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A Leap of Faith - Chapter 14

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June 24th – 27th
City of Dhassa

It seemed like no time at all before Brendan and I were moving into Dhassa, the time passing in a flurry of preparations.  We bade a tearful farewell to Joan, who was to return to Marley with many of our staff until the situation became clearer in Gwynedd.  I felt badly for Brendan – Joan and I had been the only constants in his life these past few months, and now she was gone too.  He had already taken to Sister Luke, whom Uncle Thomas had provided to be Brendan’s nurse during our time in Dhassa, and he was an adaptable child, but a lot had been asked of him recently.

Thankfully he had some new friends to look forward to in Dhassa.  Lady Bethan took Brendan while we unpacked, and he was soon playing happily with young Culley Gwyndor and little Owain.   A meal appeared in my apartments at midday, courtesy of the Gywndor household, and I thanked whatever luck had me meet Lady Bethan that evening in the Cathedral.  

It took some time for the men to carry all the trunks and baskets up the stairs to our apartment, and longer still for the maids and me to sort all the belongings into chests and drawers.  But by the time Monsignor O’Sullivan arrived to see if we were settled in, the rooms looked a little more like ours and a little less like a standard guest apartment.

Monsignor O’Sullivan was becoming almost part of the family by now, admiring the personal touches I had brought from Stonelyn to help Brendan and me feel at home.  “Bishop Cardiel told me to make sure you were comfortable.  He apologises for his absence, but if things have gone according to plan he will be with the King now.”

 “Oh Monsignor, how is my uncle?  When last I was here the Duke of Corwyn and his kinsman had been captured in the city.  Were my uncle and Bishop Arilan unharmed, then?  I assume so, if my uncle is with the King.”  I had presumed that no news from Dhassa meant good news, but had not heard that Uncle Thomas had left the city.

“Oh indeed,” Monsignor O’Sullivan reassured me, “it became clear early on that Morgan and McLain had meant no harm, although their way of entering the city had been somewhat unorthodox.  The soldiers who apprehended them are doubtless exaggerating the story of the day they arrested Alaric Morgan dressed as a monk.”  He chuckled.  “It did cause quite a stir though, as you can imagine.”

Yes, an unlikely role, from what I had heard of Alaric Morgan.  

“So their excommunications – they no longer stand?” My uncle had so clearly been uncomfortable with his part in the proceedings that it would be a weight off his mind if they could be lifted.

“No, my lady.  We had a service of reconciliation a few days ago, and Morgan and McLain were received back into the church.  Bishop Cardiel and Bishop Arilan have gone with them to King Kelson to offer their aid against Wencit.”

“Is there any more news from Cardosa?”  I realised with a guilty start that I had scarcely thought of Bran since his last letter, with all the organising of our move to Dhassa.

“None recently, my lady.  The last we heard Wencit was still occupying the city, but had made no move beyond that.  The bishops seemed to think that a move is imminent, though, hence their swift departure to meet up with the King.”

Monsignor O’Sullivan was a useful source of factual information, but for what had actually happened, I needed someone else – someone who could give me a first hand account of proceedings.  It looked like Lady Bethan might prove to be even more useful than I had imagined.

I was cheerfully invited into Lady Bethan’s apartments, which were laid out very similarly to mine, and similarly furnished with a mix of guest apartment items and her own personal belongings.  The boys were sitting with a drink of buttermilk, taking a break from play, and Brendan looked happier than I had seen him for months.  They had been playing so nicely together, Lady Bethan said, that she had allowed her nurse some time to go to the market in the city for some treats while she watched them herself.  Maybe I should have moved into Dhassa earlier - I might have had a more contented boy if I had.  

Owain came up onto Lady Bethan’s lap for a cuddle, and I watched them wistfully for a moment.  Rhiannon would have been around the same age and turning into a proper little person.  The feeling of loss never seemed to diminish – I wondered if it ever would.

“Did you hear that Bishop Cardiel has left the city?”  I was not going to have to prompt her then – she seemed keen to share the local gossip.

“Yes, Monsignor O’Sullivan has told me some of what happened.”

 “It was very exciting for a few days.”  Lady Bethan pushed a bowl of roasted almonds in my direction.  “That night you left there were all sorts of rumours going round.  First that Morgan and McLain had killed your uncle and Bishop Arilan, then that Morgan and McLain themselves had been killed.  But then it came out that they had come to throw themselves on the bishops’ mercy and to seek absolution for the Saint Torin’s incident and the excommunication and all.”  A wave of the hand encompassed the ‘all’ – evidently Morgan and McLain had plenty of which to repent.

“Well plenty of people had plenty to say about it, but your uncle and Bishop Arilan seemingly accepted their explanation of what had happened at Saint Torin’s and a day or two later there was a big service of penance for them.  There was a big procession - you should have seen the crowds – I’ve certainly never seen anything like it.  It was the most excitement Dhassa has seen for years, I expect.  It’s a shame you couldn’t have been there - the cathedral was packed.”  Lady Gwyndor was obviously in her element.

“You were there?”

“Well, lots of people went along – the cathedral was packed.  You could hardly move.  Wouldn’t you have wanted to see the Duke of Corwyn and his cousin, if you’d been here?”

I wasn’t at all sure I would.  It seemed to me that they were doing penance not just for the burning of Saint Torin’s ‘and all’ but for the mere fact of being Deryni, and that made me desperately uncomfortable.  It was bad enough that we had to hide who we were and deny our heritage, without having to do penance for it in front of people like Lady Bethan.  Suddenly I liked her a little less well, and disliked myself for feeling so.  No, I didn’t think I’d have wanted to be there, even if I had been in the city at the time.

Brendan and Culley resumed their play, starting an animated game of marbles with their own unique version of the rules, and getting very agitated at Owain’s interference.  I kept a careful eye on them – Lady Bethan seemed so animated about the city gossip that Owain could have choked on a marble and she wouldn’t have noticed.  I wondered how long it would take the nurse to get back from the market as I wasn’t sure I wanted to leave my son alone here.

“Anyway, there was a service, as I told you, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Deryni close up before.  Well, as close as I could get, anyway – it was crowded, as I said.  You’d think you’d be able to tell, wouldn’t you?  But then I suppose if you could, that Father McLain wouldn’t have been able to hide what he was all these years.”

If you only knew, Lady Bethan.

“But they didn’t stay in the city for long?  Morgan and McLain, that is?”  I would have liked to meet Alaric Morgan although not under those circumstances.  I was intrigued to see what sort of man he was, to have lived openly as Deryni for so long, and to see if I could see what it was in him that had inspired such hatred in Bran.  And if Duncan McLain were to turn out to be Deryni, well the first known Deryni priest in two centuries would be an interesting man to meet, too.

She looked mildly irked that I had cut her story short.

“Well, yes, after the service he and Bishop Arilan, and Morgan and McLain, all set out with the episcopal armies to meet up with the king.  So war with Torenth must be close, mustn’t it?  It’s a good job you moved here, my dear, before it was too late.”

The nurse returned, with baskets of fresh fruit and a few sweetmeats for the boys.  She seemed to be more vigilant of her charges than Lady Bethan had been, and I felt a lot happier now that she was watching over them.  

“I must get back to my apartments, Lady Bethan.  Would you mind if I took Brendan – he is looking tired and I think he could do with a little quiet - he is not used to all this excitement.  I’d be happy to have Culley to play with us tomorrow, if you’d like to spend some time with Owain.”

“What a shame, my dear.  I didn’t get to tell you all about the service, did I?  Did you hear that the Duke of Corwyn fainted clean away?  How charming – he was obviously so touched by the service.  Although Bishop Arilan seemed quite annoyed at the interruption...”


Three days later a messenger pounded into the courtyard in Dhassa and we began to make ready for the return of the Episcopal armies and the King’s army that had been encamped at Dol Shaia.  

It had been a busy few days for them, it seemed – Coroth had fallen, and been taken again, and Archbishop Loris arrested and deposed, with my uncle made acting Primate of Gwynedd.  His loyalty to the King was likely to be recognised then, when the permanent positions were decided.  

All in Dhassa went into a flurry of preparations, then.  The armies themselves would camp outside Dhassa, and some of the commanders too, but apartments must be made ready for the King and such other nobles as would stay with him in a city already stretched to bursting point.  The holy city was never meant to house as many as this, and Monsignor O’Sullivan and his ilk were kept busy in the day between the messenger bringing his news and the King and his party arriving in Desse.

I only saw my uncle briefly after he arrived – just long enough for us to reassure each other that all was well.  He was closeted away most of the time with the King and his advisors in the Bishop’s palace till all hours, and not feeling much like socialising, even if he had the time.  We in the guest apartments carried on our lives as usual, while not far away soldiers and strategists made the decisions that could save us or doom us all to Wencit’s tyranny.  Chapter 15


--- Quote --- Did you hear that the Duke of Corwyn fainted clean away?  How charming – he was obviously so touched by the service.  Although Bishop Arilan seemed quite annoyed at the interruption...”
--- End quote ---
ROFL - if only you knew, Lady Bethan!!  If only you knew ...

Nice to see Monsignor O'Sullivan again - obviously a gentle man - and glad Brendan has found playmates with Culley and Owain.  Though LOL at Richenda being worried about Lady Bethan's lack of supervision with the marbles!  

And yes, young Brendan has rather been moved around - and a lot more upheavals to come for the poor little kid over the next year, alas.  Just as well he IS adaptable.

Richenda is saying to herself, "I must not turn her into a frog.  I must not turn her into a frog.  I must not turn her into a frog. . . ."

"Even though she is a frog.  Even though she is a frog.  Even though she is a frog. . . ."

Perhaps sometime Richenda will have to use her Deryni powers to save Owain when he does choke on a marble?  That would give Lady [word-for-female-dog-that-I-will-not-use] reason to think that Deryni aren't quite as evil as she was brought up to believe.


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