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A Time To Heal Chapter 7

Started by Evie, October 08, 2010, 02:16:10 PM

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Chapter Seven

   December 12, 1132
   Rhemuth Castle

   "I'm told you have quite a devoted champion in your new wife," Kelson told Dhugal with a faint grin as they walked through the apartment block of Rhemuth Castle.  "Araxie says that Mirjana left three of her ladies-in-waiting verbally gutted to the point that her own coup de grace afterwards was rendered almost a mere formality."

   Dhugal looked bemused.  "What did Mirjana say?"

   "Oh, something about not owing her first husband any loyalty because he'd not earned it, so they could say anything they pleased about him, but that she'd defend your honor with all fervor.  Or words to that effect."  Kelson stopped and took a quick look around.  "Sorry, I've still not grown used to your new location.  Which door leads to your apartment?"

   "The next door up."  Dhugal moved forward, detaching a key from his belt to unlock the door, giving the seemingly empty apartment a quick visual scan while holding the door open to allow the King access.  He frowned.  Something seemed vaguely amiss.  No danger sense tingled—it wasn't that sort of disturbance—but there were little things that somehow seemed...off.  Something besides the silence of the empty room despite the early hour of the evening.  He vaguely recalled Mirjana telling him something that morning about the boys spending the night with Ailidh's children, so that explained the unusual quiet.  No, that wasn't what felt so...different.

   His amber eyes caught a glimpse of a veil dropped on the floor in the middle of the entryway.  That seemed hardly in keeping with his wife's usual habits.  She was quite tidy.  His frown deepened as he stepped into the room, bending to scoop up the discarded head-covering.  As he straightened, he noticed another garment lying on the floor further down the corridor.  This one was a rich blue satin overgown.

   "What in the...?"  

   Kelson watched as the confused Duke bent to pick up the discarded garment, beginning to laugh as he caught a glimpse of the utter bafflement on his blood-brother's face.  "I think I might be redundant, Dhugal.  Perhaps we can continue our conversation tomorrow instead."

   Dhugal stared at the closed door of his bedchamber in confusion.  There, draped over the door handle, was a long cascade of filmy white silk.  He picked it up, staring at it in bewilderment.  "What did you say, Kel?"  He turned to find his King studying him, one hand hiding his mouth as if to conceal a grin, the gray Haldane eyes dancing with mirth.

   "If that's a chemise you're holding, I'd say your lady has other plans for your evening."  Kelson made a shooing motion.  "Go.  Make babies.  I'll just leave and...ah...do boring kingly stuff," he joked.  "But please tell your lady I'll need your undivided attention tomorrow evening.  We still need to go over the list of Cassani candidates for knighthood.  With clothes on."  

   Dhugal nodded, only vaguely registering the sound of the outer apartment door opening and closing behind Kelson as he opened his bedchamber door.


   Mirjana lay curled up in the center of his bed, with only a soft, lightweight length of MacArdry tartan draped over her, sound asleep.  Dhugal glanced out the window.  Although the sun had fallen below the horizon, the twilight sky still showed enough light to reassure him that his homecoming was not much later than he'd planned earlier in the day.

   He started to turn away, intending to let his sleeping bride rest, but she stirred, her long-lashed eyes fluttering open.  She frowned slightly as he watched, looking confused by her surroundings, but then recognition flitted across her features and she sat up slowly, turning until she finally saw him standing in the doorway.  She blushed.

   "My lord!   I—I'm very sorry, I did not mean to fall asleep...."

   Dhugal smiled, closing the door behind him.  "It's all right.  Did you have a tiring day?"  He carefully laid her discarded chemise to one side.  "I imagine you must be exhausted; there's a trail of clothing out there that you were clearly too overcome with weariness to pick up."  He grinned.  "Kelson's probably wondering if we need to hire an extra chambermaid."

   "Kelson?"  Mirjana blinked sleepily, then her eyes widened.   "The King was here?  Oh, no!"

     Dhugal pulled off his boots, setting them in a corner before loosening the lacings on his tunic.  "Oh yes.  But don't worry, he's off again.  He said something about being redundant and having boring kingly stuff to do, I believe."  The amber eyes laughed at her aghast look.  "But he did have time to issue a Royal command before he left."  He approached, holding out a wrist to her.  "Could you loosen that cuff for me, please?"

   She bent to examine the knotted lacing at his right wrist.  "A command, my lord?"

   "Aye, we're to make babies.  I do believe I'm overdressed for the occasion, though, and since I can't very well invite Aidan or Séamidh in to assist me with you looking so fetching, I'm afraid you shall have to squire for me.  Think you can manage that?"  His eyes gleamed teasingly at her.

   She blushed even rosier.  "I'll try, my lord."


   He held her close afterward, her face cradled in his shoulder as he pulled the length of tartan back over her to protect her from the evening's growing chill.  "You look quite charming under my MacArdry colors," he whispered.  "Not to mention on them."  Dhugal pulled back slightly to study his wife's face.  She kept her eyes shyly downcast on his chest.

   "I'm told you were quite my champion in the Queen's Solar recently."

   Mirjana's eyes flickered upwards to his face briefly, then back down again.  "I'm sorry, my lord.  I did not wish to be quarrelsome, but I felt it necessary to make my loyalties clear."

   "Oh, no need to apologize!"  Dhugal regarded the lovely mystery in his embrace.  "Have you had...other trouble with the ladies since then?"

   She shook her head.  "No, my lord.  Although Mikhail...."  She turned troubled eyes up at him.  "I worry about what is being said in his hearing.  A few nights ago, just before you arrived, he asked me what a regicide was."  Her fingers plucked at the tartan covering her.  "I sought counsel from Rothana.  It helped a bit, but...."  She shrugged helplessly.  "He adored Nikos so.  I worry that if I explain what it was his father tried to do, he will...not understand.  He might even think his father was doing the right thing.  And Nikos has filled his head with things that aren't true—that were never true, except in his own grandiose schemes."  She bit her lip.  "The boys were playing yesterday, and the conversation turned to what they were going to be when they grow up.  Mikhail thinks he's going to be a Duke!"

   Dhugal's eyebrows rose.  "Which duchy did Nikos promise the lad?  He wasn't a duke himself, was he?"

   She snorted derisively.  "No, but Teymuraz promised him Arjenol.  Either that or, if he didn't wish to wait so long, Corwyn."

   "Corwyn?  Just as well then that Alaric--" Dhugal broke off the sentence abruptly as it dawned on him that, no matter how relieved Mirjana might feel over her late husband's death, the observation that Morgan had eliminated the pretender to his own duchy might still be an insensitive thing to bring up to the man's widow.

   "Yes," she whispered sadly.  "It was just that he should meet his end so."

   Dhugal pulled his wife closer, cradling her in his arms.  "I'm sorry, sweeting.  So sorry you've been carrying all these burdens, while all this time I've been focused on my own...."

   "Your own not inconsiderable problems?  Of course you've been distracted, my lord."

   "I shouldn't be so distracted that I don't even notice what my wife is struggling with."  He kissed her brow.  "Mirjana, would you do me a big favor?"

   "My lord?"  She looked quizzically up at him.

   His lips twitched.  "Exactly.  Sweeting, we're not in public.  We're not even clothed.  Do you think maybe you could bring yourself to call me by my name occasionally, at least when we're alone?  I do have one, you know."  He grinned.  "When you call me 'my lord' in bed, I'm not entirely certain if I've got a wife or have somehow gained a love slave!"

   Her mouth dropped open slightly.  After a moment, she giggled.  "I thought slavery was illegal in Gwynedd?"

   "Aye, it is!  Which is why I hope you can appreciate being 'my lorded' in bed is a little awkward for me."  He smiled.  "It's Dhugal, in case you've managed to forget."

   "I haven't.  Dhugal Ardry MacArdry McLain."  Her eyes lit with a mischievous grin.  "Can you remember mine, or do I need to Mind-Speak it to you again?"

   "Oh, I remember it now; I'm just not so certain I can say it!"


   December 14, 1132
   Rhemuth Castle Great Hall

   The Duke and Duchess of Cassan sat at the High Table alongside the Royal Family and the Duke and newly-returned Duchess of Corwyn, overlooking the lesser nobility and gentry seated at the tables below the dais.  The Duke and Duchess of Claibourne were to have joined them as well, but the Duchess had begged off earlier in the evening, as they had just arrived in Rhemuth earlier in the day and were still exhausted from their travels.  Instead, Prince Rory and Duchess Noelie, arrived just two days before from Meara, had been invited to sit with Rory's parents Prince Nigel and Duchess Meraude on Araxie's right.  Dhugal and Mirjana found themselves seated on Kelson's left, between him and Alaric and Richenda.  Various earls and countesses flanked the ducal couples on either end of the table, along with a bishop or two.

   "I hate sitting at High Table," Alaric confided to Mirjana with a faint smile.  

   His wife chuckled.  "That's only because you hate having to be on display and on your best behavior."

   He raised a sandy eyebrow.  "That's not quite true, dear.  Being seated at the High Table brings out a very strong urge not to be on my best behavior."

   Mirjana giggled softly, then glanced at Dhugal.  He was smiling, his amber eyes crinkling at the corners slightly.  

   "Should we show my lady 'The Game,' Alaric?"

   Richenda laughed.  "Dhugal!"  She suppressed a smile.

   Mirjana looked puzzled.  "What is 'The Game?'"

   Alaric grinned broadly.  "Do you mean the Stare Game?"

   Dhugal nodded.  "Seems particularly appropriate for the occasion."

   Mirjana's bafflement grew.  "What is this game?"

    Dhugal pushed some choice morsels of food to her side of the trencher as he tried to figure out the best way to explain the joke to her.  "It's sort of like a preemptive strike at the gossip mongers.  You remember how we attracted stares and whispers last time we ate up here?"  His wife nodded.  "Well, the object of the game is to pick a person or persons—preferably the ones who are providing the most grist for the rumor mill—and then just watch them.  Watch them until they notice what you're doing, and just when they start to realize you're watching them, you look away.  Turn to your dinner partners, talk amongst yourselves.  You needn't talk about them, of course; in fact, we rarely do.  But it makes them wonder what you're talking about, and they're too caught off guard trying to figure out what you're up to, they forget to get up to anything themselves.  Messes with their minds."  Dhugal's eyes gleamed with mischief.

   Mirjana turned back to Alaric in amazement.  "And you do this...game?" she asked him, her expression an odd mixture of amused and horrified.

   "On occasion.  When someone is being especially annoying."  His gray eyes looked past her at Dhugal, echoing his mirth.  "It can be surprisingly effective, as long as you don't do it very often.  You wouldn't want them to catch on."

   "Oh.  I see."  Her eyes swept the Great Hall, landing eventually on a small knot of ladies staring back at her.  They hastily looked away, acting nonchalant.  Mirjana pretended to turn her attention back to her food, and after a minute they started staring at her again, whispering among themselves.

   She sent a mental picture of the ladies to Dhugal. Those are the spiteful ladies from the Queen's Solar, she told him.

   Shall we give them something new to talk about, then?

   You first.  Let me see how it's done.

   Dhugal turned his shiral stare to that corner of the room, his piercing gaze landing on the whispering women.  Mirjana's gaze followed his, also coming to rest on the trio.  They continued to watch in silence until one of the ladies realized they had come under scrutiny.  The whispers immediately died as the ladies suddenly took a keen interest in their food.

   "So, my dear, do you think it will snow by Christmas?" Dhugal said quietly, turning to Mirjana with affected indifference belied by only the barest hint of a smile lurking about his lips.

   "It might.  The atmosphere has a decidedly cold feel on occasion," she answered, biting her lip slightly to stifle a laugh.  

   Dhugal turned towards Kelson, asking a few casual questions about the following day's schedule.  Mirjana stole a glance back at the trio of women.   They were glancing uncertainly at each other as they watched her husband speaking with the King.  After a moment, Dhugal turned his gaze back to the women, arching a brow slightly before turning to look at his wife.  "They look a bit worried," he said.  "I wonder why?"  He glanced at Alaric.

   The Duke of Corwyn grinned.  "You are a wicked man, Dhugal.  I can tell you're your father's son."

   Dhugal laughed.  "Few people refer to the Auxiliary Bishop of Rhemuth as a 'wicked man,' Alaric."

   Alaric Morgan chuckled.  "Few people actually grew up with Duncan.  I did!  Who do you think taught me that trick?"


   December 18
   The Duke of Corwyn's apartments

   "You do understand, I hope, that the tactics Dhugal and Alaric taught you for fending off whispers and stares here in Rhemuth are entirely the wrong tack to take once you depart here for Cassan?"  Duchess Richenda said as she looked up from her needlework, a slight smile playing across her face as she glanced at Mirjana.  "Those ladies who are spreading gossip about you are merely the spiteful sort of women who feel the need to demonstrate their own superiority by attempting to pull others down.  They believed you to be an easy target, and so they went after you.  Now that they have seen your ability to defend yourself from their sort of petty attacks, they'll likely start looking for fresh game."  The Duchess of Corwyn stabbed her needle through the fine linen of the garment she was smocking for Briony.  "But in Cassan, you will be dealing with a different sort of situation.  Their distrust and suspicion of you will be based not on mere smug arrogance, but on very real fears and lingering anger over their losses at Llyndruth Meadows."  She smiled sadly.  "Hopefully in time, as they get to know you, that hostility will fade.  After all, even the most mind-shattered of battle survivors would hopefully come to realize that a young woman who was under a decade old when Wencit moved against Gwynedd would hardly have been in a position to influence her King, much less condone wartime atrocities.  No, their hostility against you won't be personal, but it will be directed against what you represent.  And so mere quelling tactics like Alaric's 'Stare Game' aren't going to work, and would most likely be counterproductive. You don't want Dhugal's household in Cassan to think you more arrogant than they already might fear you to be!"

   Mirjana nodded.  "Of course not, Your Grace.  I would hate for them to think me arrogant at all."

   Richenda paused a moment to gather the thin fabric.  "On the other hand, while you don't want them to think you are arrogant or that you consider yourself superior to them, you also want to ensure that they recognize you are in authority, at least over your own ducal household.  Some might try to snub you or be insubordinate.  You can't command them to like you, of course, but as Dhugal's Duchess, you still warrant their respect.  It may be grudgingly given at first, but it should be given at least in deference to your rank, if not to your person.  If proper respect is not given, Dhugal may need to address the matter, or there might be situations when he is not available to do so and that would fall upon you.   You will need to take the high road in those conflicts, letting the other person know that you understand their cause for concern about you, but regardless of that, they still have a duty to you as their Duchess even as you have a duty to them as your people."

   Mirjana frowned thoughtfully.  "Did you have...difficulties?...with your people of Corwyn adjusting to the Dowager Countess of Marley becoming their new Duchess?"  It was the most diplomatic way Mirjana could think of to pose the question, and she hoped the Duchess of Corwyn would not take offense.

   Richenda gave a rueful chuckle.  "Oh, yes!  Not so much with Alaric's senior officers; fortunately most of them quickly realized that I was completely loyal to their Duke, despite the...unfortunate coincidence of my previous marriage to Bran Coris.  The junior officers took far longer to win over, though.  Those officers and their wives, that is, though of course many of those wives were already installed in the Ducal household as my ladies-in-waiting as is customary, before I ever discovered how they felt about me.  They seemed welcoming enough on the surface.  Certainly none of them gave me overt reasons to dismiss them from my service, though of course very few people will show obvious rudeness to a Duchess.  But after a while, I began to notice that they seemed reluctant to accept me as manager of my own household.  Oh, I could make minor decisions without having them questioned—what to eat, what gown to wear—but as for anything affecting Corwyn, or even any changes to Coroth Castle, such as purchasing new furnishings for a room or making major changes to the decor, those had to be cleared by Alaric first.  Or at the very least, my ladies would ask their husbands for permission before following through.  At first, I was mystified.  I thought they were acting on Alaric's orders.  You can imagine how hurt I felt, feeling more like a mere resident in my own demesne instead of its mistress!"  

   Alaric's duchess looked up from her stitching, glancing at Mirjana with a rueful smile.  "Alaric, on the other hand, knew exactly what was going on, but he didn't know how to explain his officers' feelings about me.  He didn't want to hurt my feelings.  But by avoiding the topic as avidly as he did every time I tried to bring it up, he just ended up reinforcing my belief that the orders were coming from the top down, and not allowing me to serve as Regent for Corwyn whenever he had to be away also added to that impression."  She shook her head.  "Men!  He was doing all the wrong things for all the most well-meant reasons, poor dear.  If he'd only explained what was happening from the very outset, that might not have changed anyone's feelings towards me, but at least I would have known what was going on, and maybe I could have figured out some way to win our household over sooner."  Richenda sighed.  "Communication is vital in a marriage, Mirjana.  Hopefully Dhugal will be a bit more forthcoming when the two of you run into problems that need to be resolved together, but if he's not, don't allow him to shut you out.  He might think he's doing you a favor in trying to shoulder the burdens on his own, but he's really not."

   "What made them finally accept you, in the end?"

   Richenda smiled softly.  "Our son Kelric.  One of the reasons the junior officers distrusted me was that they believed I might somehow betray Alaric in favor of my son Brendan.  They worried I might want Brendan to be Corwyn's heir, not just Marley's.  Having a daughter by Alaric did nothing to alleviate those worries, of course.  It wasn't until I had borne a son for Corwyn that they accepted me fully."  

   Mirjana looked down at her lap.  "I see.  It will be different for me, of course."  Tears shimmered in her eyes.  "My husband already has a Ducal Heir.  My son by Nikos will be seen as a threat to him, won't he?  And as for any future sons...."  She shook her head sadly.  "What Cassani would want to be ruled by a half-Torenthi Duke, if something were to happen to Duncan Michael, given their hatred and fear of my people after the battle at Llyndruth Meadows?  Or, worse, if something did happen, who would believe that I had nothing to do with it, or that Mikhail did not?"

   "Oh, Mirjana!"  Richenda stared at the younger Duchess, compassion in her cornflower blue eyes as she struggled with finding the words to comfort her.  "Certainly there will be distrust at first.  But such strong emotions can't be sustained indefinitely.  In time, surely they'll eventually start to fade, once you've had time to establish yourself and they can see how loyal you—and all your sons—are to both Dhugal and Duncan Michael."   

   "Yes, but when?  After my lord is already dead and Duncan Michael is Duke of Cassan?  Once the people see that Mikhail will never be anything but a knight errant, and hopefully one in the employ of someone far away?   And what of my future sons; how will they have to prove their loyalty?  How long until the people of Cassan stop waiting for one of them to slip a knife into their Duke's back or poison into his wine cup?"  The green eyes filled with despair.  "What if my husband or his heir were simply to fall ill and die?  Would that somehow be laid at my doorstep, as the 'Deryni witch from Torenth' who saw her opportunity to take over Cassan?"

   "Mirjana...."  Richenda put down her needlework, rising to cross over to the weeping woman and gather her into her arms, but there was nothing reassuring she could say against such arguments.  

Chapter 8:  http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=507.0
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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


Like the conversation with Richenda.  Similar situations, but different outcomes - Richenda's son with Alaric solving problems but Mirjana's future sons with Dhugal just creating more of them.  Caught between a rock and a hard place. :(


Interesting chapter, and it seems Dhugal is getting her message quite effectively now  ;)

Poor little Mkihail too, with all the stuff he's received from Nikos, and all the adjustment he is going to have to make.  It will not be easy for him.   As Mirjana recognises in her conversation with Richenda, which was very nicely done.


I love that "Stare Game" Dhugal and Mirjana played at dinner.  William Holden played a similar game on Lucille Ball on her comedy show.  She, Fred, and Ethel were in Hollywood at the Brown Derby Restaurant.  Lucy started staring at Holden and then he turned the tables on her.  He spent the rest of the episode just staring back at her as payback.  That scene is a TV classic.  I'm sure that different tactics will be necessary in Cassan.  
We will never forget the events of 9-11!!  USA!! USA!!


Oh, there's a story behind the Stare Game.   ;D

My husband and I used to be Baron and Baroness of our local SCA barony.  Because of that role, we had to sit at countless High Tables during feasts.  As anyone who has had to sit at High Table at an SCA feast more than a time or two can attest, once the novelty of sitting on the dais wears off, this can get really boring.  In our Kingdom, at least, most people get to sit across from friends as well as beside them when eating at feast, so conversation is much easier when you can hear what 6 to 8 people around you are saying.  But at High Table, everyone is sitting side by side, on the same side of a long table facing the rest of the Feast Hall, and everyone down there is either ignoring you and having fun all evening, or they're watching you.  And you can talk to the person on either side of you, but beyond that, it can be hard to talk to the folks beyond unless you raise your voice, which can be awkward.  So unless you're seated beside an engaging conversationalist or two, the conversation is more easily stalled.

So, to cope with this boredom, DH created our version of the Stare Game.  Though it wasn't really meant to quell gossip, it was just a form of pointless amusement.  We'd get the entire High Table in on the joke (or at least the people closest to us), and all pick out one person to watch...and watch...and watch.  Eventually, if they'd look up and notice, we'd all smile and wave and immediately transfer our stares to someone else.  Or else we just do so without the smile and wave.  Sometimes we'd get folks approaching the High Table to see if we wanted/needed anything.  "Oh, hi!  No, nothing in particular.  Nice shoes..."  

Yes, there's a reason Alaric doesn't much like sitting at High Table!  Boooorrringggggg....   :D


I hadn't seen that Lucille Ball/Wm Holden scene before, but that's awesome!  ;D
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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


I just watched the scene and its following scene.  I just could not stop laughing.
We will never forget the events of 9-11!!  USA!! USA!!


That was great.  I haven't seen Lucille Ball since I was a nipper.  She was a legend.


These are actually photographs of miniature rooms from the Thorne Collection now housed in a museum in Chicago (The Art Institute, I think?), but I thought these would look lovely someplace in Gwynedd, like perhaps in Dhugal's ducal residence in Ballymar.   :D  (The furnishings are actually a bit more Tudor than medieval, though I couldn't find pictures of truly medieval rooms from this collection online.  I'll keep looking.  I thought this collection had at least one medieval castle room, but I might be misremembering.)

(Rhemuth's Royal Chapel?)

(Actually, I can't quite imagine this room in Ballymar.  Maybe it belongs in Rhemuth instead?)

"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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


Those pictures are really neat! Makes me want to head right to that exhibit in Chicago!   But... I think you're right about them being a bit too much 15-16th rather than twelfth to thirteenth century. I'm sure that Ballymar Castle is probably pretty nice if one has to live in the medieval period, but.... it would be a little more rustic.  The chapel is almost right, though.

Still, a visual representation of various rooms around Rhemuth should be posible... Hmmmmm, might be time to get busy with photoshop.....

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


Yes, the chapel miniature was labeled as being "Gothic," so it would be from an earlier era than the Tudor rooms shown or the French one at the bottom (I forget which Louis's reign that one is from, but roughly equivalent to Tudor England).  I could have sworn that collection also had an English bedchamber and maybe a Great Hall from a more medieval time, but I couldn't find them in that online photo collection.  I found a picture of one in Google Images, but it was a copyrighted photo from someone's Flickr, so I figured it would be best not to post that one here.   :(  Maybe I'm remembering them from my coffee table book, which is how I learned about the Thorne Rooms in the first place.

Is it just me, or do those window emblems look just a bit like the leaping harts of Furstan in the green bedchamber picture?  I don't think Mirjana would be quite that blatant with her heraldry in Cassan....   ;D
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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


BTW, I just happened upon a website with some great information about medieval castle rooms and furnishings.  No illustrations, unfortunately, but the verbal descriptions are quite good and easy to visualize (for me, at least).  I posted the links in the 'Useful/interesting links" thread on the Off-Topic board.
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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


why does no one e er mention that it was Stefan Coram wo actually killed Wencit and the othets by poison? Does no one outside the circle know?
"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


Quote from: DerynifanK on January 30, 2016, 09:59:54 AM
why does no one e er mention that it was Stefan Coram wo actually killed Wencit and the othets by poison? Does no one outside the circle know?

I doubt it was ever common knowledge. Remember, the wards were either opaque or nearly so, so the only people with a clear view of what happened were the participants themselves. Once the wards went down, the onlookers would have seen the four combatants on the Torenthi side dead and Kelson and his supporters alive. It would hardly be to Kelson's advantage to announce that his decisive defeat of his enemies wasn't due to his own Haldane powers at all. It's possible he might have shared the truth with one or two others he trusted completely, such as Nigel, and Arilan might have disclosed the truth to the Camberian Council, but I can't see that information going beyond that. Too much would have been at stake if Torenth were to contest the outcome of the duel.
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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