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Changes: Prologue and Fiona

Started by DerynifanK, January 13, 2023, 01:16:42 PM

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DerynifanK

Changes: Chapter One: Fiona

Prologue:
It has been almost two years since the end of the Mearan rebellion. Peace has reigned under King Kelson, and the Eleven Kingdoms are again prosperous and the people generally content. Of course there have been intermittent rumblings and threats from far Byzantyun where Imre and Iskander continue to talk of avenging Valerian's death, but there have been no indications that it was more than talk.  Kelson and his advisors had certainly learned the dangers of complacency, and they maintain a close watch on the two brothers.

However, the winds of change are stirring. Our characters will find they need to make plans to adapt to the changes in circumstances that are approaching. I hope good friends and fellow writers will feel free to address changes that are beginning to affect your characters and how they will meet them

Fiona: An Ending and a Plot

Fiona MacIntyre brushed her hands down the sides of her gown and glanced around her chamber.  She had been engaged for some time in looking through her clothing, sorting garments and deciding what she would keep and which garments she would give away. She suspected that her maid,  Alice, already had her eye on a few gowns that she coveted. She was also going through her books and scrolls and other impedimenta in the Schola. She moved over to the window seat and sat down. She sighed. It was hard to believe that her time as a student at King Kelson's Schola was drawing to an end.  She remembered how excited she had been when at last she was admitted and had begun her studies of her Deryni powers and how to use them, the realization of a long held dream. Now, just a few weeks past, she had completed her final examinations, passing with flying colors. One big question now remained, what next?

She had  hoped that question would already be answered by a betrothal between herself and Sir Washburn Morgan.  She cared deeply for him, and she thought he cared for her.  But rebuilding the manor house and establishing the healing center had occupied more and more of his time, and they had fewer opportunities to be together. They did correspond, but letters were not the same. Wash talked much more about the changes he was making and the progress of his healing center. There were few words addressing his feelings for her nor had he given any indication that a proposal was in their immediate future. His rare visits to Rhemuth were short and often involved missions he was given by the king or his brother, Duke Kelric. They included little time spent with her. Was he taking her for granted or, even worse, falling out of love with her? She was not sure what to think.

There was a soft knock at the door. Fiona, thinking it was her maid returning to resume assisting her with her sorting, opened the door. She smiled at the young lady who stood there, inviting her into the room. Isla MacArdry had become a close friend during the last year,  and Fiona had found her to be sympathetic with a great sense of fun and ready for any adventure.  Along with a third friend, Annabelle Hughes, they had become known as the three minxes, often dreaming up mischief that kept things quite lively in the Schola.

Fiona was the ringleader, using her lively imagination to come up with new ideas, like the time students in the class on telekinesis complained that, no matter how hard they tried, they could not move the objects they were supposed to move. Their instructor soon found that a drop of glue had been applied to the objects in question, making it difficult if not impossible to move them. The giggles of the three young ladies revealed the culprits.

 Another time, there was supposed to be a demonstration of raising a Ward major, but when  the time came the ward cubes could not be found.  Fiona led the students on a bit of a scavenger hunt to determine where they might be. When they at last returned to the classroom, the ward cubes were sitting innocently on the table in front of the instructor's chair. The instructor eyed the students.  "Where have you been? You are late for the demonstration."

One of the students answered with a respectful bow of his head, "We arrived at the appointed time, my Lord, but the ward cubes were missing. Lady Fiona led us on a hunt through the Schola for them without success. When we returned you were waiting for us and the cubes had mysteriously reappeared. We don't know where they had been or how they were restored."

The instructor, Lord Alex Douglas, was a favorite of the students. He was patient, gave clear explanations of the powers being demonstrated and was always willing to provide some extra help when needed. Now, he studied the group before him with a keen eye. He suspected student involvement in the disappearance and reappearance of the ward cubes. It was just the kind of scheme he might expect from the minxes. He let his eyes rest on Lady Fiona and Lady Isla who were standing at the rear of the room near the door.  They were trying to present solemn expressions, but twitching at the corners of their mouths indicated attempts to restrain giggles. He had looked over the class sternly although the corners of his mouth also twitched slightly. Those young ladies certainly made things interesting with their mischief, and they did no real harm. "We will now begin the class. You must pay attention as we are already behind and this is a skill that could easily save your life. All of you must become proficient at it before completing your studies." No more was said about the travels of the ward cubes, the students settled down around the instructor and  the demonstration began.

Fiona invited her friend to enter.  "Come in. Let's sit over here near the fire. It's quite cold today." The two girls made themselves comfortable on padded seats in front of the fire which was burning merrily. 

Isla looked about at the piles of garments. "Are you getting ready to go on a trip?"

Fiona sighed. "Not a trip but probably a move. I have nearly finished my studies here at the Schola and passed my examinations. I have only a few demonstrations to complete and I will graduate. I can no longer remain at the Schola so the question is, where do I go, what do I do next? You know my feelings for Sir Washburn. I had hoped for a betrothal between us by the completion of my studies, but that has not happened.  I see so little of him now, and his letters focus on his work but say little of love. I am starting to wonder if he is losing interest, maybe falling out of love with me if he ever was really in love."

"My Uncle Mac and Aunt Olivia are planning to attend Twelfth Night Court, and there have been strong hints that they expect me to return to the manor with them upon my graduation from the Schola. They have been very good to me and I love them both, but I cannot conceive of anything worse than returning to the manor to play the dutiful niece and wait for someone to offer for me."

"What about your guardian?  Has Lord Ian said anything about plans for your future after the Schola?"  Isla asked.

"No. He has been quite preoccupied with righting things at Isles after the disastrous rule of his stepfather."  Fiona lowered her voice so only Isla would hear her. "He also has been working to build a relationship with Sidana which has been very difficult." She is not at all an easy person to deal with, and I am not sure she has completely accepted that she will never be queen of Meara. He has also had to spend time becoming acquainted with parts of his new Earldom. I am not even sure he realizes that my time at the Schola is coming to an end. He will attend Twelfth Night but his visit will be very brief, and I am sure he will be preoccupied with the king. I am not sure there will be any opportunity to talk with him. My future is much more uncertain than I expected and I need to give it some thought. I feel that I need to take control of my own future, but how do I manage that?"

Isla thought to reassure her friend. "I don't think that Wash is falling out of love at all. You have told me how much pressure he has on him to complete the Healing Center. He has been overseeing a large construction program, providing space for the Healing Center and its students and staff as well as living space for himself and those close to him. He has had to find teachers for the healers in training and nuns to provide nursing care to patients who come seeking healing. He has also had to assemble the staff  necessary to run both Morgan Manor and the healing Center. I heard that most of the staff  in residence earlier left the manor when the former baron fled to join the Mearan rebellion leaving only a few servants still willing to carry out necessary tasks. New servants had to be found. And surely the improvements to the manor are intended to provide you with a suitable home. There is a lot of work involved, and I think he is perhaps feeling a bit overwhelmed."

Fiona responded.  " What you say is true but I feel that I am much less in his thoughts, and I think he is taking me for granted. He thinks when he does return  to Rhemuth, he will find me sitting and waiting where he left me. Does he seriously think I have been sitting on the shelf gathering dust while waiting for him to return and notice me?" Isla noticed a note of anger in her friend's voice that had not been there before.

"Perhaps we need to teach him a lesson, show him that he is not the only man who finds you attractive. I think he would benefit by discovering that he has some competition." Isla grinned wickedly. Fiona could almost hear the wheels turning in her friend's mind.

"I have been so busy with my studies that I really have had no time for dalliance. And several young men have held back because they know of Sir Washburn's interest, and they do not want to offend him. They feel that could be dangerous. How can I indicate my interest without precipitating conflict? " Fiona looked pensive as she considered possible plans.

"You could begin by being a little friendlier to some of the young men, even engaging in a little light flirting. You just want to avoid being too friendly. Is there perhaps one of the young men who might be more of a friend, willing to act the role of serious suitor. I think the sight of you surrounded by interested young men would certainly get Wash's attention and cause him to reconsider his priorities."

Fiona was silent for a few moments appearing to consider what she might do. "With the many upcoming celebrations and feasts, I should have the opportunity to be more friendly with other young men attending court. And it is possible that Kevin McLain might be willing to assist me by posing as a suitor. He is a good friend but not interested in me in any romantic way. In fact there is a young lady whom he hopes to eventually wed."

Isla giggled. "If I saw Sir Kevin showing serious interest in a lady that I thought to wed, I would be most concerned." Sir Kevin, a 22 year old knight, youngest son of Duke Dhugal and Duchess Mirjana, is tall with dark auburn hair and his father's amber eyes. He is dashing and generally well liked. "He would certainly be a formidable rival. Do you think he would do it?"

"I will speak to him as soon as possible  and explain my problem and how he might help. Wash is also his friend, and I will have to be careful to assure him that I have no intention of trapping Wash but only to help him achieve the happy union he has said he desires."

 I will also try to be more friendly with other young men who approach me in a friendly or interested way. I know I have been standoffish when young men approached me, using my studies as my excuse. I would tell them that I needed to study for my exams and practice my skill with spells I must be proficient in before I graduate. They accepted that and did not pursue a closer relationship. I feel that needs to change, perhaps seeing that other young men find me attractive will wake Wash up." Fiona grinned back at her friend.

Isla replied. "I think this is a good plan. We should tell Annabelle, make sure she knows what our plan is and enlist her assistance. We definitely need to light a fire under Sir Washburn. He needs to realize that he could lose something that we believe he greatly values, at least we hope he does.
"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

DoctorM


Jerusha

A little competition can be a good thing.   ;)
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Laurna

Wash is in for a huge shake up. Fiona is ever so good at keeping him on his toes.
Nice story premise, DFK. I think I shall have to get Washburn to Rhemuth before all those other young men discover the prettiest blond from the schola is learning to be flirtatious.
May your horses have wings and fly!

revanne

Columcil is definitely wise not to get entangled.

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

Laurna

#5
The morning hoar-frost glistened on the holly bush outside the window, the only plant that bore color in the baronial garden. Washburn reflected how he had not even noticed the garden before. What with all the construction and the workers tromping through the grounds, he was surprised to see the holly bush had even survived. He was not the gardener type, he knew nothing of the healing herbs and plants that Father Colucmil and Sister Margaret carried on about. The nuns were already planning a healing garden outside their dormitory next to the Infirmary. But this garden belonged to the manor house, and it was in sore need of a woman's touch. 

A woman's touch...  that is what his manor needed.  The walls were up, the roof finished, the many latticed windows let in light to shine on the new furnishings, but there were no curtains, no linens, no finery that suggested a noble woman had ever walked into this home. It was a grand residence, a castle really, but it was as yet not a home. It needed a woman's touch, and he needed a woman's touch.... And not just any woman, only one noble lady came to mind.

Baron Washburn reached across his desk over the accounting books he was trying to close out for the year to present his report to the king. He nearly knocked over the inkwell in his absent mindedness. Quickly pulling his sleeve up, he tried again, reaching for his small treasure box on the desk corner and drawing it to him. The box contained items precious to him, most of the contents were half-folded parchments; letters from the lady who had stolen his heart. He picked up the one from the top and opened it again to read the pretty sprawl of words written in a singular flourish.


    My last arcane test of this season's lessons has been set for tomorrow morning. I find I can not sleep. I do not worry about passing, these lectures have been my favorite: the Basics of Ritual Magic and the Raising of the Wards. Not many students get this far. Most go home before they are of the age to learn it. The Magistra won't let anyone under eighteen attend her lessons. So I am almost glad I came to the Schola near that age. The four students including myself, who will be performing the ritual in the morning  have the requirement of fasting tonight. I should be hungry and sleepy, but instead I am awake. I am not worrying over the Magistra's exam, I find myself worried that I have no other classes to take after this one, and that soon I will leave the Schola. It is exciting and scary all at once. Where will I go next? I hope it will be an adventure, a chance to use what I have learned. I want to help build something, as you are doing with the Healing Center.

    Uncle Mac and Aunt Olivia want me to return home. I love them dearly, but I am not ready to go home. The queen has offered me a place in the castle as a lady-in-waiting. Yet I am not ready to be locked in the  Queen's Tower with duties to perform. My friend Isla-- you remember her, granddaughter of Jass MacArdry?-- She has one more year here. I am wondering if I might stay at the Schola as an assistant. It would give me time to discover what comes next in my life. There are enough books here to ignite my imagination for a full year and I would be helping the younger students.

    I would love to tell you about it all, when you come for Twelfth Night Court. The king's festivities are sure to be the highlight of the year. So many people are already filling the castle's halls showing off their finery and their courtly ways. I suspect there will be many feasts lasting until dawn. Helena did say she heard you will be coming. Please come, I have so many stories I want to share with you.

    Fiona


As the letters swirled across the page in wild abandon, Wash imagined blond wisps of her hair swirling thusly in the breeze. He chided himself, usually her hair was veiled and in plaits, but there was that time he met her at the tower on the Rhemuth wall overlooking the flowing river below and the barges gliding silently downstream. Her beauty had captivated him in the sunlight and the autumn wind had blown her veil free from its pins. Vexed by the movement of the fabric, she removed the veil completely and she let her wheaten tresses flow and dance behind her. He had been captivated. 

And he had been stupid. Why hadn't he fallen down on one knee right then and there. If he had proposed to her on that very spot, he could be marrying her this Twelfth Night. But no, he had delayed, he had been selfish, enjoying the minutes he had alone with her, and fearful that, if he did ask, she might not say "Yes". That would be devastating. He looked down at the letter in his hand. Fiona MacIntyre was finishing her lessons at the Schola. She would have had her final exam by now and he knew she would have passed it. She spoke of so many dreams about what her future could be. She wanted more than her uncle or even the queen could offer her. Fiona wanted to accomplish something significant, he wanted that for her too. He was anxious to find a way to give it to her. Yet, would she be willing to live a life of stability at his side. She gave no indications that she wanted to plant gardens and furnish homes and build a new life at Morgan Manor.  Would settling down and consenting to be his wife be a restraint on her free spirit? Her strong will to do what she needed to do regardless of cultural norms is what really drew him to her. Marriage was the ultimate form of normality, meant to bring stability and commitment to two people. He loved her so, he knew no other way to be sure she could keep her wonderful free spirit, but would she see it that way?

He looked up from his reverie to address the solar's other occupant. "I leave for Christmas Court in the morning, Cousin.  You have not yet said, will you be joining me? I have that report to make to the king on our progress here and you have been such an integral leader in setting up the Healing Center that I think you should be there if questions arise."

Over by the hearth, in a comfortable cushioned chair with his feet up on a stool, sat a tonsured priest in his middle years. Father Columcil's head was bent over, deep into reading his Grandfather's lovingly bound prayer book. "Ye can answer to the king for me," said the man calmly without looking up.

"And too, Fiona's letters talk about foregoing Baron Stuart's request that she go home, instead she is thinking of staying on at the schola. I had other hopes for us being together at last, but she does not write about our future, why? Have I not been clear that I've prepared Morgan Manor for the two of us together to raise a proper family. I had thought that is what she would want; I know that is what I want. Am I being selfish? Have I not fully considered her desires? Columcil, I need your support!"

"Nay, laddie, this you need to solve on your own." The priest gave no further indication that he would be traveling with Wash to Rhemuth, instead he bent down deeper into his reading.

"But it is the king's winter court? Didn't the Archbishop request your presence?"

"He did so, and I already wrote back t' him, I now ha'e a flock o men, women, and bairns who  require ma love and attention here at your estate. Just because you can run off to Rhemuth on a whim, doesn'a mean that your people can gang wi' you and 'tis needful they no'  be neglected during this most holy o' seasons."

"I agree, but Father Dafyd..."

"Father Dafyd, is feeling a wee bittie under the weather, nothing serious, but his ankles are swellit frae th' gout and I ha'e ordered him to keep off his feet. Not only am I taking the services here at Morgan Manor, but I agreed ta help him at th' Hidden Valley Church, rather than him helping me. Ye ken how I love that wee kirk, 'tis where I wed  Darcy and Aliset. So as you see, I shall be gey busy and have nae time for Rhemuth this season." That finally said, Father Columcil looked rather pleased with himself. It was no secret between them that Columcil was not comfortable around the high and mighty nobility-- even if he was fathered by a duke.

"But I..."

"Ach, Nay!  Ye will na draw me in to your wooing of the bonny lass. That is on ye. I will have no more of the matchmaking of nobility. Ah'll be most pleased to wed the two of ye when the time for that comes. But... Nae matchmaking... it is none of my business. Ah did more than enow when Ah had to play arbitrator between Darcy and Aliset. Ye werena there. Ah think they would have just as soon bitten off each other's heads if Ah hadn't gotten them married. Nae repeating that again!" Columcil's eyes shone with a deep emotional spark and Wash knew he had lost this battle.

"I am sorry I wasn't there. More to the point, I am sorry, it was because of me that it happened.... Yet, I am not sorry, because those two are peas in a pod and their little girls are two more identical peas from that same pod.  How I will miss seeing them this winter. They received royal permission to remain in Meara. Lord Darcy sent his Senchal to give the king his report. I fear those bonny girls will be right grown by the time I see them again in the spring."

"Aye to that!" Father Columcil agreed.

Washburn looked out the window again at the barren land that he imagined would soon be Fiona's garden, filled with spring and summer blooms. "Do you think she will say "Yes" ? Maybe it is too soon to ask. Gads, what if she doesn't, what if she has other plans! She wanted to do more, maybe she doesn't want to be tied down to a baronial estate."

"Ma Laird Washburn, get a hold on yourself. Ye ride for the capital in the morn, you will see her by evening tomorrow and you can ask her. Just follow your heart and I am certain she will follow hers."

Wash was quiet for a time, working determinedly to finish his accounting books so he could be ready for travel. Columcil turned back to the fire and his book, leaving ribbon bookmarks where he would like to give in his morning service.

He was startled out of his reading by Washburn's exclamation: "I need a portal!"

"If I had a portal, I could be there instantly to ask for her hand today!"

A sigh came from near the hearth, but Washburn ignored it. "We have talked about it before, creating a secure portal at the healing center.  I have the petition to the king drawn up right here." Wash pulled another parchment from off his desk. "I will present my petition to Kelson that he might give approval for a portal to be created here on the grounds. If only I had pleaded my cause this last autumn, then it too would already be done. Why have you let me procrastinate in all these things?"

"Me? Washburn, listen to yerself. Last autumn you were still pleading for mair servants and requesting the Abbess of Saint Brigid's ta gi'e us nuns trained under Healing Sister Margaret to assist us here at our infirmary. They have already proven to be a God-send, knowing how Healing works and how you and Ah can make the most of our skills. The patients we have seen since we opened have fully mended, thanks in part to their meticulous care."

"And again," Washburn replied. "I thank you for your suggestions. And because of them, and you, I feel it is safe to leave the infirmary for a time. Oh, but I want to be in Rhemuth."

"Then why are you waiting until the morn? Gang noo, Cousin! That bonny lass is no' going to wait for you forever, ye ken!"

Wash suddenly had a look of horror on his face. It might have been the first time, ever, that he imagined her not waiting for him. "I need to go now!" he said in a hurry. Why had the idea not come to him sooner. He looked at the accounting sheets before him and he suddenly no longer cared about the numbers. He picked up Fiona's last letter, then thumbed back through his treasure box, under her other letters in the box he pulled forth a small velvet pouch. Hurriedly, he opened the pouch and tipped its contents into his hand. A ring with a large pink diamond surrounded by rubies glistened in the window light rested in his calloused hand. "I will ask her today..."

Columcil laughed and spoke in his best court accent.  "No, you will ride there without causing your horse to go lame. You will then bathe, put on your best tunic and then ask the queen to allow you a private moment with the lass. Where you will then tell her what is in your heart. And you will wait for her to tell you what is in her heart. May you both share the same affliction." Columcil mumbled the last under his breath.

"It shall be done as you say, Cousin." Wash grabbed the items from his desk and rushed to his rooms, his pack was already filled for tomorrow's trip. "John, see that my horse is saddled..." he called down the hall, "I leave for Rhemuth at once."
May your horses have wings and fly!

Jerusha

A very good scene, but why, oh why, do I have the feeling things will not go smoothly? 
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

DerynifanK

When have things ever gone smoothly or as intended with our group?
"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

Bynw

#8
Feyd smiles has he reads the reports from his agent within the Gwynedd Schola. Talented Deryni were in short supply in Gwynedd, it was all too easy to infiltrate the teaching staff.

The last two years have seen a number of events for Feyd and the Order. The old prophecy was proved to be correct with the blocking talents of the young Morgan, a man who is watched by many spies of the Order day and night.

"He will one day be a part of the Order," Feyd thinks to himself, remembering the words of the prophecy. But so far he has refused all invitations to join.

Of course the greatest achievement of the Order was the planting of an agent within the hated Camberian Council. Having advance notice of what happens has been invaluable these past couple of years.

And it has proven the effectiveness of the Ritual that Feyd himself developed for deep agents as well as improvements within it.

Setting the reports down he glances across to his colleague. "Washburn will come around. Even if he must be enticed into it. But he will not be swayed by coin. But none the less, we will see that his coffers are filled with the necessary donations for his projects."

"He is the future of the Order. I do firmly believe the old Seer, no matter what anyone else believes. Sebeasur's prophecies have all come to pass. He is not wrong about Wash."

Feyd picks up the next report at his finger tips. "See to it. And make sure one of us is with Wash when he goes to Rhemuth for the Haldane's Winter Court."

The companion stands and bows at the neck. "At once m'Lord," he replies before leaving Feyd to his reading.
President pro tempore of The Worlds of Katherine Kurtz Fan Club
IRC Administrator of #Deryni_Destinations
Discord Administrator of The Worlds of Katherine Kurtz Discord
Administrator https://www.rhemuthcastle.com

Jerusha

So many teasing questions remain unanswered in this posting!  It's almost unfair...well, almost.   ;D
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Laurna

#10
"OVER SOMEONE'S **********!"  And I am not saying Whose!
May your horses have wings and fly!

Bynw

Quote from: Laurna on January 20, 2023, 03:10:58 PM"OVER SOMEONE'S DEAD BODY!"  And I am not saying Whose!


Hmmmmm. The idea had crossed my mind.
President pro tempore of The Worlds of Katherine Kurtz Fan Club
IRC Administrator of #Deryni_Destinations
Discord Administrator of The Worlds of Katherine Kurtz Discord
Administrator https://www.rhemuthcastle.com

Nezz

Ah ha ha ha ha! Poor Wash! He's getting it from all sides! :D
Now is life, and life is always better.
-Wolfself

revanne

So others disbelieve the prophecy? Maybe others within the Order might feel Feyd is becoming a tad obsessed 
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
(Psalm 46 v1)

DerynifanK

An intriguing situation. I think the Order would have to make some significant changes in its own goals, actions and plans to have any chance of wooing Wash. And I still see it as extremely unlikely but there certainly can be some fun with this. And i do wonder whose dead body will be the price of the outcome.
"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