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Author Topic: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Twenty-Two  (Read 1882 times)

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Offline Evie

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Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Twenty-Two
« on: April 06, 2012, 01:03:38 pm »
   Chapter Twenty-Two

   The Earl of Danoc's Court at Eddington
   November 10, 1136


   The Earl of Danoc sat in a small room just beyond the dais end of Eddington Manor's Hall, his keen gaze scanning the other faces in the room.  He had come to hold a Court of High Justice on charges brought forward to him against one of his vassals, the Lady Ædwige of Eddington.  He would ordinarily have heard the case at his own county seat, but due in part to the Auxiliary Bishop of Rhemuth's recent injuries and blood loss and also in part because most of the witnesses involved in the coroner's inquest that had taken place the day before were members of the Eddington household, and Lady Ædwige’s more recent actions had been alleged to be related in some way to her late husband’s death, he had opted to travel the short distance to Eddington Manor instead in the company of Sir Hugh the Coroner as well as Master Edmund Hollister, his own personal physician.  The Earl himself had not weighed in on the inquest directly, although of course the matter of how Sir Gilrae had met his end was of extreme interest to him both personally and because he knew that Hugh's findings would shed more light on the circumstances that had brought him here this day—the alleged attack on a Schola's magistra and an Auxiliary Bishop's party by one of his vassals.  Whether or not a previous murder charge would be added to the charges that had been brought before him of more recent attempted murder remained to be seen, and that was what Sir Hugh and Master Edmund had been invited here to determine.  All in all, though, it seemed the Lady Ædwige had much to answer for.

   Only a few feet in front of him, displayed upon a table, lay the mortal remains of his old friend Sir Gilrae, for it was customary to have the body of the deceased present for inspection during an inquest if at all possible, so Sir Hugh had had Sir Gilrae's coffin brought up to the courtyard just beyond the Hall for the proceedings the day before.  It had been moved to this withdrawing room later, after the Coroner had examined it thoroughly and questioned all of the Eddington household and its guests to discover what each person knew about the last days of Sir Gilrae's life and the events that had led up to his death.  At the moment Hugh was somberly studying the uncommonly well-preserved body as the Earl’s physician pointed out to the Earl the rusty stains within the dead man's oral cavity.

   "Evidence of mortweed poisoning, aye, it does appear that way," the Earl agreed with a nod.  "I've heard of that symptom.  But you say you saw no sign of it the first time you examined the body, Hugh?"  

   "I did not, my lord, but then again, I was summoned immediately after Sir Gilrae’s death and did the examination as soon as I arrived in Eddington.  The stain wouldn't have had time to appear yet."

   "How soon after Sir Gilrae's death was that?" the Earl asked.

   "Oh, not long…."  Hugh glanced at the Eddington steward.  "About, what, two days?"

   Noting the steward’s confirming nod, the physician offered his opinion.  "That's not so surprising, then, my lord.  The stains don't tend to show clearly for a week or two after death.  Most of the time the poisoning victim has been buried by then, and so the crime isn't discovered until at least a year or more has passed, when the body is exhumed for relocation of  the bones to an ossuary."  He waved a hand at Gilrae's preserved body, giving the coroner a wry smile.  "Only by that time, one usually doesn't require a close look at the staining to realize something unnatural has stopped the decomposition process.  Though granted, the staining helps to confirm that one is almost certainly looking at a murder victim and not at proof that the recently deceased is a candidate for canonization."

   The Earl chuckled.  "Well, I can attest to the fact that Gilrae, bless the man, was certainly not that saintly!  So, it's certain that he was murdered, then?"  

   Sir Hugh waggled his hand.  "It's certain he ingested mortweed; at this point, though, we've not established how that happened.  He probably was murdered, though I suppose there's the possibility he was despondent enough over his failing health to seek out his death early.  I rather doubt that, but the possibility exists, so I can't absolutely rule it out yet.  It's less likely to be an accident—that is to say, even if it was an accident that he ate or drank it, it was almost certainly no accident on the part of whoever supplied it to him, though he may well have been unaware of what he was taking in.  It’s safe to say Sir Gilrae didn’t die a natural death, though.  And it's come to my attention during my questioning of the witnesses that Lady Ædwige was trying to hide what might be evidence related to her husband's death on the same morning when she attacked the Schola magistra and Bishop McLain and his party."  He glanced at the Eddington steward.  "Where are those items the Lady Ædwige was caught trying to bury?"

   “Here, my lord.”  Martin Steward brought forward the basket that the young widow had tried to bury along with Sister Helena, laying it at his deceased master's feet.  He turned scarlet as he faced the Earl.  "May God and your lordship have mercy upon me; I think I might have helped my lady dig the hole she tried to dispose of these in.  I don't have a clear memory of that, though the lady Healer told me my mind was not my own for a while that morning and that Lady Ædwige used some sort of Deryni compulsion against me."

   The Earl nodded.  "Yes, so I've been told by both Sister Helena and Bishop Duncan, who have both assured me that you are not to blame for your part in what happened five days ago, just as Armsman Eanrigh won't be held accountable for the injuries he inflicted on the bishop for the same reason.  You needn't fear punishment for actions which were beyond your ability to control, Martin.  If the Lady Ædwige took control of your mind—and I've already been given enough reason to satisfy me that she had—then you are no more at fault for her misuse of you than a piece of flint or steel is at fault for being misused at the hands of an arsonist.  Though I may still need to call you up in Court to account for your actions publicly despite having heard enough already to be personally satisfied of your innocence, so that others who know the full facts of the case may come forward to formally clear you."  He hesitated slightly before asking, “And you’ve felt no lasting effect since that morning?”

   “No, my lord,” Martin Steward answered.  “Bishop McLain did a very careful reading of my mind once he felt well enough to do so, and he says I’ve naught to worry about—no damage or lasting effects, that is—for which God be praised.  It frightens me to think of what that…what Lady Ædwige might have done with me, if she’d wished, and I’d have been powerless to stop her or even to know what she was doing.”  The retainer shuddered.

   The Earl’s lips tightened.  “Yes, you were quite fortunate.”  He turned to his coroner.  “And what did your examination of Lady Ædwige’s belongings turn up?”  He waved a hand toward the basket sitting at the foot of Sir Gilrae’s coffin.

   "Mortweed stains, my lord.  We can show you how we detected them, if you'd like."

   At the Earl's curious nod, Sir Hugh turned to Master Edmund, who stepped forward, lifting a crumpled wool tunic out of the basket with a gloved hand and inspecting it for stains.  Spotting one, he called on one of the household servants to bring him a bowl of water and a scrap of white linen.  While the man scurried off to fetch these items, he carefully inspected the basket's other contents, lifting up a cylinder of green glass which appeared to have once been a section of a bottle's neck.  This he set to one side.

   The physician poured a small amount of the water onto the stained cloth then tore the scrap of linen into two strips, dabbing at the wet spot with one strip of the white linen.   At first, the only change to the linen was the slightly darker damp spot anyone might expect to see from freshly moistened white fabric, but as Master Edmund held the swatch close to a candle's flame to hasten the drying process, a faint rusty stain began to appear.  "Do you see the stain beginning to form, my lord?  Heat hastens the process."  He fished in his pouch, drawing out two similar scraps of linen wrapped inside a larger remnant of wool, both with a much darker rusty stain.  "These were the original test samples I took yesterday.  You'll notice the stain is much darker on these; I allowed them to dry by my chamber hearth overnight."

   "Hm.  Interesting."  The Earl started to reach for them for a closer examination, but hesitated.  "Are they safe for me to touch?"

   "They're fully dry now, so they ought to be, but all the same, since you're not gloved, I'd much rather you didn't.  It's better to be overly careful than not careful enough when it comes to mortweed poison, especially at this concentration."  The physician gave him a wry smile, picking up the other strip of linen, dampening it in the water and then carefully threading it through the cylinder of broken glass, wiping the inside surfaces with it before holding that swatch of fabric close to the flame as well.  This swatch took a bit longer to dry out, but once it did, it too was stained with the same faint rusty tinge that had appeared on the first strip.  "Again, if we were to leave this to dry overnight by the hearth, it would turn nearly as dark as my first sample, although possibly less stained because this is the second time I've wiped inside the neck of this bottle."

   "Oh, is that what that is?"  Sir Hugh asked him, indicating the cylinder of glass.  "So that came from the bottle the mortweed poison was contained in?"

   "Yes and no," Master Edmund confirmed.  "We're told it's not from the original poison bottle, yet mortweed was most definitely contained in it."

   "What Edmund means," Sir Hugh clarified, "is that this was the neck to what was once Sir Gilrae's heart cordial bottle, to which mortweed had been added.  Sister Helena told us during yesterday's inquest that she had originally supplied Lady Ædwige with two bottles at the Lady's request last winter—a refill of the heart cordial, which Sir Gilrae was in the habit of ordering from a Rhemuth apothecary in Market Square, and also a bottle of rat poison.  Sister Helena told me that the rat poison the apothecary had on hand was an infusion of mortweed, and that it was originally in a black bottle with a red cork.  No one has seen this second bottle yet, although the household is currently searching the manor and grounds for it.  According to Mistress Nell, as soon as Sister Helena's package arrived from Rhemuth, Lady Ædwige retired to her chamber to open it, and soon after that she remembers seeing the green bottle of heart cordial in Sir Gilrae's medicinals cabinet, but she doesn't recall ever seeing a black bottle such as the one described by Sister Helena."  Sir Hugh raised a skeptical eyebrow.  “And it might interest you to know that while Lady Ædwige claimed in a letter to her former Schola magistri last February that she needed the rat poison for a rodent problem here at Eddington Manor, I questioned Mistress Nell and several of the chambermaids and the cook about this alleged infestation, and they’re all agreed that there has been very little problem with keeping the mice and rats at bay here on the manor grounds.  They see one now and again, but the cats and hounds keep their numbers down well enough without the need for mortweed or other poisons.”

   The Earl nodded.  “And in any case, whether there was ever a need for the mortweed as a rat poison or not, there’s no way it could have ended up in the heart cordial by accident.   Is that the only bottle of the cordial that Sir Gilrae had on the premises since February?”

   Sir Hugh nodded.  “Everyone seems to be in agreement on that point, yes.  Which means the mortweed wasn’t in the green bottle the whole time, since Sir Gilrae was seen to take his cordial on a regular basis with no ill effects for several months before his death.”

    The Earl of Danoc looked thoughtful.  “So that argues for his death being a murder, doesn’t it?  Whoever added the mortweed to the cordial almost certainly knew what they were doing, and if that someone had been Sir Gilrae—if he’d grown despondent enough to seek to end his own life—surely the black bottle would have been found close at hand after his death, unless he added it to his cordial and then disposed of the original bottle before taking that final dose.  That seems rather unlikely, but just on the off chance, did anyone mention what frame of mind Gilrae was in during those final days of his life?”  He glanced at the Eddington steward.  “Martin?”

   The steward thought back to his late master’s final week of life.  “He seemed to be in good spirits, all things considered, m’lord.  He knew his end was near, but he had reason to believe his lady might be breeding.”  The man blushed.  “He was…ah…rather proud of that accomplishment.  He told me he hoped he might be able to hang on long enough to see if he’d fathered an heir for Eddington or not.  In fact, we rather thought he might be rallying.  He still had the heart pains now and again, but he seemed to have some of his old energy back for a while.”  Martin shook his head.  “And even if he’d been in low spirits, I can’t imagine Sir Gilrae taking his own life.  Not just to escape his final illness, at any rate.  Perhaps a few years ago, after the Lady Delicia and his last hope of an heir from her died, he might have been tempted, but he never grew that despairing, not even then.”

   “So then it seems to me that the more likely alternative we’re faced with is that someone else poured the mortweed into the cordial bottle—and not just anyone, but presumably the only person who even knew at the time that there was a bottle of mortweed on the premises—and that this person did so with the deliberate intent of causing grievous illness or death to Sir Gilrae?”  The Earl gave the coroner a grim smile.  “Does it seem that way to you as well, Sir Hugh?”

   “I believe that’s the most reasonable interpretation of the evidence, yes, my lord.”  The coroner waved a hand in the direction of the dirt-covered basket.  “Especially in light of that person’s attempt to subsequently hide all the evidence that might point towards her culpability.”  Indicating the stained woolen tunic, Sir Hugh added, “The Schola magistra says that these stains were caused by Lady’s Ædwige’s attempts to wipe up the remaining poisoned cordial from the floor of her late husband’s bedchamber five days ago, after her kitten knocked the bottle off a high table and it shattered.  The lady was most insistent on cleaning up the mess herself.”

   “Yes, I was wondering how Gilrae’s tunic came to have such a large mortweed stain.”  He turned an inquiring look at his physician.  “I hate to ask, Edmund, but is there any possibility that the tunic might have acquired such stains from some more benign substance?  Surely there are other liquids capable of producing a rusty looking stain on white fabric?”

   The physician nodded.  “I can think of several, in fact, although in this particular case I think we can rule out other causes.  For one thing, if it fact this tunic was used to mop up the last of Gilrae’s cordial, the unadulterated cordial ought to have left a pale greenish stain, not a rusty one.  But there’s one final bit of evidence that Sir Hugh hasn’t brought up yet.”  He glanced at the coroner, who smiled and beckoned towards a manservant standing in the doorway.  The man stepped forward, opening a small wooden carrier with a woven lid to reveal its contents.

   “This is the kitten that spilled the mortweed-laced cordial, poor little creature.  You’ll note that despite having died nearly a week ago, he shows no sign of decay yet.”  The coroner pried open the tiny lips to reveal gums and the tip of a tongue that were beginning to show the first faint signs of a rusty tinge.  “He died of mortweed poisoning, my lord, and afterwards the Lady Ædwige used Sir Gilrae’s old tunic to dispose of the broken bottle and mop up the last of the poisoned cordial.  And afterward it is alleged that she tried to bury this evidence as well as the one witness—Sister Helena—who had uncovered the truth about her husband’s death, and also that she tried to murder others who came to the magistra’s rescue, and that her reason for her actions appears to have been an attempt to cover up the truth about how her husband died.  Of course, that’s your case to hear and not mine, my lord; I can only attest to the fact that Sir Gilrae’s death was definitely not a result of natural causes and, in my opinion, even though I can’t state it with absolute certainty, it appears to be the result of homicide by means of mortweed poisoning."     

   A knock sounded at the door, and the manservant who had brought forward Boots’s body went to answer it.  A moment later, he turned to face the Earl, his face lighting with excitement.  “M’lord, one of the chambermaids has turned up something y’might find of interest t’ th’ case!”  At the Earl’s inquiring look and nod, he opened the door further, allowing in a shy young maid who bobbed a low curtsey and offered up a small black bottle with a red stopper for inspection.  

   “Is this th’ bottle ye were askin’ after, Sir Hugh?” the girl asked.

   “It certainly appears to be!” the coroner affirmed.  “Well done…Maggie, isn’t it?”  He took the bottle from her shaking hand.  “Don’t be frightened, lass.  Can you tell us where you found it?  Speak up plainly so we can all hear.”

   “Aye, m’lord, it were in M’Lady’s chamber.  ‘Er old chamber, I mean t’ say.  Lady Ædwige’s.  ‘Erself had it hid away between ‘er feather mattresses.  I did what ye said an’ didn’t open it, but I shook it just a bit, an’ it seems t’ be near empty.”  She bit her lip.  “I hope tha’ was a’ right?”

   “Quite all right, Maggie,” the Earl answered in the coroner’s stead.  “We may have more questions for you later, but for the moment, you may return to your duties.”  He dismissed the manservant as well, waiting until the door closed behind both before handing the bottle off to his physician.  "Master Edmund, would you test the contents of this second bottle?"

   The physician reached for the black bottle, carefully uncorking it with a gloved hand and then waving his hand towards himself over the open neck, cautiously sniffing at the faint fumes wafting from it.  He recoiled with a grimace, looking back up at the Earl.  "I'll do the same test on this that I did with the others once I get some fresh scraps of white linen, but I can already tell you that I can detect the smell of mortweed, and a very high concentration of it at that."  Peering inside the small opening, he added, "If this bottle was full when it arrived in Eddington, then judging by what's left inside, if the remainder all went into Sir Gilrae's cordial, that would be enough to drop several horses in less than a minute, I should think, let alone one frail man."

   The Earl of Danoc nodded, smiling grimly and turning his attention back to the coroner.

   “So, is it your recommendation that I add murder to the list of charges to be brought against the Lady Ædwige of Eddington Manor this day?” the Earl of Danoc asked.

   Sir Hugh and Master Edmund exchanged glances, shared agreement in their eyes.  The coroner nodded.  “It is now, my lord.”

#

   Martin Steward waited until after the midday meal, while the household was still fully assembled in the Hall, to announce that the Earl of Danoc's Court would be convening within the hour at the Earl's command.  The household rushed to set the Hall back into proper order, whisking away the used trenchers, goblets, and table linens to the scullery and cupboards, and returning the table boards and trestles to their customary storage places at the rear of the Hall.  The benches were neatly lined on either side of the Hall, affording all a clear view of their Earl and his seat on the raised dais where until recently their master and his new bride had been accustomed to dine.

   While these preparations were taking place, the Earl withdrew into the small chamber where Sir Gilrae's body lay, seeking a moment's quiet to ready himself for the trial ahead.  After his meeting with Sir Hugh and Master Edmund earlier that morning, he had allowed Martin Steward and another of the Eddington men to reseal the coffin, and now he leaned against it and bowed his head in a brief prayer for his old friend's eternal repose.

   Bishop Duncan entered the room and, upon seeing the Earl thus occupied, stopped just inside the doorway, maintaining a respectful silence until Danoc looked back up again.  The Earl, noticing his arrival, gave Duncan a fleeting smile.

   "It's good to see you up and around, Father Duncan," Danoc said, allowing himself the momentary informality since they were in private and, while they were not close friends, the two had become fairly well acquainted during their years of service at King Brion's Court and now his son's, and also in the two wars which had troubled the earlier years of young Kelson's reign.  He looked back down at Sir Gilrae's coffin with a slight frown.  "Gil is at peace now, isn't he, Father?  I mean…his soul's in Heaven now, I hope, and not…still trapped like this?"  The Earl waved his hand toward his friend's coffin, his eyes haunted.

   Duncan gave him a reassuring smile, shaking his head.  "He's not there anymore, Aubrey.  Death from mortweed is like any other death in that regard, and while there are more arcane ways to trap a soul within a man's body, I took the liberty earlier of checking for any signs of that, and there were none.  Whatever else might have been done to Sir Gilrae, at least he never had to deal with that horror."

   The Earl shuddered.  "God be thanked, then."

   There was a sudden stir of excitement, some unexpected arrival by the sound of things, coming from the nearby Hall.   Both men turned towards the connecting doorway as it opened, a wide-eyed manservant stepping inside to make a flustered bow in their direction.  His uncertain gaze flitted between them as if trying to decide which man ought to be addressed first, but he settled the matter by lowering his eyes and stammering, “My lords, there is a messenger from the Crown who says he has urgent business to bring before my lord Earl.”  With a quick glance up at Duncan, he added, “And he’s also inquiring after your health, Bishop McLain.”

   "Show him in," the Earl of Danoc said.

   The young man exited, returning almost immediately with another, this taller man favoring them with a wry smile as he greeted them.  "Good morning, Aubrey, or perhaps I should say good afternoon instead?"  Arching a blond eyebrow at the bishop, he added, "You've looked better, although I'm glad you look no worse."  Despite his mild tone, Duncan could sense taut anger beneath the words, though he knew the anger was not directed at him.

   "Your Grace!"  Danoc exclaimed with a surprised grin.  He glanced at Duncan, then back at the unexpected arrival.  "I should have known the King would call for you once word got back to him of your cousin's injury."  He gave the manservant a discreet gesture of dismissal; the younger man, his eyes growing even wider with the revelation of this new visitor’s rank, nearly tripped over his own feet in his haste to comply.

   The bishop chuckled.  "Traveling incognito, Alaric?  Or have you been on such bad behavior in my absence that Kelson's had to demote you to royal messenger?"

   "I told you having to sit at that damned High Table would get me into trouble someday!" Morgan pretended to grouse, finding a seat on a nearby bench and loosening the ties of his gorget.  "No, I just figured I wouldn't make myself a target for every brigand between Rhemuth and Eddington by wearing ducal regalia, and once we arrived and found yon quivering pup practically shivering in his boots at the thought of receiving an envoy from the King's Court, I thought it best not to mention who I am."  He grinned at Duncan and the Earl as he removed the gorget and began to unlace leather vambraces.  "That's not the Eddington steward, is it?"

   Duncan laughed.  "No, just one of the junior manservants.  I don’t think he was expecting to have a Bishop and an Earl both land on his doorstep this week, much less a Duke of the realm.  He's probably scurrying off to the kitchens with news of your arrival even now and putting poor Cook in a dither."

   Alaric shook his head good-naturedly, rising from his seat.  "I'll have Derry head the lad off before he puts the entire manorial household in a  panic.  We don't intend to impose, at least not for more than one night's stay."  He gave his cousin a brief head to toe visual examination.  "How recovered are you?  Are you up to a trip back to Rhemuth tomorrow if we procure a coach for the journey?"

   Duncan snorted.  "No, but I'd be up for it mounted on a horse.  I'm not that infirm!"

   The Earl of Danoc gave a preoccupied frown as the Duke opened the door he'd come through earlier, although he waited until Morgan had finished his quiet conference with the Earl of Derry before broaching his concern.  "Your Grace, I shall need to hear Bishop McLain's testimony regarding the Lady Ædwige as well as Sister Helena's in order to try the cases against her, although I suppose I can hear their accounts first if they are required back in Rhemuth right away."

   "Ah yes, about that."  Alaric resumed his place by the hearth.  "Sorry, Aubrey; I meant to get around to the subject sooner.  His Majesty has taken a special interest in the matter of Lady Ædwige’s attempt on Bishop McLain’s and Sister Helena’s lives, and he intends to hear that case himself, although he is willing that you should hear the case against her regarding whatever involvement she might have had in Sir Gilrae’s death.  Given that you might need more of the Eddington household to testify in that matter, it would make sense to go ahead and try that case here, as I understand you are already planning on doing this afternoon."  With a tilt of his head toward Duncan, he added, "But something about the near deaths of his Schola rector and a magistra seems to have left Kelson a bit…irked.  Although he extends his invitation to you as well, since it would seem that the first case has a direct bearing on the second, and he would be interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter once the Lady’s guilt or innocence in the matter of her husband’s death has been established.”

   "I shall gladly defer the second case to His Majesty, if he'd prefer to hear it.  God only knows I wasn't at all eager to have it land in my lap."

   Another tap sounded at the door, and this time it was the Eddington steward who poked his head in at the Earl's invitation.  "My lord Earl, the Hall has been prepared for your use," Martin Steward informed him, "but now the question has come up of how the prisoner is to be brought out of her confinement safely without risk to others present."  

   "I'll see to that," Morgan assured him.

   The steward turned to face him, silent inquiry in his eyes.  Duncan stepped forward to make the introduction.  "Alaric, this is the Eddington steward, Martin.  Martin, the Duke of Corwyn will make the necessary arrangements."

   A momentary look of surprise flitted over hastily composed features.  "Very well, my lords."  He swept Morgan a deferential bow.  "Your Grace."

#

   Ædwige blinked as sunlight streamed in through the open door of the Eddington mausoleum.  The last of the tomb's torches had burned down to its sconce a few days earlier—or perhaps it had been night, she wasn't sure—and she'd had to rely on her own handfire for illumination since then, but its emerald light was a feeble substitute for the sun's warming glow.  Meals had been brought to her at regular intervals over that same period, and she had hoped at first to make her escape during those moments when the doors opened briefly, but the first time she'd tried, she had collided with the wall of a strong ward which flared as her body made contact with it, singeing her painfully.  A gloved hand—Sister Helena's, she had thought, from her brief glimpse of it—had come through the wall of energy to deposit the trencher of bread and a flask of water onto the floor just inside the tomb's entrance, and then the doors had been closed and locked again.  A second such visit brought the Bishop rather than the magistra, but the same shimmering light outside the tomb warned Ædwige that to try to escape her imprisonment in the same way she'd tried the first time would be equally futile.  Better to wait them out, then.  Obviously the ward they'd set up was attuned to the two Deryni holding her captive and would not allow her through it, but eventually they'd have to dismantle the ward in order to bring her to trial, for surely they didn't mean to bring the trial to her, confined as she was in that small tomb?  And if they tried her without giving her the chance to speak for her own actions…well, surely she could appeal that as a miscarriage of justice, could she not?  

   And now they'd come for her at last, and the open door was unwarded, or appeared to be so at any rate, for no tell-tale glow filled the exit to the tomb.  Ædwige felt instinctively for her belt knife before remember it wasn't there—no, they'd taken that from her before locking her away, along with her veil pins and anything else a woman might normally find of use as a weapon.  But they couldn't take away her powers, so perhaps she still had a chance to escape the travesty of a trial that lay before her.  She knew better than to trust in the Earl's justice; he was a man, and what's more, had been Gilrae's friend.  He'd not have any sympathy for her plight, would not understand that what she'd done had been no more than the reasonable course of action any young woman in deplorable circumstance might have taken to free herself of such an odious creature as her late husband had been.  And in truth, killing him had been the merciful and right thing to do, she was sure of it.

   But men…men were so unreasonable about such things, weren’t they?  Father Nivard had proven that, hadn't he, with his admonitions to turn herself in, to put her mortal life in peril to ensure the safety of her soul?

   To hell with Nivard and his kind!  She had better things to do than follow stupid, useless rules and die young.  Or if she could not escape the circumstances she found herself in now, the least she could do was take as many of the judgmental bastards with her as she could before they finally struck her down.

   Eyes blazing with self-righteous fury, Ædwige stepped into the sunlight, only to stop short.  Eight archers stood in a semicircle before her, just out of range of her ability to strike any of them down easily with a blast of concentrated power, much less all eight at once—not that summoning up the proper focus would be at all easy with those eight sets of eyes all sighting down an arrow at her!—and in the midst of the lot stood the Duke of Corwyn, apparently unarmed and utterly at ease, although she suspected the formidable Deryni lord was far more alert and on guard than he appeared.  His gray eyes blazed back at her as he faced her down, as if he were the Archangel Uriel himself come to collect her soul.

   "It's time to face your accusers, Lady Ædwige," he said.
   
   
Chapter Twenty-Three: http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=861.0
« Last Edit: April 13, 2012, 09:50:29 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 Jerusha

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Twenty-Two
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2012, 02:00:07 pm »
So nice to see the Duke of Corwyn arrive on the scene, justifiably angry at the assault to his cousin!  And Kelson "a bit...irked" is probably putting it mildly.  The misuse of Deryni powers will be a very serious offence in his eyes. 

Even the unrepentant Ædwige appears to know better than to challenge an angry Alaric Morgan, though I'd almost like to see her try.
 
I'm definately looking forward to what happens next! 
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Offline Evie

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Twenty-Two
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2012, 02:09:14 pm »
I'm definately looking forward to what happens next!  

Yeah, so am I!  That's the last chapter that's fully written.   ;D   I've got the next one started, though as I mentioned in an earlier post, Ædwige has figured out what's up and has stopped speaking to me in an apparent effort to prolong her life.  Between that inconvenient bit of writer's block, this weekend being both Easter Sunday and my wedding anniversary, and me needing some time to prepare for my parents' impending visit later in the month, I may or may not have the next chapter completed in time to post it next Friday.  But I am still plugging away at it, albeit slowly, and with a maddeningly silent POV "narrator" at the moment....  *sigh*

I had to throw a Morgan scene in for all you Alaric fanbabes just pining away in hopes of another glimpse of our uber-sexy Duke of Corwyn.   ;)
« Last Edit: April 06, 2012, 02:11:13 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 Twenty-Two
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2012, 04:22:45 pm »
I had to throw a Morgan scene in for all you Alaric fanbabes just pining away in hopes of another glimpse of our uber-sexy Duke of Corwyn.   ;)   

ROFL.  And of course we are expecting an Alaric Action Figure after you've completed Duncan and Helena ...

Yes, I imagine that Kelson was just a little 'irked' by two near-deaths, especially Duncan's.     Methinks our Aedwige is going to have some small difficulty getting out of this one  :D    As for her not talking to you, I'm sure a little Deryni persuasion will loosen her tongue, and that her fate won't be unduly delayed.  Just ask Duncan to tell you what happens!!

Offline derynifanatic64

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Twenty-Two
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2012, 05:47:46 pm »
Let the Inquisition begin!!  Maybe Alaric could call up a couple of Stenrect crawlers to keep our evil, naughty widow in line!!
We will never forget the events of 9-11!!  USA!! USA!!

Offline Shiral

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Twenty-Two
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2012, 12:38:23 am »
So nice to see the Duke of Corwyn arrive on the scene, justifiably angry at the assault to his cousin!  And Kelson "a bit...irked" is probably putting it mildly.  The misuse of Deryni powers will be a very serious offence in his eyes. 

Even the unrepentant Ædwige appears to know better than to challenge an angry Alaric Morgan, though I'd almost like to see her try.
 
I'm definately looking forward to what happens next! 

Me too! Both as to seeing Aedwige challenge Alaric and learn why that was a bad idea, and wanting to know what will happen next. =o)
Aedwige doesn't know how completely her goose is cooked,  yet. But I think it will take some wind out of her sails to realize she's going to have to face her very IRKED king after daring to harm Helena AND one of the King's closest and most trusted friends.

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

Offline Elkhound

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Twenty-Two
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2012, 03:22:51 pm »
Aedwige reminds me of about half of the Delta Gammas at my undergraduate college.

 

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