• Welcome to The Worlds of Katherine Kurtz.


Latest Shout



April 08, 2024, 01:40:17 PM
Plenty of time for that @Jerusha
  • Total Members: 174
  • Latest: Brion
  • Total Posts: 27,546
  • Total Topics: 2,728
  • Online today: 41
  • Online ever: 930
  • (January 20, 2020, 11:58:07 AM)
Users Online
Users: 0
Guests: 15
Total: 15
Welcome to The Worlds of Katherine Kurtz. Please login.

April 12, 2024, 04:08:49 PM

Login with username, password and session length

Ghosts of the Past

Started by Bynw, November 21, 2017, 09:26:09 AM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


"Darcy Cameron, Sir," Darcy responded.  "I'd extend my hand, but I'm afraid it's a wee bit grimy at the moment."
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany


Aliset risked a surreptitious glance across at Darcy to see what, if any, reaction he might have to the priest's mention of her powers. While she was hardly ashamed or embarrassed about using her talents, especially during times like this, enough people in the kingdom still existed who distrusted Deryni and overt use of their powers, and she had not known the man for long enough to know what he might think.  Evidently the priest himself must be Deryni as well, else he shouldn't have been able to detect anything unusual at all in Aliset's actions.

Darcy seemed to have either not noticed the priest's statement, or else he didn't care what Aliset was or what powers she might have brought to bear upon the situation, for no flicker of reaction towards the priest's words seemed to cross his features as he introduced himself to Sir Washburn.  Aliset herself, however, had to force her own features not to betray her consternation as she felt the knight touch her wrist, initiating rapport.  It was but the shallowest of links, but it startled her nonetheless.  She sensed this was not the first time the Lendour knight had shared rapport with Alister; the main problem was, she was not Alister!  Would he be able to sense that?  Perhaps trying to maintain the illusion of being the Mariot heir rather than an heiress might not be the best of ideas for much longer, but in truth this hardly seemed to be the right moment to spring a surprise on a man who must have been a closer friend to her brother than she'd originally assumed.  She kept her musings well shielded, simply absorbing back the energy he was restoring to her now that the worst of the crisis seemed to be behind them.

She would need to tell him the truth, then, and fairly soon.  But not here.  And there was still the matter of whether to let Darcy know.  He seemed a trustworthy sort, but a woman without a protector could hardly be too careful, and at least Sir Washburn Morgan's reputation as a man of honor was well known throughout the kingdom.  Darcy Cameron might well be just as honorable, but that was as yet less proven to her satisfaction, though she admitted to herself that he had acquitted himself well in their current situation, certainly doing nothing to disprove that she could put her trust in him.

If she revealed her secret, then, it would be to Sir Washburn first.  And then once she discovered his reaction to the truth, perhaps that would help her decide what she might reveal to Darcy.

She looked over at Washburn. "Where shall we stay tonight, then, since it would appear our inn is rather the worse for wear? Had you thought that we ought to press closer to Rhemuth before nightfall, or should we perhaps spend an evening recovering our energies in the village, or perhaps at that monastery guesthouse our helpful priest just mentioned, where the Healer serves in the infirmarium?"  Aliset glanced into the distance, in the direction the clergyman had wandered off, presumably to hunt down a 'Father Andrew' for assistance, before looking down at the injured cook.  "This man needs more assistance than I am able to render, I think, so at the very least perhaps we ought to see him into the Healer's care before we go any further."
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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


Sitting back on his heels, taking in the fullness of their surroundings with what seemed to be the entire population of Culdi crowding the streets to get a glimpse of the happenings, Washburn wanted with all his heart to get on the road, but he knew that was a bad idea. The young baron was too out in the open, if he had escaped the attention of his cousin's men they most assuredly would have noticed him as he sat here, out in the middle of the street. Therefore, they daren't leave on the road just now. Even begging a room at the Culdi castle seemed a bit too conspicuous.

Washburn was nodding as he considered the monastery and the privacy there. "My lord Alister, I think you've made a good choice. Let us get this man to the infirmary and perhaps from there we can disappear unseen into the monastery for a good night's sleep before we rush to Rhemuth. I for one could use a bath and a good meal. Seeing as how my last meal was never completed." He made a jesting smile to the men around him. "And you know, a good blessing from that priest who was just here would not go amiss."

The knight took note that no one seemed to object. So he stood and waved at a carter who had paused at the side of the road; he was seated before a single rouncy pulling a light wagon. "You there, master driver! You be willing to help us take this man to the Infirmary?"

"Aye, my lord!' the man hollered back. Between the baron and himself they carried the cook, who only gave a light groan, to the cart. They placed him beside a bale of goods.  Wash gave the man a coin and Alister told him where to go.   

Master Darcy came up behind them with the horses.  As they were mounting up, Washburn spied the tavern gal off to the side.  She had her arms around a young boy, the same boy who had taken his destrier to the stables earlier that day.  Wash walked his horse over to the woman. "We are taking your man to the infirmary; you can follow us there. You should have your hands looked at, as well." Then he turned and followed his companions and the cart toward the monastery.
May your horses have wings and fly!


He couldn't breathe!  Sweet Jesu, there was no air, only flame and smoke. 

"Abandon ship!"  The Captain's cry circulated among the men.  "Man the lifeboats!"

Darcy had never been sure how he made to the lifeboat.  It wasn't the one he was to take charge of, but the Quartermaster was nowhere to be seen, so he took his place, seeing to it that it was filled with the living and lowered to the sea.

It was in the sea that they found the Quartermaster.  Darcy had ordered the men to steer the lifeboat toward him, but by the time they were alongside, it was clear the frigid Northern Sea had claimed another victim. 

"Take this," the Quartermaster had gasped, removing a leather thong from his neck from which hung a small leather bad."  Give it to my neph..."

Darcy had managed to grab the pouch as the Quartermaster sank under the water, destined to the depths below.

Darcy Cameron woke with a start.  He froze and listened to make sure he had not disturbed the other men sleeping in the main room of the monastery's guest quarters.  No one else stirred.  Relieved, Darcy ran his hands through the long strands of pale blond hair and took a deep, satisfying breath.

It had not taken long to reach the monastery Father Columcil had directed them to.  The tavern wench (most likely the cook's wife) had followed them and been taken to the infirmary for her injuries to be seen to.  Lord Alister had spent some time in consultation with the priest and Father Andrew, likely discussing the injuries to be looked after among the town folk.  Darcy had ensured the horses were looked after.  Once immediate matters were settled, he had thankfully enjoyed a hot bath.

He had dined in the guest quarters of the monetary with Sir Washburn and Lord Alister.  The meal had been simple but nourishing.  The ale had been excellent, brewed by the brethren and highly regarded throughout Culdi.  It was a pity to have to drink so moderately, but they had all been too exhausted to fully appreciate it and had turned in early for much needed rest.  Washburn and Alister, as noblemen, shared the quest room reserved for those of higher rank.  Darcy slept in the common room with the few others that were there.

A trip to the privy would clear his head, Darcy decided.  He had not had the dream for a long time; likely the day's events had triggered it.

Once back in the guest quarters, Darcy quietly reached into his sea bag for a leather lace to secure his hair after he braided it.  It was slow to dry after his bath, so he had left it loose until now.  He found a lace, then reached father inside to check the contents of a small pocket sewn within.  The pouch was still there.  After he had seen Lord Alister safely to Rhemuth, he would continue on to Desse to fulfil the promise he had made to the Quartermaster.
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany


((Ooh, missions within missions!   ;D ))

Aliset paused, listening intently.  She thought she had heard a soft footfall in the corridor beyond her monastic guest room, but all was still now.  She continued combing her hair in front of the hearth, facing the cheery flames within.  She had bathed earlier, which thankfully had not been as awkward as she feared it might be, since she had not had to share the same bathwater and washtub with Sir Washburn.  He had gone to check on their horses and (she thought) to speak to the abbot about something or another. It had mattered not to her where he'd gone; he had gone, and that had bought her a few minutes of precious privacy to wash off the day's soot and grime without fear of him noticing anything amiss in her impersonation of her late brother.  There were parts of him she'd never bothered trying to accurately replicate, after all!

By the time the knight had returned to their shared room, she had washed her stained garments and had them wrung out and drying beside the fire, having changed into her spare set of Alister's clothing and tucked her towel-damp hair away into a neat border braid.  The knight had smiled distractedly across the room at her before making ready for his own bath, and she had seized upon the opportunity to flee, using the pretext of asking the infirmarian if he might be able to spare a few basic medicinals to refresh the scant supply in her travel kit.  She had tarried in the infirmary as long as she could think of excuses to do so, checking on the welfare of the hapless cook and his goodwife, but at long last she figured the knight from Lendour could hardly still be at his ablutions unless he had fallen asleep in the bathwater.  She had made her way back to their room, working up the courage to reveal her secret to him (or was that a revelation best kept until morning, under the circumstances?), only to discover upon arriving there that he had left again.

Perhaps that had been for the best.  Aliset was still quite undecided about how she should break her news to her brother's friend.

She had taken her hair out of the Border braid and run her fingers through it, finding it still damp underneath the top layer.  A wave of tiredness swept through her as she pulled the comb from her belt pouch and began to work it through the shoulder-length strands, separating them so that the heat from the fireplace could make them dry faster.  There was a padded settle before the fire, and she sank gratefully onto the cushioned seat.

Staring into the flames, she relaxed her gaze and focused on the flickering within, calling upon the power within herself to help her scry for any signs of Oswald or those loyal to him who might yet be pursuing her.

((5 and 2, verification # 257bpzs0j6))

The dancing flames, combined with the exertions of the day, began to lull her almost to sleep, but then before her eyes, a black-cloaked figure on horseback revealed itself to her in the flames, a dark silhouette of a moonlit mountain crag behind him.  She knew that terrain.  She and Darcy had passed through that valley but a day earlier, and they had thought they had finally shaken off the last of Oswald's trackers.  With a shiver of foreboding, Aliset realized that her pursuers were not very far behind them.

The footfalls returned.  The door began to creak open.  Hopefully it was Sir Washburn, returning for the night, but all the same, Aliset's hand strayed to the comfort of her dagger's hilt just to be safe.
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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


The brother of Corwyn's Duke stepped toward the monastic guest room door as stealthily as he could. He was far from home, in a town he knew but little, in a situation where he was responsible to see a friend, who had just lost his family, get to Rhemuth and to the king.  His stealth was so as to not wake the youthful baron if he slept. They had hard riding to do in the next days ahead. Sleep now would be welcome if any of them could get it.

Washburn craked the door just a little, looking about the room, noting Alister was seated before the fireplace. He was starring deep into the flames. A comb was in his hand and he was slowly automatically brushing back his hair. The Lendour knight had to look twice. An odd notion caught him off guard, he blinked again. Most men raked their hair back and braided it without that much care. What ever the baron saw in the flames he sighed anxiously, blinking away his focus. Wash stepped into the room, purposely scoffing his boot and creaking the door. Briskly the baron's left hand finished his braid with a twisted, and his right hand went to his dagger. "Tis but a friend," Washburn announced. "I have news."

"I had a chat with the Abbot. He is a king's man, well, rather he is the archbishop's man and therefore no sympathizer with the Mearian separatists. After Culdi's history, the abbot has no desire to bring on Kelson's wrath. Nor Uncle Duncan's. He's agreed to help us."

Washburn walked up to the fire. Just the slightest fire-log smoke touched his throat and he had to cough. "Thought I got rid of that," he said under his breath. He stepped away from the fire, found a half-filled mug of ale near where Alister sat and swallowed it down. "Sorry if was that yours. Good ale. Is there any more?" 

Alister pointed to an earthen jug with cork stopper over the top, placed on the back table. "Darcy brought it in before he returned to the common room," the baron said.

"I should have asked master Darcy to sleep on a pallet at our door tonight. But I am guessing we are safe enough for one night." Washburn poured out two cups and returned to hand one to his friend. "Just to be on the safe side, I convinced the abbot to lend us three robes from the cloister. Riding out tomorrow, we will be three monks on church business.  Well possibly four. The abbot seemed to think the priest we saw today is in need of travel companions. He apparently is going south.  But I thought I better clear that with you first. If you think we can trust him, he'll help disguise our intent. Course, it may mean we travel a bit slower. You can decide in the morning."

Wash turned his head to suppress another cough. For a moment Wash thought to ask if Alister had improved on that Healer's training he had whispered he had discovered not long before last year. But if Alister was going to offer his skilled touch, he would have done so earlier in the day. Wash decided the youth had been through too much with the loss of his family, so he didn't bring the subject up. "Look, we need to get some shut-eye. You take the cot near the hearth. I think I'll pull mine as far away from that fire as I can get."
May your horses have wings and fly!


Aliset frowned.  The knight's cough sounded no worse than one might expect from a man who had breathed in too much smoke-filled air earlier in the day. Still, she liked it not. She wished she knew some arcane way to still that tickle in his inflamed tissues, but mere mortal methods must suffice.  She reached into her belt pouch for a small flask of an herb-laced honey she had requested from the infirmarian earlier in the evening, while Wash had been at his bath, and poured what she estimated to be a scant spoonful into her portion of the ale before setting the cup close to the fire to warm up. "This might ease your cough," she told the knight as she looked up to meet his curious gaze.  "I cannot promise it will cure it completely, but it should still it enough to allow you to catch up on your sleep." 

The knight smiled. "Is it a Healer's concoction?" he asked.

Aliset gave a rueful chuckle. "Not exactly. It was my mother's home remedy, truth be told, though nearly as effective. For best effect, it ought to be stirred into whisky, though since I've none of that with me, ale shall have to suffice."  She studied the man before her, summoning up her courage.  "My lord, there is something you must know before we journey on any further together. I feel remiss in not informing you earlier, yet I can hardly think of when I might have had a decent opportunity before now."

"We've hardly had a minute to catch our breaths since we met at the inn, have we?" Wash agreed.  "What is it you need to tell me?"

Now that the moment was at hand, Aliset could not find the words.  Instead, she picked up the medicinal ale from the hearth, handing it to him with a wry smile.  "Drink this first.  And then...."  She offered her hand to him.  "Perhaps it might be easier if I just showed you."

((3 and 1, verification #638vj1sp16))

Wash took the posset she handed him and tossed it down in a few gulps, handing the cup back to her as he took her hand.  She attempted to establish a shallow rapport with him then, prepared to share her secret with him at last, but to her consternation, her extreme need for secrecy coupled with the stress of the previous few days and Oswald's pursuit of her had apparently resulted in an unexpected side effect, for despite having braced herself to reveal everything to the man before her, suddenly she discovered herself unable to lower her shields! His look of sleepy curiosity turned to confusion as she stared back at him in dismay, pulling away from the tentative attempt to link with him.

"My...my lord, I am sorry!  I must be more tired than I realized!  I...I must not keep you laboring under false assumptions any longer, however.  I am not the man who you think I am."  As the Duke's brother continued to listen, a hint of wary caution awakening in his eyes now, she added, "That is to say, I am your friend, if you would have my friendship, and in truth I very much have need of yours.  But I am not Alister of Mariot, my lord.  I am Aliset, Demoiselle de Mariot, and true heiress to my father's lands by blood right and the allegiance he held to our liegelord of Gwynedd.  For the sake of whatever bonds of friendship you shared with my brother, although I find myself unable to lower my shields just now to show you the truth of what I tell  you, I throw myself upon your mercy."
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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


"Aliset, Demoiselle de Mariot," Washburn repeated, attempting to understand the words that came from the person and voice of the person who he thought was the one standing before him, but who declared he, no she, was not. The man he saw was a comrade in arms, one whom he had but months before jovially ransacked the Rhemuth armory with, looking for just the right dagger to go with his new knight's sword. The same dagger that just now stood in the belt of the person before him. He didn't want to believe what he had just heard.

"You're not Alister!" It was not a question, but a confirmation. "Not Alister, but his sister, his twin sister Aliset." He had heard of magic like this which could disguise so completely. However, he knew nothing of how it was done. Did she have his memories too? Would the siblings have been together when he died? It hurt his heart that the lady would have witnessed that. "Aliset is the older of the two of you, I recall you once told me. I'm sorry... he told me!"  The person who looked like Alister stood before him, barely nodded, looking on anxiously. What Washburn's eyes told him was not in agreement with what his mind and his senses were understanding.  Little things had stood out, mannerisms not quite right. Talents not shared, talents like Healing and Rapport, because the Rapport had never been established in the first place to share them. Oddly it made sense. He looked into the eyes of the one before him and from that moment he knew the truth. "Kelric was right. Alister was murdered, as too was the Baron de Mariot. And only you alone survived. I am so sorry for adding to you grief."

The Lendour Knight stood turning away from his friend's sister. He paced the floor not looking up. Earlier, he had changed into a simple but clean black tunic and trews having given over his ash-covered and flour-cover heraldic tunic to a deacon to see cleaned and dried for their leaving in the morning. He had left his chain mail shirt on the chest at the end of the bed, alongside his long sword and his helm. Out of respect to the monastery, he had chosen to only wear his short sword and dagger. He looked over at the weapon lying there but he did not reach for it. Rather instead he absently said. "All three of my weapons are a matched set. They were given to me by my mother on the day of my knighting.  Maman, yum, the duchess told me then how my father had found the three weapons in the armory of Lendour. This had been years before I was born. The great sword, short sword, and dagger had once belonged to an ancestor, the man whose name I was given at birth.  His story had touched the duke and the duchess, that is why I was named after him, and that was why my father had insisted early on that those weapons would be mine at my knighting. Remember how I bragged about this to you?"

Wash had gotten lost in the memory and shook his head at the slip. "Oh god, I mean to your brother; oh Lady Aliset.... Have you heard this story before? Sir Alister had a good sword from his father, I mean your father, damn. But he didn't have a set like mine. I was shamed by my bosting. And had to find a way to make it right. I did get permission from King Kelson, I swear that I did. Though the master Armorer did not believe. Course that was after we had ransacked the armory searching for a matching dagger. We found one, not exact but very close. It had an ebony hilted, with a twisted silver wrapping for the hand hold, a ruby at the base of the hilt and an emblem of an eagle at the cross. It was a good quality dagger and it still is. As I see it still at your belt."

The hand of the person before him handled the hilt of the dagger, but did not draw it.

"Alister is truly gone then?" Washburn said with sadness. He looked up at the figure of Alister, knowing Aliset's deception was not a betrayal. At least it had not been one set for him, he had just fallen into it by circumstances that were out of control. "I will avenge him my lady! I won't run off now. Though every muscle in me wants too." He looked back into the lady's eyes seeing her without really seeing.  She hadn't dropped her shields. He was a stranger to her and he understood. But he knew now that it wasn't Alister who looked back at him. It was his sister who needed him to protect her and guide her to Gwynedd's King. Kelson needed to be the one to make a ruling which would legally return to her the inheritance of her father's estate. "Your cousin Oswald is a coward if he sends men after a woman!"

Washburn didn't wait for her reply. He suddenly looked around him flustered. He quickly gathered up his things. "And, and...My lady, forgive me for my forwardness before. I will sleep in the commons room. I ask you to bolt this door when I leave. And you will need a chaperon. I swear not from me," he added quickly, "but your reputation must remain impeccable in the eyes of Rhemuth Court, when we arrive there."
May your horses have wings and fly!


"Wait, my lord!"  Aliset held up one hand in alarm. "Before you go, there are a couple of other things you should know." 

As Sir Washburn's hand paused upon the door latch, she continued.  "Just now, before you came in, I was scrying the flames for signs of my pursuers.  You ought to know that I saw their leader not a day's journey from here. He appears to have picked up our trail again despite our best efforts to shake him off.  I don't know how far behind us he and his men are now, but we probably should not tarry here any longer than we absolutely must." 

At Washburn's nod of understanding, she continued.  "And the other thing is...Darcy Cameron does not know yet that I am a woman.  I met him only a fortnight ago, and while I trust him as much as I've been able--and he has not given me any cause to doubt his trustworthiness--I...thought it prudent to withhold that information for the time being, given the circumstances."  She blushed. "Though if you think he ought to know, I will leave that to your discretion.  I can continue in this guise as long as I must, or take on some other form if you'd prefer--if seeing Alister's familiar form before you daily would be too hard for you--and indeed would rather remain in a man's form for now if that means being able to dispense with any additional travelers in our party who might slow us down.  With pursuit so hard upon our heels, I would be loathe to endanger any of the village maidens or goodwives you might otherwise consider a more suitable chaperone." She ventured a hesitant smile. "Alister trusted you, and he was a good judge of character, my lord.  Therefore, I trust you also.  If you think it more meet to add another lady to our number once we manage to shake off my pursuers, then of course I shall defer to your good judgment.  And, of course, we shall also have a priest with us, if Father Columcil intends to accompany us.  That should hopefully prevent idle tongues from wagging."
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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


Darcy Cameron awoke alert as had always been his custom.  He lay still to gauge the sounds around him; the few other guests in the common room were beginning to stir.  Dawn had broken not too long before, as the light creeping in from the shuttered windows still held a pink tinge.  Red light at morning, sailors take warning.  There might be rain today.

He stretched on his pallet, felt a satisfying crack of his spine.  It had not been an uncomfortable night, once he had finally slept again.  He rose from his pallet and made his way to the door to go outside to the privy when he stopped. He turned and noticed Sir Washburn stirring on a pallet not far from the separate room the Deryni knight and Lord Alister were supposed to share.  Puzzled, he wondered if they had had an argument, or if one snored so loudly as to be kicked out of the finer quarters.  Sir Washburn awoke, stood and gave him a guarded nod in greeting.

Darcy opened the door and almost collided with Father Columcil.  The good father was holding what looked to be country priest cassocks draped across is arm.

Darcy abandoned hope of this being an uneventful day.
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany


((This is my second reply, my first reply errored-out and crashed my laptop. I'm learning to save my words before I post.))

Washburn stood and stretched. He had slept on pallets often enough to not think too much of it. Only dukes and kings got the advantage of never sleeping on the floor. He noted Master Darcy's inquiring look in his direction and he truthfully replied in greeting, "The fireplace was too close."

He gave his back another stretch, reaching down for his belt. He saw Father Columcil enter the common room and the frown that came over Darcy's face as he saw the clerical robes. The seaman might take some convincing to play the part of a humble monk. That would be the least of his troubles today. He had not yet meet the priest, but Wash recognized him as the man who had said the prayer on his behalf yesterday. A prayer he much appreciated.  "Ah, Father, well-met. I am in hopes that your presence this morning means you will be joining our journey south? We will greatly appreciate your companionship." It was an auspicious arrangement. The good father would be Aliset's chaperon, even if he was unaware of it.

The knight's nightmare had been about the Queen reprimanding him, before the entire court, for his lack of Chivalry on behalf of Lady Aliset.  Yet the morning's light only reinforced the decision he had made last night. For Darcy's sake, as well as his own, he had asked the noble lady that she remain in the disguise of Sir Alister, her twin brother. Then with his shields open, he let her read the truth in his oath, he promised to be her protector until this business was done.

May your horses have wings and fly!


(( I also lost a first draft which is why Father Columcil has been somewhat silent of late)).

"And once you were unable to explain your lineage as a healer, you feared your illegitimacy might be revealed and your ordination questioned. I understand, my son, though your first duty as a priest is always towards others and not simply your own safety."

But there was compassion rather than rebuke in the Abbot's voice, and startled at the lack of condemnation, Columcil looked up to meet the other's gaze. Unable to settle his conscience he had begged that he might have the comfort of confession and had been directed to remain in the Chapel after Vespers. He had not expected that it would be the Abbot himself to hear his confession, but it was not his place to question and he had dutifully knelt at the Abbot's feet.

There was gentleness in the Abbot's eyes as he continued. " It was a sin against your calling, both as a healer and as a priest to deny your gift, but you know that and have confessed as much. And I think I know too, what you cannot say..."  The Abbot broke off as Columcil started to get to his feet in a panic and firmly, but gently forced him back down to his knees.  "Do not fear.  I will not ask you beyond what you have freely given, though it was fear of what you might confess that ensured that only I heard your confession.  I have known their Graces of Cassan, past and present for many years and I have eyes in my head."

In shock and confusion, Columcil managed to ask. "What is your counsel,  my Lord? Surely it is best for me to return home, though I will appear disobedient, to my manor Lord and to my Bishop both of whom  enjoined this journey upon me against my own judgement." The obscurity of life as a country priest had suited him well and he had no desires beyond the fulfillment of his vocation. He looked up hopefully towards the Abbot but was dismayed to see the other shaking his head.

'I think not, my son. I see the hand of God in this - though as is His way, He shows us but little of His purpose. There is much that I do not know but I am sure that your path has not crossed that of the young noblemen by mere chance. They are heading for Rhemuth, as do you, and they have begged that they may borrow monks' habits to cloak their departure. Your penance for your fear is to travel with them. And yes I know you have lost saddle and bridle, that will be made good.'

Columcil saw his last hope of escape disappear with those words, but though the Abbot had clearly seen  his forlorn hope, it was denied with humour rather than censure.

"In nomine Patris, Filii et Spiritus Sancti..." The Abbot made the sign of the cross on Columcil's forehead as he spoke the words of absolution. Columcil kissed the Abbot's hand then rose, and turning towards the Presence lamp, genuflected in homage and resignation.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
(Psalm 46 v1)


Aliset carefully folded her brother's clothing, returning it to her travel bag before studying her reflection in a polished brass mirror with a slight frown.  The border braid she'd taken to wearing in her disguise as Alister didn't quite go along with the borrowed monk's robes she wore.  It would be easy enough for one of Oswald's trackers to see through her disguise.

((3 & 6, verification #3585bnpphg))

She imagined her hair shorter, with a small coin-sized tonsure in back, and saw her reflection change accordingly.  With regret, she realized she really ought to change her facial features as well--doubtless her pursuers had figured out by now she was using her brother's face and form as a disguise--but it would be easier to explain a sudden haircut to the traveling companions who did not realize exactly who she was than it would be to explain an entirely new face.  Perhaps if the need grew truly great, she would let Darcy and Father Columcil in on the secret that Sir Washburn already knew, and then she could wear whatever form would best suffice for throwing her pursuers off their trail.  But for now, this modification to her disguise would have to serve.

She refilled her wineskin and left to join the rest of her companions.
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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


Darcy Cameron looked askance at the monk's robe Father Columcil held out to him.  "You really expect me to wear this?" he asked.  "I like to think I have lived a mostly honourable life, but it has not been a pure one.  Do you really want to get struck down by lightning before we have cleared the courtyard?"

At Father Columcil's solemn nod, Darcy crossed himself and shrugged into the coarse, homespun robe.
"I will not, repeat, NOT be tonsured!"

He turned as Lord Alister joined them, his hair shortened to blend with his new attire.  As Lord Alister nodded to the priest, Darcy noticed the small tonsure on the crown of his head.

"Lord have mercy," Darcy muttered as he drew the hood of his robe up to cover his head.
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany


((Revanne, I hope I am not writing over you, It has taken me three hours to put this together tonight)).

Darcy's hood went up in defiance.

Wash stifled a laugh behind a pretend cough. When he had suggested they pose as monks, he hadn't expect their deception to be scrutinized up close. His sword was a ready deterrent if the wrong person chose to get that close. Belatedly, he noted Aliset's features had shifted. Shifted to Alister with a haircut and a-- a tonsure.

"Gades!"  Easy enough for her to do! "Is that not irreverent?" he questioned her.

Alister's eyebrows raised as if challenging him. "Old bald men are not considered irreverent. Just be glad we still have hair to grow out." Confounding logic that; so like Alister to take the broad view. What didn't help, was that he knew that Aliset's tonsure was a cheat!

Knowing what he must do, the tall knight gave a growl under his breath. "The Archbishop's penance for impersonating a priest will be unpleasant. After he is done laughing, that is." Wash ran his fingers through his hair. Long hair was a province of courtiers at Kelson's court.  Short hair was good for roaming knights, he could except that, but a Tonsure?

"Master Darcy, your choice is good enough. Just keep that cowl up. But if I'm to be our leader, I must fully play the part." A little exasperated with himself over the thought of a haircut, he spoke more briskly than he intended. "I expect everyone will be ready to ride in an hour!" he ordered. "Have my horse saddled and bridled, and our supply bags packed. We shan't tarry here longer than needful."

At that moment a decan arrived with Washburn's clean folded tunic. "Thank you son, I'll keep that for a better day.  Father Columcil, I'll take that last robe your holding." He placed his black tunic in his saddle bag, he almost stuffed his chainmail in to, with his helm, but he had to give that a second thought. Without help, he slide the shirt of interlocking rings over his head and arms. The monk's robe went over that without exposing the metal underneath. Good! A tonsure he would endure. Going without his armor, he would not.

The drate robe was a tad short and his black boots were exposed. He sighed. "I'll need plain footwear. Son," speaking to the Decon. "Can you lead me to the Abbot to beg shoes, for a donation of course,  and then on to the Monastery barber, I'm in need of a haircut."

He left quickly, not wanting to see the smirks made by his riding companions.
May your horses have wings and fly!