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Author Topic: A Gryphon by the Tail Chapter 18  (Read 3550 times)

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Offline Alkari

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A Gryphon by the Tail Chapter 18
« on: September 16, 2010, 10:12:04 am »
Previous chapter:  http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=524.msg2692#msg2692.



Chapter 18


His Majesty’s request had taken Thomas Cardiel by surprise: delivered the previous evening, the note had simply asked for this private meeting before today’s Council meeting “on an important and pleasing matter concerning the Lady Richenda Coris, Countess of Marley”.    

“Important and pleasing”.  After the last Council meeting, the only thing he could think of was a marriage proposal, but surely that couldn’t have occurred so quickly?  Especially not after the discussion he’d had afterwards with the King and a few close advisers.   Cardiel was still puzzling over this as he dismounted in the palace courtyard, handed his horse’s reins to a page and acknowledged the salute of the royal guards.  

“Welcome, Your Excellency.  Allow me to congratulate Archbishop Cardiel now.”   A smiling Alaric Morgan stepped forward, bowing formally and kissing Cardiel’s ring in greeting.  “Gwynedd is indeed fortunate in its new Archbishops, and Rhemuth’s is especially welcome.”

“Thank you, Duke Alaric.  I am delighted of course, but feel very humble at the honour.”   They climbed the stairs and walked through the great hall, people parting before them and bowing respectfully.  “There is much to be done, as you know.  But at least we are making a start.”

Morgan nodded. “The appointments this week give hope for a moderate and reasonable future on many things,” he said quietly.  

“Yes indeed.”  Cardiel glanced at his companion with a slight frown.  “I assume you know what this meeting with His Majesty is about, seeing you’re here to escort me?”

“Oh yes.  I hope it will meet with your approval.”  Morgan had a definite twinkle in his eye, but said nothing further.  They entered a withdrawing chamber near the main Council room, where Cardiel was surprised to find both Kelson and Richenda standing near the window, talking in a relaxed and informal manner.  A page who’d been setting out some wine departed hastily.

Cardiel crossed to bow and greet his young king warmly: judging from the king’s own welcome, the feeling was more than reciprocated.  Then he turned to his niece.

Richenda kissed his ring before hugging him affectionately.   “Congratulations, Uncle Thomas.  Your appointment is richly deserved.”

“Thank you, my dear.  As I was saying to Duke Alaric, it is a most humbling honour.”  Cardiel studied her: she looked happier than he’d seen her in a very long time, wearing a soft blue gown on which glowed a superb lapis and pearl brooch.   “You look lovely today – and what a beautiful brooch that is.”

His remark seemed to amuse the other three.  “I think you’d better sit down, Excellency,” said Kelson, gesturing to a nearby group of chairs.  Mystified, Cardiel did as directed.  

“The brooch and earrings were made for Grania de Corwyn, my great grandmother,” said Morgan.  

“They are a betrothal present,” added Richenda softly.

“Betrothal present?”   Cardiel echoed, wondering if he was hearing correctly.  Alaric Morgan’s great grandmother … what on earth … Richenda and Alaric?  He swallowed, feeling as though the floor had tilted and suddenly dropped out from beneath him.  Speechless, he glanced from one to the other.  
  
“Uncle Thomas, Duke Alaric has asked me to marry him.  Of course I accepted.  I love him.”   Her smile.  The look on her face.  Richenda and Alaric Morgan – heavens, had he been completely oblivious?

“As I love her.”   A tiny part of Cardiel’s mind remained detached from his whirling emotions, registering the sincerity of Morgan’s words.  

“I’ve consented to the betrothal of course,” Kelson added.  “I think the Duke of Corwyn meets all possible requirements for a husband for Lady Richenda, doesn’t he?”  He grinned,  clearly enjoying the situation.   “There’s no need for formal consent from the Council, though in view of their previous concerns I’ll raise it at the meeting later.”

Cardiel finally found his voice.  “Sire, of course.  I ….   How – I mean, when did all this happen?”  

“Well, I only proposed to her yesterday,” replied Morgan dryly.  “A little too late to ask you here for an immediate meeting, after we’d spoken to Kelson.  As for exactly when we fell in love …?”   He raised a quizzical eyebrow at Richenda.

“Oh, it doesn’t matter about the exact day or hour, does it?” she said softly.  “It just - happened.”  She returned Morgan’s look with a half smile.  “Uncle Thomas, won’t you please give us your blessing?  And attend our betrothal ceremony and supper after your Council meeting?”

“Of course I will.”   Cardiel tried to pull his thoughts together.  Richenda and Alaric – it was so perfect, so obvious – how could he have missed it?  How could he possibly have forgotten that Corwyn’s handsome duke was still single?  This was certainly no politically arranged marriage, this was …    He realised Kelson was speaking to him.

“… know that I really am happy about this.  I’ve known about their, er, feelings for each other, for a little while, only of course it wasn’t my place to say anything last time we met. I didn’t mean to deceive you in any way,” he looked a little sheepish, “but I’m glad everything’s worked out.  Now that Morgan’s finally got around to proposing of course!”  He flashed a swift grin.  “I know they’ll be very happy, and Brendan could never find a better or more loving stepfather.”  

He stood up, the others hastily following suit.  “I hardly think you need me any more, so I’ll leave you three to talk privately and see you at the Council meeting later.”

There was a moment’s silence as the door closed behind Kelson.  “Uncle Thomas?” said Richenda quietly, and he realised he’d been standing there in something of a daze.

“My dear, I’m very sorry – pardon me.”  He shook his head ruefully and smiled.  “This is certainly a great surprise, as you can imagine.   But it’s a very welcome one and of course I’m delighted for you!  For both of you.   All I’ve wanted is to see you safe and happy after everything you’ve been through.”  He embraced her warmly once more, then turned to Morgan, who was regarding him steadily.  There was nothing at all uncertain in the Duke’s gaze; he seemed calm and assured, yet Cardiel somehow knew that his approval would mean a great deal.  He met Morgan’s eyes and nodded slowly.

“We’ve known each other for less than a year, Alaric, and much has happened in that time.  But that’s long enough for me to know that Richenda could not be marrying a finer or more honourable man.  I’m glad to see you both so obviously happy.  I know what you have been through yourself, so I’m happy to see your own joy in this.”   He held out his hand: Morgan looked startled, then smiled in obvious relief and took it firmly in a brief clasp.

“Thank you, Excellency.  And I assure you that I’ll look after Brendan.  We’ve already talked about his understanding of what’s happened, though at present he’s just an innocent and slightly confused little boy.  Of course, we hope he’ll eventually have half-brothers or sisters, and will then grow up as part of a family.”  

Cardiel nodded, touched by Morgan’s words.  “Thank you Alaric.  Little children are so easily overlooked or forgotten, yet I fear they are sometimes the ones who suffer most.  Alas, though I hate to say it, the name of ‘Coris’ will be a difficult burden for him to bear at times.”

“Being born as a known Deryni, I think Duke Alaric knows all about that sort of thing, Uncle,” said Richenda softly, and Morgan gave a half-amused snort.  

Of course he does.  Cardiel shook himself mentally, wondering what it had been like for Morgan to grow up with that particular stigma.  Yes, he’d understand Brendan only too well.   Morgan strolled across to the side table and poured goblets of wine for them all, as Cardiel and Richenda resumed their seats.  

 “I don’t know whether I have been particularly blind, or whether you two have been extremely good at hiding your feelings. I suspect it is a little of both.”  Cardiel gave a rueful smile.   “But of course I’ll attend the betrothal and give you both my blessing.  Meanwhile, let’s drink to your love and future happiness.”  Together they raised their goblets.  

“I have one request though, Alaric.  Please – when I visit Coroth again, could you arrange for me to enter by the main gates?”

Morgan burst out laughing.  “I promise that your next visit can be made in a more conventional manner.  Of course, I’d be delighted to offer you some swimming lessons, though I’m sure my future wife will have something to say about the matter, if she thinks she might lose an uncle.”

My future wife. It was only now truly sinking in. It was sudden, it was surprising, and yet somehow, in a way that he couldn’t quite explain, the two of them seemed completely – right – for each other.  Richenda obviously sensed his confusion.

“Uncle, you weren’t blind.  We have been carefully proper in public.”

“Oh, no doubt you have.  But surely I should have seen it,” he replied.  “If I’d been thinking clearly, that is.  Particularly at the last Council meeting, Alaric – you said very little, and you were rather distressed at our conversation afterwards.”

“That was when you told Duke Alaric and a few others about Rhiannon?” Richenda asked.  

“Please forgive me, my dear, I did not mean to intrude on your privacy or grief in any way.  It’s just that there was some discussion about – your future – at the meeting, and the very last thing I wanted was to see you married off against your will for reasons of state convenience.  I rather thought you deserved some time, and the opportunity to have your own wishes considered, so believed it best to explain your situation.”  

“There’s nothing to forgive, Uncle.  Duke Alaric and Father McLain had already talked to me about who would be at the Council meeting, and warned me about possible comments or questions, so thank you for looking after me like that.  As it turned out, it was best that you did tell Duke Alaric about – things.”   There was a brief pause, and he had the vaguest impression that Richenda and Alaric were somehow speaking to each other.

“Outwardly I suppose most people will see this as a simple marriage of state,” said Morgan.  “It’s probably better that way, in all the circumstances.  But I assure you, Excellency, that it is much more than that, whatever it may look like to others.”

He drained his wine and stood up, motioning to Richenda and Cardiel to remain seated.  “Excellency, I’m sure you both would appreciate some private time together, and there’s still a little while before the Council meeting.  Dearest, I will see you then – and afterwards, I believe Duncan has carefully planned a certain small ceremony!”   He laughed; she offered her hand and he kissed it with an exuberant flourish.

“I’ll wait in the library as we agreed,” she smiled, and with a quick nod to Cardiel, Morgan strode from the room.

“Poor Uncle Thomas,” she said, once the door closed.  “You probably didn’t expect this.”    

“Well, the king’s message was rather vague, though I did fear the possibility of an arranged betrothal.  Luckily, the reality turns out to be much more delightful.”  He chuckled. “Though I confess that discovering I will soon be a very, very distant relative by marriage to Gwynedd’s notorious Deryni duke is not something I had ever expected!”  

Richenda laughed, then became serious.  “Uncle, there is something I would like to confess to you.  Or at least tell you in confidence.”

“A confession?”  Cardiel stared at her.  “My dear, what could you possibly have to confess, other than falling in love?  Oh, I know it’s quite soon after Bran’s death, but I think it’s – understandable.  And yes, Morgan’s Deryni, but he’s a fine man and he obviously cares very deeply for you.”

“Thank you, but even so, will you at least promise not to reveal what I tell you?  I’d feel more comfortable if you knew and I think it will explain things a little.”

Puzzled, Cardiel reached across to pat her hand gently.   “Richenda, I promise that whatever you tell me will remain in strictest confidence, though if you wish to make a formal confession, by all means I am happy to hear it.”

She smiled. “Of course your word is good enough for me.”    She raised her eyes to meet his.  “Bishop Arilan is not the only Deryni who’s kept his identity a careful secret.”

Cardiel stared at her.  How on earth did she know about Denis Arilan?  And then the import of her words struck him.  “Richenda …?”  

“Yes.  I’m Deryni.  And so is Brendan.”

Richenda was Deryni – of course.  Of course. Cardiel discovered that somehow he wasn’t shocked, or even greatly surprised.  An hour ago, he would have been, but not now.  He said nothing for a while, merely sipped the rest of his wine thoughtfully as the remaining pieces of the puzzle slotted neatly into place.  Everything at last made perfect sense.  No wonder she and Alaric had fallen in love.

“Can Deryni – talk to each other, without words?”  It wasn’t the first question he should be asking, he knew, but it intrigued him.

“Yes, we can.  We can also share our thoughts and feelings, and know what the other person is seeing or feeling.”

“You can share – everything?”  Cardiel looked startled.

“Only what we want to share,” laughed Richenda.  “It’s a little hard to explain, but our minds have shields, in many different layers.   There are certain things that we may want to share, and others that of course we want to keep private, or hide from all but a few people.  Part of Deryni training is learning to manage your shields, so you can raise them or lower them, lock things away privately, and block other people from reading you if necessary.”

‘Is that what you and Alaric have been doing – talking to each other?  Is this how you fell in love so quickly?”

“Yes.  And yes,” she smiled.  “A single mindlink can be very powerful.  You can know and trust the other person in ways that you can’t ever find words for.  I can’t really explain it except to say that Duke Alaric and I know we love each other.”

“How did you find out about Denis Arilan?”  

“I worked it out for myself from various little things.   When Duke Alaric and Father Duncan spoke to me before the last Council meeting, they just confirmed my own conclusions.”    

“But he certainly doesn’t know about you.”

“No, and we’d like to keep it that way, for the time being anyway.  It’s not just Brendan and me, it’s the whole family.  We’ve kept our secret carefully, and even with King Kelson on the throne, it’s still none too safe to be Deryni in Gwynedd.  As Duke Alaric knows only too well.”   She met Cardiel’s eyes unflinchingly.  “He agreed I should tell you, because we hoped it will help you understand about us.”

“Who else knows?”

“His Majesty, Father Duncan and Lord Derry.  Also Duchess Meraude – Prince Nigel’s wife. She recognised my feelings for Duke Alaric, and we’ve talked.  I don’t know if she’s told Prince Nigel yet.  All people we trust, who don’t have any problems with the Deryni”  

“But you don’t trust Denis Arilan?”

“I do.  And I believe Duke Alaric does.   But we don’t know who else he might think of telling, and he’s obviously got other high-placed Deryni friends. So for the moment please don’t say anything to Bishop Arilan, Uncle.  We’ll tell him eventually,”

“Very well.”  Cardiel frowned, and then asked the question that he knew should have been his first.  “Did Bran know about you?”  

“No.  Not until – until that last night, when he took Brendan and I tried to stop him.  He knew then.”   Her voice was carefully controlled.  “My parents kept our identity secret of course, and they decided I should marry a human.  Said that if things got worse in Gwynedd, being married to an earl might help to protect me.   At first I hoped that after we were married and we got to know each other, I might have been able to tell Bran, but I soon realised he hated the Deryni.  I could never have told him.”   She shook her head, studying her clasped hands for a moment before continuing.  

“I don’t know what Bran would have done.  He loved Brendan, as you know, but if he’d ever found out that he was Deryni ...    There are – ways – you can protect children until they are old enough to learn proper controls themselves.  I could have done it, but it’s not easy.  I would have needed to teach Brendan in secret.  Rhiannon too, if she’d lived.   I don’t know what Bran would have done to me, if Wencit had won.   Or even, what Wencit himself would have done.”

Cardiel was silent.  Richenda had been forced to live a lie, to worry about her children, to fear and deceive her own husband.  Was this what other Deryni had been forced to do, hiding their identities even from their husbands or wives, and protecting their children?  How many people had been living in fear like this?  He thought of the persecutions, of the rabid rantings of Loris and Corrigan, of de Nore and others like them.  Did the Church ever stop to consider what a terrible price it was asking innocent people to pay?   Or did the question of Deryni ‘innocence’ never occur to them?  Would a loving and merciful Lord ever condemn people simply because of their birth?  Condemn little children who didn’t even know what they were?

Hidden identities.  Secrecy, fear and guilt.  Denis Arilan and Duncan McLain, now Richenda and Brendan …   Cardiel suddenly remembered where he was.  Richenda was watching him, composed but hopeful, waiting for his response.  He sighed ruefully and shook his head.

“I think perhaps my eyes are slowly being opened to some of the more iniquitous aspects of our Church,” he said slowly. “There is so much to be done, so much thinking that needs to change. We can’t change things overnight - we need to be so careful.  But at least you and Brendan will be safe – now.”  

“Yes. And with Duke Alaric, I can truly be myself,” she said softly.  “As he can with me.  If only I could explain to you how much it means to be able to – to just BE Deryni and not have to hide who I am.  I grew up being able to link minds and share things with my family, and then when I was married to Bran, it was …” she sought for words, “ well, even at the best of times it was like – like living without one arm or an eye, or suddenly finding I couldn’t smell or taste. Now I feel like a whole person again.”

Cardiel nodded.  “And Brendan?”

“He will be brought up to know about being Deryni too.  As will our children.  Or did you mean, how will he be with a stepfather?” she smiled.  

“Both, I think.”

“He doesn’t know anything about being Deryni yet – it may be another year or so before he develops that sort of awareness.  Though I’m afraid he is rather fascinated by the idea of magic," she smiled at Cardiel’s look, “at least as far as gryphons, dragons and other magical beasts, so I don’t think it will come as too much of a surprise to him.   He likes Duke Alaric, and they already seem to be forming their own special understanding.  I think it’s one of the things I truly love about Duke Alaric.  He’s been so good to Brendan, and has already answered some awkward questions.”  

“Awkward questions?  What sort of … “  He broke off as there was a knock at the door.  A royal squire entered, bowing to both of them apologetically. “Your Excellency, My Lady – His Majesty has asked me to let you know that the Council meeting will start very shortly, if you are ready to attend.”

“Thank you.  Please let His Majesty know I will be there directly.”  Cardiel sighed, and Richenda took his arm as they walked to the door.  “Well my dear, this will no doubt be an interesting item for the Council.  I’ll see you later.”  He chuckled.  “And I look forward to Duke Alaric’s reaction if he has to ask for the Council’s approval to wed!”


________________

Next chapter:   http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=526.0.



« Last Edit: June 17, 2011, 11:51:04 pm by Alkari »

Offline Evie

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A Gryphon by the Tail Chapter 18
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2010, 10:31:21 am »
Poor befuddled man!   :D

I love the stream of thought as Cardiel realizes what sort of life Richenda has had to lead because she wasn't able to live openly as Deryni, and the further implications of that.  It's a real turning point for him.

Though I'd love to see a swimming lesson or two next time he's in Coroth...imagine the comedic possibilities!   ;D
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Offline AnnieUK

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A Gryphon by the Tail Chapter 18
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2010, 11:49:31 am »
Glossing quickly over the whole "when did this happen" question, and the fact that she still had a rather inconvenient husband at the time! :D

I do like Thomas Cardiel, and I think it's spot on that Alaric would want his approval as there's a great deal of mutual respect there.

Offline Evie

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A Gryphon by the Tail Chapter 18
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2010, 02:03:16 pm »
LOL!  An Inconvenient Husband sounds like the title for some trashy novel.   ;D
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Offline Alkari

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A Gryphon by the Tail Chapter 18
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2010, 04:12:19 pm »
Glossing quickly over the whole "when did this happen" question, and the fact that she still had a rather inconvenient husband at the time! :D 

Yes, Cardiel may wonder about the "when", once he eventually settles down to think about it all, but he'll also realise there's little point in going down that road.  He would know that whatever role Alaric played in Bran's death was determined by his loyalty to Kelson, and that Alaric would have acted as he did regardless of any feelings for Richenda.  Things have worked out best for all concerned, and what/when they eventually explain to Brendan is a matter for them as parents. 


Offline kirienne

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A Gryphon by the Tail Chapter 18
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2010, 09:09:20 pm »
I love Cardiel's reaction :-)

 


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