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Kelric's Adventures Chapter 8: Down to the Beach

Started by Shiral, July 15, 2018, 02:05:19 AM

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Chapter 8 Down to The Beach

             "He was wearing a long grey cloak with a hood over his head. And he gave me this just before I fell asleep." Kelric fished his shiral bead from inside his tunic and held it up for Bishop Duncan to see.

           Bishop Duncan and Lord Dhugal stared at his bead with identical expressions of astonishment. Lord Dhugal recovered first and leaned in for a closer look, smiling at Kelric.

             "A saint who not only tells stories but leaves gifts? I wish he'd come visit me some night!"

          "He did come! Honest!" Kelric protested.

           But there was no mockery in Lord Dhugal's face as he looked more closely at Kelric's bead, then up at his father.

          "It's just like the one Kelson found on the beach on that day we saw that man three years ago, Father," he told Bishop Duncan softly. "Same size, same hole drilled through the center - everything."

         "May I take a closer look too, Kelric?" Bishop Duncan asked. He draped the green cord over his palm and stared intently at the little bead. "Amazing," he whispered. "Truly amazing. Kelric, what did this saint look like, can you tell us?"
           "He was tall," Kelric said promptly. "He looked a lot like Papa, but older. He was nice to Stripes, too, and she liked him. Usually she runs away from strangers. I couldn't see his feet, though."

              "And you weren't afraid of him? If a man without feet had come to see me in the middle of the night when I was only three, I would have been scared."

              "Don't you believe me?" Kelric bristled a little.

             "I have more reason to believe you than not to believe you," Duncan soothed. "He didn't frighten you, even a tiny bit?"

              Kelric shook his head. "His face was too kind.  An' he reminded me of you."

              He just caught Dhugal's grin at his father and Duncan's answering roll of his eyes.

              "I'm flattered," Duncan said simply and smiled at Kelric. "I've been called much worse in my life. I don't suppose this saint told you who he was?"

              "He was a little strange," Kelric admitted. "He said that in life he' d been Camber MacRorie, the Earl of..Earl of.?" Kelric scowled in annoyance at having forgotten the name.

            "Culdi, I think it was," Bishop Duncan supplied. "What else did he say?"

            "He said that his becoming a saint had been an accident. Bishop Duncan, do you know how somebody can get sainted by accident?"

           "I don't even know that Camber was sainted 'by accident' as you put it, Kel" Bishop Duncan answered, frowning a little in his puzzlement. "What I've been able to read about that was Camber was sainted almost unanimously by the Gwynedd Curia of the time. King Cinhil I supported it, too, and he had been a priest before he was a King."

          "Did the story he told you have anything to do with your bead?" Lord Dhugal asked.

           Kelric shook his head. "He told me about when his sons were young."

           "Did he name his sons?"

           "Cathan," Kelric said after a pause to think. "Ballard, and Jor-Jor-something."

           "Joram, maybe?" Bishop Duncan's voice was mild as it always was, but sitting right next to the bishop, Kelric couldn't miss his keen interest. Interest so keen that Kelric could have sworn he was as excited as adults ever got.

            "Yes!" Kelric nodded vigorously.

           "Do you know who this Joram was, Father?" Lord Dhugal asked.

             "Yes. Joram MacRorie was Saint Camber's son," Duncan said quietly. "I've read about him in the account of Camber's canonization. According to the little I've been able to worm out of Arilan,  Joram MacRorie was also one of the founding members of the Camberian Council just after the Restoration. He was also a Michaeline Knight, and the Michaelines were instrumental in the Haldane Restoration. I've tried to find out more about him, but references to the man beyond what I've already found are just about non-existent. I must have gone through every book and scroll in Kelson's library annexe by now. I expect the scarcity is due to the backlash after King Cinhil's death."

           He glanced over at Kelric's  shiral bead again, and his eyes narrowed. "It's on a green cord," he said slowly. "The color green was significant to Deryni in St. Camber's time too, but I can't remember precisely why."

             "You could ask Prince Azim," Dhugal suggested. "I'll bet he knows at least as much as Arilan, and he's usually more willing to talk to us about these things."

               Kelric gave an impatient bounce. The conversation seemed to be getting very far away from him. Why were adults so easily distracted?
              Bishop Duncan caught his impatience and grinned at him.  "Well Kel, it seems as if you've had your first Camberian visit," he said in a much more cheerful voice.

          "My first?"

          "It's a little hard to explain, but Camber is very sociable for a saint," Duncan chuckled. "Your father and I have both had encounters with him, and he's come to talk to your Godfather a time or two, and now it appears that he likes you, too. He may come back to see you again, someday."

               Kelric looked around the Great Hall, wondering if Saint Camber might be invisibly standing about watching and listening to his conversation this minute. Instead he saw Mummy coming toward them, smiling.

              Lord Dhugal and Bishop Duncan stood at once when they saw her.

               "We're ready to leave, now," Mummy said smiling. She held out her arms to Kelric to jump into from his window seat."Why darling, where did that pretty bead come from?" Mummy asked after she'd caught him and given him a hug.

             "Saint Camber," Kelric answered, now thinking much more about getting to the beach than about beads or saints.

Mummy's blue eyes went wide and she stared up at Bishop Duncan for corroboration. He smiled down at her and nodded.

               "Alaric?" Mummy called, setting Kelric down on the floor.
In a moment, Kelric found himself surrounded by the King and Queen, by Mummy and Papa, Bishop Duncan and Lord Dhugal. Bishop Duncan quickly told them what Kelric had said. After all of them had leaned down to examine the shiral bead Kelric wore, they began to talk at a ferocious rate in low voices. To Kelric's disappointment, all of them seemed to have entirely forgotten about going to the beach; they didn't even look toward the great hall door. They even seemed to have forgotten about him.

             He slipped away from Mummy and went over to the hall door. Grooms stood about holding the saddled horses in the courtyard below and the carriage was waiting, too. It was warm and the gentle breeze made the banners flap above the gatehouse leading out of the castle. The sky was bright  blue and Kelric could see a flock of white gulls wheeling in the distant air above Coroth Bay. The breeze was filled with the scent of water and clean, salty air. Looking back over his shoulder, Kelric could see the grownups all talking away as if they planned to keep doing it for the rest of the day.  He felt a pang of despair.

          Briony saw him by the doors and came to join him, although she scowled at him. "Why did you have to tell them Saint Camber visited you last night?" she complained. "And just before we were ready to leave, too. Now we'll never  get to the beach!"

         "Why do grownups talk so much?" Kelric mourned.

         "Where'd you get that bead?" Briony demanded pointing to his shiral crystal, her eyes bright with interest.

          "Saint Camber gave it to me. THAT'S why they're all talking."

           "He did not!" Briony shook her head emphatically.

            "He did too!" Kelric closed his fist around his bead protectively. He liked his older sister most of the time, but Briony was very good at talking him into giving her things. He wanted to keep his shiral crystal.

          She noticed and half turned away from him, her nose turned in the air. "I don't want your silly old bead," she told him in a lofty voice. "I have the pearl Papa gave me for my birthday.
"It's not fair though," she continued, pouting. "Boys don't wear jewelry. Why didn't St. Camber bring me a shiral crystal, too?"

             "Maybe Saint Camber doesn't like girls."

             Briony's blue eyes went narrow, and her lips went all thin as they always did when he annoyed her.  "I'll bet he does too like girls," she growled.

             "No he doesn't, or he would visit you."

          "He does too!" Briony doubled up her fists and stuck out her chin and lower lip. "I'm sure he'll come visit me tonight."

          "Bet he won't! An' anyway, he already visited me first!"

           "Oh yes, he will!"

          Kelric just stuck his thumbs in his ears and wiggled his fingers while sticking out his tongue at Briony. Then he ran back inside, feeling well pleased at having made his sister jealous over St. Camber's visit. All at once, he stopped and put his finger in his mouth. If St. Camber was watching him for God to make sure he behaved, Kelric didn't think either the saint or God would be pleased at the way he'd just treated his own sister. Bishop Duncan didn't seem to think his soul was in danger, but what if Father Tagas was right about mortal sin and Nurse and Bishop Duncan were wrong?

  But he's a Bishop, and that's more important than just being a priest, Kelric thought. Surely, that meant Bishop Duncan was right, since a bishop must know a lot more about God than ordinary priests just as priests knew more than ordinary people.

        He headed back to the grownups again, though at a slower pace, and tugged at the first sleeve he could reach which happened to be Lord Dhugal' s.

         "What is it, Kericl?" Lord Dhugal asked. He tousled Kelric's hair.

         "Aren't we going to the beach at all?" Kelric pleaded.

         All the solemn talk ended as soon as the King laughed. "Yes we are Kelric, and we 're leaving immediately," the King said firmly. "I daresay we can talk about St. Camber with our toes in the sand just as easily as we can talk about him here."

        He offered his right arm to the queen and took Kelric's hand in his left. The queen's little greyhound puppy trotted after them with everyone else falling in behind at their backs.

        Kelric couldn't help giving a happy skip at his godfather's side. The King really was one of the nicest sorts of adults. He didn't say tiresome things like "we'll leave presently" or "just a moment" and then go right on talking. When he said "we're leaving now," he  actually meant it.

        Out in the courtyard, the King helped Queen Araxie up the step into the carriage, and kissed her hand before releasing it and turning to help Mummy in after her. Kelric was bundled in next and last of all, the King lifted in the greyhound puppy handing him to the Queen. Kelric craned his neck out the carriage window, watching as Papa, the King, Bishop Duncan and Lord Dhugal mounted their horses. He did feel a momentary pang of envy when he saw Uncle Seandry lift Briony up to ride before the King on his horse, however. It would be very pleasant to ride in the open air in front of Papa or Bishop Duncan rather than having to ride inside the carriage with the ladies as if he were still a baby.

            Mummy must have felt it for she leaned down and kissed the top of his head then rested her cheek against his hair. Afraid that he had hurt her feelings, Kelric leaned against her and hugged her tightly. There were far worse ways to ride to the beach than being enthroned on Mummy's lap with her arms clasped around him. Especially when the carriage gave its first lurch into motion.

          "We're leaving!" Kelric crowed in delight.

You can have a sound mind in a healthy body--Or you can be a nanonovelist!