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Maidens of Mayhem Chapter 25

Started by Evie, July 23, 2010, 10:43:17 PM

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Chapter Twenty-Five

   The Contessa's blue-violet eyes sparked with fury when she realized that Ailidh was not asleep in her bedchamber after all, but nowhere to be found.  "Sophie, check the Great Hall again," she directed.  "Celsie, run to the stables and find out if the MacArdry men have left yet."

   "Yes, my Lady," the blonde answered her, voice trembling.  "I know Ailidh was planning on sending a note to her friend by way of Sir Jass, but surely they'd have left by now...."  She took an involuntary step backwards as her guardian whirled on her.  "I'll go check!"

   Constanza entered her own bedchamber, searching in a chest until she located her shiral.  She forced herself to relax, taking deep steadying breaths as she focused on the amber-colored crystal, concentrating on Ailidh.

   Concentrating on Ailidh and the shiral ring she had given the girl at the beginning of her training.  By now, she hoped, it would have been worn for long enough to bear something of the girl's imprint on it.

   The vision began to form—a black cloaked figure, riding with a group of cloaked men wearing Transha colors, riding steadily away from Rhemuth.

   Stanzi bit back a strong epithet as she pulled her attention back to the present.


   "What can be done, Your Majesty?" the Contessa asked an hour later, once she had managed to secure a private audience with King Kelson.

   The King's gray eyes looked thoughtful as he considered the question.  "You're quite certain she's eloped?" he asked.  "Dhugal knows Sir Jass far better than I, but from what I know of the man...."  He shook his head.  "It just doesn't feel like something Jass would do."

   Constanza studied the young monarch for a moment, then reluctantly lifted a hand, cupping it to show him a brief flicker of blue-violet handfire before quenching this outward sign of her power.  "I scried for her.  She's with a group of riders in Transha colors."

   Kelson lifted a sable eyebrow.  "Ah." He glanced out a window at the dark landscape beyond.  "Well, they set out several hours ago.  If Ailidh went with them, there's little way to fetch her back at this point and keep the whole matter quiet.  We can try..." he added, seeing the protest forming on her face, "but under the circumstances it would probably be best to just let matters take their course.  Dhugal will discover her soon enough, and I know my blood brother well enough to know that he would never have given approval to an elopement.  I can assure you he'll deal with the matter appropriately, although you're likely to get back a married lady-in-waiting rather than a maiden, assuming he allows her to return to Rhemuth."  He studied the Contessa.  "How did a MacArdry lass end up as your ward, if I might ask?

   She sighed.  "Her step-father, Baron Odhran of Marlor, sent her to me to be educated.  His mother and I share blood-ties."

   "Oh, that's right.  Ailidh did mention that when we met, as I recall."  He leaned back in his chair.  "And your other ladies.  How is their Deryni training coming along?"

   The Contessa gave him a guarded look.  "Your Majesty?"

   He smiled faintly.  "Come, Contessa Constanza, do you really believe Alaric Morgan would know about a miniature Schola underway under my own roof and not give me a heads-up?  He's my Champion, remember; he'd be quite derelict in his duties if he didn't bother to inform me of known Deryni in my own Court."  

   "I...honestly hadn't given the matter much thought, Sire.  I hope it's not a problem that I've undertaken to train them here?"

   The steel gray eyes regarded her appraisingly.  "Since you're not training them in hopes of plotting against me, no.  Gwynedd needs more trained Deryni.  But I would have greatly preferred to have been apprised of your plans ahead of time, and to have given my permission more directly."  He raised a censuring eyebrow at her.

   "My deepest apologies, Your Majesty," the Contessa murmured, looking shaken.  "I'd never considered they might be looked upon as a potential threat."

   "Lesson learned, then, I hope."  The King cupped his chin in his hand.  "So.  I'm told Lady Celsie shows some aptitude for cording lore?"

   "She does.  Duchess Richenda and I have been discussing the possibility of sending her to Andelon for further training along those lines."

   Kelson nodded.  "Yes, that would be of immeasurably greater help to her than any resources you'll find here, I'm afraid.  Though I hope to change that, hopefully in the not too distant future." He gave Constanza a measuring look.  "If you'll be seeking out a teacher for her in Andelon anyway, would you also make a few inquiries to see if you can find trained Deryni willing to devote a few years to helping form a Schola here in Rhemuth as well?  An official Schola, that is, attached to the Basilica."

   "Of course, Your Majesty."

   "And Lady Sophie.  How is she dealing with the loss of her father?"  The steel eyes softened.

   "She's recovering as well as can be expected, this early on, Sire.  There are good days and bad.   Sir Stefan's restoration to complete health has helped matters greatly, of course,"

   "I'd hoped it might.   And how is Sir Seisyll's courtship progressing?"

   Constanza chuckled.  "Quite well, as far as I can see.  He's certainly underfoot often enough."

   "I imagine he is.  Seisyll can be quite...tenacious."  Kelson gave the Contessa a wry smile.  "I'd have been a bit more inclined to believe in Sir Seisyll planning an elopement than Sir Jass doing so."  The smile widened at the look of alarm on Sophie's guardian's face.  "But I wouldn't worry unduly about the possibility.   Seisyll knows full well he'll have to deal with me if he steps too far out of line.  No, Sir Seisyll won't break my rules.  He just enjoys...flexing them a little."   


   Sir Seisyll was, in fact, flexing the rules a little at just that moment.

   "I really shouldn't let you in," Sophie murmured against his chest as the two embraced just inside the entrance to the apartment.  "Celsie's gone to sleep already, and the Contessa's sure to return soon.  She's already livid about Ailidh's elopement, and if she finds you here...."

   "All right, I'll leave in just a moment."  He stole another kiss, leaving Sophie slightly breathless.  "So, is it Ailidh's elopement that has you so upset?"

   "Yes.  Well, partly that."  She leaned back, frowning at him a little.  "How did you know I was upset?  I've hardly seen you all day."

   "Kelson's kept me busy.  And we've shared rapport; of course I'd pick up on some of your feelings."  He drew back a half step, forcing his rising ardor down, reminding himself he'd come here to comfort the lass, not seduce her.  "What else has you upset, then?"  He stroked a stray lock of hair away from Sophie's flushed cheek.

   "It's...everything's changing, Seisyll!  First my father's death, and then Stefan getting married—though thank God that seems to be going well enough, under the circumstances!—and then Ailidh running off, and now Celsie says that Duchess Richenda is thinking of sending her on to Andelon for more specialized training when they head back to Corwyn!"  Tears welled up in Sophie's eyes.  "Nothing ever stays the same, does it?"

   "Oh, sweeting...."  Seisyll gathered his lady in his arms, dusting feather-light kisses in her hair.  "No, it doesn't.  Life's all about change, Sophie, whether we're ready for it or not.  But not all change is bad, you know."

   "I know.  But...."  She swallowed hard.  "If the Contessa goes to Andelon, I'll probably have to go with her.  Either that, or I suppose I'd have to return to Kestrel Mote when Stefan and Lisette go.  The King isn't actually my guardian anymore, now that Stefan's back to full health, so I wouldn't be able to stay on here in Rhemuth."  Sophie blinked away her tears.  "I don't want to leave here!"

   "Well, it's true enough you're no longer under Kelson's direct protection.  Though there is a third option, you know."

   Sophie looked up at him, puzzled.  "A third?"

   Seisyll smiled.  "Yes.  You could marry me.  I'd want you at Tre-Arilan part of the time, of course, but I'm in Rhemuth a great deal of the year, and I'd certainly have no objection to you being here with me."

   The object of his ardent affections gaped up at him.  "You want to marry me?"

   The knight stifled a laugh.  "Yes, Sophie.  That does tend to be the end goal of courtship."

   "Well, I know that!" she said, looking unnerved, "but I mean...now?!"

   The laugh broke free.  "Well, not right now!"

   Distant footfalls sounded in the corridor beyond the apartment's entrance.  Sophie's eyes widened with panic.  It's Constanza!

   Not a problem, sweeting. Seisyll gave Sophie a conspiratorial smile. I was never here.

   To her astonishment, he walked over to the wall beside the fireplace, tossing one last parting grin over his shoulder at her, and traced the glyph to open the secret passage door.


   Seisyll entered his own apartment via the secret passageway, only to discover his King awaiting him in his own sitting room.

   "I begin to see why you covet my chair, Sir Seisyll," Kelson joked, looking around at the small apartment's furnishings.  "It's an uncanny match to what you've collected already."  The gray eyes locked with his.  "And how is Lady Sophie?"

   "Well enough, I trust, Sire, given the eventfulness of the past few weeks," Seisyll replied neutrally.  "To what do I owe the honor of a Royal visit?"

   Kelson reached inside his doublet, bringing out a folded and sealed letter.  "How possible would it be to get a message to the Earl's Court at Porgonnedd ahead of Duke Dhugal's arrival there?"

   Seisyll whistled silently.  "This time of year?  Damn, Kelson, I'm a Deryni, not Saint Camber!  I have certain resources, but I can't just wave a hand and say 'Here be miracles!'"  He grinned.  "For that, you'll need Denis; he might be better connected."

   Kelson snorted.  "All right, as soon as possible then.  But in your best assessment, am I asking the impossible, or simply the improbable?"

   Seisyll waggled a hand.  "I wouldn't say it's outright impossible, but it's most certainly improbable.  Unless, of course, Bishop Duncan has a Transfer Portal in Cassan that he's willing to show me.  I know of none in Porgonnedd or elsewhere in Pelagog.  It is, after all, in the God-forsaken backside of beyond."

   The King smiled.  "I rather doubt that Duncan does have one in Cassan, though I'm sure there are times when he'd have found one quite handy.  All right, in that case, here's a lesser challenge.  Just get the letter to Dhugal within the week.  That, I trust, should be within your capabilities?"

   Seisyll pocketed the letter.  "I'll do my best.  Would you prefer I deliver it personally, or may I avail myself of other resources?  That may actually be faster, in this case."

   "Whatever it takes, Seisyll."  The King studied him a long moment.  "There's another thing I need, now that I'm thinking of it."  He glanced at the wall Seisyll had just come through.  "I've never had the time to do an extensive exploration of those passages.  When you have time, I'd like a map drawn up."

   "Ah."  Seisyll grinned at his King.  "For that, you might wish to ask Sophie.  She has the beginnings of one underway already."  

   Kelson looked startled.  "She does?"

   His agent laughed.  "Oh, yes.  That's what piqued my interest in her in the first place."


   Good evening, little sister

   Lady Jashana Arilan, the younger of Seisyll's sisters, stirred in her sleep. Oh Jesú, I was just having the sweetest dream!  What do you want?

   I'm glad to see you well also.  I need to get a letter to Porgonnedd for Kelson.  Do you still have access to your foster-sister's private Portal in Kierney?

   No, that house burned down two years ago, remember?  I'm fairly sure they destroyed the Portal afterwards. Jashana was silent for a moment, thinking.  What about the one in the Connait?  The one connected to the Baron de Courcy's late wife's family.  Maybe he could pay them a visit, and then travel from there?

   He's on his deathbed, and Lisette's newly married.  Her new husband might notice the absence of a bride, I'd think.

   Lisette's married? Jashana absorbed the news.  To whom?

   Sir Stefan de Varney.

   His sister's eyes widened. Really?   They narrowed again in speculation.  Does Javana know yet?

   Not to my knowledge.  I figured I'd wait until she's wed before mentioning it in passing.

   I see. His baby sister's dream-visage studied him. Did you arrange it?

   Seisyll side-stepped the question.  Can you get a letter to Porgonnedd or not?

   Jashana sighed. Sextus just returned home from Nyford this morning.  If you can get the letter to me, I suppose I can introduce him to my friend in Laas.  Against my better judgment, I might add.  He can travel northwards from there.  And curse your warm, dry hide every step of the way, I'm sure!

   Seisyll chuckled. Tell him I'll make it worth his while.  And that I said your friend in Laas is off limits.

   Thank you! Now, can I get back to my dream?

   That depends.  Do I need to find you a husband?

   Her blue-violet eyes rolled.  It wasn't that sort of a dream.

   Seisyll chuckled, releasing his sister from the link and drifting off into sweet dreams of his own.

Chapter 26: http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=570.0
"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!



QuoteDamn, Kelson, I'm a Deryni, not Saint Camber!  I have certain resources, but I can't just wave a hand and say 'Here be miracles!'"  He grinned.  "For that, you'll need Denis; he might be better connected."
LOL - great line!  :)

And I liked how you had Kelson call Constanza to account about the Deryni training under his nose - nicely done.


Everyone's assuming that Jass eloped with A.; in reality, she eloped with him.


True.  And only in the most technical sense.  She didn't run off to marry Jass; she ran off to be with her friend Caldie.
"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!