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Author Topic: Ghosts of the Past  (Read 55555 times)

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Offline revanne

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #435 on: May 29, 2018, 04:49:54 pm »
Dhugal knew next to nothing about this priest from the Borders who had arrived with Washburn and the others, but he was clearly trusted by his father or he would not have been sent to carry such a vital message, erroneous though it had been proved to be. He had asked for his company almost on a whim, feeling that he could perhaps learn something of what had been going through his father's mind and why he had been so certain he knew where Washburn was being held captive. His father had been behaving strangely, even before this latest incident, and any insight would be welcome.

But, now he came to think of it, there was something just a little strange about the priest too, or perhaps it was just that everyone now seemed a little off kilter, under the strain of this appalling threat which had apparently appeared from nowhere, yet had infiltrated right into the heart of the King's very castle and after so many years of peace.

He was clearly a man of courage, he would not have dared to interrupt the king's council else - just how was it that he had been able to Speak so directly into the king's mind?- yet he was walking alongside him with his head bowed, the very image of the humble submissive priest. A humble priest, who was the confidant of an Archbishop and known well enough by the King for the latter to be apparently certain that he was not another traitor in their midst.

Dhugal risked sending a tentative probe into the other's mind, and found, as he had expected, that there were shields preventing his mental touch. There was something familar, though, about the touch of his mind against those shields, something that he could not quite put his finger on.

Dhugal chided himself for puzzling over such an insignificant mystery when so much else was now at stake. Then he mentally corrected himelf. Who knew what was significant or otherwise? How many "insignificant" questions had been left unprobed and brought them to this pass, with so many dead in Ratharkin, and Washburn undergoing God knew what horrors. A new and horrifying thought struck him. Had his father been sent into danger and possible capture by the machinations of this seemingly innocuous priest? Well God help him, priest or no, if he were responsible for his father's danger! The man might be Deryni but even were he well-trained enough to be proof against Truth-Reading if he had to use compulsion, then so be it.

The priest continued to look uncomfortable but went compliantly into the library, obedient to Dhugal's gesture. Dhugal turned to the two archers accompanying them and ordered,

"Stay out here!"

The older of the two bowed low but said,

"Begging your pardon, Your Grace, but 'is Majesty ordered as 'ow we was to keep you safe, and we can't do that from out 'ere."

Dhugal's anger at being questioned battled with his sense of justice for a brief instant but the latter won. The man wasn't being insolent, just doing his duty.

"Very well, stay in the doorway and we'll stay where you can see us. Will that do?"

His tone was sharp, but the friendly clout to the man's arm was not, and as Dhugal followed Columcil into the library, the archers took up position in the doorway with a relieved glance at each other.

Columcil sensed that the Duke's mood had darkened but he could think of no reason for that. He had been careful to watch his demeanour, perhaps over careful. Blessed Mother of us all! Surely he was not suspected of any part in Sir Washburn's capture, of being an accomplice like that cursed Jaxom? And this man was a friend and protector of the younger Morgans, whom Washburn had spoken off with affection as a guide and help after their father died. Maybe the talk of asking him about the Archbishop's train of thought was just a pretext to bring him here for interrogation, an interrogation that the Duke would have preferred to remain unwitnessed. Panic began to run through him and he could feel that he was beginning to sweat. He took a deep breath to calm hinself then reached into the breast of his Cassock for his crucifix.

"What's that you are reaching for? Keep your hands where I can see them. I dinna ken whae ye are but if ye've done hairm to ma da or to Sair Washburn ye'll pay for it."

The voice came like a whiplash, and Columcil
removed his hands from his Cassock, dislodging his grandfather's precious prayerbook, which slid out onto the floor.

He bent to pick it up but again the Duke spoke with a voice like a whiplash.

"Leave it!"

He obeyed and trembling fell to his knees.

A hand grasped his chin and forced his head up to meet amber eyes flashing anger, eyes  the exact match of his own, though his were clouded now with fear.

"Who are ye, and whose will d'ye serve? I warn ye I'll ha'e an answer if I've tae rip it frae yer mind. So ye best answer me true, priest! If priest ye are!

"Leave him be, Dhugal."

The quiet tired voice came from the figure who had come unnoticed through the veil.

"Da! Thank God you are alright."

"Well I'm not so sure of that, but yes I am unharmed. There was nothing there, and I was so sure so sure..."

His voice trailed off sadly, then he seemed to pull himself together and speaking in a stronger voice he repeated,

"Leave him be.He has done nothing wrong."

Dhugal felt his temper rising, a mixture of anger at the implication he heard in his father's voice, frustration that his anger with Columcil  was to be denied an outlet and sheer perplexity.

"Meaning that I have?"

Columcil winced at the dangerous edge to the Duke's voice, but Duncan smiled sadly.

"That is for you to judge, though he says not, I know that I have, though it was with the best of intentions. Of such is the road to hell made."

Even to Columcil's untrained senses the Duke's anger was palpable,  and whether it was that or the penitent sorrow on the face of the man who had been so good to him, Columcil was not entirely sure but suddenly something in him snapped and he was no longer a fearful commoner kneeling at the feet of one of the most powerful men in the realm but a priest faced with a painful pastoral situation which he must help to resolve.

Reaching out he took up the prayer book and touched it to his lips then got to his feet. Bowing low to both men he said calmly.

"It's no ma place to speak sae to yer Graces but I dinna think this is the time ta be greetin o'er our sins," this with a glance at Duncan, " nor fashin' oursen neither," said with a somewhat apologetic glance at Dhugal.

Dhugal was too dumbfounded to speak, dumbfounded and perplexed by the sense that the other's demeanour and speech should somehow be familiar.

Duncan was already too emotionally drained to even contemplate interrupting. Let God sort it all. Glancing at the stolid figures of the Haldane archers he wondered if he should use his powers to prevent them hearing what was surely about to be revealed but Columcil gave him no time (( Duncan controls guards 2+1+4=7 3bk453cn1q)).

"As far as I ken it there's nae wrong been done by ony nor ta ony here. If ony ha'e done wrong 'twas my ma and she has lang syne answered ta God. But she wished harm ta none and I canna see that harm was done."

Under his bronzed complexion Dhugal had turned completely white and Duncan, though outwardly composed, was clearly feeling the strain.

Columcil realised that he did not want this conversation, certainly not now when every energy should be focused on finding Washburn. He did not want to deal with any of the emotions raised or see the man who had sired him shamed or angered. But if they must have such a conversation at least let them sit down, out of earshot, if not out of sight, of the watchful archers. If the Duke lost his temper he didn't want an over hasty archer to stick him full of arrows. But even in this strange mood of his he was not sure he quite dared to suggest to an Archbishop and a Duke that they should sit down together. He cast an inploring look towards his grandfather, then towards the bench along the far wall.

Duncan saw Columcil's look and was grateful for the suggestion. He really did not know how much more of this he could take, the last thing that he needed was an estrangement from Dhugal when their whole world was collapsing around them. He discretely enacted the words and gestures which would delay the effects of fatigue for a while longer, and then moved to seat himself. ((4+5+6=15 737gp1qknb))

"Please, Dhugal, Columcil, let's be seated at least."

Dhugal obeyed almost blindly, his eyes never leaving the figure of the priest whose familiarity now seemed to make an all too much sense, watching as he brought up a stool and waited for a nod of permission from Duncan before seating himself. Where had he got the nerve to take charge of the conversation like this, in defiance of protocol? Even as he asked himself the question Dhugal was horribly afraid that he knew the answer. Forcing himself to speak calmly, and taking equal care to avoid lapsing into a border brogue he asked,

"Columcil, would I be right in thinking that you were born in Transha?"

"Aye yer Grace, just a few months after th'old Earl died, God rest his soul."

Columcil crossed himself then brought the prayer book he was holding up to his lips for a long moment before bursting out.

"Ach, I'm no a courtier, an' I dinna ken wha's the reet way ta do this, but let's be dun wi' it. Me ma tellit the whole of it ta me once his Grace th'Archbishop had said that it was a man's reet ta ken who had sired him. Ye were a bonny lad, yer Grace an' she set her cap at ye, I dinna suppose ye had much o' a chance. But she'd no shame ye, not once it was kenned that ye were no just the Laird's son but high in the King's favour and then when I was naught but a wee bairn, the Duke O' Cassan himself. And I'm no wantin' ta shame ye neither, nor want any ta speir that I have wanted for aught nor havna had all a man could ask for."

Dhugal had no idea what he should think. Now he forced his memory back he could remember the lass, but it had been little more than a casual tumble in the hay so brief that he had truly thought himself a virgin knight alongside Kelson on that long ago quest. And he hardly knew whether to be offended or relieved to be absolved from guilt or shame in the matter by the man who he supposed he must begin to think of as his son.
All he could think of to ask was,

"Your mother, was she looked after?

"Aye, and loved. My grandda warmed her bum for her when he found she was wi' child, but nae worse and she was marrit when I was a bairn o' two or three. A man whose wife had borne him but sickly bairns who never thrived and died bearing the last. He was glad to wed a lass who could bear a healthy bairn, and they were as happy togither as ony I've wed. She died a few years syne, wi' her bairns and grandbairns about her. All she ever had to fret her was that I couldn'a be a priest being born the wrong side o' the blanket. That's why she confessed ta one o' they wandering bishops and made him promise to tell His Grace the Archbishop. An' he bent the rules for me and has been ay guid ta me. But she didn'a want yer Grace ever ta kenn, an nae dout she'd threaten to skelp me for tellin' ye."

Columcil came to an end of his speech, and coloured violently for his presumption. He dare not look at either of the two men who sat silently opposite him though he could sense the murmuring of prayers from his grandfather. Finally his father broke the silence, again speaking carefully.

"I think you are generous in your judgement of me, as was she, and I doubt that I deserve either. I don't know whether to be shamed, or grieved or angered," - here he looked hard at his father, but if this new strangely discovered son felt that the man who was both his Archbishop and grandfather had done right by him, did not his own act of casual lust debarr him from any right to disagree? "I wonder, perhaps, though I alone here am no priest, whether God has brought you here, but what we make of this, I do not know?" Dhugal could not help but think back to the joy of discovery that he and Duncan had shared, this seemed so very different and uncomfortable in its difference.

Finally Duncan spoke. "If I have done you wrong, Dhugal, I ask your pardon. Other than us only Kelric and the King know and I think it should remain so at least for the present. I think you may be right about God's will in this, but what His purpose is is still unclear and we do not have the time for you to work out who you are to each other. But you are both brave and honourable men and the kingdom has sore need of such now."

He sighed and sat for a moment or two in thought before adding, "Perhaps we had better go before a search party is sent for me or those attentive archers think we are plotting something. The King doubtless has work for all of us. I fear that there will be need of all the healers we have before we are out of this."

Columcil rose quickly to his feet, but Dhugal stayed him with a hand,

"You are a healer?"

"Aye, My Lord."

Dhugal spoke with an unaccustomed hesitation, almost a deference, as he continued,

"Would you come with me? I need to go and see how Richard does, I think he will need a priest as well as a healer and perhaps together we can bring wholeness and peace to his mind?"

Columcil bowed his acquiescence, moved by the unexpected humility, and they left the room, the two archers falling in behind.














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 #436 on: May 29, 2018, 06:48:16 pm »
The old tinker sat in the tavern near the city walls, cradling a tankard of ale between his hands.  The tavern was buzzing with talk about rebellion, and the talk was no longer in hushed tones.  The soldiers that frequented the tavern supported the Mearan Pretender; those that did not had perished.  Yet the talk was not completely carefree.  The Haldane rule in Ratharkin, once established, had not been harsh.  The city prospered, and the more realistic inhabitants of the city realized that prosperity would suffer if King Kelson laid siege to the city.  That outcome was likely; surely no one believed the King of Gwynedd would leave Ratharkin to the men of the rebellion.

An excited young soldier burst into the tavern.  “She’s coming!” he shouted.  “The Queen of Meara is approaching Ratharkin!”

The tinker realized that, if he were a heavier drinker, he could have drained the contents of many of the abandoned tankards as customers and servers rushed to the door.  He contented himself with his own.

“Open the gates!”  Soldiers and guards were attempting to clear people away from the street and the gate.  The tinker wondered if it was wise to open the gates so soon, but he doubted Duke Kelric would attempt so bold a ruse until he had sufficient reinforcements, and it was too early for that.

Baron Oswald approached from the castle on horseback, followed by a small group of trusted men that would form an honour guard to escort the queen to the castle.  The tinker saw that the archers on the wall had drawn their bows to add additional protection. More guards pushed the people farther back from the street.  It would take more men than this to hold Ratharkin once the king made his move.  The tinker wondered how many men the queen had brought with her.  Like the rest of Ratharkin, he looked forward for his first sight of the Pretender of Meara, but not for the same reasons.

Four knights came through the gate first, the lead rider holding the royal banner of Meara.  Next came a well-dressed, older man riding beside a young woman.  This must be the pretender queen.  She resembled the young girl that King Kelson had taken as his bride so many years before.  She was indeed pretty, with curling chestnut hair cascading down her back.  She did not wave but did look throughout the crowd. The tinker noticed her eyes were brown as she glanced in his direction.  A light travel cloak had been draped carefully to extend from her shoulders and cover the rump of her horse.

It was the man riding behind her, slightly off to one side, that caught the tinker’s attention. He was darkly foreign, and most women would call him handsome.  The pretender queen looked back at him, and the tinker saw the man shake his head slightly.  Quickly, the young woman turned her head back to the front.  The tinker had suspected Torenthi involvement, and this man looked the part.  The tinker committed the man’s features and demeanor to memory.  Bishop Arilan, long serving as Kelson’s emissary to Torenth, should able to put a name, and history, to the face. 

Two women rode behind the suspected Torenthi, probably to ensure propriety and to assist the queen.  Six solders completed the group, and one baggage horse.  Either they had not travelled far, or they were not staying long.  Or both.

As the party approached the stairs leading up to the castle doors, the doors swung open.  The tinker edged his way through the back of the crowd toward a side door of the castle. This door was used by tradesmen to bring in goods.  Once inside, he would be able to make his way to the gallery to view what would transpire below. A simple cloaking spell would avoid curiosity about how a visiting tinker had secured such a good vantage point. 

Roll for successful cloaking spell. 2d6 because Sir Iain is a trained Deryni
Jerusha   !roll 2d6
15:04   derynibot   2, 1 == 3
(Bah humbug)

Before attempting the cloaking spell, the tinker felt the touch of a Deryni mind.  Not a direct contact, but a scan of the crowd.  His immediately made his shields as translucent as possible, and the contact did not return.  With all the activity below, hopefully no one would notice an old tinker standing in the back of the gallery.  He wondered how many of the queen’s escort were Deryni. The man riding behind the queen would surely be.

Baron Oswald had been confident enough in his success to bring the symbols of Mearan royalty with him.  At the end of the great hall, behind the ornate chair Duke Rory had used when holding court, a large Mearan banner hung from the rafters.  The sable dancing bear and crimson etoilles on chequey of silver and gold.  A cheer went up from the people outside and inside the hall as the young woman dismounted and entered.  Those inside the hall kneeled or curtseyed as she approached her throne, accompanied by the two men who had ridden nearest to her.  When she reached the chair, she turned to face her people, head held high, smiling slightly.

“People of Ratharkin,” announced the older man beside her,  “I present to you my daughter, Sidana Caitrin Annalind Ithelianne (Quinnell) de Paor, Prince Ithel Quinnell’s granddaughter and rightful Queen of Meara!”

Queen Sidana nodded to those before her and assumed her place on the throne.  Her father stood on one side of the chair, the darker man on the other side. “You may rise,” she said in a clear voice.  “I will now accept the homage of those selected to represent Ratharkin.” 

The tinker acknowledged that she played her part well.  She surveyed the men carefully as they were brought in.  The tinker noted that they had been cleaned up after their stay in the dungeons.  He wondered if Queen Sidana knew the true price in human lives of this victory. He didn’t think so, at least not yet.

Sidana stood as each man was led forward, a guard beside each to prevent treachery.  As the traditional pledges were made, the tinker was sure each was being truth read. All went as planned until old Lord Dunstan was brought forward.  His heir and a second son were with Duke Rory, safe in Laas.

Lord Dunstan did not kneel.  “I will pledge no faith to the cause of the Pretender Queen.  My loyalty and that of my house remain with the Haldane.”  The guard beside him cuffed him cruelly across the face.

“Kneel or die,” said the darker man.

“I will not!”

“Take him.”  The Torenthi’s eyes held a look of calculating triumph.  Had he been hoping for this display of power?

Lord Dunstan held his head high as two guards hustled him from the great hall into the courtyard.  Queen Sidana looked dismayed; the darker man laid a hand on her shoulder; whether it was to comfort her or control her, the tinker could not discern.

It was time for him to leave the gallery.  As he slid out the side door, the tinker was aware of the eerie quiet in the courtyard.  Lord Dunstan had been a popular man in Ratharkin, his family known for their loyalty and generosity.  There was a murmuring among the people, but the guards kept close watch. 

Sir Iain Cameron was sickened by the site of Lord Dunstan’s severed head on the pike above the city’s gate.  He would make sure this man’s loyalty and sacrifice were noted the next time he made his report to King Kelson.
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #437 on: June 05, 2018, 11:24:44 am »
Darcy Cameron sensed Father Columcil approaching before he came into view.  He was hurrying down the corridor beside a copper-haired nobleman that Darcy could not identify.  Not surprising, since the course of Darcy’s life had not provided him with proper training at court.   Darcy bowed, and the guard came to attention as the two men passed.  Columcil gave Darcy the briefest of nods and kept going.  They entered a room farther down without knocking.

For the first time since starting the journey with Lord Alister, Darcy felt slightly alone, abandoned and very frustrated.  Despite the mishaps, injuries, and a few misunderstandings along the way, they had been a team and had come to know that they could depend on each other.  Now they were fragmented and set in different directions, not to mention being a man down and almost losing Lady Aliset!  He should have been prepared for the former, once they arrived in Rhemuth, but nothing had prepared him for the latter.  How had things gone so terribly wrong?

A servant approached carrying a covered tray.  “I have food for the lady within,” he said.

The guard nodded and opened the door, this time blocking Darcy as he attempted to see inside.  Darcy had surprised him the first time, but not this time.  Good man, Darcy thought and nodded. 

***
Lady Aliset looked up as the servant entered the room with his tray.  Wearing fresh clothes and with the remnants of the blood washed away, she was sitting up on the cot, supported by the pillow plumped up behind her.  The servant laid the tray on the nearby table, bowed deeply to Duchess Grania and withdrew. 

“Some food should be welcome by now,” the duchess said. 

“Yes, thank you, your Grace,” Aliset replied.  Since the two women who had provided the clean clothes and helped Aliset tidy up had left with her old garments shortly before, Grania herself moved the table closer and uncovered the tray.  On the tray was a bowl of good thick broth and a cup of ale.  Aliset had to admit the savoury smell made her realize that she was indeed hungry.  As she reached for the spoon, she felt a tiny whisper at the edge of her mind.  Her shields were not yet recovered enough to block out the touch, but though she tensed slightly, she was not alarmed.

Duchess Grania saw the slight wince.  “Is something wrong?

Aliset managed a slight smile.  “No, your Grace.  Just Lord Darcy checking on me.”

“I shall send him away,” Grania said firmly as she started to rise.

‘Oh no, your Grace, he is not intrusive at all.  And it is comforting to know he is outside the door.”

‘Very well, if you are sure.”  Grania resumed her seat and watched as the young woman carefully tasted what had been placed before her.  Grania was pleased to see her colour begin to return to normal as both broth and ale were consumed. 

“Aliset,” Grania said gently when Aliset had finished and settled back against the pillow once more.  “I know this will be difficult for you, but I need for you to tell me what happened.  I won’t ask for you to let me into your mind; I realize that could be very difficult for you right now, but I need to know what happened to you. 

Aliset sighed.  “I understand, and although I would prefer it never happened, I will do whatever is necessary to help rescue Sir Washburn.”

“First,” Grania said gently, “tell me what happened in the garden.”

***
Sometime later, Aliset dried her tears with a very soggy handkerchief.  Duchess Grania sat beside her on the cot, holding her close, comforting her as if she were her own daughter.  Aliset was grateful for the support; reliving what had happened through the telling of it had been harder than she expected.  There was some relief in spilling it all out, but she knew the memory would remain with her for a long time.

“What has happened to Lord Jaxom?” Aliset finally asked. 

“He is under guard and his injuries are being treated.  The king will question him, though he may wait until I can share with him all that you have told me.” Grania paused for a moment.  “I do not wish to pry too deeply into your personal feelings, but did you welcome Lord Jaxom’s presence at the garden?”

“I did not!”  Aliset said with a flash of anger in her eyes.  “He is arrogant and annoying; he was disrespectful of Lord Darcy and slow to come to his aid when needed.”  She paused and then continued, concern clouding her features.  “Lord Darcy will have to be told what has happened.  I – I don’t think I can do that, your Grace.”

“We shall leave that to his Majesty, and that will likely not be until after he has finished with Lord Jaxom.”  Grania squeezed Aliset’s hand gently.  “His Majesty will also know the best way to keep Lord Darcy from taking matters into his own hands.”

Aliset nodded.  She had little hope of Jaxom’s chances if Darcy could not be restrained, and although she knew it would be wrong, she would not regret it.
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 #438 on: June 07, 2018, 04:05:11 am »
Duncan felt an unaccustomed trepidation as he approached the royal council chamber, Dhugal and Columcil having gone together to the room where Richard Kirby was being cared for. He had never had to endure royal displeasure before, although Alaric had more than once, when his long habit of protectiveness towards his once vulnerable sovereign had clashed with Kelson's growing confidence as king. Already out of favour, now he had failed in his attempt to rescue Washburn - what a display of overweening arrogance that had been- and started the king off on a wild goose chase.

The guards on the door greeted him with warm respect, though they were there in deadly earnest now, their ceremonial demeanour of the long years of peace swallowed up in menace. The senior amongst them pushed open the door and, preceding Duncan, announced,

"His Grace the Archbishop, your Majesty."

He drew his sword to the salute then withdrew. Duncan moved forward intending to kneel before the king; Archbishop or no, he knew himself to be in dire need of mercy but was forestalled when Kelson got to his feet, exasperatedly waving an end to the hurried shuffling of feet around the table, and held him in a warm embrace.

"Thank God you are safe! I could not have borne to have lost you too. You have seen Dhugal?"

"Yes, Sire."

(( Duncan Mindspeaks Kelson 4+3+2=9 6ll1lckgbq))

Duncan wanted to say more of that meeting but Kelson's eyes forbade him, though the warning they held was no longer glacial.He wondered if Dhugal had already Spoken to his blood brother, but no was not the time to ask. Instead he simply said,

"Dhugal has taken Father Columcil to visit Richard Kirby. As both priest and healer he may be able to offer spiritual solace as well as healing."

The King's face hardened. "All these years of working to convince my human subjects that Deryni mean no harm, and one of the most loyal amongst them is treated as a tool to be used and kicked aside. Poor Richard. I cannot begrudge the time that Dhugal must take to convince him that the wrong was done to him, not by him but I sorely need them both to return to Ballymar."

Kelson thought, though he did not voice his fear, that Richard's trust in Deryni having been so betrayed, Dhugal might be forced to further betray that trust simply to get his liege man and friend back through the portal to Ballymar. His nod invited Duncan to be seated and he returned to his own chair at the head of the table, naked anger in his face as he addressed the council.

"Richard will receive nothing but mercy from us, though in truth it is we Deryni who should ask his pardon, but those others we have as captives need look for none unless they too can show good reason why they should not suffer the full weight of our wrath. Though I should be sorry indeed were it to be proved that Baron Trillick's boy is guilty of treason. His father would be heart-broken, though such things alas happen."

He looked around measuringly then spoke with decision,

"Angus, will you consider how best we can avenge the wrong done to Ratharkin, the reports from Kelric and Duncan Michael as to their latest positions are there on the table. Javan will you come with me to the cells, though this will not be pleasant I fear."

Javan nodded grimly, thinking of what his young brother-in-law was even now enduring.

The king and his heir rose and went to the door. All rose with them, the depth of their obeisances showing the love the royal council had for their monarch.






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 #439 on: June 07, 2018, 05:07:54 am »
Lord Sextus dreamt of the pounding even before he regained consciousness. Like the days of his youth, when stout ale and aged mead had been favorite pastimes, he groaned while trying to wake from what felt like the worst of all hangovers. This time he could not accuse over indulgence, no, this time had been a far worse folly. He had been impetus to make that portal jump. With some humility, he felt eternally grateful that he could feel his head at all. Whatever that energy bolt was that had hit him, he was just grateful to still be alive. But damn the devil that hammered on his skull; where in hell’s kingdom had he jumped to, anyway?

It was dark, so dark he could not see his own hands that rubbed his forehead. Damp too, smelling like ancient moss from a cavern. He sat up regretting the motion. But finally he remembered that he was quite capable of adding light to the scene. A huge hand fire of violet erupted from his open palm.  He had to quell the light just a bit to keep from being blinded.  Gathering better control, he sent the light upward, until it rested against the ceiling a good two mens' height above him. Wooden beams of ancient timbers crossed the roof line. The walls and floor looked to be chiseled straight out of the rock-bed of the earth, cracks in one wall let in a trickle of moisture that seemed to be drunk up by the fungus and mosses that covered that side of the room. Where as the side he lay on was dry, The portal stone in the corner was a small step up, and was free of the floor’s debris.

Yelling a few choice curses, Sextus sensed his voice did not penetrate the thickness of the ceiling above.  There seemed to be no obvious way in or out of this space except by the Portal stone. Still on his knees, he reached out to touch the raised stone. His hand stopped with a hesitation before he actually touched it. After, raising his shields in a strong defense, he let his fingertips briefly touch the stone before he pulled away. When it didn’t instantly try to kill him, he touched the stone again. This time l his fingers sense the energies stored here but his touch didn’t activate it. A trapped portal indeed. 

Sextus let that be for a moment while he reevaluated his situation. He recalled seeing Morgan tied up in the center of the room. All that remained was a wool woven blanket, the kind found on any commoner’s bed. There was a plate of dried meats and cheese beside it untouched. And the pilling of what looked like spilled wine. As to Morgan himself, he had long since been taken away. By who, for what cause? There was no clue left in the room to tell. Only the portal would tell them. If he could somehow find a way to defeat that trap.

((00:42 Laurna Sextus attempts to deactivate the trap by himself must beat an 8
00:42 Laurna !roll 2d6
00:42 derynibot 1, 5 == 6))

His hands reached out again for the Portal’s signature, seeking a way to deactivate the trap. Energy surged within the portal stone. He could tell that the it had been used several times in the last 24 hours. He searched for the trapping mechanism, the spell which triggered when a person not attuned to the Portal tried to use it. He thought he could sense it.  Could he counter it with a spell of deactivation? He murmured the words of a counter-spell reaching deep into the stone. The Portal itself was very old, yet the trap upon it had been only recently placed. Did that do it? He thought maybe it did. Dare he give it a try? There seemed no other way out of here. What did he have to lose?

He  stood up, stepped onto the portal stone feeling the normal tingle through the souls of his shoes. He targeted the library portal and gave into the pull to make the jump. Two things happened at once. The Portal surged with a pulse of static that threatened to zap him like a bolt of lightning.

((00:43 Laurna Sextus is not sure if his deactivation worked and steps onto the portal. Needs a save test.
00:43 Laurna !roll 2d6
00:43 derynibot 2, 6 == 8
00:43 Laurna Well at least this time he does not get stunned.))

Lord Sextus Arilan’s shields flared to match the energies attacking him. They defended him against the shock sending the zap back into the earth.

Sextus staggered off the Portal Stone, humbled by the increased throb in his head. He wasn’t going to be able to get out of this alone. His fingers encircled the silver medal that rested against his chest on a chain.  It took a long minute before he could center. “Seisyll, you out there?”

“God’s teeth, brother! Where are you?”

“Trapped!” he exclaimed. “Don’t even try to get to me by Portal.”

“Yah! Guessed that!” came Seisyll’s concerned Rapport. “I know we are very near to you, but we can not seem to find where you’re at.  Keep the contact with me, and that should help.”

“Not breaking this Rapport, that is for certain. Though you may have to break the floor away to get into this room.  Above me is a wood beamed ceiling, I don’t see any openings.”

((Sextus roll to see if he can see a opening in the ceiling
15:48 Sextus !roll 2d6
15:48 derynibot 3, 5 == 8))

“Wait there is a break.” Sextus moved his handfire over to an spot where there was a faintest of slits in the wood slats over head. “Yes, I see it. A trap door above me. I am most definitely in an old cellar of some ancient building.  There will be a door in the floor that should lead down to here.”

“Good, keep talking. Denis and Jamyl are now in the link too. I think we can find you. You appear to be closer to the riverfront in a building I already searched.  Damn, I could have sworn I was closer to you an two hours ago and that we were getting farther away as we got nearer to the city gates.

“Two hours ago? How long have I been out?”

((00:38 Laurna Time in hours since Washburn was taken.  So I decided to roll for time spent.
00:38 Laurna !roll 2d6
00:38 derynibot 6+3 == 9
So I got, 6 hours from the time Wash was taken to when Sextus made the jump to the first portal, and 3 hours until Sextus is finally rescued.))
 
“Three full hours my brother, three!.”

“Damn!” Sextus cursed. “Get me out of here.”

The three Arilan’s had nearly exhausted all the buildings along the road from the ferry docks to the Rivergate when Sextus’s Rapport had finally been reestablished.  Bishop Denis had repeatedly said that he was sure his nephew was closer to the river than the building they had search most recently. Laird Seisyll had been certain that his searches had been thorough. He should not have missed a Portal room. But apparently he had.

Pulling the dozen guards who had joined them in their afternoon scavenger hunt back out onto the street, the whole contingent of king’s men invaded the second building from the docks. The owner had yelled about abuse and that he would make a formal complaint to the king about this second intrusion. Laird Seisyll and the Captain of the guard were both too angry to pay any attention to the merchant’s complaints.

“Where is your cellar?” the guard captain demanded.

“He was already in it,” the heavy set merchant blustered. “And he didn’t find anything. Because there is nothing there to find!”

“I now think otherwise,” Seisyll growled, pushing past the owner, daring him to try and stop him.

The merchant’s self-preservation kicked in then. He stepped aside motioning his workers to do the same. Seisyll took the steps down into the cellar, three at a time. He and his son Jamyl didn’t bother with torches this time. They both lit handfires and filled the room with bright violet light. Crates were stacked along the walls, canvas sacs filled the floor’s center. It was a big space, most of it old stone. Unlike the building from ground level up, which was new. Most of these warehouse buildings had been rebuilt in the new fashion ten years ago.

Moodily, Seisyll kicked his boot heels against the floor every few feet. Casting out with his mind to find some clue.

((01:50 Seisyll !roll 2d6
01:50 derynibot 2, 2 == 4))

((01:47 Jamyl Jamyl searching for trapdoor in the floor.
01:49 Jamyl !roll 2d6
01:49 derynibot 5, 2 == 7))

The floor sounded off with only solid thunks. Seisyll was getting more angry the longer the opening evaded him. Jamyl followed his father’s lead on the opposite side of the room.  He kept a cool head, using the open Rapport with his uncle to help pinpoint when he thought he stood above where Sextus was.  A stomp on the floor near, revealed a sound more hollow than any other. “Dad, over here.”

With  a wave of his hand, the guards shifted crates aside, crates that had not been moved in a very long time. Fitted tight in the floor was a hatch, it took two guards to lift it.  When it opened, they were all awarded by a light of handfire rising up to greet them.

“Took you long enough!” Exclaimed the Arilan in the pit room below the cellar floor. A second search through the cellar found the ladder well hidden in a wall niche. The ladder when set down into the pit was a perfect length to fit into brackets seen in the beam at the bass to the trap door.

Jamyl the youngest was the first to go down. He and Sextus gave each other a reassuring hug.  Seisyll went down too. But Bishop Arilan was not about to test his old knees on that rickety old ladder.  He satisfied himself with watching the other’s from above.

“What is this place?” Jamyl asked concentrating on the Portal stone but not yet going near it.

Bishop Denise was the one to answer him, by calling down from above. “There are stories of two sister Portals in Rhemuth that were used two and a half centuries ago by the underground movement to relocate Deryni out of the city when the reagents took over Rhemuth. The legend has one inside the city and one outside the city. They were very closely tied together, where anyone with even the slightest training in Portaling could use them to escape. Their locations were never written down. And no one has ever been able to find them. Looks like we found the one outside the gate. I’ll bet we will find the one inside the city pretty easily now. But I will doubt that Sir Washburn will be there. He will be far, far from the city by now. The sun is setting and we are all exhausted. This investigation will have to wait for tomorrow.”

The three Arilan’s in the pit below, gave simultaneous growls of dissatisfaction. Seisyll ignored his uncle. Taking what Sextus has told him about the Portal Trap, he put his hands down on the stone.
((02:23 Seisyll !roll 2d6
02:23 derynibot 5, 1 == 6
02:24 Seisyll !roll 2d6
02:24 derynibot 3, 2 == 5))

The frustration of this long day did nothing to help his focus. Not being able to sense out the trap in this place, the ritual trained Deryni didn’t dare to try the Portal himself.  He was forced to concede that at the moment he was beaten. He motioned his brother and son to climb back up the ladder. With one last look around, he climbed the ladder last. “Captain, post guards on the trap door and guards on the stairs. No one is to come or go through here without me knowing of it. We have a report to make to the king, then we will be back in the morning to see if we can tackle this task with more sanity than any of us have right now.”

Edited: Seisyll is Ritual trained and not yet a Spell Master.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2018, 11:42:48 am by Laurna »

Online Bynw

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #440 on: June 07, 2018, 07:32:26 pm »
Feyd returns after being gone for several hours watches Washburn, who is unable to move or speak above a whispering tone. "Time for you to wake up, we have things to take care of you and I." He sets down the provisions he brought back with him on the stone floor. Then he takes out a small silk pouch and dumps out the contents before him 8 small cubes, like dice but without markings, 4 black and 4 white.

Working quietly and swiftly he takes the 4 white cubes and places them in a tight square just shy of touching one an other.  He then places the 4 black cubes, one at each corner of the larger white square.

He gathers his concentration for a moment before proceeding.

Feyd touches the first white cube in the upper left and names it: "Prime". He then touches the 2nd white cube in the upper right and names it: "Seconde". In quick succession he names the 2 remaining white cubes. All 4 glow with an inner light as they are named "Tierce" for the 3rd cube and "Quarte" for the 4th.

He shifts his energies for the black cubes and follows the same pattern as before, each black cube glows with an eery dark light when named.

"Quinte. Sixte. Septime. Octave"

Feyd picks up Prime and places it atop Quinte with an audible clicking sound the 2 cubes become one silver-grey rectoid or tower.  He quickly follows suite with Seconde to Sixte, Tierce to Septime and Quarte to Octave.

Once created he takes the 4 silver-grey towers and places them at each of the compass points about the Portal square. Pointing to them in turn and naming and binding the energies together.

"Primus, Secondus, Tertius, et Quartus -- Fiat lux!"

Immediately a silver Light springs forth surrounding the Portal square outlined by the placement of the towers. The simmering dome is but a few inches above the stone that marks the Portal.

He goes over to Washburn and sits beside him. Reaching out Feyd touches Wash's arm. Using the physical link to reinforce the mental one that was already established. "If you attempt to disrupt the Wards Major around this Portal. You will be attacked by it. I do not wish to see you become injured." Feyd says to Wash.

Feyd then starts actively looking into the recesses of Washburn's mind. Pulling up old memories and thoughts that were Washburn's alone. After a few minutes Feyd withdraws from Wash's mind. "You are very loyal to your King and family. That is an honorable trait in a man so young. I salute you for it."

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #441 on: June 07, 2018, 08:44:20 pm »
Before Wash can even answer his captor. Feyd continues with his probes of Wash's memories. "These feelings will be your undoing if GDV finds them. He might not do a deep scan on you though. He may simply use my controls. I am going to alter them and blur them out for you. That will keep you alive longer. And maybe he will use you against your King and brother if your loyalties do not seem to be as strong. You are after all just a second son. The spare."

((roll to successfully blur Wash's loyalties to the King and his Brother, the Duke of Corwyn))
<bynw> !roll 2d6
<derynibot> 5, 5 == 10

"And now. Because I like you. I am going to set a trigger to undo the damage that I have just done. But you will remember none of this of course. It will trigger at the approriate time and place."

((roll to set the trigger))
<bynw> !roll 2d6
<derynibot> 5, 6 == 11

"I apologize for being gone so long. I have food and drink for you. You know that you must drink and eat to conserve your strength. We have some time to rest here. Far away from the prying eyes of those who would like to see you returned. I warn you though, do not have another fit. I will not tolerate your disobedience. Save that for later. Eat the food, drink the wine and water that I give you. Some of it as you guess maybe drugged. If I feel you are not cooperating, I will simply use the pricker on you again. And I will exert much stronger controls on your every move. I must see you delivered to GDV. Then I get paid. Then I take my leave of the Mearan Rebellion. And start my next contract, the one I have waited my entire life to complete."


Edit: I thought about doing this as one post but decided to split it up for a bit of drama.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2018, 08:46:17 pm by Bynw »

Offline Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #442 on: June 08, 2018, 05:27:51 am »

“What is that long pouty face for? Have you lost something dear to you?”

“Noooo…” slurred a child’s quivering voice.

“Son, don’t let your mama’s emotions frighten you. Just because I have to go away for awhile, doesn’t mean you’ll ever lose me. I will always be your papa, and you will always be my son. Your maman knows this, as do your sisters. And because Brendan and Kelric are coming with me, I will need you to stay here and take care of the women-folk. Can you do that for me?”

“I am afraid, papa!” The little boy could not stop the tears from coming to his eyes as he watched his father dress for war.

Alaric Morgan, General of Gwynedd’s army, King’s Champion, and Duke of Corwyn set aside his riding gloves and with a strong arm swept his youngest up into his arms. He hugged his son in a caring embrace. “I won’t lie to you, Wash, I am a little afraid, too.”

That brought the young boy’s head up, shaking in disagreement. “No, no, papa, you are not afraid. You are not crying.”

“I am afraid,” the tall duke claimed. The soft white tones of his papa’s hair illuminated the silver of his eyes. “The difference between you and me is that I won’t cry when I’m afraid. I hold my fear in here.” His papa pointed to his chest. “I use my fear to make certain that I have considered every possibility. Fear keeps me from becoming complacent…”

“Comp play ent…?”

“Aye, son, that is a big word. Complacent… it means to become self-satisfied, to be prideful, to think you are better than everyone else. If you think that, then someone will try to prove you wrong. You must be the best that you can be, promise me that, but don’t ever be prideful. And don’t ever become complacent, son. Always know that there is more to learn, no matter how good you are, and that there are bad people out there who will try to beat you down.  Use fear to keep your edge sharp, to stay alert.” Alaric’s finger touched the child’s nose. “Now, the thing with fear is that there is a balance, too much fear will stop you, it will blind you. How can you stay alert If you eyes are full of tears?” The warrior’s eye’s softened with empathy for his frightened son. Washburn remembered his papa ‘s fingers then moving over both cheeks to wipe his tears away.

“There is a time for crying, and yes men do cry, but we do not cry when we are afraid. We cry when we mourn something lost that is dear to us. Until such time, keep your chin up.” A finger lifted the boy’s chin, and then his papa kissed his cheek. “That's my boy. You are a Morgan, Morgan’s face their fears. We don’t let fear blind us. When I come home, I will help you be the very best that you can be.”


“When I come home...” the promise echoed in Washburn’s soul. The only promise his papa ever broke. Alaric Morgan did not come home. Only his older sons did, the two young men sadly escorting the shell of the man who had loved them all. Only then, knowing he was allowed because his papa had told him so, had the very young Washburn Morgan cried. He cried for the loss of the man who had been most dear to him. 

Trying desperately not to shed tears over this memory, the now adult Washburn, twitched fingers barely moving to touch his neck. His fingers searched in vain for the links of chain that held his Camber Medal. The chain was not found.  He tried to roll then, to move, to look at where he was. But it was like hands holding him down, holding him on his back. His muscles refused to obey his command.

This set Washburn’s fear to rising. He had trained all his life to battle the enemy that had taken his Papa from him. Yet for all his training and for all his skill, he had been taken down, oh so easily, with a quick jab in the neck from a man he had not even imagined to be an enemy. 

As he thought back, Washburn realized he had made the same ultimate error that his father had. In a moment of victory, he had become complacent. He had not been alert to the fact that evil is not solitary; that there would always be another foe.

Hold your fear in here… he whispered Use your fear to consider every possibility.

The knight’s eyes shot open, searching the dimly lit stone walls that surrounded him. He was in what appeared to be an alcove of some ruined castle or Cathedral. The archway into the space he lay in was thoroughly blocked by many tumbled stones which had come down from the ceiling. Most of the roof was gone resulting from some massive destruction; a fire most likely, as the few timbers sticking out of the wall directly overhead looked blackened or at least darkened from the weathering of time. Except for this small protrusion of what was once the roof, the rest of the ceiling at the top of the tall walls opened on to the dark colors of the night sky. The dim light that gave the stone a pale grey glow seemed to come from the waning moon, which had been in its full three nights back. The moon, as yet, was unseen, indicating it was either just rising or just setting, which Washburn did not know as he knew not the direction he lay, nor the time of night, nor even if it really was the same night after he had been captured. Had it been only a day or was it now two or three. The shape of the moon would give him a better guess if it ever came into view.

He watched the sky… waiting. “I have nowhere else to go,” he whispered with ill-humour; trying to pinpoint which stars were overhead. The evening star of Orin seemed to shine the brightest in the sky overhead. There were clues that the night was still young. The sounds of crickets and of frogs in the near distance. The occasional splash of something hitting water, a mote, a lake, or a river, perhaps. Even once, Wash swore he heard the clip-clop of a horse. At that sound he yelled out. Then yelled again with more force. Both times the sound his voice made was no more like a croak in his throat, a sound that didn’t penetrate beyond the stone walls.

He tried several times many different sounds. Yelling, whistling, chanting, even humming, yet no sound that he made was louder than a whisper. It wasn't that his voice couldn’t make the sounds, it was that his mind would not let his body draw attention to himself. Then he recalled the Scholar’s last command: No movement and no sounds louder than a whisper.

What had the scholar done to him? How did this man have this much power over him? Only the devil in disguise could make a command such as that be so imperative.  Washburn, suddenly hated the powers of controllment. Never in his life had he witnessed this utter disregard of morality in the misuse of magic. It was of no wonder why his race was so feared among the human population. Those without shields were defenseless against this type of magic. Thus, he came to fully understand and appreciate why Kelson had implemented such a strong foundation of ethics and morality in the Deryni schola’s teachings, well before the actual training of magic began. And Healer training, as Uncle Duncan had often told him, was doubly strict about attending to a patient's free will of the mind even as you healed and cared for the body. Trained as a warrior,  even Washburn knew these teaching as the structure on which his morality stemmed.

Whatever drug the scholar used, it was an evil drug, far more so than that of the dreaded Merasha. Wash had learned about Meresha in his youth. Heck, he even had been doused with it and had survived it merely a few days before. Whatever this different drug was, it not only disabled his Deryni Energies and his shields, but it paralyzed muscles incapacitating him nearly completely. Worse still, it left him susceptible to any Deryni’s power. At least Meresha kept other Deryni at bay. With this drug, he was completely at the mercy of the man who had captured him. A man who could read his mind without him knowing of it. The thought gave him a shudder, It was a good thing he had not been in on Kelson’s council meeting. He knew nothing of the plans to move forward, only the bass plans of Prince Javan to take the army north to join up with the forces of the Duke of Corwyn and the Earl of Kierney.  Was there some way he could burry that information deep in his mind. He doubted it, that was too forefront in his thoughts of late and had not been a consideration to be buried far down behind many shields. Washburn’s greatest fear was that his thoughts would betray the brother he honored and loved. 

Dwelling on the test he seemed unable to turn  aside from, Washburn watched the lone star of Orin move across the heavens. Death for himself did not frighten him. But the possible death of the Lady Aliset wounded his heart.

“My Lord! Prey tell me, where is Aliset!”  Washburn asked of that bright star. As if to answer, the star slowly faded in the sky as the gleam of moonlight washed across it.

The last he had seen of the courageous lady, she had been in the arms of her assailant being carried toward the Portal. She had not been brought to the same place as he. He clenched his teeth in anger as he imagined her being placed in the grips of that evil Oswald. Oswald would make Aliset his wife and he would lock her away from the world. If she fought him, as Wash was certain she would try, she might die for her insolence. Her life may already be on his hands. “Dear God! Have mercy upon her soul,” he prayed feeling helpless that such horror might already come to pass.  If Wash ever saw that lordling Jaxom again, he will kill him.

The knowledge that greybeard had made Lord Jaxom do what he did to Lady Aliset was not a comfort.  Wash was sure Jaxom in his own right mind would never have stolen Aliset away; the pumpus lordling was not evil, he was just arrogant; the very thing Washburn’s father had warned to never become. Jaxom had been forced to do what he did, even as Wash would be forced to do so much worse. If he could not forgive Jaxom, than he knew he would never accept forgiveness for himself if he was forced to become a betrayer. The thought paralyzed his thinking.  He recalled the secret story of how Lord Sean Derry, whom his brother Brendan had told to him once , how Sean had been coerced to kidnap Brendan when he was but a child. If Sean, a man most loyal indeed, could be turned, then there was no hope of resistance. Would Washburn Morgan become their puppet, their pawn.
 
The question then came, who was the man paying this contractual fee. For certain, it was a man of greed, of power, and of no morality. This man would use a Morgan to further his plans. Likely as hostage to force the King’s hand, or even worse to compel the youngest Morgan to betray the ones he loved. Wash shivered, “I will NEVER do that!” he howled hoarsely. “I will not be a pawn.”  With a horrifying sense of reality, Wash knew that just maybe, with the right Deryni mind control, someone with evil intentions could force him to do just that.

Whether it was just at that moment or whether Wash had actually fallen back asleep for a time, Washburn was suddenly aware of the Scholar standing over him. With morbid curiosity he saw the man work the wards major and he was confused when the foreigner seemed to place the the charged columns around the flat square of stone beside him. He could not sense the power that was raised Nor even see the aura of the ward as the man finished. He knew the aura was there and the scholar warned him of great harm if he were to touch it. And then the man was grabbing his arm, and a barrage of controls overwhelmed his ability to think. Memories flashed like a raging bonfire. Memories of love and honor which were revealed and then tossed in the flames to be seared to ash and to not be recalled again. As the memories ebbd away from him, he fought back to hide the few favored memories of his father. They were from long long ago and did not seem to come to the Scholars attention. When the hand left Washburn’s side he felt a lonely husk of being. Something, nay Everything that mattered was missing. But what that was  he be Damned that he could not recall. There was only one thing he remembered and it had to do with the word Complacent. He had become the very thing his father had told him not to be. “Don’t ever become complacent, son.” He had failed his father’s last lesson.

"I apologize for being gone so long.” said the man who sat at Washburn’s side.  “I have food and drink for you. You know that you must drink and eat to conserve your strength.” the man made a friendly gesture toward a tray of food.  Seeming to free the invisible bound that had held Washburn’s arms to his chest. “We have some time to rest here. Far away from the prying eyes of those who would like to see you returned. I warn you though, do not have another fit. I will not tolerate your disobedience. Save that for later. Eat the food, drink the wine and water that I give you.” With every strength of well left to him. Washburn refused to sample the culinary delights that seemed just a hand spann away. The Scholar’s friendly gestures slip away as he witnessed Washburn’s hesitations.  “Some of it as you guess maybe drugged. If I feel you are not cooperating, I will simply use the pricker on you again. And I will exert much stronger controls on your every move.” it was not an empty threat, not when the device suddenly appeared in the man’s hand. “I must see you delivered to GDV. Then I get paid. Then I take my leave of the Mearan Rebellion. And start my next contract, the one I have waited my entire life to complete."

A curiosity crossed Washburn's dead/blurred mind wondering what victim the man had next in mind. “You care nothing about life, nothing except for money.” he whispered harshly.

“I care about your life… for now… eat up.” Compulsion followed the scholar’s words.

Complacent Washburn berated himself as his hands reached for a meat roll and a slice of cheese.

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #443 on: June 08, 2018, 02:48:50 pm »
Darcy Cameron and the guard turned to look as the infirmary door behind them opened.  Both bowed respectfully toward the duchess who stood there.

“Lady Aliset feels recovered enough to return to the Queen’s Tower,” she announced and looked at the guard.  “Please advise the guards at the front door they will be returning with us.  Lord Darcy, you will accompany us as well.”

‘Of course, your Grace.”  Darcy bowed a second time.  “Does Lady Aliset need assistance?”

“She will be fine, Lord Darcy.  We’ll set a moderate pace.  We will be ready to leave shortly.” Duchess Grania smiled slightly and withdrew back into the room, closing the door once again.  The young man did not lack attentiveness.

The guard left to advise the others and Darcy assumed his post.  When the guard returned, Darcy took the time to straighten his tunic and adjust his sword belt.  The guard looked amused and Darcy scowled back at him. 

The door opened once again and Duchess Grania entered the corridor followed by Aliset.  Darcy thought Aliset looked pale and tired, but she managed a slight smile at him.  He nodded and fell in step beside her, adjusting his pace to hers. 

The two guards at the front door joined them and proceeded first, followed by Duchess Grania, Aliset with Darcy at her side, and the last guard following them.  The men kept a wary watch as they moved forward.  Darcy judged it was early evening; the long hours of summer daylight meant that there were still many people out in the streets. 

Darcy noticed that Aliset was not as sure-footed as normal on the cobbles.  He was prepared when she stumbled slightly, gently taking hold of her arm to steady her.  He was not prepared when she pulled sharply away, losing her balance even more.  Darcy had no choice but to grab her around the waist to keep her upright.  She froze, frightened eyes turned in his direction.

“I’m sorry, my Lady,” Darcy said, startled and unsure.  “I only mean to keep you from falling and hurting yourself.”

For a moment, Aliset closed her eyes and breathed deeply.  When she opened them, she saw the hurt look in her man-at-arm’s eyes.  “I’m fine now,” was all she could bring herself to say.

Duchess Grania had stepped back to Aliset’s other side and took her arm gently.  “She will be fine,” she said, and Darcy withdrew his arm from Aliset’s waist and stepped a little farther back.  “We are almost there,” she said to Aliset.

They reached the entry to the Queen’s Tower.  Guards stationed at the door began to open it. 

‘My lady,” Darcy said quietly to Aliset, who turned to look at him.  “I will withdraw now.  If you need me, I will come at once.”  He bowed to her and to the duchess and moved farther back, watching while the ladies entered.

“My Lord.”

Darcy was so lost in thought he did not realize the voice was addressing him.  He turned and saw a squire in Haldane livery standing beside him.  Darcy judged him to be about 15 or 16, several inches taller with a lanky frame that would fill out more as he grew older.  His curly brown hair was moderately short and his eyes green.

‘Lord Darcy,” the squire bowed and continued.  “I am Robert O’Malley.  I serve as Sir Iain’s squire when he is in Rhemuth.  His Majesty thought I should assist you while you are here.”

“I’m not a knight,” Darcy replied cautiously.

“His Majesty seems willing to overlook that detail.”  There was an amused twinkle in the squire’s eyes.  “His Majesty also suggested you use your brother’s quarters while you are here.”

“That would be appreciated, but first, is there a practice yard here?”

“Of course,” the squire replied.

“Is there any reason I can’t use it?”

“Certainly not.”

“Then take me there first. If you please,” Darcy hastily added.

“This way, my Lord,” Robert said and guided Darcy away from the Queen’s Tower.
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #444 on: June 09, 2018, 10:43:11 am »
"I am not motivated by coin alone. My family is wealthy enough. Some of us have spent generations perfecting our craft at hunting down wayward Deryni. Using the same tools that the Haldane Regents used against our kind so long ago. It is quite effective." The Scholar says with a smirk across his face.

"We are contracted by Deryni and Human alike to bring to justice those Deryni who slip away thinking they have nothing to fear. Sometimes, they are wanted alive. Other times the contract makes it easier for us."

He leans in closer to Washburn. "It is not money, it is only a necessary evil to make my task easier. I am after two hundred years of revenge and hatred." Feyd sits back up smiling. "After I deliver you alive per my contract. I am paid handsomely. That will in turn fund the ultimate contract that was just negotiated with my next patrons. Revenge, after generations of planting the seeds, has finally come."

The Scholar sits looking up at the sky. A true smile of happiness forms on his face and tears of joy at the corner of his eyes. As he thinks about the future contract. Washburn could swear he can hear the sound of a distant heavenly choir of soft voices singing hymns of praise.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2018, 11:32:17 am by Bynw »

Offline revanne

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #445 on: June 09, 2018, 01:13:21 pm »
Columcil and Dhugal walked together in awkward silence, neither having the slightest idea what to say to the other. Dhugal felt that it was for him to speak, and it would be helpful to know how well-trained and experienced the other was as a healer, but he could hardly address as "Father" one who had just been revealed as his son.

Those they passed bowed low, or came to stiff attention before Dhugal and, with each obeisance and salute, Columcil became ever more conscious of the presumption of his outburst, necessary though it might have seemed. Finally he stopped and bowing low himself, began

"Your Grace, I maun beg your pardon fer th' manner o' my speakin' ..." but was interrupted by Dhugal's rough grasp on his arm.

"Please, no!  I have no idea how to work out what I owe to you but I am very sure that you owe nothing to me, least of all any apology."

Columcil felt the grasp on his arm tighten as he was swung round to face the Duke and he was startled to see that the amber eyes shone with tears.

"I'm very sure too that you have far more right to have grace attributed to you than I have ever deserved but I suppose it's best we keep to the formalities or people will start to wonder."

"I'm affeared they'll be aye blethering, my Lord, after the way I blabbed afore yon guards."

To Columcil's surprise a wide grin appeared on the Duke's face as he replied in a  border accent almost to match his own.

"Ach, dinna fasch yersen. They'd no a' kenned
one word in twa.!"

Then more seriously and reverting to his  normal manner of speech Dhugal added in reassurance,

"Supposing they could hear and understand, which I doubt, their controls would not allow them to speak of anything they hear while on royal duty."

Columcil hoped that his face did not show his disquiet at this information. The idea that Deryni powers would be so used was outside his experience and here was one of the highest in the land speaking matter of factly of the corruption of the God's gift of free will. Perhaps his thoughts had shown or perhaps the Duke understood anyway for he  continued gently,

"No-one is forced to enter royal service. I don't know how it was in times past but the King is so well loved that there is fierce competition for the honour of serving in his household. They trust him with their minds and would trust him with their souls. As in other ways he trusts his to them. This is why this has hit him so hard and is so unfair after the years he has given to all his people. He feels the loss of each one in his service as a stab to his heart and I fear it is beginning to eat away at his soul."
 
Dhugal realised that for a moment he had almost thought that he was speaking to his father and feared he had said too much but a glance at Columcil's face reassured him that the other had the look of a priest hearing confession. With a sudden change of mood he grinned again and said,

"Leastways I'll no be feared fer ma soul wi' me Da an' me son pittin' up prayers fer me!".

A startlingly fair-haired man, who still walked with a suspicion of a seaman's roll, was coming the other way and Columcil gave him a nod of acknowledgement, not feeling that he could do more whilst in the exalted company of the Duke, however surprisingly affable the other was proving to be.

As their paths crossed and they drew out of earshot Dhugal asked,

"That can only be Baron Isle's brother. You travelled with him. How do you judge him?"

The question was asked as equal to equal and  Columcil answered equally directly.

"Darcy? Brave, utterly honest and would die for the Lady Aliset."

" Does he love her?"

"I mayna' answer that Your Grace."

The return to fomality warned Dhugal that he was treadng on what Columcil regarded as forbidden ground, even if the information had not been explicitly shared in formal confession,  and he felt absurdly proud that this hitherto unknown son was a man of such honour - absurd for what credit could he claim in any of this?

"I understand and you must have formed quite a brotherhood as you travelled.  You must have become close to Lord Jaxom too. Tell me, did he seem a man to act for His Majesty's enemies? "

To Dhugal's surprise and Columcil's consternation the latter coloured bright red at this.

"You had some problem with the man?"

"Ach, I'm no but a country priest and I canna be doin' wi' lords and their pretensions."

Too late Columcil heard the gross impertinence as his words left his mouth and bowed his head he waited for retribution to fall. Instead he heard a sound which could best be described as a barely stiffled snort and the Duke laughed.

"Aye, Kelric told Kelson Jaxom was a pompous pr...But  maybe I'd best stop there. I hope you'll change your mind about some Lords, not least because your friend Darcy has proved to be one. I think Washburn won your loyalty and I'd like to hope I could be worthy of your good opinion."

Again the almost wistful humility disarmed Columcil and he dared to smile as Dhugal continued,

"But being a fool doesn't make a man a traitor so look beyond your prejudices and tell me, is there any reason you saw to suspect that he was acting of his free will and with malice against the King's subjects?"

There was no rebuke in the other's voice but Columcil knew that he was hearing a Duke of the realm and he must answer as fairly as he could, setting aside, as he had been bidden, his dislike of Jaxom.

"Nae, your Grace. I would ha'e ta say, nae. Ta be fair to him he was aye helpful an' I dinna think he's the wits ta pull the wool o'er all our eyes. He aye thought he would be God's gift ta her leddyship, but I'd no ha'e speired he'd turn traitor."

Fighting his own baser instincts which were arguing for the hope that Jaxom would get his just deserts, Columcil asked,

"What will happen to him, your Grace?"

"He'll be interrogated and I'll not say it will be pleasant, his foolishness has partly led to Sir Washburn's capture and the King will not easily forgive that. Nor his invasion of the Queen's private garden, which even in more peaceful times would have earned him a flogging. But if he co-operates and is penitent for his errors and if it is found that he too was under another's control then he may smart but he will live to be a wiser man."

"Until Darcy gets hold of him!"

Columcil had only muttered but Dhugal looked seriously at him and replied.

"That has already been understood and although the King has a certain
sympathy he will not tolerate the law being taken into any man's own hand. As his friend I would advise a word to the wise."

(( I had intended to include the scene of Richard's healing but it has taken me the train journey from Interlaken in Switzerland to the channel tunnel to write this including several lost paragraphs as the signal dropped out as I was saving it so am going to post as it is))




« Last Edit: June 09, 2018, 02:46:21 pm by revanne »
Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered;
    let those who hate him flee before him.
As smoke is driven away, so drive them away;
    as wax melts before the fire,
    let the wicked perish before God.
(Psalm 68 vv1-2)

Offline Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #446 on: June 09, 2018, 03:18:59 pm »
The monastic hymns echoed over the old ruins in cascades of reverence. The pleasure on the upturned face of the scholar sent a pins-and-needles reaction of fear down Washburn’s spine. The veneration of revenge was in discordance with what Washburn thought he believed. But the effects of the psychic fire he had just survived, left huge gaps in his perceptions. Just like this architecture they sat in, sometime in the past it had been whole and functional, yet the aftermath of a fire had destroyed the roof, exposing the interior to the elemental forces of wind and rain. Wash felt akin to the ruins around him: his thoughts were tumbled like the stones, his memories scattered in broken chunks, his aspirations a void like the roof over their head.  Memories lay here and there without reason, without coherence. He didn’t understand how or why this had happened to him. He knew that just the acts of living had never been enough to drive him to be the knight that he had become, yet it seemed that this was all he could remember. What he did know was that for the love of his father, he had become the best knight in the realm. Apparently, that was all that compelled him, there seemed nothing else but a good laugh now and then, and a good comradery with a few persons that came and went from his life. It wasn’t enough.  Not near enough to live by. Yet, if there was more, it eluded him.

“This contract on my head? Is it part of your revenge, too? Did I escape some Justice in some fashion that now needs retribution?” Wash rubbed his head wishing the blur of ash over his mind to settle. “I can’t remember,” he sighed in confusion. “Is that it? Something I’ve done requires this penance.” It was no longer a question, rather a statement of subjugation. He dropped the meat-roll back to the platter, the distaste wasn’t from the food but rather from the disgust with himself. Could he bargain with this man for his life? “If that is not it, and it is just for money, I know I can find enough gold in the Lendour treasury to pay you double whatever the price is on my head.” But then the thought of stealing was distasteful, too. “I would repay the money, even if it takes me a lifetime,” he added trying to subdue his own conscious.

He looked at the scholar in a different light, the light of the moon which came over the walls and shown down on them from above. The scholar definitely had a goal that was within his reach, something he had wanted for a very long time. “I am not a man without some talents,” Washburn tried again.  “My sword arm is the best in the land. I could beat any foe of yours in fair battle, even two against one like a gladiator of old Rum. As reward, I could win my freedom back.” he sighed, “Perhaps, it isn’t a fair battle that you seek? I am a dead aim with a long distance bow.”

The look the Scholar gave him then, turned Washburn’s stomach inside out. He had just succumbed to a new low. Instantly, he hated himself for even thinking to make such an offer. “No, no, I think I would rather die than become the likes of you.” Washburn spat out to the side. “I am sure, I am worth a price even if dead. Kill me and be done with this torture. I feel sorry for  your next victim. What is it that he has done to bring such delight to your face when contemplating your vengeance? I hope, at the very least, that he deserves what you do to him! Although, I don’t believe anyone deserves to be set in this Hell before they die.”
« Last Edit: June 09, 2018, 03:20:56 pm by Laurna »

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #447 on: June 09, 2018, 06:18:04 pm »
"200 years ago they murdered two members of my family through their manipulations. Too proud and arrogant to do the dirty work themselves. And they have played their games with us all since the return of the Haldanes. And now there is you. Follow your instinct and survive this hell. We will meet again after all this passes."

Offline Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #448 on: June 10, 2018, 01:01:04 pm »
Both men were silent for a long time, both listening to the distant hymns as they cascaded and then softly dissipated into the night.

“Two hundred years is a long time to hold out to serve revenge.” Wash said very quietly. In his youth tutors had spent enormous efforts to teach Wash the history of the Eleven Kingdoms and the history of his family lines. His mother had particularly strong interests in the family Ancestry; a reason he had been named after an ancestor of generations past. He should have known his history and his genealogy like he knew the back of his hand. At the moment it all eluded him. He pulled up  a few memories of his family, that of his mother and father when he was but sapling under his father’s feet. He had siblings too. He could name his sisters, Briony, married to the crown prince of Andelon and Grania,  married to…. Who?  She had children, his favorite nephews…. Names escaped him…. Wash had brother’s too… but… names and faces…. Gone!

He squeezed his eyes shut pushing what memories he did have back. What did it matter anymore, he was alone in this. He had his training and he had his instincts. Did this man before him really just tell him to survive this Hell and that they would meet up again? That seemed like lunacy. An impossibility from where he lay at the moment. Then he remembered “Use your fear” “considered every possibility”.

He opened his eyes and from where he lay on the furs in this ruined alcove, he studied the Scholar’s features in the moonlight. It was his first chance to really see the man. He didn’t see greed, he didn’t see anger. He saw cunning and portentous ambitions. A very dangerous man, which had been thoroughly proven. 

“I don’t suppose you will let a man relieve himself in the corner so I don’t have to soil my clothes.” he asked on the off chance that he might actually win the ability to move.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2018, 01:07:14 pm by Laurna »

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #449 on: June 10, 2018, 05:17:40 pm »
The Scholar laughs at Washburn's request. "It matters not either way actually. Have your dignity if you must. But I warn you. You will not be able to run. You will not be able to scream. You must becareful in the dark here, some of the steps are rather steep and trecherous in these ruins even in the light. So you if you have ideas of escaping, this is not the place."

He lets Washburn get up to relieve himself but stays within sight of him.

 

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