collapse

Welcome to the Worlds of Katherine Kurtz

Welcome to Rhemuth Castle!

KK Chat is at 7pm Eastern on Sundays, except on the first Sunday of the month, when it is at 5pm Eastern to accommodate fans in the UK and Europe.

Come join us in chat! And Happy reading!

Pin yourself on the member map.

Author Topic: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Seventeen  (Read 3149 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Evie

  • Administrator
  • Prince/Princess
  • *****
  • Posts: 1957
  • Karma: 28
  • Gender: Female
  • Sister Evie--Servant of Saint Camber
    • The Mini-Deryni Chronicles
  • Favorite Book: High Deryni or The King's Justice (can't decide)
  • Favorite Character: President of the Duncan McLain Fanbabe Society
Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Seventeen
« on: March 02, 2012, 10:16:00 am »
   Chapter Seventeen

   St. Hilary's Basilica—Abbot's Tower
   October 31, 1136—late night


   Duncan stared sightlessly up at his bed's canopy in the darkness, his mind elsewhere.  He closed his eyes, focusing his concentration on the object of his thoughts and sending out a tentative probe with his mind.  Are you still awake, heart?

   Yes, unfortunately,
came Helena's prompt answer, her silent voice in his mind sounding not at all sleepy. I can't get my mind off what His Grace told us earlier this evening, or what Magister Janos said about the effects of mortweed.

   Me either. Duncan shifted slightly, getting into a more comfortable position more conducive to relaxing even more deeply into trance state, though careful to retain enough alertness not to simply slip off into sleep.  Not that that was very likely at the moment, with all the ugly possibilities that were currently crowding through his mind as he thought back on the day's revelations.  He directed his thoughts back towards Helena again.  What did you mean earlier this evening when you mentioned supplying Eddington's killer with the murder weapon?

   A flood of memories flitted into his mind—Helena's remembrances of the February day when they'd gone into the City together to shop for Sophie's birthday present.  Although, as she now reminded him, that was not all they'd shopped for together.  There had been a letter from Ædwige, hadn't there, asking if someone at the Schola could pick up some items at the apothecary shop for her?  He'd all but forgotten about that; it had seemed such an ordinary request at the time.  What had it been that Ædwige had asked for in her letter?  Helena's memory provided him with the image of two bottles—a heart cordial of some sort for Sir Gilrae's chronic condition,and a black vial of rat poison.  

   Not just any rat poison, cariad,
Helena confirmed.  Mortweed.

   Duncan pondered the implications in the darkness of his room. But Eddington didn't actually die until August, did he?

   I believe we received the letter from Ædwige about it in August, yes. It was just before my trip home to Llannedd; I do remember that much.


   Hm. He wasn't sure what to make of that.  If Ædwige had requested the poison with the intent of murdering her husband, she had certainly taken her time in getting around to doing so.  On the other hand, what if she'd actually needed it to rid her manor of vermin, but afterward the thought had occurred to her that the same poison could be used to rid herself of an unwanted and ailing husband as well?  Or perhaps one of the household servants might have come up with the notion instead?  Just because Ædwige had ordered the mortweed didn't necessarily mean she'd been the one to use it on Sir Gilrae, if in fact it had been used on him at all.

   He shared his musings with Helena in a quick burst of thought, sensing her careful consideration of his progression of thought and her own concurrence with it.  He wished he were having this discussion with her face-to-face—trying to maintain this level of mental sharing with her at this distance with all these disturbing thoughts swirling through his mind as well was a little taxing, even though there was only a floor between their chambers.  Perhaps if this were morning, after he'd had a sound sleep and renewed his energies….  But it was not, and he wished that for once he could forget about social conventions and proprieties just enough to walk down the flight of steps separating them at the moment and invite Helena to follow him somewhere more private.  Somewhere where he could simply hold her as he longed to and share this unexpected and unlooked-for burden with her.

   He allowed himself to indulge in a brief, carefully shielded fancy of lying there with his beloved in his arms, cuddling up to her warmth.  The momentary daydream ended abruptly as he felt an odd sensation, somewhat akin to a mild psychic jolt followed by a gentle drift downward, flow through him.  He sensed Helena's unspoken questions turning into mild alarm through the link he still maintained with her, and he kept enough focus on that link to send her a brief surge of reassurance before turning his main focus deeper within, trying to assess what was happening.

   Duncan! Helena's mind-voice sounded like a startled squeal.  What are you doing?

   It took him a moment to answer her, so intent was he on trying to figure out what was causing this strange new sensation.  The downward drift had stopped, leaving him feeling like he was lying suspended, somehow floating just above something soft and cushioned.  He sensed a curious warmth beside him now, and something else brushed past him that felt…furry?  Yes, that had to be Liath, entering his curtained bed while he was in trance to curl up beside his feet.  Only that wasn't her preferred spot.  He waited for her to settle into her customary spot by his side, but she didn't….

   No, this was no time to ponder the nocturnal preference of felines!  Dimly, he realized Helena was waiting for an answer.  Just a moment, heart.  I seem to have stumbled upon some…unusual type of trance state, I think.

   A faint glow permeated his closed eyelids, and he heard Helena's mental voice again, this time sounding somehow equally shocked, exasperated, and somewhat amused, not to mention unusually clear. It's a bit more than that, I'd say; you seem to have completely left your body!  And it's a good thing too; even just finding your…your disembodied spirit here might raise a few questions about us in Tessa's mind, don't you think?

   Duncan's eyes shot open to discover Helena's familiar features just a few inches from his own, her eyes grown rather wide as she stared at him in the subdued handfire she'd just generated. Jesú, how are you doing this? she asked him.

   I…don't exactly know,
he replied, equally startled. I was just imagining…. No, he realized, an honest answer to that might not be the most circumspect thing to tell her just at this moment, under the circumstances.  You're right, I'd better…go back and figure out how to reverse this. How, though, when he wasn't certain how he'd managed it in the first place?

   Helena's gaze moved past him, continuing upward.  He followed it to see a faint shimmering cord leading upwards, through the wooden canopy of her enclosed bed and presumably continuing on past the ceiling above them into his own chamber.  He closed his eyes again, willing himself to follow that silvery cord back to its origin, and found himself just as suddenly back within his own body again.

#

   Helena doused her handfire and lay back on her pillow, her heart beating wildly.  Jesú, that had been unexpected, not to mention startling for poor Fritha!  She suppressed a laugh as she remembered how her poor kitten had shot past her to leap between the curtains closing off the entrance to her bed and disappear into the bedchamber beyond.  It was a good thing she'd been wearing a night-rail, and that Tessa was a sound sleeper.  And also that she'd been wide awake and already linked mind to mind with Duncan when it had happened.  That thought sobered her slightly.  Had she suddenly sensed the presence of a man in bed beside her while she was asleep, she probably would have had a far different reaction.  A brief flash of memory of one of Gaspard's nocturnal visits to her bed during her hellish marriage to his brother flitted briefly into her mind before she sternly banished it to the double-shielded portion of her mind where she normally kept it safely tucked away from her consciousness.

   She waited a little longer for her sense of calm to return before casting her senses into the bedchamber above hers.  Are you all right, cariad?

   Yes, just a bit…stunned.  What was that, do you know?  

   I'm not sure.  I think I read something recently that hinted at the possibility of that sort of thing happening--it  might have been in one of those texts that Preceptor Azim lent us—but I don't recall if the text gave it a name. She felt a little lingering awkwardness after Duncan's unexpected visit. Do you recall what you were focusing on when it happened?

   A short silence. I was wishing we were having our conversation face to face.

   Their conversation?  Oh yes, about the mortweed and their newly kindled suspicions about Sir Gilrae's death!  She'd almost forgotten, and felt vaguely guilty for having nearly done so.  But this new discovery…. And that triggered something?  Surely there had to be a bit more to what you did than that!

   Another silence, and then a sense of…mild embarrassment? I…was picturing myself holding you, and then…something happened.  I felt myself drifting, and when I opened my eyes, you were there, and my chamber wasn't.  Only…everything around me looked a bit…ghostly, for lack of a better word.  Even you.  He shared the memory with her from his perspective.

   You looked the same way to me.  I could see you, but I could see through you as well.  And I could sense your presence beside me—that's why I created the handfire, because suddenly I felt you there—but I think that impression was more psychic than tactile.  I couldn't feel you in quite the same way I would be able to if you'd actually been next to me. She chuckled softly.  Wanting a bit of a cwtch, were you, love?  I can certainly relate to that, although showing up in my chamber wasn't the best of ideas.  The last thing we need is to scare the daylight out of poor Tessa, making her think she's seeing ghostly apparitions on All Hallows Eve, of all nights!

   Therese thinking I'm a visiting ghost would be the least of my worries, I suspect,
Duncan countered.  And I had no idea I'd end up there at all.  I'm still not entirely sure how I managed it, though I certainly intend to look into that, once time permits.  Right now, though, I'm a bit more concerned about the Eddington matter.  Maybe I should have a visit with the Earl of Danoc myself before he leaves Rhemuth again.  It could be, given this new information, that the coroner for Danoc might want to call for a closer look at the body and an inquest.

   Yes, I agree; you should bring it to his attention as soon as possible. Helena added a teasing note to her mental voice as she added, And when you do, don't forget to bring your body with you!

#

   Saint Camber's Schola
   November 1, 1136--late morning


   Heart, are you done with your class yet?


   Helena paused briefly in her demonstration of how to attune an object to a particular psychic signature. Not just yet.  I should be done in another quarter of an hour, though.  Why?

   I need you in my study as soon as you can get free.  Tess also.  If I'm not back yet when you arrive, just have a seat.  Everard has instructions on who is to be allowed in.

   Helena's mind whirled with questions.  She picked the most urgent. Back from where, cariad?

   Coroth.  A brief mental sensation, almost like a psychic caress of reassurance, and he was gone from her mind.  She could no longer sense his presence nearby.  Helena wasn't sure that his attempt at reassurance had really helped.  What in the world was going on?

#

   St. Hilary's Basilica--bishop's study
   November 1, 1136--noonday


   Brother Everard was keeping a discreet watch at one end of the short corridor leading to Duncan's study when Helena arrived.  He matched his steps with hers, ushering her to the closed door.

   "What's happening?" Helena whispered.

   "I don't really know, Sister Helena," he replied.  "All I can tell you is that one of the students requested a meeting with the Rector earlier this morning, and once she left, he told me he was off to fetch Duke Alaric in Coroth, and not to let anyone else in except for you and Sister Therese, and that if Magister Janos were to show up, he's to be let in as well."

   "He asked me to bring Tessa, but I couldn't find her."

   "She's already here," Everard assured her, opening the study door.   To Helena's amazement, once she stepped through the doorway, he closed the door behind her rather than leaving it at least partially open as he customarily did when the bishop was meeting with women.  She was still pondering this with a slight frown when she spotted her roommate.  Sister Therese turned towards her, a brilliant smile lighting up her face.

   "Oh, you Deryni have such marvelous gifts!  He spoke in my mind!"

   It took a moment for Helena to shift from one trail of thought to this new one.  "Bishop Duncan did, you mean?"

   The nun's eyes glowed with childlike delight.  "Yes!  He said 'Sister Therese, I have need of you; can you get free for a short while?'"  She gave a sheepish laugh.  "At first I thought it was God talking, and I nearly passed out in a dead faint, but then it occurred to me to wonder why God sounded so much like the Bishop, and I realized what a ninny I was being."  

   Helena burst out laughing, her initial trepidation over Duncan's summons broken for the moment.  "Well, he's definitely not God, though at least he works for Him!" she joked.  "Did you tell him about your confusion?"

   "There wasn't much time.  As soon as I arrived, he excused himself to go fetch His Grace before disappearing through yon…magical closet….” Therese told her, waving an hand airily in the general direction of Duncan’s Transfer Portal.  Helena stifled a grin.  “But I did mention I'd thought God was speaking to me for a moment.  He laughed."  The merriment left Sister Therese's features.  "I'm glad to have lightened the moment, but from the look on his face when I arrived, he appeared to be quite worried about something.  I didn't need Deryni powers to tell me that much."  She turned a quizzical look towards Helena.  "Why did he summon us here, I wonder?"

   "I have no idea, but I’m sure we’ll both find out presently."  As Helena spoke the words, a flicker of motion caught her eye, and she turned to see Duncan emerging from the niche that concealed the study’s Portal.  He spared the two women a fleeting smile.

   “I’m glad you were both able to make it.  Alaric should be with us shortly; he’s gone on ahead to Beldour to see if he can bring back Magister Janos.”  As he spoke, he fished a set of ward cubes out of a pouch, beginning to set them up in the familiar configuration for a Ward Major.  Even Sister Therese seemed to recognize the import of that, and she shot Helena a concerned look before asking, “Are we in some sort of danger, Father?”

   Duncan finished priming the ward cubes, waiting for the joined cubes to form four silvery oblongs before looking up to answer.  “Probably not—actually, I doubt it—but I want to be absolutely certain nothing leaks out from this meeting.”  He began to move each set of joined ward cubes to the outer corners of the room, enclosing them all within its shielding effects as he did so.  “I’ll explain in a moment.”

   A muffled oath sounded from the Transfer Portal niche, and the study’s occupants turned to see Alaric draw back a hand quickly, passing the fingertips of his other hand over the back of it lightly before shooting his cousin a gray-eyed glare.  Crowded in beside him, the Torenthi Healer gave them a wry grin.  Duncan, looking at first startled then amused, drew an doorway arch in the air with the edge of his hand to allow the two latecomers in.  “Sorry,” he told them.  “I wasn’t expecting you to come from that direction.”  He raised an eyebrow meaningfully at Alaric.

   “My apologies,” the Torenthi magister explained.  “I suggested to His Grace that our arrival would be more timely if we came here directly.  I am aware of His Majesty of Gwynedd’s security concerns, and have given my parole not to attempt to learn this Portal’s signature.”

   “And I figured that bringing Janos directly here would prevent anyone else from spotting him here in Rhemuth today, which might raise unwanted speculation since this isn’t one of his scheduled class nights,” Alaric added.  “Under the circumstances, I think the King will understand, but if not, I’ll take full responsibility.”   

   Duncan closed the doorway in the ward circle once more before taking a seat.  “All right.”  He glanced at Helena.  “I’ve already shared with Alaric the realizations we both had last night after Master Janos’s class, but I haven’t had time to share them with Sister Therese yet.  Alaric, did you have a chance to catch Janos up on the story yet?”

   “The gist of it, yes,” Alaric told him.

   What exactly did you tell His Grace?
Helena Mind-Spoke to Duncan, suppressing an urge to blush.

   A glint of hidden humor brightened his expression for a moment as he assured her, Nothing about my accidental ‘visit’ to your bed, I assure you!  Just our suspicions about Sir Gilrae’s death. Aloud, he added, “Tess, I’ve asked you to join us today because of your experience as an infirmarian.  Would you mind if Helena briefly shares with you mind-to-mind what she and I discussed yesterday evening after class?  That would be much faster than me telling the story to everyone all over again.”

   Sister Therese looked puzzled.  “I don’t mind at all, Father.  But…”  She turned to Helena with an inquiring look.  “We went straight back to our chamber after class last night.  How…?”

   Helena sternly suppressed the urge to blush. “Mind-Speech, Tessa.”

   “Oh.”  Her roommate pondered that for a brief moment, then broke out in a delighted smile.  “And now you want to talk in my mind too?”

   Helena bit her lip, struggling not to laugh.  “Yes, if I may.”

   “And will there be pictures in my mind as well?”  The nun’s visage lit with eagerness.  

   Alaric Morgan slid a glance towards his cousin, who was fighting his own amusement.

   “Well…I…Not really,” Helena murmured, shooting her roommate a fondly exasperated look as she took the other woman’s hand.  “Not about this, at any rate, but if you’re just dying to Mind-See something, I suppose I could satisfy your curiosity. Later.”  She sent Sister Therese a quick flurry of condensed thoughts containing the highlights of the suspicions about Sir Gilrae’s death and Ædwige’s possible involvement in it that she and Duncan had shared the night before.

   "Oh!  Oh, my…."  Sister Therese stared at her wide-eyed once Helena was done.  "Surely not!  You don't really think sweet little Ædwige would have actually poisoned him, do you?  At least not deliberately?"  She turned a distressed look of appeal towards Duncan, who shrugged.

   "To be honest, Tess, it's hard to know what to think.  It's possible she's completely innocent—it's even possible that we're totally mistaken in our suspicions and that Sir Gilrae's remarkable state of preservation is due to other causes entirely.  Though as for your assessment of her as 'sweet little Ædwige,' I think Princess Rothana might beg to differ.  Apparently the lass can be a bit…wearing to live with at times."  Duncan gave the infirmarian a wry smile.

   "Yes, I've noticed that as well," Helena affirmed. "She can be a delightful young lady when she chooses to be, but this summer when Cass and I visited her on the way back to Llannedd, and also on our return trip when we brought Ædwige back to the Schola, I began to understand why she rubbed some of the other girls the wrong way.  Ædwige, I mean.  Though that's hardly relevant in any case; after all, even if she is a bit…cosseted and high-strung, that doesn't necessarily make her a murderess."

   "Ædwige's guilt or innocence is not really something that any of us has sufficient grounds to hazard a guess on at this point," Duncan told them.  "We still have far too much speculation and too few proven answers to determine the truth of the matter.  But the reason I've asked you here today is that we've been presented with an unexpected opportunity to perhaps discover more of those answers."  He tightened his lips, looking unhappy about what he was about to say, though he reluctantly shared it anyway.  "Helena, Ædwige sought me out this morning to ask permission to return to Eddington Manor for a brief visit to attend her mother-in-law's funeral.  She's asked for leave to bring you along as her chaperone."

   "Me?"  Helena looked startled, then as the implications began to dawn on her, quietly resolved.  "Yes, I see.  So, you want me to try to find some way to either confirm what we suspect, or to clear her of suspicion entirely, depending on what I can discover?"

   Duncan frowned slightly, remaining silent a few moments too long as if still thinking the matter over and not much liking the conclusions he was reaching.  Alaric met Helena's gaze.  "Actually, I think what Duncan wants is to keep you out of the matter entirely.  Such a task does have the potential to become dangerous, if indeed Sir Gilrae was murdered, and if the murderer—whether that's Lady Ædwige or some other member of her household—should come to suspect what you've actually been sent there to do.  However, under the circumstances, you're really the only person he could logically send."  He glanced at their Torenthi visitor.  "Master Janos has the medicinal expertise that would be ideal to the task, but of course there's no way we could send him to Eddington Manor.  Sister Therese would also be well suited, being both trained in the healing arts and a female religious, so perfectly suitable as a chaperone, but Lady Ædwige hasn't asked for her company, she's asked for yours.  And in addition to that, you've already visited Eddington Manor once before.  You know the grounds better than any of us would.  Not to mention that you have other gifts that might make you more likely to discover lingering traces of such an act that none of us would be as likely to pick up on, even if we could figure out some pretext to go to Eddington Manor."

   Helena nodded slowly.  "Psychic traces, you mean?  Resonances from the murder?"  She considered the notion carefully.  "I suppose it's possible.  Granted, I didn't pick up on anything untoward before, but then again, I had no reason to look for anything unusual.  And my shields were probably quite rigid; Cass and Ædwige have never gotten on well even at the best of times, and I'm sure I'd have kept firmly shielded to block myself from their negative emotions."  She grimaced.  "So, I'm going to be going into a potentially dangerous situation, but I need to be able to lower my psychic defenses enough to detect when, where and how foul play might have occurred?  That's…lovely."

   "You don't have to go," Duncan said, half hoping she wouldn't.  "Alaric and I still intend to go to the Earl of Danoc to bring up the idea of mortweed being one possible cause of Sir Gilrae's unnatural preservation, regardless of whether or not you end up managing to turn up anything that sheds light on how he would have gotten it in his system.  That information in itself might be enough to get his coroner to consider looking into the matter again, even without bringing him reason to suspect any particular agent or means by which Sir Gilrae might have managed to obtain it."

   Helena shook her head.  "No.  We need to know more, and His Grace is right, I'm the logical person to send."  She took a deep breath.  "But there's only one problem.  I'm really not sure what to look for, not to mention where to start looking."

   Duncan gave her a resigned smile.  "I know.  And this is where Janos's and Tess's experience needs to come in."  He glanced at the Healer and the Infirmarian.  "I need for you two to share with Sister Helena everything you can think of about the effects of mortweed on a human body, living or dead, how the substance can be identified, anything that you can call to mind that might be useful for her to know."

#

   St. Hilary’s Basilica—Abbot’s Tower
   November 1, 1136—mid-afternoon


   Sister Therese opened the bedchamber door to find Princess Rothana standing on the staircase landing, her arms laden with fabric.  “Is Sister Helena in?”

   “Yes; come in,” Therese said, stepping back from the doorway to let the princess enter.  Behind her, Helena looked up from the small travel chest she was packing to smile in greeting.  

   Rothana smiled back, handing her the folded garments she held.  “I didn’t know if you had anything in your wardrobe suitable for mourning clothes, and you’ve hardly had any time to make ready for this trip, so I took the liberty of collecting a few gowns that might be appropriate for a funeral.  Though if none of them fit you properly, I suppose no one could really fault you for showing up in your gray Camberian robes.  They’re close enough to being religious habit, after all, that I doubt anyone would think twice about it.  I just thought you might want to show up in something a little bit less ‘everyday.’”

   Helena straightened from her task to examine the gowns Rothana offered her.  “That was thoughtful of you,” she murmured as she unfolded the first one in the small stack.  “Oh, this is pretty!  Very simple, but the fabric is lovely.”  She held the black silk against her to gauge its length.  “It shouldn’t require re-hemming, though the cut might be just a little snug.”

   “If you’d like to try it on, we can see if it would need to be altered,” Sister Therese offered.  “I’m nearly as deft with pushing a needle through fabric as I am with pushing it through skin and tissue.”

   Rothana chuckled, wrinkling her nose slightly.  “Now there’s an image I didn’t need, Tessa.”  She headed towards the door.  “I need to go back down and help Lady Ædwige sort through what she needs to bring with her—or more accurately, what she doesn’t need to bring.  You’d think she was preparing for a month long trip, not just a few days.  Fifteen veils…I don’t know if I ever even owned that many at one time, even when I still lived at my father’s Court!  Tell me you’re not packing fifteen veils, Helena.”

   Helena smiled.  “You see the size of my travel chest; if I packed that many veils, that’s all I’d be wearing, and I doubt anyone would consider that to be suitable funerary garb!”

   “No, you’d definitely need to wear something besides a veil.  Perhaps you’d have just enough room left to pack a few fig leaves?  That was sufficient for Adam and Eve, I’m told,” Sister Therese suggested with an impish gleam in her eyes.  Rothana took in Helena’s dumbfounded expression and gave an un-princesslike whoop of laughter.  

   “On that note, I am definitely leaving,” Rothana said once she could speak again.  “Try on the gowns, Helena; I do not want to see what Tessa might come up with given a needle and thread and a handful of fig leaves!”

   She left.  Helena shed her gray woolen Servant of Saint Camber gown to try on the three garments Rothana had brought up for her.  The first gown was, as she’d guessed, just a trifle too snug, and the second hung too loosely on her frame to be wearable without some significant alterations, but the third fit almost perfectly, needing only for the hem to be let down slightly.  Helena pulled her long cascade of hair over one shoulder, allowing Sister Therese better access to her back so she could lace up the garment fully, making sure the skirts were hanging properly before making the necessary adjustments, admonishing Helena to stand up straight and hold as still as possible until she was done with refolding and basting.  As the nun drew near to the end of her task, she glanced up at her roommate admiringly.

   "This black damask is so lovely, and your hair shines just like a bright jewel against it.  It's a pity you'll need to tuck it back up under a veil to go out in public.  Perhaps you can wear it braided beneath silk veiling?"

   Helena laughed.  "Tessa, I'm dressing for a funeral, not a Court revel!  I hardly think Ædwige's family will even notice how I'm wearing my hair, so long as I'm dressed with the proper decorum."

   Sister Therese had just finished putting the last stitches into a temporary hem that would serve until Helena had time to finish properly hemming the gown when another knock sounded on the door.  Helena went to answer it as Sister Theresa stood to put up her sewing supplies, opening the door half expecting to find Princess Rothana on the other side, coming back to see which of the gowns Helena wished to keep.  Instead Ranulf de Varnay, Magistra Sophie's young nephew and one of the beginner-level scholars, gazed back up at her.  "Magistra Helena, the Rector sent me to see if you could meet him in his study for a few minutes.  He says it won't take long."  His task accomplished, the boy beamed up at her.  "You have pretty hair, Magistra."

   Helena's hand flew up to her head as she remembered her lack of veil and wimple.  "Thank you, Ran," she murmured absently.  "Tell Father I shall be down presently."  Turning away slightly to face her roommate, she added, "Therese, have you seen my veil bands?"

   The boy gave a polite bow as his father had taught him and, considering himself dismissed to bring the Rector his return message, scampered back down the stairs.  Helena closed the door again, looking puzzled as Therese handed her a different piece of headgear from what she was expecting.

   "I found your veil and one of the bands, but the one we've stuck your veil pins in is missing.  I suspect Fritha has squirreled it away again."  Therese turned to check under a nearby bench.  "Fritha, you naughty kitty, where are you?"

   Helena turned the small cap over in her hands.  "This is my night coif, Tessa."

   "Oh, there you are!"  Therese dropped to the floor, attempting to coax the kitten and her prize out from the low opening beneath Helena's boxbed.  Over her shoulder, she tossed back, "It's a perfectly nice coif, and the embroidery on it even matches your gown.  If you don't tell the bishop you use it to keep your head warm at night, he'll never know, now will he?"  Turning back to the kitten, she added, "Come on out now, there's a nice puss!  Pins will hurt you if you swallow them, you know."  She twitched the other veil band at the low opening temptingly, offering it up as bait.  A gray paw reached out to swipe at it but missed.  Therese glanced back at Helena again.  "Go on, then!  Mustn’t keep Father waiting.  He's got a meeting with the King tonight, hasn't he, so I don't imagine he's got much time to spare."  The nun stretched one arm underneath the bed frame, trying in vain to reach the recalcitrant feline crouched beyond her reach.

   There seemed little choice, so Helena hastily donned the embroidered cap, tying the laces at the nape of her neck, underneath her hair rather than under her chin, in an attempt to secure her wayward curls in some semblance of order as she hurried down the staircase.  Even so, she felt more like an errant schoolgirl than a proper magistra as she exited Abbot’s Tower and crossed the courtyard to enter the Basilica.

#

   The Bishop looked up as Helena entered the room.   His mouth opened to greet her but no sound came out for a long moment as his startled gaze took in the sight of her in her uncustomary finery.  She paused just inside the doorway, looking self-conscious.

   “Jesú!” he finally managed.  “You look…quite lovely!”  He took a deep breath, attempting to gather his wits, hoping he didn’t look as disconcerted as he felt.

   Helena gave a stifled laugh.  “Thank you…I think.  Must you sound so astonished?  Tell me you didn’t call me down here just to tell me that!”   

   “I…No.  No, I didn’t,” he affirmed.  “It’s just…I wasn’t expecting to see you looking so…so festive.”  

   Her amusement grew.  “Festive? That’s hardly the look I was going for!”  She glanced down at herself, her expression uncertain.  “I was planning on wearing this to the funeral.  Do you think it’s too much?  The fabric’s quite fine, but it’s black, so I figured it would be appropriate….”

   “No!  I mean, yes, it’s…it’s nice.  Not too much at all.”  Jesú, here he was babbling on like some lovesick schoolboy!  “It’s quite suitable.”  He stared in fascination at the cascade of curls emerging from beneath the lower edge of her coif.  Something about the unusual headgear looked oddly familiar.  “Is that your night-cap?  It’s pretty, but tell me you’re not going to wear that to the funeral, at least!”

   Her cheeks turned pink.  “Duncan, are we just going to talk about fashion and fripperies, or did you have some other reason to summon me down here?” she asked, sounding a trifle flustered.

   He laughed, his composure finally restored.  “I’m sorry.  It’s just that you do look rather distracting at the moment.”  He offered her a seat, studying her a long moment before adding, “Alaric was right.  I don’t want you to go to Eddington Manor tomorrow, but I can’t see any other way around it.”

   Her expression softened.  “Are you worried for my safety?  Don’t be.  I’m sure I’ll be just fine.   After all, Ædwige doesn’t even know that we suspect anything, does she?  As far as she’s concerned, I’m only traveling with her exactly for the purpose that she's requested.”

   Duncan cast his senses beyond his study’s walls and far enough down the corridor outside the open door to ensure that no one, including the trusty and ever-vigilant Brother Everard, was within earshot before answering her.  “I know she’s unaware that we suspect anything for now.  But that might change later, once you’re at Eddington Manor.  And if it does, I’m concerned because I’d have no way of knowing if you’re in need of assistance.  Even assuming you could get some message through to me, whether psychic or physical, it would take time for anyone to actually get to you.”

   “I’ll be very careful,” Helena assured him.  “And remember, Ædwige’s manor isn’t all that far away from Rhemuth.”

   “It’s a day and a half from here under normal travel conditions!” he protested, “and even if I stop at way-stations and risk killing several fresh horses in succession to get there faster, I don’t see myself shaving more than a few hours off that time.  But even if I could, there’s the very real possibility you wouldn’t be able to get a call for help out to me at all, from that distance.  At least not without some more tangible link to connect us than we’ve got now."  He gave her a questioning look.  "That is…if you’d be willing….?”

   “Yes.”  There was no hesitation in her voice, though a faint smile lurked at the corners of her lips.  “Especially if that will ease your mind and stop you from being such an alarmist!”  She lowered her voice slightly.  “Cariad, please don’t worry so.  I promise to be quite cautious.  After all, I don’t want Ædwige to suspect what I’m up to either, and not because I’m worried she might harm me.  I suppose that is a possibility, and I’ll be on my guard just in case, but to be honest, I’m more concerned about the mortification I’d feel if she were to catch me poking about her manor looking for evidence that might not even exist, especially if I were to discover we’re all just making a mountain out of a molehill.”

   “Well, humor me at least,” Duncan said, reaching into the neck of his cassock and fishing out a chain.  Removing it from around his neck, he placed chain and medallion in Helena’s hand.  “Wear this.  It’s been attuned to me for years, so it should serve well as a focus to strengthen our link, should you need to try to contact me.”

   She stared down at the Saint Camber medallion she held, looking briefly puzzled, then oddly…disappointed?   As she put the chain around her neck and tucked the medallion safely inside her bodice, Duncan wondered what she had been expecting, and then realization dawned and he felt a bit foolish.  

   “We…could establish a deeper link between ourselves as well, if you’d like.”  He smiled, his voice gently teasing.  “After all, I’d hardly be a gentleman if I didn’t offer, now that I’ve seen you in your nightwear….”  He glanced up at her coif with a grin.

   She turned scarlet, her jaw dropping in scandalized amusement as she turned her head swiftly towards the half-open doorway.  “Duncan!” she exclaimed, her whisper barely audible.

   He chuckled.  “There’s no one close enough to hear,” his voice equally low.  “I’ve been keeping my senses attuned to what’s happening in the area around us, even if you haven’t.”  He reached for her hand, cradling it gently between his own.  “And a deeper level of rapport between us would help me establish communication with you more quickly and easily as well, if I need reassurance that you're not in any danger.  Knowing I can do that would alleviate a great deal of my worry for you, especially if it should turn out that I can still sense you on some level—however faintly—even when we're miles apart. Are you willing, my heart?”

   She smiled, tears gathering in her eyes.  “I am.”


Chapter Eighteen:  http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=843.0
« Last Edit: March 09, 2012, 09:07:55 am 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 Elkhound

  • Prince/Princess
  • **
  • Posts: 1077
  • Karma: 8
  • Gender: Male
  • Favorite Book: The King's Justice
  • Favorite Character: Denis Arilan
Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Seventeen
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2012, 10:54:37 am »
The plot thickens.

And the business with the cats is definately a Chekov's Gun.

Offline Jerusha

  • Donor
  • Duke/Duchess
  • ****
  • Posts: 512
  • Karma: 17
  • Gender: Female
  • Favorite Book: High Deryni
  • Favorite Character: Alaric Morgan
Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Seventeen
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2012, 01:35:40 pm »
It's nice to see that people are beginning to acknowledge that Ædwige is not always a sweet little thing. 

I would feel better, though, it they could at least send along a dependable squire, maybe Jemmy, just to be on the safe side. 
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Offline derynifanatic64

  • Earl/Countess
  • *****
  • Posts: 369
  • Karma: 9
  • Gender: Male
  • Uncle Mark Rules!!
Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Seventeen
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2012, 06:48:40 pm »
Interesting new power that Duncan discovered there.  He was definitely having some un-bishoplike thoughts that night.  I hope that Helena will get some evidence against Gwynedd's infamous black rose.
We will never forget the events of 9-11!!  USA!! USA!!

Offline Alkari

  • Donor
  • Duke/Duchess
  • ****
  • Posts: 696
  • Karma: 6
  • Gender: Female
Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Seventeen
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2012, 02:47:40 am »
Oh, Duncan, Duncan!   You and Helena will each need to be very, very careful.   And Helena for additional reasons when she goes to Eddington.   Though the prospect of Duncan abandoning the Schola and galloping madly to her rescue if necessary is rather amusing - and if he didn't mind riding a series of horses to their limit he'd do it in much less than a day.  :D

Offline Elkhound

  • Prince/Princess
  • **
  • Posts: 1077
  • Karma: 8
  • Gender: Male
  • Favorite Book: The King's Justice
  • Favorite Character: Denis Arilan
Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Seventeen
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2012, 02:08:18 pm »
Oh, Duncan, Duncan!   You and Helena will each need to be very, very careful.   And Helena for additional reasons when she goes to Eddington.   Though the prospect of Duncan abandoning the Schola and galloping madly to her rescue if necessary is rather amusing - and if he didn't mind riding a series of horses to their limit he'd do it in much less than a day.  :D

As a Healer, could he feed additional energy to the horse to enable it to run farther/faster than normal?  Or would that exhause him to the point where he wouldn't be of much use to anyone once he got there?

Perhaps Helena will be able to find a Portal at Eddington.

Offline Alkari

  • Donor
  • Duke/Duchess
  • ****
  • Posts: 696
  • Karma: 6
  • Gender: Female
Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Seventeen
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2012, 04:36:52 pm »
Quote
Perhaps Helena will be able to find a Portal at Eddington.

Doubtful I'd say - Sir Gilrae wasn't Deryni.  But as younger Duncan and Alaric managed the ride from Dhassa to Culdi in twenty hours in DC (with Alaric being badly affected by the merasha at St Torins), I'm sure 'desperate Duncan' would manage Rhemuth to Eddington in that time or less  ;)

Offline Elkhound

  • Prince/Princess
  • **
  • Posts: 1077
  • Karma: 8
  • Gender: Male
  • Favorite Book: The King's Justice
  • Favorite Character: Denis Arilan
Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Seventeen
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2012, 05:07:50 pm »
Quote
Perhaps Helena will be able to find a Portal at Eddington.

Doubtful I'd say - Sir Gilrae wasn't Deryni.  But as younger Duncan and Alaric managed the ride from Dhassa to Culdi in twenty hours in DC (with Alaric being badly affected by the merasha at St Torins), I'm sure 'desperate Duncan' would manage Rhemuth to Eddington in that time or less  ;)

True; but if the manor ever did belong to a Deryni family, there might be one somewhere.  Portals fade from disuse, but it might not be entirely dead.

Offline Alkari

  • Donor
  • Duke/Duchess
  • ****
  • Posts: 696
  • Karma: 6
  • Gender: Female
Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Seventeen
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2012, 05:11:11 pm »
But where's the fun in that?  The idea of Desperate Duncan riding madly to save his lady love is much more dramatic!   :D 

Offline Evie

  • Administrator
  • Prince/Princess
  • *****
  • Posts: 1957
  • Karma: 28
  • Gender: Female
  • Sister Evie--Servant of Saint Camber
    • The Mini-Deryni Chronicles
  • Favorite Book: High Deryni or The King's Justice (can't decide)
  • Favorite Character: President of the Duncan McLain Fanbabe Society
Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Seventeen
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2012, 08:24:13 pm »
But as younger Duncan and Alaric managed the ride from Dhassa to Culdi in twenty hours in DC (with Alaric being badly affected by the merasha at St Torins), I'm sure 'desperate Duncan' would manage Rhemuth to Eddington in that time or less  ;)

Only twenty hours from Dhassa to Culdi?!  *glances at map of Gwynedd*  Oh-Em-Gee, it's those freaking elastic roads again!  I have got to learn that spell!  Imagine how much commuting time that would save me every workday!   ;D
"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 Evie

  • Administrator
  • Prince/Princess
  • *****
  • Posts: 1957
  • Karma: 28
  • Gender: Female
  • Sister Evie--Servant of Saint Camber
    • The Mini-Deryni Chronicles
  • Favorite Book: High Deryni or The King's Justice (can't decide)
  • Favorite Character: President of the Duncan McLain Fanbabe Society
Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Seventeen
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2012, 08:30:10 pm »
The plot thickens.

And the business with the cats is definately a Chekov's Gun.

Yes, as tempted as I might be to drop gratuitous kittehs into every scene just because I like the pestersome little beasties and wanted to inflict them on my Schola residents, there will come a time in the story when the kitty-mischief actually ties in to the main plot.   :D
"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 Evie

  • Administrator
  • Prince/Princess
  • *****
  • Posts: 1957
  • Karma: 28
  • Gender: Female
  • Sister Evie--Servant of Saint Camber
    • The Mini-Deryni Chronicles
  • Favorite Book: High Deryni or The King's Justice (can't decide)
  • Favorite Character: President of the Duncan McLain Fanbabe Society
Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Seventeen
« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2012, 08:38:08 pm »
Interesting new power that Duncan discovered there.  He was definitely having some un-bishoplike thoughts that night.  I hope that Helena will get some evidence against Gwynedd's infamous black rose.

Well, you know, Duncan was a fully-functional male before he ever donned his first cassock, and while he might be sworn to celibacy, it's not exactly the same thing as being a eunuch.  For which he's truly grateful, I'm sure, even though I'm also fairly certain that's a right nuisance at times as well.   ;)

And if anyone is equipped to discover whatever evidence there might be to find in Eddington at this late date, I would think that would be Helena.  She does have a certain advantage in terms of psychic sensitivity, after all, when it comes to residual energies lingering in objects and places associated with trauma....
"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 Elkhound

  • Prince/Princess
  • **
  • Posts: 1077
  • Karma: 8
  • Gender: Male
  • Favorite Book: The King's Justice
  • Favorite Character: Denis Arilan
Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Seventeen
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2012, 08:46:24 pm »
She does have a certain advantage in terms of psychic sensitivity, after all, when it comes to residual energies lingering in objects and places associated with trauma....

Would a slow poisoning leave the same sort of trauma as a violent death would?

Offline Evie

  • Administrator
  • Prince/Princess
  • *****
  • Posts: 1957
  • Karma: 28
  • Gender: Female
  • Sister Evie--Servant of Saint Camber
    • The Mini-Deryni Chronicles
  • Favorite Book: High Deryni or The King's Justice (can't decide)
  • Favorite Character: President of the Duncan McLain Fanbabe Society
Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Seventeen
« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2012, 06:02:44 pm »
Probably not the same sort, though that also might depend on how the poison acts (for instance, the death cap mushroom is a slow-to-act poison but agonizing nonetheless), and in any case, this may or may not have been a slow poisoning (she says cryptically, not wishing to give out too many details of future scenes before they're posted).   :D

Though if you'll recall from earlier scenes, while trauma is almost certain to leave an imprint on an object or area, Helena was also able to pick up more mundane impressions from certain objects.  For instance, in the young Deryni student's journal that she picked up in Part One, she picked up impressions of what the original owner's life as a scholar was like for him, and a bit about his personality.  When she touched Baroness Ardith's former possessions, she got impressions of her emotions--mostly her fear, yes, but also things like her initial joy over her pregnancy, what the chamber looked like a century or so earlier in Ardith's time, etc.
"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 AnnieUK

  • Donor
  • Earl/Countess
  • ****
  • Posts: 434
  • Karma: 8
Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Seventeen
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2012, 04:56:30 pm »
LOL at God talking to Sister Therese in Duncan's voice and the "magical closet"!

 

* User Info

 
 
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

* Who's Online

  • Dot Guests: 48
  • Dot Hidden: 0
  • Dot Users: 0

There aren't any users online.

* Top Poster

Evie Evie
1957 Posts
Elkhound
1077 Posts
Alkari
696 Posts
DesertRose DesertRose
663 Posts
Laurna Laurna
583 Posts

* Most Karma

Evie Evie
Karma: 28
DesertRose DesertRose
Karma: 19
Jerusha Jerusha
Karma: 17
revanne revanne
Karma: 12
Laurna Laurna
Karma: 11

* Online Time

TheDeryni TheDeryni
115d 20h 24m
Evie Evie
105d 11h 37m
DesertRose DesertRose
93d 18h 46m
AnnieUK AnnieUK
53d 22h 35m
Alkari
32d 18h 16m

* Forum Staff

Bynw admin Bynw
Administrator
TheDeryni admin TheDeryni
Administrator
DesertRose admin DesertRose
Administrator
Evie admin Evie
Administrator
Shiral gmod Shiral
Zipper Sister
Unicorn636 gmod Unicorn636
Zipper Sister
Laurna gmod Laurna
Donor
EvilEd gmod EvilEd
Global Moderator
revanne gmod revanne
Donor
KK gmod KK
Our Queen
gmod Alkari
Donor
AnnieUK gmod AnnieUK
Donor
Jerusha gmod Jerusha
Donor

* Board Stats

  • stats Total Members: 620
  • stats Total Posts: 16634
  • stats Total Topics: 1916
  • stats Total Categories: 12
  • stats Total Boards: 126
  • stats Most Online: 181

* Calendar

November 2017
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 [17] 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30