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A Time To Heal Chapter 13

Started by Evie, October 29, 2010, 12:22:53 PM

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Chapter Thirteen

   February 12, 1133
   Ballymar Castle

   "Séamidh, stop!"  Caoilainn giggled as she gently pushed at the squire's shoulder.  The lad was standing with one hand resting on the wall behind her, leaning in slightly and all but pinning her to the cool rock surface in apparent hopes of stealing a kiss, though he stepped back obligingly enough when she chose to sidestep his amorous advance instead.  "I thought th' Duke had a rule for ye lads about tha' sort o' thing.  'At least six inches o' daylight 'twixt th' lads an' lasses', aye?"

   "Well, you know, an inch is meant to be measured by the width of a man's thumb, and if that's the case, then it's a good thing I've got slender hands."  His eyes twinkled teasingly down at her in the dim rushlight.

   "Stop foolin' about; we'll be expected back soon, an' I dinnae want tae risk bein' sacked on account o' ye bein' such a randy goat!"  Caoilainn softened her words with a flirtatious grin tossed back over her shoulder at him as she edged quickly away, picking up one handle of the storage chest they had been sent downstairs for.  "I dinnae suppose ye can be o' some use an' help me wi' this?"

   "Aye, of course."  The squire gave the pretty tiring maid a wistful grin as he dutifully lifted the other end of the heavy chest.  "Can't blame a man for trying, though."

   "Sure I could...but I willnae."  The lass smiled.  "But I'm a marryin' sort o' lass, sae if ye truly want me kisses, ye'll have tae court me proper."  She moved towards the stone staircase, Séamidh following her lead closely, readying himself to take the bulk of the shifting weight in the chest once the pair started their ascent.

   The squire hardly wasted a moment considering the girl's statement.  "When's your next half-day, then?"

   "Tuesday next.  Shall I save it for ye?  Tadgh's been askin' if he can take me out walkin' sometime, but he's dithered sae much about when, I've about lost patience wi' him."

   Séamidh nearly dropped his end of the load.  Up until that moment, he'd not even considered she might have other offers for her half-day.  "Aye, I'll walk wi' ye," he assured her, momentarily forgetting his Court training in his startlement.

   The pair had reached the narrow landing when Caoilainn gasped, her hands loosing involuntarily from the handle of the storage chest, which fell with a thud onto the stone floor, nearly sending Séamidh into a tumble.  He recovered his footing, staring at the girl's face, which had suddenly turned pale.

   "It's happenin', Séamidh," she told him in a horrified whisper, tears springing into her eyes.  "Sweet Jesú...it's happenin' now!"


   Ailidh rushed into the nursery.  Lady Mhairi and the two junior nursemaids looked up at her in surprise.

   "How is he?" she asked, looking around the playroom, looking for Ciaran and Dhugal.

   "How is who?" Mhairi asked, puzzled, wondering at Lady Ailidh's breathlessness and slightly disheveled appearance in the doorway.

   The gray-green gaze landed on Ciaran, who grinned up at his mother from the mat where he lay on his belly playing with his brother.  "Are ye dinin' wi' us today, Ma?"

   Ailidh's face drained of color.  "He's no' taken a fall, then, Mhairi?  Dhugal's no' had tae heal 'im?"

   The Llyrian nursemaid stared at her in bewilderment.  "Had to heal whom, Ailidh?"

   The full import broke.  "Oh, Jesú...."  Ailidh tore off down the corridor in the direction she had come.


   Dhugal sat in his counting room, going over the tallies on his exchequer table.  He glanced outside at the white but sunny vista, wishing he were out in it, riding Ballymar's borders perhaps, or simply enjoying the early afternoon rays.

   He had just turned his attention back to his work when he heard a clamor outside the door.  He stood, opened it to see his squire and his wife's tiring maid talking excitedly to Sir Jass.  Dhugal frowned, wondering what new vision the lass had seen now.  He headed down the corridor toward the trio.


   The man's face, contorted with rage, loomed over her.  He was saying something, angry words uttered in a low menacing growl, but Mirjana could not understand them in her terror.  She gathered up her energies for a psychic defense, but her focus was shattered by the pain of his strong grip upon her arm.  His arm lifted, the sunlight glinting off something metal clutched in his right hand, and then the clenched fist holding the weapon dropped sharply.

   She had just enough time to let loose a mental scream.


   The scream reverberated through Dhugal's mind, and even Jass—attuned as he was to his master's mind-touch—caught the echoes of the psychic wave.  Jass bit back a curse, rolling back his shields unasked as Dhugal quickly probed for the information the Duchess's tiring maid had just shared with him.  The men's eyes met.

   "Looks like the section just beyond the North Tower," Dhugal said.  They took off at a run.


   The man watched the Torenthi woman's form crumple to the ground, saw his brother fall too in the same instant, though one fallen form was seen only though the eyes of memory.  The long braid coiled around her head, black as that hellspawn Lionel's mane had been, snakelike to the Cassani man's eyes.  A portent of evil. It must be cast out, trodden under heel, eradicated from the heart of his beloved land.

   He raised his dagger to strike at it before it could strike him, meaning to hew it to bits before moving downwards to sever the head next, as they had done to his own flesh and kin, but the door behind him burst open and he found himself surrounded again, pressed on both sides between the oncoming assailants and the stone parapet, the gap between himself and the oncoming foe closing swiftly.

   Closing in, heralding his doom even as the uncovered shields of Marley's treacherous men had shouted his that long-ago dire day.

   Nay, they'd not take him alive.  He meant to die a warrior's death, not a craven's.

   He snatched up the Torenthi foe, holding the hostage as a shield, his dagger's edge pressed to her slender neck as he stepped backwards towards the outer edge of the castle wall.


   Dhugal tore past the startled Tower guard, Jass at his heels.  "Yer Grace, m' lord, what's th'--?"  The man's confusion rose as the Duke pushed past him without explanation, heading north along the castle wall.  He stared, wondering if he should keep to his post or follow.

   Jass dispelled his doubt.  "For God's sake, man, keep up!"  The Transha man, not awaiting an answer, took off after his liegelord.

   The guard followed in their wake, his swift steps echoing theirs as he followed the curve of the wall until his keen eyes spotted the Duke's quarry.  And then he stopped in horror, for he recognized both figures pressed against the outer wall.  One was the new Duchess of Cassan, who had smiled at him in greeting a mere half hour earlier.

   The other, the man, had also smiled at him, and the guard had let him pass.  After all, why should he not have?  They'd been companions since boyhood.  Had been through all manner of things together, from childhood frolics to wenching to war....

   He realized, finally, why the other man had come up here, and the blood drained from his face.  "Nay, oh sweet Jesú nay, no' tha'!  Oh God, Deasun, wha' hae ye done!"  


   Ailidh headed for the North Tower also, but stopped abruptly, remembering the message that had been sent to summon her away from her charge.  The page had been sent up the North Tower as well, which meant that whoever had sent the lad must have known where to find the Duchess.  He or she would be watching that door, most likely, so Ailidh was unlikely to catch the assassin unaware by means of that approach.

   Frantically she cast a mental sweep around for any signs of Dhugal or Jass.  She detected them at last, not far from where she had last seen the Duchess.

   Breathing a silent prayer, Ailidh whirled and ran towards the access door to the Northwest Tower.


   "Deasun, it's Dhugal."   The Duke spoke quietly, hoping his voice would get through to a part of his seneschal's heir's mind that was still rational.  "The war is over, Deasun.  You're holding a woman, not a warrior.  Let her go."  Dhugal's eyes remained locked on the man before him, although his sword hand slowly edged toward the hilt resting against his side.

   Lord Deasun's eyes met his, but they were vacant.  Dhugal could sense that the man was not wholly present in the moment, that part of his mind had gone back a dozen years.

   "They've come to kill us, Your Grace," Deasun said, his voice hollow.  "They'll never stop.  It's blood they want, fields of it, no mercy, my lord.  No mercy."  Tears streamed down his cheeks.  "Not even for the youngest of the young men."  His voice broke, and Dhugal knew the seneschal's son saw his brother's lifeless body before him.  "Even th' pages fell, m'lord!"  He went quiet for a moment.  "Is Daivi safe?"

   "Safe and at home with your mother," Dhugal assured him, though Daivi was a man grown now, no longer a lad too young to ride off to war with the Cassani levies.  "The woman is mine, though, Deasun, and I'm your liegelord.  Do you recognize me?"

   The man's eyes lit in brief recognition.  "Aye, Dhugal.  You're Duncan's son."  The gaze clouded again.  "The priest's son...that can't be right."  He began to drift back to his younger years.  "Th' Duke would know.  Must find Jared.  They'll no' hae killed him; they'll want th' ransom...."

   "The war is over, Deasun.  We're back in Cassan."  Dhugal's hand found his sword hilt, but hesitated to draw the weapon yet for fear of setting the warrior off.  "Set my wife down so we can talk."  He glanced at Mirjana's still form, his heart pounding in his chest.  Only the slow rise and fall of her breast assured him that she still lived. "She's unconscious, Deasun.  She can't hurt you."

   Jass had slowly edged to one side, hoping to ease closer to the man while he was distracted by the Duke, but now Deasun sensed his presence.  His gaze whipped around to the Transha man, the hand holding the knife tightening as he moved it closer to Mirjana's throat.  Jass froze.

   Nay, we can't risk it, Dhugal Mind-spoke to him. If all else fails, I'll try a mental attack, but he's got that blade a mere hair's-width from her neck already, so we can't risk startling him until his defenses are down.  

   Jass wordlessly acknowledged his Duke's words, his mouth tight-lipped as he stood down, forcing himself to a calm he didn't feel as he watched the byplay between Cassan's Duke and its seneschal's heir.  

   Some level of awareness came back into Deasun's eyes as he watched the taut Duke.  "Yer th' Transha lad.  Jared's grandson."

   "Aye, I am."

   Deasun's eyes flicked briefly to the woman he held.  He shook his head sadly as he looked back up at the young Duke.  "She's no' good for ye, lad.  Aye, she's a right fetchin' piece, but she's Torenthi.  String ye up as soon as look at ye, th' Torenthi will, if they've no' hacked yer head off first."  His fingers flexed on the dagger hilt.  "Mayhap I should tak' care o' her for ye, keep ye safe."

   Dhugal swallowed down bile.  "Why don't you set her down gently and come here, and then you can tell me all about it?  Jass will stand guard over her."

   The man glanced at Jass, then back at Dhugal.  "They mean tae kill us a', y'know."  But his hand started to lower from Mirjana's neck.  "She's right comely.  I can see how ye were bewitched, but yer a McLain.  Ye cannae keep her, y'know.  Ain't fittin', th' Duke o' Cassan marryin' himself tae a Torenthi demon.  But it's a' right; I'll free ye from her."


   Ailidh slipped up the spiral staircase of the Northwest Tower.  The guard at the top greeted her with a nod.

   "Her Grace is in mortal danger," the Transha woman informed him without preamble, her voice low.  "She's between here and the North Tower, up on the wall.  I don't know what we're up against, so best bring your bow as well as your sword."

   The man looked startled.  "Are ye sure?  I'm no' supposed tae leave my post...."  He took a quick glance around him, but saw no threat.  

   Wait.  There, along the castle wall's patrol path, was a bit of movement next to where the stone parapet curved northward in the distance.  It appeared to be a man, one holding a limp figure.  He was facing away, his attention on something or some person unseen from this angle.

   "Stay here, m' lady," the guard urged, moving purposefully yet quietly towards the two figures in the distance to investigate more closely.

   Ailidh drew her belt dagger, holding it at the ready as she followed the guard.  "Nay, she's my charge, and she might have need of me.  Besides, I'm Deryni.  Do as you must, and I'll do likewise." Both kept close to the parapet as they drew closer, in hopes of avoiding the notice of the man ahead, Ailidh drawing on her Deryni powers to lend them extra stealth.

   As they continued around the curve of the wall, it cleared the bulk of the castle keep enough for the guard and Ailidh to catch a glimpse of Dhugal and Jass up ahead, facing them from the other side of the assailant and the hostage.  If the two men saw their approach, they gave no sign; then again, Ailidh hadn't expected them to.  Both men were far too battle-seasoned to signal an ally's approach to their cornered enemy.

   The guard she was following stopped in his tracks.  Ailidh sensed the anguish washing over him like a torrent.  "Oh, Jesú, it cannae be."

   His face paled as he finally recognized the Duchess's attacker.


   Deasun wavered as his Duke continued to reason quietly with him.  The woman was heavy on his arm, the full weight of her unconscious body starting to make his arm ache.  Far heavier than the shield he'd once borne on that arm, before an attacker had shattered it on the battlefield.  No Torenthi man, that foe, but a man of Marley.  Aye, he hated them too.

   The old war wound ached, and Deasun longed to ease it, but he dared not release his prisoner.  She was still out cold, but she might start to stir at any moment, and he could not risk her coming back to consciousness, for she was not merely Torenthi, but Deryni too, as Wencit had been.  Wencit and his unholy kin.  She was one of them, one of the Furstán line, and deserved to die.

   Not all Deryni deserved to die, of course.   Duke Jared's younger lad was Deryni, as were Jared's foster children.  Deasun remembered them well, though he'd been much younger, nearly a decade younger than the McLain Deryni lad who had gone off to become a priest.  What had happened to him?  

   Oh, that's right...he'd become Duke afterwards.  After the war, when Cassan had brought home its ragged remnant and struggled to forget, to survive the aftermath. The nightmares.  And in time, he had brought home a son.  His son was Duke now.

   Deasun looked at the woman in his arms and had a sudden realization.  He was not going to survive this day.

   Then again, he didn't want to.  He wanted to sleep, one final blissful sleep without dreams, without happy memories that turned into nightmares, waking him screaming in the darkness.

   She slept, and he envied her.  Envied the Torenthi witch, blissfully unconscious of his inner torment.  

   She was beautiful, though, and she might already be carrying a McLain child within her.  He'd heard the washing-women speak of it, heard them speculate that she might already be breeding, for they'd been given no bloody laundry to wash since her arrival.  The thought saddened Deasun, but there was no help for it. He could not allow a Torenthi McLain to live; the very thought was an abomination.

   The Duchess would have bloody laundry to offer soon enough.  He smiled.  He would slit her throat quickly, showing her more mercy than her kinsmen had shown his Duke and kin.  It was a better death than hanging, and a far better fate than surviving.  She'd have no nightmares after.  

   And neither would he.


   Deasun tightened his grasp on Mirjana.  His dagger hand shot back up towards her throat.  With a sharp cry, Dhugal focused his concentration on the man's mind, trying to exert control over Deasun's will, but it was a form of combat he was far less used to than sword and shield, and he was standing at a distance from Deasun, not in physical contact with the man.  It took him a precious second to wrench Deasun's hand back, though the blade moved away from Mirjana's slow pulse only a mere half inch.  As the Duke pitted his psychic will against the assassin's physical strength, he was vaguely aware of Jass leaping forward to one side of him, the North Tower guard pleading with Deasun to the other side of him, bringing up a sword....

   But he had no more attention to spare for that, for at the moment his entire world was concentrated down to wresting that slim, shining blade further away from his wife's throat.


   "Release!" Ailidh cried out, knowing the time for stealth had passed.  But the guard's hand shook on the bowstring as he attempted to aim his arrow, his years of training and battle discipline deserting him as he tried to take aim at his boyhood companion, the tears streaming down his face rendering him half blind.

   She realized what the problem was then, and a surge of compassion filled her, though there was no time to spare for it at the moment.  "I'll do it, man," she said softly, laying her hand on his shoulder and gently taking mental control.  His grip loosened on the bow, and she eased it swiftly out of his grasp, nocking an arrow and taking quick yet careful aim, using her Deryni powers to guide the shaft home.


   Jass leaped through the air even as the arrow sank deep into Deasun's throat.  He caught Mirjana as she fell from her assailant's loosened grasp, rolling her clear of his falling body.  A shower of blood fountained forth from the dying man, drenching her shoulder and her chest with crimson as the Transha retainer cushioned her fall.  With a slight roll, they both hit the stone patrol path, though Jass was careful not to roll off the inner edge of the wall with his unconscious charge into the Castle gardens far below.

   Dhugal and the North Tower guard rushed forward, but neither was fast enough to catch Deasun's inert body before it plummeted over the parapet and onto the rocky bluff below the wall.


   Ailidh shook in belated reaction as she watched Dhugal tending to his wife.  "Is she all right?" she asked Jass in a low voice.

   "Aye, mostly," he assured her.  "She's go' a wee nick on her neck, but only a scratch.  Deasun knocked her out cold tae start out wi', sae she's concussed, but Dhugal'll hae her right as rain."  His whisky-colored eyes studied his wife's face as he drew her close.  "Are ye a' right?"

   "Aye."  Her eyes filled with tears.  "I shouldnae hae left her, Jass.  I thought Ciaran was hurt, but I should hae checked first.  Deasun used a page tae lure me away...."

   "It's a' right, lass.  She's safe now."  Jass's gentle voice tried to soothe her distress, but her trembling only increased.

    "Whoever hurts m' Duchess hurts m' Duke, an' naebody bluidy well hurts m'Duke!" she wailed.

   "Aye, God hae mercy on th' man who tries, wi' my fierce lioness around!" Jass agreed, stifling a chuckle as he kissed her brow.  "Come along, chuisle, let's get some whisky intae ye.  Ye're worse off than ye think, if ye've gone all Transha lass on me!"


   The Duke of Cassan cradled his Duchess in his arms.   He had healed her of her injuries, though as she started to stir into wakefulness he eased her back into slumber.  She would wake again soon enough, would want to know what had happened, but there would be time enough for that later.

   Right now, he had to inform one of the most loyal men in Cassan that his heir was now dead, and why.  It was a burden that weighed heavily on Dhugal's soul.

   He sent the two guards down to fetch Deasun's body from the rocks below, then looked up at Jass.  "I don't know if Deasun acted in this alone or with assistance, but until I can find out, I want Mirjana and the children safely away."  He stood, lifting his wife and handing her over to his lieutenant's keeping, his tight expression softening slightly as he saw Ailidh's gaze upon him.  He took one of her hands in his, bowing over it.  "See my family and yours safely back to Rhemuth before you lose yourself in a bottle of MacRorie's Old, aye, a chara?"

   "Aye," she whispered, her tears threatening to spill over her cheeks, though she blinked them away proudly.

   "Good lass."  He turned her palm up and kissed it, closing her fingers gently around it, then turned to Jass.  "Keep them safe."

   "I'll help them back tae Rhemuth, Your Grace, but you'll require assistance here.  Her Grace will be in far less danger there than here; Ailidh should be able tae keep them protected well enough wi'out me."  Jass raised a brow at his Duke as the latter started to protest.  "An' there are other Deryni in Rhemuth who can look after them as well.  But ye'll need a man here ye can trust."

   "I have Séamidh."

   "Aye.   An' I've nae doubts o' th' lad's loyalty, but he's young an' untried.  Besides...."  He gave his wife a wry smile.  "Ailidh willnae gie me a night's rest if I'm lyin' safe in a Rhemuth bed instead o' watchin' yer back.  Dinnae make me live wi' th' hell she'd give me!"


   Caoilainn swiftly packed her mistress's belongings into a trunk, readying it for Séamidh to carry downstairs.  The squire entered the bedchamber.

   "Be sure to pack some clothing for yourself, too.  His Grace wants you to accompany the Duchess."

   She swallowed hard, folding a veil to place into the trunk.  "Aye, he told me.  Ye'll be careful, aye?"  The tiring maid blinked back tears.

   "I'll be fine.  Have fun in Rhemuth."  He smiled at her.  "There's a lot to see at Court.  I just wish I could be there to show it to you."

   "I'll save me half-days for ye," she told him, turning her face away so he couldn't see her distress.

   "I'll count on that, then."  He closed the distance between them, turning her to pull her into his embrace.  "Lass, don't cry.  You probably saved her, you know."

   Caoilainn shook her head.  "I dinnae see enough, I couldnae stop it...."

   "You did enough."  He gave her cheek a tender kiss, her tears salting his lips.  "You'd best get done packing; the Duke won't want to wait too long."  He smiled down at her.  "You'll get to travel Deryni style, so I'll want to hear all about what that's like when you get back!"


   Dhugal's squire watched as the Duke's family and small MacArdry retinue disappeared through the Transfer Portal.   A short while later Dhugal returned, looking far older than his twenty-five years and more alone than Séamidh had ever seen him.

Chapter 14:  http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php?topic=594.0
"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!


Wow!  And breathe...

That was a humdinger of a chapter, Evie!


That chapter was definitely worth the 3 1/2 hours trying to get my computer to finally boot up after getting home from work today!! 
We will never forget the events of 9-11!!  USA!! USA!!


Wow, df64!  So sorry you had such a struggle with your computer, but flattered that you thought the chapter was worth going through all that hassle for!   :D  Hope the computer woes are over soon.

And Annie, you know I timed that story to coincide with your arrival home.   ;)  OK, so I'm lying, but just pretend you believe me.   ;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!


My computer came up instantly this morning.  The identity of the would-be assassin was a surprise.  I was expecting a certain Torenthi (whom we all know and hate), but it was an interesting surprise.
We will never forget the events of 9-11!!  USA!! USA!!


Oh, it was a little bit of a surprise to me also!  I knew it wouldn't be Teymuraz (for one thing, there's no way he could have gotten the Transfer Portal signature for Ballymar, since it's brand new and the info wouldn't have been in whatever T. might have been able to glean from Derry's mind several years previously, and I doubt he's bold/foolish enough to want to go riding through Cassan, of all places, unless he's able to change both his Torenthi appearance and his accent!), but my original plan had been to have Mirjana's would-be assassin be some anonymous Cassani ex-soldier who was either not attached to the Ducal household at all, or who was some random guard.  I had mentioned the war casualties in Deveril's family earlier on because I wanted to get across that the seneschal was choosing to remain loyal to Dhugal--and therefore by extension, Mirjana--despite the fact that he had personal cause to be leery of Mirjana due to the effect the war against Wencit had on his immediate family.  (As contrasted to Margaret's reaction, who also suffered a great personal loss and was not able to distance herself from that in a way that would allow her to accept Mirjana, even though logically she knew Mirjana had nothing to do with Jared's death.)

But the closer I got to the scene, the more evident it became to me that I had created a background character who was the most likely choice to act against Mirjana.  He had motivation, he had the emotional instability necessary to go against decades of training for unstinting loyalty to the House of McLain (or at least to circumvent this by rationalizing to himself that he was actually serving his ducal House by acting in its best interests), and he was one of the few people who could gain free access to Mirjana without question even if the Castle were under lockdown.  I had written Mirjana into a situation in which it would have been difficult for some random Cassani attacker to get close enough to her to act.  And having it be Deasun made the attack that much more personal.

I was still very hesitant, even once I realized all this, to do that to poor loyal Deveril!  But it all came down to "the voices in my head won't let me do otherwise."   :D  Although at the moment they're all wanting to give the author who taught me that lovely piece of writing advice "Think of the worst thing that can happen to your characters and then do it, and see how they respond to that"  a sharp kick or twenty in the backside!   ;D

Teymuraz still is out there, somewhere, and I'm sure he'd like to get his hands on Mirjana again if the opportunity ever allows.  I just don't think he's quite obsessed enough to risk his life by venturing into the heart of Cassan for her, at least not unless he gets some sort of lucky break (like that Ballymar Transfer Portal signature) that would allow him to do so with little or no risk to himself, because he's got much larger fish to fry.  He has a far greater lust for power than he has for any woman, no matter how beautiful.
"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!


Cassan is definitely further than Rhemuth for Teymuraz to travel for revenge.  He didn't have someone like Derry to use to try to kill Matyas in Rhemuth in KKB.  If Deasun was at Lyndruth Meadows (was he?), he could have been suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome and/or simple revenge against the nearest Torenthi--who just happened to be Mirjana.
We will never forget the events of 9-11!!  USA!! USA!!


He was there; that's where his flashbacks and nightmares were coming from.  He also lost a younger brother when the Earl of Marley's men betrayed the Cassani army, which I think is also mentioned in an earlier chapter (the ones where Deasun's sisters are discussing changes to the household staff with Mirjana up in her solar).
"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!


Oh dear!  What a chapter.   And how very sad for all concerned, especially poor Deveril and Deasun's brothers and friends.