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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 23

Started by Evie, July 21, 2010, 09:07:11 PM

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Chapter Twenty-Three

   Celsie, on her way back to her apartment from early Mass, stopped short at the sight of baggage in the corridor only a short distance from her door.  The curly haired figure ahead of her turned at her approach.

   "Lord Derry?"  The demoiselle stared at the packed bags, then lifted her eyes to his.  "Are you traveling somewhere?"

   "Good morning, Lady Celsie."  Derry gave the maiden a faint smile as he bowed over her hand.  "Yes, I'm heading home.  I've left a few matters in Derry I need to attend to in person."

   "Oh!"  Her blue eyes looked perplexed.  "But...I thought you'd be traveling with Duke Alaric and Duchess Richenda when they return to Coroth in a few weeks!"

   He shrugged, turning away momentarily to direct a squire who had arrived to carry his bags down to the stables.  "I'll be heading to Coroth next.  I'll probably arrive there shortly after they do."

   "I see."  She stared at the squire's departing back.  "Does...does the Contessa know you're leaving so soon?" Celsie asked, forcing her eyes back up to Derry's.

   He glanced away.  "She does."  Derry bent to pick up a remaining bag.  "If you'll excuse me, Lady Celsie...."  He turned to follow the squire.


   Sean Earl Derry turned back to face the demoiselle.  "I've not forgotten your horse, sweeting.  I'll keep an eye out for a good one for you next time next time I'm at the horse fair."

   "I....Thank you, my Lord.  But I was just going to say 'Safe travels.'  And I'll...."  She swallowed back tears.  "I'll replace your handkerchief as soon as I'm allowed."

   "Celsie...."  Derry put down his bag, walked the short distance to the demoiselle, and gathered her into his arms.  "There's no rush."  He tilted her chin up.  "Be a good lass for Constanza, and mind your lessons, all right?"

   "All right," she whispered.  "Be careful.  It's still icy out.  Is this cloak going to be warm enough?"

   He chuckled.  "Yes.  Now you sound like my mother."

   "Well, someone needs to care for you!"

   He released her, studying her face a long moment.  "I'll be fine, sweeting."


   "So, he's taken a turn for the worse?"

   Sir Seisyll looked down at Sophie's concerned hazel eyes.  "Yes.  The Royal Physician was called in this morning.  He's not expecting the Baron to survive past the week.  I went to tell Stefan the news as soon as I heard."

   "Poor Lisette!"  Sophie turned away, looking troubled.  "I should call on her, see if she needs anything."

   Seisyll put an arm around her.  "I think, at this point, what she wants most is just to be able to spend the remaining time with her father.  But I'm sure she'll be grateful for your company later."

   "He wanted to see her safely wed," Sophie reminded him.

   Seisyll nodded.  "Bishop Duncan has agreed to marry them in the Baron's bedchamber later this evening.  It won't be a standard wedding celebration, of course, given the circumstances, though maybe once her mourning is done, they can throw some sort of fĂȘte later, if they're so inclined.  Stefan said he'd send word down when the time comes for me to bring you."

   Seisyll led Sophie to a garden alcove, wrapping his cloak around them both to give her more protection against the winter chill.  "Don't fret, sweeting.  They'll both be fine.  Stefan seems to be quite taken with her."

   "Yes.  I hope she's equally taken with him; she'll be all alone in the world once her father's gone, poor girl!  At least I've a brother left."   Her eyes filled with sorrow as she remembered her own recent loss.

   Seisyll turned Sophie to face him, wrapping his arms around her underneath the cloak.  "You have me also, don't forget."  He bent to kiss her, tenderly at first, then with growing ardor as her hands shyly traveled up his chest to encircle his neck.  He began to extend his shields to envelop her within them, hoping to establish a link with her, when she took a sudden step back, raising her eyes to his in surprise.

   "Oh!"  Her cheeks turned rosy.

   "I'm sorry, love; did I startle you?"  The knight's blue-violet eyes sparkled with amusement.

   "No...well, maybe just a little.  Was that a Deryni thing just now?"

   He tilted his head at her.  "Was what a Deryni thing?  Extending my shields?"

   "Well, no...I figured that out.  No, I meant that fluttery thing."  She frowned thoughtfully.  "I've only ever felt it when I'm with you, and once or twice around Bishop Duncan."

   He stepped slightly back to look at her.  "Around Duncan?" he asked, sounding as if he were half strangling on a laugh.

   "Yes.  Why?"  Her hazel eyes were suddenly wary.  Seisyll's gleamed with unholy glee.

   "Hm.  I'm not sure.  Let me see if I can produce those results again."  He drew her back into his embrace, this time establishing the rapport between them before pulling her into a more passionate kiss.  It had the desired effect.  Seisyll pulled back with a chuckle.  "That 'fluttery thing'?"

    "Yes," Sophie answered, looking slightly dazed and leaning on his chest for support, as her knees felt a bit wobbly.  "Only...well, obviously he's never kissed me!"

   Seisyll laughed.  "Sweet JesĂș, I certainly hope not!"  He ran a fingertip down Sophie's flushed cheek.  "So, you have a bit of a tendresse for the Bishop, I take it?"

   She averted her eyes, turning crimson.  "No!  Well...."  She swallowed.  "Maybe just a little one," she admitted.  "He is rather handsome, and quite nice."

   Her suitor gave a rueful grin.  "It's a good thing you have very tight shields then, my sweet innocent.  That's not a Deryni thing, sweeting; it's an attraction thing."  He chuckled.  "If men in cassocks give you the flutters, remind me not to introduce you to my Uncle Denis until after we're wed!"

   Sophie gaped at him, shocked.  "Seisyll!  Men in cassocks do not give me--"

   He silenced her with another kiss, his arms tightening around her, pressing her gently but firmly against him as he drew her back into rapport.  Eventually she recovered enough presence of mind to realize that something else was growing between them which had nothing at all to do with Deryni powers.  She pushed away, brushing a lock of hair away from her face with a trembling hand.

   Seisyll grinned.  "Now, aren't you glad I've not entered holy orders?"

   Sophie glanced around, her face burning, to make sure they were still unobserved.  "Seisyll, we have to stop!"

   "All right."  He lifted her hand to his lips, his eyes gleaming with mirth.  "So, is Duncan your confessor, or Father Nivard?"


   The young knight laughed as he offered his arm to escort his lady back into the safety of the Castle.


   Sir Jass sat in the window embrasure with Ailidh, playing a game of Fox and Hounds with her.  "Your move," he said quietly, leaning back to watch her as she frowned at the board, trying to determine where to move the fox next.

   "I wish we could go on a fox hunt," she whispered.  "I'm tired of being cooped up in here."

   Jass glanced into the sitting room.  The Contessa was sitting by the fireplace, her embroidery lying in her lap, neglected.  The lady stared into the flames, her mind clearly elsewhere.

   "Maybe next time th' King calls a hunt, she'll let ye go wi' me."

   "Aye, you think? And maybe cows fly."  Ailidh sighed.

   "They may, but ye'd need a strong catapult."

   Ailidh laughed.  Her eyes returned to the game board. After a moment, she moved her piece.  Jass advanced one of his hounds by one square.

   She shook her head.  "You'll have me trapped before I get to the other end of the board."

   "Tha' is th' objective, lass.  Pretend tha' I'm tryin' tae corner ye for a kiss, then," he teased, keeping his voice low.  "Tha' should gi' ye ample motivation tae avoid me, since ye're off men an' all."

   "Right," she said, blushing slightly.  "Or it might just inspire me to go ahead and surrender, since you're going to corner me anyway."

   He raised a brow.  "Did th' lady just admit she'd nae mind bein' cornered?"

   "I didn't say that, either!  Just saying you're...persistent."

   "I see.  Is tha' th' nice way o' sayin' I'm stubborn?"

   Ailidh laughed softly.

   Jass took her hand and raised it to his lips, the game forgotten.  He took a cautious glance towards the sitting room, but the Contessa still sat by the fireplace, her back to them. He raised his free hand to Ailidh's face, stroking a curl away from her cheek.  "Ailidh, mo nighean, you've mind-linked wi' yer house-sisters, aye?"  His eyes searched her face.

   "Aye, of course!"

   He swallowed, darting another glance at the Contessa.  "Would ye consider linkin' up wi' a regular human?  It would make private conversation easier, if we could just talk mind tae mind.  Unless she'd know and disapprove, o' course.  I'd nae want to get ye intae trouble wi' her."

   Ailidh looked startled at first, then thoughtful.  "You...wouldn't mind?"

   "Nay, I'd nae mind, lass."  He grinned.  "Actually, I suspect there'd be certain advantages.  No' tha' tha's why I'm askin' ye."

   "What sort of--?"  Her eyes widened.  "Jass!"

   He kissed her palm.  "It was just a thought.  I'd no' take advantage.  Well, no' until we're wed, anyway, in which case I'll take full advantage...."  The grin grew.

   She snatched her hand back.  "You're assuming I'll wed you!"

   "I'm hopin', aye.  I've never made a secret o' tha', now have I?" The whiskey-golden eyes danced.  "But I'm only askin' for th' privacy, lass.  I'm tired o' speakin' in whispers all th' time."

   "Oh, and the Contessa won't suspect anything if we just sit here for hours not saying a word aloud?"  Ailidh rolled her eyes.  

   Jass chuckled.  "Just think on it."  

   Ailidh dropped her eyes back to the board.  "I believe it's your move."

   "Nay, it's yours."

   "Oh."  She lay her fingertip on her fox, trying to figure out the safest direction to move next.  "You're not afraid of Deryni magic?" she asked, her voice carefully neutral.

   "Should I be?" Jass watched as she decided on a move, then released the game piece.  "Dhugal links with me."

   Her gray-green eyes flew up to meet his.  "Truly?"

   "Aye."  He shrugged.  "Sometimes it's necessary. Or at least there are times it's been helpful.  An' I trust him, else I'd no' follow him."

   "Well, of course, but...."  She shook her head.  "I'm still not used to thinking of Dhugal as Deryni."  She laughed softly.  "Sometimes I'm not used to thinking of myself as Deryni, yet.  Let me think on it.  I've never tried to link with a human before, and I don't know if it's the same or differe--" Ailidh broke off as she noticed the sudden transfixed look on Jass's face.  He stared past her for a long moment, then seemed to shake himself back into awareness of his surroundings.

   "Speakin' o' Dhugal, lass, I need tae go."  Jass stood abruptly, bending to give her a quick hand kiss.

   "What's wrong?" Ailidh asked, growing alarmed by the sudden serious look on his face.

   "I'm no' sure yet, but Dhugal's needin' us.  His men, tha' is.  Somethin' about needin' tae make ready for a ride tae Porgonnedd."

   Ailidh's alarm grew.  "Porgonnedd?  In Pelagog?  This time o' year?"

   "Aye," Jass confirmed, his jaw set.  "I'll send a message down once I know more, if there's time."  He turned and raced out the door, leaving her to stare agape after him.


     "I now pronounce you man and wife."  Duncan watched as the young bridegroom took his tearful bride into his arms, holding her close to whisper soft words of comfort in her ear.  He turned to the Baron de Courcy, who gave him a weak smile of gratitude between labored breaths.

   "Is there anything more I can do?" the Bishop asked him quietly.

   "Aye.  Hear my confession, but it can wait until they're gone."  The golden-brown eyes rested on his daughter and her new husband.  "I hope I've done the right thing by her," he whispered softly for Duncan's ears alone.

   Duncan turned to watch the young couple.  "I believe you have.   He's grown to care for her already.  It's a start."

   "Yes.  All things have their beginnings and endings."  He squeezed the Bishop's hand.  "I believe you've a bed to bless now."  The Baron de Courcy gave a wry smile.  "I promise not to go anywhere."


   Sophie and Sir Seisyll walked the newlywed couple back to Sir Stefan's small apartment, where they would be starting their married life.  Once there, Sophie entered the bedchamber with her new sister-in-law, helping her unpack the small bag of possessions she had brought with her and laying out her night-rail.

   "This is beautiful," she said, smiling at Lisette.

   "Thank you," the bride whispered shyly.  "It was my mother's once."

   Sophie felt suddenly helpless, wishing she knew what to say to comfort Stefan's bride.  Wishing also that she'd thought to bring the Contessa along, for she had no idea what advice would be helpful for a young bride, having never been one herself yet.  "I...assume your mother told you what to expect?  Or mayhap your father?"

   Lisette smiled wanly.  "I know."  She laughed softly.  "This is awkward, isn't it?"

   "Very!"  Sophie agreed.

   Lisette donned the heirloom garment and slipped under the covers, fingering the edge of the top sheet nervously.
   There was a knock on the door.  "Lady Lisette, may I enter, or do you need more time?"  Sophie, remembering that Lisette would be unable to hear the knock or the speaker's voice, repeated the question to her.

   She gripped Sophie's hand.  "Enter."

   The Bishop walked in.  "My Lady," he said, his eyes filled with compassion for her, "Sir Stefan asked me to let you know that if you simply want the bed blessing tonight, he is willing to wait longer to consummate the marriage.  He doesn't wish to cause you further distress if you need more time."

   She bit her lip, considering the offer.  "No.  Father would want me to be truly wed, and I'd not wish to lie."  The bride raised uncertain eyes to the Bishop.  "Unless my husband needs more time, of course.  I'll yield to his wishes."

   Duncan nodded.  "I'll let him know," he said quietly.


   The blessing bestowed, the guests quickly departed, not extending their stay with the traditional songs of celebration that would be inappropriate under the circumstances.   Stefan took his bride's hand.

   I'm sorry, sweeting.  I wish....  A wedding should be a happier occasion.  I wish I could've given you that.

   It's not your fault.
  She tried to smile.  I know it's not what either of us hoped for, but at least it's done now.  Or...well, almost so.

    He drew her close.  Are you certain you don't want to wait?

   She nodded.  I'll only grow more nervous if I do. Lisette's eyes shone like gold In the candlelight.  I trust you, Stefan.

   Lisette.... Stefan swallowed.  I don't know much about marriage yet, but I know it's as much about sharing one's sorrows as it is about sharing one's joys.  Right now, we both have our sorrows, but there'll be joys to come.

   I know.
She laid her head against his chest, feeling his heart beat beneath her cheek.

   I hope, if I can't make the sorrow go away entirely, at least I can help you forget it for a time.

   He kissed his bride tenderly as she surrendered herself into his caring hands.

Chapter 24: http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=568.0
"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!


The thought of Denis giving anyone the flutters is

Sorry Evie! :D


LOL! Dark hair.  Blue-violet eyes.  Just keep his mouth shut and view him from a slight distance. ;)

See, even Kathryn in Alkari's story sees something attractive there! :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!


OK, you've got one pair safely married off.  Who's next?


Well, we'll just have to see, won't we?   :D

Though my characters have finally had the decency to give me some idea how this whole thing is going to wrap up, so I can assure you that you'll find out not too much farther ahead.  (Unless, of course, the cast decides to take me on some other wild tangent before the end of the tale, as they've been wont to do.)  There'll be a loose end or two that can't be wrapped up in this particular storyline (in one case, because it can't happen until after the events of KKB, which is still two years away), so I'll have to tie off those ends in a subsequent story or two.  But if we're not quite nearing the finish line of this particular story arc, at least I think we're in the home stretch now.
"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!