Author Topic: A Leap of Faith - Chapter 9  (Read 5964 times)

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Offline AnnieUK

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A Leap of Faith - Chapter 9
« on: December 28, 2010, 12:54:40 PM »
Shrine of St Torin
March 28th, 1121

We had been in Stonelyn a fortnight, and time had flown by so busy had we been, when we made preparations for our first big trip to the city of Dhassa.  Bran had sent us south with a dozen or so mounted soldiers as an escort and they were to travel with us.  Brendan was excited – he had rarely been anywhere bigger than the manors or his grandfather’s house, and he could remember nothing of my Uncle Thomas.  He told everyone that he was going to see the “big priest” and I think everyone in Stonelyn must have formed the impression that Thomas Cardiel was a bishop of remarkable height.

We intended to set off mid-morning and return in the early evening, so I decided to leave Joan in Stonelyn for the day.  I could handle Brendan for those few hours, and Uncle Thomas would be sure to want to spend time with him – at least I hoped he would - I wasn’t sure a bishop would be too familiar with entertaining four year old boys.  Anyway, it would be more comfortable with just the two of us in the carriage as Brendan would have more room to spread himself and move around.  Our route to the shrine of Saint Torin and then along the lakeside to Dhassa, I thought, would give Brendan plenty to look at to keep him entertained along the way.  The final stretch into Dhassa itself might be a little less interesting, but I counted on there being comings and goings of soldiers and priests and tradesmen to draw his attention.

It seemed to have rained on and off for days, and the horses and men were mud splattered before we had travelled any distance at all.  We rattled on with the roads, such as they were, getting muddier and more rutted as we went on.   Somehow Brendan had been able to fall asleep against me, the motion of the coach lulling him off despite the bumps, although many a time I thought he surely must wake up when the coach made a particularly large lurch.  

Suddenly the carriage jolted as a rear wheel went into a pothole, reeling as if it might overturn before it juddered to a halt.   The coachman muttered curses under his breath as he encouraged the horses to pull harder, but to no avail.  I heard the sound of trotting hooves as the captain of the outriders rode back to see what had befallen us and then I heard the coachman raise his voice “An’ I tell you it’s no use, we are well an’ truly stuck this time.  The more the horses pull, the deeper in the wheel goes.  I could whip those beasts till the blood runs an’ they will not pull the carriage out of this hole.  An’ if the whole carriage tips over then we are in a right to-do and no mistake with ‘er ladyship and the young master in there.  This will take pushing out, you mark my words.”

The raised voices woke Brendan where the bumps and shocks had not, and he looked blearily around him for a few moments.

“It’s all right, darling, the coach is stuck, but we will be off to see Uncle Thomas again soon.  Stay sitting down, sweetheart - there might be a big bump when we set off again, and if you fall off the seat you will hurt yourself.”

I peeped through a gap in the curtain to see the coachman and the captain standing beside the rear wheel which was the cause of our difficulties, and indulging in much discussion and arm-waving.  We had stopped outside the shrine of Saint Torin, where several men were waiting ready to go in and receive the cap badge which denoted a respectful pilgrim who had duly parted with money for the right to enter the city of Dhassa.  A couple of them were sitting on a low wall awaiting their turn to enter, and several more were making ready to leave.  They were watching our little scene curiously, and apparently realised that they were about to be forced into service.

“You there.  Come and give a hand with her ladyship’s carriage.”

Exchanging glances, the men ambled across to the carriage, some shedding cloaks as they came, for easier movement.  One of the men pressed into labour stood out to me.  Although taller than the others he was otherwise outwardly unremarkable, clad as he was in a leather cloak with leather cap unclasped but still pulled down firmly on his head, shabby trousers and muddy boots - typical garb for a common man.  Still something was not quite right about him, and as he walked towards the carriage that feeling of not-rightness persisted and I watched him in particular from behind the curtain.

Truth reading is one of the most useful Deryni talents as it allows us to tell if a person speaks truth or falsehood.   It was as if I was truth-reading this man, but it was his movements and not his words that I studied and found untruthful.  He was lighter on his feet than might be expected for a man of his height, and certainly more poised than any commoner.   The buzz of a lie started sounding in my head.  

“When I give the words, give the horses their heads and a little whip, and you men push.  Ready, driver?  Now go!”

The carriage leaned forward, trembled for a moment, and then settled back into the mud again.  “And again, but harder this time!” he shouted again, and this time I could hear the grunts of exertion as the men braced themselves against the carriage and pushed all the more.  The carriage creaked under the strain, and the coachman shouted encouragement at the horses as they strained against their harnesses.  All braced themselves for one more effort and then, just when it seemed that we would settle into the mud again, the wood squealed and the wheels found some traction, the horses found their feet, and the carriage lurched forwards a few yards to rest on solid ground.

“Her ladyship’s thanks to you all.”

I could see several men standing bent over, hands on their knees, recovering their breath, while others wiped muddy hands on almost as muddy clothes.  After all their effort expended on my behalf it would have been churlish to drive off without even showing my face, and I confess I wanted to see the man in the leather cap face to face.  So on impulse I said, “And her ladyship wants to add her personal thanks.”  I leaned from the carriage window and found myself looking almost straight at him.  Clear grey eyes met mine, twinkling as if amused at something, and I was suddenly filled with confusion.  

As if I had imagined it, the man dropped his gaze and shuffled his way into an awkward bow.

“It is the pleasure of Alain the hunter to serve you, my lady.”

Every instinct told me that whoever he might be, he wasn’t Alain the hunter.  I smiled to myself thinking that if he were pretending to be one of the common folk he had got more than he bargained for, and at that point he looked up and met my gaze again, and returned me smile for smile.  Oh merciful heavens!  That look almost turned my head and a flush rose unbidden to my cheeks.   My first port of call in the city was evidently to be to a priest, to confess my sudden unseemly thoughts about a tall handsome stranger on the Dhassa road.  No shortage of priests in Dhassa before a convocation of the Curia, at least!  

The captain laid the tip of his riding crop against the man’s shoulder, the threat plain to see.  He jutted his chin in the direction of the shrine.

“That will be all, hunter.  Her ladyship is impatient to be off.”

“Certainly, good sir.  God speed her ladyship.”

He backed away, but looked directly at me again as he did so.  The brazenness of the man, to hold my gaze so!  This was certainly no commoner – he would never have dared.

“Are we going yet, mummy?  Can I see the big hole?” and Brendan popped his head out of the window beside mine.”

“Get back on your seat, sweetheart.  We’ll be off again in a moment, when the outriders get going.”

I risked one more glance at ‘Alain’ who was looking thoughtfully in our direction, and then settled back into my seat.  But the rest of the journey was haunted by the memory of those grey eyes, and I could not help but wonder about him for the remainder of the way to Dhassa.  Chapter 10
« Last Edit: December 29, 2010, 03:43:47 PM by AnnieUK »

Offline Evie

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Re: A Leap of Faith - Chapter 9
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2010, 02:42:21 PM »
Good thing Dhassa is full of priests.  I don't suppose "Hello, Uncle Thomas, can you spare a few minutes to hear my confession?" is exactly the way Richenda hoped her reunion with her great-uncle would go....   ;D
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Offline Alkari

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Re: A Leap of Faith - Chapter 9
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2010, 02:44:37 PM »
My first port of call in the city was evidently to be to a priest, to confess my sudden unseemly thoughts about a tall handsome stranger on the Dhassa road.
Unseemly thoughts, eh?  ;)    Somehow, I bet she didn't go looking too hard for that priest!   But I bet her subsequent dreams about 'Alain' were as disturbed as Alaric's about the unknown woman ...

Offline Elkhound

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Re: A Leap of Faith - Chapter 9
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2010, 03:20:42 PM »
Don't Deryni powers include tekenisis?  If Richenda had decided that a discrete push--not enough to lift the carrige out by itself, but enough to give the men a boost--was in order, and then she ran across 'Alain' doing the same thing. . . .

Offline Alkari

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Re: A Leap of Faith - Chapter 9
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2010, 03:25:37 PM »
Presumably your question is purely rhetorical, Elkhound, because this scene is taken directly from the book only from Richenda's POV.  Obviously when writing Deryni Checkmate,  KK herself decided that no Deryni powers were used on that occasion.  At least, Alaric certainly didn't use them, and we can only assume there was no hint of anything like that from Richenda.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2010, 03:33:34 PM by Alkari »

Offline Gyrfalcon64207

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Re: A Leap of Faith - Chapter 9
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2010, 03:26:06 PM »
Didn't happen that way though, or wouldn't Alaric have mentioned it?  I think she's too used to hiding to do something like that.  And I always got the impression that their telekinetic ability was pretty small-scale.

Offline AnnieUK

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Re: A Leap of Faith - Chapter 9
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2010, 03:32:50 PM »
It is a surprise to Alaric later that Richenda is Deryni, so obviously she gave him no reason to suspect that she was Deryni at this point.  He'd have been even more interested in his mystery woman had he guessed that she was Deryni too.

And I really can't see Alaric risking any Deryni tricks at this point - easier just to put his back to the carriage and push like a good 'un.

Offline Alkari

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Re: A Leap of Faith - Chapter 9
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2010, 03:36:17 PM »
Particularly as ALaric and Duncan were on their way to try and make peace with the bishops about the whole Deryni issue!  Neither of them are going to risk casual discovery by using their powers in public on the outskirts of Dhassa, unless - as it next happens in the shrine - it becomes literally a matter of life and death.


Offline derynifanatic64

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Re: A Leap of Faith - Chapter 9
« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2010, 06:45:41 PM »
Magic isn't always the answer to a problem.  Sometimes just using your muscles can get the job done.
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