Author Topic: Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 5  (Read 2345 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Evie

  • Administrator
  • Duke
  • *
  • Posts: 4371
  • Karma: 29
  • Gender: Female
  • Sister Evie--Servant of Saint Camber
    • The Mini-Deryni Chronicles
  • Favorite Book: High Deryni or The King's Justice (can't decide)
  • Favorite Character: President of the Duncan McLain Fanbabe Society
Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 5
« on: July 01, 2010, 12:54:33 pm »
Chapter Five

   Celsie, running slightly late to catch the beginning of the early Mass, rushed breathlessly around a corner, nearly falling as she ran headlong into someone coming from a different direction.  “I do beg pardon!” she swiftly apologized, looking flustered as steadying arms wrapped around her briefly.  Her blue eyes flew up to see whom she'd assaulted in her haste, then widened in recognition.  She beamed.

   “Lord Derry!”  A giggle escaped her.  “I'm sorry; I hope I've not bruised you!”  Her cheeks turned a rosy pink.

   He grinned.  “I never saw the blow coming, but thankfully it was light.” He released the young woman, taking a hasty step back, his eyes already giving their surroundings a quick scan, as much for surveying possible escape routes as to see who might have observed their awkward encounter.

   Celsie smiled up at him hopefully.  “Were you on your way to Mass, perchance?”

   Derry looked briefly startled, then laughed.  “No, I'm afraid not.  I'm on my way to Desse to look at horses for a buyer.”

   “Oh.”  Celsie looked slightly crestfallen, but only momentarily.  “But you're coming back to Rhemuth afterwards, aren't you?”

   “Yes, probably tomorrow.”  He bowed over her hand.  “I need to run on, and unless you were attempting to learn how to fly just now, I assume so do you.”  He straightened, giving her a cheerful grin.  “By your leave, my lady.”

   “Safe travels, my lord.”  She watched as he turned to go.  “Oh!”  At his backwards glance, she called out, “You have your handkerchief, I hope?”

   He chuckled.  “Yes, I have my handkerchief.”  He tilted his head in the direction of the chapel.  “Go now!”

   Derry walked away, his long ground-eating stride taking him out of view quickly.  Celsie gave a happy wistful sigh and scurried on to Mass, several minutes late but for once not caring.


   Afterwards, Celsie stopped by her shared apartment to wake Ailidh as she'd promised.  After they grabbed a quick breakfast, the two made their way down to the Royal Library, where Sophie already awaited them, a pile of old books and scrolls scattered upon the tabletop in front of her.

   “All right, here's what I've found.  A couple of histories of Rhemuth Castle—not much in those, though there's a few illustrations that might help—several maps of Rhemuth made in the past century, and a fairly decent map of the Castle and the surrounding grounds made about fifty years ago.  I saw a few other books that looked like they might have something of interest, but they appear to be quite a bit older, and they're locked in a case, probably to keep them from being handled without permission.”  She lowered her voice.  “There's a librarian; he offered to help me, but I didn't want to ask for access to the case unless we don't find anything useful in these.  I was afraid if I tell him we're trying to find information on how the castle's laid out, he'll want to know why.”

   Ailidh nodded.  “Well, this will do for a start,” she said, pulling up a chair and grabbing a scroll.  “Let's see what we have here.  Oh, Celsie, can you see if there's any writing supplies we could use?  We might need to take notes, or if we find something really helpful, make a map of our own.”

   Celsie checked with the young priest who was the custodian of the King’s library, coming back in a few minutes carrying some parchment, a couple of pens, two bottles of ink and a sand caster.  The three girls huddled together over the old books and maps, studying them intently for the next couple of hours.

   By mid-afternoon, Celsie had produced a rough sketch of Rhemuth Castle's current layout, drawn in black ink, with additional markings in red ink to indicate where they thought the most likely  locations for secret passages might be, starting with the one they knew about and then extrapolating from there.

   “We'd probably better get back,” Ailidh finally said.  “If the Contessa gets back from her visit with Duchess Richenda and we're not in our apartment, she might wonder what we're up to.”

   “Oh, no worries,” Sophie assured her.  “She knows we're here.  She's the one who wrote the letter requesting that the librarian give us access to the Royal Collection.”  She grinned.

   “She knows we...she did what?!”  Celsie said, mouth agape.

   Sophie giggled.  “Well, she asked me if we wanted to go with her to visit Her Grace after you got back from Mass, and I had to tell her something!  And I couldn't very well lie, now could I, since she can Truth-Read?  So I told her the truth—that we were hoping to see if we could get into the Royal Library.”

   Ailidh goggled at her.  “You didn’t tell her why, did you?”

   Sophie's grin grew wider.  “Of course I did!  I told her we wanted to take a look at some maps of Rhemuth, just so that we could get more familiar with the place and hopefully not get lost during our explorations.  And I told her I was curious about the castle's history as well.  She thought a bit of scholarly research was a perfectly reasonable and respectable pastime for three young ladies to engage in, but she said she wasn't sure if the King granted access to his library to just anyone in residence, so she wrote a letter on our behalf in case we might need one.”  She laughed.  “Obviously, I didn't tell her which areas of the Castle we wanted to research and explore, but then again, she never asked.”  She picked up their newly-made sketch, checking to make sure the ink was dry and shaking the remaining bits of sand off the parchment, and then folded the small map in half and stuck it inside her sleeve.  “All right then, let's get back!”   

   The three ladies-in-waiting were back in their apartment, engaged in quiet pursuits fully appropriate for demure young handmaidens, when the Contessa returned.  “Did you find what you were looking for?” she asked them once she had gotten settled in.

   “We think so,” Sophie said, looking up from a small bound volume she was sketching in.  “And thank you for your letter of introduction; I gave it to the priest in charge of the Library.”

   “Oh good; I'm glad it was helpful.”  Constanza glanced over at Celsie, who was diligently working on her embroidery.  “What are you working on, Celsie?”

   The golden-haired girl smiled.  “It’s going to be a pillowcase for my trousseau.”

   “It's quite lovely.  May I take a closer look?”

   Celsie handed the framed fabric to Constanza, who examined the needlework closely.  This piece was worked in simple satin and chain stitches, with no resonance of latent power emanating from the work.  

   “Very pretty,” the Contessa said, handing the piece back.  She looked around.  “Where's Ailidh?”

   Sophie looked up.  “She broke a string on her vielle.  I think she's in our bedchamber looking for another one to replace it.”  As she finished speaking, the sound of an instrument playing a lively Border tune began to echo from the nearby room.

   “She appears to have found one,” the Contessa said.  “Which reminds me, there's a troubadour scheduled to perform in the Great Hall tonight.  I had thought we might dine there rather than up here, if you'd like to go hear him.”

   “Oh, yes!” Celsie exclaimed, her blue eyes sparkling as she looked up from her embroidery.  

   “That sounds like it would be enjoyable,” Sophie agreed, putting away her drawing materials and closing her book.  “I'll go tell Ailidh.”

   Constanza glanced at the small volume Sophie was putting away.  “And how are your imaginary kingdoms?” she asked with a smile.

   Sophie laughed.  “Well, in my brother's last letter to me, he's written my poor Queen Verliece into a corner, so now I've got to figure out a way for her to escape her predicament besides marrying the treacherous Lord Bradagante.  But I think I've found a way out for her, if I can just manage to smuggle her out of the castle first.  And then, once she's rejoined her loyal generals, it's war.  Stefan's all but begging for it!”

   Stanzi laughed.  “I don't know how you two can keep track of what's going on in your game, with the delays in your messages going back and forth.”

   “That just gives us more time to plot each other's eventual demise,” Sophie said, smiling sweetly.

   Are you really just plotting out your latest game story?  Celsie mind-spoke to Sophie once the Contessa retired to her bedchamber to change.

   Yes.  But I do believe that Queen Verliece will be escaping Bradagante's dungeons via some hidden passages I hadn't thought about creating until now.  I'd considered writing in a Transfer Portal, but I couldn't think of any reason he'd have one conveniently located in a dungeon.  Not to mention there's a small chance Alienora might have a peek in the book, so I don't want to put anything too obviously Deryni-related in the plot.

   “Sophie, if you're done, I could use a tiring maid,” Constanza called from the adjoining room.

   “Yes, my lady!  Coming.”

   An hour later, they were sitting together at a table in the Great Hall, listening to the great troubadour Owain ap Gwillim as they enjoyed the evening's feast.  Constanza, recognizing the opportunity the event presented for showcasing her young charges to any eligible young lords whose eyes they might happen to catch, had bidden them to dress in something a bit nicer than the casual gowns they'd worn to the library earlier, in honor of this special event the King's chancellor had arranged for the evening.  Celsie glanced around the Great Hall, cherishing a hope that perhaps Lord Derry had managed to make it back from Desse early after all, but there was no sign of his familiar brown curls among the small sea of heads surrounding her.

   There was, however, a younger man with Border-braided hair of copper-bronze making his way towards their table.  When he was standing directly behind Ailidh, he stopped, bowing polite acknowledgement to the young ladies' chaperone before bending to say, just loud enough for his voice to carry over the sounds of lute and Owain's resonant baritone, “I hear you're still a fair shot with a bow.”  Dhugal grinned as his MacArdry kinswoman nearly jumped, startled by his quiet approach.  Sophie, sharing a trencher with her, giggled.

   “Aye, an' I'll bluidy well shoot you if ye sneak up on me like that again!” Ailidh retorted, momentarily startled out of the more polished Court accents she'd just started growing accustomed to using over the previous few weeks of acclimating to Rhemuth life.  Constanza raised a censuring eyebrow at the girl's epithet, while Celsie stifled a laugh.

   Dhugal chuckled.  “Well, you clean up prettily enough, anyway, even if you’re still a Border lad at heart under all that fine silk.”

   “Would you like to join us, Your Grace?”  Sophie offered.

   Dhugal glanced towards the high table, then back at her.  “I can't tonight.  I just thought I'd come down here and mingle a bit between the feast removes.”  He clapped Ailidh on the back.  “Keep this one in line, will you?  We can’t have her showing up the Haldane archers.  Bad for these lowlanders’ egos.”  He grinned down into Ailidh's eyes, his amusement growing as he noticed her efforts to glare back at him without cracking a smile of her own.

   “We'll try,” Celsie replied, her blue eyes wide with overly exaggerated sincerity. “But she's a MacArdry, and you know what kind of mischief that rowdy lot can get up to!”

   The MacArdry chief laughed as he made his way back to his blood-brother's side.


   The evening’s entertainment drew to a end.  Constanza stood.  “Well, that was delightful, but I think it’s time we retired for the evening.”

   “Oh, might I make a brief side-trip on the way back up, if I bring Celsie and Ailidh with me?” Sophie asked, her eyes imploring their chaperone to agree.  “It won’t take long; I just want to see if any of the King’s messengers will be heading out towards Nyford on the morrow, so I can go ahead and send my book back to Kestrel Mote.”

   The Contessa smiled indulgently.  “All right, go ahead.  But come straight back up afterwards!”

   “We will!”

   The girls took their leave of their chaperone, making their way through the dispersing crowd towards the small room where messages meant to be sent throughout the Kingdom by way of the Royal Post were gathered.
   Celsie and Ailidh lingered near the door of the tiny chamber as Sophie stepped inside.  She pulled the small volume from her belt pouch, checking the ties that held it closed to make sure they were secure, then handed it over to a man wearing Haldane livery with instructions on where it should be delivered.  He took careful note, wrapping the book to protect it and writing its intended destination upon the wrapping in his neat script before securing the packaging with hot wax and a Royal Post seal, then set the small package aside with a few other parcels and letters heading out in the general direction of Nyford at daybreak.  She smiled her thanks at the man and turned to leave.  As they started to leave, another man entered, nearly colliding with Sophie.  As she stumbled and he reached out instinctively to keep her from falling, something fluttered to the ground between them.  Ailidh, noticing the movement, nearly gasped in recognition as she realized what the folded square of parchment was, but before she could intercept it, the man bent swiftly to pick it up, handing it back to Sophie with a courteous bow.

   “I do apologize, my lady.”  He handed her the parchment.  “You’ve dropped your letter, I believe?”

   Sophie’s eyes widened slightly as she recognized the map.  It was all she could do to reach for the folded document calmly instead of snatching it out of the stranger’s hand.  “Thank you, my lord!”  She took the map, this time tucking it securely into her belt pouch rather than into her sleeve.

   “I don’t believe I’ve seen you ladies here at Court before. Are you new to Rhemuth?” the young man inquired, his blue-violet eyes alight with interest as he surveyed the three young ladies standing before him in their Court finery. Sophie lowered her eyes.

   “Somewhat,” she told the stranger, a hint of wariness reflected in her voice.  “Pardon us, though, my lord; we told our chaperone we’d rejoin her directly, and no doubt she’s wondering what’s keeping us.”  

   “Of course.” He stepped back to allow the ladies to pass through the narrow entrance.  “Have a good evening, then.  And welcome to Rhemuth,” he added with a smile, pulling a small sheaf of folded letters of his own from under his white belt to hand over to the man in Haldane livery.

   Celsie giggled once they were well out of earshot of the Post collecting room.  “I ran headlong into Lord Derry this morning, and now you’re bumping into men, Sophie.  It’s Ailidh’s turn next.”

   “I might forget I’ve sworn off men if I manage to bump into one who looks like that,” Ailidh joked.  “Handsome young knight, black hair, eyes like twilight, nice manners…yum!”

   Sophie blushed.  “Oh, stop!” She felt her belt pouch, looking concerned. “You don’t think he saw the map, do you?”

   “Oh, probably not,” Celsie reassured her, “and even if he did, so what?  It’s a map of Rhemuth Castle.   We’re new here; why wouldn’t we want to have a sketch of the layout with us while we’re still learning the place?”

   Sophie looked somewhat reassured, but added in mind-speech, One with secret passages marked out in red ink?

   He’d hardly know what those bits signify, unless he’s Deryni himself, and not just that, but one who happens to know about the passages also, now would he?
Celsie replied.   It’s not like we’ve marked them all with “Here be secret passages”!  And besides, if he did see anything, it would’ve just been the briefest of glimpses.  Honestly, you’re worrying too much!”

   I suppose you’re right.

   “You know, Sophie, if you think aiming for a Haldane King is reaching a little bit too high, you might consider what it would be like to dandle little black haired, blue-violet eyed babies,” Ailidh continued teasing.

   Sophie sighed.  “No matter what your Duke might think, there is no keeping you in line, Ailidh!”

   The three girls laughed as they made their way upstairs to their apartment.

Chapter Six:

« Last Edit: January 10, 2011, 02:58:33 pm by Evie »
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!


* Discord

* User Info

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

* Who's Online

  • Dot Guests: 13
  • Dot Hidden: 0
  • Dot Users: 0

There aren't any users online.

* Discord

* Top Poster

Evie Evie
4371 Posts
Laurna Laurna
2207 Posts
DesertRose DesertRose
1992 Posts

* Most Karma

Evie Evie
Karma: 29
Jerusha Jerusha
Karma: 24
DesertRose DesertRose
Karma: 24
Laurna Laurna
Karma: 17
revanne revanne
Karma: 17
Bynw Bynw
Karma: 12
derynifanatic64 derynifanatic64
Karma: 9
Shiral Shiral
Karma: 10
Karma: 8
Karma: 7

* Online Time

DesertRose DesertRose
123d 20h 23m
Evie Evie
123d 8h 30m
TheDeryni TheDeryni
116d 1h 15m

* Forum Staff

Bynw admin Bynw
DesertRose admin DesertRose
Evie admin Evie
Shiral gmod Shiral
Zipper Sister
Unicorn636 gmod Unicorn636
Laurna gmod Laurna
Community Supporter
revanne gmod revanne
Community Supporter
DerynifanK gmod DerynifanK
Community Supporter
gmod Jax
Community Supporter
judywward gmod judywward
Community Supporter
KK gmod KK
Our Queen
gmod Alkari
Community Supporter
AnnieUK gmod AnnieUK
Community Supporter
Jerusha gmod Jerusha
Community Supporter

* Board Stats

  • stats Total Members: 332
  • stats Total Posts: 22195
  • stats Total Topics: 2235
  • stats Total Categories: 14
  • stats Total Boards: 136
  • stats Most Online: 181

* Calendar

September 2019
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 [19] 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30