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Author Topic: Possessed--Part Seventeen  (Read 3178 times)

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Offline Evie

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Possessed--Part Seventeen
« on: March 18, 2011, 09:18:33 am »
   Part Seventeen—Trial By Combat

   May 19, 1133   
   Barony of Caerdraig, just above the village


   Sir Stefan de Varnay shaded his eyes from the sun, peering up at the gleaming edifice on the mountaintop high above.  “Somehow I suspect simply walking up to the portcullis and announcing ourselves to the Baronial Guard would be a bad idea.”  He glanced over at Sextus’s disguise.  “Even though Walter would have a great deal of trouble recognizing us right now.”

   Sextus grinned at Stefan’s dry jest.  “Let’s hope he doesn’t, but walking up to the Castle in hopes of being granted an audience wouldn’t be my preferred option.”  He handed the other knight some of the rustic fare they’d picked up in the village below—thick slices of bacon held between buttered bread.  “Here; since we’re trying to pass as miners, let’s see how the village folk eat.”  Sextus took a large bite of his own noonday meal.  “Jesú, these are good!”

   Stefan glanced away from the Castle long enough to take the offered food.  “It looks good.  I’m hungry enough to eat my horse, if we’d brought him.”  He took a bite.  “What is this?”

   “The barmaid called it a butty.”  Sextus unwrapped a block of cheese, slicing off a few pieces for himself and his companion before rewrapping it carefully and putting it back in his travel pouch.  

   “Too bad we can’t enjoy this with decent ale; for rustic food, it’s really not half bad,” Stefan remarked, washing his mouthful down with a swig of small beer from his flask.  “Though walking in on Baron Walter half-impaired wouldn’t be the best of ideas.”  

   “I don't intend us to walk in on Walter at all,” Sextus assured him.  

   Stefan leaned back against a tree.  “All right, I've certainly no complaint.  We draw him out here, then?”

   The younger man considered the fortifications of the castle above them.  “Yes.  Outside and, if we can manage it, alone.”  He sent Stefan a mental picture of a forest clearing they had explored the day before.  “There, or as close to there as possible.”

   Stefan's brows rose.  “The abandoned mining slope?  Well, it's certainly isolated enough.  Far enough away from the present mining operations to keep any outcries from being heard, I should think, assuming anyone can hear a distant noise above the constant ring and scrape of pickaxes and shovels.  Is that why you chose it?”

   Sextus shrugged, taking another bite of his butty before answering.  “Yes, that and there's an old mine shaft there, one of the vertical sort.  It's been covered, of course, but the covering is wooden and mostly rotten away.  I doubt it would support a man's weight anymore, especially if I coax open the rusty latch holding the halves together and jimmy the hinges a bit.”

   Stefan took a swig of his small beer and favored Sextus with an ironic half-smile.  “Has the baron been negligent with his mine maintenance, then?  Careless of him.  A man could die.”

   “That is the general idea.”  Sextus took a bite of cheese.  “His body will eventually be found, of course, but from what I’ve gathered from the other miners, that pit was abandoned due to poisonous miasmas.  Still, if we can stage it right, the broken shaft cover should provide a clue to his body's whereabouts in due time, once his disappearance is noticed and a search party is sent out.  It won't arrive in time to save him, of course, especially if he dies in the fall and not due to the lack of breathable air.”

   Stefan noted the dispassionate tone in his sister's brother-in-law's voice and suppressed a shiver, glad he was not on the receiving end of the Arilan family's ire.  Maybe he'd come closer to death than he'd ever suspected, trifling with Javana all those years earlier.  “How often do you do this sort of thing?” he asked.

   Sextus turned to him, the hardness in his features softening slightly at the look in the other man's eyes.  “Lay traps for men?  It’s required on occasion.  Kill them?  Only very rarely, unless I absolutely must in order to survive or to protect others.  I'm no Walter; put your mind to rest over that.  I’m a simple knight in Kelson’s service, just as you are; I’m simply called to serve in less well known battles at times.  Battles that will never appear in any scribe’s histories…let’s hope!”

   Stefan nodded, finishing off his meal, and took another swig of his small beer before replacing the flask on his belt.  “You know, even in the heat of battle, Walter might not be so distracted as to have forgotten he’s got an abandoned mine shaft out here somewhere.  It will be dark, but there’ll be enough moonlight for him to see where the pit cover is well enough.  If you’re going to have to tamper with the hinges anyway, what do you think about moving the entire cover and frame a few feet to one side, and then covering the shaft with some canvas or burlap and a thin layer of soil?  We may not even have to conceal it at all, since the darkness of the pit opening should blend in nicely with the surrounding earth.”  He thought back to the site in question.  “Unlike the active mine sites, the canopy covering that shaft was removed quite a while back, probably to be rebuilt elsewhere.  The post holes still remain, but I doubt he’d notice those in the dark either.  We can go back there tonight and see how well they show up, and if they’d need to be concealed, but my thought is that if we can get Walter to back up straight into the pit himself during the fight, we can just pop the cover back over him afterwards, sufficiently broken up to make it look like he fell in on his own.”

   Sextus laughed, flashing him an approving grin.  “You know, you might develop a talent for this sort of thing after all!  Except that I was hoping to take him alive.  It would be handy to be able to question him before he obliges us by dying.”  

   “Well, that’s going to be much harder.  How do you propose we do that?” Stefan asked.

   “Merasha dart.”  Sextus gave his companion a sympathetic smile as Stefan grew slightly pale at the thought.  “If you can lure Walter close enough to me so that I can catch him unaware, the merasha will incapacitate him enough that we can safely find out what we need to know from him before he goes down the shaft.  Do you think you can do that?

   Stefan thought about the plan a long moment, then nodded.  “I think so.  But now another question arises.  How do we draw the Dragon of Caerdraig from his lair without drawing his suspicion?”

   Sextus sighed.  “That's the trick, isn't it?  I doubt we can, at least not unless you can think of a better plan than mine.  But I think I've figured out a way to get him out here, suspicious or not, without bringing any others with him, which will have to suffice.  He'll only be expecting one man to meet him, so since there'll be two, we'll still have some small advantage of surprise in our favor.”  He ate the last of his food.  “Hopefully that will be enough.”  Walter’s brother-in-law leaned back, staring at the castle walls on the slope above them.  “I’m thinking a message ought to do the trick.  Something hinting at just enough details of Walter’s past activities to be suitably incriminating, with the implication that the tale need go no further if the Baron were willing to leave sufficient payment at the abandoned mine on the North Slope….”  Sextus looked thoughtful.  “I wonder how many gold sovereigns I should suggest as a suitable reward to buy my silence?  I don’t want to ask for more than a baron could reasonably afford, but I also don’t want to ask for too much less than he’d think his life is worth.  If you were planning to blackmail a baron, what would you ask for?”

   Stefan chuckled grimly.  “I’m sure you don’t think he’ll arrive ready to bribe you into silence.”

   “No, of course not.”  Sextus smiled grimly.  “He’ll arrive ready to skewer the interfering upstart with cold steel!  I’m just asking in the interests of making sure the message sounds like a credible enough threat that it needs to be dealt with, and that the nature of the secrets I’m threatening to disclose is such that he’ll want to deal with the threat by himself rather than sending someone else to do away with me.  But he’ll hopefully not be expecting to encounter a Deryni opponent, much less two of us, and with any luck we’ll be aware of his arrival before he’s aware of our presence.”  Sextus shared a brief vision of a spot at the edge of the clearing where the two men could observe the most likely routes of approach from Caerdraig Castle to the abandoned mine.

   “All right.”  Stefan frowned in thought.  “So, we’ll need to acquire parchment and ink….”

   Sextus shook his head.  “No.”

   “No?”

   The younger knight smiled.  “You’re not thinking like a blackmailer, Stefan, much less a rustic.  Rustics don’t have deep pouches.  They’ll not splurge on pricy parchment for a message that’s likely to be destroyed immediately after it’s read.  And they’d hope it would be destroyed quickly and easily; they wouldn’t want it being traced back to them, after all!  No, most likely such demands, especially if made by common folk, would be delivered on cheap wax tablets, easily erased by the recipient.”  Sextus paused, looking thoughtful.  “Though perhaps I’ll make mention of records kept on parchment and in a safe location ready to be delivered to the King at first light if the Baron doesn’t show up with the specified amount by nightfall.  That would be a believable twist, I think.  It would ensure Walter takes the message to heart, and I can imagine that even the poorest of commoners, if he had a secret so important, might save up the extra coin needed to purchase more durable writing materials for the purpose.  Not that the most truly impoverished villeins would be able to write it, but certainly one of the more educated villagers would, and they’d be the most likely sort to be able to piece enough evidence together to hang Walter.”  He cocked his head, giving the message a bit of thought.  “I'll have to be careful not to come across as too well-educated.  Spelling should be a bit hit-and-miss, the grammar more Kheldish than standard....”

   Stefan laughed.  “You truly get into the role, don’t you?”

   “I have to.  I quite enjoy staying alive.”  Sextus slanted a wry grin at his companion.  “It’s a high stakes game we play, and you have to stay aware of even the slightest details that might trip you up.”

   “So I see.”  Stefan studied Sextus with a faint smile.  “I think I might have made the mistake of underestimating you.”

   A modest shrug.  “Most folk do.”

   “I shan’t do so in future, I assure you.”

   “I can’t always be about the wenching and winebibbing,” Sextus joked.

   “So, shall I slip down to the village and see if I can acquire a set of writing tablets that will suit?”

   Sextus snorted.  “I think not.  No, I’ll pick some up in a bit.  You still walk too much like a knight, even if you are wearing half a lifetime’s worth of rock dust and Caerdraig soil on those ratty clothes.  Try stooping a bit more, and acting a bit less like you’ve got ploughmen and manservants to do all your hard labor for you, if you mean to pass for a mining man and not simply a nobleman down on his luck who enjoys a good wallow.”

   “I think after this, I’ll leave the fact-finding and sensitive missions to you Arilans from now on,” Stefan teased.  “It’s too much like hard work, being a commoner, even a fake one.”

   Sextus shot Stefan a knowing grin.  “Oh, aye.  Who’s the lazy wastrel now, hm?”  

#

   Caerdraig Castle
   May 20, early evening


   The Dragon of Caerdraig roared with rage.  Javana looked up from her loom, her usual feigned indifference to Walter shattering as she dropped the shuttle from trembling fingers, unable to conceal her alarm.  Walter leaped up from his chair, pacing up and down the length of the solar, his large fists clenching and unclenching, unmindful of the message he still held in one hand.  One of the thin waxed tablets in the small volume splintered within his grip, little black flakes of wax cascading to the floor.  The pain of broken wood embedded in his palm recalled him to his senses again.  He stared dully at the injured hand for a short moment, then gave an inarticulate snarl, casting the rest of the tablets into the fireplace.  The flames burned more brightly as they licked at the thin wax-coated pages, destroying what was left of the blackmail demand in less than a handful of heartbeats.

   “What's wrong?” Javana asked, in control of her feelings again and masking the surge of elation that had come with the realization that, no matter what news the message had held, anything that could cause such fury in her husband was only to be welcomed.  Even if he should take it out on her—and if he should turn on her in this instant, she would almost certainly die bearing the brunt of his unchecked anger—she would at least die knowing that someone, somewhere, had gotten the best of her lord husband.  It was scant cause for comfort and a vengeful one, but she was long past caring about much of anything besides her hatred of this diabolical being who held her captive.

   Instead of answering, the Baron turned on the trembling messenger.  “Who gave you this message?”

   “I know not, m'lord!” the man replied, nearly incontinent with fear.  “He were a stranger, down t' th' tavern. 'E said there'd be a penny in it f'r me if I were t' tak' a message t' th' Baron.”

   Walter continued to stare at the messenger, but the man, having no more to offer his lord, merely stood there trembling, staring at the tips of his shoes.  The baron stepped closer to him, frowning down at him in thought, then raised the man's chin up with one finger, forcing him to look him in the eyes.  “Think of the man who gave you the tablets.  What did he look like?”

   “I...can't rightly 'member, m'lord!  It were tha' dark an' smoky in th' tavern by th' firelight.  Gray hair, I think...or was th' jus' th' rock dust?..'e were dressed like a miner, m'lord....”

   Walter stared at the man a bit longer—Mind-Seeing him, Javana surmised—but whatever he might have sought, what he found was apparently disappointing, for after a moment he gave a gusty breath of frustration and released the man abruptly.  “You may go.”  The messenger needed no further urging, nearly tripping over his own feet in his haste to depart.

   The baron wiped a drop of blood off his palm onto his trousers—another sign that he was upset, for he was normally quite fastidious—dragging the splinter of wood out of his skin in the process.  He reached for his sword belt, wrapping it around his waist.

   “Where are you going?” Javana asked.  

   “Out.  Don't wait up.”

   Javana breathed a sigh of relief and allowed herself a faint smile as Walter slammed the door behind him.  

#
   

   May 20, late evening
   Forest clearing, Caerdraig


   Walter used no light besides that of the moon and stars overhead, his eyes well accustomed to the terrain nearest his castle, but Sextus's keen vision detected his movement in the shadows nonetheless.  He turned to Stefan, nearby yet nearly invisible in the dark shadows at the forest's edge.

   Are you ready?

   As ready as I'm going to be, Stefan Mind-Spoke back, looking a trifle nervous yet determined.  I hope he sticks to swordplay, though; I don't know how well I'd do in a Duel Arcane.  My powers have never been tested in one, and he's probably better trained than I am.

   I doubt that, actually, but hopefully we'll never have to test the theory.  For one thing, Walter doesn't strike me as the play-within-the-rules type. I doubt he'd want to bother with a formal duel, although if he does, be on guard against him cheating, because he won't be intending a fair fight.  He'd fight to win.  Fortunately, he'll have no idea who you even are, much less that you're Deryni, so that's unlikely to become an issue.
 Sextus gave Stefan a warning look.  If he does use his powers at all, he'll likely try to blast your mind, assuming you're merely human, so be on guard for that.  Your shields will protect you, of course, but after that he'll know what you are, so you'll lose that avenue for surprise.  And remember, all you need to do is keep him occupied and focused on you, and hopefully moving in the right direction.  I'll do the rest.

   I can do that.

   Good luck, then.


   Sir Stefan de Varnay ambled forth into the clearing, remembering to stoop a little, for tonight he was naught but a simple village miner.

#

   May 20, late evening
   Kestrel Mote


   “…and deliver us from evil, Amen.  Oh, and please keep Papa safe tonight!”  Little Ranulf de Varnay’s eyes shot open, seeking his mother’s reassurance.  “He will, won’t he?  Keep Papa safe, I mean?”

   His mother nodded, smiling to hide her own nervousness from her young son, who had far more cause for worry than he realized.  Even though Lisette wasn’t privy to Stefan’s exact orders, she suspected that she’d already been told far more than the King would have liked, if he had known, about Stefan’s current mission.  She knew quite well, however, what information she’d been asked to acquire and convey to the King earlier that month.  Even if Stefan hadn’t divulged what he had to her, Lisette would quickly have deduced that his current assignment could be quite closely related.  If Baron Walter were to discover Stefan was part of a hunt closing in on him, her husband would doubtless be in grave danger, even with Sextus Arilan to accompany him.  “I’m sure Papa will be quite careful on his travels, and will hurry home just as soon as he is able.”  Lisette kissed her son’s brow.  “Goodnight, darling.”  She moved over to Ollie’s bedside to begin tucking the older child in.  Oliver’s wide eyes stared up at her.

   “You don’t think any Deryni will get him in the night, do you?” the boy whispered, his voice tight with anxiety.

   Lisette forced herself to maintain her reassuring smile.  “Oh, I think Papa is quite able to defend himself.  He’s a knight in the King’s service, you know!”  She hoped that would be enough to allay the boy’s fears.  After a moment the child, looking a little more reassured, closed his eyes and snuggled deeper into his pillow, whispering his prayers.  Lisette kissed him lightly and went to tuck in her daughter Liesel.

#

   May 20, late evening
   Forest clearing, Caerdraig


   Walter glowered at the shabbily clothed man heading in his direction across the open field.  He dared to threaten his baron, did he?  Who was this upstart?  Walter was determined to find out…after he’d done away with the man.  No, first things first—this man must die for his affront, but after that, Walter would see which of the filthy bastards who worked his mines had challenged him, would sift his dead or dying mind for any memories that might be useful, then wreak vengeance on all the miner’s kith and kin.  This man thought he would line his own pockets with his Baron’s money?  Walter mused briefly as to whether it would be a fitting ironic touch to leave a couple of small coins on the dead man’s eyes, enough to pay for burial costs, but no, on second thought, it would be far more satisfying to leave the beggar to rot without ceremony.

   No need to stain his sword blade on such a shabby threat as a mere miner.  Walter raised his hand as if hailing the man, muttering a few words under his breath.  A sudden blast of power erupted from his fingertips, shrouding the miner and stopping him in his tracks.

#

   Stefan reeled under the sudden onslaught, but his shields tightened automatically, deflecting the brunt of the attack.  The air around him crackled with deflected energies, much of the power entering the ground, although for a moment afterwards the lightning-like energies swirled about him as they dissipated, filling the atmosphere with a tang that reminded Stefan of the smell of an approaching storm.  

   A stifle moan from the underbrush.  Stefan quelled a surge of panic.  Sextus?

   Damn, that hurt!  Don’t mind me, Stefan, keep your mind on your business.  I’ll cope.


   Stefan dared not look behind him to check on how his friend was faring.  He stepped forward, his hair still standing at the back of his neck, as much from the energies that had threatened him as from an involuntary shiver of fear.  He forced it down, keeping his focus locked on the opponent before him.

   “Should I be dead now, Baron Walter?  I’m sorry to disappoint.”  

#

   The energies roiling off Stefan had discharged in all directions, and while Sextus’s shields had also protected him from the brunt of the psychic blast, he’d still taken quite a jolt as his body served as a conduit between the power-charged air and the ground.  And given that more of his body had been in direct contact with that ground than Stefan’s, his muscles had contracted involuntarily at that moment.  The spasm had ceased immediately afterwards, but he still ached.

   This must be what it feels like to be hit by lightning, Sextus thought.  Thank God he wasn’t human, or the smell of seared flesh would now be filling the air.  Stefan might find that a bit distracting.

#

   Walter gaped momentarily at the man walking towards him.  He should be dead now!  A part of his mind stared uncomprehendingly at the miner, wondering why he wasn’t, but then the puzzle piece clicked into place.  Of course!  The man must be Deryni.

   If he was Deryni, though, he couldn’t possibly be a well trained one.  Not here in Gwynedd, and certainly not of the peasant class.  An education—any kind of education—cost money, and few rustics could afford to spend their coin on an education beyond the basic lessons that could be acquired in a village school.  Certainly he’d not have had the resources to pay for travel expenses and an education abroad, where formal training in the Deryni arts might be acquired.  The King’s precious Schola was far too new to have trained a pupil this man’s age.   No, the man probably had picked up a trick or two over the years, but that was it.  Walter would easily best him.

   This meant, though, that he couldn’t simply kill him the easy way.  He’d have to bloody his sword after all.  Ah, well, that’s what it was for, after all.  

   Walter drew his weapon.

#

   Stefan smiled in grim satisfaction.  There was a reason Deryni generally favored regular combat over magical attacks except for occasions that warranted a Duel Arcane.  The sort of spellcasting that Walter had just used on him was quite tiring and could not be sustained indefinitely.  While the blast would certainly have killed a mere human, by underestimating his opponent Walter had undermined his own strength.  Oh, Stefan must be careful not to make the same mistake. He was certain Walter still had enough energy to offer a challenge in hand to hand combat.  However, he would be fighting now as one who had already been involved in pitched battle for several minutes, whereas Stefan's energies were still fresh.  Some amount of energy had been required to protect him from Walter's blast of power, of course, but not so much as to equal the amount Walter had spent in casting it at him.

   Walter lifted his sword, the pale moonlight glinting off the cold steel, and in that moment, Stefan reached under his cloak and drew forth a weapon suitable for his assumed role…a miner’s pick.

#

   What the hell?  Walter stared as the miner brandished the sharp pick.   Did he truly think he could defeat him, a trained swordsman, with that?  Certainly Walter would have to be on his guard; he had not come out prepared for actual combat—true, he had grabbed for his sword nonetheless, but that had been more of a reflexive act than anything else—for he’d been certain his magical attack would dispatch the threat without the need for him to jeopardize his life by drawing any closer to the blackmailer than necessary for the spell to be effective.  But still, this rustic surely must know that a nobleman equipped with a sword, not to mention years of martial training, would be far better equipped in a fight than some mere laborer using the tools of his trade in a manner they were not intended for.  What an idiot this man must be!  Why, he hadn’t the reach; Walter’s broadsword was easily a foot longer than the handle of that miner’s pick.  He’d have to close in to have any hope of landing a blow, and Walter could easily skewer him if he came within that close a range.

   But something about the scene before him made him uneasy.  Something about this man, despite his dress and his odd choice of weapon, seemed off.  He didn’t look deferential enough, perhaps that was it.  Of course, he’d come to challenge Walter, but still, a lifetime of servitude should have instilled in him some ingrained habits of behavior and posture.  But this man dared to look him in the eye, like any noble lord, and as he slowly crossed the distance between himself and his baron, he moved like a man not as unaccustomed to the footwork of the battle field as he ought to be.  The pieces weren't adding up, leaving Walter feeling on edge.  He didn't like uncertainty.

   “You don't know who I am, do you?”  The other man sounded calm, far too calm for a commoner—Deryni or not—who was facing the full wrath of a Deryni Lord.  Who was he?  The by-blow of some other Deryni, mayhap, accustomed enough to the presence of a nobleman not to be cowed?  Perhaps one of Morgan's illegitimate get grown to manhood, traveling north of his usual range?  Walter frowned.  He'd never heard of the Duke of Corwyn having a bastard child, but then again, Morgan was the discreet sort.  Surely he must have had a liaison or two in his youth that he'd simply never mentioned at Court.  Why would he mention his bastards, after all?  Walter certainly had never made a point of acknowledging his own get.  Unless one had sired an heir, what was the point?

   It made no difference who this man was.  One didn't need a name in order to die.

   Walter circled the man warily, taking his measure.

#

   Stefan grinned, more a feral smile than an expression of amusement, and took the offensive, charging towards the startled baron.  Walter hastily threw up his sword to block the swing of Stefan’s pick, but at the last moment Stefan turned his arm slightly, foiling Walter’s blade with his weapon, nearly wrenching it from the man’s hand.  Walter backed off a few paces, muttering curses under his breath.

   “Thought you'd make a small fortune off me, did you?” the baron asked.

   “Your death will suffice,” Stefan assured him as he struck a second time, leaping in close enough to take a swipe at Walter before swiftly leaping backwards again as Walter’s sword sliced through the air where he'd just been standing.  His own weapon flew up as Stefan attempted to use the pick’s head to intercept the sword and wrench it from Walter’s grip with a twist, though at the last moment Walter managed to extricate his sword and leap another step back.

   A few more steps back, and Walter would be perfectly placed for Sextus to make his move.  

#

   Something about the man seemed strangely familiar, and as their slow move towards the center of the clearing brought him further out of the shadows of the treeline, Walter could see him more clearly in the soft moonlight.

   “It’s you!” he breathed.  “Javana’s leavings.  What, are you thinking to have her back now?  Surely you don’t think you can keep two wives at that pathetic little manor hovel of yours?”

#

   Stefan smiled grimly, refusing to be baited by the man before him.  ‘Javana’s leavings,’ was he?  Well, that was an interesting twist.  How the baron knew of his prior relationship with Javana, Stefan could only guess.  Hopefully he’d not ripped that knowledge from her mind.  If he had…well, Sextus wasn’t the only one who would rejoice at this scum’s death.  

   “You should have enjoyed more of her while you had the chance,” Walter taunted.  “She’s quite the dainty little morsel.  Of course, I’d have killed you for it after, but you might have found her well worth dying for.”  He laughed.  “Apparently you still do.”  He took a jab at Stefan as the younger man stepped forward to close the distance between them, but Stefan struck the sword’s tip away with his pick, his eyes never leaving Walter’s face, then brought pick up in a sideways arc towards Walter’s skull, forcing him another step back.

   “I wonder if she ever thinks of you while I’m using her?” Walter mused, a sneer marring his handsome features.  “I’ll have to tell her that her hero came back for her after all.  I’m sure she’ll shed a tear or two for you when I ride her tonight.” His sword swung out, narrowly missing Stefan’s neck, though Stefan managed to duck beneath the sword in time, bringing his pick upwards, narrowly missing Walter’s groin.  The baron leaped back another step.

   “Naughty lad!” Walter taunted, though he turned slightly pale.  “I’m still using those.”

   “Not for much longer,” Stefan offered.

   Walter smiled.  “Does your wife scream out for you, Sir Stefan?”

   He sent a lurid picture slamming into Stefan's mind.

#

   It was all Stefan could do to keep from mindlessly charging at Walter as the image of Javana's face, contorted in an expression more agonized than impassioned, flooded his mind.  He forced himself to ignore the vision as best he could, keeping his outward gaze fixed on her loathsome husband even as his mind was assaulted by Walter's memory of those haunted eyes in that anguished face, the only true mirror of the feelings she must have had locked away deep inside herself as her body responded to Walter's controls.  It was like watching a puppet move, witnessing Javana's seemingly passionate outward response to Walter's husbandly ministrations, but behind her body's actions, the full horror she felt inside shining forth from her eyes, the only part of herself that remained fully hers at that moment.  Rage filled Stefan, but he understood that was Walter's intent, so he forced the emotion down, allowing iron control to transmute it, as an alchemist might transmute lead to gold, into the resolve he needed to take careful aim at Walter's head.

   He swung, turning the pick handle at the last moment to ensure that the flat of the blade would make contact with Walter's skull and not the point, for Sextus needed the bastard alive, so Stefan would do his best to avoid killing him for the moment.  After Sextus was done  with him, though, he'd gladly see the swiving gallows-bait rot.  Gone were his earlier qualms at the thought of killing a man in cold blood; now he simply hoped Walter would suffer sufficiently before he met his end.

#

   Walter smiled at the shaken look in his opponent's eyes.  As the pick swung towards his head, he ducked, lunging forward.  With his free hand, he caught Stefan's weapon arm, forcing it upwards even as he brought his right knee forward to slam into the knight's crotch.  Stefan's knees buckled under the assault and he fell backwards onto the ground as Walter leaped clear.  He gave the younger man scant time to recover, lunging forward with sword at the ready, prepared to skewer Stefan before he could recover his faculties enough to take another swing with his pick.

   A sharp pain pricked his neck just at that moment, and before he could carry out his planned attack, a bitter metallic taste flooded his mouth.  His vision began to waver, the world starting to careen out of control around him.  Walter fell to his knees, bewildered and apprehensive, as a surge of nausea overwhelmed him.  He struggled to regain control, but his sword fell from suddenly nerveless fingers.

   Sextus Arilan stepped forward out of the shadows.  "Are you familiar with merasha, Lord Walter? I assumed that was part of every Deryni's training! Oh wait, you weren't formally trained, were you? More's the pity...for you, that is. Well, I suppose it's better to learn some lessons late than never...."  The youngest Arilan brother smiled, looking positively diabolical in the moonlight.  “By the way, brother, congratulations on your seventh wedding anniversary!  Though perhaps I should be congratulating my sister instead for the imminent loss of her husband.”

   Walter quailed beneath the hatred in the man's eyes, feeling his first shiver of fear.


Part Eighteen:  http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=686.0
« Last Edit: March 21, 2011, 09:26:47 am by Evie »
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline Alkari

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Re: Possessed--Part Seventeen
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2011, 09:40:30 am »
Yay for the rescue mission!!

*shivers in delight and reaches for selection of implements*  Now, what did readers suggest we need - red-hot pokers?  Scrapers to wipe the remnants of Walter off the floor? 
« Last Edit: March 18, 2011, 11:40:01 am by Alkari »

Offline AnnieUK

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Re: Possessed--Part Seventeen
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2011, 10:35:52 am »
Whoo hoo!  Go, Sextus and Stefan!  :D

Offline Elkhound

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Re: Possessed--Part Seventeen
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2011, 11:46:33 am »
Pincers, knives, acid, hot oil. . . .

Offline Evie

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Re: Possessed--Part Seventeen
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2011, 11:54:01 am »
*dies laughing*

Next week, maybe I should just post the following:

       Possessed--Part Eighteen

        May 20, evening
        Caerdraig


        Evie turns Walter over to his readers. 


 ;D
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Offline Jerusha

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Re: Possessed--Part Seventeen
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2011, 01:55:28 pm »
What a thoughtful anniversary gift for Javana!

I am glad Walter finally feels fear after causing it for so many for so long.  Now bring on the pain............

Do we have to take turns in Chapter Eighteen?
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 Seventeen
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2011, 02:07:29 pm »
Do we have to take turns in Chapter Eighteen?

Heh.  Maybe there should be two Chapter Eighteens...the pre-written chapter, and a post in the Role-Playing section which just says "Chapter Eighteen--The Readers Have At Walter" and lets everyone come up with their own creative ways for him to die.  Muahahahaha!  ;D

"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline Alkari

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Re: Possessed--Part Seventeen
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2011, 05:13:47 pm »
I have always favoured the Chinese bamboo torture as a particularly nasty and painful way to die, but alas, it is probably too cold in Kheldour for bamboo to grow, or at least grow rapidly enough for this to be effective.   Of course, if a friendly Deryni could do some weather working and produce an instant tropical environment ...   :D

OTOH, red hot pokers or 'death by a thousand little cuts' also sound suitable for dear Walter.   And they will work well anywhere  - not to mention that they would allow a lot of people to partcipate   ;)
« Last Edit: March 18, 2011, 05:38:44 pm by Alkari »

Offline derynifanatic64

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Re: Possessed--Part Seventeen
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2011, 06:44:31 pm »
I get to put a few Stenrect Crawlers in a circle around Walter.  And have Sextus put Javana's face on them as they slowly approach him................
« Last Edit: March 18, 2011, 07:44:03 pm by derynifanatic64 »
We will never forget the events of 9-11!!  USA!! USA!!

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Possessed--Part Seventeen
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2011, 07:44:40 pm »
I rather favour the poison Stefan Coram used in High Deryni - excrutiatingly painful for a very long time with no antidote.
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 Shiral

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Re: Possessed--Part Seventeen
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2011, 01:27:37 am »
Stenrects.... that idea has merits.  That or a caradot. But truly, being burned alive is my choice for Walter. He's one of the only people who could deserve a fate that cruel. Toasted Caerdrig Testes on toast, anyone?

So.... if Walter is now incapacitated, will his controls on Javana  cease while he's still alive, so she can REALLY enjoy seeing her bastard husband punished?  :D

Remind me never to piss off the Arilans....

Melissa
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Offline Evie

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Re: Possessed--Part Seventeen
« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2011, 09:45:01 pm »
Eww, Kheldish Riding Mountain Oysters...did you really have to go there, Shiral?!   ;D
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline Shiral

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Re: Possessed--Part Seventeen
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2011, 12:26:10 am »
Feed 'em to Walter's dogs while he's looking, then.  ;)

I have a feeling that whatever comes before Walter gets dumped down the mineshaft is NOT going to be fun.....at least not for Walter!

Including knowing personal terror for once in his nasty life.

Melissa
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Offline Alkari

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Re: Possessed--Part Seventeen
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2011, 08:08:06 am »
We're a nice bloodthirsty lot, aren't we!  :D

 

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