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A Time To Heal Chapter 12

Started by Evie, October 26, 2010, 02:04:39 PM

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Chapter Twelve

    January 30, 1133
   Ballymar Castle

   "Yer Grace, I dinnae think ye ought tae go out today.  It ain't safe!"  Caoilainn finished plaiting her mistress's hair and binding the end with a short length of ribbon.  "I keep seein' ye in my head, fallin' back against a stone wall wi' yer gown a' bloody."  The tiring maid blinked back tears.  "Ye've got tae believe me, m'lady!"

   Mirjana frowned.  "Are you quite certain it wasn't simply a bad dream?"

   Caoilainn shook her head.  "Nay, Yer Grace.  I mean, aye, it was a dream, but it ain't just a dream, if ye take my meanin'.  I've th' Sight, an'...well, it's hard tae explain th' difference between a regular dream an' a true vision, but there is a difference."

   "But you said yourself you don't know when this might happen, or even where, right?"  Mirjana sighed.  "I can't simply stay locked up in my room on the chance that something might happen at some indefinite time."  The Duchess shook her head.  "I've no reason to leave the Castle grounds today, though, so you needn't worry about that.  You said you thought this vision happens outdoors, yes?"

   The girl nodded worriedly.  "Aye, Yer Grace.  Ye were in part sunlight an' part shade, against a wall."

   "Well, then, I'll avoid the gardens for the next few days."  Mirjana gave her tiring maid a reassuring smile.  


   "That's not good."  Sir Jass frowned as Mirjana told him of her tiring maid's vision.  "I don't know how accurate young Caoilainn's visions are, but I do know that the second sight is real, and some of us Border folk are more skilled at it than others." He sighed.  "All right, we'll step up precautions.  Did she give any other details about her vision?  For instance, did she know what sort of attack it might have been, or did she see anyone else in the vision, or any sort of weapon?"

   "I don't think she did; at least she didn't mention any of those things."  

   Jass sighed.  "I was afraid of that.  Without that sort of information, though, the vision isn't very helpful.  For instance, the blood on your gown might not even be yours.  It could even be something else, like a wine stain, though that's less likely.  At any rate, if she has any more visions of the sort, have her notify me without delay.  Even if it's in the middle of the night."

   "You're taking this very seriously, then?"

   The Border lord nodded.  "Aye, Your Grace.  I don't have the Sight myself, but my grandmam had it, and her visions nearly always came true.  And when they didn't, it was because she saw enough to say how we could change the circumstances in the vision ahead of time, so we were sometimes able to prevent things that way."  He sighed.  "Stay inside the Castle as much as you can, and if you must venture out, bring an armed escort with you.  If she saw enough of your gown to know which one you were wearing, stop wearing that one, or at least wear different accessories with it.  Any detail of the vision that we can change might prevent the entire event, or at least alter the outcome."

   "For better or for worse, though?"

   Jass gave her a frustrated grimace.  "With this sort of thing, I'm afraid one can never know for sure."


   February 1
   Ballymar Castle

   Séamidh studied the cardounet board carefully before moving one of his pieces.  He flashed a triumphant grin at Caoilainn.  "Ha!"

   The Duchess's tiring maid smiled back at the Duke's squire as she countered his move.  "An' 'Ha!' back tae ye!"  She giggled at the look on his face.

   "Are you sure you've not played this game before?" he grumbled good-naturedly as he tried to figure out his next move.  "You're not having some sort of visions about what I'm going to do next, are you?"

   Caoilainn laughed.  "Nay, it doesnae work tha' way.  That'd be right handy if it did!"  She sobered as a more serious thought crossed her mind.  "I had another o' my visions last night."

   "Aye?"  Séamidh's hand stilled on his game piece.  "Ye told Sir Jass, I hope?  Or His Grace?"

   "O' course I did!"  The girl frowned.  "Or I tried, but it wasnae easy tae explain wha' I saw.  His Grace finally had tae just see it for himself."  She looked curiously at the squire.  "Does it tickle yer mind when he's peekin' in at it?"

   He shrugged.  "I don't know, really.  He's only had to do so once that I know of, when I first entered his service.  He said he needed to do some sort of shield thing in my mind that would help protect me and him both.  But I didn't feel anything odd about it."  He looked thoughtful.  "Then again, I don't really remember much about that night, except that I went straight to sleep afterward and woke up the next morning feeling really rested." He glanced down at the game board again, finally moving a piece.  "What was it you saw in this new vision?"

   The golden-haired girl sighed.  "Well...as I said, it's hard tae say.  There was a lot o' folks rushin' about, mainly.  No' th' whole Castle, but mainly th' Ducal household.   His Grace an' Sir Jass an' Lady Ailidh rushin' about tryin' tae get th' bairns tae safety, or I think tha's what they were about, at any rate.  I saw 'em herdin' th' lot o' them intae a chamber, an' th' door closed.  Then His Grace come out again, an' no one else was with him, an' I dinnae see anyone inside th' chamber anymore."

   Séamidh nodded slowly.  "Do you know which room they went into?"

   Caoilainn shrugged, nudging one of her game pieces to a different space.  "Hard tae say.  I think it were one o' th' cellar doors, but they're all much th' same.  I think it might be tha' small chamber off th' south end o' the corridor leading tae th' undercroft, though.  There weren't any windows in th' room, at least in the glimpse I saw."  She shook her head.  "It all happened sae fast."

   "If it's the room I think you mean, that makes sense."  The squire glanced around to see if anyone was nearby, then lowered his voice.  "The Duke put in some sort of—I don't know what it's called, but it's kind of like a magical gateway, only it's not one you can actually see, and only Deryni can use them.  You remember when those workmen were here a few months ago doing repairs in the undercroft?  Well, not all of them were just regular stone-cutters and masons, and repair work's not all they were doing down there."

   "A magic gateway?"  Caoilainn's blue eyes widened.  "Tae where?"

   Séamidh glanced around again, pitching his voice even lower.  "To Rhemuth. Maybe other places as well; I don't really know how it works.  Last November, when they got done building it, His Grace went to Rhemuth and back in less than a day, though.  That's when he and the Duchess got betrothed."

   The maid looked skeptical.  "Yer havin' me on!  If th' Duke can get tae Rhemuth an' back tha' fast, why'd he take a week tae ride back here after Twelfth Night?"

   "Because he had all his retinue with him, and we're not Deryni, that's why!  He couldn't very well carry all of us through it, baggage and horses and all!"  Séamidh grinned at the thought.  "And anyway, I think it tires them out, or would do if they kept going back through it all the time.  But remember when Her Grace came to Cassan with Sir Jass, Lady Ailidh and the children?  Do you remember seeing them ride into Ballymar?"

   Caoilainn thought back, then shook her head slowly.  "Come tae think o' it, I dinnae."  She gazed at the squire in awe.  "Did ye figure it out by yerself or did th' Duke tell ye all tha'?"

   He blushed slightly, basking in the pretty girl's open admiration.  "A bit of both, really.  I found the room by accident, trying to catch up to His Grace to tell him something that morning when he left.  I saw him go in through that door, but when I went to follow him into the new 'storage chamber', he wasn't there, even though there didn't look like there was any other way out except for the door we'd both gone in.  So I kept checking back throughout the day, and when he came back through later that night, I happened to be there.  Gave us both a start, that did!"  He laughed.  "He nearly thrashed me just out of pure reflex, but once he realized who I was and why I was there, he told me what the room was for."  Séamidh grinned.  "It's not just for storing brooms and buckets."  He glanced briefly down at the cardounet board, the grin growing wider.  "And now, my bonnie flower, I'm going to take you."

   Caoilainn's mouth dropped open in bewildered indignation.  "I beg yer pardon?!"

   The squire roared with laughter as he made his move.  "Your game piece, Caoilainn!  Not that I don't like your idea better, but I'm supposed to be aspiring towards a white belt." He winked at the gaping girl.

   "My...?  Oh!"  Caoilainn turned scarlet as her eyes dropped to the board between them.

   "Forgot about the game, didn't you?"  Séamidh's eyes danced with mirth.  "I win this round, I think."

   "Barely!" the maid muttered, studying the final configuration of the remaining game pieces.

   "Beginner's luck," Séamidh assured her.  "I'll trounce you even more soundly next time."

   "Ye can try!"  The tiring maid flashed a dimpled smile at the squire.

   "I like a challenge."  The lad smiled back at her as he began setting up the board again.


   February 6
   Ballymar Castle

   "Any new complications, Lord Deveril?"  The Duke of Cassan sat back in his chair, steepling his fingertips.

   "No, Your Grace; things have actually been fairly quiet this week.  How that the household has been sorted out, I believe things are beginning to settle a bit.  There's still a bit of unrest in the town, though I'm told that's starting to die down, and as for the rest of the Duchy...."  The seneschal shrugged.  "They may never be fully happy about Her Grace, I'm afraid, but perhaps they're a bit more...reconciled to the idea."

   Dhugal nodded.  "They shall have to be.  She's not going away."

   "No, Your Grace.  But you shall have to from time to time, and unless she goes with you, that is likely to present certain...difficulties."

   The Duke sighed.  "Aye, I'm aware of that.  I intend to continue leaving you in charge during my absences, at least for the near future.  Later, assuming the people come to accept that my wife has no desire to stage a coup in my absence, I'll begin easing her into more of those responsibilities."  He gave Deveril a wry smile.  "As much as I'd like to think you'll live forever, I know you probably have hopes of retiring as my seneschal at some point before you're old to enjoy a bit of rest and relaxation."

   The older man snorted.  "I hardly know what those are, and certainly wouldn't know what to do with them!"  He sighed.  "But it is a job better suited for a younger man, and I've begun easing Deasun into some of the duties that will be fully his once I'm gone.  And that, quite frankly, has been another cause for concern for me."

   "Are you worried he won't be capable of doing the job as well as you'd hoped?"

   Deveril shook his head.  "Oh, it's not that.  Deasun's coming along fine in that regard."  His steady gaze met the young Duke's.  "His war nightmares have gotten worse in the past month since your return from Rhemuth, Your Grace."

   "I see."  Dhugal stared into the roaring fire in the hearth for a long moment, considering options.  "Do you think he might do better if I reassign him to Kierney for a while?"

   "No, my lord, that would be a short term solution at best.  If he is going to be seneschal of Cassan once I'm dead or incapable of continuing on any longer, he needs to learn how to deal with having a Torenthi Duchess."

   "I prefer to think of her as my Duchess of Cassan who merely happens to have been born in Torenth," Dhugal said with a rueful smile, "though I concede the point.  Still, I hope you can see mine.  She is married to me now, which makes her the lady of my house, and the House of MacArdry McLain is, at least in part, Cassani.  Maybe Deasun can learn to view her in that light.  He certainly never had any trouble accepting Catriona as Cassani from the moment I first brought her home to Ballymar."

   "With all due respect, Your Grace, High Lord Michael of Llyr never imprisoned Deasun, decapitated his friends, and threatened to hang him alongside his liegelord either.  That does tend to make a bit of a difference."

   Dhugal sighed.  "Aye, it does."


   February 12
   Ballymar Castle

   "I'm so tired of being a prisoner in my own home, Lady Ailidh.  I've got to get out!"  Mirjana sighed as she stared out the window.  "It's such a beautiful day, despite the wintry weather."

   "Aye, it's right sunny today, and warm enough at noonday despite it being only mid-February.  The snows have even started thawing.  Hopefully we'll have an early spring this year."  Ailidh gave her tablet weaving cards another turn, checking the developing pattern on the trim she was weaving before continuing.  "And it will be even warmer in Rhemuth by the time we return there for Easter Court in late March, so that's something to look forward to."

   "If I have to stay cooped up inside until we're back in Rhemuth, I shall go barking mad."  The Duchess turned away from the window.  "Caoilainn hasn't mentioned any new premonitions to me lately.  Has she shared any with you or Jass?"

   Ailidh shook her head.  "None since nearly a week ago, Your Grace."  She gave the tablets another turn.  "But if you're hoping that means all danger to you has passed, I'm afraid the second sight doesn't quite work like that."

   Mirjana walked across the room, opening a small coffer.  "I didn't suppose that it would.  But I am not going to be held hostage to fear any longer."  Noting the rising alarm in her lady-in-waiting's eyes, she shook her head.  "Oh, I'm not going to do anything so foolhardy as venture out in the gardens or leave the castle grounds.  But surely it would be difficult for anyone to get to me if I simply venture up to the castle roof."

   "Well...." Ailidh considered the idea.  "I suppose that would be the safest of the possible options, if you intend to go out of doors, but what would you do out there?"

   "Breathe!" Mirjana exclaimed.  She examined the contents of the box she held, then smiled in satisfaction.  "And sketch a bit.  Mayhap even paint.  There's a lovely view of the surrounding countryside from up there, not to mention all of Ballymar below.  And unless an assassin plans to storm the castle to get to me, I should be perfectly fine up there."

   Ailidh sighed.  "I should accompany you in any case.  Dhugal will have my head if I don't."

   "You're quite welcome to.  I'm sure you must hate being locked up just as much as I do."

   The Border woman couldn't very well disagree, and she had come to know her Duchess well enough to realize there was no point in arguing the matter any longer.  She detached the warp threads of the tablet weaving from her belt and rose, setting the work to one side.  "I'll fetch our cloaks, then.  You've no idea how cold and windy it is on a castle rooftop in Cassan during mid-February.  You'll want gloves as well, or your fingers will be too stiff to sketch in a matter of minutes."


   Glistening white snow frosted the ground as far as the eye could see, though a closer look revealed welcome hints that the wintry weather was already starting to lose its grip on the countryside.  In the distance, a pale blue sky bent to kiss gray-green ocean.  Closer, at the base of the bluff on which Ballymar Castle stood, large waves crashed against sheer walls of rock jutting out at a steep angle.  The castle's foundation seemed to emerge from the rock as if it were some organic edifice grown from the living bedrock rather than built upon it.

   A most formidable castle, Ballymar was.  Mirjana smiled to herself as she arranged her art supplies on the small table that Lady Ailidh had brought up to her by one of the Cassani pages.  A shy lad, this one, quite unlike the more ebullient Aidan whom the Duke her husband had brought with him on his last trip to Rhemuth.  She nodded her thanks to the boy, who bobbed a polite bow at her and then scurried off.  
   Ailidh handed the Duchess a fresh sketchboard fetched from her previously prepared stock before the two women had made their way up one of the tower staircases to exit the Castle along the North wall.  Mirjana propped one end of the board on one of the lower surfaces of the crenelated wall, holding the other hand steady with her left hand while preparing to sketch with her right.  "I do wish I'd thought to buy an easel while I was in Rhemuth," she said wistfully.

   "What's an easel, my lady?" Ailidh asked, leaning against the wall to give their surroundings a quick but careful study, on the alert for anything that seemed out of the ordinary.  The swift perusal confirmed that she and Mirjana were alone on the rooftop, save for the guards posted at each of the tower doors.

   "It's a type of stand for a board or a framed canvas...like so," Mirjana explained, mentally sending Ailidh a brief image of what she meant.  

   Ailidh considered the mental picture.  "I wish I'd known you needed that sort of thing.  We haven't an easel in the storage rooms, I don't think, but we do have a tripod stand—the sort made for holding a cooking pot over a campfire—that could easily be made to serve as one if a small bar were welded or lashed across two of the legs, like so."  She sent a mental picture back.  "It wouldn't take but a few minutes to make it.  I can ask one of the men to put it together for the next time you want to set up a sketchboard."

   The Duchess gazed out over the Cassani landscape, adding a few deft strokes of charcoal to her board.  "I don't suppose you could run down and get it now?"

   "And leave you unescorted, Your Grace?"  Ailidh snorted.  "Are you that keen on watching Dhugal rip me to shreds?"

   Mirjana sighed.  "Ailidh, I'd hardly be alone up here.  There's a guard at every tower, and I'm mostly hidden behind a wall.  From the ground, I doubt anyone can even see me.  Surely he'd have no cause to take you to task for leaving me alone for just a few minutes under such circumstances, but if you're truly worried, I'll assume full responsibility."

   "Aye, I'll tell him that when he's ripping my head off and spitting down my neckhole.  I don't supposed you've ever seen your husband truly in a raging temper?  I've had the privilege once, and I'm not ashamed to say I came near to wetting myself."  Ailidh's lips twitched.  "Though I did end up getting a husband after it was all over, it's not the solution I'd recommend to any other lass for getting herself hitched."  She sent Mirjana a few brief images of her accidental 'elopement' and the Duke's reaction to finding an extra rider in his party.  The duchess turned to gape at her, exploding with startled laughter.

   "You knew Sir Jass already before that, though, I hope?"  Mirjana smiled at her lady-in-waiting a trifle wistfully.  "I was under the impression yours was a love match."

   "Oh, it is.  Though I did manage to tumble into it all arse-backwards."

   "So I saw."  The duchess chuckled anew at the memory of Ailidh garbed like a Transha man-at-arms, quivering atop her 'borrowed' horse before the Duke's wrath.  "You seem very close to the Duke," she observed.  "How long have you known each other?"

   Ailidh willed back a blush.  "All our lives, or nearly so, at least.  I suppose you could say Dhugal sees me as the other sister he never had."  She gave a self-conscious laugh.  "It's all a bit complicated.  Caldreana and I were thick as thieves.  I assume he's told you about Caldie?"

   "His sister who is really his aunt?  Only a little."  Mirjana gave a bemused smile.  "You MacArdrys are very confusing to me."

   Ailidh laughed.  "Well, you can blame a McLain for confusing that matter.  I assure you that even in Transha, our family trees normally make a bit more sense than that!"   

   The sound of approaching footfalls made both women turn.  A page approached them, bowing low before Mirjana before turning towards Ailidh.  "Beg pardon, m'Lady, but I was sent tae fetch ye.  Yer elder lad's fell in th' nursery an' busted his knee but good.  I'm told His Grace is tendin' tae 'im, but yer wanted directly."

   "I...."  Ailidh glanced uncertainly at Mirjana, who made a shooing gesture at her.

   "Go!  I'll be fine."  The Duchess tilted her head at the nearest tower.  "The roof is well guarded, remember?"

   The lady-in-waiting sighed.  "Aye.  I'll be back as soon as I can, if you've not returned to your chambers by the time we're done tending to Ciaran."  She hastened off, the young page following in her wake.


   Mirjana's eyes were focused on the landscape forming on the whitened board before her.  She did not sense the familiar presence approaching from behind her until it was nearly too late.

Chapter 13:
"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!


Uh-oh.   :(   Cues ominous music ...


Yes, this is when a pipe organ would truly come in handy.   ;)


Or perhaps, since Alkari lives in Oz, this one....

"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!


That really is a lovely organ in the Town Hall.  However, I have never found that Bach Toccata to be particularly "ominous" music, LOL.

I was thinking more of Hitchcock, so instead of the ghost of Bach to provide the background, perhaps we should 'resurrect' either Bernard Hermann (Psycho, Vertigo, North by Northwest) or Franz Waxman (Rebecca and Rear Window in particular, plus some from Spellbound)

Or maybe John Barry, who wrote the fabulous score for The Lion in Winter ?     


Quote from: Alkari on October 26, 2010, 07:16:38 PM
That really is a lovely organ in the Town Hall.  However, I have never found that Bach Toccata to be particularly "ominous" music, LOL.

I was thinking of its associations with "Phantom of the Opera."  The pre-Webber POTO, that is.
"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!


Or the opening music from "Jaws".
We will never forget the events of 9-11!!  USA!! USA!!

kirienne (RIP)

Yikes...another cliff-hanger :-)
Nicely done, you have me sitting on the edge of my chair waiting for the next chapter.


Well, I do have that chapter completed and ready to go up on Friday, though no promises on Ch. 14 being posted on schedule next Tuesday as I had a bunch of Real Life interrupt my writing this week and it's put me behind. *sigh*
"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!


Well, we at least want to Know What Happens!!  So I assume Ch 13 puts us out of our misery in that regard  :D   We'd hate to be listening to ominous music all weekend ...;)


Yes, you should hopefully have the cliffhanger resolved on Friday.  Unless, of course, I'm not done writing the following chapter yet, and have found something that might hinge on me needing to tweak details in Chapter 13 before I post it, in which case Chapter 13 might have to wait until Chapter 14 is fully written....

So, what sort of music is appropriate for torturing my readers?   ;) ;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!


Quote from: Evie on October 27, 2010, 10:32:47 AM
So, what sort of music is appropriate for torturing my readers?   ;) ;D 

Torture?  LOL - well, I would say any sort of shopping centre muzak.  Given the time of year, perhaps Jingle Bells, played over and over and over and ...


"This is the song that never ends,
And it goes on and on, my friends!
Some people started singing it not knowing what it was,
And they'll continue singing it forever just because
This is the song that never ends...."

*lather, rinse, repeat ad nauseam*

"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!


Just keep singing "I'm Henry the VIII, I am".  That's how Sam (Patrick Swayze) got Molly (Demi Moore) to go out with him and how Sam got Oda Mae (Whoopi Goldberg) to help him in "Ghost".
We will never forget the events of 9-11!!  USA!! USA!!


That movie probably ended up selling so many potters' wheels that ended up collecting dust in women's basements....   ;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!