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Author Topic: Ghosts of the Past  (Read 103139 times)

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Offline Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #585 on: November 19, 2018, 06:41:38 pm »

The tip of the Sword of Lendour whirled from left to right, then in multiple flying figure eights. The hilt passed from right hand to left hand in a fashion that did not inhibit the speed of the blade. The steel’s sharp edge always leading to cut the air with a soft whistling sound.  The feet of the man wielding the broadsword never stood still. Always stepping forward, backward, left to right, then right to back, and forward again. Imaginary foes fell away from the blade in fast successions as new imaginary foes entered the field. The man was fast; the blade faster; faster than the eye could follow. Having striped down to breeches and boots and not much more, the afternoon sun glistening off the sweat of well turned muscles of the knight’s upper torso.

Sir Washburn had been practicing for an hour and than for another hour more. He had needed this exertion more for his mind than for his body. After four days of confinement, this was a blessed release. To be free, to move with a sword in hand, to contemplate victory over his captors. His concentration was keen. To those who watched, his moves were percise. But not to him. From time to time, his old masters would call to him from the heavens. Step left, not right! Balance boy, balance! Foe at your back. Now at your left. Two before you. Balance if everything! They steal your balance, they steal your soul.   His balance had been stolen from him by a man named Feyd, and he fought until utter exhaustion to get it back.

“Enough!” called a man’s voice. Sir Iain Cameron was sitting on a short stone wall near the house. He stood as he made the call.  The blade slowed to a stop and turned to face the baron.

The pretty honey-colored haired girl sat near his rescuer. She watched wide eyed, wearing a simple straw-colored gown with a mended rip along the front side of the gown. Lady Maev had suggested that morning that Sidana either mend the gown herself, or she could wear it torn, which would lower her status even further than the simple home spun wool fabric did. Washburn actually thought it most becoming on the girl as it was the same color as her hair, which currently lay loose about her shoulders. Lady Maev was standing behind the girl trying to comb it out in the sun, her hair had been washed that morning and was finally dry enough to put a comb through it. Although Sidana didn’t think so, as she whispered curses under her breath at every tangle that needed to be combed out. “My ladies in waiting don’t pull my hair,” the girl would say.

“Your ladies in waiting must have been very bad at their job, because you couldn’t have gotten this many tangles in one night’s sleep.”

“Sleep?!” this girl questioned. “There was no sleep to be had in this hovel. I tossed and turned all night, fretting on that rock of a cot you call a bed.”

“Surely your mother taught you to braid your hair before going to bed.” Maev replied, refusing to acknowledge the jabs of this pretentious child.

“My mother died when I was young,”  the girl said grimacing at another tangle.

“I am sorry,” Maev responded. “That explains a lot,” she said under her breath.

Sidana shot her a harsh look over her shoulder. Which caused her hair to be pulled and she yelped.

Washburn’s  eyebrows went up as he looked from the girl over at his rescuer. “She is going to be no end of trouble. We can not keep her here long, before she is found.”

“Just waiting for orders. We should be safe here for at least one more day,” Iain claimed. He had been keeping his eye on the road that lead past the home throughout the day. Wash had learned that Truill would be found if they followed the north-leading road through the woodlands and down the hills. Baron Jass was one of  the only men who knew of Baron Iain’s hideaway. No one else but the king would think to look for the Lord of Isles here on the border to Meara. 

Sir Roland came and went, in and out of the barn and the fields doing his chores and he too kept an eye on the landscape all round. The day was quiet. In this secluded place, one would not know that the kingdom was being ripped apart and that men were turning the land all around them toward rebellion and war.

Washburn walked over the water barrel and dunked his head in it. In a swift immersion, bristling at the shock of the cool water, he swung his head up and whisked his hair back with his hand. “I won’t go back to Rhemuth. Not even if the king order’s it.” He said this with a determined gaze at Iain. “I want answers. And I want to finish what I did not finish yesterday.” The knight held up his sword before him, making it a promise to catch the man who had paid for his capture. Then he decisively sheathed the blade. That the others all relaxed as the weapon was homed was not lost on the knight. But he was never a man to turn on his friends nor his family. Even family who had treated him poorly over the years. He had loyalties and training enough to know one did not turn against blood relations. Though he was forced to wondered just what had caused them to turn against him. Years of bad treatment were accumulating in his mind and only his sword practice had kept those thoughts at bay. He needed to keep doing things to stop his memories from playing images that were old, yet he swore he had never seen them before.

That was the trouble. What was real and what was false. So many images conflicted with one another. It was driving him mad. The only way to avoid it was to keep busy, to do things with his hands, to keep physically occupied. This sitting still was a torture. “We need to find Lady Aliset.“ he said with a glare at Iain. “I feel she is in danger. Whether it is from Oswald, or Valerian, or even Feyd, I can not tell. But I feel it in my bones. We shouldn’t be sitting here.  We need to find her.” And to find Darcy and Columcil. he thought to himself.  How he missed the few people that he knew he could trust.

“Those people you just named who are searching for Aliset. Those are the people who are spending an exorbitant amount of time and energy looking for you and for her...” he looked across at the pretender queen. “Lady Aliset has other watchers. You are the one at greatest risk and you are my responsibility. Until I am told otherwise, we sit tight, and we wait for further orders.”

“Damn your orders.” Washburn said, knowing full well that Iain could not be budged and that there was nothing for it but to wait.

Sir Roland was whistling to a black and tan colored dog calling a small herd of sheep to be herded out of the lower field and to be brought into the barn. “Let me help you with them.” Wash called out. He tossed his black tunic over his head as he turned from Iain. Resetting his sword belt over it,  he then headed to the gate to pull it open and to let the first of the sheep run through.

Busy, he just had to keep busy. Working the farm was good wholesome work. That, at least, kept his tortured thoughts at bay.

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #586 on: November 21, 2018, 08:42:35 am »
“I wonder what upset Father Columcil,”  Lord Darcy Cameron said to Aliset as he watched the country priest, without benefit of a saddle and with both hands gripping the flying mane, charge down the road on the big black horse.  “Oh nevermind, there’s Jaxom, walking away from the horses.  Answer enough.” 

“I don’t understand how the man can be so consistently annoying,” Aliset replied as she set her bedroll and pack on the ground. 

“It disguises his lack of any redeeming qualities,” Darcy said dryly, earning him a smile from his wife.  Although she still appeared to be Robert the squire, the smile he saw was hers.

Darcy had selected a spot slightly away from the makeshift camp set up by Jaxom’s men. Rather the Earl of Marley’s men, though Darcy had not seen the Earl since they arrived.  He was likely still up in the tower in the ruins.  Darcy would have liked to be up there himself, but he suspected that any clues to Washburn’s whereabouts were either already discovered, or obliterated.  He would need a chance to speak to Earl Brendan to find out what had been discovered.

His immediate concern was what to do about Lady Fiona.  He glanced toward the young woman who sat on the ground by her bedroll, looking up at him expectantly.  For a moment he closed his eyes, searching back through memories he had only recently regained, searching for anything to do with a cousin named Fiona.

((Darcy eidetic memory, success on 4, 5, or 6.))

Jerusha!roll 2d6
@derynibot1, 3 == 4
((Failure. Sigh….))

Try as he might, no memory of her surfaced.  He opened his eyes and studied her for a moment.  She was several years younger than he was.  Perhaps he had been too young to have ever heard her mentioned.

“You should go talk to her,” Aliset said as she nudged his arm.  “Imagine how she feels after her encounter with those ruffians and then Jaxom.”

“You should come with me,” Darcy said hopefully. 

Aliset shook her head.  “At least she thinks she knows you; she’ll be more comfortable with you.”  This time she shoved gently against his back, prodding him forward.  Darcy wondered if he might have more success with the ruffians, or even Jaxom.

With a barely audible sigh, Darcy walked over to Fiona and sat on the ground beside her, resting his arms on his upraised knees.  Jaxom’s less than gentle removal of her cap had loosened some of her pale hair from her braid; the wind blew the strands across her face.  She pushed them back impatiently with her hand. 

Darcy recognized the gesture; they might be related after all.
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Offline DerynifanK

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #587 on: November 24, 2018, 06:05:55 pm »
Fiona watched as Darcy selected a campsite some distance from that of Jaxom and his men, not too far from Earl Brendan’s men. He, Columcil and Robert unsaddled their horses, and Columcil took charge of them, leading them a short distance away to the lake to allow them to drink their fill. He then prepared to tether them so they could graze while he groomed them and checked for any problems. Fiona had also unsaddled Edric and allowed Columcil to lead him away with the other three horses. She watched, thinking it a little odd that the priest not the squire was tending to the horses. However she had more pressing concerns.  Like Darcy and his squire, she placed her bedroll on the ground near theirs. She seated herself on the ground, wrapped her arms around her knees, and waited.

She saw Jaxom walk over to where Columcil was caring for the horses and speak to him. Jaxom appeared  irritated but then he seemed to be in a constant state of irritation. After a short interchange he walked away. Suddenly. Columcil  bolted down the road on the big black horse without benefit of saddle or bridle. Whatever Jaxom had said had certainly upset him.

She was still very confused about the man before her who looked like Iain but didn’t act like him and didn’t seem to know her. As he walked over and sat beside her, she turned her head to study him.  Physically, he certainly looked like Iain, but she didn’t really feel certain about him.  Although she had not seen Iain much recently, she didn’t feel that his reactions and responses to her would have changed that much. She certainly hadn’t changed so much that he would not recognize her!

Darcy spoke, “I realize that this is all very confusing. I need to start with an explanation. Do you remember that Iain had a younger brother named Darcy who was supposed to have died at a young age?”

Fiona was quiet but then said: “I do remember hearing a story several years ago about a younger brother who died in a fall from a horse at a young age. However, you never mentioned him nor did my aunt when I lived with her. Of course, she was already in failing health when I went there and your stepfather kept her apart from the household saying she was unable to manage the household or care for me as her niece and ward. As her health worsened, I rarely saw her.

He smiled at her. “ I am not Iain, I am actually that lost younger brother. I am Darcy, and I have only recently returned to Gwynedd after twelve years at sea.”

Fiona stared at him with wide eyes; “I don’t understand. How could you be that long lost brother?  How could you have been a seaman, and why did everyone think you had died? I don’t see how that could happen.”

Darcy answered her,“Our stepfather is a greedy and evil man. He wanted the title and land for himself. He lied to anyone who asked, saying that I was wilful and disobedient and required punishment. I was often locked in my room under the pretense that I was stubborn and refused to change my behavior. I saw few people. My stepfather had replaced my father’s steward with a man of his own choice. I don’t know what happened to Roland, who was our steward for years. He also replaced many of the old servants with his own people. They fear him because he is cruel and ready to punish, withholding rations and using the whip freely.”

Darcy continued, “My mother, your aunt, was very much under the thumb of my stepfather. She knew he was ambitious, but she did not know when she married him how ruthless and cruel he could be in pursuit of what he wanted. She was terrified of what he might do to her sons. She kept Iain away in Rhemuth, but she couldn’t protect me. He kept her isolated, read any messages she tried to send, and replaced her servant with one who spied on her. He tried to force her into bearing him a child . He desperately wanted a son who would replace us and become baron. Her only defense was to feign illness. As you know she did become really ill and she died.”

“When I was ten, a merchant ship put in at Isles. My stepfather sent for the ship’s captain and asked if he had need of a cabin boy or another seaman in training. He offered the captain a large sum of money to take me on. His only condition was that he never allow me to return to Isles. The captain accepted the money and took me to the ship. I started a very rough  apprenticeship without understanding why I was sent away or why no one came to get me.” Darcy looked at her a little sadly as he paused in his tale. “Six months later, my stepfather sent word to Rhemuth that I had been killed in a fall from a horse. No one, including Iain,  knew I still lived.”

Darcy continued, “I spent twelve years at sea. It was rough life but not a bad one. I worked my way up to chief navigator on the ship, a responsible and well- paid position.  However, on my last voyage, the captain became ill and died. A new captain assumed command of the ship, and he preferred his own navigator. I decided it was time to seek my fortune elsewhere. I sought employment as a man-at-arms, and that is how I met Father Columcil, in completing my first mission, escorting to Rhemuth a young lord who was in danger. While in Rhemuth, I was involved in events that led to my being noticed by the king. Columcil and I were given the mission that led us here to the ruins,  trying to help find Sir Washburn Morgan who was abducted by enemies of the king to be used in advancing the rebellion. I hope you will tell me what you have learned and what happened at the manor where you were living. The more information we can give the king the better for his successful suppression of the rebellion.”

Fiona was silent as she considered his words., Father Columcil came nearer where they were sitting. He and Robert had stayed apart to allow them privacy for their conversation. Darcy turned to Columcil looking a little desperate with an appeal in his eyes;. “Perhaps you can reassure this young lady of my honesty and fealty to the king.”  Columcil hastened to assure Fiona of both his and the kings trust in Darcy.

Fiona took a deep breath, squared her shoulders, and looked Darcy in the eye, “ I am going to trust you. Things at the manor have gotten steadily worse over the last several months, ever since the rebellion began to gain ground. The baron’s son, Michael, has become more and more eager to join them. He and the baron have had increasingly loud and violent arguments, until the baron threatened to disinherit him if he did not give up the idea of joining the rebellion. I overheard Michael talking with two men, one of whom is his best friend. I did not recognize the other voice. He was complaining that he had argued until he was hoarse with no success. He told them that he intended to lure his father to a distant part of the manor on the pretense of inspecting a problem with the roof.  He would then lock him in and keep him confined while he assumed control of the manor. He would give out that the baron was ill and unable to manage the estate. He even had a physician sympathetic to the rebels who would support his claim. He would then join the rebellion, pledging the resources of men and property to them. He expects to gain titles and additional lands through service to the rebels without waiting to inherit from his father.”

“I didn’t know what to do,” she continued.  “I thought about trying to warn the baron, but Michael had infiltrated the servants with men of his choosing, and I suspect that anyone trying to support Uncle Mac would soon be overcome. Michael doesn’t trust me as he knows I am loyal to the king, and he has been watching me. I couldn’t see any way to get a message out. After careful thought, I decided that my best option was to try to reach Iain.  Sir Roland, the knight you remember in service to your father, is steward of  Iain’s holding in Meara, and I was sure he would know how to reach Iain who would know how best to reach the king. I decided to slip away and ride for Iain’s estate in Meara which Roland manages for him. I was on my way there when I encountered the thieves, then the guards here at the ruins and finally your party.  Will you help me reach Sir Roland?”

Darcy looked at Columcil who had been listening to Fiona’s story. “We will certainly do our best to assure that your information reaches the king as soon as possible. There are those here who can reach advisors close to the king without having to ride further. Give me time to confer with the good father and see what can be done.”  Darcy and the priest moved aside to confer, beckoning the squire to join them. Fiona thought this a little odd, but she was too anxious to give it much thought. After  several minutes of quiet talk which seemed to take forever, Darcy returned to Fiona; “Father Columcil has a contact in Rhemuth who is close to the king. He will be contacting him tonight and will share your information with him. It will then reach the king as soon as possible. We will also let him know your present situation and that, for now, you are with us. We will be awaiting his orders as to how we should proceed with our mission. I think you should remain with my party until we receive the king’s orders. We will see that you are safe.”  Fiona looked at the three of them, then nodded her acceptance of Darcy’s proposal, at least for the time being.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2018, 06:16:35 pm by DerynifanK »
"Thanks be to God there are still, as there always have been and always will be, more good men than evil in this world, and their cause will prevail." Brother Cadfael's Penance

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #588 on: November 27, 2018, 02:59:59 pm »
Sir Iain Cameron woke as the first rays of sunlight peeked through the edges of the window shutters in his small room.  He opened the door quietly so as not to startle the two men sleeping on pallets before the hearth.  He was not sure how deeply Sir Washburn slept, but he knew his passage to the outside door would not go unnoticed by Sir Roland.

Iain stepped outside into the new morning and paused to appreciate the scene around him.  He was Isles born and bred; it’s rugged, rocky coasts were home to him.  Yet he appreciated the simple beauty of this holding with its pastures just beyond the wooden gate.  The black and tan dog padded over to him and nuzzled his hand, eager to get to work herding the sheep out to pasture. 

“Roland will be up soon,” Iain said as he stroked the soft head.  “But you can come with me while I look around.”  The dog happily walked beside him as Iain circled the house and scanned the road approaching it, glad to see that it showed no signs of recent human passage.  By the time they made their way back to the shed, Sir Roland was up and whistled to the dog to help him with the sheep.  Iain had to smile at how quickly the dog abandoned him to get on with the day’s business.  With a cheerful wave to Sir Roland, Iain turned and entered the shed.

He made his way to the back of the shed to the storeroom.  He was inside checking that the ward cubes still protected the Portal when he felt the call come.  Quickly he sat on the room’s only chair and reached inside his shirt to withdraw the medallion.

”Your Majesty, how may I be of service?” Iain sent to the familiar touch of the king’s mind.

“I have received a most disturbing letter from a man called Feyd.  He states you and he are both master spies.  What can you tell me of him?”

“If Your Majesty would be willing to share at least a part of the letter, I would be better able to make sure I have the information you need,” Iain asked cautiously.

“Never one to pass on an opportunity to gain a little more information,” Kelson responded dryly. 

“I have always thought that is one reason I am of value to you, Your Majesty.”  Iain clearly heard the king’s mental snort, which he took as a good sign.

Kelson of Gwynedd quickly shared the contents of the letter and shared a mental image of the two seals.  Iain was surprised that Feyd had used the seal of his order, but that fact gave Iain more leeway in what he could share.

“Master Feyd is a very skilled and dangerous man,” Iain sent after a moment’s thought.  “I would call him more assassin than spy, but he is master of both.  He is neither a man to trust or a man to cross, but his word has worth up to a point.”

“And that point would be?” Kelson asked.

“Don’t get between him and a mission he intends to complete.  And don’t cheat him.”  Iain shared the images of Feyd’s attack on Lord Brioc.

“Lord Brioc lives?” Kelson asked.

“Surprisingly yes; the odds of his surviving were not good.  Feyd is not adverse to playing with his prey.  Did you receive Feyd’s ward cubes?”

“Aye,” Kelson responded. “And I sent them back north to your brother and Lady Aliset.  I thought she might have more success scrying for Sir Washburn and his captor since they were closer to him.”

“They were closer?”

“I sent Lord Darcy and Father Columcil north to find the fortress.”

“They brought Lady Aliset with them?”  Iain asked, a trace of disbelief in his question.

“In a manner of speaking, yes.”

Iain mentally brought himself back the his king’s original question.  “You can trust Feyd to keep his word unless circumstances change, and they put him at a significant disadvantage.  Master Feyd kills for a living, but he takes no particular joy in it other than the fact it pays very well. I also think he enjoys the game.  What concerns me is why he is willing to give up valuable information to get his ward cubes back.  I understand the value in ward cubes attuned to their owner,” Iain added hastily.  “But no dealing with Feyd is ever as straightforward as it might appear.  I also have concerns for Darcy and his companions for as long as they have the ward cubes in their possession.”

“So you might agree to Feyd’s proposal?”  Kelson asked.

“I might,” Iain responded cautiously.

“Thank you, Sir Iain.  I will have further orders for you by nightfall.  You and your party will likely be moving out.”

“We shall be ready,” Iain said.

“Oh, and by the way, I should probably inform you that your brother and Lady Aliset are now married.”

“Sire?” Iain asked, clearly taken aback by this revelation.

“He made a good choice,” Kelson said enigmatically and broke contact.

Sir Iain Cameron sat staring at the medal in his hand.  Finally, he tucked the medal back into his shirt and briskly rose from the chair.  A conversation with Sir Washburn about the Lady Aliset de Mariot was definitely in order.
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #589 on: November 30, 2018, 02:42:19 pm »
Lord Darcy Cameron watched as Aliset skillfully turned the patch of leather he had found in the bottom of his sea bag and a good length of braided cord into a creditable sling.  After the look she had given him when he made his second suggestion as to how she should proceed, he quickly decided to offer his advice only if she asked for it.  She hadn’t asked.

“Let’s walk away a safe distance, and I’ll try it out,” Aliset suggested after a last tug to assure herself that it would hold together.

“Should I stand in back of you or in front of you?” Darcy asked innocently.

Aliset gave him a withering look.  “Another question like that and you’ll be my target!”  Her look softened as he grinned back at her.  “And do give me enough space; I’d really like to avoid cracking that thick skull of yours.”

“That would suit me as well,” Darcy assured her.  “A coney for the dinner pot would be welcome.”

“Maybe I’ll try a larger target for my first shot.” 

“Ah, back to my skull, then!”

“Stop!” Aliset admonished while trying not to laugh.  “Must you always carry on so?”

Darcy smiled, deciding that was the safest answer.

Aliset selected a stout stump at the edge of the trees for her target.  Darcy moved back to what he judged would be a safe distance, and Aliset loaded the slingshot with one of the stones from her belt pouch.  The first swing was a little shaky, but the third swing was solid, and Aliset loosed the stone.  The stone hit the stump a little higher than she had planned, but it was a solid hit.

Darcy’s intended congratulations were cut short by an all too familiar voice.

“Can’t you make better use of a squire than this?” Lord Jaxom Trillick asked, the disdain in his voice evident.

Aliset turned and bowed; Darcy did not.   

“A skilled shot can bring down a man when needed,” Darcy replied curtly.  “The sling needed repairs, and Robert has seen to it.”  Darcy nodded to Aliset as if in dismissal, and she started to return to their camp.

“Hold on,” Jaxom said.  “Robert, I need you to assist my squire in setting up my pavilion.  It appears we will be spending the night here, although I can’t imagine why.”

“You’ve brought a bloody pavilion?” Darcy burst out.  Aliset gave him a warning look.

“Come with me, Robert,” Jaxom said, ignoring Darcy.

“My lord?” Aliset asked, pointedly asking Darcy’s permission to accompany Jaxom.

“Will you be alright?”  Darcy sent to her. 

“I will be fine,” she answered, though she felt a sudden knot in her stomach.

“Aye, go on,” Darcy said aloud. “But call if you need me and I’ll be there at once.”  The possibility of his wife being alone in a pavilion with Jaxom, even though she was well disguised, did not sit well with Darcy. But he could think of no good reason to refuse Jaxom his squire’s assistance.

Aliset bowed to Darcy and took a deep, steadying breath as she followed Jaxom.  She would finish this task and be away as soon as possible.

***
Darcy watched as the two squires raised the pavilion.  At first, Jaxom left them alone to accomplish the task, but when he realised they had neglected to attach the pennant to the centre pole, he made them haul it back down and fix the issue.  At one point he thought he saw Aliset heft one of the side poles like Father Columcil might raise his stout staff, but perhaps it was his imagination.  He hated to admit it, but once Jaxom took charge, the pavilion was completed quickly.

Darcy was not pleased when he saw Jaxom motion for Aliset to accompany him inside. The front flaps were open, so Darcy could see them both clearly.  Nevertheless, he stood, ready to intervene at the slightest provocation.  He saw Aliset stiffen, give Jaxom a curt bow, and stride angrily back toward him. 

“What has he done?” Darcy asked when Aliset reached him.  He was aware that Fiona was watching them intently.  Father Columcil had withdrawn to an area nearer the lake, presumably to make contact with Archbishop Duncan.

Aliset’s brown eyes flashed with anger.  She waited a moment before speaking, not wanting her voice to carry farther than her husband.  “Lord Jaxom drew me aside to advise me to look out for Fiona, since you could not be trusted to conduct yourself properly!  He even referred to you as ‘that Darcy!’”

“Did he now?” Darcy asked quietly. 

The calmness of Darcy’s response caused Aliset to pause again before continuing.  Maybe she should not share the rest of the conversation, but she could not hold it inside.  “He said you completely ruined my reputation, but he would do his duty and consent to marry me to salvage it. And,” Aliset stopped to draw breath.  “He is sure he can tame my willful ways!”

Darcy’s eyes took on a dangerous, icy hue, and his hand moved to the hilt of  his sword. He turned his gaze to the pavillion, where Jaxom sat at a low table.  “Not if he’s dead.”

“No, Darcy,” Aliset said urgently and grasped his arm.  She looked for Father Columcil, but he had not yet returned.

Darcy heeded her plea.  “I know,” he said, though his hand stayed on the hilt of his sword. “It would not do, and I’ll do you no good swinging from a tree for murder with you far from safety.”  He moved his hand to lay it on top of hers.  “Still, it seems that’s a lot of information to pass to a squire he barely knows.  He seems more concerned with trashing my reputation than protecting yours!”

Suddenly Darcy and Aliset remembered Fiona, who was staring at them both.

“Is something wrong?” Fiona asked.

“Actually, something needs to be put right,” Darcy said.  “I think I should pay Lord Jaxom a visit.”

“No,” Aliset replied quickly.  “We need to pay him a visit, and you can make the proper introductions.”

Darcy looked at her for a long moment, considering what she implied.  “Are you sure?”

“I am,” she said firmly.  “This has gone on long enough.”

“Poor man,” Darcy said and smiled.  “I doubt he’ll ever realize all that he has lost.”

***

Darcy paused for a moment outside Lord Jaxom’s pavilion, shielding Aliset from view as she shifted back to her true form.  Robert’s clothes fitted her a bit differently after the transition.  Darcy had hesitated to leave Fiona behind, but when he saw Father Columcil in the distance returning to their campsite, he was able to reassure her that she would not be alone for long.  He held out his arm to Aliset, who laid her hand upon it, and they both stepped inside the pavilion.

“Lord Jaxom, a word, if you please,” Darcy announced. 

“It does not please me,” Jaxom replied, not looking up from the parchment that lay before him on the table.  “As even you can see, I am busy.”

“But I have been remiss in proper decorum,” Darcy said.

“It’s what I, and everyone else, have come to expect.”  Jaxom looked up and suddenly stared.

“Lord Jaxom, may I present my wife, Lady Aliset Cameron.” 

Jaxom’s stool fell backwards as he rose to his feet, his anger clearly evident.  “How dare you!  This is absurd; King Kelson would never permit such a travesty!”

“We have His Majesty’s blessing; we were married properly by a priest and are fully wed.”  Darcy’s voice remained even, but his tone had an edge to it now.

Jaxom turned his fury on Aliset.  “You have put yourself beyond redemption, marrying this poor excuse for a nobleman, if he is who he claims to be!”

“You forget yourself, Lord Jaxom, and you grow tiresome,”  Aliset responded, her voice cool and controlled.

“You had no claim to her, and your actions proved you unworthy to even consider such a notion,” Darcy said.  “You will now stop sullying my wife’s good name and mine as well.”

“Over my dead body!” Jaxom said hotly.

“Aye, I can arrange that,” Darcy returned.  Aliset’s hand tightened on his arm.

“There will be no bodies here,” said a voice from the pavilion’s entrance. 

Still keeping a wary eye on Jaxom, Darcy turned with Aliset to see who had entered.  He had never seen the man in the lead, but the red hair and noble bearing suggested it was the Earl of Marley.  Behind him stood Father Columcil, with Fiona in tow.

"My lord,” Darcy said and bowed.  Aliset hesitated, aware of the awkwardness of attempting a curtsey in Robert’s clothes.  She settled for a slightly abbreviated bow.

“Earl Brendan,” Jaxom said and bowed, confirming Darcy’s guess. “These two claim to be husband and wife; I question the truth of the claim.”

“I can vouch for the truth of it,” Father Columcil interjected.  “I’m the priest that married them proper.”

Brendan Coris, Earl of Marley, studied the men and lady standing before him.  He had no liking for Jaxom, but he needed the man and his knowledge of the people they were moving among.  Darcy Cameron had his own mission to fulfill, and Brendan fervently hoped for his success.  As for the lady….

“This will now stop,”  Brendan announced. “I’ll not tolerate bad blood among my own men.  I want your word, from all of you, that this goes no farther; it will not be discussed or referred to again. Lady Aliset, I think it wise for you to continue in your guise as Robert until such time as it is no longer necessary, and you can take your place properly beside your husband, Lord Darcy. Your word, all of you.”

All went down on one knee, including Fiona, before the Earl of Marley, pledging their honour to make their peace and maintain it.  As they turned to leave, Aliset shifted back into Robert’s form, shielded from view by the canvas of the pavilion and Darcy’s back.  Darcy quietly asked her to go with Columcil and Fiona, before he turned and bowed again to Earl Brendan.

“My lord,” he said.  “If I might have a word?  I should like to know what you have discovered in the ruins above.”  Earl Brendan nodded his assent, and Darcy followed him to a spot they could speak privately.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2018, 02:44:12 pm by Jerusha »
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Offline Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #590 on: December 02, 2018, 11:46:01 pm »
“Tell me what you know about Lady Aliset de Mariot.”

Washburn perked up as Lord Iain Cameron spoke the lady’s name; the baron had just entered the manor from outside. Anxious to know if Iain had learned something new, the knight bristled with concern. “Has she been found? Do you know if she is safe?” The spoon Washburn was holding was forgotten and absently placed back into his bowl of morning stew.  His full attention turned toward the owner of this manor as Iain took the seat across the table from him.

“She is safe,” Iain assured.

Yet there was a hint of caution in the baron’s voice, which put Washburn on edge rather than easing his mind. “Where is she? Is she in Rhemuth?”

“No….”

“No...? Then how can she be safe? We must go to her! When I last saw her, she was in the arms of her assailant, being carried away! I must know she is alright!”

“Sir Washburn….”

“If Oswald has touched her, I will kill him!”

“Washburn, she is safe.”

“Your words don’t lie, but you’re not telling me the truth, either. I hear tension in your voice. You can not know how much I have worried over her! Even more so than for myself. You must….”

“She is with my brother Darcy, alright? Calm down!” Iain was leaning forward against the table, trying to judge Washburn’s reaction.

Wash sucked in a breath, realizing the baron had been very close to forcing his will to settle his rescued prisoner’s anxiety. Wash had to know what was going on, yet he realized losing control would only deny him those answers. Deliberately, pushing the bowl of stew away, Washburn spread both hands out over the table’s surface and then leaned back in his chair, straightening his back. As calmly as his voice could sound, he asked, “Darcy has her under his protection? I know if she is with him, she is in the best of hands. Are they heading back to Rhemuth?”

“Sir Washburn, I see from your reaction that you care very much for this lady. Are you in love with her?” Again Iain’s voice was hiding something in his tense tone.  And too, the directness of the question was a bit startling. What was happening?

Wash tilted his head and looked across at Iain. He saw the close resemblance of the two brothers, yet he was keenly aware of their differences in their mannerisms. “It is your brother who is desperately in love with her. But to answer you, yes, I love her, but like that of a brother for his sister. Lord Alister was a close friend. In his good memory, I have vowed to protect his sister as I would my own sisters. That I last saw her in distress has weighed heavily upon my mind.”

“Aye, a damsel in distress brings out the gallantry in all of us. She was in distress when you joined up with her in Culdi, was she not? She was already in Darcy’s company then. Yes? Did my brother fall in love with her because she was a damsel in distress?”

Washburn could not stop the laugh that came out. “Damsel-in-distress? Not Lady Aliset. In those first days, your brother thought he was escorting Lord Alister, a young man who had lost his family to ambitious men who would not stop at murder.  Darcy knew he protected this young man from assassins, yet he knew nothing of the lady hidden beneath the guise of her brother. She had been very strong to hold that visage.  When I met up with them, Lord Alister was in full control of the situation. I did not even learn of Lady Aliset playing her twin until much later. Darcy was very surprised to learn of it himself, after which he vowed himself to stay steadfastly her protector. A lady In need? Yes, but not in distress. Why are you so concerned about your brother’s choice?”

Iain avoided a direct answer. Instead he asked, “Would it distress you to learn that Darcy was given a royal commission to find you? Lady Aliset was to remain safe in Rhemuth after her abduction was thwarted. I realize now that you have not heard that she had been rescued by His Grace, Duke Dhugal in the library.” To hear this was such immense relief to the recent prisoner that he barely heard Iain’s next words. “You should know that the duke was heart-sick that he was seconds too late from halting Master Feyd from taking you. The tension in Rhemuth since that moment has been palatable. I have been told the Lady Aliset was as equally upset. Perhaps even more so, because she felt some responsibility for your capture. From a letter she left behind in the queen’s tower, she confirmed how she felt the need to help in the best way she knew. She took it upon herself to join Lord Darcy and Father Columcil on the royal commission they had been given. I am told Lady Aliset took on the form of my squire, Robert, and rode out with my brother and the priest. They were not aware of her disguise.” Iain’s eyes were open wide, watching the man before him carefully, looking for the Lendour knight’s response. The baron obviously could not understand why a lady would do that. 

At first the news brought a smile to Washburn’s face. “That is so like her,” he replied, remembering all too well the bravery of the de Mariot lady. “Aliset is a strong lass, very capable of achieving her goals. She also has a caring heart and is deeply loyal; she would not let someone she loves go into harm's way if she could be of help in any way.” But then his smile faded and he could not hide the anger rising in his voice. “King Kelson gave your brother and the good father the mission to find me? When I was held in an impossible place like Valerian’s dungeon? Is the king mad? Don’t I have brothers who should have shouldered that responsibility? But no. One brother has disowned me and the other brother is, God knows where, probably gone back home. Thusly, leaving Darcy, Columcil, and Lady Aliset, my only true friends, to enter the dangers of the dragon’s lair to rescue me? That is insanity!”

Lord Iain leaned forward as he tried to explain. His voice remained calm, though Wash could sense that he, too, had not been happy to hear of Darcy’s orders. “Their mission was to find the fortress. Darcy had the coordinates by charting the stars. His job was to find it and report back-- understand, at first we did not know that you were there. It was something of a long shot. I was following Lady Sidana to her place of residence. I was undercover there when I discovered you were the anticipated prisoner and that I was in the same fortress to which my brother was seeking. Then orders came from the king that Darcy was to stand by and assist me if you could be freed.”

The youngest son of Alaric leaned forward, muscles tense. “We need to find them before they become fodder in this rebellion. We have sat here too long!” Washburn stood up, pushing the chair back hard. Only his quick hand kept it from tipping over.

Iain was holding both hands out as he, too, stood. “It is alright, I have an idea where they are. We can use the portal to get to them as soon as I can get the Portal Signature from Lord Sextus.”

“What are we waiting for?”

“... We await the king’s orders; we should be receiving them soon. I am certain that my brother is capable of looking after his wife until we arrive.”

“Wife? Darcy and Aliset are married? Has something finally gone right in all of this?” Washburn saw the nod and smile as Iain confirmed the news.

Lady Maev was the first to come forward. She had come down the ladder with Sidana while the men were talking. “Your brother is married? That is wonderful news,” she said, giving Iain a curtsey.

Lord Roland moved to a locked cabinet. “This calls for a toast,” he said, bringing forth a special bottle of port. The label of Vezaire gave everyone a moment of appreciation. Using the distraction, the pretender Queen of Meara side-stepped to the door. With freedom her goal, out the door she ran.


Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #591 on: December 03, 2018, 02:04:15 pm »
Sir Iain Cameron sensed Sidana’s movement as he raised his glass of port to toast the marriage of his brother and Lady Aliset.  He allowed himself the pleasure of downing the excellent beverage before striding out the door after her.  He could stop her instantly with the controls he had placed in her mind, but he hesitated to demonstrate how completely under his control she was.  Especially in front of Sir Washburn.

“Let me go!  Let go of me!”  he heard Sidana cry as he reached the yard.  Sidana looked in his direction and tried to kick the captor that held her fast.

Iain grinned; bless Roland’s dependable dog!  The black and tan dog held a portion of Sidana’s gown firmly in his teeth and was attempting to pull her back toward the house.  Sidana gripped the gown in both hands and was trying to pull it away from the dog.  The dog, skilled at herding sheep, easily avoided her kick.  Good thing Maev had provided a sturdy, homespun gown to withstand this type of punishment!

Iain was no longer grinning as he moved forward and took hold of her arm, his grip tight but not tight enough to bruise.  Roland whistled to the dog, and the dog let go of the dress and ran back to his master.

“Just what do you think you are doing?” Iain demanded.

“Are you so addled you can’t figure it out?” Sidana spat back at him.

Iain turned her towards him, changed his grip and heaved her over his shoulder.  He turned abruptly and marched her back to the house, ignoring the flailing fists beating against his buttocks and her demands to be released.  Washburn, Maev and Roland, standing just outside the door, quickly moved aside to give him room to enter.

Sir Iain dumped her unceremoniously on the table.  Maev followed and removed Washburn’s forgotten bowl so Sidana could not use it as a weapon.  Iain grasped both of the young girl’s arms to hold her firmly in place; there was anger in his ice-blue eyes. He resisted the impulse to shake her.

“You are a fool,” he said, forcing her to look at him and not turn away.  “This is not some town dwelling where you could run to find the watch.  How far do you think you would have gotten before some man, or group of men, found you on the road?”  His eyes held hers.  “If they were brigands like some of those I have met here, I’d be finding you body in the bushes beside the road after they finished with such a pretty little prize.” Iain’s words were harsh, as he intended them to be.

“I am the Queen of Meara!  No one would dare harm me!” she replied defiantly.

“Who would believe that you are?  Your father and the Grand Duke have kept you hidden, a rumour of hope dangled in front of those willing to be tempted.  A promise of reward sparking the slaughter of innocents in Ratharkin!” 

“Sir Iain,” Maev cautioned. 

“How many more will die for your cause, Lady Sidana?  How much death does it take to make a queen?” Iain’s voice was hard.

“That’s not my fault!” Sidana screamed at him.

“Then whose is it, my Lady?”  Iain’s voice was suddenly calm.  “Think on that as you spend the rest of this day confined to the loft.  Lady Maev, if you would please escort her up.”

Iain removed his hands from Sidana’s arms and then placed one hand on her forehead. Sidana winced, although there was no pain.  When Iain had finished, Meav gently took hold of Sidana’s arm and helped her slide off the table. 

“There will be no more escape attempts, Lady Sidana,” he said.

Sidana preceded Maev up the ladder, not quite meek, but unresistant.  Sir Iain Cameron picked up his glass, filled it with port, drained it and strode out the back door.
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Offline DerynifanK

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #592 on: December 08, 2018, 08:56:00 pm »
Fiona continued to sit near the area where she had put her bedroll and supplies. She stared ahead, chewing her lip and thinking intently. She considered the consequences of her flight from the manor to try to reach the King  with her information about the intention of the baron’s heir to join the rebels and to pledge all the assets of the manor to their cause. She was very concerned about what might be happening to the baron and his wife. Michael intended to confine his father in a distant part of the manor while he assumed his father’s position and duties as baron.

But what if the baron resisted, not only verbally but physically? Would Michael actually harm his father? She was afraid that he had become so deeply involved with the rebels that he might have less control than he thought, and that he might be forced to cooperate with them if they decided to physically occupy the manor. The rebels were known to be violent and power-hungry.

When her absence was discovered, what would they do? They would not know where she had gone, but they would suspect she had ridden for help. She was afraid that they would implement their plans more quickly to avoid interference. She was also afraid that this might lead to physical injury or even death for the baron.

She needed to return to find out what was happening and to help Uncle Mac and Aunt Olivia. But she needed help. She wouldn’t be much use alone, but who could she approach to assist her? She was still confused as to what exactly was happening here at the ruins, and she had no idea which of those present she should approach. Even though she had decided to trust Lord Darcy, her cousin, she didn’t really know him at all and could not be sure of his reaction to a request from her for a rescue mission to the manor. Also, Darcy had no men-at-arms to support such an effort. Lord Jaxom had men with him, but she did not trust him and felt that his main goal was his own advancement

She had been paying little attention to what was happening around her. She noticed that Darcy and Robert had gone aside and appeared to be testing a sling that the squire had made. Then she saw that arrogant young man, Lord Jaxom, walk over to them and heard him take Lord Darcy to task for his squire’s activity.  He then ordered Robert to come with him to help his squire in erecting a pavilion he had brought with him. Lord Darcy nodded permission when Robert appeared to ask his approval.

Fiona continued to watch, distracted by the scene before her. Once the pavilion was erected, Jaxom beckoned Robert to come inside. After a brief exchange, Robert left the pavilion, striding angrily back to Darcy. They spoke together in low tones, appearing very tense. She saw Darcy’s hand go to the hilt of his sword and Robert place a hand on his arm as if to restrain him.

Suddenly, both turned to look at her. She returned their look, asking, “Is anything wrong”?.

“We need to speak to Lord Jaxom, but I’m not sure about leaving you here alone while we do so” Darcy replied. 

Fiona glanced over toward the lake where she had seen Father Columcil earlier;  “I’ll be fine. See, there is the good father returning. I will remain in his company until you return.” Fiona had noticed that the priest was trusted by the others, and that they listened to his advice and counsel. He might be the best person to approach about her problem. She felt that, with his help, she might be able to convince others to ride with her to rescue the baron and free his land from rebel control.

As Fiona continued to gaze intently at Darcy and Robert, she saw what looked like a tremor in the air around Robert and his appearance seemed to change from that of a young man to a young lady. Fiona gasped. She had heard of the ability of some Deryni to shape shift and take on the appearance of another person, but she had never seen it done. Robert must surely be something more than a simple squire. Together the two of them stepped into Jaxom’s tent

Father Columcil came near and sat down beside her, beginning to speak and ask her what was happening. They both heard angry voices and saw Jaxom start up from his seat abruptly, turning over his stool. Suddenly, a tall, red haired man stood in front of Fiona and the priest. His approach had been masked by the angry confrontation taking place in front of them. He beckoned to them to follow. Columcil appeared to know him and stood promptly to accompany him, reaching back to help Fiona to her feet. Fiona didn’t know who the red haired man was, but he was obviously a person of rank and influence. When they entered the pavilion,  Darcy, Robert, and Jaxom bowed respectfully to him, and she heard Jaxom address him as Earl Brendan.

The Earl demanded a pledge from all of them that they would make peace among themselves, and there would be no more discussion of Darcy’s relationship with the young woman or Jaxom’s insistence that the young woman should have been under his protection. Fiona went to a knee with the others as they gave the required pledge, although she still did not understand the situation. As they rose and turned to leave the pavilion, she again noticed that tremor in the air as the lady again became the squire, Robert.  Darcy held back and said a quiet word to the Earl. The Earl nodded and Darcy followed him  away from the tent to a more private area.

Fiona returned to her previous seat by her bedroll. Father Columcil again sat down beside her  as he noted that she still looked somewhat distracted. He decided that it was important that she be told the story of what lay behind the discord.

 “I’m sure you are findin’ all o’ this confusin’. I think I need to try to explain things a wee bit. The lady who is posin’ as the squire, is the Lady Aliset de Mariot. She first assumed the form o’ a young man when she was trying ta escape t’ Rhemuth after her kinsfolk were done ta death by a cousin who wanted ta tek their land and title. He speired ta force her to marry him ta strengthen his claim. She was tryin’ ta reach the King ta ask his protection and fer justice fer her kin.  Sir Washburn Morgan was escorting her at the request of his brother, the Duke o Corwyn. Darcy was escortin’ the young lord as a man-at arms fer protection. I was also traveling to Rhemuth and became the fourth member of the party. We didna find out the young lord was really a lass until we had gone some way on our journey. Lord Jaxom and his men joined us later in the journey at the direction of the Duke.”

“It’s a gey lang tale  but we did reach Rhemuth, and the lass was able to tell her story to the King who took her under his protection. However, a wee bit o’ time after our arrival in Rhemuth, Sir Washburn was kidnapped, we think by an agent for the rebels, and there was a attempt to kidnap the lady which didna work, thanks be ta God. We’re here noo ta support the search fer Sir Washburn. Earl Brendan is his brother and is directin’ the search here. We know he was held here for a time, and they are searchin’ for clues as to where he was maybes taken from here.”

Columcil continued, “Lord Darcy and the lass came ta care for each other on the long and hazardous trip ta Rhemuth. Then the king decided ta send the both o’ us, along with Darcy’s squire Robert, on a mission ta advance the search by findin a hidden fortress in Meara, a stronghold of the rebels.  Because o’ his experience as a navigator of ships, Darcy would ken how ta to find its location. However, one o’ the men behind the rebellion is a powerful and ruthless Deryni. Our Lady de Mariot was afraid for Lord Darcy when or if he did locate the fortress and had to confront this man. In an act of real courage, she decided to replace the real Robert and accompany us so she would know what was happening.. Of course, as soon as it was known that she was ridin with us, her reputation would be in ruins.. Once it was known what she had done, the king directed that it was best that they be betrothed to protect her. They  were committed to each other, and in view o’ all the present uncertainties due to the rebellion, I advised that they should go ahead and marry. They agreed, and I wed them. Jaxom had been insistent that she was ruined because she had traveled with us to Rhemuth. Jaxom was arrogant and condescending and insisted he would marry her to save her reputation, but she refused him. His behavior led to the lass nearly being kidnapped by an agent of her family’s murderer. Hence, the the bad blood between the two men.”

Fiona was quiet as she considered the story she had heard.  “I do understand what is going on a little better. I do know the danger to all of us as a result of the rebellion. I would do anything to help. But as I told Darcy earlier, I am really worried about what is happening at the manor. Baron Stuart is well respected in the area. Having his heir join  the rebels and try to give them the manor would be a big loss for Gwynedd. The loss of the baron himself would be a big blow to those still loyal to the King.”

She looked at Columcil appealingly. “I don’t know which of those here I should approach to ask for help. Do you think I should try to approach Earl Brendan?  Do you think he might help?” “Freeing the baron and his manor would prevent the rebels from getting a toehold in Gwynedd itself. “

“Dinna fash yoursel, Lassie,” replied Columcil. “Gi me a bit o time to think it over and consider what’s best ta do. I’ll need to talk it over with Darcy too, once he comes back. ”  Fiona nodded and sat quietly beside the priest, trying to be patient while she waited for Darcy to return. But patience is not one of her strong points.

After a short time, Darcy reappeared and walked over to them.  Father Columcil drew him aside and they spoke together quietly.  Darcy glanced over at Fiona then beckoned to her to join them. “I understand your concern for the baron. I do think Earl Brendan is the best person to talk to. However, his focus at this time is finding and freeing Sir Washburn, not only because he cares for his brother, but also of the great concern over what his captor intends to do with him. We are sure that the rebels are behind the kidnapping and they intend to use him in some way against the King and Gwynedd. Finding him has to be a priority. I’m not sure he can spare men to rescue the baron and free the manor of rebels. However, I think you should present your case to him and let him judge. Wait here with Father Columcil and let me see if he will hear you.”  With that Darcy turned and retraced his steps toward the Earl’s tent.

After several minutes that seemed to last forever, Darcy stepped out of the entrance to the tent and beckoned to Fiona. Fiona walked up to the tent and Darcy ushered her in. The Earl was seated at a table but stood as she entered. Fiona curtsied. The Earl spoke to her: “ Mistress McIntyre, I understand from Lord Darcy that you have some important information for the King concerning what has been happening at the manor where you have been living and danger to the Baron whose manor it is. Please take a seat and tell me your concerns.”

Fiona took a deep breath and repeated to Earl Brendan  what she had overheard Michael, the baron’s heir, say of his intention to confine his father, assume his father’s position and join the rebellion, committing the men and resources of the manor to them. She expressed her fears of what would happen if the baron resisted as she was sure he would. She emphasized her belief that losing the baron and his assets to the rebels would be a significant blow to the kingdom, giving the Mearans a toehold in Gwynedd itself.

 The Earl heard her out in silence. When she had finished, he sat quietly for a few moments. Then he spoke: “I understand your concern and agree that the situation needs to be addressed. Unfortunately, I cannot turn aside from my current mission to deal with it. I will communicate what you have told me to the King, and consider what is best to do.  It is possible that I can send a small force under the command of one of the other nobles here.” Earl Brendan stood. “Mistress McIntyre, I understand your concern and rest assured that I will address it as expeditiously as possible.” He glanced past her to Darcy who had been standing quietly beside the tent entrance while Fiona told her story. ‘Lord Darcy, will you please escort Mistress McIntyre back to your camp. I will make my decision known as soon as possible.”

Not long after Darcy and Fiona had returned to their camp, they saw Lord Jaxom enter the Earl’s tent. Earl Brendan had summoned Jaxom to discuss the situation as he had knowledge of the area and its people. Lord Jaxom entered the tent and bowed  deeply. “You sent for me my lord?”

“I did,” Brendan replied. “Please take a seat,” he indicated the stool across from his own seat. “Tell me what you know of a Baron Stuart whose manor is not far from here. I understand that he is much respected in this part of the kingdom, and that he is known to be fiercely loyal to the King. But I have been told that there is a conflict with his heir who favors the rebels.”

“I do know the baron and I have visited his manor with my father. It is true that he is highly respected in this part of the kingdom. I have met Michael, his heir, but I do not know him well. I am appalled to hear that he plans to join the rebels. It would be a disaster if he joins the rebels and invites them to occupy the manor. I am willing to do whatever you need to prevent this, my lord.” Jaxom stood, holding himself erect.

Lord Brendan addressed Jaxom: “Thank you,  I want you to prepare your men and be ready to ride to Baron Stuart’s manor. I have been told that it is possible that the baron has been confined by his son who is giving out that the baron is ill and he is acting in his stead. I have also heard that there are an unknown number of rebels at the manor hidden among the servants. I will have more precise orders for you when it’s time for you to leave, Return to your men and be ready to ride at my order.”

Jaxom bowed. Yes, my lord. We will be ready at your command.” Jaxom exited the tent and strode back toward his camp
« Last Edit: June 09, 2019, 02:22:24 pm by DerynifanK »
"Thanks be to God there are still, as there always have been and always will be, more good men than evil in this world, and their cause will prevail." Brother Cadfael's Penance

Offline Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #593 on: December 11, 2018, 03:08:08 pm »
Brendan Coris, Earl of Marly might have been out of his jurisdiction so far from home, but he was a man among men in the kingdom and he was welcome wherever he went. Well, not everywhere, not in these hard times, he certainly was not going to attempt the Ratherkin Portal. In the Michaeline ruin’s tower, he had found clues to his brother’s capture. The site had been hastily abandoned when the men of Droghera had breached the defenses there. Bedrolls had been left. Cups and plates, old food stuffs, some tainted with drugs, some not.  And the leavings of herbal concoctions: bits of leaves and stems of varying plants, likely once piled up and then kicked to be scattered across the stone in a hurry. The most important finding had been something else that had been kicked aside: ward cubes, a full set. His mother had been the one to find them. As Sextus told the story, the cubes had been scattered about the floor and had skittered under the old fallen roof stones. As far as Brendan knew, those ward cubes, his mother in her dismay, had taken those back to Rhemuth and given them to the king. Lord Sextus had assured him of it.

As to the portal itself, Lord Sextus told of the story how Duchess Richenda  had overcome the old trap upon it and how with Lord Seisyll’s help they had changed the trapping to a new one. Brendan quickly learned it. Neither he nor Sextus were able to find the portal signature as to where the assassin had taken his brother upon escaping here. That was irksome. Brendan knew that his mother had discovered that signature, yet she had returned to the king before Brendan arrived and she had not shared what she had learned with the younger Arilan brother before she left. Sextus had tried, but had not learned it himself. By the time of Brendan’s arrival the residue of that Portal jump had faded away. It was likely a death jump anyway.  So the earl did not waste effort on that.

However, sitting next to a working Portal was too much of a temptation. Gathering the stems and leaves that he had found, the Early of Marly stepped on the portal square. “I will be back in a bit of time. I know an apothecary in Culdi. And I want to assure myself that Culdi has heightened its defenses against Meara.”  Thusly, with a nod, he was gone.

Brendan spent several hours in Culdi. His arrival at the castle though unexpected was not unwelcome. Princess Richelle and her husband Earl Brecon Ramsay had not been in attendance this last month, having been a guest of Prince Rory in Laas where both royal couples are currently homed to fortify that city against the Rebellion. In Culdi, Brendan found that the Culdi steward had not been lax. The city arms had been raised, the walls were well maned, and the people had shone their loyalties to King and kingdom. A few handfuls of refugees had come into the city from Ratherkin. They were not many, not as many as Brendan could have wished for. The firsthand stories they told were of the cruelty and devastation of the Ratherkin people. The images of slaughter that Brendan gained made the stomach churn and the heart sick. Brendan made an oath to these survivors that in the king’s name, he would put all his efforts into putting the rebellion down and bringing back justice to the land.

Of his missing brother, he found no word, not even a whisper. Washburn’s captor had not brought him this way. So where? Brendan had a good clue where, but that was nowhere that he could touch. He hoped that Lord Darcy would be able to navigate the stars well enough to find the Grand Duke’s fortress. As to his inquiry, the apothecary had named off the plants pieces that he had brought, however the man had no clue what they had been used for all together. He made the earl a promise to do some research for him.  With that, Brendan took the Culdi Portal to Travelgia. There he enlisted the men of the House of MacGregor to come to Laas’s aid. Being man loyal to king Kelson they agreed. The Trevelgia army would join up with Prince Javan’s armies in Pardac. Brendan wrote a long letter to be handed to the Crown Prince upon there joining of forces. Well satisfied, Brendan Portaled back to the Ruins. Exhausted, he rested there at the Portal site for a few hours before he suggested that Sextus take a break. The earl took his turn at the guarding the portal stone while the baron slept on the same furs that his brother had slept upon.

When morning came. Sextus resumed his post and the earl found his way out of the ruins to encounter a tiff between Lords Jaxom and Darcy. That he could not have, too much else was going on to have squabbles among his own men. And he needed these men, all of them, for as the young maiden had just told him, the rebellion was blossoming all around the borders of Meara, even into places where they had thought loyalties would be unwavering.

The girl Fiona was right, he would have to send men to secure Baron Stuart’s manor. At a time when he had little time and men to spare.

Brendan laughed to himself. Jaxom would have to be the one to go. There was know doubt the heir of Trillshire had the men behind him who knew the area well.  As for Lord Darcy, Brendan would take Darcy under his wing and together they would enter the mountainous highlands and search out that fortress where his brother was held. For as yet, no word had come to him that his youngest half-brother, Sir Washburn, would be found anywhere else. Now, if he could just gather enough energy to contact the king and confirm that these would be his orders.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2018, 09:38:59 pm by Laurna »

Offline Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #594 on: December 23, 2018, 12:52:58 pm »
Eight children holding hands in a ring danced and sang as they circled the youngest among them who was blindfolded and calling with his hands outward. When the song abruptly stopped the Birthday boy lurched forward to grab whomever he could touch. The children nearest squealed and dodged; three of them falling back to keep away, yet the hands of the circle held firm and no one could escape the ring, even as it bowed outward and away from the reaching young prince, Prince Kenneth’s fingers touched on Alain Anthony’s forehead. Thusly, causing the cousin to call out, “Highness, your cheating!”

“I am not!” the prince called back.

“You see my shoes under the blindfold. You always pick on me?” 

“Naw, ah!” the boy called back. “Didn’t need to see you with my eye,” the youngest prince Haldane proclaimed proudly. “I like it when your it, cousin Alain. You make the game the most fun!” He smiled removing the blindfold and handed it over to the youngest Morgan.

“Only because it is your birthday,” Alain said as he took the blindfold.  “Just remember, Duncan and I are still older than you,” the Morgan twin said as if that was worth a higher status. Both he and Duncan nodded to each other in agreement.

“Naw, ah!” the prince called back, he puffed up with self-pride. “Today, I am the same age as Duncan and you. I am six years old today.”

“Yes, your highness,” Alain said giving a placating bow. “Same now, but in four months, Duncan and I will be older again.” He wrapped the blind fold over his head and signaled that the game should begin again.

The circle of children raised their voices to fill the room with the ancient song. They drowned each other out in their exuberance as they danced around in a circle. Prince Kenneth in the outer ring was the most loud of them all.

Richenda watched the children play, turning a concerned eye to her daughter. “‘Didn’t need to see you with my eyes’?” She asked. “Grania, my love,  didn’t his grandfather take care of that little problem days ago?”

The Lady Grania turned her concern from the hand on her belly, “This little one is kicking me so fiercely, like he wants to play too.” Then, she sighed before answering her mother. “His majesty did see to Kenneth's shields and controls. I swear that he did and even checked them myself after. It must be that Alian’s voice has the highest pitched, I am sure that must be what clued Kenneth to picking him. Not that other thing. I assure you, it shouldn’t be possible.”

Richenda drew in a breath. “I am sure you are right.” Yet, still with Kelson’s distractions, perhaps she should take her grandson aside and be certain the controls were properly set. But not now. Not here in the Queen’s Tower Solar. The birthday party was a private affair. Invitations had gone out only to the castle children close to Kenneth’s age. The mothers of the eight children were all seated together near the Queen, trying to enjoy their embroideries but finding the children too great a distraction.  The queen’s eldest daughter, Princes Araxandra, followed the movements of her twin boys with an eye like that of a mother hen. With her husband in danger’s way, she was determined that nothing ill would happen to any of her children. She had even brought all three of her daughters to sit with her. The eldest, Kelsonie, was fidgeting at the seeming confinement. 

Richenda, could not fault the young lady, for indeed Kelsonie was sixteen and of an age where the eldest squires and youngest knights were starting to hold her interest. Only the threat of the young lady’s parents had kept the young men at bay. At least for now, those young men were out of reach, in the field’s of Meara, marching to an inevitable war. The thought did nothing to ease Richenda’s mind. How she longed for a solution that would end the rebellion and bring all the young men back, so that her only worries were who could have the privilege of speaking with the Duke of Corwyn’s oldest daughter.

Richenda looked down at her needle and thread and she smiled as she remembered days when the boys were eyeing Lady Briony from afar. How only two men had ever had the courage to come forward to face the lady’s father. Alaric had thrown the first boy out of Coroth Castle, calling him a cradle robber and banning him from ever returning.  Briony was eighteen and had screamed at her father that she was not a child and that her pappa had best start treating her like the grown up lady that she had become. For indeed Briony was a woman with her own strong ideals, and though it had upset Richanda to discover the truth of it herself, she was proud of her daughter and told her stubborn husband that the family dynamics were changing. So when the second boy approached Alaric many months later, the Duke of Corwyn had learned his lesson and he stayed his anger and listened to the young man. That young man had been the eldest Prince of Andelon , grandson of her aunt Sofiana. He had been brought to Rhemuth court for just this purpose, though Briony had not known of that. She had fallen for the handsome man of her own free will. They were married the next year with Alaric leading his beloved Poppet down the Saint George's Cathedral center aisle. A glorious memory that Richenda will have in her mind until the day she dies.

Of all her children, only Briony was unaffected by the current political upheaval. That is so long as Gwynedd could contain this civil rebellion. If it could not… then the sons of Count Teymuraz would take the inch gained and move to conquer the rest of the known world. All hinged on stopping the grand duke here and now.  It was the devil himself that her own sons were up against. And she prayed into her embroidery that they had the strength to overcome it.

“A gift for his royal highness, Prince Kenneth, from his uncle Sir Washburn,” called the wood carver, who had entered the room and bowed before the prince and his mother. The instant reaction of the giver’s name among the ladies caused Richanda to nearly cry.  Fear filled many eyes. The fact was that Washburn’s abduction was known by all in the castle. That rumor of his betrayal and disinheritance were being whispered around the halls since last evening was disturbing. How it had come out, Richenda did not know. Yet because of it, it appeared that both Lady Grania and Princess Araxandra were prepared to refuse this birthday gift out of fear for what it could be.

The Dowager Duchess of Corwyn stood up, placing her embroidery on her chair and then stepped before her daughter and her the daughter-in-law giving them a reassuring sad smile, and then she turned to the Queen with a deep curtsy, for it was she who would have last say. “I know of this gift, Your Majesty. It was commissioned by my son months ago. And sponsored by the Duke of Corwyn with his full knowledge of what it is. Please accept the gift as one from an uncle who loves all his nephews and let the boys know that it is from the man's true heart.” The dowager curtsied again to the queen and awaited her judgment for she too was grandmother to Kenneth and had final say.

Queen Araxie, nodded her acceptance, “Please present to us what gifts you bring from Sir Washburn.”

The wood carver instantly stood tall, clapped his hands, and in ran four pages carrying wooden swords and shields, and helms and breastplates. All with leather and wool padding. Six sets in all, not just for the prince but for the twins and for three of the other close friends of the same age. Three of the shields were plain but three were hand carved and brightly painted. Two with Corwyn’s green gryphons and the brightest in royal scarlet with a gold rampant lion in high relief. All three six year olds’ eyes were big as they stared at the gifts. Until now, they had all been under their mamas’ skirts and had not had practice weapons of their own. Given the current war time atmosphere, the women cringed at the gifts, but the boys grew more excited as each had the breast plates tied on them and the helms placed upon their heads.

Queen Araxie was quick to order the Sword master to join them and she forbid any bouts of play until the old man arrived. He checked the gear with a nod of appreciation and then began instructing the boys in their first early lesson of sword play. The boys were elated as this normally did not happen until they would be seven or eight ready to enter court as pages. This early introduction made them feel important in the castle filled with women, where nearly all the men, young and old, were marching to Meara. Richenda had to admit Washburn had been right about the gift for his nephews. If only she could share with the others what she had just learned that morning from the king. Washburn had been freed of his captors. He was to be detained away from Rhemuth until it was determined that he would not cause betrayal, such as was being whispered about in the halls. But he was free. And that was all that Richenda could wish for in these dire times. 
« Last Edit: December 23, 2018, 01:04:20 pm by Laurna »

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #595 on: December 25, 2018, 02:01:47 pm »

Lord Darcy Cameron looked at what remained of the stick he had been whittling.  There was very little left of it, but he had a fine pile of shavings on his lap.


“Were you trying to make something useful?” a familiar voice asked. The voice was that of a young squire, but Darcy heard his wife.


“It appears not,” Darcy replied ruefully.  He stood, brushed the shavings off his tunic, and returned his dagger to its sheath.  “At least standing watch at sea I had things to look after, men to check on.”


“You don’t feel the need to check on me?” Aliset, still in the guise of Robert, asked innocently.


“There is nothing I would rather do, but privacy is sorely lacking.” Darcy replied, and Aliset blushed.  Feeling the need to divert his thoughts in other directions, he asked, “What is cousin Fiona up to?”


“She wanted to check on her horse.  Father Columcil went with her.”  Aliset nodded her head in the general direction of the horses, and Darcy could see Father Columcil rubbing Shadow’s muzzle.


‘Making sure she doesn’t decide to go off on her own,” Darcy said.  “Though I understand her impatience.”


“Darcy, did Father Columcil tell you anything of his contact with the Archbishop?” Aliset asked.


“Nay, but he might not have much to report.  Likely he provided more information than he received.  King Kelson will be gathering all the bits and pieces before deciding how to proceed. If I may be so bold as to think that a king would think like I do,” Darcy added.


“I suspect he might.”  Aliset looked at him thoughtfully.  “Does something trouble you?” she asked.


“Nay, not really,” Darcy replied as he pushed loose strands of pale, blond hair back from his face.  “I have the odd feeling that something has changed; though not necessarily for the worse.  I can’t quite put  my finger on it. We’re waiting here for too long; what happened to the urgency?”

 

“Could it be something you learned from  Earl Brendan?”


“There wasn’t much.  Sorry, love, I didn't mean to keep it from you,” he added contritely.  “Fiona’s concerns needed to be dealt with first.”


“Of course,” Aliset said, and waited.


Darcy looked back toward the horses a moment, collecting his thoughts.  “The local men who challenged the fortress  just missed Sir Washburn.  Whoever held him made a last minute escape with him.  They left in haste; the ward cubes you have were kicked aside to break whatever protective ward they were holding.  They found furs recently laid on by someone and food, some tainted with drugs.  A few pots with herbs and ingredients waiting to be mixed.”  Darcy turned to look back to Aliset.  Her eyes were wide with concern.


“Drugs?  Do they know what they were?”


“Nay,” Darcy replied.  “But I would guess they were similar to what Jaxom gave to you.”


Aliset shuddered, and the memories of helplessness rose once again.  Darcy surreptitiously grasped her hand in comfort.


“He has been with his captor for a long time,” Aliset said, dismayed at the thought.


“Aye,” Darcy said gently.  He paused, not sure if he should confide the rest of what he knew.  Aliset was not one to hide from the truth; he loved her all the more for it.  “King Kelson has received word that Washburn’s memories have been compromised.  Resentment and anger have been substituted to drive him apart from his family, and perhaps even his duty to his king.”


Aliset stared at him, aghast at the news.  Slowly, the implications dawned.  “King Kelson has sent you not just to find him, but to keep him from harming those he should love and be loyal to.  You can do what his family cannot.”


“Aye,” Darcy said.  He looked away toward the ruins, but not focusing on them; he looked deep within himself.  “I will not disobey my king, but I will not compromise my own honour.”  He turned back to look at Aliset.  “Perhaps I cannot call Washburn a friend, but he has had my back and I have had his.  I count that as dear as friendship. I will not give up on him as long as there are other choices.”


Aliset squeezed the hand that held hers.  “I know you won’t, and neither will I.  Nor will Father Columcil.”


Darcy managed a slight smile.  “Aye; if anyone can straighten a man out, it will be Father Columcil.”


“Even you?” Aliset asked, risking a smile in return.


“Careful, love,” Darcy replied.  “Let’s not ask the good Father for miracles.”  He squeezed her hand once more and then released it; Father Columcil and Fiona were returning from the horses.

From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Offline Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #596 on: January 06, 2019, 01:18:39 am »
“There, that one fits in nicely.”  Wash said as he gave the stone a tap. He turned to the rock pile behind him and chose a long flat stone, one that should be good as a topper to the group of river rock that he had just set in the lengthening waist high wall. Only about one hundred yards to go before the wall could be ended on higher ground. According to stories from Sir Roland and Lord Iain, this wall had been started at the end of the winter thaw and they had been working on it for months. Apparently, that small unobtrusive creek on the back side of the wall was said to have overflowed its banks last Twelfth Night. The flood brought the river up to the barn. Thusly, causing the Portal stone inside to get covered under muck and water. Now that would have been right at the same time Iain learned about the good Priest of Trillshire dying under odd circumstance; an accident with his horse bucking and the priest’s rob getting caught in his stirrup. The accident was fatal, and at the time seemed contrived. Even more so, after Washburn told how the new priest of Trillshire had acted so oddly toward his companions when they went through that area several days ago.

“That was the first clue that trouble was ahead. By itself it just wasn’t enough to go on. Thing is, I knew something was not right and I needed to inform the Archbishop. Only, I found my Portal drowned under muck and mire and a foot of water.” Iain shook his head. “Almost made it impossible to connect with the portal signature.  Well Almost.”  Iain laughed as he placed a stone on the wall a few feet from where Washburn was working.

“Lord Almighty! You should have seen the looks on the faces of those priests in the Sacristy of St George's Cathedral. Not only was it bad enough that I arrived just after mass and the good bishops were still divesting, but to arrive by Portal with a swath of mud and river water around my feet, which quickly dispersed across the Keldish Carpet, I might add, well that was a bit too much for one Bishop John Nivard. Oh, he agreed alright to give me an audience with the Archbishop, for the news I carried concerned one of their own. Yet, I tell you, he was a mean taskmaster. He insisted I clean up the mess before I was allowed to go to that meeting.”

Wash nodded his head knowingly. “Bishop Nivard is said to be a tolerant man. Although if you made that much mess, I can see him taking you to task for it. Yep!” He placed the top stone in a good spot and then reached down for another flat rock to go next to it. “He certainly never liked it when I was in ‘his’ Library, like he owned the place. Well maybe he did, as he was the one who put it together. Somewhere along the line, he seemed to have gotten this impression that I could neither read nor write, so what was the likes of me, a warrior, doing in his library.” Wash frowned at the stone he had picked up. He turned it this way and that, and then tossed it back in the pile to picked up another one. “Yah, just like that stone there, I didn’t fit in with the academia of Rhemuth.  Bishop Arilan saw to that. And the Duke of Corwyn,” he followed the name with a sarcastic huff. “My brother never saw fit to rectify the clergy’s point of view. Rather instead, he embellished on their notions. Here I am, running accounting books, handling all the correspondence and all the journals of Lendour, an Earldom which is by no means small, and I get thrown out of the King's library because it is said I can not read. Hogwash!” Washburn slapped the stone into place, it fit, but only because he forced it into place.

Both men continued their work in quiet. No matter the subject, something always brought the tall knight’s altered memories to the forefront. “Feyd, really did it this time.” Iain muttered under his breath to Roland. “Trouble is, I just don’t know why.”

Even if he wasn’t meant to hear it, Washburn did. “All that assassin told me was that he was helping me to escape. Hah! Why would he care if I escaped or not? That is what I want to know. Only worth I was to him was payment. Payment to help him do his next job, Whatever that is? Only hint he gave was that his family was about to get a chance on a revenge they had been seeking for the last two hundred years. What kind of madness is it to hold a two hundred year old grudge, and to risk everything to get revenge,  I ask you? Made him giddy, happy  just thinking about it.”

Wash looked up and found Iain staring at him. Iain’s pale eyes were squinting with concern as he stepped closer. “Maybe you better show me that.”

Wash backed up a step. “I… I don’t recall much. And what I do recall, well, truth to tell, I don’t want to relive it.”

“I can understand that,” Iain was saying with a placating hand out. “But this could be really important. There is a lot more to your abduction than for an assassin just making money.”

“None of it made any sense to me either. Yet… maybe I don’t want to know the truth. It was my brother who sent me on this mission. A mission that tried to kidnap us or kill us, twelve ways past Sunday.  Just maybe he sent me because he knew I was the only one able to pull us all through it. Why do I doubt that? Or, maybe, he did it to get me out of the way for good. I was never a rival to his son for Lendour, I swear it. But I think that Kelric thought that I was, did he want me out of the way to give Kenric a clean uncontested holding of Lendour? Like I would ever have bid for the earldom over my nephew. But I wouldn’t put it past the Duke of Corwyn thinking that.”

Iain was still advancing. “I am more concerned about Feyd’s motives than the Duke of Corwyn. I am asking you to form Rapport with me. And to do no harm to my magic or to my person as we connect.” There was authority behind that order and Wash shook his head as his shields were bombarded by the smaller man. Sir Roland had come up behind him, too. But that didn’t bother Wash, not so much as the steely blue eyes of Lord Iain.

((22:42 <•laurna> Washburn Save test from Iain's command. Standard 2d6 success 5,and or 6
22:42 <•laurna> !roll 2d6
22:42 <•derynibot> 5, 5 == 10
22:42 <•laurna> Haha))

Washburn’s shields flared and shut out the command that he was certain a day ago he would not have been able to resist. The most disturbing was that the compulsion to comply was so strong. It was almost like he was captive again. Few things scared the big man, but this did.

“No one orders me about! No one!” he yelled with his voice quivering.

Sir Roland had stepped in to grab Washburn, yet seeing the folly in that, Iain instantly waved him off. “Wash, I didn’t mean any harm.” Iain tried with outstretched hands.

“I need to get out of here!” Washburn said as he turned and bolted toward the barn.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2019, 01:19:29 pm by Laurna »

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #597 on: January 07, 2019, 02:54:28 pm »
Lord Iain Cameron held out a hand to stop Sir Roland from charging after Sir Washburn. 

“What if he tries to use your Portal to escape, my Lord?”  Roland asked.

“I locked the storeroom door earlier,”  Iain replied.  The lock had no key; Iain’s spell would hold it secure, and only he could open it.  “Let’s give him a moment or two.  Actually, I’m the one who needs a moment or two.”  Iain sat down on the top of the wall, ironically on the top stone Washburn had forced into place, fueled by his resentment of his family.

“What went wrong, Lord Iain?  I thought you had established controls.”  Roland sat down beside him on the wall.

“His shields came back, and I didn’t expect that.  Typical of Feyd to leave surprises.”  Iain’s pale blue eyes clouded with frustration. “I could try to force my way through, but I would likely fail and destroy any trust I may have established with him. Precious little though it may be.  We need to know what Feyd is up to, but I’m afraid Washburn will have to provide that information of his own free will.  Pity.”   

Iain stood and started toward the shed; Roland hesitated and then followed.

“Wait outside, “ Iain instructed when they reached the shed.  “You’ll know if I need you.”

“Aye, my Lord,” Roland replied.

Iain paused at the door and used his senses to ensure Washburn was not waiting inside to ambush him as he walked through.  It was quiet in the shed; at least Washburn was not trying to break down the storeroom door.  With the return of Washburn’s shields, Iain had to assume that all of the Lendour knight’s powers were restored.  What was Feyd after? Had it been his intent all along for Washburn to be rescued?  To set loose a Deryni whose loyalties to family and king had been turned to distrust and resentment? What was driving a need for revenge that had lasted two hundred years?  And what about the vial that Washburn still wore hidden under his shirt?  Iain needed answers, but they would not come easily, if ever.

Despite his need to know what Master Feyd’s plan for revenge entailed, the greater need was to ensure that Washburn would leave with him when the king’s orders finally came.  Maev probably had something they could drug him with, but Iain did not want to go there.  Washburn needed to be delivered safely to someone who could untangle the web of lies that had been wound around him.  Iain knew he was not that man.

Iain found Washburn leaning forward with both heads spread out flat on the storeroom door, either lost in thought or trying to find a way to psychically open it.

“If I open the door and let you though,”  Iain said quietly.  “Where will you go?”

“I have nowhere to go,” Washburn replied morosely.  “Nowhere I would be welcomed.  My brothers would only treat me with scorn for being made into a pawn.  The king has no use for me in Rhemuth; I doubt even my lady mother would be pleased to see me.”  Washburn straightened and turned to face Iain. His handsome face looked bitter.  “I seem to have limited options.”

“You should come with me,” Iain said.  He resisted the temptation to make it a command, aware Washburn’s shields held firm.  He saw Washburn tense and then relax slightly. Very slightly. “It will do you no good to stay here.  Although I can't be certain,  I suspect we will be sent to rendezvous with Darcy, Father Columcil and Lady Aliset. They may be your best option.”

Washburn looked thoughtful.  His memories of his companions brought no thoughts of resentment or betrayal to his mind.  Were they the only people he could trust?

“Perhaps,”  Washburn conceded.  “I’ll think on it.”

“Until then, we can add more to that wall,” Iain said as he stepped aside and motioned toward the shed door.  “I fear it may be awhile before I am able to return.” 
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

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Offline Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #598 on: January 08, 2019, 07:35:50 am »
Lord Iain turned away from Wash taking three strides toward the barn door. He hadn’t pushed the issue to follow. Wash knew that he could have, and if he had used his power of control, it would have taken all of Washburn’s will to resist him. Surprisingly, this hadn’t been Iain’s game play. This small show of trust went a long way to ease the knight’s tension. 

Wash feared this loss of control more than anything else in his life. This first instance where he was able to  resist was a tiny thread of hope. In days that seemed like another life, Washburn had been a free man, a happy man. Like a knight on a game board of Cardounet, he had always thought himself free to move about the playing field. Not as important as the king or Bishops, but certainly more free than the other pieces. He always thought of the Dukes of the Realm like the rooks of the game: holding steadfast the corners of the kingdom with only straight predictable motion. As a knight, he could go anywhere. Freer than all the others. Then he meet Feyd and his freedom became nothing but an illusion.

“I feel as a man would who has been cast as a pawn in a Cardounet game.” he said remorsefully.  “ I’m no longer a man of my own will, forced to move in one direction, that of someone else’s design.” Wash removed his hand from the door. He had sensed the spell lock ((03:56 <•Laurna> !roll 2d6 03:56 <•derynibot> 4, 1 == 5)) but had been unable to shift it aside. “Pawns often make one good play in that game, but then they become dispensable. Have I made that one play? Challenged the grand duke with a Check, only to miss out on the Checkmate. I stole the duke’s crown and you captured the duke’s queen. Why are we suddenly pushed off the game board?  We may be pawns but doesn’t that account for something? Yet here we sit in hiding. In the rules of cardounet, you don’t run away from your opponent.”

"You know this isn’t a game. This is real life, filled with the real struggle to survive.  He who fights and runs away lives to fight another day.

“Is that it?  Not exactly a phrase I would have ever dreampt in this lifetime to follow.”

“Don’t think of it as running away. We have made a major advancement and have gone to ground to protect that advancement. I have orders to protect two very Important pieces: a queen and a knight. The game is still in play. It is the balance that has changed. Wash, go with your gut feelings, they are truer than your memories.”

“Are you saying my memories are false?” The knight bristled with tension.

“I can not say that. I can only say that a few things you have relayed do not sound right to what I’ve seen.”

“So, I can trust Nothing? Not even my own thoughts?” the big man shifted uneasily. He looked at the horse in the stall before him. How easy would it be to just jump on his back and ride out.

Iain saw the look and patted the bay’s rump. “That isn’t the answer. That is only just running away again.”

Wash sighed and stepped away from the horses and then with shoulders slumped, he walked out into the sunlight, it was only just past noon. “I am lost.” he finally admitted.

“No you're not! We are building a wall. And while we build it, I want you to tell me about my brother. I’ve not even been able to meet the man. I only know the boy he used to be. Tell me about who he has become?”

The comment was not a command, only a friendly inquiry. The men walked back to the wall. No one said anything for a time. Time to get back into the rhythm of picking up stones and fitting them into place. But then, quietly at first, Washburn started talking.

“My first impression of Darcy was that he was a wayward seaman in love with a barmaid. In short order, the fire changed my opinion of the man.”

“Fire?”

“Yep! Kitchen fire that nearly took down the Inn and the stable next door. Would have too, if Darcy had not been quick about organizing the townsfolk into fire brigades. That gained the man my respect. That and the many deeds there after. But you don’t want to hear those tales.

“ Actually I do. Tell me more about Darcy, Lady Aliset, and Father Columcil.”

“Very well, your asking for a long story.”

“We got time.”

Both Roland and Iain had numerous laughs and sighs as Washburn’s story unfolded. More than what was said, it was how it was said. The two men nodded to each other as the prior prisoner brightened with every story and smiled more bringing back a youthfulness to the tall man. For they could tell that these were real memories, memories free of resentment and tampering. And this was the real Washburn coming to the surface. The man who loved life, and loved a challenge, and loved sharing it with others.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2019, 08:06:05 pm by Laurna »

Offline DerynifanK

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #599 on: January 12, 2019, 09:38:42 am »
“My Lady.” Fiona started at the sound of a young voice addressing her. When she looked up, she saw a young squire standing in front of her.  “Lord Brendan sent me to request that you attend him in his tent.”

Fiona stood quickly, brushing off  her clothes and straightening them. “Of course, I will come with you immediately.” She had been waiting anxiously for word from Earl Brendan. She was hopeful that this summons meant that he had come to a favorable decision concerning the rescue mission..  She accompanied the squire to the Earl’s tent. They stepped through the opening and the squire bowed: “Lady Fiona is here as you requested, my lord.” 

The Earl looked up from a map he was studying.  “Thank you, Arthur. You may return to your other duties.”  The boy bowed and left the tent.

Earl Brendan turned his attention to Fiona who curtsied and waited expectantly for what he would say. “Lady Fiona, please be seated.” Brendan indicated a stool across the table from where he was seated. Fiona quickly seated herself, watching him intently:  “I promised I would inform you when I had reached a decision about a rescue mission to Baron Stuart’s manor. I have concluded that such a mission is necessary, though it will be difficult in the present circumstances as I have limited resources and must continue to focus on my primary mission here, finding Sir Washburn. I have decided to send Sir Jaxom Trillick and his men to carry out this operation.”

“I am grateful for this decision, my lord,” Fiona replied. “If the rebels can be captured and the baron freed to resume control of his manor, it will surely be a setback for the Mearans and encourage others to continue to support the king. I do have one request,” she continued. “I think it will be an advantage to Lord Jaxom and his force if I ride with them. I know the manor and its grounds as well as the surrounding countryside very well. I would be able to help guide them. I also know the servants at the manor, and I can point out which persons found there are not our servants but most likely rebels. That would make it easier to capture and detain them.”

The Earl responded, “Although I understand your desire to ride with them, I can’t allow a young woman to ride as part of a mission that may very well involve some fighting. In addition, it would require a chaperone, and I do not have one readily available to send.”

“But my Lord,” Fiona began. “I believe I can be a valuable asset to the mission and surely the problem of a chaperone can be overcome. I can travel disguised as a squire as I did until I encountered your party. Even now, only a few of the men know I am really a female. And perhaps Father Columcil could serve as a chaperone.”

Brendan studied the young woman before him. “Lord Jaxom assures me that he has visited the manor and knows the baron. He also knows the baron’s son, although not well. He is familiar with the manor and its surroundings and should be able to carry out his assignment efficiently. In addition, his attitude toward women disguised as men and riding with them is not  at all favorable. Whether I agree with him or not,  I cannot send out a force with leaders arguing or in discord. That would decrease the likelihood of a successful outcome.”

Fiona clasped her hands in front of her and spoke in a pleading voice, “Lord Jaxom has visited the manor but only a few times. I am afraid he is not as familiar with its layout and grounds as he believes. Although the baron does know him, it is his father, Sir Adam Trillick, who is better known to the baron and his people and respected by them.  I am not sure he would command the trust and obedience from our people necessary to a successful outcome. That could certainly be a problem if they are afraid of the Mearans and hesitant to oppose them They trust me as a member of the family well known to them.”

Fiona continued, “ Lord Jaxom would not be able to readily separate our servants from the rebels and capture them. Also, if Michael has detained his father in some remote part of the property as he intended, I can more readily find him than Jaxom could. I am afraid that my disappearance from the manor might have led to the rebels acting more quickly than they originally intended, and the situation could be more dangerous.”

“All the more reason I should not send you with them. Jaxom has been given command of this expedition and he needs his followers to follow his orders, not argue about them.”

Fiona felt her opportunity to accompany the rescue mission slipping away. She earnestly believed that including her would increase their chances for success with minimal losses. She again addressed Earl Brendan; “Could we not have him in and explain the situation in more detail? Perhaps, we could persuade him that having my knowledge of the manor and its people would enhance his chances of an impressive result.”

Brendan studied her thoughtfully, thinking chances for success would probably be greater if Jaxom could be persuaded to take advantage of her knowledge. But he would have to be persuaded to accept her, and that would not be easy. The earl stepped to the tent entrance and called his squire, “Arthur, find Lord Jaxom and ask him to attend me here. I would have further discussion with him about his assignment.” 

“Yes, my Lord.” Arthur bowed and left the tent in search of Lord Jaxom.

A short time later, Lord Jaxom entered the tent and bowed to the Earl. “You have further information for me, my Lord?”

“I do,” replied the Earl. “Be seated, I have a proposal for you.”

Jaxom seated himself on a stool across the table from the Earl. Only then did he notice Fiona sitting on a stool nearby.  He turned to Brendan with a puzzled look, “What is it that you propose, my Lord?”

Brendan studied the young man, “Lady Fiona has proposed that she ride with you.” Jaxom started up in protest, but the Earl waved him back to his seat. Brendan continued, “She wishes to put her more complete knowledge of the layout of the manor and its grounds as well as the surrounding countryside at your disposal. She also knows the baron’s servants and retainers well and will be able to readily indicate to you which are not known to her and likely to be rebels. The servants know and trust her and will more readily provide you with information if they are not afraid of retaliation. You will then be able to capture and detain the rebels more easily. It will also enable you to find and free the baron more quickly. Her assistance should enhance the success of your mission.”

“But my Lord,” protested Jaxom, “how can I possibly include a woman in my company, especially one without a chaperone? Her reputation is already compromised by her escapade in running away disguised as a boy and riding alone and unaccompanied. This would only make it worse!”

Fiona started to argue but Brendan waved her to silence. “I know it is an unusual  idea, but I believe that it has merit. We are in an uncommon and perilous situation. We have limited resources, and I was reluctant to detach you and your men from the main mission here which is finding Sir Washburn and his captor. But I feel that freeing the baron and his manor, capturing a number of rebels, and preventing them from gaining a toehold in Gwynedd is critical to the effort to put down the rebellion. Rebel captives could provide important information about their leaders and their plans. I am sure the king would be most pleased to hear that this had been achieved quickly and efficiently with minimal loss of life. He will also look with favor on the leader of such a mission. I think that Fiona could be a great help to you in reaching this goal.” 

Jaxom did not immediately protest, instead he appeared thoughtful. “But how could this be achieved without further damage to her reputation?”

Brendan replied, “She has proposed that she continue to disguise herself as a young man as she did previously. She will be accompanied by Father Columcil whose sole duty would be to act as chaperone and to protect her. She will provide you with the information you need making it easier for you and your men to carry out your assignment.”

“But, my Lord,” Jaxom began, certainly wanting to protest the inclusion of the priest in his company, but Brendan again held up his hand for silence. Jaxom subsided onto his stool.

Brendan continued, “Please remember the oath you swore to me to bury your differences and to focus on putting down the rebellion. I have come to believe that this mission is critical to that aim, and I will expect all of you to do whatever is necessary to complete it. Is that clear?”

Brendan continued, “ I will speak with Father Columcil and inform him of why I need him as part of this mission and outline his responsibilities. I will then send him to you to receive your orders. Lord Jaxom, you will remain in command, but I expect you to listen to and follow the advice that you are given by the lady in order to promote its happy conclusion.Your departure will not be long delayed. Please prepare yourselves for departure as soon I give you my final orders.. You may return to your camps.”

Both Jaxom and Fiona rose and made their bows to the Earl. They then left the tent.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2019, 08:54:17 pm by DerynifanK »
"Thanks be to God there are still, as there always have been and always will be, more good men than evil in this world, and their cause will prevail." Brother Cadfael's Penance

 


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