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Author Topic: Ghosts of the Past  (Read 103571 times)

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Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #660 on: July 09, 2019, 12:53:23 pm »
Sir Iain Cameron paused outside the door to King Kelson’s withdrawing room.   Robert  stood at his side.  Although Robert would not be admitted to this private conference with the king, Robert had finally accepted that the king did not blame him for Lady Aliset’s departure from Rhemuth.  He had been restored to his proper place as one of King Kelson’s chosen squires, on loan as often happened to the Baron o’ Isles.

Iain straightened his tunic; the light blue of Isles with its sea eagle embroidered in white thread suited his pale features.  But the shoulder and back seams seemed to have stretched out a bit since the last time he wore it.  He gave Robert a questioning look.

“I loaned it to Lord Darcy when he was summoned by the king.  It was a tad snug,” Robert said quietly.

“Hopefully his swordsmanship is worthy of the extra muscles,” Iain replied dryly.

“I believe it is, my lord; I watched him practice.  Turned the target into little chips of wood.”

“Overkill,” Iain muttered as the door to the withdrawing room opened.  Robert stepped inside and announced Sir Iain, bowed and withdrew with the guard that had opened the door. It closed behind them.

“How may I serve you, your Majesty?” Iain asked as he straightened from his bow.  He noted the two men who sat beside King Kelson at the table;  Archbishop Duncan McLain and Lord Seisyll Arilan.  The king and Seisyll wore wide mourning sashes from right shoulder to left hip for the late Bishop Denis Arilan; the archbishop wore a plain black cassock.

“As you always do,” Kelson responded and motioned for Iain to be seated. It was not the normal relaxed gesture Iain would have expected.  “We need to know what you make of this message from Master Feyd.”  He pushed a rolled parchment toward Iain.

Iain unrolled the parchment and felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise when he saw it bore not only Feyd’s seal but also the seal of the Black Order of Death.  This he would not have expected.  Although he was already aware of the content, he read the message carefully, memorizing the names Feyd had listed.  He stopped when he reached the end and looked up at the king.  “You have read the seal, your Majesty?” he asked.

Kelson nodded.  “As have Archbishop Duncan and Lord Seisyll.  Do the same.”

Iain nodded and then focused his mind to find the message hidden within the seal of the Black Order of Death.  The essence of Feyd was strong within the message once he found it. He committed the content to memory. 

“A clever way to bypass a trap,” he said at last.

‘You have already assured Us that Feyd is clever.  Should We accept his bargain?”

The king’s formality was not lost on Iain.  He suspected Kelson was using it to keep his anger in check.  Archbishop Duncan gave the king a sidelong glance; Seisyll Arilan was studying Iain carefully.

“I see no reason for Feyd to play you false; he wants his ward cubes back. What is not clear to me, however, is why he is offering you access to du Chantal’s manor.  You could round up du Chantal and all the others based on the names Feyd provided.”  Iain paused as another idea came to mind.  “The manor is located strategically within Meara. If Valerian knows of the Portal, and likely he does, he could be counting on using it to escape when he fails to take Laas.  We could capture him, if we have it under our control.”

“Valerian has lost the use of his powers,” Archbishop Duncan said. “He cannot use the Portal on his own.  And why would Feyd betray him?”

“Valerian will have others with him who can get him through the Portal. He will use them to keep his loss a secret for as long as possible,” Iain responded.  “Once he has been paid, Feyd’s loyalty to a client is finished. And I suspect Lord Brioc’s actions did not endear Valerian to Feyd.”

“Then you trust Feyd’s offer?”  Seisyll asked.

“I never trust Feyd,” Iain responded.  “But he has nothing to gain by laying a trap.  We gain a possible way to capture Grand Duke Valerian.”

“We could keep the ward cubes, or destroy them.”  Kelson said.

“I would advise against either course of action.  Crossing Feyd in the slightest way is dangerous, as Lord Brioc found out.  If we could destroy the ward cubes, and I’m not certain we could, Feyd and possibly his entire order would put contracts out on us and everyone we hold dear.  I would advise against it, especially given the war with Meara.”

Kelson considered Iain’s words.  Finally he said to Iain, “Taking du Chantal’s manor will take more men than you can take with you through the portal. I could divert Earl Brendan and his forces to the manor.  If you can penetrate successfully, Brendan can secure the manor and leave a few men behind to keep it secure.”  He glanced at Seisyll, who nodded and then turned his grey gaze on Iain once more.  “What do you think Feyd will do once we succeed?”

“He will contact you with further instructions for the exchange.”  Iain looked thoughtful. “I would very much like to know what Master Feyd intends to do with his ward cubes when he gets them.  If we fulfill our part of this bargain, there may be a way to get a hint of what he intends to do.  He wants revenge for something that happened two hundred years ago, and he has a plan.  I have concern not just for his intended target but for any collateral damage that results.”

“Two hundred years is a long time,” Duncan said quietly.

‘You have already surmised I intend to send you to get through the Portal, Sir Iain,” Kelson said. 

Iain nodded.  “I have an idea that may help us.  I will need someone who can play a part, maybe two men, to risk going through with me.  We may be able to gain Earl Brendan swift access to the manor without a direct attack ourselves.  Perhaps Sir Seisyll would be willing to assist, though I realize the timing is poor given the recent loss of his uncle.”

Seisyll Arilan raised one dark eyebrow. “Perhaps Sextus would be the better choice, and Jamyl could be considered as well, if he is willing.  Uncle Denis would not be pleased if we put our personal feelings ahead of the greater good.”

“Pursue your plan, Iain,”  Kelson said.   “Let’s not delay longer than necessary.”  He waited until Iain completed his bow and then added, “I do have some news of interest to you.”

“Sire?”  Iain asked.

“I have received a report from Duke Dhugal. His agent in Ratharkin reports that Oswald, the man who killed Lady Aliset’s family, is dead.”

“Of what cause, your Majesty?” Iain asked.  “I am pleased his is no longer a threat to Lady Aliset and my brother.  How did he die?”

“Duke Dhugal’s agent reports he was poisoned and died a slow and painful death.”

“I would judge that Master Feyd had a hand in that,” Iain replied after a moment.   “But Feyd would not perform, or commission the deed, without payment.”

“Earl Brendan found the Lendour great sword in a room Feyd had secured in Rhemuth.”  Kelson gave Iain a considering look.  “The jewels on the hilt, including the great ruby, were missing.”

“Then Master Feyd has his payment,” Iain replied.  “And has succeeded.”

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 #661 on: July 12, 2019, 08:00:04 am »
As the bells of the village church began to ring sext, the baron, his family, his guests and the men assembled in the great hall for the noon meal, the aroma of which had been tantalizing them all morning while they trained and practised. The baron, his wife, Fiona and their guests were seated at the high table. The lords and ladies, and their sons were seated at tables nearby while the men sat at tables set up in the body of the hall. Father Columcil stood to deliver the blessing then servants began to distribute the food.

Sir Washburn found himself seated between Lady Fiona on his right and Lord Darcy to his left. Darcy was much occupied in conversation with his wife. As he began to eat, Wash heard a soft voice in his ear. “I so enjoyed watching you as you trained the men this morning. You are a wonderful teacher. I could see the improvement in their skills as a result of your instruction.”

 Sir Washburn turned to Fiona with a tilt of his head and a lop-sided smile. He acknowledged her compliment, saying, “I greatly enjoy the teaching. I was involved with King Kelson’s training centers for aspiring knights and it was one of my favorite assignment. It is rewarding when I not only see the improvement in their skills but I can feel their pleasure and pride in their performance. Also, I enjoy seeing them starting to meld together as a group, able to work well together. They will soon be well able to handle any rebels who try to attack their estates.”

Fiona gave him a wide smile that lit up her blue eyes. “Archery is my favorite sport. I am better at it than the baron’s son, but I wish I could persuade you to give me some pointers to further improve my skills. However, I understand that you must focus on training the men who will be responsible for our defense.” Fiona sighed. “ I was most impressed I watched you begin to transform them into  a band of men who will be able to protect us from marauding rebels. I don’t think they have become  such a group yet but I am sure with your help they will”.

Wash gave a genuine smile to the young lady beside him.  “I think I could find a bit of time to help you if you wish it”.

“Oooh.” Fiona responded. “I would love that. You tell me when to come to the practice yard for instruction and I will be there.” She continued to smile to herself as she focused on her plate..

They were silent for several moments as they ate but then Fiona spoke again. “Father Columcil told me that you have discovered that you have talent as a healer. That is wonderful! There is a great need for people with such a talent and so few who possess it. Think of all the people you could help.”

Wash wasn't certain how best to handle the young lady's admiration for his special gift. He himself had not yet come to terms with how to incorporate it into his life. He certainly did not consider himself a Healer yet, that came after years of study and experience. "Aye my lady, in time I do hope I can help people. I will need  to attend the schola in Rhemuth to learn more about the healing skills. Father Columcil first discovered my ability and has trained me in a few of the basics of its use. But we were involved in completing a mission to rescue a young nobleman, and there was little time. There is so much more to learn.” He gazed past Fiona into the distance.

“I also wish to attend the schola.” she told him. “I possess Deryni powers but have little training in their use. I have long dreamed of being able to be admitted to the schola and to learn from the wonderful teachers there.”

“If that is your dream, you should indeed go.What has stopped you from going?” he asked”

“I lost both my parents when I was young. Sir Iain Cameron became my guardian. His mother and mine were sisters. My aunt was beginning my training but she also became ill and was no longer able to work with me. That is when Iain brought me to live with Uncle Mac and Aunt Olivia. There was no one here to continue my training. The king’s missions were so important and took so much of Iain’s time and forethought that there was never any time during his brief visits to discuss my future. I am hoping that once the rebels are defeated that there will be opportunities for such discussion. Lady Aliset has agreed to work with me while she is here.” Fiona grinned at him. “Who knows, perhaps we will meet there.”

"When this current matter is resolved, I would very much enjoy meeting with you there. With, of course, your cousin's and uncle's permission." Wash gave the lady a courtier’s smile and bow.

"If your going to flirt with me, perhaps you should ask my cousin and uncle for permission now." Fiona teased him with a flutter of her eye lashes.

“I dare not succumb to your teasing, my lady. I have much to do before I must excuse my leaving to your uncle”.

“You are leaving? But why?” Fiona sounded dismayed. “You have not completed the task you took on to help form and train a defense force to protect us and our lands. Although they have made progress, their training is not complete. There is still great need for your knowledge and skill. We are all depending on you. Surely you would not wish to leave with the training unfinished.”

Wash looked embarrassed. “I would certainly wish to complete what I have begun. The men are responding  well to the training, and I am sure they will become a formidable defense force. After the joint meeting, which we are to have as soon as we have finished our meal, I intend to spend the rest of today setting patrols and lines of communication between the estates. Then it will be up to the stewards of each estate to carry out the plans. I don't see where I will be much needed here after tomorrow. Besides, I am too visible here. I have enemies who may very possibly learn where I am, and I dare not overstay. To do so will put not just me but everyone at risk."

"These men are loyal," Fiona exclaimed, her hand waving across the hall indicating everyone partaking of the noon meal. "As my uncle's guest, you are under his protection. This I guarantee!"

Fiona spoke of certainties, but the knight knew no such certainty could be guaranteed. He took a deep breath, held it for a moment and let it out slowly. "My lady, I thank Baron Stuart for his hospitality and good intentions toward me. I do not wish to frighten you with my troubles, yet troubles do follow me."

"I have heard some of your trial, it does not frighten me for you to talk about it. Know that you are protected here, there is no need for you to leave," Fiona pleaded.

“Here in the open, I am very vulnerable. I dare not stay long. I have enemies who will spare no expense to discover my whereabouts. I fear I would need the king's army around me to feel safe. I do wish for that. If it were not for my brothers, that is where I would go." Wash hung his head low. "I know you do not see it, but there is great danger if I stay here, my lady. Do you recall the faces of the prisoners guarded by Lord Jaxom?"- Wash could not help but suck in his breath as he said the name-"I know at least one prisoner recognized me.  If he tells a key conspirator in Droghera, the Grand Duke will hear of it. For Gywnedd's sake, for the sake of your family, it is better if I am known to be gone. I will let it be known that I am going to plead my case before my brother. That should lead the trail far away from here."


Fiona placed a sympathetic hand on his arm. ‘My lord, What about your family and friends? How could you possibly be safer anywhere more than here? I know Lord Darcy made a sincere effort to convince my uncle to place his confidence in you. He assured my uncle that you are the ideal person to forge these men into a fighting unit. He also assured him that you could be trusted to focus on what needs to be done and to put that first. You did agree to the plan they presented to you, and you committed to doing your best. Is this feeling that draws you away more important than what you undertook to do here? If you fail, it will reflect not only on you but on both Lord Darcy and Father Columcil.”

"I assure you, your estates' protection will be well organized before I go. And when word gets out that I am no longer here, I believe your uncle Mac will no longer be in danger.” Wash looked sad. “I have no more ties to my family. Those have been broken by their actions to renounce me. But both Darcy and Father Columcil promised to support me in this endeavor and I do not want to let them down. My lady I wish that you could understand. There is a place, three days ride from here, where I have made prior vows to go. I am certain that it holds the cure to some things which have befallen me of late.”

Fiona sensed the turmoil in him and she was very concerned for him.”I do not understand this compulsion that tries to draw you away.. Why must you leave now, with your task unfinished? Could you not remain longerI. I feel that you are an honorable man, and you will regret it if you leave. Surely whatever place you feel the need to go will still be there when you have completed your obligations here. I think you would be better able to seek out your future if you could move on with a sense of pride in what you have accomplished in creating a strong defense for those you leave behind.”

Wash thought about what she had said. He did feel strongly that he needed to finish what he had started. He owed it to the baron and the other landowners who had put their trust in him to do his best to do as he had promised. He also owed it to Darcy and Columcil who had promised to support him. But he was not sure the feeling was strong enough to overcome this compulsion he felt.

Fiona thought furiously. She did feel compassion for the young man who seemed so torn and even desperate. What could she say to help him, to persuade him not to make the mistake of leaving before he had fulfilled his oath She was certain that to do so would result in great unhappiness for him.. “ Could you not talk this over with your friends before you make a final choice? Father Columcil could surely help you to find the right path.”

Washburn looked uncertain. He would never again allow himself to be restrained or made a prisoner. He would die first. However, he trusted the priest and felt sure that Columcil would never do anything to hurt him.  He also trusted Darcy and Aliset and felt that they also cared about him and wished to help. They would surely not try to keep him here against his will. But perhaps yielding to this strange compulsion he felt was not the right or honorable thing to do. He had promised his mother in their last rapport that he would always try to do what was right.  Fiona’s reasoning was also compelling. He felt confused and no longer sure what he should do.

The meal was drawing to an end. He turned and looked into Fiona’s eyes. He could see the concern there, and he felt that it was not only for the defense of her home but that it was also for him. He smiled a little sadly at her. “Speaking with you has given me much to think about. Perhaps my best course is to speak with the good father and get his advice. I will try to meet with him this afternoon.” As the baron rose from his seat and the other diners began to leave, Wash stood, bowed to Fiona and turned to leave the great hall and seek out his mentor. The priest would surely help him deal with what was happening to him. 
"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 Bynw

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #662 on: July 12, 2019, 11:33:15 pm »
After his meeting with the King and Sir Iain Cameron, Lord Seisyll Arilan makes his way back to his apartments within the castle. He takes the time to relax before going through the day’s correspondence and papers that have arrived from Tre-Arilan. One is from a member of the Camberian Council stating that he must meet with Seisyll this very night. The Rhemuth Castle library will be fine since members of the Council are allowed to use that Portal.

Later that evening Seisyll is in the library waiting for his friend who arrives a bit later than planned. His face already betraying the news he must share with the Council’s only co-adjustor. And he relates the tale and the news that Council now numbers only 5.


There has been an accident in the Connait. Owen Lord Reis, a younger member of the Camberian Council, has died due to wounds received during a hunt. He was gored by a large mad stag.

Lord Reis had brought a Healer along with him, as hunts have been known to their fair share of accidents. But the Healer was unable to save Owen’s life, the injuries were just too severe.

The beast itself was killed a short time afterwards. It showed no fear of man, unlike most animals, and actually turned to attack and charge those who were hunting it. The stag had a heavy froth about it’s mouth and had bloodshot eyes. Obviously a beast possessed of the devil from hell.

The body of the stag was burned instead of being used for meat even it’s hide was burned as well. Out of safety in to stop the spread of any sickness that may have been the cause of the stag’s behavior.

The news is a lot to take in. The councilor bids his farewell to his friend and leaves via Portal leaving Seisyll to his own thoughts.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2019, 12:05:21 pm by Bynw »

Offline revanne

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #663 on: July 13, 2019, 03:44:33 pm »
John Nivard rose from his knees at the foot of the catafalque on which rested the body of his mentor and friend. He crossed himself slowly, using the gesture to unobtrusively wipe the tears that he was struggling to restrain, and then bent to kiss the cold hand which lay crossed upon the still breast.

He had risked casting a preservation spell upon the Bishop's body so that members of his household could pay their respects but, even in these more open times, it was probably best not to prolong such an openly Deryni gesture once the funeral cortege set out. Which, in this summer heat, meant that the Bishop would need to be coffined and soon.  And then the problems would start.

John knew just how much he had owed to Denis; his promotion within the church, his priesthood and maybe even his life itself. He respected him deeply, in recent decades he had come to love him as a friend, and hearing his story he understood why Denis had ordained what was to come. That did not mean that it would be any easier. He sometimes thought that Denis, coming from a noble family of ancient Deryni lineage, did not quite understand just how much in awe of his superiors John Nivard was. And he now had to go and tell his King and his Archbishop that their orders concerning the funeral obsequies could not be followed.

These orders, signed by both King and Archbishop, had been brought that very morning through the portal by one of Archbishop Duncan's chaplains. The late Lord Bishop of Dhassa, his excellency Denis Arilan, was to be laid in a casket of finest oak, sealed with lead and lined with purple silk. He himself should be clothed in the finest of his festal robes, as fitted a faithful servant even now receiving his well-merited reward from his Lord. Once sealed, the casket would be brought in easy stages to Rhemuth where he would lie in state in the Cathedral overnight and thence to Arx Fidei where he would be laid to rest after a suitable period for all to pay their respects. The casket should be covered with cloth of richest silk, the purple of mourning embroidered with the white and gold of resurrection, and while at rest the casket would bear the signs of Denis's high office, his bishop's ring, the stole in which he had been consecrated bishop and the chalice and paten which denoted a priest.

John rehearsed these details in his head as he bowed to the body and then stepping a few paces to the side bent his knee to the Presence before Whom the Bishop lay. He sketched a sign of blessing to the monks who knelt keeping vigil at the four corners where candles burned and then drew a deep breath before making his way to the portal in the Bishop's quarters. He was at least expected in Rhemuth, indeed he was summoned to report on progress. He doubted though that the news that he bore would be welcome.
                             
The signs of the danger now facing the kingdom met him everywhere, and the guards standing with weapons drawn in the portal anteroom and at the entrance to the King's quarters were only to be expected. More shocking was the look of strain on the faces of both King and Archbishop though the warmth of their welcome to him was as gracious as ever. The fear of challenging authority which had tied John's stomach in knots was now replaced by something worse; a wave of physical pain swept him as he realised that the outward show of respect for the late Bishop was also an act of defiance, a sign that the enemy would not prevail. And he was about to deny that comfort to his Liege Lord and his Archbishop.

Kelson and Duncan had both risen to greet John and, in this informal setting where all were old friends, neither had expected to be greeted formally. John, however, pretended not to see the King's gesture towards a seat and instead sank to one knee, his hand reaching into the breast of his cassock to draw out a document.

"Your Majesty, your Excellency, I must crave your pardons for my disobedience to your orders. But I have been forbidden to comply with what you ask."

Kelson and Duncan stared at each other. The word disobedience was not one that you associated with John Nivard. Ever. As one, they looked away from each other towards the man kneeling on the floor, his hand shaking as he held out a piece of folded parchment sealed with the signet of the late Bishop of Dhassa. Duncan got to his feet and, walking the few paces forward, reached out and pulled John to his, keeping the latter's wrist in a surprisingly firm grip as he all but pushed him down into the seat that the King had indicated.

"Whatever this is, you have my word that you will not be blamed. And I dare promise the word of your King too. Save fear for our enemies, not those who are honoured to call you friend."

He reached out his hand and, taking the parchment broke the seal saying as he did you,

"I take it from your demeanour that you know what this contains and that we will not like it?"

John nodded, but Duncan already knew the answer and he had not waited for it before beginning to read. As he read tears came into his eyes and he murmered as if to himself, "You never truly forgave yourself did you my friend? Kyrie Eleison."

He sat for a long moment, obviously praying, then turned to John.

"Thank you for having the courage to remain faithful to his wishes."

Then to the King, who had waited silently though the rigidity of his expression betrayed his impatience,

"Denis wishes to be remembered simply as a pentitent.  He is to be buried in a simple coffin, wearing only a shroud, and draped with unadorned purple. Once he reaches Arx Fidei even that is to be removed and replaced with sackcloth. And on top is to be, is to be..." As Duncan's voice faltered to a stop John found his courage and continued for him.

"No-one ever knew, Sire, that Denis had a ordination gift prepared for his friend, Jorian de Courcy, a book of hours, beautifully illuminated. He must have waited to give it to him after the ordination and" - John Nivard paused to swallow down his own tears -" it was in his private oratory. I have only now seen it and the original inscription has been pasted over with the words 'Ora pro me, frater meus.' 'Pray for me, my brother.' Then that last has been struck out and replaced by 'Sancte Iorian'. 'Pray for me Saint Jorian.'"

Speaking barely above a whisper Duncan got out,

"When I first discovered he was Deryni, I asked him if he never thought how many had died because of his silence. It has taken me a lifetime to learn that no-one could ever reproach Denis as bitterly as he did himself."

He glanced down at the parchment which contained Denis' last wishes and continued,

"He writes that his only hope is that he faithfully carried the torch lit by Jorian and he would have on his coffin no adornment but his gift to Jorian in the hope that Jorian's prayers will cover the multitude of his sins."

For the first time Kelson spoke and he used the formal Latin which enacted a royal decree,

"Rex vult, ita erit." The king wills it, so shall it be.











                 


Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered;
    let those who hate him flee before him.
As smoke is driven away, so drive them away;
    as wax melts before the fire,
    let the wicked perish before God.
(Psalm 68 vv1-2)

Offline Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #664 on: July 16, 2019, 03:56:32 pm »
The afternoon had been both busy and productive. The general meeting for the residents of the neighboring estates had included several land owners, several wives and chatelians of the absentee landowners, and a dozen stewards who helped run those estates, along with several men at arms. The meeting could have been a free-for-all. But to Washburn’s amazement, Baron Stuart kept the gathering well in hand. Things got done. Agreements were struck. A system of communications by bell rings and by daily couriers was put in place. If something were to happen at one estate, no more than hours would go by before others knew of it. And by the bell signals trouble could be recognized instantly. As for the patrols, Sir Washburn sat with the men-at-arms to make a schedule that was both manageable for even the small estates and effect in forming a defense against the rabble of Meara. Satisfied, those who lived near to Baron Stuart’s home left for their homes to implement the agreement immediately. Those who had a longer journey, would stay the night in the great hall. They would leave at mid-morning the next day, after a final meeting. Wash agreed to a second training session for the men while the landowner’s meeting was taking place.   

It was evening before Wash found himself seated alone at a low table in the great hall. He sat with his back to the wall to watch the room and the doors, something he naturally always did for his own protection. He had scattered pages of parchment before him, ones that he was checking to be sure that the patrols for each estate were well organized. As he checked them, he signed them and set them aside for the baron to approve before they were sent off. The great hall was by no means empty. There were many people about, mostly men, who sat talking in small groups. Unless someone had a question, no one would bother the tall blond knight. Even those who had not recognized him at first had learned early in the day who he was. He was a Morgan, a duke’s brother, a king’s man, and a Deryni. And even rumored to have been a war hostage. A man not to be trifled with. So it was that Wash was left alone to his own thoughts.

When signing his first parchment, Wash had made the motion to gather a drop of hot wax to make his seal with his Lendour signet ring. It was only then that he realized he no longer had the ring. He had fumbled his signature onto the page after that. Not even daring to add Knight of Lendour to his title. In his solitude of busy work, his mind went to the servant girl Ellia. His fondness for her was genuine. It wasn’t love or even lust, though there was that. She had given him life when he needed it most, and he would never forget her gift. He only hoped she was safe and well. He didn’t have any way of scrying for her and he wasn’t sure what he could do for her if he could see where she was now. He said a small prayer under his breath that she would find a good life and be rewarded for her caring heart. In the days and even years to come, he would remember to keep her in his prayers, always.

The thought of women brought the Lady Fiona to mind. There was one vivacious, determined lass. She hardly knew him, yet she had put him in his place during the luncheon meal. He knew she said what she said for the welfare of her family and her uncle’s people. She would make a good chatelain for her own land someday; undoubtedly she would be a good protector to the people under her.  Wash knew well enough that he was not a qualified suitor for such a lady. Not in his present circumstances. He was thinking that it would be best if he left here soon. When the others left at noon tomorrow. She would forget him the moment that he was gone and would soon find herself a good husband. He was sure that Lord Iain was not the type to force her into a marriage against her will. So he had little doubt that she would find her own good match in due time. All he had to do was remain too busy until noon the following day, so that he would not have time to assist her in archery, as she had asked. To be that close to her, might be detrimental for his peace of mind. The last thing he needed was to lose Darcy’s favor over his poor ability to keep from looking at this beautiful lass who was Darcy’s cousin and who was also Deryni.

Unwillingly, Washburn’s heart was racing. He took a deep breath to calm his center. More than anything, he needed Darcy and he needed Columcil, he even needed the beloved Aliset. He needed these people in his life, and he needed to not do something that would condemn him in their eyes. That is why the calling at the back of his mind to leave was one that he could grapple with and hold in check. For now. Though it nagged at him endlessly. Every look out the window, called to him to ride out and away. Soon enough he told himself, soon enough.

Finish your work, Washburn Morgan, don’t think of the girl, don’t think of leaving, don’t think of the war. Just do what you have to do in this moment.

Offline Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #665 on: July 20, 2019, 09:52:37 pm »
“I’ll trade wi' ye a goblet o' wine fer yer thoughts,” Father Columcil said casually as he sat opposite Wash at the lower table in the great hall. He expected an answer as he handed across a filled cup. When Wash said nothing, Columcil nodded in understanding. “Ye hae hud a busy day. Thare haes bin na time tae speak with one another. Tell me, how urr ye daein'?”

“I am doing well enough.” Distractedly, Wash picked up the cup and took a long drink. “All this parchment is like running the castle back in Lendour. I admit, it does me good to have a purpose. Much like the lass said, I made a commitment and I need to see it through. It is like a bandage to cover a deep wound, it does help some, at least on the outside.”

“I hope thare is some healing goin’ on inside as well. I am nay talking in th' physical sense, mind ya. How kin ah help ye further tae heal those lost memories?”

“Dear Father Columcil, I willingly accept your assistance, I just don’t know what we should try next.“ Wash looked up into the face of his friend. He saw concern in the older man’s eyes.

“Laddie, you know I think of ye as a good man. And it hurts me to see you abused so. In our Rapport, I witnessed visions that I know to be false. I want you to understand that the hand of the Devil was in Feyd when he planted false memories of yer family mistreatin ya. Twas well known tha there was and is great love among ta Morgan brothers.” The priest was open in both his hands and his shields inviting Rapport.

Washburn all but retracted into a warded space. His intake of breath was sharp, his hands rubbed the sides of his jaw and his shields were firm like a castle wall. There was a long silent moment before Washburn Morgan pursed his lips and nodded his head. Letting out a slow breath his hand went to his forehead as if to do a fatigue banishing spell. Instead it was a calming spell,(([5] 19-07-20 15:57:56 Calming spell for Wash add 3XP So success on 4,5,or 6. Rolled 2d6 results 4 + 2 = 6, success, thank you XPs)) The spell released its effect and allowed the knight to think clearly, past the resentment that seemed to arise out of nowhere whenever his family was mentioned. As Wash subdued the animosity, he looked into the eyes of the good Father, his friend and knew that Columcil would try to help him get through this. He just didn’t want to harm the father in any way. 

At last Wash said, “It is like an instant defiance that takes a strong will to quell. I know what you’re saying and that it has truth in it. I suspect Valerian’s plan was to use me cruelly against my family. For that, I am sorry I failed at dispatching him when I had the chance. I know this is something I need to work through. After our last Rapport… truth to tell... I am amazed that you are still willing to try. Now is just not the time nor the place.”

Father Colucmil kept both hands open outward on the table. “I am 'ere fur ye, anytime ye are ready.”

“That is a relief to hear,” Wash said, his smile returning to his face.  He did not yet feel recovered enough for another deep Rapport. “Some time soon,” he whispered.

Searching for a change in subject he all but blurted out. “That lassie Fiona, you will warn her off of Jaxom, will you not? I mean to say, that yesterday, she all but got herself wounded trying to protect him from me. Today, I could not judge how she felt about him?”

Columcil shrugged his shoulders. “If ye haven’t figured it oot yit, I wull tell ye that Fiona’s thoughts ur aw aboot protecting her own.” The father gave a gruff laugh as he pictured her with Jaxom. “I dare say, if she chose Laird Jaxom, she wuid straighten that laddie oot in na time. He wuid resist, bit he wuid lose 'n' it wuid be tae th' betterment fur ever'body if she did.”

Columcil continued to smile at the possibility. He didn’t see the horror on Washburn’s face until after he heard, “Oh Father, please tell me she is not interested in him?”

Columcil looked anew at his distant cousin. “I am certain that she sees Laird Jaxom fur wha’ he is. Lassie Fiona haes a richt guid heid oan her shoulders. Kin ah ask ye, how come ye urr concerned?”

Wash shook his head almost too quickly. “No reason.” He took a swallow of wine, signed the last parchment before him, and put it on the stack to the side. “I have no time or energy for the fair ladies. I can’t even remember when my life wasn’t in turmoil.  And I have nothing to offer a lady. An heiress is far out of my reach. Father, when did life get so complicated?”

Columcil raised his eye up to Washburn’s face. “She haes made an impression upon ye, hasn’t she? Weel, young Laird Morgan, th' complications o' life ur continually shiftin’ aren’t they now.”

“I'm learning that God haes his path fur a' o' us. Lak that day I pulled mah horse oot o' a stable fire 'n' fell in wi' three persons wha saved th' lower half o’ Culdi fae pure burnin` doon. Remember that day?”

Wash brushed his hand against the back of his head, happy to find that his hair mostly filled in over the small tonsure he had gotten from the days Columcil mentioned. “I remember that day. Amazingly, I am thinking back on that as good times.”

“At th' time, I hud na idea, that mah feet wur bein' pointed in th' direction that got us tae here. Our bonds formed by adversity wis God’s solution tae defeat th' devil’s plans. As a group, we wull prevail.” The Father gave an easy smile. “You only hae tae look at Darcy 'n' Aliset tae ken that guid comes fae hardship.”

“Where are those two?” Wash asked, looking over the hall, seeing many people, but neither of his other friends.

“Took tae thair bed early. Aliset feigning exhaustion.”

“It will be Darcy who will be exhausted before morning comes,” Washburn said with a half-sided grin. “Sorry, Father, I should not say things like that, it is unnoble of me.” But still Wash gave a chortle as he drank his wine. Then more seriously, he said,  “Perhaps it would be well for them if they should stay here, when I leave tomorrow.”

Colucmil raised an eyebrow, searching the face of his friend. “Aboot that, ye ken that we need tae remain a team. Wash, thare is a war gaun oan.Thare ur many places a'm certain ye think ye shuid go, bit hae a care. Yer freedom haes bin given tae ye by th' king. Don’t dae anythin' tae jeopardize his trust.”

Wash spread both hands out on the table, purposely not clenching his fits. “What you mean to say is that I am still a hostage, just one with friends as my guards.”

“We ur nae guards! Ye ken that.”

“I am sorry, I know.” Wash nodded. “But you would stop me from going into Meara to fight a war that I was trained to fight against the man who did this to me. And you would stop me from going home to Rhemuth to face a king from whom I need answers.”

“Aye…. Tell me, mah friend, other than those twa places, ya hae the kingdom at your feet. Whit is it that ye intend tae do? Ye say yer leavin’, whaur wuid ye go?”

“I would go to Lendour, I feel a need to find my center east of here, I can only think that it is my old life that is calling me to get back to it.”

“That direction wuid be guid. Get us all far awa' from our enemies, going whaur thay won’t think tae fin' us. ” Columcil pursed his lips and his more formal court voice came through. “Ah hae bin told by... ” Colmcil had to stop himself before he said grandfather, instead he pushed forth the title... “Archbishop Duncan McLain, that the funeral for th' Bishop o' Dhassa is tae be held at ta end o’ ta week, at Arx Fidei Seminary near Valoret. Ye have spoken that ye knew Bishop Arilan 'n' that ye even dreamt o' him oan th' day he died. Ye said ye wished ye hud bin able tae thank him fer his efforts tae find ye? Aye?” Columcil studied the knight’s face, seeing interest there.

“I too wuid like tae gie the bishop mah private prayers 'n' blessings. Fer I knew him in mah seminary days, I thought of him then as a harsh taskmaster 'n' ah didnae appreciate all that he was tae sae many o' us. Wi'oot him, neither one o' us would be 'ere. I wuid hae burned at th' stake fer following my calling tae become a deryni priest.”

“And I may never have been born, for he helped my father in many ways to survive his Deryni heritage.” Wash nodded interested in what Columicl was thinking. “In a roundabout way, the Bishop made me become the best knight I could become.”

“My point exactly, mah son.  I hae na doubt that his soul rests in th' brightness o' God’s light. But I wuid mak that light brighter still wi' oor prayers. Dae ye remember the story of Saint Jorian? I am told your father had been forced to witness his execution as a warnin’ ta keep the Deryni boy in his place.”

Wash cocked his head and pulled out the old leather bound book that he kept under his tunic. He was surprised he could hold it without his hand shaking. “You would think that I should remember that, but I do not. I believe there is an entry here about that event. Perhaps, I should read it in full.”

“Aye ye shuid. 'Twas a devastating, yit pivotal moment in oor history. The Custodes Fidei were a harsh prejudiced order, who condemned our race. The two old houses of Arx Fidei have been swept clean of their narrow doctrine. Both houses are now rededicated to Saint Jorian, to bring awareness and healing to the people of this kingdom.. The old Arx Fidei Abby, the one between here and Rhemuth, is rebuilt by the current leaders of the church to reverse the inimical theology of the Ordo Custodes Fidei. The Abby is a daughter house of the Seminary of Arx Fidei near Valoret. Jorian was executed on those grounds; he had been a newly ordained priest, who was discovered to be of the Deryni race. His treatment at ta hands of bishops was an atrocity that shook the very foundation of the church.  More so, it awoke th’ angels, I dare say, fer miracles were said to have happened after his death.  God willed that Denis Arilan complete his vocation when no other Deryni had done so in 200 years. Twas nothin short o' a manifestation o'divine intervention!”

“Since then, there have been other indications that God’s Will will be done. Archbishop Duncan is one who owes his life to Bishop Denis, as I owe my life to the Archbishop. Deryni are no longer denied if they feel a calling.  In most recent times, both sites, the Arx Fidei Abby and the Arx Fidei Seminary, have been rebuilt and rededicated to the life and Death of Saint Jorian. There will be masses held at both altars for the Bishop of Dhassa. If the chance exists, then I for one would consider it mah duty tae pay mah respects directly tae th' man wha saved us all. If yer heading fer Lendour, then it wuid nae be a hardship tae travel tae Valoret 'n' be at th' funeral o' His Grace Denis Arilan.”

Wash could well see the passion in Columcil’s request. “I think you have the right of it my friend.  I would like it very much if I could accompany you, and we will ask my other two guards to accompany us too. For this cause I think Darcy and Aliset will be pleased at our direction. We will need to leave after the noon meetings on the marrow if we are to arrive at Arx Fidei Seminary in time to give our proper respect.”
« Last Edit: July 20, 2019, 11:17:38 pm by Laurna »

Offline DerynifanK

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #666 on: July 21, 2019, 06:30:34 am »
Brendan Coris, Earl of Marley, and his men rode along the narrow road through the Ratharkin Mountains toward De Paor Pass. They had left Droghera early that morning and headed north along the Cuilteine Road. After passing St. Brigids, they had turned west following this road through the mountains. Their goal was to catch up with and join Prince Javan’s army as it marched toward Laas. Brendan planned to skirt along the foot of the mountains, bearing westward and bypassing Ratharkin to avoid any clashes with rebels from the city. He doubted that they had sufficient forces to mount patrols very far outside the city itself.

As they rode, Brendan considered the happenings of the past several days. He was well satisfied with the outcome at Baron Stuart’s manor. They had captured a number of rebel prisoners which, added to the prisoners already confined in Droghera by Captain Stev, should reduce the number of rebels in the Cuiltiene highlands. There was a plan in place to defend the estates between Cuiltiene and Droghera. Things seemed to be moving in the right direction to suppress this rebellion and restore peace to Meara. He would never understand the Mearans. They had experienced a long period of peace, prosperity, and good rule under Prince Rory. Why would they want to exchange that for the uncertain rule of a bastard queen no one knew.

He also thought about his brother. At least he knew Wash had been freed from his captivity in a Mearan dungeon. But he was not really free until they could determine the amount of damage done to his mind by his captor and determine how to heal him.  He was committed to finding that captor and eventually eliminating him.

However, his focus now was to rejoin Javan, his friend and liege. The thought of again being part of Javan’s army and marching at his side to relieve Laas gave him great satisfaction. He was intent on reaching the army as soon as possible and was therefore pushing both himself and his men toward this goal.

It was at least an hour past noon when he spied an opening to the right where he could hear water and see an open grassy area. He signaled the riders to follow him off the road.  They found a glade with grass for the horses and a stream running past to one side. The stream was bordered by bushes and small trees with some rocks in the bed. “We will take a break here to water the horses and allow them a short rest. You will also have the opportunity to eat some food and refresh yourselves.”

He watched as the men dismounted and led their horses to the stream. He also dismounted but waited to allow the men to care for their horses and to find a place to relax briefly and eat some of the food they had brought with them. There was a buzz of talk. Brendan watered his own horse and tethered him lightly near a patch of fresh grass.He then found a comfortable place and sat with his back against an oak tree. As he ate his own rations, he was observing Jaxom and Michael as they sat together. Jaxom appeared to be doing most of the talking, no doubt regaling Michael with tales of his successes, somewhat exaggerated. Lord Peacock was at it again, Brendan was amused.  He hoped Michael has enough sense to take most of what Jaxom told him with a grain of salt.

Brendan was beginning to pack away the rest of his rations and prepare to resume their ride when he felt the King’s call. How may I serve you sire? he responded.

I have new orders for you and your men.

But, sire! Brendan was dismayed because he so wanted to rejoin the Royal Army.

The king continued. I know how much you wanted to be with Javan and the army again and he, with you, but I have greater need of you elsewhere. We have discovered traitors among the lords who traveled to Laas with your brother, Duke Kelric. One of them is Baron du Chantal who is an ally of Grand Duke Valerian and committed to the Mearan cause although he has sworn fealty to us. Brendan felt the king’s anger held in leash. I understand that his estate is near the Mearan border, in the Ratharkin Mountains not far from Valerian’s own mountain fortress, and  he has a portal which may be used by Valerian to escape if things go badly for him at Laas, which we certainly intend that they should. The baron and some of his men may also try to escape from Laas via portal.

I understand that the manor is strongly fortified with stone walls and strong gates. However, there are not many men left to guard the estate and particularly the portal there. Most of his men went with him to Laas. We would have a great advantage if we could secure both manor and portal. We could then seize rebels as they arrive.
 
You  will meet Sir Iain Cameron and a small party at Chantal’s estate.. They will arrive by portal; we know the portal’s location and signature as well as how to avoid the trap set on it.  Iain is the one who penetrated Valerian’s stronghold and freed Wash. He is most familiar with that part of the border. He is Deryni and highly trained.  He will have overall command of this expedition, and I wish you to give him your full support. Jamyl Arilan will be one of Iain’s party, and he will contact you  by mind speech when they have control of the portal. They will then be able to open the gates to admit you and your men. Your main responsibility will be to secure the manor itself, guard the portal and help detain any prisoners.

Brendan responded to the king. I am at your command, sire. We are presently on the road leading west from the Cuiltiene road just past St. Brigid’s through the mountains. We are about an hours ride from dePaor Pass heading west toward Meara. I had intended to skirt the foot of the mountains and bypass Ratharkin before continuing into Meara. Can Sir Iain provide some directions as to how we should alter our course to find Chantal’s manor?

Brendan sensed the presence of another as Iain joined the Rapport.  Iain provided the directions from dePaor Pass to the mountains where Valerian’s stronghold was located. Instead of continuing through the valley, you will turn south into the mountains, where you will find a road that has been widened to accommodate wagons and which leads into the steeper, more heavily forested part of the mountains. If you continued to follow that track, you would reach Valerian’s stronghold. However, about halfway up this road, a narrower, less frequently used track splits off to your right. I suspect Chantal’s manor is to be found somewhere along that trail. You will need to do some scouting to find the exact location. I regret I cannot not provide a more specific location as we left Valerian’s fortress in rather a hurry by portal.

Brendan thanked Iain and prepared to break the contact and muster his men to ride out but then hesitated. Sire, I do need to know, does my brother know of the traitors in his ranks?

He does. We have informed him of their names and numbers. He, Rory, and Brecon with the support of others already in Laas have a plan and are prepared to deal with these traitors. The traitors will not take them by surprise as they had hoped. When they make their move, they will be quickly overcome.

He heard the King’s voice one last time. Know that this operation is critical to a successful outcome in suppressing this rebellion and restoring peace to Gwynedd as well as Meara. You are my brother and friend, and I am depending on you. Have you any further questions as to your assignment and what is required of you?

No my liege. We will carry out your orders to the best of our ability. Brendan felt a brief surge of warmth and confidence as the contact was broken. He sent his squire to tell the men to mount but he needed to speak with them before they rode out. He quickly checked his horse and mounted. He then waited while his men also mounted.

“I have news that you must hear before we set out. I have received new orders from the king. We will not be rejoining Prince Javan’s army at this time.” He heard some muttering among the men, especially from Jaxom. “Traitors, some of high rank, have been discovered among the king’s forces, including those with Duke Kelric Morgan. They must be rooted out quickly. One of them, Baron du Chantal, has a manor not far from us in the Ratharkin mountains. He intends to use it to shelter leaders of the rebellion and help them escape if it becomes necessary. We are tasked with finding this manor and securing it in order to capture any rebels who arrive there. Our success could make a difference in whether the King will defeat the rebellion and restore peace and order to our land.”

The earl sat tall in his saddle and gazed keenly at his men. “Are you ready for the challenge?”

“Aye! Aye!” the men cheered and raised their swords in salute. He did notice disappointment on the face of Jaxom who, he was sure, had been anticipating more chances for glory with the Prince’s army.  Cheers rang in his ears as the earl led his men out of the glade and along the track.

After nearly 2 hours of steady riding along the valley floor, Brendan espied a somewhat narrow but well maintained road turning toward the nearby mountain range.  He halted the column and studied the road which angled toward the heavily forested mountains. It appeared wide enough to accommodate a wagon and horse or two men on horses riding abreast. He turned and addressed the men. “Here is where we begin our search for the traitor’s manor. We will leave the valley and follow this road to the location where I understand the rebel’s lair is to be found.
“Lord Jaxom, you will ride beside me. Since you know these mountains, I am relying on you to help us negotiate this terrain.” Jaxom proudly nudged his mount up beside the earl and the column moved off, following the road out of the valley toward the mountains.

The road very quickly began to climb through increasingly heavily forested ground. As they continued on, it became steeper and rockier but the road remained passable. After nearly an hour of climbing, they reached a switchback where Brendan spied the second track that Iain had mentioned, leading away to the left. It was not quite as wide as the road that they had been following and not as well maintained but easily passable.He halted the column and beckoned to Sir Giles Markham and Jaxom to attend him. “I need the two of you to go ahead  as we follow this new trail. We do not have precise directions and we will need to go carefully as we seek .this fortified manor. Lord Jaxom is more familiar with this ground as his father’s estate is not far, and he can warn us of possible obstacles ahead. All of you, keep a sharp watch. Lead on.”

The two young men moved forward and led the column up the stoney track, picking their way carefully along the road. Again, the way led upward toward the summit of the mountain but away from the main road. They continued steadily upward until Jaxom signaled a halt. He was gazing intently ahead. The road was surrounded by brush and large trees, but there were some breaks in the foliage. Through one such break, Brendan glimpsed what appeared to be a high stone wall. Signalling the men to hold their positions, he eased his horse up beside the two young men.

Jaxom spoke quietly. “That wall there through the trees may well be the manor we are seeking. Look there and you will see that the road we are following widens out and might be approaching gates or an entrance. I propose that we dismount and approach on foot. We can better reconnoiter the area and observe the entrance if that is indeed what it is.” Brendan nodded his assent and the two young men dismounted and moved forward quietly on foot. They soon disappeared behind the trees and brush.

Brendan and his men waited for the return of the two scouts. After what seemed a long time, they reappeared, approached the earl and bowed. Jaxom reported. “This appears to be a manor house enclosed within stone walls. The road does pass inside through stout oak gates. There are two watchtowers at either side of the gates. We could also see the roofs of other buildings ranged around the walls. We saw few guards however, and the watchtowers did not appear well-manned. Due to the steep, rocky terrain and the dense forest, manors and farms in this area are few and widely separated. I do believe that this is the location we are seeking, my lord.”

Brendan thanked the two men then proceeded to disperse the men on either side of the road, among the trees. “We will need to remain hidden, so we will light no fires and we will tether the horses further from the road. I will set guards to watch the manor and its approach. We are waiting for a signal from the second party who will arrive via portal and, we hope, be able to open the gates for us. Get what rest you can, but remain ready to move when we receive our signal.”

Brendan’s squire took his horse to water him and tether him a short distance away. The earl
settled down to wait, relaxing with his back against the trunk of a tree. He looked up as Lord Jaxom and Sir Giles approached and bowed. Jaxom spoke. “My Lord, we request permission to explore the perimeter of the walls surrounding this manor. We think it would be to our advantage to discover whether there is a possible second entrance where we might enter unseen and begin our attack.”

“I appreciate your desire to move quickly, but we will not make any attempt to enter the manor until the signal is received. Those are the King’s  orders, and we will follow them to the letter. He has a plan and we will do nothing that might interfere with his strategy.” the Earl fixed them with a stern look.

Sir Giles would have bowed himself out of the earl’s presence but Jaxom persisted. “I understand, milord, and will of course follow your orders, but would it not be helpful to at least know whether there is another way in or out?  If things go badly, it could save lives.”

Brendan considered Jaxom’s words in silence. Then he nodded slowly. “I will approve a short reconnoiter of the walls to either side of the gates. You may learn valuable information about the structure and its protection. However, you are not to make any attempt to enter, and you will return within the hour and report to me what you have learned.”

“Yes, Milord” Jaxom and Giles bowed to the earl and left his presence. They left immediately as they had limited time for their expedition. In view of the thick trees that crowded in from the left, they decided to begin their survey with the right side of the walls. They moved  silently on foot around the edge of the trees studying the walls looking for any weaknesses. They worked their way carefully around the manor.  The walls appeared solid with no indications of any other way in. They saw little activity on the walls. They reached a point where the trees and bushes were so thick that they were impenetrable. They had to turn back.

They moved back through the trees and circled to the left pushing their way through thick growth. They came to a place where the bushes thinned, and they could see farther around the perimeter of the wall. Jaxom thought he saw a gap in the corner of the wall where it met another section. It appeared to be a crack that was wider at the bottom and got narrower near the top. “That might be a way in!” he told Sir Giles. “I’m going closer.”

Jaxom crept closer to the crack in the wall. He almost disappeared through it, but then he emerged and returned to where Giles was waiting. “I think I could get through that opening.” he said excitedly.

“No!” exclaimed Giles. “The earl was very adamant that we not try to enter the manor. Do you want to be the one who interferes with the king’s plan? If you want to be in good standing with the earl and the king, you should not disobey their specific commands. We need to return and report our findings.”

Jaxom looked for a moment as if he was going to argue with Giles. But then he agreed and they turned back to rejoin Brendan and report their findings.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2019, 06:37:44 am 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 #667 on: July 21, 2019, 10:47:42 am »
Darcy Cameron woke with a vague feeling that something was wrong.  The comfort of his wife’s warm body beside him was missing!  He startled fully awake. Perhaps she had simply woken before him, and he immediately rolled over to view their small chamber.

He heard the retching noises before he saw Aliset hunched over the chamberpot in the dim light.  He was out of bed at once and kneeled down beside her, placing one arm around her shoulders while he grasped her hair to pull it back out of her way.

“I’m here, love, don’t fret.  Tell me what’s wrong,” Darcy said gently.

Aliset took a deep breath.  ‘“It’s nothing.  Probably just too much spice in the feast from yesterday.”

“More likely due to the tarts you ate before we retired for the night,” Darcy replied. 

Aliset looked rueful.  Although she was not one for late night snacking, fruit tarts had suddenly sounded like a wonderful idea.  Darcy had good naturedly led her to the manor kitchen where he managed to charm one of the servants out of two tarts.  Aliset had eaten them both. 

The urge to empty her stomach passed, and Aliset took a deep breath, grateful for her husband’s presence beside her.

Darcy gave her a gentle hug. “I’ll fetch Father Columcil; he can have a look at you to make sure it is nothing else.”

“No, Darcy! I’m fine, really I am,” Aliset said hastily.  “I just need to sit down for a moment.”  Darcy steadied her as she rose and made her way somewhat shakily to the bed.  Once she had settled, Darcy wrapped her night robe around her shoulders.

Aliset leaned against him as he sat beside her.  “I think I will feel better if I have a bit of bread and maybe some small ale. I’m not sure I want the morning meal in the hall this morning.  And a little more sleep won’t hurt.”

“I’ll go at once.”  Darcy pulled her closer to kiss the tip of her nose and then made his way to the door.

“DARCY!”

‘What?” Startled, Darcy turned to look at her in alarm.

“Put some clothes on first!”

“Oh, clothes.  Such a bother.  Waste of time, really.  And they get in the way.” 

Despite her earlier discomfort, Aliset giggled.  Darcy dutifully dressed, pleased that he had made her smile, and went off to charm the cook out of bread and small ale.

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 #668 on: July 21, 2019, 01:08:16 pm »
My thanks to Laurna, who saved the day on this one!


Sir Iain Cameron stood near the library Portal in Rhemuth Castle.  It had taken most of a day to complete his preparations.  Now he tweaked the tunic of the set of clothes Kelson’s seamstresses had hurriedly sewn to his specifications.  ‘Master Feyd’ bowed to the king.  “I believe I should look convincing.”

King Kelson of Gwynedd looked at a man who would have gone unnoticed in any crowd.  Clean shaven with muddy brown hair, unnotable features, plainly dressed.  No trace of the Baron o’Isles leaked through the disguise.  “You have me convinced, though I have never seen Master Feyd.”

“You would not remember him if you had seen him, your Majesty; it’s one of his many skills,” Iain said. He unstopped a flask and poured blood down his shoulder until it reached his belt.  “That should be convincing enough.”

Lord Sextus studied him carefully.  “Looks like an awful wound, but not so bad that you would not still be breathing.”

“That’s the idea,” Iain said, and Sextus nodded.  Jamyl Arilan looked at them both; his enthusiasm checked by the knowledge that they may not survive this adventure.

“You can stay behind and no fault found.” Sextus said to his nephew.  “Perhaps it is too soon to come out of mourning for this.”

Jamyl shook his head.  “No. Three against however many is better odds than two.”

“Earl Brendan has his orders,”  Kelson said.  “He will be waiting outside the gates of du Chantal’s manor.”

“God be with you and grant you success,” Archbishop Duncan said and raised his hand to bless the Arilans and Iain.

The three men bowed and moved onto the Portal.  Iain held the seal of the Black Order of Death in the palm of his hand, focusing on the intricate pattern and then shifted the energies.

((Will Iain, Sextus and Jamyl make it through the portal?  Iain is ritual trained, so three dice.
<jerusha> Jerusha !roll 3d6
8:05 PM D<@•derynibot> 5, 3, 3 == 11
Yes! They made it!))

The moment Iain felt the new portal under his feet, he slumped against Sextus.  Sextus threw his arm around Iain as though to hold him up. Jamyl stood ready, sword in hand as if fresh from a fight.

“Hold!” Iain commanded the archers who raised their bows.  “We were ambushed and I am injured.  These men are with me.”

Of the half dozen archers and a few men-at-arms the real Master Feyd had ordered placed to guard the portal, only two archers remained.  By this time the threat of intrusion was thought to have passed, and additional men had been sent from the du Chantal manor to remain well behind Prince Javan’s forces to help their lord escape if needed. The men left to defend the Portal now formed a smaller guard for the manor.

((Will the remaining guards fire on our heroes?
jerusha> Jerusha !roll 2d6
8:05 PM D<@•derynibot> I'm back! 2, 2 == 4
No, they will not!))

The archers hesitated. No one was expecting Master Feyd; but not obeying Master Feyd was not an option.

Iain feigned a grimace of pain.  “Help these men take me to my quarters.”

Both guards nodded and moved to the door.

“Not both of you, you fools!”  Iain snarled.  “One of you stay to guard the Portal!”

Nervously, the second guard stood to one side and allowed the other to lead Iain toward Feyd’s quarters, supported by Sextus and with Jamyl close on his other side.

”He does get into the role, doesn’t he?,” Jamyl sent to Sextus in tightly focused mind speech.

”Let’s hope he’s got it right,” was Sextus’ terse reply.

They followed the guard to luxurious rooms a fair distance from the Portal. Jamyl moved the bed curtains aside while Sextus eased Iain onto the bed.  Iain uttered moans at the right moments to be all the more convincing.

“I’ll fetch the midwife,” the guard said nervously.

“Midwife?”  Sextus asked incredulously.  “Master Feyd is certainly not with child!”

“Of course not,” the guard said quickly.  “But our physician went with the forces to follow Baron du Chantal.  The one most skilled to help Master Feyd is our midwife. She is in the town below; I will fetch her.”

“Do so,”  Iain said in a voice constricted with pain.  “The sooner the better.”

The guard bowed.  “I will also make sure the sceneshal knows you have arrived,” he said and withdrew. 

“Hopefully Earl Brendan will be watching,” Iain said, keeping his voice low.  “He’ll see the gate open for the guard to leave.  He may be able to make a move when the guard returns with the midwife.”  He adjusted his position on the bed, withdrawing his dagger from its sheath.  “The sceneshal will have to die; he is our greatest danger here.”

Sextus and Jamyl exchanged glances.  Iain’s voice was cold, but he was right; the sceneshal was their greatest threat here.

***

The guard stopped by the seneschal's quarters.  “My lord,” he said and bowed.  Next to Master Feyd, the seneschal was the most feared in the manor.

“What is it?” the old seneschal asked. 

“Master Feyd has come through the Portal   He is injured; I do not know how badly.  I go to fetch the midwife, with your permission.”

“Go then,” the seneschal said.  “I will attend to Master Feyd.”

The archer bowed and withdrew.

The seneschal sat for a long moment.  He had no love for Master Feyd; the man had been a menace since he had taken over the baron’s manor.  The baron remained in charge only in name; Master Feyd was the one who was now obeyed.  The man who had forced the seneschal to his knees in submission.  The seneschal fingered the hilt of his dagger.  Although he might die in the attempt, it might be worth it to free them from Master Feyd. He would get only one killing thrust; he would have to make it count.

***

Sir Iain lay on the bed with his eyes closed, but his Deryni senses were finely attuned to detect anyone who approached the door.  Sextus and Jamyl waited with the same sense of alertness. Soon Iain detected steps outside of the door.  The door was opened without someone knocking. 

Sextus and Jamyl bowed as the seneschal opened the door and entered.  “How does he fare?’’ the sceneshal asked, addressing both men with a vague wave of his hand toward the figure lying still on the bed.

“A midwife has been sent for to assist,” Jamyl said.  “Though if she will be in time….”

The seneschal approached the bed. A probe with his senses told him Feyd’s shields were fully engaged.  It would not be Deryni powers that would bring Feyd down.

Iain’s hand closed over the hilt of his dagger.  When the seneschal was close enough, he would strike.

((The sceneshal will strike first; will he land a killing strike?
!roll 2d6
8:06 PM D<@•derynibot> I'm back! 4, 1 == 5
Not this time.))

The seneschal struck fast, his dagger aimed at Feyd’s heart.  Iain’s Deryni senses picked up the threat in time to throw himself to one side.  The seneschal's blade bit into his side.  ((One hit point against Iain.)) 

((Will Iain strike a killing blow against the seneschal?  Although Iain has mastery over both dagger and sword, only two dice rolled because he is now injured and at a disadvantage.
<jerusha> Jerusha !roll 2d6
8:07 PM D<@•derynibot> I'm back! 4, 2 == 6
No.  Drat.))

Iain, off balance and in pain, thrust upward with his dagger at the seneschal.  The blade glaced off a rib and missed the heart, but entered deeply.  ((One hit point against the seneschal.))

((Will Iain be able to pierce the seneschal's heart with an additional twist of his dagger?
<jerusha> Jerusha !roll 2d6
8:10 PM D<@•derynibot> I'm back! 3, 3 == 6
Nope.  Growl))

In spite of his own pain, Iain threw his weight against his dagger, twisting upward.  The seneschal howled in pain, but did not succumb.  ((Second hit point against the seneschal.))

((The seneschal lashes out with his powers against Iain, and Iain fights back.  1,2,3, the seneschal wins.  4, 5. 6, Iain succeeds.
<jerusha> Jerusha !roll 2d6
5:24 PM D<@•derynibot> 4, 3 == 7
Yea Iain!))

In desperation, the seneschal focused his remaining energy in a psychic attack against Iain.  Iain shields held, and gathering his strength, Iain struck back, shattering the seneschal’s shields. The seneschal’s mental cry was piercing.  ((Third hit point against the seneschal.)

((Will Sextus be able to finish off the seneschal?
00:54 <Laurna> For Sextus
00:54 <Laurna> !roll 2d6
00:54 <•derynibot> 3, 3 == 6
Oh good grief.))

((Jamyl strikes the killing blow against the seneschal.
20:21 <Laurna> !roll 2d6
20:21 <•derynibot> 3, 6 == 9
20:21 <Laurna> For Jamyl
Bless you, Laurna.  Success!))

The struggle between Iain and the seneschal had played out in what seemed to be a heart beat  as Sextus and Jamyl watched in horror. Sextus started forward, but he was across the room, guarding the door.  It was Jamyl who reacted the bed first, darting forward and thrusting his sword through the seneschal’s back, piercing the man’s heart.  ((Fourth and final hit point for the seneschal.  RIP.))

Jamyl withdrew his sword, and Iain collapsed under the dead weight of the seneschal.  Jamyl rolled the dead man to one side, and Iain drew a long, shuddering breath.  Jamyl stood and looked for a moment at his bloodied blade.  It had been necessary.

“How badly are you injured?” Sextus asked.

Iain took a moment to answer.  “Not too badly; I think most of the blood is his,” he nodded toward the seneschal.  Jamyl mentally shook himself and looked for something to bind Iain’s wound.  He grabbed a fine linen shirt from one of Feyd’s chests and tore the fabric into lengths of bandage.  He helped Iain to sit upright and examined the wound.  It was serious enough, but survivable.  He bound the wound tightly.

“What now?”  Sextus asked.  “Should I try for a death reading?”

Iain shook his head.  “Better we make for the gate.  The archer will be returning with the midwife and the gate will be opened.  Let’s see if we can keep it that way.”

“What about him?”  Jamyl asked, motioning to the still figure of the seneschal.

“Prop him up in the garderobe and close the curtain.  If anyone enters this room, and not too many would dare, they will think the blood is mine.  Or rather, Feyd’s.  Help me up; we cannot waste time.”

Sextus opened the door to Feyd’s quarters and scanned the corridor with his Deryni senses.  The way seemed clear.  He cast a concerned look at Iain, but Iain shook his head.  He had had worse injuries; the fact that one had been from Master Feyd drove him forward.

They reached the courtyard.  It appeared that only du Chantal’s men remained inside the  manor.  The villagers remained outside the wall with its sturdy central gate.  The few people they passed as they made their way toward the gate glanced at Master Feyd and looked hastily away.  They asked no questions.  While Feyd would not have been known to  those in the village, those within the manor were all too aware of who he was.

As they approached the gate, a guard stepped forward.  His jaw was slightly misshapen, as if he had sustained some injury.  'Master Feyd' looked at him directly.

“When you open the gate for the midwife and the guard, do not close it behind them,” Iain said.  He planted compulsion behind his words, so the guard would not question his command.

(( Will the guard obey Iain’s command?
20:15 <Laurna> !roll 2d6
20:15 <•derynibot> 5, 1 == 6
20:15 <Laurna> For Jerusha
Yes.))

The guard looked at “Master Feyd” for a long moment.  The command made no sense to him; why leave the gate open when they could be attacked by the forces of Gwynedd?  But this was the man who had broken his jaw and cost him several teeth. Master Feyd had killed Otis in an agonizing display of power.  He had escaped with his life, and although his jaw pained him on rainy days, making it difficult to eat, he would not escape with his life if he disobeyed this time.

“Yes, my lord,” he said.

A sharp rap on the gate turned the guard’s attention to the gate.  He opened it to admit the midwife and the archer who had gone to fetch her.  They stepped within the courtyard, and the gate remained open behind them.

Iain nodded to Jamyl, who focused his powers to reach Earl Brendan.

((Will Jamyl successfully contact Earl Brendan to storm the manor gates?
09:24 <Laurna> Do I dare one more roll for Jerusha
09:24 <Laurna> !roll 2d6
09:24 <•derynibot> 5, 5 == 10
09:25 <Laurna> yes
Oh Yeah!))

Now my lord! The gates are open! Jamyl sent.

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

 -- Old English Litany

 


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Re: Out of Character (OOC) Thread by Laurna
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