Author Topic: Ghosts of the Past  (Read 79613 times)

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Offline revanne

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #495 on: July 11, 2018, 07:02:51 am »
Columcil came out of the infirmary wishing that he was in reach of the holy well dedicated to St Winifred that lay only a few miles to the north east of St Melangell's shrine. He wanted nothing more than to wash the taint of the royal court off him. He imagined for a minute being totally immersed in the ice cold pool, then purging himself, body and soul with a draft of the bitter spring water.

Rhemuth might be as beautiful as rumour made her, the King was awesome in his majesty and power, both temporal and magical, but the place was corroding his soul. Nothing had gone right since they arrived. Washburn had been treated like an errant school boy and excluded from the king's council leaving him vulnerable; Aliset had been separated from those who had been her best protection and left open to harm and threatened shame and Darcy, true and loyal to her to the depths of his being, faced royal censure for doing what no-one else had had the courage, or it seemed the will, to do.

And he himself had been fooled into believing that his grandfather thought well of him, when all that he was was a convenient tool. Having to hear Jaxom's confession had been the last straw. Oh, it had been honest enough as far as it went, but the man remained totally oblivious to his real sins of arrogance and selfish desire, and he had all too obviously come to see his coming
service in Prince Javan's company as a sign of royal favour. The penance the man needed was a month shovelling muck from the bottom of garderobe shafts; the hour on his knees which had been the worst that he could impose on him in the limited time left before the army marched out, would probably only serve to impress him with his own piety.

He had had enough. He would seek out his grandfather the Archbishop, ask for the recognition of St Melangell's as a healing shrine that had been the purpose of his journey, fetch Spean from the royal stables and turn their faces to the west.

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 #496 on: July 11, 2018, 01:15:54 pm »
Darcy Cameron pulled one of the chairs closer to the window in his brother’s apartment and opened the window to catch the morning breeze before the day became too warm.  He watched the activity below.  He’d been at sea too long not to recognize the signs of men readying to ship out, or in this case, march out.  There could be no doubt that Prince Javan’s forces would be leaving soon.  Carts creaked as they were moved off to be loaded with provisions.  Men stood in small groups for short periods and then dispersed to reform again into new groups.  Riders arrived with messages for the leaders closeted with the king; other riders left with instructions for the leaders outside the gate marshalling the men.   Controlled mayhem created from good order and discipline.  Darcy sighed and then startled at the knock at the door.  He crossed the room in quick strides and opened the door to find Robert standing there.

“King Kelson commands your presence,” Robert said.  His face was mostly expressionless, but Darcy thought he saw a hint of sympathy in his eyes. 

“Well, let’s get this done with.”  Darcy buckled on his sword, closed and locked the door.  He no longer needed to be shown the way to the king’s withdrawing room; the path had grown too familiar.  Robert walked at his side, saying nothing.

Robert knocked on the withdrawing room door and stepped inside to announce Darcy. Darcy whisked stray strands of pale hair back from his face and squared his shoulders.  He would not have done anything differently; he would pay the price.

Robert opened the door wider and motioned him forward.  The king sat alone at the table at the end of the room.  Prince Javan was absent; Darcy surmised he was working on the logistics of departure.  Darcy approached halfway to the table, bowed and then went down on one knee.  At a nod from the king, Robert remained just inside the door.

Kelson studied the young noble before him for a long moment.  Pale blond pale hair, icy blue eyes, calm demeanor.  This was not the first time Darcy had faced discipline. 

“Lord Darcy,” Kelson said.  Darcy bowed his head briefly in acknowledgement.  “There are some things We can turn a blind eye to but brawling in Our presence is not one of them.”

Darcy looked mildly surprised.  “I freely admit to striking Lord Jaxom,” he said, “but I would hardly call it a brawl.”

Kelson gave him a hard look.  “If We call it a brawl, it is a brawl.”

“As you wish, your Majesty.”

Kelson thought Darcy was coming a bit too close to impudence; but he had not crossed the line quite yet.

“We cannot send you north with Prince Javan.  You are aware that Lord Jaxom accompanies him; We do not need skirmishes among Our own men.”

Darcy nodded and remained silent.

“We are removing you from your employ as Lady Aliset’s man-at-arms.  You will instead escort Father Columcil back to Saint Melangell’s.  Robert O’Malley will also accompany you.”

Kelson saw the young man’s jaw clench in anger.  His face, however, became an impenetrable mask.  Sir Iain had the same skill.

“Who will ensure Lady Aliset’s safety, if I am not here?” Darcy asked, his voice not betraying the turmoil he felt inside.

“She is under Our protection.”

Darcy looked at the king levelly; he did not need to say what he was thinking.

Under other circumstances, Kelson would have been furious at the perceived rebuke.  But the man had reason to be concerned.  What had happened earlier should never had occurred.  “We were complacent; adjustments have been made.”

“Has Lady Aliset given her consent?” Darcy asked.

“As We stated, she is under Our protection,” the king said firmly.

“I will trust in your judgement, your Majesty,” Darcy said, the tone of his voice giving nothing away of his inner thoughts.

“That is the official explanation for your absence,” Kelson continued after a moment.

Darcy’s face showed a hint of surprise.  “Your Majesty?”

Kelson motioned for Darcy to rise.  “Your official mission is otherwise.”  Kelson picked up the parchment on the table before him.  The edges were still crumpled.  “You need to be aware of this.”  He held it out for Darcy to read. 

Darcy took the parchment from the king’s hand and read what was written.  The carefully controlled mask of his face cracked.  His hand convulsed, and the parchment was crumpled for a second time. “What does this mean, your Majesty?  What does it mean that his soul is blind?”

“I suspect Sir Washburn is under the mental controls of the man who captured him. Just as Lord Jaxom was, but probably far worse. He is in a very precarious situation, and We can make no direct move to rescue him.”

‘Do you want me to find, him, your Majesty?” Darcy asked.

“No, that task is given to Earl Marley, though officially his looking for the man who captured Sir Washburn.  He rides out today with Prince Javan.  Your task is to find the fortress.”

Darcy looked thoughtful.  “I believe I can do that, your Majesty.  But what do I do then?”

“We believe that Washburn will be taken to the fortress, which is likely under the control of Grand Duke Valerian. Your task is to maintain vigilance, watch for any opportunity to assist in setting Washburn free.” Kelson paused for a moment.  “If you succeed, or if Washburn leaves on what appears to be his own accord, stay with him and report on his actions.”

Darcy gave the king a sharp look.  “Sir Washburn is to be considered a danger, if he is free?”   

The King of Gwynedd nodded, wishing he could deny the fact.  “Valerian is a very powerful and ruthless Deryni.  You need to be aware that if Sir Washburn has fallen into his hands, Sir Washburn can no longer be trusted.  Duke Alaric Morgan defeated Teymuraz in a dual arcane,” at Darcy’s blank look, Kelson added, “a battle of magic. Valerian will use the son of Alaric Morgan to the worst possible outcome to exact revenge, even against Washburn’s own brothers.”

“Am I to stop him, if it looks as though he might succeed in any treachery?”  Darcy did not like asking the question.

“Aye, you are.  Can you do that, if it is required?”  Kelson asked solemnly.

Darcy did not answer immediately; finally, he replied.  “I will if I must.  But surely Sir Washburn is not totally lost to us?  There are things we can do?”  The distress in Darcy’s voice was clear.

“That is why Father Columcil travels with you.  His Healing talent may be able to unravel, or at least mitigate, whatever has been done to Sir Washburn.” 

Darcy considered all of this.  “How will I keep you informed of our progress?”

“You understand rapport?” the king asked.

“Aye, your Majesty, but my success at the skill has been limited.”

“I’m sure you will improve with time, but time is a luxury we don’t have.  Father Columcil will report your progress to Archbishop Duncan.” 

Darcy nodded.  “When do we leave, your Majesty?”

“After Prince Javan has departed; probably not until tomorrow after things have died down a bit.”

Darcy asked one final question.  ”Your Majesty, does Lady Aliset know I will be leaving?”

“Queen Araxie will inform her.”

“Your Majesty,” Darcy said carefully.  “By Your leave, I would prefer to tell her myself.” At the king’s questioning look he continued.  “I would want her to know that I am not abandoning her without cause.”

Kelson considered the request and nodded.  “Very well.  You are no longer confined to your brother’s quarters, but I want no further trouble.  We have enough to deal with as it is.”

“Aye, your Majesty.”  Darcy bowed and backed toward the door. 

“Lord Darcy.” The king spoke before Darcy reached the door.

“Your Majesty?”

“How many of the stripes on your back were due to impudence?” Kelson asked.

“A few, but then I learned to be more subtle,” Darcy responded.

“Keep working on that,” Kelson advised.

“As you command, your Majesty.”

Robert opened the door and followed Darcy out.  Kelson Haldane watched them leave and hoped he had picked the right man.
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 #497 on: July 13, 2018, 12:43:10 pm »
Just sleep, he told himself, don’t wake up, please, just don’t. Trouble was, he was consciously saying this to himself, so it was too late to continue on in a dream state. Well-aware, he tested his mental senses to see if he could learn where he was before he actually awoke.  The lack of that ability hit him hard. The world beyond his closed eyes was devoid of all perception.  He was blind. The life-energies that he knew permeated from every living thing was just not accessible. This quelching of his Deryniness, a sense he had never lived without before was as horrific to him as was his captivity.

Sir Washburn Morgan opened his eyes in order to discover where he was.  He saw the scattered stones all around him, the noon sun glaring down from the missing roof of this old Michaeline ruins. Recognizing his surrounds brought a sigh of relief to his lips. At least his captivity had not progressed to the next stage. He felt fortunate that the hot sun did not beat down on him; his bed furs lay in the shadow of the small protrusion of what was left of the overhanging roof. Near him also in this shaded area, his captor leaned over a small black leather bound book, his quill marking off a small check list and he scratched additional words on the facing page. That his only companion was Feyd and not the dreaded Grand Duke of Treachery made Wash smile a greeting to his assassin captor.

“I am so happy to see you. I feared I would awake in a far worse place than this.”

Feyd just shook his head. “Oh that will come soon enough. Tomorrow morning in fact. I am sure the fortress dungeons will be wonderfully drafty and cool, much better than this heat. Then there is the stank of that place. That will give your senses enough to occupy your mind. You will be grateful then, that you can not feel the misery of the other prisoners, men that have managed to survive in there since the fortress’s take over last year. I was amazed to see that some still lived. I assure you, you will be quite happy about having taken the drug that dulls those senses. I almost wish I could have, when I was last there.”

“You have a strange way of looking at the positive.” Washburn said dryly.

Feyd gave his captive a wide scary grin. “I am so glad we are starting to understand each other.”

Despite the heat, Wash shivered. At first he thought it was uncontrollable fear overwhelming him, but then as his stomach revolted, he realized this was a much more physical reaction to the drugs he had awoken from. Muscles barely reacting to his desperate need, Wash rolled away from Feyd, scrambled awkwardly to his feet-- amazed to discover they had not been retied-- and then he stumbled the few steps toward the far corner, a place hot in the glaring sunlight. There he wretched and wretched until his whole body ached and his head pounded.  When he thought there was no more, he wretched again. Shaking all over, Wash was surprised to see Feyd standing next to him, looking concerned. The assassin poured water onto a cloth and handed it over for him to wipe his face and hands. He even offering the water skin for him to drink from and clear his cloying throat. At first Wash pulled his hand away from the skin. Being drugged again made him want to wretch more.

“It is clean water. You are dehydrated. You need to drink this.”

“I would like to trust you, but we both know I can not.”

“Trust that I need you whole at delivery tomorrow, so that I will not get cheated out of my full payment. I will have my payment, and it will be in full.”

Wash nodded at that, took the offered goat's bladder and drank a huge gulp before he could discover if he'd been betrayed or not. Amazed, the water was as Feyd said it was, it was cool and clean. Wash took two more gulps before Feyd took the skin back. “Not so fast, you’ll make yourself sick all over again. Your a Healer, you should know this.”

The knight wiped his mouth one last time and gave a sarcastic laugh. “Was a potential Healer, you mean. You have taken that away from me.”

Feyd gave him a penetrating look for a moment, one that Wash could not decipher. “Oddly, I don’t think that I have.”

“Have? What?”  The pounding in Washburn’s head was easing, but not yet gone. There was much about his captor he could not understand.

“Your Healing ability, there in lies a mystery.” Feyd motioned for Wash to return to the shaded furs, his gaze still had a queer look as he watched the knight stumble back.

Briefly Washburn gave a full glance at the sun drenched ruins, looking again at the low spot in the wall, but then remembering the drop that was beyond the wall. Reluctantly, Wash followed Feyd and sank down to the furs on his knees. “Wish I had discovered Healing so much sooner than I did. I could have studied it and learned it. That is something I would like to do before I die. I do not know if it is just because I finally succeeded at it, but the feeling of accomplishing such an act of compassion was --exhilarating. I mean to Heal rather than to wound was simply a Blessing of the Soul.” Wash put his face in his hands for a moment. Knowing he might never feel that Blessing again. “You wouldn’t understand.”

Feyd’s sudden grasp on his arm froze Wahburn in fear, but all he felt were fingers rubbing his skin under the cut in his tunic. There was no pain in that moment of harsh abuse and Wash looked down at his own arm remembering the cut that had been there but was there no more.  Yesterday, he must have imagined that he had been cut, Jaxom’s sword must have missed him. Only the cut of sleeve fabric remained: that and dried blood. Feyd looked troubled and Wash could not grasp to understand why. 

Feyd sat down in the shade opposite, gathered back up his journal, he began making new notations.

“Is that for this job of yours or the next one?” Wash asked curious to know what was being written.

“The next job, it is complicated. All the pieces have to be fit together perfectly.”

“Planning would be key, wouldn’t it. So I am sure you must already have this job planned to the “T”. Is there nothing I can do to spoil those plans.”

The scholar part of Feyd looked up amused. “I am sure you think that you want to spoil my plans. But the truth is, you need to see my plans carried out to their full fruition. Stop trying to best me. It will only lead you to more harm. And I assure you, what I have in mind will be the best outcome for everyone. Well everyone else, anyway.”

“That is wonderful,” Wash responded dispondantly. “Happy to do my part.”

The scholar actually laughed. “I like you, I really do.”

“I’m a likable kind of guy, never one to betray a friend or be disloyal to a vow. Of course, I can not recall any vows taken, so how can I be disloyal. As for friends, I remember so few that I am sure I will not be betraying any of them. So what the heck! Are you going to tell me what it is that you want me to do?”

‘In do time,” Feyd said with a grin. “For now, I have things I need to work out. Why don’t you find something quiet to do. Like… like read that scroll I gave you. That way you can say you studied Healing before you die.”

Wash raised his eyebrows, not liking one bit of the doom and gloom of his near future. “You said it was poorly translated, impossible to read.”

“True. The monk who transcribed it was at least sober through the first half of the writing. The closer he got to the bottom, the more drunk he got, until no word is legible. Look, we only have one afternoon. The first half of the scroll should keep you plenty occupied, you can learn and I can get some of my work completed in peace.” He looked at Wash like he was a taskmaster scolding an errant child.

Wash rolled his eyes heavenward. “Whatever you say, Master.” He found a more comfortable means of sitting and pulled the scroll out from inside his tunic. A cursory glance through the long roll proved the first half was indeed legible. The lower half was a mix of good and bad words, the bottom was a language all unto its own. Rerolling it back to the top, he began to read.

The opening was a list of physical body parts and organs and what each did to support the function of the body. Skin- the largest body structure to armor and protection against all outside influences. Muscles and tendons-hundreds of individual forces that pulled and relaxed to move the body each with its own fine tuning of the bodies motion. Skeleton-the inner frame that gives form and stability. Intestines-that which digests foods and absorbs the substance need for living and pass out that which is waste. Liver- the largest organ that takes the good humours found in the digested food and lets the body utilize what is needed. Kidneys-that pull the bad humours out of the blood and collect those ills in the urinary bladder to be discarded. Heart and  Blood- the life force that carries good humors and bad humors to every part of the body.

These were all things that Wash knew, yet it was interesting to see it written in this way. Moving down the scroll the subject turned to finding a Healer’s balance of energy and in using the hands to guide that energy to the location where it could be used. Centering and focus was the most important: the soul had to be calm to find that balance. Wash had experienced this, too. Father Columcil had showed him how to find that calm. The thought of the good father, made Washburn smile. He really had liked that Healing Priest. He hoped he found what he had sought for in Rhemuth and that the man could return to his home untarnished by the events Washburn had submitted him to. “May blessings go wherever you go, good father,” Wash said under his breath. When Feyd looked up from his writing, Wash shook himself and went back to his scroll.

He could not practice what he read, he wished that he could but he remembered all that he had done to learn to Heal. He read on. Healing wounds was the simplest tasks explained first. It was bringing the normal process of the body’s repair to  do in moments was would normally take much time. The techniques described were interesting and Wash read this several times.  Next was setting bones. This was more complicated. It took knowing what the proper bone alignment should be before beginning. If a question arose about what that alignment should be, the scroll recommended studying the opposite side of the body injured. Noting that it would be a mirrored image but it would show how to envision in the mind the broken bone whole. Wash had yet to try this. He stored the information in the back of his mind for the day that he could try it.

The afternoon moved on and Wash did not even notice that Feyd had moved from his writing and was again mixing a new recipe of herbs.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2018, 12:57:26 pm by Laurna »

Offline Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #498 on: July 15, 2018, 04:11:12 am »
A nosc kake arizicy--ome moc co re accenbceg ok cesceg xicwouc cwe bkesemves op a Nascek op Wealimq xwo was cwe arizicy winsez-- is cwe Weazimq arizicy op Boxek Rzovsimq. Cwe Rzovsimq op Gekymi Boxekf is  am immace arizicy poumg im a  snazz bekvemcaqe op  Weazeks. Ic is a ckaic cwac vam re basseg goxm pkon bakemc co vwizg. Rzovsing is rest zeakmeg pkon a Nascek Weazek; ome xwo vam imsckuvc, amg ip mevvessaky, ketekse ganaqe cwac cwe scugemc nay vause gukimq cwe zeakmimq bweas. Gue co cwe sekious vomseduemve op cwis arizicy, cwe sckivc Weazek’s Voge of Ecwivs swouzg re agwekeg co. Rzovsimq swouzg Metek re useg xicwouc suppiviemc vause! Cwe Sxicvwimq “OPP” op a Gekmi’s Boxeks is beknamemc amg vam omzy  re ketekseg ry usimq cwe sane arizicy co sxicvw cwe Gekymi  Boxeks ravs “OM”!...

Washburn had skipped down to the first sentences of the last two paragraphs on his scroll.  The misplaced lettering made him feel dizzy and he wanted to be sick all over again. What was this monk who wrote this on; some hallucinatory drug for sure. Not just a mere alcohol. The reminded the Lendour knight that he would welcome a cool ale about this time.

Not trusting anything other than the water skin that Feyd carried with him, Wash at least let himself have a good swallow of the water.  He rubbed his eyes and he looked around him. The afternoon was getting on. He had just spent more time studying one writing than he had ever spent in one sitting before. But it beat the alternatives. Learning this scroll was a thousands times better than being drugged unconscious or thinking on his doomed future. Tomorrow, he would wish that he had killed himself today, there was no denying that he was headed for Hell, in this world and the hereafter. He should have jumped off that wall. Why had he hesitated? That had been his one moment, likely his only moment to escape his future. Yet as bad as he knew his future was to be, the more he had hope that something would change. He did not believe he was worthy of a Miracle, yet he could not give up Hope. Just the word alone was enough.

“Hope!” he said loud, before he took another swallow of water. Not to upset his captor, Wash purposely cowed a little from the man's gaze and went back to studying his scroll.

Back to the middle of the scroll he read a very brief description of medicines. The scroll did not elaborate, as these were covered in other non-Deryni writings. But it did stress one medicine that could only be made by a Deryni Healer.

“Talicil is the mainstay of the Healer’s pharmacopeia. It is a fever reducer and it cleans bad humours in places of open wounds in the skin. If ingested in wine, it controls fevers of the body.”

A recipe followed: listing several ingredients. Then it explained that the mixture was to be flash boiled by the skill of a Deryni. The layering to be separated, the upper portion discarded and the lower thicker portion to be flash cooled to a paste before the two layers could mix back together again.  Washburn gathered up his courage. “Do you have these five herbs listed here?” he asked the scholar.

The scholar Feyd looked at the recipe. Since it was his scroll, he already knew what it said. “I do, but I don’t want to waste my energy making that. We don’t need it right now.”

“What if we do need it? If I can not heal and something happens, this ointment is the best defense for staying well. You said you wanted me well for tomorrow.”

“So what now? You are planning to attempt an escape, again; planning to hurt yourself and fail. Stupid! That is what that is.” Feyd glared at Wash with a flash of anger. “Of course I won't make the Talicil. So you had best not injure yourself in any way. Any wound in that dungeon will fester and rout. Better to stay healthy until you can take the Blue Fyre and escape? That is what you should be concentrating on, getting vengeance for your father’s murder and escaping with your life.”

Wash very much doubted that that opportunity would present itself. “Forgive me, beloved father,” he said under his breath and turned his back on his tormentor to continue his study of the scroll.

After the recipe, he started to notice the words began to be misspelled. He did his best to overlook the misspellings at first.  With each new paragraph the misslettering increased. 

“Calicil can be used boch copically and indjesced….”*

“Che ocher inporcamc Healing drugs are- sphagnun noss amd pemicia, a bluish powder chac is excracced fron nolds, amd Namdragora for sedaciom….”**

Washburn gave up on that paragraph, he had no experience with medicine. What good would that ever do him. He hoped the rest of the scroll explained more on how to Heal, how to find the proper balance. But all he read were more misspellings.

“Wamd placenemc is crucial to Wealing. ‘Cu es namus samacio nea--cwou are ny Wealing wamd upom chis world.’ Cwe placenemc of the wands closesc to che sice of Wealimg brimgs che balamce of good Wunours co che area meeded nosc...”***

Wash wanted to scream and throw the scroll away. What good did it do to study gibberish. In his frustration he felt light headed and dizzy.  He would have loved to ask for a slice of bread, but how could he dare it. Better to be sick than to be drugged. If it weren’t for the drugs he wouldn’t be sick, he corrected himself. He looked down at the scroll once more. An odd sensation of a hand covered his. Letters seemed to highlight on the sentence he was reading and change shape. Like in a dream he could read the words inscribed there.

“Hand placement is crucial to Healing. ‘Tu es manus sanatio mea--thou are my Healing hand upon this world.’ The placement of the hands closest to the site of Healing brings the balance of good Humours to the area needed most...”

Washburn read the whole paragraph on the using of hands in Healing and he was more than a little awed by the pair of hands that rested upon his own.

((*Does Wash recognize that all the letter "T" are misspelled as "C" in the second half of the scroll. This is disadvantage roll because he is drugged and one less pip than his usual 4,5,6 success, yet he is still intelligent and able to think well, so therefore success with a 5 or 6. Rolled = 4 - he would have figured it out if he had not been drugged - Verification Number: 4zd5kb260s, no luck))

((**Does Wash recognize that all the letter "M" and the letter "N" are swapped in the second half of the scroll. Same reasoning as above. Rolled 4 - again he would have figured this out if he had not been drugged- Verification Number: 2bnr5hr3bk, no luck))

((***Does Wash recognize that all the letter "H" is misspelled as the letter "W" in the second half of the scroll. Same reasoning as above. Honestly some misspelling has to trigger that there is a code. Fingers crossed. Rolled 5 Verification Number: tl753b9m20.  YES!  seen on the 3rd letter change in the second half of the scroll. ))

« Last Edit: August 04, 2018, 02:41:30 pm by Laurna »

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #499 on: July 15, 2018, 03:19:09 pm »
"What now, my Lord?"

Startled, Darcy Cameron looked  at  Robert O'Malley.  He realised that he had been staring blindly at the preparations being made for Prince Javan's departure.  They were standing at the base of the castle steps.  Darcy knew what he needed to do next; he simply didn't want to. 

"I need to speak to Lady Aliset," he said finally.  "There's no point in putting it off."

Robert nodded and they crossed the courtyard to the Queen's Tower, giving way as required to those intently focused on their pieces of the puzzle that would be turned into the formidable force of men marching off to Meara.

The guard gave them permission to enter the hall.  Robert spoke to a young page, who bowed respectively to Darcy and left to deliver the lord's request to speak to the lady.  Darcy tried to gather his thoughts into some sense of order and decide how best he could tell Aliset what the king's verdict had been.

She came too soon, accompanied by the page and an older woman.  Darcy and Robert bowed, and Aliset nodded her acknowledgment.  She was looking intently at Darcy, not understanding the guarded look on his face.  Darcy spotted a padded window seat not too far away.  He motioned toward it and stood until she seated herself.  Robert, the page and the older woman remained a discreet distance away.

"Please sit, Lord Darcy," Aliset said.  "Tell me what the king decided."

Darcy took a deep breath; he wanted to speak carefully, perhaps dispassionately, to make this easier for Aliset.  "The king has removed me from your service," he blurted out, unable to contain his own despair.  "He's sending me away to escort Father Columcil back to Saint Melangell's."

"No!" Aliset exclaimed.  "That's not fair."  She held out her hand, not caring if they were being watched. "Show me."

Darcy hesitated, wondering what he was allowed to share and what he was not.  But Aliset deserved to know at least something of the mission he was leaving on.  He placed the palm of his calloused hand on hers and rolled back his shields.

(No dice roll required; Darcy has gained experience in this basic skill by now.)

Aliset said nothing as the images rolled across their rapport.  At the end, she squeezed his hand and then withdrew from his mind.

Aliset's mind was filled with a whirl of emotions: despair that Darcy would not be at her side, anger that what had happened to her and Jaxom's part in it had caused this, and finally fear for Darcy's safety.  He was no where near trained enough in magic to face someone like Valerian, or even Washburn.  She shuddered.

"My Lady, don't despair," Darcy said quickly.  "Father Columcil  and I will be fine, and Saint Nicholas willing, we'll bring Sir Washburn safely home."

"I know you will do your best, Lord Darcy," Aliset said, "but you are not skilled enough in magic to counter whatever you may face.  When do you leave?"

"Tomorrow, probably as early as possible, though I have not spoken to Father Columcil yet.  I don't know if he has been informed."

"That doesn't give us much time," Aliset's face looked determined.

"My Lady?" Darcy asked, uncertain what she intended.

"I'll need at least several hours with you this afternoon."

Darcy looked alarmed.

Despite the situation, Aliset giggled.  "To give you as much training in magic as possible.  I'll concentrate on what is likely to help you the most.  And I'll probably need to adjust your training controls a bit."

Darcy looked doubtful.  "Will it be allowed?"

"I'll speak to Duchess Grania.  And it's not like we'll be left unsupervised."  Aliset thrust her chin in the direction of the older woman, Robert and the page.  They stood watching the pair on the window seat, maintaining discreet vigilance.

Activity at the entrance to the hall drew everyone's attention.  King Kelson entered;  Darcy and Aliset quickly stood to bow and curtsey as did the rest of the people in the hall.

Kelson spoke to one of several pages who suddenly appeared out of nowhere.  "Please ask the queen and Duchess Richenda to join Us on the steps.  Prince Javan is about to depart."

The pages scurried off to deliver the message.

"We should also go to watch," Aliset said to Darcy.  "It is a most impressive ceremony."
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 #500 on: July 15, 2018, 04:34:08 pm »
Columcil drew a deep breath and relaxed as he drew in the familiar aroma, the aroma which spoke to him of peace and simplicity. He supposed that he should have gone to the midday office in the Cathedral but there was always the possibility that the Archbishop would be there and he had no wish to attract his attention. In fact, in his present frame of mind he was not sure that he even wanted to be in the nearer presence of God, or at least not God as he seemed to be worshipped in Rhemuth. Give him the God of the fields and meadows, the God who had granted sanctuary to Saint Melangell as she fled from a forced marriage.

He had thought that he was bringing Aliset to sanctuary but those who had claimed the right of protection had all but allowed her to be abducted while of those who had truly sought to protect her, one had given his freedom and most like his life in her defence, while the other faced royal discipline for daring to protest the sullying of her good name. And the one whose pride and lust had opened the way for her would-be abductor was even now preparing to ride out in company with his Prince, flags proudly flying.

He was sorely tempted to rid himself of this fancy garb, dress himself in his old cassock, travel-stained as it was, and simply ride out though he supposed that, bound by obedience as he was, he really must seek audience with the Archbishop before he left. First, though, he had sought solace here with the pure in heart. Breathing deeply again he savoured the aroma of the hay scented air and buried his face deep in Spean's mane.

"Your father used to do this when he was angry or distressed. That's how I knew how to find you. You have his way with beasts."

Columcil had been aware of another human presence for some time, and who it was, but damning protocol he had chosen to ignore it.

"Your gentle lady here would not begrudge me just a little of your attention, I am sure."

As the voice continued Columcil realised that he was not going to be left alone, but blessed St Melangell!, he would not let down his guard this time. He raised his head and turned towards the Archbishop, who was dressed in the plainest of cassocks, and who appeared quite content to be standing alongside him in Spean's loosebox. Don't let him draw you in, he warned himself, and as formally as though they had been in the King's withdrawing room he sank to one knee and taking the episcopal hand, though Duncan had not extended it to him, kissed the ring.

"I crave your Grace's pardon. Your humble servant, my Lord."

"I would prefer to be greeted rather less formally as your grandfather, I doubt that these beasties will give us away. Please stand."

"As it pleases your Grace." Columcil stood but there was no lessening in his rigid demeanour and Duncan sighed. This was going to be even harder than he had thought.

"I think it is fairer to say that the manner of this conversation is as it pleases you. Give me leave a moment," this as Columcil made to protest, "I understand why you are angry, but please do us all the credit of understanding that the King has no choice but to discipline Darcy much though he would prefer not to."

"The King's grace mun do as he pleases." Still there was no unbending in Columcil's tone and Duncan could no longer contain his exasperation.

"Of course he can't. That's the whole point! Part of the reason why he is so angry with Darcy is that he wanted more than anything else to hit Jaxom too. If he could have acted as a man and not the King he would have thrashed the daylights out of him."

Speaking with difficulty, his brogue slipping back in, Columcil allowed. "I ken well enow tha' Jaxom wasna' ta blame fer tha' some evil yin had control o' him. But ta let him ride oot wi his Highness, his heid swellin' wi' the pride o' it, whiles Darcy, puir loyal Darcy, is na dout bein' hauled o'er the coals doesna sit well in ma gut."

"That is why I have come to speak to you." Duncan looked almost pleadingly at Columcil as he continued, "Can we go somewhere a little more private. There are things you need to know and although there is no-one here at the moment with all the activity around Prince Javan's departure we cannot count on that for much longer."

Columcil still bore his look of ice-cold respect but even as his mouth was opening to speak Duncan's pleading look turned back to exasperation and he snapped,

"If you say, 'As your Graces pleases' one more time, I swear I will punch you as hard as Darcy punched Jaxom. Merciful God, you are as bad as Alaric ever was for getting me riled up. Trying to sort all this out will take a miracle, the King is at his wits' end and you getting on your high horse is the last thing we need."

Spean stamped her front feet hard as though she knew that Columcil was in some sort of trouble and she didn't like it, and, as if in response Washburn's great stallion reared in his own box and neighed angrily.

Duncan smiled sheepishly, "Not my best ever phrasing in the circumstances. Now, please, can we go before your defenders really decide to teach me a lesson."

Columcil knew that it was his own anger that had unsettled the horses and things could only get worse before he was through with what he had to say. He did not want harm to come to either of them; Spean had carried him faithfully and he had come to have a great fondness, too, for Shadow Dancer. Irrational though it might be, he felt that allowing Washburn's beloved mount to injure himself would be a further betrayal of the young lord. Despite himself he could not help but admire his grandfather's courage in coming to speak to him like this, and his refusal to hide behind the authority of his office, What he had said about the lack of privacy was true enough. He still could not bring himself to acknowledge their relationship but he searched for a less provocative form of assent than he had previously used, acknowledging that he had deserved a far more severe reprimand for his mannner of speaking,

"I'd truly no' like that ta happen, m'lord. Och, I ask yer pardon for ma insolence ta ye. I just dinna ken wha' ta mek o' all this."

As Columcil made his apology, to his horror he found that he was on the edge of tears and bowed his head to hide his eyes, hoping that it would be taken for a gesture of submission, though he knew that Duncan was perceptive on too many levels for there to be any chance of that.

Duncan knew better than to offer any comfort but merely said,

"For a number of reasons I should like to take you to the Cathedral sacristy. We can be private there and there are things that I need to show you, as well as the explanation you deserve. I fear we shall all be in need of pardon before this is over. Shall we go?"

Columcil patted Spean one last time, extending calming thoughts to both her and Shadow, and followed Duncan out of the stables feeling that he had just sabobtaged his best chance of escape.

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 #501 on: July 21, 2018, 12:07:21 pm »
Cedric Archer had never traversed the Rathark Mountains south of Ratharkin.  The wide valley of Llyn Tywyson split the higher ranges off from the gentler slopes to the north that gradually lessened to the rolling hills of Meara.  The southern mountains were steep and heavily forested; there was little land suitable for farming, so most people had settled in the north. 

The small troop of knights and soldiers followed a road that had once been a narrow track.  Over time it had been widened to accommodate wagons. The occasional switchback along the road limited the size of a wagon that could be hauled, and a double team of horses would be out of the question.  It was maintained well enough to indicate to Archer that is was frequently used.  They rode single file so as not to crowd the horses.

Although the air was cooler than in the valley, there was a heaviness to it that told Archer there would be a storm before the day was through.  The light load on the pack horse made it likely they would reach their destination by the end of the day.  Or perhaps some other accommodation.  The forest was thick enough that it was hard to judge the position of the sun in the sky, but Archer thought it must be late in the afternoon.

A flash in the sky above was followed shortly by a loud clap of thunder.  The noise startled the horse of one of the soldiers ahead.  It skittered sideways but was quickly brought under control.  Archer’s mount remained placid.  There was another clap of thunder and then the downpour began.  The column paused so the men could extract cloaks from their packs.  Archer threw the shabby cloak he had packed over shoulders that were already close to being soaked. 

As they continued forward, the road became muddy.  There was an advantage to being at the front of the line rather than the rear; Archer and his horse were now splattered with mud to add to their discomfort.  Little rivulets of water flowed down the road, gradually becoming larger as the rain continued.

The riderless horse in front of Archer slipped and almost went down, pulling its wet lead free from the soldier who had been holding it.  Confused and frightened, the horse backed into Archer’s mount along the upward slope to Archer’s left.  There was just enough room for Archer to move his horse along side, grab the loose lead and urge the horse forward beside his own mount.  The soldier ahead reached back and grabbed the lead as Archer held it forward.  With a nod of his head the soldier moved forward with the horse following, calmer now that control had been re-established.

Archer breathed deeply and moved his horse back toward the centre of the road.  The rain was lessening, and as he looked to his right, he could now see the steep drop just beyond the edge of the road.  He said a fervent prayer of thanks under his breath and crossed himself.

An hour later, the trees began to thin.  They rounded the final switchback, and before them loomed the fortress.  Archer stared; it looked impregnable.  At the cleared summit of the mountain, two concentric walls protected the inner castle, the cleared ground between them a death trap for attacking soldiers.  Along the inner, crenelated wall stood several watchtowers.  Even higher above rose the central castle keep.  The entire valley below would be visible from there. 

Sir Iain Cameron was impressed.  He also realized that getting into the fortress would be easier than getting back out.
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 #502 on: July 21, 2018, 04:35:03 pm »
Neither Duncan nor Columcil spoke to each other as they made their way through the crowded baileys towards the Cathedral. Even in the midst of the worry and bustle way was instantly made for Duncan and folk would bend the knee as he passed or, if they were laden to a degree that made that impossible, bow their heads in respect. Despite himself Columcil could not help but be impressed by his sense that this respect was as much for the man as his office and even more so by how many, even the humblest, Duncan would greet by name.

They were nearing the side door of the Cathedral when a squire in crimson Haldane livery stepped in front of them,  deliberately impeding their passage. He bowed his head politely to Columcil,  but his attention was all on the Archbishop. He genuflected, bowing his head humbly before rising to stand to attention and rapidly delivering a message obviously learnt by rote.

"Your Grace's pardon, but his Royal Highness begs that you will do him the honour of blessing his departure. He is all but ready to ride out." He was far too well trained to say or even allow himself to think, "So your Grace will need to get properly attired!" but the unspoken implication hung in the air.

Duncan responded with unperturbed courtesy,

"Please tell his Highness the honour is mine and I will attend him as soon as may be." but after the squire had bowed again, withdrawn a few paces and then turned to hurry away, Duncan allowed a note of frustration to enter his voice.

"I hoped that we would have more time! And I hoped even more to never to do this again."

His voice trailed off as though with remembered pain, then he seemed to gather his thoughts and said with a dry twist to his voice,

"I take it that you would prefer not to accompany me in the circumstances."

Columcil found it impossible to tell whether his grandfather would have liked him to be present but he could not pretend to anything but gratitude to be spared the sight of Jaxom preening himself in Prince Javan's company.

"Aye, I would that. And thank ye,  yer Grace."

Duncan could sense that Columcil was still prickly but at least this time he had not used the honorific like a weapon.

"I must go and robe, perhaps you would do me the honour of assisting me? This should only take a short while once I am vested, but however long I am gone, I beg of you to remain in the sacristy for my return and not take the chance to make good your escape."

Columcil could still feel the anger within him waiting to spill out, not least because his grandfather seemed to be able to read him so well, but he could not but realise that he was being treated with gentleness and courtesy by one who could simply have commanded his obedience so he nodded his acquiescence, and bent again to brush the Archbishop's  ring with his lips in token of his will to obey before following Duncan into the Cathedral.

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 #503 on: July 22, 2018, 12:29:11 pm »
Lord Jaxom Trillick stood beside his mount and took in all the glory of the pageantry surrounding the departure to Meara.  Clad for the initial march in a quilted jazerant edged in the Trillick colours over deerskin trews, Jaxom looked the picture of young knighthood readying for battle.  And he knew it.

He watched as Prince Javan approached Archbishop McLain, one of his barons beside him holding the new battle standard.  The Haldane lion was displayed proudly next to the hoist, the colours of the prince’s duchy displayed on the tails that flapped in the wind.   The Archbishop spoke the traditional words of blessing and triumph; King Kelson then stepped forward, laying his own consecrated hands on the standard, his words ringing true and stirring the troops to beat arms against shields in acknowledgment.

Now Jaxom mounted with the rest, whirling their mounts to parade before the noble spectators standing on the steps and the rest of those thronged in the courtyard.  Many of the ladies waved to the men as they rode past; several of the knights moved their horses out of line to accept a special token from a favoured lady before falling back in line.  Jaxom scanned the ladies looking for one in particular; surely Lady Aliset had a token for him to hold close to his heart.

He saw her standing not too far from the royal ladies.  He was about to start forward when the sun glinted off a bright head of fair hair.  Darcy!  The sorry excuse for a nobleman stood slightly in front of Lady Aliset, balled fists on his hips, looking in Jaxom’s direction.  The nerve of the man!  In truth, he was nothing but a common sailor!  Darcy turned his head to one side and appeared to be saying something to her.  Aliset shook her head, and Darcy remained steadfast, his face set and determined.

Jaxom kept his mount in line, merely raising a hand in farewell in Aliset’s direction.  He would prove himself the better man in the days to come.  Darcy was left behind, snivelling like a puppy at the lady’s heels. He, Jaxom, would prove his worth.  He would earn the respect of the prince, maybe even earn the right for Trilshire to become an earldom!  Then Aliset would be begging for his favour, and Darcy Cameron could slink back to the sea.

Jaxom straightened even more in his saddle, confident in his rightful destiny.
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 #504 on: July 22, 2018, 03:42:07 pm »
Kelric Duke of Corwyn had watchers on the gate of Ratherkin which was five miles from where they camped.  These scouts sent word last evening when a party of nobility entered Ratherkin. Trouble was, there was little Duke Kelric could do to intervene. He had not enough men and only a few siege engines. Ratherkin was a heavily defensible walled city. Earl Duncan Michael sent in a man who was willing and quiet capable to enter the city under guise as a Mearan trader. His orders were to gather information, and if the possibility lent itself, to target the man who lead the rebellion. Frustratingly, their spy had not made his second Rapport.  His plight was unknown. The first rapport had the spy in the town awaiting the view of the Mearan Pretender, but what followed, no one knew. If the man survived, of which there were doubts, he was unconscious or in a warded cell. Neither Duncan Michael nor Kelric could touch his mind.

The brigade of men from Truill and from Culdi marched in under Baron Jass’s banner that same evening. They increased the Gwynedd arms to a substantial number. With a larger number of siege engines, the plans to retake Ratherkin could be solidified. However, at midnight a halt to preparing those siege engines was called. The King’s Rapport to Kelric came through with little good news. The city of Laas was a likely next target, Prince Rory Haldane, Duke of Ratharkin was holding the city with too few men.  The siege of Ratherkin would have to wait until Laas was rescued from the same fate which Prince Rory’s home had suffered. Understanding the need, yet frustrated, Kelric agreed to march west to Laas. Only then did the King of Gwynedd add the personal news about the attack on Lady Aliset and Sir Washburn’s abduction. King Kelson forced a promise from his Duke of Corwyn that he would do nothing that he might later regret.  Hours passed seeing Kelric pace the war pavilion in anger; he wanted action so fiercely that most were afraid to approach him, and those who did only got the brunt of his anger.

Come the dawn, as much as Kelric desired to, no action against Ratherkin was taken. Soldiers sat moodily in their tents sharpening weapons that were already sharp. Duke Kelric, Earl Duncan Michael, Baron Jass and Baron Sieur II de Vali plotted the most expedient method to move the army to Laas and then they awaited further instruction from their king. Kelric found minimal rest in his long wait on his cot in his secluded corner of the war pavilion. Duncan Michael only came forth to assist in the energy drain when they were certain the King’s Rapport was coming through. The orders they received were the ones expected, but not the orders they had hoped for. They were to abandon Ratherkin and march to Laas. There was news from Cassan. Men there had encountered a fleet of ships heading west. By the daring venture of their fleet general, Cassan had burned a large number of the Talon ships. Nevertheless, more than half had escaped and were again sailing westward. Their destination could only be Laas. Kelson reiterated his command to leave Ratherkin. The threat to Lass was a threat that had be stopped on all accounts.

Other news even less welcome than the first came from Kelson concerning Sir Washburn Morgan. Duncan Michael frowned at Kelric as he followed the information passed down from the king. The Duke of Corwyn appeared stony silent as he took in the  further lack of developments to find and free his brother. The Earl of Kierney felt the information fall behind Kelric’s tight shields, there was no knowing what the duke was thinking and this worried the earl.  Both men continued the Rapport with their king as he explained how the Earl of Marley had gotten involved and that he would be traveling in the midst of His Royal Highness Prince Javan’s army and that his purpose was to discover the man who had captured Washburn. Not to actually rescue Wash until some unknown event had happened first.  This upset Kelric to the point that if it had not been for Duncan Michael holding open their Rapport, the king’s last words would have been lost. “Kelric, your my champion, I need you at Laas. Trust Brendan to do what needs to be done. Alaric raised you both to be among the best men Gwynedd offers. I have trust that between you two brothers, your family matter will be resolved. Know that others also offer their assistance. You can count on the two brothers of the Isles, Iain and Darcy Camaron, they will do their part.  Also with Darcy Camaron will be the the priest of Transha origin. Kelric, you know him well. I will trust that you will properly introduce him to you, Duncan Michael. If your acquaintance is made, then Duncan Michael, I have hopes you will like the man. You men of Trensha have a kinship that few others share, I for one was glad to have been accepted in my youth as one of you.

"Now is time for the next generation to show their prowess, I am counting on you all. May the heir of Gwynedd's king and the heir of Cassan join with the son of the legendary Duke of Corwyn. The strength of you three will guide the path and lead to the quelling of Meara’s rebellion.”

Thus was the effort to retake Ratherkin abandoned. And all was prepared to march west. It wasn’t the march that worried Duncan Michael, it was the brooding of the Duke of Corwyn as the war pavilion was pulled down. A word said to the duke’s squire was all the Earl of Kierney had time for. Therefore, squire Sieur III was watching his liege lord closely as he held the bridle of Rexxar. The eyes under the duke's helm were as stormy as the young Sieur had ever seen them. He feared Kelric would charge straight into Ratherkin himself. It would not happen, he was certain of it, but the young squire knew this thought was not far from the duke’s mind. So far, the young man felt the earl’s warning a disloyalty to the man he gave all his honor and respect too. He wouldn’t want to betray the duke by spying on him even for the earl. Yet the duke’s safety was foremost on his own mind. That moment to test his integrity came just after Kelric had given his last orders and had mounted his blood-sorrel drestrier. 

Most of the army was already on the march, when word came from the gate watchers that the same party of nobility were seen leaving Ratherkin. This time the Duke of Corwyn did not hesitate. He appointed four men to follow him and he spurred down the valley toward the distant walled town. Fear filled the young squire. He had not been appointed among the men to join his liege lord. Worried, he raced up the line of marching men, found his own father and told him of the Duke’s anger and action. Baron Sieur II cursed loudly. Pulling half of his Cowryn men out of the lines, they turned their horses on the hunches, and bolted after their duke.

It was five miles before Baron Sieur caught up with Kelric and his chosen few, and that was only because Kelric had stopped just at the edge of the clearing before the gates of Ratherkin.

“My lord, come back please, you are nearly in bow range,” Sieur called forth.

“Well, I am not, their arrows have fallen twenty yards shy.” Kelric said in disgust pointing to a gathering of arrows that stood up from the dirt ahead of him.

“Good Lord! My liege that is too close!” Sieur said purposely moving his horse between the walls of Ratherkin and his good duke.

That action woke Kelric up to the danger. Only then did he order his men back into the cover of the tree line.

“Guy Talon, you are my tracker, find me which way that large party went; that would have been but an hour ago?” Kelric ordered, with determination sparking in his silver eyes.

“Yes, my lord,” said the smallest man in their group. He urged his horse through the treeline, until he came abreast of the east road further away from where the road had branched from the road they were on in the clearing before the Ratherkin walls. This road followed the Llyn Tywyson River. In but a few minutes, in the distance, Kelric heard Guy Talon’s wolf howl. The hunt was on.

It was Baron Sieur’s suggestion to appear to retreat from the watchers on the wall, before the small group of riders turned east  to travel through the forest to come up upon the east road at a bend that could no longer be seen by those watching on the walls. It wouldn’t bode well if they the hunters were in turn hunted by the the guards of Ratherkin. So far they had not heard the gates open and that was good. Once upon this open road, with Guy Talon in front, it was not hard to follow the hoof prints of those who had gone before them. “They are more than a dozen horses, my lord.”

“There are more than a dozen of us,” was Duke Kelric’s reply.

They rode hard, hoping to over take the party of nobility that had women among them. They should have been able to overtake that party at some point. But their quarry did not seem to have taken any time to rest the horses or the lady riders. The Corwyn men took no respite either. They rode on until they came upon the place where the Tharkane River flowed into Llyn Tywyson.  Here Guy Talon lead them a short distance until they came to a rutted path that lead to an old gatehouse and an abandoned ferry crossing.

Guy Talon was off is horse looking at all the footprints in the damp ground. “They stopped here,” he yelled over his shoulder to the duke. “They mulled around for some time. See these boot prints mixed with these soft soled prints, they head over to that shed and they do not return. However these here boot prints do return and all the horses are lead off to the water's edge to cross. Several hoof prints are lighter, these horses would be riderless, then.”

“How long ago?” Kelric yelled out.

“Less than an hour, my lord.”

“Too long,” baron Sieur heard Kelric mumble.

The duke sided his drestrier up next to the shed.

“It will be trapped,” the baron warned.

“Aye, it will!” Kelric agreed as he kicked in the door with his booted foot. The shed was small, recently re-thatched. The interior dark, but for the light from the door which exposed a clean stone floor.

Even as they looked at the stone, a shadow darkened the floor as clouds moved quickly in over head. Their warning was the feel of the hairs at the back of their necks bristling at the surge of power building in the sky above.  It was warning enough for Baron Sieur to grab Rexxar’s reigns and pull his Liege lord away.

((12:30 Laurna Rolling for Valarian to do his weather working and to strike the shed with lightning, Per Bynw this is a 3d6 roll, success on a 5 or 6.
12:30 Laurna !roll 3d6
12:30 derynibot 3, 6, 2 == 11))

A flash of lightning streaked through the sky. It seared the thatched roof of the shed with a soul wrenching “Crack”. The sound was so close, everyone swore they heard it before the light blinded them.

((Kelric save test. 2d6 save test saved from the lightning with a 5 or 6. Rolled 6 + 6 = 12. Verification Number: 4h8tpfk44k Yes, good job Kelric!))

Kelric felt deaf and blind for the moments after, only his hard control over his mount kept Rexxar from bolting and kept him alert in the saddle. His shields had flared to their maximum defense and he swore that was all that saved him and his drestrier. He blinked several times to see Baron Sieur still astride as well, although the baron was hunkered down on his horse’s neck placating the beast who whinnied and wanted to rear. Sieur’s human touch which boarded on second sight seemed to keep the drestrier under control.

((Baron Sieur's save test. 2d6 save test saved from the lightning with a 5 or 6.results= 5 + 3 = 8. Verification Number: 5qjgtmcnbh))

Not so for all the other riders who had been yards further away. Many horses reared and many more kicked as their riders fought to calm them down.  Kelric turned from them to the smell of smoke. The shed roof was ablaze; the stone floor as seen through the smoke coming out of the door was shattered and uplifted. If there had been a Portal there, it was no more.

The sky above began to bristle with energy.

“To the trees!” Kelric commanded. All at once it was a mass charge for the 15 riders to push their steeds into the underbrush of the treeline.

((12:57 Laurna Ok rolling for second lightning strike. Does it hit any of the 15 riders. 3d6 roll of 5 or 6 yes.
12:58 Laurna !roll 3d6
12:58 derynibot 1, 2, 2 == 5
12:58 Laurna hahahahah yes love it!
12:58 DesertRose :) ))

The zigzag streak of a white bolted lightning struck the tips of the tree over their heads. Flame burst from the tree top limbs easily catching fire in the dryness of the summer heat.

Defeated, but alive, Kelric pulled his horse up, making certain that all his men got away. There was no defense for continuing on the trail toward wherever his enemy had gone. He marked the location in his mind. He recalled his king’s words to do nothing that he would later regret. The following down pour of rain following the lightning strikes had the effect of calming some of the duke's anger. The Duke of Corwyn whispered a prayer and a plea to Saint Camber to watch over his brother, wherever he was. Then he spurred his horse north to reach his men and then for all of them to return to the army lines marching toward Laas.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2018, 08:45:13 am by Laurna »

Offline revanne

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #505 on: July 26, 2018, 07:51:14 am »
It took all Duncan’s years of training and experience as priest and Deryni not to give way to his emotions as he blessed the departing troops and even more as he saw Kelson’s hand on the royal standard. The memories were there, beating against the inner walls of his shields, ready to burst through given the slightest chance. Alaric bowing his head to his blessing; the realisation that he and Dhugal had ridden into a trap; the wall of fiery illusion which he had conjured to give Dhugal his chance of escape, knowing that that most likely sealed his own fate; worst of all. the terror of being chained to the stake and feeling the flames licking at his scorched flesh, seeing Dhugal, and the rescue he brought, appearing too late over the horizon. He deliberately made his eyes opaque, not meeting the glance of any. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of Aliset standing slightly behind Darcy, his stance, whether he realised it or not, still that of her protector. He hardly knew whether he should be comforted by that or fear what it might mean for the future.

Despite the solemnity of the occasion there was something of a carnival atmosphere as the young noblemen ostentatiously curbed and wheeled their horses, and the ladies waved and gave their tokens. Duncan’s heart ached for these youngsters who could not imagine what warfare was like, still less what they would meet in Meara. After years of peace they were eager to prove their manhood, and most, even perhaps Prince Javan, would struggle to see this as more than a more dangerous and therefore more glorious tourney. God assoil them! They would learn better and he could only pray that it would not be at too great a cost.

Finally Javan slipped smoothly from his saddle and came to kneel at his father’s feet, laying his forehead against the royal hands before lifting the right hand one to his lips. For a long moment Kelson stood motionless, then he lifted Javan up, almost as he would have done when he was a child, and the two men embraced. Then Javan broke away, mounted his destrier as easily as he had dismounted, wheeled and led his troops off at a canter. Perhaps as a release from such an emotionally charged moment, as they left, a wild cheering broke out.

Duncan knew that he should stay and offer comfort to Kelson, who almost alone amongst those gathered understood the cost of warfare, but he could not. Brusquely he gestured to his acolytes to lead the way, and somberly he followed them back towards the Cathedral. He longed to be able to sink on his knees before the altar but first he had Columcil to deal with. He could only hope that his fiery grandson had done as ordered - though in truth it had been more of an entreaty than an instruction - and spent the intervening time in prayer rather than feeding his anger. Entering the sacristy, he found that Columcil was indeed on his knees, head bowed as in prayer, but he was too tightly shielded for Duncan to tell what was really going on. Mustering his patience, Duncan waited silently while the acolytes reverently laid their burdens in their due places, prayer book, aspergillum and holy water, but when they would have helped him disrobe he thanked and dismissed them.

“I shall have to prevail on you again to assist me, if you would be so good.”

At the sound of Duncan’s voice, Columcil got immediately to his feet and did as he had been bid. A sign of ready obedience or of a shallow meditation? Again, Duncan could not tell, but once he was clothed again in his plain cassock and invited Columcil to sit with him the other complied readily enough.

Columcil had spent the hour or so of solitude in prayer although it had been one of those times when God resolutely declined to make his presence known. It had not helped that Columcil had no idea what he should be praying for for himself, and his prayers for his other three companions, fervent though they were, had the tendency to bring him back to his burning sense of injustice and helplessness. “Oh that the Lord might slay the wicked!” had been the heart-sick cry of the faithful since the days of the Psalmist but it hardly lent itself to peaceful meditation. He was as angry and frustrated as he had been in the stable and he feared that whatever was said to him he was going to be hard pressed to contain his emotions. In honesty he was forced to admit that, both as his ecclesiastical superior and his grandfather, Archbishop Duncan had been remarkably tolerant of his rudeness but he was nevertheless taken aback when the latter’s first words to him were:

“What I am going to require of you may seem strange but I am going to ask you, on the obedience you owe to your Archbishop, that you do not hold back the emotions that you feel in response to what I am about to tell you.” As Columcil hesitated, not knowing how to reply, Duncan added with a smile,

“And this time you may say, ‘As your Grace pleases’, without fear of an inappropriate response from your Archbishop.”

Duncan’s voice was so warmly humorous that Columcil could not help but smile back although his real emotion was confusion. Was he really being invited to share what he was feeling, or, the thought struck him, had the strain of the last few days finally started to take their toll on what was after all an elderly man. He contented himself with saying neutrally, “If you say so, Your Grace,” and waited to see what it was that the Archbishop felt it so important that he be told.

“You are to return to St. Melangell’s, leaving here after Prime tomorrow morning.”

Columcil’s first reaction was incredulous joy at being granted, thus easily, what he had been longing for. It was not hard to obey his Archbishop’s instruction and allow his pleasure to flood his being, but although the joy was real it was not long before another emotion crept in, that of disappointment. Was he simply being sent home as of no further use as though his part in the events of the last weeks had been of no significance? He made no attempt to quell the disappointment, indeed it was just beginning to blossom into anger at such a peremptory dismissal when the Archbishop spoke again using the same flat tone which gave Columcil no clue as to what response, if any, was hoped for.

“Darcy has been dismissed from the Lady Aliset’s service, by personal command of His Majesty, and he is to escort you back to St. Melangell’s.”

Columcil’s anger was immediate and incandescent. This would break Darcy’s heart. Bad enough that he had been denied the privilege of serving under the Prince, but to be considered unworthy to remain in the service of the lady he would die to protect…. And for why? Because he, and he alone, had had the guts to defend her honour. God, there was no’ a decent yin among the pack o’them. And yon Archbishop sat there wi’ no care for him nor Darcy. Nae wonder his ma hadna wanted him ta ken who had sired him. For fear that he should be tainted wi’ shame, it had been, no’ her shame, but the shame o’ bein’ kin ta the nobility. Gi’e him the decent common folk and no’ these lords wi’ their lies and deceits. Damn waitin’ til the morn, he’d find Darcy and let the twae o’them be off the noo.

He made as if to get to his feet but felt a touch on his arm. Had there been any sense of restraint or command in that touch, he would have shaken it off but it was tentative, as though the owner of the hand was unsure of his right to touch him. Forcing back down his desire even so to lash out, for he was sure that archiepiscopal licence would not go that far, he turned towards the Archbishop and was startled to see a look of contrition in his eyes.

Duncan spoke quietly with that same sense of apology. Somewhere in the back of his mind Alaric held his head in his hands in despair muttering “always too clever by half!”, but if this would serve to protect his grandson, then so be it. He just hoped that said grandson would himself understand.

“Forgive me, I hope that in a moment you will understand why I have seemed to be playing with your feelings. I want you to keep those feelings in the forefront of your mind so that if anyone should challenge who you are and what you are doing, you can let him read the simple country priest glad to be free of the royal court and all it’s doings and torn between joy and anger. Though I doubt in truth whether you have ever been a just a simple country priest.” The last sentence was added almost as an afterthought.

Columcil sat and stared blankly at Duncan. The only coherent thought that he could get a hold of was embarrassment that his feelings had been so easy to read, but then he had made no effort to shield them. Otherwise he had absolutely no clue as to what the man was talking about and wondered which one of them it was who was losing his mind, or perhaps it was the both of them. For perhaps the first time he allowed himself to look straight into the other’s eyes, and read there both sanity and truth. The Archbishop made no attempt to evade his gaze, indeed he seemed to welcome it as though he were inviting him to test the truth of his words.

Duncan waited for Columcil to speak, but on the whole was relieved when he did not. He paused a moment longer then continued, picking his words with care.

“We have been far too complacent these last years and now we are paying the price of our presumption. There may be more than one spy amongst us and for all our sakes, most especially Washburn’s, the longer your and Darcy’s true mission can be kept a secret the better.”

Duncan waited again for Columcil to speak but still there was silence, although Columcil was watching him intently and Duncan kept his shields down allowing the other to Read the truth of what he was saying. Quite deliberately he made no attempt to Read Columcil. Though, as yet he had shared none of the details of this true mission, he had rather expected another outpouring of emotion like the first which had been of such intensity that only the densest of humans could have failed to pick up some of the overflow, but Columcil sat mute, clearly in thoughtful silence. Finally when Columcil spoke in was in a measured tone which had none of the surprise or protest that Duncan expected, and although it was phrased as a question it had the force of a statement

“I’m no’ to go back to St Melangell’s?”

 It appeared to Duncan that he had, once again, underestimated his grandson and it was his tone that held the surprise,

“You knew!”

“Dinna get me wrong, I was gey made up when I speired tha’ I would be on ma way hame. And aye, yer Grace will ha’ kenned that I’ve no been happy about some o’ the things that I’ve seen here - God forgi’e me for ma presumption ta critcise yersen an’ e’en himself the King. An’ if ye’d no come to find me this morn I’d half a mind to jump on Speans’ back and turn ma back on the lot o’ yous. But aye, I’m no surprised. When I went to yon shrine in Desse and made ma confession…” Columcil stopped mid sentence and looked shamefacedly at Duncan before continuing, “And mebbe Yer Grace would be good enow ta hear me again afore I leave here, though I’m thinkin’ I’ve nae right ta ask ye after ma insolence ta ye.”

Duncan put his hand again on Columcil’s arm and said softly, “I’m not sure that it isn’t the other way round, but it will be my honour to serve you as your priest. But, please, carry on with what you were saying.”

“Aye, at yon shrine, I kenned, I canna tell ye how or why, but I kenned that the Lord was tellin’ me that I’d no’ be goin’ back, that He’d ither work fer me ta do. Och, I’ve argued and greeted, aye, and told Him nay, but what use is a priest who says nay ta his Lord?” To his horror Columcil found that his eyes were filling with tears and he blurted out in a choked voice,

“But I’m sore grieved for the folk at St Melangell’s an’ I canna tell ye how much I’ll miss that holy wee lass herself.”

Duncan longed to take his grandson in his arms but knew that that would be to unleash the floodgates. Instead he spoke calmly, although inside he was uneasy about the confession that he must now make.

“She will be with you wherever you are. Saints are not bound by time and space as we are.” There was a strange tone in his voice as he said this which made Columcil look up but Duncan was already continuing, “I told you that it was I that needed to confess to you, and I can only beg you to forgive me for what I have done without asking your leave. You are perhaps right in some of what you think of Rhemuth,” Duncan sighed but gestured to the other to remain silent when he would have spoken, “but be that as it may, I have already acted to take care of St Melangell’s Parish. When Kelric Told the King of his meeting with you, I realised that something bigger than you could know had set your journey in motion else you would not have met up with your companions, and that at the very least it would be long before you returned. The priest who you left to take care of the sacraments is no doubt a fine man but I doubt that he is a healer.”

Duncan stopped for a moment and took hold of his pectoral cross, his lips moving in prayer. When he spoke again his voice was very much that of a man making his confession.

“I do not know, none of us can, how much of the healing that happened was due to your gifts as a healer and what was by the grace of St Melangell. In one sense it does not matter, since all healing comes from God. May she and He grant me pardon me for my presumption, but I feared that with you gone the healings might have ceased. I have already given permission for St Melangell’s to be recognised as a healing shrine and two healers, one a priest and another a sister who has trained with the Servants of St Camber, have been given the necessary Archbishop’s charter and charged with the care of the parish and shrine. Since they have been travelling by portal, they should be nearing their destination now, if they have not already arrived. And now, will you forgive me?”

To his own surprise what Columcil mainly felt was relief. Relief that his parish was being taken care of; relief that his own secret fear, that with his absence as a healer the healings would cease and St Melangell cease to be honoured, was not just arrogance on his part; relief that he had been wrong to assume that the Archbishop merely regarded others as tools but he did have a real concern for the flock.

He rose and dropped to his knee before Duncan, repeating his action in the stable but without the offence of his earlier feigned humility. With genuine deference and gratitude he reached for the Archbishop’s amethyst and kissed it, then looking Duncan fully in the face he said,

“I am truly content for it to be as your Grace has pleased.”

Not wanting to prolong the emotion of the moment for both their sakes he rose and regained his seat and said in a determinedly matter of fact voice, shedding much of his brogue along with his emotion.

“But if I am not to return to St Melangell’s and therefore Darcy is not to accompany me there, then the rest of what you have to tell me mun concern what we’re to do?”

“Indeed. Will you consent to allow me to join in Rapport with you, it will be easier if I show you now, and it will be important for the future.”

Duncan held out his hands palm upwards for Columcil to place his over them. Somewhat to his surprise (though surely, he thought, he should have stopped being surprised by his grandson)  Columcil showed no hesitation, but once physical contact had been made rolled back his shields and invited the touch of his mind.

((Duncan establishes rapport with Columcil 5+6+2=13 77721snd0m))
« Last Edit: July 26, 2018, 12:06:02 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 #506 on: July 27, 2018, 01:53:21 am »
Having secured the Portal at the White Rose Boarding-house, Laird Seisyll Arilan and his son, Lord Jamyl, returned to the Riverside Portal cellar to finished their obligations to the king. With what remained of the morning, they put their Deryni skills to fully untrap the Portal. They were running out of time, so far the portal was only temporarily disarmed, that trap might snap back to the full force of a near- semi-lethal consequence if they were not successful.  The Portal then would be impossible to be used by any of them, other than by the very man who had set the trap in the first place and that man they meant to catch if he ever did try to come this way again.

((12:07 seisyll Seisyll attempting to untrap the riverside Portal , Ritual magic user need a roll of 11 or greater. Only get one try per person per day.
12:07 seisyll !roll 2d6
12:07 derynibot 3, 3 == 6
12:07 seisyll Nope
12:07 seisyll Jamyl will give it a try. Spell trained 2d6
12:08 seisyll !roll 2d6
12:08 derynibot 5, 5 == 10))

After much angst, neither Deryni lord had shown success at dealing with the Portal disarming. The irritation of it was driving Seisyll to an anger he did not like to show. Especially before his son. It was fortunate that Jamyl was as much his son and he was Seisyll’s brother’s nephew. Yes, to the father’s sometime lament, Jamyl showed the same ease and wit as Lord Sextus could display, although it was fortunate that unlike Sextus, Jamyl’s temperament was moderated with Seisyll’s honor and responsibility.

“Ack,! Da’d, I swear I nearly had it!” exclaimed the younger Arilin after his attempt and feeling the tingle of his failure with his fingers on the active stone. Sweat had glistened across the younger Arilan’s brow, even as he ruefully smiled at failure. Jamyl was in his prime, that being mid-thirties. Trouble with this kind of magic is that it did not require the strength or stamina that the young could put forth, but rather the balancing of energies by a practiced mind to get the levels just right, not unlike shifting a tool just right to pick a lock, a Deryni Lock. “Think maybe it is time I settled in to upping my Spell Training to a higher level,” the young man said with a mixed laugh and sigh as he sat back on the heels of his feet, his knees resting at the edge of the Portal stone.

“I think your tone is implying that it is time I too upped my training to the next level,” Seisyll agreed accepting that his efforts had failed too. “You are too right. We Arilan’s have become complacent in more ways than one.” The Laird of Tre-Arilan frowned.  “We have failed our king and our kingdom by not foreseeing this menace. This job was ours, we are led among many, Many who keep their eyes and ears open to discover this kind of trouble long before it becomes a hazard. The few hints of stirring in the far-east had seemed so minor. Now, I wonder how we missed the clues of Valarian’s deception and power gain. The events and rumors from the east all start to fit together. Too late to be of any value to Kelson.” The shame Laird Seisyll felt was open for his son to read.

A rumble of cheering from the streets above could be heard in the cellar. It shook both father and son out of their inward thoughts. They ascended the ladder and stairs and made their way out onto the street. The whole population of Rhemuth had turned out to see the parade of brightly clad knights of Gwynedd and scarlet clad Haldane Lancers who marched out of the city to put down the rebellion in Meara. Bright colored banners and flags waved over the crowds heads. Flowers were tossed onto the road as Prince Javan proudly led his men forward. The line of knights slowed as they came before the ferry docks. It would take several barges to get this many riders across the river. For in truth the ferries had been shifting soldiers over to the north river bank all the day before and all through the morning, now it was only the noble knights who would cross last.

Lord Jamyl felt a surge of guilt that he was not riding beside His Royal Highness Javan, his closest friend. His orders had been other. He was to stay behind and be prepared to take orders from the king to whatever Portal was necessary when it was required. So he knew he wouldn’t be staying behind for too long. But not riding out felt like a betrayal. And when he saw that shinny peacock of a knight of Trillick riding near his prince,it felt like this was the biggest betrayal, ever. That was Jamyl’s place, damn him! His father put his hand on his son’s shoulder, stilling the younger Arilan from any action. “Come, Lord Brendan is motioning us to meet him when they stop at the ferry docks.” Thus the two lords pushed their way through the throng of common folk to meet up with the Earl of Marley.

As Prince and knights began to board the barges, Lord Brendan Coris rode off to the side to await Laird Seisyll. Jamyl was surprised to see the Earl of Marley leading a black war stallion behind his own destrier. The stallion was geared in a knight’s black saddle and black bridle, yet no caparison or markings indicated who the stallion belonged to. Brendan passed the reins of the fine animal over to Seisyll who in turn handed them to Jamyl. The black steed nosed Jamyl’s hand as he calmed the great horse down with a pat. Damn, he knew this horse and his eyes went up to Brendan’s instantly in question.  Brendan was busy handing across to Seisyll a newly sheathed pearl handled dagger with rubies at the hilt. Jamyl recognized that weapon too. But why was Brendan handing across his youngest brother’s things? Surely he would be taking them with him, for when he found his brother. Jamyl was confused.

Brendan pulled the gauntlet off his hand and held his hand out for the two Arilan men. Both took his hand and instantly a shallow Rapport for passing orders was made. Per the king’s orders, it was easiest for me to get Shadow Dancer along with my brother's gear and weapons out of the castle without questions made. But these things are not for me to take to Meara. I damn wish that they were. But I understand the need and obey the king’s will in this. Brendan’s withheld anger tinged his mind speech. I ask that one of you follow me across the river and hold Sir Washburn’s things there, hold them safe until another comes who can take them into Meara. That other should be leaving in the morning, but if perchance they sneak out tonight, well than the ferryman has orders to detain the seaman Lord Darcy and the priest Father Columcil on the barge until you can present them with these items. This should bring the least attention to them as they leave the city. With God’s hand and good will, it is I who am to be the distraction before our enemy and it is they who will actually rescue my brother. “Pray that it happens,” he said aloud.

The Arilan men gave the Earl of Marley their good will. Seisyll turned to his son. “We have our orders. Settle Shadow into that barn at north dockside. You’re to stay there until the two men we need pass by. Contact me as soon as you have meet with them.” With a nod from Siesyll, Jamyl leaped into the black’s saddle. With understanding between him and his father, he received the Lendour dagger, slipped it in his belt and then with a prance from Shadow who seemed to sense something was afoot, Jamyl followed Lord Brendan to the ferry barge. They were the last to board the barge with the prince. Thankful to have a few moments with his good friend, Jamyl moved over beside Javan and gave him his undying loyalty and his good will. Then all too soon the barge was at the North shore and they were disembarking.

The crowd continued to cheer and throw flowers into the river as the last of the barges pulled off the dock and made its river crossing. Across on the far bank, five thousand men stood at attention prepared to march north.  At this point, Jamyl separated from the army and slipped into the permanent stables there to await the arrival of the two men who would become protector of Sir Washburn’s things.

Unsure of the king’s wisdom for leaving the fate of the young Morgan into the hands of these two unknowns, Seisyll made his way back to the Cellar. He needed to finish breaking that damn portal trap and then he had to retrap it. He would sit at portal side himself if necessary, until the portal signature that they knew Washburn had been taken to, became available and then he would use it.  And pray he would follow Sir Washburn in that way.

When he climbed down to the cellar, he was not too surprised to see Uncle Denis standing on the portal stone.

“No success, I see.” the bishop said with a grin. “Didn’t I tell you, you needed to get your Spell Mastery in order,” his uncle said.

“You are right as always.” Seisyll ducked his head, knowing he would not hear the end of this anytime soon. “Perhaps you can lend me a blessed hand in this disarming and then we can ward the whole room and make a trap of our own. Kelson wants to trap anyone who jumps here and make it so they can not escape.”

“I concur with that,” was the bishop’s response.

((12:09 seisyll Uncle  Denis Bishop of Dassa is Spell Master 3d6, need an 11 or greater to disarm the Portal trap
12:09 seisyll !roll 3d6
12:09 derynibot 5, 1, 5 == 11
12:09 seisyll Sigh just made it. good.))

And with that said, with intense concentration, the Spell Master succeeded in breaking the Scholar’s trap.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2018, 01:55:27 am by Laurna »

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #507 on: July 30, 2018, 02:42:22 pm »
Lady Aliset de Mariot watched as Lord Darcy strode across the courtyard in search of Father Columcil. The slight roll to his gait made her smile; she doubted he would ever lose it, no matter how long he stayed on dry land.
He had promised to return later in the afternoon.  At first, she wondered why he had hesitated; did he still have misgivings about the use of magic?  She would not fault him if he did.  While he had seen and experienced the good it could do, he had also seen the damage and pain it could cause.  Even death.

In a sudden flash of insight, despite how thoroughly he was shielding his thoughts from her, she had realized it was the thought of having to leave her a second time that caused his distress.  Poor Darcy!  She had put him through so much to get her here, and now he was off to face even graver danger. And through no fault of her own, she was responsible for at least some part of it.  It was her concern for his safely that finally convinced him to agree.

Watching him go tugged at Aliset's heart.  Was the dismay she felt at his leaving because she had begun to care deeply for him?  Or was it because he was the last of the people she could depend on to selflessly look after her, and now he would be gone too?  The thought of the king dismissing Darcy as her man-at-arms without any consultation angered her.  She was not the king's possession!  Or was she?  The thought that, in truth, she might have so little say in her own destiny chilled her.

"Lady Aliset?" a voice said behind her.  It was Duchess Grania, and Aliset realized the ladies were beginning to drift back towards the Queen's Tower. “We should return now.”  Aliset curtseyed and accompanied the duchess back toward the confines of the Queen’s Tower.
Though many of the ladies chattered back and forth as they returned, both Grania and Aliset remained silent.  Grania glanced sidelong at the young woman beside her several times; Aliset looked determined in some resolve, and Grania was concerned. Sadness at Lord Darcy’s imminent departure she could understand, but what was Aliset so determined to do?

“Aliset,” Grania said as they passed into the tower.  “Please come with me a moment.  I have something to give to you.” 

“Of course, your Grace,” Aliset responded, hiding her impatience.  She had preparations to make for later.

Duchess Grania guided Aliset to a small receiving room that opened into her private quarters.  She picked up a leather script from the table.  “Your brother Sir Alister left this at the Schola.  He had commissioned copies of several scrolls on healing that he intended to pick up next time he was in Rhemuth.”  Grania’s voice was gentle as she handed Aliset the script.

Aliset realized her hand was shaking slightly as he accepted the script from the duchess.  The top flap had the head of an eagle embossed on it.  Tears stung Aliset’s eyes, and she tried to blink them away.

“You may take it back to your room if you would like, to have some privacy.”

“Thank you, your Grace,” Aliset responded and then added in a rush of resolve, “I also need to prepare items for some training for Lord Darcy later today.”  At Grania’s startled look, she added, “In magic.”

“My dear, is that wise?”

“Your Grace, I assure you it is absolutely necessary. Lord Darcy knows so little about his powers.  At least let me show him basic skills that might aid him in his mission.  I can’t let him go so unprepared,” Aliset added firmly.

Duchess Grania bit back the reproach she might have spoken.  At least Aliset accepted that Darcy would be leaving; there could be little harm in a few hours spent, well supervised, in teaching him additional skills.  “Very well but take a little time for yourself first.  I will send Lady Analine in a short while.  She is Deryni and progressing well in her own training.  If there are items you need, she will help you secure them. She will also remain with you while you are working with Lord Darcy.”

“Thank you, your Grace!” Aliset gave a deep curtsey, relieved that she could proceed as she had hoped.  She retreated to the privacy of her room to examine the contents of her brother’s script and plan the afternoon’s lessons.
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 #508 on: August 01, 2018, 02:41:59 pm »
Lord Darcy Cameron rubbed his forehead with the heel of his hand.  “I think I have a headache.”

“Excellent!” Lady Aliset replied.

“What?” Darcy gave the lady sitting across the table from him a startled look.

“I can show you how to lessen pain.  Though I am sorry all of this has given you a headache,” she added contritely.

Darcy had arrived late for the training session Aliset had planned.  He had run into difficulty with one of the stewards who did not want to provide the amount of supplies Darcy thought he needed.  Darcy had worked with his Quartermaster too long to be swayed in his calculations.  In the end, Lord Seisyll Arilan, returning to the castle after some errand, had set matters straight.  Darcy was still a little prickly when he arrived at the Queen’s Tower with Robert.

Lady Analine had joined them a small room overlooking the garden.  She was a pleasant, young woman several years older than Aliset, and she had cheerfully helped Aliset gather the items she needed.  She and Robert sat on a bench near the window; Aliset and Darcy sat across from each other at a small table in the middle of the room.

At first, the training had gone well.  As with any new student to magic, Aliset had started out with creating handfire.  The gleeful look on Darcy’s face when the small, silver ball of handfire rose from his palm encouraged her to move on to the next lesson.

Unfortunately, igniting fire had not come as easily.  When Darcy finally succeeded in igniting the small log in the fireplace, the flame leaped upward with such intensity that it scorched the upper bricks.  Robert extinguished it immediately with the bucket of water Lady Analine had suggested they have ready.  Darcy had apologised profusely and Aliset had assured him that such things were expected to happen.

Will Darcy learn to lessen pain successfully?  (One dice at a disadvantage.)
Jerusha   !roll 1d6
13:02   derynibot   6 == 6

Aliset held out her hand, palm up, and Darcy placed his hand on top of it, easily slipping into rapport with her.  Aliset showed him how it was done and watched as he closed his pale blue eyes to concentrate.  She saw his body relax and felt the dull ache she had detected recede.  Darcy hand remained on hers, inviting another lesson.

“Very good, Lord Darcy,” Aliset said aloud, aware of the two that watched them from the bench.  “Next we’ll try fatigue banishing.”

“Aye, that might be helpful,” Darcy said. 

“But, it comes with a price,” she cautioned him.  At his puzzled look, she continued.  “Each time you do this, you will feel refreshed and alert.  But the effects are only temporary, and your body will demand time to recover.”  Aliset shared the memory of her collapse into Duke Kelric's arms after their arrival at Arc Fedei to illustrate her point.  “Now, think of a phrase, something simple, that will help trigger the process.  It’s also useful to use a discreet gesture to help you focus.”  She showed him how to do it across the link they continued to share.

Will Darcy be able to successfully banish fatigue?  (Again, one dice at disadvantage.)
Jerusha   !roll 1d6
13:02   derynibot   5 == 5

Darcy thought for a moment, then reached his free hand behind his neck as if to ease knotted muscles.   Aliset felt his alertness return.  She had not realized until now how tired he was.  She withdrew her hand.

“Now we’ll move on to something more difficult.  I’m going to show you how to open a lock with your mind.”  Aliset rose to retrieve a stout padlock from the supplies she had placed on a nearby chair.

“I’ve got a lock pick in my sea bag,” Darcy said hopefully.

Aliset shook her head and smiled, placing the lock on the table.  “You may never need it again.  Focus your mind on doing the same thing the key would do; move the lock pins in the right direction to allow the locking bar to free the shank.”

Will Darcy be able to unlock the lock with his mind? (One dice at a disadvantage)
Jerusha   !roll 1d6
13:02   derynibot   1 == 1

Darcy picked up the padlock, examined it for a moment and then placed it in the centre of the table.  He stared at it, his gaze growing more intense.  Aliset could tell, as the muscles in his jaw drew tighter, that it was not going well.  Finally, he reached out, picked up the padlock and shook it.  The pins fell out through the key hole, along with a spring.

“Bloody hell,” Darcy murmured. 

“Oh dear,” Aliset said.  “Maybe we should try a simpler lock for the first time.”  She stood and retrieved a small wooden box from the chair.  “This was my brother’s.  I opened the lock with my powers just a short while ago, since I don’t have the key.”  She moved the padlock and its pieces to one side and set the box on the table.

“My lady, are you sure you want me to try this again?  I don’t want to break your brother’s box!” 

“You will not break it, Lord Darcy,” Aliset said soothingly.  “Take a deep breath and then focus your powers on the lock.”

Will Darcy break Aliset’s brother’s Box? (One dice at a disadvantage)
Jerusha   !roll 1d6
13:03   derynibot   2 == 2
Failure.  Whew.

Darcy took a deep breath and focused on the small lock set in the front of the box.  In a few moments, he felt the locking mechanism free the lid.  With a smile, Aliset opened the box.

“Why couldn’t I do the other one?” Darcy mused.  He picked the padlock up and one more pin fell out.  He took a closer look and then drew his dagger from its sheath.  He used it to examine the area where the shank should have come free.

“My lady,” Darcy exclaimed.  “This lock is broken!”

Aliset looked down at the scattered pieces of the lock on the table.  “Yes, Lord Darcy, I believe it is.”

“No, no, I mean before all that.”  He held the lock out to her, pointing at the shank with his dagger.  “Look at how it is rusted together.  The key would not have opened it either.  And I am not a total….” Darcy stopped speaking, his face turning pink as he decided to say something else.  “I’m not totally incompetent,” he finished lamely.

Aliset noticed that Lady Analine was looking intently at her embroidery, and Robert was trying no to laugh. 

“Of course, you’re not incompetent.  I should have checked the lock first.”

“Is there more to be done, Lady Aliset?” Darcy asked.  He was torn between having enough of this and not wanting to leave.

“I have one more exercise I would like you to try.”  Aliset looked at him carefully.  “Are you willing?”

“Of course, my lady,” came Darcy’s quick response.  He returned his dagger to its sheath.

“This time we’ll try scrying.  This can be quite useful, especially when trying to find something or someone.”  Aliset placed a wide goblet on the table and filled it with red wine.  Darcy looked at the contents and then looked hopefully at Aliset.

Aliset chuckled.  “No, my lord, you may not have a sip first.”

Darcy grinned back.  “You can’t fault me for trying, my lady.” 

“For scrying,” Aliset began, “you focus on a surface, such as this wine, or an object, like a flame. But not like the last one you created.”  Darcy gave her a wry smile.  At least he hadn’t totally lost his sense of humour.  “It also helps if you have something that belonged to the person you seek.  A ring, or perhaps a ribbon of some sort.”

Darcy looked at the Heir’s Ring on his right index finger and removed it.  “A ring such as this?  It was worn by Iain, until he became Baron Isles.”

“Exactly, though we may be too distant from Sir Iain to find him in an initial attempt.  Don’t think of it as a failure if this doesn’t work,” she said firmly.

Darcy nodded, and Aliset explained how he should proceed.

Will Darcy find Sir Iain by scrying?  (One dice at a disadvantage.)
Jerusha   !roll 1d6
13:04   derynibot   3 == 3
Failure.  Drat

Darcy stared at the smooth surface of the wine, holding tightly to the Heir’s Ring.  For the briefest of moments, he thought he saw the inside walls of a castle, but the image faded almost at once.  “I almost had something, just for a moment….”

“Take a moment to relax and then try again.  As I said, distance is a factor in success.”  Aliset gave him an encouraging smile. 

Will Darcy succeed to find Iain in his second attempt?  (One dice at a disadvantage)
Jerusha   !roll 1d6
13:04   derynibot   1 == 1
Failure.  Sigh….

Darcy sat straighter on his chair, focused again on the surface of the wine and tried again.  Slowly the surface of the wine rippled, gradually building up to small waves.  When one splashed over the side of the goblet, Aliset called for Darcy to stop.

Darcy slumped back in his chair, admitting defeat.  “I suggest it is time to stop.  There are still a few more things I need to do before morning.”  His voice sounded glum.

“I think you are right,” Aliset said and then had another thought.  “I could still be of some help after you leave.”  Darcy gave her a quizzical look.  “We could place a psychic charge on your ring.  You will be able to focus on it and contact me more easily via rapport if you have questions on some of the things we have tried.”

Darcy looked interested.  “How do we proceed?” 

“It would help if I had something like your ring to charge.  I could focus on it at the same time to strengthen our rapport.  I’m afraid I have very little jewelry here with me.”  Aliset sighed thoughtfully.

Darcy hesitated and then reached inside his shirt, pulling out a small, tarnished silver ring on a brighter silver chain.  “Would this do? Iain gave it to me when he left for Rhemuth, so I wouldn’t forget that I was the heir.  I outgrew it not long after, but I have worn it on a chain ever since.”

“This will be perfect,” Aliset said, reaching out to examine it more closely.  “Are you sure you won’t mind being without it?”

“I’ll know it is safe with you, my lady,” Darcy said, his voice softer than normal.

Aliset blushed.  “Let’s see if we can make this work,” she said quickly.  “You can learn the technique at the same time.”

Will Darcy be able to charge the ring?  (One dice disadvantage, though maybe I could have used two since Aliset is assisting.)
Jerusha   !roll 1d6
13:05   derynibot   5 == 5
Success.  Yea!

Aliset touched the two rings together, entering rapport with Darcy and showing him how it was done.  A satisfying closeness resulted, and Aliset knew they had been successful.

Reluctantly, Darcy broke off the rapport.  Gently, he lifted the chain and rested it around Aliset’s neck. 

“I should take my leave, Lady Aliset,” he said gruffly.

“Lord Darcy, if I had known you would be leaving, I would have made a token for you to carry with you.”  Aliset sounded genuinely distressed.

“Do not fret, my lady.  All will be well.”

“God be with you,” Aliset said with a catch in her voice.

 “And with you, my lady.”  Darcy bowed deeply and reached forward gently to grasp her hand and carry it to his lips.  His kiss was firm and gentle; Aliset felt a delightful shiver creep up her arm and surround her shoulders.  She smiled at him.

“My Lady,” Darcy said as he straightened and committed her lovely smile to memory.  “Your smile is the only token I need to bring me safely back.” 

He turned to leave, and Aliset realized her training had not been enough. “Wait, Lord Darcy,” Aliset said suddenly.

“My Lady?” Darcy looked dismayed.

“I do not mean to detain you,” Aliset said hastily.  “But I forgot that there is something I wanted to send to Father Columcil. Alister commissioned copies of some scrolls on healing.  I meant to sort through them and give the ones that might be most useful to Father Columcil.  They’ll be of more use to him than to me.  Perhaps you could send Robert at the end of the day.  I’ll have selected the best ones by then, and he can bring them to you in the morning.”

“If it pleases you, Lady Aliset, I will send Robert to you this evening.”

“Thank you, Lord Darcy.” 

Darcy bowed once more and left with Robert at his side.
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 #509 on: August 03, 2018, 03:16:09 pm »
Breaking off a third splinter from a fallen charred roof beam that lay near at hand, Sir Washburn used the burned end to mark the letters “w/x” into the fine white linen of his under tunic sleeve. This added to the jumble of fifteen other similar markings that he had written up and down the sleeve fabric. He looked at them all briefly noting the first letters he had written were starting to smear. Fortunately he knew those letter-switches by heart.  To keep the other letters from smearing further, Wash pulled his long black silk sleeve over the linen. The afternoon was getting on, but at least he was making headway with the scroll.

((Washburn disadvantage roll to decipher the first parts of the code. He understands the code so success on 4,5,6. Rolled=4 Verification Number: 2c4vqgt904))

The paragraphs following his discovery of the scipher had been of interest. And thus he found he could switch the few letters he knew without difficulty. First he decided that the scroll was giving a brief summary of what the skills of a Healer were. He was sure there would be books of knowledge on each subject touched upon in this scroll. Right now, in his learning phase of what it meant to be a Healer, this was exactly what he needed. So why was it coded and scrambled? He had no idea. With nothing else to do on this hot afternoon, and not wanting to think beyond the moment, Washburn put all his effort into reading the long rolled parchment.

A few paragraphs discussed the meat of the body. As a Warrior, Wash was well aware of identifying and moving the individual muscle groups of torso and limbs. The scroll claimed a Deryni Healer had the ability to mentally tighten or relax each muscle or muscle-group if it became cramped or torn, this allowed the healer to pull or move muscles with their mind inorder to repair injuries. Hands resting closest the the area of damage allowed for the easiest manipulations. Using a Heated touch or an Icy touch often supported the healing process.

This made perfect sense to a man who had trained vigorously most his life to move with a warrior’s agility and speed. He knew all too well the means of reducing pain and easing muscle strains. He started to wonder it he had been using a form of his Healing powers all along. For often, he had crawled to his bed, sore and abused, rubbing with his hands the area of pain, then awaking in the morning feeling refreshed. When his training-masters would see him thus in the morning hours, they would accuse him a faking his pains the night before and then they would push him harder in the next lesson. He excelled when all other students of the warrior arts had succumbed to injuries and had retired to the Healer’s care. It was rare indeed if Wash ever went to a Healer. Only twice in his youth, when he had broken a bone.

Following the brief discussion on muscles, there was a useful treatise on controlling the flow of blood as it traveled through the vessels of the body. Small muscles surrounded the arteries that carried blood which was pumped out of the heart. These tiny muscles, like the stones surrounding an aqueduct, kept the flow strong and pulsatile all the way to the fingers and the toes. What was of interest is that a Healer had the ability to place his hands over these blood vessels and cause these tiny muscles to ease or too contract, which in turn increased or reduced the amount of blood flow to the area ‘downstream’. Bleeding from a wound could be control in this way. Internal bleeding could be discovered by monitoring where and how fast blood moved through the vessels. Another use involved the battle with bad humours that often invaded the body. Like sending in an army of warriors, a Healer could increase the blood flow to that area, there the blood would attack the bad humours, defeating them before they had a chance to invade further. That was a revelation. It went against the modern perceived notion that bloodletting removed bad humours. If he was reading the scroll correctly, bloodletting did the opposite of Healing, it reduced the body of it’s warriors and weakened its defenses.

(( Washburn, five paragraphs left to  read in the scroll, success on 4,5,6 rolled=1 Verification Number: 6xwbnfj2td))

Wash searched the last few paragraphs of the scroll and his eyes watered and his head throbbed. Whatever the scroll talked about next, it eluded him. He pulled up his sleeve and counted the letters. He had learned fifteen in all. “t/c  m/n  n/m  h/w  k/s  c/v  d/g q/d  g/q  l/z  v/t  x/h  b/r  j/l  w/x”.  He had discovered long back that the vowels had not been switched, so why was he having so much trouble with the last five consonants? They should have been easy. The lost letters were Z R P, F S

((10:23washburn Washburn deciphering the code in the scroll, per Evie now that he knows the code, success is on 4 ,5, or 6. Last five letters to be decoded.
10:24 washburn!roll 1d6 10:24 derynibot 3 == 3   Z failed
10:24 washburn!roll 1d6 10:24 derynibot 1 == 1   R failed
10:24 washburn!roll 1d6 10:24 derynibot 3 == 3   P failed
10:24 washburn!roll 1d6 10:24 derynibot 5 == 5   F/P success
10:24 washburn!roll 1d6 10:24 derynibot 3 == 3   S failed))

His troubles were that these letters were often duplicated with previously switched letters and just at a glance it was difficult to tell what was correct and what was switched. Easy if he had had ink and parchment to rewrite it as he read it. But doing it in his head was getting harder and harder.  His headache was no help. With a tentative rub of his fingers over his forehead, he discovered the reason for it. Shields were starting to flicker back into place. His most inner shields, at least, we're building strength. The drug’s effects were wearing thin.  How much longer would he keep this secret from his captor. Feyd had been keeping a wary eye on him all day. And though he could not tell if had been mind searched or not. He had the feeling that Feyd was sending out mental quarries about his condition. Purposely, Wash weakened his growing inner shields. If he could wait long enough before gaining Feyd’s attention, perhaps he could have all his shields snap up in place before the Scholar tried to command him to do something again. Then he would have a chance of resisting. And that is the chance he needed if he were to attempt another escape.

Trying not to bring attention to himself, he again reviewed the last five paragraphs of the scroll. Oddly, it was the second to last paragraph that had capitalized bolded words that caught his attention.   

Cwe Sxicvwimq “OPP” op a Gekmi’s Boxeks is beknamemc amg vam omzy  re ketekseg ry usimq cwe sane arizicy co sxicvw cwe Gekymi  Boxeks ravs “OM”

The words OPP and OM stuck out like they were lit by a candle. If OM was really ON then it seemed to follow that the word OPP was OFF.  Adding the letters F/P to his undersleeve, he tried to decipher that sentence. He had seen the words Gekmi’s Boxeks before; they meant Deryni Powers. The words Cwe Sxicvwimq OPP took him a moment  before he realized the S was not yet a switched letter,  that would be in the last paragraph.  So Sxicvwimq meant Switching.  Some how, the scroll was describing the Switching Off  and ON of Deryni Powers. This caught his full attention.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2018, 03:30:40 am by Laurna »


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