Author Topic: A Gryphon by the Tail Chapter 17  (Read 3469 times)

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Offline Alkari

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A Gryphon by the Tail Chapter 17
« on: September 10, 2010, 09:58:52 am »
OK, AnnieUK, your wish is, er ...

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Chapter 17

Fine snowflakes were fluttering down as Richenda accompanied Duncan across the basilica yard to St Hilary’s.

Duncan drew her into his study and took her cloak.  The drapes had been pulled across the windows and the room was pleasantly warm from a small fire; racks of candles on the mantel and table shed soft light.  Alaric straightened from where he’d been leaning against the desk and came across to kiss her cheek.  “So – ready for some Deryni surprises?”

“It’s still hard to believe there’s a St Camber chapel here in Rhemuth,” she said.  “How did you find this one?”

“Long story.  We’ll tell you later.”  He unbuckled his sword and laid it on the table, then added a slim dagger from his wrist sheath and another from his boot.  “Duncan?”

Duncan’s movements were quick and assured as he released the hidden catches under the prie-dieu and pulled aside the heavy tapestry curtain nearby.   He ushered them inside, then smiled and retreated, letting the curtain fall partway back across the entry.

The chapel was tiny.  Two large candles had been lit either side of the altar, illuminating the gold paintwork and shining darkly on the crucifix suspended above the altar and the two small prie-dieus in the centre of the room.   A red votive lamp glowed dimly.   Richenda moved slowly around the room, taking in the gold-touched pictures, then stood quietly in front of the altar, head tilted back slightly and hands extended to the side with palms up.   She let her breathing slow and her senses extend slowly as she’d been taught long ago.    Saint Camber – there was no impression of him, but somehow she experienced a sense of timelessness, as though the worlds of today and yesterday and tomorrow suddenly blurred and became one.  A feeling of beauty and peace.

Normal awareness returned: she took several deep breaths and lowered her hands.  Alaric was standing a few feet away, watching her.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it.”   He moved to her side, taking her hand.

“Is this what you sense when you heal?”  

“In a way.   I sense him really – as though he wants me to use those powers, and is giving me strength and his blessing.  Sometimes it feels as if his hands are helping mine.”   He sent the briefest of impressions to her; she sighed in wonder.

“Richenda.”   He was standing in front of her now, taking both her hands in his and raising them gently to his lips.  His eyes held hers; those clear grey eyes that were now almost all pupil in the dim light of the chapel.  She was losing herself in their depths, losing herself completely to him …

 He sank to his knees and looked up at her.  “Richenda, I love you with all my heart and all my powers.  With you beside me, I know a happiness I could never have imagined, and I would seek to make you happy too.   And I promise that I will take your son Brendan as our son, and try to be a father to him, as I would be a father to our children.   Will you marry me, dearest, so we can walk into the future together?”

Oh, Alaric!   She dropped to her knees with him, taking his hands to her lips in turn, eyes never leaving his.

“And I love you Alaric, with all my heart and all my powers.  Yes, I will marry you, and bear our children, God willing.  And we will walk together, from here and forever.”

Their minds touched, joined and soared together, melding love and hope, joy and past sadness into something for which neither of them would ever be able to find the words.  And as they knelt there, holding each other gently, she also felt another touch, bringing a sense of profound peace and joy.   Bless you, my children.  You have each suffered much – now go forth together in love and strength, to build a better world for you and others, for your children and all the future children.

How much time passed, she never knew.  At last Alaric drew back, rose to his feet and stretched slightly, then raised her too.   Together they moved to the altar, standing briefly with bowed heads, each in their own silent prayer.  

“Dearest.”  He reached into his tunic and produced a small flat velvet case.  “I thought you might like these.”   She opened it and gasped.

“Lapis,” she whispered in awe.  The deep blue stones of the earrings were the size of her thumbnail, set into delicate filigree gold.  The large oval brooch was a magnificent stone of mysterious depth, finely veined with gold and surrounded by softly glowing pearls set into a matching wide gold band.  

“They were my great grandmother’s,” he said softly.  “Grania de Corwyn.  Supposedly made by a Deryni craftsman.  The blue – it reminds me of your eyes when you smile.  And when you kiss me.”

She turned the brooch this way and that, marvelling how the candlelight made it glow and sparkle.  Lapis – a stone with so many powers according to the ancients.  Love and tenderness, protection and healing, truth and sharing.    And pearls – for honesty, purity and wisdom.  

“Alaric – you know what the stones mean?”

“Yes.  I couldn’t think of anything more perfect.”

“Let me put them on.”   She fastened the earrings easily, but his fingers fumbled a little as he helped her with the brooch.  

“So they match my eyes when you kiss me?” she whispered, laughing, lips brushing his.

“Mmm – but I might have to keep checking.”

“Every day?”

“At least.”

“That’s … mmm.”   Did I ever know happiness before?  I could stay like this forever. “Alaric?  Shouldn’t we get our vows witnessed?”

“I’m sure we could find a suitable witness.  Only –“   He grinned at her.  “Have you forgotten that the Dowager Countess of Marley is officially under His Majesty’s protection, and that we need his consent for a betrothal?   Not to mention that the Council thought it would be prudent for them to approve any future husband of yours.  To make sure he was ‘suitable’ of course.”

She linked her hands behind his neck, eyes mirroring his own merriment.  “My lord, for a Duke and Council member, these are indeed grave hurdles.”  She kissed him lightly.  “Do you think it will be very difficult to obtain His Majesty’s consent?”

They were both slightly breathless when he finally answered.  “I’m sure I could persuade him - eventually.”  Another kiss.  “Do you think we could find someone to put in a good word for us?  A priest perhaps?”

“Any particular priest?”  The voice came from the door.  She felt Alaric shake with laughter, and turned in his arms to see Duncan regarding them with a thoroughly satisfied smile.  

“Perhaps the one that lured me here this afternoon on the pretext of seeing a St Camber chapel?” she suggested.

“Well, you did find a St Camber chapel,” he smiled, motioning them out into his study and dousing the altar candles before closing the chapel entrance.  

“And so much more!” she said softly, glancing between the two men.  Duncan clapped Alaric on the shoulder before coming to hug her, brushing her mind with his and sending a joyful surge of warmth and love and happiness.

“I think the only two people in this world happier than I am right now are you two,” he laughed as he released her  “You know Richenda, I’d almost given up on Alaric – thought he might be old and grey before he found the right woman to marry!”

“But I’ve found her now.”  Alaric came up behind her and put his arms around her waist, nuzzling a kiss into her neck.   She leant back against him, feeling ridiculously, sublimely happy.

“Though you said something about asking the Council for permission,” she said.

Duncan raised an eyebrow.  “Well, Kelson could just approve the betrothal anyway of course, but –“ his eyes glinted wickedly, “you know, I think it would be much more appropriate for him to seek the advice of his Council.  I mean, even Nigel agreed it would be prudent for them to approve any future husband of yours.”  

“I think my wretched cousin is actually going to enjoy this,” sighed Alaric in mock despair.  “Though he’ll have a problem keeping a straight face at the time.”

“Me have problems keeping a straight face?” Duncan raised an eyebrow.  “Solemnity is an essential part of a priest’s training.   I shall be a model of ducal and priestly decorum.  Though it may tax Kelson’s acting skills!”

“Am I going to be present for all this?” she asked dryly, turning her head to look up at Alaric.

“Well, you will have to assure the Council that you have accepted my proposal of your own free will.  In case they think I’ve used my wicked Deryni powers on you!”

She burst out laughing.  “Then I hope I can keep a straight face too!”

“Especially as you’re the one who bewitched me!”  

“Come on,” said Duncan. “Let’s get back to the castle and find Kelson – or at least arrange to see him after supper.”  He watched as Alaric buckled on his sword, then handed him the two daggers.  “There’s a Council meeting tomorrow, and it’s going to be rather fun!”

*     *     *

“Well, I suppose you’re a suitable husband for her …” Kelson frowned and paced up and down the room, pretending to give the matter serious consideration.   “What do you think, Father?”

Duncan nodded gravely.  “I think it’s a reasonable match, Sire, and you should give your consent.  Unless the Council has any objections, of course.   Alaric can be quite impossible at times, as you know, but if Lady Richenda is willing to take the risk and put up with him, then I see no great harm in it.  Besides, it’s time he got married.”

“I think we should elope.”   Alaric gave an exaggerated sigh, and squeezed her hand.  “Getting royal permission sounds difficult and tiresome.  We could just find a wandering priest and ask for His Majesty’s forgiveness afterwards.  What say you, dearest?”

“The idea definitely has its attractions.  Though if you were seen carrying off a poor defenceless widow, I fear it could irreparably damage your reputation.”

“Don’t scream too loudly and they’ll never know we’ve gone.”

Kelson burst out laughing, and came to take her hands.  “Permission granted.  I’m going to tell the Council I have already approved this in principle, as I doubt anyone will have any objections.  Lady Richenda, I couldn’t be more delighted.”  He kissed her cheek a little shyly, and looked from her to Alaric.  

“Shouldn’t we, er, get your vows witnessed?”

“Well, we’d like to have them witnessed as soon as possible of course, but it’s probably diplomatic to wait until after the Council meeting.”

“My lady?”

Richenda smiled at Kelson.  “Sire, I agree with Duke Alaric ...”

“A very good start!” Duncan winked.  Alaric elbowed him, and Kelson shook his head.

“Please go on, my lady,” he said with a grin.

“I’m happy to wait until tomorrow for the betrothal.  Besides, I would very much like my Uncle Cardiel to be present if possible – he has been so kind to me and I know he is concerned about my welfare.”  

“He is.”  Kelson was suddenly serious.  He motioned them all to take seats in front of the fire, summoned a page to bring wine, and waited until they were settled before continuing.   “Has Cardiel realised anything of your feelings for Alaric?   Or will this be a complete surprise to him?”

“I don’t know.  I think it will surprise him, but I believe he will be happy.   I think he was most concerned that I would be, well – forced – into a marriage against my will, so I will need to reassure him.  He does not know I am Deryni, though I’d like to tell him as it would ease his mind about me.”

“Easing the mind of a new Archbishop by telling him that you are Deryni – that must surely be a first!” said Alaric, with some feeling.  

She laughed.  “Yes, but you know he’s intrigued about our powers, and it probably won’t surprise him to find we can link minds and know each other’s feelings.”

“He is a good man.  And a brave one,” said Kelson softly.  “I’m very glad he’s Archbishop here now – I trust him and value his advice, and it will make our lives a lot easier. I’ll send him a note and ask him to meet us an hour before the Council meeting so we can tell him.”   He raised his goblet.  “So let’s drink to your happiness, and plan things for tomorrow.  Including a surprise for the Council!”


Next chapter here

« Last Edit: February 19, 2011, 06:15:15 pm by Alkari »

Offline AnnieUK

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A Gryphon by the Tail Chapter 17
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2010, 10:20:04 am »
*sighs*  so the lovebirds are semi-official now - yay!

I do love how chuffed Duncan is for them.  Hmmm - hope that doesn't mean anything dodgy in American/Australian.  Off to google LOL.

Offline Alkari

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A Gryphon by the Tail Chapter 17
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2010, 10:41:27 am »
"Chuffed" is fine out here - for those who haven't become too Americanised.  :D   It can mean either very very pleased, or else is the noise a steam engine makes.  Thomas the Tank Engine chuffed along, LOL.  But somehow, I don't think that is relevant in Gwynedd! 

So yes, Duncan is Very Seriously Happy for them both.   

Offline Evie

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A Gryphon by the Tail Chapter 17
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2010, 11:25:44 am »
*Squee!*   ;D

“It’s still hard to believe there’s a St Camber chapel here in Rhemuth,” she said.  “How did you find this one?”

“Long story.  We’ll tell you later.”

Um hm, sure he will.  That'll just have to be your next story after this one winds up!   ;)
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Offline Elkhound

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A Gryphon by the Tail Chapter 17
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2010, 02:25:02 pm »
  Thomas the Tank Engine chuffed along, LOL.  But somehow, I don't think that is relevant in Gwynedd!

Yet.  It will have its Age of Technology sooner or later, won't it?

Offline kirienne

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A Gryphon by the Tail Chapter 17
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2010, 01:35:25 am »
Huzzah! Finally we got to read that wonderful proposal  :)
I love the way you wrote it, and I know they told you it was done just this way.
Thanks for not making us wait any longer :-)


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