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Fall From Grace - Part 5 - The Dragon and Epilogue

Started by Jerusha, December 06, 2012, 10:00:59 AM

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Jerusha

Part 5 – The Dragon and Epilogue

"I really should be going," Morgan said.  He and the dragon had been quiet for a while, the occasional puff of smoke issuing forth from the dragon's nose.  It had been a companionable silence, if one could be companionable with a large, scaly creature.

"Do you think it's time, Champion?"

"I can't stay here forever," Morgan replied.  "Besides," Morgan raised his arm to wipe his forehead on his tunic sleeve, "it's too damn hot!"

"Poor Champion!"  The dragon looked beyond Morgan across the horizon.  "My time here is also nearly finished."

Morgan followed the dragon's gaze.  All he saw was parched grass extending in all directions into a distant, red haze.

"How do I leave this place?  Do you know which way to go?" Morgan asked.

"Of course I know which way to go."  The dragon looked down at Morgan.  "The question is, do you?"

"Could you try being less enigmatic and a little more helpful?"  Morgan asked, his grey eyes narrowing with annoyance.

"But I have been helpful, Champion."  The dragon sounded aggrieved.  "I've lead you down the paths you needed to travel.  Where you go from here is up to you."

"If it was up to me, I would not have been here at all." 

"But you are and by your own doing."

"I prefer things that way."  Morgan looked around again, straightening to his full height and looking determined.  "So I just ... go?"

"If you are ready," the dragon replied.  "Of course, there are still Iksander and Imre.  Have you forgotten about them?"

"Teymuraz's twin sons; the heirs to his misfortune.   No, I have not forgotten them.  They are now of age, able to take up their father's cause and try to assert their rights to both Torenth and Gwynedd.  They could each claim a kingdom, unless one gets greedy and wants it all. " Morgan paused and raised one blond eyebrow.  "Of course, that would not be unusual for a Furstán."

The dragon rose and stretched out each wing, flexing them in the still, hot air.  "Kelson should be able to handle them, of course.  Claibourne and Cassan will stand behind him and for once he can count on Meara." The dragon looked down at Morgan. "Corwyn, on the other hand, will likely be the first target, if for no other reason than revenge.  Will it hold?"

"They can target Corwyn, but it will hold and so will Gwynedd, as long as I have breath left to me!"  Morgan's voice was sharp and determined.

"Only if you return, Champion."   Suddenly the dragon sprang into the air, gradually gaining altitude with each long wing stroke.

"Wait!" Morgan called. "Which way do I go?"

"The way you always have," the dragon responded, turning lazily to drift above Morgan's head.

Morgan felt the need to stall for more time.  "You know who I am, but I know only that you are a dragon.  Do you have a name you are called by?"

"Of course I do."  A powerful stroke of the dragon's wings swept dust across Morgan's boots as the dragon circled overhead again.

"Well then, what is it?  Must I drag every bit of information from you?" 

"It is Airleas!" With a sound that could have been a bark or a laugh, the dragon turned sharply toward the distant horizon, fading rapidly from Morgan's sight.

"What? You can't be!" Morgan called, but the dragon was gone.

Morgan shook his head in disbelief and turned toward the opposite direction.  The red haze was giving way to a blue sky and a cool breeze ruffled his damp hair.  He threw back his head and his arms, basking in the change in temperature.

"This must be the way."   He straightened, and as he started walking forward, he clearly heard bells in the distance ringing Lauds.

***

Alaric Anthony Morgan, Duke of Corwyn, opened his eyes slowly.  The chamber was dim; the first light of dawn was only beginning to filter through the window.  He could see that the fire was nearly out.  There was someone slumped in the chair that was pulled up beside the bed.  Long, red-gold curls had fallen across the face, but he was sure he knew her.

"Richenda?" he rasped.

The girl on the chair awoke with a start, one hand sweeping her hair back from her face.

"Papa!"  Grania cried, throwing herself from the chair and wrapping both arms around her father.  "It's me!  It's Grania!  I'll go get Mummy right away!"  She kissed him soundly on his forehead.  "You wait right here!"  She dashed across the room, nearly tripping over the chair leg, and flung open the door.

"I don't think I have much choice, Pet," Morgan said to the empty room.  He experimentally moved arms, legs, feet, and fingers.  Everything seemed to work the way it should.  He rubbed his jaw, dismayed at the growth of beard.  How long had he been here?

It had taken him days to return to Rhemuth from Lendour.  The weather had been foul, with wind and rain the entire journey.  He had caught a cold, but had stubbornly decided to ride alongside the king in a hunt the day after his return.  They had landed a fine buck, but he was chilled and exhausted by the end of the day.  He had been forced to miss the celebratory feast entirely, instead spending the evening sneezing and coughing in his rooms.

His memory was foggy after that.  He thought he remembered a string of people passing in and out, intermingled with visions of a great beast that seemed to taunt him.  That memory was already fading, slipping from his mind as the room brightened with returning daylight.  He wasn't sure what had been a dream and what had been real.

The door suddenly opened wider and Richenda, a night robe hastily thrown over her chemise and her head uncovered, hastened into the room, followed by Kelric, who had not taken the time to throw on robe or slippers, but had grabbed up a dagger in his right hand.  Within moments they were joined by Master Randolph and Grania.

"Alaric!" Richenda exclaimed as reached her husband's side.  She immediately laid a hand to his forehead.  "Master Randolph, I think his fever has broken!"  She bent and hugged Morgan close, her long, red-gold braid falling forward against his cheek.

"If I might check his pulse, Your Grace?"  Master Randolph asked, discreetly trying to disengage Morgan's arm from beneath her embrace.

"Oh yes, of course."  Richenda drew back but held tightly on to Morgan's other hand.

Morgan looked beyond his wife to his son, who was clad only in his shirt with the dagger in his hand.  "I see you came prepared. "

"If I remember correctly, you taught me that."  Kelric grinned at his father, his relief evident on his face.

"I take it the news is good," another voice asked from the doorway before stepping inside.

"Your Majesty," Morgan said hastily, trying to rise from the bed but immediately restrained by his surgeon and his wife.

"Don't you dare try to get up, Alaric," Kelson admonished, entering the room but staying back from the crowded bedside.  "We do not want to cause any delay in your recovery.  He will recover, won't he, Master Randolph?"

Master Randolph bowed as he answered, "If he behaves himself, rests and at least attempts to do what he is told, I believe he will, Sire."

"Good. "  Kelson looked down at Morgan with mock sternness.  "Consider yourself so ordered.  By me, personally."

"Yes, Sire," Morgan responded, feeling too weak to offer even a token objection, as a familiar figure entered the chamber.

"Praise be to God!"  Duncan McLain stopped just inside the doorway, out of breath and catching himself on the door frame as he almost stumbled in his haste to enter.  "I was afraid to believe the page who found me, for fear that he had the message wrong."  He had been on his way to the Cathedral to prepare for the morning's Mass when the young page had intercepted him.  The Archbishop of Rhemuth hadn't run so fast in years, charging back toward the castle.

Morgan leaned back against the pillow, protesting that he would be fine.  King and Archbishop left to attend to other duties, promising to check back and make sure he was behaving.  Richenda and Grania fussed, plumping his pillow, straightening the sheets and preparing to feed him a nutritious broth.  Kelric stirred up the fire and borrowed his father's robe before returning to his own room. 

Throughout it all, the Duke of Corwyn made minimal protests and was content to be looked after, at least for now.

Epilogue

Outer Courtyard
Rhemuth Castle
December 13, 1143


Richenda de Morgan, Duchess of Corwyn, looked up at the tall man who stood beside her at the base of the broad castle stairs.  December had turned cold, and he wore a green wool cloak lined with miniver, its hood tossed back to give him a clear view of his surroundings.  He was bare-headed in the cold, holding the cap of maintenance loosely in his hand.

"Alaric, you should put that cap on; you don't need to catch a chill," she reminded him.

Morgan rolled his grey eyes heavenward and pulled the cap with its miniver brim down over his golden hair.  "Feel better?" he asked.

"Yes, I do. Thank you."  Richenda smiled up at him, happy to finally have him healthy and strong again.  It had taken most of the last month for him to fully recover from the fever and the longer it took, the more he griped and groused.  He had kept Kelric in Rhemuth to act on his behalf as he recovered, and Kelric had spent much of the time at the king's side.  She wasn't sure how much of it had been to escape his father.

"Will Kelric be returning to Lendour after Twelfth Night Court?" 

Morgan shook his head.  "No, I think he should stay here, at least through the winter.  Serving Kelson directly has been good experience for him and it will keep our newly minted, young knight sufficiently busy to keep him out of trouble."

"Alaric!" she admonished, smiling up at him.  The hood of her cloak slipped backward and she pulled it forward again against the cold.  "You're off to visit with Duncan, while I shop in the market?"

"Yes.  It's a visit that's long overdue.  I've brought proper penance, though."  Morgan opened one side of his cloak to reveal a large glass bottle securely lashed to his belt.

Richenda's eyes widened.  "That's not Vezaire port, is it?"

"Yes, it is."  Morgan let his cloak fall back into place.  "And believe me, Kelson didn't release it from the royal cellars without my paying a pretty price for it!"

"Oh dear," she replied with a sigh. "I won't wait up for you tonight."

Morgan reached for her hand, raising it gently to his lips.  "May I come find you in the morning?"

"You'll come find me in the afternoon, I'll wager."  Richenda laughed lightly, feeling a warm blush rise to colour her cheeks.

"I will always find you, my love."  Morgan's eyes met hers as he let his kiss linger a moment or two longer before he released her hand.

Richenda's gaze continued to follow him as he strode across the courtyard in the direction of the cathedral.  People bowed or curtseyed respectfully as he passed, and he acknowledged each with a nod of his head.  She felt her heart swell with pride and love as she watched him go.

Suddenly, she felt a warm swirl of air around her feet.  It seemed to rise up around her, stirring a lock of her hair that had escaped from the veil under her hood.  She looked up, but saw nothing other than cloudless, blue sky.  She had the oddest sensation of flapping wings and thought she smelled the slightest scent of sulphur.  It lasted only a moment and was gone.  She looked across the courtyard to where Alaric was rapidly disappearing, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary.  She shrugged and pulled her cloak tighter around her, signalling her ladies to join her as she turned toward the market.
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Evie

Well done!  A lovely conclusion to Alaric's story.   :)
"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!

AnnieUK


Evie

Yes.  Nice, succinct way to make the connection back to Alaric's childhood in ITKS (or did his Naming happen in CM?  I forget) and his pre-arranged (by Donal, Alyce, etc.) "destiny," so to speak.
"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!

AnnieUK

CM. He's only born a few pages from the end of ITKS.

Alkari

Great ending, and good to see our Duke recovered and just as obstinate as ever!
Quote"They can target Corwyn, but it will hold and so will Gwynedd, as long as I have breath left to me!"  Morgan's voice was sharp and determined.

"Only if you return, Champion."   Suddenly the dragon sprang into the air, gradually gaining altitude with each long wing stroke.

"Wait!" Morgan called. "Which way do I go?"

"The way you always have," the dragon responded, turning lazily to drift above Morgan's head.
HIS way, indeed.  I confess I'd had my suspicions about the 'dragon', and I'm glad I was pretty right.   LOL at Kelric arriving 'prepared' with a dagger. 

Jerusha

I'm glad you have all liked it.  My biggest worry was that I might stray too far from the established personality of our much admired Duke of Corwyn.  Or Evie's Duncan.  :)
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Evie

Nope, I thought you got Duncan's depiction pretty spot on for how he'd react under those circumstances, and as for Alaric, while I may not have as strong an opinion of what he would/wouldn't do as some others here, I think you nailed him pretty well also.  He does have that prideful, stubborn streak that has gotten him into trouble on occasion, and I don't imagine it would have mellowed completely away by the time he got into his early 50s, unless Saint Camber performs some major miracle to change his personality....  ;)
"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!

derynifanatic64

I wonder if Duncan ever slipped and fell during his run to Alaric's chamber after running faster than he had in years. ;D
Excellent finish!!
We will never forget the events of 9-11!!  USA!! USA!!

kirienne (RIP)

Nicely Done!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I loved this!!!!!!!
Loved Kelric running around with only his shirt on and dagger in hand ;)

Evie

Quote from: derynifanatic64 on December 06, 2012, 08:26:52 PM
I wonder if Duncan ever slipped and fell during his run to Alaric's chamber after running faster than he had in years. ;D
Excellent finish!!

At least the page caught up with Duncan before he'd changed into his vestments, so he probably didn't have to sprint back and take any stairs in the male equivalent of long skirts!   :D
"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!

DesertRose

Stairs aren't so bad.  All you have to do is hold the fabric up a little.

It's going to the loo in the darn things that's difficult.  :P
"If having a soul means being able to feel love, loyalty, and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans."

James Herriot (James Alfred "Alfie" Wight), when a human client asked him if animals have souls.  (I don't remember in which book the story originally appeared.)

Shiral

A very satisfying ending to a good tale, Jerusha.  The citizens of Rhemuth must have been highly diverted to see their Archbishop running through the streets to the castle. =o) NOT something they see every day!

Although I myself wouldn't be  sorry to See Alaric Morgan's heir in his er.... night shirt.   :D I'm betting he's rather easy on the eyes. If Iskander and Imre are out there, I'm sure Kelson and Morgan want to temper Kelric into a warrior worthy of his father's reputaion. Lendour will be lucky if they see their Earl anytime soon!

Melissa
You can have a sound mind in a healthy body--Or you can be a nanonovelist!

Evie

Quote from: DesertRose on December 06, 2012, 11:55:12 PM
Stairs aren't so bad.  All you have to do is hold the fabric up a little.

It's going to the loo in the darn things that's difficult.  :P

I've never had a problem with skirts of any length in the loo (aside from not wanting them to trail on the ground or floor if it was really nasty, but that's true of any place, not just restrooms), but with stairs, I've sometimes forgotten to hitch them up high enough when going up the stairs in a hurry, and found myself running up the inside of my skirt, sort of like a hamster running up the inside of a spinning wheel, and ending up flat on my face midway up.  Either that or practically yanking my skirt off with my own feet.  Embarrassing, that!  :D  It's not a problem going down the stairs, but going up stairs in a very long skirt makes me have to pause a bit to make sure I've hiked them far enough up and that I don't try to take them so fast that the front hem doesn't have time to clear the step before my feet get 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

#14
Quote from: Shiral on December 07, 2012, 02:00:03 AM
Although I myself wouldn't be  sorry to See Alaric Morgan's heir in his er.... night shirt.   :D I'm betting he's rather easy on the eyes.
I bet every young lady at court in Rhemuth is thinking exactly the same thing!    Hmmm ... perhaps Kelric is going to face 'dangers' other than renegade Deryni claimants to Gwynedd   ;D