled, he is also preoccupied.  6 + 4 = 10, 6qt2x19d6b))

Dhugal grabbed the man by the shoulders and barked, "How many ships? And where are they, have they passed the castle?"

"I canna just say how many, M'Lord, twice or thrice times ten mebbe. Yon crofters along the coast are canny enow at lighting the signal fires but no so braw at figurin'. But gi'en how they've bin comin' I'd say they'll 'a' dropped anchor in the mouth of yon sea loch ahint yon brae," he pointed to the east, "and if they gan their road wi' first light they'll be here afore Father Aidan has finished sayin' his morning prayers. The ships are gey prepared to sail and the men aboard, but it's fer yer Grace or Master Kirby ta gie the order ta leave port."

"They'll no' be coming here," Dhugal said grimly, "They've other prey in sight."

"Still, treble the guard and tell each man not on duty to sleep with his weapons. No man has ever taken this castle." He stopped for a moment in thought then added, "Late as it is, rouse the villagers, tell them to bring their bairns and their brychans and naught else. Thank God it's warm enough for them to sleep out in the Bailey tonight. We'll rouse the household to care for them at first light. And, well done! You've done a grand job in my absence."

Calmed by his master's presence and happier now he had definite orders to fulfill, he bowed, with more dignity this time and left. As soon as he was out of sight though Dhugal's calm left him.

"Damn him to the pit of hell, whoever he is! I need this, the King needs this, like a hole in the head! If only we could have been here earlier, when it was still light, we could have had them at anchor like rats in a trap." Dhugal was venting his frustration without thought for his listener and only Richard's silence warned him that he had misspoken. Turning he saw rage and shame in the other's face.

"Just say it, Your Grace. If I hadn't been such a bloody fool about the portal we'd have been here an hour since."

"And it would have still been too dark to set sail. This far north there's aye a glimmer on the water until nigh midnight but it's not enough to see by and I'll not risk men or ships without light."

"And if you'd left me be, as I deserved, and not wasted time healing me but come back by your own, you'd have them surrounded by now."

Dhugal grabbed Richard's shoulders as though to shake sense into him, then drew a deep breath and said with forced calm,

"Whoever our enemy is, he'll want nothing better than to have us at each other's throats. Nothing today has gone well, we must just pray that God is on our side for tomorrow. If we can't catch them sleeping, we must try to stop them as they come past. Send word that the men on board ship are to be roused before dawn, which is barely a watch away, and then for God's sake get a couple of hours sleep yourself."

Richard seemed to pull himself together, made as if to bow then clasped Dhugal in a rough embrace instead and made his way briskly out of the hall. Dhugal looked after him for a long moment, then, deciding he was not about to wake Mirjana at this hour went into the withdrawing room behind the dais, pulled one of the bear skin rugs on top of another, wrapped himself in his cloak on top of them and allowed himself to fall into a light trance.

Rousing himself well before there was any glimmer of light in even in the north-eastern sky from where the sun would rise he waited long enough to perform a fatigue banishing spell then moved out into the hall. Men were already rousing themselves, and out in the Bailey there were sounds of bairns greeting with fear and hunger and their mothers doing their best to hush them. Summoning two of the men who seemed most alert despite their disturbed night he ordered them to light torches and come with him down to the quayside, expecting that he would meet Richard already down there. There was, though, no sign of him, although all were following orders and all was being done with an air of calm, if tense efficiency. They would sail at dawn as planned.





 


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 Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #463 on: June 19, 2018, 02:23:36 pm »
Kelson Haldane stood face to face with Denise Arilan. The king’s black hair was only speckled with steel gray, while the man of religion, older by some twenty-four years, was completely white on top; neither man balding. Well, unless you counted the bishop’s medium tonsure. Perhaps it had gotten a little larger than in his youth to disguise the thinning spot of old age. Few would notice. The two men had four decades of working together to keep dioceses and kingdom on a path of collaboration. Denise had at one time been offered the archbishopric of Valoret but had turned it down. He was a man best working behind the scenes to encourage others to do the right work for the right cause.  Both king and bishop were masters of the Deryni form of sharing. They each held the edges of the bishop’s Prayer book in their left hands, and they each had their right hands resting atop the other over the worn leather bound cover. They looked to be in silent prayer, but those who knew better knew the two men were in full Rapport.

In quick bursts of information, the bishop shared all that had happened to find the Portal beyond the Rivergate. Kelson was not unfamiliar with the two-hundred and fifty year old legend of escape routes for Deryni in the years of the Regents. Yet the portal system had never been discovered. Some form of security would need to set in place now that it was found. And that trap would have to be broken with a new trap set by the king’s men placed upon it. That would be the first thing on the agenda for the coming day. Following Washburn’s captor would take more effort still. Kelson agreed the next Portal after that last one found would likely be more stringently trapped. He would not risk any man jumping into the devil’s layer.

When Arilan’s report was done. Kelson gave a full accounting of the prisoners. Jabir Ibn Habib from Khasifa, a man known to trade with Rhemuth for several years without ever an incident before this, was the man behind the forced induction of Lord Jaxom to steal Lady Aliset. The connection of this man to the man who’d attacked and took Sir Washburn was uncertain. The images that Dhugal had seen of both men escaping with their targets through the garderobe veil had not been clear enough to identify the one who had ultimately succeeded.  Denis could not Identify him either.

With a sigh, Kelson put those images aside. Perhaps you could offer me better assistance in identifying a more important man from two differing sources. I believe both images to be of the same man. Yet, I can not place the face, though I feel that I should.

I will do what I can, I am ready.

The first images sent were a cullage of the Lady Aliset’s scrying of the first amulet that had been found on a pursuer just out of Culdi. Mixed scenes quickly passed from one to the other.
             "Who are you?" had been the question
             The answer came not in words, but in a series of scenes rapidly playing out before their eyes.  A hot clime, a majestic city in the Eastern style.  A palatial mansion that spoke of wealth and elegance. A long journey from faraway lands. A Portal hop from an unfamiliar place to one much more familiar, no more than a day's journey distant. Furtive meetings with a series of others, most unfamiliar to Aliset, although she detected Oswald's despised features among them. And central to one scene, a beautiful young woman seated on what appeared to be a throne.


Denis had stiffened at the sight of the palatial mansion. He knew that residents all too well.  The temple and home of the Byzantyun emperor. The place where Count Teymuraz had fled to after the killijalay of King Liam in the year 1128. Sources through the years had the count married to the daughter of Grand Prince Alexios of Byzantyun. Teymuraz was named Grand Duke and his marriage to the Grand Princess Justiniana produced three sons. First of which were two twin boys born in the year 1129. The eldest twin Grand Duke Iskander, Denis and Kelson had spys keeping track of. The younger twin, Grand Duke Imre was a little harder to follow. And the third son, younger by three years, Grand Duke Valerian, had been out of viewing from the spy network for several years now. The images of this man who ever he may be did have a likeness to one of these three men, but the images were not clear enough to tell which.

Kelson’s next sharing was of another scryed image from Lady Aliset of just the face of a man in his prime. That face made Denis’s blood run cold. Quickly following, having trouble containing his anger, the king bombarded his bishop with the newest images from his spy in Ratherkin. The Pretender Queen of Meara in the splendor of her subdued subjects with a tall man at her back.  The same man, a man just past the age of thirty, Denis knew the sight of.

Breaking their Rapport, feeling weak-kneed Denis sot-out the bench in the alcove window. “We have been following the wrong son.” He said under his breath.

Kelson came to stand before him. “Which one is he!” he demanded in dis-humor.

“That would be the youngest, the unmarried one, Grand Duke Valerian Tiberios Hogan Marek ho Phourstanos/Furstan of Byzantyun. He is a devil that one. There was never proof, as both Imre and Valarian were seen on horse back together near where Alaric and Teymuraz had set their dueling wards, but it is suspect that one or both were the ones who murdered Alaric with that killing bolt, even as the wards died away and he had been proven the victor of that duel. The boys were only 12 and 15 at the time. No one thought them strong enough to perform such an act of violence. But since then, all other suspects have been proven innocent in that one deed.  And Imre has been seen to be a much less vengeful man than his father or his twin brother are. If I were a betting man, I would lay odds that Valarian was the one who struck Alaric down. He has kept a low profile for twenty years. Obviously stewing in his vengeance and planning this rebellion. I am sorry, sire. I missed the clues of this coming.”
« Last Edit: June 19, 2018, 03:30:23 pm by Laurna »

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #464 on: June 19, 2018, 06:56:47 pm »
Two days before the fleet of ships was spotted off the shores of Cassan, the lookouts of Isles had spotted them on the seas north of Isles.  The senior watchman made haste to Eagle’s Keep, the northern tower of Castle Isles.

He knocked smartly on the wooden door.

“Enter,” a voice slurred from within.

“Master Gregory, there is an unknown fleet making haste westward.”

Gregory MacInnis, who would have styled himself as Lord of Isles, looked up as the man entered.  He was a bitter man.  He had married the Dowager Baroness of Isles and sold her youngest son to sea to secure the barony for himself.  She had contrived madness to deny him her bed and any heirs of his own.  Now after her death, he had no claim to Isles other than his extensive and wealthy merchant holdings.  They would have to be enough.

The watchman gave a curt bow.  “We need to light the watch fires and warn Claibourne,” he said urgently.

“There is no need,” Gregory said as he gazed at his goblet of port.  “They are likely merchants; we need their trade.”

“These are not merchant, Master,” the watchman said urgently.  “It is Isle’s duty to signal to the mainland.”

“Isle’s duty is to look after Isles.  There is profit to be had by making the right connections.  I’ll hear no more.”

The watchman looked to explode in fury, but he bowed curtly and withdrew.  The last senior watchman had died at the base of the Isle’s cliffs.  He did not intend to meet the same fate.

The watch fires of Isles lay unlit as the fleet of ships sailed past.  A howl of despair seemed to rise above the wind, as if the long dead Baron Solveig Cameron mourned the loss of Isle’s honour.

There would be hell to pay when Baron Iain Cameron returned home.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2018, 09:02:27 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

 

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