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Author Topic: Ghosts of the Past  (Read 156225 times)

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Offline Bynw

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #795 on: September 14, 2020, 01:15:32 PM »
"I make a promise to you Washburn. Your friends will not be harmed. Their lives will not be in danger. Although Lady Aliset seems to be going against the plan. She is a clever and dangerous girl. She her skill and will are stronger than we believed. She complicates the working."

"I cannot take back the BlueFyre that I gave you as an option to free yourself. For I am not physically present to do so. Pour it out on the ground. Make sure the area is dusty and dry. Don't pour it into any stream or water. And rinse the bottle with the strongest of spirits. Nothing diluted. Do this several times to make sure none of it remains in the bottle and then you can use it for anything else or simply dispose of it."

"The medallion that you speak of is safe. I can see to it that you get it back. I certainly don't want it."

Again Feyd pauses and briefly appears to be catching his breath. "Maintaining this link is taxing. Fortunately we are almost done. Let us complete it."

----

Aliset felt the touch of Washburn's mind for a brief moment and then it was gone. It was a joyous experience. Washburn was alive and well as far as she could tell. But the link faded and the continued out pouring of energy is getting over whelming to stay with it. She would not be able to initiate that link to Washburn on her own.

But there was something else. Father Paulos, herself, Father Columcil, and her beloved Darcy are all in a Rapport with one another. And for a brief moment Washburn had entered Rapport with them.

And within this brief moment as it closed. Aliset discovered that there was a separate mental link. A feather light touching of another mind on the Torenthi priest's mind. A Rapport so subtle it almost went unnoticed and even Father Paulos might not be aware of it at all. It must be using the ruby.

Yet it is the source. The energy being pulled by Father Paulos is being siphoned off through the secondary Rapport like water through a drain. 


Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #796 on: September 18, 2020, 03:47:22 PM »
Aliset Cameron drew a sharp intake of breath.  For a brief, joyous instant, she had shared  Rapport with Washburn!  But  as the Rapport closed,  she had felt another presence linked with Washburn, and she was sure that presence was also linked to Father Paulos.   It was so subtle, almost feather-light, that she had not sensed it before.  It had to be the cause of the energy drain! This person, whoever it was, was siphoning off the energy they were supplying to the Torenthi priest and using it for their own purpose.  That purpose must lie within the ruby.

Aliset felt her awareness begin to dull.  She could not give up now, not when she might discover the source of the additional mental link! 

((Test roll to see if Aliset can maintain her alertness.  Standard roll with success on 4, 5 or 6.
jerusha rolled 2d6: 6 3  <Total: 9> Way to go, Aliset!))

Aliset stilled her mind, took a deep breath and drew back from the brink of  the deep trance that held Darcy and Father Columcil.  She could sense their presence and felt their support.  She could also sense the twin heartbeats she carried within her.  She would not risk their safety.  Darcy’s hand tightened ever so slightly over her own.  To succeed, she must find the source quickly, for the pull on their energy resources had increased again.

Aliset focused on Father Paulos’ mind and that secondary, feather-light touch.  Both minds led her towards the ruby held so tightly in Washburn’s fist, but did not draw her within the flaw.  Instead the secondary Rapport separated and  seemed to swirl around the gem, following the last spell that remained. Father Paulos halted his probe of the gem, and Aliset slipped in to take his place to try to follow the path to its source.

((Test to see if Aliset can discover the source of the secondary Rapport.  Roll a standard test, success on 4, 5 or 6.
jerusha rolled 2d6: 5 5  <Total: 10>There’s that 10 I was looking for before.  Whoot!))

An image began to form in her mind. The image was distorted, as if she was having trouble focusing her eyes to see it. It was a man in conversation with another. She concentrated harder, and the image became clearer. The man was a foreigner, wearing a scholar’s robes.   She had seen this face before, and she shuddered as the memory suddenly came back to her.

She had been cradled in Washburn’s arms, helpless from the drug Jaxom had used when he had abducted her.  She could not move, but her head rested in such a way on Washburn’s chest  that she could see the man approach Washburn from behind. 

Is the Lady alright? he had asked. 

The man  had then jabbed something into Washburn’s neck, directly in front of her face. She had felt Washburn tense, and he pushed her from his lap.  She had heard a brief struggle and then Washburn was gone.

Aliset saw the man clearly now and was sure this foreign  scholar was the source of the secondary link.  Suddenly, she knew he saw her as well, and his presence filled her mind,  causing her to gasp.

”Desist, woman! Or you will harm the man you so desperately want to save!

”You are the man who captured Washburn!  You are the one who caused him such pain and suffering!” Aliset shot back, not trying to temper the anger she knew the scholar could feel through the link.  ”He still suffers because of you!”

”On the contrary, I saved his life,” the scholar corrected.  ”But I have no time for further discussion.  Washburn can explain all to you when he awakens.  I have restored his memories; now I must finish what I started.  If I do not, he will never achieve the destiny that is his and his alone.”

”I’m sure he could have managed that without your interference,” Aliset snapped.

”See for yourself that Washburn is unharmed.”

A new image formed in Aliset’s mind.  It was Washburn, sitting on a hillside under a clear blue sky, gazing at a harbour Aliset did not recognize.  She sensed no distress, no struggle within….

“Thank you, Lady Aliset, for your momentary distraction,” the scholar said. 

”No!” Aliset felt his presence in the link begin to withdraw.  It pulled away from the ruby, rejoined Father Paulos’ Rapport and was gone.

”Oh, Washburn!” Aliset cried out in mental distress.  ”Have I failed you?”
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Offline Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #797 on: September 19, 2020, 04:53:39 PM »
Wash nodded to the scholar as the man agreed to find a way to return the Camber medal to him.
The scholar took in a deep breath and said.  "Maintaining this link is taxing. Fortunately we are almost done. Let us complete it."

Wash felt a little disoriented as all the pieces of his life filtered back into their rightful places in his mind. “I think I need to sit down,” he replied as his knees bent on their own accord. He caught himself and sat not too gently upon the grassy hill.

Twenty four years of memories righted themselves in his mind: they tumbled over each other to become full and complete. The tainted memories were mostly gone, only a few remained because those few had affected how he had made decisions which caused him to act badly in the last few weeks. They were there like bard's tall-tales, ones full of mis-truths, ones that were known to be false stories, but the stories could not be denied completely once they had been witnessed.  Wash pushed those to a separate place in his mind knowing them now for their falsehoods. Also knowing he needed to apologize and make right the things those false memories had caused him to do. “Can they ever forgive me?” he asked of the blue sky and the castle on the cliff below.

Could his brothers ever forgive him? They must be worried sick about him.  And his mother. How was he going to face her? Those thoughts were overwhelming, they obscured the conversation the scholar was having behind him.
The words, “Thank you, Lady Aliset, for your momentary distraction,”  pulled Wash from his reverie.

”Oh, Washburn!” Aliset cried out in mental distress.  ”Have I failed you?”

“Aliset?” he called, but he did not see her. He swore he had heard her, but as he turned, no one was there. The scholar was gone too. Only the animals remained and they moved closer to him. Columcil the rabbit leaned his twitching nose into Washburn’s palm. The two eagles came close to his side and the lynx walked before him, her amber eyes looking at him beseechingly.

“My friends, you have not failed me. You are the best part of me. Will you be here when I awake from this dream? I am so tired, but if you promise to be here, I will sleep now and awake a better man.  I make that vow to you. I will be a better man.”

Wash curled on his side and fell into an easy sleep

Offline Bynw

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #798 on: September 20, 2020, 01:14:55 PM »

Sometime in the late afternoon.

Father Paulos breathes out sigh and opens his eyes. Before him lies the Knight Washburn. Sleeping, but his sleep has changed. No longer held in thrall to a magical sleep. He is sleeping on his own.

The Torenthi priest moves his hand from Washburn's head and uses it to help guild the hand still clenched in a fist around the ruby. Setting it hand gently on Washburn's body before the priest releases it.

Within the minds of those engaged win the Ritual. They slowly begin regaining their awareness. Besides regaining their awareness of themselves and the others as the mental link dissolves. They are aware of how exhausted they all are from the working.

Father Paulos still sits beside Washburn. His head bowed and his hands together in prayer. Using the Greek of the eastern churches as his language of choice. He finishes his prayers as the others seem to be looking at him for guidance. He crosses himself in the eastern manner and turns to them.

"I believe we are successful. His sleep is that of any man and not magically endued. We are all tired and should let him sleep until morning as we all should do. If we are successful. Sometime during the night his hand will go limp and release the stone allowing it fall. And it will be just a stone at that point."

He looks to Fiona. "My dear. Thank you for your service in watching over us through this ritual. When the others release the ward. Go fetch Father Michael so we can have a room here in the church prepared for all of us. I doubt highly that inn keeper will appreciate any of you back there for the night."

Offline DerynifanK

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #799 on: September 23, 2020, 09:19:13 AM »
As Fiona continued to watch, she began to notice subtle changes occurring in her friends.  She looked carefully, studying them more intently. She noticed changes in their breathing. Instead of very slow and shallow as it had been, the rate of their breathing increased and became deeper. She thought she saw Aliset’s eyelids flutter. Columcil’s head was no longer sunk on his chest, his chin rose and his neck straightened.  Darcy’s right hand appeared to tighten on his wife’s.

She heard a deep sigh from the head of Wash’s cot. She turned to observe Father Paulos and saw that his eyes were open. He returned her scrutiny with a slight smile.  “I believe our ritual has come to an end.” As she watched, he removed his hand from Washburn’s forehead and placed it on top of the hand holding Wash’s hand. Gently he guided Wash’s hand with the ruby to his chest and laid it there. There were no flashes of light or other responses from the ruby. Did that mean that the spells had been cast out and Wash was no longer under their thrall?  Did it mean that the ruby no longer has the power to attack them if they tried to move it?  Did this mean that Wash was free?

As she kept her gaze on Father Paulos who remained sitting at Washburn’s side, he bowed his head and clasped his hands together. She heard him murmuring words in prayer although she could not understand them.

Fiona turned away from her study of the priest and returned her gaze to her friends. She saw their eyes open and they began to stir. Father Paulos’ voice ceased and he crossed himself in the Eastern manner. He raised his head and looked around the circle. Aliset had removed her hand from his arm, and all of them released their hand holds. Darcy removed his hand from Wash’s chest where he had clasped Columcil’s hand. Only Washburn did not stir. They all turned their eyes toward the priest.

Father Paulos returned their gaze and smiled. “I believe our ritual has been successful.” he said.

“But Washburn still sleeps. He is not arousing.” Fiona sounded concerned.

The priest responded. “But this sleep is different. He is sleeping naturally. He is no longer under the spell on the ruby. This is healing sleep, to counter the fatigue we all feel. We are all exhausted from the effort to free Sir Washburn from his coma.”

Father Paulos addressed Aliset who was regarding him with a steady gaze. “My lady, if you will release the wards, I will ask Lady Fiona to find Father Michael and ask him to have a meal and beds prepared for us here in the church where we can rest safely and restore our energy.”
 
Darcy spoke up, “Are you able to do this,  love? I know how tired you are. You mustn’t push yourself too far. I am sure Father Columcil will assist you in releasing the wards” He eyed her with concern.

Aliset felt his love and worry for her. “Banishing the wards is much simpler than raising them and requires very little energy. As the operator responsible for the wards, I need to be the one to lower them. But Father Columcil, will you please extinguish the candles at the four corners?” The good father nodded, rose and went to each of the candles, extinguishing them each in turn.

She then turned to Darcy. “Will you help me to stand?” She began to rise from her seat but was shaky and had to grip the side of the cot to keep from falling. Darcy quickly rose to stand beside her and provide support. She turned to face the ward which still pulsed around them. He moved behind her so she could lean on him without any interference in what she was doing. Aliset raised her arms with her hands palm upwards. She took a deep centering breath and intoned. Ex tenebris te vocavi, Domine She slowly turned her hands palms downward. Te vocavi, et lucen dedisti. “Out of darkness have I called thee, O Lord. I have called thee, and Thou hast given light”

Nunc dimittis servum tuum secundum verbum tuum in pace. Fiat voluntas tua. Amen “Now lettest thy servant depart in peace according to thy will. Let it  be done according to thy will.”  As Aliset lowered her arms, the doming light faded and died. She swayed with weakness, and Darcy lowered her to the floor onto his folded cloak. She took a couple of deep breaths and leaned back against him as he knelt behind her.
(Source of the incantation to release the wards: Deryni Magic, pg. 160)

“I will find Father Michael and tell him of your requests for a meal and beds for the night.” Fiona dashed from the room leaving the others to envy so much energy. It did not take long to find Father Michael who was in the sacristy checking vestments and other items needed for mass.  He smiled at the young lady who hurried up to him. “Does this mean that the ritual has been completed? I hope that all went well and that your friend is again himself, no longer in that magic sleep.”

Fiona curtsied and answered. “Yes Father. Although Sir Washburn is not yet awake, Father Paulos assures us that the ritual was successful, and that he will awaken fully in possession of all his powers. But everyone is very tired and drained from the energy required for the ritual. Father Paulos says that we all need food and then to sleep through the night to restore our energies. He asks for a simple meal to be served and beds made up here in the church so that we may sleep safely through the night.”

Father Michael nodded. “I am glad that you have gotten the result you so much desired. I will ask cook to prepare a meal and serve it as soon as possible. While you are eating I will have beds made up for you so that you may get the sleep you need.”

”But what of our belongings left at the Inn?” Fiona asked. “Should we not hire someone to fetch them?  I’m not sure what the innkeeper might do with them. He was quite angry and wanted us gone as soon as possible.”

“Don’t worry, my lady. I had your things brought here from the inn. The innkeeper is not a bad man. He was just concerned with the reputation of his inn. After all, it is his livelihood.” Father Michael  smiled gently at her.
“Thank you, Father. I had best return to my friends now.” Fiona curtsied and left the room.

She had not been long back when a servant came to the room where the ritual had taken place. She curtsied and addressed Father Paulos. “The food you asked for is ready, Father. If you and your friends will come with me, I will show you where we have laid a table for you.”

Father Paulos nodded at her. “Bless you, my child.”

He gestured to the rest of the group. “Come with me.” he said and they all followed him to a nearby room where there was a rough table with benches on either side. He indicated that they should take their places.and after they were seated, he stood at the head of the table and said grace. He then indicated to two young deacons  that they should serve the meal.  Each person was given a bowl of hot, savory stew along with bread and cups of light ale. A platter of apples was placed in the center as well as another platter with more bread. “Help yourselves to more bread and fruit” he said.

“But what about Washburn?’ Fiona asked anxiously. “Doesn’t he need food too. Shouldn’t we wake him so he can eat?”

“He will benefit more from undisturbed sleep right now. I will see to it that there is food kept warm for him,  and he can eat when he awakes. Please, go ahead and eat. Do not worry. We will see that Sir Washburn is cared for.” Father Paulos gestured toward the food on the table. The friends picked up their spoons and began to eat.

After the meal was eaten, they returned to the room where they had carried out the ritual. They saw that pallets had been prepared for each of them. Washburn was still sleeping on the cot in the center of the room. There was a pallet set up near the door where Father Columcil could sleep and be near him. Father Michael had also asked a young deacon currently serving in the church to keep watch over Washburn during the night. Darcy, Aliset, and Fiona were shown beds in an adjoining room which had both a door and a window, providing ventilation. Father Paulos would sleep in his bed in the rectory.  He went over to the cot, accompanied by Father Columcil and they examined Washburn. “He continues to sleep naturally, his breathing and pulse are good. I think it would be best to let him wake up on his own. Father Columcil, as the healer,  will be near and Deacon Andras will also remain with him should he need anything. He will know where to find me if needed. It is time for Vespers if you wish to attend. After that, I suggest all of you lie down and get your much needed rest.”

Columcil, accompanied by Fiona, went to Vespers. By the time they returned, Darcy and Aliset, their beds drawn together to be side by side near the window, were already asleep. Columcil went to his bed just outside the door. He almost collapsed onto it and yawned hugely. “Ah cuid barely kep awake fer ta service.” He stretched out and his eyes closed. Fiona’s bed was near the door which was left slightly ajar to promote ventilation.

Fiona lay down on her bed but she was restless. She had not experienced the energy drain as the others had and found it hard to settle. She listened to the deep breathing of those around her. It was very quiet. She thought about all that had happened. Although she trusted Father Paulos, she was still worried about whether Washburn would be fully restored when he awoke. She tossed and turned for some time then managed to doze off.  She awoke some time later. It was still very dark but the moon sent some light into the room through the window. She had no idea what time it was. She thought about Wash and wondered if he was waking up. If he did awaken, he would not know where he was or what had happened since he fell asleep at the inn. That would certainly disturb him. She thought she should slip over to the room where he slept to check on him. Very quietly she got up and tiptoed into the next room and over to the cot. The young deacon stirred in his chair. “Who is there?” he asked.

”It is only me, Lady Fiona, his friend. I couldn’t sleep because I was  worried about him.  I felt I needed to come check on him.”

“He has continued to sleep quietly, my lady and has not stirred. I have not noticed any change in him. Father Paulos told me that he needed his sleep and not to disturb him. He needs to awaken on his own. If he does awaken, I will arouse the Father sleeping in the other bed. I am told he is a healer and will know what to do if there is any problem.”

“That is true and we are grateful for your willingness to help watch over him. I will return to my bed now. I am sure that if anything occurs, Father Columcil will let us know, Good night.” Fiona slipped from the room and went back to her own bed. Aliset and Darcy slept on, undisturbed by her movements. She lay down but continued to be wakeful, watching the patterns of moonlight and shadow on the floor of the room and still listening for any sounds from the nearby room where Wash lay
"Thanks be to God there are still, as there always have been and always will be, more good men than evil in this world, and their cause will prevail." Brother Cadfael's Penance

Offline Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #800 on: September 26, 2020, 06:24:07 PM »
((Sunday 16:55 <bynw> during the night Washburn can make a test.
16:59 <bynw> its to see if you wake up in the middle of the night instead of in the morning.))

((Wednesday 13:02 <•Laurna> Ok, guess I put this off long enough. Do I add XP to this?
13:02 <•Laurna> I think I will add 3XP to this 2dice roll to make a success on 4,5, or 6
13:03 <•Laurna> !roll 2d6
13:03 <GameServ> Laurna rolled 2d6: 4 6 <Total: 10>
13:03 <•Laurna> Nice, now what does that cause. LOL))

The fog of dreams faded away. The stress of uncertainty eased from mind and body. The awakening to life and hope progressed in slow easy steps.  Like a bear waking from hibernation, Sir Washburn Morgan first stretched his spine with a slow extension of his neck and straightening of his back, followed by the opening of his fingers to relieve the cramp in his hands.

((Bynw “when his hand releases the ruby, does it drop to the floor?” 
10:10 <•Laurna> 1d6roll 5,6=Ruby drops on his chest where Wash finds it, 3,4=ruby drops on the cot Wash doesn’t see it, 1,2= ruby drops on the floor and makes a sound
10:10 <•Laurna> !roll 1d6
10:10 <GameServ> Laurna rolled 1d6: 4 <Total: 4>))

Something rolled away and fell into the blanket which had been laid over the sleeping knight. Whatever it had been, it was gone in the rumple of the wool. Once gone it was forgotten, for a different kind of urgency propelled the knight to full wakefulness.

Washburn opened his eyes, for a blurry few minutes he saw nothing but full darkness around him. Slowly, a stream of faint light filtered across the length of the stone floor from an opened door on the far side of the room where he lay. This was a large room, not a sleeping room at all. And it most assuredly was not Rhemuth, the place he most clearly remembered being last. Wash sat up and swung his legs over the edge of the cot; his bare feet met the cold stone and with the chill of it, his mind began to clear. This wasn’t Rhemuth. That was weeks ago. The capital of the kingdom was forbidden for him to return. Much, too much, had happened to him in the weeks since he had been there last. Most recently, he had been in an inn with his friends. This was not the inn, most definitely not. Where was he? Captured and prisoner again? But the man in his dreams had told him he would be free.  Damn it all, but he needed to pee.

Eyes adjusting to the dark, he looked around him, he wasn’t alone. There on a chair a young man was hunched over in sleep. Good, don’t wake him, Wash said to himself. Near the chair’s feet a round vessel shone in the faint light. That was Washburn’s need. Silent as a mouse he stood, snatched the vessel away, and then, bare feet to the floor, he quietly padded to the back wall where he found a space to relieve his urgency.

((Bynw- Any sound “might wake up that deacon (disadvantage test for him) but it wont wake up his companions who are totally exhausted”
10:47 <•Laurna> Disadvantage roll does the Deacon wake up at any sound
10:48 <•Laurna> !roll 1d6
10:48 <GameServ> Laurna rolled 1d6: 4 <Total: 4>
10:48 <•Laurna> He sleeps.))

So much better, Wash said to himself as he returned to the bed and slid the lidded chamber pot under his cot. He then looked closer at the young man in the chair. He did not stir from the faint sound that Wash had made. His attire was that of a church novice, a deacon by closer inspection. So this was a church, a functioning church. Not a ruin. Where was he?

The big door beside where the deacon slept was closed. That would surely awaken the young man if Wash attempted to open it. He did not relish the idea of keeping the boy asleep with his powers. Using his powers to influence anyone, even in a benign fashion, seemed morally reprehensible to him. He hadn't always felt this way, but his recent experiences were tipping his perceptions between what was benign and what was steadfastly wrong without good cause. Escape would be a good cause if he had a need for it. But at the moment, he did not feel trapped or a prisoner as he had been before.

Wash looked toward the smaller open door where the light came through. He tip-toed toward the door on raised toes. In the shadows beside the opening was another cot and another person sleeping soundly there. All he could see was the back of this man’s head and a small spot of smooth bare skin at its top. Clergy for certain, yet something about him was very familiar.  Curiosity got the better of him and Wash cupped his hands to make a faint hand fire. He bent over the man and let the light shine for just a moment. With tremendous relief, Wash recognized his second cousin once removed. A smile came to his lips as he extinguished the light, but then he frowned, wondering how it was that Father Columcil was here. Had he not stayed behind at Arx Fidei Seminary? What had happened? So many questions, like just how much trouble had he caused his friends this time?

More than ever, Wash wanted answers. He thought of waking Columcil, yet the man was sleeping so soundly that he thought better of that idea. There was a breeze accompanying the light through the open door. Seeking the good air, Wash stepped through it, into a smaller room with windows, one of which was swung open. A half-moon was the source of the light and its brightness shone down on the double pallet of a couple asleep, cradled in each other’s arms.

Wash smiled at Darcy and Aliset. Their love was a good love, maybe contentious at times, but it was a good contention, one that built a strong foundation for the future. His eyes moved to the blond girl sleeping on the other pallet and his heart skipped a beat. Would he ever find that kind of love for himself? His companions were as Columcil was, sleeping from the exhaustion that he surely had been the cause of.

He turned back to the window and the moonlit sky. Could he say for sure that he would be the better man that he had promised in his dreams? He would try. But was he so sure he was free of the taint and the controls of another. He didn’t know. That was a fear he was forced to live with. He would have to trust others to give him a thorough reading, but who would trust a Blocker to get that close to him. Special, the seers had said. Special could be benign or special could be frightening. He had to make the vow to himself here and now, to use the gift he had for the good of the people and not for selfish advancement.

Before the half-moon, he softly spoke the words of that vow. Here in this church he was secure that the one who mattered had heard his pledge.  With a nod to himself,  his eyes drifted down to the road leading from the church down the hill. There, in the near distance by the old well, his eye caught a shadow moving. Washburn held his breath as the shadow moved beyond the well without stopping. It continued to the road that led toward Valoret. Then the shadow was gone in the faded moonlight behind the trees.

Washburn heaved a sigh as if the greatest of weights had been lifted from his soul.

Fingers brushed his arm then. And in the light of the open window he looked down to see the wide eyes of a girl looking up at him. At that moment, all he wanted to do was kiss her. 

« Last Edit: September 26, 2020, 08:59:06 PM by Laurna »

Offline DerynifanK

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #801 on: October 02, 2020, 10:29:51 AM »
Fiona stirred. She had not been deeply asleep, only dozing. A slight sound had roused her. She opened her eyes, looked up and gave a small gasp. Standing by her bed looking down at her was Washburn. He was awake! His eyes were clear and intelligent. He was no longer in thrall to the spell as he had been before. The ritual had worked! As she gazed up, the knight started to lean down toward her but in her excitement she jumped up, nearly bumping heads with him, and threw her arms around his neck. As his arms started to tighten around her, she realized what she had done and jumped back, quickly freeing herself from his hold.

“You are awake! You have returned to us! Our ritual was successful; the spells that held you are gone!” She spoke excitedly but in a loud whisper.

Wash stepped back and looked at the young lady with a puzzled expression. “What is this spell of which you speak? Where am I? In my sleep, I was having a most extraordinary dream, which I cannot as yet banish from my mind: red mists, a fire breathing dragon and many other creatures. One in particular stands out in my mind, an agile feline of gracious beauty.” He looked down at the pretty lady with wide round eyes, and he bit his lower lip. “It is slipping away from me now. It was only a dream, but it was so vivid.” With a deep breath he let the memories of the dream fade. “What I remember before the dream was lying down to rest in my room at the inn. This is definitely not the inn. How did I get here? How did Father Columcil get here and why did he come? And who is that young churchman sleeping in the chair in the other room?”

Wash was not speaking loudly, but she still feared they would awaken the sleepers. Fiona took his hand to lead him out of the room. “Come, I will try to answer at least some of your questions but not here. The others badly need their rest as they are drained from the energy needed for the ritual we were part of. We are in the church in Windyner, and we can move to the nave where we can talk without disturbing them.”

Fiona tugged on his hand, pulling him into the anteroom toward the door that led into the church nave. Wash resisted, pulling back toward the room where Father Columcil still slept. “This is not proper. We should not be alone together in the dark church. I will wake up the deacon and ask him to come with us as chaperone. I would not, for anything, tarnish your reputation.”

Fiona stomped her foot. “I really do not see that it is necessary.”


Wash just shook his head and slipped over to the chair where the young man slept. He was preparing to shake the sleeper lightly when the boy’s eyes popped open and he sat up. “Sir Washburn, you are awake! How are you? Are you in need of any help? Shall I arouse the healer sleeping over there?” The young deacon hopped up from his chair.

Wash responded. “No, I am well. Lady Fiona and I need to talk together so she can tell me what has been happening, but we do not wish to disturb our sleeping friends. We propose to go into the nave, and I ask that you go with us to serve as chaperone. Will you come?” The young man nodded in agreement and followed them from the ritual room into the darkened nave.

They took seats on a bench near the anteroom so they would hear if any of the sleepers stirred. Their chaperone took a seat on a nearby bench, close enough to see what they were doing but not close enough to hear what they were saying. They sat near each other so they could speak  quietly and not disturb the others. Their legs and arms touched lightly. A shiver ran through Fiona as she felt the warmth of his touch. Fiona spoke first. “Washburn, what is the last thing you remember before you awoke here in the church?”

“I remember going into my room at the inn to prepare for Compline. I felt very tired and thought I would have a brief rest so I lay down on the bed and closed my eyes. The next thing I knew I was waking up in a large dark, cold room. I knew it was not my room in the inn. I have no idea where I am or how I got here.”

Fiona reached over and took his hand. “It must be frightening to wake up in a strange place with no idea how you got there. And it must be especially difficult for you after what you have been through.”

Wash clasped her hand. “It is hard but I feel that the more I know, the better I will be able to deal with what has happened to me.”

Fiona settled on the bench and began. “Darcy entered your room at the inn intending to get ready for Compline. He found you asleep and when you did not wake readily, he decided it would be best to let you sleep. When we returned from Compline, you were still deeply asleep so he decided not to wake you. The rest of us would sleep in the other room. However, the next morning he was still unable to awaken you. This did not seem like normal sleep. You did not stir or react to anything we tried.We had noticed the ruby clasped in your hand, and Darcy suspected it might have something to do with this coma-like state you were in. When he tried to remove it, he received a painful shock from the gem.” 

“Aliset was able to examine the ruby without touching it, and she found layers of spells layered and entangled in it. She was only able to remove one of them, after which we were able to recall you finding the ruby by the old well but nothing else about it. We didn’t know what to do. Aliset managed to reach Father Columcil and, in rapport, tell him what had happened. She entreated him to come to our aid and as you see, he did so.”

“I can not believe that Columcil left his grandfather’s side. I know how worried he was about the archbishop’s health after he collapsed in the church,” Wash interrupted her.  “I do hope the archbishop is well, otherwise, I will have His Grace’s health on my conscience in addition to my concern for what all of you have done on my behalf.”

“Columcil assured us the Archbishop is recovering and the Magistra from the schola had arrived to oversee his continued improvement. He was also very concerned about you after we told him of what had happened. You must understand, we were so worried about you, we needed the Father to help us. The innkeeper was becoming uneasy about your failure to arouse. At first we put him off by telling him the problem was too much strong drink. But he became more agitated, demanding to be allowed to see you. Darcy held him off, but the landlord sent for the priest to find out what was going on.” Fiona continued her story of the events that had occurred during the time Wash was unconscious.

“Father Michael came, arriving at almost the same time as Columcil. Together they went in to try to determine what was wrong and to reassure the innkeeper.  Aliset told them of your falling into this deep sleep and of being unable to rouse you. They agreed that this was not just deep sleep, but that a spell or spells held you in thrall. Father Columcil mentioned dark magic. The innkeeper heard his words and was becoming quite agitated and fearful about black magic being involved. We did not want to excite fear among the villagers so Father Michael proposed that we move you to the church where you could be cared for safely and where Father Paulos could assist us. He said  it would require both priests and God’s power to reverse the magic. Father Columcil agreed so we did move you to the church.”

Washburn sat quietly beside her, holding her hand. “That must have been the ride on the back of the dragon that I took,” Wash whispered with a faint smile. He then took a deep breath and looked into the sweet face of the young lady beside him. He could feel her care for him.  “This must have all been quite frightening for all of you. I am sorry to have caused such distress. I do not understand what happened, but you say the ruby was the cause of all. The ruby was an heirloom once in the hilt of the Lendour sword left to me by my father. My captor had taken it. It must have been he who placed the spells on it and then placed it by the well for me to find for his own purpose. I hope it did not injure any of you.”

Fiona reassured him that except for the shock to Darcy when he first tried to remove it, there had been no injury to any of them.  “When we reached the church, Father Paulos, the Torenthi priest directed us to put you on the cot in a room at the back of the church where no one would disturb us. There he and Father Columcil examined you. Father Paulos attempted to move the ruby and, like Darcy, received a shock. After a more in depth examination, Father Paulos was able to identify the spell holding you in thrall. He told us that he knew of a ritual that might dispel the magic that held you. He had never actually participated in this ritual but he did know the theory behind it and how to carry it out.”

“We all agreed that it was critical that we free you from the spell. You could not continue without food or water; your body would begin to fail. Under his direction, we first raised wards in the room around your cot and then summoned the guardians of the quarters to protect us during the ritual.  I stood in the north to summon Uriel. I was in awe of their presence, and then the Book of Wisdom of the Ages appeared in my hands. I could hardly believe it. Once this was done, Father Paulos sat at the head of your cot and the others formed a circle around you, holding hands to create a chain by which they could share energy with the priest as he carried out the ritual to release you. Aliset placed her hand on the priest’s arm to provide their link with him”

Wash frowned. “Were you part of this chain? You do not seem as drained as the others.”

Fiona squeezed his hand lightly. “Father Paulos said it was important that one person remain outside the ritual chain. We could not be certain what would happen during the ritual or what spirits we might call up. The others would be deep in trance, unaware of what was happening around them and unable to defend themselves if needed. Someone had to be awake and alert to meet any threat that might occur. Since I had the least training in magic of the group, Aliset chose me to be the guard. I was willing to do anything that would help secure your freedom from the spells.She gave me Darcy’s dagger and even showed me how to open a gate in the ward if needed. Once I was prepared, they all took their places, touching each other hand to hand and entered the trance. I watched them very closely as they sank deeper into trance. As the ritual continued, I watched for any changes in their breathing or any movements. This seemed to last for a very long time, and I was worried about the amount of energy being taken from them. But at last I began to sense changes, as though they were beginning to awaken.”

“Father Paulos gave a deep sigh and opened his eyes. He said the ritual had come to an end. The others also opened their eyes and stirred. I was worried because you were not waking up but both priests reassured me that you had changed, that yours was a natural sleep, not magic, needed to begin to restore your energy and health. Father Paulos told us that you should be allowed to awaken naturally, that this sleep would most benefit your recovery.

Fiona continued. “Father Paulos said that we all were exhausted and needed food and rest to restore our energies. He asked Father Michael to provide food and beds here in the church where we could rest. After eating the food he provided, we all settled down to sleep.That exhaustion is why it is so important that the others be able to sleep undisturbed until morning.”

“I had not experienced the energy drain that they did, so my sleep was much lighter, and I felt I needed to check on you even though Father Michael had instructed one of his deacons to keep watch on you during the night.” Fiona smiled happily at the knight. “Now, at last, you are awake and restored to us!”

Wash looked at the young lady beside him with feelings of deep gratitude and affection, and perhaps more than affection. She had been willing to take great risks to help him as had the others. How could he ever repay them for what they had done for him? He didn’t know but he would find a way.

While they had been talking, he had started to notice a change in the light coming from the open door to the rooms where the others slept. The darkness was less deep, objects began to be dimly visible in the nave. Wash released Fiona’s hand, stood and stretched. She looked up at him, and he smiled at her. She gestured toward the rooms where the others still slept. “Perhaps you might want to lie back down. You have only been awake a short time, and I think it might be good for you to have more rest, at least until the others wake up. Then you will be able to learn more from them and from Father Paulos.”

Wash nodded his agreement. Although he was wide awake, he did not want to prevent Fiona from returning to bed to get a little more rest. He was sure that if he stayed up, she would also.
He took her hand and pulled her to her feet, then turned to gesture to the deacon, indicating that they were returning to their rooms. The deacon stood to follow them. When they entered the anteroom, the young man returned to his chair while Wash saw Fiona to her pallet. They stood quietly together for a few minutes. Again, he felt that almost irresistible urge to lean down and kiss her, but he did not, feeling that he would be taking an unfair advantage. He would wait until this was all sorted out, and then he could approach her and tell her how he felt. He wondered wistfully if she had feelings for him. Fiona lay down on her pallet. He said a soft goodnight and returned to his cot. Fortunately, none of the others had stirred or awakened.

Fiona lay on her pallet thinking about all that had occurred. She thought of waking and finding Wash awake and standing over her. When he had started to lean down she had thought he might kiss her but she had been so excited to see him, she had jumped up and that was the end of that. Again when he had stood quietly beside her pallet she had hoped he might kiss her then but he had not. The thought of being embraced and kissed by the knight caused a frisson of excitement to run through her. She had admired him ever since she had first seen him at her uncle’s manor. He was a man such as she had dreamed of, and as she had gotten to know him better, her feelings for him had grown. She didn’t know exactly what love felt like, but she thought that love might be what was growing between them. She wondered if he had any feelings for her. She did not expect to sleep, but she drifted off.
 
Washburn lay on his cot, thinking about Fiona and his increasingly tender feelings for her. Might he ever find love with her such as that shared by Darcy and Aliset? He also thought of what she had told him about what had happened in Windyner.and wondered what the morning would bring for him. He also drifted off into a light sleep. All were again asleep.

When Wash again opened his eyes, it was daylight and sunshine was streaming in through the open door. Columcil was stirring, sitting up on his pallet and looking around. He looked over toward Wash’s cot and saw the knight sitting up and swinging his legs over the side. “Och, laddie, are ye awake? Ur ye yerself again? Do ye remember any o’ whit happened?” Columcil jumped up from his pallet and went to sit beside Wash on his cot. “Ouch!” he exclaimed, “Whit is this hard lump in yer bed?” He stood up again and felt under the blanket on the bed. “Aha!” He rummaged in the covers and withdrew his hand, showing Wash the red ruby he had found.

Washburn looked at it but did not reach for the stone. “Khadasha! Be careful with that! It might still be enspelled. It might harm you!”

“Aye, but it seems innocent enough noo. We hae touched wi’ nae shocks or attacks. Seems tis free ay evil noo. Whit will ye do wi it noo?” Columcil still held it in his palm. Washburn had not attempted to take it from him.

“I am not sure. It belongs in the hilt of the Lendour broadsword, an heirloom left me by my father. I would like to return it to its place, but should I take that chance? I can’t be sure that it is entirely clean and innocent now. I will have to think about what I should do with it. Father, can you help me; do you know of a way that the stone can be cleansed and innocent again, just a gemstone?” Columcil nodded. ”Ah weel think on it, and look again at th’ book I brought from Arx Fidei. How do ye feel noo? Are ye more yersel?””

Washburn answered Columcil. “I feel rested, and I feel restored to my normal self, a feeling I have not had for a long time. My memories have been restored to me. However, I can not say if I am truly a free man. I will need you and Aliset to help me determine that. I do not know everything that happened to me, but I hope to figure it out. I awakened during the night, and Lady Fiona and I talked for a short time. She did tell me some of what befell me following our arrival in Windyner. I suspect there is more to this Ritual that she talked about.” Washburn left that subject hang in the air. When Columcil seemed hesitant to fully explain, Washburn sighed. “I have a great debt to pay to all of you. I don’t think I will ever truly be able to repay it.  And also to Father Paulos without whose help I would still be under those evil spells. I must thank him specifically when he comes into the church for morning mass.”
"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 #802 on: October 05, 2020, 06:50:51 PM »
Darcy Cameron opened his eyes to the bright light of a new day and gently disentangled himself from his wife.  He stretched and felt the familiar, satisfying crack of his spine.  It was a good omen for the day, but Darcy had long ago realized it was no guarantee of good fortune.

He stood up, retrieved his sword from where it lay on the floor beside the pallet and fastened the belt around his waist.  He turned at a sound behind him and found that Fiona had also risen and was looking at him with barely suppressed excitement.

“Darcy!” she said, trying to keep her voice low so as not to disturb Aliset.  “Washburn is awake!  He woke last night and is restored to his normal self!”

“How can you know this?” Darcy asked with a touch of skepticism in his voice.

“I spoke to him last night, and he….”

“You did what?” Darcy looked at her incredulously

“Washburn woke up and came into our room,” Fiona replied, trying to be patient.  “He was standing here in our room, looking out the window.

“And you didn’t think to wake me?”  Darcy’s voice rose a bit in volume.  He crossed over to the door leading to the ritual room, which had been left ajar overnight, and closed it.  He turned to face his cousin again, hands on his hips.

“You needed your rest after the ritual,” Fiona said stubbornly.  “Father Paulos said it would be best if you all slept until morning.”

“I think I am a better judge of how much rest I need,” Darcy said sharply.  “How do you know he is restored to his normal self?”

“I spoke with him.  He had no idea where he was or how he got here, so I explained all that had  happened to him here since he fell into his coma.”  Fiona looked at her cousin defiantly.  “He needed to know.”

“You explained it all while he was in here, and I slept through it all?”  Darcy looked at her aghast.

“Of course not.  I went with Washburn into the nave of the church, where we sat on one of the benches so as not to disturb anyone.”

“Alone in the church?” Darcy almost thundered.

 “Washburn asked the young deacon to accompany us.” Fiona’s voice had risen as well.  “I didn’t really think it was necessary, but Washburn insisted.”

“At least one of you was thinking clearly,” Darcy growled.

“She was chaperoned and by a churchman,” said a familiar voice from behind Darcy. 

Darcy turned around to look at Aliset, who was sitting up on the double pallet they had shared.  “Aliset, I am sorry.  I didn’t mean to wake you.  You should rest some more to make sure you are fully recovered from yesterday.”

“I think I am a better judge of how much rest I need,” Aliset quoted.

Darcy sighed.  “Defeated by my own words.”

Aliset rose and approached Fiona.  “You spoke with Washburn last night?  How did he seem to you?”

“At first, very confused as to where he was and why he was here.  Which is why I felt it was important to explain it to him,” she said as she gave Darcy a confident glance.  “When I finished, he regretted that he caused us so much trouble.  I do believe he has recovered.”

“We would all like to believe that, but we can’t be sure yet,” Aliset said gently.  “Several things happened in the ritual that I was not expecting.”

“What happened?”  Darcy asked.  “I must admit, I remember the start of the ritual, but I soon sank into a grey fog, and I remember very little until the fog cleared and the ritual was over.”

“There is much we need to discuss, but it would be best if we are all together so we can share what we know, especially Father Paulos.”   Aliset gave Darcy a direct look.  “I think we should see Washburn as soon as we can.  If you could allow us a few minutes to freshen up first?”

“Right,” Darcy said.  “I’ll step outside and be back in a few minutes. When I return, we can all go in to see Washburn together.”  He placed firm emphasis on the word ‘together’ and left by the main door into the nave.

“Must he always be so difficult?” Fiona asked, her voice sounding piqued. 

“It’s part of his charm,” Aliset replied with a smile.

“And always so suspicious of everything!”

“Fiona,”  Aliset said gently.  “Darcy has seen far more of the world than we have, and it was a rougher world than ours has been. At least most of the time,” she added.  “His caution has likely kept him alive.”

“And so protective!”  Fiona plopped down onto her pallet.  “I am hardly a child!”

“Of course not, but Darcy and I are both well aware of the standards of propriety to which the queen holds the ladies of her court in Rhemuth,” Aliset replied.

“I am not going to Rhemuth to be a lady of Queen Araxie’s court!”

“No,” Aliset said.  “But you do hope to attend the Schola there under the patronage of Dowager Duchess Richenda.  I know you would do nothing untoward, and neither would Sir Washburn, her son.”  Aliset thought it wise to remind Fiona of the relationship.  “You just need to be careful, and consider the consequences that might result from your decisions.”

“Right now, I would like to make sure that all is still well with Sir Washburn!”  Fiona stood and turned toward the basin of water that had been set in the room the night before.  “We should make haste.”

Aliset sighed. 

***

Darcy opened the door of the ritual room slightly and rapped on the door.  “Sir Washburn, may we enter?” he asked.

Washburn looked up from the cot where he sat beside Father Columcil.  “Of course!” he replied, though he felt some discomfiture at the formal title.

Under other circumstances, Darcy would have let the ladies enter first.  Instead, he pushed through with the ladies at his back.

“How do you fare this morning?” Darcy asked.  He nodded to Father Columcil, still seated on the cot.

“Well enough, but still searching for many answers,” Washburn replied. 

Darcy caught Columcil’s slight nod and strode forward, arm outstretched. “Bloody good to see you  free from the gem!” 

Washburn reached out with his own arm, and the friends shared a firm grip of friendship. Darcy clasped Washburn’s shoulder with his other hand.

“You gave us an awful fright.  I’ve never seen such a thing before,” Aliset said as she came forward and threw her arm around Washburn’s other shoulder and hugged him.

Fiona followed Aliset, but remembering her words of caution, merely gave the tall knight a radiant smile. 

“I’m still trying to understand it myself,” Washburn replied to Aliset as someone knocked on the outer door of the ritual room.

“May I come in?” asked Father Michael as the young deacon opened the door.

“Of course, Father,” said Washburn.  Father Columcil stood to welcome the priest of Windyner’s church.

“It’s good to see you up and about,” said Father Michael.  He looked around him and his brows creased in puzzlement.  “Is Father Paulos not here?”

“Nay,” responded Father Columcil  “I have not seen him since he left for the rectory after the ritual.”

“I awoke in the middle of the night,” said Washburn.  “No one entered after then.”

Father Michael looked toward the deacon.

 “I confess I did sleep a bit after Matins,” the young man admitted.  “But I woke just after Sir Washburn did, and Father Paulos has not been here that I know of.”

“Strange,” the priest of Windyner said, perplexed.  “He was exhausted when he returned to the rectory, and went immediately to his bed.   I checked on him this morning before coming here, to make sure all was well.  His bed had been slept in, but was empty.  I assumed he had come here to check on Sir Washburn.”

“We’ve seen no trace of him,” Darcy said.

“If you will excuse me, I’ll look for him.  He may have retired to one of our side chapels for prayer.”

“I’ll come with you, Father Michael, if you don’t mind,” Darcy said. 

Father Michael nodded, and Darcy left with him to enter the nave.

They looked throughout the church, but there was no sign of the Torenthi priest.  They returned to the refectory to see if Father Paulos had returned.  The room was undisturbed.  Darcy went to the small chest at the side of the room and opened the lid.

“Should you disturb his property?” Father Michael asked, somewhat taken aback.

“Father Paulos is missing,” Darcy said quietly.  “And so it appears, are his belongings.”

The opened chest was empty.  A quick search of the room revealed that nothing had been left behind.

“This is very unusual,” Father Michael said.  “He has often returned to Beldour and his duties there, but he always informed me of his leaving.  And of his intent to return, though there was never a specific date.”

They returned to the church and the room where the ritual had been conducted. 

“It appears Father Paulos has left us,” Darcy announced.

“Without even checking to see if he had succeeded?” Fiona asked incredulously.

“So it would seem,” Darcy replied.  He walked over to the table altar at the side of the room.  Father Paulos’ eastern crucifix was no longer there.  “He has taken all of his belongings with him.”

“I saw something, or rather someone, last night,” Washburn said thoughtfully to Darcy.  “It was when I went to your room, drawn by the moonlight in the open window.  I saw someone, not more than a shadowed form, walk past the old well and on toward the road to Valoret.”

“Could you see who it was?” Aliset asked.

“Nay,” Washburn replied with a shake of his head.  “The moon was not bright enough, and the trees cast too many shadows.  All I saw was the shadowy form of a man.  He may have been shouldering a pack, but I cannot be certain.”

Darcy rubbed his jaw, feeling the scratch of its unshaved surface, as he considered their options. “I don’t think it would do us any good to try to find him,” he finally said.  “We can’t be sure which way he went once he reached the main road,  we don’t know that it actually was Father Paulos, and we don’t know that he didn’t have a good reason to leave when he did.”

Father Michael looked at the group before him.  “Perhaps he will return to us in his own time.  He has been a good priest and a good friend to us in Windyner;  I hope he does come back to us.  Now, I must prepare for the morning mass.” 

“Father Michael, would you mind if I conduct a private mass for us?”  Father Columcil asked, indicating his friends with a sweep of his hand.   “Perhaps I could use one of the side chapels.” 

“Of course, Father Columcil.  If you need anything, my deacon will be able to provide it.”  Windyner’s priest nodded and left the room, the deacon following close behind.

“Father Paulos seemed to be a good priest,”  Columcil said thoughtfully.  “I saw nothing to indicate otherwise.”

“A good priest he may be,” Darcy said.  “But his sudden departure without telling anyone seems suspicious to me.  Could he have left to prevent us from learning what he discovered in the ritual?”

“We have no way of knowing, at least not yet,” Aliset said after a moment.  “But without Father Paulos here, it will be very difficult to reconstruct all that happened in the ritual.  Many things happened that I do not fully understand, and I was hoping he could help.”

“Perhaps Father Paulos will return soon,” Columcil stated, though he did not sound confident. “Now I should go and prepare for our mass. I believe it will be a comfort for all of us.”

Washburn nodded.  “Aye, and it will be a greater comfort if we can cleanse the ruby back into a simple gem, and ensure it can do no more harm to any of us.”
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Offline Bynw

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #803 on: October 05, 2020, 07:50:41 PM »
As signs of activity at the church begins as parishioners enter for the morning Mass service. One of them is a young stable boy. Poorly dressed, no shoes, and even a bit dirty. He enters the church frantically looking for Father Michael and no one else will do.

The boy speaks with Father Michael for a bit and takes something from the boy. Just before the morning Mass begins. He sits through the morning Mass before heading back to the stables.

Offline revanne

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #804 on: October 09, 2020, 03:26:43 PM »
Father Columcil went thoughtfully into one of the side chapels intending to prepare for Mass but his sense of unease was growing. Why had the Torenthi priest disappeared so suddenly and what had happened during the ritual? Genuflecting before the presence lamp he sank to his knees feeling utterly out of his depth, as he far too many times since he had left the blessed calm of his beautiful stone church amidst the folds of the hills and the presence of St Melangell. He reached into the scrip that he wore attached to the belt of his cassock intending to withdraw the book he had brought with him from Arx Fidei so that he might search for a ritual which would cleanse the ruby from any last taint of evil but as he did so his hand brushed against the phial of Holy Water from St Winifred's well that his Grandfather had given him before they left Rhemuth. Leaving the book where it was, instead he brought the phial to his lips kissing it it slowly and reverently. Nay he was nae ritualist, mebbes Aliset or one' o'the other clever yins could do summat wi' it, he would instead ask for the blessing o' the sainted lasses he thought of like kin and trust tae God. Almost speaking his thoughts out loud, so clear was this determination, he was visited by an equally strong conviction. He wouldna celebrate mass here but in the wee room where the ritual had taken place and trust to the presence o' Christ Himself tae dispell any lingering evil.

The deacon was a bit taken aback to be asked to provide linen and candles and a suitable table for Mass when there was a perfectly good altar here in the side chapel but he had been bidden to be obedient to this visiting priest; besides which, in his opinion, which he was wise enough to keep to himself, this group of visitors were all a bit uncanny and best not crossed. He asked too, for a thurible and incense, he was certain that Wasburn would have been an altar boy in his time, all noble boys were, and it would be good for him to have an active part in this ritual.

Columcil finished the reading of the Gospel which he had chosen then retold it again it his own way, telling the tale of the poor soul who had been possessed by a legion of demons who were driven out by the power of Our Lord and sent into a herd of pigs who then hurtled to their deaths over a cliff. He did not add out loud, but he hoped that the demons who had been cast upon Washburn would at this moment be driving those who had wreaked such harm to an equally unpleasant fate. He spoke directly to Washburn "Ye need ha'e nae mair fear, ma son" and then made the sign of the cross, in part blessing for the young knight and in part penitence for his own thoughts unseemly for this holy rite.

As the gifts of bread and wine were placed on the altar Columcil placed the ruby into the silver baptismal shell that he had requested from the bemused but still compliant deacon and making the sign of the cross three times over the phial of holy water "in nomine Patri et Filii et Spiritu Sancti" he poured the water over the ruby repeating the blessing and the invocation as he did so. Then he glanced at Washburn who came forward with the thurible, bowed to the altar then censed both the gifts on the altar and the ruby. He looked just once at Columcil as he did so and the latter was relieved to see that there was only gratitude in the other's eyes, and no shadow of fear. Then laying aside the thurible he went to join the others as they knelt around the table and Columcil began the words of the Mass with that great invitation to praise and thanksgiving:

Sursum corda

"Lift up your hearts"
"we lift them up unto the Lord"

Columcil raised the sacred Host

Ecce, Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi
"Behold the Lamb of God who takest away the sin of the world".

None of them had made confession, nor followed the prescribed fasts but as he saw the the others bow in reverence it was not in him to deny them the body of the Lord as healing for all that they had gone through and food for whatever journey lay ahead. Breaking the Host into five he first received himself and then communicated each of the others before returning to kneel before the makeshift altar in humble prayer and gratitude.



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

Offline Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #805 on: October 14, 2020, 12:31:25 PM »

Humbly, Washburn stayed on his knees for a time, even after the others stood and moved around the room to help Columcil put away the items he had used in the mass. Wash was introspective, considering how his experiences had changed him from the man he had been a month ago. He used to be so sure of himself. Never a thought that he might lose a tournament, or that there was a better man at the trials who could beat him. Arrogant he had been, a duke’s son born to privilege, a little brushed aside perhaps for always playing shadow to his brothers, but he had rarely played shadow to anyone else. He had yet to earn a title, but that usually came after settling down and marriage. He most certainly had not been ready for that. But he had always thought himself worthy. Humble was not a word that anyone would have ever used to describe Sir Washburn Alaric Morgan. Yet… that was exactly how he felt on this fine morning after Columcil’s service, humble that he still lived. Humble that the men and women around him cared for him so much that they would risk themselves to stay by his side and see him through these trials. Father Columcil was undaunted and truly humble. Lord Darcy was courageous and unswerving. Lady Aliset was powerful and stouthearted. Lady Fiona was fearless and persistent. Good people, every one of them. Wash’s bare fingers picked the ruby from the silver shell. He held it close for a moment and was so grateful to feel nothing at all from the ruby. It was merely a gemstone, without power. And that was the most reassuring feeling he had felt yet on this strange morning.

“Dear friends. This is not quite a confession, for I make it to all of you, and I am not looking for absolution or penance. I just… want you to know… that without all of you, I would have been a dead man weeks ago,  or worse, a man controlled to do someone else's bidding. You have saved me from that horror.  I owe you everything. I owe you my life, my honor, and my loyalty, save only to the vows I have made to my king. It is a debt, I will spend a lifetime repaying.”

“I think Aliset offered to blur my memories, but I do not want that. I want to remember what it was like, and I want to find others who have been where I was and help them rediscover themselves and their honor. I am not sure I will ever regain honor among my family and the royal court, but that is trivial, for it is the love of these four people around me that strengthens and supports me.”

“Thank you friends. Now and forever.”  Wash brushed away a tear from his eye.

“Now, now. Don’t go getting all mushy on me.” The knight favored everyone with a bright smile as he stood tall and brushed back the hair from his eyes. “I am still an arrogant knight and a beast in the arena, but I don’t have any reason to prove it. Unless one of you needs a champion. Then I will be at your service and do right by your cause.”  That smile proved the youthful Morgan charisma might be humbled, but not gone.

Washburn’s hand put the ruby away in his coin purse, he pulled out a few coins before he tied the purse to his belt. Then his fingers brushed the leather thong that hung around his neck. He pulled it away from the chain that also hung there, the chain kept his mother’s coin beside his heart. This leather thong, however, held something he had been bidden to keep on his person until now, and now that he was free of that compulsion, he knew what he had to do and he had to do it soon.  He pulled the small flask with a green thread cap out for everyone to see. “This is power... and poison, and madness to anyone who drinks of it. The man who gave it to me did so because he thought it the only way I could survive. If I had succumbed to madness that part did not seem to phase him. All he could think of was that I needed to stay alive.” Wash took a deep breath and looked around the room at the people who cared for him.  “What that man did not count on, and what I nearly forgot myself, was that I have made friends. Men and women who stood by me when I needed them, and who called on their brother,” he looked at Darcy, “and their father and grandfather,” his glance fell on Columcil, “to see that I did not need this travesty of a magic potion.  I have survived because of you, not because of this!”

“Now, I can rid the world of this temptation. Collos Feyd showed me how, and yes, in this I do trust that assassin.  What I need is a garden trowel and the strongest spirits this town can produce. Where do you think I can find these things?” Washburn held out the gold coins hopeful that he could buy what he needed.

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #806 on: October 16, 2020, 08:40:40 AM »
Lord Brioc de Paor restlessly paced the walkway behind the parapet of his keep. He had been anxious for news from the battlefield since his men had joined the army of Grand Duke Valerian to participate in the planned attack on the old Mearan capital of Laas. He had planned to go with the army himself but was not sufficiently recovered from the injury inflicted on him by Feyd. There had been no word since their departure. The evening before, just before sunset, three of his men had appeared at the gates of his fortress asking to be admitted. They identified themselves as two of Brioc’s knights, Sir Bruce MacCallan and Sir Angus MacKay, as well as John Dowd, one of his men-at-arms. All three appeared battered and exhausted and two had visible wounds, roughly bandaged. Their horses appeared hard ridden, with drooping heads.

Brioc ordered that they be admitted immediately. The gates swung open, and grooms ran to take the bridles of their horses and to help them dismount. Bruce MacCallan appeared to be the worst wounded, almost falling off his horse and having to be helped to the hall by a young squire. Brioc ordered that food and wine be brought to the hall where he joined them. He sent for his surgeon to attend to their wounds. He had been anxious for news of the assault on Laas, but they did not appear to be bringers of good news.

“What is the news? How goes the battle?” He asked of the men..

Of the three men, MacKay appeared the least injured and knelt to Brioc. “My Lord, the battle is lost. Most of the army has been captured and is held by the Haldanes. Duke Valerian is dead. We barely managed to slip away to ride for home to bring the news.”  The man bent his head in shame.”

“How is this possible? What happened?” Brioc demanded.

MacKay replied. “My Lord, the attack was going well at first, the portcullis had risen and the ram was at the inner gate. Suddenly the portcullis slammed down again and the ram was trapped. A storm the like of which I have never seen moved in from the sea and battered us, and then the Gwyneddan army was upon us. The men at arms who were to come by ship never arrived. Duke Valerian ordered us to retreat to the north toward the mouth of the Kilardin River.. We reached the fortified walls of Castleroo which is loyal to the rebellion. From there we moved toward the walled town of Kilardin, but that town is loyal to the king so we turned south before reaching it. We intended  to cross the Mearan plain toward Ratharkin to regroup there. We were riding toward two mountains rising in front of us when suddenly the grand duke fell from his horse and lay unmoving on the ground. Those near him quickly halted and dismounted to assist him. One of them called out that he had been struck by a bolt from a crossbow, but there were no more shots. They picked him up and put him across his horse. Instead of searching the mountains for the assassin, we retreated in some disarray to Kilardin. The Gwyneddans surrounded us there. We were told that the grand duke had died and  the army surrendered.”

“The three of us managed to slip away in the confusion and ride to Ratharkin. But when we reached the city, we found that it had also been retaken by the king’s men and the viceroy was again in control. We skirted the walls of the city and rode here to bring you the news.” The man fell silent.

Brioc felt both rage and despair rising in him. He glared at the three men before him. He was silent for several minutes. With great effort, he managed to bring his anger under control. There was no point in berating or punishing these men. They had been faithful and had managed to reach the fortress at great cost to themselves. “Rise.” he told the man kneeling before him. “The three of you have done well. Once your wounds have been tended and you have eaten and drunk your fill, go to your beds and get some rest. I must consider what you have told me and what to do next.”  Brioc turned and left the room.

Brioc retreated to his own solar and sent a squire to bring him wine. Once the squire had brought the wine, Brioc dismissed him. As the door closed behind the boy, he took a sip of his wine then leaned back in his chair. He had some serious thinking to do. He had not expected such a debacle. With the loss of Ratharkin as well as Valerian’s army, the rebellion was effectively over.  The leaders would be arrested and tried in the king’s court for treason. There was no doubt of the outcome of such trials. They would be sentenced to hang as traitors and their lands seized.. As one of the principal leaders of the uprising, there was probably a price on his head already.

And his daughter was still a prisoner, held in Rhemuth by the king. He had hoped to be able to free her and, following success at Laas, to be able to install her as ruler of an independent Meara. That dream was also dashed, at least for now. His focus now had to be survival.

He took stock of his position. Unfortunately, the location of his fortress, which had previously been a well-kept secret, was known. An agent of Kelson had managed to penetrate the fortress, posing as one of his guards, and had freed Valerian’s prisoner, Washburn Morgan. In escaping, the two men had kidnapped his daughter and taken her with them. Valerian’s men had been unable to determine where they had gone or to find any sign of them.

Although he had not foreseen such a defeat, especially with Valerian taking leadership of the rebellion,  he was a man who tried to prepare for any contingency.  He had a refuge known to only a few of his closest supporters. It was located in the wildest part of the Ratharkin Mountains, at the edge of Trurill lands, lands that had once belonged to his family until the loss of the last Mearan War. It was a series of caves that led deep inside the mountain. The entrance was well hidden and difficult to find.

With the help of his long-time steward and a few faithful retainers that he could trust absolutely, he had stocked the caves with food, blankets, medicine, and, of course, wine and ale. There was even a. small stream that ran into one of the caves where it ended in a pond that provided fresh water. He had hidden a stash of weapons in one of the smaller caves. If he could reach the caves undetected, he could remain there safely for quite a long time.Here he could plot how he would free his daughter and find ways to again stir up the Mearan separatists

He rose from his chair and rapidly packed his saddlebags. He summoned his two most trusted lieutenants who entered and bowed. “You summoned us, my Lord?”
 
He nodded briefly. “We must leave this fortress. Its location is known to the Haldane, and I am sure it will not be long until he sends a force to capture us. Most of my fighting men were with Valerian and are now either dead or prisoners of the Haldanes. Only a small number of household guards remain, and there is no way we could defend this keep or avoid being captured. We will leave before dawn and  travel to a hideout I have prepared. We will be safe there while I make plans. You must say nothing to anyone. Our only hope of escape is to slip away and ensure that no one here has any idea where we have gone. Go and pack your saddlebags as quietly as possible. Meet me at the gate just before dawn. We will be long gone before anyone realizes we have left”.

“At your service, my Lord. We will do as you order.” The two men bowed and left the room. Brioc settled back in his chair, sipped on his wine, and considered what morning would bring.

"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 #807 on: October 17, 2020, 03:40:23 PM »
“Washburn, there is no need to spend coin for a trowel,” Aliset Cameron said.  “I noticed that the rectory has a fine garden.  Whoever looks after it should be willing to lend us a trowel for the morning.  On a fine day like this, now that mass is over, I’m sure I can find someone working in the garden.”

“I’ll come along,” Fiona said.  “I’d rather be doing something than waiting.”

Darcy reached out and took one of the gold coins from Washburn’s hand.  “I’ll go to the tavern and purchase a flask of the strongest spirits they have.  I’ll do my best to bargain for a better price than a full gold coin.”

“Don’t worry about the price,” Washburn said hastily.  “Getting rid of this vile poison is worth any price I have to pay.”

“Nevertheless, I will do my best.  The Quartermaster would be disappointed if I did not. Shall we meet back at the front of the church when all is secured?”

“Aye,” said Father Columcil.  “I would like the chance to thank Father Michael for his assistance.  He will be busy for a wee bit after the mass, so I’ll wait a bit before I look for him.”

“This shouldn’t take too long,” Darcy said to Washburn as he and the ladies left the ritual room.  They joined the villagers leaving the church after the mass and parted ways at the bottom of the church steps.  Darcy paused a moment to ensure Aliset and Fiona were safely on their way to the rectory before heading to the tavern.

Darcy scanned the tavern as he entered.  There were a few customers breaking their morning fast, but the room was mostly empty.  The tavern keeper looked up from behind the counter as Darcy approached.

“I should like a flask of your strongest spirits,” Darcy said pleasantly. 

“You start your day early,” the tavern keeper remarked.  “The strongest I have is Old Ballymar, but my stock is low.”

“How much for a flask?” Darcy asked.

“A gold mark,” the tavern keeper replied.

“That’s a bit steep,” Darcy said, ready to try to bring the price down.

“It’s not easy to come by, and as I said, my stock is low.  Take it or leave it.”

“I’ll take it then.”  Darcy would have haggled longer, but he did not want to keep Washburn waiting.

The tavern keeper turned to a small cask behind him, picked up a flask and filled it until the cask seemed to run dry. 

“It’s not a full flask, probably only half full at best,” the tavern keeper said as he held out his hand for the coin.

“The flask first, so I can judge how full it is,” Darcy replied, reaching for the flask. “You have enough customers this morning to stop me if I run for the door,” he added when the tavern keeper looked like he was about to refuse.

“That I do,” the tavern keeper replied and handed Darcy the flask.

Darcy judged its weight and nodded.  “An honest pour; half a flask it is.  Two royals for the half?”

The tavern keeper shook his head.  “A gold mark.”

“That’s what you wanted for the full flask!” Darcy said, aghast.

“I’m now out of my best, and I will have unhappy customers when they find out.”  The tavern keeper grinned.  “But I’ll make you a deal.  We’ll call the extra two royals a deposit on the flask.  Bring it back when it’s empty and I’ll give you back two royals.”

Darcy, aware that he had drawn the attention of those within the tavern, sighed.  “Very well then.  Two royals back when I return this.”  He nodded and left, certain the Quartermaster was rolling with dismay, or more likely laughter, in his watery grave. 

The tavern keeper watched him leave and wondered where a young nobleman had acquired a seaman’s rolling gait.

***

Darcy returned to the church and rejoined Aliset, Fiona and Washburn just as Father Michael approached them, Father Columcil at his side.  Darcy discreetly clasped his hands, one of which was holding the flask, behind his back.

“I’m glad I found you,” Father Michael said in greeting.  “I have news from Father Paulos.”

“You have?” Darcy asked, surprised, and then quickly added, “Good news, I hope?”

“I believe so,” responded Windyner’s priest.  “The stable boy who spoke to me this morning gave me a note from Father Paulos.  The gist of the note is that Father Paulos was awakened by magic  in the early hours.  It was a frantic, magical cry for his return to Torenth.  An unexpected matter at home made him decide to leave right away.  He quickly packed his things, went to the stable and got his horse.  He wrote the note in haste and gave it to the stable boy with his apologies for leaving so unexpectedly.”

Washburn gave Father Michael a puzzled look. The figure he had seen, and it would have been at about the same time, was not on horseback.

“Yes, it is a bit odd,” Father Michael said in response to Washburn’s gaze.  “I am much relieved, however.  I will write to Father Paulos’ bishop in Torenth to ask if he can do anything to help him.  Paulos has been  a good friend to Windyner.  I will pray that things will be resolved by God’s will in due time.”

“He will be in ma prayers as well,” Father Columcil said. 

Father Michael blessed them and turned away toward the rectory.

“Well, at least now we know where Father Paulos went,” Fiona said.

“Not necessarily,” Aliset replied carefully.  “It would not be difficult for a skilled Deryni to ‘suggest’ to the boy what he needed to see and to deliver the message.  I did much the same to Squire Robert, but only because it was absolutely necessary and did him no harm.”

“We could check the stable to see if Father Paulos’ horse is really gone,” Fiona suggested.

“How could any of us know which horse was his?” Darcy said skeptically.  “I doubt the stable  boy would point it out to us even if it was still there.”

“Something is amiss, and I cannot put my finger on it.  Later; we can discuss it later,”  Washburn said firmly.  “Now I need to get rid of this poison.” 

Aliset handed him the trowel, and Darcy passed him the flask.  “Old Ballymar,” Darcy said.

Washburn raised one blond eyebrow.  “Nothing but the best, eh?” 

“Let’s hope there’s a wee nip left,” Columcil suggested.

“I make no promises,” Washburn said as he led them away from the church.  “I must make sure no taint of the poison remains in the vial.”
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Offline Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #808 on: October 18, 2020, 01:33:41 PM »
With a flask of borderland whiskey in one hand and trowel in the other, Washburn led his friends along a footpath away from the river, the farmland fields, and the church gardens.  Before he reached the tree line leading into the forest,  he stopped and stepped aside just off the footpath. The others curiously gathered around him. It was obvious to Wash that the others had some question concerning his true intentions, whether he was a free man or still under some compulsion, for they kept to a slight distance, only Darcy remaining in arms reach. Wash didn’t have the answer, what he was doing was not a compulsion, exactly, yet still, it was something he had to do.

“I think this spot will suffice,” Wash said.  The rise in the hill gave them a good view of the town and at this juncture there were no fields, nor visible water, and the trees were still several paces away. He handed the flask of spirits back to Darcy to hold. With both hands firm on the handle, he drove the trowel into the dirt and started to dig. “Don’t want this blue fyre to get into any food stuff. Would not want this to be consumed even in the smallest of amounts.”

“What is blue fyre?” Fiona asked, feeling like she had joined the group late and had missed some critical information that she ought to have known. When she saw the other’s perk up at her question, she realized maybe she wasn’t the only one who didn’t know.

Wash stopped digging, looked across at Fiona and nodded. She was an inquisitive girl that was for certain. “Master Collos Feyd... that’s the name of my captor...had prepared this potion before he handed me over to Grand Duke Valerian to be his prisoner and his lackey. He expected me to use the power this potion bestows to escape that dungeon where Valerian had me chained. I presume he wanted me to reenact the spell Valerian had used to murder my father.” Wash slammed the trowel back into the dirt, breaking up the hard ground with no little anger. After a few shovelfuls, he said, “Darcy, I thank the lord for your brother, and it’s thanks to you that I recognized him as such. If Iain had not found me in that dungeon, I surely would have drunk the blue fyre and with the amount of anger that swelled in me, I would have blown that whole fortress to smithereens and its occupants with it! Maybe I should have done that. It would have saved the kingdom from a nasty rebellion. At least that is what Feyd believed when his guild seer’s told him I was “special”, and needed to live long enough to fulfill my destiny.”

“Iain did say you were very angry and unpredictable,” Darcy recalled.

“That is an understatement,” Wash claimed with a huff.

“If you had drunk the potion, you told me before that it would have driven you to madness,” Aliset countered.

“Aye lass. My not drinking it actually proved my arrogance. I thought I could best Valerian without taking such risks. I realize now that if I had drunk it, I could have saved my kingdom from the war we are in. But I didn’t, because Feyd had also taken away my love for my family, my king, and all of Gwynedd. Therefore, I was selfish and not willing to martyr myself for the cause. He actually forbade me to take my own life in any way. I did try a time or two to end it without success. I do find it curious that he saw nothing wrong in my going mad once my destiny was fulfilled.” Wash paused in his shoveling, shook his head, and then went back to digging the hole deeper. “He thought that destroying Valerian was my destiny. But my destiny was very different. A good father from St Melangell started me on the path I would follow. He taught me Healing. Because of Columcil’s teachings and Iain’s rescue, and I have to give thanks to Feyd for lending me a certain scroll and time to read it, the path I walked along was far different.”

“Do you know that Feyd was in my mind while I was enspelled by the ruby?” Wash looked around and saw that only Aliset nodded. “We talked for some time in my dreams. Maybe he really was here, in hiding, during your ritual. Maybe he was the shadow I saw going west and Father Paulos riding east on his horse is a different man.  I can not say. I did not sense Paulos in the ruby with me, only Feyd. Feyd did say that as he was not physically here, he could not take the blue fyre away, and therefore he gave me instructions to rid the world of it. For once I had failed to destroy my father’s murderer with the power Feyd gave me, there was no further use for a potion such as this. Rather I found a different power that came to me through my parents’ connection with the distant past.” Wash knew his friends were aware of his blocking ability, yet still they did not run in fear from him for it. He hoped to continue to live up to this new destiny that Feyd had proclaimed that made him special. “I am curious indeed about this link between Feyd and Father Paulos.”

Satisfied that the hole was sufficiently deep, Wash held out his hand for the flask of strong spirits. Darcy handed it over. “Old Ballymar you say.” Wash released the cap. ”The tavern owner did not cheat you by diluting this did he?”

“No, I watched him to be certain of that.” Darcy perked up, “My quartermaster would truly roll over in his grave if I had let that happen.”

Wash smiled, but then took a sip from the flask just to be certain, “Smooth,” he said with a sigh.”The best borderland whiskey out of Cassan. Distilled in small copper stills then aged in oak barrels for a whiff of smoke and rich spiciness. Your father,” Wash said as he looked at Columcil, “would have my head for what I am about to do to his finest spirits.”

Before he changed his mind, Washburn lifted the green capped flask from around his neck, unstoppered the green cap, and poured the contents into the hole.  He then poured Old Ballymar liquor into the smaller flask, swishing it around to rinse the inside of Feyd’s flask, then promptly he poured that too into the hole. He repeated this several times, using the very last of the Cassan malt barley private label before he was satisfied.  Then he fervently filled in the hole to cover what he had poured into the ground.

Wash noticed Columcil’s frown when he handed back to Darcy the empty tavern flask. Almost giddy with relief that the potion was no longer a temptation, Wash chided the good father, “You have connections in Cassan that few others can boast of. I think we will see more of Old Ballymar in our futures. Especially on cold nights telling stories around a warm hearth. That is if we can ever rectify our reputations and safely get back to Rhemuth.”
« Last Edit: October 20, 2020, 01:46:58 AM by Laurna »

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #809 on: October 20, 2020, 12:14:20 PM »
Darcy Cameron shook the flask that Washburn handed to him, hoping for the sound of at least a small amount of the borderland spirit sloshing at the bottom.  Nothing.  He sighed.  The flask was as dry as the hole Washburn had dug.  At least before he poured the spirits into it!

“I am famished,” Washburn announced.  “Shall we proceed to the tavern and break our fast while we discuss what to do next?”

“I could do with food myself,” Aliset said and looked toward her husband.  “If your stomach is as empty as mine, it’s just as well there isn’t any of that left.”

“He had a sip,” Darcy responded, waving the flask in Washburn’s general direction as they started toward the tavern.  “He walks a straight enough course.”

“No point in crying over spilt Ballymar, cousin,” Fiona said with a smile.

“Tis worth shedding a tear, lass,” Columcil said with mock gravity.

Washburn wondered if they knew how much their good-natured banter lightened his heart.

Once they reached the tavern,  Darcy headed for the counter to return the flask and reclaim the two royals he was owed. He set the flask down sharply and the tavern keeper turned toward him.

“Returned as we agreed,” Darcy said.  “I believe you owe me two royals.”

The tavern keeper picked up the flask and looked at Darcy in disbelief as he confirmed the flask was empty.

“You are still standing?” the tavern keeper asked incredulously.  “It’s not even been a half hour since you bought this.”  He looked toward Darcy’s companions who were now seated at the table in the far corner of the tavern.  They looked none the worse due to strong drink.

“Of course I’m still standing,” Darcy replied.  “I’ve brought the flask back and you owe me two royals,” he added resolutely.

“You drank all of this?” The tavern keeper shook his head.

“Well, I would hardly pour it out on the ground, now would I?  It’s a fine treat this time of day.”  Darcy managed to look affronted, though he was starting to enjoy himself.  Maybe he could manage to get back three royals, instead of two.  “If you doubt me, you can give me back three royals for impugning my character.”

The tavern keeper snorted and slapped two silver royals on the counter.  Darcy scooped them up.

“Could you send someone over to our table with food?  Old Ballymar works up a good appetite!”  Darcy nodded and moved toward the table, barely resisting the urge to add a bit of unsteadiness to his gate.  Aliset would not approve.

“Bloody drunken nobility,” the tavern keeper muttered under his breath.  “Good riddance to them!”

“Do you realize how well your voice carries?”  Aliset chided Darcy as he sat down beside her. 

“It’s all my years at sea,” Darcy replied.  “You need to be heard over the crash of the waves against the bow.”

Washburn looked around the room.  Several customers quickly turned back to their food.  “I thought we were going to regain our good reputations.”

“They will have forgotten all about us within a week of our leaving,” Darcy said and moved to one side so the server could place a platter with bowls of good, thick porridge and a plate with bread and cheese on the table.

“No pitcher of ale?” Darcy asked.

“The tavern keeper thought you had enough this morning,” the server muttered.

“Ach, lad, the rest of us hae not,” Father Coluncil cut off Darcy’s reply, which might not have been polite.  “A pitcher for the rest o’ us would be welcome.”

“Bring five cups,” Darcy growled.

“It’s your own fault, Darcy,” Aliset said as she reached for a bowl of porridge. 

“Usually,” he said as he passed the plate with the bread and cheese to Fiona. “It keeps me humble.”

Aliset gave an unladylike snort as the pitcher of ale and five cups were brought to the table.

***

They allowed the food to claim all of their attention until they were feeling pleasantly full.  Darcy finally turned to Washburn and asked in a quiet voice that could not be heard beyond their table,  “Where are we bound for now?  Do you still want to travel to Lendour?”

Washburn looked thoughtful for a moment and then shook his head.  “I’ve no reason to go there now.  My memories are restored.  I need to return to Rhemuth, but I cannot do that until the king is convinced I am no threat to him, the kingdom or my family.  I’m surprised he’s allowed me my freedom for this long.”

Darcy suddenly took a long drink of ale, draining the cup.  Washburn’s eyes narrowed.

“You didn’t find me by chance, did you?” he asked, with just a hint of the old anger in his voice.  And then the anger was gone; he was no longer that man.

“Aye, I was sent.  To make sure you could not be forced into some treacherous act.” 

“Even if it meant taking my life?”

“Aye, though I prayed long and hard that it would never come to that.  I would have done penance to the end of my days if it had.”  Darcy held Washburn’s gaze, certain he would know the truth of his words.

“Ah was sent along with him tae do what ah could to try to Heal you, so it would nae come to that,” Father Columcil said. 

“I joined them, so they would have access to my Deryni knowledge,” Aliset added.  “Who better to protect you than your friends?”

Washburn nodded slowly.  “Now I must put the king’s fears to rest.  Father Columcil and Alset, you tried to get through the barriers in my mind before.  They are now gone; would you be willing to try again?”

“Ah would certainly be willing, but there is another who would be the better choice,” Columcil said.  “Archbishop Duncan is still at Arx Fedei.  He can verify yer memories are returned and true better than anyone else.” 

“The King would take his word for it without question,” Aliset added. 

Washburn nodded. “If he is well enough and willing, I agree.”

“Ah canna see why he wouldn’t be,” the priest said.  “He was doing better when ah left him in Magistra Helena’s care.  And ah think it would be very difficult tae prevent him from trying.” 

“Are we agreed to ride to Arx Fedei?” Darcy asked. 

“Yes,” Fiona said eagerly.  “It’s only a half day’s ride.  We can be there by early afternoon if we set a good pace.”

“We’ll set a normal pace,” Darcy said firmly with a glance at his wife.  “No need to stress the horses or the riders.”  He glanced at his empty cup.  “We’ll also pick up a few provisions so we can have lunch along the way.”

“The tavern keeper is out of Old Ballymar now,” Aliset reminded him.

“No plan is perfect,” Darcy replied.  “Besides, it’s probably wiser not to smell of borderland spirits when we greet the archbishop.” 

“Unless you brought along a wee dram to share,” Columcil said, and they all smiled.
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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