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Author Topic: Possessed--Part Fourteen  (Read 2701 times)

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Offline Evie

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Possessed--Part Fourteen
« on: March 09, 2011, 09:38:21 am »
   Part Fourteen—Pestilence

   May 14, 1132
   Tre-Arilan


   Jashana stepped out of her sister-in-law’s bedchamber, her face ashen.  “Sextus, Sophie’s losing the baby.  You need to take the children and go now!  And then tell Seisyll, once you get the chance.  I know the King probably can’t spare him just yet, but he’d want to know.”

   Sextus’s mind was awhirl.  “We don’t even know if Lord Walter is still in Rhemuth, much less that he brought Javana with him.  What if they’ve already returned to the Riding?”

   “Then at least we’ll have tried!”  Jashana’s eyes filled with exhausted tears.  

   Sextus lowered his voice to ensure that the household servants—what few had not already fled when they had discovered the mistress of the household had been stricken by the fever-flux plague—could not hear what he said next.  “Jashana, be reasonable!  I can’t just show up expectedly in Rhemuth with two small children in the middle of a damn quarantine, even if I do use a Transfer Portal rather than riding through the countryside!  How would I explain that to the King?  ‘I’m sorry, Sire; I know there’s an epidemic sweeping through the Kingdom and that we’re under strict orders to remain where we were when the quarantine fell, but we’re the Arilans, and your laws simply don’t apply to us!’  Do you think he’d take it well?”

   “Bloody hell, Sextus, I wasn’t suggesting you take them to him!”  Jashana looked ready to pull out both her own hair and her brother’s.  “I know you can be discreet, that’s your job, isn’t it?  Just get the children into Javana’s keeping whatever way you can and then get back here.  I need you!”  She closed her eyes against a sudden wave of fatigue, then ran her fingers over her brow with a fatigue-banishing spell to dispel it.  “I wouldn’t ask, except Seisyll’s last communication with us implied that there were far fewer cases of the fever-flux appearing as far north as the Kheldish Riding.  The disease is already established in Rhemuth, so it’s not like you can do any more damage by showing up there now, no matter how you get there.  But if we can get the children north to safety….”

   Sextus sighed.  “All right, I’ll do what I can.  But what if Walter didn’t bring Javana with him to Rhemuth this year, or if they already returned home before the quarantine fell?  I doubt he knows anything about Transfer Portal travel, or at least of Portals near Caerdraig, or I’m sure he’d have availed himself of them long before now.  And he’s hardly likely to be willing to bring two young children all the way back to the Riding on horseback without Javana along to deal with them, even if Kelson were to grant him leave to do so.”

   “Well, if they’re not there, then there’s little you can do besides bring the children back home again; either that, or travel on with them to Stavenham and then find a way to get them to Caerdraig in hopes Javana will take them in once you’re there.  But if Walter’s still in Rhemuth and able to get the babies to safety—with or without Javana—then he can damn well learn to act like a member of this family for once!”  Jashana’s eyes blazed amethyst fire.  “Javana knows how to use a Portal, and if she’s not there, then you can teach Walter how to use one, and show him the location in Stavenham.”  She cast a glance at the closed door behind her, blinking back tears before turning pleading eyes back to her brother.  “Sophie could very well die from this, you know; a miscarriage is hard enough on a healthy woman, but when you add the fever-flux on top of the blood loss…Oh, Jesú!”  She choked back a sob.  “She can’t cope with the children right now, and I haven’t the energy to handle them while trying to nurse her back to health.  And what if they fall sick as well, or if we do?  Do you really want to have to tell Seisyll we didn’t even try to get his children to safety?”

   Sextus rubbed his forehead, feeling a headache coming on.  “No, of course not.  I’ll do it.   It’s just…I can’t make any promises this will work, you know.”

   Jashana nodded, looking resigned.  “I know.”

#

   May 14
   City of Rhemuth, rented lodgings of the Baron of Caerdraig


   Walter stared in annoyed astonishment at the visitors outside his Rhemuth apartment door.  “What in the hell…?” he blurted before he managed to catch himself.  Regaining his composure somewhat, he summoned up a smile for his brother-in-law.  “What a pleasant surprise!  Unfortunately, Sextus, I was on my way out.”

   Sextus, carrying his two-year-old nephew in his arms and holding the hand of his five-year-old niece, smiled grimly at Walter.  “No problem, brother.  I was actually here to see Javana.”

   “I’m afraid your sister isn’t available either.”

   “Oh?”  Sextus stared past him at the woman who had just moved into sight from an adjoining room.  “Who is that, then?”  He grinned at Javana, who looked startled to see her brother in the doorway.

   Walter whirled to see his baffled wife behind him.  He suppressed a disgruntled sigh, watching as Javana turned an alarmed gaze down at her niece, then back up at her brother’s face.  

   “Oh, Sextus, you shouldn’t have brought them here!  It’s not safe in Rhemuth right now; surely Seisyll must have told you!  We’re under quarantine.”

   Sextus pushed past Walter before he could react, moving to catch his sister in a quick embrace.  “I know; so is the entire Kingdom.  But it’s even less safe for the children in Tre-Arilan right now.”  Swiftly he caught her up on the latest news from home, making note of the growing disquiet on Walter’s face out of the corner of his eye as he did so.  “You’ll be safer if you can get to Caerdraig as soon as possible, and bring the children with you.  There are fewer cases of the fever-flux up there, it seems.  Once the first frosts hit and the epidemic dies down, I’ll fetch them back.  Unless you’d rather return them to Tre-Arilan yourself instead?”

   “I’m afraid that’s out of the question,” Walter said, shooting a stormy look at his wife.  “Kelson would hardly allow us to break quarantine just to take a nine-day journey across the Kingdom with your brother’s children in tow, possibly spreading contagion the entire way, or else needlessly exposing them—and ourselves—to worse outbreaks.  I understand your fears for their safety, but they’d be better off back at Tre-Arilan where they belong.”

   Sextus kept his eyes on Javana.  “What if I told you it wouldn’t require a nine-day journey, but only one day’s ride between Stavenham and Caerdraig?  I know that would be difficult with small children, but surely it’s not impossible?”

   Javana glanced down at her young niece, peeking shyly up at her from behind her uncle’s leg.  “You know of a Transfer Portal in Stavenham?” she said slowly.

   Walter’s gaze flitted between brother and sister in growing bafflement.  “A Transfer Portal?”  

   “It’s a Deryni means of near-instantaneous travel between two magically set locations,” Sextus explained.   “They’re rare, since most of the older ones have been destroyed and only the most formally trained Deryni remember how to create new ones anymore, but I know of one in Stavenham.   Using it might be a bit risky, but if doing so will get the children away from the center of the epidemic, we’re willing to take that chance.”  Sextus’s eyes pleaded with Javana.  “My sister has used a Portal before.  I’m willing to show her the location of the Stavenham one.”  Glancing back at his brother-in-law, he tried another tack more likely to appeal to Walter’s self-interest.  “And of course, once Javana has learned both locations and has shown you how to travel between Rhemuth and Stavenham via Portal, your trips to and from Court will be a lot more convenient from now on once the quarantine is lifted.  Think of the travel time you’ll save!”

#

   Walter felt torn.  This promise of a new form of quick travel between the Riding and Rhemuth was quite tempting, and he longed to learn more about how he could put this discovery to good use.  Surely if there were two such Portals in the Kingdom, there must be others, and if he could learn where some of those others were, he could continue in his nocturnal entertainments with less fear of discovery.  Since having to curtail his activities in the Caerdraig area, he had limited his more illicit pleasures to those times when he was on the road between Caerdraig and Rhemuth, but as a result, some of the villages along that route were becoming…overharvested?   He’d wondered how he was going to continue on without increasing his risk of being caught at his games, and Sextus’s revelation now hinted at a new means of widening his hunting grounds.

   On the other hand, to gain this knowledge, he would have to trust that the controls he’d set in Javana were sufficient to prevent her escape or further plots against him while she was apart from his supervision for some unknown length of time, caring for those two Arilan brats all the way across the Kingdom while he was stuck here, at the King’s beck and call, for the duration of the emergency, and unable to keep her controls under constant check and maintenance.  He could hardly count on his sudden departure to go unnoticed, after all, and the King was unlikely to grant permission for him to return to his lands when no one else stuck in Rhemuth during this unforeseen quarantine had been granted leave yet to return to theirs.  So if he were to give in to Sextus’s request to take the Arilan brats into safe-keeping, Javana would have to return to Caerdraig without him.  

   Walter did not like that part of the plan at all.

   “I’m sorry, Sextus, but until the King lifts the quarantine, I daren’t return to Caerdraig, even for a short while.  His Majesty would surely notice my sudden absence, you know.  But perhaps once the quarantine is lifted, you could show us where those Portals are located then?”

   Sextus met his eyes steadily, a faint smile on his face.  “Well, I’m sorry the King can’t spare you, but Javana is less likely to be missed, isn’t she?  Is Kelson even aware that she’s here with you in Rhemuth?”

   Damn his hide; the man was Truth-Reading him!  Walter carefully shielded his fury from his brother-in-law as he reluctantly answered.  “No.  I suppose she wouldn’t be missed.”

   He wondered how much Sextus Arilan had guessed about the nature of his relationship with his wife.  Perhaps, once this current emergency died down, he would need to look into arranging a convenient accident for the interfering young man.

#

   Sextus had no idea what had prompted him to ask that question, or to Truth-Read Walter’s answer.  It was one of those spontaneous gut instincts, he supposed, but he’d long since learned to take note of those and follow those hunches.  Sometimes he realized later why he’d had the hunch, and other times he never figured out why, but regardless, his gut instincts had generally served him well.  But Jesú, if the King were unaware that Walter had brought his Baroness to Rhemuth—something hardly likely to be commented on, much less denied, before the quarantine had fallen—then that would mean she probably had not left this apartment much during her time here, if at all.  Certainly she must not be in the habit of taking her meals in the Castle’s Great Hall, or leaving her apartment here in the City of Rhemuth to visit friends and family in residence at the Castle, or not only would the King be aware of her presence here, Seisyll would have mentioned something about it during one of his weekly contacts with the family.  But wait…no, that was it!  Seisyll hadn’t said anything about Javana’s presence in Rhemuth, although he’d mentioned Walter’s arrival a few weeks back, shortly before the quarantine had been imposed.  And if Seisyll hadn’t been aware of her presence here....  Had Javana been confined to the Baron’s private lodgings this entire time?  The fever-flux had entered both the City of Rhemuth and Rhemuth Castle more or less simultaneously, so there had never been any need to quarantine Castle from City, nor was there any easy way of doing so, even had the need arisen.  Rhemuth might be cut off from the outside world from the moment, but it was hardly a house divided, so if Javana were free to come and go within Rhemuth as she pleased, surely she’d have ventured up to the Castle long before now?  Had Walter for some reason forbidden this?

   He wished he dared ask her, but with the Baron watching them both intently, he kept his silence.   But now, more than ever, he wanted Javana to take the children far from here to the relative safety of Caerdraig.  Not only to get them all away from the worst of the fever-flux until the epidemic had run its course, but also, at least for the time being, to get her far away from her husband.

   Perhaps in the Kheldish Riding, away from Walter’s constant presence, he might finally get some answers from his sister about what was going on in her marriage.

#

   May 15, early morning hours
   The Hog’s Head Inn, Stavenham


   Sextus handed his eldest sister a pouch of coin.  “This should help with anything the children might require until we’re able to return for them once the fever-flux dies down.  Since I’ll be coming back by way of the Portal again, I should easily be able to get them off your hands before Walter’s return, if you think that would be advisable.”

   Javana thought that would, indeed, be extremely advisable, but she could hardly say so, so she merely nodded.  “Would there be sufficient funds in here for me to hire a coach to Caerdraig?”

   “I’ve already spoken to the ostler and made arrangements for the hire of a coach and horses and one of the stable men.  You should be back home in a day or two, depending on how many rest stops the children need along the way, and then the man can bring the coach and pair back here afterward once they’ve rested up.”

   “And no awkward questions asked?  They haven’t asked why the Baroness of Caerdraig is wandering through the countryside with two young children during a plague year?”  Javana stared worriedly up at him.

   Sextus gave her a wry smile.  “I…ah...may have given him a bit of a mental nudge not to ask difficult questions.  And don’t bother lecturing me on the ethics of that, unless you intend to go down there and tell him we’re a Deryni family hopping about the Kingdom by arcane means, who simply don’t wish to walk with two small children the remaining fifty miles home.”

   “That wasn’t at the top of my list of preferred explanations to give,” Javana admitted with a slight grin.

   Sextus studied his sister in concern.  “When I return for the children, shall I bring you back home also?  You don’t seem very happy in your marriage.  I know Walter is your legal lord now, but legalities be damned, Javana; we’re all worried about you!”

   Javana dropped her eyes, wanting with every fiber of her being to accept his offer, to put her husband far behind her, but she knew only too well now what Walter was capable of, and what vengeance he would wreak upon her family if she dared to defy him.  If she even could defy him.  Unless she could make her brother aware of the controls within her mind, leaving Walter was a moot point.  And Walter’s controls had made her unable to even invite Sextus to peek into her mind.  

   “I’m fine,” she whispered tonelessly.  “You mustn’t worry.  I’ll…I’ll keep the children safe until the quarantine is lifted, but once it is, it would be best if you return for them quickly.”  She thought of Meg’s two babies, dead before they’d seen more than an hour of life.  “Walter isn’t overly fond of children.”

   “What is wrong with the man, to make him want to cut you off from your own family?  Javana, sweeting, we’ve hardly seen you in years!”

   “I know.”  Javana sternly suppressed tears.  “Walter’s…a very private sort.  He prefers to keep to himself as much as possible.”

   “Fine, he can become a hermit for all we care, if that’s what he wants.  But surely he could allow you to visit more often?”

   “He could,” Javana soothed.  “I’ll ask him; perhaps he’ll be persuadable.”

   She didn’t believe that.  Sextus knew she didn’t without having to Truth-Read her.  He could see it in her eyes.  He wanted with all his heart to get to the bottom of this puzzle, to figure out what sort of unhealthy stranglehold Lord Walter had on his own wife that prevented her from sharing her problems honestly with her own family, but his gut told him that if he persisted in questioning her, he would only get more of the same evasive answers.  He was tempted to try more arcane means of discovering the truth, but his sister was just as well trained in the Deryni arts as he was, and would doubtless shield any knowledge from him that she had not felt comfortable in confiding out loud even with Walter nowhere within earshot.  And trying to force confidences out of his sister would doubtless only widen the rift between her and himself, not close it.

   He held her close, planting a kiss upon her brow.  “I’d best be getting back home, before it’s too light outside for me to sneak back into the shrine and get to the Portal without being seen.  Jashana wasn’t expecting me to be away this long; she’ll probably be frantic with worry thinking we’ve been discovered.  And I’ve not contacted Seisyll to tell him about Sophie’s miscarriage yet, much less that I’ve brought his children to you.”  His brow creased.  “I only hope he still has a wife when I get back.   Jesú, I’d hate to have to inform him he’s lost a wife and son both this week!”

   Javana hugged him back.  “Be careful, Sextus.”

   Sextus gently disengaged himself from his sister’s arms, bending to kiss his sleeping niece and nephew lightly as they slept.  “I told the children they’d be going on an adventure with their Aunt Javana.  They should be fine.  Perhaps a little homesick at first, but with a little ‘persuasion’ they’ll quickly adapt to their new home away from home until we return for them.”

   Javana nodded, looking down at her sleeping charges.  The last thing she wanted to do with either innocent was use the sort of mental ‘persuasion’ that her brother had hinted at, benign though the intent might be, now that she lived daily with psychic violation of a far more malignant sort, but she said nothing, simply nodding as Sextus spoke.   The children would doubtless be tearful for their first few days of separation from all that they knew, until they grew more used to her, but Javana was resigned to that, and with Walter far away, it would be less of an issue.

   It would be foolish of her—and dangerous for them—for her to grow too attached to the children during their stay.  If she grew too fond of them, Walter would eventually discover that, no matter how hard she might try to hide her feelings from him, and they’d become yet another weapon in his arsenal against her.  But she would go through the motions, at least, and the little ones would never suffer from lack of her care.  She’d see to that much.  She was still an Arilan, after all, as were her brother’s children, and despite Walter’s best efforts he could never take that from her.

   She saw Sextus out and joined the children in their shared bed to await the dawn’s light.


Part Fifteen: http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=680.0
« Last Edit: March 12, 2011, 01:52:09 pm by Evie »
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Offline Jerusha

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Re: Possessed--Part Fourteen
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2011, 10:43:04 am »
If only Sextus had gone ahead and tried the more arcane means of understanding what is going on!

But at least it looks like the situation is beginning to slip out of Walter's complete control.
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

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Offline Elkhound

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Re: Possessed--Part Fourteen
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2011, 12:20:45 pm »
At least the Family knows that there is something very, very wrong, even if they aren't sure exactly what or how bad it is.  And with Walter mucking about with arcana he doesn't fully understand. . .

Offline AnnieUK

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Re: Possessed--Part Fourteen
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2011, 12:33:38 pm »
Hopefully this is the turning point for Javana.  A little hope for her anyway, since she knows her family are worried about her.

Offline Evie

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Re: Possessed--Part Fourteen
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2011, 01:02:44 pm »
Ah, yes, they're in for some major discoveries in the upcoming chapter or two.  And if I'm remembering correctly, the next chapter has 'your' scene in it, Annie....   ;D
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Offline derynifanatic64

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Re: Possessed--Part Fourteen
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2011, 06:40:46 pm »
The plot is really thickening now.
We will never forget the events of 9-11!!  USA!! USA!!

Offline Elkhound

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Re: Possessed--Part Fourteen
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2011, 10:00:22 am »
The plot is really thickening now.

Just so long as it doesn't curdle.

Offline Alkari

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Re: Possessed--Part Fourteen
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2011, 03:00:21 pm »
The plot is really thickening now.
Produces large wooden spoon to stir the mixture.

At least Sextus now definitely knows something is wrong.

Offline derynifanatic64

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Re: Possessed--Part Fourteen
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2011, 05:56:35 pm »
Unless it is Walter's blood that starts curdling.  Curdling as that lovely lady demon sucks Walter's soul clean.
We will never forget the events of 9-11!!  USA!! USA!!

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Possessed--Part Fourteen
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2011, 06:43:29 pm »
And then rips him to shreds.
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

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Offline Evie

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Re: Possessed--Part Fourteen
« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2011, 06:55:03 pm »
Y'all are such a bloodthirsty lot!  ;D
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