Author Topic: Ghosts of the Past  (Read 56436 times)

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Offline Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #570 on: September 29, 2018, 02:37:44 pm »

Lord Jaxom, heir of Trillek, proudly lead the Earl of Marley along with their combined force of men down a fork off the main Cuiltrien road which was a far less traveled path.  Three or four miles of rugged country passed by before they saw the broken tower of the ruins in the distance. They galloped the last way, watching for glimpses of the lake that filled this end of the valley and seeing the central island upon which once stood a grand cathedral and cloister for the House of Michaeline Knights. As they rode nearer, Brendan saw it really wasn’t an island. A verdant causeway connected the shattered ruins to the road. From their direction the causeway was  straight ahead and the road turned left just before the lake. In its time, there had been a great bridge to go over the expanse of water to the island. When the bridge was felled, sediment must have filled in around the stone and filled up with vegetation to bring about this swampy wilds that made a barely walkable passage to the roofless ruins.

Where the road turned, the Gwynedd soldiers slowed before four men who bravely approached them.  Two youths garnered the most attention, calling and pointing to the ruins. Behind the boys, two men who had been sitting off the road climbed to their feet, using each other for assistance. One was in a uniformed of a guard from a local town, his clothes were stained and torn. The second man in plain clothes limped forward, his calf splinted, his booted foot at an off angle. Jaxom showed his irritation as he shush the boys, for they were jabbering on incoherently about a father or uncle; Brendan figured it had to be the same man. The uniform guard was the one to succeed in quieting the boys. Jaxom address the guard asking what had happened here.

“T'is not but evil in these ruins. I say beware, my lords,” replied the guard who had introduced himself as Andrew. “Even so, we daren’t leave here, as there are men in there who need help. I have heard their voices periodically through the day, begging to be rescued from whatever hell they be caught in. I fear I am no use for doing the rescuing myself,” his gaze over his shoulder had a haunted look, his disability wasn’t from the abrasions up and down his legs. No his injury was more internal than physical. Brendan realized this as he could feel the man’s fear ten feet away. “Farmer Darius can vouch for the evilness there. He has an ankle swelled up tight in his boot, may like be broken. The boys are cousins, Raft and Todd. If they were but two years older, I’d have ordered them back to that evil place. I dared not, however, as Todd’s father is a respected man, he told them to get to the road and stay here. So I’m respecting his last wishes, if that is what they were.  Please, I’m baggin', can you go to the ruins and find the nine other men who went in there.”

As Jaxom got more details out the four, Brendan stood in his stirrups and scanned the tall stone walls of the ruins. He sensed a number of men scattered about the site. As he looked to the half fallen tower he felt a familiar presence within. So this was indeed the right place. Anxious to get to its center, Brendan mentally hailed Lord Sextus Arilan knowing he would answer. Took you long enough to arrive, the brash Arilan answered. I was hoping someone would come along and take care of the town’s folk stuck out here. We can’t get passed that hole in the tunnel roof, not without bringing more rubble down upon the men stuck in that tunnel. They refuse to come toward us and they refuse to go back.  Some horror that has them trapped in there. We dare not abandon the Portal long enough to make that rescue. Although, we did toss food and wine down the hole so they won’t be starving.  Perhaps you can get to them from the main ruins' floor.

We shall endeavor to try. Brendan responded noting the brush infested land bridge that had to be crossed even before getting to the ruins at the center of the lake. He briefly looked up at the sun. They had about three hours of light before it set behind the hills. Much to do in that time. Brendan waved for his men to dismount. He set six men to setting a camp on the road, to settle the horses for the night, and to care for the injured men. He then clapped his hand on Jaxom’s shoulder. “Feel up to leading the way?” he suggested with a gesture toward the causeway. Up until this moment, Jaxom had been so pleased to be leader. One look at the waist high brush and he back down. Brendan pretended he did not hear him. “Lead on and show us a good path through that swamp.”

Shaking his head in disbelief, Brendan watched Lord Jaxom maneuver three of his Tellik men out in front of him. One guardsman, who Brendan was beginning to respect over the others took the lead, finding the least offensive path for the young lord to not soil his quality clothes. The Earl of Marley snickered under his breath as he followed. Behind him, four guards came carrying supplies.

With no more than getting their boots wet, they reached the foot of the cliff-side, found the two ladders that scaled up to the ruins' entrance, and made the climb. Again the Earl of Marley let Lord Jaxom and his man go up first. He breasted the cliff top to stand firmly on the island before the old Cathedral side entrance to find Jaxom confronting two men who spoke in harried voices explaining what had happened.  These men were just as anxious about entering the ruins as Andrew had been on the road. “There be a nest of spiders in there!” one man was gesturing, he had a candlestick in his hand that he looked poised to smash some spider with; the candle had burnt down to a numb. ”Huge spiders!” the other man agreed. Both men pointed to the only opening in the ruins' wall, they shook their fists at it, and talked crazy about spiders the size of men. Brendan walked behind them to a third man leaning up against the wall. His face was black from bruises, both eyes near swollen shut. One leg was splint with a stick.

“What happened here,” Brendan asked the man.

“Captain Stev, at your service,” the guardsman introduced himself. “Never had so much bad luck in all my days!” he exclaimed. “T'is a fear ward over the entrance there.  Half my team could not get pasted it. Andrew went mad and gave me this shiner,” he added pointing to one of his swollen eyes. “Six men passed through and none of them have come out. I fear far worse than imagined spiders has captured them.  Last night there was yelling like a fight broke out. A few have answer my calls, but some have not. I ask you to find them.  Before it goes dark again and the evil returns.”

“Agreed Captain, that is what we are here for. I am Deryni, do you mind if I read your memories. It will help me identify your men.”

“Aye, you may, Lord Marley. It is said you are a leader of men, and a trusted vassal of the kingdom. I freely let you read whatever it is that can help you rescue my men and your brother. Though, I fear he whom we came here to rescue, is here no longer in this place.“

Brendan knelt next to the captain and placed his hand over the man's swollen eyes.  He read the memories of the teams creation to rescue the knight the boy Raft had seen standing on the tower wall. Then all that had transpired after. Brendan wasn’t a healer like his brothers, but he did know how to lessen pain, which he did for the captain. When he stood, he waved over two of his men. “See that these men are taken safely back to the road. Captain Stev, I will endeavor to find the rest of your team. On behalf of my brother, I thank you for your efforts.” Brendan would not say that those efforts likely moved his brother to a new location sooner than otherwise might have happened or that all this had been the catalyst to causing his mother so much pain.  Back in Cuiltrein, he had made contact with his mother, whom he knew was lying about her bolstered strength. He was hoping he could bring this split of his family back into quick oneness. Not an easy task with such a adversary in control.

At the ruins' entrance Brendan came shoulder to shoulder with Jaxom who looked a bit peaked about stepping across the rubble to enter. When Jaxom would have braved it, Brendan put his hand up and halted him. “Let me go first in this, if you don’t mind.”  Jaxom didn’t outwardly show it, but he his mind was an open book expressing his fear, and his relief at not lead the way. When Brendan approached the ward, he knew it for what it was. It gave off the slightest shimmer even in the sunlight. How to break it down. He considered the energy output and decided he needed to save his own for what else lay ahead. “Jaxom would you be willing to lend me a hand in a little play of magic. Nothing will hurt you, I promise.”

Jaxom shuddered but dared not back down, not before his men. Uneasily, he stepped closer to the Deryni lord. “I will help if I can.” he replied, his uncertainty was not too well hidden. Brendan momentarily touched the back of the man’s neck, gaining a touch of control and sealing a connection that would keep the young lord from retreating.

 (( Brendan to break the first fear ward in the ruins..
3:35 AM !roll 3d6
3:35 AM  <•derynibot> I'm back! 3, 4, 6 == 13
3:35 AM  <Brendan> Laurnarose I believe that will work ))

His right hand moved around in a circle, his palm flattening just a breadth before the shimmer of ward energy. A flash of a horde of spiders with beady eyes staring down at him from web covered stone walls filled his mind. Knowing it for what it was, Brendan ignored the creatures. In his connection with Jaxom, he realized he had not completely shuttered the human from the experience. If that had been on purpose, Brendan would never tell.

((Jaxom gets a save test from the spider ward.
10:25 AM !roll 2d6
10:25 AM  <•derynibot> I'm back! 5, 5 == 10))

To Brendan’s surprise the young lordling did not falter in his courage or pride. “Very good, let us take this thing down.”

Brendan’s hands searched for the controls of the ward. It wasn’t a strong ward. It was set with low energy draining off the land. It was meant to last for weeks, if not months at time, especially if bolstered once in a great while by a Deryni touch. Who knows how long it had already been here. Brendan spread his fingers wide, slowly bringing them into his palm, and then he tore the shimmer from the stone and pushed the energy back into the earth.  The ward was gone, perhaps not permanently but at least until someone came along to reset it. He released Jaxom and stepped forward into a large open space surrounded by four tall walls with sunlit grass across the floor and warm baked rocks scattered here and there. Brendan was quick to single out the haunted heart beats of three men down a side tunnel. They were unmoving and shivering in the dark.

You could have got these three out,  Brendan sent across to Sextus who had stayed in mild Rapport with the Earl.

Tried, the baron claimed. They wouldn’t come up out of the hole to join us. I think they thought we were more ghosts. Something is keeping them from going back, too. You will have to see what that is. Something like the ward you just released is my guessing. I hope they ate the food we sent them, otherwise they will be right hungry men. Like I said, they think we were banshees or worse. Sextus’s tone was not too forgiving of folk who didn’t accept help when it was given. Brendan sighed, he himself was more forgiving of men’s fears than most. Sextus had not caught the Earl’s discontent, as he continued his Rapport. I’m sending the three men I have here, down to you at the tunnel hole. They will have to shimmy back down through it. I don’t think a man of your stature would want to climb up it. The opening is narrow. Maybe you could blast the hole bigger, if you feel the need to get up here to the portal. No worries, I’m keeping the Portal well guarded.

I’ll see what I can do, Brendan replied. He did want to see first hand where his brother had been held, just in case his mother had missed some clue. Though he doubted that she had, not from what she had shared with him.

Brendan found the side tunnel and spotted the shimmer of the yellow glow from a ward halfway down the darkened tunnel. Just as the last ward, this one too was using mother-earth as it’s power source, recently augmented by the Deryni who had held his brother here. Three men stood beyond the ward, fearful to come near. They might not see the physical glow as a Deryni would, but they could feel that it was there.

((Brendan> Laurnarose Rolling to release second fear ward in the ruins.
1:22 PM !roll 3d6
1:22 PM <•derynibot> I'm back! 5, 6, 2 == 13))

Brendan again asked Jaxom to assist him in the energy drain to release the ward. Having success in the last ward had bolstered Jaxom’s pride. He would be unbearable after this success.  With one hand on Jaxom and one hand casting outward to the shimmering field, the earl grasped the ward energy and cast it back into the earth. As he did so he felt the unease of ghostly presence surrounding him in this darkened passageway. This time he had not bothered to protect the lordling next to him.

(( Second ward for Jaxom
11:14 AM !roll 2d6
11:14 AM <•derynibot> I'm back! 1, 4 == 5))

Jaxom gave a shudder and would have bolted if not for Brendan’s tightening controls. Brendan scolded himself for getting pleasure from the man’s unease. Shamed filled him, this was not a noble Deryni way of treating humans under his command. Brusquely he quelled Jaxom’s fear and rebuilt the man up with courage. Jaxom was certainly a man of posturing. The lordling brushed off the incident like it had never happened, and beckoned the three men to come out of the tunnel.

“Come out now, you three, come out into the light were it is safe.”  Brendan said nothing as he noticed Jaxom was the first of them to reach the safety back in the sunlight.

A man with a pitchfork was first to move out. Practically at a run, yelling “I’m Free, I’m free.” A young man came next guiding an older man who had a limp. “I’m Matt. Couldn’t leave John behind. But my friend is up there somewhere, I have not heard his voice all day.”  Matt pointed up the hole at the far end, up in the ceiling.

Brendan put a hand on the older man. “I take it you are John? Yes! Good to meet you. Your son and nephew are well, back at our camp on the road. Let Lord Jaxom get you back to them.”

“Thank you, my lord.” The older man said. “I’m sorry we could not do better for the knight we came to rescue.”

“Under the circumstances you did well enough.”

Before the men from above came too near to the hole, Brendan studied the opening. He decided if he broke off just one portion of the stone ceiling it would make the hole considerable larger.

((!roll 3d6 11:38 AM <•derynibot> I'm back! 2, 4, 6 == 12))

Brendan gave three tugs of his power, a skill that all three brothers had gained from their mother; to move objects with just the mind. A piece of  weathered stone came apart from the rest. With care Brendan let it fall the floor making an echoing “clunk!”, but not shattering apart as it might have without magic.

Soon enough a guard handed three wounded men down into the tunnel. One wiry fellow named Remy had a slight haze over his mind. Sextus’s attempt to blur the man’s compulsion to thwart the rescue attempt.  Brendan would have to teach Sextus how to do that right. But for now, Remy was harmless enough. Back at camp. Brendan would see the farmer's mind cleared correctly. He let his guards take the last of the three man out. He put a thankful hand on the shoulder of the guard Hamish. “I thank you for all your efforts,” he said it with sincerity.

Hamish looked up realizing who he was talking too. “I pray that your brother will be found and returned home soon. I wish we had done more.”

“Thanks to you, we know where he has been and we now know where he is currently imprisoned. I promise you that we will get him out.”

Brendan didn’t watch them go. Instead he quickly climbed the rubble to the enlarged ceiling hole and followed the guard up the rock debris field to come to the break in the tower wall and the Portal there where he hopped to learn more.

Offline Evie

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #571 on: October 01, 2018, 01:53:35 pm »
Aliset smoothed the creases out of her blue gown before folding it and packing it away in her rucksack. She had put on Robert’s form and clothing again. Part of her wished to remain in her own form, but there was no telling what they might encounter on the road ahead, and she did not wish to cause any undue distractions for Darcy. Hopefully retaining the squire’s appearance would serve as an unspoken reminder that she was quite capable of holding her own in a fight and need not be treated like some sheltered Court maiden likely to fall into a swoon at the first hint of danger and require rescue.

Thoughts of Darcy brought back thoughts of the previous night. She might not have set forth from Rhemuth intending to become a bride, but now that the unexpected had happened, she thought she could quickly warm up to the notion! A blush heated her cheeks as her lips softened into a dreamy smile, which she hid behind a curtain of her hair as she inspected the contacts of her sack more closely to ensure everything was packed away securely. Nothing seemed out of place, aside from the thin strip of leather which she’d set aside to bind her hair back with. Deftly braiding the loose strands back into a Border braid, she secured it with the leather lacing and stood, hefting the sack onto her back.

As she straightened, she heard the familiar sound of a horse’s hooves cantering up the road towards them. The horse and rider were still hidden from sight by a curve in the road and a low hill, but the misadventures of her recent journey to Rhemuth had left Aliset wary, and she stepped back, hiding herself behind one corner of the stone chapel’s wall, one hand going to her belt dagger hilt. She wished she had some longer range weapon on hand. She had her new throwing daggers, only recently purchased in Droghera, but she did not wish to risk losing either unless the need was desperate.

A glance down at the ground near her feet reminded her of another possible means of defence, and she stooped down, quickly gathering up a few stones roughly the size of hens’ eggs to put in her belt pouch. Rising, she loosened the narrow scarf she wore around her neck. She had intended to use it later in the day to help wipe the sweat from her brow during the midday summer heat and keep her vision clear, but it would also serve nicely as a makeshift sling. Later, she might make a proper one from a scrap of leather and some braided cord.  Aliset was no stranger to using a sling; many were the evenings her family had dined on coney stew at Caer Mariot after she’d used one to take down unwary prey venturing too deeply into her mother’s herb and vegetable garden. And stones were much easier to replace than throwing knives if one were to find oneself in need of a weapon while traveling between towns and villages.

The approaching rider came into sight, and Aliset breathed a sigh of relief, for he wore Haldane livery. Father Columcil stepped out of the chapel to greet him. After a few more moments of wary observation, just in case all was not as it seemed, Aliset moved forward to join them. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Darcy emerge from the woods and head in their direction.

“Lord Darcy,” the courier said and dismounted. He bowed as the young man approached.

Darcy had not yet donned his leather cap, and the morning sun glistened on his pale, fair hair.  Who he was likely to be was unfortunately obvious.  He glanced at Columcil, whose slight shrug indicated he had learned nothing yet from the courier.

“Good day to you,” said Darcy.  “What brings you this way?”

“His Majesty sent me to find you, my Lord.”  The courier reached into his saddlebag and pulled out a small leather pouch, similar to the one Darcy carried in the hidden pocket of his sea bag.  Darcy accepted the pouch and opened it to reveal a set of ward cubes.  He quickly closed it back up.

“Did His Majesty send any instructions with this?”

“Nothing more than you would know who could make the best use of the contents,” the courier replied.

“He sent no other news or news from any others?” Columcil asked.

The courier shook his head and then nodded to acknowledge Robert, who stood quietly beside Darcy.  “His instructions were to intercept you as fast as possible and give Lord Darcy the pouch. The items it contains were discovered in Lord Washburn’s last known location. The Dowager Duchess of Corwyn was unable to use them to locate her son’s current whereabouts, but His Majesty hopes that perhaps you might have greater success, since presumably you will be closer to him in Meara than in Rhemuth.”

The courier stayed only long enough to rest and water his horse, gratefully accepting Father Columcil’s blessing before heading back the way he had come.

Aliset glanced at her new husband with a thoughtful expression on her face once the courier was out of sight. “How very curious!  I wonder what that was all about?” Holding her palm up, she asked, “Might I have a look?”

Darcy handed her the bag. “You can keep them, if you like. I already have a set, and besides, I suspect you have a better idea of what ought to be done with them than I do.”

Aliset nodded as she studied the ward cubes, pulling one out and sensing its energies. “I had hoped maybe these had belonged to Lord Washburn and we might find him with them, but they don’t have the right feel. They may have belonged to his captor, though. I could try to use them to scry for him, but perhaps not here. Maybe tonight, when we’re somewhere less likely to be interrupted.”

“And once we’re warded,” Columcil added.

“Aye, we’d certainly want that also,” Aliset agreed, slipping the ward cube back into the pouch and tying it to her belt.
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Online Bynw

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #572 on: October 01, 2018, 02:28:37 pm »
It was the only day Feyd would get to relax for a bit. But truly this day had been full of work. With 2 contracts to fulfill he had been busy with various preparations.

After the early morning drafting of his letter, he had set it aside. To review or amend later if needed. Then he reached out to his agents in Ratharkin to have them report back on Lord Oswald and the fate of Lady Aliset. Likewise he had reached out to his agents in Rhemuth as well. Since the abduction attempt on Lady Aliset almost botched his own abduction of Washburn. He knew there was a chance that the King's men had prevented her escape through the Portal. That is why he went first after all. If caught, it would have cost the Moors life.

Feyd knew he would not hear back from his agents until the evening hours. Thus giving him time to work on other preparations and plans. His primary objective was to get his Ward Cubes back. Left behind in the hasty escape from the Michaeline ruined tower. Perhaps he would have a bit of luck and the Ward Cubes would be left undisturbed.

He had made his way across town, back to the Portal that was constructed here by his Order long ago. Funny how in the dark of night his Order managed to construct several ports across the 11 Kingdoms that they could use. Undetected and unknown by anyone else. Although now Feyd had begin to wonder just how long his Order would remain completely hidden from the eyes of Gwynedd and it's Haldane King. In the East and the south, his Order is whispered about. Some call it legend and others know it to be fact.

Once inside the protected chamber. Feyd slipped to his knees and placed his hands on the Portal square. Seeking out the Portal at the Michaline ruins. His mind recoiled in fear the moment he touched the Portal there. The trap placed by his Order had been removed. It could very well be re-trapped at this point. And possibly the cubes themselves discovered and moved. It was too great a risk to attempt to jump through at this point. Perhaps another day. Another Portal lost in the previous contract. That made at least 2 of them that he was currently aware of being compromised. But the great work is almost done and the time is finally at hand after 2 centuries of waiting and training. Vengeance will be had and the Deryni set free.

 While Feyd enjoyed his midday meal in safety he redrafted the letter he had written earlier in the day. Signed it. And stamped it with two seals. His personal on the left and the seal of his Order on the right. Setting both with a spell. He had carefully rolled up the parchment and placed it into a scroll case which was then sealed as well.

He had thought about Washburn, with a smile too. The fools at Brioc's castle had no idea about the Gwynedd spy among them. And the Grand Duke had handed Washburn over to the spy as well. He knew that at this moment back far to the north in Meara. Washburn was discovering his powers had returned but lacked the protection of his Shields, they would not return until later.

Through the streets he went about his day. Sending the scroll case off with a handsomely paid courier. He would see that the instructions were carried out on it's delivery.

Safely in for the rest of the day. Feyd makes his final preparations for the coming contracts. He made certain his hair was died the proper color. He made certain to acquire the proper clothing he would need. He maintains his look. Without the ability to shapechange, appearing as someone else is a bit more work but also not discoverable as quickly. He knew he would return to Gwynedd. So he must blend in. A foreign scholar would not due now. That is fine for appearing at Court. But now must in other places more. He would blend in well. Even as another foreigner. No one would take notice of him really. And that was the way Feyd wanted it. Blend in, vanish in a crowd, able to go to the places that were frequented by his next target.

All dressed he admires the reflection in the mirror. He adjusts a bit of his attire that was out of place. His hair was put to the right color. And he could feel that the tonsure at his crown was the proper size and shape for a travelling priest of Torenth. A final addition was the simple wooden crucifix he added to his priestly vestments. And here Feyd was no more. Only Paulos, a priest on a pilgrimage across the 11 Kingdoms to bridge an understanding through Faith.

Just after his evening meal Paulos had heard from his agents in both Ratharkin and Rhemuth. The Lady Aliset's abduction had failed. She was safely cloistered in the Queen's Tower at Rhemuth. With that knowledge Paulos relaxes a bit. And spends the evening scrying for his Ward Cubes.

<bynw> !roll 2d6
<@derynibot> 3, 5 == 8

Offline Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #573 on: October 03, 2018, 01:18:49 pm »

“Now that you’ve got her, how do you plan to get her and us out of here?” Wash asked in a very low, determined whisper. His eyes returned often to the door; so far, the door remained closed. The all too recent prisoner was certain that at any moment Grand Duke Valerian’s study would be overflowing with guardsmen, or worse, the grand duke himself. “It might be hours before they find Piers or even try to wake that senior guard, But her? They will be missing her like a half-hour ago, around the time she fell asleep in here. We have to go. You just tell me where and how.” He fingered his sword and moved toward the door impatiently.

Iain ignored the knight at his back while he finished establishing controls over his now human lady abductee. When he was certain he had established a mind set for her, he stood away from her. He gave her a deep respected bow. “My Queen, Guard Archer at your service,” he acknowledged her. In the next instance, he pushed the palm of his hand against Washburn’s advancing chest. The knight had rushed toward the girl with intentions of picking her up bodily and swinging her over his shoulder. When Washburn was stopped, Iain looked imploringly at the aristocratic lady. “Your Majesty, I am so sorry to interrupt your nap. The grand duke has asked me to find you. He requests that you join him in the audience room, there to meet with a guest of his. He promises to explain. Something about backing of funds from the east.”

“Does this guest offer my crown homage? I will meet him in my throne room,” the queen replied, nonplussed.

“Very well, Your Majesty, I am to escort you there.” Iain did not challenge her. Valerian’s audience room and her throne room were one and the same, also known as Brioc’s grand hall before the rebellion began. What was key about the room was the Portal stone situated in the center back half of the ornate floor.

“For appearances, I will allow your escort.” She said as she stood from the window seat. There was a moment where she gave both men a disquieted look, like they weren’t who she thought they should be, then the moment passed and she settled into her normal ways. “In my home, guards walk behind me. Three paces, if you will.”

“Yes, your Majesty,” Iain said with another bow. As she straightened her dress,  Iain pulled Washburn aside. “You’re still my prisoner as we follow her to the throne room.” Iain could not resist a lopsided smile for the room’s audacious title. “The corridor we came up leads along the length of the north wall. Turn the corner and you’ll be in the west wall passageway. There will be only one door off that hall, the door to our throne room. Beyond it will be the keep’s main stairs. Those ascend from the entrance on the first floor to all floors above us. Whatever happens, we won’t want to go up. Unless you know a way to fly off the roof, going up would get us trapped.”

“I do remember the details of the portal room. It was just this morning when you marched me from there as your prisoner,” Washburn responded with a low growl. He looked up to be sure Sidana could not hear him. She was busy pinning the edge of her veil in place, not noticing the two men nearby.

Iain appeased the taller man with a touch on his shoulder. “I will escort Sidana into the audience room.  She will be my decoy. When I have discovered how many guards are there, I will take care of them. If there are too many, I will signal you to enter. Make a big entrance, one that is distracting, and I will clear any guards remaining.

“What about the archers who were on the balcony?” Washburn asked. “Do we need to worry about them? I distinctly recall several up there when I arrived. One even loosed an arrow.”

“The senior guard told me those men were released back to the walls after Feyd’s departure. They should not be there.” Iain gave Wash an assuring look. “One more thing. Don’t use your mind speech. Your ability to tightly focus your powers is still returning. There is a risk you might broadcast your speech to far more than me. A sensitive Deryni somewhere in the keep might hear you.”

“Devil’s craw!” Washburn whispered. “Anything else? Have I already given us away? What of the power I used to block her?”

“I don’t think so. You’re not broadcasting when using trance-like powers, so long as it is only internal. But arcane attacks? Let’s not risk it. Use your sword, make quick, quiet kills if you must. Leave the arcane to me.”

Washburn nodded, liking this less and less. Freedom was so close, maybe seventy feet and one bend in the corridor away, yet it could have been miles. He fingered the knot over his sword hilt, assuring himself of it’s quick release.  Then he submitted himself once more to play the prisoner with Iain’s hand around his arm. Iain made a cursory search of the hallway before he opened the door for the queen.

((Is the hallway clear of patrol guards. 5 ,6 the way is clear.
2:04 AM !roll 2d6
2:04 AM  <•derynibot> I'm back! 1, 2 == 3))

His mental controls stopped both persons under his touch from moving forward. The girl didn’t notice it, but that control irritated Washburn, who knew it for what it was and was hating every minute of someone else controlling his actions.

((2:05 AM<LaurnaAFK> Laurnarose Waiting for the patrol to move on. Do they move on?
2:05 AM !roll 2d6
2:05 AM <•derynibot> I'm back! 5, 4 == 9))

After a long count of foot falls coming near and then moving away, both men found they could breathe again, for they had held their breaths during those many long seconds.

“Clear,” Iain whispered at last. He let the Pretender Queen march her pretty, majestic self out into the hall.  She turned decisively left along this north facing hall, away from the back corner stairwell Iain had used to come up from the dungeon. The three turned the bend in the hall to walk the west side of the keep. Here the afternoon sun spilled through several narrow windows. Across from one window was a single large door into the audience room, or to Sidana, her throne room. Currently the door was closed. A little beyond that door, the hall ended at the main stairs. This being the public portion of the keep, the archway at the head of the stairs was held up by ornate fluted columns, ones imported from the ruins of old Rűm. These columns signified status and wealth, a display of extravagance made by Lord Brioc de Paor.  As a recent addition they stood out from the wall in such a way that they did not meet the outer walls. Rather, instead they left perfect small indentations for a man to lean into. Apparently the architect never consider the blinding glare of the afternoon sunlight making wells of bright light and wells of shadow all down the hallway.  The space between the outer wall and that column was the darkest of them all. It was here Iain released his prisoner and bid Washburn to hide and remain vigilant. Iain knew better than to make a command like Wait here. For under Washburn’s current condition, the knight would have followed him to the word, no matter the circumstances. Instead he said, “Do what you need to do to not be seen. And If you are seen, take care of it promptly. I will call you when it is clear to come in.”

Washburn understood. He released the knot securing his sword, pulling the blade free from its scabbard, and held it low at his hip to hide the shine of the blade. Deep into the recess, he disappeared in the shadow.  If someone came straight toward him, the afternoon sunlight would blind them to his presence in the dark. As Wash settled there, he studied the profile of the Pretender Queen. She waited stoically for Iain to give her permission to enter her throne room. She stood in the well of light like an angel blessed by Heaven, her honey hair tinged with red streaks and her complexion as fair as a babe’s. As she straightened to her full height, Washburn mused that she and Iain were of matched height. That petite stature outwardly projected calm authority; inwardly, however, she was anything but calm. Sidana had the mental squeamishness of one whose normal sensitivities had gone strangely absent. Washburn knew that feeling all too well. He had been living it for three days. Iain just took it as unease from his controls. Now that Washburn’s powers were returning, he understood that discomfort he felt within her. The lack of extrasensory perception was as disquieting as losing a sense like touch or smell.

The Blocking trait had its uses. Indeed it did. But didn’t that scroll make several warnings about the moral and ethical necessity of using it? Taking someone who was Deryni, even someone untrained, and making them human was a cruelty nearly as much as putting someone in prison. It might not be a total blindness for someone untrained, but it was a loss of sensitivity for anyone who had the essence of power since birth, similar to the silencing of all background sounds from birds, and the wind, and the flow of water down rivers. Like the dulling of the vibrant colors of summer to that of bleak winter. A total disturbance in how the world is perceived. Warring with himself over the ethics of harming someone in this way, even the enemy, Washburn sank deeper into the blackness of the corner. The door to the portal room opened. The guard on duty had his full surprised attention on the queen. He greeted her with a bow and questioned her reason for being there. “The duke is away,” he said.  Iain must have mentally controlled her to walk inside, and he moved with her, closing the door behind him. Just before the door closed, Sidana was heard to say, “I have need of his company. My father is recovering and I want him to know of it.”

Wash eased his stance, yet stayed tightly in the corner. Was it really going to be this easy to escape? Wash considered his optimism. He hadn’t escaped yet. Those earlier pessimistic escape plans of his had been from a man with no hope, a prisoner who was looking at becoming a merasha-induced living corpse with no hope of survival beyond his ransom. Now, he had a sword in his hand and at least a fighting chance. He kept a wary eye on the hallway. He dared not even use his powers to scan if anyone was coming. His lack of shielding would certainly alert someone to his presence here. Again he wondered just what Feyd had been playing at. The time between his returning powers and the senior guard’s orders to dowse him with merasha had been minute. If not for Piers, he might have missed this opportunity. Was it truly an opportunity for escape, or merely a tease before being captured again? He watched the portal room door and wanted desperately to enter. However, he could not override Iain’s orders. I will call you when it is clear to come in. Damn that.

((<Laurna> Laurnarose  Does Iain call him before another patrol comes near. Success is yes.
2:45 AM !roll 2d6
2:45 AM  <•derynibot> I'm back! 1, 3 == 4))

Silent as a mouse was Washburn, then he heard a new set of foot falls on stone coming up the stairs behind the wall at his back.  He pushed his body deep into the corner recess, muscles tense, prepared to fight if he must. A guard entered the hall way within swords reach it was fortunate for him that he looked toward the audience room door highlighted by the light from the window.

((2:45 AM Laurna> Laurnarose Does Washburn stay hidden in the shadow. success is yes.
2:46 AM !roll 2d6
2:46 AM  <•derynibot> I'm back! 6, 4 == 10
2:46 AM <Laurna> Laurnarose cool.))

For a heart pounding minute Washburn watched him. The guard passed him up then continued on around the corner.

Come in! came the clear command of Iain’s mental voice. Thank the Lord it had not come a moment sooner.  Washburn would have followed those orders, possibly giving himself away to the last patrolling guard. With the way clear, Wash quickly stepped to the audience room door, opened it, and slipped inside. The queen was standing pale and forlorn in the center of the room. Iain was easing the body of the guard before him down to the ground. One last twist of a dagger through the guard’s back, then Iain pulled his dagger from the man’s heart, letting him fall dead at the queen’s feet. Stunned, Sidana gasped and readied to scream. Washburn jumped to her side and clasped a hand over her mouth.  Unperturbed, Iain wiped his bloodied blade on the dead guard’s clothes.  He looked up at the knight, “Release her. She won't scream, will you, my Queen of Meara?” Washburn did as he was told; whether he agreed or not, it was not his decision to make.  “My Queen,” Iain continued, “I just saved you from this man. He was a traitor. Wanted you for himself, he did. I made sure he didn’t touch you. Remember how he tried to touch you?”

Washburn watched the girl’s face change as her memories changed. She was filled with confusion. She knew what Iain said was untrue but could not refute the image he had planted in her mind. This gave the Lendour knight pause. Could he honestly believe anything that he thought he remembered to be true? Three men had been in his mind, and who knew what notions they had planted there. Was any of this even real? Or was it all contrived? Perhaps he was already in a merasha-induced coma and just making up this escape in his dreams. How realistic was it that they had actually captured the pretender queen? Wash didn’t know, all he could do was carry on. The ending would be the telling of it all.

“We are clear here. There was only the one guard. Lock the door.”  Iain tossed Wash the dead guard’s keys, then he took Sidana by the hand and together they walked over to a gold and black inlay set of cut stone.  The center was black only three feet square. Other similar squares were scatter about the pattern on the floor. But this square had an aura of a Portal recently used. Wash secured the door, then quickly returned to the proper square. His own palms itched to touch it and discover it’s signature. He stood opposite Iain, who had knelt beside the pattern of black stone. “Sure enough, Valerian has trapped the Portal, as he said he would. We can not call reinforcements to jump to here, that is a certainty. I do not have the skill to break such a trap. There is a chance it is not trapped for those leaving. Be watchful, this will take a moment to see if we can use it without triggering Valerian's trap.”

That anxious moment was the longest in Washburn's memory.

Offline Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #574 on: October 06, 2018, 05:26:10 am »
The Baron of Isles had his full focus on the Portal stone under his palms for several minutes. Shaken by what he learned, he sat back on his haunches, his hands brushing his knees as if to wipe the filth of the stone off his hands. The trap Valerian had placed here had a bitterness in its essence. The grand duke had had cause; his future father-in-law had just been stabbed and poisoned by a man Valerian feared. It was a telling moment during the prisoner’s exchange and payment, where Valerian’s overt respect for the master assassin became clear. Iain wondered if the grand duke knew about the Black Order of Death. So very few did. Perhaps it was mere happenstance that the Order had picked up the contract for kidnapping a Morgan. He supposed that if another assassins’ guild had picked up that deal first, they would have backed out the moment the Order became involved. Most likely, Valerian had put out the word with his discreet underworld contact. It was a simple deal, a large payment for the kidnapping of a high noble, the target being the youngest son of Alaric Morgan. Upon successful delivery of this man, he would pay. No Morgan, no deal. Most likely Valerian experienced dismay over Master Feyd’s first response that he would complete the deal. At which point the deal was in play, impossible to stop. To Iain’s viewpoint, Brioc’s double-cross on the payment and Valerian’s quick responding over-payment proved to Iain just how unsettled Valerian had been by Feyd’s close proximity. At that point it had nothing to do with Morgan and everything to do with ridding themselves of Feyd. The strength in the trap on the portal stone was further proof of it.

Iain took in a steadying breath. What all this meant was that even with every effort he could muster, he would not be capable of breaking this trap. It would take a master of the arcane and several subordinates supplying energy to succeed.  Iain avoided Sir Washburn’s stare as he spelled out the problem. “Valerian has trapped the Portal in such a way that only himself and a few of his trusted advisors can leave here. I don’t think we can leave this way.”

“What!?” Washburn exclaimed, just remembering to keep his voice down. “This is madness! We need to be out of here before someone finds us!” Wash scanned the upper gallery. There would be an entrance up there from the third floor; a guard could patrol the gallery at any moment.

“Actually, we need someone who is attuned to this thing to find us,” Iain corrected Wash. ”What our lives will depend on is just how few we can attract as we bait the hook for the right man.”

“What about him?” Washburn asked, pointing to the felled guard.

“He’s a bit too dead and a bit too human. What we need is a Deryni, one who's been granted permission to come and go from here. We will need some part of him anyway: a hand, a finger, or a cup of blood should be an activating trigger to the portal. Just like what was used in the library annex when you were abducted.”

“A hand, you say.” The knight raised in a chivalrous court winced at the prospect. Killing in battle was one thing. Taking off a hand was punishment meted out by prison guards, not knights of the realm. “If it means our escape, then I can get that if there is no other way.” Washburn considered the methodology. “Who will our target be? How do we get them in range of being abused?”

“We use her,” Iain nodded toward SIdana. She was standing silent and still, outwardly as pretty as a doll, inwardly as ferocious as a caged lion. “Let’s pray we can handle those who come when we have her make the call. We can’t afford to waste too much time either. We need to escape before Valerian returns and finds us. I don’t relish an arcane battle with him.”

“He murdered my father,” came the dangerous clear tone of Washburn’s low voice. He would take up that battle in an instant. Yet after a moment, he brushed aside that vengeance. “We are better off making our escape with her than taking the risk of battle with Valerian.” He settled on agreeing to Iain’s plan. “Could we kidnap the girl’s father? Lord Brioc might not be as human as he claims. His daughter surely is not.”

“Wouldn’t want to attempt kidnapping him. When the girl left her father’s side, he was protected by a guard detail and a physician. Like I told you, we don’t want to go up the stairs. We need the right person to come to us.”

“You’re certain we can't break the portal trap with our combined efforts?” Washburn knelt down with his knees at the edge of the stone. He placed his sword on the floor beside him and then set both palms flat against the cold black granite. Using every effort that he had, he focused on the stone and searched for the portal’s signature.

He got nothing, other than knowing a portal was there; the signature itself evaded him.

“That is a waste of your energy,” Iain chimed in. “We don’t have the stamina to break down this portal trap. There are two knights with the grand duke and a lady or two close to Sidana. I am betting they are Deryni and they each can use this portal.”

The thought of harming a woman did not set well in Washburn’s mind. “Two Deryni knights, you say? I can best two at once. Would be better if you can manage to get the attention of only one of the two. If they bring the guard detail with them, that could be our downfall. Would it be easier to escape out the window?” Washburn sighed.

Iain considered that option for a moment. There were windows along the length of the south wall.  Windows that faced the courtyard and the gate house of the fortress. No one was scaling that wall without being seen. Iain could see Washburn making the calculations of escaping by foot. Both men came to the same conclusion at the same time. That was impossible. The portal was their only means of escape.

The Lendour knight took in a deep breath and let it out. “There is one other solution we have not considered. I swear to you that I will never be a prisoner again. Death first, or Madness!” He hissed the last word under his breath. His left hand reached into his tunic and fished out a leather cord. At the end of the cord was a smallish green-capped wine skin. “I don’t think this is the right time in which Feyd meant for me to use this. I think he wanted me to use it against the Grand Duke Valerian. Yet, I can think of no greater need than escape. One drink….” He caught his breath as he said it, then bolstered his determination. “One drink might give me the power to diffuse the portal trap. Two drinks would for sure. I could take on both knights at once if I had to after drinking two gulps of Blue Fyre.” He backed off a little from that thought. “Two is madness for sure. I’ll drink one gulp then and take my chances.  If it were just me, I would not take the risk at all. Easier to fall on my sword and be done with all this.” His sense of chivalry kicked in; he looked up at the pretender queen. What he saw was a beautiful woman in need. Not the enemy, but a pawn of the enemy.   “We have her, a great prize, indeed. If I do this, you can get her away, yes?”

“Wait, I’ll take the drink.” Iain held his hand out for Washburn to give it to him. Even under Iain’s compulsion to follow his orders, Wash hesitated. Something in the back of his mind kept him from handing across the wine skin. “Damn Feyd! Unless you want to fight me for it, I don’t think I can let you have it. I am not even sure I am supposed to have it just now; again something tells me ‘No’.” Almost fighting with himself, Washburn brought the flask to eye level. He closed his eyes, concentrated on steadying his racing heart beat and put his fingers over the cap, willing his fingers to pull out the stopper.  The madness that Feyd had described could not be worse than his last day spent back in that dungeon. He wouldn’t live long in anyway, he had made a deal with the assassin to kill him if madness was to be his fate.

His fingers never pulled the cap free, for in that second a current of air stirred above the stone. Where there had been no one a heart beat before, now a man was standing there-- a dangerous man that both Iain and Washburn instantly identified. The arriving Deryni was a few heart beats behind the other men to realize what was happening. It took those few seconds for him to recovered his equilibrium from the portal jump he had just made. Those seconds cost him much. The man before him was leaping forward; a man he knew as one of his guards. Still sharp from the necessary focus of making the jump, Valerian’s perception bounced off the guard's shields. This guard had not declared himself as Deryni to the captain. An enemy hidden in his ranks? There was another man kneeling behind Valerian, apparently human and harmless for he felt no shields there. In time that man could be handled. But not the charging spy, Valerian could not pull his sword before the guard crashed into him. ((-1-))

Iain was sharp and fast, taking advantage of the confusion in the grand duke’s arrival. Before anyone could pull weapons into play, Iain tackled Valerian's knees and knocked him to the floor. ((-2-))

The son of Teymuraz slammed his back against the polished stone. His landing put him within arms reach of the kneeling Lendour knight. It was then to his chagrin that Valerian recognized Morgan. Fury was in Morgan’s eyes. The sight of his father’s murderer sent Washburn’s heart to pounding. His mind screamed, Take the blue Fyre, take it now! Only he knew right well it was too late for that. The drug didn’t act instantaneously. This second was all he had to correct the horrors of the many days just past. The element of surprise would be lost if he didn’t attempt that which he could do. If the man recovered his wits before he tried, he may not get that chance again.

Washburn dropped the wine-skin back on its cord. His sword beside him wasn’t what he sought. His bare hand grabbed what he needed, the back of the enemy's collar. With a fist full of fabric, Morgan hauled his father’s murderer closer to him. Knowing his new talent well enough, he touched the top of Valerian’s head and searched for the trigger point. ((-3-))

He was too anxious, he needed his Healer’s calm. A man unconscious would have been easier to work with, or so had said that deciphered scroll. Calm was evasive, and so too was this man whom he was holding. Washburn clenched his fist to stop Valarian’s struggle to get away. Valerian didn’t make it, Iain pounced on the duke with determination and agility. ((-4-))
Rolls for round one of the fight:
((-1- Initiative test between Iain and Valerian. Rolled during second writing. First rolls were a tie. Second rolls in play
Iain   12:19 PM !roll 2d6
12:19 PM <•derynibot> I'm back! 6, 1 == 7 gains initiative
Valerian  12:20 PM !roll 2d6
12:20 PM <•derynibot> I'm back! 5, 1 == 6))

((-2- Iain’s attack Rolled during first writing
12:52 AM !roll 2d6
12:52 AM  <•derynibot> I'm back! 3, 5 == 8, successful hit))

((-3- Washburn’s attack from behind with 6XP success on 3,4,5,6
12:52 AM !roll 2d6
12:52 AM  <•derynibot> I'm back! 2, 2 == 4 failed blocking attempt, darn))

((-4- Valerian struggles to get in an attack on either man
12:25 PM !roll 2d6
12:25 PM <•derynibot> I'm back! 1, 3 == 4 failed hit))

Iain was fastest again. His palm slammed over the grand duke’s eyes.  The full might of his mind slammed against Valerian’s shields. ((-5-))

Valerian’s body tensed as he strengthened those shields against this new attack. ((-6-))

Iain’s bombardment was as insistent as a battering ram against the gates of the mind. Valerian cowed by the pain. But the pain itself was not debilitating. Valerian reestablished his focus. He stilled his body, gathered his strength, and struck back like a cobra with a single shock wave that scorched the hand of the man who had been touching him. ((-7-))

 The Deryni guard was thrust away, his bombardment had come to an end. Paces away, he staggered to keep his feet under him. His hand cradled to his chest his head pounding from the blast.

A break in the violence prevailed for a second.  Valerian strengthened his shields and recovered from the full energy outlay of his attack.  In that second, Washburn's nemesis was distracted. That was all that Washburn needed. Focusing down with every ounce of calm he could muster, Washburn touched the side of Grand Duke Valerian’s head and released the blocking trigger. ((-8-))

Rolls for round two of the fight:
((-5- Iain still has initiative. He is ritual trained. If he uses arcane power to attack Valerian, 2d6 roll success on 4,5, 6
12:28 PM !roll 2d6
12:28 PM <•derynibot> I'm back! 3, 6 == 9 success hit))

((-6- Valerian save test from Iain’s attack
12:29 PM !roll 3d6
12:29 PM <•derynibot> I'm back! 2, 1, 4 == 7 failed save test))

((-7- Valerian is spell master 3d6 arcane attack
12:30 PM !roll 3d6
12:30 PM <•derynibot> I'm back! 5, 5, 3 == 13 success hit))

((-8- Washburn;s attack from behind. Rolled during first writing. 6XP to block Valerian success on 3,4,5,6
2:05 AM !roll 2d6
2:05 AM <•derynibot> I'm back! 4, 6 == 10 successful blocking))


For a moment in time, all three men froze. Iain assessed his injury and began to stand, bringing the girl over to stand behind him. Valerian lay still as a dead man in that moment.  He could not comprehend the sudden lack of shields and magic that prevailed through his body. And Washburn pulled himself back out of his Healer’s trance.

Iain was the first to move. His dagger was pulled from his boot and held firm in his hand as he once more used his lean agility to leapt at his enemy. He would take Valerian out, here and now and complete the job Kelson had paid him for. ((-9-))

Unsteadily the duke clawed his way back to his knees and braced himself to stand. His mind was filled with confusion; what had just happened to him? The dagger plunged into the duke’s side, then was pulled out, dripping in blood before Valerian could react. Staggering away, he tripped into Morgan. Horror filled his eyes, and he realized it was the son of his old enemy, who had done this to him. Morgan by some ancient mythical power had stripped him of his magic. ((-10-))

Valerian’s need to recapture Morgan and make him reverse what he had done gave him berserkers’ strength. ((-11-))

The clout of his fist caught Morgan hard in his ribs. Ribs barely Healed splintered anew. Morgan fell back in a breathless huff. Knowing he still carried Morgan's voice commands, Valerian leapt at the man’s throat and yelled, “Return to me my magic.”

Washburn struggled for breath, as hands clasped his throat. The fortunate thing was he couldn’t center into his Healer’s trance to comply to the command of the Grand Duke. That calm was an impossibility. “Get free of him!” was a second command from Iain. Neither command had president over the other, yet only one could be achieved in that instant. Washburn rolled to the side to free himself of man’s hold. Iain stood at the Portal Square, he kicked Washburn’s sword within reach of the knights outstretched hand. His fingers grasped the hilt, thrusting it up between himself and his attacker. ((-12-))

The blade missed its mark but it forced Valerian to jump away. 

The return swing of the blade was fast as lightning. Even before Wash had found his feet to stand, the sharp point pierced silk and chainmail and slipped through the ribs of his father’s murderer. “For you, papa,” Washburn yelled, pulling the blood-covered blade free of the man who staggered back to escape the sword’s reach. ((-13-))


Rolls for round three of the fight:
((-9- Iain still has initiative. Dagger mastery 3d6 roll.
12:44 PM !roll 3d6
12:44 PM <•derynibot> I'm back! 5, 4, 4 == 13 successful hit))

((-10- Initiative tests between Washburn and Valerian
Washburn first 12:41 PM !roll 2d6
12:41 PM  <•derynibot> I'm back! 6, 1 == 7
Valerian 12:42 PM !roll 2d6
12:42 PM  <•derynibot> I'm back! 5, 4 == 9 wins initiative))

((-11- Valerain only has his fist to fight with so disadvantage 1d6 roll
12:47 PM !roll 1d6
12:47 PM <•derynibot> I'm back! 6 == 6 Great successful hit))

((-12- Washburn attack with his sword 3d6 mastery
12:53 PM !roll 3d6
12:53 PM <•derynibot> I'm back! 1, 2, 2 == 5 Failed hit,  really?))

((-13- Washburn  Sword Mastery gets second attack with 6XP success on 3,4,5,or 6
12:55 PM !roll 3d6
12:55 PM <•derynibot> I'm back! 6, 5, 3 == 14  successful hit))


Fists on the door were pounding with a horrible racket.  Above in the gallery, feet were heard to be coming across the floor, faces were seen to  look down upon the chaos. There was no time to make a grab for the retreating enemy. For a moment, Washburn feared he had failed. He had not managed to sever the man's hand, nor even a finger. Had he failed in supplying their escape? He would have chased after Valerian, if not for Iain’s yell. 

“I have the portal signature, come away NOW!”

Wash jumped up from the floor, grunting as he did so. No time for the pain, no time! A quick glance at the gallery showed men moving into place, a short bow or two were being fitted with arrows. With great effort, Washburn leapt the few feet to land on his knees within the square of the Portal stone, falling against Darcy’s brother. The girl was already braced against Iain’s chest, his left hand firmly placed over her eyes. Blood of the trap’s maker was smeared across the faces of both of them. Washburn got the idea instantly. He rubbed his fingers along flat edge of his bloodied blade, then smearing the redness over his face. He had no shields to worry about, which reduced the timing of their escape. In the instant Iain’s hand touched him, the spy balanced the energy of the portal stone and wrapped it around all three of them. The trap was misled into accepting the three as the one attuned to it.  In that instant, vertigo swarmed Washburn’s mind. The jump was made. One heart beat, two heart beats, and suddenly they were standing somewhere else.

Iain collapsed as they reached the new place. Washburn already on his knees fell forward, both hands grasping at the reed carpet which hid this new portal’s edge. He daren’t waste time, not if he wanted his escape to succeed.  In a rush of what seemed like madness he pushed everyone away and then tugged at the reed matting until if was free of a chair’s feet that had held a corner down. He pulled the mat to the side, and then dropped back to his knees, desperately pulling a small bag from his belt. From it he spilled out four white and four black cubes. A deep breath and then another, and he willed himself to an inner calm. They had a minute, maybe two, before Valerian would find one of his Deryni knights and have the portal scryed for their escape route.

Calm, he told himself, calm. The Healer’s training from Father Columcil had taught him how to center even when emotions were high.

The thought of the good father did wonders for his nerves. Think of each cube and give them their name. Place them just so, then touch the corner to its opposite. What mattered here were opposites. The positive and negative of power. Nothing was good or bad on its own, all things could be brought into balance with the effort of the mind. The blocking power was the same as this. It was bad to have blocked the girl, and he knew he would reverse that soon. Blocking Valerian, that had been the greatest achievement of his life. Building confidence in himself, he placed the four shining ovoids onto the corners of the portal stone. With the powers of his ancestors, he called out the words, “Primus, Secundus, Tertius et Quartus, Fiat Lux!”

The shimmer of red glowed over the portal stone in the center of the room.

“What have you done?” Iain asked, having used the time of the making of the Ward Major to recover his own strength.

“A trick I learned from Feyd,”  Washburn replied. “I am giving us a chance to keep our new found freedom.”
« Last Edit: October 10, 2018, 01:39:51 pm by Laurna »

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #575 on: October 08, 2018, 12:12:05 pm »

“What have you done?” Iain asked, having used the time of the making of the Ward Major to regain his feet and his hold on Sidana.

“A trick I learned from Feyd,”  Washburn replied. “I am giving us a chance to keep our new found freedom.”

Sir Iain Cameron stood slightly to one side of the portal stone, gripping Sidana by the shoulders..  Actually, he was using her to keep himself upright; a wave a vertigo that threatened to turn into nausea almost overwhelmed him.  This would not do. 

“I’ll remember this trick,” Iain said to the Lendour knight still on his knees on the other side of the Portal, which now shimmered under a red protective dome.   

Washburn nodded and began to rise to his feet, almost tripping on an edge of the reed mat.  The quick turn to recover his balance caused a sharp pain in his ribs. The room they stood in was a small storeroom. The reed mat covered the center of the dirt floor.  There were storage barrels and two chests along the back wall. A barred window with an open shutter let in the afternoon light. The only furniture was the chair.

Iain changed his grip to Sidana’s arm and moved forward to open the door.  He did not pause to listen first or check for another’s presence.  He walked boldly through.

 The smell of hay and horses was a blessing after the stink of the dungeon.  Washburn looked around to see that they were in the back corner of a large shed.  Two horses were stabled in simple stalls; both looked to be of good breeding.  There was another large space that held several barrels, and tack that needed mending hung on pegs. 

“Hold where you are!” a man’s voice commanded as the large wooden door at what must be the front of the shed swung open.  Washburn reached for his sword.

“Hold,” Iain said quietly to Washburn, and Washburn stopped with his hand hovering above the hilt.

Damnation! Washburn cursed inwardly.  Will I never be free of another’s control?

“Roland, it’s Iain, and I have brought guests.  Well, one former prisoner and one hostage,” he amended. 

A man came forward with a sword held confidently in his hand.  He was of middle height, clothed in a plain brown tunic and hose.  His face showed the wrinkles of a man just past his prime, but he walked with the confidence and carriage of a fighting man.

Roland stopped and stared at the three in front of him.  Sir Iain looked to be hovering on the edge of exhaustion, favouring one hand and with blood smeared across his forehead; a beautiful young woman with a similar blood smear was standing silent and watchful beside him, and a tall, well-built man watched him warily.  This man’s clothes were dirty, and he smelled of the grave.

“Sir Roland,” Iain said.  “We are in need of food and sleep.”

“And perhaps a bath,” Roland added.  “You’ll bring them to the house?”

“Aye,”  Iain answered.  “Hopefully we will not need to stay for long.  Be watchful; if anyone approaches by any means, I need to know at once.”

“Of course, my Lord.”  Roland turned and led them toward the doorway.  He noted that Iain maintained his grip on the woman’s arm; she walked quietly beside him, and he recognized the signs of someone under another’s control.  Sir Iain had no need to be subtle about it here.  The other man followed behind, his manner restrained, looking like the movement caused pain.  Did Iain control them both?

They left the shed and headed toward the back of a sturdy home typical of a country craftsman, though more isolated than most.  The yard was well maintained; there was a woven pen to keep a few chickens from roaming freely through a sizable vegetable garden.  A well-stocked herb garden was planted on the other side of the worn path that led to the door.

Washburn thought he saw a face glance at them from the side of the rear window.  It drew back quickly.

“All’s well, Maev,” Roland called as they approached the door. 

The door was opened by a stout woman of a similar age to Roland.  Her face looked kindly, but her eyes were sharp.  Her grey gown was covered by a large linen apron and her hair covered by a matching kerchief. 

“It’s good to see you again, Lord Iain,” she said as she greeted him with a slight curtsey.  “Though I have seen you looking better.”

“You have no idea how glad I am to be here,” Iain replied.  Sidana, still in Iain’s grip, gave the woman a haughty stare.  Washburn nodded in acknowledgement as they passed through the doorway.

Inside the house was neat and tidy.  There was the main living area with a stone fireplace and hearth against the outside wall.  A sturdy wooden table was flanked by benches and two chairs.  A second room was walled off for privacy, although the door stood open.  A ladder gave access to the upper loft.  Not quite as simple a dwelling as it seemed from the outside.

The woman looked at Washburn and picked up a wooden bucket. “I’ll start heating the water,” she said in a pleasant voice.  Washburn looked abashed and Iain managed a tired chuckle.

 “If it makes you feel better, I probably smell just as bad,” he said.

Sidana looked at him with disdain.  “You do.”

Iain shrugged and considered his options.  Should he tell Roland and Maev the identity of his “guests”?  Roland had served him faithfully as his steward for years, and no woman was more capable than his wife, Maev.  Or cunning, if she needed to be.  Both Washburn and Sidana were a danger; Washburn because he was a danger as long as his memories were still distorted, and Sidana, pawn or not, because she was the Pretender Queen of Meara.  He made his choice; the more they knew, the better they could ensure his safety and theirs.

“A moment,” Iain said, and Maev halted just inside the door.  “Lady Sidana, may I present Sir Roland Althorp and his wife, Lady Maev Althorp. Sir Roland is my steward here.  Sir Roland, Lady Maev, may I present Sir Washburn Morgan, former prisoner held under duress in the fortress of this lady, Sidana de Paor, Pretender Queen of Meara….”

“My proper form is address is ‘Majesty.’ and I am no pretender!” Sidana hissed, unable to raise her voice to the level she wanted due to her captor’s controls.  “You forget yourself!”

“I forget very little,”  Iain said dryly.  “Including the fact that Sir Roland served nobly with the forces of Gwynedd in the last Mearan Rebellion and was knighted for it in the field.  Do not mistake him or his wife for an ally.” 

With little ceremony, Maev returned to her task, not reacting to the message sent to her from Iain.  I will pass some control over both of them, especially Lady Sidana, to you shortly.

Iain guided Sidana to one of the chairs, and she sat obediently, although her eyes continued to glare.  He then approached Washburn.

“Lady Maev is Deryni,” he told Washburn.  “I will give her enough control over you, and more over Sidana, to ensure you can do nothing to harm any of us here or lead others to us.  I know how much this chafes, but I owe it to....” He paused, almost referring to the king and then deciding on a better approach.  “I owe it to Darcy to get you both safely delivered to Rhemuth or to someone who will get you there.”  It occurred to him that Lords Seisyll or Jamyl might be good choices for the latter.

Sir Washburn started to bristle with resentment when Roland exclaimed, “Your brother Darcy?  Is he alive?”

“Apparently so,” Iain replied. 

Washburn saw the smile that almost split Roland’s face in two. If the man was so pleased that Darcy still lived, perhaps he should trust them, at least for now. He could not really fault Iain for his caution. 

Iain looked thoughtful.  “I will, however, ease up a bit, if you will give me your word to keep within these rules I have set.  I want you capable of acting with me, if events slip beyond our control.  I have no idea how much your mind has been altered, but I will trust your word if you give it freely.”  As much as I dare, Iain added to himself.

Washburn looked down at the smaller man that stood before him, so much like Darcy.  There was a good chance he could block his powers if the right moment presented itself, but to what purpose?  Again, he was left with no idea where he was, and what would happen if he attempted to contact any of his brothers?  Would they even bother to rescue him?

“You have my word, freely given.”  Washburn reached out and gripped Iain’s hand.  Iain winced; he had almost forgotten the scorched skin.  He remembered it now.  “I can Heal that,” Washburn offered.

Iain shook his head.  “We both need to rest, and I would suggest you Heal your ribs first.  You will want to be recovered enough to enjoy Maev’s stew.”

Washburn touched his ribs gingerly.  “Good clean food will be welcome.”

Iain nodded and waved Maev toward them after she had stirred the wood below the pot of water that hung on the iron hook above it.  When she reached them, Washburn felt the lady’s touch against his still unshielded mind; she was skilled, but gentle.  More gentle than Iain, at least.  Iain and Maev went next to Sidana, who looked resentful.  The pretender queen’s face did not relax as the new controls were added, but she remained compliant, her defiance still apparent in her eyes.

Iain noted the movement as Roland went out the back door.  Soon he heard the familiar sound of his bathing tub being dragged to its accustomed spot.  By rights he should bathe first, but he was too tired and had no desire to drown.  Maev was stirring something in a second pot that hung over the fire, and the scent of her meat stew became tantalizingly evident.  But he desperately needed sleep first.

“Maev,” he said.  “I need some sleep.  Pray wake me before dinner.  Just before,” he added.

Maev shook her head.  “Not until I see to that hand.”  She ignored his protest, and ladling out some of the water into a bowl before it became too hot, bade him to sit at the table.  Iain might have protested, but he knew the woman too well.  Washburn looked amused as Iain meekly sat and allowed her to clean the hand and apply ointment from a small jar. She bandaged his hand, but not so tightly that he could not grip sword or dagger if needed.  Iain mumbled his thanks and then headed to the adjoining room.

The room was furnished with a simple bed and several chests.  Sir Iain Cameron, Baron o’ Isles, managed only to remove his boots before he fell back across the bed, asleep before he could raise his feet from the floor.

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 #576 on: October 09, 2018, 01:52:54 pm »
The water turning hot over the hearth and the bath tub set a few feet away looked so inviting. It was not near as palatial as the bath Washburn had recently taken, but this one was clean and did not come with evil eyes upon him. In fact, Wash felt no restraint about stripping out of his clothes and kneeling into the tub, of course keeping his back to the ladies. If the pretender queen was offended, he honestly did not care. With lye on a sponge, he happily rubbed himself down.  And let the soapy water fall into the tub. Sir Roland came over to pour clean water down his back to rinse the soap and the dirt away.

“Why, may I ask, do you have a short spot of hair at the top of your head?  Some nefarious magic that they needed a clump of your hair for?” the old knight asked.

Wash let out a frustrated sigh, but then in a bright change of moods, he laughed and turned back to Roland with a genuine wide smile. “Tis my own folly, that.” Wash replied. “I thought impersonating a priest would do us some good. Turns out it didn’t. Just made me look funny. Someday, I will have to find Father Columcil and apologize for my audacious behavior of impersonating one of his brethren. He may set my penance for 50 Hail Marys or worse. At the time, he was very forgiving about it. Father Columcil is the best of men. As is Iain’s brother, Darcy. I miss them. I hope Rhemuth is treating them well.” Then Washburn’s smile faded. “Aliset!” he whispered under his breath. “No, what I hope is that they have left Rhemuth and have found that vivacious young lady. There are not many women like that one.”

Happily ducking under that last ladle of rinse water, Washburn stood from the tub and excepted a blanket over his shoulders that he wrapped fully around his body. He made one small attempt to find his Healing ability to remove the pain and bruising over his ribs. But the exhaustion of the day was unforgiving, Healing was untouchable at the moment.

Lady Maev tossed his pile of clothes in the bath water and added more lye to give the clothes a goodly soak. When she picked up the green tunic, her nose twitched at the smell. “This is the finest heavy silk I’ve ever seen, putting this to launder may shrink the weave."

“Good!” Wash said with a hint of disgust in his voice. “Shrink it, so I can not wear it again. I hate green!” he added with true venom.

Roland bristled at that. “Green is your family colors, is it not?”

“Exactly!” Washburn confirmed. With out his shields, his hate spilled out to those who could sense it.

“I will see that the tunic is well-shrunk. You be easy on that subject,” Maev said softly with a hint of controlled power in her last words.

Abashed, Washburn  hung his head low, “My apologies to you, Lady Maev, and to you, Sir Roland. I forget myself, sometimes.”

Roland went over to the stew pot and ladled out a fresh bowl then handed it across to the tall knight. With merely a wrap for clothing, it would be inappropriate for him to sit at the table, near the young pretender queen. Washburn sank down on the fur rug before the hearth and accepted the bowl of stew. “Smells wonderful,” he said, while staring at it, yet he did not dare to pick up the spoon.

“Tastes as good as it smells, I assure you,” Maev said as she washed his clothes. But still Wash did not eat it. Misinterpreting his hesitation, Maev commented, “Sorry, I do not have the spices that you courtly folk are used to.”

Wash held the bowl up to his nose, it did smell so good. “Plain and simple is best. Spices hide all manor of evils. Like merasha or mandragoria. I ask you for truth. Are there any drugs in here?”

His hosts looked at him horrified. “Truth read, what I say,” Maev finally responded. “There is nothing in there but mutton, carrots, onions and green beans, I added a dash of salt and pepper for flavoring. I’ve not else to add. And I would most certainly never drug you.”

“Thank you, Lady Maev, I sense your honesty. I am so very, very hungry.” With that he spooned up a mouthful and made pleasant humming sounds as he tasted it and ate it down. He had a second helping before he was done. Maev hung his clothes before the hearth to dry. The green tunic looking sufficiently smaller. “Sell that and make yourself a gold coin or two,”  He said nodding with approval “I’ll wear the black shirt and trousers when they are dry.” Then he curled to his side on the rug and was happily asleep in a non-drugged sleep before he had even found a pillow for his head. Maev rolled up a second blanket and placed it under his head. She touched his unshielded mind and reinforced his sleep. Unless someone woke him, the freed prisoner would not awake until dawn the next morning.

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #577 on: October 10, 2018, 06:50:21 pm »

Sidana de Paor, Pretender Queen of Meara, looked with disdain at the sleeping man stretched out near the hearth, wrapped only in a blanket.  She watched the even breathing for a moment and then looked up as Lady Maev placed a bowl of steaming stew before her and set a spoon beside it.  Next she placed a round of fresh, brown bread in the centre of the table. Sidana wrinkled her nose in disfavour. 

“There is nothing wrong with simple, wholesome food,” Maev said calmly.

“I suppose you will force me to eat it.  I seem to have no choice in anything, now,” Sidana responded. 

“Only if I have to make that choice,” Maev said evenly. 

Sidana reached rebelliously for her belt knife to cut off a piece of bread.  “Hold,” Maev said firmly and reached over to remove the knife from her hand.  Even after establishing his controls, Sir Iain must have been totally exhausted not to have checked for anything Sidana could use as a weapon!  She cut a slice of bread and placed it before Sidana but kept the knife. She would search for any other items that could be dangerous before her guest retired for the night. Sidana cautiously tried the stew and after the first taste, decided she was hungry and ate steadily.

Iain Cameron stepped out of the adjoining room and looked at Lady Maev with mock reproof.  “You were to wake me for dinner.”

“You were next on my list, my Lord,” she replied and smiled.

Iain looked down at the sleeping form of Washburn.  “Did he leave me any?”

“I think there might be an onion or bean left,” she said as she took a clean bowl down from the shelf and filled it with hot stew.

Iain accepted the bowl and sat it down at the far end of the table.  “I shall endeavor to sit downwind, if it please you,” he said to Sidana. 

“Little pleases me at the moment,” Sidana replied. Delicately she soaked the end of her piece of bread in what was left of the broth in the bottom of her bowl.

Iain made short work of his first bowl of stew, broke off a chunk of the bread and wiped his bowl clean with it.  Sidana frowned.

Are you deliberately trying to annoy her?  Maev sent as she filled the bowl again.

Iain grinned.  I may have misplaced my manners back in her dungeon.

Maev shook her head at him indulgently and turned to Sidana to remove the empty bowl before her.

“Would you care for some more, my Lady?” Maev asked.

“No, I think not,” Sidana replied coolly.

“‘No, I think not, my Lady,’” is perhaps what you meant to say?”  Iain suggested.

Sidana said nothing, but her eyes shot daggers as she looked in his direction.

“I think perhaps it would be best if our guest retires for the night,” Maev said, forestalling further debate..  “I’ll put her on the spare pallet in the loft.  I’ll sleep as usual up there and Roland will sleep down here tonight.” 

“Pallet?” Sidana exclaimed, clearly aghast at the idea.

“It will be clean and comfortable compared to your dungeon floor,” Iain said mildly.  Maev gave him a look as she shepherded the younger woman toward the ladder. 

Roland entered from the back door.  “She’s prickly enough, Sir Iain, without stirring her up more,” he said, comfortable enough in his lord’s service to reproach mildly.

“Aye, you are right, but I’ve seen too much death already in her Mearan rebellion, and there will be more before it’s over.  She blithely sits and preens while those behind her manipulate her into more than I think she bargained for.  But enough talk of rebellion.  I want a refreshing bath to wash more from me than dirt.  And I’ll need your help, if you don’t mind, to contact the king  afterwards.  He needs to know what has transpired.”

“Of course, my Lord.  I am at your disposal, as always.”

From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany


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