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Fall From Grace - Part 1 - Richenda

Started by Jerusha, November 08, 2012, 09:21:44 AM

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Jerusha

*My thanks to Evie, for proofing this for me.*

Fall from Grace
Part 1 - Richenda

Duke of Corwyn's Apartments
Rhemuth Castle
November 13, 1143


Richenda de Morgan, Duchess of Corwyn, looked out of the window at the grey morning sky.  Master Randolph had suggested they open the window to let in some of the colder morning air to cool the bedchamber down a bit. She had chosen to tend to the task herself, needing to rise and move from the chair at her husband's bedside where she had spent much of the night.

Master Randolph had knocked quietly at the chamber door just after Lauds.  He had arrived in Rhemuth yesterday, not content to remain in Coroth after word had reached him of Duke Alaric's illness.  Richenda had sent the letter herself in hope that her husband's surgeon could do something more than the king's personal physician had been able to do. 

The first thing the senior surgeon had done was to order the removal of the leeches that had been applied to bleed her husband.  Richenda had only agreed to them as a last resort when Alaric's fever had not abated after three days, and the king's physician pleaded with her to be allowed to apply them to try to restore the balance of the humours and reduce the fever.  The bleeding had done nothing and Alaric remained restless, confined to bed, slipping in and out of a semi-delirious state as the fever raged.

At a nod from Master Randolph, Richenda closed the casement and returned to stand by the bed.  The light sheet that covered Morgan was damp with sweat, and his short-cropped hair was plastered to his forehead.  He was in need of a shave; normally he would not have allowed more than a day's growth to linger on his face.  Except for when she had first seen him, bearded and wearing humble clothing, pushing her carriage out of the mud.  In spite of his appearance, he had not seemed at all humble, and his smile had made her heart leap, even though she was wife to another man. 

Lightly she touched his shoulder, feeling the welt where one of the leeches had been attached.  Alaric wore his fifty-two years well. He was still lean and fit, not as scarred as some noble knights given his ability to Heal his own wounds.  Even so, there had not been many wounds; his prowess at arms was as respected now as in his younger years, and only a rare, misguided few sought to test him.

Richenda sighed at that thought and then turned her gaze to his face.  The wrinkles at the corners of his eyes and the laugh lines around his mouth had deepened, but he had lost none of his ability to turn the heads of the young ladies at court.  The grey in his golden hair was hard to see, instead seeming to frost it in the sunlight, or by firelight.  She had teased him about it, one evening not too long ago, and he had saucily reminded her that the frost on the roof did not diminish the heat from the hearth inside.  It had been such a wonderful night....

She felt her face warm at the memory of it and hoped Master Randolph hadn't noticed.  He was carefully adding a measure of coriander into a cup of cool wine, but she thought she detected the trace of a smile on his face. 

"I so love your hair."

Startled, Richenda realized that Alaric had wakened while her thoughts were turned elsewhere.  He was looking up at her with fever-bright, grey eyes as he reached for a strand of her hair and brought it to his lips.

"Alaric!"  Richenda sat down on the bed beside him and grasped the hand that still held her hair.  "How are you feeling, my love?"

"I have felt...better," he replied slowly, his voice sounding dry and cracked.  Richenda leaned forward and kissed his forehead.

"Drink some of this," Master Randolph said, propping the duke's head and neck gently while he brought the cup to his lord's lips to drink.

"What's in it?" Alaric Morgan wrinkled his nose suspiciously.  He had never been the best of patients.

"Just a little something to bring down the fever.  Be a good Duke and take your medicine as instructed."  Randolph had been Morgan's surgeon for most of the duke's life and knew how to handle his patient.  Morgan took several sips then pushed the cup away.  Satisfied, Master Randolph set the cup aside.  "You will have some more a little later."

He turned to Richenda and said gently, "I'm going to arrange for a cool bath for His Grace and have the bedding changed.  Stay with him until I return, and try to get him to drink some more of the wine.  When I return, I want you to go and get some rest."  He raised a hand to cut off her protest before it could begin.  "You are exhausted, and the last thing His Grace needs is for you to fall ill, too."

"You won't get sick," Morgan stated with surprising strength.  "I won't allow it."  He grasped her hand, his eyes beginning to show a look of concern.  "You look tired."

"I'm fine, and don't you start to worry.  I'll stay with you until Master Randolph returns, and then I'll get some rest."

"Very well, then."  Morgan settled back into his pillow and grinned boyishly.  "You can tell me a story."

"A story?"  Richenda looked uncertainly at Master Randolph, who stopped with his hand on the door to push it open.  He shook his head slightly and slipped out the door.

Outside, the bells began to ring for Terce.

***

"Jesu, it's hot!" Morgan thought as he tugged at his tunic's laces to open it further.  "What was I thinking to come out hunting today?"  He pushed his cap back from his brow; the long curling feather tickled his neck.  Annoyed , he brushed it aside.  The feather glistened red-gold in the sunlight.  As he looked around, he realized everything seem to have a red-gold tinge to it.  He thought it was odd, but it didn't trouble him much.

Still, he felt out of sorts.  And hot – so blasted hot.  He shaded his eyes from the brightness with his hand and looked around.  The Lendour Mountains?  He hadn't realized he had ridden that far.  And hadn't he just come from here a week ago?

Although he wouldn't have thought it possible, Morgan felt an even warmer wind swirl behind him.  And it stank!  The air had a nasty, sulphurous smell to it.  Morgan sniffed, suddenly hoping it wasn't himself that smelled like that.  It would have taken him days to reach the Lendour Mountains from Rhemuth, and for the life of him he could not remember stopping anywhere along the way.

Morgan heard an amused chuckle behind him and turned, instinctively reaching for the hilt of his sword.

"Not very observant today, are you, King's Champion?"

Morgan stopped and stared, his hand stilled on the hilt of his sword. 

The creature before him was huge.  The long, reptilian body was covered in red-gold scales.  It stood on four legs and its tail was long enough to reach to the front legs and curl along the claws.  It was the head that held his attention; huge eyes surrounded by bony eye ridges stared down at him, iridescent silver eyes that seemed to pull at his very soul.  Puffs of smoke escaped from the wide nostrils, and the teeth in the wide mouth looked disturbingly sharp.  His gaze was pulled away when the creature flapped the wings on its back, producing another swirl of acrid air and then folded them neatly. 

It was a dragon.




Note: Modified by Evie at author's request to center those pesky asterisks that Jerusha's text editor won't center because it's having a bad hair day. ;)

Part 2 can be found at: https://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php/topic,974.0.html


From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Evie

QuoteMorgan sniffed, suddenly hoping it wasn't himself that smelled like that.

LOL!  After several days bedridden with a fever, that's a legitimate enough concern.   :D

A great start, and good to see some of our favorite characters aging gracefully.  I'm sure Alaric will be in the very best of hands, especially now that Master Randolph is there.
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!

Alkari

QuoteThe wrinkles at the corners of his eyes and the laugh lines around his mouth had deepened, but he had lost none of his ability to turn the heads of the young ladies at court.  The grey in his golden hair was hard to see, instead seeming to frost it in the sunlight, or by firelight.  She had teased him about it, one evening not too long ago, and he had saucily reminded her that the frost on the roof did not diminish the heat from the hearth inside.  It had been such a wonderful night....
Such a wonderful description of them both  :D

Poor Alaric  :(    Great first chapter, and I hope you are not going to leave him confined to a sick-bed for too long.   

Elkhound


kirienne (RIP)

Wow! I'm already loving this. Well, not liking that His Grace is so very ill, but liking the story very much...and it has a Dragon in it! :-)