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Author Topic: Ghosts of the Past  (Read 148798 times)

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Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #750 on: April 26, 2020, 12:22:50 PM »
The tinker stood at the window of his room at the inn and watched the residents of Ratharkin walk the streets toward home, tavern or church as the evening drew to a close.  Unlike before the rebel attack, few people stopped to speak to each other and exchange the latest news or gossip.  It was safer to go about one’s business quietly and draw as little attention as possible. More than one resident of Ratharkin had disappeared under suspicion of not supporting the rebel cause.  The number of heads mounted on the wall had gradually increased.  God willing, this would end tomorrow.

The tinker sat down on the bed, leaned against the wall and stretched his legs out before him. He pulled the Haldane medallion out from inside his shirt and focused on the lion.  This time his Call was not to King Kelson; he reached out with his powers to the Earl of Marley in his camp outside Ratharkin’s walls.  He felt Earl Brendan enter the link; the contact was strong.

"Sir Iain Cameron, Baron O’Isles, my Lord.”  Iain sent. 

“Welcome, Sir Iain.  I’ve been expecting you,”  the Earl of Marley responded cordially.  “What news have you for me?”

“My plan is ready to be put into motion before dawn,”
Iain responded.  “These are the details.”

Sir Iain does not waste words, Brendan thought to himself.  ”Proceed, Sir Iain.”

“I have contacted four men whose loyalty to Duke Rory and King Kelson is unquestionable.  Only the fact that their heirs are captive in the dungeon has prevented them from taking any action on their own against the rebels. Once I free the hostages, their fathers will take up arms and support you and Duke Rory from within."

“What are your chances of success?”
Brendan asked.

"I believe success will be achieved, my Lord,"  Iain responded without hesitation. ”I will free the hostages during the hour before dawn.  Ratharkin’s defenses are at their weakest then.  Even Lord Giles must allow his men rest.  Between manning the walls at night, posting guards at the castle itself,  and allowing the rest of his men to sleep, he has few men left to form the Watch in town.  I will use this to our advantage.”  Iain paused for a moment to allow the Earl of Marley to consider this.

”The oldest and ablest of the hostages will return to their fathers, who will be waiting for them with their own men, ready to join the attack,” Iain continued. “The youngest and any that are ill will be taken to a safe house by Sir Hugh, who was taken hostage after his son died in the dungeon.  By the time he returns to me, the others will be arming themselves and ready to join us.”

“The men I contacted have promised me four skilled archers,"
Iain said.  ”They will be posted in strategic spots with good sight-lines to the soldiers on the walls before I free the hostages. Once Sir Hugh returns, I will signal them to begin picking off the soldiers on the wall.”

“That aligns well with our plan, Sir Iain,”
Brendan said, and proceeded to provide the details Iain would need to know.  ”I have a skilled archer accompanying each of the groups that will infiltrate the castle.  What is the signal they should watch for to lend their aid to your effort?”

“I will light a brazier near the dungeon entrance.  The archers will be able to see it clearly.  Your archers will be a fortuitous asset, Lord Brendan,”
  Iain added.

"How can we identify the men loyal to Duke Rory?” Brendan asked.  ”No matter how organized we are, there will be confusion.”

“Aye, there is no way to avoid it.  My men will wear green armbands on their sinister arms.  If needed, there is also a password.  It is ‘Dunstan.’”

“Where will you direct your efforts after the release of the hostages, Sir Iain?”

“I plan to attack on two fronts.  One group will attack the barracks with the intent of catching the soldiers off guard. Sir Hugh and I will head for the wall gates with the other group, and do our best to open them and the portcullis.”

“The sooner we are through the gates, the better,”
Brendan said.  ”It’s a risky plan, Sir Iain, but I can’t think of a better one.  God go with you.”

“And with you, my Lord,”
Iain said as the Earl of Marley broke contact. 

The tinker looked thoughtfully at the Haldane medallion.  Earl Brendan was right. It was a risky plan, and he had not been able to think of a better one, either.

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

 -- Old English Litany

Offline DerynifanK

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #751 on: April 28, 2020, 07:23:29 AM »
Earl Brendan sat back in his chair and sighed as the contact was broken.  Sir Ian’s plan was masterful and would greatly enhance the probability of success in retaking Ratharkin and breaking the rebellion.  He summoned his squire: “Go quickly and ask the Duke of Ratharkin and  Earl of  Kierney to attend me here.” The boy bowed and set off running to carry out his task.

The Duke and the Earl soon entered Brendan’s tent, followed by his squire. Brendan addressed the boy. “I need you now to find Lord Jaxom and Lord Michael and instruct them to join us here.” He turned to Duncan Michael. “Can you send your squire to direct your two captains to also join us here? I have heard from the king’s man in Ratharkin, and I have important news.” Duncan Michael nodded and left the tent briefly to send his squire on his errand, then returned.

“What have you learned?” asked Rory.

“”He has told me of his plan which is well conceived and will greatly add to our chances of success. I will share all that he said as soon as the others arrive. I would prefer to tell it just once.” Brendan gestured for Rory to seat himself on a stool near his own.  Within a few minutes, the others entered, bowed and turned their attention to the Earl.

“I have been in Rapport with the king’s man in Ratharkin, Sir Iain Cameron, and I can now share his plan which will greatly bolster our chances of success. He has been able to communicate with several nobles inside the city whom he knows to have remained faithful to you, Rory, and to the king. They would have made a move against the rebels themselves had the rebels not thrown their heirs into the dungeons and held them as hostages. These noblemen are anxious to join us and rid their city of these rebels.

Among these nobles is Sir Hugh MacCallan, a very influential man in Ratharkin. He is fiercely loyal to both Duke Rory and the king and has been a vocal opponent of the rebellion.  His son was one of those confined to the dungeons where he became ill and died.  Sir Hugh and his wife were distraught, and Sir Hugh tried to attack Lord Giles openly. He was seized and thrown into the dungeon where he remains. Sir Iain managed to get word to him of his intention to free the hostages an hour before dawn. Sir Hugh will be a strong ally once he is free. The oldest and strongest of the heirs will immediately return to their fathers who will await them with their men, ready to attack. Of the other hostages, those who are able will join the attackers. Those that are too young or who are ill will be conducted to a safe house within the city by Sir Hugh.

Once Sir Hugh returns from this task, their forces will begin their attack from within.  They will divide into two groups, one to attack the barracks where the off duty guards will be sleeping. That will prevent them from reinforcing the guards on the walls. The other group will head for the castle walls to open the gates and portcullis. They are also providing four archers who will be stationed at strategic points within where they will have clear shots at the rebels manning the walls. When Sir Iain gives the signal they will begin their assault.

The earl opened his map and addressed the four who would lead the bands of infiltrators. “You will leave before dawn, ahead of the main army..Two  of you will approach the city from the rear, through this draw which will hide your advance. Once you reach the city wall, there is a small gate used to bring firewood and building materials inside. It is usually barred but not guarded. Sir Iain will make sure this gate is unbarred before the attack begins.The other two groups will approach from the west, moving as silently as possible along the base of the walls.”  Brendan paused  to allow Duke Rory to provide additional guidance. .

The duke indicated another point on the map. “ Here, near where the wall begins to slant back toward the rear there are several large rocks which conceal a tunnel through into the city. It will bring you out near the tavern. Once you are inside the city you can proceed to infiltrate the castle at the points we have identified.”

Brendan resumed his briefing. “You will be able to identify the loyal men inside the castle by the green armbands they will be wearing on their left arms. Your archers will enter first. They need to find places of concealment with good sight lines to the walls and provide support to the archers supplied by the nobles and already in place . At the signal, all archers should launch their arrows at the guards on the walls, especially those near the gates. Tell them that the signal to fire is the lighting of a brazier outside the dungeons.”

Brendan then turned to Jaxom. “Lord Jaxom, you and your men will move directly toward the castle gates where you will assist Sir Iain and Sir Hugh in getting the portcullis up. Our cavalry will storm the gates. The sooner we are inside the castle, the better.”  Brendan again paused. “ Is this clear? Do any of you have any questions?”

Lord Michael spoke up. “What if we are not sure about whether a man is a rebel or loyal? Once all are inside and the battle begins, it will be chaotic. They could even lose their armband. Is there any other way to identify them quickly?”

Brendan replied. “There is a password also. It is ‘Dunstan’. You can yell password and that should be their reply. Be sure to pass that on to the men,”

“Duke Rory and Earl Duncan will lead the cavalry along with me. We will round up the rebels as quickly as possible, confining them in the castle stableyard. I expect a quick surrender. They will know themselves to be outnumbered and under attack both from within and without. They know there is no possibility of reinforcements, and they will wish to gain the best terms they can.”

Rory added with a grim smile.  “Once the city is ours and the rebels have surrendered, I will be pleased to allow them to sample the dungeons where they have imprisoned others.”

Brendan continued. “ We particularly wish to capture Lord Giles, who has commanded Ratharkin since the death of Lord Oswald. He is presently the highest ranking rebel within the city, and the king will wish to question him once we have him in custody.  Duke Rory will immediately be reinstated as Viceroy of Meara and will resume his rule over Ratharkin.”  Brendan surveyed his allies.

“The freeing of Ratharkin and defeat of the forces there will be the final step in defeating the rebellion and restoring peace in Gwynedd. Your success on the morrow is critical. Does everyone understand the plan and your role? If there are any questions, now is the time to address them.” No one spoke.

Brendan turned to Rory. “My lord, have you any final words for your commanders?”

Rory added. “I greatly value your efforts on behalf of my city and my people, and we thank you for your commitment to this mission. Go with God.”

Brendan dismissed the men with instructions to get what sleep they could and to be ready to ride by one hour before dawn.  He echoed Rory’s wish for them. “Go with God.”
"Thanks be to God there are still, as there always have been and always will be, more good men than evil in this world, and their cause will prevail." Brother Cadfael's Penance

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #752 on: April 29, 2020, 12:08:36 PM »
The tinker kept to the shadows as he made his way to the dungeon.  He carried a repaired brasier in his left hand.  A guard had been complaining about the broken dungeon brazier during the tinker’s visit to the tavern yesterday afternoon, and the tinker had quickly volunteered to fix it and return it to the dungeon. Luck had been with him on that encounter!  A small satchel filled with bundles of green cloth strips hung from his shoulder.  The tinker’s old scabbard hung from a plain brown belt, but the sword sheathed within it had been his father’s.

It was the last hour before dawn.  The tinker had checked to make sure the archers were in place before heading to the dungeon. He had also unbarred the small gate in the rear wall used for supplies as Earl Brendan had requested during their Rapport.  Ratharkin’s dungeon was not under the great keep.  After the burning of Ratharkin in 1124, the old dungeon was abandoned.  A new dungeon just inside the left wall of the castle housed Ratharkin’s prisoners. The gate to the dungeon was somewhat obscured from the main gate and its guards.  The tinker suspected a decision had been made to keep the movement of prisoners out of the direct site of the castle proper.  Duke Rory might want to rethink that in the future.

The tinker walked boldly up to the dungeon gate and knocked just loud enough to be heard.  The guard opened a shuttered window in the upper part of the gate and peered down at the tinker.

“Master Tinker, you were supposed to be here earlier,” the guard growled as he opened the gate.

“I know,” the tinker said humbly.  “I spent a bit too long in the tavern and had to sleep it off.  But I’m here now, and I’ll have this set up and blazing in no time.”  He followed the guard into the upper chamber of the dungeon.  Despite the fact the summer night was warm, the dank air that crept up from the cells made the chamber chilly.

The tinker quickly set up the brazier.  In a few moments he had a nice little fire blazing.

“That’s better,” the guard said as he stepped forward to warm his hands, leaving the tinker behind his back.

The stiletto slipped noiselessly into the tinker’s hand.  In one swift move the tinker raised the blade and slit the guard’s throat.  He eased the body to the side of the chamber, leaving a smear of blood on the hard packed floor as the body slid across it.  Taking the man’s life was unfortunate, but he was one less rebel available to hold Ratharkin.

The tinker took the dungeon keys from the rack, lit a torch from the brazier, and opened the gate to the dungeon.

The air was fetid, but not as bad as the air in the dungeons of Valerian’s fortress.  The tinker shook the memory of those dungeons from his mind; he had to focus on what needed to be done now.

The torch light flickered on the face of the old tinker as he walked the narrow path between the cells.  It was not difficult to find the cell of Sir Hugh; the large man was not one to go unnoticed, no matter what the circumstances were.

“Sir Hugh, lads, listen to me,” the tinker said.

“Master Tinker?” Sir Hugh questioned.  “How did you  get in here?”

“What is more important,” the tinker replied.  ‘Is that I am getting you out.  Listen to me closely.  I am the king’s man.”  The tinker pulled the Haldane medallion from his shirt and displayed it so the prisoners could see it.  “Duke Rory and Earl Brendan attack at dawn.”  The tinker looked at the pale faces in the cells and saw their eyes come alive with hope.  “You who are old enough and able, must go very quietly to your father’s residences in Ratharkin. They are expecting you.  Stay in the shadows and avoid anyone in the streets.  Once they know you are safe, they will join the fight to overthrow the rebels.” The tinker pulled the bundles of green armbands from his satchel.  You will all need to wear these so you will be known to be loyal to Duke Rory. There may not be enough for all who will take up arms, so there is also a password.  It’s ‘Dunstan.’” When you  are home safe, your further orders will come from your fathers.”

“Sir Hugh,” the tinker continued.  “You must take the youngest and those that are not well enough to fight to Mistress Baker’s in Merchant’s Row.  They will be safe there.  You know the place?”

“Aye, Master Tinker, I do,” the knight replied. 

“Come back to me when they are safe. Events will be set in motion at that time.”

“I should have suspected you,” Sir Hugh said.  “You’ve always had an ear to the ground.”

“If you had suspected me,” the tinker replied.  “I would not be good at my job.”  The tinker unlocked the cell and distributed the bundles of cloth to those not going with Sir Hugh. “Follow me.”  The tinker led them to the gate of the dungeon and sent the older boys out a few at a time.  “Keep to the shadows and make no noise.  This all depends on you.”

Gravely, the older boys hurried away as the tinker had instructed them.  Sir Hugh went last, taking five young boys and one older one, who struggled not to cough, towards Merchant’s Row.  Sir Hugh now carried the dead guard’s sword and wore a green armband.

The tinker extinguished the brazier and carried it outside to the spot where it could be clearly seen by the archers.  Just as he set it in place, a voice called out from the direction Sir Hugh had taken with his charges.

‘You! Halt!  Who goes there?” the man of the Watch commanded.

“Damn!” the tinker said under his breath.  Sir Hugh and the young boys froze in the shadows.

“Rats!” the tinker called out cheerfully to the Watch.  “They are everywhere.  See?” he pointed to the bushes ahead while he approached the man of the Watch.

“Rats?” the man asked.  “Where? I hate the buggers!”

The tinker waved in a direction away from Sir Hugh.  “Over there!”

As the man turned in that direction, the tinker laid his hand against his neck, extending his Deryni powers to take over his mind.  The man froze, unmoving.  The tinker indicated with his free hand for Sir Hugh to continue on.  With a nod, Sir Hugh moved on with his charges.

The tinker might have preferred to kill the man of the Watch outright, but the round eyes of the young former hostages had been staring at him.  They would likely have nightmares for weeks after their ordeal in the dungeon, and the tinker did not need to add another bloody throat cut to that.  Instead he led the man to the bushes and inserted into his mind that he had been drinking too much and needed a well earned rest.  When the man awoke the next day, he would not be inclined to tell anyone of his transgression.

The tinker left him in the bushes and returned to stand quietly near the brazier.  It was not long before Sir Hugh returned. 

“Are they safe?” the tinker asked the knight.

“Safely under Mistress Baker’s wings,” Sir Hugh replied.

The tinker struck flint against steel and ignited the brasier.  Archers nocked their arrows, pulled their bowstrings, took careful aim and released.

Eight  soldiers collapsed on the walls of Ratharkin.

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

 -- Old English Litany

Offline DerynifanK

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #753 on: April 30, 2020, 10:01:00 AM »
The air was cold in the chill predawn hours. The sky was just beginning to lighten in the east. Brendan sat his horse as the men mustered in preparation for the battle to come. He could feel the rising tension. Rory and Duncan Michael also sat their horses nearby. The four advance parties had ridden out nearly an hour before and should be approaching the city walls. The cavalry would not be far behind. The knights formed into columns and Brendan and Rory moved to their head.  Duncan Michael rode beside the column about halfway along.  Brendan raised his arm and gave the signal to move out. The columns moved forward on the road to Ratharkin.

*****

Under the cover of darkness, Jaxom led two of the parties of infiltrators as they picked their way silently between the mountains through the wooded draw toward the walls of the city. The two bands led by Lord Michael and one of the Laas captains had separated from the two led by Jaxom and the other Laas captain and were approaching the city from the west, skirting the base of the mountain’s western side. As the two parties following Lord Jaxom neared the rear wall, he signaled for a halt. When the men had reined in their horses, he dismounted, tossing his reins to a waiting squire. He crept silently up to a gate in the wall and tested it, gently pushing it to see whether it would open. The gates swung in, giving access to the back streets of the city.

He returned to the waiting men. “We will leave our horses here. Dismount and give your reins to the squire. He will tether them back among the trees and keep watch here.”  The men followed his directions, giving the reins of their horses to the waiting squire who led them a short distance away from the gate. The men passed silently through and the gates swung to behind them.

Once inside the city, Jaxom sent the archers ahead to secure their posts from which to observe the guards on the walls and to watch for the signal to fire their arrows. The two men slipped away soundlessly. After a short interval to allow them to establish their places, the two groups separated, each moving toward their assigned point of attack.  Jaxom’s men followed him toward the castle walls where the main gates and the portcullis guarded the inner ward from unwanted intrusions. Their objective was the room where the controls that raised and lowered the portcullis were located. The second group moved toward the rear of the castle to enter through the kitchens and use the servants stairs to reach the sleeping quarters. They planned to take the rebels there before they could awaken and arm and mount a defense.

Meanwhile Lord Michael led other two bands toward the rocks at the base of the west wall that hid the tunnel that would allow them to enter the city  unseen. They also dismounted and handed their mounts to a waiting squire who led them away. The entrance to the tunnel was exactly where the Duke had said it would be. Their two archers were also sent ahead to be followed after several minutes by the rest of the men. One of the groups headed toward the barracks where the off-duty guards were sleeping. They would join the loyal men led by the nobles to attack the sleeping guards. The second headed for a secret side entrance to the castle that led to a hidden stairway which would bring them out to the gallery which ran around three sides of the great hall. The Duke had shown them how to reach it and  how to use it to quickly reach any part of the castle interior.

The freed hostages had reached their homes without detection, reported to their fathers and given out the armbands that would identify them as loyal to Duke Rory. They quickly armed and joined their fathers as they led their men toward the castle and barracks to add their efforts to defeat the rebels.

Jaxom and his men slipped through the shadows toward the gatehouse. He paused to locate the stairs that led to the wallwalk above the gatehouse where the control room was located. It was essential that they overcome those guards not killed by the archers and raise the portcullis. Jaxom’s men would also attempt to remove the bars that held the gates closed. The cavalry would attack the gates from the outside, forcing them open to allow them to overcome the rebels inside.

Suddenly he heard a rough voice from above.  “What’s that?”

A second voice answered. “What?”

“That light back near the gate to the dungeons.”

Before the other man could answer, Jaxom heard the twang of bowstrings, the thumps of  arrows slamming into targets, and the cries of men who had been hit.  A couple of bodies fell from the walkway above, striking the ground with arrows protruding from chests and backs.

“Follow me!” Jaxom cried as he dashed to the foot of the stair with the other two men running behind. Just as he reached the first step, he collided with a huge man also headed for the stairway. He raised his sword, prepared to run the man through. “Wait!” shouted another man. Look at this arm!” On the big man’s left arm was the green band that identified him as one of the duke’s men. With him was a smaller, more agile man dressed as a tinker who was bounding upward, taking the stairs two at a time. Jaxom and the big man dashed after him, followed by Jaxom’s other two men. Two guards with drawn swords appeared at the top, barring the way and slashing downward with their swords.. An arrow took one of them in the right shoulder. He fell backward onto the walk, dropping his sword. The other attempted to run Iain through, but his blow was deflected by a parry from Jaxom’s sword. Iain slipped past continuing toward the control room. The remaining guard engaged Jaxom, trying to push him back down the narrow stairway. At last Jaxom was able to get past his guard and pierce his upper chest. He pushed the man off the walkway to the bottom of the stair and rushed on to the control room.  Both Jaxom and Iain made it through to the gears and levers that raised and lowered the portcullis. They seized the handle and began to turn the wheel that would raise it. They heard the portcullis beginning to rise.

They also heard the sounds of many horses hooves and shouts at the gate. As the portcullis neared the top, they felt the blows of heavy bodies slamming into the gates. Iain shouted at the big man and one of Jaxom’s men..  “Unbar the gates!” Both men ran back down the stairway to the gates. Over their shoulders they saw a half-dozen rebels racing up the street to stop them. “Sir Hugh, Make it fast! Iain yelled from above. The big man lifted the heavy bars that held them in place while the second soldier fended off attacking rebels. The gates burst open and the cavalry thundered in, filling the bailey with horses and shouting as the armed men engaged with swords and lances. Some of the mounted men leapt from their saddles to the stairs leading to the walkways, quickly wounding or killing several of the remaining guards.

Sounds of fighting could also be heard from the area where the barracks were located. The sleeping guards had indeed been taken by surprise and were quickly being overcome. They had little chance to arm or mount any kind of defense. And quickly surrendered.

Led by the duke, a group of men threw themselvest from their horses and forced open the castle doors, fanning out inside looking for rebels. Sounds of swordplay came from the upper levels where the sleeping chambers were. The men ran up the stairs leading to the gallery and around to the hallways leading to the bedrooms. There they encountered armed men, some with green armbands fighting with partially dressed men wielding swords. When they saw more attackers entering the fray, the rebels began dropping their weapons and surrendering. They knew they were outnumbered and saw no chance for help to reach them. 

They were quickly rounded up and herded down to the great hall where several men kept guard over them. Duke Rory surveyed the prisoners but failed to locate the man in whom he was most interested. There was no sign of Lord Giles. When questioned, the newly captured men denied knowing where he had gone. He had last been seen, sword drawn, surrounded by a few of his men, fighting his way toward the back stairs from which he could hope to reach a rear entrance and escape from the castle.

Lord Michael and a few of the nobles herded the guards seized in the barracks into the great hall to join their fellow prisoners. All of them had been stripped of their weapons and gathered together at the rear of the hall closely guarded by the king’s men. Those captured on the wallwalk and in the bailey were added to those confined in the great hall. Outside in the courtyard, priests were beginning to tend to the wounded from both sides. Fighting had mostly ceased and most of the rebels had surrendered, knowing themselves outnumbered and taken by surprise.

Iain and Lord Jaxom entered the hall to join Duke Rory, Earls Brendan and Duncan and Lord Michael. “We need to search the castle for Lord Giles and those of his men still with him.” Rory commanded. “Let us break up, each taking one or two men, and search the castle. We will meet back here. If we have not found him, we will then send search parties through the town. It is vital that he not escape!”  Lords Iain, Michael, and Jaxom as well as Earl Duncan called two soldiers each and separated to begin the search of the castle. Only Duke Rory and Earl Brendan remained behind.

Sir Iain accompanied by Sir Hugh and one of the soldiers, set off to begin his search in the kitchens and storerooms at the rear of the castle. He found no sign of Lord Giles and all of the servants he met denied having seen him. . They searched all of the storerooms, corridors, entrances and kitchen area without success. There was no sign of Giles or any of his men.
They returned to the great hall to find that none of the others had found any trace of him. They had searched the gallery, the bedchambers, the servant’s quarters, the whole inner ward.  They agreed that they needed to expand the search, beginning with the outer ward, the stables, smithy, chapel, priests’ house and the storehouses. Rory was anxious to find Lord Giles. If he had escaped the castle altogether and was hiding in the surrounding town, it would not be difficult for him to escape entirely.

Sir Iain and Sir Hugh helped search the stables and haylofts but again were unsuccessful. “I am certain we will need to expand our search into the town.” Iain nodded to the other two men who had been searching with him. “I want first to go to Mistress Baker’s and see that the boys hidden there remain safe. I would not want Lord Giles to be able to find them and grab hostages again.


"Thanks be to God there are still, as there always have been and always will be, more good men than evil in this world, and their cause will prevail." Brother Cadfael's Penance

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #754 on: May 01, 2020, 02:41:58 PM »
“Sir Iain!” called a familiar voice as the tinker turned toward Merchant’s Row.  The soldier standing at his side gave the tinker a puzzled look.  Sir Iain Cameron sighed; the days of his disguise as the tinker appeared to be nearing their end.

“Yes, Lord Jaxom,” Iain responded.

“Where are you headed next?” Jaxom asked.  His sword was still drawn, though he carried it close to his side.  Two of  his men stood with him.

“To Mistress Baker’s,” Iain responded.  “Sir Hugh delivered the young hostages there for safety.  I have no good reason to believe Lord Giles would guess they were there, but…” His voice trailed off as something Mistress Baker had said the day before came to mind. 

***

“I have done my best to keep Gelsey out of sight,” Mistress Baker said.  “But I can’t keep her a prisoner!  I’ve started letting her help with some of the sales.  It’s a good way to learn the accounting skills she will need one day.”

The tinker waited for her to proceed; he sensed there was more she wanted to say.

“Lately,” Mistress Baker continued.  “There has been a soldier from the castle, one of Lord Giles’ men, who has been making regular visits.  He seems to have taken special note of Gelsey.”

“She is too pretty to go completely unnoticed,” Iain said thoughtfully.  “The soldier comes often?”

“Too often for my liking, and he’s stingy with his coin.  I’ve kept Gelsey inside the last couple of days, but Edwin tells me the soldier continues to visit.”

“It could just be he is fond of your tarts,” Iain said with a smile.  “But you are right to be cautious.  Can you describe him to me?”

“He mostly just looks like any other soldier, except his nose has been badly broken.”

Iain nodded, and the conversation had slipped to the back of his mind.

***

Sir Iain started toward Merchant’s Row, Lord Jaxom and Sir Hugh fell into step with him, followed by their four soldiers.

“I doubt Lord Giles knows the hostages are with Mistress Baker,” Iain said as they walked.  “But he may have figured out that Sir Ainslie’s granddaughter is hidden there.  She would make a valuable hostage, and Duke Rory would never risk a child’s life.”

“Sir Ainslie was the duke’s steward,” Sir Hugh said, anticipating Jaxom’s question.  “He was killed in the assault by the rebels.  Both the girl’s parents travelled to Laas with the duke’s entourage.  Her father is one of his knights, and her mother is one of the duchess’s ladies-in-waiting.”  Hugh looked sideways at Iain.  “No one has seen his granddaughter since the attack.”

“I was in the right place at the right time,” was all Iain would admit.

They approached the entrance to Merchant’s Row.  Two soldiers stood on guard on either side, neither one wearing a green armband.  The man on the left had a badly broken nose.

“Take them out,” Iain said quietly, sending their four soldiers forward. 

Lord Giles’ men spotted them and prepared to fight, but they were outnumbered by Iain and Jaxom’s men, and although they fought hard, they were subdued quickly.

“Two of you take positions here at the entrance,”  Iain ordered.  “The other two of you go ahead to the other end of the street.  Be prepared to intercept anyone who attempts to flee.  Lord Jaxom, Sir Hugh and I will proceed to Mistress Baker’s.  Be vigilant!’” he added, and with Lord Jaxom beside him and Sir Hugh behind him, set off for Mistress Baker’s.

As Iain expected, the shop front was closed. He knocked on the door.  “Mistress Baker, it’s Master Tinker.  It’s been such a wild morning, I thought I would check and make sure you are safe.”  Iain thought he heard a movement behind the door.

“There is no need, Tinker!”  Mistress Baker’s voice said sharply. “You can go away!”

It was clear to Iain that there was a need; she always addressed him as “Master Tinker” and never used such a sharp tone.  The woman’s voice sounded as if she was back away from the door, perhaps in the kitchen entrance.  He quietly tried the door and found  it was bolted.

“Are you sure, Mistress Baker?” Iain asked as he focused his powers on the bolt.  He had bolted this door himself many times and was familiar with it.   Mistress Baker kept it well oiled.  He felt the sweat begin to drip down his forehead as the bolt finally slipped aside.

“Of course I am sure!”  Mistress Baker snapped back at him.  “Now be on your way!”

Iain motioned to Sir Hugh.  The big man smiled grimly, lifted his boot and kicked the door open.

Iain and Jaxom were through first, swords at the ready.  One soldier darted out from the kitchen and went for Jaxom.  Jaxom parried the stroke, and Iain was through the kitchen doorway.  Iain had only a moment to assess the situation before the second soldier was on him.  The youngest boys were standing behind the huge kitchen table.  Mistress Baker was at the far end near the ovens with Gelsey standing beside her.  The older boy with the bad cough knelt on the floor beside Edwin, bandaging a wound in Edwin’s arm.  Giles was moving toward Mistress Baker, his dagger drawn because the space was too cramped to use his sword.

Iain parried the first blow with his sword and pulled his dagger. Iain’s movements were hampered by the scattered stools on his side of the table, and the soldier lunged at him a second time.  Iain’s sword slashed down and drew first blood.  The soldier’s next blow was weakened; Iain trapped it with his sword and would have finished him with his dagger, but the man grabbed a bowl of flour from a shelf and threw it in Iain’s face.

Iain, momentarily blinded and almost choking on the flour, snarled a curse that would have made his brother the seaman proud. He hooked one of the stools with his foot and threw it in front of his attacker’s feet. The man tripped as Iain cleared the flour from his eyes with the heel of his hand that held the dagger and plunged his sword into the man’s neck.

Lord Jaxom was now beside Iain.  As Iain turned toward Lord Giles, the man reached Mistress Baker and grabbed for Gelsey.  Mistress Baker hefted her skillet and aimed for Giles’ head.  But Gelsey was between them and Mistress Baker checked her swing, so the blow glanced off Giles’ helmet, knocking it askew and hampering his vision.   He tossed it aside with his free hand and then wrapped his arm around Gelsey’s neck, his dagger pointing at her chest.

“Drop your weapons!” Giles barked.  “And you,” he looked at Mistress Baker,  “Put that damned thing down with the handle pointing away from you!”  Mistress Baker set the skillet carefully on the table, turning the handle away from herself, but in the general direction of Jaxom.

Sir Hugh had come in behind Jaxom and tried to move back out of sight, but not before Giles saw him.  “Stay where you are and drop your weapon!”  Giles commanded.  “All of you drop your weapons!”

“She won’t be much of a hostage if you kill her,” Iain said calmly.

Lord Giles jerked his head in the direction of the boys behind the table.  “I have others to choose from.  Now drop your weapons or the girl dies!”

Iain looked at Jaxom and Hugh, nodded, and all three  men carefully laid their weapons on the floor. As Iain crouched down, he saw the boy still kneeling beside Edwin, and a riskier plan than his first began to form in his mind.  He  caught the eye of the boy and made a slight cough.  The boy looked puzzled for a moment and then blinked his eyes once.  Iain slowly stood.

“What now?” he asked Lord Giles. 

“The three of you will move behind the table with the boys, one at a time,” Giles instructed.  “You first,” he said to Iain. “Slowly and make no sudden moves.”

Sir Hugh was behind both Iain and Jaxom, his bulk conveniently preventing Iain from moving around him. Iain made sure his hands were in sight, and moved toward Giles. He noted the heavy leather mitt within reach on the table.  “I’ll just slip by in front of you.  I’ll make no move that will risk the girl,” he said.

While Giles focused on Iain, Mistress Baker inched the skillet toward Jaxom as Jaxom slowly moved forward. Giles moved back a few steps as Iain edged along the table,  his eyes never leaving the old tinker’s face.

The boy beside Edwin suddenly started to cough violently. Giles looked in his direction and Iain grabbed the mitt and drove forward, using the mitt to force the dagger aside, grabbing Gelsey out of Giles’  grasp and throwing himself on top of her, fully expecting his life to end if Giles thrust the dagger through his back when they hit the floor, knowing the dagger was not long enough to pass through him and into Gelsey.

 He was dumbfounded when the dead weight of Giles collapsed on top of him instead.

Iain did his best to keep most of the weight off Gelsey.  He managed to peer under Giles’ unmoving arm and expected to see Sir Hugh standing above him, sword in hand.  Instead he saw Lord Jaxom, looking quite fierce and holding Mistress Baker’s skillet in his hand.

“Well done, Jaxom,”  Iain called out, his voice strained by the weight on top of him.  “But a little help here, if you would be so kind?”

***

Lord Giles lay on his back off to one side, his hands bound in front of him although no one thought he would wake any time soon.  Mistress Baker had drawn Gelsy aside to check for any injuries, but there was nothing worse than a few bruises.  Sir Iain had a few bruises of his own, and he sat on one of the stools, still amazed that they had pulled this off.  The young lad with the cough sat near him, rewarded with a cup of warm tisane Mistress Baker had laced with soothing honey.

Sir Hugh had left to gather the four soldiers they had left guarding Merchant’s Row. Two he would send to the castle with the word that Lord Giles had been found, and the other two would return with him to Mistress Baker’s.  Once additional men arrived from the castle to take charge of Giles and his dead men, Sir Hugh would take the  boys home to their families.   

Gelsey walked over to Iain and handed him a cherry tart.  “You look frightful,” she said.  “You could be a ghost.”

For a moment Iain looked puzzled and then tasted the baking flour along with the tart as he took a bite.  He had forgotten his face was still mostly covered with flour.  “Well, I would be a ghost if it wasn’t for Lord Jaxom.”

“He had a little help from me,” Mistress Baker said as she handed Iain a towel. 

“Aye, that I did,” Jaxom looked rueful.  “I wonder what Earl Brendan will think of the weapon I used.”

“‘Tis not the weapon that matters, but how well you use it,” Iain replied.  “Exactly what you tell Earl Brendan is up to you.  I will report to Duke Rory that you felled Lord Giles with a well-placed blow and saved my life.”

Jaxom’s chest puffed out a little.  “Thank you, Sir Iain.”

“I might, however,” Iain added as he wiped the last of the flour from his face.  “Have to tell Darcy it was a skillet you used.”

Lord Jaxom Trillick looked aghast, and Sir Iain Cameron grinned.

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

 -- Old English Litany

Offline DerynifanK

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #755 on: May 16, 2020, 07:24:41 AM »
Sir Hugh quickly returned with two of the soldiers, having sent the other two to the castle to inform the Duke that Lord Giles had been captured. They were set to keep guard over Lord Giles and those of his men that still lived. 

“I expect that Earl Brendan will inform the king of the success of our attack as soon as the rebels have been secured in the dungeons they used so ruthlessly to control Ratharkin’s nobles and frighten the populace. This should effectively end the rebellion.” Iain smiled happily at the thought of the king’s relief and delight at being able to declare the rebellion at an end. 

Sir Hugh appeared relieved and a little sad, but his lips did curve in a small smile as he considered the vanquishing of the rebels, the return of Duke Rory to his role as viceroy, and the restoration of peace in Ratharkin and the rest of Meara. “It ’will be a pleasure ta see the backs of those scurvy rats!” he growled.

“How is Gelsey?” Iain addressed Mistress Baker. “And how is Edwin’s arm?

“Gelsey has a few bruises but she is fine. She was very brave when those men forced their way into the shop. The leader was intending to take her as a hostage. He knew that she was Lord Ainslie’s granddaughter, and he was sure that he would be able to negotiate escape for himself and his men. She stayed calm and followed my directions which helped keep her safe. She is a very courageous young lady.” Mistress Baker gave Gelsey a quick hug.

“What about Edwin? How was he injured?” Iain looked down at the young man who was now sitting propped against the wall, his arm bandaged and supported by a sling fashioned from
one of the cloths used to dry the baking pans. He looked a little pale but not in too much pain.

“When one of the soldiers grabbed for Gelsey, Edwin tried to interfere, thrusting himself between them in an effort to stop him. The man slashed at him with his sword. Edwin dodged but he was unable to avoid it completely. The sword ripped his arm.  I don’t think the wound is too deep nor has he lost too much blood. Perhaps one of the battle surgeons might look at it when things have settled down a bit.” Mistress Baker handed Edwin a cup of wine. “Drink this. It will help replace some of the blood you lost.” 

Lord Jaxom looked at the young boys still huddled together behind the table. Their eyes were large and round, and they stared at the disorder and signs of violence before them. Jaxom moved closer and smiled at the boys. “You have been subjected to threats and sights of violence, but you need not be afraid now. The men who misused you have been captured and will be punished. Duke Rory is here and retaking control of the city. He will see that you are safe..”

Sir Hugh added. “As soon as the duke’s men arrive to take control of these prisoners, I will be taking you back home to your families. All will be well.” The boys seemed to accept his words and relaxed, though they remained close together.

In a short time, heavy footsteps were heard outside and a knock sounded at the door. At Iain’s call of “Come.” the door opened and one of the duke’s sergeants entered. They could see several other soldiers close behind him. “We have been sent by the duke to take the prisoners back to the castle where he will direct their disposition.” He looked down at Lord Giles who was beginning to stir and try to sit up. “His Grace is very anxious to have this one in his hands.” The soldiers quickly herded the men out of the shop, placing Lord Giles on a horse led by one of them, his bound hands tied to the pommel of the saddle.  Lastly, they carried out the two dead men, placed on litters to be carried to the castle.

Everyone gave a sigh of relief as the door closed behind the party headed to the castle. Sir Hugh turned to the boys. “Are ye ready to go home to yer families then?  They’re waiting anxiously for your return. They want to see for themselves how you have fared during yer captivity and the attack. They need to see that you are well and unharmed.” 

The boys edged their way around the big table and out of the kitchen to where Sir Hugh was waiting for them. Mistress Baker waited beside him to give each of them a hug and a tart for the journey home. “You were all very brave and you did well.” she said as she hugged each one. They then passed through the shop and out into the street to join Sir Hugh. The boy with the cough who had helped distract Giles so that Iain could free Gelsey was the last to exit. Iain clapped him gently on the back as he left. “You were a valuable ally in the fight. I could not have saved her without your help.” The boy glowed with pride as Sir Hugh led them away from the shop.

Sir Iain studied Lord Jaxom as he spoke to Mistress Baker. “We need to return to the castle. Duke Rory may have further orders for us. But before we leave you, let us help you restore your premises. I have a feeling that the demand for your tasty baked goods may be about to greatly increase. The people will want to celebrate the end of the rebellion.” Jaxom looked a little doubtful about being volunteered but made no comment.  The two men quickly straightened the kitchen and returned the shop to its usual order.

“I thank you both. Although I don’t believe Edwin’s wound is severe, his activity might be a bit limited until it heals.. And I think I will shortly lose my assistant as I am certain Gelsey’s parents will be anxious to restore her to their care.” Mistress Baker smiled at the young girl who had begun to clean up the spilled flour.

Ian replied looking at both the baker and the young girl.  “I think she might remain with you for now until things settle down. Her father rode with Duke Rory’s force and was part of the attack on the rebels. He is at the castle now and I am sure he is eager to see her. He and his wife are both grieved at the death of her grandfather and were greatly concerned that they did not know what had happened to their child.. I will bring him here to assure himself that she is well, but he may wait until her mother returns with the duchess to remove her from your care. He will be grateful for your care of her during the rebel occupation.”

As Iain opened the door and prepared to leave, Jaxom addressed Mistress Baker. “If I am ever again in a similar fight, I would hope to have you on my side with your handy frying pan. Not my first choice of weapons, but it was most effective.” He smiled as he went out the door, following Sir Iain.

As the two men made their way back to the castle, they noticed that there were greater numbers of people in the streets, and they were gathering in small groups to talk over what had happened. There were more smiles and nods among them. The fear and tension that had been present before the attack had disappeared. The oppressive atmosphere had lifted. The citizens of Ratharkin could breathe freely again.
"Thanks be to God there are still, as there always have been and always will be, more good men than evil in this world, and their cause will prevail." Brother Cadfael's Penance

Offline DerynifanK

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #756 on: May 16, 2020, 07:36:09 AM »

When Iain and Jaxom reached the castle, a squire met them at the entrance and conducted them to the withdrawing room where Rory, Brendan and the other leaders of the successful assault were waiting. Both men bowed to the Duke who looked first at Sir Iain and then at Lord Jaxom.  “I have been waiting for your arrival and report of what occurred in Merchant’s Row. The last I knew of you Sir Iain, you and Sir Hugh were searching the stables for Lord Giles and his men. What made you think to look for him in the baker’s shop?”

Iain replied. “I was concerned about the younger hostages whom I had sent there for protection after they were freed from the dungeons at the beginning of the attack. I didn’t see how he could suspect they were hidden there, but I was also worried about the other person I had hidden there when the rebels seized the castle.”

“Lord Ainslie Carlisle’s granddaughter was in the Castle when the rebels attacked it, and one of the rebels was threatening and misusing her. I was in the right place and heard her cries for help. I killed the rebel and rescued her, placing her in the care of Mistress Baker, who is an old friend and ally.  When I visited her before tonight’s attack, Mistress Baker told me that one  of Lord Giles’ soldiers had been hanging around the bakery and paying too much attention to Lady Agnes. We were afraid that he might have penetrated her disguise. If the soldier reported to Lord Giles and he had figured out that she was Lord Ainslie’s granddaughter, he might try to capture her.  She would make a valuable hostage,” Iain continued.

“As I headed toward Merchant’s row, Lord Jaxom and two of his men joined us. When we reached the street, two of Lord Giles’ men were guarding the approach to the bakery shop. I ordered our soldiers to take them out. We then approached the shop. The door was barred. I called out to Mistress Baker that I needed to know if she was safe. By her reply I knew something was wrong. I managed to unlock the door, and we entered to find Lord Giles and two of his soldiers in the shop. His intent was obviously to seize one or more hostages to use to negotiate his escape.  We had to  stop him. Lord Jaxom managed to overcome one of the attackers with his sword. Giles was trying to reach the girl, but Mistress Baker tried to stop him by hitting him with a large, heavy frying pan. Unfortunately, Lady Agnes was between her and Giles. She had to deflect her stroke and only managed to knock off his helmet.  He was able to grab the girl and use her as a shield, ordering us to drop our weapons. We had no choice.” Iain paused. “I think Lord Jaxom can best tell the rest.”

Jaxom stood straight before the Duke. “We had all laid down our swords. He had also commanded Mistress Baker to put down her frying pan with the handle pointed away from her. He ordered us to move, one at a time, to join the boys on the opposite side of the table. Sir Iain was first and was edging around the table when one of the boys coughed loudly, distracting the rebel causing him to look away briefly. Mistress Baker had placed the frying pan with its handle pointed toward me and had been inching it toward me. I had been edging up closer to the table. When he looked away, Iain leapt toward him, snatching the girl out of his grasp and pushing her to the floor covering her with his body. Giles started to plunge his dagger into Iain’s back, but I was able to grab the frying pan and hit him over the head with it. He collapsed on top of Iain unconscious.” Jaxom flushed and looked a little embarrassed as he looked around the table and saw several grins.

Duke Rory managed to keep a straight face as he addressed Lord Jaxom. “Not perhaps the most elegant of weapons but very effective. I congratulate you on your quick thinking.”

Sir Iain spoke up. “I expected my life to end there and then with Lord Giles’ dagger in my back. I was surprised and relieved to instead have his dead weight fall on me. I was able to look up and, instead of a man with a sword in his hand, I saw Jaxom holding the frying pan. His well placed blow certainly saved my life and probably others as well.”

The Duke surveyed the men around the table. “Congratulations on a job well done. We have our victory but there is much to be done. I will return to the Great hall to oversee the disposition of the prisoners to the dungeons. Earl Brendan will arrange to report to the king the outcome of our mission. I am sure he will be most pleased. The Earl will have orders for you, Lord Jaxom and you, Lord Michael. We will meet again in this room after the evening meal to further discuss our plans.” He left the room.

Brendan addressed his two lieutenants. “Go to the kitchens and get something to eat. Then check on the men. We need to arrange quarters for them to sleep tonight and food to be served for them. We will also need to set guards both in the dungeons and on the walls. We need to develop a rota for guard duty.”

As the two young men headed for the door. Brendan saw Michael give Jaxom a light punch in the ribs and heard him say laughingly, “You have a new weapon to add to your arsenal. A frying pan will be most versatile. You can both cook in it and subdue an enemy with it.”

Jaxom replied calmly,  “I was very lucky to have an ally with the foresight of Mistress Baker. Without her help, things might have turned out much worse. Lord Giles might have escaped leaving more than one dead body behind. As Sir Iain said, it’s not the weapon that’s important but how you use it.”

Michael nodded his agreement. “She was indeed a most useful ally.”

“I told her that if ever I was in a similar fight, I hope I have her or another like her on my side.” Jaxom grinned at Michael. “And she also makes excellent tarts!”

Brendan watched as the young men exited the room and turned down the hall toward the kitchens. He was most pleased with both Jaxom’s report to Duke Rory and his defense of Mistress Baker and her frying pan. He had shown a lot of improvement since the beginning of this mission and Brendan felt he would make a valuable lieutenant and ally in the future.
"Thanks be to God there are still, as there always have been and always will be, more good men than evil in this world, and their cause will prevail." Brother Cadfael's Penance

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #757 on: May 19, 2020, 04:40:14 PM »
The tinker was tempted to follow Lords Jaxom and Micheal to the kitchens, for the lone cherry tart that Gelsey had given him had done more to rouse his hunger than to quench it.  He reminded himself that he must now think of her as Lady Agnes; her time spent as Gelsey would soon come to an end.  The next thing he needed to do was to find her father and tell him that his daughter was safe and sound.

It did not take him long to find Sir Angus Carlisle.  Lady Agnes’ father was part of Duke Rory’s personal guard and was in the Great Hall as the tinker had expected.  Sir Angus was not hard to spot. The red curls that surrounded his head were a shorter version of his daughter’s, though the similarity ended with his close-clipped red beard.  The tinker had met him once or twice and found him to be an affable man and very competent.  It would not surprise him if Duke Rory selected Sir Angus to succeed  his father as the castle’s steward.  As the tinker approached, he noticed lines around Sir Angus’ eyes that had not been there before; grief for his father and worry for his daughter had taken their toll.

“Sir Angus,” the tinker said with a bow.  “If I may have a word?”

“Of course,” Sir Angus replied.  He had been privy to Duke Rory’s plans for retaking Ratharkin and was aware the tinker was not who he seemed to be.  He motioned for the tinker to join him as he stepped away from the others.

“Sir Angus,” the tinker said.  “Your daughter is alive, safe, and has been well looked after since the rebels took Ratharkin.”

“God be praised!” Sir Angus exclaimed, and the relief on his face was plain to see.  “Where is she?  Where can I find her?”

The tinker had been a spy too long to provide the location if he could be overheard, even by men who should be absolutely trustworthy.  “I would be happy to take you to her, if you can get away,” he replied.

Sir Angus glanced at the activity around him, torn between the desire to see his daughter and his duty to the Duke.  “Perhaps in an hour or two?”

“Of course.  She is in good hands, I assure you, and probably safer away until the rebels are secure under lock and key.”

Sir Angus clapped the tinker on the shoulder.  “Yes, I think that would be best.  Give me two hours, but if you have a choice, be early rather than late!’

The tinker smiled, nodded his agreement and took his leave.

***

The tinker stood before the door of Mistress Baker’s shop in Merchant’s Row.  Sir Angus stood at his side, barely able to contain his impatience to see his daughter.  The shop’s shutters were open and Edwin sat on a high stool behind the counter, his arm in its makeshift sling.

“We’ve sold almost everything Mistress Baker could get ready,” Edwin announced.  “I never thought we’d see such brisk business today.  Mistress Baker, you have visitors!” he called over his shoulder.

Mistress Baker opened the door and gave a brief curtsey.   “Sir Angus, it’s so good to see you again.  And you too of course, Master Tinker,” she added.  “Come this way, please.  Lady Agnes is just through….”

“PAPA!” Lady Agnes ran across the kitchen and Sir Angus scooped her up into his arms.  Red curls crushed red curls as she wrapped her arms around his neck.

The tinker felt his throat tighten and looked away discreetly.

“Why don’t you make yourselves comfortable in my sitting room?  It’s just through the door there,”  Mistress Baker indicated the door on the far side of the kitchen.   “I’m sure  you have much to talk about.”

“Thank you, Mistress Baker,” Sir Angus said, his voice slightly muffled by his own emotions and his daughter’s fierce hug.  He carried his daughter into the other room.

“Well, Master Tinker,” Mistress Baker said with a knowing look at the old man.  “Will you be staying a while with us, or will you be moving on?”

“I think it is time for this old tinker to retire,” the tinker said carefully.  “I’m afraid he has outlived his usefulness here.”

“Nonsense!” she replied.  “You are a very good tinker, though I suspect you are good at many things, Sir Iain.”

“I do have my moments,” he said evasively.

“Well, if you ever decide to return to honest work, there will always be a place for a good tinker here in Ratharkin.”

“Honest work?”  the tinker asked in surprise and then started to laugh.  It felt good.

The tinker reached over, took Mistress Baker’s hand, bowed over it in his best courtly manner and raised it to his lips.

“Very gallant for an old tinker,” Mistress Baker said with a knowing smile as she withdrew her hand. 

Sir Angus and his daughter re-entered the kitchen as the tinker straightened.  He raised one red eyebrow and the tinker nonchalantly clasped his hands behind his back.

“Mistress Baker, I am loath to continue to impose on you, but could Agnes stay with you for a bit longer?”  Sir Angus asked.

“Can’t I come home with you?” Agnes asked plaintively.  “Though Mistress Baker has been very kind to me, and I have learned a lot,” she quickly added.

“Poppet,” her father said and knelt down on one knee beside her.  “Right now the castle is filled with men striding around giving orders to make sure we are all safe.  It’s not the best place for a young lady to be right now.”

“Men giving orders do not always use polite language,” Agnes said with a knowing nod.

Her father smiled.  “No, unfortunately not.  But your mother will be here in a day or two, and by then I can have our quarters tidied up and ready for us.  As soon as she is here, we will come and get you and all go home.  Can you wait that long?”

“Yes Papa.”  Agnes gave her father another tight hug,  “But don’t take too long!”

“I won’t,” he said as he hugged her back. 

Sir Angus stood and faced the tinker and Mistress Baker.  “I owe you both more than I can ever repay for my daughter’s safety and well-being.”

“Nonsense,” Mistress Baker said briskly.  “Agnes has been the most delightful assistant a baker could ever want.  I am the fortunate one!”

“Mistress Baker,” Agnes said.  “We’ll need to make sure we have cherry tarts to give to Mummy when she comes.”

“Indeed we will,”  Mistress Baker replied with a nod.

“What about my tarts?”  the tinker asked, pretending to look hurt.  “Don’t forget about me!”

“I’ll never forget you, Master Tinker,” Agnes said solemnly, reaching up and grasping his hand.  “Not ever!”

Sir Iain Cameron went down on one knee and hugged her.  “I’ll never forget you either.”

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

 -- Old English Litany

Offline DerynifanK

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #758 on: May 24, 2020, 03:54:13 PM »
After the young men exited the room, Brendan returned to his seat at the table. He took a sip of the wine a squire had poured for him. Rory was ordering the disposition of the rebel prisoners who had surrendered.  They were presently confined in the stableyard, guarded by the duke’s men. They would be moved in small groups to the confines of the dungeons where they would remain until the king made known his wishes concerning their final disposition. The other men were about their business. It was time to try to reach the king and relate to him all that had happened. Brendan found a comfortable position in his chair and took several deep centering breaths as he relaxed and focused his mind on the king. He reached out to Kelson to establish Rapport and give his report.

He felt the king enter the link. “I have been awaiting your call. Things have gone well, I trust.”

“Indeed they have, your Majesty. The rebels have been subdued, and Ratharkin is again ours. We have captured Lord Giles, the rebel who has commanded the garrison at Ratharkin since the death of Lord Oswald. He was injured trying to escape but will recover. The nobles of the town joined the fight as soon as Sir Iain freed their heirs who had been held in the dungeons as hostages. “

“The people of Ratharkin are coming out into the streets and appear elated at the defeat of the rebels. The rebels made no effort to gain their allegiance, but rather misused them, depriving them of food and executing any who was not seen to be sufficiently in support of their cause. There were many heads on the city walls. People lived in fear.” Brendan paused for his king’s response.

Kelson’s thought came quickly. “I regret the suffering of the Mearan people who have had little choice in the intrigues of some of their nobility.   I also regret that we allowed ourselves to become complacent and were taken by surprise by the actions of the plotters. We missed early signs that could have prevented the violence done to our people and lands .We have been fortunate to be able to overcome and defeat them. I will be putting in place new plans to be sure that this does not happen again.”

Brendan replied. “The people of Meara did not forsake their allegiance to you, sire or to Duke Rory. There were some who were lured by the promise of titles and lands, but most were not. I believe they will be happy to reaffirm their fealty to you and to their duke. I feel it would help to further bind their loyalty if we hold a celebration of their renewed freedom from the oppression of the rebels and the return of the peace and prosperity they have known under your rule.”

There was a pause as Brendan waited for Kelson’s reaction to his proposal. “I think that is an excellent idea.” He could feel the king’s pleasure at the idea of holding a celebration as Rory resumed his position as Viceroy of Meara. “I would have them see our support for their Duke and for their land. In fact, I think I will attend this celebration to reinforce the value I place on their people and lands as an important part of Gwynedd.”

“I will discuss it with my council, but I will plan to travel by portal to Ratharkin to be part of the celebration of the relief of the city and all of Meara from the violence  and oppression of the rebels. I will inform you of my final plans once I have spoken with them.”

Brendan sent. “As you wish, your majesty. I do have one further concern. What of Prince Javan and the rest of his army? Will they be returning to Rhemuth soon?  And will my brother, Kelric, be able to return with them? I had heard that he was healed and recovering from a serious wound but I have heard nothing more.”

“Prince Javan and his army have left Laas well garrisoned and under the command of Duke Brecon and his son. Repairs on the walls are already underway and plans are in progress for determining the fates of prisoners taken in that battle. Javan has informed me that the Duke of Corwyn is almost completely recovered and accompanies him.” He could feel the king's pleasure in this news.

“That is wonderful news, sire!  I will be expecting final news of your plans and we will all be anticipating your arrival.” He felt the link dissolve. He took a quick, happy breath and rose to go find Rory to inform him of the King’s intentions. They had a celebration to plan.


 *******

The leaders of the successful assault on Ratharkin were meeting in the withdrawing room to discuss their future course. Rory was seated at the head of the long table with Brendan to his right and Duncan Michael to his left. Sir Iain was seated further down the table beside Duncan Michael. A squire had been sent to find Lord Michael and Lord Jaxom and to conduct them to the meeting.

Rory spoke first. “I think that it is important that we reassure both the nobles and the people of the return of the king’s law in the city and the restoration of order and safety.  They need to see that  the rebels are defeated and can no longer threaten them. They will be able to go about their lawful business in peace. I will summon the nobles to the castle to inform them, and  I will issue a declaration to be read in the city square and to be cried throughout the city so that all will be aware that normal activities should resume.”

Earl Brendan then spoke. “I have Rapported with the king and he is most pleased with our success. He looked with favor on the idea of a celebration here to mark the end of the rebellion and the return of peace to this part of the kingdom. He is proposing to attend such a celebration himself to establish the return of Meara to its proper place within the kingdom and to show the value he places on it. He will discuss it with his council and I expect to hear from him again soon as to his plans. In the interval, perhaps we should go ahead and plan a celebration to be held four  days hence.”

The Duke then asked, “What of Prince Javan and his army? When do they return to Rhemuth?”

Brendan replied. “The prince and his army left Laas only a day behind the cavalry and are returning to Rhemuth. They plan to pause here for rest and to restore Rory’s duchess to her home. Duchess Noelie and her ladies are also travelling with the Prince. It is possible that they might arrive in time for the celebration but that is not certain. It is my hope that they will reach Ratharkin in time for the duchess to be at your side as you resume your role of viceroy for Meara. They are aware of the planned celebration and will strive to reach here in time to take part in the ceremonies ”

Rory looked around at his compatriots. “I will announce a special  gathering in observance of deliverance of my people and a celebration of their restored peace to be held in the great hall four days hence. All the nobles and their families will be summoned to attend. There will also be a festival day for all the people of the city and countryside.  I hope that the prince and his army will arrive in time to participate in the occasion. The king has stated his intention to attend so a great deal of preparation is needed.”

Each of those around the table received their assignments. There was much to do. Since the castle  was bereft of a steward, the duke summoned Lord Angus Carlisle to oversee the preparations as his father would have done. Maids were set to cleaning and polishing, and the cooks and kitchen servants were directed to prepare sweets and savouries for the event. Bedchambers were to be prepared in the event that  Prince Javan’s army did arrive and there was need to house the prince and his entourage for their stay. Wines were brought up from the cellars.

The Duke conferred with the priests as to their roles in the proceedings,  asking the most senior among them to present prayers of thanksgiving for their deliverance and the return of peace to their land. A special mass would be offered in the church that morning, giving thanks and commemorating those who had lost their lives under the oppressive rule of the rebels.

Duke Rory, with the help of Earl Brendan, composed his declaration to be read throughout the city.  Pages were dispatched to all the nobles summoning them and their families to attend him in the great hall at sext, four days hence to celebrate the end of the rebellion.  Heralds would proclaim the day as a festival and all citizens would be released from their usual tasks to participate.

The castle and the town hummed with activity. In her shop, Mistress Baker was preparing as many tasty treats as possible. Everywhere people were sprucing up their premises as much as they could. It had the feeling of a feast day. People were happily discussing the changes in their fortunes.  They could meet and talk and argue freely without expecting a heavy hand on their shoulders and possible confinement in the dungeons. Those who were being thrown in the dungeons now deserved it.  They had experienced peace and prosperity under Duke Rory Haldane’s fair and benevolent rule, and they were greatly looking forward to a return to those days.

Later that evening, Brendan sought out Rory. “I have heard from His Majesty. He will arrive by portal on the appointed day, an hour before sext. He will be accompanied by two Haldane lancers and, at the insistence of his council who are not totally in favor of this venture, he will wear mail under his tunic. They understand why he feels the need to do this but they are uncomfortable with the idea of his traveling to a stronghold so recently a center of rebel activity. He will return to Rhemuth that evening after the ceremonies are complete.”

Rory nodded. “We must arrange for adequate guards in the hall without casting a cloud over the celebration. I will have archers in the gallery and men mingling through the crowd. We will keep a sharp watch for any signs of a rebel who escaped our round up and might want to attack the king.”

Brendan agreed. “I will place Lord Jaxom and Lord Michael in charge of the guard. I feel they are well capable of carrying out such responsibilities.”

*******

The day of the celebration dawned clear and cool. People were already stirring as the sun rose in the east, washing the scene with a clear golden light. Many were hurrying to the church for the early mass to give thanks for their release from the rebel tyranny. Others were establishing their rights to the best spots from which to see the arrival of the nobles and the other participants in the celebration to come. There was an air of excitement and joy in the town.

By midmorning the square in front of the castle was already crowded with the citizens of the town. Duke Rory’s guards were moving people back to leave a path for the nobility to make their way to the castle entrance and into the great hall where the ceremony would take place. Shortly before eleven, the noble families began to arrive.

Inside the castle there was much bustle as Sir Angus oversaw last minute preparations. Jaxom and Michael had positioned their guards and given them instructions as to their duties. The archers assigned to the gallery were already in place and those who were to intersperse themselves among the attendees were standing ready near the entrance to the great hall. The guests entered and were directed to either side of the hall which soon filled with those fortunate enough to have been summoned to attend. The air vibrated with talk and excitement.

The Duke and Earl Brendan waited by the portal for the arrival of the king and his escort. The others waited in the withdrawing room. As the church bell chimed eleven, King Kelson and his accompanying guard appeared on the portal. The lancers stepped from the portal square first and surveyed the room to assure themselves that all was well. Kelson, arrayed in a long overtunic of Haldane crimson embroidered with the golden lion of Gwynedd and wearing a gold circlet on his brow stepped off the portal as Rory and Brendan bowed deeply. “Your majesty, welcome to Ratharkin, once again the seat of lawful rule in Meara.”

Kelson smiled and replied. “I am most pleased to be able to attend this celebration and to reassure my people here and in the rest of Meara of my care for them.”

Rory led the king’s party to the withdrawing room where the others awaited them. All of the men bowed deeply as the king entered the room.  Rory escorted the king to a chair at the head of the table where he seated himself and indicated that the others should take seats until it was time for the ceremony to begin. There were some murmurs of disappointment that Prince Javan’s army had not yet arrived. They could hear the rising murmur of the crowd in the great hall.

After a brief interval, the party moved toward the great hall. Rory’s herald announced in a ringing voice, “Give homage to his Majesty, King Kelson Cinhl Rhys Anthony Haldane, by the Grace of God, King of Gwynedd, Prince of Meara, and Lord of the Purple March. There was a buzz of surprise as only Rory and his immediate party had known of the king’s plan to attend. Preceded by his lancers, the king led the rest of the party into the hall and toward the dais  On either side the men bowed deeply and the ladies curtsied. Though there had been limited time for them to prepare for the occasion, all wore their finest garments and had obviously made every effort to look their best. The king was flanked by Duke Rory Haldane and Earl Brendan Coris. Other high ranking officials followed. The king carried Meara’s jeweled sceptre.

Ratharkin’s priests waited to the side of the dais behind the high backed, throne-like chair that sat in the center. The bishop of Meara had been absent in Valoret at a meeting of the synod when the uprisings began and had not yet been able to return. After the king had reached the dais and stood before the seat of power, the most senior of Ratharkin’s priests stepped forward to offer a prayer of thanks and blessing for the proceedings.

The king began a brief address to the assembled nobles, their families and other prominent citizens. “I am pleased to see so many of you here in this hall. I know the past year has been difficult for you, particularly the seizing of the city by the rebels while your Viceroy was absent.
I deeply regret the suffering of the Mearan people, both here and in Laas, who have had little choice in the intrigues of some of their aristocracy and others who were seeking to advance their own fortunes. I also regret the loss of life that occurred during this rebellion.”

Kelson continued: “We are cognizant of the fact that we allowed ourselves to become complacent during our long period of peace and did not keep as close a watch on what was happening in some parts of our kingdom as was needed. Had we been more alert, we might have prevented some of what has occurred. I want to assure you that plans are even now being put into place to ensure that this does not happen again.” Kelson was interrupted by cheers from the assembled lords, ladies and citizens of Ratharkin.  “I am also most appreciative of the loyalty to myself and to your Duke that you maintained under extremely trying circumstances.You should know that most of the leaders of the rebellion have either been killed or captured. Those that are currently confined will be tried for their treason and will be punished.” The king surveyed those gathered before him.

“I wish to recognize certain individuals who played a critical role in the success of our efforts to free Ratharkin and put an end to the rebellion.  Lord Hugh McCallan, join me on the dais.”  Hugh was escorted forward by one of the guards to stand before the king. “Sir Hugh, we wish to reward your loyalty and recognize the sacrifices you made. We deeply regret the death of your son. Rest assured that those responsible will be punished. Please kneel.” Sir Hugh knelt before  his king who placed a gold chain from which depended a gold medallion engraved with Kelson’s likeness around his neck. “Wear this in recognition of the risks you took and the sacrifices you made for Meara.”

Next Kelson summoned Lord Jaxom Trillic to approach the dais. Jaxom stepped up to the dais looking somewhat bewildered. Kelson addressed him. “I have heard very good reports of your progress and growing maturity. Sir Iain reported to me how you saved his life during the rescue of Lady Agnes and the hostages, displaying bravery and imagination in seizing on an unusual but effective weapon.”  Jaxom blushed, the king knew about the frying pan!   Kelson smiled.  “Please kneel” Lord Jaxom knelt before his king who placed a similar chain around his neck.  He rose, bowed to the king and returned to his place.

Cheers rang out loud and long  throughout the hall. It was some time before the cheers began to die down. As the crowd quieted, there was a commotion at the back of the hall. One of Rory’s guards approached the dais and bowed. He then spoke quietly into the duke’s ear. Rory smiled happily and turned to speak softly to the king who smiled in his turn.  The duke announced. “Some very special guests have arrived. Prince Javan and his army have reached Ratharkin and are just outside our walls. He and several of his officers are waiting outside to join our celebration for which they are to a large degree responsible. Let us have them in to join our celebration.”

The guard bowed and moved back down the aisle to fling open the door. The herald announced His Royal Highness, Prince Javan Haldane, Prince Albin Haldane, His Grace Kelric Morgan, Duke of Corwyn, and her Grace, Duchess Noellie Haldane. As the party moved forward, the prince escorting the duchess, the cheers again rang out, even louder than before. When they reached the dais, Prince Javan handed the duchess to her husband and the two of them turned together to face their people.

The king could barely control his pride and joy as he again addressed those present in the hall. “Prince Javan, his officers and his army are responsible for the defeat of the main rebel army at Laas, the capture of that army and the death of one of the main rebel leaders. They prevented the seizure of the capitol. The rebellion is truly over and Meara is safe.” Cheers again broke out.

Duke Rory quieted the crowd. “This is indeed a day for acknowledging all those who contributed to our success and celebrating such a fortunate outcome. Let us feast!  I hope all will enjoy the celebration.” At the duke’s signal, the priest came forward to pronounce the benediction. The king’s party left the dais and exited the hall. Pages began to circulate with trays of tasty treats and cups of wine. Those present in the hall began to relax and to circulate among their friends. They heard more cheers from outside as the king, Prince Javan and the Duke and Duchess stepped outside the castle doors to show themselves to the people. It was indeed a very happy day.






« Last Edit: May 24, 2020, 09:01:17 PM by DerynifanK »
"Thanks be to God there are still, as there always have been and always will be, more good men than evil in this world, and their cause will prevail." Brother Cadfael's Penance

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #759 on: May 25, 2020, 12:28:49 PM »
The old tinker urged Dash on toward Ratharkin’s gate. The good, steady beast drew the tinker’s cart at a sedate, even pace.  As he always had.  Behind the cart  trod a good horse, tied to the back of the cart with enough distance to walk comfortably.  If anyone wondered why the tinker had suddenly acquired such a fine horse, they would judge it a just reward for services rendered from Duke Rory.  The tinker had no intention of leaving his finer mount behind.

It was late morning, and the gates stood open under the watchful eyes of Duke Rory’s garrison.  As the tinker urged Dash forward, the guards waved him on without concern.  The tinker had passed through these gates  many times; they did not know that this time he did not intend to return.

Once through the gate, the tinker urged Dash down the way that would eventually return him to his hideaway.  Sir Roland and Lady Maeve would give Dash the retirement he deserved.  The tinker’s cart would be housed in the shed for now; the tools could be repurposed for other tasks.  Who knew what role he would next need to assume to serve the King of Gwynedd?

But first, Master Feyd would need to be dealt with.  His ward cubes were still in the King’s possession in Rhemuth, and Feyd would want them back.  That duty may or may not fall to Sir Iain, but he would return to Rhemuth by Portal and be ready to do what was required.

When all was finished, he would again ask the king’s leave to return to Isles.  His stepfather must be dealt with and Isles set right. Never again would the watchfires not be lit when needed!  And he had a score to settle for his brother’s sake. 

The birds sang cheerfully as Dash made his way steadily forward.  The tinker cleared his mind of the tasks still to be faced.  This was a day to be enjoyed, and he revelled in the beauty of the clear skies and the birdsong.

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

 -- Old English Litany

Offline Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #760 on: May 28, 2020, 12:14:43 PM »
Father! I am at a loss! I can not find a way to help him! The rapport came unexpectedly  from the dear Lady Aliset. It revealed a vulnerability he rarely felt from her.

Him! Who! What has happened? Columicil tried to calm his mind to get to the source of her distress. She was so upset. Had something happened to Darcy?

It’s Wash! Aliset exclaimed.  We can not wake him.  He has come to harm by a spell cast on a gem. There are many spells on this ruby, and I can not begin to dispel them all. I could only succeed at the outermost spell- the one that made us forget about its excistance after Wash had found it in the crumbling sides of an ancient well- the other spells are embedded and tangled within the ruby. It is impossible for me to discern what they truly are and what they are meant to do.

“Och hen!”  Father Columcil exclaimed aloud. Faces in the Arx Fidei library turned to shush the father, but Columcil did not hear them as he was too focused on receiving the images that Lady Aliset sent to him of the events from the last two days. Her concern poured through the link and he was very moved by it.

We need help! she pleaded at the end of her account. Columcil was silent after her plea as he settled the information that had been rushed to him. Father, please, can you help us?

Columcil disciplined his nerves so as not to lose contact with the shaken lady. Ye showed me ‘at Wash is breathin’ easily and seems calm in his sleep. Columcil relayed attempting to ascertain the full breadth of the circumstances. Ye cannae pass his shields? E’en in his sleep? Ye shood be able tae mak’ some sort ay contact wi’ heem.

Father, it is not any sleep I have seen before. Washburn’s shields are firm. He does seem at peace, but he is definitely held in thrall by this ruby. We can not even pull the gem from his hand, for it sends a shock to anyone who touches it.  Can you come to us? I beg of you. Is there anyone there who could come with you who could help us dispel this thing?

Columcil thought for a moment. Nay, ta three Arilans hae left fer Rhemuth. They hae the man who attacked Fiona. They waur takin’ heem tae th’ king for questionin. Ah don’t think Ah cuid get a Rapport back tae them until tonecht when things hae settled doon at their end. Columcil thought hard. There was no one in Rhemuth that he was close enough to in order to make contact without a scheduled Rapport time. Duncan was already locked away in the Synod. Columcil had sat himself outside their meeting room, in the small adjacent library, in case his grandfather needed him, but he could not barge into the Synod and ask for Duncan’s help. The bishops were locked away, at least for now.

We don’t have time for that, Father, please can you come? You are the closest to Wash. If anyone can get through to him, it would be you. Please, Father, I would not ask this of you, if we were not desperate, Aliset begged.

I…Ah will come! Columcil agreed. If Ah run puir Spean hard, Ah can be thaur by noon.

Oh, Father, don’t overtax your horse or yourself. We will stay here at the inn and keep a watch on Washburn. Whenever you get here will be good enough for us. Thank you. Alset added enclosing a mental hug with her ending the Rapport.

Columcil found himself taking in a deep breath as he came out of Rapport. He blinked and looked around at the others in the small library. Some students were reading nearby, others were copying text. All seemed to look away from him as his eyes touched theirs. Some students in Arx Fidei were Deyrni, but their numbers were still few, he didn’t think that anyone here could have breached his Rapport as he spoke with Aliset. Most appeared more curious than dismayed. It could not be helped, he had not expected Aliset’s call, so he had not prepared the space in which he sat to complete her contact. 

As students returned to their own business, Columcil pulled parchment and inkwell toward him. From the Archbishop’s offices in Rhemuth, two Deryni had arrived by Portal at the opening of the day, both sharing great concern for the wellbeing of His Grace Duncan. One of the persons was Duncan’s chaplain, a priest named Taggert Moreau, who had been seeing that the archbishop’s duties in Rhemuth were being attended to in his absence. He had joined Duncan today to keep the log at the Synod. However, he also had a more personal reason for coming. He was Lord Sextus Arilan’s step-son and he had dearly wanted to give his prayers to his mentor, Bishop Arilan. As for right now, Chaplain Taggert would be with the Archbishop in chambers and would not be able to take Columcil’s letter.

The other person who had arrived this morning was Magistra Helena. When Columcil had been introduced to her briefly this very morning, he had been struck by her comeliness and her authority as one of the women in charge of the Rhemuth Schola. She was a Healer and seemed close to the archbishop. She had said she would be in conference with the seminary master here at Arx Fidei this morning if anyone had a need for her. Columcil determined that he did have that need.

He put quill to ink and wrote to her a message, explaining that something important had come to his attention and that he needed to leave, but he could not go unless he knew Archbishop Duncan would be cared for if the need arose.  Could she respond back to him if she would oversee the duties that he had so far been responsible for since his grace had collapsed during the funeral service? 

Columcil tossed a little sand over the parchment, then blew it away. Quickly, he folded the page in thirds, then he used a little magic to seal the letter so that only Magistra Helena could open it. He called for the clerk’s aide to hurry the letter to the lady it was addressed to. When the boy was gone, Columcil stood and walked toward the back of the library. The books on spell-cast gems would be somewhere near the back in the chained section so that no one could take the books from the premises.

He perused down two shelves of chained books, thumbing through a volume or two, yet not finding what he was looking for. He was startled when a soft voice spoke behind him.

“Father Columcil, I presume.”

Columcil nearly dropped the book he was examining. He turned quickly. “Aye, Magistra Helena. I hae no expected ye tae come in person.”

“Your letter sounded urgent,” the lady responded. She was of more years than his own, yet not a blemish touched her features. The wimple seemed to frame her face rather than give her the dowdy look of an older nun. When she spoke, she spoke confidently. “I know who you are. Duncan has spoken well of you. And if you are in need, tell me what it is and I would like to help in any way that I can.”

“I thank ye most kindly, Magistra. I cae only leave if you agree to perform my Healer’s duties for the sake of the Archbishop.”

“That is why I am here. I will do that without question.  As for the books that you are reading, those are not Healer’s texts. What is it you seek?”

“May I…?” Columcil asked, holding out his palm. The magistra did not hesitate as she placed her hand inside his. What passed between them was her knowledge that he was Duncan’s grandson and Sir Washburn’s relation. That gave him courage to send across what Lady Aliset had told him. “Ye kin why Ah main gang.”

“I do. However, that is not the book that you seek. Let me see if they have a copy here of the one you want.” Magistra Helena closed her eyes and gave a soft hum, then she turned, opened her eyes and took two steps down the shelf, pointing to a book high up on the top shelf. “I can not reach it, and I will not say how it disappeared from the shelf, nor how it will be returned, but that one is the one that you will need.” She turned to leave, then she turned back. “I am aware of the peril that your cousin has been in for these many days. Duncan has been torn up with worry over Alaric's youngest son. I do not like being the bearer of more troubled news told to his Grace. Yet, I will tell Duncan about our discussion, later, after his meetings have adjourned. To ease his worry, I will tell him to expect a report from you at sunset.  Don’t make him wait. The stress of it will be bad enough for him. Do you understand?”

“Ah do, Magistra Helena. Ah thank ye. Ah wulnae lit mah grandfaither doon,” Columcil said with a bow.

When she had left, and no one was passing by to see, Columcil used a little bit of thievery magic to break the chain and lift the book down from the shelf. He murmured prayers asking for forgiveness as he tucked the spell book under his cloak. He paced quickly out of the library. He would pack his things and be out of the gates of Arx Fidei in a matter of minutes.

Offline DerynifanK

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #761 on: May 29, 2020, 07:44:06 AM »
Aliset exhaled in a long sigh as the link with Columcil dissolved. A look of profound relief relaxed her face as she turned to Darcy.  “He is coming! Father Columcil will be here by noon. We will need to keep watch over Washburn and protect him until the good father arrives. I hope he will be able to break this spell or find someone else who can.”

Darcy put his arm around his wife. He was aware of how tense and frightened she had been since they had found Washburn under a spell which she could not identify much less reverse.  He hoped the good father would be more successful in breaking the spell.

The three of them had sat on the other narrow bed during the rapport. After it was over, they had again studied the man on the other bed. There had been no change in the knight. Wash had not moved at all, but he continued to breathe easily and quietly and appeared to be deeply asleep. Darcy proposed that they move to the larger room to decide on a course of action  until the good father arrived.  But Fiona refused to leave him alone even for a short time. “I will not leave him as long as he remains in this state. He is vulnerable and unable to defend himself. We don’t know who placed this spell on him or why, but I believe there is evil purpose here.” Fiona looked up at the other two defiantly.  Her expression reminded Darcy of an angry goose he had seen once, ready to attack if her charge was threatened. That goose had had a mean bite when aroused.

Aliset smiled and took Fiona’s hand, “Help is on the way.” She then continued in mind speech. The good father is coming. He planned to leave immediately and hopes to be here by noon.  Our charge now is just to continue to watch over Wash until Columcil arrives.

Fiona gave Aliset a puzzled look. “Why are you using mind speech? Surely no one can hear what we are saying here in our rooms.”

Darcy snorted. “These walls aren’t made of stone you know.”

Aliset continued mind speaking to Fiona. I am concerned about the spells I detected on that gem. I could not identify them, but I know it is possible to place a spell on such a jewel that acts almost like scrying.  It would allow whoever placed the spell to see and hear what is going on around the person wearing it. We will need to be very careful what we say around it. We cannot be sure that there is no one eavesdropping on us.

Fiona frowned in concern. “What should we do now?”


Darcy replied, “I believe we should stay in our rooms and discuss our plans, but we also need to break our fast. I will go and procure some bread and cheese and fruit and bring it back here to eat.” The two women agreed and Darcy left the room to find food for them.

After a short time, Darcy returned with food and a pitcher of light ale. He divided the food among the three of them. “ Let us move  to our room to eat. It will be less crowded and more comfortable for all of us. I believe that it will be safe to leave Wash for the short time required to eat our meal. We will be able to discuss our plan of action in safety away from him and that gem he holds.”

They settled into the larger room to eat their meal. Darcy talked as they ate. “I think it best that no one else discovers what has happened until Columcil arrives. The people in these villages tend to be superstitious, and if they discover there is something going on that might include magic, especially dark magic, I don’t know how they might react. We certainly don’t need a frightened group of villagers to cope with. Fear can often turn to anger and even violence if they feel threatened. They might even want to expel us from the village. It is probably best if we remain quietly in our rooms until help arrives. Each of us can take a turn sitting with Wash. Fiona, you may return first to your post watching over Wash. “If there is any problem or you have need of us,  just call. It might be better to mind speak to Aliset if you must call one of us.”

Fiona nodded and stood to return to Wash. Darcy escorted her back to the room where Wash still slept and stood in the doorway while she made herself comfortable on the second bed where she would continue to keep watch on him.
 
He and Aliset had finished cleaning up after their meal and settled down when there was a knock at the door. Darcy partially opened it to see the maid standing there with her mop and pail. “I need to do yer rooms. Will ye be goin out soon so I can do me cleanin?”

Darcy replied. “We are not ready to go out yet. You will need to put off cleaning in here for now. We will let the landlord know when we are going out and you can get in.”

The woman then looked at the adjacent door. “Since ye are in this room, how ‘bout I clean the other room?”

Darcy shook his head. “I cannot allow that right now. One of our party was not feeling too well this morning and has gone back to bed to try to sleep it off. I don’t want him disturbed. Perhaps there are other rooms you can clean and you can return later. This is for your trouble” He slipped her a small coin
 
The maid nodded with a wink. “A bit too much to drink eh?” She understood that. These lords often drank too much and woke with headaches and in foul moods. They often took out their bad moods on the servants. She didn’t want to become the object of that bad mood. Best to let the man sleep awhile longer. “I will be back after I clean me other rooms, But I will have ta finish afore more people come in askin for rooms.” She turned away and headed down the hall.

Darcy closed the door with a sigh of relief . Darcy and Aliset looked at each other and smiled. They knew Fiona was going to keep a close watch on Wash.  Now they settled down to await Columcil’s arrival
"Thanks be to God there are still, as there always have been and always will be, more good men than evil in this world, and their cause will prevail." Brother Cadfael's Penance

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #762 on: May 30, 2020, 03:40:28 PM »
“Enter!” Aliset Cameron said in response to the light tap on the door.  She was sitting in the chair and had just finished tidying her hair.

Darcy entered, closed the door behind him and slouched against it.  “I can’t remember when I’ve suffered so much rejection in one day,” he said petulantly.

Aliset smiled.   “Did you really think Fiona would let you relieve her to watch over Washburn for a while?” 

“It was a possibility, though not a very likely one,” he responded.

“Besides, if I count correctly, that is only one rejection today.”  Aliset returned her comb to her satchel.

“Ah, but there you are wrong, love.  The first rejection was from you when I suggested a more satisfying way to pass the time alone in our room.” Darcy waggled a finger at her in mock reproach.

“Darcy!  This was hardly the right time, especially with Washburn in his current condition.”  Aliset shook her head at him reprovingly.

“Aye, you are right.  You know that Father Columcil would have arrived at exactly the wrong moment.”  He stood straighter and pretended to knock on a door in front of him.

“Ach, I thought ye said ye were desperate for ma help and needed me richt away!” Darcy said in the worst brogue Aliset had ever heard.

“Aye, we do Father,” Darcy gave the imaginary reply in his normal voice.  “But can you just give us a moment or two longer? Or maybe three?”

“Oh Darcy!” Aliset admonished and then began to laugh.  “How is it you can make me smile despite these circumstances?”

“It’s one of my many talents,” he said as he walked toward her.  “I could show you a couple more…”

“Oh, no you don’t!”  Aliset held her hands out to ward him off, still giggling.

Darcy sat down across from her on the bed and glanced at the position of the sun through the open window.  “We still have a bit  more waiting to do.”

“Why don’t you go for a short walk?” Aliset suggested.  “You are beginning to have a ‘trapped in a cage’ look about you.”

“I wouldn’t mind stretching my legs a bit,” Darcy replied as he stretched them out in front of him.  “But that’s when something is likely to happen.  Somehow things usually work that way.”

“If Washburn shows the slightest change in his condition, I’ll call for you at once using mindspeech.  I promise.”

Darcy stood and walked toward her,  “Just for a short walk.  I won’t go far in case I need to return quickly.”  He gave his wife a lingering kiss before pulling reluctantly away.  “I’d best be off.”

“Maybe you’ll catch sight of Father Columcil arriving,” Aliset said encouragingly after taking a deep breath.

“Aye, that would be good,” he said as he closed the door behind him.  He quickly descended the stairs and as usual, took a moment to survey the inn’s main room.  The maid was speaking with the innkeeper, who gave Darcy a sharp look as Darcy crossed the room.  Darcy gave him a noncommittal nod and proceeded out into the street.

***

It was nearing noon when Darcy returned to the inn.  He hadn’t intended to be gone quite that long, but he had decided to check on the horses while he was out and was pleased to see that they were being well cared for.  As Darcy approached the stairs to the rooms above, he noted the innkeeper was not present.  He began to take the stairs two-at-a-time when he recognised Fiona’s voice raised in a very firm “NO!”

He found the innkeeper and his maid standing in front of Washburn’s room.  Fiona stood in the doorway with the door mostly closed behind her, one hand firmly placed on either side of the doorframe, blocking anyone from entering.  Aliset was approaching from her room with a look of stern determination on her face.

“Stand back!” Darcy commanded.  “What is the problem here?” 

The innkeeper stepped back involuntarily at the tone of Darcy’s voice, and Darcy took the opportunity to insert himself between the innkeeper and Fiona.

“My maid needs to tidy the room, and this lady,” the innkeeper nodded toward Fiona,  “will not let her enter.”

“I told the maid earlier that the man within was not feeling well and should not be disturbed,” Darcy replied calmly but equally as firm as Fiona had been.

“The room needs to be cleaned before the next guest,” the innkeeper said with equal firmness.

“I have paid for both rooms for two nights, so there will be no next guests until tomorrow.  Surely you can leave the rooms until then.”  Darcy rested his hands on his hips, which drew the innkeeper’s attention to the sword at his side.

“The chamber pots need to be emptied,” the innkeeper stated.  “I’ll not allow vermin to gain a foothold in my inn.  Now stand aside!”

“We can pass you the pots to be emptied if that is your concern,” Aliset said placatingly.  “The maid can start with our other room.”

“Something stinks more than chamber pots about this, and I will know what it is!” the innkeeper snapped and took a step closer to Darcy, close enough that it could now be difficult for Darcy to draw his blade.  “I am also the Reeve of Windyner, and I have the authority to determine if anything untoward is happening in this inn!”  He looked pointedly at Fiona, who gasped with indignation.

Darcy stiffened, his ice blue eyes taking on a cold, hard look.  “Reeve you may be, but I have a writ from King Kelson that demands I keep the man within safe from harm.”  It might not be exactly what it said, but it was close enough.  “I will not allow him to be disturbed until such time as I deem it appropriate!”

For a moment the two men stared at each other and then the innkeeper spoke, his voice as cold as Darcy’s.  “We will see what Father Micheal, our village priest, has to say about this.  You would do well to soften your stance before a man of God!”

“Our own priest will be joining us, so both sides will be represented in any discussion.  If any is required,” Darcy added.

The innkeeper turned on his heel and strode downstairs, followed  by the maid.  Some water sloshed from her bucket as she tried to keep up with him.

“Whatever was he thinking!” Fiona said hotly.

“Pay no mind,” Aliset said soothingly but with a concerned look at Darcy.  Perhaps leaving Fiona alone with Washburn in his room had not been wise.  “I confess, I am surprised he turned away so readily to fetch Father Michael.”

“I suspect he can’t read, so he needs the priest to inspect my writ.  Hopefully Father Columcil arrives in time to calm these troubled waters before we have a full storm.”  Darcy motioned for Fiona to precede them into the room.  Washburn lay as he had before, his breathing even and his apparent sleep undisturbed.

“I grow more concerned that the commotion just outside his door has not stirred him a bit,” Darcy said, the worry evident in his voice.  “I hope Father Columcil arrives soon and can discover what is wrong.”

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

 -- Old English Litany

 


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