FanFiction > AnnieUK's FanFic

A Leap of Faith - Chapter 5

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July 1119 to December 1120

Our daughter was born in July.  Bran was waiting outside as before, but even his smiles couldn’t conceal how desperately saddened he was not to have another son, although I had known for some time that he was to be disappointed.  

True to his word, Bran left the choice of names to me and I took a perverse pleasure in making the names as pretty and fancy as I chose.  I had selected Rhiannon Ysabeau.  Ysabeau had been my grandmother’s name and I had always thought it beautiful.  I chose Rhiannon both for its beauty and because Bran had got so used to thinking of our child as Ryan, that I thought Rhiannon might be an easy step to make to help him accept his new daughter.  But when she was only two days old, Bran returned to Rhemuth.  No doubt he accepted the congratulations of the lords and ladies at court, but I knew that to him Rhiannon was only a girl.

Only a girl or not, I enjoyed my daughter as I had not enjoyed Brendan at the same age.  I was more relaxed this time around, and I did not have the great tiredness and sleepless nights that I had experienced after her brother’s birth.  She was a dainty little thing, so unlike my robust little man, who was now stomping round confidently and causing turmoil wherever he went.  Brendan missed Bran greatly and each day he would sit the window for a time, watching for the blue and gold pennants of Marley returning.  He would turn his little cherub’s face up to mine and say:

“Papa come home?”

“Not today, darling” I hugged him close, loving the freshly washed smell of him. “No Papa today.”

Whenever Bran returned he would scoop Brendan up and take him on his shoulders out to see the horses.  He would put Brendan on the back of one of the ponies, despite my worries that he was too young.  

“Brendan will be the greatest knight in all Gywnedd, won’t you, Brendan?” and our son squealed with pleasure and held tight on the pony’s mane.  Thank heavens the pony was a placid thing, or the glorious career of the young lord of Marley might have come to an inglorious and premature end.

Over the next few months Bran was barely at home.  King Brion was negotiating a new peace treaty with Wencit of Torenth, and Bran’s presence as part of the King’s Council was required at Rhemuth.  

According to Bran, rumours were spreading around Rhemuth that Morgan planned to overthrow Brion and set himself on the throne of Gwynedd, possibly, so the rumours said, with the assistance of Wencit, a fellow Deryni.  With trouble brewing on the Torenthi borders I thought this was mere anti-Deryni paranoia, but I heard plenty from Bran about his rival, and his rival’s alleged ambitions.  Bran was obviously letting his dislike for Morgan cloud his judgement.  Then when Morgan disappeared from court, his whereabouts a mystery even to the other council members, Bran’s suspicions were confirmed

“There you are, you see!” he announced triumphantly, “Brion is coming to his senses at last and getting that blasted Deryni out of his court.  Though if he could get rid of him more permanently, that would make a lot of people sleep easier at night.  I’d be happier if I knew where he was, though.  He could be anywhere – off plotting with Wencit, even.”

It was ridiculous of course, and I could hardly believe that Bran would believe such nonsense, but he was blinded by his own bad feelings for the man.  I had never met Alaric Morgan, nor was likely to, unless I finally got to King Brion’s court someday, but nothing I had heard about him, save that which came from Bran, suggested that he was anything but loyal to the king.  The Morgans had been king’s men for generations.  Still, I supposed anyone might turn traitor if the rewards were high enough, however old and noble a family he came from.

“I wouldn’t be in Morgan’s shoes right now.  The queen loathes him, and she and Loris hate the influence he has over Prince Kelson.  They are worried that he is indoctrinating the lad in Deryni ways.  Mark my words, Jehana and Loris between them will find a way to dislodge him.  I’d love for Loris to get his hands on him - I’d pay good money to see Morgan burn.  Serve the idiot right for going for his sword on me last time we were in Rhemuth.”

“He did what?”

“Aye, if his precious friend the Earl of Kierney hadn’t stepped between us we’d have seen who was the better man.  I could have taken him you know.  God willing I’ll get the chance again.”

I was more anxious than ever about discovery now.   What was he capable of, should he discover that I was Deryni too?  If he claimed that I had enchanted him, could he have me set aside?  And if he did that, then not only would I be sent home in disgrace, but my family’s fortunes could be ruined.  We had concealed that we were Deryni for so long; I could not bear the thought that I could be our undoing.  And despite Bran’s insistence that Morgan was the closest thing to the Devil incarnate that Gywnedd had ever seen, I had a certain envy of him – he lived openly as Deryni where the rest of us could not, and I hoped that he could blaze a trail that others could follow.  I hoped that Brendan could be as open, when he was grown.  He had the first signs of shields already, so I knew that he was Deryni as I had hoped, but also feared.

In November, when Rhiannon was sixteen months old and captivating everyone as she toddled about the manor, and Brendan was a sturdy cub of nearly three and a half, everything was thrown into disarray.

King Brion died while out hunting, apparently of a heart attack, and idle tongues wagged that it had been by magic and that Morgan had been behind it.  Prince Kelson, now King Kelson, recalled Morgan – it transpired that he had been commanding the Cardosa garrison - and the predicted move by Jehana and Loris to remove the Duke went ahead.  Morgan was accused before council of heresy and treason and narrowly escaped with his life.  Bran had supported Jehana and Loris against Morgan, and when their plan failed he worried that his star was waning.  There had always been enmity between him and Morgan, but Bran had openly voted for Morgan’s execution, and that would not easily be forgiven, either by Morgan or by his new king.

Then Kelson resisted a magical attack from the Shadowed One at his coronation.  Bran’s description afterwards told of Morgan, wounded in a duel, Kelson wielding Deryni magic, and doubt cast on the status of Morgan’s cousin Duncan McLain – could he possibly be Deryni too?  But far from Morgan being dislodged, his importance to the crown was more evident than ever.

Bran was morose at home, his influence with the king reduced since Kelson came to the throne, and his theories about Morgan apparently proven to be as nonsensical as I had thought.  Kelson would never have survived against the Shadowed One unless Morgan had managed to awaken his Deryni talents, although from the stories of the coronation Kelson had been shown to have Deryni blood of his own.  

That had led to more problems for me – Bran was staggered that Jehana was Deryni, and unfortunately her concealment for so long had raised the question in his mind of how many other Deryni might be at court without him realising it.  I couldn’t afford for him to become suspicious of me, and I was acutely aware of everything I said and did around him.  He in contrast was scarcely aware of me at all, save in the bedchamber, spending his time at home hunting and drinking, and occasionally with Brendan, who still clearly adored him.

In early December, with Bran away at our manor near Dhassa, sorting out some problems that had come to light there, Rhiannon fell ill.  She was running a temperature and nothing was bringing it down.   I started off sponging her with cool water and trying to give her plenty to drink, but she was still fretful – she wasn’t sleeping well and her appetite was bad.  I managed to get some milk into her, but only a few mouthfuls and I was worried about her. When she had been ill for nearly three days I sent a messenger to carry a letter to Bran to come home.  

I called in the local physician, who prescribed an infusion of yarrow for the fever, and more yarrow to put in a warm bath, but it did no good.  She was sleeping more than usual and even when she was awake it was hard to get the infusion into her.  Her fever continued, sometimes warmer and sometimes cooler, but it went on for days, and even bathing her in tepid water was not helping.  I was beside myself and sent another messenger to find Bran and beg him to please come home.

At last the fever broke, but Rhiannon still ailed.  She had scarcely eaten for several days, and had drunk a little, but not enough to help her to recover.  I had hoped so much that when the fever passed my little girl would recover, but she just slipped deeper into her sickness.

The first messenger returned, with no sign of Bran.  Rhiannon didn’t know me now, and moaned and whimpered as she tossed and turned.  I stayed in the nursery with her, eating and sleeping there, scarcely leaving the room at all, while Brendan was cared for by his nurse elsewhere in the manor.  I was terrified that Brendan would fall sick too, but he remained resolutely healthy, and I watched him from the window as he careered about the garden, toy wooden sword in hand, playing at knights, blissfully unaware that his baby sister was fighting for her life.  I had resorted to trying to get her to take water from a spoon, slipping a few drops past her lips and stroking her neck to get her to swallow, but it was so hard – even a spoonful took an eternity to get into her and I knew she wasn’t getting enough.

Rhiannon was a strong child for all her slightness, but her pulse became fluttery and her breathing quick and shallow.  I tried to support her in her breathing, and stabilise her heart, but it was hard to maintain a sufficient rapport with her – she was simply too young.  I held her little hand as it became colder and colder.  Even wrapped in blankets, her hands and feet grew cold, and she scarcely woke any more, just drifted from sleep to half sleep and back again.  She had scarcely eaten, and her arms and legs grew thin as twigs.

At last the physician said he could do no more for her – to try to keep her warm and to try to give her plenty to drink, and only time would tell.  The ‘black tongue’ he called it, and sure enough, her tongue darkened and swelled and she lapsed into unconsciousness.  She died soon after, her little body giving up its fight.  She fell asleep in my arms, my beautiful girl, and never woke up.  And Bran still had not come home.  I knew then that I would never forgive him for that as long as I lived. Clapter 6

Oh, poor, poor Richenda!   :(

You do a great job in showing us the condensed version of Deryni Rising background and events from the POV of someone who was only getting news secondhand via their husband at court.  And a hubby who had his own axe to grind, and ended up not on the winning side.  You can certainly see how Morgan's secret absence in Cardosa without explanation might have appeared to his enemies.   

--- Quote --- Still, I supposed anyone might turn traitor if the rewards were high enough, however old and noble a family he came from.
--- End quote ---
Oh, what terrible foreshadowing and grim irony, given the later events with Bran!! 

And you show how and why Richenda is so desperately frightened about concealing her own Deryniness, together with her slight envy for Morgan able to be more open (not that he had any choice about that!).

This also sheds a bit more light on why Bran would have turned to Wencit's side so easily.  His star was waning in the Rhemuth court, and now Wencit gives him a chance to have unimagined power...and also a chance to get back at those who had denied him his original ambitions.  As I said before, ambitious git!

And as for his callousness towards his daughter, I wish he hadn't been poisoned, because I'd dearly love to gut him, resurrect him, and gut him again....   ;D

I do believe I had Richenda's father say he was ambitious in chapter 1 :)   He didn't describe him as a git, though - maybe I missed a trick? ;)

Not necessarily a git - but most definitely ambitious!!  Yes, every man has his price ...

You do wonder what "great hatreds" Kelson was referring to in relation to Bran, when he blames himself for not forseeing Bran's treachery, although even Morgan admits HE would not have forseen it either.


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