Author Topic: Ghosts of the Past  (Read 139491 times)

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Offline Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #720 on: February 01, 2020, 05:36:03 pm »
Darcy was talking to Washburn’s brother. Why did that bother Wash? He watched their lips and it was not his name that came up, but rather Fiona’s name. Briefly both men looked at Fiona. Wash followed their gaze; the poor girl was standing there in a squash of people looking a bit forlorn. Without her companions at her side, the young lady looked to belong to the Countess of Eashmarch’s contingent, only those girls were all red heads and Fiona’s soft veiling covered a head of sunny wheaten-colored locks. Wash’s tension eased, he needed to do right by Fiona. This was his moment to do so.

“Aliset, I know you mean well, but I think if I could talk to Brendan, I could help Fiona, and I could resolve some of this misunderstanding between us.”

“I don’t think that is a good idea,” Aliset stated with some authority in her voice.

Wash tried again, he needed to get Aliset to see his way. “You just said that Brendan had been looking to rescue me. That is so important to me! If that is true, I need to know, I need to hear him say it. Let me go talk to him.”

Aliset’s eyes were big. She was reading the truth of his request. “Darcy would not think that wise.”

Wash opened his arms out to his sides. “I am unarmed. As is he. I just want to talk.”

Aliset shook her head, no. “Sir, you may have no weapon, but you are not unarmed. Neither you nor the earl are ever fully unarmed.” At the old baron’s quizzical look, for he really had no sharp instrument upon his person, Aliset bluntly stated. “You’re both Deryni! I will not be the one who permitted a Duel Arcane right here in the middle of a church.”

Her words were soft but intense, and they struck Wash like he had been slapped. “That… That would never happen.” he stammered. Then he realized that if his closest friends did not trust him in this fashion, than perhaps, they knew his mind better than he knew himself. “I swear to you, I would not let that happen. I have not been twisted as to become a traitor, I would die first. It can’t be so.”

The lady’s face softened and her hand reached up to touch Baron Stuart’s cheek. “I know your heart is well placed. And I do trust you. But this is not the time nor the place,” she pleaded.  “When we get to Lendour and we are settled, we can ask the Earl to a meeting.  For now,  let Darcy handle Fiona’s cause. He will get his cousin to Rhemuth. He is doing that right now. And there, thank the heavens, I see Columcil assisting the archbishop; he seems to be waking up.” Washburn looked over the heads of the crowd and saw uncle Duncan’s own hand lift to his head to brush the nausea away.  His mother had brushed back her veil and she was helping the clergy to place pillows under Duncan’s head. A wry smile of embarrassment seemed to pass the good archbishop’s face. Columcil remained at his grandfather’s side seeing that the man did not sit up as yet. That was such a relief to see. “Come, Wash, let us move out of here. I too am feeling overwhelmed. Would you mind escorting me to where the air is a bit fresher.”

Washburn turned back to Aliset and saw that her face was looking a bit pale too. This hot air was doing ill to everyone. “My lady, you look faint! Darcy is right, you have been ill.” He instinctively touched her hand and sent her a wave of energy which seemed to push back her faint. “You have had two healers in your company, why have you not sought our talent?”

“It isn’t an illness,” she said with a shy smile.

Understanding hit like a harsh wind, Baron Stuart’s mouth dropped and his eye’s opened wide. Wash didn’t have to go into healer’s trance to suddenly know what had been ailing his dearest friend. “Oh sweet Lady of Heaven. Is it truly so?” At her shy nod, he was overwhelmed with joy. Wash picked up the lady under both of her arms, he lifted her feet off the ground, with her head above the crowd. Full of exuberance, forgetting his manners, he turned her around and laughed, causing those nearby to look at them sharply.

“Put me down, Sir!” Aliset exclaimed all out of breath, yet suddenly flush and invigorated.

“Of course, of course…. Forgive me!” Wash said all flustered as he put the lady back on her feet.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2020, 06:09:47 pm by Laurna »

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #721 on: February 03, 2020, 06:41:42 pm »
Darcy Cameron stared in shocked disbelief at his wife and the man he had come to consider his friend.  Washburn had grabbed Aliset under her arms, picked her up and whirled her around in a joyous circle!  And she seemed pleased with it!  Darcy bristled. He was not a jealous man by nature, and he understood there was a close bond between the two, but what in bloody hell were they so pleased about at a funeral?  He glanced at Fiona, who was still standing just behind the Countess of Eastmarch.  Fiona was looking at Aliset and Washburn and smiling. She was still smiling as she turned to look at him, and when he scowled at her, he could swear she suppressed a giggle.  Had the heat driven all three of them mad?  He would get to the bottom of this later.

Now he turned his attention back to the crowd in the church, scanning the faces more out of habit than any particular concern.  He paused at the sight of a man standing by the open door to the courtyard. 

((Does Darcy recognize the man?  Eidetic memory, roll of two dice, success on 4, 5, or 6.
jerusha rolled 2d6: 1 6 <Total: 7>

The man was familiar; it was the man who had tried to guide Fiona’s  horse away.  Darcy studied him.  He appeared to be watching the people around him, much the same as Darcy was doing, and Darcy wondered why.  Perhaps the man was waiting for someone to join him so he could leave.  Not everyone attending the funeral would line up to pay their final respects to Bishop Arilan.  Hopefully he would be gone soon.  The sound of movement in the vicinity of the high altar pulled Darcy’s attention away.


Fiona suppressed the giggle she felt bubbling up at the look on Darcy’s face.  How could he possibly not know by now what was “wrong” with Aliset?  She was sure that Iain would not still be in the dark about it, if it was his wife.  She wondered why Sir Iain had never married; he had much to offer a wife.

((Will Fiona be able to raise her shields in time to resist the spy?
DFK’s dice roll
did dice roll,   1d6=3 =3.   Not thrilled with it but that is the result. Did it in discord. DFK
Oh dear!))

Lost in thought, Fiona barely noticed when someone touched her hand and then it was too late.  Strong Deryni controls wrapped around her mind, forbidding her to react or cry out.

Don’t fuss, my dear, an unfamiliar voice spoke in her mind.  Remain silent; you won’t be harmed.  Come along with me as if we are friends; look only straight ahead of you.  The man placed her hand on his arm and led her away from the line. 

Fiona wanted to snatch her hand away, to cry out for Darcy or Washburn, but neither her hand or her voice would respond.  She tried to fight down her rising panic; she must think clearly!  She must regain her freedom!

It did not take them long for them to travel the distance of the nave to the door to the courtyard where another man waited.  This was the man who had grabbed her horse earlier!  Again she tried to pull away or scream, but to no avail. 

You will go with this man and do anything his asks of you for the next quarter hour.  After that, you will be free.  Fiona felt her hand be transferred to the arm of the man at the door.  She could still only look ahead as he led her into the courtyard and towards the horses.


Darcy was pleased to see that Father Columcil,  assisted by several of the clergy, now had Archbishop Duncan sitting up. The Dowager Duchess still knelt beside him, an arm around his shoulders for extra support.  King Kelson had moved forward, probably to be reassured that all would be well.

“Young man!”  said a sharp voice beside him.  “You are in our way.  Step back!”  The Countess of Eastmarch was glaring at him.

“Beg pardon, my Lady,” Darcy said, stepping back as directed and bowing only as much as courtesy demanded.  The countess clucked at her charges and her ducklings followed her obediently.  Darcy doubted she would have liked the comparison.  The clergy that had helped hold the onlookers back now indicated they should reform their line to pass by Bishop Arilan’s casket.  Darcy noted that Earl Brendan was standing just behind the king.  It was time to rejoin Fiona and with the earl’s assistance, present her to Duchess Richenda.

But Fiona was not where he expected her to be!  Once the countess and children had finally moved on, Fiona should have been standing almost in front of him.  “Fiona?” he called softly.  There was no answer.

Aliset!  Washburn!   Do you see Fiona? Darcy sent urgently. He remembered the man in the doorway, but surely Fiona would have stayed well away from him.  Darcy glanced at the door; the man was gone.

Aliset and Washburn scanned the faces around them.  Aliset had seen Fiona only moments before, or so she thought, but now she was not sure how long ago that had been.  Washburn, tall enough to see over most heads in the church, looked left and right, but he did not see her.

She’s not with you? Aliset sent to Darcy. Surely she would not have stepped outside without one of us with her.

She may be a bit rash at times, but I don’t see her walking away from her chance to go to Rhemuth. he replied.  He did not like the uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach.  Washburn, check the aisles on the north side; Aliset, you check the aisles on the south side.  I’ll take the centre of the nave.  Meet at the door to the courtyard.  Darcy suddenly realized he was standing before Bishop Arilan’s casket.  He quickly went down on one knee.  “No disrespect meant, Bishop Arilan, but right now I must look after the living.”  He quickly crossed himself, rose and left.


Fiona seemed to have no choice other than to walk beside the man. He had said nothing to her as they moved toward where her horse was tethered.  She tried to stumble, hoping the misstep would allow her to pull away. 

“Don’t be a stupid girl,” he said to her as he gripped her arm.  “You will not try to escape.”

They were beside her horse now.  He helped her to mount, but did not give her the reins.  He moved them along to his own horse, tethered just a few horses away, and mounted quickly.

“You will ride quietly beside me.  Say nothing to anyone or do anything to draw attention to yourself.”  He handed her the reins of her horse and turned toward the gate of the abbey. 

Fiona had no choice but to follow.


“I saw no sign of her,” Washburn said in a low voice as he joined Aliset and Darcy at the door. 

‘The man who tried to lead off her horse earlier was here in this doorway just a short time ago,” Darcy said.  “Now he’s gone and so is she.”

“I don’t like this at all,” Aliset said, looking worried. 

“We’ll check to see if her horse is here.  If it is, there is a good chance she is still within the abbey somewhere.”  Darcy was already moving toward the horses as he was speaking.

“Damn,” Aliset said when they reached the horses and found Fiona’s horse gone.

“We must retrieve our weapons and follow at once!” Washburn declared and started toward the guardhouse.

“Aliset,” Darcy said.  “Ready our horses while I go with Washburn.”  He reached down to the top of his boot and withdrew a thin stiletto.  “In case you need this while we are gone.”  He handed the stiletto to Aliset.  The hilt was wrapped in leather that exactly matched the color of Darcy’s hose.  It would be hard to find even if you were looking for it.

“You had this in the church?” she asked his retreating back as he quickened his step to catch up to Washburn. Of course he would.  He was Darcy.


As the man had hoped, the guards waved them through when they reached the gate.  With the king presumed to be still be inside the church, the guards were more concerned with people entering than leaving.  Once through the gate, the man headed east, and Fiona rode quietly at his side, the turmoil in her mind smothered by the man’s command to draw no attention to them.

The man picked up the pace.  He was not sure how long it had taken them to get this far, and he only had a quarter hour until he could no longer control the girl.  But that did not matter.  All he had to do was lead her companions east, staying far enough ahead to not be captured, but close enough to entice them to follow.  Once he led them to a specific destination, his contract with the Black Order of Death would be completed.  He would not be in a hurry to accept another one.

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

 -- Old English Litany

Offline DerynifanK

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #722 on: February 06, 2020, 04:34:27 pm »
As she rode beside the man who had abducted her, Fiona tried to control her emotions. She was both frightened and angry, and she was finding it hard to overcome her feelings. She also felt helpless, and she hated that feeling. She could do nothing to escape as she was unable to disobey his command not to try to escape.  Her mind was in turmoil, making it impossible to think or plan.

Giving in to her emotions would accomplish nothing. She had to get control of herself. She had to think. She took a.deep slow breath then glanced over at her abductor. He was riding slightly ahead of her and seemed to be paying little attention  to her. She was sure that with those compulsions firmly in place, he felt no need to watch her closely. He did, however, turn in his saddle more than once to study the road behind them. He seemed to be unconcerned about concealing their path. It was almost as if he wanted the pursuers to be able to follow them.

Why had she been taken? Certainly not for ransom. Mac was a relatively minor nobleman from the borders of Meara, and he certainly was not rich. He could not afford to pay a large ransom. And then she remembered  the first man, the one who had taken over her mind, had said she would be prisoner for a quarter of an hour after which she would be free. That made no sense. What could he expect to gain from her or from her guardian by holding her such a short time? Could it be that she was not the primary object of this act, but a means to an end? But what end?

Fiona thought hard. What could be expected to happen when her disappearance was discovered?  Her friends would immediately begin a search for her. They would soon discover that she was no longer within the abbey precincts. They would know that she had not gone voluntarily but had been taken away. They would try to discover where she and her captor had gone and quickly follow in order to rescue her. So perhaps his goal was to lure one of her friends away from the abbey, perhaps into an ambush. Washburn was the one most likely to be sought; he had been held prisoner before and had escaped with Iain’s help. Perhaps the one behind this kidnapping was the same one who had held him before. That made sense and would explain her captor’s frequent scanning of the road behind them.

Fiona most certainly did not want to be the cause of injury or capture of any of her friends, especially Washburn for whom she felt a special closeness.  What could she do? The quarter hour must be nearly over as they had been riding for some time. What would happen when he could no longer control her?  He had given no indication of his intent. Was there a special place they needed to reach before the controls were lost? She thought there probably was such a place and if she could prevent their arrival, she might be able to prevent the man from achieving his goal. If he thought she would continue to ride meekly beside him to whatever rendezvous he had in mind, he was sadly mistaken. She had to find a way to escape. What could she do?

Fiona began to form a plan.   First, she would try to increase the distance between them by slowing down and gradually dropping back. That would increase her chances of escape  She had not sensed any effort by her abductor to establish additional controls. She thought perhaps he did not have the ability shone by the first man to actually take over her mind. He could give orders that she was compelled to obey until the end of the allotted quarter hour, but she thought he was not able to control her after that. She was determined that she would follow no more orders from him. She did not dare to probe his mind in case he was Deryni, but she felt she could take a chance on escape.

((Save test: 3d6, 6,5,2.==13 (do I put the total in?) She would not follow any more commands from him.)) (Not sure if this is right.)

 As soon as she sensed a loosening of the control, she would raise her shields to prevent him from reestablishing his dominance over her in case he was Deryni. However, she thought if he had similar powers he would have used them by now. Then when he was distracted by his study of the way they had come, looking for signs of a party pursuing them, she would, without warning, jerk her horse’s head around and dash back the way they had come.  She thought he would pursue her, but she hoped to reach her friends and warn them to turn back. Or they might even capture him and question him. She didn’t think he could resist all of them and they needed to discover what his plan had been and who was behind it in order to avoid future traps.

Fiona took a breath and glanced aside at her captor. He seemed to be paying little attention to her. She felt  confident now. She had a plan and she would regain control of her fate and that of her friends. What she had to do now was wait for her opportunity and put her plan into action. She rode on, waiting for the sense of the compulsions dropping away, the signal for her to spring into action.
"Thanks be to God there are still, as there always have been and always will be, more good men than evil in this world, and their cause will prevail." Brother Cadfael's Penance

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #723 on: February 11, 2020, 12:02:27 pm »
Aliset Cameron watched as Darcy caught up with Washburn.  They were moving as quickly as they could without breaking into a run.  Darcy had to take almost two strides to Washburn’s one; fortunately Baron Stuart was also a tall man and not so old that  Washburn looked out of character.  Aliset sighed; they should have thought of the weapons before checking the horses.  The men now had to retrace the route through the abbey grounds to the guardhouse outside the church, retrieve the weapons and return, using up precious time.

Aliset slipped Darcy’s stiletto into her belt and turned to the horses.  She patted Shadow’s shoulder and checked to ensure the saddle’s girth was secure.  The great destrier stood quietly, but she could feel the horse’s tension.  He had picked up that something was amiss.  Next she checked Darcy’s Sigrun.  The mare turned her head and tried to examine the back of Aliset’s head, looking for a leather lace like her master’s that she could pull.  “No luck, girl,”  Aliset said quietly and stroked the horse’s nose.  “My hair is securely pinned and will stay that way.”

After checking the horse Darcy had secured for her own use, Aliset untied Sigrun and held onto the reins while she mounted her horse.  She would leave Shadow tied to the line until Washburn returned.  She did not have Columcil’s talent with animals and did not want to risk that she could not control the huge stallion.

Once settled  on her saddle, Aliset felt the unease in her stomach.  It was not just her concern for Fiona that caused it, and she reached inside her saddlebag for a bit of bread left from the morning meal.  That and a sip from her waterskin should settle her stomach.

She looked back toward the church and saw Washburn and Darcy returning.  She felt a pang of guilt.  She really should tell her husband what she hoped he would see as good  news, and she knew it was not fair that she had not explained why she was so often out of sorts.  If he knew, she feared he would insist she return to Rhemuth, once they had Fiona back and safe.  She could not do that!  She had skills they needed and she would see this through to the end! It gladdened her heart that right now,  Darcy had again treated her as an equal partner in their group with a role to play, not someone to be fussed over and protected. She did not fault him, and she knew he loved her, but if Darcy asked her if she was unwell one more time, she might be tempted to strangle him.


Darcy Cameron matched Washburn’s long stride as best he could as they hurried to the guardhouse.  One guard stood before the locked door, while the other guard stood a few feet away, waiting for the mourners to spill out from the open doors.  The guard at the door bowed slightly to the Washburn as the two men almost skidded to a stop before him.

“We need our weapons returned immediately,” Washburn informed the guard, standing imposingly in front of him.  “Quickly, man, we must be on our way!”

The guard straightened and took a stance of resistance.  “My lord, I must ensure I release the right weapons to you.  No one will leave with what is not theirs!”

Washburn’s jaw tightened as the guard took his time to unlock the door.  Washburn pushed past him as soon as it opened; the guard protested and began to draw his sword.

“No need,” Darcy said hastily, resisting the impulse to grasp the man’s arm.  “He is concerned for his niece, who is also my cousin.  She may have wandered off with a young man of less than  reputable character.  It will not do, and the sooner we intercept them, the less trouble there is likely to be.  You do not need trouble on this solemn occasion.”   Darcy was itching to move forward toward his own weapons, but waited for the guard to nod. The guard had a daughter of his own of marriageable age; he understood the men’s concern. Nevertheless, the guard insisted on delaying them until he marked their weapons as returned on his list.

Washburn was out of the door immediately, and Darcy was buckling on his own sword while he hastily followed.  He jammed Aliset’s daggers under his belt as he caught up to the tall knight.

Aliset was waiting with the horses ready to go.  She handed Darcy his stiletto as he passed over her daggers to her.  Darcy slipped the stiletto back into his boot, and Aliset realized that, even though she knew where it was, she could barely discern it.  Washburn had untied Shadow Dancer and was already in the saddle as Darcy mounted. 

“Well done, love,” Darcy said as they rode toward the gate.  Aliset smiled back at him.

The guard at the gate waved them through.  Washburn began to surge forward, but Darcy reined in and addressed the guard.

“Did you see a man and young women leave recently, perhaps less than a quarter hour ago?” Darcy asked. “The lass would be young, well dressed, lightly veiled, with hair much the colour as mine.”

The guard nodded.  “Yes, my Lord.  She rode out with a man.  I remembered her from when you entered with her.”

“Was she well?  Did she show any sign of injury or restraint?”  Darcy asked, aware of Washburn’s impatience.

“No, my Lord,” the guard replied.  “But I did  notice that she was much more subdued than when you arrived.” He looked at Darcy sharply.  “Should I have stopped them?”

“No,” Darcy said.   “You would have had no reason. Which way did they ride?”

“They set out along the road east,” the guard replied.

Darcy tossed a coin to the guard.  “You have a keen eye. If a priest named Father Columcil asks about us, relay what you have told us to him, and tell him that we follow them east.”

The guard nodded and Darcy urged Sigrun forward.

“We need to follow, now!”  Washburn said sharply.

“With all speed,” Darcy replied and set Sigrun to a full canter.  He said a fervent prayer to Saint Nicholas that they would reach Fiona in time.

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

 -- Old English Litany

Offline DerynifanK

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #724 on: February 13, 2020, 03:22:01 pm »
Fiona rode beside the kidnapper. The road was becoming busier as people resumed their normal activities. She was sure that the quarter hour must have passed. She tensed as though she were going to call out to some of the people riding near them.  She felt no response from him. Indeed, he seemed to be more concerned with what was happening behind them than with what she might be doing. She felt no restraint to her scream as she had before.
They were nearing a bend in the road, and the man was slowing down. He again turned in his saddle to scan the road behind them.  Fiona felt that this was the time for action. While he was distracted, she had the best chance for success.  She gripped her reins tightly, and as they rounded the bend, she pulled her horse’s head around and kicked his sides, spurring him to leap and break into a gallop. She felt no hindrance to her actions. She was free as the first man had said she would be! It was up to her to make the most of her freedom. She dashed headlong back toward the abbey.


The kidnapper hesitated as Fiona bolted back down the road away from him. He tried to command her to stop, to return to his side, but it had no effect. Obviously, the quarter hour was complete, and he had no more control over her. But they had not quite reached their appointed destination. He still did not see any of her party, and he needed them to follow him.  He did not wish to explain failure to any member of the Black Order. He was terrified of what they might do to him. If he could catch her, he could use physical restraint to convey her to the journey’s end making certain that her party followed.  Abruptly, he spurred his horse in pursuit shouting  “runaway horse, stop her!”  He hoped one of the travellers would stop Fiona before she could reach either the abbey or her friends.


(( Does Fiona escape the kidnapper?
    Dice roll 2d6=5+3== success!))

Fiona rode headlong toward the abbey, scattering a few travellers before her. She tried to sense the man and how close he was to her.  He was gaining on her! She looked ahead for any possible alternate to the road she was on. But even if there was another road, if her friends were following her they would be on this road. She urged her mount to go faster but his horse was bigger and faster than hers. What could she do?  Just then, she noticed a party ahead and in the lead was a huge, black warhorse. It was Shadow! Washburn and the others were riding toward her! They noticed her and increased their own speed. In a few minutes she had reached them. Darcy reached out for her bridle. “Whoa, easy there, slow down,” he cried loudly,  slowing her horse. Quickly their party surrounded her as she reined her horse to a halt.  “Are you harmed? What has happened? Who is that man?” They were all speaking at once. Darcy pointed to the man who had been chasing her. “Is that the man who took you?  Fiona nodded yes, too out of breath to speak clearly just yet.

They all looked toward the pursuer. He had pulled up and stared at them briefly. He then turned his horse’s head back along the road to the east. He spurred his horse and hightailed it back the way he had come. 

“Are you hurt?” Darcy asked her again. She nodded in the negative, that she was unharmed. “We need to know what is behind this attempt to take Fiona, We need to pursue him to see if we can overtake him and find out what this is all about! There will be time for questions later.” Darcy urged his horse forward beckoning to the others to follow. Washburn was already surging forward on the trail of the kidnapper. The others followed, trying to keep up with the big warhorse. They needed answers and that kidnapper had to have the information they were after.
"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 #725 on: February 15, 2020, 09:06:05 am »
Brendan had resumed his position near the king. He continued to scan the crowd looking for his brother but was still  unable to locate him. If the others in the group were there, surely he must also be present. He sensed Kelson beginning to move forward toward the archbishop, who had been assisted into a sitting position by Columcil and another cleric. Duchess Richenda remained at his side, holding his hand, looking somewhat relieved at Duncan’s recovery. He was looking better, more alert but still weak and a little embarrassed at his collapse. 

Kelson paused in front of the archbishop, “Are you recovering, Father? What happened?” Kelson’s voice was full of concern. This was his mentor and closest advisor, and he needed to be assured that the archbishop was indeed on the mend.

“I was overcome by the heat as well as my emotions, sire. I had not eaten since breakfast nor had I had anything to drink since before the vigil began. The heat became oppressive and I felt the waves of emotion as the service progressed. I began to feel faint, but before I could react, everything went black. I am distressed that my weakness disrupted the proceedings.”

Father Columcil took a cup handed to him by one of the clerics and held it to the bishop’s lips. “Haur, drink this. Twill hep oercome th’ faintness.”

“What is it?” Duncan asked as he accepted the cup.”

“Tis water an’ will replenish whit ye hae lost.”

Duncan drained the cup, then smiled at Columcil. “Thank you, Father. I am already feeling at least partially recovered.” He started to rise to his feet to bow to the king, but both Richenda and Columcil restrained him.

Kelson placed a hand on Duncan’s shoulder. “Do not try to rise yet. You need to rest. The mass has ended and the line of those paying last respects at the casket is dwindling. The church is emptying, and people are making their way out and preparing to leave for home. The casket will soon be moved to its final resting place within the abbey. All is well.” Kelson turned to Richenda, “We must return to Rhemuth, my Lady. I have other matters I must attend to. Are you prepared to leave now that Bishop Duncan is recovering?”

Before Lady Richenda could reply, Brendan spoke. “Sire, Maman, there is one concern I wish to address, if you will permit.” Kelson nodded briefly. “There is a young lady in attendance who is Deryni but who has little or no training. She is the niece of Baron Stuart, and cousin to Sir Iain. It is her dearest wish to attend your Schola, sire, and learn about her powers and how to use them responsibly. Sir Iain is her guardian and has agreed to her request but has had no time to act on it. She is hoping that you, maman, might take her back to Rhemuth with you and help her gain admission to the Schola. May I introduce her to you before we leave for Rhemuth?”

Both Kelson and Richenda nodded assent. Brendan turned, looking for Fiona in the place where he had previously seen her.  The Countess of Eastmarch had at last departed with her brood, and others were approaching and paying respects but Fiona was not among them. In fact he did not see her at all. He quickly scanned the crowd but could see neither Fiona nor any of her party. He did not understand it.  Why would they leave before he could introduce the girl to his mother?  What could have happened?

Bishop Ducan looked up at Brendan. “Is there a problem, my son?”

“Lord Darcy Cameron had asked me to introduce his cousin, Fiona McIntyre, to the Dowager Duchess of Corwyn. The girl wishes to attend the Schola and was hoping she could travel to Rhemuth with maman who could help her gain admission. I had agreed to do so but now I cannot locate her in the church. In fact I can see none of his party, not even the Baron who hoped to present his niece to Duchess Richenda. Why would they leave before it was done?”

“You say the Baron has disappeared with the rest of the party? “  Duncan asked. Brendan nodded.   

Duncan looked at the king with dismay in his eyes. “I am not sure what is happening here, but there is certainly cause for concern. Washburn was here, disguised as the baron. Father Columcil here was one of their party and has been riding with them. He may be able to tell us more about what they intended and why Wash was in disguise. Father, do you have any idea  where they have gone or why they left so suddenly without approaching the Duchess?”

Columcil turned from his position beside his grandfather and answered. “Washburn  was afeared tae be recognized but wanted tae coom wi us tae pay his respects tae th’  Bishop. He also wanted tae place Lady Fiona under his mother’s protection. He wanted tae hep ‘er reach Rhemuth an’ th’ schola, ‘er dearest wish. He said he then planned tae ride oan tae th’ Lendours and Cynfyn Castle. He hoped tae fin’ hep thaur in sortin’ his memories.”

Columcil turned to Brendan and the king. “Ur ye shure they ur missin’? Micht ah tak’ a quick swatch aroond fer them?”  At a nod from the king, Columcil jumped up and walked  briskly toward the nave, scanning the crowd for any sign of his friends. He hesitated at the side of the nave, near the statue of St Camber. He drew back into the shelter of the alcove. He hoped to use Rapport to reach Fiona.

((Columcil attempts rapport with Fiona
!roll 2d6: rolled 3,1. Failure unable to reach her))

He was unable to feel any sense of her. He quickly left the altar and walked through the nave, rapidly striding along the two aisles surveying the remaining crowd in the church, then walked to the side door to peer at the nearby part of the grounds where the horses had been tethered. He saw immediately that only his own mount remained. The others were gone. He hastily returned to his grandfather and the king. “Ah dinnae see onie sign o’ ‘em an their horses ur gone. Ah  ‘t doan ken why they ran. Only somethin’ ay great danger wuid cause them tae lae so abruptly wi’ Fiona nae meetin’ th’ duchess. Cuid they hae recognized  someain frae Wash’s captivity, mebbe a rebel knoon tae be Deryni who recognized heem. One probe by th’ spy wuid teel him he was knoon an’ cause heem tae lae.Th’ ethers wuid gang wi’ heem.”

Richenda stared at Duncan with tears in her eyes. “My son was here, so close, and I have again missed meeting him! Why did no one tell me? I so need to see him, to learn what has happened to him and how he is coping and to help him. I have been able to reach him only once in Rapport and only briefly.  Why is everyone keeping me from him?” Richenda bowed her head in great distress as tears flowed.

Duncan reached for her hand to comfort her. Brendan turned to the king. “Sire, I know it is vital that you return to Rhemuth. I am asking for leave to remain here and to either find them or discover what has happened to them. I will follow you by portal as soon as I have answers.”

Kelson frowned, “I understand your disquiet, especially regarding your brother, but I cannot spare you for this task. In order to put an end to this rebellion, we must retake Ratharkin, depriving the rebels of their last  base from which to build and spread their insurrection.. Laas is now secure, and Ratharkin is our immediate concern. I have a plan which will require you to lead your forces there to meet with others I am sending to surround and retake the city. This has to be our highest priority.”

Brendan bowed, “I understand, my liege, but may I at least quickly survey the abbey precincts to be certain they are no longer here? Perhaps, I will see some sign that the good father missed  in his haste. I will return as soon as I have at least covered the grounds. I feel it is vital that we resolve this situation.” Kelson agreed reluctantly and Brendan began his search.

Brendan returned after a brief interval, shorter than the others had expected. He bowed to Kelson and addressed those remaining with him. “They are nowhere within the abbey grounds. I questioned the guards at the guardhouse where the weapons were held, and they told me that a party such as I described had retrieved their weapons in a hurry and had ridden out a short time before. They said that the tall baron seemed very upset that his niece had left with an unknown man near the end of the service.”

Columcil spoke up. “Ta lass wuid ne’er hae left ur freinds ur gain aff wi’ a stranger unless compelled tae do so.”

Brendan continued. “As Columcil suggested, I am afraid that a Mearan rebel, most probably a Dreyni, was here in the abbey and recognized Washburn through his disguise. It would have been easy enough for a spy to mingle with the mourners to observe those attending. We know that they  urgently want to recapture him and have been seeking to find out his whereabouts. Such a person may have managed to lure the group out to follow him, perhaps by kidnapping Lady Fiona.”

 Duchess Richenda had dried her tears and appeared to be considering carefully what was being said as they discussed what was happening and its implications. “If such a spy was here, he may have seen an opportunity to free Princess Sidana by capturing Lady Fiona and offering an exchange, although I can’t think he would believe that you would enter into such a pact, Sire.”  she offered.

Brendan spoke up.” It certainly appears that there are fiendish intentions in play here, although I too feel that this was a case of the spy seizing an opportunity rather than an organized plot. The rebel could not know that Washburn would be here. His whereabouts have been kept quiet and only a very few people knew his location. Even his family did not know I feel that it is most important that we try to discover what is going on.”
Brendan continued. “I know that my first duty is to you, sire, and I will return to Rhemuth with you to receive your orders for the relief of Ratharkin. However, I would ask that a detail of lancers be sent after them as support. If they are able to catch any spy present today, such a prisoner could be sent to Rhemuth for interrogation. I believe that he could provide valuable information about the Mearans intentions.” 

Kelson considered Brendan’s proposal for a few minutes, then sent one of his lancers to bring the lancer captain to him. The captain quickly arrived and bowed to the king. “I am returning immediately to Rhemuth by portal and should no longer need your services. You are to take four men from your detail and pursue a party that left the abbey a short time ago and is riding east.  The Earl of Marley will provide you with their description and any further information you may need. It is possible that they may catch a man suspected of being a rebel spy. If that happens, you will take custody of the prisoner and deliver him to Rhemuth for questioning.”  The captain bowed, then stepped aside to briefly confer with Brendan. He then left to assemble his men and ride after Darcy Cameron’s party.

Archbishop Duncan again attempted to rise but was still shaky. Columcil again moved to his side and placed his arm around the older man’s waist to support him. Richenda rose to stand beside him, her eyes still wet but tears no longer pouring down. However, her distress was still to be seen in her face. The archbishop sought to reassure her. “Wash will be safe. His friends accompany him. He is not alone as he was when he was taken in Rhemuth. And the king has sent some of his lancers to support them. I will pray for them, especially for Washburn, that he can soon be healed and be with us again.”

Duncan tried to smile and bowed to the king. “Sire, have I your permission to retire? I will take your advice and rest before returning to Rhemuth and my duties there. Father Columcil, will you assist me to a room where I can lie down and remain with me?” The good father nodded his agreement as he and another cleric assisted Duncan from the altar.  He vowed he would remain with his grandfather until he recovered from his collapse.

The king motioned to Brendan to rejoin him.  We must now return to Rhemuth. Brendan moved to his mother’s side and took her arm. She leaned against him. Kelson sought to reassure her. “I have every expectation that this final attack on Ratharkin will finally break the back of the rebellion. Once the rebels have been captured and Ratharkin freed, we will direct every effort to finding and healing Washburn and restoring him both to his family and to my service. I value and care about him, and I will keep him foremost among my concerns. Never think that I have forgotten him.” Kelson then led them to the portal. They positioned themselves, he wrenched the energies and they were gone.

The abbey church was now nearly empty of mourners. Only those whose job it was to move Bishop Arilan’s casket to its final resting place within the church remained  Most of those who had come for the service were departing Arx Fidei. Soon both the church and its grounds would be restored to their accustomed peace.
"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 #726 on: February 16, 2020, 01:04:05 pm »
Wash reached for Lady Fiona’s hand to assure himself that she was not physically harmed. She was shaking and upset. But there was no pain in her eyes, only fear; fear now that the worst had been averted. How dare someone attack one of his friends! And that someone was a mere field length away and was turning to run. The warrior gritted his teeth and put spurs to his warhorse. Shadow snorted at the sensed anger of his rider. The great stallion leaped forward into a full gallop and battle mode to overtake a foe who had brought harm to an innocent lady. People walking the road scattered this way and that as the pounding sound of hooves struck the dirt and ate up the distance separating the enraged uncle from the fiend who would abduct his niece. The man in the forefront ran his horse hard, yet was steadily losing his lead.

The kidnapper looked over his shoulder again. This time unlike the times before, fear was in his eyes. His mistake had been to chase the girl back toward her people. He should have known that black stallion could move out as he did. He had misjudged the horse because of the older looking man who was his rider. He miscalculated and that was a mistake, a mistake that would ruin everything, a mistake that might cost him his life. He spurred his horse hard and screamed at the beast to run faster. But faster would not be fast enough.  He had to delay the rider behind him in some way. He saw his chance, at the bend in the road, where a grey rouncy pony pulled a cart, with barrels lined along the length of its bed, precariously balanced and held in place by a rope. The man being chased slowed his horse up, pulled his axe from his belt, and pushed his horse up close to the backside of the cart. With a battle cry he slammed his axe down to cut the rope holding the barrels in place.

((12:51 <Laurna> kidnapper cutting through the rope with hand axe 3d6
12:51 <Laurna> !roll 3d6
12:51 <GameServ> Laurna rolled 3d6: 3 3 2 <Total: 8> Nope))

The barrel beneath the rope splintered and a spray of ale splashed up and then drenched the road. But the rope, though damaged, did not part and the barrels remained secure in the bed of the cart. Seeing what was happening and not knowing why, the driver hollered at the man, then grabbed his horse-whip and drew back the thong.

The kidnapper cursed, not daring to delay with another axe swing, he charged his horse past the cart and the driver, slapping the flat of his axe against the rouncy’s neck, scaring the creature which jumped sideways.

((12:56 <Laurna> Kidnapper scaring the horse pulling  the cart 2d6
12:56 <Laurna> !roll 2d6
12:56 <GameServ> Laurna rolled 2d6: 1 5 <Total: 6> yes))
The pony reared and turned aside nearly overturning the cart blocking the width of the road.
Angered by the offensive passing rider, the driver smacked his whip at the man.

((13:04 <Laurna> Driver using his whip on the kidnapper
13:04 <Laurna> !roll 2d6
13:04 <GameServ> Laurna rolled 2d6: 3 1 <Total: 4> missed ))

The whip whistled in the air but missed its mark. The kidnapper was well away again, running hard on the eastward road.

Wash was nearly upon the obstacle as the cart turned sideways blocking his path down the road. Quality of horse flesh and blood told well. The agility of R’Kassi bloodlines combined with royal training allowed horse and rider to make a great leap and to fly through the air. Over cart and over barrels did the great stallion fly, to land securely on the far side, not breaking speed nor stride.

((13:08 <Laurna> Does Wash jump his horse over the cart
13:08 <Laurna> !roll 2d6
13:08 <GameServ> Laurna rolled 2d6: 5 2 <Total: 7> That is a Yes!))

Wash smiled with grim pleasure. He was gaining on his prey. A few more strides and he would run the man down.

((13:25 <Laurna> Kidnapper dodge aside
13:25 <Laurna> !roll 2d6
13:25 <GameServ> Laurna rolled 2d6: 1 5 <Total: 6>yep))

The kidnapper dodged right to stay out of reach. His horse found a side pathway that dove toward a line of trees. He doubted his chances, but it was all that he had. Southward he galloped, the forest seemed his only escape.

Wash came to the path and turned south to bring this chase to an end. He would catch the man well before they entered the forest. That is not the way! a beast howled inside Washburn’s head. East, go east! You can go no other way!

Washburn’s left hand involuntarily pulled Shadow up. The stallion whinnied in confusion at the sudden change. Wash’s mind was conflicted. He would charge south, yet to do so was against every grain of his being that compelled him to ignore all else and to go east. Furiously, he yelled out at the man getting away from him. Again he put spurs to Shadow’s side and tried to push his steed southward. The stallion was willing to go, but the rider found himself counter-acting his own commands and pulling hard on the reins and backing Shadow back upon his haunches. At the conflict of orders the stallion reared high, forelegs kicking up and out in the direction of their retreating foe. Dumbfounded, the warrior succumbed to his compelling need to stay upon the road.

Angry with himself, he watched the man who had abducted Fiona escape toward the trees. Wash determined he had just enough time. He pulled his bow from his saddle, braced the lower tip of the bow against his booted toe, bent the ebony ash-wood to meet the upper string and nocked the string in place. He pulled one arrow from his quiver and set it to the string. He quieted Shadow's prancing and sighted his mark. The kidnapper was more than 300 paces out nearing the edge of the first line of trees. At the very last second Wash changed his sights from the man’s center back to his right shoulder. He would not kill him outright for what he had done, but he would mark him with a wound that would surely be impossible to hide. Washburn wanted answers and only that man alive could provide them.

((13:26 <Laurna> Wash pulls out his bow
13:26 <Laurna> !roll 3d6
13:26 <GameServ> Laurna rolled 3d6: 6 2 5 <Total: 13> Near perfect aim))

The arrow flew true. Wounded in the shoulder, the kidnapper slumped over the neck of his horse, then he disappeared into the trees. Frustration filled Wash. He yelled out loudly into the sky. He turned his head East and felt a compulsion that was near impossible to quell. Then he looked back West to his friends as they charged their horses puffing for breath to come up where he stood.

“Thank the Lord you did not follow him!” Darcy yelled, “What were you thinking? It could have been a trap!”

Wash wanted to yell, It is a trap! All of it is a trap! But he could not find a way to voice the words. His heart was racing and his hands were shaking, he had to calm down, had to try and make sense of it all. Taking a deep breath he took a moment to unstrung his bow and slide it back into its place under his leg. Then he walked Shadow up next to Fiona’s lathered horse.  He reached out for her hand, which she readily gave to him willingly.

“My lady, are you truly well. Did he hurt you in any way?”

“Only my pride,” she said with tears in her eyes. “I thought they were using me to get to you.”

Wash nodded. “That may be...” he said, letting the words dangle. Then his hand raised up to brush the tears from her check. “You are very brave. And I thank you for that.”
« Last Edit: February 16, 2020, 01:11:50 pm by Laurna »

Online Bynw

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #727 on: February 16, 2020, 01:56:12 pm »

As the day grows short the people who have come for the requiem mass of the Bishop of Dhassa leave Valoret in every direction. Most head south towards Rhemuth or points west or north. But some few head eastward.

Along the east road about a days ride or so is the small village of Windyner. It's parish priest, Father Michael and his Torenthi guest, Father Paulos, get ready for an influx of potential visitors. The villagers too make up rooms at the inn and boarding houses.

A welcoming site indeed for any travellers along the road who wish to stop and rest. Windyner is not alone. Other paths from the main road lead to other villages, which are also getting ready for any travellers that come their way.

Depending on one's ultimate destination determines which village will be visited. But the people get ready. Travellers will pass through them all.

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #728 on: February 19, 2020, 04:09:03 pm »
Darcy Cameron watched as Washburn brushed the tears from Darcy’s cousin’s cheek.  Interesting that Washburn seemed nearly as shaken as Fiona.  In truth, they were all shaken by what had just happened.  What of Aliset?  Did he dare ask her how she fared?  He turned to look in her direction and saw that she had dismounted and was kneeling at the side of the road, her slender body wracked by powerful retching.

“Sweet Jesu!” Darcy said as he leapt from Sigrun and hurried to her side.  She sat back when he reached her, pale and trembling, her hand over her mouth.  Darcy crouched beside her and put his arm around her shoulders. 

“It’s nothing,” Aliset said.

Darcy bit back a sharp retort and instead said, “I’ll get you something to refresh yourself.  Just sit for a moment until I return.”  He waited for her to nod her agreement before leaving her side.

Darcy hastened back to Sigrun to remove his waterskin, but considering the ale it contained, he turned instead to remove Aliset’s from her horse.  Water would probably be better for her just now. 

“Do you need my help?” Washburn asked.

“Or mine?” Fiona added.

Darcy shook his head and returned to his wife’s side, aware they were watching him.  “Rinse your mouth and then have a small drink,” he said gently.

Aliset took the waterskin and feeling better after the water, allowed Darcy to help her to her feet. 

“Pray don’t tell me that you now find me so repulsive that you must spew your guts at the side of the road at the mere sight of me.”

“Darcy!” Aliset exclaimed, wide-eyed.  She sometimes forgot that he had spent almost half of his life as a sailor.  “Of course not!  Let’s step farther away from the others for a moment.”  Darcy took hold of her elbow, and Aliset was not sure if he was being solicitous, or if he was intent on preventing her escape.  She set her waterskin down, using the movement to gather her thoughts and then turned to face him, her hands folded over her abdomen.

“Darcy,” she began, “I’m bearing.”

Darcy gave her a blank look.  “Bearing east or west?” he asked, puzzled.

“I’m with child, you dolt!” Aliset exclaimed. 

“What? You mean a baby?”

“Most children do start out that way,” Aliset said dryly.

Darcy threw his arms around her and held her close.  Aliset hugged him back until he pulled away.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” he asked.  “You should be somewhere safe, not charging after kidnappers!”

“And that is exactly why I did not tell you earlier,” Aliset said firmly.  “I am not ill, and the morning sickness will pass in a few months.  I need to see this through with you.  If you send me away, I will be worrying constantly, and that would be bad for the children.”

“So I can worry instead!”  Darcy stopped and stared at her.  “Did you say child-REN?”

“I did.”   Aliset could not help looking smug.

“Isn’t it safer to do this sort of thing one at a time?” 

“Darcy.”  Aliset shook her head and took his calloused hands in hers.  “I will be fine, and we know two excellent Healers.”

“Aye, but….” 

“Do you want to know their gender?”  Aliset interrupted, wanting to distract him from his worry.

Darcy gave her a sharp look.  “You know that?”

“Yes, Darcy. Deryni women can sense such things very early on.”  She looked at him expectantly.

Darcy hesitated for a moment, but could think of no good reason to not know. He squared his shoulders as if readying to meet a storm.  “Aye, out with it, love.” 

“It’s girls, Darcy.”   Aliset took a deep breath and studied his face.  Would he be very disappointed?  Most men wanted sons, and both Mariot and Isles needed heirs.

Darcy’s face brightened.  “Little, wee Alisets.  Why, that’s all right.  I can adjust to that, even if they turn out to be just like their mother.”

Aliset would have been insulted if Darcy had not been smiling at her in that mischievous way he had.  What if sons were just like Darcy!  She thought she  just might be able to cope.

“I suppose the others all know?” Darcy asked and turned to look back at their companions.  Washburn and Fiona were staring at them shamelessly.  “Never mind, I think I know that answer.”

“They don’t know we have twins or that they are girls,” Aliset assured him.

He held out his arm to her and she placed her hand on it.  “Maybe we should keep that a secret for awhile.”

“If you wish,”  Aliset said lightly, doubting that he could do it. 

“Yes, I now know!”  Darcy declared when they reached Washburn and Fiona.  “And I know there will be two little Alisets!”

“Twins!” Fiona gasped and threw her arms around Aliset.

Washburn grabbed Darcy’s arm and squeezed hard enough that Darcy was sure there would be bruises.  “Daughters!” Washburn exclaimed.  “Congratulations, man!  Well done!”

That was how the lancers found them when they arrived.

((Evie rolled the dice back in June and in the fall to determine if Aliset was pregnant, how many babies there were and their gender.  I decided to include the results at the end so as not to give anything away too soon.

Result of the throw of dice "2d6 > 4" :
6 + 3 = 9 ... success
Aliset seems to have a bun in the oven after that last delightful evening with her snugglebunny!

Number of children:
1-3  Single
4-6  Twins
Result of the throw of dice "1d6" :
4  (Twins!)

Child 1's sex:
1-3 Male
4-6 Female
Result of the throw of dice "1d6" :
4 (girl)

Child 2:
Result of the throw of dice "1d6" :
6 (another girl) ))

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

 -- Old English Litany

Offline DerynifanK

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #729 on: February 23, 2020, 07:16:36 am »
As the group stood beside the road, Wash heard the beat of hooves pounding toward them. He turned to see several Haldane lancers approaching.  The lancers drew up, and the captain addressed Wash. “The king sent us after you to assist with the capture of an escaping man thought to be a possible rebel spy. I see no such man. Has he escaped then?”

The baron (Wash) replied. “We were close behind him but he managed to dodge away from me. I am just grateful that my niece was able to break free of his evil grasp and ride back to us. That she is back under my protection is an immense relief to me.”

Washburn continued. “We were closing in on him when he suddenly veered off the road, dodging southward toward that band of trees in  what appeared to be an effort to elude us. I wanted to continue the pursuit but Lord Darcy  discouraged that course.  He pointed out that the man might have one or more allies lying in wait in those woods. His purpose all along may have been to lead us into an ambush. Also we are a small group, lightly armed.  As much as it vexed me to let him go, we decided the risk of continuing was too great.”

‘While we abandoned the pursuit, I felt  that I could not allow him to escape without hindrance. I decided to try to make his escape more difficult and to make it easier for authorities to identify him.  I drew my bow, shot an arrow and wounded him in the shoulder.. He swayed in the saddle then slumped over his horses’ neck but did not fall. He disappeared into the trees.  I had thought to notify the authorities in the nearest village or town in hopes they could find and capture him. I was much relieved at your arrival with orders from the king to assist with finding and detaining him.” Wash paused to allow the lancer captain the chance to ask further questions.

The lancer captain was a man of considerable intelligence. He did recognize Lord Darcy Cameron from his resemblance to his brother and from his presence in Rhemuth in attendance on the king  prior to the death of Bishop Arilan. However, the baron and the others were strangers to him.  He studied the members of the party carefully, noting that they looked somewhat rattled.  That was not unexpected when they had been entangled in a kidnapping and pursuit of the felon.
“Do you require our assistance?”  the captain asked.

Washburn shook his head, “No, we can manage here, but we must leave the chase to you. You and your men must press on with the pursuit.  You should be able to overtake him. Look for a man with an arrow wound in his shoulder. I don’t think he will have gotten far with that wound. It is important that you take him captive and return him to Rhemuth. I am convinced he has valuable information. We need to find out who was behind this kidnapping and what was the purpose. What did he hope to accomplish? The king needs answers to these questions.”

The captain bowed to Washburn, signalled to his men to follow, and they galloped southward, following the track the kidnapper had taken.

The group of friends remained at the side of the road. Darcy swept his eyes around, taking in the faces of his wife and his friends.  “It is getting late and all of us need rest. It has been a very stressful day. Aliset needs to rest and recover from her sickness.”

“I am fine now!”  asserted Aliset in an irritable voice. “I do not want to be the reason we hold back from what we need to do. This is what I was afraid of, you becoming overprotective.  I have skills that you need, and I don’t intend to be left behind or to slow us down,”

“But you did agree that you would take care. You shouldn’t push yourself when it is not needed,” Darcy insisted stubbornly.

Wash spoke up before this exchange could escalate into an argument.  “Lady Fiona still appears shaken from her ordeal of being seized by the kidnapper and being under his control. Such an experience is terrifying! I remember all too well how it feels to find yourself a prisoner, unable to do anything to help yourself.  And the heat and emotion in the church added to the stress. I see exhaustion in her face. And after the stress of what occurred in the abbey and the chase, we are all in need of a period of repose and recovery. “

“Of course we all need a chance to recover. I was thoughtless.” Aliset sounded contrite.

Fiona spoke up.  “I will not be a burden!. I am well able to proceed with whatever action we decide on. I am a little tired but otherwise fine.”

Darcy again spoke. “I did not intend to offend.  We are all tired, and I believe we are all in need of  food and a period of rest. And we need to talk, to decide what comes next.”

There was a brief silence as the group considered what had been said.

After a pause, Darcy continued. “I propose that we ride a bit further and look for a clearing where we can make camp. Once settled, we can discuss the best course for our future.  Perhaps either Aliset or Washburn can establish Rapport with Father Columcil and enable us to learn what occurred after we left the abbey. We could also learn how the archbishop is faring and when the good father might be able to rejoin us. What are your thoughts?”

The others considered what Darcy had said, then one by one agreed to his proposal. Darcy assisted Aliset to mount then sprang into his saddle. Wash suggested that they continue along the road to the east toward the mountains.  “I believe we are more likely to find a suitable clearing in that direction.”

They turned their horses’ heads and rode along the road toward the east. After a short ride, Darcy noticed an opening in the line of trees to the right.  He signaled for a halt. He could hear the sound of running water. He guided Sigrun  through the trees into a small clearing with the ground covered in soft, green grass. A clear brook tumbled merrily along the edge of the clearing. The others followed him into the clearing and looked about them. “This seems a pleasant place to camp and there is fresh water and green grass for the horses. I believe this meets our needs.” said Aliset. The others agreed.

They all dismounted. Darcy and Wash led the horses to the brook to allow them to drink. Aliset and Fiona removed their saddlebags and began to unpack them.  The men returned from the brook, tethered the horses to allow them to graze, and began to set up a camp. They built a fire and unrolled bedrolls. Each of them had a meat pie followed by an apple and some of Darcy’s ale. They could now relax and talk about what should come next.
"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


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