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Author Topic: Legacy - Part 1  (Read 4701 times)

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Offline Alkari

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Legacy - Part 1
« on: February 02, 2012, 02:51:19 am »
LEGACY

Author's note:  In chapter 5 of "Forgiveness", Richenda mentions a Deryni family who'd fled to Corwyn when Alaric was only a young man, begging him to take their few precious Deryni books for the ducal library. Richenda's research involved her discovery of one of those books and her realisation that it had probably been written by Queron Kinevan.   I got to wondering about that refugee family and the father's gift to the duke, and started writing.  But as often happens, what started out as a very short story grew quite a bit longer and took a slightly different slant once I met young Simon Markham.   Duke Alaric Morgan has just turned 19.   This story is a stand-alone in 2 parts, but Simon is still safely in Coroth in 1128, so who knows what might happen if he decides to talk to me in future?

______________

Coroth Castle, October, 1110.

 “Your name?” asked the middle-aged clerk, looking up from the parchment scroll.   To his left, a younger man smoothed a page in a large volume and moved an inkpot closer, while two green-liveried lads stood attentively nearby.  

“Markham.  Simon Markham.”  

“And where are you from, Master Markham?

Where am I from?   He swallowed, feeling the people pressing around, lining up behind him and waiting to register their attendance at the ducal court.  But he and his family had been here for nearly a week now, so his answer was truthful as far as it went.  “Coroth.”

“Where in Coroth?”

“Shepford Lane.”  

Two quills made notes.   “Your business today, Master Markham?  Do you have a petition for His Grace?”  

“My – my father seeks an audience with His Grace.  He has some books he would like to give him.”   Simon nervously adjusted the shoulder strap of his satchel, reciting the explanation they’d rehearsed that morning and hoping he sounded older than his seventeen years.

“An audience about some books?”  He could sense their surprise: not the usual type of matter for a commoner to bring before the Duke of Corwyn’s court, especially one giving his address as a street in Oldfields.   On the edge of one of the poorer quarters of Coroth, its narrow alleys and close-packed houses smelling of tar, woodsmoke, stale beer, unwashed bodies, household slops, fish guts and offal, and other less desirable substances.  A place of seedy inns and taverns, where there was safety in numbers, but mercifully few questions asked.  They would move from there as soon as they could ...

“Yes.  My father is an old man.  He inherited them.  He is no scholar and wants to offer them to His Grace for his library.”   And that was also true, as far as it went.

Two pairs of eyes measured him, then the older man nodded pleasantly and made notes on the scroll.  “Very well.  His Grace is proud of the library here, and may be interested in your offer.   Your application should be heard before the noonday meal, but if not, you can come back here and get a token for some bread and a mug of ale.”  A wave of the hand gestured him to move along.

A token for bread and ale at midday?  Given his limited experience with the nobility, Simon was surprised at the Duke’s generosity. He knew that petitioners and others attending the courts of great lords were expected to bring their own food, as he had done, though he supposed that a barrel or two of ale and some coarse bread would cost little enough for a wealthy duke on these occasions.  At least his subjects would see something for the taxes they paid.  

Once again he checked the satchel.  A single book wrapped in an old piece of cloth was hardly a heavy burden, but he felt as if it was glowing brightly at his side, almost burning him.   “Remember - for the Duke’s eyes only!” his father had admonished him repeatedly, though Simon had no idea how he would refuse to show it to guards or other officials if required.    

Could the Coroth guards read?   The common soldiers and guards they’d met on their travels were barely literate and on inspections had done little more than casually flick through the books in case they concealed weapons or valuables.  It had never occurred to them that the true value lay in the words themselves.  Still, even if they could read, the book he’d brought today was merely a volume of history.  Simon doubted whether even the clerks would recognise the significance of its author, although if they served at the court of a Deryni duke ...

Another green-liveried official waved him through into the main part of the hall, and he tried not to gawk as he paused near a pillar, allowing his eyes to adjust and taking in the splendour.   Daylight spilling from high-set windows was supplemented by torches set on some of the tall pillars.  Rich wood panelling, some of it carved ornately – tapestries and colourful banners – heavy iron chandeliers, their candles as yet unlit – two large fireplaces to either side, also unlit in the mild autumn – and at the far end of the hall, the ducal dais.  

He walked forward as directed.  Rows of heavy benches had been set out some distance in front of the dais, and people were shuffling and murmuring as they found places and awaited their turns.   Simon settled onto one end of a bench, next to an old woman who clung tightly to the man next to her as they looked about almost fearfully.  

There were six men sitting at the long wooden table on the dais, two of them obviously clerks.  Three of the others were older men, garbed in heavy formal court robes.  But it was the slender one seated in the centre who compelled attention.  

So this was the famous – or as some would say, infamous – Duke Alaric Morgan.  A Deryni who lived openly as such, despite the Church’s preachings and opposition, and who was known to be His Majesty King Brion’s closest friend.  The King had used his Haldane powers to defeat the Marluk only a few years ago, yet it was rumoured that Morgan had had something to do with that, and had somehow worked his own Deryni magic to help the king ...   Though most people crossed themselves when they spoke of it, and then only in whispers.  

He was so young!  He looked hardly older than Simon himself.  Somehow, he’d never thought of the high nobility as being young men: he’d never even seen a duke, and his few brief glimpses of the Earl of Eastmarch had shown him to be a man of his father’s age or older.  The duke wore a deep green court robe, richly embroidered around neck and sleeves, and Simon’s practised eyes took in the quality of the fabric and workmanship.  Morgan’s hair shone pale gold, against which the fine band of his coronet was barely visible.    

Simon tried not to stare too hard as he studied the man, but quickly found his attention captured by the matter being heard.  It concerned a claim against a merchant who’d given short-weight to several clients, and Simon wondered how long this would take.  He hoped it wouldn’t take up the entire morning.   One of the attendants standing nearby seemed to have a friendly face, and Simon sidled across, hoping to find out what was going on.  

The man seemed surprised, but answered readily enough.  “Finishing a case from the other day,” he murmured. “Won’t take long.  Master Fitch’s been up before the duke before – duke won’t take kindly to that.  Second time he’s ordered the guild to check Fitch’s scales.   Duke don’t hold for cheating.”  An amused snort.  “Some’ll never learn.”

Simon thought of his father Joseph and the precious set of small brass scales and tiny weights he carried as a silversmith.  As a child he’d been fascinated by the apparatus, and had once earned a sound thrashing from the normally mild-mannered Joseph when he’d found his young son playing with the tiny brass discs.   Those were more precious than gold, he’d impressed on Simon, for a silversmith’s reputation depended not just on the quality of the work, but on giving accurate measurements of the precious jewels and metals he worked with.   As he grew older and began to learn the craft himself, Simon had been allowed to use the scales when helping his father, but the words had stayed with him as he began to appreciate the importance of accurate measurement in many aspects of everyday life.

The attendant was right: the duke certainly didn’t take kindly to Master Fitch’s conduct.  After awarding compensation to the three affected customers, he imposed a fine of twenty marks on the man.  Twenty marks!   That was five sovereigns!   Several people gasped, while Master Fitch paled and fell to his knees, wailing and protesting about his poverty and the effects on his wife and poor children.  

“Be quiet!”  The duke barely raised his voice but there was instant silence.  “You have been warned before.  The family of a man who owns a house, a warehouse, and several horses and mules is not about to starve to death.  I am also ordering that you have your weights and scales checked by the Merchants’ Guild every month for the next two years, and yes, I know they charge a fee for that.”  The look he gave Master Fitch had all the warmth of a Kheldish snowstorm.   “And if you are ever brought before my courts again on such a matter, here or in Lendour, a fine will be the least of your worries.”

Simon couldn’t hear what orders were given to the guards, but they marched the white-faced man away.   He swallowed: the duke might be young, but he wielded stern justice.  Still, short-weight was a serious matter and the duke obviously intended to see that business in Corwyn was conducted fairly by all parties.  Simon was also quietly amused that the duke knew details of Master Fitch’s assets.  He glanced across at the guard, who nodded slightly and gave an approving “Told you so!” smile.   Simon returned the smile, then settled down to observe.
 
The duke may have been harsh with Master Fitch, but his demeanour changed abruptly as the next person was called.  Simon’s initial nervousness at attending court quickly vanished as he became caught up in the proceedings, not just in the cases themselves, but also in the duke’s handling of them.  Intrigued, he watched the way Morgan managed to combine formality with courtesy, smiling at each new petitioner who moved forward to present their case, listening and asking questions politely, occasionally conferring with the men to either side of him, rendering decisions quietly and in words that the people could understand.  Once or twice he thought the duke glanced at him, but hastily averted his gaze in case Morgan took exception to the scrutiny.  

Simon was so busy watching and thinking about things that he barely realised his own matter was being called.  He rose hastily just as “Master Simon Markham” was being announced for the second time, almost dropping the satchel in his sudden confusion.  He was sure his knees and legs were shaking as he moved to the front and bowed deeply before the Duke of Corwyn.

“Master Markham.”  A friendly smile, keen grey eyes regarding him with interest.  “I believe your business concerns some books?”

“Yes, Your Grace.” His mouth was dry, he wished he could swallow properly.   “My father seeks an audience with you.  He – he thought perhaps – maybe the books would interest you.  For your library. ”   He must sound like an idiot, Simon thought.  

“What sort of books are they?”

Simon took a deep breath.  “History.  Some poetry.  Some essays, a few sermons and prayers.   They are old books.”

“And you brought one of them with you, I think?”  The duke nodded at Simon’s satchel.

“Yes, Your Grace.”  Simon bent to fumble at the lacings of the satchel, extracting the precious bundle and taking a step forward to offer it to the duke.  Instantly a tall attendant stepped between them, taking the book from Simon’s hands and opening the cloth wrapping suspiciously.

“Easy, Merrit,” said the duke, smiling again and leaning forward.  “I doubt this young man intends to assassinate me with an old book.”   With a wary glance at Simon, the man handed the bundle up to Morgan, who placed it on the table and finished unwrapping it.  

He handles it carefully, thought Simon with approval.   But does he know it’s by a Deryni writer?  Will he find the message?  Does a Deryni have to know there is something there before being able to read it?  He knew little about magic: his parents thought it was better that way.  Like his sisters, he could Truth-read a little, but his father had refused to teach them anything else.  ‘Too dangerous, too dangerous!’ Joseph had insisted, and their mother had agreed.    

The only thing his father had told him was that there was a hidden message in the frontpiece, and that he should try to ensure that the duke touched it.  Perhaps then the duke would agree to an audience.  Though if the duke wasn’t interested in the book at all, Simon had no idea how he’d get him to touch the frontpiece.

The book lay there before them.  It looked very ordinary.  Dark brown leather cover, somewhat battered, the embossed lettering slightly shiny from the fingers that had touched it over the years.   There was nothing immediately startling about a copy of the History and Legends of Old Kheldour, written by Dirian McTaggart late in the tenth century, even if some people thought the work owed more to his imagination than true scholarship.  

Morgan opened the book and regarded the illustrated frontpiece.  In contrast to the cover, this was indeed beautiful:  Simon knew that even a non-Deryni would appreciate the intricate work.   He hesitated, then cleared his throat as desperation lent him the courage to speak up before being addressed.

“The frontpiece, my lord.  It – it has been worked on many times over the years.  It has an – an interesting texture.”      

“Texture?”  Morgan glanced down at him, one eyebrow raised slightly, then turned his attention back to the book.  Ever so lightly he touched one finger to the gilded letters.    And paused, looking down intently.  After what seemed an eternity the finger moved on, merely brushing the surface and skimming slowly down the page, pausing occasionally in the manner of a scholar examining the artwork.  

Simon let out his breath softly; he hadn’t realised he’d been holding it.  The duke studied the page a little longer, then slowly leafed through the volume, turning over the pages carefully before returning to the frontpiece.  He picked up the book and tilted it slightly to catch the light from the tall rack of candles behind him.

“The workmanship is indeed quite beautiful,” he said admiringly, showing the book to the dark-haired man sitting to his right.  “And as you say,” the grey eyes swung back to Simon, “a remarkable texture to some of the letters.  The work seems to have several layers.”

“Yes, my lord.  The artist was very skilled.”   Simon found he could meet those eyes now, no longer nervous, relieved that the duke understood.   I don’t know if he could read the message, but at least he knows there is something there.  

“And your father wishes to offer me other works of this nature?”  

Simon nodded, suddenly unable to speak.  Morgan studied the frontpiece again, then closed the book and re-wrapped it.   “I would be very interested to see them.  Your father is not here today?”

“No, he wasn’t feeling well this morning.   We have been travelling recently and he is a little tired, my lord.”

Travelling.  If that was the right word for fleeing south, leaving Rengarth and the angry exhortations against the Deryni from an itinerant bishop who had been stirring up the local population, seeking the only possible place in Gwynnedd where they might now hope to find a refuge.  

“I’m sorry to hear that.  I hope he recovers quickly.” Another slight nod, another shrewd glance.  “Some of the roads into Corwyn from the north are not easy at the best of times, and alas, damage from floods last spring has made them worse.”  It was an easy, conversational reply, and no-one listening would think anything of it.  Except that Simon hadn’t said where they had been travelling: the duke had drawn his own accurate conclusion.  “So, your father seeks an audience to show me the other books.  Lord Robert,” he turned again to the man on his right, “when can we find time this week?”
 
The man frowned, consulted a small green-bound book, and held a whispered conversation with the duke.   Morgan turned back to Simon.  “This Friday?  At sext?  Do you think your father will feel better by then?”

“Oh yes, my lord.  He was only tired.  Thank you, my lord.  Thank you.”   Simon bowed deeply.  An audience so quickly!  His father had warned him they might have to wait for weeks.

“Good.  May I keep this until then?”  Morgan gestured at the History.  “I know we haven’t got a copy here in Coroth, though there is one in the Royal Library in Rhemuth.”

“My father wished you to have it as a gift, my lord.”

“Indeed.  Then I thank him and look forward to meeting him and seeing the others.  Only,” Morgan leant forward and spoke softly for Simon alone, giving a wickedly boyish grin, “I do hope there aren’t too many sermons!  Some clerics can be rather - tedious.  I much prefer history and poetry.”

Simon found himself returning the grin, then hastily remembered where he was and bowed again nervously.

“Very well.  Friday at sext.  Good day, Master Markham, and thank you.”  Morgan nodded to him, formal once more, and turned to summon a nearby squire.  Simon knew he was dismissed.
 
________________


« Last Edit: February 05, 2012, 04:39:52 pm by Alkari »

Offline Elkhound

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Re: Legacy - Part 1
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2012, 07:29:24 am »
I love it.  In the words of Oliver Twist. . .  .

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Legacy - Part 1
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2012, 09:03:44 am »
Nice portrayal of the young Duke Alaric holding court.  Not a man I would want to be brought up before on charges of cheating (or any other charges for that matter.)  ;)

Simon piques my curiosity.  I like him and look forward to seeing more of him.  Perhaps someday he’ll enjoy Morgan’s patronage as the ducal silversmith.
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Offline Evie

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Re: Legacy - Part 1
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2012, 09:11:28 am »
I like Simon.  Hopefully, now that Gwynedd is moving into a safer age for Deryni, he'll someday be able to learn more about the powers that are his Deryni heritage.

And it's nice to see a different sort of "Alaric action scene" from the usual.   :D
« Last Edit: February 02, 2012, 02:45:59 pm by Evie »
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Offline Evie

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Re: Legacy - Part 1
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2012, 03:12:45 pm »
Quote
“Easy, Merrit,” said the duke, smiling again and leaning forward.  “I doubt this young man intends to assassinate me with an old book.”

You know, come to think of it, there's probably a way to do exactly that.  Poisoned ink on that frontispiece springs to mind....

Wait, have I been living with characters like Walter and Ædwige inside my head for far too long?   *wide-eyed innocent look*  

 :D
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Offline Alkari

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Re: Legacy - Part 1
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2012, 04:05:26 pm »
You know, come to think of it, there's probably a way to do exactly that.  Poisoned ink on that frontispiece springs to mind....  

I have undoubtedly been Deviously Plotting in Chat and reading too many of your works, because that aspect did cross my mind for one instant. :D    

However, realism then prevailed, because of course any sort of contact poison would only work if you were sure that the intended victim would be the only person handling the item.  And there was no way of knowing whether guards and officials would inspect packages being into the hall as "presents" for the duke.  Having several guards or squires drop dead upon inspecting an item would tend to alert people, I'd say!!
« Last Edit: February 02, 2012, 04:47:03 pm by Alkari »

Offline derynifanatic64

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Re: Legacy - Part 1
« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2012, 04:33:09 pm »
I am very curious to find out about that message on the frontpiece too.  Looking forward to part 2.
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Re: Legacy - Part 1
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2012, 06:24:44 pm »
You know, come to think of it, there's probably a way to do exactly that.  Poisoned ink on that frontispiece springs to mind....  

I have undoubtedly been Deviously Plotting in Chat and reading too many of your works, because that aspect did cross my mind for one instant. :D    

However, realism then prevailed, because of course any sort of contact poison would only work if you were sure that the intended victim would be the only person handling the item.  And there was no way of knowing whether guards and officials would inspect packages being into the hall as "presents" for the duke.  Having several guards or squires drop dead upon inspecting an item would tend to alert people, I'd say!!

Well, no, it would also work if it's a slow acting poison that takes several hours to take effect, and if you don't care how much collateral damage you cause....  ;D
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Offline Alkari

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Re: Legacy - Part 1
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2012, 07:56:57 pm »
Quote
Well, no, it would also work if it's a slow acting poison that takes several hours to take effect, and if you don't care how much collateral damage you cause....
I think you have been associating with all your murderous characters far too much!  :D

But I also suspect that in those days, poisoning was a lot more direct (see the poisoned sweetmeats that killed Marie and others in ITKS) and no-one really worried about 'slow acting', unless they wanted to make it appear as a gradual illness or 'succumbed to old age and ill health' like poor Sir Gilrae.   Difficult when you are dealing with a healthy young man like Alaric!   A straight out poison murder attempt on him would most likely have involved just bribing or coercing someone to slip stuff into the Duke's food or wine, or possibly that sweetmeat tactic.   

Far more likely would be a straight out knife in the dark or a well-planned ambush ...   It does make you wonder just how many of those attempts may have been made over the years, given Morgan's penchant for wearing light mail under his tunics.  Particularly as he doesn't seem to travel around with a large 'ducal' retinue of guards.   I'm sure he does have an appropriate retinue when moving between Rhemuth and Coroth for an extended period at either place, but he doesnt seem too fussed about an escort otherwise. ( Í'm always amused to read Morgan's recollection in DC about Brion getting the news of Kelson's birth: he and Brion had gone off by themselves for a ride, with no other escort in sight!)   

And dear Archbishop Loris of course, would have much preferred to see Morgan die slowly and painfully, by burning at the stake or the hang, draw and quarter technique.  Plenty of time for the victim to scream andbeg for forgiveness and mercy ...   :(

*sigh*   Isn't it lucky that this fic doesn't actually involve murder?!!   Only a brief mention of some deaths in Part 2.    *Grins*  No murder, violence, sex, romance, affairs, lovelorn Bishops  ...  I'll get booted off the fanfic thread in disgrace :D


Offline Elkhound

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Re: Legacy - Part 1
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2012, 08:44:10 pm »
*Grins*  No murder, violence, sex, romance, affairs, lovelorn Bishops 

Who are you and what have you done with Alkari?

Offline Alkari

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Re: Legacy - Part 1
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2012, 09:22:04 pm »
LOL - my name is Alkari, not Evie  :D     

SHE is the one who comes up with all these murderous characters and a variety of lovelorn maidens, widows and bishops ;)    I merely gave you romantic Alaric and Richenda, a little girl and her Tiger, and a gradually repentant Jehana.    (Though I will admit to occasionally 'encouraging' Evie!   *whistles innocently* )

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Re: Legacy - Part 1
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2012, 10:02:51 pm »
Quote
Well, no, it would also work if it's a slow acting poison that takes several hours to take effect, and if you don't care how much collateral damage you cause....
I think you have been associating with all your murderous characters far too much!  :D

Well, there is that....   :D

Quote
But I also suspect that in those days, poisoning was a lot more direct (see the poisoned sweetmeats that killed Marie and others in ITKS) and no-one really worried about 'slow acting', unless they wanted to make it appear as a gradual illness or 'succumbed to old age and ill health' like poor Sir Gilrae.   Difficult when you are dealing with a healthy young man like Alaric!   A straight out poison murder attempt on him would most likely have involved just bribing or coercing someone to slip stuff into the Duke's food or wine, or possibly that sweetmeat tactic.    

There's also the use of slow-acting poison to make it harder for anyone to trace it back to the poisoner, or simply because the poison of choice just happens to be slow-acting, although it might have been selected for some other reason, such as its effectiveness or its ability to pass for something harmless.  Take the Death Cap mushroom as a classic example.  If I had a dollar for every case of Death Cap poisoning throughout history--either deliberate or accidental--I'd retire tonight and spend the rest of my life touring the world. :D  Death Caps (I forget the exact scientific name; they're in the Amanita family but aren't the bright scarlet ones, they're a species that closely resemble several edible types of mushrooms, which just adds to the wacky fun) don't have immediate onset of symptoms.  The initial symptoms can begin several hours after ingestion, and someone who doesn't suspect poisoning might think they simply have a really bad gastrointestinal bug that lasts up to two or three days. (Of course, if you *do* suspect poisoning, then you're likely to think that you've survived it and the assassin didn't succeed...which makes what happens next a really nasty surprise!)  After the initial symptoms, the victim starts to feel better, but the mushroom continues to do its nasty work over the next few days, destroying internal organs.  Then, assuming a lack of treatments not available back in the Middle Ages (such as a liver transplant), you're worm bait.  Secondary symptoms include lovely stuff like brain bleeding, kidney failure, liver failure, and cardiac arrest.  Death from Death Cap poisoning tends to happen several days after the actual poisoning...six to ten, I think, or something like that.  If I didn't already loathe mushrooms with a passion, I think I'd have sworn off them for life after studying up on the Death Cap!   ;D

Yes, but that's an ingested poison, you say?  Here's another fun bit, then.  The toxin from Death Cap mushrooms is so lethal, it's generally recommended not to touch them or to collect them in any container one plans to put food in later.  And it's not destroyed by heat or freezing (not that it would be easy to freeze food in the Middle Ages unless one has a source of ice, but cooking won't break down the poison).  And even in period, there were people who had cleverly worked out how to collect just the poison from the lethal little 'shroom, so you wouldn't even need to sneak mushrooms into their stew or salad.  You could just dose them with the poison concentrate, whether in food, or perhaps in some other form...like, say, perhaps even ink or paint.  Handy, no?   :D  Granted, just touching a poisoned painting might not deposit enough toxin on the fingertips to kill if it was absorbed through the skin.  But back in the Middle Ages, forks hadn't come into use yet, so it was highly likely you'd put those fingers in your mouth sometime, or at least pick up food with them, and even if you'd washed your hands first (most people did), there's a chance you'd not wash it all away in time.  Or even before your meal, you might happen to touch your lips, rub your eyes...heaven help you if you're a nail biter....  

So, sure, an assassin could possibly double his chances of getting away with the crime if he also bribes a guard or cook to slip the deadly substance into a meal or look away while he does it.  But then again, you're more likely to be able to bribe said guard or cook if you can assure them that what they're agreeing to do or allow will take enough time to take effect, it's quite likely no one will even remember the exact sequence of events during that meal once the initial symptoms start to show up.   If you time things right, a poison slipped into a between-meals snack or wine goblet might not begin to manifest itself until after the main course of feast...and then someone else gets blamed, not the actual culprit(s)!   :D

Of course, I suspect Alaric would be all too aware of all of this, and would do a discreet "casting" of his Deryni senses before touching any food, drink, or gift from someone he doesn't know and absolutely trust.  I'll bet he'd have unobtrusively scanned Simon's gift before even saying a word to Merrit.   ;D

Quote
Far more likely would be a straight out knife in the dark or a well-planned ambush ...   It does make you wonder just how many of those attempts may have been made over the years, given Morgan's penchant for wearing light mail under his tunics.  Particularly as he doesn't seem to travel around with a large 'ducal' retinue of guards.   I'm sure he does have an appropriate retinue when moving between Rhemuth and Coroth for an extended period at either place, but he doesnt seem too fussed about an escort otherwise. ( Í'm always amused to read Morgan's recollection in DC about Brion getting the news of Kelson's birth: he and Brion had gone off by themselves for a ride, with no other escort in sight!)  

Oh, agreed, a physical attack of that sort is much more likely.   For one thing, it doesn't require the assassin to have an knowledge in the acquisition and use of poisons, their safe handling, their particular symptoms, etc.  Much easier for most would-be killers to just jump him, preferably when he's alone and apparently unarmored and unarmed.  Though as we know, Alaric is almost never fully unarmored or unarmed...again, for that very reason.   ;D

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And dear Archbishop Loris of course, would have much preferred to see Morgan die slowly and painfully, by burning at the stake or the hang, draw and quarter technique.  Plenty of time for the victim to scream andbeg for forgiveness and mercy ...   :(

That's true.  Though it's probably for the best that a course on poisons is generally not taught in seminary; TKJ might have had a very different ending if Loris had diabolically decided, "Oh, now that the heretic 'Bishop' McLain has merasha in his system, NOW let's see how he reacts to a little taste of Death Cap...muahahaha!!!"  Dhugal, for all his battle surgeon skills, probably would have had difficulty with performing a liver transplant on the spot once he got to his father, even if he'd also discovered his Healer skills early.  And given the nasty symptoms, it's quite likely Duncan would have died screaming for relief, if not for forgiveness.

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*sigh*   Isn't it lucky that this fic doesn't actually involve murder?!!   Only a brief mention of some deaths in Part 2.    *Grins*  No murder, violence, sex, romance, affairs, lovelorn Bishops  ...  I'll get booted off the fanfic thread in disgrace :D

ROFL!  Now, now, my stories aren't all THAT lurid, are they?  They don't all have murders in them, and some don't even have violence...well, OK, some don't have all that much...and as for sex...um..., OK, there's that, but it's mostly "off-screen", and...well, you're right, I do have a fair bit of romance in them...and there's been an affair or two...and...oh dagnabbit, you've got me pegged, haven't you?!  ;D


« Last Edit: February 02, 2012, 10:19:34 pm by Evie »
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Offline Alkari

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Re: Legacy - Part 1
« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2012, 10:56:44 pm »
Yes, we had a case here recently where a couple of people - including a Chinese chef - died because they ate mushrooms they'd picked in the wild, obviously not recognising local poisonous varieties.

Of course, without benefit of modern chemistry and very accurate measurements, there were many historical poisonings that were clearly accidental, and many of the long term cases were often because people were simply ignorant about the substances they were dealing with.  Many alchemists, or those who dabbled in alchemy / chemistry, just didn't know or appreciate the long term effects of certain substances.  And of course, there are a number of elements that are non-poisonous in one or two forms, but may be lethal in another type of compound.  

I think I previously referred you to that fascinating book by John Emsley, The Elements of Murder, which goes into some detail about the various chemical compounds and the lethal / non lethal forms of certain substances, as well as the process of detection (and of course, famous murders or attempted murders!).   As he points out, good ol' arsenic was a very effective poison for hundreds of years because the symptoms of poisoning by the normal compund, arsenic trioxide, were vomiting and diarrhoea, and those could easily be mistaken for many common ailments.  Even if people suspected the victim had been poisoned, there was no adequate means of testing for its presence in an autopsy until the Marsh test was developed in the 1830s, and even then, you had to have juries willing to make a conviction based on forensic evidence.   There are also many cases of accidental arsenic poisoning, such as when it was used in paint and wallpaper pigments, or got into groundwater, etc.

Note:  For readers with slightly eccentric tastes, or a liking for murder mysteries :)  that book really IS quite fascinating, as the author is himself a scientist, being a researcher and lecturer in chemistry at London University before turning his talents to science writing.

However, back to my fic ...

Let me assure readers that Simon and his father do not intend murder :)  But Evie is right: Alaric did make his own quick check assessment of Simon when he first came forward to explain his application.  Poor Simon was so nervous and so inexperienced in magic anyway that he did not realise this.

As for the message in the book, it was nothing at all sinister - it was little more than a Deryni "welcome" message, as the original owner (and perhaps some subsequent ones) had just added Deryni 'footnotes' to some pages of the text, with hidden comments or corrections to certain matters.  To certain scholars, the author's name would have rung bells as being a known or suspected Deryni, but Simon's father wasn't sure if Alaric would recognise the name (being unsure what sort of scholar he was!).   So they chose the book because outwardly it is just an innocent old history book: if Alaric recognises the author he will immediately 'get' the sort of books that are being offered, but having him find the message in the frontpiece is their insurance policy.  As it happened, Alaric had recognised the author and was familiar with the work (hence his comment about the copy in the royal library).  

« Last Edit: February 02, 2012, 11:10:01 pm by Alkari »

Offline Evie

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Re: Legacy - Part 1
« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2012, 11:12:27 pm »
Oh, you made it quite obvious in your story that Simon's and his father's intentions are perfectly innocent.  I was just saying that poisoning something like a book would be a perfectly plausible,  not to mention diabolical, story twist, and a means of killing someone that wouldn't necessary be spotted by even the most vigilant guards right off.  Obviously Simon has no plans of that sort, though.
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Offline Alkari

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Re: Legacy - Part 1
« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2012, 12:11:08 am »
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I was just saying that poisoning something like a book would be a perfectly plausible,  not to mention diabolical, story twist,
ROFL - I leave all those wicked and diabolical story twists up to you, I'm afraid. 

 

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