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Author Topic: Balance of Power--Chapter Two  (Read 12303 times)

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Offline Evie

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Balance of Power--Chapter Two
« on: August 13, 2015, 09:38:38 pm »
Previous chapter: http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php/topic,1558.msg13450.html#msg13450


Chapter Two

Mid-morning
A flat near Saint Camber’s College,
University of Rhemuth
16 December, 2021


“Official sources within the Ministry of Defense have verified this morning that the youngest child of her late Majesty the Queen, now Her Majesty Queen Sophia the Second, was
not at Rhemuth Castle at the time of the attack and is presently in safe-keeping at an undisclosed location until those who perpetrated this outrage can be brought to justice. The Archbishops of Valoret and Rhemuth have asked that we all pray for strength and comfort for Her Majesty in this time of trial. God save the Queen!”

“Do you think Sophia—I mean, the Queen—is adequately protected?” Eilonwy mused aloud as she watched the latest news updates coming in on the flat screen before her. “I haven’t been able to reach her.  The phone connection seems to be sporadic, probably overloaded by callers trying to reach loved ones, although my texts seem to be getting out.  Mum sent me a reply earlier this morning. But Sophia’s not answering.”

Beside her, Jen tapped her fingers with nervous energy on the sofa arm. “Surely she must be protected, under the circumstances! She’s got to be surrounded by security, after all. She’s probably just got her phone turned off. Given what a private sort she is at heart, maybe she just needs to get away from everyone as much as she can right now, even her friends, so she can grieve without feeling like she’s under the spotlight. Wouldn’t you, if you were in her place?”

“I suppose you’re right. But that’s not what I meant.” Eilonwy tore her eyes from the televised images backed with somber music streaming in live from Rhemuth Castle, and the white, strained faces of the reporters reflecting the horror-struck mood of the nation, to look at her house guest. “I mean, obviously she’s under tightened security at the moment, but do you think she’s got arcane protection? She was only fifth in line to the throne, after all; she never expected to inherit. And she’s not got Deryni powers to fall back on, despite having von Horthy ancestry, so no help there.”

“Don’t forget that a number of the Haldanes were full Deryni as well,” Jen pointed out.

“Well, not for the past century at the very least,” Eilonwy countered. “That we know of, anyway.” She raised an eyebrow at her friend. “God knows the Royal Family would have good enough reason to downplay their Deryni heritage these days. But it’s well known the Formaceks are full human. Or as much full-anything as anyone can be certain of being, among royalty at least.”

Jen winced as the reporter’s camera panned across the smoldering ruins of one of Rhemuth Castle’s apartment blocks. “Sweet Saint Camber, over a thousand years of Gwyneddan history destroyed in an instant!” Turning her attention back to the conversation at hand, she added, “How important are magical protections in this day and age, when an assassin can do something like this without risk to himself in some archaic Duel Arcane?” She gestured at the screen.

“They’re not quite as outdated as you might think,” Eilonwy cautioned. “Just downplayed to keep from giving humans another reason to demand that we Deryni be ‘cured’ from our genetic ‘defect’ in order to curtail our ‘latent tendencies toward violence.’”

“Or to demand that everyone has the right to have the Deryni gene sequence spliced in so that all of humanity can benefit from equal opportunity sharing of power,” Jen replied. “Don’t forget the arguments swing in favor of that option too. At least in Americia they do.”

Eilonwy slanted a sidelong glance at Jen. “Tell me you haven’t joined that bandwagon.”

Jen shook her head. “On the surface, the argument seems reasonable enough, and medical research has just about reached the point of making that possible, I think, but when I stop to consider which segments of society keep screaming the loudest for that to happen, it scares me a little to think of what the world would be like if everyone actually did have Deryni powers. We’ve got enough crackpots out there needing reining in among our naturally-born Deryni population that we don’t need to aggravate the problem by deliberately empowering more lunatics to have magical powers.”

“Nearly everyone in Camberia has Deryni powers, at least to some degree, and I would hardly call that social experiment a raging success,” Eilonwy mused.

“Given that Camberia was forcibly settled as a means of exiling Deryni troublemakers from the Ancient Kingdoms to a place halfway around the world where they could thrive or kill themselves off at leisure and be ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ one can hardly blame them for still having a bit of a chip on their collective shoulder where humans are concerned. But yes, even aside from that, I see your point.” Jen sighed. “Why can’t we just all learn to live with each other’s differences? You’d think after all these millennia of sharing a planet, people might learn?”

Eilonwy chuckled. “You’d think. But even if we ever stop squabbling between the subspecies of Deryni-mutated vs non-Deryni humanity, it would be race, or class, or politics, or religion, or any number of issues that people choose to focus on rather than trying to find things we can at least mostly agree on. Bloody-minded human nature, that is.”

Jen watched as two men on-screen wearing protective gear carefully moved aside a charred block of stone, possibly with the discreet assistance of some telekinetic powers since the block appeared rather large to be shifted without the use of heavy-lifting equipment. A disheveled medic came into view, disappearing into the newly unblocked space. “Do you think they’ll find more survivors?”

“That area of the residential block was far enough from the center of the blast, we can only hope,” Eilonwy said.

The women watched in silence for a few minutes, following the commentary as the scene shifted from the blast zone to the talking heads in a news room on the other side of the city from the carnage at the palace. Eventually the scene shifted again, returning to Rhemuth Castle and the sight of more medics lifting a dust-covered man on a gurney into a waiting ambulance. The man lay in a supine position, his hands slightly cupped over his chest, and he appeared to be in remarkably good condition after his ordeal, albeit unconscious.

Eilonwy gave a low whistle.

“I’m missing something, but what?” Jen asked.

“He must have been in a room that was already actively warded before the blast hit,” Eilonwy speculated, “or at least he managed to activate them before the building fully collapsed, given that he’s in amazingly good condition for a man who’s spent the night under tons of fallen rock. He’s injured, sure, but not crushed. I don’t think he just happened to survive by landing in some tiny crawl space between collapsing walls. See his hands? He must have known he was being buried alive, and so he safeguarded himself by going into deep trance in case rescue didn’t arrive for several days. Wouldn’t want to use up all the air, see.”

Jen nodded slowly, wishing she had more training and experience in Deryni matters. “All right. But if he was warded, then how were the medics able to get to him?”

Eilonwy shrugged. “Depends on the sort of ward it was to begin with. Assuming he’s an actual victim and didn’t know in advance that a bomb was about to go off, he may have just gone to bed early and set the ward as a regular habit of protection throughout the night—some folks still do, you know, especially if they’re the sort to have enemies who might try to catch them out in their sleep. Many Deryni have a warded room, or at least a warded bed. It would be nice to know who the man is . . . .” Her voice trailed off as she pondered this, then she remembered Jen’s question and added, “If it were that sort of ward, then it would most likely have been set to dissipate after a certain amount of time or under specific conditions. Or more likely, since he appears to have some injuries, he probably had the wards set but not activated when the blast occurred, and then belatedly activated them once the room started to fall in on him. And given that he understood what was happening enough to decide to go into hibernation trance after he was buried alive in his warded bubble, he probably altered the original wards first to allow them to be breached by rescuers. Wouldn’t want to be trapped inside his own wards for all time, after all. Nor would he want to set up a specific time when they would just dissipate on their own, since then he would be crushed under all that rock, if he’d not been dug out by that time.” Eilonwy flashed a grim smile. “That would truly suck.”

“So will the medics know how to bring him out of the trance, or will they just assume he’s in a coma?” Jen asked.

“Don’t know, but if there’s a trained Healer in the Emergency ward—and there are nearly always Healers on call at most of the major hospitals these days—then he’ll understand the situation and will know what to do. And of course the first responders and the human doctors will know just as much as any Deryni Healer about treating the physical injuries, though granted, having a Healer on hand would greatly speed up that process.”

Jen leaned forward, peering intently at the people in the foreground of the scene before them. “Hang on . . . .” She glanced at Eilonwy, who had also started staring at the screen, and pointed out a man standing near one corner of the televised image. “Is that Patrick over by what’s left of that wall? He works in Anti-Terrorism, doesn’t he?”

Eilonwy, after a long moment, nodded. “I believe it is. I wonder . . . .” Her forehead creased in puzzlement. “Do they think Deryni were involved in this attack?”

Jen turned to her. “Deryni? Why would Deryni want to eliminate the Royal Family?”

“I haven’t a clue. But normally Paddy isn’t called into a crime scene unless there’s some suspicion that a Deryni is involved.” Eilonwy frowned. “Maybe I ought to try to ring up Mum again, see if she knows anything about this.”

“Maureen?” Jen looked aghast. “You think your mother would know terrorists?”

Her friend laughed. “Well, no, not personally, or at least I hope not! No, I meant if the police think there’s some rogue Deryni behind all this, Mum might need to know. She . . . ah . . . has colleagues who would need to look into the matter, if that’s the case.”

“But . . . .” If anything, Jen looked even more baffled. “You mean friends in her social circles, I suppose, not actually colleagues? Isn’t Maureen an artist?”

“Well, yes . . . more of an art historian, really, but an artist as well. But I meant . . . well . . . It’s complicated.”




Mid-morning
The Camberian Council chamber
Somewhere in the Rhendall Mountains
December 16, 2021


As it happened, Maureen McLain-Sheehan had no need for her daughter to inform her of police suspicions that a Deryni was implicated in the attack on Rhemuth Castle. Indeed, that was the topic under lively debate among the eight Camberian Council members at that very moment.

“What makes them think a Deryni was involved?” asked Lady Violet Estridge, her tone querulous and her lips pursed in such a way that made Maureen imagine for a brief moment that the woman had been sucking on lemons before arriving at Council. It was an uncharitable thought, and Maureen quickly suppressed it, but there was no denying that the woman often tended to rub her the wrong way. “It could have been anybody, couldn’t it? Why automatically point the finger at Deryni? It’s just racial bias, that’s what I think!” The aristocrat tossed her head, nearly disturbing her perfect coiffure.

Peter Astari, senior coadjutor of the Camberian Council, shook his head. “Unfortunately, in this case the evidence shows that the attacker entered Rhemuth Castle by way of a Transfer Portal. Since a human would be unable to use a Portal—unless he carries the gene that would allow his potential to be activated by a Deryni, but that too would indicate Deryni involvement—the police detectives have good reason to believe that a rogue Deryni is involved.”

“Or his human associate,” Peter’s fellow coadjutor Tom Whitfield added, a worried frown creasing his forehead. He ran his fingers nervously through his short, snow white hair, making it stand on end, putting Maureen in mind of an albino hedgehog. “Maybe he was acting independently of his employer or his lover…or whatever relationship he might have had to the Deryni who activated his potential. That Deryni needn’t necessarily have known about the plot . . . .”

“Why are we assuming the bomber was a man?” Elspeth McIntyre, the youngest member of the Camberian Council, interjected, looking cross. “It could just as well have been a woman . . . .”

“Oh yes, let’s hear it for equal opportunity for Deryni terrorists,” Lord James Arilan said, rolling his hazel eyes expressively. “We’re getting a bit off point here, aren’t we? Could we maybe get back to trying to figure out who among our number might have had it in for the Royal Family?” Looking pointedly at Elspeth, he added, “Male or female.”

“You certainly don’t think one of us had something to do with this, do you?” Lady Violet protested, looking horrified.

“I believe James meant another Deryni, not one of us specifically,” Peter said, his calm voice soothing, although Violet continued to look a bit ruffled as she leaned back in her chair once more.

“That might not be such an easy task,” Maureen said quietly. “We do keep track of known Deryni families, but what of the unknown ones out there? We’re hardly omniscient, after all.”

Peter chuckled. “No, but we do have a fair few resources to draw upon. It would, as you say, not be an easy task, but it would not be completely hopeless either.” He paused for a long moment before adding, “One lead we have, which the Anti-Terrorism squad is also aware of, is that a young man warned them just before the attack that a man named Eric was intending to use a castle Portal to kill its residents. The warning certainly seems to be related to the attack on Rhemuth Castle.”

“And who told you about this warning? Why haven’t the police questioned this young man further? Surely that would quickly reveal who this ‘Eric’ is. Or was, if he was the bomber,” Violet said.

“I told Peter and Maureen about the warning last night,” Father Devlin informed her. “Unfortunately, it came too late for us to prevent the attack. And just as unfortunately, the young man who warned me was dying at the time, so the police were unable to question him.”

“Well, that’s awfully inconvenient,” Violet said sourly, as if she considered the youth’s death to be a personal affront.

“I’m sure he found it so, yes,” the priest replied.

Lord James drummed his fingertips on the table lightly, a thoughtful expression on his handsome features. “If this terrorist entered Rhemuth Castle through a Transfer Portal, then he—“ He glanced at Elspeth. “Or she would have to have been a Haldane descendant. Either that or someone quite well trusted by the Royal Family. One can’t simply pop into any of the royal residence Portals and walk right in; all of their Portals are securely warded.”

“A good point,” Peter said approvingly, “and one that will make our job a bit easier. That means we needn’t look too closely at anyone who isn’t either of Haldane descent or close to the Royal Family.”

“Well, it certainly does seem to narrow the focus, although what about unknown Deryni of Haldane descent? Some of those kings got around, you know.” Lady Alicia Coris flashed a wry grin.

“True,” Peter added, “though we’ve managed to keep track of at least most of the illegitimate descendants. At any rate, Tom, since you’re most familiar with our historical database, would you and James go through our genealogical archives together? I seem to recall James has a certain talent for investigative work.” He glanced at the younger man, whose work for the Gwyneddan government was of a highly classified and indeed quite investigative nature. Lord James, intercepting Peter’s mildly amused look, grinned back. “Flag any names of those who seem to be more likely suspects.”

“How far back should we look, if we’re looking for Haldane descent?” asked Tom, stroking his closely-cropped beard as he considered the problem.

“As far back as it takes.” Peter glanced at Alicia. “You’re the geneticist. At what level of descent from the Haldane line would their genetic markers become undetectable as specifically Haldane to the Portal wards?”

“You’re asking me?” Alicia frowned. “It’s not entirely a matter of genetics. A lot would depend on how the wards were originally set up, and how they’ve been updated and enhanced by the Royal Family since then. And ‘Haldane-specific genetic markers’ is rather oversimplifying things. There’s too many factors to consider, but if what you’re really asking me is how many generations back that Tom and James should be searching . . . .” She stopped to think for a moment. “I’d say at least five or six. But that’s my gut talking, mind, not scientific certainty.”

“Looks like we’ve got a long day ahead of us,” Lord James said drily, leaning back in his chair, his long fingers interlaced behind his head, cradling it. “Are you a coffee drinker, Tom?”

The older man smiled. “I suppose I will be by the time we go through all those bloodlines. That’s going to be everyone who has ever been born to someone who married into the Haldane line, all their descendants, and the descendants of all the Haldane bastards, do I have it right? And we’re to focus specifically on those from the current generation who might have had it in for the Royals?”

“It might not even have been personal animosity,” Elspeth mused. “After all, the monarchy is an outdated institution, well past its time.”

Tom shot the young blonde a glance. “Right. So we’re looking for either someone of Haldane descent or a trusted friend of the current generation of Haldanes, who either had a grudge against some member of the Royal Family or at least disapproved so strongly of the monarchy that he decided to abolish it by bombing our Royal Family to Kingdom Come. Oh, and he might be named Eric, or be associated with someone named Eric.” Looking back at Peter, he arched an eyebrow. “Yes?”

“That seems to sum it up, yes.” Peter affirmed. He glanced at Devlin. “Father Devlin seems to think the ‘Eric’ in question might be somehow connected to the group Humanity Ascendant.”

“Oh hells to the no!” Elspeth exclaimed, an incredulous expression on her face as she shook her head so violently that her blonde dreadlocks nearly slapped her in the face. “Not Eric Armitage? Sure, I can imagine him gloating over the attack, can even imagine him engineering it if it weren’t for the fact that a damn Portal was involved, but Eric Armitage working together with a Deryni co-conspirator to destroy the royals? That, I can’t see. Why in the world would you even think Humanity Ascendant might be involved?”

“I know it sounds preposterous, and I can’t actually guarantee that it is involved,” Devlin replied, folding his hands on the table before him, “although word on the street is that this group has been quite actively recruiting in my neighborhood in recent months. So given that we’re dealing with a terrorist named ‘Eric’ and the fact that this happens to also be the name of the leader of Humanity Ascendant, which has long been suspected to be a front for terrorist activities. . . .” He shrugged. “In his warning to me, my informant said ‘Eric plans to use some sort of portal to get in, but he’s human, so I don’t know how he’s going to make that work.’ Granted, he might not have been referring to Eric Armitage, but it’s a possibility we can’t completely exclude either.”

Elspeth huffed. “Of course you ‘can’t guarantee’ it is Armitage, although my guess is that you’ve probably got some inside information as well, maybe even something that you think could damn well prove your allegations, which really ought to be shared with us if you do happen to know anything of the sort! This is no time to hide behind your stupid outmoded vow of confidentiality, or privilege, or whatever it’s called. Bloody priests!”

“Respect, Elspeth!” Violet admonished, her blue eyes wide with shock as she glared at the younger woman. “Now who’s the one who’s being speculative? Besides, just a minute ago you were skeptical of the very idea of Mr Armitage working hand-in-hand with a Deryni—although I can’t very well blame you for that—but now you’re turning around and demanding that Father O’Shiele must turn over information he may not even have, about an collaboration you don’t even believe could exist, never mind his religious obligations, simply because you’ve deemed those obligations to be stupid? Is that the sort of logic you infants are being taught in schools these days?”

“That will be quite enough,” Peter warned, giving both Elspeth and Violet a reprimanding look. “No personal attacks against your fellow Councillors. You know the rule.”

“Whatever.” Elspeth looked mutinous, but she subsided, pointedly avoiding looking at Peter, Violet, or Devlin. Violet sat back with a smug smile at the younger woman.

Maureen decided it might be time for a change of topic. “What of our new Queen?” she asked. “Have provisions been put into place to activate her Haldane potential? I know Her late Majesty never expected either of her daughters to inherit the throne, given that she had a firstborn son with heirs of his own.”

“If you ask me, we should just let the monarchy die out completely,” Elspeth muttered. “This is the bloody 21st Century, after all, not the Middle Ages. And Sophia’s got a career; it’s not like she couldn’t shift for herself if we go ahead and abolish the monarchy.”

“Fortunately the question of whether to abolish the monarchy or not is in other hands besides ours,” Lady Violet interjected. “I hardly think that is a subject we need to debate here. Is Queen Sophia protected from arcane attacks? I have no idea. Certainly if she is not, then it falls upon us to reach out to her, does it not?” The white-haired aristocrat glanced at Peter Astari. “Assuming no other provisions were made for the dear girl?”

“If the late Queen stipulated no other arrangements, then yes, I believe the responsibility would fall upon us,” Peter affirmed. “I had direct access to the late Queen, but unfortunately not to her daughter.” He looked around the table. “Does anyone here know how to contact our new Queen, preferably in such a way that would not draw undue attention?”

Maureen hesitated briefly before commenting. “I believe my daughter Eilonwy may still be in touch with Prin . . . with the Queen. They were friends at uni. Granted, their lives took very different paths once they left university, but I think they still occasionally keep contact with each other. I could check, if you like. I don’t believe my son-in-law Patrick is acquainted with our new Queen, but he is on the Anti-Terrorism squad that is investigating the Rhemuth Castle attack, so if the Queen is hidden away in one of the police safe-houses for the moment, he may know how to gain access to her.” She paused again. “That’s just a guess, of course.”

“But a reasonable one,” Peter allowed. “Do I remember correctly that Eilonwy is aware you are on the Council?”

“Yes,” Maureen affirmed, “she became aware of my involvement with it a few years ago, although she does not know who the rest of you are, of course, nor of any of the business that we discuss in Council. No more than the educated guesses that any Deryni aware of our existence might make, at any rate.”

“That’s fine,” Peter said. “Eilonwy is fully trained in her powers, is she not?”

“She is.” Maureen wondered where he was leading with the question.

“And are there other Deryni of her acquaintance who are also well enough acquainted with the Queen to broach the matter of arcane protection with her? Or, for that matter, to participate in the activation ritual? My guess is that the Queen will be more easily persuaded to consent to our assistance if Deryni she already knows and trusts are involved in the invoking of her Haldane powers.”

“Hm.” Maureen considered the question for a long moment. “Her Majesty also knows Dr Jennifer DeLisle, who is a particular friend of mine and Eilonwy’s, but I don’t know if Jen is far enough along in her Deryni training to participate in this sort of ritual magic. Patrick would be well qualified—as I mentioned earlier, I don’t know if Patrick has ever actually met our new Queen, although since she was once quite close to Eilonwy, she may be willing to trust Eilonwy’s husband as well. And myself, for that matter, since we’ve met a few times and she knows that I am Eilonwy’s mum.”

“I’ve met the Queen at a few social events as well,” Lord James added, “and even managed a dance with her on one occasion, although I’m not certain she remembers me. But I would be honored to assist, if Her Majesty should permit.”

Lady Violet gave the younger man a coy smile. “Oh, I’m quite certain she’d remember you, James. You’re rather difficult for any lady to forget.”

James Arilan quirked a wry smile at the aristocratic older woman in acknowledgement of the compliment, adding “It was towards the end of a very long evening, Lady Violet. Regrettably, the poor girl seemed more intent on escape than in fostering a closer acquaintance. A pity, that. I quite enjoyed our brief meetings.”

“All right, then,” Peter said, “if you could arrange for your daughter to make the initial contact with our new Queen, Maureen—and James, you may need to use your government contacts to ensure the possibility of that happening, given how tight the security is around HM at the moment—let’s make our presence known to her at least in a limited way, and offer our assistance in empowering her arcane potential. Try to impress upon her the importance of assuming her full Haldane powers, if she’s not already aware such potential exists in her family heritage. Hopefully she is, but the late Queen was always so hesitant about the use of her own powers, so God only knows how much or how little knowledge about the Haldane potential she passed on to her children.”



Afternoon
Tre-Arilan
A short distance west of Rhemuth
December 16, 2021


“James, where in the hell have you been? You’ve not been answering your texts, and as spotty as the telecommunications systems have been today, I’m amazed this call’s got through.”

Lord James frowned slightly, not that this was visible to the person on the other side of the phone connection. “Just got out of a meeting. What’s up?”

Tom Whitfield, seated at the computer station next to him, raised a quizzical eyebrow. “Problem?” he whispered.

James shook his head, holding up a hand to forestall further questions as he listened to the man on the phone. Tom nodded, continuing to type queries as he silently acknowledged the request for silence. Something the man told him caused James’ eyes to widen. “Are you sure?” he asked.

Tom glanced back up at him, sensing as much through his human as his Deryni senses the excitement beginning to pour off the younger Council member. James stood, beginning to pace as he continued talking to the caller. “All right. I’ll be right there. Give me . . . .” He paused before a map of downtown Rhemuth, studying a certain portion of it. “About ten minutes.”

James ended the call, glanced at the Council coadjutor at the computer console. “I need to go.” He paused. “Do you know Karim Al-Sayid ?”

“The Healer?” Tom inquired.

“Yes. He’s down at the Royal Hospital Rhemuth, where he’s just been attending to one of the survivors of the Rhemuth Castle attack.”

Tom nodded, suspecting there was more to the story. “Yes?”

“It’s Morgan Haldane.” James grinned. “He’s just regained consciousness. I need to go.” He stepped toward the corridor leading to his Transfer Portal, housed in a small chamber off the inner sanctum of what was the oldest portion of the manor house. Although most of the original structure of the home had been rebuilt in the centuries since the first manor on Arilan land had been built, one portion of the now almost palatial domicile had remained more or less intact aside from the occasional restoration, and it was to this portion of the dwelling that James retreated now. He paused at the doorway. “I’ll be back as soon as I can. You know how to let yourself out, or if you wish to wait and I’m not back by supper, just let Carbury know I’ve been delayed in town, and he’ll see you fed.”

“If you’re going to be at the RHR in ten, you must mean to use the Portal in the sacristy at the Cathedral. Don’t let Archbishop Drummond spot you. You know he takes a dim view of Deryni popping in and out unannounced outside the designated times for allowed use.”

James reached into a shirt pocket and flashed a badge at his fellow Councillor. “Kingdom business.” He grinned briefly, replacing the badge and shouldering open the corridor door. “Besides, I’ll wager the Archbishop has rather a lot more on his mind today than who happens to be strolling through the Cathedral sacristy. I’ll fill you in when I get back. If you’re still here.”

Tom tilted his head toward James’ computer system. “Oh, I’ll be here. Pulling up names and running probabilities until I go mad, quite likely, so if His Grace of Corwyn recalls anything useful about the attack, feel free to ring or text me and share that information even if you can’t come straight back. Would be nice to narrow down the search a tad.” He gave an airy wave at his host’s departing back.



Afternoon
Royal Hospital
City of Rhemuth
December 16, 2021


An imposing looking man wearing a white lab coat with a embroidered Healer’s badge on the left side chest pocket and the name “Healer Dr Al-Sayid” monogrammed beneath it met Lord James as he entered the Intensive Care unit of the hospital. The tall black man gave James a grim smile. “You’re late.”

“Is there a rush?  You said His Grace was in stable condition but still in recovery. I figured he wouldn’t be in a hurry to go anywhere just yet.”

The Healer snorted. “Do you know Morgan?” he joked. “He requested discharge nearly as soon as he came out of stasis, but I insisted he remain under my care for 24 hours of observation before releasing him back into the wild.  So, what the hell is going on out there that my patient needs to know about before I send him back to a more likely terrorist target like Coroth Castle?”

“You’re asking me? I’m in cyber-security, not anti-terrorism.  Or are you referring to the throngs of people crowding nearly every square foot of space around the Cathedral hoping to get in to pray, or stopping to leave flowers there since no one’s allowed near the Castle, or wailing louder than the ambulance? Again, no need to ask me, just look out the nearest window! You ask why I’m bloody late? That’s why.  So do I actually get to see your patient, or did you just call me over for a cozy chat? I assume since you’ve owned up to having him in your care, His Grace must have asked to see me.”

“He did, Saint Camber alone knows why. This way.”

James followed the Healer to an isolated room at the end of the corridor. A guard stood at attention outside the warded door, looking to the Healer for confirmation before allowing the visitor to approach. James sensed the brief brush of the guard’s shields against his own; he turned to face the man, showing that he was aware of the mental probe and lowering his shields just enough for the guard to Read his benign intent. The guard nodded, raising a hand to sketch an opening in the ward for James to pass through. The Healer was already inside the hospital room, the wards already keyed to admit his individual psychic signature.

The patient awaiting them lay in a half-reclining position, his sandy-blond hair askew and a somewhat annoyed look on his handsome features. Pale sea-green eyes challenged the Healer upon his arrival.  “How soon can I leave?”

Healer Dr Al-Sayid inclined his head politely. “We’ve been over that already, Your Grace. Not until tomorrow. Besides, you wouldn’t wish to leave now that Lord Arilan has just arrived, would you?”

The sea-green eyes turned to James. “Get me out of here.”

James shared a look with the Healer before turning back to the duke.  “Are you sure that’s wise?”

“You tell me, James. Somewhere out there--” The Duke of Corwyn gestured at the city skyscape beyond his window. “--The royal half of my bloodline are scattered to the four winds. Probably quite literally.  If someone is targeting Haldanes, do you think it’s wise to keep me here?”  He glanced meaningfully around at the confining walls of his hospital room.

“Sir, you’re warded and under guard,” the Healer assured his patient.

“Begging your pardon, Karim, but it’s not my safety I’m concerned about.”

A brief moment of silence as the Healer and the Councilor shared looks once more. “I see your point.” Karim frowned. “I suppose that puts matters in a different light. If I discharge you, do you promise to keep any exertions to a bare minimum for the next day or two? You very nearly died last night.”

“I’ll do my best to keep body and soul together a bit longer. Wouldn’t want you to have wasted all your efforts on my behalf,” Morgan Haldane assured him.

“Your cousin Sophia is still alive,” Lord James informed the duke.

“So I’ve been told,” he replied. “Bring me to her.”

“Her location is a closely guarded secret at the moment. Do you know where she is, Your Grace?”

“No, but you have the resources to find out.”



Daybreak, Americian Eastern Time
(Afternoon, Rhemuth Standard Time)
A hotel room
New Rhemuth, Americia
December 16, 2021


The man relaxed on the luxurious hotel bed, watching the news reports from across the Atalantic. His phone rang. A glance at the display revealed the caller to be his Camberian contact. He smiled as he answered the call.

“Hello! What do you think of the news reports?”

“It’s a good start,” the caller said. “That should shake things up a bit.”

“I look forward to shaking things up some more.”

The caller laughed.  “All in good time, mate.  All in good time.”



Next chapter: http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php/topic,1565.0.html
« Last Edit: August 30, 2015, 04:12:21 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 Demercia

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Two
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2015, 02:04:49 am »
A treat to wake up to this on the last proper day of my holiday.  I have so many questions and, no doubt misleading, ideas running around in my head!!!
The light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not.

Offline Evie

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Two
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2015, 06:35:24 am »
A treat to wake up to this on the last proper day of my holiday.  I have so many questions and, no doubt misleading, ideas running around in my head!!!

Ask away, then!  ;D

I hope you had an enjoyable holiday!
"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 Demercia

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Two
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2015, 05:15:20 pm »
I have had a wonderful holiday thank you.  The questions are all speculative, so I suspect you will just make me wait to find out;-)
The light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not.

Offline Evie

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Two
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2015, 05:17:15 pm »
I have had a wonderful holiday thank you.  The questions are all speculative, so I suspect you will just make me wait to find out;-)

LOL! Well, you're always welcome to ask the questions, but if the answers would be spoilers, I reserve the right not to answer, or at least not answer in full.   ;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 Jerusha

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Two
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2015, 07:20:00 pm »
I saw that this was posted early this morning, but had to wait until now to read it.  Auugh!

It was worth the wait.
So happy to have a Duke of Corwyn being as obstinate as ever. Good to know some things stand the test of time.😉

Now very curious about those in America and Cambria.  Whatever are they up to?

I'll have to be patient..,,


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: Balance of Power--Chapter Two
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2015, 09:02:28 pm »
I suspect certain traits tend to breed true in the Morgan family, no matter what the century, and one of those traits is probably the legendary Morgan stubbornness. ;D (And yes, despite the Haldane surname, the current Duke of Corwyn is of the Morgan bloodline as well.)
« Last Edit: August 14, 2015, 09:05:18 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 revanne

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Two
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2015, 04:50:35 am »
Let's see - what would it take to bribe me to spill the beans - 40 year old Malt Whisky  should do it.  Don't worry Evie your secrets are safe with me  ;)
Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered;
    let those who hate him flee before him.
As smoke is driven away, so drive them away;
    as wax melts before the fire,
    let the wicked perish before God.
(Psalm 68 vv1-2)

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Two
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2015, 08:54:20 am »
A man pauses at the door, draws a deep breath and raps gently.

"Revanne?  Are you there?  Jerusha sent me.  I'm Malt, Malt Whiskey.  She also said I should tell you I am 40 years old."

Will that work, Revanne? 😃
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Offline revanne

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Two
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2015, 09:36:59 am »
In my dreams possibly especially if Malt Whisky turns out to be an alias for Sean Derry  ;D
Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered;
    let those who hate him flee before him.
As smoke is driven away, so drive them away;
    as wax melts before the fire,
    let the wicked perish before God.
(Psalm 68 vv1-2)

Offline Evie

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Two
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2015, 11:06:59 am »
* Evie is glad the Sean Derry descendent in this story is not a 40 year old man named Malt Whiskey. :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 Shiral

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Two
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2015, 12:18:47 pm »
Let's see - what would it take to bribe me to spill the beans - 40 year old Malt Whisky  should do it.  Don't worry Evie your secrets are safe with me  ;)

Until I locate that 100 year-old bottle of Old Ballymar Malt Whiskey, anyway..... I know it's around here, somewhere!

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

Offline Evie

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Two
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2015, 01:44:39 pm »
Let's see - what would it take to bribe me to spill the beans - 40 year old Malt Whisky  should do it.  Don't worry Evie your secrets are safe with me  ;)

Until I locate that 100 year-old bottle of Old Ballymar Malt Whiskey, anyway..... I know it's around here, somewhere!

Melissa


"Did someone say Revanne is being tempted to spill the beans? Repeat after me: 'Get thee behind me, Shiral!' Be strong, Revanne! And I'll . . .uh. . . take that bottle off your hands if you need me to . . . ."
--Father Devlin
"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 Demercia

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Two
« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2015, 01:50:01 pm »
If Revanne brings Father Devlin with her when she visits me tomorrow, I will buy her that whisky;-).  I am sure by now the Church in Gwynedd allows its priests to marry :P
The light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not.

Offline Evie

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Re: Balance of Power--Chapter Two
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2015, 01:52:12 pm »
If Revanne brings Father Devlin with her when she visits me tomorrow, I will buy her that whisky;-).  I am sure by now the Church in Gwynedd allows its priests to marry :P

LOL! It does. In my AU, the Church of Gwynedd skews closer to the Anglican model, whereas the Church of Bremagne skews more closely to the Roman Catholic model.
"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!

 


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