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Author Topic: Kelric's Adventures Chapter 15: Safe Home  (Read 572 times)

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Offline Shiral

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Kelric's Adventures Chapter 15: Safe Home
« on: August 12, 2018, 08:26:22 pm »
Chapter 15 Safely Home

           Bishop Duncan gently laid him down on one of the abandoned palettes and turned him onto his side.
"Just relax now, Kel," he said softly, stroking Kelric's hair out of his eyes. "Have a nice sleep, and when you wake up, I promise your back won 't hurt any more.."

         Kelric closed his eyes and surrendered to Bishop Duncan's deft but insistent mental command to sleep. His touch might be softer and more subtle than Papa’s, but he was still a trained adult Deryni, and there was no resisting him. But he knew he was safe with the bishop.

         "…Allies of Count Teymuraz, even though they don't know where he is now any more than we do," Papa’s voice was saying. "My Lancers have taken them back to Coroth for questioning."

          Kelric could hear the voices, but he could not quite summon the energy to open his eyes. He felt very peaceful and sleepy just now and was reluctant to come back to normal awareness. He still felt the reassuring presence of Bishop Duncan behind him, and felt his hands carefully pulling his shirt back into place down around his waist.

             "I sent my Anviller companions along as well, just in case any of them should try to escape by arcane means." Kelric recognized the voice of Prince Azim. "I wonder how they knew where to find your party?"

           Papa’s voice sounded bewildered. "I don't know. We planned this beach outing on a whim at the feast last night. It's not as if it was common knowledge around Corwyn."

            "Are you thinking there might have been a spy present last night, Prince Azim?" the King's voice asked.

            "I suspect a spy far more than I suspect that the presence of those men here today was a coincidence," Prince Azim replied. "I would not wish to see any child endangered, and particulary not little Briony and Kelric, but you were fortunate indeed to have had what warning you did, My Prince. Either yourself or Her Majesty would have been a most valuable hostage to men such as Count Teymuraz and those who support him. Let alone the two of you together. I suspect that the son and daughter of the Duke of Corwyn would have been adequately valuable hostages had they not been able to seize any of the rest of you."

       Kelric shivered, both at the thought of being in the power of the bad men and at the moment of shocked silence from the adults as each of them digested the truth of these words.

          "If there is a foreign spy in Coroth, I will find them." Papa’s voice was deadly grim. "And when I do, they'll wish I hadn't."

         "Not necessarily in Coroth, Alaric. But Prince Letald was also your guest last night, and I have reason to believe he has a spy somewhere in his household. Particularly after the assassination attempt on the two kings this summer, and when Teymuraz did not in fact make landfall on the Ile d' Orsal as we expected after escaping from Torenthaly."

           "It seems we would have been wiser to have stayed in Coroth today after all," the King's voice spoke. He had tried to keep his tone light but his voice shook. "I could never have forgiven myself if Araxie or the children had been taken hostage."

         "Mmph," Papa snorted. "I couldn't have forgiven myself, My Prince, particularly not if *you* had been taken. We can't spare you, and it would look extraordinarily bad if the King of Gwynedd had been seized as a hostage right under the nose of the King's Champion. Nigel would never have let me live it down."

         "A life lived in fear of what might be is hardly worth living," Prince Azim's voice spoke again. "You brought the children to the beach for a special treat, and were all having a splendid day. And when the danger arose, you all acquitted yourselves well in self-defense. It was well thought of to have those Corwyn Lancers standing by. And the worst that could have happened did not happen precisely because you had taken that precaution. And now you have some valuable hostages of your own who may be able to give us more information on Teymuraz's whereabouts, or at least his probable next course of action."

          "We also thank you, Prince Azim. Your intervention and that of your companions was very timely," the King said.

           "Indeed it was," Papa said. "Duncan, how's Kelric?"
 
            "He's as good as new, at least physically," Duncan said. "I haven't touched his memories, though. I wasn't sure how you and Richenda would want to handle that and thought the less interference from me, the better."

               Kelric yawned again, feeling something wet and cold dab at his face. There was a stir of laughter when the wet thing touched his face again. He opened his eyes all at once and found himself nose to nose with the puppy who was wagging his tail, his head tilted to one side.

         "No Caradoc," came the queen's soft voice and a slim hand came down into Kelric's range of vision as the puppy was gently but firmly pulled away. Kelric found he could now open his eyes all the way, and didn't feel quite as sleepy, now. As Bishop Duncan had promised, his back didn't hurt anymore and neither did his knees. He was surrounded by a ring of adults, all of them looking down at him in kind concern.  The Queen was nestled close to the King, his arm across her shoulders, and Briony leaned against Papa. Briony's face was dirty and tear-streaked, and her fair hair was a tangled mess. She was sure to cry tonight when Nurse combed the tangles out of it, Kelric thought.

         Papa was looking down at him with an expression Kelric very rarely saw, although he knew Papa loved him fiercely. Lord Dhugal and Uncle Seandry were smiling down at him, and Prince Azim gave him a friendly nod as well. It took Kelric a moment to realize he couldn't find Mummy. He sat up all at once in a panic to look for her before he remembered that she had come back from the battle. She was there beside him just a moment later and she put a fruit tart in his hand. Like Briony, she had been crying, and she was very windblown.

             "How is my baby?" she whispered, pulling him into her arms.

          Kelric willingly let her take him in her arms and hold him tightly for a long moment. At least her touch didn't hurt, this time. He almost smiled as he ate his tart, but kept his face shy and solemn and clung to Mummy with his free hand instead, as if still overwhelmed by what had almost happened. He loved being the center of adult attention as he was now but such delightful times never lasted long enough to suit him. If he acted too normal, everyone would stop doting on him.

         "He doesn't seem any the worse for his adventure, fortunately," Prince Azim commented. "Thanks to your Healing powers, Duncan."

           "He's fine, now," Duncan answered as he climbed to his feet. "I'm just glad I was able to spare Kelric some painful days recovering from that burn. It was a nasty one, and would have been worse if he hadn't been wearing a shirt at the time."
Mummy rested her cheek against his hair and held him a little tighter. Kelric nestled against her, glad for the warmth of her body. Sunset was not far off, and a chilly breeze was blowing inland from the sea.

            "I think we ought to start back for Coroth, now," the King said. "I think I'd appreciate the safety of castle walls before nightfall. And," he said grimly, "It looks like we'll have some interrogating to do before we sleep tonight."

             "I agree on both counts, My Prince," Papa's voice replied. "The children are tired too, and I believe they've had quite enough stimulation for one day."

            "So has their mother," Mummy said clearly. "I definitely want to get the children home as soon as we can, Alaric."
For an answer, Papa came and gently took Kelric out of Mummy's arms, giving him a strong squeeze.

           "We'll leave right now," he said. "The servants can pack up here and follow us."

              Back at the top of the hill, Kelric was once again deposited in Mummy's lap for the ride home, although this time Briony also rode inside with the grown women. Caradoc curled up in the queen's lap and immediately fell asleep. The carriage lurched into movement as soon as the door was closed.

           Kelric curled up against Mummy, hearing the peaceful sound of her heartbeat under his left ear, and feeling her right arm securely wrapped around him. Briony was leaning against her, almost asleep already with Mummy's left arm draped around her. He was tired, although not really sleepy, but he kept his eyes closed, half listening as she and the queen spoke in soft voices. Mummy's voice sounded deeper than normal with his head resting right on her chest.

            "Have you heard from your Lady sister since she arrived in Meara, My Lady?" Mummy asked the queen.

            Kelric was surprised. He didn't think Mummy was terribly interested in Meara, but perhaps she wanted to think about something else besides what had almost happened on the beach, this afternoon.

          "Oh yes. I had a letter from her last week," the queen replied, evidently just as relieved to talk about something more normal herself. "According to Riche, Meara is an earthly paradise and Brecon is the god of her universe."

         Mummy laughed softly. "I've heard that Meara  is a lovely country, but I've never heard that it was exactly paradise. One can't fault her bridal feelings, though."

           The queen laughed too although it was tinged with regret. "That's just Riche's way - she does rather exaggerate sometimes. But reading between the lines, I had the feeling that she finds her earthly paradise just a bit more rustic than she was prepared for, and that the god of her universe snores rather loudly."

         "Marriage  is  a shock, even when you love your spouse," Mummy answered, laughing. "Having to share a bed with another person every night.." She let her voice trail off.

           "Yes, that does take rather an adjustment," the queen acknowledged softly. "I think Riche is genuinely happy with Brecon," she continued. "And God knows I'm glad for it. But after so many years of living at dear old Horthanthy, settling down in a simple manor house in Kilarden that's in severe need of repair is rather a shock for her. Horthanthy is famous for it's grounds and for Uncle Letald' s hospitality, and Maman and Papa Savile have always liked their creature comforts, too."

             "Richelle is also Countess of Culdi though, is she not?" Mummy asked. "They'll have to spend at least part of the year at Cor Culdi so that she and Brecon can manage her Culdi lands, as well."

            "Yes, thank heavens," the queen giggled. "And they're coming to Rhemuth for Christmas Court, too. I doubt Richelle would be content to stay in Kilarden year round. But I don't think that manor house is going to stay simple for long, if Richelle has anything to say about it - which she does. It will be twice the manor it used to be when she gets finished fixing it up."

           "Do you miss her?" Mummy asked.

          "Yes," the queen murmured. "Very much. Even though I'm very happy in my new life. I always knew that Riche and I would both marry one day and couldn't live together all our lives. But a husband is not the same thing as a sister. We've never been separated this long, or lived so far apart before. Kelson jokes that he'll have to hire at least ten new couriers just to keep up with all the letters Riche and I write back and forth."

            Kelric glanced at his own sleeping sister. Briony's eyes were closed, her mouth half open and she was drooling a little as she leaned against Mummy. Would he miss her if he didn't see her every day? He tucked his thumb inside his mouth and considered this with the murmur of Mummy's voice and the queen's in the background. She had got him into trouble this afternoon, but she had also got him out again when they were in danger. And she had shared the stolen tarts with him. She never laughed at him when he fell down and hurt himself, and she'd been sympathetic about the trouble with the honey yesterday morning...

           He woke up all at once when the carriage stopped and the door creaked open. They were home at last. Briony too woke up and rubbed at her eyes with her fists as she yawned. Uncle Seandry made a half-bow to Mummy and the queen as he helped the queen out of the carriage.

           "Shall I take the children up to the Nursery now, m'lady?"

              "Carry Briony up if you would please Sean," Mummy replied. "I'll bring Kelric. Tonight, I want to put the children to bed, myself."

          Kelric contentedly rode in Mummy's arms as she carried him through the torchlit castleyard with Uncle Seandry half a pace behind her carrying Briony. Lord Hamilton the Seneschal was waiting with a group of servants and squires at the Great Hall doors.

           "Lord Hamilton, please tell Cook to have a light meal ready for our guests and serve it in our supper chamber upstairs. I also want a supper of hot bread and milk sent up to the nursery for the children's supper. You may tell His Grace and His Majesty that I will be back as soon as I have put the children to bed."

           Half an hour later, Kelric lay curled up in his bed, warm, clean and content with a belly full of hot bread and milk. Stripes lay curled up by his side, her head, upside down to display her white chin and muzzle and small pink nose to greater advantage. He watched in fascination as Mummy sat on the edge of his bed beside him, patiently combing the snarls out of Briony's long, fine hair by the light of her golden handfire.

            "I know everything turned out for the best  today, " Mummy was whispering, with the serious-angel face she put on whenever she spoke seriously to them. "But it was still very naughty of you to go looking for the mermaid, Briony Bronwyn, and especially to take Kelric with you on those wet, slippery rocks. When Papa tells you to do something, especially when we're away from home, he always has a good reason. You are not to even think of disobeying him or me in the future, is that clear?"

         "Yes, Mummy," Briony sniffed. She rubbed at her wet eyes with one fist.

          "Kelric, is that clear?"

           "Yes, Mummy." Kelric nodded, wide-eyed and solemn.

         "There now, my darlings, you're safe at home with Papa and with me," Mummy comforted. "But you were in tremendous danger today. I couldn't have borne it if you had been taken away from me. Those men wouldn't have cared if you had both been cold, hungry or scared, and Papa and I would have been heartbroken and terribly worried about you."

        Mummy's eyes filled with tears and she set the comb down and hugged Briony tight from behind, kissing the top of her head. "What would I have done without either one of my babies?" she whispered, turning her head to look at Kelric. She reached out and stroked his hair.

          Kelric stuck his finger in his mouth, thinking what would have happened to him if he'd been taken away. Most likely he'd be cold and wet from sea-spray in that little boat, and hungry for his supper, and longing for the sight of Papa or Mummy or anybody he knew. He whimpered and shivered, and was at once drawn into Mummy's arms again.

            "There, there, my lamb," Mummy whispered. "You weren't taken and you're safe at home with Papa and me. Everything is all right, now." She kissed the top of his head then gently made him lie back down, pulling the sleeping furs all the way up to his chin.
           "Sleep well, my love and may God and St. Camber look after you tonight.. Those bad men can't hurt you, now."

            Kelric felt a great wave of sleepiness as she stroked his hair for the last time, but fought it long enough to see Mummy take Briony by the hand to put her to sleep in her own bed, both of them haloed with the light of Mummy's handfire. Kelric yawned widely again just as the room went dark. He was on the very verge of sleep before he saw that the hooded Saint was indeed, watching over him as he slept from the darkest corner of his room.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2018, 01:55:23 pm by Shiral »
You can have a sound mind in a healthy body--Or you can be a nanonovelist!

Offline revanne

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Re: Kelric's Adventures Chapter 15: Safe Home
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2018, 08:48:14 pm »
Lovely ending -thank you for sharing your story again.
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 DerynifanK

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Re: Kelric's Adventures Chapter 15: Safe Home
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2018, 07:24:47 am »
Loved Kelric's adventures. You certainly captured the way small boys think. More please

Offline DesertRose

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Re: Kelric's Adventures Chapter 15: Safe Home
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2018, 08:29:32 am »
So sweet!  Thank you, Shiral.  :)
"If having a soul means being able to feel love, loyalty, and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans."

James Herriot (James Alfred "Alfie" Wight), when a human client asked him if animals have souls.  (I don't remember in which book the story originally appeared.)

Offline Laurna

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Re: Kelric's Adventures Chapter 15: Safe Home
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2018, 10:23:01 am »
That was wonderful, Shiral! A poignant two days in the lives of favored characters. Well told and enjoyable to read!

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Kelric's Adventures Chapter 15: Safe Home
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2018, 06:39:12 pm »
One of my most favourite stories ever.  Thank you, Shiral!
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Offline Shiral

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Re: Kelric's Adventures Chapter 15: Safe Home
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2018, 12:08:09 am »
Thank you all for your kind comments. I'm glad you enjoyed seeing the world from the eyes of a three year-old noble heir again.

Melissa
You can have a sound mind in a healthy body--Or you can be a nanonovelist!

Offline PaulaT

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Re: Kelric's Adventures Chapter 15: Safe Home
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2018, 02:21:18 pm »
 :) Very much enjoyed the story. Thank you!
If any question why we died , tell them, because our fathers lied.
Rudyard Kipling

"To live without faith, without a patrimony to defend, without a steady struggle for truth, that is not living, but existing."
—Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

 

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