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Author Topic: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Sixteen  (Read 4091 times)

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Offline Evie

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Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Sixteen
« on: February 24, 2012, 08:35:45 am »
   Chapter Sixteen

   Saint Hilary’s Basilica
   October 31, 1136—morning


   “You have a letter from your steward, Lady Ædwige,” Brother Everard told the young widow of Eddington as he handed a folded parchment into her keeping.

   The young woman broke open the seal, only mildly curious, as the Schola's scribe turned from her chamber door.  Unfolding the letter, her eyes swiftly perused its contents, pausing after the introductory paragraphs to give it a closer read.  She frowned, refolding the missive and tucking it into her bodice.

   "Is there a problem?" Princess Rothana asked as Ædwige looked back up again, reaching for her veil pins to secure her black veil to its head bands.

   "Hm?"  Ædwige glanced in her roommate’s direction briefly, then studied her reflection in the mirror again.  "Oh.  You mean with the letter?  It's just...some manorial business that has come up.  My steward wrote to keep me informed."  She adjusted one of her veil pins until she was satisfied with the drape of the fabric framing her fair features, then turned to scoop up her kitten.  "I’ve finished reading for Magistra Helena's exam on the esoteric symbology involved in ritual magic, so I’m going to take a short break.  Bootsy and I are heading outside to the courtyard to enjoy the sunshine," she informed the Princess as she reached for a light cloak to ward off the mild chill of a fair afternoon in autumn.

   "Here, let me help you with that," Rothana said, rising from her seat to drape the circular garment over the younger woman's shoulders, clasping it at her neck.  "Shall I pull the edge of your veil out from under your cloak, or are you planning on wearing your hood up?"

   "No, leave it down; it's not that cold outside yet.  Thank you."   Ædwige reached up and deftly freed the veil fabric herself with one hand, still cradling Boots with the other.  

   "Will you be back by Vespers?" Rothana asked her roommate.

    Ædwige turned slightly to hide a moue of annoyance.  "I should be, Your Highness."

   Rothana resumed her seat, taking up her needlework once more.  "Good; I'll save a place for you at Mass."

#

   Ædwige leaned against the stone wall in one shadowy corner of the cloistered walk, burying her face in Bootsy’s fur.  She needed a moment to think about the strange message that Martin, her steward at Eddington, had sent to her.  It had started out trivial enough.  Something about one of Gilrae’s relatives dying—his aged mother, as it happened—and the family crypt being reopened in preparation for entombing her remains.  Martin had wanted to know if Ædwige could be there for the elder dowager’s funeral, but really, why would she bother?  She’d barely even known the woman, after all.   Gilrae’s mother had been in attendance on their wedding day and for the first month after, but once Ædwige had settled in as lady of the manor, she’d coaxed and wheedled until her husband had found another, more suitable residence where the old biddy could relocate.  Eddington Manor was just too small for two ladies of the household to reside under its roof.

   But then there’d been the odd bit towards the end of the letter, in which Martin had mentioned that Gilrae’s corpse hadn’t started rotting yet.  “A most unusual state of preservation,” he’d called it in his message, and apparently quite baffling to the man, though Ædwige couldn’t fathom why.   With the weather turning colder, that might retard the effects of decay, mightn’t it?  At least she thought that’s how root cellars were supposed to work, though perhaps that was oversimplifying the matter.  She wouldn’t have given that matter a second thought either, except that the overzealous idiot was asking her if he ought to call in the coroner to have a look at Gilrae’s remains again.  That certainly would not do, not at all.  She didn’t think there was any way that the coroner would be able to tell what she’d done—certainly not at this late date.  But why take any chances?

    No, it appeared she’d have to return to Eddington for a short visit, just to make sure Martin minded his own business and didn’t go and do something irredeemably stupid.  She’d need to request leave to go home, of course, and her late mother-in-law’s funeral would give sufficient cause for that request to be granted, so perhaps the wizened old hag’s life hadn’t been a complete waste after all.  And she’d need to bring someone along to serve as chaperone.  Briony, perhaps?  No, she doubted that the Rector would allow that.  It would probably have to be one of the magistrae instead.  Oh well, perhaps Sister Helena could accompany her.   They’d only need to miss a few days of Schola classes, after all.

   Ædwige began to compose her reply to her steward’s missive in her head as she continued along the cloister walk.  Unto Martin Steward from Lady Ædwige of Eddington come these greetings.  I am making the necessary arrangements to return home for Lady Catherine’s funeral as soon as a suitable escort can be arranged.  In the meantime, there is no need to trouble anyone over the matter of the odd discovery you mentioned in your message to me.  I am certain there is a perfectly natural explanation for such an occurrence, but since it is a little strange, I shall bring with me one of the magistri from the Schola who would be better suited for such an investigation than some coroner better trained in law than in physick.  I shall send word to you regarding when to expect our arrival once we are on our way….

#

   City of Rhemuth, the Gold Lion Tavern
   October 31, 1136—mid-afternoon   


   “Morgan?  Your Grace, is that you?”

   Alaric Morgan looked up from the bowl of stew he was eating.  He smiled in recognition as he recognized the speaker, waving him closer and offering him a seat at his table.  “Danoc!  What brings you into the City?”

   Aubrey Gillespie, the Earl of Danoc, sat down facing the Duke of Corwyn, flashing the tavern maid an easy smile as he placed a small coin on the table.  “I’ve been to visit my tailor,” he explained as the woman approached.  Turning to her, he placed his order for a bowl of the daily special and the tavern’s best ale, waiting until she left before continuing his conversation with the Duke.  “Though I might ask you the same thing.  I thought you wouldn’t be back at Court until closer to Christmas?”

   Alaric took a sip of his drink.  “I’m not, officially.  But there’s a lecture at the Schola I want to attend tonight, and when I do make the occasional day-trip to Rhemuth, I try to get as much done during my visit as possible.”

   The Earl laughed.  “Day-tripping between Coroth and Rhemuth!  You know, only a Deryni could say that with a straight face.”  He shook his head in mock sadness.  “I don’t suppose you could enspell my horse or something?  Give me seven-league boots?  Make all the roads to and from Danoc shrink to half their length?  Unless I’m visiting my sister-in-law, in which case twice as long would be better.”  

   Alaric chuckled.  “Sorry, can’t help with any of those goals.  I’m afraid my powers have definite limits.  Don’t believe every rumor and folk tale you hear about Deryni magic.”

   The tavern wench returned with Danoc’s stew.  He stirred it, setting it aside to cool slightly as she topped off his tankard and returned to the kitchen.  “Speaking of rumors of magic, Morgan, there’s an odd story that’s come to my attention, and it’s one that’s cropped up in my own Earldom, in fact.”  He took a sip of his ale, studying its depths afterward.  “Nice brew.”  He looked back up at the Deryni duke, adding quietly, “Can you think of any reason why a man who died and was buried during the height of the summer’s heat would still look just as whole nearly three months later, as if he’d just died within the past hour?”

   Alaric frowned, trying to imagine such a thing.  It wasn’t difficult; the mere question brought back his last vision of King Brion, trapped in some form of magical stasis and in a guise that was not his own, although that didn’t seem to be the sort of enchantment the Earl of Danoc was describing.  There  were the more usual preservations spells that Deryni often used to hold off decay for just a few days, long enough to allow friends and family to be summoned home for a funeral without their loved one's body deteriorating too badly before the interment.  And there were those burial rituals practiced by the Servants of Saint Camber as well.  Practiced correctly and with the proper materials, they’d had some preserving effect upon the bodies of the recently deceased, although given enough time, the spells worked with such cording magics eventually lost their potency.  But surely there weren’t any Deryni in Danoc’s earldom who still practiced such ancient lore?  “No, I can’t think of anything,” he said cautiously.  “Can you tell me more?  Perhaps Duncan might know.”

   The Earl took a few bites of his stew, washing it down with another mouthful of ale before continuing.  “Well, one of my knights died back in early August…I don’t suppose you knew Sir Gilrae of Eddington?”

   Alaric paused to consider.  “Only vaguely.  He was in ill health for some years, as I recall, wasn’t he?  I know his brother Lord Robert slightly better.”

   “Yes, Sir Gilrae had a heart condition.”  Danoc grinned.  “Although that didn’t stop him from taking a new bride this past January.  Pretty little maid from one of the Earl of Jenas’s knights’ manors, one of your cousin’s Schola students, as a matter of fact, before her father sent for her to leave off her studies and wed Eddington.  Gilrae and I were age-mates; my brother Perrey was half afraid I’d get it in my mind to dredge up some sweet young thing myself and discover the joys of matrimonial bliss at long last, though God knows I’m content enough living and dying an old bachelor and leaving Danoc to him and his lads when I’m gone.”  The older man laughed.  “But in any case, that’s neither here nor there.   Sir Gilrae, as I said, died back in August and was apparently prepared for burial and entombed in the usual way—I wasn’t there, actually, but my manservant Bailey’s sister is married to the Eddington steward, and she said nothing out of the ordinary in the account of the funeral she sent in her letter to him that month, nor did the knight’s widow mention any unusual circumstances in the message she sent to inform me of her husband’s death.  She did say that she thought she might be breeding, which her sister-in-law later confirmed, so at the moment the Eddington inheritance is still up in the air…not that that seems relevant….”  The Earl took another bite of his stew.   “At any rate, I would have thought nothing of the event—Eddington’s death seemed normal enough, given his ailments—but then Bailey got another letter from his sister this past weekend.  It seems her husband had the Eddington family crypt opened back up to prepare a place for Lady Catherine, Sir Gilrae’s mother, to be entombed near her son, and that’s when Martin Steward discovered Sir Gilrae’s remarkable state of preservation.”

   Alaric considered the matter.  “Very strange.  And what does your coroner say about it all?”

   Danoc barked a short laugh.  “He verifies the man’s still dead.”  The Earl grinned.  “Honestly, Morgan, Master Hugh is competent enough at most of his duties, and you won’t find a more loyal Crowner, but unless presented with something fairly obvious in the way of a mortal injury, like a gaping neck wound or a great lump on the head, he’s bloody useless when it comes to determining causes of death.  And natural or wrongful causes of death are all that really concern him, not lack of decay, it seems.  He says he can find no reason to think the man’s death was caused by anything but heart failure, but if a physician or some other learned man can show reason to believe otherwise, he’s willing to reopen the case.”

   Alaric rested his steepled fingers lightly against his lips, deep in thought.  “Do you happen to know if the Eddington crypt is inside a cavern?”  Cave systems, he knew, could maintain fairly cool temperatures year-round, although as soon as he asked the question, he knew that no cave tomb maintained a temperature low enough to retard decomposition for as long as the span of time Danoc had just described, especially given the damp conditions to be found in most caverns.

   The Earl shook his head.  “No, it’s a simple burial vault beneath a small above-ground mausoleum that serves as an entryway.  Damned if I can think of why Sir Gilrae’s body is in such good shape after this length of time.  If it weren’t for his pallor, not to mention his lack of breathing or a heartbeat, you’d almost think he was just taking a good, long nap.”

   The Duke raised a blond eyebrow.  “So you’ve actually seen his body?  Or is that just what his steward has reported?”

   Danoc shook his head.  “I had to confirm the report for myself, so I stopped by Eddington Manor on my way here.  All was exactly as Martin Steward’s wife reported in her letter.”  He shook his head.  “It’s a right queer case, I don’t mind saying.”

   Alaric nodded.  “Sounds like it.”  He tried to keep his voice casual.  “Mind if I take a peek at what you saw?”

   It took a moment for the full implication of the question to register.  At first the Earl hesitated, looking slightly wary.  He cast a quick glance around the room, but no one seemed to be paying him or the Duke any notice.  Danoc turned back to Alaric.  

   “I…suppose I could show you, though I don’t know how that sort of thing works.”  He took a quick swallow of his ale, looking vaguely uneasy.

   The Duke gave him a reassuring smile.  “You needn’t do anything aside from grant me permission, Danoc.  It would only take a second or two at most for me to access the memory, and it won’t cause you any discomfort; in fact, I doubt you’d even feel a thing.  And if you’re truly uncomfortable about the idea, you don’t have to share your thoughts with me at all.  I realize that sort of thing is far beyond the ordinary for you.”

   The Earl took a deep breath.  “Well, I really would prefer to get to the bottom of all this.  Sir Gilrae was more than just a loyal knight in my service, he was a friend.”  He gave Alaric a sheepish smile.  “I trust you, Morgan; forgive me if I seem a little old-fashioned.  I’m just not used to having anyone offer to poke around in my mind.  So, what should I do, just picture Gil in my mind or something?”  

   Alaric glanced past Danoc for a moment, ensuring that the few other patrons in the tavern were all too involved in their own conversations or engrossed in enjoying their meals to notice what the two noblemen in the corner were doing.  “Yes, that would help,” he assured the Earl, although strictly speaking Morgan knew that any effort on Danoc’s part was unnecessary.  He allowed his foot to drift forward beneath the table, making light contact with Danos’s boot to make establishing a link with him easier.  Another moment was all that it took for him to glean the information he needed from the man’s mind, although he pretended to concentrate a few seconds longer than absolutely required in order to avoid spooking the older man unduly.  No need for him to show off how ridiculously easy it was for him to enter the unshielded human’s mind, after all; the man was skittish enough of his powers as it was, at least when it came to them being used on himself!  Once he was done, Alaric sat back, taking another thoughtful sip from his tankard.

   “Interesting.  Would you mind if I share what you’ve told and shown me with Bishop Duncan?  As I mentioned earlier, he might have some ideas about what might have caused such a phenomenon.  Perhaps something in the Schola's Library might shed a bit of light on the question.  I can’t promise that, of course, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask.  Or there might be some perfectly natural cause, of course, though I have no idea what that might be.  The Schola’s Infirmarian might, though, or one of the Royal Physicians.  Or, for that matter, the Healer Magister may have some knowledge of what might be causing it.  It’s his class I’ve come to Rhemuth to attend this evening.  He might have a few insights, if Sister Therese doesn’t.”

   Danoc looked relieved.  “No, I wouldn’t mind you sharing the question at all; the more light shed on the mystery, the better, I suppose."  He grinned.  "I knew Sir Gilrae far too well to simply assume his incorruptible body is due to some miracle; he was a good man, but far from a saint!  There's got to be some perfectly rational explanation for his unusual preservation, though I’m buggered if I can figure out what that might be. If someone does come up with an answer, would you let me know?”

   Alaric nodded.  “Absolutely.”

#

   St Hilary's Basilica--Rector's Study
   October 31, 1136--late afternoon


   Alaric peeked through the door of the scriptorium where his cousin the rector stood poring over a fresh copy of an ancient Deryni manuscript that Brother Everard, the scribe, had only recently pieced together from fragments of the original.  Beside him stood Sister Helena, also perusing the manuscript copy, although she appeared to be distracted from her reading, judging by the quirk of her lips and her shaking shoulders.  The duke guessed she was attempting not to burst out laughing.  Either the Ancients were masters of joviality, or else Duncan was Mind-Speaking something to the magistra that had nothing to do with the text before them.

   Duncan apparently sensed his presence at that moment, for his cousin looked up from the page to beckon him into the chamber, a glint of humor lightening his blue eyes.  "Come on in," Duncan said, matching words to gesture.

   Alaric joined them at the table, peering down at the text they were allegedly studying.  "And what is so amusing about...what is this?...Principia de Magia Acroatica Airsidi?"

   "Not all that much; it's fairly dry reading, actually."  Duncan stole a look at Helena, who burst into giggles.  "I was just telling Sister Helena about my very rude awakening this morning."

   "Oh?  What happened, did Liath try to clean out your ears with her raspy tongue again?"

   "No, this was worse.  I woke up to find her curled up inside my braies."

   Alaric stole a look at Helena, who had lifted a lightly curled fist to her lips in an effort to hold back a laugh.  "I see.  I suppose it's too much to hope that you'd simply forgotten to put up your fresh laundry last night?"

   "Oh, no, unfortunately it was nothing like that.  I was still wearing the braies at the time.  They were...a rather snug fit, with the extra occupant."  His cousin gave him a pained look.

   Helena gave up her battle, howling with mirth.  Duncan sent a visual of the furry little intruder into Alaric's mind.  He laughed also, his brows rising.  "Tell me you didn't share that image with Sister Helena as well!"

   "No!" Duncan said decisively, shaking his head in mock sadness.  “And it’s not funny; you have no idea how terrifying it is to wake up with a sharp-clawed feline guarding your family treasures!  For a few horrified moments, I was afraid I might permanently revisit my days of being a boy soprano.”

   Alaric smirked.  “Well, I suppose there are still a few valuables a priest can’t simply lock away for safekeeping inside the church armarium.  May I take it from the fact that you’re still standing upright that Liath left you at least relatively intact, or should I summon your Infirmarian?”

   “Jesú, that’s not even remotely humorous, Alaric!” Duncan exclaimed, dancing eyes belying his attempt at a scowl as Helena choked down another peal of laughter.

   The duke grinned briefly, though he sobered as the thought of a healer brought an earlier memory to the forefront of his mind.  “Speaking of healers, Duncan, the Earl of Danoc mentioned a rather interesting case to me earlier today.  Let me show you what he shared with me—and I can share it with you too, Sister Helena, if you don’t mind.  Maybe one of you may have come across something in your studies that might shed a little light upon his mystery?

#

   Saint Camber Schola Infirmary
   October 31, 1136—evening

   
   "This evening we will discuss common poisons, some of the more effective antidotes or treatments for them, and also which so-called ‘preventatives’ and ‘remedies’ for poisoning are mere folk tale and completely ineffective.  One thing we must also keep in mind is that even the most beneficial of medications can become a poison if administered in the wrong dosage.  But there are also those potions that are far too perilous for any reputable Healer to administer to a patient in any dosage at all, and some which may be administered only externally and in limited amounts.  Some of these potions might have benign uses, such as the need for keeping vermin at bay, although extreme care must be taken not to allow them to come into direct contact with any persons who might be harmed by exposure to these toxins.  And of course, there is always the possibility of malevolent use of poisons as an instrument of murder, which a vigilant Healer must always take pains to guard against and should recognize the signs to look for if such usage is suspected."

   Helena listened carefully as Master Janos continued his lecture, taking careful notes as he spoke.  Nearby, his apprentice opened a locked box and began to set out what appeared to be pressed and preserved samples of various herbs that a Healer's discerning eye must learn to recognize as potentially deadly, along with a few samples of more harmless herbs which looked very similar to their poisonous counterparts.

   "In addition to man-made poisons or accidental ingestions of the wrong herbs, there are the more commonplace causes for poisoning.  Foul or stagnant water can kill a man just as surely as hellebore or aconite, as can consumption of food that has turned foul or that has been prepared in unclean conditions.  Even water which appears to be clear and pure may contain unseen foulness that can make a man ill, so that is why, if one is unsure of the purity of one's water source—especially if traveling away from familiar areas—it is best to add equal parts wine or ale to one's water if one must drink any.  Or better yet, drink the wine or ale unmixed with the local water."

   Master Janos reached into his open box and began to pull out a set of small vials, lining them up on the table before them.  "And then there are the accidental poisonings due to ignorance.  Take for example the folly of the Butcher of Sostra about a century past. Is anyone here familiar with what happened there?"

   Most of the Healer scholars looked blank, but Sister Therese nodded.  "They had a rash of mortweed poisonings there among the population, didn't they?"

   Janos smiled.  "Yes.  Unlike most cases of such poisoning, this was quite widespread, and the source of it difficult to track at first.  It was eventually traced to Butchers’ Row.   One of the butchers there had discovered a clever means—well, he thought it was clever, at any rate—of preserving raw meat so that it would remain fresher than any of his competitors' fare.  He had noticed that the bodies of animals that had died of eating mortweed would sometimes lie in the sun for weeks or even longer without decaying, if the poor beast had managed to eat enough of the weed before succumbing to its fatal effects, and if for some reason it had not been burned or buried sooner.  He decided that there had to be some way to use this herb to his advantage that would help him keep his meat fresh, but which wouldn't end up killing off his customers.  After some experimentation with mortweed tinctures in increasingly lower levels of concentration, he finally hit upon a very weak solution which, if he soaked his meat in it immediately after the beasts were butchered, would preserve it very well, but which would not kill a dog or a pig who ate the meat preserved with this solution."  He smiled encouragingly at Sister Therese.  "Do you know what went wrong with his clever plan?"

   She gave him a wry smile of her own.  "He hadn't counted on the toxins building up in his customers' bodies over time."

   "That's right."  Janos nodded.  "A strange thing began to be noted in the town of Sostra.  When certain people died—not all the townspeople, but a fairly large number of them—their corpses remained unusually well preserved, sometimes for years, before the onset of natural decay.  There were also an increase in serious illnesses and deaths, though oddly enough, it turned out that a few of the butcher's customers ended up having no adverse effects and may have even developed an immunity to mortweed poisoning…not that anyone was willing to deliberately test that theory.”  The healer gave a wry grin.  “At any rate, this is all going rather far afield of our original topic, but it serves as an excellent example of how even well-meaning ignorance can lead to ill results.”

   Master Janos continued on with his lecture, but Helena’s attention drifted away from his new topic of conversation as her mind continued to focus on the story he had just shared.  Mortweed…there was something about mortweed that was lurking in the back of her memory just out of reach, but she couldn’t figure out what it was.  It bothered her that she couldn’t remember; she had the vague sense that whatever the elusive memory might be, it must be something important, or why would she feel such an odd sense of foreboding about it?

   She glanced up at Duncan, whose face seemed to mirror her own feelings.  He frowned slightly, his unfocused gaze staring into space rather than fixed on their magister with his usual keen attention.  As she watched, he absently brought up a hand to stroke his chin, looking vaguely puzzled.

   What’s wrong, cariad?
she Mind-Spoke to him.

   The blue eyes drifted to her face, lighting briefly in response to her mental touch. I’m…not sure. He paused for a long moment, as if pondering something, and then sent, You don’t suppose there’s any chance that the Earl of Danoc’s man might have accidentally ingested some mortweed, do you?

   She suppressed her shock.  I can’t imagine how; it’s a rather distinctive looking plant, and not easy to mistake for a salad green or a cooking herb.  Still…I suppose it wouldn’t be impossible…. Helena glanced across the seated scholars towards the Duke of Corwyn.  Which of the Earl’s knights did His Grace say that Danoc was making inquiries about?

   Duncan briefly searched his memory.  I don’t think he ever mentioned that; I just remember him sharing the peculiarities of the case.  Let me ask.  He glanced toward his cousin.  A moment later, his gaze returned to her face.  He looked oddly pale.

   It was Eddington.  Sir Gilrae of Eddington.

   Helena felt the blood drain from her face. Sir Gilrae…wasn’t that Lady Ædwige’s late husband?

   Duncan gave a barely perceptible nod.  Yes, I believe so.

   The elusive memory returned with full force, leaving Helena feeling slightly faint. Jesú, Duncan, I think I know how Sir Gilrae might have gotten mortweed in his system, though I hope I’m wrong.  If I’m not, then I may have supplied Ædwige—or at least someone in the Eddington household—with the murder weapon!  



Chapter Seventeen--http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=840.0
« Last Edit: March 02, 2012, 10:17:10 am by Evie »
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Offline Alkari

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Sixteen
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2012, 09:04:28 am »
Aha!   The plot thickens.   Amazing what strange stories you can hear in a Rhemuth tavern - and how several liittle things just suddenly click together.

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Sixteen
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2012, 09:19:21 am »
I don't suppose it was by accident that the revelation of Sir Gilrae's well preserved body occurred on Samhain?  ;D

A question, though.  Was Sir Gilrae not buried in a coffin?  I'm just wondering why his steward happened to look in on him if he was.
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Offline Evie

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Sixteen
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2012, 09:31:08 am »
I don't suppose it was by accident that the revelation of Sir Gilrae's well preserved body occurred on Samhain?  ;D

A question, though.  Was Sir Gilrae not buried in a coffin?  I'm just wondering why his steward happened to look in on him if he was.

A good question, and one that is explained a little later in the story.  :)

And the timing of the revelation was mostly coincidental, but when I realized I had reached late October in my timeline just when it would make most sense for this bit of news to come to light, I just couldn't resist having Ædwige receive the news on that date.  Nice spot!   :D
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Offline Elkhound

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Sixteen
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2012, 12:50:38 pm »
I hope nothing unpleasant happens to Bootsie; sociopaths are frequently cruel to animals just for the 'fun' of it, aren't they?

Offline Evie

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Sixteen
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2012, 01:37:49 pm »
Yes, that can be one sign of a sociopath, although not all of them do that.  And I'm not entirely sure if she is a true sociopath or not.  She shows a lot of the traits, but she also comes across to me. As showing traits of Narcissistic Personality Disorder instead.  Either way, she wouldn't be the best person to get on the wrong side of. (Stupid phone won't let me correct sentence fragment,  sorry. )
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Offline Shiral

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Sixteen
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2012, 02:16:18 pm »
Aedwige, you're in much  more trouble than you realize!  :D

This is going to be fun. Just not for Aedwige!
And Morgan certainly isn't going to send his precious daughter traipsing around the countryside with a murderess!

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

Offline derynifanatic64

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Sixteen
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2012, 06:47:10 pm »
Time to play the "Law and Order" double gong!!
We will never forget the events of 9-11!!  USA!! USA!!

Offline AnnieUK

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Sixteen
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2012, 11:38:09 am »
Why is AEdwige so convinced it's murder straight away, when Duncan seems inclined to think it's an accident? Wouldn't you assume it was an accident first and then begin to suspect?  (Sorry, read it yesterday and it's been troubling me since...)

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Sixteen
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2012, 01:07:06 pm »
Why is AEdwige convinced it's murder?  Well, she'd be in the best position to know, wouldn't she? ;D

Or did you mean Helena?  If so, that would be because all Duncan has noticed at first is that Gilrae's preserved body is consistent with a symptom of mortweed ingestion, but at that point he hasn't guessed at the source yet.  It's Helena who makes that mental connection between the rat poison she bought back in February (on Valentine's Day, if my warped mind remembers correctly) and that it was mortweed.  And if poison sent to AEdwige in a clearly marked bottle (black with red stopper and clearly labeled) somehow got into an unwanted husband just in time for her to return to the Schola at the new term...well, it's not proof of murder, but Helena has good cause for suspecting that the Eddington cook wasn't simply careless with picking the salad greens.

Let's look at the scene again, but this time breaking it down to what each of those characters happens to already know at the moment they are reacting:

Alaric:  "The Earl of Danos had this retainer die back in the late summer, but he's still not decomposing. Any ideas what's up with that?"
Duncan and Helena: "Nope, not a clue, but yeah, that really does sound odd."

---
Master Janos:  "One of the more telling symptoms of mortweed poisoning is that people who ingest mortweed have delayed decay.  They'll eventually decompose, but sometimes not for years."

Duncan:  "Whoa, that's odd.  Hey, wait...I wonder if that dude in Danos might have got hold of that stuff by accident? You think?"

Helena:  "Hm.  Yes, sounds like it's possible, though I can't see how you'd 'accidentally' get mortweed into you, barring overly clever butchers.  It's not like something a cook is likely to mistake for a salad green or cooking herb.  Who was that guy in Danoc anyway?"

Duncan:  "Dunno...let me check."  Checks, starts to turn pale.  Why?  Because now that he knows it's not just some random man, but AEdwige's husband, that's far from definite proof of murder, but his gut is giving him a Han Solo "I've got a bad feeling about this" moment.  He tells Helena the bad news....

Helena:  And she immediately knows what it is about 'mortweed' that has been just at the edge of her mind since the beginning of the lecture.  Mortweed was the rat poison she bought in February.  Who ordered the poison?  AEdwige.  When did she order it?  Right after she was forced to marry.  Why did she order it?  Allegedly to kill rats...but when Helena asked her about her rodent problem back in August, AEdwige seemed to have forgotten all about that.  Granted, that didn't ring any bells for Helena at the time--AEdwige could have simply not been expecting the change of topic--but now it's looking a bit more suspicious.  Especially since, if that bottle Helena sent was the source of any mortweed that Gilrae might have ingested, it could almost certainly not have been an accident.  Perhaps if AEdwige had been careless enough to store rat poison with Gilrae's medicines, and if Gilrae had been blind and grabbed the wrong bottle by feel, but there's been nothing in the story to indicate that Gilrae had a vision problem, and AEdwige definitely doesn't.  The two bottles were not only totally different colors, but they were labeled as well, and AEdwige is literate.  So at this point, Helena has a lot more to base her suspicions of murder than Duncan's "gut feeling," and she reminds him of their trip to the apothecary shop the previous winter.

Granted, at this point they only have strong reasons for suspicion.  They can't prove AEdwige was the one who dosed Gilrae with mortweed; it could conceivably be someone else at Eddington.  But Helena has more than enough circumstantial evidence to suspect it was no "accident," if her suspicion about the source of the mortweed used is correct, even if there is no way to pin the death on AEdwige yet.

Is that clearer?
« Last Edit: February 25, 2012, 02:11:18 pm by Evie »
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline Alkari

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Sixteen
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2012, 03:20:04 pm »
And if tackled about it, dear Aedwige cannot possibly imagine how her dear husband could ever have taken mortweed with his heart medicine.  It must have been one of the servants who got the bottles mixed up - except that inquiries at Eddington will (I would assume!) show that it was Aedwige herself, such a loving little wife, who gave her dear husband Gilrae his medicine each night - absolutely insisted on doing it, in fact ...


Offline AnnieUK

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Sixteen
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2012, 03:21:17 pm »
Yes, I did mean Helena of course. And yes, I know all of that. It just seemed a bit of a jump to go actually saying the word "murder" straight off. I'd have thought they'd have looked at more innocent ways he might have come in contact with it, then maybe gone through the "ok, this is looking a bit fishy" route, and then reluctantly decide that maybe the old fella hadn't met an entirely natural end.

But hey. Your fic, your rules. :D

Offline Evie

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Sixteen
« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2012, 03:35:41 pm »
Well, the problem with an herb like mortweed that doesn't look much like any common salad or cooking herb (which could be the case with, say, some accidental mushroom poisonings) is that if you rule out the more common ways that something can accidentally be ingested, and especially if there's a known source of the poison that would be extremely unlikely to accidentally ingest, then murder goes from being a slight possibility to an almost certain one, even if there's no way to know who might have done it or why yet.  Yes, there's also the chance that someone was extremely careless and put the poison in the wrong bottle by accident for some reason--that happens sometimes in our own world with people doing dumb stuff like putting household cleaners in old juice bottles and toddlers drinking the "yummy juice" by accident--but when someone does that with "rat poison" and then puts it where an invalid might "accidentally" get dosed with it....  Again, it's not looking good.  

But yes, even though Helena has gone ahead and voiced the "m" word because at this point it's looking at least 90% sure that's what's happened, there will still have to be a full investigation which leaves open the possibility, however small, that the poisoning happened by accident.  She strongly suspects murder, yes, but at this point nothing has been proven.  And neither of them particularly wants their scholar to be guilty either, but it's hard not to at least acknowledge that she had the motive and the opportunity and the most likely means.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2012, 03:47:47 pm by Evie »
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!

Offline Alkari

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Sixteen
« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2012, 03:52:38 pm »
And of course, in this case there was a very clear Motive, there was Knowledge (Aedwige having done normal simples training as well as other Schola classes) and there was plenty of Opportunity.   And because the death looked completely natural (just as planned), a 'sudden' poisoning by accidental dose of something could probably be ruled out fairly quickly.   

Offline Evie

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Sixteen
« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2012, 05:50:50 pm »
BTW, while I'm thinking of it, my posting schedule might end up being slightly slowed down in the final chapters of this story.  I've still got a small (4.5 chapter) lead at this point, but I've been trying to fight bronchitis for the past couple of weeks, so I've barely written anything in the past few days except for a few words here and there on my better days.  Hopefully I can catch back up quickly once this second round of meds kicks in (the first round only worked a few days, then I had a relapse), but at the moment my energy reserves are still somewhere between slim and none, and today's been the first time I even opened up my story file to take a look at it in three days, except to post yesterday's chapter before scurrying back to the doc-in-a-box.  I wish I knew that Deryni fatigue banishing spell!   :D

On the upside, all of my research in medieval poisons has informed me that my cough syrup is laced with, among other things, a derivative of deadly nightshade.  No wonder it's got such a low dosage!   ;D
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