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Author Topic: Ghosts of the Past  (Read 32834 times)

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Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #315 on: March 11, 2018, 03:39:19 pm »
“Did you pick up Father Columcil’s staff?” Darcy Cameron asked Lord Alister.

“No, I didn’t,” Alister responded.

“I should have thought of that,” Father Columcil said.  “I seem to be causing no end of trouble.”

“It’s not you that’s causing trouble, Father,” Darcy said.  “I’ll fetch it.”

“Master Darcy, please be careful.”   Alister looked beyond him back towards the spot the staff was likely to be found.

“I think I’m a match for any killer coneys,” Darcy said with smile.  Surprised at the angry look Alister shot at him, he hastily added, “In truth, I can’t believe the man who set up the two traps and trip wire could have had time to do much more, but I’ll be careful.  You have my word on it.”

True to his word, he jumped the graveyard border fence and proceeded slowly forward.  As he neared the bloody ground around the trap the priest had sprung, he was even more cautious.  He spotted Columcil’s staff to his right and carefully picked it up. He hefted it with renewed respect for the man who wielded it so well.  The added weight of the iron was impressive.

Darcy turned carefully to return to the group when something a little farther ahead caught his eye.  He took a cautious step forward and nudged it with the staff.  It was a metal tin.  He picked it up carefully and shook it; something inside rattled.  Dolt!  That had probably been a foolish move; anything could be inside this tin.

Darcy wondered if he could sense if it was safe or not the same way his Deryni companions did.  He tried to extend his senses, concentrating on the tin in his hand.
 
Rolling two dice, since Darcy is untrained in his powers
Jerusha   !roll 2d6
16:17   derynibot   3, 5 == 8
Success!

Darcy almost dropped the tin as a sense of foreboding filled his mind.  Whatever was inside the tin could stay there.  He looked toward the trees away from the path.  That line would do well; no one would be likely to be passing that way when there was a good path.  He drew back his arm and hurled the tin.  It flew true and far enough away that he did not hear it land.

He turned and made his way carefully back to the horses.  Columcil, Aliset, Washburn and Jaxom were all staring at him as he leaped back over the fence.

“What was that about?” Washburn asked.

Darcy took a moment to hand the staff back to Columcil before answering.  “I don’t know, exactly.  I found a tin with something inside that rattled.  It may have been dropped by the man in his haste to set the traps.  Whatever was in it, I’m sure it was evil.  So I chucked it away.”

The four faces staring at him displayed a variety of emotions.  Washburn annoyed, probably because he had not been consulted.  Columcil seemed to understand; Alister looked to be somewhere in between.  Jaxom was mystified.  Darcy remembered Aliset’s rebuke for not asking questions before charting his course.  How long ago was that, back in the Nunnery yard?

“Beg pardon that I acted without consulting you,” Darcy said, although not looking very contrite.  “For all I knew it might have blown up when opened, and I didn’t think we had the time to destroy it like you did the amulet.  If I have erred, the fault is mine.”
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 #316 on: March 12, 2018, 12:50:59 pm »
Columcil found himself warming even more to Darcy. He took the staff gratefully, and when Darcy felt obliged to mutter words of contrition for what seemed to Columcil a very sensible action - he was no seaman but surely if you stopped to consult your betters whenever danger at sea loomed the entire crew risked being drowned and the ship lost whilst honour was being satisfied - he put his hand briefly on the other's shoulder in a gesture of support.

He supposed that their journey together had been a little like being being at sea, each becoming dependent on the other for their very survival and the normal rules of protocol and deference to an extent set aside. This had inevitably changed with the arrival of Lord Jaxom and his men; he really must get over his dislike of the man who was harmless enough though he did, in Columcil's not nearly humble enough opinion, seem a bit gormless. ((Quick translation. Gormless is a British word which avoids the stigma of bad language but is very expressive. It means daft, or dozy - someone who is a "few sandwiches short of a picnic."))  It would change even more once they arrived at Arx Fidei and thence, he supposed to Rhemuth. And even before they got to Arx Fidei, the Duke of Corwyn was riding to their rescue, with the might and authority of the Crown of Gwynedd, and the boundary between noble and commoner would become absolute.

Ah well, it was as it was. But surely they did not need to appear before him as ragged vagrants. He had never thought of vanity as one of his sins; he was learning a lot about himself not all of it good. Maybe there was a solution though.

Quietly turning to Lord Alister he said with a formal bow, "Might I have a private word, My Lord?"

Lord Alister looked a little bemused but agreed readily enough. Walking far enough to be out of earshot Columcil continued. "Actually it's Lady Aliset I need, my Lady, or at least her skills." He added the latter quickly as the male face confronting his looked askance. "We're out of the wilderness now, and belike to meet with his Grace of Corwyn. I'd no like him to think us a pack o'beggars. D'ye no have some spell that can tidy us up a bit?"
« Last Edit: March 12, 2018, 12:55:15 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 Evie

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #317 on: March 12, 2018, 01:31:48 pm »
Aliset gave Father Columcil a sympathetic smile.  "Well, I can try, at least."  Murmuring the words of the spell, she waved a finger in the priest's direction.

((13:11   Aliset   !roll 2d6
13:11   derynibot   2, 3 == 5))

His clothing appeared to shimmer briefly, stains and tears fading out of sight, but alas, the illusion lasted only for mere moments.  Aliset shook her head.  "I'm sorry, Father. I think perhaps if I were better rested, but I'm having trouble maintaining enough focus for the task at the moment.  But I'd be glad to mend your cassock once we're able to stop for rest, and perhaps we can find more suitable clothing in Arx Fidei."
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
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Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #318 on: March 12, 2018, 02:00:32 pm »
Darcy Cameron pushed back too many strands of loose, and now rather damp, pale blond hair.  As he watched Father Columcil and Lady Aliset walk back toward the horses, he realized how ragged they looked.  How ragged they all looked. He rubbed his jaw; many more days of this and he’d have a fair beard grown.  He had worn a beard years ago; the Captain said he looked like a snowball.  Darcy had promptly shaved it off.

Lord Jaxom and his men, although dusty, looked positively dapper.  Jaxom was saying something to his squire, who listened intently.  Darcy sensed as well as heard Washburn move up beside him.  Darcy was beginning to become more comfortable with the added dimension to his life.  At least a little.

He turned to look up at the Lendour Knight, whose tunic was torn and bloodied in several places.  “Your orders, Sir Washburn?” Darcy asked.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2018, 09:26:30 am 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 Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #319 on: March 12, 2018, 03:39:34 pm »
Washburn had heard the report to Lord Jaxom from his men. The footpath that lead from the church graveyard to the the top of the hill had been used by a horseman since the morning rain. That was most likely the man who had set these last traps to forestall any followers and capture. To Washburn's dismay, he appears to have succeeded and was well away by now.

((Sensing how far away Rayne had gotten up the trail. Rolled 3, Verification Number: 23wnkbjsck))

Washburn shook his head. Where the man had gotten to, he could not tell. He just prayed he was far, far away and no longer a threat. This cat and mouse game was getting tiresome. With a wave of the hand, Wash tried for a fatigue banishing spell.

((fatigue banishing spell. Power trait with standard usage. rolled 6, 4 Verification Number: 1pwmwj0px4))

With a sigh of relief, he at least knew he could continue on without losing his step or concentration. At least for a while longer.

Comments were going around in whispers about their baggardly apparence. Sir Washburn had to smile at that. So long as it wasn’t the king who came riding up. He thought their ragged look was well earned. He had never been the courtier type, in need of looking dashing and impeccable at every instant. Muddied and torn was just fine with him, to his mother’s severe disapproval on several occasions. Looking bloodied? Well, they all did rather look to have come from a battle scene.  At least from the skin layer down, they were all hail; that is what counts.

Wash even afforded Master Darcy a broad smile when the stepped together. His orders? Humm, Wash wanted to be far far away from here the faster the better. Just in case that trap man decided to turn around and follow them.

“Let us take a moment to water the horses at the church well. Perhaps clean our hands up a bit. Father,” Wash yelled out across the graveyard. “Perhaps you can go within, umm with an armed escort, I fear, and make a beseechment to whatever saint visits this house and ask for a clear path to Arx Fidei. I think a little thanks would not go amiss after what has been granted to us. I will join you shortly after I see to Shadow’s needs.”

Wash turned back to the young seaman. A smile caught his lips. “That beard gives you a rather dashing maturity. Perhaps you will think twice before shaving it.” His hand brushed the back of his own head and his smile faded. “I think my own shaved head is growing in more slowly than your beard. Dang, I can explain the rugged cloths to my brother but not that stupid tonsure.  Lord Alister, can I have a moment of your time?” He was wondering how he could properly ask the noble lady, without looking like a fool,  to make an illusion to bring back his hair.

Offline Evie

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #320 on: March 12, 2018, 04:02:51 pm »
"My lord?"  Aliset regarded Sir Washburn with a quizzical look.

He sidled closer to her, his voice kept low as if he didn't wish others to overhear.  "Do you think maybe you could use some of your illusion magic to do something about...."  He appeared at a loss for words for a moment before waving his hand across his body to indicate--Aliset supposed--his appearance.  "Could you maybe do something to help us look a bit more presentable before His Grace my brother arrives?"

"Ah." Aliset gave him a sympathetic smile. "I'm sorry. Father Columcil already asked me to try, but I'm afraid I might need a bit of rest first.  At any rate, surely His Grace will understand what we've been through to get to him?"

"Well, yes, that's true," Sir Washburn admitted with a sheepish smile.  "But still...." He took a deep breath.  "Do you think you might be able to do something about this, at least?" He made a quick, pointing gesture towards his hair. At least that's what he appeared to be pointing to. Or maybe it was his forehead.  Yes, that might make more sense. 

"You have a headache, my lord?"

"No, no!" Washburn glanced back over one shoulder, again as if to ensure no one else was in earshot before blurting out, "I meant the tonsure."

Aliset frowned, puzzled.  "The...tonsure?"

A slightly impatient expression crossed the young lord's face. "Yes! You know...the bald spot?"

It was all Aliset could do to hold back a laugh.  "Do you mean the almost imperceptible spot at the top of your crown that you can't even notice unless you stare directly at it?  That tonsure?"  Mischief lit her expression; she couldn't help it now. "I'd be glad to help.  Shall I just trim the rest of your hair to match, my lord?"  She attempted her most innocent expression, no doubt failing dismally. 
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
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Offline Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #321 on: March 12, 2018, 04:44:40 pm »
"Oh... No...never mind..." Wash said seeming entirely too flustered for such a little defect. He felt ashamed for even bringing the matter up before the young lady. "Let us water the horse's quickly." Then more loudly he said to Lord Jaxom who was coming up to him. "We need to be back on the road before more mishap finds us." Rather before Lady Aliset finds a pair of sheers, he considered internally behind tight shields, yet he was not quite able to hide his dismay.  The Lord Alister seemed all too happy to disappear into to the church to retrieve Father Columcil. The reason might likely have been to escape the knight's presence before she got caught laughing out loud. So much for vanity, Washburn thought.

The baron's son, Lord Jaxom Trillick, hadn't understood all the delays in the first place, and he was more than happy to reorganize his men, most of whom were already at the well giving their mounts a much needed bucket of water to drink.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2018, 12:00:32 am by Laurna »

Offline revanne

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #322 on: March 13, 2018, 02:43:38 am »
Columcil was glad to obey Sir Washburn's request. Lady Aliset had been nice enough but the understanding smile on her face had made him realise what a fool he was being. As if his Grace was going to be interested in what he looked like.

The small grey church looked reassuring like his own at home, and it was with a sense of coming home where he belonged that he pushed open the oak door, faded by the elements to a soft silver grey. His fingers reached almost of themselves into the holy water stoup and he blessed himself, feeling a sense of pure joy at the simple gesture of his faith.

There was no shrine within, but to the side of the altar stood a homely wooden statue of Our Lady with a jug of hedgerow flowers in front of her, the simple loving offering of country folk. Moved to tears, the thrust of homesickness which shot through Columcil had, for a moment, the white-hot intensity of the physical pain of the man trap. Not usually overly emotional in his prayers he laid himself prostrate in front of the altar and wept.

Almost at once he felt comforted, that his grief and penitence had been accepted, but was there also just a hint of impatience? As though just beyond the edge of his hearing someone had coughed dryly. Of course. He had been sent in here with a task to do, not just to indulge himself, so he had best set about it.

Pushing himself up to his knees he scrubbed his face dry with the sleeve of his cassock - really it could hardly make it look worse - and looking up at the rood above the altar gave thanks for their protection thus far, for the kindly intervention of the Saints and humbly asked that future guidance and protection be given. Then he reached into the inner breast pocket, where it was safely stowed, brought out his grandfather's precious prayer book, and lost himself in the psalms and prayers of the daily office.
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 #323 on: March 16, 2018, 12:58:03 pm »
“Riders a half league ahead,” announced the scout as he galloped back into the presence of his commanding lord. 

With those words, the Duke of Corwyn felt a surge of relief. The tension in his back eased and he sat up straighter in the saddle. Kelric Alain Morgan was not the eldest child of the renowned hero of Gwynedd, Duke Alaric Anthony Morgan. His sister, Countess Briony, was that. Kelric even had an older half-brother, Lord Brendan Coris, who was Duke Alaric’s step-son from his wife’s first marriage. Though Kelric grew up with two older siblings, it was always known that he was the rightful heir to the Duchy of Corwyn. Even so, it came as a shock that the responsibility of the Morgan legacy fell so suddenly and harshly upon the then Sir Kelric’s shoulders.

Kelric had been eighteen when his father took the Corwyn army east to confront the threat of Byzantyun hordes who had already usurped the principalities of Vorna, Vechta and Lorsol. The massive eastern army had marched on Tralia, pushing the Hort of Orsal to his island summer palace, and then burning the winter palace to the ground. The horde were like locusts feeding on that which they touched. The armies of the Forcinn States and of R’kassi managed to hold their lands, keeping the horde from ravishing the south. King Liam of Torenth held the north against his own uncle's ambitions. But it was neither north nor south that Grand Duke Teymuraz set his greedy eyes upon. He wanted Gwynedd for his own and for his kin. He would settle on nothing less than crossing the twin rivers by barges and then landing in Coroth to steal her riches and to destroy any who did not bow down to him. From there, he held plans to march on Rhemuth, to finally take what belonged to Festil’s descendants: the crown of Gwynedd and the destruction of the House of Haldane.

The combined armies of Corwyn and Tralia met the enemy very near the burned winter palace. The battle on the shore line had been both ferocious and brief. In the midst of the tempestuous bloodbath, the Champion of the Haldane challenged the Grand Duke in single Arcane combat. The Grand Duke agreed. Yet Teymuraz never intended to play fair. Even as Teymuraz cast his half of the warding, his orders had the four Camberian Councillors who were there to moderate the duel slaughtered by merasha cross bolts. Duke Alaric escaped the mass slaughter, but just by the quickest of actions. He finished his half of the dueling ward, encircling himself and his opponent from the armies that surrounded them. In a battle of wit and power, it was Alaric who summoned the greatest energies, and it was Gwynedd who defeated the eastern foe. Only when the arcane wards fizzled away, leaving the champion vulnerable in that moment of his victory, Alaric Morgan was pierced through the heart by a merasha arrow. Who shot the arrow? No one knew. Kelric and Brendan were the first to their father’s side. Their efforts were for naught. Alaric Morgan’s bloody hand blessed his sons, and then the greatest hero of Gwynedd was gone from this world.

Rage filled the Corwyn and Hort’s men then. Without the guiding mind of Teymuraz, the horde faltered.  Teymuraz’s sons could not take the controls in the midst of battle. In the shortest time ever, the horde were no more.

The sorrow and grief of that day and the days that followed had never eased from Kelric Morgan’s mind. Though his birthday had come and gone in the short spring season of war, Kelric at the mature age of nineteen was not prepared for the day he escorted the body of Gwynedd’s hero and savior back home.  So much responsibility tempered the new Duke of Corwyn. His eldest brother Brendan, Earl of Marley, had stuck close to his side in those first horrible days. Elsewise, he didn’t think their mother could have made it through the initial grief. The two sisters were there for their mother too. No one left Duchess Richenda alone, in those first few days. The Morgan family survived. The highest honor of a state funeral was bestowed upon the hero and Champion of Gwynedd. King Kelson Haldane was as bereaved as the Morgan family to have lost his dearest mentor and friend. In time, after the funeral processions  had crossed the land, with much weeping by the common folk, the Champion of Deryni and Humankind alike was returned to his home and laid to rest. Only then did the Kingdom of Gwynedd turn its heart toward peace and prosperity. 

The youngest child of Alaric Morgan was fourteen years Kelric’s junior. Suddenly this five-year-old was without a father, yet he was the remaining happiness in their mother’s eyes.  To say that Washburn was spoiled was likely an understatement. The boy had all he asked for and more. Kelric had taken on his brother’s care like Wash was his first child.  It was fortunate that Duke Kelric already had the love of his heart. Two years following, on the anniversary of his parents’ wedding day, he made his own happiness with his marriage to the Princess Araxandra Haldane. Having gained some wisdom in raising his brother, Kelric was an even better loving father and husband.  If he had known what he knew now, he likely would have been both more strict and more lenient on his brother as he grew. Letting Washburn have all the battle training that he could stand, yet little of the schola’s training, had likely been a mistake. The Duke of Corwyn was thinking it was time he taught his little brother that the name Morgan implied responsibility too.

Meanwhile, the scout had halted just the other side of the Duke’s squire. He did not approach until he was given permission to do so. Then he made his report. “Your Grace, I made count of ten horses before a local church. The guardsman seemed at ease, giving water to their mounts from the church’s well and some taking food from their packs. I took note that not one man seemed to guard the road. Although, at the far side of the church, far enough away that I could not discern who they were, I saw several men walking back from the trees edging the gravesite. I could not discern the reason; I hesitate to say that I thought perhaps they were relieving nature’s call. All in all, not one seemed to have noticed my watching them. I returned to you before they might have learned of my presence.”

“And a blazon?” the Duke of Corwyn asked, holding back his liver chestnut, who fussed at the tight reins that kept him from moving forward.

“I only saw the colors of blue on white, my lord. No blazon was displayed,” the scout answered truthfully, knowing he had looked but had not seen one in his short perusal.  His Grace’s silvery gaze held the scout’s eyes for just an instant before releasing the man with a dismissing nod. The scout backed his horse away, not deterred by the Deryni lord’s Truth Reading. It was a necessity that came with his position, and he had long ago accepted that.

The scout took his place on the far side to the Duke of Corwin’s squire. The youthful squire, Sieur III de Vali, son of the Baron Sieur II de Vali, who was riding behind the Duke, made room on the narrow valley road without crowding the duke’s warhorse. Rexxar was an amazing R’kassi stallion, bred from the Earl of Derry’s lead stallion and star mare. Squire Sieur knew well enough that Rexxar would tolerate the closeness of his own mount, but the Duke’s sudden taut shoulders told the squire it was best not to crowd the duke himself. It was clear that though Duke Kelric Morgan was relieved to have finally found that which he quested for, his normal mood of forbearance was upset by what the scout reported. 

How could his brother be so lax, hadn’t he taught him better than that? The threat of treason and insurrections occuring in Meara had been emphasized by his king. This ‘rescue’ of his brother was much more than that; it just might prove to be Gwynedd’s opening martial move into the Mearan province. The Duke of Corwyn was to make a commanding presence to the people without appearing overbearing. The king’s hand was a just hand, and Kelric was here in the King’s name. His own personal concerns and that of the Dowager Duchess of Corwyn came second. And that had been a hard balance for Kelric to make after receiving Duchess Richenda’s rapport at mid-morning. Kelric wondered again just why it was that his brother was having such a difficult time with this simple task? If he was in as much trouble as he had relayed, then why was he stopped at a church in the mid-afternoon when he knew he was supposed to have met up with Kelric... yesterday!

Suppressed anger prompted the Duke of Corwyn to put spurs to his stallion’s flanks. He wanted to see for himself just how lax the men under his brother’s command truly were.  Squire Sieur balanced the pole in his stirrup and leapt his horse forward to match the duke’s pace. The honorable pennon of Corwyn rippled out with the speed. The great gryphon flew, green on a black field, the embroidered gold threads of the flory-counter-flory glistening in the afternoon sunshine. The twenty men behind, in battle gear and bright colored caparisons draping their steeds’ backs, were a sight this valley had not seen in years.

The pounding of horses’ hooves and the jingle of harness was heard by those in the church yard well before the duke and his men charged into view. The guardsman were mounted, quickly forming up in a small defensible line halfway between the church yard and the road. After a row of trees, the Duke of Corwyn slowed his stallion at the sight of the four mounted bowmen in front and the lord and squire behind. As the Corwyn’s blazon was recognized, the young lord behind called for weapons lowered. He trotted forwards between his men, giving the duke a deep bow in the saddle. “We are well met, Duke Kelric. Your presence has been greatly anticipated.”

Duke Kelric did not know the nobleman who addressed him, but he had learned from his mother that a baron’s son had joined Washburn and his companions. “Indeed, then we are well met. Whom do I address?” Kelric asked, keeping it civil while his mind and his eyes searched the churchyard beyond the riders.

“I am Jaxom Trillick, son of Baron Adam Trillick of Trillshire. My father sent me to escort Sir Washburn to Arx Fidei.”

Kelric wanted to burst out, Then why were you not at Arx Fidei yesterday? but he withheld his anger. These men looked more flustered than they should be. Up by the church well, there was one man holding the reins of four horses. This man had the palest blonde hair, his looks familiar in some way, but Kelric could not recall at the moment why that should be. The man was looking at the church door nearby. 

“Then I must inquire,” the duke said, “just where is Sir Washburn? I see his destrier, but not him.” The terse inquiry was meet with dutifully bowed heads, but no answer.

Before Sir Jaxom could look up and give that answer, a loud voice called out from the church. “I am here, Your Grace! I am most grateful for your coming. I thank you from my heart.”

Washburn paced forward to stop ten feet before his elder brother, where he went down on one knee. The relief playing on the younger brother’s face turned to a frown when he noted Kelric glaring at him. “I owe you the greatest of apologies, my lord. I fear I have not succeeded in doing as you requested of me. I have the heir of Mariot under my protection, but our path to Rhemuth, which should have taken but five days, has been hindered multiple times. It is now seven days and we have but traveled two-thirds of the distance. I am sorry that I have failed you.”

The Duke’s eyebrows furrowed as he looked from his brother to the other two men coming out of the church. An older man in priest’s robes, worn and blood-stained, he did not know. As for the young man who walked shoulder to shoulder with the priest, Kelric knew him almost immediately, yet he knew it could not be. The death of Sir Alister de Mariot was the instigation of this entire event. Here before him that young man went down on his knee and bowed his head. Kelric sent out a focused Mind speech, “Sir Alister, is that you?” What he received was a humble feminine voice.

“Nay, Your Grace, I am Lady Aliset, the twin sister to my beloved brother Alister. I have taken his form to travel with these men. My apologies for the deception.”

“Ah, I see. Under the circumstances, my lady, no need for an apology,” the duke replied through their rapport.

The duke looked over the four companions more closely as they were all now kneeling shoulder to shoulder. What a tired, gruff looking group of men they appeared to be. “Sir Washburn, attend me. Tell me how it is that we come to meet here in this way?”

Wash was instantly obedient. Even as he stood and walked toward his elder brother, Kelric had to comment, “Sweet Jesu, what in the world happened to you? You look like you’ve been dragged through the forest by wild boars.”

“Aye, something akin to that,” the knight humbly replied. “Though wild boars would have been more pleasant.”

Kelric’s features softened instantly as Washburn placed his hand in his. “Wait, not here.” With practiced grace, the duke was dismounting, his squire taking the reins of his stallion. “Let us retire to the church for a moment of privacy.” Belatedly, he motioned for the others to be at ease.

The two brothers standing side by side were so much the same, it astonished those who had not met them both before. Kelric’s hair shined a yellow-gold in the sunlight, while the younger brother’s was barely a shade darker. Kelric was a tad taller while Washburn was a tad broader of shoulder.  Both had the Morgan bearing that had been noteworthy of their father in his time. Both wore a black tunic, only one displayed a green gryphon and one displayed a red stag. The gold flory-counter-flory was embroidered on the hem of the duke’s tunic. Washburn only had that embroidery at the neck-edge and edge of his sleeves.

Dutifully, when they reached the church inner sanctum, Wash bent down on his knee once more. “I beg your forgiveness. We have met with many difficulties along our route to Rhemuth.”

“I can see that….” The elder brother placed both hands over the younger brother’s head. "Show me," he whispered as full rapport formed between the two siblings.  There was a long pause, and then Washburn let the fullness of the last week play out, holding nothing back. There seemed no point in doing so. Kelric recoiled at the memories of merasha; his mother had not relayed that to him, so he was taken by surprise. The healings of the priest in their company seemed to be God-sent, for there seemed no other explanation for the man to have fallen into their company. The last shock was Washburn learning to Heal the injuries that had occured this day. That took Kelric by surprise. “Didn’t Father Duncan ever test you for that trait?” the duke asked as he pulled his hands away.

“I don’t believe I ever sat still long enough for him to do so,” Washburn responded.

Kelric burst out laughing in his relief. “I do believe you are right.” His hand curved under his brother’s elbow, beckoning him to stand. He looked over the younger man as if seeing him for the first time.

“I do believe you have changed, little brother. Perhaps I should not be calling you that any longer.”

“In private, I will cherish you calling me ‘little brother’ until the day we are both so stooped over, so much so that we can not tell which one of us is the tallest.”

“Oh, so you think I will be stooped over first and then you will be taller than I? I will make you a bet that I will always have that inch over you. Even stooped over as an old man, as you say.” Kelric clapped his brother’s shoulder in familiar comradery.

“I’ll take that bet,” Washburn replied, knowing he had somehow passed his lord’s scrutiny. Though with all his lapses, he did not see how.

The two gave a donation to the church, and then together they exited the door to their awaiting men.





« Last Edit: March 25, 2018, 12:42:54 am by Laurna »

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #324 on: March 16, 2018, 02:31:18 pm »
Darcy Cameron glanced up at the sound of horses approaching at a quick pace.  Lord Jaxom immediately motioned to his men, who mounted up and formed a line half-way between the church yard and the road. Darcy stood with the horses, ready to quickly mount, draw his sword and position himself farther back between the line and the church. He glanced toward the church door as the mounted men stopped short of Jaxom’s defensive line. 

Darcy searched back through his memories to the heraldry of Gwynedd that his tutor had drilled into his brain so many years ago.  The pennon was that of Corwyn; Washburn’s brother had arrived!  Darcy secured the horses’ reins to the graveyard fence as Sir Washburn emerged from the church, called to his brother, approached the mounted duke and went down on one knee before him.

Darcy wiped his hands on the sides of his battered tunic and tried to straighten it a bit, although he knew it was a lost cause.  Aliset and Columcil emerged from the church shortly after Washburn, and Darcy fell into step beside them as they approached the duke. He noticed that the Duke of Corwyn seemed surprised at the sight of Lord Alister, but the moment passed.  Almost as one they lined up beside Washburn and each went down on one knee before Duke Kelric.

At his brother’s command, Washburn rose and went forward.  As the brothers moved toward the church, Darcy wondered if they were to remain kneeling. Duke Kelric released them as he strode by, and Darcy rose and rubbed his knee.  In his haste to show proper respect before the duke, he had managed to kneel on a rock. 

He surveyed the group before him; twenty men were mounted and well armed, and there was a young squire holding the Corwyn pennon.  That should get them safely to Arx Fedei and then to Rhemuth, although perhaps Jaxom and his men would turn back to Meara.  Somehow Darcy did not think Jaxom would turn down the opportunity to ride to Rhemuth with the Duke of Corwyn. 

“You look thoughtful, Master Darcy,” Aliset said.

“I’m thinking our odds of reaching Rhemuth just got better.  Though whether it will be smooth sailing remains to be seen.”

“You won’t relax yet, will you?” Aliset asked with a smile.

“While riding with the Duke of Corwyn?  Not a chance of that.  And if I look about to do something totally improper, please kick me or something before I disgrace myself!”
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 #325 on: March 16, 2018, 05:05:31 pm »
Columcil got slowly to his feet as Washburn and Duke Kelric entered the church where he himself had so recently found peace. He turned towards Aliset and Darcy to find the two of them engaged in conversation so looked instead towards Lord Jaxom. It wasna the man's fault that he looked relatively neat and clean, nor yet that, being mounted, he had contented himself with a deep bow rather than going to his knee. But he had not liked the way the man had looked down at them kneeling before the Duke.

His attention was drawn back to Darcy as the latter spoke to him. "You're more used to kneeling than I am Father, but I can tell you I was glad when his Grace gave the word to rise. I was kneeling on a dam... er blessed stone." Darcy looked somewhat shamefaced as though expecting a rebuke both for his levity and near profanity but Coluncil scarely gave him time to finish before bursting out:

"I'll kneel to my Lord in heaven, aye and his blessed Saints if any so desire. I'll kneel before our Lord the king and any that bear his authority as does his Grace the Duke. But I've no liking for kneeling in the muck so yon bitty gowk can stare doon at me, nor at the rest of yous neither. His heid is aye twa seezes ta big nor his bonnet wi'out us mekin it swell aye mair!" He drew breath, glad to have his anger off his chest, only to find Darcy staring at him in blank astonishment.

"I'm sorry Father, I'd not like to be looked at the way you were just looking at Lord Jaxom, so I'm getting that you are upset with him, but I didn't understand one word in two of what you were saying!"

There was a barely repressed snort from behind them and both men turned to find Alister's face contorted in his efforts not to break out in unseemly laughter.

"I don't come from as deep into border country as our good father here, but I think I can translate well enough. With your permission, of course, Father."

Columcil nodded, feeling more embarassed by the second, and Aliset complied, though in a sufficiently low voice that they had to bend close to hear her.

"He'll not kneel in the dirt so that that bit of a youth can stare down at us. His - that is Lord Jaxom's -head is already twice as big as his bonnet without us making it swell any more."

It was perhaps just as well that it was at that precise moment that the church door re-opened and they all composed their features into an expression of solemn respect.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2018, 04:25:41 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 Evie

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #326 on: March 16, 2018, 11:02:11 pm »
Aliset was still giggling quietly to herself over Father Columcil's outburst nearly an hour later, after she and her companions had taken a few brief moments to tidy themselves as best they could using water drawn from the nearby well to clean the dirt and bloodstains off their skin as quickly as they might manage before setting forth again on the road to Arx Fidei, for even with the arrival of the Duke of Corwyn and his men, none of their party had any desire to be outside the relative security of town walls come nightfall, given the tenacity of their foes. Still, they had no wish to arrive at such sanctuary without having at least made an attempt to look more presentable than they'd been when His Grace the Duke had found them.  Alas, laundry and mending must wait yet a little while longer--or better yet, a complete change of clothing!

Aliset caught a glimpse of the comparatively more dapper Lord Jaxom out of the corner of her eye as their party rode forth from the church grounds, which caused a burst of inner amusement again briefly, though she quickly sobered as a sudden realization struck her.  On one hand, she could sympathize with Father Columcil's opinion of the man.  Borderers and Lowlanders tended to mix about as well as water and oil, unfortunately, and while technically the heir of Trillick was border-born,  he was far more Court-bred than border-bred.  It was a common enough problem among the nobility of the borders.  The border dukes and earls, and sometimes even barons, often found it desirable to send their sons, or at least their heirs, to Rhemuth to learn such court polish as might be useful in forging alliances with the lowland regions, yet in some cases those sons were away from home for so long that they had difficulty relating well with the common folk once they returned home, or at least it became more difficult for the common folk to relate to them.  Some managed to relate to both bordermen and lowlanders with ease--Duke Dhugal, for one, not to mention her own rightful baron, Jass MacArdry.  But then, on the other hand, there were the Lord Jaxoms of the world who sometimes came across as being out of touch with the common folk of their homelands, having taken on high and mighty lowlander pretensions, though they might genuinely have all the best of intentions and still think of themselves as being bordermen, little realizing how their words and actions might sometimes be off-putting to others around them.

But that, in turn, made Aliset wonder--how well would she, a born and bred Border lass, fit into Court life in polished Rhemuth?  Oh, she'd had the benefit of a nobleborn lady's education, and had even visited Gwynedd's fair capital a few times, the last being for the occasion of Alister's knighting, although that had seemed such a grand spectacle that she had scarcely managed to take it all in, and could remember little about what had happened and who else had been there anymore. Despite the grandeur of Rhemuth's Great Hall, her full attention had been on her brother that evening, so suffused she had been with her pride in him.  And too shortly afterwards, she'd returned home along with her family. But she had little knowledge of what Kelson would expect from her now that she was the King's ward, or how well she might fit in with the other ladies at court. Would she be welcomed there, or viewed as a socially awkward outsider from a backwater manor, orphaned and stripped of her rightful dower lands, little more than a beggar living off the King's charity? Then again, it was entirely possible she need not worry about fitting into Court life overmuch; after all, the King would be within his rights to simply marry her off to whichever strong warrior lord he felt might take back Caer Mariot from her cousin, winning a reward for loyal service and a bride who happened to go along with the property.

Something of her worry must have shown on her face, for Master Darcy moved his horse closer to hers to whisper, "Are you all right?"

She shrugged, at first not wanting to confide her fears to him, but after a moment they burst forth from her anyway. "Do you suppose I'll end up stuck in the Queen's bower," she whispered back, "or just get bartered off to the highest bidder?"  Mercy, she hadn't meant to express her worries quite as starkly as all that, but the words were out now, and she could hardly call them back. She stared at Papillon's mane in misery as they continued to ride onward towards her uncertain future, unable to meet her man-at-arm's concerned gaze, a rising blush staining her cheeks.
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
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Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #327 on: March 17, 2018, 03:34:08 pm »
Over my dead body! Darcy Cameron wanted to declare, but he knew he could not.  It was a promise he could not keep.  The king’s will would be done whether he liked it or not.  Lady Aliset continued to stare at her horse’s mane, blushing in embarrassment at her sudden outburst.  Her inner turmoil pulled at Darcy’s heart more than he wanted to admit, and he found the blush, even though it spread across her brother’s visage, most appealing. 

He leaned closer and said quietly so only she could hear, “I’ll not abandon you, no matter what.  You won’t be alone to face whatever is to be.”  Aliset nodded and turned her gaze to the road ahead. 

It probably had not been the right thing to say, but he had felt the need to say something. Offer some comfort, no matter how small it might be.  Now that Darcy remembered his life before the sea, thanks to the lady who rode beside him, he might be a contender for her hand.  But only if he found his brother, if he still lived, and his brother acknowledged him.  Would he want to?  Darcy had been all but dead to him for over 12 years.  Maybe he would rather ship him back off to sea and have him out of his life.  By God there would be a fight if he tried it!

What if the king refused to consider him at all?  What if he couldn’t find his brother in time?  Could he stand by and watch her wed another?   Could he offer his congratulations and wish them well?

Maybe the sea wasn’t such a bad idea.

With his own thoughts in a turmoil, Darcy noticed the light was beginning to fade.  It would be well past dusk before they reached Arx Fedei; he hoped they would make it there before dark.
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 #328 on: March 17, 2018, 04:46:27 pm »
Columcil kept as far back as he could to be out of the dust of the pounding hooves, though he was glad of the two archers at his back, their watchful eyes would, he knew, be constantly scanning their surrounds. So placed, he was able to see what the Duke was doing and, somewhat reluctantly, he found himself growing in genuine respect for the man, as well as the dutiful honour he owed for the high office he held. If he had thought about it at all he would have expected the Duke to ride out in front, his squire beside him, with his pennant flying proudly, making clear his rank and the distance between himself and those who followed.

Once started on their way, however, and having assured himself that all precautions against ambush or attack had been taken, the Duke had bidden his squire furl his pennant and had given the leadership of the column to his brother. Even from his distance Columcil could see the pride shine from Sir Washburn and his heart warmed to see the trust between the two brothers. He had feared from the Duke's first expression on seeing them that young Washburn was in for a royal dressing down, but their demeanour on leaving the church had suggested that whether or not a rebuke had been administered they had come to an understanding.

But it was not just to his brother that the Duke showed himself gracious. Although they were moving at a steady canter, he slowed his stallion, who without doubt would have outpaced them all given his head, and allowed himself to move back through the ranks with a word for all who had joined with his company. He had a kindly word and a pat of approbation on the shoulder for the young troopers of Lord Jaxom's company, doubtless knowing that anything more lengthy would petrify them with awe, and spent somewhat longer in conversation with the more seasoned men whose military experience gave them at least a modicum of common ground. Lord Jaxom seemed to grow half a handspan taller with pride as the Duke spoke words which were clearly of thanks and commendation but even Columcil's dislike of the man could hardly fault his pride in a duty well done and acknowledged as such. As the Duke spoke first with Lord Alister and then Master Darcy, Columcil found a knot begin to form in his stomach. He knew that Washburn had sensed something of their kinship, the eldest son of the great Duke himself would surely have awesome power, probing maybe beyond Columcil's ability to protect the secret that was not his to share.

Spean was nearly along side the Duke now and there was no avoiding. Columcil bowed as low as he could over Spean's neck, and voiced a deferential  "Your Grace."

Kelric could tell that the priest had some fear related to himself, though he could not imagine what. The man had saved his brother's life and more than once, and as a healer it could not be that he feared his Deryni powers. But he was doubtless the highest ranking nobleman he had met. The man had a way with beasts, did he not? That would give him the best chance of putting him at his ease.

"Please straighten up, your bonnie little pony will wonder what you are doing and I'd hate for him to miss his footing and brain you if his head comes back suddenly."

Whatever Columcil had thought the Duke might say, it was not that and he sat up with a jerk, though he avoided meeting the Duke's gaze as the latter continued.

"I and my lady mother owe you our thanks, Sir Priest for the saving of my brother's life. He tells me that you have been of great blessing to him and the rest of your companions. He's been in sore need of your guidance."

The words were spoken without any hint of criticism and were doubtless a gracious means of putting him at his ease but Columcil's own fear of the Duke was suddenly swallowed up in his need to put the record straight.

"Forgive me, your Grace, an I speak out of turn. But it's me that is beholden to his Lordship, your brother. He's a canny leader of men, aye and brave too and we'd all a' bin in our graves these many days syne wi'out his Lordship. And I dinna ken if ye knaw but he's shaping to be a bonnie healer."

As he spoke, his speech becoming broader in his passion to make the Duke understand, Columcil met the other's gaze, his amber eyes flashing. There was something familiar both in speech and gaze which Kelric knew he should recognise but before he could cudgel his memory his squire was cantering back towards him.

"Lord Washburn's apologies for the interruption, your Grace, but he fears we'll not reach Arx Fidei before nightfall. What are your orders?"
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 Evie

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #329 on: March 17, 2018, 06:52:10 pm »
Aliset watched as His Grace of Corwyn moved down the line of the company, his charm putting even the most lowborn commoners at ease.  Granted, she'd experienced a few mild flutters when he'd stopped to speak with her, though those weren't so much from anxiety as from sheer feminine attraction. Jesu, but God had favored the Morgan men with handsomer than average features and an amount of natural charisma that was simply unfair, but awe-inspiring to behold!  She normally had little use for the sort of empty-headed, giggly lasses who simpered at the sight of any well-favored male in their midsts, but Heaven help her if she hadn't practically had to sit on her own hands to stop from fussing with her hair when she saw him heading towards her to exchange polite greetings, and her still in Alister's guise!  Wouldn't that have looked odd--a man with such a keen eye for the fairer sex as her brother Alister had been known for, appearing to greet Duke Kelric with a flirtatious mien? Aliset nearly laughed out loud at what conclusions Lord Jaxom might have drawn from that!

Yes, His Grace was quite soundly and, by all reports, happily wed, and to no less a personage than the King's own daughter, and Aliset was under no illusions that she would be given to any lord of such high rank and station anyway, not even a younger son such as Lord Washburn, sadly.  Oh, not that she harbored some deep (and most likely quite unrequited) tendresse for the youngest Morgan son either, but at least he was someone she knew somewhat better, given all they'd experienced together during the past week, and had grown to like and respect a great deal in that short time. But certainly the Morgan brothers were very little hardship on the eyes, never mind that the younger of the two could definitely do with a proper bath, a change of clothing, and a comb at the moment.

And then there were her other two companions-in-adversity, Master Darcy and Father Columcil. After all they'd been through together in the short time she'd known both, she could hardly bear the thought of being parted from either once they all reached the King's court. She could hardly do much about being parted from the priest, unfortunately; the Church would decide where he went, and when, and she was hardly in any position just now to beseech his superiors to grant her the boon of assigning him to be her chaplain. Nor would she wish to, if his heart remained in his parish church of Saint Melangell. And she certainly did not wish to get on the wrong side of a saint either! No, God had sent Father Columcil into her life at a time of desperate need, and either God would find some way to keep him close by her afterwards or would send him on his merry way to help others according to his divine calling, and either way, may God's will be done.

But Master Darcy's offer--that had touched a chord deep within her. She realized suddenly that if, at the end of their journey together, she were to lose his loyal companionship also, that would be the keenest hurt of all.

But that, mayhap, might be the only one of the three bonds grown between herself and her companions that she might have some hope of continuing to keep close by even once they all reached Rhemuth. She had hired him as her man-at-arms to keep her safe, after all, had she not? And would she not still need his services as her loyal retainer even once she'd reached the King's Court, where she would know no one else? She would need someone she could trust, someone who was loyal to her personally, no matter what, and who could follow her anywhere, no matter what Kelson Haldane might ultimately decide about her fate. And Darcy himself seemed willing to continue in her service.

I’ll not abandon you, no matter what.  You won’t be alone to face whatever is to be.  The words echoed deep in her soul long after he'd finished whispering them, easing the tightness in her chest and giving her comfort.
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
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