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Ghosts Laid to Rest - Book Four - Book Cover and Part One

Started by Laurna, August 27, 2022, 09:55:16 AM

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Laurna

Here it is, Rhemuth Castle, The last of our Ghosts of the Past Adventure Quest Story!

Ghosts Laid to Rest  Book Four

The battle for Laas is over and Grand Duke Valerian is retreating toward Ratharkin, Prince Javan's army is hunting him. Earl Brendan is making his own plans to stop the Rebellion. Meanwhile, the beloved mentor of Deryni in the Church of Gwynedd has passed away. Respect for him has sent many to Arx Fidei Seminary to attend his funeral. Our intrepid team lead by "Captain" Lord Darcy are among them. Fiona has hopes of being introduced to Washburn's maman to gain her sponsorship into the Rhemuth Schola. But Master Feyd has other plans to distract our team.

We are very happy to present to you The book cover and Part one of Ghosts Laid to Rest.

As with all our series, the portrait art on our book cover is done by our very own very talented Nezz and the landscape Photography was shot by Revanne as she looked over the English Gwynedd Countryside. I believe I see Arx Fidei Seminary in the back ground.

Please click on the links below to download the PDF files:

Book Cover, Title page and Map:
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Part One:
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Sample:

Prologue
7th of August, 1164  Friday.
Afternoon and Evening

DerynifanK  « Reply #704 »
                                                    As Valerian rode away from Laas with the remainder of his army, wind driven rain pelted any exposed skin.  He hunched over his horse's neck and pulled his cloak closer around him. The wind drove in from the west driving the storm inland over the city and toward the Gwyneddan army. He smiled to himself. His knights were doing exactly what he had ordered, pushing the storm over his pursuers to slow down or halt their approach and give him a chance to escape.

He and the remnants of his army had ridden some distance into the hills beyond the sight of the city walls, when he noticed a change in the wind. It was veering around and buffeting him from the east. The storm was moving back toward the city and the sea. He halted his horse and turned in the saddle to gaze back the way he had come. He was still close enough to see the black clouds boiling toward Laas. As he watched, he saw a wicked bolt of lightning fork down, and he heard a loud crack. The lightning had surely hit something on the ground in front of the city. What was left of his men still on the field of battle with the trebuchet would have been exposed. He did not know about the tent where his knights had been controlling the storm. Without his powers, he had no way to know if they still lived or if they had escaped.  After the lightning strike, the wind and rain began to subside, rapidly dissipating and leaving only the showers of normal rain.

Valerian, searched the faces of the men around him. Not one was Deryni. He needed that power and it angered him that he did not have it. Brioc was fidgeting in the saddle at his side. The man was seething at their retreat. He had been promised a prisoner to trade for his daughter and he had not gotten one. Valerian calculated the distances and determined a course of action.

"Lord Brioc, I need you to return to the fortress. Sadina's governess, Lady Breena, is Deryni. You will tell her to use the Portal system to get news to my brothers.  I need finances and I need men, and I will need them at Ratharkin. Above all, I need that whelp Morgan in my Grasp. Someone must be able to find him. He can not have completely disappeared? When I am done with him, you can trade what is left of him for your daughter. My brothers may not like me much, but I am family, and they will know what to do. Breena is the only one left who can get news to them. Now go, and don't let me down!"

Brioc took the orders with some pleasure. It got him out of this demeaning retreat. With two men at his side, he raced away from the man who was bringing his lifelong plans to failure. Unless the Grand Duke could turn this around with men and money from the Empire of Byzantyun, he would make certain that his daughter did not marry that man.

Bynw    « Reply #716

In the late late hours of the evening, after the coffin containing the most worthy dignitary,  the late Denis Arilan, Bishop of Dhassa, had reached the destination of his funeral and final resting place, a priest of Torenth completed his four hour vigil standing guard in the eastern position of the plain wood casket before the altar at Arx Fidei Seminary. Father Paulos told his fellow priests that he felt it was the correct thing to do for a Bishop who had been an emissary to the court of King Liam of Torenth for many years. He also claimed it would give him an insight to the rituals of Gwynedd in the Funeral Rights of such a prominent church figure. He did consider the plain casket to be an understatement for such a godly man, but when the circumstances were explained, how Bishop Arilan wished to be remembered as a penitent man, then Father Paulos added his own sincere prayers dedicated to his fellow priest. 

Father Paulos rode out from Arx Fidei in the darkest hours before dawn, after speaking privately to a hooded man of his acquaintance. Then, bypassing the holy city of Valoret, he traveled for several hours on the road to the east, finally returning to the tiny village of Windyner as the sun breasted the horizon. It was Saturday morning and he wished to be back in time to assist the local parish priest in caring for his flock. It would be a sad few days for the Church and the people of Windyner. They have seen many pilgrims pass through their village and many more would be seen passing through on this day. Most would lodge in Valoret before attending the bishop's funeral tomorrow, perhaps a few would make a long rest stop here in Windyner before moving along, but most would not stop for long, only long enough to water their horses before going further down the road. When the funeral was over, again Windyner would become a rest stop for those mourners returning to their homes.

The parish priest and his Torenthi guest priest, Fathers Michael and Paulos, share the people's burden and together they hold a smaller service and tribute of their own for the deceased Deryni bishop. Father Paulos shared his experience from his vigil the night before. Throughout the rest of the day, both priests took turns tending to the needs of the parish and the pilgrims passing through.

During the late morning, while Father Paulos is resting in his private room, he receives a psychic call from an unexpected but welcome contact.

"Master. Lord Valerian's forces in Meara have been routed. And the Grand Duke is currently on the run from the Haldane armies. A woman has informed us of these circumstances and she has been ordered to Byzantyun to inform the grand duke's kin. Rumor has it that Lord Valerian  can no longer contact his brothers himself. What are your orders?"

Master Feyd replies back across the distant link to the contact. "Have our best Seers find where Lord Valerian is located. Have any agent near him get to him by any means available. Including paying off anyone that can be bought with coin. Get to him before the Haldanes do and bring him to our Order's house in The Connait. His men are expendable. He is not!"

With that Feyd severs the link. And Father Paulos wakes from his meditation to go about the rest of his day's business.                         



Chapter One
8th of August, 1164  Saturday
Late morning

DerynifanK  « Reply #696 »
                                                   
The little party of five had maintained a fast pace, alternating between a canter and a fast walk as they strove to put more distance between themselves and Jeffers' manor. It was several hours past sunrise and the traffic on the road was steadily increasing when Lord Darcy slowed the pace and began to scan the sides of the road, obviously looking for a place to rest. Within a short distance, he signaled a turn to the left, leaving the road and passing between two large trees. He entered a copse with several more large trees and a small stream running past it.

He turned in his saddle and addressed the others. "We need to rest and water the horses and eat something ourselves. We have been on the road since first light and all of us, beasts and riders, need food and water. We have had nothing to eat or drink since last evening, and that was certainly not very fortifying." All nodded their heads in agreement, but no one dared to come forth with a complaint, they were all glad they had survived the night without injury.

The party dismounted and began to lead their mounts to the stream to water them. Darcy caught Aliset as she dismounted to steady her. He noticed that she looked pale and a little shaky. "Are you feeling unwell?" he asked solicitously. "You need to rest. In my haste to get as far away as possible from Jeffers, I have perhaps pushed us a bit too hard. You rest here and I will take care of the horses."

"I will be fine once I have some water and food," she insisted.  She found an area of soft grass to sit on with a sturdy tree trunk to lean against and seated herself with a sigh.

Darcy took both horses to the stream to allow them to drink and returned quickly with his waterskin filled with fresh, cold water. He gave it to Aliset who drank thirstily. He pulled the remainder of the bread and a piece of fruit from her saddlebag and offered it to her. "Take it slowly, my love. If you eat too fast, it may make you ill." He sat beside his wife and studied her anxiously.

Aliset took a few bites of the bread, then smiled at him. "Don't worry about me, I am feeling better already."

The others were also watering and tethering their horses then seating themselves to eat the food that remained in their saddlebags. This was a welcome respite from the stress of the encounter with Jeffers and their fortunate escape from his manor.

Father Columcil was seated nearby and Fiona joined him. She noticed that Washburn again sat some little distance away from the rest of the party.  "Why does Sir Washburn separate himself from the rest of us? Is there something worrying him, aside from our safety?"

"Aye," the priest replied. "He's tryin' tae deal wi' whit was done tae him whilst he was held captive by th' rebels. Th' effects oan his memories is whit bothers heem most."

Fiona looked at the priest with sympathy and concern in her eyes. "Is there nothing we can do to help him?"

Columcil smiled at her. "We aw want tae hep him. Th' best thin' we can dae is support heem an' help heem recognise whit is true an' real, an' whit is nae."

"What is that book he carries in his tunic? Whenever we stop he pulls it out and reads from it. Does it contain something that will help him restore his true memories?"

Columcil was silent for a few minutes. "Tis a joornal 'at contains knowledge he needs. Ah think it wuid be best tae let him talk tae ye himself aboot it. He has tae learn tae troost again and keepin' his confidences will hep."

Fiona nodded thoughtfully as she finished eating her bread. "Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me, Father. Excuse me, now. I think I will keep company with him for a bit before we continue our journey."

Fiona rose from her seat beside the priest and walked over to where the knight was seated. He had finished his food and was again reading from the journal he carried with him. "May I join you?" she asked softly. "I would like to talk with you." Wash stood, bowed and assisted
Fiona to a seat in the grass next to him. "Are you concerned about further danger from Lord Jeffers?" she asked, "Is that why you sit at a distance from the rest of us, so you can keep watch? He will have seen that our horses are gone and know, or at least suspect, that we did not perish in the fire. Do you think he might have us followed to prevent us from telling anyone about his attempt at murder?"

Wash smiled reassuringly. "No, I do not think that Jeffers has the resources to have us followed. There did not seem to be any other inhabitants at the manor, nor did it appear to be a prosperous estate. The most he could do would be to send for the authority from the nearest town and accuse us of burning down his shed or threatening him. But he is both insane and cunning, and I do not think he will wish to call attention to himself or any other suspicious happenings at his manor. After all, there is the disappearance of the granddaughter's fiance. I suspect the other horse in the stable was his, and I wonder if he encountered a similar attack and was not as fortunate as we."

"I am worried that some other unfortunate soul might fall into his clutches. Was there nothing else we could do to stop him?"  Fiona's concern could be seen in her face,

Wash replied ruefully, "Unfortunately, I am afraid that the warning Darcy left at the entrance to the manor is the most we can do. Lord Jeffers is known in that shire and, although they consider him eccentric, there was no indication that he is considered dangerous. We are not known here and we would probably not be believed if we did try to tell our story.  It would delay our journey and certainly call unwelcome attention to us."

Fiona nodded as she considered what he had said. She sighed. "I am sure you are right."

Wash continued, "I suspect they rarely get visitors. The large number of travelers on the road now is most unusual and brought about by the funeral of Bishop Arilan. In normal times, the town has more than adequate lodging for travelers, and I think the likelihood of anyone else being sent there is very small. I hope they will see the warning we left and avoid it."

Fiona was silent for several minutes then spoke. "I don't wish to intrude, but I have noticed the book that you take out and read whenever we stop. When we talked at the manor, you told me of some of the problems you are struggling to overcome, including powerful enemies who are trying to find you. Does that journal perhaps contain wisdom and guidance that will help you overcome some of your difficulties? As I told Father Columcil, I wish I could help you."

Wash looked down at the young lass and smiled. "Just knowing there are those who believe in me is a great help. I will tell you a little of what happened while I was held prisoner. It will help you understand the difficulties I face. You have heard something of what occurred, but even I do not completely understand what was done to me. Using both drugs and his powers, my captor twisted my mind, robbed me of memories, and distorted those that remained. I cannot be sure what is real and true and what is not. I cannot act on what I believe because it may be false."

Wash stared sadly into the distance. "The book I read is my father's journal, kept by him over many years. My father was killed in battle when I was seven, so I had few real memories of him, but even those have vanished. I feel that all I know of him came from the memories of others. The good Father reminded me that I had another source of knowledge about him and what kind of man he was. I had his journal, written in his own words, to help me know him better. I have disturbing memories of my family, especially my brothers, disapproving of me and treating me badly. But I am beginning to doubt the truth of those memories, as Father Columcil has told me that they do not match what he knew about my family. My hope is that I will come to know my father and what he felt for his youngest son, 'the spare'."

Fiona reached over and touched his hand gently. "Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. I understand some of what you are feeling. As I told you, I also lost my father in battle, I was five. My memories of him are few and hazy. You are fortunate to have his journal. I have no such resource to tell me about my father. My mother died when I was eight and was ill for some time before that, so she spoke little about him. I wish I could learn more."

"Perhaps your uncle can help, tell you more about him," Wash suggested.

Fiona looked doubtful. "He was my father's friend, but he has never told me much about him. I hope there will be a time when he will tell me more."

"Have you ever thought of returning to your home, your birthplace? Didn't you say it was a Barony in Claibourne?  If your father's steward is an honest fellow— I am sure that Lord Iain would have made certain of that, as he is the one to watch over your inheritance—then perhaps you could learn some of what you want to know by visiting your homeland and talking to your people? Surely, there will be those who remember him?"

"I'm not sure what uncle Mac or cousin Iain would think of such an idea.  I am afraid they still think of me as a child," Fiona said, sounding uncertain of such an idea.

"My lady, you are most certainly no child. I believe you have shown yourself to be quite determined and able to make and carry out plans for yourself." Wash dared to look fully at the pretty young woman seated beside him.

Then, embarrassed, he disentangled his gaze and looked up into the trees. "I am just thinking, well, rather hoping that the walls of home will speak out in volumes of the past to me. Perhaps your home will do the same?"

"Is this part of this pull driving you to travel east, the need to recover your past, those missing memories?"  Fiona asked. "But why Lendour? I didn't think Lendour was your family seat?"

Wash looked thoughtful. "I don't know. Cynfyn Castle and the Lendours are part of my family's lands. I know I spent much time there, acting as regent for my nephew, but I remember little of what occurred. I do feel a nearly irresistible pull to go in that direction. Perhaps there will be those who can help me better understand myself and my relationships with my family, especially my brothers."

Fiona gazed at him with her big blue eyes, seeing for the first time more than just the warrior in the man seated beside her. The Duke of Corwyn had trusted him to act as his son's regent. She realized that Sir Washburn could not see how much trust the duke must have had in his younger brother to place him in a position of such responsibility over his son's inheritance. She had no idea of how to enlighten him without triggering those false memories.  Perhaps she might speak again to Father Columcil and ask his advice.

Meanwhile, Fiona spoke sincerely. "I hope you will find what you seek when you reach your goal. I will think about your idea of visiting my first home.  It has been my dream for a long time to attend the Schola. I did ask my uncle, but he was not willing to grant permission without speaking to Iain, and there has been no opportunity to do that. I asked to travel with your party to Valoret hoping that once there, I could find a way to get to Rhemuth and the Schola. I am hoping that Iain will be present, and I will have a chance to speak with him.  Perhaps we will meet there as students, you of healing and myself of how to best use my powers. I would like that."

"I also," Wash agreed.

Just then Lord Darcy called on the party to pack up, mount and get ready to ride. They needed to continue their journey quickly in order to reach Arx Fidei Seminary in time for Bishop Arilan's services.  Wash rose to his feet and reached his hand down to assist Fiona to her feet. As they walked toward their horses, each reflected that sharing their similar pasts had drawn them together and given them a feeling of shared concern and friendship.

Jerusha  « Reply #699 »
                                                   
Darcy Cameron looked around behind him to make sure his party was still together.  The traffic along the road had continued to increase, all of it flowing east to Valoret, and it had forced Darcy to slow their pace.  It was late in the afternoon; he signaled for them to move with him off the road so they could talk privately.

"We should be able to make the abbey of Ramos by nightfall, though I doubt there will be any place for us to stay either in the abbey or in the town," he said as his companions came up beside him.  He surveyed the sky above him.  "The weather looks good, and I expect the night will be clear.  We can always camp on the outskirts of the town."

"Ma' self, Ah'd as soon gie the Abbey of Ramos a miss, if we can," Father Columcil suggested.  Darcy gave him a blank look and the priest realized that the sanctions against the Deryni imposed by the Council of Ramos were not something that had concerned the young Darcy at sea.

"It was at Ramos that the sanctions against the Deryni were written in 917 and 918, forbidding Deryni from Holy Orders, ownership of land, and removing them from the nobility, just to name a few," Aliset told him.

"King Kelson was instrumental in overturning that," Washburn added and then wondered if his words were correct.  Aliset and Columcil nodded, indicating that this memory, at least, was a true one.

"Probably an intentional oversight in my education thanks to my stepfather," Darcy said.  Aliset noted the momentary flash of anger in his pale blue eyes.  "Let's continue a short way beyond Ramos and camp a distance away from the road.  We can get an early start in the morning and be in Valoret well before the funeral."

"Aye, that'd suit me," Columcil said.  "It'd be an affront ta Bishop Arilan if we stayed nigh t'th'abbey."

"We're all agreed?" Darcy asked the group.

"I believe so," Fiona responded, and Darcy led them back onto the road.

*****

"This should do nicely," Aliset said as Darcy helped her to dismount.  Once they were past Ramos, Darcy had found a small clearing far enough away from the road that they would not be easily seen.  Although the number of pilgrims had lessened with nightfall, she could still hear the sounds of those traveling toward Valoret.

"I think we should set wards for the night," she announced.  "I would feel better with the extra protection."

"I like the sound of that," Darcy replied.  He reached inside his shirt and pulled out the leather pouch with the Quartermaster's ward cubes.  "Not everyone on the road tonight will be travelling with the best of intentions; and this way we won't need to stand watch."

"A braw night's sleep would be good fer us all," Columcil agreed.  "The morrow may be a lang day; nae dout t'will be fou o' emotion fer me."

Aliset took the pouch from Darcy.  She was feeling fatigued again, which was starting to thoroughly annoy her.  She could ask Washburn to raise the wards with his own ward cubes, but she had a sudden thought.  "Darcy, why don't I show you how to set the wards?"

"Aye," he responded with a pleased smile at his wife.  "I would like that."

"Perhaps I could watch and learn as well?" Fiona asked hopefully.

"I can't see why not," Aliset replied.

"If ye hae no objection,  may Ah sit in? Jist as an observer," Father Columcil added.  "Mah border ways serve me weel enaw, yet tis aye guid tae ken a wee bit mair."

"Care to join us as well, Wash?"  Aliset asked.  "There is always room for one more."

Washburn smiled but shook his head.  "I think it's best if I stand watch until the wards are raised. Besides, I think your class is full."

Aliset handed the pouch back to Darcy and indicated that he should sit in the center of the clearing.  She sat down beside him, and Fiona and Columcil sat on his other side.

"Raising wards is often the first formal training a Deryni child receives," Aliset began.

"I'm just a tad late then?" Darcy interrupted, looking slightly miffed.

"It's a good way to learn centering and concentration, which you might find helpful," she replied.  "Try not to interrupt."

"Aye, love," Darcy said.  "I'll do my best."  He opened the pouch and spilled the cubes onto the ground.

"Your focused concentration, what we often call centering, is key to balancing the energies of the white and black cubes to raise the wards," Aliset began. "You actually don't need the cubes to raise wards, but naming the cubes in the appropriate fashion triggers the right mind-set in the operator, focusing the power and establishing certain balances.  You know you have been successful when the named component begins to glow.  First, arrange the white cubes next to each other in a tight square."

Darcy separated the white cubes and arranged them as bidden.

"Now place each black cube so a corner touches the corner of a white cube, forming an open square around the white cubes," Aliset continued.  Darcy placed a black cube next to each of the white cubes with the corners touching. He chanced a look at Aliset to make sure he had placed them correctly.  She nodded.

"I want you to concentrate on feeling the energies as I lead you through this.  Don't focus on my voice."  Aliset pointed to the cubes but did not touch them.  "Each cube has a name, or nomena; you will touch each cube as you say its name.  The order is always left to right, the top row first and then the one below it.  We start with the white cubes."  Darcy positioned his finger above the first cube and looked up at her.

"Don't look at me; focus on the cubes," Aliset said firmly.  Darcy turned his eyes back to the cubes before him. "The first cube's nomena is Prime."

Darcy touched the first cube.  "Prime."  The cube glowed a pale, dull white.  Darcy felt a memory surfacing in his mind.  He tried to push it away.

"The second is Secunde, the third is Tierce, and the fourth is Quarte."

Darcy touched the second cube and uttered its nomena.  His memories could not be repressed this time, and he saw another hand, slender and pale, still graceful in spite of her illness, touch a ward cube in the same way.  His mother.

Darcy touched the remaining white cubes, stating their names clearly, his eyes never straying from the cubes as each glowed faintly.  The cubes his mother had touched had glowed more strongly.  He gave up trying to push her away and tried to turn his concentration totally to the ward cubes.  Her hand seemed to hover above his.

Darcy did not see the troubled look on his wife's face, but she continued on with her instructions.

"Next the black cubes. These will be named following the same pattern as the white cubes.  In order, they are named Quinte, Sixte, Septime and Octave."

Darcy touched each black cube, stating its name as he did so.  Each black cube glowed faintly.  Aliset sighed.

"Now the named cubes must be balanced," she said, hoping the energies would grow stronger as Darcy proceeded.  "Each pair must harmonize with itself but also in reference to the other three. Place each white cube on top of its matched black cube, in the same order we have been following.  Each pillar has a cognomen, which you will say as each pillar is formed.  The cognomen are Primus, Secundus, Tertius and Quartus."

Darcy followed her directions, stating each cognomen clearly.  The result was four rectoids, each oblong shape glowing a dull grey.

"Now you must move each tower to a corner of the area you want under the wards,"  Aliset said.  "Don't worry, we can adjust them a bit afterwards if we need to. The horses are close enough we can include them within the space as well.  Place the first tower in the east, and place the others, in order, in the remaining cardinal points."

Darcy stood and did this with confidence, sure of his sense of direction.

"This is the final step," Aliset said encouragingly.  "Point to each pillar, calling it by its cognomen, and then say "Fiat Lux!" ((Will Darcy be successful in raising the wards?  Never having done this before, he can only roll one dice, (used 6xp for the second dice)- Standard Plus !roll 2d6: 2 & 3; Failure- Drat!))

Darcy did exactly as he had been told, and nothing happened.  The light from the glowing pillars faded and went dark.

"Bloody hell!" he exploded.  He strode around the area that should have been warded and picked up each pair of cubes none too gently.  He returned to stand in front of Aliset, the cubes clenched tightly in his fist.  "What did I do wrong?"

For a fleeting moment, Aliset feared Darcy would fling the ward cubes into the trees.  He did not and suddenly sat down in front of her, the cubes still in his fist.

"Perhaps it is because they are not attuned to you; they were your Quartermaster's, not truly yours," she said gently.

"You were able to raise the ward outside Droghera with these cubes, and you never knew the Quartermaster!" Darcy replied, a bit of heat in his voice.

For a moment, no one said anything; the only voice Darcy heard was in his own head. "I've told you more than once that you are too easily distracted."

How many times had the Quartermaster told him this?  Startled, Darcy opened his fist to gaze at the ward cubes within.

"I could try," Fiona ventured.  "I am sure I can remember the sequence."

"No!" Darcy said firmly, and clenched the ward cubes in his hand again.  "I know what went wrong; I was distracted by my mother."

"Your mother?" Aliset asked incredulously.

"Aye.  The memory came to me unbidden," Darcy replied.  "My mother summoned me to her rooms in secret; I was not normally allowed to visit her. When I arrived, she bolted the door and pulled a pouch from a secret drawer within her desk.  The pouch held her ward cubes, and in my mind, I again saw her raise the wards that would protect us while she erased my memories.  It was the night before I was sold to sea."

"Perhaps I should raise the wards," Aliset ventured.

"No! I will do this and I will succeed."  Darcy's jaw was set in a hard line, and Aliset, used to her husband's even and sometimes irreverent nature, was surprised at the steely glint of resolve in his pale eyes. He would not be swayed from his decision.

"Very well," she said.  "You know what you need to do."

Darcy took a deep, steadying breath and arranged the cubes before him.  He reached forward and touched the white cubes and named them in order.  This time, they glowed with a deep, opalescent glow.  Next, he touched the black cubes and recited their nomena.  Each glowed with a deep, blue-black colour.  He formed the pillars; as he completed the ritual, they glowed a deep silver grey. He was surprised at how much effort that took.  Now he rose and moved them to the points of the compass, pointed to them and recited their cognomen.  "Fiat Lux!" he commanded at the end. ((Will Darcy be successful this time?  Disadvantage plus + 6xp spent to roll 2 dice.
Standard Plus !roll 2d6: 6 & 6 ; Spectacular success! Now that's a roll!))

The pale dome rose above them, shielding them from harm.

"Done well enough," the Quartermaster said in Darcy's mind.  "But you could do better."

The Quartermaster had always been stingy with praise.

*****

They settled for the night within the protective dome.  They shared their rations for the evening meal, and now content, each treasured a few moments to themselves.  Washburn read from his father's personal journal, Father Columcil devoted himself to the evening office, and Fiona looked after the gown she would wear to the funeral tomorrow, formally representing the baron.  She also checked her quiver of arrows and bow, just in case.

Aliset was thinking of retiring for the night.  As in the past few weeks, she found she was exhausted by the end of the day.  Hopefully this would pass in time.  She looked over to where Darcy was standing beside the boundary of the ward, gazing at the stars.  She really wanted to lay down, but thought she could spare some time to stand alongside her husband.

When Aliset reached him, Darcy slipped his arm around her waist.  "I will never make a good courtier," he said.

"Why?" she asked, puzzled.

"If I was clever, I would have told you I was distracted by your extraordinary beauty, not by my mother," he replied.

Aliset chuckled.  "I prefer the truth to courtly posturning," she said.

"I am much relieved at that." He paused and Aliset leaned her head against his. "Have I told you about the constellations?"

"All of them?" Aliset asked with an expression of mock horror.

"Nay, love," Darcy replied and chuckled.  "We need to make an early start in the morning, and I confess I am a bit tired from the warding, but I can point out a couple you might find interesting."

Aliset nestled a little closer.

"If you look to the east," her husband began....

Laurna  « Reply #700 »
                                                   
"Aye.  The memory came to me unbidden," Darcy replied. Washburn's attention had been caught by the intensity of Darcy's low voice as he spoke of a past memory that had been sparked by his first failed attempt to make a Ward Major. "My mother summoned me to her rooms in secret; ... I saw her raise the wards that would protect us while she erased my memories.  It was the night before I was sold to sea."

Washburn had turned to look back at Darcy. His own heart felt dismayed. How had he forgotten that Darcy too had lived half a lifetime without remembering who his family was or where he had come from?  His mother had done this thing to protect him, because she knew what her husband intended to do with her youngest child, and she could not stop it from happening. This ability of his race to alter memories had seemed to him to be a curse. Wash shivered. Yet, perhaps, it could also be a form of protection. If Darcy had remembered who he was when he was first sold to sea, would he have mourned his lost life? In his grief, with such hardships as men of the seatrade must cope with, might Darcy have lost his life before he had the chance to find the man inside who could survive such a harsh livelihood? Maybe, just maybe, the adjusted memories were a blessing in disguise. For here before the small gathering of friends, a very determined young man, who was invigorated with self-confidence, chose to do again a magic that had at first defeated him. Washburn approved.  Wash smiled at his friend's next attempt to build a true Ward Major. The cubes shone brightly against the dark ground as he named them. Wash turned back to keeping his vigilance on the forest beyond their small glen. As his senses swept the surroundings for intruders, he considered how Darcy had survived without his memories. He too should match the determination of his friend and survive.

Wash kept an eye on the forest until the moment a strong ward shimmered over his head. Wash gave it a mental test. A good ward indeed ((can not get better than a roll of 12 with two dice.))  Content that nothing could penetrate this defense, Wash came back to the group and settled in next to them as the meal was prepared. Tonight he would get some sleep. And that would be a welcome respite.

Finding himself truly relaxed in the company he was keeping, Wash pulled the book from his tunic and opened it to where he had been reading about a cult led by one Warin de Grey who preached the eradication of all Deryni from existence. On top of those troubles, there was the aggressive posturing of Archbishops Corrigan and Loris who wanted repentance from one Alaric Morgan for bringing the devil's magic into their cathedral months before at Kelson's coronation. These were perilous times for the newly crowned King of Gwynedd, and the king's champion who was of known Deryni descent. This was long before Washburn was born. He had been told stories of such times, but those memories were blurred. Here was an accounting from a man who was very concerned for himself, his cousin, his king, but mostly for the threat of interdict upon his Duchy of Corwyn and his people. At first Wash could not imagine the church being so cold and calculating. He had grown up with Archbishop Duncan as a guardian. Yet, in this story, Duncan was a simple priest, one threatened with suspension; he accompanied Alaric as a nobleman and not a man of the church. This was so hard to fathom that Wash nearly questioned if this story were true.

Nevertheless, Wash read on, intrigued. There was a short description of how the two cousins planned to ride to Dhassa to confront the Curia. Wash turned the page and found it blank.  On the facing page was the lone word Merasha.  Another blank page and then the writing resumed.

"The world has turned upside down. I am excommunicated. Interdict has fallen on Corwyn. My sweet beautiful sister and her betrothed have been murdered— days before their wedding—by jealous magic gone wrong!  Only my king stands between my enemy and me. If I fall, how do I write about what has happened in these last horrific days so that those that I love will know?"

Wash then read about the fateful ride to Dhassa, the night in the ruins of Saint Noet's, and the arrival at the Shrine of Saint Torin. There was a brief, light hearted moment of words about the passing of arms-men in the colors of blue and white, and a carriage that became bogged down in mud. Followed by a surprisingly soft description of the carriage's incumbent, a lady of incomparable beauty. In some way this sounded so familiar to Wash, but he didn't stop his reading to figure it out; he had to know what happened next. The telling of the Merasha dowsing and the ambush set to capture, judge, and execute the Heathen Deryni Lord of Corwyn held Washburn's attention; his heart was racing, he knew almost exactly how his father had felt that day. The words which followed were about a drug blurred hand to hand fight, a rescue by Cousin Duncan, and the confrontation of his greatest fear:

"There stood the fate that my enemy had chosen for me. Halfway up the slope, a tall stake was set in the ground amid piles of kindling. Iron chains hung around the stake, ready to fetter this unwilling victim, and nearby, a torch smoked and guttered in the wind. I had to burn that structure-of-death before any soul, including my own, could succumb to such horror."

Washburn shivered as he read this. Again he noted the tense upright letters on the page as Alaric wrote of what had occurred. What followed was his escape: days of hardship in the saddle, at last ending at the gates of Culdi, only then to learn of a worse fate that befell his sister: Bronwyn, and Duncan's elder brother, Kevin Mclain, murdered most foully by evil magic.  Wash brushed aside his tears and nearly closed the book to put it aside.

But then something drew him to return  a few pages back. "Incomparable beauty... red-golden hair, surrounding a heart shaped face." Suddenly Wash knew who the lady in the carriage had been. He read again the only few words of happiness in this whole portion of the journal. His father would not have known it at the time, but he was writing about his very first encounter with the woman he would fall in love with and marry. Alaric's description of the lady he saw on the road to Dhessa was like writing about an angel.  Wash read the description of a young Lady Richenda and smiled.

"And her ladyship wishes to add her personal thanks," said a light, musical voice from inside the coach. It was then that I looked up, startled, into a pair of the bluest eyes I had ever seen set in a pale, heart-shaped face of incomparable beauty. That face was surrounded by a smooth cloud of red-golden hair, swooped down on either side like twin wings of fire and then twisted into a coiled coronet around her head. Her nose was delicate and slightly upturned, her mouth wide, generous, tinged with a blush of color which by rights should have belonged only to a rose."

Wash took in a deep breath and smiled. He put the book away and looked over the people around him. The newlyweds were just returning to their bedroll, arm in arm, both with heads leaning into the other, their love strong and renewed. Columcil was also putting his prayer book away and was bedding down for the night. The priest purposely had placed his bed so he could protect Lady Fiona; a space halfway between Wash and the young lady.  Wash wasn't sure if that was intentional or not. But it certainly was not necessary. Then again, he looked across at Fiona and wondered how he would describe her if he was to write about her in a journal. Pretty as a fawn, lithe as a willow, determined as a predator feline.  Hair of white/golden wheat flowing in the breeze. Eyes of the sea. Lips... kissed by a rose...

Embarrassed by his thoughts, he blushed and turned away. He certainly wasn't the poet or writer that his father was.  Best not to be thinking those types of thoughts anyway. He pulled his bedding over his shoulders and was very quickly asleep. Dreaming of kittens and roses.

                               

May your horses have wings and fly!

HoundMistress

HELP! How do I get a copy!! I love that story & advocated for printed copies from the beginning or near it. I need to get copies!! Come on, y'all!! email me, please as I'm having trouble getting back in on Chat. DR, help!! Bynw!!
Judy Ward
You can buy a pretty good dog with money but you can't buy the wag of its tail.

Laurna

Judy, I don't understand. Are you asking for copies printed on Paper?  Sadly, it is illegal to have Fan Fiction printed at a print company- according to the law- no one who isn't the original author can make money off of Fan Fiction and that includes the fan fiction writer and a company that makes money from printing the fan fiction. However, that does not stop us from writing fan fiction or from giving out for free, or from the reader printing the story for themselves.

I have offered the story in PDF files which can be read by using adobe acrobat reader on just about any computer. There should be apps to read it on your phone as well. You can download the PDF file to your computer or to a friends computer, and if you have a printer attached to the computer you should be able to print the story yourself at home. If you know someone with a laser printer, the PDF files print nicely and quickly. Each story is about 450 pages long. Therefore expect to use a half a ream of paper per book, if you print on both sides of the page.

This is what I have done at home. I have four 1 1/2inch thick notebook binders with each book. and I have slid the cover page into the front clear pocket of the binder. That takes a color printer, but that is why the Book cover and Title page are separate files so you can use a color printer for that part.

Judy, if that does not answer your question, than ask some more. I would love to see you have your own copies.
May your horses have wings and fly!