Author Topic: Ghosts of the Past  (Read 152240 times)

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Offline DerynifanK

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #645 on: May 18, 2019, 09:08:46 PM »
Sir Washburn threatened Lord Jaxom with his cold, hard anger. Everyone in the courtyard seemed frozen in place unable to respond to the threat. Jaxom's hand hovered over the hilt of his sword. Dare he pull it from his scabbard? Jaxom was proud of his swordsmanship, but was he good enough? The reputation of the man challenging him was of an undefeated champion. ((11:13  <Derynifank>  does Jaxom draw his sword? !roll 2d6
11:14  <Derynifank>  !roll 2d6
11:14  <•derynibot> 3, 4 == 7  Nope!))

Jaxom hesitated.

"Defend yourself, scum!" Washburn threatened his betrayer advancing a step closer and gesturing in a hostile manner with his sword.

"I've been pardoned," Jaxom claimed. His hand hovered over  his sword hilt, braced to draw in defense if need be.

"What?" Washburn was incensed by the mere idea. It had to be a lie! Yet, he did not detect it as so. "You abducted a maiden from the Queen's garden! You drugged her senseless and took her to a man who was contracted by Oswald, the man who murdered her whole family. He planned to force her to marry him so he would have her father's lands to use in a rebellion against Gwynedd. That is Treason!" Washburn yelled out advancing on the young lord.

((20:06 <Laurna> !roll 2d6
20:06 <•derynibot> 3, 6 == 9  this time , yes. ))

Thus threatened, Jaxom drew his sword, prepared to fight for his life.

Through this challenge, Darcy was the only one moving. Bloody hell, he thought, we don’t need this. All too aware of the bloodshed about to erupt, he leapt from the back of his horse. He landed within reach of Washburn, and his hand grabbed the knight's sword arm. "Damn it Wash, hold and listen to me!"

Feeling his anger to be just, Wash shook Darcy's hand off. "I know what I saw! I know what I tried to stop, and I know the price I paid for it. What price has this fop paid?" Wash demanded.

“Hold!” Aliset’s voice rang out from behind him. Wash froze, his eyes never left Jaxom's face; his heart wanted to avenge the terrible distress which he knew she had endured. Unbelievably, it was she who called to stop him from dealing out retribution. Her voice echoed in his mind, There are circumstances of which you are unaware. You must hold!

The nearest of Jaxom’s soldiers were shifting closer to the two men, not sure what was happening but ready to defend their leader. The Baron quickly asserted his authority shouting, “Stop! What do you mean by dashing in here and attacking my guest?  Who are you and why are you here? I demand to know what is going on!” The scene was becoming chaotic. As the baron demanded answers,  Fiona ran forward throwing her arms outward coming to a halt between Lord Jaxom and this unknown knight, thinking she could stop the violence.

Wash maintained  his menacing stance; he did not lower his sword nor turn away from challenging Jaxom. Only for a moment did his gaze flit over to the pretty blond girl between them, amazed at her bravado.

He heard Aliset’s voice in his mind. Wash I need you to not attack Lord Jaxom. Lower your sword. Resentment flared in Wash, his heart was racing, he didn’t understand how everyone could let this man get off so easily from what he had done.
((01:14 <Laurna> Save test to resist Aliset's orders
01:14 <Laurna> !roll 3d6
01:14 <•derynibot> 2, 3, 3 == 8))

 Washburn found her entreaty one he could not disobey. Slowly he lowered his sword, although he continued to glare at Jaxom.

 “How can you defend him? He caused injury to us both!” In a harsh voice, Wash repeated his accusations of betrayal. His tone threatened to expose the torment he had felt for the attack on Aliset and for what he himself had endured.

 Jaxom began to protest, but the baron called out “Silence! I am Baron Stuart and this is my manor which was threatened by a rebel infiltration and attempted seizure. Lord Jaxom and his men were sent by the King’s representative to provide assistance, and they have freed my land from this threat. They have also captured several rebel prisoners”.  The baron looked across at the wagon that held the prisoners. They were whispering among themselves and he suspected they were thinking of using this distraction to attempt an escape. He gestured to two of Jaxom’s men to move nearer prevent any escape attempt.  As the men kneed their horses closer to the wagon he turned back to Darcy, satisfied  “I am grateful for his assistance and I need an explanation of this attack from one of you.” He pointed at Darcy. “You,” he said in a stern voice, “explain this clash. I will tolerate no fights or settling of private scores here. The rebels are threat enough to deal with.”

Aliset had dismounted and came to stand beside  Darcy; her hand tugged at Fiona’s sleeve to pull her out of harm’s way. Darcy again touched  Wash’s arm and spoke to him while keeping his eyes on Jaxom. “Sheathe your sword,” he said softly. “We do not need complications here any more than we did in Cuiltiene. We do not wish to alienate any of the landowners here who are still loyal to Gwynedd. Baron Stuart is an influential man in this part of the borders and we need him on our side.”

Wash nodded slowly and returned his sword to its scabbard although he continued to focus his hard stare on Jaxom. In response to the baron’s words, Jaxom also sheathed his sword. “I apologize for this unseemly fracas, but I really had no choice but to defend myself against an unprovoked attack.”

Darcy muttered to himself, “that depends on your point of view.”  Aliset sent him a sharp look of warning.

The baron nodded, then beckoned to Fiona. “Tis foolish to put yourself between two armed men with weapons drawn. You could have been seriously hurt if it had escalated to a fight between them. Return to your aunt’s side and stay there.”

However, Fiona, instead of returning to the side of the baron’s lady, moved to stand facing him.
“I have information to share with you, and it’s important that you listen. Please Uncle Mac.” She pleaded.

The baron studied her face then nodded briefly. “What is this Information you have for me?”

“I do not know the identity of the knight, but the other gentleman is Darcy Cameron. He is Sir Iain’s  brother and therefore, also my cousin.”

“Impossible!” said the baron. “Sir Iain’s younger brother died of an illness when very young and he had no other brothers. This man must be an imposter.”

Fiona shook her head. “That was what Sir Iain’s stepfather gave out when the younger boy disappeared.  Actually his stepfather sold the boy to the master of a passing ship. His mother, my aunt, was in no position to challenge him, and Iain was in Rhemuth serving as a squire and undergoing his training. He never knew his brother was actually still alive.  Darcy spent 12 years at sea and only recently returned to seek employment as a man-at-arms. I met him at the Micheline ruins where I was seeking help to deal with the rebels here. He and Father Columcil were there with the squire on a mission from the King to locate a hidden fortress in the  Ratharkan mountains.”

The baron looked doubtful but Fiona continued. “Look at him. Can you not see that he is the image of Iain?”  Darcy removed his cap and Mac studied the shorter of the two men standing before him. He certainly looked very much like Sir Iain. He shook his head as if trying to clear it.

He shifted his gaze from Fiona to Darcy. “Explain yourself and why you arrived here so abruptly, precipitating this confrontation. And who is this knight who travels with you and who was ready to attack my guest?”

Darcy stepped forward and, bowing to the baron, began to speak. “I am indeed Darcy Solveig Cameron, brother to Sir Iain Reyvik Cameron; and it is true that I have been many years at sea, learning a mariner’s skills. How I came there is a story for another time. I had advanced to navigator of a trading ship when the master died. The new master preferred his own navigator so I was forced to seek new employment. I decided to seek my fortune as a man-at-arms. My first job was escorting a young lord who was in a great deal of danger to Rhemuth. The knight was also assigned as part of the young lord’s escort. He is Sir Washburn Morgan, youngest son of the late Alaric Morgan, Duke of Corwyn and brother of the present duke, His Grace Kelric Morgan. It was he who sent Sir Washburn to join the escort. We met the good father who was also traveling to Rhemuth, and he joined our party. Lord Jaxom’s father had sent him to find Sir Washburn because of concern for his safety and that of his party. He and his men joined the escort when he learned how dangerous the mission was, particularly with the rebellion spreading”.

Darcy continued. “ After we reached Rhemuth, events occurred which led to the enmity between Sir Washburn and Lord Jaxom. Unfortunately, Sir Washburn was abducted by a man in the employment of one of the rebel leaders. He suffered a great deal, both mentally and physically. He was delivered to this high ranking rebel and chained in a dungeon. Fortunately, my brother Iain was able to free him and conduct him to the Michaeline ruins where he joined me .Much occurred after Sir Washburn’s abduction of which he is as yet unaware. There has been no opportunity to inform him of these events.”

“While we were still in Rhemuth, the king became aware of my skill as a navigator and ability to use the stars as a guide. That led him to assign to me the mission of locating this fortress which is known to be a major rebel stronghold. At that time we were seeking Sir Washburn, and it was thought he might have been taken there. Father Columcil was directed to join me as he had achieved his goal in Rhemuth, and his Deryni powers would enable us to maintain contact with Rhemuth and inform them of our progress. We had reached the Michaeline ruins in our pursuit of this objective. While there we learned that my brother had already discovered the location of the hidden fortress from which he rescued he had Sir Washburn. Since the fortress had been located, our mission changed.”

“There we met Lady Fiona who was trying to reach Sir Iain to ask his help in dealing with the rebels who had infiltrated the manor and were attempting to seize it in order to gain a foothold in Gwynedd. She had run afoul of thieves on the Cuilteine road and had ridden toward the ruins in an effort to escape. Lord Jaxom and his men were there and drove off the attackers. Lady Fiona told her story to the King’s representative and was able to convince him  to mount a rescue mission and to allow her to accompany them. Father Columcil was to serve as protector for the lady during this excursion, otherwise she would have to remain behind. I am sure her knowledge of the manor and its inhabitants was quite valuable in carrying out  their orders to free the manor of the rebels and prevent them from establishing a base here.”

Jaxom had been silent during Darcy’s explanation. However, when the baron asked why Darcy and the knight had followed them to the manor instead of accompanying them, he interjected, “Because they were not needed. As you have seen, I was perfectly capable of completing the assigned task without their help. I am not sure why they are here now!  And I don’t see why the knight is now part of the party. He was not present at the ruins when I left there, and he seems more likely to cause trouble than prevent it.”

Darcy began to reply, “We needed to wait for Iain to bring Sir Washburn to the ruins where he could rejoin us. Lady Fiona was very anxious to return to the manor immediately to interrupt the rebels’ actions to take over and also to protect you and your wife from harm. Therefore, the rescue party left…..”

Jaxom interrupted. “I still see no need for these others to be added to my mission, certainly not the knight!”

Wash stiffened, glaring at Jaxom. “I am here, no thanks to you, to offer my services to Lord Darcy and Lord Iain to help bring about the downfall of this Mearan rebellion. Do not get in my way again or I will  exact a price for the harm you have already caused.”

The two men began a shouting match, with Darcy trying to restrain Wash and the baron calling for an end to the disagreement when another voice was heard above the fracas.

“Wha is ta meanin’ of this bather and wha’s the shoutin’ aboot?” Columcil had come out into the stable yard unnoticed and now his own shout rang out over the clamor. In the sudden silence that followed, he said gravely, “I hae news for ye that is o’ impairtance ta us all.” All eyes turned toward him. “Ta bells were ringin’ tae mark the passin’ o’ Bishop Denis Arilan who passed a day ago at Dhassa. He weel be sairly missed an his loss felt throughout the Eleven Kingdoms. I also have other news. But first, what is ta cause of this brawl?”

His eyes turned first to Darcy and then to the baron, waiting for them to inform him of what was happening here. Those around him appeared stunned, saying nothing while digesting the news that Columcil had brought. The bishop had been loved and respected throughout the Eleven Kingdoms for as long as most of them could remember.  The good Father’s gaze scanned the men in the courtyard. His eyes stopped abruptly on the one face he had feared never to see again. As his eyes turned to Sir Washburn he declared, “Thanks be to God! I was afeared we might never see ya agin. How did ya ever regain yer freedom?”

Before Wash could reply, Darcy intervened. “That is also a story for another time. Right now, we need to resolve this squabble and determine what actions are most appropriate for each of us. Our main goal has to be to do what is best for Gwynedd and what is needed to help defeat the rebels. Personal quarrels have no place in this present crisis”

Washburn, appearing much calmer, stepped forward and bowed to the baron. “I regret that my unseemly behavior has contributed to the development of this brawl. It was never my intent to insult or offend you. I was not expecting to see Lord Jaxom, and at first all I saw was a person who had caused great harm to both the Lady Aliset and myself. However, since both Lord Darcy and the lady are defending him, there must be reasons of which I am unaware. My argument with Lord Jaxom began with events in Rhemuth, and I admit that this is not the time or place to pursue it. I certainly do not want to interfere with whatever must be done to defeat the rebellion.”

Washburn looked sadly at Columcil. “I am also grieved to hear of the passing of Bishop Arilan. He was close to my family and will be greatly missed.”

Lord Jaxom had remained standing stiffly near the baron, facing Darcy, Washburn, and Lady Aliset, his hand still poised near the hilt of his sword. ”I too wish to do what is best for Gwynedd. However, I have the right to defend myself from attack. I had no private quarrel with this knight, and I feel that his attack on me was unprovoked. It was shown that I was not at fault for what happened in Rhemuth.”

Darcy could feel the anger rising again in Wash as Jaxom sought to deny all responsibility for what had occurred and the effects. He spoke up quickly, “This is not the time to allocate responsibility for past acts. We need to decide on our best course of action.”

Columcil spoke, his eyes on Lord Jaxom. “Lord Jaxom, ta Earl has confirmed his orders to ya tae deliver the rebel prisoners tae Droghera witout delay. He is most anxious tae question them. Ye appear ready to leave. Mayhap, ye moight move tae carry out yer instructions tae go now so ye can still arrive afore dark.”

The baron was nodding in agreement. “I thank you for your actions to free my manor. I  feel that your best course now is to set out for Droghera immediately, before more of the day has passed.”

“I agree that my party needs to be on its way. Is there any way I can serve you before we leave?” Jaxom addressed the baron, pointedly ignoring the others, as he mounted his horse.
The baron shook his head as Jaxom’s men formed up to leave. Jaxom took the lead with his standard bearer close beside him. Lord Michael followed Jaxom. Two of Jaxom’s men followed with the bound Drago between them followed by the wagon with the driver perched on the front The driver was the baron’s man and would return the wagon to the manor after the prisoners had been delivered. One man rode on either side of the wagon and lastly, one followed behind. The party circled the house and took the main track leading to the Cuilteine Road.

Those remaining behind turned their attention to determining what their actions should be. Fiona spoke quietly into Mac’s ear. The baron turned his attention to the three latest arrivals and spoke; “Will you join me in the solar where we can better discuss the reason for your arrival here. Father Columcil, please join us as I am sure you can add to the discussion”

“Gladly,” said Darcy,  “but we must see to our horses, first.”

Mac beckoned to Gavin who was standing nearby. “Go quickly and have two of the grooms to come and tend to the horses.” Gavin bowed and trotted off to the stables to summon the men. In a very short time, he returned with two of the baron’s grooms. They took the reins to lead the mounts to the stable.

However, Washburn resisted surrendering Shadow Dancer to anyone else.  The great black warhorse stood quietly by Wash’s side but began to pull at his reins and fidget restlessly when one of the grooms sought to take him toward the stable. “I beg  your pardon, milord, but I have only very recently been reunited with my mount, and he does not readily accept any other person’s hand. Begging your pardon, but I think it would be best if I tended to him. I will not delay your discussion long.”  Mac hesitated briefly but at a signal from Columcil, he agreed.
Wash led his horse into the stable as the others followed the baron and Fiona into the house and to the solar.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2019, 09:18:55 PM by Bynw »
"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 revanne

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #646 on: May 26, 2019, 03:56:34 PM »
Before he did anything else, Columcil knew that he must seek forgiveness for the lie, but he could not have borne the explanation which his high and mightiness, milord Jaxom, would have demanded had he revealed that he was contacting Archbishop Duncan. Worse still would have been the raised eyebrow and patronising smirk which made his fists ball in anticipation of unpriestly retaliation. Contacting Earl Brendan was a plausible excuse, and if there were fresh orders from the Earl, then doubtless the  Archbishop would know of them. He would, in any case, as soon not contact Brendan, for in their last Rapport Duncan had confided in him, in strictest confidence, that there had been no choice but that Washburn should be disinherited by his brothers till he could be freed of the evil spells which twisted his memories and bound his soul. And God alone knew when that should be. Duncan had been palpably distressed and, though Duncan had shared nothing he should not, Columcil had sensed the burden of others’ distress held in his grandfather's heart. Brendan, too, must have been torn apart, and Columcil felt for him, but he felt more for his friend and he was not entirely sure that he could keep his anger from lashing out at the Earl.

And he had best seek God's pardon for that too, so once he was alone in the manor chapel, he sank to his knees and, bowing his head, beat his breast, repeating the ritual words, "Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa." The baron was a devout man, and the peace coming from regular faithful prayer which filled the chapel felt like absolution, though the formal words must wait.

The scent of the pinewood panelling calmed him too, on a more earthly but no less needful level, and Columcil allowed himself to slip gently sideways until he was half sitting and reached out with his mind for his Grandfather.  He felt affection, love even, as his mind's touch was welcomed and accepted, but there was new disquiet too. His heart was warmed that Duncan made no attempt to veil this disquiet from him, but the sense of yet more terrible tidings came quickly with cold dread.

Yer Grace, what is't?

The formal title was a plea for reassurance as horrible imaginings ran through his head; Washburn had been recaptured, had run amok, had harmed Aliset and been killed by Darcy. Or - this as the tolling bell from the tower on the outside of the chapel reached to him even in trance - the King himself was dead.

His thoughts whirled at the forefront of his mind and, though he did not of intent share them, they were easily read.

Slow down, Son, it's not as bad as that. Though in truth we can spare no good man to death, the coil we're in. But he was an old man, even for a Deryni, and he had fought the good fight, harder and longer than any of us knew. And he'll be glad to be reunited with Jorian. I just wish I had ever properly told him that I came to know how much I owed him. And how sorry I was for my arrogance towards him.

M'Lord I'm gey sorry but ah dinna ken who is't tha's died. Or why ye o'a' folk could aye think ye ha’e the need ta say sorry.

Even in the other’s sorrow a gleam of humour came through.

Where do you suppose that arrogance of yours, aye and insolence too, came from? I doubt it was your mother, and of a certainty it was not Maryse, God rest their souls. I like to think you got your vocation from me, I fear you got more than your fair share of my sins too. But that’s a conversation we must have another time.

The one whom we mourn is his Grace of Dhassa, Bishop Denis Arilan. Of your charity pray for him - it’s thanks to his courage and faith that Deryni can again respond to the call of God to holy office without facing the stake and the flames.

A shudder shook Duncan’s mental tone and there was a long silence before he continued.

He was the first Deryni that we know of to make it alive through ordination, and though I did not know it at the time he brought me and others safe through too.

Columcil had of course met Bishop Arilan who had made a point of visiting the seminary several times a year, and like many younger priests, viewed him with great respect but as a visitor from a distant past. For Columcil personally there was fear mixed in with that respect; the learned and austere Bishop had not taken kindly to the uncouth lad from the borders and several of Columcil’s harshest penances had been meted out during his visits. Now he brought to mind the long hours that the Bishop had spent in prayer before the altar, often seeming shaken and drawn with emotion when he finally rose, and a connection that he had never before made began to form.

Ye mentioned Jorian, are ye saying that his Grace o’ Dhassa kenned that puir sainted lad?

There was another long silence and Columcil began to fear that he had somehow offended, though again it was sadness and not withdrawal that he could sense.

Yes. They were friends. Denis was forced to watch him burn - Now it was anger that burst through - as was Alaric, to show him what became of Deryni who didn’t keep to their place.One day I’ll tell you that story too, for now it’s enough to know that I have long believed that it was by the prayers of Jorian that the mercy of God protected Denis and made him a priest. He was a brave man, and an honest one, though not an easy one. And now he’s gone, another one whose wisdom will be sorely missed. And the timing could not be worse, for us at least, though maybe not for our enemies.

There was just something in Duncan’s mental tone that made Columcil dare to ask,

“Ye’re no tellin’ me tha’’ he didna’ die o’ natural causes, yer Grace?

Oh it was his heart that stopped without doubt, and that’s a merciful way for any to go. I just cannot help remembering…

Duncan seemed to recollect himself suddenly and now Columcil heard Archiepiscopal authority in the other’s mental tone.

You are not to repeat any of that, or even think any further of what you and Dhugal would call my maundering.The truth is that in such times I begin to suspect everything. But nothing will be helped by spreading idle rumours, even if they come from the Archbishop. Especially if they come from the Archbishop. You may of course tell the news that his Grace of Dhassa has died - indeed it is important that you so, to stop others, like you, from fearing the worst.

Columcil understood that there was only the mildest of rebukes in his grandfather’s tone, and that was as much for himself as his grandson and he was emboldened to ask:

And wha’ o’ Washburn, sir?

“Nothing as far as we know has changed there. Someone has worked black mischief and as yet no-one can see a way to free the poor lad. It occurs to me now that Denis might have…

Duncan’s mental voice trailed off and the sharp mental shake that he gave himself jerked across Columcil’s psyche before Duncan began again.

There are no new orders concerning Washburn. Just try to help him understand that the memories of his ill-treatment at the hands of his family are false, even if he cannot yet find the true ones. Heal what hurts you can, using the way we have discussed and pray for him. And for me, as I will pray for you. Bless you, son of my son, he could ask for no better friends than you and Darcy and Aliset.

Columcil found himself swallowing the lump in his throat, and it cost him an effort to mention the name of one he detested.

I’m supposed ta be askin’ th’ Earl o’ Marley if there are new orders for Jaxom. Beg pardon fer ma cheek, but would yer Grace ken if any there are any such?

The understanding in Duncan’s voice brought the tears back into Colcumcil’s eyes.

I understand why you will find it hard to bespeak Earl Brendan, just remember how much he is grieving too. And yes, Lord Jaxom is to take his prisoners as soon as he can back to the Earl. For a number of reasons, not least that Washburn is likely to kill Jaxom if the two have any length of time together.

That thought had occurred to Columcil too and he realised that it was high time for him to return outside and see what was happening in his absence. Darcy and his party, including an angry and unstable Washburn must surely have arrived by now. His concern must have transmitted itself for in the next instance his grandfather said,

Yes, you must go as must I. In nomine, Patri et Filii et Spiritu Sancto…

With that blessing Duncan broke the link. Columcil got slowly to his feet and made his way outside, where he feared that he might be too late as all hell had apparently broken loose in his absence.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
(Psalm 46 v1)

Offline Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #647 on: May 27, 2019, 01:12:18 PM »
Washburn settled his horse and his gear in the barn, not too far in from the doors, just in case a quick departure was required. He was tense, far more so than he should have been. He had not expected to find Jaxom here. Hadn’t Darcy said something to him about Jaxom escorting his cousin, but he hadn’t used Jaxom’s name, he had said the heir of Trillik. Wash had been so preoccupied that he hadn’t realized who Darcy was talking about.  Wash growled and knotted his hands up in Shadow’s bridle as he hung it up. Frustrated, he clenched his fingers and pounded his hand against the stall partition. When he hadn’t acknowledged the name of Jaxom in their conversation, Darcy must have thought everything would be alright, and he had not pressed the matter further. Just now,  Aliset was likely berating her husband for that lapse. One more knot he had caused between the happy couple.

“Agh! How do I screw things up so badly?” Wash asked of Shadow. “I am going to be the death of my friends if I don’t watch this temper of mine.” His hands adjusted the saddle to rest on the railing, that’s when the idea of escape came to him. Other than the two boys, no one else was in the barn. He could just ride out, and leave everyone behind. His friends would be far safer without his troubles on their hands, that was a certainty.  A fresh determination gripped him and his hands lifted the saddle off the wooden partition.

“I would miss ye greatly if ye left afore we cuid talk,” said a borderman from the barn entrance.

Undone by the familiar brogue, Wash settled his gear back onto the rail. Ashamed, he turned with his head hung low. “Ah, Father Columcil, I admit I would miss you as well. I had hoped for a better meeting between us. Not one where I have lost my temper and near-on skewered a former comrade. Not that in my eyes he didn’t have it coming, yet I see where others might think differently.” Wash looked up to see the amber eyes gazing across at him, trying to read him. Ashamed of all the trouble he had caused, Wash could not drop his shields. Instead he turned away. “I am not worthy of your attention, good Father.”

“What ‘tis it ye ha’e done to be considered unworthy? Was it no’ yer hand that saved Lady Aliset from her abductor? Are ye no’ worthy because ye survived four days in the enemy’s clutches and then escaped; an heroic escape as was tel’t to me by His Grace, Archbishop Duncan, who heard t’accountin’ directly from Lord Iain?”

‘That was not me, that was Iain who saved my hide.”

“And ye his, as I were tauld.”

“Hardly! So, everybody in Rhemuth knows I am a blundering fool. I will never be able to show my face there again. Columcil, honestly, leave me be. I will go find a rock to hide under and not come up for a hundred years. Maybe by then, I will be able to face my fears.” He buried his face in Shadow’s mane.

“Tis nae shame in havin’ fears. Capture yer fear, hold it close, use it tae keep yer attention keen, tae keep from becomin’ complacent.” Columcil quoted words he had heard from his grandfather years ago.  While saying this, he extended his mind across the space between them, to establish a mental contact.

((16:42 <Laurna> Columcil rapport with Washburn
16:42 <Laurna> !roll 2d6
16:42 <•derynibot> 3, 1 == 4, no))

Startled by the familiar phrase, Washburn looked up at the priest.The knight’s shields remained closed, his eyes narrow and his lips pressed together. At length with some distress, he said, “I have been told those words before, but I can not recall by whom.”

“Mebbe’s ah can help ye tae bring it ta mind?”

Columcil walked over to the offside of Shadow and looked straight over the horse’s withers at his friend. “Rapport hae been easy between us. Do ya recall, like when I was teachin ya tae heal?”

Columcil didn’t touch Washburn, instead he placed both hands on Shadow’s neck. He sent a calming thought filled with images of the times they had healed together.

((16:44 <Laurna> Columcil attempts contact again
16:44 <Laurna> !roll 2d6
16:44 <•derynibot> 3, 2 == 5))

He knew these thoughts bounced off of closed shields. Yet in another way he sent calming energy from his fingers into the stallion’s sinew, muscles, and bone. Reaching through that medium toward the unwary fingers of the man who also openly sought energy from the horse he leaned upon, the priest sought to make a connection.

((17:02 <Columcil>  One last chance. Does Columcil make contact with Washburn through Shadow?
17:02 <Columcil> !roll 2d6
17:02 <•derynibot> 2, 6 == 8  yes))

Columcil had discovered his talent with beasts allowed him to do this. The knight had closed himself off to the world, all but for the support he gained from his horse, the only one he trusted who would not abuse him. Columcil felt guilt using this trust. There were times, however, when it was necessary to breach a man’s defenses to heal him. His grandfather had been the one to suggest this means of Rapport. Duncan had stressed the importance of learning how much damage was done to the younger son of Alaric. No one since his rescue had been able to make deep Rapport with the freed man.

Purposely changing the subject, Culumcil commented, “Tis sad news indeed aboot Bishop Arilan. I’m worrit that ta stress o’ ta Mearan uprising undid him. I know he put much effort toward findin’ ya when ye were first taken.”

“I... I had an odd dream about him last night,” Washburn said looking up at the rafters trying to recollect part of his dream.

((Wash save test from Columcil’s touch. Roll "2d6" : 3 + 3 = 6 Verification Number: 2wf7zslfdn, failed to resist Columcil.))

Distracted, he never sensed the mental touch that lingered through his hands on his horse’s neck. “A younger Bishop Denis was in my dream. As he had in days of my youth, he whacked his baton on my knuckles and told me I was unteachable. Then, mysteriously, it was as if the ageing bishop was with me, touching my mind, saying he was wrong, asking for my forgiveness. It was so real. And now to learn that the bishop has died.. it is...bewildering.”

“...bewilderin’…” Columcil echoed Wash’s words as his mind deftly slide over the other. “Sleep noo me friend, sleep. Ye’re safe with me.”

Columcil almost wasn’t fast enough to dodge in front of the horse’s chest and catch Washburn’s shoulder as the larger man was falling to the barn floor in an imposed sleep. Fortunately, there was a pile of hay there for Shadow to eat. The two men fell upon it in a heap, Columcil under Washburn’s sudden dead weight. Even in sleep, the knight’s tension was great and he was impossible to shift aside.

Soothingly, Columcil said a prayer to calm himself and to ease the mind under his touch from fighting back. The knight’s muscles relaxed. Less trapped, Columcil managed to squirm out from under the knight without taking his hand off the man’s wrist. He had gained access behind Washburn’s shields, he dare not lose that contact after all he had just done to gain it.

Columcil pressed his free hand over Washburn’s eyes. He did next what he had heard that Duchess Richenda had done for her son the night before. He shared with Washburn what he had done in the last few days. Then Columcil used the familiarity he had gained in their Rapport to quest through Washburn’s recent memories. His grandfather had said the Duchess had requested to learn these memories, but as Columcil filtered through memories of drug-induced helplessness, nausea and physical abuse, he understood why Wash was reluctant to share this with his mother. Would Wash have openly shared this with him? Perhaps not... Wash didn’t fully trust anyone at the moment. “Ye can trust me,” Columcil said as he knelt over the knight. “I am yer shepherd and ye are one o’ ma flock. I would see ya well again, ma dear friend.”

After that statement, it was like a dam giving way, Wash accepted Columcil’s presence and he voluntarily shared the events of capture, of the villain Valerian’s control, of Valerian’s dungeon, then of his escape and of Iain’s safe house. All of it flooded forth without restraint. Columcil took it in and placed it to the side where all confessions went. There he could decipher and filter the important parts at a later time. He verified that Valerian’s controls were gone for good. He found no other controls; only those of Iain and Aliset remained. He doubted Iain would ever need those controls again, so he shifted that control over to himself and then eliminated Iain’s control over Wash.

When he tried to dig deeper, to learn more about the scholar who had controlled Washburn in his first days of capture, he felt something strong that lurked in the pathway. Turning aside, he considered what to do next. He had promised to find out who had used the phrase about keeping fear close and not becoming complacent. He found that Wash had recalled that phrase during the deepest fears of his confinement. As Columcil reached deep to witness this memory which seemed placed in deep fold of the mind, a place where the most protected ideas were stored, he found not only this treasured memory of the Duke of Corwyn, but a shocking detail of words deciphered from an illegible scroll and a talent born to block Deryni racial powers. Columcil quivered at the discovery of in this untaught manifestation of the healing gift. He considered the ramifications, did his grandfather know about this?

Caught unaware, the thing that had lurked on the edge of Washburn’s old memories burst forth like a beast, all claws and fangs.The priest of many years experience mentally made the sign of the cross over himself and Washburn praying fervently "Merciful Lord, by thy passion and the prayers of our blessed lady and all the saints preserve us thy servants from all evil,” Then Columcil clutched that part of the memories he had gained; quickly he sought to withdraw from Washburn’s mind. Angered at what Columcil had seen, this vicious creature chased him down,  tried to trap him, tried to devour the mind that interfered, and stop the theft of the memories the priest had gleaned.

You were warned to not let others pry! No more warnings!” the beast howled.

Washburn attuned to the internal struggle. This thing was an affront to his freedom. It’s second appearance did not shock him, it invigorated him to fight. Wash forced his own energy between the beast and Columcil’s presence. Then he yelled I will hold it off! Free yourself! Go my friend! Go!”

Reality in the mind is not akin to real life. The mind is filled with inlays and turns, Columcil mentally tripped over suplanted tortured memories of family disapproving of Washburn’s actions. Caught in this unnatural vicious circle in Washburn’s mind, Columcil became unable to retreat from their Rapport. This was the danger of deep Rapport, he had been warned by Deryni instructors in seminary of this possibility. It required a delicate balance to not force a departure that might damage the mind of either of them.

((18:23 <Laurna> save test, Is Wash unharmed by Feyd’s demon and therefore able to free Columcil.
18:23 <Laurna> !roll 3d6
18:23 <•derynibot> 3, 4, 5 == 12))

Washburn wrestled with the energy as he might fight a rapid bear; he locked it in his mental grasp, his arms around the beast’s throat, his legs braced to hold it in place to keep the creature from leaping after his friend. “Father, please go!” Wash pleaded in desperation. It wasn’t the delicate exit the priest sought, not with the way the knight pushed at him. It caused both of them pain, yet it worked, Columicl was free. Columcil woke in the real world, his hand instantly rubbing his temples to ease the headache behind his eyes. After a quick assessment, he leaned over Washburn, to waken him. The knight’s shoulders were stiff with a long withheld breath, nigh on to giving out. Then Wash opened his eyes wide in triumph, and he took in a great gasp of air. “It is contained!” he managed to say in his next outward breath. He lay for a long time taking in deep breaths, his eyes wide, staring at the thatched roof.  Desperate, Columcil called on his healing gift. Without retouching the tortured mind of his friend, he eased the knight’s muscles and replenished his energy.

Wash whispered with a half smile of thanks upon his lips saying, “If you had told me of what you intended, I would have given you fair warning about that thing.” He blinked a few times and then closed his eyes, easing his tension with the warmth of the healing. “Thank you, my friend, for trying.” Wash finally said.

“It wasna so unsuccessful as all tha’,” Columcil replied. “I learnt who twas who said tha’ phrase tae ye so verra long ago. A decade later twas repeated tae me by th’ cousin of th’ man who said it tae you.”

“Really, who said it first?” Wash turned his head to look directly at the priest desperate to know what he could not remember.

"Forgi'e me ma friend, but ah'm desperate tired. It's quiet in here and maybe's ah can sleep a wee bittie ta regain ma strength. Ah promise ye ah'll tell ye later." The exhaustion in Columcil's face as he fell back against the hay gave the truth to his words.  Could he help his friend to remember the love of his father without triggering that evil spirit?  There had to be a way. Columcil vowed he would find it. Then his eyes closed and he fell asleep where he lay.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2019, 02:21:57 AM by Laurna »

Offline Bynw

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #648 on: May 28, 2019, 10:46:30 AM »
For several months the priest had stayed in the village. At first the people were a bit weary of a foreign stranger among them, but as time went by they had grown not only to trust him but to rely on him as much as they relied on their village parish priest as well. From time to time a messenger would arrive in the village with orders from a far away Bishop in Beldour recalling the priest so he could report on how Gwynedd and Torenth were different in their practices of Faith. He would be gone for a few weeks and then return. He always promised he would return if he was able to do so.

Hours ago he returned again from being recalled to Beldour. The people of the village and the village priest were over  joyed at his return. Tired from the road and travel he took to his room and closed the shutters to meditate and pray from his journey. He would be undisturbed until the next day.

In the small room the priest sits on the floor. It has been swept clean of any debris and distractions. A single candle burns in a holder a few feet away and between it and the priest is a basin of water with a large ruby at the bottom.

The priest finishes his prayer and picks up a jar of ink and pours it into the water of the basin. It swirls around for a moment both clear and dark until the ink has colored all of the water black.

Placing his palms flat on either side of the basin he leans forward and stares into the inky blackness. The flickering candle light dances across the surface of the dark water and the priest's reflection moved with it and on its own. Changing. And finally showing another man and face all together.

If anyone else were to see the image as it rippled through the water they would recognize the blond hair of the House of Morgan instantly. For the man in the inked water was Washburn Morgan, younger brother to the Duke of Corwyn.

The priest concentrates at the image while he barely vocalizes his magic. Washburn is in a barn and a priest sleeps on the hay nearby.

With a smile the priest leans closer to the basin and whispers into the dark waters. "Come to this place." He knows his compulsion spell will work, even if it resisted it will eat at the back of the Washburn's mind until it is satisfied. He wont know why he wants to go there or who has called him (( Save Test at 2d6 to Resist but the Test must be made every day, futher attempts will be at Disadvantage and will only last for 3 days. Also another 2d6 Test can be made, if successful, Wash will know that Feyd is responsible. There is only one attempt at this one.))

The priest is indeed tired. With a thought he extinguishes the candle and the room is plunged into darkness.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2019, 12:58:15 PM by Bynw »

Offline DerynifanK

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #649 on: June 03, 2019, 08:19:41 AM »
Darcy and Aliset followed the baron, his wife and Fiona into the manor house and toward the solar. Columcil was hanging back, his gaze following Wash as he led Shadow toward the stable. The two young grooms were ahead leading the other horses into the stable. There was a look of concern on the priest’s face. He moved up beside Darcy and said something quietly in his ear, Darcy nodded.  As they approached the door to the solar, Columcil hesitated and addressed the baron. “Me lord, I dinnae wish ta delay yer conference, but I am that concerned aboot yon knight. He hae joost escaped a harrowin’ experience and he’s no too sure o’ hissel’ yet. I hae not seen him sin’ afore his ordeal.  I feel I need tae check on him tae see how he is and tae offer him any healin’  I can provide. Lord Darcy can tell ye more aboot wha’s happenin’ wi th’ rebels noo. We will join ye soon.” The baron did not look pleased but he nodded his assent. The priest left them, hurrying toward the back of the manor and the stable.

As they entered the solar, Lady Olivia spoke quietly to her lord, pleading fatigue and asking to be excused to go to her room to rest. “I will speak to the cook about sending some refreshments for your and your guests.”

 Mac studied her anxiously. “Are you sure you are alright? Should I send the priest/healer to you when he returns?”

“I will be fine. I just need to rest. It has been a very stressful time for all of us.” With a smile, she slipped out of the room and turned toward the kitchen.

Fiona clasped the Baron’s arm. “Is  Aunt Olivia feeling unwell? Should I go to her?”

Mac replied, “She insists she is fine, just tired and in need of rest. She doesn’t speak of it but I know she is most worried about Michael. Although she knows that going to plead his case to Earl Brendan is a right and necessary step, we don’t know how the earl will respond.  And if he accepts Michael’s expression of regret for his actions and allows him the chance to redeem himself, he may join the earl’s forces. That means going to war. If he does not, it  could mean a trial for treason. Either outcome is very frightening for her, the possibility of losing our only son. She is trying to be brave, but it is difficult and she is in great need of support. She is going to lie down for a time. Perhaps you can check on her in an hour or two to be sure all is well. I will also ask the priest to go to her later when she arises.”

Mac gestured toward Darcy and Aliset, indicating that they should take seats. He seated himself in a large chair with carved arms next to a round oak table near the fireplace. Aliset and Fiona seated themselves on a cushioned bench along the wall. Darcy hesitated, then bowed to the baron. “I owe you more explanation of what happened this morning and why we arrived after Jaxom and his men.” Mac nodded to Darcy to take a seat and proceed with his account.  Darcy seated himself facing the baron and began his explanation  “As I had said, I and my party had orders from the king to locate a hidden rebel stronghold in the Ratharkin mountains where they thought the missing man might have been taken. Our orders were just to locate it and communicate where it could be found, not to try to enter it.”

“We had reached the Michaeline Ruins where we encountered the Earl of Marley who also was seeking the missing knight who is his half brother and had been abducted from Rhemuth.  The earl was there with Lord Jaxom and his men seeking  to find out more about events there that had involved both guards from the garrison and citizens of Droghera. These men from Droghera went to the ruins because a young man had sighted a knight standing atop the ruins, looking as if he intended to jump. However, he quickly disappeared as though he had been pulled back. The captain of the guard, with a couple of his men and several citizens of the town decided to mount a rescue effort to free this captive. They had not been heard from since they had begun their attempt. They were supposed to join Prince Javan’s army the  next day Cuilteine, but none of them had returned.  When they were found in the ruins, several were injured, and  they told of encountering traps, obstacles, and frightening creatures placed there by the kidnapper. They had made a gallant attempt but were unsuccessful. There was strong evidence that Sir Washburn had been held there but had been moved just ahead of the attempted rescue.”

“ Did my cousin Fiona or Father Columcil already tell you how she came upon the earl’s men at the ruins?” The baron nodded, indicating that he had indeed been told of Fiona’s effort to secure help to free the manor from the rebels who were attempting to seize it. He studied Darcy as he talked, listening quietly and combining what he had been told earlier with what he was hearing now. The baron responded. “I am thankful for Fiona’s bold action which brought help to the manor, but I am concerned that her independent spirit might lead her into serious trouble in the future.”

Darcy noted the baron’s response and continued with his narrative. “She did well in this situation, convincing the earl that the situation was serious enough to warrant a raid on the manor to free you and capture the rebels. She also convinced him to let her ride with the party to use her knowledge of the manor and its inhabitants to assist with the mission.  Father Columcil agreed to accompany the party to protect her and her reputation.”

The baron gave a rueful smile and looked over at Fiona on her bench. “Aye. She can be quite persuasive and very stubborn when she wants something.” Fiona studied her uncle’s expressions anxiously as he listened to Darcy. She very much wanted his acceptance of what she had done and his understanding of why she had done it. She was worried that he might feel he needed to restrict her choices more in order to protect her. She would need his help if she was to persuade Lord Iain to help her achieve her goal to attend the schola in Rhemuth.

Darcy continued. “The Earl had also devised a plan to find his brother but all plans changed when word came from Rhemuth that the fortress had been located by my brother, Lord Iain, and that he had managed to free Sir Washburn and escape with him to a secure hiding place where they awaited orders from the king. Since the fortress had been found, by order of the king my mission changed as well.“

‘In the meantime, we were under the command of Earl Brendan. The earl had discovered a rebel traitor among the men from Droghera and learned that there were more traitors among the guards in Droghera’s garrison. He and his men would proceed there accompanied by the Captain of the Guard and those who remained loyal. His plan was to seize control of the garrison there, and to identify and imprison the traitors before they could be warned that their treason was known.”

There was a knock at the door and at the baron’s call to enter,  Gavin came in with a tray of refreshments and set them on the table near the baron. Cups of cool ale were served and a plate with a variety of cakes was passed around. After a welcome draught of ale, Darcy resumed his narrative.

“My brother received orders to bring Sir Washburn to the ruins then to continue on to Rhemuth where the king had need of him. Sir Washburn was to rejoin my party and travel with us. Lady Fiona was most anxious that the relief party proceed to your manor and she persuaded the earl to agree. We needed to await Iain’s arrival.  We would follow Lord Jaxom to the manor as soon as Sir Washburn joined us.”

The baron frowned as he interrupted Darcy “You say Earl Brendan was seeking his half-brother, yet he left before Sir Washburn arrived? That doesn’t seem right. I know he is loyal to the king and his focus has to be helping to put down the rebellion as soon as may be, but should he not have waited to at least meet his brother? Surely, they would not have lost that much time.”

Darcy hesitated before replying. “Those were the kings orders. The reason for those orders is not for me to divulge, but I can tell you that Sir Washburn had been severely abused mentally and emotionally while a prisoner. The full extent of the damage is not yet known, but he is able to trust few people including his family. Father Columcil is one of those he most trusts and has been assigned to stay by him and to discover as much as possible about what was done to him and how he might be healed.”

“When we arrived here, we found that the manor had been secured and the rebels captured. Our assignment now is to offer whatever assistance we can in devising a defense plan that will keep you and your neighbors safe from the rebels.” Darcy took another draught of ale and waited quietly for Mac’s response.

As he sipped his ale, the baron considered what he had been told.  He gave Darcy a grave look then began to speak. “I have been giving some thought to my situation since I recovered my senses. The call to arms had gone out several days before the struggle here became serious. Many of the young men from the surrounding estates have answered that call and are gone to join the king’s army. However, there remain a number of dependable retainers who can be used to our advantage. There are three manors within two or three hours ride from here. Their lords are my friends and are loyal to King Kelson. At least two of them employ men-at-arms who are experienced in fighting. I have written a letter which is being copied and will be carried to them asking that we meet very soon, later today if possible, to consider our best course of action in mounting a defense against the rebels, especially since we are so near the Mearan border..”

“I do have some thoughts on this matter of how best to secure our estates.” Mac continued. “We are situated between Droghera and Cuilteine, both of which have well manned garrisons that may deter the rebels and should be able to provide assistance as needed. I thought we might create one or two roving bands, led by the most experienced fighters among our men, who would be able to respond quickly to any threat. They could mount regular patrols of our lands to look for any signs of trouble. I also propose that we devise a warning system, perhaps enlisting the aid of the priests in our churches to use their bells to sound warning when needed.  I will send Gavin to fetch the original letter for you to read.”

Darcy nodded his head in approval of the plans the baron had devised so far. “I have not had much experience defending estates such as yours from attack. Most of my experience has been at sea, defending our ship against pirates and raiders. This is a somewhat different situation. If your neighbors agree to this plan, we will need someone with more fighting expertise and familiarity with the defense needs of large estates to assist us. Sir Washburn seems the ideal person to undertake this effort.”

The baron looked doubtful. “After what occurred when you rode in this morning, I’m not sure that he can be relied on to fill such a leadership position. He appears somewhat unstable and apt to explode without warning.”

“As I told you earlier, his enmity toward Lord Jaxom results from events that occurred in Rhemuth during his abduction. There were circumstances surrounding Lord Jaxom’s behavior that to some extent excused it and led to his pardon by the king. However, Sir Washburn is not yet aware of  what happened after he was lost. That situation will be remedied immediately. You need to be aware that he is the most respected warrior in the kingdom and is undefeated in combat. He has experience in training young men in the skills needed to become knights. He was a sponsor for schools establish to train young men in arms and continues to support them. He is the ideal person to mold your men into a fighting unit.” Darcy hesitated, waiting for a response from Mac. 

“If he is willing to take this on, can we trust him to focus on the task and to control his temper in order to work effectively with our men?  And what of the priest whose task is to work with him? What will he say to this idea?” Mac looked at Darcy. “Where are they? It seems to me that it is taking a very long time to tend to the knight’s horse. What do you suppose has become of them?”

Fiona and Aliset had remained silent during the discussion between the baron and Darcy.. Before anyone could say more, Fiona jumped to her feet, addressing the Baron. “I will go down to the stable, find them and tell them of your need to speak with them about the plans for defense”. Fiona thought of the knight as she had first seen him, tall and blond, riding a big black warhorse. She also felt sympathy for what had happened to him, and she felt a desire to see him again. Aliset offered to accompany her to the stables to find the  two men. At the baron’s nod, the young women left the room and made their way to the stable.

The first thing they saw was Shadow standing quietly pulling hay from a pile on the floor. When Fiona looked  more closely, she noted a pair of boots protruding from the pile of hay. As they moved closer, they saw both men apparently asleep in the hay. They were puzzled. Why should the two men be sleeping instead of returning to solar as the baron had expected them to do? Had something happened to them?

The priest  stirred and Aliset moved closer and spoke to him in a low voice. He sat up and replied. “There was’na any problem. I was verra tired and thought to lie down a bit. I dinna mean tae fall asleep.  We’ll joost put Shadow in his stall and then present oursel’s to apologise tae ta baron.”

Wash also stirred and sat up, appearing somewhat dazed as he tried to get his bearings. He found himself looking up into the face one of the prettiest girls he had ever seen. He beheld two celestial blue eyes gazing at him, very fair skin with a rosy glow, a long braid of pale blond hair reaching almost to her waist, and a slender, erect figure. He became aware that he was staring at her with his mouth open   She asked, “Are you alright? Did someone attack you and render you unconscious? My uncle is quite concerned at your failure to join him and Lord Darcy in the solar as he expected. They have been discussing the defense of this manor and surrounding estates and are seeking your advice.”

Before he could answer, Father Columcil responded. “T’was me fault, milady. I was seeking answers aboot what had happened tae him durin’ his captivity. I put him ta sleep as a help ta establish Rapport and healin.  Rapport, especially deep Rapport, can drain yer energy, I found mesel’ exhausted after and fell asleep after the Rapport had ended. We will join ta baron and Lord Darcy in ta solar immediately.” The priest rose quickly to his feet. Wash also arose and led Shadow into a nearby stall where he left him provided with fresh water and more hay.  Both men
brushed off and straightened their garments and followed Aliset and Fiona back to the manor and toward the solar.

As they entered the solar, the two men bowed to the Baron. Columcil quickly offered their apologies for failing to return sooner. Before he could offer his explanation, Fiona spoke up. “Uncle, it has been some time since  Aunt Olivia went to rest and I feel that I should go and see whether she is feeling better and whether she needs anything.” Mac readily agreed to this. Fiona turned to Aliset.“ Perhaps I could also show you to the quarters you and your husband will be sharing. I am sure you would appreciate the opportunity to freshen up and to change your clothing before lunch.”  Aliset indicated her agreement with a graceful nod. The two ladies curtsied to the Baron and left the room.

Baron Stuart gestured to Columcil and Sir Washburn to take seats and Columcil repeated his explanation for their delay in returning and Washburn added his regrets for his tardiness. Gavin returned with the letter which Darcy quickly read. “I agree with what you have written and I think this should be sent out immediately.” Gavin was sent to summon the two young grooms. The three of them would deliver the letters to the lords of the surrounding estates asking them to attend the proposed meeting later that day. They were to wait for answers from the lords.

The men returned to their discussion of the proposed defense plan for the manor and surrounding estates. If successful, the region between Droghera and Cuilteine would be held secure from the rebels. Both Columcil and Washburn listened attentively as the plan was explained to them.

Darcy turned to address Wash. “We feel that you can play a critical role in the establishment of our proposed plan. You have experience, not only with arms and defense, but also with training men in the skills they need to form an effective force for the defense of the region. I hope you will agree to remain here, at least until we receive new directions, and assist with the building of this much needed force.”

Wash looked first at Columcil, then at Darcy with doubt in his face. It would be wonderful to feel useful again, to feel in control of his future, at least his immediate future. Here was something that he had the ability to do, something that would help others who felt threatened by the Mearan rebels. But could he remain focused on the task, control his temper and be the leader they needed?  He had promised his mother in their Rapport that he would always try to do what was right. He truly meant that. But he was still afraid that he would not be able to do so, that his control of his mind and emotions was still precarious.  He felt a warmth in his mind as Columcil sent reassurance that he and Darcy would be with Wash to help him.  Wash took a deep breath, relaxed his rigid muscles, and nodded his assent. “If you feel I am able to provide what you need, with your help I am willing to try.”

Darcy addressed the Baron. “Father Columcil and I feel that Sir Washburn is the best person to lead this effort. Both of us will provide support to him in his mission. But this is your decision. We need to meet as soon as possible with those who are lords of the neighboring estates and determine whether they are willing to be part of it. Once we have their agreement, we can begin. Do you feel able to entrust us, especially Sir Washburn, with its execution going forward?

((!roll 2d6, Does the Baron accept Wash
derynibot  6,4==10
Yes! ))

Baron Stuart was silent for several minutes, then he nodded his head, indicating that he accepted Wash’s role as leader for the institution of the defense plan. “I feel sure that, with the help of both Lord Darcy and Father Columcil, you can be successful in your  task.”

Sir Washburn stood and bowed to the baron. “I will do my best, my Lord.” With this new mission and responsibility to focus on, he found it possible to ignore the odd feeling that told him he should be moving on to another place.

While the discussion was continuing in the solar, Fiona led Aliset to the room assigned to Lord Darcy and herself. “I am looking forward to a wash and change of clothing.” she said as she began to rummage in her saddlebags for her needs.

 “I am going to look in on Aunt Olivia to see if she is feeling better. Uncle Mac is concerned about her. The episode with the rebels was very stressful and she found Drago very alarming. And she is frightened about Michael and what will happen to him.”  Fiona started toward the  door, then turned back briefly. “If all is well with Aunt Olivia, I should like to come back and talk with you if you will permit.”

“Of course, you may return and we can talk.” Aliset smiled at her.

Fiona tapped on Lady Olivia’s door and opened it. She saw her aunt sitting in her favorite chair near the window. She smiled at Fiona. “Come in, my dear. It is thoughtful of you to check on me but I am feeling better. I expect to come down for lunch. You must tell your uncle, he worries so.”

“Is there anything you need, aunt?” Lady Olivia shook her head no. Fiona curtsied and left the room.

Aliset had washed and changed and was brushing her hair. Fiona went to sit in the window seat. “As you know I am Deryni but I have had little training. My mother died when I was very young, and once I came here to live, there was no one to teach me. I have always dreamed of attending the king’s schola and learning more about my powers and how to use them wisely. Sir Iain is my guardian, but he has had little or no time to discuss my future due to his commitment to the king’s business. Do you think you could help me?”

Aliset studied the young woman sitting before her. Certainly she deserved a chance to develop her Deryni powers. Of course, Aliset could certainly assess what she already knew and explore her potential. She could even provide some training herself. From what she had seen at the Ruins, Fiona was a bright and determined young lady who deserved a better future. Aliset’s husband was also mostly untrained although he certainly displayed potential. Perhaps she could start her own small schola, providing training to both. When the opportunity presented itself, she could talk with Sir Iain about Fiona’s future. She turned to Fiona. “ I think I will be able to help you. It’s nearly time for the noon meal and I need to talk with Darcy. We will talk again in this afternoon.
"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 Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #650 on: June 23, 2019, 11:35:10 PM »
For an anniversary feast, the guest list was small and the repast modest. But that wasn’t important. What mattered was that two dukes of the realm, who, related by marriage and good friendship, shared their duel 38th wedding anniversaries with their respective beloved duchesses. Both couples dined at the head table within the great hall of Laas, their first sons and heirs sat to either side of them, and joined in the celebration were their loyal retainers, many of whom were natives of Laas and who would never subvert their loyalties away from the King of Gwynedd, nor away from the solid trust in the current Duke of Laas. Of those who sat in the hall, most were men; few women of any station remained within the city walls of Laas. Walls that were certain to be under siege by the week’s end. In recent days, many families had been separated, as wives, daughters, and children had fled by ship from the Bay of Laas to find safer harbors as far away as Dessa or even the Isle of Orsal. The bay had emptied of all but its smallest fishing dories; the emptiness in the usually bustling harbor seemed surreal. The one Portal within the castle of Laas had been used as often as could be determined safe, but truth to tell there were few Deryni within the Castle who even knew of the Portal’s existence. And at least three jumps were necessary to get to far away Rhemuth.  Duchess Richelle Haldane and her son Richard had used this form of travel to the extent of their abilities. It was exhausting transporting family and close friends out of Meara. But to her credit, Duchess Richelle had not failed to returned to her husband’s side in Laas after she was assured the members of her family were safe. This was her home; not for a rebel scare would she abandon it.

So it was that the anniversary feast was served on Saturday evening of August 1; a day late, actually, as the dukes had been married on the thirty-first of July in the Year of Our Lord Eleven Twenty-eight. Trouble was, everyone had been busy on the true anniversary date, so it was thought that a postponement for the celebration would not go amiss. Duchess Richelle sat to the left of Brecon Ramsay, Duke of Laas, her husband of thirty-eight years, and to her left sat Prince Rory Haldane, Duke of Ratharkin. Next to him sat his wife, Duchess Noelie. Noelie had too refused to leave her husband’s side in this time of conflict. Rory and Noelie had already lost their home of Ratharkin to rebel separatists. Rory was none to pleased about Noelie’s choice to remain, but once it had been decided upon, he held her in high regard for her bravery. Noelie was Brecon’s sister, she proved the Ramsay bloodline was made of sterner stuff than most. But then that was a known trait of the Mearan nobility for centuries past. The very reason why the splintered bloodline was once again in contention.  Thus the feast was a subdued event highlighted by a few shared laughs and stories of old times.

As the evening wore down, tensions in the hall eased. Many excused themselves early for early morning mass was a necessity, as rebellions did not take the liberty of Sunday's off. Wine flowed freely for those who remained at table. A harpist played somberly in the corner, and more and more the two noble couples clasped hands under the table, where few others would notice. Time was getting late and soon it became apparent that the evening should end in more private comforts. Rory’s son, Earl Bearand stood to give final orders to his father’s men on duty. Brecon’s son, Earl Richard took the cue to do the same. A moment later, both dukes stood to close out the evening with a gracious thank you to those still within the hall. That long awaited moment for the rebel strike had come. All four men standing made for easy marks from the two skilled archers hidden in the gallery above.

Two arrows, shot with deft precision, pierced tunics, chain-mail, and flesh of both incumbent dukes.  Few heard the sounds of the bow strings, but all stood witness to both men falling back into their high backed chairs as if a giant hand had pushed them down at the same time. The piercing scream of the duchesses in unison echoed through the hall. In a time span of three heart beats, two more arrows flew. Only this time the Deryni powers of Earl Bearand, son of Lady Richelle, daughter of Prince Richard Haldane and Princess Sivon von Horthy used his trained ability to deflect the incoming projectiles. One skimmed just passed his ear and the other smashed into the stone just above his cousin’s head. The rebels intentions were clear,  to rid Meara of its Haldane influence. **

Everyone was moving then. Earl Bearand took swift command of the castle guard. He and a handful of men were quick to bound up the gallery stairs and to corner the two assassins who had little time to flee. Their capture was eminent. Earl Richard cast out with his powers to determine if any others in the room sought to take his family's lives. He found no others broadcasting such ill will. The noble ladies were quick to regain their wits, both kept their husbands in their chairs and surveyed the damage done. The wounded men were conscious, neither wound fatal, but time was telling. It was fortunate that the battle surgeon was in the hall at a lower table. He rushed forward to attend to the dukes’ wounds.

In the turmoil, the two rebel archers were dragged down to the main hall. The first questions put to them by Earl Richard had powerful persuasion behind it which in turn caused both men to convulse in seizure. All to quickly both assassin’s were dead. The only glimpse in their minds that Richard could ascertain was that a Deryni death trigger had been placed upon each of them. Who had placed these could only be a high Deryni practitioner. It was more than rumor that the sons of Terymuraz led this current unease among the Mearan people.

Proof they had now that is was more than unease. The quiet of Laas was shattered. The war was officially begun.

**((10:03 <Laurna> Rolling dice to see who might have been injured during an attack on the dukal families in the city of Laas during the 38 wedding anniversaries of Brecon/Richelle and Rory/Noelie
10:06 <Laurna> Brecon's son is Richard and Rory's son is Bearand, they would also have been in the attack. So I will roll for all four men to see if any were injured.
10:07 <Laurna> A roll of 5,6 means injured. In this order Brecon, Richard, Rory, Bearand
10:07 <Laurna> !Roll 2d6
10:07 <•derynibot> 5, 4 == 9  Duke Brecon injured
10:07 <Laurna> !roll 2d6
10:07 <•derynibot> 3, 2 == 5  Earl Richard not injured
10:07 <Laurna> !roll 2d6
10:07 <•derynibot> 5, 4 == 9 Duke Rory injured
10:08 <Laurna> !roll 2d6
10:08 <•derynibot> 1, 4 == 5 Earl Bearand not injured))
« Last Edit: June 24, 2019, 01:42:44 PM by Laurna »

Offline Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #651 on: June 24, 2019, 01:54:30 AM »
The Duke of Corwyn had ample warning about the blockade on the road before the city walls of Laas. His army was prepared to handle these rebellious Mearan sepratiest. In the predawn hour his scouts informed him that the Duchess had not embellished on their numbers and that they did indeed intend to stop him from entering the city. Yet enter the city he must, as quickly as possible. In a Rapport from the Duchess of Laas, Richelle Ramsay-Haldane had shared the dire situation within the castle of Laas.  Not only were rebels at her gates, but two assassins had infiltrated the castle during the dinner feast of her wedding anniversary. Both Duke Brecon, Richelle’s husband, and Duke Rory, her brother-in-law had been wounded by assassins’ arrows. The need of the army of Corwyn, Kierney and Truill to arrive sooner than later was an imperative. Most importantly the need of a trained Healer was required. Just as his father had had such a gift, Duke Kelric had acquired this same gift. Kelric had been giving the understanding that a schola healer had arrived at the castle by Portal, but there was only so much an apprentice healer could manage. Kelric’s expertise would be much looked for.

So it was that Duke Kelric of Corwyn commanded his army to march out several hours before dawn. As the sun began to lighten their backs, they crossed the last of the arid plain of Meara to come upon the rugged hills leading down to the great bay of Laas. It was good that the sun was behind them and that its blinding light hindered those who headed the blockade. The city walls stood high on a great bluff overlooking the bay with one long rampart road leading up to the pastern gates. Scouts announced the marauders long before Kelric knew they would attack. Arrows launched from the blockade flew high and short of their position. The sun was sure to be the cause of those wasted projectiles. The foot men of Gwyenedd moved forward in a shield wall position with shields not only held before them but also held over head. The turtle it was called back in the days of old Byzantyun. A solid maneuver when dealing with undisciplined men such as these villagers and seaman. For no skilled soldier seemed yet to be among the rebels blocking the gates. Kelric had been told that this would soon change. Valerian’s army were no more than two days behind him. He needed to have his men within the city walls to help fortify Duke Brecon’s garrison.

Kelric thanked the heavens that he had beaten Valerian here. His men defended well against the first two lofts of arrows, and then scales of the turtle parted by mere inches allowing for a volley of his Gwynedd arrows to be launched at the blockade before them.  In this method they marched right up to the blockade. The common folk of Meara scattered, non willing to face long swords and armed men. They ran toward the plains and toward the badlands along the shore line, where boulders and crags would allow them to move on foot faster than a mounted horse would dare to move through those treacherous cliffs. Only the open sand beach remained clear of men, they would be too easy a target to run along there. The cliffs above the beach was what gave Laas such a good advantage, the city could be approached by one lone road or by cliff-side climb up from the sea. This also lent for the city to be so easily cut off from the world around it.  The past days had seen the uprising of the Mearan separatists cutting off the main road. These commoners had become embolden by stories of the fall of Ratherkin. Ratharkin had been the newest Duchy of the split of the old seat of Meara. With Ratharkin taken, only the taking of the old capital of Laas stood in the rebel's way. Or so the common folk of the land had been told and believed, for a new queen had been presented to them and their independence had been promised. 

Duncan Michael did not order pursuit of the rebels, now that they had dispersed. Instead he ordered the blockade dismantled, pushed to the side and set a flame, so that it could not be used again. Free of further hindrance, the army moved up the road  and through the gates that opened for them. With cheers they were welcomed into the city by its remaining inhabitants. Earl Duncan Michael McLain and Jass MacArdry turned to the captain of the garrison and soon plans were solidified to house the new men and to fortify the walls with the new soldiers. Duke Kelric trusted them to make it good. He continued up to the castle where he was met by Duchess Richelle, who gave him a dutiful curtsy and then an unaccustomed hug.

“Thank you for coming to our rescue so quickly. Brecon and Rory are being attended to, but I am told that a deep healing for Rory is necessary, if he is ever to use his sword arm again.  The healer Kelson sent us, says he is not experienced enough to handle such delicate manipulations.”

“Certainly his majesty would have sent only the best to heal his cousin?” Kelric responded to her as they walked up the backstairs to enter the family residence.

Her grace looked down cast before she responded. “But there were none to be had. As you know, healers are still so few and all the trained Healers are marching to here with Prince Javan. Only the untrained have remained in Rhemuth.”

“The archbishop?” Kelric had to ask suddenly concerned.

“I am told that he is being retained in Rhemuth, for the King fears to send him out. I got the impression from my sister that His Grace is none to pleased with this arrangement, but due to the things that have happened at the capital, he understands the necessity that at least one trained Healer must remain beside the king.”

“Aye there is that,” Kelric had to agree.

“Here we are, your grace. I pray that you can help Rory and Brecon to recover fully.” Richelle opened to door to a sleeping room where two beds occupied the opposite wall.
Two men of similar rank to his own greeted him with pale faces and guilty smiles. These men were friends and it hurt inside to see them in their sick beds. Both men had right shoulders wrapped in gauze and arms held in a sling. “Do you always do everything the same?” Kelric had to ask as he stepped between the beds.

“It does seem that way.” Prince Rory replied.

“Not always.” Brecon returned. But then he gave a perplexed look to think of some way that he differed from his brother-in-law. “I can not think of anything just now, but I am sure it will come to me in time.”

“If we live that long.” Rory said with side smirk. But then he shifted his shoulder and he winced at the pain. “I don’t mean to sound facetious, but I really do want to hold my sword up against the rebel leaders when they come. I owe them much for the taking of my home.”

“Let me see that wound and I shall see what I can do for you.”

Kelric found the wound itself healed on the outside at the least. But the damage inside, to muscle and bone, was not so easily discernible. He spent the morning making small manipulations and small healings to repair the damage done. The trouble was men in their fifties already had age damage to the joints. Kelric took the extra care to see that repaired, as well. With Rory sleeping, Kelric took a moment to eat a noon meal, and then he spent equal time Healing the injury for Duke Brecon. It was important that both men were returned to full health and that they could once more walk among their people. It was the reminder that Meara had seen forty years of good rulership and prosperity at the hands of these two men that would ultimately win back the people and end this rebellion.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2019, 01:44:02 PM by Laurna »

Offline DerynifanK

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #652 on: June 24, 2019, 01:04:14 PM »

Stefan Chandos was a Mearan with strong passions about Mearan independence. His father had fought and died in the last Mearan war and his mother had dinned into his head her hatred of the Haldanes as the cause of his death.  He was of medium height and stocky with dark hair and hooded dark eyes. He had managed to obtain a position as assistant to the castle steward in Laas and had been employed there as a trusted servant or two years. He was a man of few words and had kept his sympathy  with the separatists secret.  He watched from the walls as the men blockading the road into Laas scattered, fleeing from the oncoming army led by the Duke of Corwyn. The great gates opened and Duke Kelric’s army entered adding to the resistance that Valerian would encounter when he reached Laas. Resentment burned as he watched. Meara needed to be independent, ruled by the ancient line represented by the recently discovered Queen, granddaughter of Prince Ithel. Stefan had done whatever he could to support the rebellion. He had been Valerian’s agent in Laas for over a year providing information about the castle defences and the plans and actions of Duke Brecon and his Gwyneddan allies.

Stefan had agreed to help two Mearan archers infiltrate the castle and assassinate the two dukes currently in residence there. He thought back to what had happened during the attack. He was to meet them at the base of the rocks near the city wall just after dark.  He watched as the two Mearan archers crept warily along the shore beneath the walls of Laas and angled toward the rocks that marked the limit of the sandy beach. They were headed toward the base of the city walls which, from their view, looked impenetrable, but he would guide them to a secret way inside. As they neared the rocks, he stepped out in front of them.

One of the archers started to speak but Stefan had silenced him with a finger to his lips and signaled to them to follow. He led them between two rocks through a narrow fissure that led to a concealed wooden door. They passed through and he locked the door behind them. He then led them up three flights of stone steps enclosed in narrow walls. At the top he motioned for them to stop while he cautiously opened another door and peered out. He then motioned them to follow him out into a gallery that ran around three sides of the great hall..

The two archers had followed him to the vantage point he had selected where they could look down on the great hall below  where a celebration was in progress. They had a clear view of the high table and the two dukes seated there with their wives and heirs. They indicated that their position was satisfactory, and Stefan had quickly retreated to a vantage point where he was invisible but could observe the outcome of the attack.

The archers had drawn the deadly little recurve bows and nocked their arrows. They had taken aim, but waited until the two dukes stood to say goodnight to their guests. They had then fired their arrows and the two targets had fallen back, both hit by the arrows but still alive. They had quickly each nocked a second arrow and fired but the noise of the first shots had alerted the Duchess to the direction from which they had been fired and she had been able to deflect them so that they fell harmlessly to the floor. The two archers had been captured by Earl Berand and the castle guard but had died before they could reveal any information.

Stefan was furiously disappointed that the attack had not achieved its goal, and both dukes still lived even though injured. He had hoped for success but he did not want to report failure to Valerian. He had thought it wise to have a backup plan although he had hoped not to have to use it. Now he needed to consider how best to implement it. He needed to eliminate the dukes before Valerian reached the city.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2019, 06:26:02 PM by DerynifanK »
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Offline DerynifanK

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #653 on: June 24, 2019, 02:22:04 PM »
Lord Jaxom’s party rode through the gates of Droghera at midafternoon, having left early. The men were tired, hungry and thirsty. Several guards moved forward and one of them, a sergean,t who appeared to be in charge challenged. “Who are you and what is your business here?”

“I am Lord Jaxom Trillic. I have completed my mission to the manor of Baron Stuart and have travelled here to Droghera to present my report to Earl Brendan. Please inform him at once of our arrival.”

Yes, my lord.” replied the sergeant, bowing and turning toward the barracks behind him.  He knocked at the door and entered. Almost immediately, the tall figure of the earl appeared, and strode toward him. He was accompanied by the captain in charge of the garrison, Captain Stev, whom Jaxom recognized from the ruins.

Jaxom dismounted and handed his horse’s reins to the man nearest him. He bowed as the earl approached. “My Lord, I have completed the task you gave me and have delivered the prisoners secured at Barons Stuart’s manor here as you ordered. There are five prisoners including one named Drago who appears to be a person of some authority in the rebellion. I wish to make my complete report to you, but first my men are tired and hungry and I need to see to their needs. Also I need to turn over the prisoners to your charge.”

Brendan addressed the captain, “See to the confinement of the prisoners. The man Drago should be placed under guard in a solitary room in the keep until I have the opportunity to interrogate him. Place the others in the tower until their final disposition is decided. Show Lord Jaxom’s men where to stable their horses, see to it that they are fed and provided sleeping quarters for the night.”

“The wagon, horse, and driver used to convey the prisoners were lent by the baron, and the driver should return to the manor tomorrow. They will need to be housed for the night and sent on their way in the morning.  Have one of the grooms take  Lord Michael Stuart’s horse and show him to guest quarters. I will send for him after I have received Lord Jaxom’s report.”  The earl gestured to Lord Jaxom to follow him, and the two men disappeared into the captain’s room while others moved quickly to carry out the earl’s orders. Men, horses and wagon rapidly dispersed.

Once they were alone in the room, the earl seated himself behind a desk and motioned Jaxom to take a seat across from him and proceed with his report. Jaxom began. “Under my leadership, we made our way to Baron Stuart’s manor. It was nearly dark when we arrived near the manor house, so we halted to rest and wait until dawn was just breaking to make our approach. We encountered a young page who was in service to the baron and was riding to seek help from the lord of a nearby manor. He was able to inform me of what had happened to the baron, and  particularly of the arrival of some high ranking rebel who was giving the orders. Just as the sky began to lighten the next morning we rode up to the manor and almost immediately detained two of the baron’s retainers. We confined several more men until we could sort out which were the baron’s men and which were more likely rebels.” Jaxom gave a cocky lift of his head and shoulders, proud of his own success. He continued,”  There were three who, under questioning, admitted to joining the rebels. One was questionable as he admitted to talking with a rebel but never actually committed.  These were peasants who appeared to know little about the rebellion, having been lured in by promises of rewards.” Jaxom paused and took a drink of some ale that had been brought to him by one of the servants. The earl had made no comment thus far, but appeared to be listening intently. Jaxom felt quite pleased with himself sure that he was making a good impression.

“We also suspected that the baron’s steward was part of the plan for the rebels to seize the manor. His efforts to mislead us as to where the baron and his son were and persuade us that there were no rebels there were highly suspicious.  Although he tried to deny it, I found that the baron’s steward was also a rebel sympathizer and had been the main source of instructions for the rebel recruits. I took him into custody and confined him while we searched the manor.”

“As soon as we entered the manor house, I instituted a search for the baron. The page told us he had been locked in a distant attic room. As we reached the second floor, we heard pounding and shouting. When we unlocked the door, we found the baron’s son who demanded to know who we were. As soon as I told him we had been sent by the king’s representative because of reports of rebel activity there and  reports of danger to the baron, he voiced concern about his father and quickly led us to where he had last seen him. On unlocking the door, we found Baron Stuart unconscious on the floor  with an injury to his head. He had apparently been there for some time.  I quickly summoned the priest to him, and we moved him to his room where he could be cared for by the healer.” Jaxom glanced at Earl Brendan, looking for approval of his actions. He needed to impress this man who was close to the king.

“I was aware that there was another rebel somewhere at the manor and that it was important that we locate him. After continued efforts, we were able to locate and capture him. I have brought him to Droghera as I felt you should be the one to question him.  I have also delivered the steward and the other three men to be further questioned as to rebel plans. I hope I have completed my mission in a satisfactory manner.” He sat back on his stool and studied the face of  the lord before him hopefully.

Earl Brendan spoke. “I am pleased with the outcome of this mission, however I do have some questions. First, what is the status of the baron? Has he been healed of his injuries, and is he able to retake control of his manor?”

Jaxom replied. “Yes, my lord. The priest was able to heal his injuries, and he is much recovered. He is giving thought to the future security of his estate and already making plans for its protection.”

The earl studied the young lord before him. “I have heard little from you about the role of those I sent with you. I understood from my Rapport with Father Columcil that the Lady Fiona played a significant role in the success of the mission, providing important information and helping to separate the rebels from innocent vassals of the baron. Also she prevented one of the prisoners from injuring you with a dagger. And I believe she helped to locate the rebel leader so you could capture him.”

Jaxom was aware that the earl was awaiting his response and much depended on his answers. “Indeed, the Lady Fiona was helpful although at times she made things a little more difficult by refusing at first to follow some of my orders. Orders that were given to help ensure her safety. The information she shared was important to the completion of our tasks. She also helped reassure the servants and retainers at the manor so that they were more willing to share what they knew with us.” Jaxom relaxed somewhat, feeling satisfied with his answers. He had acknowledged Fiona’s contributions while contriving to play down the role that she had played.

However, Brendan’s expression was difficult to read. He was not sure of the impression he had made. The earl then asked, “What of the baron’s son, Lord Michael. I understand he had been determined to join the rebels, taking the manor with him, but has now experienced a change of heart and regrets that decision. You questioned him. What is your impression? Is this change of heart sincere?”

Jaxom replied. “I did question him more than once. His statements were consistent, and I feel that he genuinely wishes to redeem himself and renew his fealty to King Kelson. He was anxious to present his case to you. Indeed, at his request I have brought his personal weapons with me as he wishes to join your troops as you march into Meara. He hopes to have the chance to prove himself in helping to defeat the uprising.”

Brendan continued his questions. “Did you ask Father Columcil to truth-read him when he gave these statements. It would have helped to be sure of his true intentions.”

Jaxom answered reluctantly, “The priest was much occupied with the healing and recovery of the baron, as well as keeping watch over Lady Fiona and and establishing Rapport with you so I did not request that of him.”

The earl looked at him with his ice blue gaze. “I understand that Lady Fiona is also able to truth-read. Did you perhaps ask for her assistance in this matter?”

“The lady informed me that she was able to determine the truth of what was told to her, and she was willing to talk with Lord Michael and make such a determination. I agreed in order to spare Father Columcil another task. She asked Lord Michael if he were willing to be truth-read in this way. He agreed readily, certainly a mark in his favor, and repeated his story to her. She reported that he was being truthful and sincere in what he said and his words could be relied upon.”

Brendan again fixed his icy blue gaze on Jaxom.  “I am concerned about the safety of the manor after you and your men left. What arrangements did you make to address this problem?”

Jaxom answered. “The baron had already given some thought to that concern and was proposing cooperation with the lords of several nearby estates to establish a mutually beneficial  plan for the defense, not only of his own estate but of the area between Droghera and Cuilteine where these estates are located. He had drafted a letter to them outlining his ideas and asking them to join him. If they agree, I am sure they can devise an effective defense. Just as I was leaving, Lord Darcy Cameron and his party arrived, assuring the baron that they had orders from your lordship to assist in this endeavor. Father Columcil informed me that he had orders to rejoin Lord Darcy’s party, and that Lady Fiona would remain at the manor with her uncle.I believe the baron has everything well in hand”

The earl was silent for several minutes then addressed the young lord. “It appears that you have accomplished your mission and I am pleased with the outcome. After you have had a chance to check on your men and refresh yourself, I need you to submit your report in writing, including all details you can remember. Do not omit anything as you cannot be sure what will be of value. Also, keep in mind that a good commander always gives credit where credit is due to those who assisted him. My squire will conduct you to your quarters  and show you where your men are housed. I will speak with you again after I have read your report.”

The earl’s young squire stepped forward and bowed. “This way my lord” Jaxom rose from his seat, bowed deeply to the earl, and followed the boy from the room.

Earl Brendan remained seated at the table that served as his desk, deep in thought. Lord Jaxom had completed the task assigned to him but the earl suspected that others, especially Lady Fiona and the good father had played a much bigger part in that success than had been indicated in his narrative. Jaxom appeared to be competent but still arrogant and centered on his own advancement. That could pose problems in the future.

When his squire returned from escorting Jaxom to the quarters assigned to him, Brendan sent him to conduct Lord Michael to him. After a short time, the squire returned, opening the door, announcing the young man who followed him. Michael was tall and slim with dark hair and blue eyes, appearing very young and nervous as he entered the room and bowed deeply to the earl. Brendan studied him gravely, “Be seated on that stool and relate to me what happened in your encounters with the rebels.”

Michael began his tale, his nervousness evident in his voice. “I met a rebel sympathizer at a hunt held on the estate of a friend. He seemed impressed with my prowess with my bow. At the dinner afterwards, he seemed to find my conversation informed and worth listening to, an opinion my father did not share. We did talk briefly about the situation in Meara. His view that the Mearans deserved to be an independent kingdom under the recently discovered queen sounded fair. He made it sound exciting. I would be helping to reestablish a free and independent Meara, and I would have many opportunities for advancement at the queen’s court.  I met him several times, and he seemed to value my ideas and opinions. I know now he was just flattering me to gain entry into the manor. I even helped him obtain the position of steward for one of his followers when our old steward retired.”

Michael hesitated over the next part of his story then took a deep breath to steady himself and continued. “As I’m sure you know from Fiona, my father and I had increasingly violent arguments about my rebel sympathies until I became desperate and decided to trick my father into entering one of the attic rooms, confine him there and assume control of the manor. I carried out my plan, but his resistance did not lessen as I thought it would. I was unable to convince him of the rightness of the rebel cause.”

“Then the man Drago showed up. I was already beginning to have doubts about my decision to join the rebellion. News of what had happened during the fall of Ratharkin had reached us, and I was horrified at what I heard. Then Drago insisted that I take him to my father. He would convince him of the right of the Mearan cause. When he failed, he became angry and struck my father, felling him to the floor unconscious. He then dragged me out of the room, leaving my father there unattended and forced me back to my own room where he locked me in.”

The earl had said nothing during this recital, but there was some sympathy in his face as he listened. Michael continued. “By now I knew I had made a serious mistake in even considering becoming part of the rebellion. I was worried about my father and did not know how I was going to get free to help him. I heard the commotion that accompanied the arrival of Lord Jaxom and his men. I made as much noise as I could to attract attention hoping they would release me so I could help my father. I’m sure Lord Jaxom has told you what happened after that.”

Michael was speaking earnestly, almost pleading with the earl. “I know I have laid myself open to a charge of treason. I bitterly regret my actions and I do ,most sincerely, wish to redeem myself through service to the king in helping to put down the rebellion, especially now that I know the kind of men they are.  Lady Fiona truth-read me at the manor and can attest to my sincerity. My father and I agreed that my best course was to present my case to you and hope for clemency.” The boy fell silent, looking at Earl Brendan with pleading eyes.

When Brendan spoke, it was not with the condemnation Michael expected. “I have been told by Father Columcil that the Lady Fiona confirms the truth and sincerity of your words. I have also been truth-reading you as you spoke, and I am convinced that your repentance is not feigned.  I have also noted your willingness to come here to face me, not as a bound prisoner but as a willing penitent. You are young and need to learn to give greater consideration to the consequences of your decisions and actions. I need to give some thought to what you have said. Return to your quarters, and I will give you my decision after I have further considered the matter.”

Michael rose, bowed to the earl, and followed the squire from the room.

Later that evening, having eaten his supper, Brendan sat back in his chair considering all that he had heard that day. He was expecting that the king would contact him, and he had much to report: the securing of Baron Stuart’s manor, the proposed defense plan, Lord Jaxom’s completion of his mission, Lord Michael’s request for a chance to redeem himself, and the capture of a rebel leader, as well as other prisoners. He was anxious for new orders from the king as to what his next move should be.

He was leaning back, relaxed, watching the fire when he felt the touch of the king’s mind.
Sire, how may I serve you? Have you further orders for me?

I have, but first I need to hear your report on what has been happening there.

Brendan rapidly presented his summary of the events of the past few days, including the capture and confinement of the rebel prisoners.

Kelson took time to consider what he had been told.   What you have told me is welcome. I would have you send the rebel leader to Rhemuth under guard that I may interrogate him. The more we learn about the rebels, their resources and plans, the better we can plan to defeat them. I have sent Lord Darcy and his party to assist the baron. Lady Aliset will be able to keep us informed of their progress. What of the baron’s son? Do you judge his regrets and desire to redeem himself to be sincere?

I do, my liege. Both  the Lady Fiona and I have truth-read him and found him to be truthful. He is young and realizes now that he was taken in by the rebels. I do believe he deserves a chance to redeem himself, and I am willing to have him ride with my men.

Brendan then queried, What of my brother? Have you further news? When will I be able to see him?

He felt the warmth and concern in Kelson’s reply. I wish I could give you the answer you desire. We still do not know the full extent of the damage done to his mind by his captor. There has been no time yet to pursue it, much as I would wish it. Wash is safe and being cared for. He needs a chance to heal and with God’s help that healing will progress. When it is safe, you will see him. I need you to prepare your men to march as soon as I give the word. You will  rejoin Javan’s army for the attack on the rebels outside Laas.

Brendan was bitterly disappointed but indicated his acceptance of the king’s command. Kelson’s final words were warm in his mind. I promise, you will be reunited with your brother as soon as it can be safely done.

Brendan turned his attention to the things that needed to be done to carry out the king’s commands. He sent his squire to request Captain Stev’s attendance on him so that the necessary preparations could be made, and he would be ready to move at the king’s command
« Last Edit: June 28, 2019, 06:51:13 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 Bynw

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #654 on: June 24, 2019, 05:01:09 PM »

Baron du Chantal and his men proved themselves battle ready and hardened as they fought bravely with along side the Haldane forces taking Laas. Once inside they celebrated with their compatriots and settled into fortifying the city with the rest of the Haldane armies.

Baron du Chantal knew the mistakes of his grandfather and father who both died in the last Mearan War. His father on the battlefield and his grandfather at the end of a rope by that Haldane usurper. He would not make the same mistakes. Although he knew he probably wouldn't live to see a free Meara but he would be there for its birth.

His men knew too that they had a dangerous and most likely a fatal mission in front of them. But the plan was simple. Give loyalty to the Haldane and fight along side his army. And when the moment was right it would be time to strike.

Like many of the rest of the Haldane army inside Laas, everyone shares in all the duties. Including the watch and guards for higher ranked officers. Thus this is where the Baron and his men found themselves. Positioned in good places on the city and palace walls. Generally near a ranking officer. Here they would stay until they all strike at the appointed time.

It will be glorious, to kill so many of the accursed Haldane's. Perhaps even all three of the Dukes and their most trusted captains and generals. All to fall as Lord Valerian and the Queen's army come to capture and free Laas. If they manage to survive the task then they will be great heroes to the Mearian independence. If they die, then they will be remembered for generations to come as Meara remembers its fight for freedom.

But the Baron doesn't know that he has already been betrayed. That the Portal at his manor has been given to the Haldane King. And his name appeared at the top of a list of names of Mearan separatists given to the Haldane King by Master Feyd.

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #655 on: June 27, 2019, 12:54:14 PM »
Of shoes and ships and sealing wax,
Of chamber pots and brides…

(with apologies to William Shakespeare)

Darcy Cameron stretched his full length and felt the familiar, satisfying crack in his spine.  He also felt the warm body of his wife snuggled against him, still fast asleep.  He tried not to disturb her, though a wave of long brown hair tickled his chest in a most enchanting way. He grinned to himself; he had kept her awake long enough last night, he’d let her rest in these early morning hours.

Well, not that early.  Used to early watches at sea, Darcy should have been awake before now.  He had only himself to blame, although if he remembered correctly, Aliset had not voiced any objections. Married life, so far, was leaving him with no complaints.

Other thoughts began to intrude on his contentment.  There was that small detail of the war with Meara. All he knew of the current state of affairs was that Lord Peacock was to join Earl Brendan in Droghera,  From there they would likely move to join Prince Javan and push forward to Laas.  Part of Darcy wished to be with them, but he was not a knight and his expertise was better used at sea.  Or was it?  Now he was charged with keeping Sir Washburn from harm or from causing harm.  He had no idea how it would play out.  Still, he wished he had a better grasp of the whole situation.  He liked to have all of the details and see the bigger picture.  He had a nagging feeling that an important piece of this puzzle was missing.

Darcy’s thoughts were distracted by sounds from outside the room he shared with Aliset.  Men moving, commands given, and yes, that was Washburn, beginning to round up the men he would hone into battle-ready soldiers.  Darcy thought it would be best to leave him to it and not interfere.  He would certainly assist if asked, but this was Washburn’s forte, and Darcy would stay in the background.  Watching to be sure, but letting Washburn do what he did so well.

The lovely, warm body beside Darcy stirred, and he moved to kiss the tip of her nose. 

“What is it about my nose you like so much?”  Aliset asked sleepily.

“It’s not just your nose, love, trust me in that,” Darcy said as he moved closer to steal a satisfying kiss.

Aliset returned the kiss and then pushed him far enough away to gaze into his ice-blue eyes.  “I trust you slept well?”

Darcy smiled as he stole a second kiss.  “Well enough, but now the day beckons and I should catch up with Washburn.  I must leave to see to my morning needs.”

Aliset looked at him and said, “We have our own chamber pot; you need not go elsewhere.”

“Well yes,” Darcy said hurriedly, but perhaps you would like your privacy.”

Aliset struggled not to laugh.  “Privacy?  That did not seem to be a concern earlier.”

“Well, of course not, but, well, um....”  Darcy blushed a deep shade of rose. The only one at sea who had the smallest amount of privacy was the Captain; there was little left unseen or unheard on a ship.  Why did he feel shy now?

Aliset smiled.  “I had older brothers, Darcy; you will not shock me.”

Darcy felt the rose on his cheeks turn to crimson.  “Oh, no worries about that, I just thought…”

“Off with you!”  Aliset said and shoved at his side.  “I too have needs to see to and won’t argue over our single chamber pot!”

“Maybe we should ask for two?”  Darcy said as he rolled out of the bed and reached for his shirt.

“Oh, of course!” Aliset said.  “Excuse me, my lord, could we have the room with the two chamber pots?  And maybe “his” and “hers” garderobes?”  Her laughter echoed in their small room.

Darcy looked at her ruefully.  “It’s not exactly a bad idea, though it does lack some practicality.”

“Go!”  Aliset exclaimed, still laughing.

“I will when I get to the proper garderobe,” Darcy replied sternly.

“You are incorrigible!”

Darcy grinned and slipped out of the door.  Marriage held some momentous joys,  but there were still some little details he would need to get used to.

A short wile later, Darcy and Aliset entered the hall as the servants were clearing the morning meal.  The cook took pity on the newlyweds and provided a goodly amount of fresh bread and cheese.  They left little behind.  Aliset decided to find Fiona and discuss the girl’s desire for further training at Kelson’s Deryni Schola.  Darcy assured Aliset that he would prefer his own special, private tutor. Her smile still lingered in his memory.

Now Darcy stood watching Washburn line the Baron’s men up in front of the butts. Darcy noted that some of the men looked comfortable with their bows, while a few others looked to be unsure of what to do with them.  Darcy smiled to himself; he had no doubt that Washburn would whip them into shape.

After the third time the Lendour knight sent the men forward to retrieve their arrows, Darcy ventured forward to Washburn’s side.

“At least more of them are having to walk farther forward to retrieve their arrows,” Darcy said.

Washburn snorted.  “And some have overshot the butts entirely and will have a nice, long walk.”  He reached across to grip Darcy’s shoulder in greeting.  “I hope I have enough time to have them ready.  I really need to be moving on.”

“Moving on?” Darcy asked carefully.  “Why do you need to move on?”

Washburn looked down at Darcy sheepishly.  “I don’t know exactly why.  I just have a nagging feeling that I need to GO, and it won’t give me peace until I do.”

“Perhaps the feeling will soon pass,” Darcy said reassuringly.  “Baron Stuart has put his trust in you to make sure his men can provide the defense he needs.  I know you won’t let him down.”

“Aye,” Wasbhurn replied, but he looked off into the distance toward whatever it was that called to him.  “I have pledged my support, and I will honour my pledge.”  He turned abruptly back to the men who stood in line again before the butts, awaiting his instructions.

Darcy stepped back to watch from a safe distance.  He could not begin to guess what had caused Washburn’s sudden desire to leave when he had much to accomplish. On the other hand, nothing on this journey had been straightforward.  He would remain vigilant with Wash.  And if Darcy could not prevent him from leaving, Wash would not be leaving alone.
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 #656 on: June 29, 2019, 01:05:34 PM »
The Droghera town square would most certainly not be considered a grand hub for vending and marketing, especially when compared to cities like Culdi or even Cuilteine. However, the basic needs of the townsfolk could always be found in the morning hours from carts set up around the square. At any given day a farmer or two came up from the valleys beyond the town gates to sell fresh foods. What was brought in often dictated what the townsfolk were likely to eat that night.  Alongside the farm goods, hawkers stood announcing their guild’s wares and skills. Some even brought out tables of goods to entice business. And then there were the more dubious seller of non-guild items that if caught would be rousted by the constable. For these people did not pay their fair taxes and thus they were secretive in conducting their business. The town was small and most days these men were ignored. However, with the king’s men housed in the barracks most of these types were laying low in the back streets, only doing business with those they trusted. Thus, Lord Jaxom thought to himself, How clean and honest this market Square of Droghera appears to be.

The proud heir of Trillick walked the square with a singular purpose. His cloak had become torn in the last few days. He did not remember when it had happened, but it irked him to wear a damaged garment. A man who was to ride beside the Earl of Marley on a mission into Meara must look his very best. Jaxom knew he would come before the earl at Terce. That was when he  would get his orders. After his successful mission to free Baron Stuart’s estate, Jaxom was certain his orders would include riding out as Earl Branden’s right hand man in their mission to put down the Mearan rebellion.  Time was running short. He needed a new cloak. He most certainly could not lead men to Meara looking like he had been rolled for his coin by a brigand. It was fortunate that his father had a good reputation in this town;  buying the items he needed under his father’s name would not be a problem. Not only that, but he did have ready coin in his purse from his last successful mission. Knowing he had well earned it, he gave himself permission to look at items he otherwise would have deemed too expensive.

The weavers had set up a table in the square that day. It was a lucky thing for Jaxom, for he found a deep blue cloak with a beaver collar. It would be perfect for the out-of-door nights in the lands near the sea. The wool was sumptuous and thick with an expense to match. Jaxom considered himself the better man, and dickered down the merchant's price until he was sure he had won the deal. Showing a bit of displeasure for being bested in the price war, the merchant wrapped the cloak in canvas and tied it with a knot of hemp. He held his hand out for the coin before he would let the bundle go. Grudgingly Jaxom paid him. 

That took the energy out of the young lord and he considered a hearty breakfast at the inn would energize his step. At the tavern door he undid the canvas string and pulled the cloak out giving it a shake. The blue wool was wonderful. That was when he noticed the broken throat catch. “This wasn’t broken when I bought it.” he murmured angrily to himself. Back to the square he went, getting angrier with each step that the merchant had purposely broken it have lost the bargaining. “He didn’t have to sell it to me, if he felt undercut. It’s a criminal act to break it after I bought it.” Jaxom said with a hiss.

Back at the square the weaver’s table was gone. Jaxom stamped his foot, he felt a need to throw the garment to the ground and crush it under his boot. But he refrained knowing that many eyes were upon him. Did they all know he had been cheated? Perhaps not, for no one turned away as he glared at them. Well, he would show he was the better man. He walked out of the square with his head held high. He walked back to the inn, however, his appetite was gone. He fingered the throat catch wondering if he should go to the black smith to fix it.

That is when a short man with sticks and a pouch approached him. “Aye, Sir, aye can na help bu’ notice that ye can na’ wear such fine garment withou’ a clasp. Aye just happen to have two or three here for ye ta pick from. Which be your liking?” He stood the sticks up and they suddenly unfold them in a criss cross fashion causing a leather top to pull taught forming a table. Out from the inside of his pouch he pulled two metal cloak clasps. One nickel and one bronze. He laid them on the leather table and then his hand went back into the pouch pulling out other jewelry items. Rings and neck chains and a locket.  But no third clasp. “Now’s aye recalls. Sorry, traded the third, so I hae just these two. Does one strike your discerning eye?”

Jaxom’s eye fell on the bronze one with the cross upon it. If he was going to war, the significance of the cross over his neck would be welcome. Before he would point that out, he looked at the other items tumbled across the leather table.

“What all have you here? These would not be stolen items. I will not buy from a thief.”

“I am no thief, good Sir.” the man spat back. "I walk the towns of the highlands buying trinkets such as these from the locals giving them fair value in return. I turn but a small profit in selling the items to those who want to improve their station by owning them.”

“Are you being honest?”

“Aye, I am, Sir. Here in the borderlands, a lie can be a cause of one’s demise. I never lie. I run an honest business. Now, what could a knight of the realm like yourself wish for? A broach for a lady or a ring for yourself.” He passed over a few items, putting them back in his pouch one at a time, as he got no reaction from the knight watching him. That was until he fingered a thick silver band with an engraving of the arms of Howicce between two swords. Jaxom’s eyes narrowed, and the peddler instantly held it closer for him to see.  “This would be your day, Sir. This be a knight’s ring, and I would only sell it to another knight.”

“How did you get this,” Jaxom asked, recognizing it as a token from a tournament. “This is not a thing someone would part with.”

“Ah, tis a sad story, I purchased this ring from a woman here in town. Her lover had given it to her and told her to sell it to get herself free of himself and of Meara. What with the rebellion and all, she was certain the knight was heading to his death. She would not have parted with it but for her need to eat. I gave her fair coin for the item and I would only ask for fair coin back, if I sell it.”

“An item such as that would surely have bad vibes upon it.” Jaxom waved a hand to reject it. “Just the bronze broach, what is your price?”

The peddler held the ring up higher, “I suppose I should melt the thing and have it remade. But it is a rare ring, a championship ring, a proof of prowess.” The emblem on the ring caught the light and Jaxom looked at it again. “I assure you the woman will eat well through the winter with what I paid her for it. Then she will be able to find a better man. One who won’t abandon such a pretty lass for this idiotic Mearan cause.”

Jaxom suddenly knew who had owned the ring. Only one person could have won that ring and had worn it with pride.The very man who had threatened him at sword point just yesterday.

HE had a lover in Droghera? How is that even possible?

If he bought the ring, could he earn back the man’s loyalty by giving it to him? Jaxom considered that this item would not have come to him if there had not been a heaven sent purpose behind it.  “Would be a shame to melt it down. And you certainly could not sell that to anyone who was not a knight. I’ll take it off your hands so that it will not weigh down your pack. How much for that and clasp?”

“Sir, for you, Six gold.”

Jaxom nearly choked. “When the sun froze over and heaven is laid bare! 8 silver!”

“I gave the lady four gold, I would not sell it for less.”

“That lady took you for a fool! You most certainly won’t sell it for more than 1 gold.”

“Four gold, five silver. I am not a fool, but I was willing to give charity to such a pretty lady as she.”

“Two gold and nine silvers. I am done with yea and things I don’t really need.”

“Three gold and both are yours.”

“Very well, I can agree that this is for charity.”

Jaxom parted with the three gold coins and took the clasp and ring in exchange. “Tell me who was this lover you bought this from, I might want to hear more of her story and give her more charity for it.”

“No, for certain you wouldn’t want to talk to her. She was all tears and fretful, with a sister to protect her. So no worries on her behalf. I thank you for your business.” Then the man gathered his items back in his pouch and folded his table up to hang across his back. Jaxom considered turning the man in for thievery, for he was now certain that there had been no lover and that some rebel scum had stolen the knight’s rings while he was in captivity. Yet he let the man go grinning over his own luck. He would return the ring to its rightful owner and gain back the man’s confidence. Well, on second thought, that might not be a good idea. He would give the ring to the knight’s brother and win that man’s higher regard. Yes, that was it. It was Earl Branden he need to impress, not Washburn. 

He put the silver band in his coin purse. He walked quickly back to the barracks with his new cloak and clasp. He would see that his squire replaced the broken clasp with the new one and then he would go before Earl Branden to receive his orders and present this new acquisition.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2019, 04:45:31 PM by Laurna »

Offline DerynifanK

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #657 on: June 30, 2019, 02:06:54 PM »
Stefan was frustrated and angry. He still intended to carry out his self imposed mission to bring about the deaths of the two dukes here in Laas. However, since the arrival of the Duke of Corwyn and his healing of their wounds, the two men had been closely guarded. There was no opportunity to enter their quarters unobserved. However, it was still possible to carry out his plan with only slight modifications. He would have to do it alone, and he knew that his chances of escaping afterwards were slim. He was aware that, with the arrival of Duke Kelric’s army, there were more Deryni present and the chances of his being found out were greatly increased. If only he could complete his tasks before that happened.

Stefan retired to his quarters between the lunch and dinner hours, ostensibly to rest. He locked his door securely, then went to a chest standing near his table. Taking out an ornate key, he unlocked the chest and took out a small velvet bag. He opened it and looked at the reddish-brown powder within. The old woman who had given it to him had warned him of his risk in handling or using it and informed him of the great care necessary in dealing with it. His intent was to poison his targets by adding the powder to the food prepared for their supper. Only a small amount would be necessary to accomplish his goal.  He was certain he could do this without being observed as he was frequently in the kitchen checking the supplies and making certain that  the servants were carrying out their duties. His presence would be expected as he would need to see to meeting the needs of the newly arrived troops and their leaders. No one would pay any special attention to him. He took the small bag and secreted it securely in his belt pouch within easy reach. He then left his room.

As he descended the stairs toward the hall leading to the kitchens and storerooms, he noticed one of the squires leading two men from the castle garrison to the withdrawing room behind the great hall. He watched as the young man paused at the entrance to announce the men following him. The curtain at the door was pushed back to allow the men to enter. Stefan caught a glimpse of the Duke of Corwyn and two of his most trusted lieutenants inside. A sense of apprehension ran through him. What was going on?

Earlier, after he had completed Brecon’s healing, Kelric had joined Earl Duncan Michael McLain and Baron Jass McArdry in the withdrawing room to discuss what had occurred prior to their arrival as well as their current situation. The heirs to the two injured dukes, Bearand and Richard, had been asked to join the council as the men considered the current situation. Kelric’s gaze fastened on the two dukes’ sons. “How did those archers manage not only to infiltrate the castle but to reach the gallery of the great hall without being detected?”

Richard answered, “We do not yet know but I, for one, intend to find out.  We cornered them and took them prisoner but before we could force any information from them, they went into convulsions and died. I was only able to identify the presence of Deryni death triggers set in each man but not who placed those triggers.”

Kelric nodded, “It requires a high Deryni practitioner to set such triggers. We know that at least one on the sons of Teymuraz, Grand Duke Valerian, is involved in this uprising.  It is his army that is marching toward Laas even now. He may have been behind the attack but there had to be someone on the inside, a Mearan sympathizer, who helped them enter the castle and led them to the vantage point in the gallery from which they launched their attack. That person must still be here, and he is the one we must find. We have no way of knowing whether there was a single separatist sympathizer or several present among men of the castle. We must find them! In the meantime both Prince Rory and Duke Brecon must be closely guarded to prevent another attack. The guards will be drawn from the most trusted of my men. We cannot use any of the castle guard as they were present when the attack was initiated.”

At Kelric’s order Jass left the room to select the most trusted men from among their guards and to set them outside the room where the two recently healed dukes were recovering. Until the man or men who abetted the attack were identified, no Mearans could be included in the guard detail.

“How should we go about rooting out these traitors?” Duncan Michael looked around at the other men in the room.

“We haven’t much time.” Kelric warned. “Valerian is at most two days behind me, Probably less. We must uncover and imprison any traitors within our gates before his army arrives. We also need to find the route by which they entered and seal it off so it cannot be used again.”

“Is it possible that the transfer portal was used?’ He asked Richard and Bearand.

“No.” they answered. “There are few within the castle who knew of the portal’s existence before the current crisis and almost no one other than our immediate families who have its signature or are able to use it.”

“Are there any concealed or secret tunnels or other entrances that you know of that might have been used? If we can determine the point of entry, it may make it easier to determine who among the dukes retainers might have known about it and used it.”

Richard considered the question. “There was an old tunnel that once led from the rocks lining the beach at the base of the walls to a concealed door that gave entry into the cellars. From there a hidden staircase led between the walls to the second floor where one could access the hallways through a concealed door. It is from the old time when the Quinnells occupied the castle. It has always been kept locked at both ends, and my father had the only keys. It has never been used in my lifetime, and I don’t know who could possibly know about it other than the family, our steward, and perhaps the captain of the guard. We would need to ask my father about it.”

Kelric nodded, “I need to visit my patients and judge their progress since the healing was completed. I will ask your father about the tunnel, whether it is still usable, and who might have known about it and been able to access it. In the meantime, Duncan, you and Jass with the assistance of  these two young men, need to begin questioning those who were inside the castle before and during the attack. They can assist you in identifying those men most likely to have been involved since they know their retainers well. This is particularly true of Richard as this is his home. Bearand will assist but will not know all the retainers as well as he has been here only a short time.”

“I know I don’t need to remind you to keep your guard up and a close eye on those men Kelson has identified for us. They may try to recruit or suborn some of Duke Brecon’s men. The time is not yet but soon they may act and we must in turn capture them for their treachery. Be vigilant my friends” 

The duke rose and left the room, heading for the stairs and the quarters where Rory and Brecon were recovering from their ordeal. Duncan unrolled a scroll that Richard had delivered. It contained the names of all of Duke Brecon’s retainers, their positions and how long they had been employed.  The four men bent over it, discussing which men they should question first. “Should we start with those who are least likely to be involved, to lighten our task?” asked Richard. After further discussion, the men agreed on this strategy. They sent one of the squires to summon the first of the men to be questioned. With two Deryni present during the questioning, it should be possible to eliminate those who were loyal to the duke and had no involvement quickly. This would narrow their search.

Kelric entered their room to find the two dukes awake and much recovered. He quickly checked the healed wounds, especially Rory’s, to find that most of the damage done by the arrows was gone. Their need now was for rest and food to complete the healing process.

Kelric addressed Brecon. “We are most concerned with how those archers were able to enter the castle and make their way to the gallery without being detected. We have two questions we must answer and we need your help. First, is there a secret way into the castle that is not well known but might be usable? Second, we are sure that they must have had one or more persons on the inside to assist them, and it is most important that we capture this traitor before he can do more harm. Richard told us of a secret tunnel from the old times that led from the rocks along the beach to the cellars and from there by a hidden stairway to the upper floors. Does such a tunnel exist and is it still navigable?”

Brecon nodded slowly. “Such a tunnel does exist. In the old days it provided a way of escape for the inhabitants should the castle defences be overcome and they needed to flee. They could escape to the beach and be rescued by sea. Only a few knew of its existence or location. I had considered having it blocked since there had been no threat for many years but decided against it. There are two hidden doors, one among the rocks at the base of the wall and another that leads to the gallery from which the rest of the castle can be readily accessed. I hold the keys which are kept locked in a chest in my strong room. There was one additional key which had been kept by my steward so he could check the status of the structure as is required periodically. However, he had reported to me several days ago that it had disappeared from his ring of keys, and he had no idea where it could have gone. He keeps his ring on him at all times except when he is sleeping. We have searched for it but have not found it. We did determine that my keys remain in the locked chest where they are kept.”

All three men were quiet for several minutes considering the implications of what they knew.  Then Kelric spoke. “Who could have gained access to the stewards keys?  Who is close enough to him to have been entrusted with them at any time? Surely not any of the more common servants. It would need to be someone in a responsible position, someone he had faith in”

Brecon considered for a moment. “The most likely person would be Stefan who is the steward’s assistant. He might be allowed possession of the keys for a special purpose. I know Angus trusts him and relies on him a great deal. He is a silent and somewhat surly man who says little but he has never given any cause to doubt his loyalty in the two years he has held his position. However, we can summon Angus and ask if he has at any time given the keys to Stefan or whether they have ever been in his possession.”

A squire was summoned and sent to tell Master Angus that the duke had need of him and to ask him  to attend the duke in his quarters. When the squire entered the kitchen and spoke quietly to the steward, Stefan was curious but not alarmed. He  had not been able to get close enough to the plates being prepared for the two dukes to add his powder to the food without exciting suspicion. But he was confident that an opportunity would come. Angus called to him to continue to supervise the preparations for supper while he attended the duke. Angus followed the squire to the dukes’ quarters and bowed deeply as he entered.         

Brecon addressed him. “The Duke of Corwyn is trying to determine how those two assassins managed to infiltrate the castle. He is interested in the old tunnel from the shore and whether they might have gained access to it. I need to know whether Stefan knows about the existence of the tunnel. Is there anyone else privy to the knowledge about it?”

Angus replied. “He does know about the tunnel.  After that big storm we had several months ago, I thought it prudent to check on the status of the entrance from the shore and whether any flooding had occurred. I intended to do it myself as was usual, but in assessing the rocky area that leads to the lower door, I slipped and fell, injuring my leg which made walking difficult. After I made my way painfully back to my office and had it seen to by the battle surgeon, I gave Stefan the key and sent him to the rocks to check for damage to the entrance or door and to see if there was any flooding in the cellar. He returned to report that all was well, and the cellar was dry. He returned the key to me. I am sorry, my lord, I had not remembered it until now..”

“Did you question Stefan when the key disappeared?” Kelric asked

“Yes, mi’lord, along with the other servants,  but he said he had not seen it. He had not had possession of my keys other than that once, and I had no reason to disbelieve him. I could think of no reason why he would want them.” Angus said nervously.

Kelric turned to Brecon. “I think we need to question Stefan. He is a native of Laas. Has he ever given you any reason to think he is sympathetic to the separatist cause?

“As I said, he is a man of few words but he has certainly given no indication of such leanings.” Brecon looked troubled.  He summoned the squire to go ask Stefan to attend him as he had some additional duties to assign to him. The squire then was to go to the withdrawing room and ask Earl Richard to join them.

Stefan was uneasy. Angus had been gone for longer than he would have expected if he was only receiving new orders. He looked around but the servants were busy and paying little attention to him. The trays of food to be carried up to the dukes’ quarters were sitting on the table ready for delivery. This was his best opportunity. Under the cover of the table, he eased the velvet bag from his belt pouch and opened it as he inched closer to the plates of food. He uncovered the first plate as though checking the contents, then managed to add a small amount of the powder to the food.

 He was replacing the cover and beginning to uncover the second plate when the squire who had been sent for him shouted “Stop! Guards!” Two of the castle guards  ran into the kitchen with swords drawn. “I saw him add something to the food on the  dukes tray!” he said loudly. The guards turned to eye Stefan suspiciously.

((is Stefan caught?Roll 2d6 6+3==9. Yes!))

“Pay no attention to this boy. I added nothing. I was only checking to see that the tray was properly laid and the food hot. He is imagining things!” Stefan edged toward the door.

“The duke sent me to summon the steward to his quarters. As I came in I saw him take a small bag from his belt pouch and sprinkle something on the food. You need to find out what is in that bag!”
The two guards moved in to secure Stefan, grabbing him by both arms as he tried to reach the hearth and throw the bag into the fire. Hearing the commotion, Earl Richard entered the kitchen. “What is going on? He demanded.

One of the guards replied. “This squire claimed he saw the steward add something from a small bag to the food on one of the trays. When we moved to detain him to find out what was in the bag, he tried to throw it in the fire.”

Richard turned to the squire. “What did you see?”

“I was sent to summon the steward to the Duke’s quarters then to ask that you also join Duke Kelric and Duke Brecon as they had questions for him. As I came in, I saw him with a small bag in his hand. He sprinkled something from the bag onto the food then recovered it. He was reaching for the cover on the second plate when I shouted at him to stop and called the guards.” the squire looked anxiously at Richard, hoping he had done the right thing. The assistant steward was respected and could cause a lot of trouble for a young squire.

Richard motioned to one of the guards. “I think we need to see what is in that bag that he tried to destroy.” Stefan struggled as one of the guards took the bag from where he had tried to hide it in his sleeve. Richard opened the top and saw a reddish-brown powder inside but had no idea what it was. “Cook,guard that tray and see that no one touches it. There very well be death upon it. Killan, bring him!” Richard ordered the guard as he started for the stairs that led to his father’s room. The guards forced the struggling steward up the stairs behind the earl.

On entering the quarters of the two dukes, Richard bowed and quickly recounted to all three men what had occurred in the kitchen. He then showed them the contents of the bag. They shook out a small amount of the power for examination. Neither Brecon nor Rory recognized it, but Kelric did. He had seen a very similar powder when, with Briony, he had attended a class given at the schola by an apothecary. The man had described it and its lethal properties. It was powdered monkshood and highly poisonous. The steward had intended to kill both dukes.

The guards bound his hands behind him and forced him into a chair. Kelric questioned him, using his truth-reading ability to test the steward’s answers. The man denied that there were any others involved in his attempt. He had spied for Valerian for nearly a year but had never before received any orders for action, only providing information. He had received a message concerning the two archers that he was to admit to the castle and lead to the gallery. However, the messages were left in his room, and he never saw who delivered them. When the archers he took it upon himself to try again, using the poison he had obtained for that purpose. He strongly supported Mearan independence and was avenging the death of his father in the last Mearan War.

After lengthy questioning, Kelric decided that they had learned what they could from him. The guards conducted him to the dungeons where he was chained in a cell to await his fate. The three dukes discussed the situation. Both Richard and Kelric confirmed that his answers had been truthful. It appeared that he knew of no other enemies within the fortress. The questioning done by Duncan Michael, Jass, Richard and Bearand had uncovered no suspicious plans or sympathies among the castle garrison. All they had questioned so far were loyal to Duke Brecon and to the king.

Later that night, as Kelric sat alone in his room, he considered all that had happened since their arrival in Laas. He knew that Valerian’s army was very near, and they expected to be under seige in the next day or two. Fortunately, both Brecon and Rory were mostly recovered from the attack and would be able to lead their men in resisting any assault by Valerian. He thought about their attempts to establish the loyalties of the inhabitants of Laas. He was also worried about the traitors he knew had entered Laas with his own army. When would they make their move?  Despite finding no indications of additional traitors, he had an uneasy feeling that all was not yet known
"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 #658 on: July 07, 2019, 02:18:47 PM »
Captain Stev entered Brendan’s quarters and bowed. “You wished to see me, mi’lord?

The earl replied. “I did. Be seated, there are things we must discuss in preparation for the departure of myself and my men. The king has tasked me with being ready to move immediately on his command which I expect very soon, probably as early as the morning. We are to rejoin Prince Javan’s army for the attack on the rebels at Laas.’

Brendan continued, “We need to arrange to have the rebel leader, Drago, delivered as soon as possible to Rhemuth. The king is anxious to question him. I need you to select two of your most experienced and reliable men to escort him there. He will be restrained by chains during the trip. If they leave at first light tomorrow and take the shorter road through the Hidden Gwynedd Valley they should be able to reach Arx Fidei before dark. They could rest there for the night and face only a short ride into Rhemuth the next morning. There they will turn the prisoner over to the king’s guards. Do you have concerns about this plan?”

The captain shifted on his stool. “The problem is that I’m already short o’ men to guard the increased number o’ prisoners here. Takin’ two o’ me most experienced guards will  decrease me numbers more an’ make the risk of attempted escape or attacks higher.”

“How many additional men do you need to feel that you can control the rebel prisoners and maintain the safety of the garrison?”

Captain Stev considered the question for several minutes, then spoke.  “If they’re experienced men-at-arms,  three at the least, four wuid be better. If they’re newer with little experience, I wuid say five or six wuid be best. I could release two o’ em when my men return from Rhemuth.”

“That is easily solved.” replied Earl Brendan. “I intend that Lord Jaxom ride with me as one of my lieutenants. His men were to be added to the men under my command. I will detach his five men to join the guard detail here to assist you in maintaining the safety of the garrison.”

“Thank ye, mi’lord. That will indeed make me task easier.” The Captain looked relieved.

“Do you have other concerns?” Brendan waited for the captain’s answer.

“I am that worrit about the safety o’ the estates between here and Cuiltiene. If they are attacked, I’m not sure how much help I could give ‘em.” Captain Stev waited quietly.

“That is being addressed.” the earl assured him. “The lords whose Manors lie between here and Cuiltiene are taking steps to provide for their own defense, putting together a force made up of their own men-at-arms and retainers to discourage any attempts to seize any of their manors.”

The captain sat back on his stool, appearing less tense. “I have checked all me defenses an me supplies an’ weapons, an’ I think we’re well prepared to meet any action from the rebels.”

“Good!” replied Brendan. “I am pleased with your preparations. I am sure all will be secure in our absence.”  Captain Stev stood, bowed and left the earl’s quarters.

Brendan next sent his squire to summon Lord Jaxom and Lord Michael to attend him. While he awaited their arrival, he considered the readiness of his own men for the march and battle ahead. He had tasked his men to check their horses, gear, and weapons to be sure all was in readiness to ride as soon as the king’s command came.  He had also taken steps to be sure that they had adequate supplies.

He heard footsteps approaching and his squire ushered in the two young lords. Both of them bowed to the earl, and he motioned to them to be seated on the two stools across from him. Brendan  noted that Jaxom wore a new and expensive cloak of deep blue with a bronze clasp engraved with a cross, obviously dressed to impress. He smiled to himself. He addressed the two young men. “I summoned you as we will depart Droghera soon to rejoin Prince Javan’s army for the relief of Laas. I need to make you aware of your orders for this mission.”

“Lord Michael, I have considered everything you have told me as well as Lady Fiona’s report of your sincerity, and I have recommended to the king that you be given a chance to redeem yourself and prove your fealty to him and to Gwynedd. Before we depart, I do require that here before me you swear an oath of loyalty to Gwynedd. When this campaign is over, you may have the opportunity to go to Rhemuth and swear your fealty to King Kelson. Are you prepared to give me your oath?”

“Aye, my lord” Michael bent his knee before the earl who stood to receive his oath. He repeated the words of the oath after Brendan. He then rose to face the earl who turned to Lord Jaxom. “You are witness to this man’s oath of loyalty, and I am placing him under your supervision. He will receive his orders from you, and I expect that you will watch over him.” 

Jaxom stood straight and proud before the earl. “I will carry out your command, my lord.”

Brendan again addressed Michael. “You will ride with me as an aide to Lord Jaxom.  He will return your weapons to you. “Check them to be sure they are in order. Have you had training as a squire in their use in battle? “ Brendan studied the young man before him.

“I have had such training, my lord.” Michael replied. “ Although I have never been in battle, I have practiced regularly to improve my skills.”

Brendan nodded. “Lord Jaxom will be responsible for your integration into the cavalry accompanying me. He will keep me apprised of your progress. I expect you to take full advantage of the opportunity you have been given. You may go to get ready for tomorrow’s departure”

“Thank you, my lord. I will do my best to justify your faith in me.”  Michael bowed and withdrew.

Brendan turned his attention to Lord Jaxom. “I depend on you to help that young man  establish  himself as a trustworthy vassal of the king. Since his father’s estate is near yours, it seemed useful to provide the two of you with a chance to form a relationship that will serve you well not only during the current campaign, but later when you have returned to your estates.”

“When we leave, you will be riding with me as one of my lieutenants. I had intended to integrate your men with my own. However, the captain of the garrison here needs additional soldiers to safely and adequately man the town and its fortifications and manage the prisoners you brought as well as those already here. Therefore, I have decided to detach your men and reassign them to the garrison here under Captain Stev.”

Jaxom did not appear too pleased with this plan. “These are my father’s men-at-arms, and he will not be pleased if I return without them. They have been together under my leadership for quite some time, and they respect me and follow my commands. I am not sure how they will accept a new assignment to garrison duty under a new commander.”

The earl eyed the young lord sternly. “I am sure that they will accept the necessity of this change if it is presented to them in the right way by you, their commander. This assignment will enable them to remain together as a unit. I am sure that you can help them understand that we all must use our resources wisely in order to defeat the rebels and that their role will make a significant contribution to achieving this goal”

Jaxom  nodded his agreement with Brendan’s words. “I understand, my lord. I will explain to them the importance of their role in protecting the town and in ensuring that the prisoners are duly brought before the king’s justice. That will surely discourage any others who might be having thoughts about joining the rebellion.” Jaxom looked pleased with his rejoinder, certain that he had made a good impression with his response. And he would be one of the Earl’s lieutenants which would surely offer opportunities to enhance his reputation and help him toward advancement in the king’s favor.

Brendan stood, “Have you further questions about your assignment? If not, you may rejoin your men and take care of informing them of their new role and seeing that they get settled in the barracks. You might ask Captain Stev to accompany you so he can show them to their quarters and  review what will be expected of them. I expect you to be ready to ride out with me in the morning when we receive the king’s command”

“Yes, my lord.” However, Jaxom hesitated.

“Have you further questions about your orders?”

“No, my lord, but I do have something I need to give you.” Jaxom reached into his coin purse and withdrew a thick silver band which he held out to Brendan, who looked puzzled.  “I bought this from the same merchant who sold me the clasp. I recognized it right away as a knight’s ring. On closer examination, I saw that it was a tournament token, a championship ring. I thought he might have stolen it, but he assured me he bought it from a lady who was in great need. He said that she told him it was given to her by a lover, but somehow I doubt that was true. The man described his purchase as an act of charity. I hesitated to buy it, and he began to talk of melting it down since he would have great difficulty selling it as only another knight could buy it. I studied it more closely and decided it would be a great pity to let it be melted down. The person who won it must have worn it with pride.”

Jaxom looked up and met the intent gaze of the earl. He took a deep breath and continued. “As I studied it further,  I realized that it was very like a ring worn by your brother during our trip to Rhemuth. I decided to purchase it. I thought you might be able to determine whether it had indeed belonged to Sir Washburn. I knew of his capture, and I was sure that if it had been his, it must have been stolen from him by the rebel scum who held him. I decided to bring it to you.” He placed the ring in Brendan’s hand.

“I know he had a ring similar to this, but I do not know if this is actually his ring.” Brendan turned the ring over in his hand, studying the engraving on it. He felt a stirring as if the ring was indeed trying to tell him something, but he needed time alone with it to study it, to focus on it and let it tell him whatever secrets it held. “I would like to retain the ring and study it when I have time. I will reimburse you for the price you paid.”

Jaxom replied. “I bought it together with the cloak clasp for three gold coins, but I do not seek repayment. I would ask that you keep it, and if it does belong to your brother, that you return it to him when there is opportunity. I would hope that the return of his ring would improve relations between us when our paths cross again.”

Brendan studied the man before him. He felt sure that Jaxom’s real intent was to curry favor with him, however, it was a laudable act. “I thank you for your generosity in bringing the ring to me. It speaks well of you that you thought to buy it to save it and try to return it to its owner thinking it might have been my brother’s.  When there is time, I will study it further and try to determine the owner. I will then see that it is returned to the owner, whoever it is. Now we must prepare for our departure.”

Lord Jaxom bowed and left the room to carry out his orders. Brendan sat back in his chair and focused on the ring he still held in his hand. He took one slow, deep breath then another. He slipped into trance.

((Does he find that the ring does belong to Wash
roll 2d6, 2+6==8  Yes))

He does sense his brother, first his pride and happiness at winning the ring. But then he senses darker happenings, pain as shields crumble, then assaults on Wash’s mind. As he slips deeper, Brendan senses feelings of helplessness and shame, followed by a sense of deep cold and blackness, despair. Death is near. But then there is a brief feeling of warmth and returning life just before his sense of Wash is lost.

He awakens from the trance, considering what he learned. The ring does belong to Wash, and he continued to wear it at least part of the time during his captivity. At some point it was taken from him. The king has told him that Wash survived and escaped his captors and is now being cared for.  But he also knows that Wash is not out of danger. The extent of the damage done to his mind by his captor and how to reverse it is not yet known. If his mind cannot be healed and he becomes a danger to the king or to his own family, it still could cost him his life.

Brendan knows he must follow his king’s orders, and he will soon leave Droghera and rejoin Prince Javan and his army. The highest priority must be to defeat the Mearan rebels and restore peace to the kingdom. However, he makes a firm resolve to find Wash’s captor. When he does, he will force him to reveal what can be done to heal his brother. He will then kill him.

Brendan receives the king’s command to move in the early predawn hours the next morning. He orders his men to muster in the stable yard. The escort taking Drago to Rhemuth has already left. The earl mounts his horse and moves to the head of the column with Lord Jaxom beside him. He bids farewell to the Captain, the gates of Droghera swing open, and they ride out toward the west, following the shortest route to overtaking and joining Prince Javan and his army on their march toward Laas
« Last Edit: July 07, 2019, 04:38:54 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 Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #659 on: July 08, 2019, 02:55:05 PM »
Many men, both young and old, gathered at Baron Stuart’s estate; they joined together for the assembly that had been called the day before. Only the oldest of the land owners came themselves, for most of the male nobility had already answered the call-to-arms and had joined with Prince Javan’s army days before. Instead, those who came were the chatelaines and wives with their stewards and youthful sons.  They were accompanied by a boisterous group of men who had been itching to go to war, but who had been assigned by their lords to guard their estates. All these men and boys swelled the ranks under Sir Washburn’s instruction in the outer yard. The Baron’s official meeting with his neighbors to strengthen their lands against the rebels would take place in the afternoon following a worthy meal, the smells of which wafted over the practice grounds as the kitchens were up wind; the smell of roasts on the spits and baked goods in the ovens. Until such time as they could all sit in the great hall to eat, the women watched from the manor’s stairs talking of the events while the men plied their skills in the yard; skills in archery, swordsmanship and dagger play.  Sir Washburn walked between the archery field and the practice dueling grounds giving pointers on position, stance, aim and attack to any and all who needed assistance.

The Lendour knight was pleased with what he saw. Of these men, a few were men-at-arms, many others from the estates were workmen and drovers. Men trained to defend property, but not as soldiers, nevertheless they had some experience in fighting as being on the borderlands with Meara and the Connait. Skilled enough to for Washburn to help them improve upon what they already knew. Only a few times did Wash actually need to intervene when a poorly held sword would have seen a boy skewered before he even knew what had happened to him. He took the minutes necessary to show proper stance and weapon’s hold and most importantly how to block a swing. Whenever he gave such general instruction, many nearby would stop to watch and learn, and then when dueling began again, each man’s postures were much improved. Halfway through the morning, Wash turned to see Lord Darcy giving pointers in dagger play. Obviously the seaman had a good mastery in that form of fighting. Washburn was impressed.

“How is your archery?” Mostly in jest, Washburn challenged his friend as he came up beside him.

“Passably good. I can lob a flaming arrow at a passing boat and set a sail aflame,” Darcy claimed with a shrug of his shoulders.

“Than at least you know what the bow string is for,” Wash jibed back. “But can you hit the passing boat’s halyard line with a razor arrow tip to bring the sail down upon the deck and cause the enemy vessel to become dead in the water?”

Darcy gave a skeptic laugh. “No one can do that!”

“I have,” Wash said offhandedly with a small shrug of his shoulders and a confident smile.

“Not possible,” Darcy challenged.

Wash said nothing more, he walked up to the nearest man with a heavy longbow.  Borrowing it, Wash tested the pull of the string, not quite the tension of his own bow, but strong enough. He chose an arrow with a war tip and ripped the feather’s off one side. He sighted the pennant flag to the side of the gate tower. He concentrated on the breeze as the pennant lightly waved and how it tugged at the rope holding it to the top of the pole. He focused, taking steady even breaths. He didn’t even notice that the courtyard had gone quiet. All watching.

His arrow flew with a wild spin and a rapid trajectory. The arrow severed the targeted rope then flew on to strike the castle wall with a “Ting”. There was a faint flapping sound as the pennant fluttered free in the breeze, the weight from the lower rope pulling it to the ground.

(( Wash, bow mastery.  3d6 results  3 + 1 + 5 = 9. success))

“Not quite perfect, but it gets the job done.” Wash lowered the bow, a little surprised to hear the cheers around him. He acknowledged the men and waved them back to their training. He turned back to Darcy. “Of course it is much harder at sea, but not an impossible feat for men like you and I. Have you tried a little focus with your arrows. It is not hard once you get the hang of it.”

“Like that time when, some days back, you willed the dagger away?” Darcy asked, recalling a time when a dagger thrown at Lord Alister had suddenly turned mid-flight and thumped harmlessly into a tree. “I thought that would be a good skill to learn, so I had Aliset teach it to me.”

“Archery marksmanship is akin to that, yes. A little simpler, as it is you who control the arrow from its launching. No need to catch something mid-flight, which takes swift intense focus. If you have been working on that talent already, then you will find your archery skills easily improved.Take a round at the butts and see what I mean.”

“I will.” Darcy and Washburn walked over to the head of the archery field. He took the long bow from Washburn, added a handful of arrows in a quiver and then assumed a good stance, his eyes on the bullseye at the end of the field.

Wash smiled. Darcy had that natural wide feet placement and bent knees from standing upon a reeling deck. His draw was a little wide; if he had been in tight soldiers formation, he would not have had that kind of room, but Wash could forgive him that, as Darcy had likely never to stand shoulder to shoulder as footmen did.  Sight with your mind, not just your eye. Sense the target. And now the wind between you and the target. The wind’s strength ebbs and wanes almost in a pattern, adjusted for it as you need.

Darcy’s eyes shrewdly focused, then he loosed the arrow, which flew quick and sure. It thumped into the center ring of the target.

((Darcy at the butts 3d6  results 4 + 6 + 2 = 12))

“Hah! You’re a master already!” Wash gave Darcy’s shoulder a pat of comradery.

Washburn felt Darcy’s joy at his new found use of a known skill. Inside, Wash felt his own accomplishment in training others to improve their weapons proficiency. Something he had always enjoyed doing with the squires at Lendour and Rhemuth. Wash rubbed his eyes and looked away. Those places were lost to him. He could not go home. Not now, and maybe not ever. His brothers and his king had renounced him from his inheritance. He was a homeless man whose tether to family was broken. “Keep practicing like that.” Wash said distractedly. He walked away from Darcy, away from the men working hard to improve their skills, and looked toward the open road, it led to a place that somewhere out there which called to him. Affection and loyalty for his friends kept his mind and his feet from running down that road. Still there was a need to go, like a single remaining tether that tugged at him to move on.

((Washburn's first save test to resist the compulsion sent by Feyd.
Fingers crossed. 2d6 Wash first save test. Results 3 + 3 = 6
Verification Number: 3bfqqjws2f Darn!))

The pull was greater now than it had been all morning. He had a place to go, a place he needed to be. Unlike going home, thinking of this place filled him with anticipation, a sense of a future that could be. Soon, he promised himself, somehow he knew, three days ride and he would discover his destiny. Why was he hesitating, he could go anytime. Because he did have loyalties and vows to keep.  He looked back at Darcy who shot a second arrow in the center yellow. He looked up at the manor house and saw Lady Aliset keenly watching her husband, and the wide blue eyes of the lady standing beside her. Lady Fiona flashed him a wide smile as their gazes met. He thought her an attractive girl, yet he was not unaccustomed to looking at pretty women; look but don’t touch were the morals of his society. Morals he was well trained to live by. It was easy enough as he had come to realize that most good looking women were about as sharp-minded and interesting as a round river stone. Intelligence was like river waters that ran in one ear and out the other, never making a dent on the brain the information passed over. Why, then, did this girl strike him as different. She most certainly had her own mind, and she was confident in herself, not needing a man to make her decisions for her. Washburn liked that confidence. Maybe when all this was over, he would come back here and listen to this tug at his heart.

His eyes looked away from Lady Fiona to the open road. Time was growing short, as was his need to leave. Feeling pent up frustration he sighted a rock on the road that could turn a horses hoof if stepped upon, he attempted to toss it aside with his mind. ((Washburn telekinesis 2d6 results 2 + 4 = 6 failed))  His distraction was too intense to concentrate. Angry with himself, he physically picked up the rock and threw it hard into the tree line. Then his eyes fell upon Father Columcil walking out of the chapel. The calm presence of the good Father seemed to settle across Washburn. He could control his urges and his anger, he knew he had to, for those would only get him thrown in a dungeon somewhere. The knight took a took a deep breath, and repeated his vows of loyalty to himself. Gaining a calm forbearance, he walked back to the training yard. He could take the time for one more shared afternoon in comradery with his friends and a shared meal before he would be on his way.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2019, 03:00:06 PM by Laurna »


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