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Author Topic: Ghosts of the Past  (Read 74522 times)

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Offline revanne

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #390 on: May 05, 2018, 04:15:12 pm »
Duncan looked with relief at the genuine warmth of the embrace between Washburn and Richenda, that was one relationship at least that was being repaired. He was filled with pride for his grandson, and the way in which he had spoken up for their group without fear or trying to curry favour, but he was filled with foreboding. How long could it be before rumours began to circulate, and if the King summoned Dhugal for a council of war, as surely he must with two of his senior Dukes absent, then the fat would really be in the fire.

He supposed that he deserved the King's anger, but that made it no easier to bear; what hurt most was Kelson's accusation that he had grossly misjudged his own son. He really did not think that he could abide to sit through a formal dinner with the regal stare boring into his soul and he had a desperate need to unburden that soul in confession. All would be in hand here, and if Kelson did unbend enough to wish to speak to him then he was only a word away. Catching Araxandra's eye he bowed farewell and slipped out of the door without ceremony.

By the willing permission of the King he had his own quarters within the Castle itself and he returned there briefly to change into the plain black cassock of any priest before quietly making his way to the portal in the royal library.  There was one man who would understand the agony of choosing to conceal a truth for reasons which would seem indefensible to others. The irony, which was not lost on Duncan, was that it had taken him himself many years to forgive Denis Arilan for what he had seen as his self-interested concealment of his identity. And now that they were both old men he was going to beg leave to kneel at Denis's feet and seek forgiveness for what there was of self-interest in his own concealment of another's true identity.

Later that evening Duncan returned to the castle as he had gone, humbled by the grace of the reception he had received and shriven clean of his offence towards Columcil and Dhugal, and what had been even harder to confess, his resentment  of Denis which had lingered for so long. His penance, he knew could not long be delayed.

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 #391 on: May 06, 2018, 03:13:44 pm »
Darcy Cameron speared a piece of mutton from the heaping platter of food before him a little more savagely than he had intended.  Father Columcil jerked his own hand back before a bit of the rich sauce could stain the sleeve of his new cassock.

“Beg pardon, Father,” Darcy said, genuinely contrite. 

“At least you were not aiming for Lord Jaxom,” Father Columcil responded in a low voice.  “I’d rather see the sauce spilled than blood.”  He reached for a breast of partridge.  “I don’t think I have ever seen this much food before.”

“Aye,” Darcy agreed, trying not to look farther up the table to where Lord Jaxom was engaged in conversation with the Duchess of Corwyn and Lady Aliset.  In truth, he was glad not to be that close to the King and the other members of the peerage that sat at the high table.  Sir Washburn sat between Queen Araxie and his mother and looked to be enjoying himself.  Both ladies laughed lightly at something the Lendour knight said.  The few times Darcy had glanced in Aliset’s direction, she was politely choosing from the tasty morsels Jaxom selected for her plate.  Jaxom was too skilled in court manners to do something as fortunate as dumping his own plate in his lap.  Darcy idly wondered if there was a Deryni way to make that happen, but he doubted Aliset would thank him for it.

“Father,” Darcy said after a moment. Columcil looked up from the last of his partridge.  “I have a thought to travel to Desse tomorrow to deliver the pouch to the Quartermaster’s nephew.  Would you like to ride with me?  There is a healing shrine just inside the city; you could spend some time there while I go down to the docks.  Desse is not more than five miles away; we can easily be there and back by evening.”

Columcil nodded, pleased with the prospect of escaping the court for a while.

“I will, of course, have to ask Lady Aliset’s permission to be away, but I suspect she will be safe within the Queen’s Tower.”  Several royal pages were beginning to clear away the platters and bring around bowls of scented water for the guests to rinse their hands.  Darcy had not done full justice to the excellent meal that had been set before him, and regretted his preoccupation with Lord Jaxom.  Nevertheless, he was pleasantly full.  As the pages began to set platters of sweetmeats and cheeses before them, Princess Araxandra looked in his direction.

“Lord Darcy,” she said.  “Will you now tell us a tale of the sea?”

“Of course, Your Highness,” Darcy said.

“Try to keep it suitable for the ladies, Son,” Father Columcil muttered as Darcy stood to address the table.  Darcy managed a nervous grin.

“Your Majesties, Your Graces, my Lords and Lady,” Darcy said with a bow. His voice, used to shouting orders above the sounds of a raging sea, carried easily to the far end of the table.  He reached inside of his belt pouch and withdrew his tin whistle.  He held it out for all to see.  “This little whistle saved my life when I was a cabin boy and had my first encounter with,” he paused for effect, “pirates!”

“We were in port in the Bay of Northarch, on the coast of Tolan.  It’s a nasty port at best, but times had been hard and there was competition in securing provisions for our ship, Skjoldr.  I was given charge of watching over the sacks of barley and rye the Quartermaster had secured while he went with the horse cart to pick up the casks of ale.  The Quartermaster gave me this very whistle; I was to use it to call for help if anyone tried to steal any of our supplies.  I sat atop one of the sacks and did my best to keep a sharp watch.” 

“Pirates also need to provision their ships, but they tend not to pay, preferring to pilfer a bit here and there to take back to their ships.  Almost an hour had passed when I saw three men approaching.  They wore dark scarves around their heads, and one wore a gold ring in his ear. A large bird with brilliant plumage sat on the shoulder of one of the men.  I had never seen the likes of it before!  I took careful note of the cutlasses they carried.  The Quartermaster was due to return soon, so I waited and hoped they would pass by.”

“That was not to be.  They spotted the provisions and approached.  It would come out of my meager pay if any of the sacks were lost, so I stood atop my sack, armed only with a dagger and my whistle, and waited as they approached.  I thought I heard the sound of the cart returning, but I did not dare to turn to look behind me.”

“For a moment they looked at me and then reached for the nearest sack.  I advised the man not to, making up a yarn about the sacks coming from a merchant that had just perished from a terrible disease, as had most of his workers.  For a moment I thought they believed me, but they laughed and the pirate picked up the sack.”

“I did the only think I could think of to do.  I threw the whistle straight at the bird.  It dug its claws deep into the shoulder of the man, who yelped in pain, and then flew straight into the face of the man with the sack.  That man dropped the sack, which the third man tripped over.  It had been the Quartermaster’s cart I thought I heard, and he drove the cart, heavy with its load of ale, straight at the pirates.  The pirates had the good sense to turn and flee, thought I’ll not repeat the oaths they shouted at us as they ran.  They were not for polite company.”

Darcy’s tale had gone better than he expected. “Well done!” Sir Washburn said.  The ladies clapped lightly and smiled.  Darcy risked a glance at Aliset and saw that she look pleased.

“Just a bit far-fetched, Mas, er, Lord Darcy?”  Lord Jaxom’s disdain was clear in his voice.

“I’m sure it happened just as Lord Darcy told it,” Aliset responded, emphasizing the proper address for her man-at-arms.  “Lord Darcy’s whistle saved lives on our journey, and I am truly grateful for it.” 

“You are not alone in that, Lady Aliset,” Columcil stated, and Darcy felt himself blushing.  Aliset was smiling at him, and that was what mattered most.

The meal did not last much longer.  They all rose and paid respect to the king and queen as the royal couple left the table.  Darcy picked up the item he had retrieved from his sea bag before the meal and hastened toward Lady Aliset.  Jaxom had positioned himself to escort her from the room, but Aliset quickly drifted to the other side of the Duchess of Corwyn. 

“Lady Aliset,” Darcy said and bowed when he reached her side.  “May I have a brief word?”

“Of course,” Aliset said.  “I’ll just be a moment, your Grace.”  Aliset gave a brief curtsey and moved just far enough away with her man-at-arms for a little privacy.

“Lady Aliset,” Darcy began.  “May I ask your leave to travel with Father Columcil to Desse tomorrow to keep my word to the Quartermaster and deliver his bequest to his nephew?  We should be back before evening, and I believe your safety should be assured among the ladies of the court.”

“And in a tower, no less!” Aliset said and nodded.  “I will grant your request, provided you are not planning on meeting up with any pirates while you are gone.”

“Fear not on that score!”  Darcy hesitated a moment and then continued.  “I confess I have no idea what noble ladies do at court to keep occupied, but I wondered if you might take pleasure in this while I am away.”  Darcy held out his mother’s book of poetry.  “It was my mother’s.  It contains poems and sagas from the Norsemen.”

Aliset smiled and accepted the book from his hand.  “Thank you.  I am sure I will enjoy it and I will return it when I have finished it.”

“No hurry, my Lady.  I have it memorized by now.”

“Do you have a favourite?”

“Aye, the Saga of Sigrun.”

‘Your favourite is a story about your horse?”  Aliset stared at him, looking incredulous.

Darcy laughed aloud. It was a pleasant, engaging laugh and Aliset smiled.  “Nay, it’s the story of a brave Norse lady; a little like you, in fact.  But I did name my horse after her!”

It was Aliset’s turn to laugh, and those standing nearby turned to look at them both.  The Duchess of Corwyn cleared her throat delicately, and Darcy bowed to both women as the duchess steered Aliset toward her new quarters.

There was a jauntiness to Darcy’s step as he left with Columcil and Washburn.  Jaxom was left to leave alone, looking not at all amused. 
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 #392 on: May 07, 2018, 10:12:06 am »
Columcil felt considerably relieved by Darcy's request. A day away from the complexities of the Court  would be a blessing for them both. Columcil entirely sympathised with Darcy's feelings towards Aliset, and even more with the quite opposite emotion they both harboured towards Lord Jaxom, but the protective instinct that made him keep a wary eye out  lest the younger man transgressed the boundaries of appropriate behaviour did nothing to soothe his already overwrought nerves. His interview with his grandfather, so long feared, had reassured him in one way but puzzled and alarmed him in another. He did not want anyone to be angry on his behalf, least of all the King. The only hurt his birth had ever caused him had been the doubt as to whether he could fulfill his calling to be a priest and it was his grandfather who had resolved that.

As far as he could see everything had been fine as it was - His Grace of Cassan had legitimate children enough, his mother had married and been loved and cared for and he had had the life he longed for. But, brash borderer though he was, he was not about to tell the King not to be so daft.. The coldness of the royal look turned on his grandfather had frozen him, he shuddered at how he would feel to be the recipient. . He should never have come and he had best be about fulfilling the mission he had originally set out upon before he got caught up in things  beyond his station. He would seek another audience with his grandfather,  as priest to Archbishop, plead the rightness of St Melangell's church to be recognised as a healing shrine, bid farewell to his companions, and set his face towards home.

He had hoped to see the Archbishop at dinner, but he had not appeared, and another day surely would not hurt. Besides the healing shrine at Desse might give him some ideas as to how he might develop things at St. Melangell's.
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 #393 on: May 07, 2018, 11:50:48 am »

Washburn shared his room in the Duke’s apartment with the two men he had come to know as good friends. All three had slept fairly soundly under the protection of the king’s guard who were known to be stationed at every major door and intersection in the main halls. It was a good sleep that Washburn had, yet still he was uneasy about his morning’s interview with the king. Would Kelson pardon him and see him on his way back to Meara? If he did, Wash might be saying goodbye to his companions as they readied to ride out for Desse.

“You know that I would ride with you, if circumstances aren't such as they are.” Wash said to Lord Darcy.

“Yes, and I would enjoy your company if you did decide to come with us.” Darcy replied as he pulled on his riding boots. “Surely the King wouldn’t begrudge you one day off.”

“Huh!” Washburn laughed at that. “With Dukes and Earls arriving for this morning's War Council...? Be glad you have an excuse to be away.” Washburn looked over at his own riding boots with a long face, then choose his court footwear instead. “I spoke to Prince Javan last evening. If I am allowed, I have a place in his ranks. The word isn’t said yet, but they may be leaving as soon as tonight or tomorrow early for Ratherkin. You should likely return before that, but if I am gone by the time you do return, know that all is well.” Wash sucked in a breath and then released it with a smile. “Here’s for a good day had by all.”

“Oh, Aye to that!” and “Indeed, to a good day!” where the replies of this two companions.

Washburn looked over at Father Columcil with a rare smile. “Don’t you plan on returning home to your rabbits anytime soon. Something tells me you would be welcome here in Rhemuth for as long as you like. Perhaps you and I can see to a bit of learning at the schola, you can temper my fidgeting if I get antsy sitting in a classroom.” Wash suddenly laughed at Columcil’s shake of his head. “My learning instructors all hated me. In less then two hours time, they would be telling me, ‘Go, go, do your weapon's drills, I’ll have no more of you this day.” Washburn chuckled at Columcil’s laugh.

“And you think, I could temper you to sit in a classroom all day?” The priest asked in a tone of disbelief.

“Aye, ye e’pe’t ye w’ld threet me with Killer Coney's and Trolls if I n’t abide.” Wash laughed as a pillow came flying his way. “I suspect you will have to teach me the border tongue too.”  he laughed all the more.

The two companions finished making their preparations to ride out to Desse all with light hearted joking about trolls and fleeing rabbits.

“You will watch after Lady Aliset!” Lord Darcy said to Wash with a more serious tone.

“You know that I will.” Washburn replied. “She is safe. And I will find ways to dissuade Lord Jaxom. Should not be hard to see him back on his way to Meara, even if I have to drag him there myself.” Wash got an appreciative pat on the shoulder from Darcy. Then the two men walked out for their trip to Desse, and Washburn was left to face the King’s war council.

He gathered up his things, found Lord Jaxom and his squire in the main room of the duke’s apartment. “Was that Father Columcil and Lord Darcy I saw just leaving.”

“Yes indeed,they are gone for the day.” Wash tried desperately not to roll his eyes a the gleeful smirk that crossed Jaxom’s lips. “Come, we need to make early mass and then to await King Kelson’s final decisions in the great hall. We best be available when he sends for us.”

The two men, followed by Jaxom’s squire, made their way to the king’s chapel for early Sunday mass.

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #394 on: May 08, 2018, 10:31:34 am »
Darcy Cameron made a final check of Sigrun’s saddle girth while the horse turned her head and attempted to grab the leather cord that secured her owner’s border braid.

“Sigrun, stop that!” Darcy said firmly as he reached up to protect the braid.  “Where she learned that trick,” he added for Father Columcil’s benefit, “I have no idea.”  Sigrun nudged his shoulder and he stroked her head.

“She knows it will get her some attention.”  Columcil, already mounted on his mountain pony, nodded sagely and turned to leave the stable.  Darcy mounted and joined him.  Miraculously, their own clothes had been laundered and mended, and Darcy was glad to be back in his normal attire.  The distinctive black tunic he had borrowed would draw too much attention on the docks of Desse.  Attention he would just as soon avoid.

It was a fair morning with a clear sky and a gentle breeze.  Although the hour was early, Kingstable Street was busy with a variety of townspeople.  Some were on foot, some drove carts, and there were other riders as well.  Many nodded or spoke to the priest as they passed; Darcy admired the fact that Columcil took a moment to speak to each one.  It meant that it took them a little longer to reach Millsgate, but their early departure allowed them plenty of time to reach their destination and return.  Once through the Millsgate, they would cross the Molling River via the Millsbridge and follow Via Romana to Desse.

Although he knew Lady Aliset was safe within Rhemuth Castle, Darcy still scanned the area around them for any sign of danger.  It was probably foolish, but it had become a habit over past weeks. 

“She is perfectly safe, you know,” Father Columcil said after the first mile of their journey.

“Aye,” Darcy said, and waited for what he suspected the priest would say next.

“You will likely not see her as much, now that she has been placed with the other court ladies.”

“Aye, but I still have a duty as her man-at-arms to report to her regularly,” Darcy pointed out.

“That may change, now that she is safely delivered.”  Columcil saw Darcy bristle, but continued.  “No matter how much you may wish it otherwise.”

Darcy sighed.  “Father Columcil, I know you know how I feel about her.  I didn’t plan for it, but it is what it is. But I’m no fool; I’ll not do anything to disgrace her, save maybe throwing Lord Jaxom in the middens.”

Columcil chuckled.  “You might get help from the lady herself if you try that.” 

Darcy smiled at the thought and then became serious again.  “I also don’t have much to offer her, at least in terms of land and title.  Isles is Iain’s, as it should be.  I have some money secured from my days at sea, but I know I’m not established like Lord Jaxom.  And I’ll likely never earn the accolade.”   He turned to look at the priest beside him.  “Don’t for one instant think I’m giving up on her, but I won’t be offering her less than what she deserves.”

“Fair enough,” Columcil said.  “Just don’t be climbing the Queen’s Tower to carry her off in the middle of the night.”

For a moment Darcy stared in disbelief at the older man riding beside him and then grinned.  “Only if she askes me to.”

Father Columcil rolled his eyes heavenward and decided it was a good time to pick up the pace.

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 #395 on: May 08, 2018, 05:37:37 pm »
((Chronologically the evening before the last two pieces. Please readjust your imaginations)).

On leaving the great hall  after dinner, the King and Queen made their way to their appartments but before they entered Araxie stopped, and swung Kelson around to face her. "Go and talk to Javan, it's not too late and unless you talk all this out - whatever all this is - you are going to be tossing and turning all night!"

Kelson made to protest but she stopped him, in the way that never failed to work, by reaching up and kissing him soundly. "I know you share everything with me, but there are things that our son has more wisdom in than either of us. And, yes I know, too, you wanted him to have a last evening with Grania, but there is still plenty of time for a fond farewell. Now go!"

A few minutes later there was a soft tap on the door of Prince Javan's appartments. Javan groaned as he disentangled himself from Grania and stood away from the cushioned window seat where they had been sitting with her head on his lap, but Grania gave a satisfied smile and said, "Well don't keep his Majesty waiting!" and turning to the squire who had appeared from an ante-room instructed, "Leave the door, but please bring a flagon of spiced wine and three goblets, then you may retire for the night."

Javan opened the door to his father who looked apologetic as he entered, until that is he caught sight of the look on Grania's face. His look tried, and failed, to be stern, but his voice was full of affection as he said, "Why, didn't I guess? Whose idea was it this time?".

"I plead guilty, Sire",  and Grania dipped him a half curtsey before coming to accept his kiss. Javan inclined his head in affectionate respect and gestured to his father to sit down.

"You know they are always right, Sir, so we may as well accept it when your lady and mine conspire together for our own good."

Kelson took a long drink from the goblet that Grania offered to him - how was it that the Morgan family seemed to have such a skill for acquiring Fianna wine just that little bit better than even he could command? - and heaved a long sigh.

"I won't pretend I'm not grateful, lass, I could do with talking some of this out before the Council tomorrow. I'm guessing though that you have not brought me here to keep your husband up half the night to discuss military strategy given that you've had three goblets brought. What else it I should know? - other than Rory pleading the need to come and offer his resignation on his knees, and arraign himself for negligence,  incompetence and everything short of out-right treason, and the whole bag of trouble that young Washburn has brought with him."

Grania and Javan exchanged troubled glances but for once Grania allowed her husband to speak.

"Well you can hardly blame Uncle Rory for taking the capture of his capital and the murder of his garrison badly..." Javan was beginning but was interrupted by his father,

"Of course, not. But him falling on his sword or at any rate expecting me to publicly chastise him would only serve to bring comfort to our enemies, whoever they are. Not to mention being unjust. I won't be made into a tyrant just to make Rory feel better."

Kelson put his goblet down rather more heavily than he intended then looked a little abashed.  "It's not that I don't understand, I feel much the same myself. How could we have missed this? But I need Rory and Brecon to stay where they are in Laas, to rally loyal forces there, though the rest of the family have been moved to the Isle of Orsal, partly for sanctuary and partly to keep an eye out for anything Liam might have missed, if he's as blind as I have been." The King sat in gloomy silence for a moment though he roused himself to add, "That's privileged information by the way."

Javan and Grania nodded then Grania asked tentatively, "What trouble do you mean, father, that Washburn brought with him?"

"Oh, it's nothing to do with him directly, but unless I'm very much mistaken Lord Jaxom and our newly returned from the dead Lord Darcy are sniffing around Lady Aliset like a couple of dogs around a bitch in heat." Javan looked at his father with what was a very passable imitation of the feared Haldane glare and Kelson hastened to turn to Grania in apology. "Please forgive me, my dear, I could have phrased that better. What I meant to say is that we could have a fight on our hands if those two young men are kept cooped up together for too long."

Grania had to bite the inside of her lip until it hurt but she managed to keep her countenance straight and smiled reassuringly at her father-in-law. "Never mind, I knew what you meant and it is a bit obvious. But at least for tomorrow you don't have to worry about that. It seems that Lord Darcy has an unfulfilled obligation to an old sea-faring comrade in Desse and has begged leave of Araxandra to journey there for the day tomorrow. He's taking the priest with him."

Kelson heaved another long sigh, this time of relief. "Well that's one less thing to worry about and with Father Columcil gone I shan't have to worry about Dhugal, though there's Duncan, bother him! But with Darcy's account of arms being shipped to Meara I really do need to speak to Dhugal and Richard Kirby." He looked up to see Grania and Javan looking at him with equal expressions of perplexity and realised that he had been thinking aloud. It was Javan who spoke.

"What's wrong with the priest? I saw very little of him but he seems honest enought and by all accounts was a great help to Washburn after they met up. A bit rough round the edges, but he is from the borders, after all. Get him and Dhugal together and we'd not understand a word they were saying. And what on earth has Duncan done, I've never heard you speak about him like that before? And where was he at dinner?

Most people had learnt to read the signs of the King's anger and deflect it or submit to it with as much grace as they could muster. Javan, together with Grania, was one of the few privileged to know when those signs were masking distress and he hastened to pull back, holding his hands up in surrender.

"I'm sorry, Sir. I don't mean to pry, but you know I have your back if you need me."

Kelson smiled with genuine warmth. "Thank you, just take it from me that tomorrow looks much better with both Lord Darcy and Father Columcil in Desse. Not that either of them deserves less than my fullest thanks, but I really don't need any more difficulties at present."

Grania and Javan's eyes met but it was she who spoke.

"I'm sorry to say this, Sire, but there is one difficulty that you will need to deal with and that's Washburn." Kelson was alerted to something wrong by Grania's use of his title but remained  puzzled by her words.

"Washburn. Why? I thought that there was real warmth between him and Richenda this evening. Forgive me, but your mother can be a little fierce sometimes."

Privately Grania agreed with him but it was best not to be sidetracked especially since she knew that he was going to be upset by what she had to say.

"I'm afraid it's not mother who is worrying him, it's you. He's terrified that you are not going to pardon him and that he will be left behind when the other knights go off to fight for their king."

Kelson sat with his head in his hands for a long minute before he spoke. "I have no intention of pardoning Washburn. No! hear me out" - this as Grania made to interrupt, "I cannot understand why anyone who has brought an heiress out of desperate danger, through considerable difficulty into safety and brought me information I would not otherwise have, should consider himself in need of a royal pardon. But I do intend that he should stay here in Rhemuth, or perhaps in Corwyn. I don't think I can bear to risk another of Alaric's sons and with Kelric riding into Meara..." His voice broke and Grania moved her chair next to his, taking his hand in hers.

"I know, father, we all miss him still. But Washburn barely knew him, all he has is the legend that he can never hope to live up to. He will feel utterly ashamed if he is not considered worthy to fight for you." Blinking back her tears and being very careful to look neither at Kelson nor Javan she managed to force a laugh. "And as for the pardon, well he has always been in one sort of trouble or another and he just takes it for granted that he is this time too."

Kelson looked at Javan, "Did you know of this?". There was genuine question, not accusation, in his voice and Javan answered as simply as he had been asked. "About you being encouraged to come here this evening? No. About Washburn? Yes. He asked me if he could ride amongst my troops and I said that he could if you would so allow. Forgive me if I should not have so presumed, but I think you cannot know, Sire, how hard it is for us who have grown up with such heroes for fathers."

Kelson reached across the table so that he was grasping the hand of his son as well as that of his daughter-in-law, to whom he had become almost a second father. Never to replace Alaric, but as dearly loved. "No presumption. I owe you both my thanks. Both as King, and personally, you have saved me from making a bad mistake with Washburn. I was thinking of myself more than him, though there is still the question of a regent for Corwyn if the worst should happen. But that's for the future and please God will never arise."

Grania realised that the King was drawing back from the fear that possessed her too, though she thought that Javan and the other young men needed to prove themselves too badly to allow it to touch them. Draining her goblet she got to her feet, "Her Majesty told me that you were to be allowed until the bell for Compline to discuss military strategy, so I will bid you goodnight, Sire." She dropped curtsey to the King and smiling at her husband, left father and son together.








« Last Edit: May 09, 2018, 05:06:29 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 #396 on: May 10, 2018, 10:37:40 am »
The Shrine of Saint Varnar of Bassettdale was located just inside the wall surrounding the port town of Desse.  It clearly enjoyed good and generous patronage.  Darcy Cameron waited until he was sure Father Columcil was well-received before proceeding down the main street that would lead him to the docks.  It felt strange to be travelling alone after the companionship of the priest, the knight and the lady, but the responsibility for this errand was his alone, and he would not have brought Lady Aliset anywhere near the docks! 

The houses he passed were those of the wealthy merchants who prospered from the goods they imported or exported from Desse. The man he sought was a merchant, but not one that would be found here.  Master Tariq would be closer to the docks.  He dealt in the heavy lines the ships needed for just about everything a voyage required.  Some lines always needed to be replaced when a ship was in port; Master Tariq might not be wealthy, but he would not lack for customers in this town.

It was close to midday.  The timing was right to catch Master Tariq at his meal at his shop near the docks.  Darcy would rather convey the news of the Quartermaster’s death and deliver the pouch in some privacy, rather than disturbing the merchant in the middle of conducting business.  Darcy reached inside the bag of generous provisions that the Duchess had provided and withdrew a chunk of cheese.  He would explore the provisions more thoroughly after he had finished with Master Tariq.

The splendor of the previous buildings steadily declined as Darcy neared the docks.  These were simpler buildings, constructed of wood rather than stone.  Once he reached the area he believed the merchant would be located, he stopped and asked for directions from a stooped, older man standing in front of a shop.  The man gave him a dark look, spat on the ground and waved toward a general direction farther down the street.  Darcy, already watchful as was best to be along the docks, grew warier. He wondered what could have caused that kind of reaction. When he reached the building most likely to be Master Tariq’s, he stopped and stared with dismay at the scene before him.

The building was a charred ruin.  A sign with the coil of line painted on it lay on the ground, blistered from the heat.  There was still a faint smell of smoke and burned wood and something else in the air; whatever had happened here had been recent.  Miraculously, the buildings beside this one had not burned.  Darcy caught sight of the man approaching him before he came too near and turned Sigrun to face him.

“If you are looking for line, you’ll have to look elsewhere,” the man said.  He looked like a seasoned sailor; the clothes were rough but good enough, and he walked with a slight limp.  Injuries were not uncommon at sea, nor along the docks.

Darcy kept his expression neutral; every instinct warned him this might not end well.  Another man stood watching them from a shop just beyond.

“Was this Master Tariq’s place?” Darcy asked.

“Aye, what of it?  Are you a friend of his?”

Darcy shook his head.  “Nay, I’ve never met the man.  I was to deliver the message that his uncle had died at sea.”

The man laughed; it was not a pleasant sound.  “No need for that now.  Tariq burned along with his shop.”

Darcy could not suppress a look of surprise.  “He did not manage to save himself?”

The man laughed again, as harshly as before.  “Kind of hard to do that when you’re locked inside. He was one of those devil-spawned Deryni.”

Darcy suddenly felt cold, even though the day was warm.  “No need for me to linger, if that is the case,” he said as calmly as he could.  The man moved to grab Sigrun’s rein, but Darcy stepped the mare farther away. 

“I don’t suppose you’ve got some coin to pay for that information,” the man said and nodded toward the other man, who began to move forward. 

Can Darcy talk his way out of this and leave unharmed?
Jerusha   !roll 2d6
10:49   derynibot   1, 5 == 6
Success!

Darcy was sure he could probably take them both, but how many would come to their aid he did not know. No one would come to his aid, and you could never depend on the watch this close to the docks.  It would be better to talk his way out of this.

Darcy barked a short laugh.  “I’ve been out of work since my Captain died!  I spent the coin I had left on this sorry horse.  But you can be assured that when I find work, I’ll certainly make a contribution to Saint Nicholas to grant you fair winds!”

Darcy moved Sigrun forward into a quick walk.  The other man tried to block his path, but Darcy neither slowed nor diverted from his course.  The man scowled and stepped aside at the last moment.  Darcy did not look back, but he used his Deryni senses to make sure he was not being followed.

It was a very troubled young seaman who returned to the Shrine of Saint Varnar.
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 #397 on: May 11, 2018, 04:49:08 am »
Filing out of the royal chapel in the wake of the Haldane were men of title and distinction. Prince Javan was at his father’s side, as was the Duke of Carthmoor. It had been Twelfth Night since Washburn had last seen Prince Albin.  Araxandra had sent Lord Kenric to cover his father’s place at the king side. Washburn had intended to join the young Earl of Lendour as soon as the Sunday mass came to an end. Yet Wash found his place taken by a man of impeccable honor: his eldest brother, Brendan Earl of Marly. Brendan had given Wash a warm handshake as he arrived at the end of the mass, but then as the king turned to leave the chapel, Brendan Coris took a lively step to walk at his nephew’s side, he would be the one to assist Lord Kenric Morgan in his first official duty as Earl of Lendour.  Wash did not begrudge his older brother the honor. Brendan, Kelric, and now Kenric were appointed members of the royal council. It had never bothered Washburn before that he was not on the council, so he knew it should not bother him now. If he just hadn’t felt that he had such a personal stake in the current situation.  So Lords Wash and Jaxom followed behind the royal routine, knowing they could not enter the council meeting until they were called upon, which would be well after the agenda had begun.

At the entry to the King’s withdrawing room, five other councillors had arrived. Laird Seisyll Arilan was there. As was Duke Angus MacEwan of Claiborne; Wash briefly wondered which Deryni the Duke had trusted to bring him through to Rhemuth.  Then there was Lord Seamus O'Flynn, the heir of Derry, he must be here to represent his father. Washburn had heard that Lord Derry was not well. Laird Arilan’s son was standing with Seamus. Lord Jamyl Arilan was a good man; he, Seamus and Prince Javan were long standing friends. And then there was Stephen de Varnay the Earl of Sheele; whom honestly Washburn did not know well.

Coming up from the halls, Washburn turned to see Archbishop Duncan McLain and Bishop Denis Arilan. The two men were the dignified oldest men of the king’s royal council. All entered the withdrawing room and arranged themselves at their seats. Just before the doors closed, the last two men rushed to enter. One was the tall copper haired Duke of Cassan leading a well dress seaman. That had to be Captain Richard Kirby the man who headed the Cassan's ducal fleet.

The door closed behind these last two men. Washburn settled himself to stand in the morning light of a window to keep his eye on both the withdrawing room door and the doors leading into the queen’s tower through the castle gardens as seen through the fine clear glass. It was too early as yet for the women to have stirred. The calm-quiet on that side of the castle reassured him that Lady Aliset was well. Wash found it funny that Lord Jaxom had not understood Washburn’s chosen place to wait. Among the slow-to-increase gathering of the Rhemuth's courtiers in to the great hall, the young lord paced the floor anxiously. Wash was fairly sure he was not thinking about the curious onlookers, nor even about being called before the King’s council.  Washburn only shook his head and let the man go, when Jaxom’s nerves got the better of him. The heir of Trillshire left the hall, likely to stalk the queen’s tower. Little good would it do him. Queen Araxie was certain to have been warned about the young man. Washburn doubted Jaxom would even be allowed to catch a glimpse of Lady Aliset. Washburn’s station at the window had a far better chance of it, that is if the women chose to step out into the morning sun-rays on the Queen’s rose-gardens.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2018, 12:55:20 pm by Laurna »

Offline revanne

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #398 on: May 11, 2018, 12:31:25 pm »
Dhugal waited in the antechamber to the portal in Ballymar Castle for the man whom he would take through the portal to Rhemuth with him. Richard Kirby arrived punctually as befitted a man whose life had been governed from early childhood by the rhythm of sea watches.

"My Lord", the greeting, and the bow which accompanied it, was warmly respectful, conveying both acknowledgement of rank and friendship. Dhugal acknowledged the greeting with a smile but did not immediately lead the way to the portal. Instead he put his hand on the other's arm to detain him, waving the duty guard out of earshot.

"Richard, a word to the wise before we go before the King"

"Sir?"

"The loyalty shown by your family towards those you serve has always been impeccable right back from when your father first served Duke Alaric."

Richard bowed in appreciation of the compliment, but a little warily, not sure where this was going."

"You cannot but be aware that your family's current loyalty, yours and that of your brothers in Coroth has been noted and is valued -a value which has nothing whatsoever to do with the quality of the Fianna wine you serve."

"Your point is, my Lord?" Richard was definitely wary now.

"Simply that his Majesty may wish to avail himself of that loyalty in ways which he would prefer you did not clarify in open council. Shall we go."

"Aye, Your Grace. And thank you." Richard bent his knee in recognition of his obedience to the veiled warning and followed the Duke into the portal.




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 #399 on: May 14, 2018, 01:43:48 pm »
The old tinker sat with his cart on one side of Ratharkin’s market square.  It was quiet for a market day.  Although the streets were far from empty, it was only now, the third day following the fall of Ratharkin, that people attempted to return to normal activities.  The Quinnell banner boldly fluttered in the breeze atop the castle walls.

For too many, there would be no return to normalcy.  It was fortunate that most of Prince Rory’s court had travelled with him to Laas and were safe, because the slaughter inside the castle had been merciless.  All those in residence who had not supported the takeover had been put to the sword. At first, few had come forward to claim to claim the bodies, fearing for their own safety. In a bold move, the Bishop of Meara sent a representative to the castle and demanded proper burials for all those slain, and the insurgents had the good sense to agree.  The attendance at the funerals had been larger than the tinker expected. 

It seemed the insurgents had not expected it either.  The remaining prominent men of the town, unless vocal supporters of the Mearan rebellion, had been rounded up and confined in the castle dungeon.  The rebels had not stopped there; they also imprisoned any heirs old enough to be separated from their mothers.  On a late-night foray into the castle, the tinker had learned that the heirs would be held hostage to ensure their fathers pledged allegiance to the Mearan Pretender. 

The visit had also allowed the tinker to discover the identity of the leader of this faction of the rebels. It was Baron Oswald de Mariot who had directed the attack once the gates were opened.   The same man who had murdered the family of the young woman the tinker’s brother had been hired to protect.  The man’s ruthlessness was noteworthy; the tinker would have no regrets if he was provided the opportunity to remove this viper’s head.  Fortunately for Baron Oswald, the tinker had a more important target.

The Pretender Queen of Meara would need to arrive in Ratharkin sooner rather than later.  Already Oswald was having to reassure his men that she would indeed come and bring with her the reinforcements they needed to continue to hold Ratharkin.  And with the Pretender Queen would come the person behind it all.

This was the target the tinker was waiting for; Sir Iain Cameron accepted another pot brought to him for repair and continued to wait.
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 #400 on: May 14, 2018, 02:33:08 pm »
Lady Grania left her youngest baby girl in the hands of her nurse and then she called to her three older children, “Come dears, we missed the early mass with papa. I don’t want you all late for your Sunday lessons and you don’t want your mama to miss second mass, now do you? Grandmother Araxie would not approve.” Grania had a loving smile for Princess Jerusha, who arrived promptly at her mother’s side, her gold hair was prettily twisted in red ribbons, her grey eyes diverting back and forth between her maman and her younger brother. Kenneth arrived with his tunic half over his head. “Kenneth, darling, didn’t Nanina help you dress?”

The boy wined a little as he came to stand next to his sister, “I didn’t want the red one, I wanted the black one. Like Uncle Washburn wears. Nan’a wouldn’t let me have it.”

Grania shook her head. If her brother only knew how much trouble his presence caused among all her family. With a sigh she said, “Papa will want you in the red tunic today, love. You’re uncle will understand, too. You can ask him. I know Wash would tell you to wear your Haldane lion tunic with pride. He is devote to your grandpapa and he loves you too. He told me so himself.”

“He is not mad at me for having his cubes?”

“No, Kenneth, my love, he is not mad at you. Not at all.” Grania pulled the red tunic back down on the boys shoulders and adjusted the small belt so the tunic hung straight. It wasn’t a page tunic, he was still a little young for that, but it did have a small lion in gold on the center chest. She kissed her boy’s forehead, then looked up to see her eldest, Prince Rhys-Alaric, run up to stand before her with a book in his hand. He had inquired from his father about the Mearan governorship last night and he wanted his instructors to go over the book Javan had given him to study from. Grania was proud how Rhys- Alaric had taken the initiative to learn more.  Thusly ready, Grania noded to the royal guard to attend them as they left her family appartements and made there way to the chapel. There they met up with Princess Araxendra and her children. The two twin boys instantly grabbed Kenneth away from his mother and the three of them scurried into the teach room. Grania saw that the scholarly priest quickly took them into hand and sat all three of them down with a task to keep them occupied. Araxandra’s daughter, Bronwen Alyce, and Grania’s daughter, Jerusha Rhysel, both of the same age, hugged like sisters and walked into the teaching room together. Rhys-Alaric moved off to the far corner where an older priest took the book the prince handed him and nodded with approval after seeing the title.

“They are all fine,” Araxandra said to her sister by marriage. “I can feel the tension in your shoulders.” Araxandra said as she gave Grania a hug. “Kelric is well, I had Rapport with him this morning. He and his men meet up with Duncan-Micheal last night, they are camped five miles outside of Ratherkin. They will wait there today until they hear from Kelson. If the king gives the word, my brother will leave by mid-afternoon. In a straight march the Haldane Lancers will be able to join my husband the day after tomorrow. Kelric assured me that nothing more than scouting will occur before Javan can meet up with him.”

“And then?” Grania asked almost in tears.

“You’re letting your pregnancy guide your emotions, my dear.”  Araxandra said in understanding as she gave Grania a full hug. Neither woman wanted to answer the question that hung in the air. Instead they were both happy to see the Queen and Dowager Duchess approach with many ladies in attendance.

After all the ladies had filed into the royal chapel, Araxie motioned for Araxandra and Grania to attend her. “Daughters, I want you to take Lady Aliset into your hearts and into your care. She has been through much. Lady Aliset,” she turned to the young heiress who had been asked to stand at the queen’s side.  “You already have met Princess Araxandra, I wish to present to you Lady Grania, she is Lord Washburn’s sister.” When all had greeted with curtsies and then with hugs, Queen Araxia went on to say, “After Mass, we shall all retire to the gardens. That will be the most peaceful place to await the outcome of the King’s council.”

“Yes, Your Majesty,” both daughters replied with a curtsey, both knowing their queen well-enough to know that even she was tense about the meetings at hand. They took Lady Aliset between them and took extra care to point out the highlights of the chapel to her and to whisper other quiet information to her that they thought a lady new to the Rhemuth Castle should know.

Offline Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #401 on: May 15, 2018, 01:46:15 pm »
Kelson Cinhil Rhys Anthony Haldane, King of Gwynedd, Overlord of Torenth, Prince of Meara, Duke of Haldane, Lord of the Purple March, Guardian of Gwernach, Covenant Holder of the Treaty Act of 1145 over Tralia, Lorsol, and Vorna, Knight of the realm sat straight back and attentive, his hands resting on the arms of Gwynedd’s gold and jeweled thrown at the head of his war-council. His son, Prince Javan Uthyr Richard Urien Haldane, Hereditary Prince of Meara, Duke of Southmarch, Earl of Dunluce, Knight of the Realm addressed the men in attendance, giving a brief accounting of all that was known to have transpired in the past weeks in the Province of Meara. Every man had heard rumors of the devastation in Ratherkin, but the full accounting as had been given by Kelson’s agent brought out many an angry voice around the table. The anger brought out speculation as to who was behind all this. Many names were dropped, some were agreed upon that could not be, but some were held high on the list. Without proof, Kelson would not condemn any name without assurity and he just let the names linger until the anger in the room had subsided to a low growl. Finally he nodded for Javan to have a seat. As the prince sat, keeping an eye on his father and an eye on the table at large, his calm semblance settled the councilors. In time, they all turned toward their King. When Kelson was assured he had all their attention, he sat forward his hands moving to rest flat on the table.

“My Lords, I have one name for you. It is not the name of the man behind all, but it is the figurehead that the Mearan’s are placing above all others as their Queen. Sidana Caitrin Annalind Ithelianne Quinnell-de Paor, legitimate daughter of Brioc de Paor, who legally married the supposed illegitimate daughter of Prince Ithel. Yes, the very same eldest son of Caitrin Queen Pretender of Meara.”

There was hush for an instant as the threat of a new Pretender was absorbed by those in the room. But then voices once more broke out in anger. Loudest among them was Duke Augus in his heavy border brogue, “You deposed Brice of Trurill decades ago. His lands attainted and honorably rewarded to Baron Jass MacArdry. How does this son of a traitor, this Brioc de Paor dare to place a new pretender on the Mearan throne?” Kelson only gave a node in agreement as again voices erupted at the table. It was not Kelson’s usual means of holding council to let them steam up in this way, but he felt they needed to be roused to the danger and then in time they would settle to a more productive methodology to combat this threat.

“What of Trurill? The barony must be in danger?” came a voice louder than the others.

“It was,” Duke Dhugal intercepted speaking up and standing for the first time. “Baroness Ailidh MacArdry near-singlehandedly put the rebellion in her own castle down. But there was still some rioting in the village streets. Which has since been quelled by Baron Jass and my son Duncan Michael as their men at arms moved through the area. The City of Laas is also being threatened, we may expect an uprising in a day or two. It all stems on whether these rebels produce this pretender Queen in person and display her before the people of Ratherkin. So far it is but hearsay and rumor. Yet if she truly exists, Laas may rebel against Duke Rory and Duke Brecon who are in residence there at this time.” Dhugal turned back to his king made a bow of apology and sat down.

Kelson turned his attention then to the sea captain seated beside his blood brother. “The Haldane Lancers are mustered to arms, ready to march on my word. Before I ask for a full account from each of you what arms can be further mustered in the next twenty hours, I want an accounting of shipments sent to Laas. Captain Richard Kirby, can you give Us what you know of any shipments of contraband arms sent to Laas. I make no accusations as to how you have this knowledge, your family has been loyal for decades; Duke Dhugal has vouched for you.  I just need the facts and who the shipments were delivered to.”
« Last Edit: May 15, 2018, 02:19:07 pm by Laurna »

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #402 on: May 16, 2018, 09:18:54 am »
Grand Duke Valerian smiled as he set the shiral crystal back down on the table before him.  The news he had just received was excellent.  Baron Oswald had taken Ratharkin!  His ruthlessness was a slight cause for concern, but fewer Haldane supporters left behind in Ratharkin was to his advantage.  Perhaps Oswald had earned his bride after all.

The news that the cursed Duke of Corwyn had been diverted to Ratharkin with a small force of men was no cause for concern; it fitted nicely into his strategy.  They would have to wait for reinforcements before they could attempt to retake Ratharkin; by the time the reinforcements arrived, Valerian and the main force of the Mearan resistance would have laid siege to Laas.  The lands around the Bay of Kilarden had been generous in their support of the Queen’s cause, and the ships from Tolan would soon be in place in Laas Bay.  The longer Oswald could hold the Haldane’s attention on Ratharkin, the better.   Once the Haldane forces realized the real threat was to Laas, they would reach it too late.

It was time for Queen Sidana to be presented to her people.  There was little risk to the journey; there was a Portal along the way and one in Ratharkin Castle itself, if the queen needed to be whisked away to safety.  Valerian had taken care to ensure several Deryni ladies served the queen, and they knew where their true loyalties belonged.

All Valerian needed now was for Feyd to fulfill his part.  A hostage would either ensure success or escape.
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Offline Bynw

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #403 on: May 16, 2018, 12:02:30 pm »
Feyd has enjoyed the hospitality of King Kelson that is granted to foreign Lords as he has moved amoung the people of Rhemuth, in and out of the castle.

Using his credentials of a Forcinn Lord and Patron of learning, he has spent much time among the academia in and out of the Palace. Haunting both the Royal Library and the schools of the city.

Lord Collos d'Chameaux of Vezaire, as he is called, knows the ins and outs of the Palace. And the best places for an ambush of the young Morgan.

Too bad the Lady Aliset is cloistered in the Queen's Court. She too would be a great prize to bring back. But then again he wasn't hired to bring her to the Grand Duke. So it doesn't matter at all. That is someone else's problem.

No his quarry this time in Rhemuth is Washburn Alaric Cynfyn Mogan. Youngest son of the Late Duke of Corwyn Alaric Anthony Morgan and the brother of the current Duke. Who at this time is on his way to Ratharkin to put down the Grand Duke's rebellion in Meara. But Washburn is safe in Rhemuth.

Offline revanne

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #404 on: May 17, 2018, 12:45:45 pm »
In the royal council chamber Richard Kirby swallowed uncomfortably. Duke Dhugal had implied that the King would not appreciate him incriminating himself, or revealing that many ships, sailing blamelessly on the business of the lords that funded them, carried other cargo to supplement their income. How else were men to be recompensed for the dangerous business of having the sea for a mistress? The "old grey widow-maker" some called her, and rightly too.

But now the King had called on him openly and he must answer. He looked to his Ducal master for guidance but Dhugal was staring fixedly at his father, who equally strangely was refusing to meet his son's gaze. But there was a way to be both open and discreet, and he blessed the powers that made that possible, though many, even now, regarded them as cursed.

He stood and bowed to the King.

"Your Majesty. I fear I cannot answer your request." Ignoring the sharp intake of breath that went around the room, he continued,  "Quite simply, I do not know, though I can make a good guess at which ships might be carrying such cargo. I beg, though that you will not impute an intention of treason unless such can be proven."

He risked a look at the King's face but that remained impassive, not suggesting blame but giving no encouragement either. With no further word he rose from his place and came before the throne, dropping to his knees with the deliberation of a supplicant.

"I beg of you, Sire, read the information that I have, and act on it as you will." He looked his King straight in the eye before bowing his head and inviting the royal touch. ((Kelson reads Richard's mind, rolling advantage because of Kelson's skill and Richard's openness. 1+4+3=8. 6jtxkxh79c. Ah well)).

Kelson paused for a long minute, then taking care to make no physical contact, reached towards Kirby's hand, signalling that he should rise. The other, feeling no touch either on his head or in his mind, lifted his gaze to see that the king was now smiling, though gravely.

"Thank you, Richard. But I should feel shamed if my trust in you was not as great as your trust in me. It will be enough if you can convey any suspicions you have to Dhugal. I cannot promise immunity, if there is reason to believe that treachery to our crown has knowingly been committed, but rest assured that now is not the time to otherwise impose the full weight of the law on those loyal to us."

Kelson deliberately spoke his foster's brothers name loudly and Dhugal pulled his gaze round to meet the king with an apologetic bow of his head. Kelson gestured to Kirby to be seated, he bowed deeply and complied, saying as he did so,

"I should also have a fair idea of the ports they are likely to be sailing between, and I dare promise that most of their captains would co-operate willingly once they know the wickedness of the purpose to which their cargoes are to be put. With your Majesty's leave I will prepare a letter, instructing all such ships that they are to co-operate fully."

"Do so, with our good will." Kelson thought it wise not to elaborate further on the forebearance that would follow such co-operation and if any thought that they heard the royal lips mutter the words "Fianna red", they were equally wise enough to feign deafness.

"Before we turn to the retaking of Ratharkin" Kelson was continuing to the room at large, when he was interrupted without ceremony by Duke Angus,

"And take vengeance on the bloody murdering traitors!"

"Those responsible will be pay the appropriate penalty but I would prefer to avoid as much as possible creating further martyrs for the future. Let justice be done, but vengeance is best left to the Almighty." At the tone of Kelson's voice Duncan lifted his head for the first time knowing that the King was thinking of his first Mearan campaign so many years ago when he had let his anger, justified though it was, get the better of him. He forbear to speak, however and in any any case was given no opportunity as Kelson continued,

"Before we turn to the retaking of Ratharkin, we must give thought to Laas. Rory and Brecon are still there as are the men of the garrison. All else have been evacuated, by the good graces of the Hort, but the townsfolk have no such recourse. We can only bring a very limited number the same way, and reinforcement by land, even from the Connait may not be possible if all the countryside is raised against us."

Kelson slammed his hand onto the table with such force that everyone jumped. "How did we let this happen! I should be flogged for negligence. Or replaced as a foolish old man."

Javan, Dhugal and Brendan, amongst others, all tried to speak at once but were silenced as Kelson drew a depth breath and held up his hands for quiet.

"Be that as it may, and Rory and I hopefully can soon argue at leisure as to which of us is the more to blame, it gets us nowhere. I apologise for lapsing into self-indulgence. Dhugal and Richard, how soon and how many boats can you get to Laas?"

With a nod from Dhugal, Richard Kirby answered. "As to numbers, Sire, twenty boats each carrying between eighty and a hundred men. The fiery cross went out some days ago and the clansmen have been quick to answer. Many make their living as much by fishing as crofting, so the sea is not unknown to them.The first boats, perhaps as many as ten, could leave today, the rest as the men come into Ballymar. As to time, with the wind from the ocean to the west, as it mostly is, we can make it work for us much of the way, unless a storm should blow up. Four days at best, a week at worst. Do you concur, my Lord?"

Dhugal replied. "I know better than to question your knowledge, Richard. The main problem is horses; we have few war horses, and the men could not ride them if we did. Still, mountain ponies may be better anyway, in Meara. And with your leave Sire, we might be advised to retain some boats and men, say five out of the twenty, in case any others try to bring troops in by sea. Sad I am to say it but we cannot rule out a link with Torenth."

Kelson said nothing to this last remark but sat in silence for a while. "Aye, do as you say. Dhugal I shall need your further counsel but now take Richard back to Ballymar. And thank you both for your preparedness."

Both men took this as their dismissal and turned to the royal presence to make their reverences, Dhugal with a deep bow and Richard dropping briefly to one knee, before leaving the room.






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

 

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