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Author Topic: Ghosts of the Past  (Read 138878 times)

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Offline DerynifanK

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #705 on: November 08, 2019, 06:58:55 am »
At first light, Valerian’s squire roused him to prepare for their departure, assisting the Grand Duke to dress and arm. He had just finished a light breakfast provided by the MacDonald’s staff when a knock sounded at the door. The squire quickly opened the door to admit Castleroo’s Laird carrying a parchment.” I hae drawn ye the map as I promised. It should get ye tae Ratharkin witout meeting the Gwyneddan army.”

 He moved to the table and unrolled the parchment to show Valerian the route he should follow to reach Ratharkin safely. Valerian joined him to study the map and fix the route in his mind. With a meaty finger, MacDonald traced a line along the immediate coast toward the Kilarden River. “Once ye reach the point where ta river empties into ta bay, ye can follow it inland  tae the walled town o” Kilardin.  Dinnae continue ta the town, they are loyal tae the duke and tae the king.  Ya will reach a bend in the river. At that point ya need tae turn south away from ta river. Ya will then cross the Mearan plain along ta borders of Transha and Kierney. Ya should reach ta Ratharkin mountains and ta city witout interference. This route should kep ya well away from ta army that is pursuin’ ya.”  MacDonald stepped back to allow the grand duke to study the map.

After a few minutes of intense scrutiny, Valerian turned to Laird MacDonald and spoke. “I have the route fixed in my mind now. What about the land, especially along the river? How rough is it, is it difficult for riders?”

MacDonald replied, “Tis not difficult along the Bay but as ya near ta mouth of ta river it becomes steeper with rocky cliffs and deep defiles. Tis treacherous ground and must be ridden with care. Ye cannae move fast, but then neither can those followin’ ya. If ye follow ta route I sketched out on ta map, ye should be safe enough.”

Valerian rolled up the scroll and tucked it inside his tunic. He bowed to the MacDonald. “ I thank you for your assistance. When the Queen comes to her throne, we will not forget those who have helped us. There will be rewards for our supporters.”

MacDonald returned his bow. “I would remind ye ta keep that map safe. Dinnae let it fall into enemy hands. I am not yet ready tae have my support known. I can be of more help ta the cause if my sympathies are not suspected.”

Valerian inclined his head and then strode from the room toward the stableyard where his men were mustering. His squire held the reins of his warhorse. The Grand Duke quickly mounted and turned to face his men. “Is all ready for our departure?” he asked the captain of his personal guard.

“Yes, your grace.” the man saluted as he replied.

At the MacDonald’s command, the gates of the town swung open and Valerian led his troops through and toward the shore of Kilarden Bay. After the last man had passed through, the gates of the town swung closed again. His men followed the Grand Duke as he turned east along the shore toward the mouth of the River Kilarden.
 
….

Prince Javan and his escort entered the city of Laas after the great storm subsided.  He was met by Duke Brecon inside the walls, Jass  and Duncan Michael just behind him.  All three bowed as the royal prince dismounted from his destrier. He was accompanied by a tall, dark haired man who wore the badge of a battle surgeon on his tunic. A small escort of royal lancers followed.

Javan addressed Brecon anxiously. “Where is Duke Kelric and what is his condition? I understand that he was severely wounded during the battle. I have brought Lord Aliston, my highest trained healer, with me as I understood from Lady Richelle that he was urgently needed by the Duke. I have been most anxious about him.”

Brecon replied with a smile. “He has been healed, through his own powers and with the assistance of Jayce Coris, an apprentice healer, who was sent to us by the King. His Grace’s wound has been completely healed but he is weak and exhausted from the battle and the effort to heal the injury. Duke Rory remains with him as does Jayce.”

“That is good news. I would like Lord Aliston to examine him to be sure that all possible is being done to restore him to health.”

“I will take you to him, your highness.” Brecon turned to lead Javan to the inner room where Kelric still sat propped against Rory’s shoulder. A young slim squire with auburn curls hovered nearby. Kelric was pale and he appeared weak, but his eyes were clear and bright, there was no sign of bleeding and the offending weapon had been removed. He tried to rise but Rory held him back.

Javan motioned for him to remain where he was. The tall, dark haired man with him moved to Kelric’s side. “I have brought my most skilled healer, Lord Aliston, to serve you. Although it appears that you have been healed of your wound, I would have him examine you to ensure that all is well. Then you can be moved to a more comfortable bed to continue your recovery. Both the king and I were very concerned that we might lose you.”

Kelric nodded as the healer knelt at his side. “This young man is Jayce Coris, an apprentice healer at the Schola. He was sent by the king and was most helpful in the healing. I could not have completed it without his able assistance.” Kelric grinned, “I think he might benefit from observing you as you complete my healing, and I am sure he would be thrilled to be allowed to do so.” Jayce nodded his head shyly. The healer smiled and gestured for Jayce to kneel at his side. He placed his hands over the site of the wound. He spoke to Jayce, “Place your hands over mine.” Jayce did so and they both entered a healing trance. As he moved his hands over Kelric’s body, checking that the artery was well sealed and the blood flowing as it should, that the splintered collarbone was knitted and stable, and that muscle and sinew was restored, he and Jayce communicated in rapport. The healer then moved his hands gently over the duke’s head to be sure that no injury had occurred when he fell. Lord Aliston withdrew his hands, stood, and bowed to the Prince. “I find the healing well done, your highness. The duke will need rest, wine to restore the blood he lost, and nourishing food.”

“Vezaire wine would do the trick” Kelric interjected.

Rory snorted and Javan shook his head at the Duke. “Like father like son.” he retorted with a grin of relief, knowing that his friend and mentor would recover.

The healer continued, ignoring this byplay. “I’m sure Duchess Richelle will be able to provide the nourishing food he requires and will see that he rests. If he behaves, his recovery should be uncomplicated.” He turned and put his hand on Jayce’s shoulder. “I also think this young man will prove to be quite a talented healer, and I look forward to continuing his education at the schola.” He then addressed Duke Brecon. “Are there other wounded who require my services? We have other healers with us and should be able to meet their needs, if you will take me to them.” Brecon nodded. “With your leave, your highness.” Javan nodded his assent. Brecon and the healer left the room with Jayce trailing after them.

Javan then spoke to Kelric and Rory. “Now that my priority concern has been addressed, what is the status of the castle and its garrison? Have you many wounded, and how much damage has been done? My men are rounding up those Mearan soldiers that remain on the battlefield. The fight has gone out of them, and they are surrendering without resistance. They will be confined and their wounded cared for. However, judging by the numbers I saw, I suspect that a large number of the separatists escaped with Grand Duke Valerian. Have you any idea where they might have gone?

Rory replied, “Unfortunately, the storm hid their movements, and we were dealing not only with attacks from without but also from within. Baron du Chantal and his men were secretly allied with the separatists and Valerian. They rose up and attacked from within in an effort to seize the gatehouse, raise the portcullis, and allow the ram to breach the gates and admit the attacking force. They nearly succeeded. Baron MacArdry and Earl McLain with several soldiers managed to retake the gatehouse to slam the portcullis shut trapping the ram and many men between it and the gate. Many of the rebels were killed or captured, but du Chantal disappeared during the fight, and I suspect he escaped using our portal. The remaining mutineers have been secured and are confined in the dungeons.”

“The walls of the city and castle remain intact though there is damage, both from the attack and from lightning strikes on the main tower during the storm. Repairs will be required but the defences are still  strong and can be relied on to protect those within. There were no significant breaches.  We do have many wounded, and the assistance of your healers in restoring them to health and strength so that they may return to their duties will greatly improve our ability to both defend the city and to join in your pursuit of those rebels who escaped.” Rory paused.

The prince responded. “My men are fatigued from a long, forced march and battling the storm and securing the rebels that remained on the.battleground. I propose to rest them here tonight and resume our pursuit of Valerian in the morning. Prince Albin is commanding the final roundup and disposition of the captured men. Duke Kelric needs to be moved to a chamber where he can rest comfortably and his recovery can be supported.”

 Kelric objected, “I’m  fine now” but was ignored

Javan continued as if Kelric had not spoken. “I propose that we meet after a meal and brief rest to discuss our best course in putting down this rebellion. I will need to Rapport with the king to report what has occurred and receive his orders.”

Duchess Richelle entered the room and curtsied to the prince, warmly clasping the hand he held out to her.  “We are relieved at your arrival and help in securing the castle, and we are honored by the presence of both your highness and Prince Albin.  My husband has apprised me of what needs to be done now. I have prepared Duke Kelric’s room and will see him moved as soon as possible. There are also quarters being prepared for your Highness and Prince Albin where you may refresh yourselves. A meal is being prepared and will be served when you are ready.”

Brecon re-entered the room and bowed to the prince. “The healers are tending to the wounded, and  my guard captain is preparing a barracks area for your men. Food will be provided as soon as it is ready.”

Javan nodded his approval. “I propose that we all return to our duties . As soon as we have made all the necessary dispositions and all is taken care of, we should meet to discuss our next moves. I am sure Duke Brecon can provide a suitable meeting place. I intend to make a brief tour of both castle and battleground to be sure that all is well. I will then retire to my room and attempt to reach the king to report to him all that has occurred and obtain his orders.”

He continued, “Our most immediate need will be to discover where Valerian and his army have gone. To this end, I intend to send out scouting parties at first light tomorrow to cast about for their trail. Baron MacArdry will lead one and Earl MacLain another. I will ask Duke Brecon to send one or two men familiar with the surrounding lands with them to provide direction. Additional plans must await the king’s instructions and our discussion tonight.” Javan stood and prepared to leave the room. “Brecon, will you accompany me on my review of our current situation?”  Brecon bowed and moved to the prince’s side.

Two male servants appeared, sent by the Duchess to assist Duke Kelric to his room. “I can stand without assistance.” Kelric insisted. He stood slowly and started to take a few steps. However, his knees began to buckle, and he was forced to lean on the arm of the closest man. He then allowed them to support him, one on either side as they slowly left the room. The prince and Duke Brecon followed them from the room, and the others dispersed to carry out their duties.

Later that evening, Prince Javan, his dukes and the other noblemen present came together in the largest withdrawing room . Javan stood in front of a chair at the center of the large table. He indicated that the men should take their seats. “I have found that all is in good order here. I have Rapported with the king, and he is pleased with the outcome of this battle. His orders are that we pursue and capture Valerian. He feels that the loss of Valerian as well as the capture of Sidana and her confinement in Rhemuth will deal a severe blow to the rebellion. He had news of Baron du Chantal who did escape Laas by portal to reach his estate. He was quickly taken by Earl Brendan Coris and his men who had occupied the manor and were lying in wait for him. The king is ordering Coris to conduct du Chantal to Rhemuth where he will be questioned and confined as a traitor. The Earl is then to lead his men toward Ratharkin where plans are being made for retaking the city.”

“Our task is to discover the whereabouts of Valerian and to capture him." Javan turned to indicate a large map of Laas and its surrounding lands. "His escape was covered by the storm which prevented seeing which way he went. Duke Brecon, you know this area best. What are your thoughts on the most likely route for Valerian to have followed?”

Brecon rose and moved to the map. “I believe his goal will be to reach Ratharkin which is currently under rebel control. His most direct route would have been to go east, but Javan and his army were between Laas and Ratharkin and approaching fast. He could have tried to move south but he would have to skirt the bay where he would confront that violent and erratic storm. Then he would have to cross the great river Laas and turn east toward Ratharkin. Further south, he would encounter the Cloome mountains and the Connait. If he skirted Kilarden Bay to the north and east he would have the easiest route with no real impediments. He could reach the walled town of Castleroo which has a long history of separist sympathies. Alternatively, he could ride more directly northeast toward Kilarden. From Kilarden, he would have an easy ride south across the plain to Ratharkin. I believe he would have been most likely to take one of the last two routes.”

They discussed the information provided by Duke Brecon. He best knew the lie of the land, and they agreed on the last two as the most likely ways for Valerian to have gone. Javan stood and addressed them.  “Two scouting parties will leave at first light. The first, led by Baron MacArdry, will ride north and east along the Bay toward Castleroo. The second, led by Earl MacLain, will ride northeast toward Kilarden. At any sighting, send a courier back to notify us of the location and which way they are riding. Stay out of sight but continue to shadow them until the army reaches you. Let us go to our beds and get what rest we can. Thank you gentlemen.”  The party dispersed as the men headed to their beds.

As the sky lightened the next  morning, the two scouting parties assembled in the stable yard. Prince Javan and Dukes Brecon and Rory were there to send them on their way Two squires and two men-at-arms stood holding the reins of their horses. Brecon stepped forward and spoke to Jass and Duncan Michael. “These men are most familiar with the countryside and can best steer you on the way. He turned and directed them. “Andrews and Dunstan, you will ride with Baron MacArdry. McCallan and Muir, you will ride with Earl MacLain.”  Bowing, the four turned to mount their horses and join their parties. The Prince stepped forward to wish them godspeed and the two parties rode out of the gates.

….

Valerian led his men along the shore of Kilarden Bay toward the mouth of the Kilarden river. At the beginning the terrain had been easy riding with gently rolling hills, and they had been able to make good time. However, the land was now becoming steeper and rockier. They were forced to slow down and pick their way carefully over the rocks and defiles. Valerian’s temper grew shorter, and no one ventured to question him.  He noticed a faint roaring sound which grew louder as they continued. They must be nearing the mouth of the river Kilarden where it emptied into the bay.  The roaring became louder until the party came out on a steep bluff overlooking a river that flowed swiftly into the bay which spread out to the west.  Turning aside Valerian picked his way back from the bluff and found a track leading eastward away from the bay and along the river’s course. After a short ride, Valerian signaled the men to halt.  A little further along the track there was an opening which led to a glade with grass and water for the horses. “We will rest here. Water your horses and tend to your own needs. We will move on as soon as I have had a chance to study the map the MacDonald gave me.”  He dismounted and threw his reins to his squire who led both horses to the stream to allow them to drink. Valerian found a place where he could sit and lean against the trunk of a gnarled old tree. He drew the parchment out of his tunic and unfolded it to study the map. The track indicated on the map followed the banks of the river for some distance. The river, as indicated on the map, flowed in a nearly straight line toward the town of Kilarden. There was one sharp bend in the river where it dipped south toward a mountain then returned to its previous course toward Kilarden. That bend looked to be a short distance from the town but far enough that the movements of his army would not be visible from their walls. At the deepest point in the  bend they would leave the river and move south, skirt the mountain and ride south toward Ratharkin. Once they turned south, the ride appeared easy with gently rolling land and no large obstacles. They only had to reach the plain and his troubles would be over.

….

The scouting party led by Jass MasArdry headed north and east along the shores of Kilarden Bay keeping a sharp lookout for signs of the passage of a large group of riders. His party included two men who were excellent trackers and quickly noted signs of riders having passed this way recently. They rode steadily along the bay toward Castleroo without encountering other riders. After several hours of steady riding, Jass called a halt to rest both men and horses. As the men dismounted and led their horses to a small stream to allow them to drink, he called the two guides and the trackers to him to consider their progress.

Jass turned to the trackers, “Do ta signs ye see convince ya that Valerian’s army passed this way? Ye hae seen no signs that he turned from the way ta Castleroo? “

“Nae, milord. All ta signs point to his tryin’ tae reach Castleroo. Ta town is noted fer its support o’ independence, and he would hae ta best chance o’ gettin’ hep there.”

Jass addressed the guides who had accompanied him. “Ye know this land. Is our best course tae continue tae track them toward Castleroo?”

Andrews answered first, confirming that it was most likely that Valerian was trying to reach Castleroo where he had the best chance to obtain much needed support. “The MacDonald, Laird of Castleroo and its surrounding lands, was a supporter of Princess Caitrin in her bid for Mearan independence. He and his men were too late to fight with Sicard at Dorna. They returned without encountering the king and his army. Since then he has remained quiet, tending to his own lands. He would be the most likely source of support for Valerian.”

The other young man, Brecon’s squire, Gregory Dunstan, then spoke.” Even if he has reached Castleroo, he will not want to stay there. He will know that the Prince will be in pursuit. The only other town of any size is Kilarden which is loyal to Duke Brecon and the king. If he intends to reach Ratharkin, he might bypass Kilarden and turn south across the plain. If we bypass Castleroo and move more inland we might be able to intercept him.”

 Jass considered what the men had told him. After a brief deliberation, he decided to change course, turn inland away from the shore and follow a line to try to intercept Valerian and his men on the plain south of Kilarden. He signaled to the men to mount. He placed the two guides at the front of the party, one to each side, to lead them toward a sighting of Valerian and his army.

They rode steadily for several hours. Jass began to notice a gradual change in the lay of the land. The gentle hills were giving way to steeper rises with rocks, small trees and bushes. Jass halted the party to again confer with his guides. “Will ta land get steeper and rougher and will ta riding get harder, slowin’ us doon? “

Both guides agreed that their path would get rougher, and it would be to their advantage to alter their path somewhat, turning more south. The older of the two, Andrews, addressed the baron. “There is at least one tall mountain and one or two lower ones in front of us. There is also a small lake. The steeper ground is the lower part of the mountain.  We think our best course will be to skirt the foot of the mountain and pass between it and the lake. The riding should remain fairly easy, and it should put us on track to intercept Valerian if, as we believe, he is heading away from Kilarden and toward. Ratharkin.” 

Jass nodded his agreement to the route proposed. “After a short rest, we’ll move on. You two lead ta way.” As the others took advantage of the short halt, Jass kneed his horse to move closer to the younger of the guides, Dunstan, and spoke to him. “Ye seem verra keen ta catch these rebels. Is there a reason ye want so badly ta see em caught?”

Young Dunstan replied. “The Grand Duke murdered my grandfather, Lord Dunstan, when the rebels took Ratharkin. Grandfather refused to swear fealty to the Pretender Queen, and he ordered my grandfather beheaded and displayed his head on the castle walls as a warning to others. My brother told me of it in a letter he sent just after it happened. He thought I should know.” The young man continued through clinched teeth. “I want him caught and punished for that act. I would like to see him drawn and quartered, but at least I want to see him die.”

Jass responded in a sympathetic voice. “I understand yer feelins, lad, but remember, our orders are ta find the Grand Duke, send word ta Prince Javan, and track him til ta army can capture him and his men. Ta king will decide what is ta be done wi’ him.”Jass fixed the boy with a stern look. “Ye need ta follow orders an hep us find him. Focus on yer duties. If ye cannae do that, I will send ya back ta Laas. I will be watchin’ ya.”

“I will do as you command, milord.” Dunstan gave a neck bow to Jass but still looked mutinous.”

At Jass’ signal the group moved out, continuing to follow their guides as they moved on toward the south and east. After they had ridden some distance, Jass again halted the party and signaled the two guides to approach. “I need the two o’ ye ta ride ahead and scout fer any signs o’ riders. Dunstan, go tae the north, back toward Kilarden and the river. Andrews, go east toward ta plain tae be sure they hae no got past us. Report back tae me.” Both men saluted and turned their horses in the directions assigned.

Young Gregory Dunstan guided his horse through the rocks and brush at the base of the mountain toward Kilarden. As he rode, he thought of his grandfather. They had been close, and he had adored the older man. His grandfather had instilled in him precepts of honor and chivalry. The more he thought of the rebels and especially the Grand Duke and what they had done to his grandfather, the angrier he became. He felt the need to revenge himself on the person he saw as his grandfather’s murderer. But he also thought of his pledge of loyalty and obedience to the Duke he served and to the king. His thoughts were in turmoil, he was conflicted. He shook himself and tried to focus on his mission to try to discover the whereabouts of the rebels and their leader.

Screened by rocks and brush, Gregory  reined in his horse and studied the scene before him, looking for any sign of riders. He sighted signs of movement in the distance, in the direction of the Kilarden river. As he watched, the movement dissolved into a large group of riders headed toward him. They were here, the rebels!  He turned away and spurred his horse back toward where he had left his party.

Dunstan reined in his horse in front of Baron Jass. “I have seen them, milord, a large group of riders headed this way from the river. I believe it is the army we are seeking!”

Jass singled out one of the men nearby. “ Joseph, you will be my courier and take this news back to the prince as quickly as you can. Inform him that we will watch them and continue to shadow them until he arrives. I expect you will meet the army moving in this direction.”

“Aye, milord.” the man saluted the baron, kneed his horse away from the party and set off back toward Laas. 

Jass ordered Gregory to lead them to the point from which he had sighted the riders. “Be careful tae conceal yourselves. We dinnae want them tae know they hae been seen,” he told the men.  The party followed Gregory to the part of the slope from which he had seen the riders. They could see a large party of riders headed in their direction. The men concealed themselves to continue to watch the advancing rebel group.

Gregory found an excellent lookout where he was hidden but had a good view of the approaching rebels. As they drew nearer, he could better see the men in the lead. He noted the arrogant look and the superior carriage of one man whom he suspected was the Grand Duke. Gregory inched his horse closer as the leaders of the army drew closer, and his view became sharper. As they neared the beginning of the foothill at the base of the mountain, the black haired man in the lead signaled for a halt. As the army reined in their horses behind him, he gestured for two of them to approach him as he pulled out a parchment from his tunic and unrolled it. Probably a map of some kind the young man thought .

As Gregory continued to watch the black haired man conferred with the two men he had summoned. The longer he watched, the more certain the boy became that this was indeed Valerian and the angrier he became. It was not enough that Valerian should be captured. Gregory wanted him dead. He looked around, Jass was some distance away also studying the actions of those below. Gregory reached for the crossbow hanging from his saddle. His horse somewhat hid him from the others. As he stared down at the hated figure, his anger overtook him. He loaded the bolt, sighted his target and fired. He saw the bolt hit the Grand Duke in the chest. The man reeled in his saddle ; his warhorse reared as he pulled at the reins in an effort to keep his seat. It was not to be. Semi-conscious, the Grand Duke fell back and to the side,toppling from his horse, his head striking a rock in the path. He lay motionless, the bolt from the crossbow deep in his chest.

The other  two men sprang from their horses and knelt beside him. One of them was pointing in the general direction of the mountainside but seemed unsure of where the fatal bolt had come from. There were no further arrows nor any signs of attackers. The men seemed unsure of what they should do as they knelt beside the still body. The rebels were becoming agitated, uncertain of what to do and suddenly leaderless.

Jass quickly passed the word that they should remain still and hidden. Their number was small, and they could not withstand an attack from the men below if one was launched. However, the rebels continued to mill around, unsure of their next actions.  One of the men who had been beside Valerian when the bolt hit him, stood up and addressed the men. Instead of moving to search the area for the attacker, they loaded the body onto his horse and turned back toward Kilarden. Gregory Dunstan heaved a sigh of relief that there would be no search for the person who fired the bolt. His emotions at having the man he hated in his sights had overcome him, and he had failed to consider that he might be putting the other members of the scouting party in danger. He  knew that the Baron would single him out as the one who fired the killing bolt, and he would surely face punishment, but he had done what he needed to do to obtain vengeance for the killing of his grandfather and he would gladly face whatever punishment was determined for him.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2020, 01:49:42 pm by DerynifanK »
"Thanks be to God there are still, as there always have been and always will be, more good men than evil in this world, and their cause will prevail." Brother Cadfael's Penance

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #706 on: November 11, 2019, 08:45:56 am »
“I told you I am FINE!  Stop asking me if I am feeling unwell!” 

Aliset Cameron stood with her hands on her hips and glared at her husband.  Her husband, standing in the exact same position, glared back.

“Fine then!” he said, hefting his sea bag over his shoulder and stroding away toward his horse.  “I’ll never understand her,” he muttered as he passed Father Columcil on the way. He stopped and turned to the priest. “Everything I say to her is the wrong thing.  And if I don’t say anything, it’s the wrong thing.  I should go back to sea.”

“Ye mun ha’e a bittie patience, ma laddie,” the priest replied.  “I’m sure come the next month or twae she’ll be no’ wantin’ ta bite yer heid off.”

“A month or two?” Darcy looked dismayed and  shook his head, pushing  back the stray strands of fair hair that fell across his face.  “How can you be sure?  I can read the stars, and I can read the weather, but I can’t read her at all.”

Columcil had seen the signs many times before as a remote parish priest, but did not feel it was his place to enlighten the frustrated younger man before him.  At least not yet.  “Gi’e her a wee bit o’ space; she doesn’a need you at her side all the time. She’s an independent lass and kens her own mind.”

“I’m glad she knows it, for I’m sure I don’t!”  Darcy sighed.  “We’d best get on with the day.”  He shook his head a second time and walked purposefully toward his horse.

Columcil watched him walk away. He knew how dearly Darcy loved Aliset and that she was fond of him.  Both had the mettle to face the world on their own; they would just have to figure out how to face it together.  A challenge to be sure.  Columcil looked toward Aliset and saw that Fiona had joined Aliset and they were talking quietly.  Fiona placed a gentle hand on Aliset’s arm, said something to her earnestly, and Aliset nodded.  The priest smiled ruefully and wondered if Washburn would figure it out before Darcy.

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

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Offline Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #707 on: November 13, 2019, 12:25:55 pm »
“Darcy, could you hold up on releasing the ward cubes for a few minutes longer?” Washburn asked in a rush as he came over to the seaman’s side. 

Standing beside his horse, Darcy had raised his hands above his head and had started to concentrate on the spell that would lower the protective ward which had lain over their heads for the night. He gave Wash a look of concern as he lowered his hands back to the pommel of his saddle. “We need to get moving. We will not get into the church, if we are not there soon.”

“Aye! Yes, I agree. Yet, I would ask a boon of your wife for a bit of magic before the wards are gone. It will not take long.” Wash had a  boyish grin that echoed mischievousness. There was no doubt that the good night’s sleep had done him a world of good. “You don’t mind, do you?” Wash asked at Darcy’s downcast eyes.

“Don’t mind which? That you want magic performed or that you would ask my wife to perform it?” Darcy then looked up and twisted his lips. “Tis neither of those things, Wash. It is this damnable road. Truth is, my lady and I have only known the road together. I have little experience of residential living, land ownership, and homes, those are alien to me. But for my loved one, I need to bring her to a good home, and soon. I feel it in my bones that she will be happier when we are settled down. Yet, if I suggest that she go back to Rhemuth when we send Fiona there, she gets stubbornly fixated that she doesn’t want just any roof over her head. That she would rather have the stars as her roof and my arms as her walls.”

“And this upsets you?”  Wash said with a quizzical laugh. “If only I could find such a woman.”

Darcy looked at Wash with a disgruntled exasperation. “What she says is contrary to what she needs.”

“Aye, all women are contrary, Darcy. That is the way of their kind. Keep her close to you. That is the key. Soon, hopefully soon, we will get you some solid walls and a hardy roof to put over your heads. I did promise you a good bed, too. I stand by that.” Wash clapped a hand on the younger man’s shoulder with a wide smile. “To that eventual happy day, if it is acceptable to you, I shall ask for that little magic of which I am in need.” With a sprite step, Wash across the campsite with it’s magical protection. He drop to one knee before the two chattering young women. “Lady Fiona, Lady Aliset.” He acknowledged the young ladies before him. “I hope the morning is finding you both well. My lady?” he looked up into the face of his friend's wife, aware of the hesitant look Aliset gave him. “Would you be kind and perform a favor for me?”

“Sir Washburn, if I can, I will.” Lady Aliset Cameron stifled the smile she had been sharing with Fiona and then cocked her head in suspect of the knight’s purpose on behalf of her husband. “Why are we being so formal?” she inquired.

“Well, I need your expertise… in body changing!” he exclaimed, which only elicited a confused look shared between Aliset and Fiona. A bit taken off guard, they both began to giggle and Wash felt undone. He didn’t understand women either, apparently. “You misunderstand me. I can not walk into the funeral church mass as I am. It is quite probable that the Grand Duke will have spies seeking my whereabouts at the abbey. He will want me alive to reverse what I did to him, but his spies would think it nothing to harm those who protect me. My hope is they still believe me to be in Meara hiding with Iain-- I wish I knew how good the Grand Duke’s informants are?” He looked up at Aliset and saw her biting her lip. In the glow of the blue dome, her skin was pale and her eyes showed concern. He saw a vulnerability in her he had not seen before. Perhaps Darcy was right, the road was no place for both of these young noble women. Yet, at this moment, that problem could not be resolved.

Wash had a need to lighten the mood, so he shrugged his shoulders and spread forth his hands. “Besides,  don’t you think that I draw too much attention?” He gave a charming lopsided grin, his gold hair falling characteristic forward. “Even if I cover up in a cowl, there will be other people there who could recognize me. I am not sure I can face them, not yet. Can you change me…. To look like someone else?” He added in a rush.

Aliset softened her expression and color returned to her cheeks. “Yes, I can. But who should you be? It needs to be someone that I know well enough to model you after, someone close in height and of similar build. You are far taller than Alister was, and young Robert may never reach your height.”

“He could become Jaxom,”  Fiona happily suggested.

“No!” was everyone’s unanimous reply, confirming that Darcy and Columcil had come close to hear Washburn’s request.  Wash barely managed in time to swallow his own response, which could not have been properly uttered before the ladies, nor a priest. Darcy on the other hand would have applauded his comment. That is if he had dared to say it, which he did not.

Fiona noted Washburn’s pursed lips and giggled. “Well, there is Baron Stuart,” she offered when she had settled her mirth. “He is my guardian and that would make it easier to explain my presence among you to anyone who would inquire.”

“This would not upset him, if he found out?”  Wash asked liking the idea.

“You do not plan to sully his good name?” Fiona inquired.

“No, absolutely not!” Washburn responded.

“Father, would that be acceptable?” Fiona asked of Columcil.

“I see no evil in it. It would be a form of protection to avoid danger for all of us, I would not think that the baron would object.  However, Wash you will need to behave as an elder baron of standing and not the brash laddy you sometimes can be.”

Wash smiled at Columcil’s open expression. “I… Brash…. When!” Then he laughed knowing Columcil was teasing him. “I will happily be Fiona’s guardian during the mass. It is a solemn occasion. It may bring upon me some emotions, but I swear, I will be the proper old baron.”

Aliset looked across the company for approval. Columcil nodded, Darcy agreed, and then Fiona gave a final nod of assent. Aliset bit her lip for a moment. “Fiona could you give me a good image of Baron Stuart, my memory of him was only brief and I would have his full image, voice, and mannerisms in my mind before we do this.”

Washburn remained kneeling as he watched the two women form Rapport, he used the long minutes to prepare himself. He glanced at the last embers of the dying fire and brought his breathing to even slow breaths and his mind to a calm openness. For only two people he would willingly drop his shields, for Father Columcil who now knelt beside him and for the Lady Aliset whom he trusted like an angel. When Aliset was certain she had the image in her mind, she lifted one hand to Washburn’s forehead. He closed his eyes as her hand passed over his face, his calm went deeper, into his Healer focus. He shifted his own energy from himself into the hand that touched him and the lady accepted the warmth of it with a welcome relief. Wash sensed the ladies nausea and paleness dissipate and he was happy he could help in this small way.  Then she was sending him the knowledge she had gained from Fiona about Baron Stuart.

((09:59 <Laurna> Roll Wash in healing trance, does he discover Aliset's condition?
09:59 <Laurna> !roll 2d6
09:59 <•derynibot> 4, 3 == 7
10:00 <Laurna> nope.))

The others now all purchased on knees near at hand, listened raptly to the soft chanting spell that Lady Aliset sung, “Behold the essence of Baron Mackenzie Stuart, hold his outward form in your memory. Let your essence mingle with that of the baron until your outward forms become one. Let it be done, Fiat!”

((10:05 <Laurna> Roll for Aliset, success on 4,5,6
10:05 <Laurna> !roll 2d6
10:05 <•derynibot> 5, 2 == 7  success))

Washburn’s eyes were closed but his mind was open and he felt the supporting presence of all of his friends. There had been a faint tingle in his face and an itch on his hands as the use of power filled him. He knew it would be his own power from here on which would maintain the spell that was passed over to him, but this was but a trifle. Yet...was it a true success?  How was he to know?  The lady’s hands dropped away from him and Fiona gave a small gasp.  Wash opened his eyes searching the faces staring at him. “Did it work?” he asked in a voice that was much deeper than his own.

“Aye, my son,” was Columcil’s response. “I dare say you are now older than I.”
« Last Edit: November 13, 2019, 12:36:28 pm by Laurna »

Offline DerynifanK

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #708 on: November 14, 2019, 06:39:57 am »
Brendan Coris, Earl of Marley, leaned back in his chair and took a sip of the Fianna wine that had followed his meal. He was feeling out of sorts. No one else had used the portal since Chantal came through and was captured. Nor had he received any news concerning the battle for Laas. It was becoming difficult to keep his men alert and battle ready since basically they were just guarding prisoners and maintaining the manor. The men were getting bored and restless and so was he.

He knew that his brother, the Duke of Corwyn, had reached Laas and was surely involved in the fighting. But he did not know what might have happened to him or to the others defending the castle. He had learned nothing from du Chantal who refused to answer any questions.

Nor had there been any further news concerning Washburn. He knew that Sir Iain had freed him, but that his brother was still under the influence of his captor who had twisted his mind and altered his memories for what purpose no one knew.
 
He closed his eyes and let his thoughts drift. How long would he and his men remain here at du Chantal’s manor? No one had followed the baron through the portal, and there had been no action since he had been captured and detained.. As his mind continued to drift, he felt Kelson’s call. “How may I serve you, your majesty?”

“I have instructions for you.” Kelson detected the Earl’s sigh. “I hope you have not felt neglected. There has been much to occupy my mind, but I have certainly not forgotten you.”

Brendan responded. “Forgive me, Sire. I have not felt that I have accomplished much to advance your cause or to help either of my brothers.  I have not able to rejoin Javan’s army or support him in the fight at Laas. Nor did I have the chance to find Valerian’s stronghold and free my brother. That was accomplished by another”  Kelson sensed Brendan’s frustration.

Brendan felt the king’s sympathy. “I know the difficulty of being far from the action, forced to wait while others fight the battles.”  Brendan had not considered that the king might have similar emotions  as his son led the army to Laas..

Kelson continued. “ Your service has indeed been of value. You stopped rebels from seizing estates and gaining a foothold in Gwynedd. You also prevented an uprising in the town of Droghera, supported the commander and held it for the crown. And while you did not directly free Sir Washburn, you supported those who did free him and are helping him now. Without your efforts, the entire area between Cuiltiene and Droghera could be in rebel hands.”

“You hold a valuable prisoner who stands high in the separatists’ councils. His loss will severely hamper their plans. My first order for you is to transport Chantal under close guard via portal to Rhemuth. He will be thrown into my dungeon like the traitor he is. He swore fealty to me but violated his oath. He will pay the price for his treachery.” Brendan sensed the king’s anger  though it was held tightly in check. “Once you have delivered the prisoner, I will have further instructions for you. Plans are being made to free Ratharkin from the rebels and return it to its legitimate leader.  You and your men will play an important role in that campaign.”

“It shall be done as you command, my liege. But I must ask, what news of Laas and my brother?” The king felt the anxiety in Brendan’s thoughts..

“I have had good news from Laas. Javan has reported that although Duke Kelric was severely wounded by one of the mutineers, he has been healed through his own efforts assisted and supported by your son, Jayce. Duchess Richelle had urgently requested a healer, but all of my healers were with Javan and the army. I was told that Jayce was one of the most talented of the apprentice healers in the schola, and he begged to be allowed to go and assist his uncle. The most able of the healers with Javan examined Kelric and found the healing well done. He needs only rest and nourishment to complete the process.”

”The castle did sustain some damage and will require repairs, but no walls were breached nor were the gates compromised. The castle can still defend the city and its people.” Kelson paused. “However, Grand Duke Valerian and a large portion of his force did escape under cover of a freak storm that blew in from the sea. Javan and his men will resume pursuit at first light.”

“I share your concern for Washburn, but I assure you that he is safe with his party. They will 
protect him until such time as we can have the best mages and healers examine hIm and determine what needs to be done to restore his mind . As soon as peace is restored and the rebellion crushed, healing Washburn will have the highest priority”

Brendan felt eased in his mind by the king’s words. “I will go now to make ready to transport the prisoner, my liege. I will deliver him to your hands first thing in the morning.” Kelson ended the Rapport and Brendan called one of his guards to summon Lord Jaxom to attend him immediately.

Jaxom entered the room a short time later and bowed to the Earl. “You sent for me, my lord?”

Brendan gestured to the young lord to be seated on a stool facing  him across the table. “I have received instructions from the king. I am to deliver our prisoner, Baron du Chantal to Rhemuth. I will take him via portal to Rhemuth castle where he will be surrendered to the king’s guard who will be awaiting him. He is to travel under close guard, so I will take two guards with me. You will see that he is brought to the portal room at first light, blindfolded and bound and accompanied by two guards.”

“I am leaving you in charge of the garrison and the other prisoners while I am absent. The king has indicated that we will be leaving here upon my return so I need you to check supplies and have the men check their gear in preparation for our departure. I suspect we will leave a token force here to guard the other prisoners.”

Jaxom  sat erect and attentive on his stool, eager to make the most of this opportunity to impress the Earl.

Brendan smiled at the young lord’s eagerness. “The king said he would have orders for us after the prisoner has been delivered. We must both be patient until those orders are given.” Jaxom bowed again and left the room to carry out his orders.

The next morning Brendan waited by the portal for the prisoner to be brought to him  He heard footsteps in the hallway and Jaxom entered accompanied by two guards with the prisoner between them held by his arms which were bound in front of him. His eyes were covered by a blindfold. “Where am I being taken?” The prisoner demanded. The Earl stepped forward. “You will find out soon enough.” He opened a small jar and smeared a small amount of the contents at the base of the prisoner’s throat using a glove to cover his hand. He then helped the guards position the baron on the portal and instructed them to stand close on either side. Brendan moved onto the portal, wrenched the energies, and they were gone.

 Jaxom took a deep breath, smiled to himself and turned to leave the portal room. He thought to himself, “I am in charge.”
 
« Last Edit: January 18, 2020, 07:32:54 am 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 DerynifanK

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #709 on: November 22, 2019, 08:00:04 pm »
Kelson’s guards were waiting as Brendan and his guards arrived on the portal with the prisoner. Brendan’s men moved Chantal off the portal, and the royal guards took charge of him immediately, one seizing each arm, and marched him away to the corridor which would eventually lead to the descent to the dungeons.  One of Kelson’s captains was also waiting for them. He bowed to Brendan. “I will see to your men, my lord. The king has ordered that they be fed and quarters are ready for them.” Brendan nodded to his two guards to follow the captain, and the three men also left the portal room.

A tall, slim young squire was also waiting. He bowed to Brendan, “My  Lord, my orders are to escort you to the king as soon as you arrive. If you will come with me.” Brendan nodded and followed the young man through different corridors until they reached a withdrawing room near the great hall. The squire knocked softly followed by a response, “Come.” He opened the door and entered, bowing deeply to the king who was seated at a table inside.  “The Earl of Marley, as you commanded sire.”

Kelson stood. He smiled at the young man. “Thank you, Barclay. You may now return to your other duties.” The young man bowed again and left the room, closing the door behind him. Kelson walked around the table and approached the Earl. Brendan bowed. As he straightened, he found himself clasped in an embrace by the king. “It is good to see you. We will have the chance to talk face to face rather than just in rapport . Rapport is very valuable but it also has its limitations. I know these last weeks have been difficult for you. We have much to discuss.”

.Kelson continued.” First, however, I must attend the funeral mass for Bishop Arilan. The time for it to start is quickly approaching, and I need to leave. Denis was close to your family, and I am sure you would like to pay your respects. I would ask that you accompany me to the cathedral. Your presence will be a support to me. Your mother will also accompany me, and she is anxious to see you as well. We are traveling by portal to save time and for reasons of safety. My council was not pleased by my decision to attend because of concern for my safety. However, they are resigned since I agreed to wear mail under my tunic and to travel by portal.”

Brendan answered his king. “As you say, my liege, Bishop Arilan was always close to my family, and I would be glad of the opportunity to pay my last respects to him. I would be honored to be present at his services in attendance on your majesty.”
 
The king eyed his Earl. “A room has been prepared for you. I can allow you a little time to  prepare before our departure.” Brendan noticed that Kelson seemed to be studying him more closely than usual and appeared somewhat puzzled. Brendan wondered to himself if there was something wrong with his attire.

There was another knock at the door and Richenda, dowager Duchess of Corwyn entered and curtsied deeply. “I am ready, Sire.” Then her eyes fell on her son and her face lit up with her wonderful smile. Brendan moved quickly to embrace her, noticing how thin and fragile she had become. She hugged him close to her. As he released her, she stepped back and studied him with her head tilted to one side. As she continued to gaze at him, he began to fidget, feeling a little uncomfortable under her scrutiny as well as that of the king.

 Brendan spoke. “Is there something amiss with my appearance, Maman? “

Richenda replied. “What has happened to your hair? My son has red hair. The red hair of Marley is well known. But I see before me a man with hair of a rather dull brown. It greatly changes your appearance and might make it difficult for those who do not know you well to recognize you.”

Brendan’s cheeks flushed red. He had not thought of the difference in his appearance produced by his dyed hair. So much had happened since he had changed his appearance in order to seek his brother being held captive by the rebels that he had actually forgotten about it. He ducked his head as he answered her. “I dyed it in an effort to disguise myself. I intended to search for Washburn, and I thought it would be better if his captors did not recognize the Earl of Marley in the search party. I know there had been warnings from his captor of dire consequences for Wash if a formal search were made.”

The king then addressed him. “What search party was this that you planned to join?”

“I intended to ride with Lord Darcy. We would appear to be two ordinary men-at-arms traveling with a priest and a squire and arouse no suspicions should we find our objective. Prince Javan shared your rapport with me, your majesty. He argued that I should remain with the main army and allow others to search for Wash. However, he did not make it an order. He understood that for the love I bear my mother and my brother I had to be part of the effort to free him.”

Brendan paused to look at the king and his mother, then continued. “Before we set out, I received the news that Washburn had been located and freed by one of your trusted agents who was hiding him from the rebels. There was no longer any need to search for him. I became absorbed in other urgent matters and no longer gave my disguise any thought until now.”

Richenda addressed him, asking what he had used to dye his hair. When he told her what he had used, she turned to the king and smiled ruefully. “Your majesty, if you need an agent who can remain incognito to carry out an assignment for you, Brendan is your man, since the dye he used cannot be washed out. I’m afraid we’ll just have to wait for it to grow out before your red headed earl will reappear.”

To Brendan’s relief, the king was not angry at his decision to follow a course forbidden by him. Kelson laughed saying, “At least your change in appearance should make it harder for your brother to recognize you and have his anger ignited. That could be dangerous and was the reason I wanted him kept away from his family until we could find a way to heal his mind. For now, we need to leave for the cathedral within the hour. My squire will show you to your quarters and we will all meet at the library portal to depart as soon as possible.” They dispersed to make ready to travel to pay homage to Bishop Arilan who had served Gwynedd long and faithfully.
"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 #710 on: November 28, 2019, 10:48:22 am »
Darcy Cameron surveyed their small party thoughtfully as they prepared to depart from the clearing.  “We’ll need to change our riding order a bit,” he said to the group.  Sir Washburn, still a little uncomfortable wearing the form of the older Baron Stuart, gave him a puzzled look.  Aliset paused in packing away the apples into her saddle bag that were left from breaking their morning fast.  Father Columcil stopped checking his saddle girth, and Fiona looked up from examining her quiver of arrows.

“‘Tis more appropriate for the baron and his daughter to ride behind me, your faithful man-at-arms.”  Darcy sketched a brief bow in Washburn’s direction.  “Father Columcil, would you mind bringing up the rear?”

“What about me?” Aliset said before Columcil could answer.

“Why you, of course, as my new bride, will be loath to be kept apart from me and will ride close by my side.” 

Aliset’s hand clenched the apple she held and threw it directly at Darcy’s head.  Darcy caught it neatly and Sigrun, standing behind him, nudged him in the back with her head, suggesting that he now held an appropriate treat.  “I will ride before Father Columcil, thank you!” she said stiffly.

“I suspected as much,” Darcy replied. 

“I’ll gang tae th’back,” Columcil agreed. An’ blessed Mary Mother, may ah keep th’ peace thereby, he added to himself.

Darcy tucked the apple into his sea bag and then, somewhat warily, helped his wife to mount her horse.  He turned back once more to address the group.  “Already the noise of travellers on the road increases, and the crowd will continue to grow once we pass Valoret and continue on to Arx Fedei.  Do your best to stay together; it will be easy to become separated and difficult to find each other again if we do.”  His companions nodded as he mounted Sigrun, and followed as he led them from the clearing toward the road.

***

Darcy was right in his prediction.  As they passed Valoret, the road began to fill as those who had spent the night in the town joined the others destined for Arx Fedei.   Some travelled on horseback, some travelled on foot, and some travelled in carriages.  Darcy noted that a large number of the clergy had joined them.

Their progress slowed when they reached the abbey.  Arx Fedei had grown over the years as it acquired additional  patronage after the canonization of Saint Jorian.  The abbey walls were new and the gates impressive.  Now the abbey gates became a bottleneck, and all were forced to wait as the guards slowly motioned people through, scrutinizing each one as they passed. 

“Stay as close as is safe,” Darcy said, more loudly than he wanted to but the crowd, despite heading toward the solemn occasion of a funeral, was far from quiet.  As he approached the guards, Darcy motioned with his hand indicating that they travelled together.  The guards eyed the baron’s magnificent destrier closely and then motioned them through.  Darcy let out the breath he had been holding in a sigh of relief.

They proceeded slowly into the courtyard of the abbey.  Long picket lines had been set up along one side for the overflow of horses that could not be housed in the abbey’s stables.  Darcy moved toward the lines, deciding he would prefer easier access to their horses than the crowded stables would provide.  He was not the only one with the same thought, and another rider urged his horse through their group, cutting off Fiona from the rest.  As Fiona attempted to turn her horse back to the others, another rider grabbed hold of her bridle.

“Over this way, my Lady,” he said.  “There is plenty of space at this end of the picket line for our horses.” 

For a moment Fiona was too startled to jerk her horse’s head away.  The man was unremarkable in appearance, probably approaching middle age.  He began to lead them toward the picket line.

“Unhand my daughter’s horse immediately!” Baron Stuart, looking suitably fierce, one hand resting on the hilt of his sword, was directly behind them, the large destrier positioned to force the other man’s horse aside.

The man hastily released his grip on the bridle, and Fiona turned her horse’s head away. 

“Pardon, my Lord,” the man said and quickly moved his horse away.  Fiona was not sure whether he was more intimidated by the stern glare in Washburn’s eyes or the size of his horse.  Washburn moved Shadow forward to fill the space the other man had vacated.

“Are you all right?” he asked. 

Fiona nodded.  “It was so unexpected, I did not have time to react.  Thank you for assisting me.”  She smiled up at him, and hoped no one would wonder why she was blushing as she looked at her father.

Space was found at the picket line for all five horses to be kept together.  Fiona and Washburn left their bows and quivers with their horses, and Columcil left his staff behind with Spean.  Swords and daggers would be retained until they reached the church; once there they would be surrendered at the small guardhouse beside the main entrance.

They joined the throng of people moving toward the abbey’s Church of the Paraclete.  They passed low buildings where the lay brothers did the day-to-day tasks needed to run the abbey.  They passed abundant gardens with vegetables and medicinal plants. Darcy kept a wary watch as they walked, and the three men were careful to shield the ladies from the crowd as best they could.  When they reached the church, the doors were closed to hold back the mourners, as well as the curious, until all inside was ready.

“Aliset,” Darcy said.  “It you’ll give me your daggers, I’ll take them to the guardhouse while you remain here with Father Columcil and Fiona.”

“I thought you did not want us separated?” Aliset asked, although she eyed the crowd of men at the guardhouse surrendering their weapons with some dismay.

“I don’t want to raise questions as to why a lady carries such a handsome pair of throwing daggers,” Darcy replied. “Don’t fret; Washburn and I will be able to navigate safely back.”

“There are no stars to be seen,” Aliset quipped.

“The shining beacon of you eyes is all I need,” Darcy replied.  Aliset held no apple this time, so Darcy felt he was safe enough.

“Aye, lad ‘tis a guid thought,” Columcil interjected.  “Gang yer ways afore th’ crowd gets worse.  They’ll be openin’ the doors afore lang, ah’ve nay dout.”

Aliset handed Darcy her daggers, and Fiona handed her dagger to Washburn. It took some time for Darcy and Washburn to work their way through the throng at the gatehouse, and the crowd growing on the steps to the church awaiting the doors to open was worse.

Once they returned to Columcil, Aliset and Fiona, Darcy shook his head.  “I’m not that fond of crowds, and the day grows warm.  It will be stifling inside the church.” He looked to his right at the long guest house that extended along the west edge of the seminary’s cloistered garth.  “I have an idea,” he said and motioned for them to follow.

Darcy entered the guest house door without hesitation, giving no hint in his bearing that he should not be there.  “There should be a door leading into the church from here,” he said in a low voice. 

“Aye, it should be there,” the priest said with a nod to his left.

Darcy led them to the door, muttering something Columcil preferred not to hear when Darcy found it locked.  “Not to worry,” Darcy said as he reached into his belt pouch and withdrew a lockpick.

“This is a kirk, laddie!” Columcil said sharply, but still keeping his voice low.

“Father, I’ll do whatever penance you set to me, but I would prefer to enter early and find a spot less crowded for Aliset where there may be a breath of air.” Without waiting for the priest’s approval, Darcy deftly picked the lock and opened the door.  Washburn gave Aliset a look, and she shrugged her shoulders; there were other ways to open a lock, but Darcy’s method had been swift and efficient.  Aliset had a sudden suspicion that it was also well-practiced.  Columcil shook his head as Darcy returned the lockpick to his pouch and led them through into the church. 

They entered one of the aisles of the nave.  Darcy surveyed the layout and then nodded toward the front aisle to the left of the transept.  A brother passed by as they walked, but at the quiet nod of greeting from Father Columcil, he continued on.  Darcy positioned them at the front of the aisle; others would have to fill in behind them if they wished.

The air in the church was still and hot, and Alset began to fan herself.  Darcy pushed a damp strand of pale hair back from his forehead and studied his wife.  Hopefully, the doors to the church would be opened soon.

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

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Offline Laurna

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #711 on: November 30, 2019, 12:55:54 pm »
The tan and gold vaulted web ceilings and great stone columns of the abbey church of Arx Fidei were not unfamiliar to Washburn. He had been here a time or two before. His first experience in this church had been his most memorable: the day had been Saint Jorian’s Feast Day; this was many years ago. He recalled being ordered to attend the service by his brother, as punishment to properly atone for his disrespect of the Bishop of Dhassa, after Arilan had declared the young Washburn Morgan untrainable. He had been how old? Wash shook his head. That memory conflicted with other memories of that day. Something was not right. He remembered being reprimanded by Bishop Arilan at some point, yet that had been at a different time and a different place. As Wash let the aura of this magnificent church fill him, he recalled being emotionally swept up in the mass given by none other than the same said Bishop, to honor the life and death of Saint Jorian whose sacrifice had become a beacon and a gift to all Deryni. As celebrant of that service, Denis Arilan had brought Wash to tears, for he remembered his father had been witness to such atrocities and had been a strong supporter of Jorian’s canonization. His father had been wise and loving in that respect. The conflict of it against the other memories of his father caused Wash to shiver as if a freezing wind had blown over his bones. The air in the church was still and hot, as noted when Aliset began fanning herself.

Darcy had them settle in the very front side isle. At their back, in the first chapel alcove, stood in relief, the statue of Saint Camber, the Patron Saint for Deryni and Humans alike. In one hand he held a staff, in the other five scrolls of learning. Individually, each of the five Deryni went back to kneel before the figure giving their respect and thanks to the Saint for his protection. Washburn was the longest to stay kneeling knowing how his very survival had been touched, whether imagined or not, by the essence of this saint. In this church, unlike in other chapels, this statue of Saint Camber appeared to look across the church at the distant chapel opposite where another alcove showed the statue of a young man in a plain white cassock such as a priest would wear on his ordination day, that figure’s face extolled a gentle smile, his right hand raised in blessing, his eyes cast upon the center of the chancel. As each of Darcy’s party followed the statue’s gaze, they were struck by the glorious sight of the morning sunlight awash through the eastern stained glass windows. The light shone across the altar and the chancel before it, in a brilliant reflection of multiple colors. Gold seemed to illuminate most brightly in one spot, the spot where Saint Jorian’s gaze lay. The warmth of that light fell upon the drape of a casket on the long flat space between the steps and altar.  Washburn caught his breath, stunned to see the plainness of the coffin laid out before them and the simple drape upon it with a book lying open at its center.

Again he said to himself This can not be right. Here lay the Bishop of Dhassa. A man honored by all Deryni for his changing of their world to one in which they could live freely and openly.  Wash held his breath and tried to understand. Surely princely robes and ornate coffin should adorn the passing of so great a man.  As Washburn continued to stare, looking for answers, he began to see two figures before the coffin, both attired in simple black cassocks which nearly camouflaged them within the brightness of the colored light from the windows above.  One priest knelt at the foot of the altar steps, his head bare, his tonsured hair grey with hints of light brown, his hands folded in prayer. His eyes from time to time looked from his hands to the coffin. Only then Wash realized he was looking at the other priest in deep concern as he lay prostrate on the floor at the coffin’s feet. As Wash looked on, he swore if these men would turn around he might know who they were.

In the pre-event stillness of the huge church, the harsh breathing of the man lying upon the pavement could be heard. Almost embarrassed to be a witness of such a personal moment, Wash whispered to Darcy, his voice sounding over-loud in the stillness. “Perhaps we have come too soon.” Darcy was nodding in agreement when the priest kneeling at the steps looked up at the sound. It was Columcil who took in a quick breath. “Grand ...  Father…. um… Your Grace!” he exclaimed as he knelt in respect, even at a distance of thirty feet between them. All five members of the party caught their breath as they recognized Archbishop Duncan, who recognized them, who stood and took a step toward them. Duncan had an odd expression on his face as he looked at each of them in turn. Only three of the five did he know and the one face that should have been among them was not. Then he was looking straight at Columcil in question. The country priest quickly shook his head, and Duncan stopped his advancement.

If words passed between Duncan and Columcil, Wash was not aware of it. But then Duncan’s gaze settled on Baron Stuart and his eyes warmed. He would have come forward then, but for a clatter from the sacristy entrance at the far side. An elder man in white and gold robes, his head as yet bare, stepped up to the coffin; his stance was supported by a bishop’s crosier in his hand. He genuflected and gave the sign of blessing, yet it became worrisome when it appeared he needed others to help him stand.

“Father John, your assistance would not go amiss here. My knees are not what they use to be,” the Archbishop of Valoret and Primate of all Gwynedd cordially requested of the priest lying upon the floor. Washburn recognized Father John Nivard as he lifted himself from the floor, brushed back streaks of tears from his face, sniffled, and then rushed to help the revered Archbishop to stand.

“My apologies, Archbishop Hugh. Your grace, I... I should have been more attentive.” John finally admitted, head bowed low.

“It is understandable, my son, but the morning is getting on. Duncan? You are going to properly dress for the service, are you not? It may be Denis’s will to be a penitent soul, but it is our will that we honor him properly.”

“Aye, your grace, I will do right by him this day. I can do no less.” With that Duncan nodded to the five, then turned to go. He checked the coffin, the book, and the altar, before he followed the two men out of the chancel and into the side door of the sacristy.

Now, Washburn understood the simpleness of the coffin. This was going to be an emotionally wrought service. He found himself holding Fiona’s hand for support. Suddenly conscious of what he was doing, he let her hand go, but then she held his hand tightly in both of hers.

Then the west doors were opened and people began to enter.

The five watched as the nave quickly filled. Washburn returned Fiona’s grasp to hold her closer, as a father would so that they would not be separated as others crowded in at their back. Soon the doors at the north and south ends of the transept were opened, and all were grateful for the gentle breeze that refreshed the air.

“Thank you, Darcy, for getting us here,” Lady Aliset said to her husband.  Her smile was as refreshing as the breeze.  And Wash knew that all was well between his good friends.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2019, 12:15:19 pm by Laurna »

Offline DerynifanK

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #712 on: January 04, 2020, 10:14:25 am »
Fiona hesitated as they entered the church through the door Darcy had opened. She had been awed by her first sight of the Abbey Church as they rode in. It was so much larger and more imposing than the parish churches with which she was familiar, and its large, square tower dominated the scene. As they entered the church, she felt almost lost in the vast space with its vaulted ceiling and a nave that stretched far back toward the doors which remained closed. She followed close behind Darcy with Washburn behind her as they moved toward the left aisle and took seats in the front of the nave. She settled onto the bench between Lady Aliset and Washburn and looked around. Immediately in front of them was an intricately carved rood screen which separated the nave from the transept and the altar but allowed vision of the altar and the steps leading up to it.   Along each side were columns which flowed into arches which supported the high domed ceiling. They seemed to draw her eyes upward toward heaven, focusing one’s thoughts on worship.  Stained glass windows in celestial blue, red, and gold poured colored light down on the altar.

As her eyes adjusted, Fiona noticed the coffin on the flat space before the altar at the top of the steps. It was not what she had expected. Although she had never seen Bishop Arilan, she had heard much about him and  his efforts to improve the lot of Deryni in Gwynedd. She knew he was revered not only by Deryni but also by the human inhabitants of the land. She had thought to see an elaborate coffin draped in rich, embroidered purple and gold and decorated with the accoutrements of his high office. Instead she saw a coffin draped in plain purple cloth with only an open book lying on the drape. Its appearance puzzled her.

In alcoves to either side of where they were seated, she saw statues, the nearest one of St Camber and the one on the other side of the nave representing a young man in ordination robes. Though not familiar with the appearance of St. Jorian, she thought it must be he since he was martyred and canonized at Arx Fidei.  Darcy and then Aliset, left their seats and and knelt before St. Camber,  paying respect and offering brief prayers. Father Columcil went next, kneeling before the saint and offering his own prayers. Fiona followed him, feeling that she should also offer her respect and prayers. Sir Washburn was the last to go, kneeling before the statue of St. Camber and bowing his head. He remained there for a longer time, almost seeming to be in dialog with the saint although she heard nothing. As he resumed his seat, he looked toward the altar. Fiona followed his gaze and saw a priest in black cassock kneeling in attendance on the coffin. A second black robed priest lay prostrate on the steps before the coffin appearing to be in some distress. Washburn whispered that perhaps they had entered the church too soon as he stared at the second priest prostrate before the coffin. The first priest turned his head at Wash’s words, looking intently at their group. She felt Washburn tense up as he peered at the priest. He took her hand, holding it tightly as if for support. Father Columcil gasped as he recognized the man and quickly knelt in respect to someone he clearly recognized. The priest stood and appeared to start towards them. However, the arrival of the archbishop before the altar caused him to halt and turn. The archbishop knelt before the casket briefly, then spoke to the two priests. The one who had been prostrate quickly stood and assisted the archbishop to rise. After a brief exchange, they all left the church through the side door to the sacristy.

At their exit, Washburn looked down, realizing that he had been holding tightly to Fiona’s hand. She felt him relax slightly and begin to let go of her hand. Fiona sensed that he still needed support, and instead of withdrawing her hand, reached over and took his hand between both of her own, holding it close. He looked down at her and she smiled at him. She wanted him to know that no matter what was causing him concern, he had support.  He sat back in his seat, seeming somewhat reassured as behind them, the great doors opened and people began to stream in, rapidly filling the nave.There was a constant murmur of voices like wind rustling through dry grasses

Soon all the benches were filled and those without seats were standing at the back, anxious to be part of this momentous event. Suddenly, the voices died away and the crowd became quiet. A small party entered the church from the side entrance of the sacristy. Two lancers clad in Haldane crimson preceded a tall, erect man, his dark hair threaded with gray, wearing a black cloak lined with crimson with a plain gold circlet on his brow. A slender woman clad in green with a darker green cloak was on his arm. Another tall man with medium brown hair clad in a blue cloak followed him. Fiona recognized the Earl of Marley behind the first man who was surely the king. A black clad priest approached the party and bowed deeply. He led the party to seats in the choir.

Fiona felt Washburn’s increased tension in his hand. He studied the party closely with narrowed eyes, especially the king. However, he made no move and continued to let Fiona hold his hand between hers. The archbishop, mitered and coped entered from the sacristy.. Father Columcil was watching Washburn closely, concerned about his response to the presence of the king.  As Washburn remained quiet, the priest relaxed  somewhat. As they all looked toward the front of the abbey, the procession toward the altar began, led by the thurifer swinging his incenser. The service for Denis Arilan was beginning..
"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 #713 on: January 18, 2020, 03:54:54 am »
((Spoiler Alert: In this chapter, I offer multiple small scenes which are quotes or lightly modified quotes from the novels Deryni Rising, Deryni Checkmate, and High Deryni. These are Spoilers for these books.  If you have never read those books, then I must say, Stop and Go read them! The idea for this chapter was given to me by Revanne.))


The dulcet harmony of a score of youthful voices filled the stone walls of Arx Fidei. The funeral for the long standing Bishop of Dhassa was well underway. The music was counterpoint to the earlier Latin prayers intoned by Archbishop Hugh. In the midst of the angelic voices, Washburn felt a brush against his shields. Wash was surprised that Father Columcil would have chosen this moment to interrupt the calming effects the music played against his own internal strife.

Maight I share somethin wi ye? came the Mind-voice of Father Columcil.

“Surely, not now!” Wash stated aloud. He gave a questioning look at his good friend.

“Hush!” Fiona admonished hoping for no interruptions, for she was enraptured in the music. Wash turned to her on his other side and saw her intent gaze upon the faces of the young boys singing in the choir opposite from where the king sat. Tears streamed down her rosy cheeks. Her color must be from the heat, he thought. They were all feeling it.  Unlike the fair maiden, Wash had been bolstering his fortitude to keep up an outward appearance of stoic decorum. Above all, he needed to hide the tangle of emotions brewing inside; love and loathing, respect and rebellion, all these emotions and more were intermingled for the man they came to mourn.  Wash knew if he opened his shields enough for Columcil to share his wisdom, then some of his own turmoil might spill into the link. Columcil was a friend, as close as any one he had ever had, yet did he dare to share this much?

Also too, if he opened his shields, he might become susceptible to the emotions he knew to be flowing through the very air of the large church. Lady Fiona’s shields were thin, barely there, her mind flowing with the tide of her perceptions. His closeness to her, just through the touch of their hands, was enough to prove to him just how intense the atmosphere had become.  Albeit that most of the mourners were human; their feelings, multiplied in great numbers, seemed to emanate like a soft humming. But that was mere background to an untold number of mourners who were Deryni and who seemed not particular about shielding their emotional state here at the height of the service. Some Deryni kept their emotions behind their shields: those of the clergy, in the king’s contingent, or even the members of the Arilan family. The other Deryni present among the mourners were mainly women and a few aged men, as most Deryni men were west with Prince Javan’s army. These Deryni, who were scattered around the church, knew in their hearts what the loss of the Bishop of Dhassa meant to Gwynedd. For before him, they and their families had been ravaged and criminalized, and forced into hiding. It was they who openly mourned the bishop, and it was their emotions which filled up the whole of the space around them, all the way to the vaulted ceilings and the magnificent stained glass clerestory. Wash had not wanted to open himself up to that. He was afraid. Columcil had sensed his fear and closed mind and perhaps that is why he would have Wash soften his stance, even just this little bit to share in his Rapport.

Och aye, me dear friend, now is ta best time fer what I wuid show ye. Columcil tilted his head, looking at the man who looked like Fiona’s father. The priest closed his eyes, and saw Wash in his mind. A close familiar Rapport, well established over the last several weeks, formed between them, one that required no physical touch. Columcil began to share flashes of a past, all involving the late Bishop of Dhassa.

Curious, Wash let the images flow.

… The first was dramatic, a young, victorious Haldane in a great crimson robe was kneeling on the stairs of Saint George's Cathedral before three men of high clergy. Each of these three had a hand upon the state crown which was being lowered onto the young man’s head. Archbishops Corrigan and Loris were shaken and unsure from the events that had just occurred, nonetheless, they spoke the proper phrases of kingship. The third was Bishop Arilan who, by his whole outward being and inner soul, gave the crowning of this youth his full approval. Then, mysteriously, a fourth hand was upon the crown and the watcher was in awe to be witness to this. It seemed that heaven itself gave blessing to Gwynedd’s new king….

The scene shifted to a later time...

...  “Father McLain and Duke Alaric,” called Bishop Arilan as he strode into the hall. Bishop Cardiel stood tall at his side. “I see that you have reached Dhassa at last.” Arilan folded his arms across his chest, his bishop’s ring winking cold fire in the stillness. “Tell me, have you come to seek our blessings or our deaths?”
 
Arilan’s face was stern, his violet eyes cold, as he watched the guards manhandle the cousins Duncan and Alaric into submission. And yet, there was something in Arilan’s face that could be read as pleasure instead of anger at seeing the two men restrained so. It seemed almost as though he were putting on an act for the benefit of the guards….

Wash thought back to his own youth, He had seen  that same stern look on the Bishop’s face when  the man, as teacher, had stared down at his pupil who shifted uneasily in his writing desk under that glare. Suddenly Wash wondered if instead of being so stern, perhaps Arilan was rather laughing to himself at how much Wash reminded him of his father. Before Wash could follow those thoughts further, the scene in his mind shifted.

…   “Very well, Alaric. I had not thought to tell you yet, but perhaps it is time after all. Surely you didn’t think that you and Duncan were the only Deryni in the world?”
 
“The only--” Washburn’s father froze as he looked upon Arilan. Suddenly Alaric realized why Bishop Cardiel was staring at his colleague so strangely. “You…” he murmured.
 
 Arilan nodded. “That’s correct. I am Deryni also. Now tell me why I wouldn’t understand what you’ve done tonight.”
 
Alaric Morgan was speechless. Shaking his head in disbelief, he staggered backward a few steps and found a chair behind his knees. Gratefully he sank down on it, unable to take his eyes from the Deryni bishop….

…  “Try, if you can, to picture my position,” Bishop Arilan was later seen to say with a patient sigh. “I am the only Deryni to wear the episcopal purple in nearly two hundred years-- the only one. I am also the youngest of Gwynedd’s twenty-two bishops, which again puts me in a historically precarious position.” The man lowered his eyes to the man he addressed.

This scene was not shown in first person as the others had been, instead it was a scene recalled from another’s sharing as Columcil was doing now with Wash. The voice of Arilan was filled with regrets, something the man would never live beyond, even into his old age.

“I know what you must be thinking: that my inaction for the Deryni cause has probably permitted countless deaths, untold suffering at the hands of persecutors like Loris and others of his ilk. I know-- and I ask forgiveness of every one of those unfortunate victims in my prayers each night.” He raised his eyes to look straight at Bishop Cardiel. “But I believe that the greater virtue sometimes lies in knowing how to wait, Thomas. Sometimes, though the price be almost unbearable, and though a man’s mind and soul and heart cry out in protest, even then must he wait until the time is right. I only hope that I’ve not waited too long.”....

Wash took in a deep breath. Understanding dawned on Wash as he lifted his eyes to look at the simple drape on the plain coffin before them. No man should have that much upon his heart. Water began to pool in the corners of his eyes.

Washburn was shaken by this last sharing. By his actions and his words, Arilan had gained the trust of his best human friend, Bishop Cardiel. The results of that friendship proved its worth as Cardiel addressed his colleagues on the church’s stance about the Deryni Race.

…  Bishop Tolliver whispered, “What are we, hodge-podge of human and Deryni and half of each? Where is the dividing line? Who is on the side of right?”
 
“He who serves the right is on the side of right,” Cardiel said softly, turning to face his fellow Bishops. “He who is human and Deryni and half of each. It is not a man’s blood which makes him choose good or evil. It is what lies within his soul.”....

New voices in full acapella filled Arx Fidei with bass and tenor. The adult male choir members added their voices to the young boys giving a full range of sound to echo through the transept and down the nave. Through it all, Washburn’s shields eased and his eyes watered. Yet, Columcil was not finished with his Rapport.

...  The lion banner snapped in the rising breeze, Kelson turned his horse toward the enemy. The great black warhorse minced and preened as it led Morgan, Duncan, and the Bishop Arilan to the center field between the two great armies. The King of Torenth garbed all in gold and purple faced the King of Gwynedd. “Personal combat” is what this high Deryni King demanded. A Dual Arcane, four to each side, to the death by magic, winner takes both kingdoms. Wencit’s challenge could not be refused. The lives of two hundred prisoners depended upon Kelson’s answer by nightfall. To offer Kelson the assurance of a fair combat, Wencit did make one concession. “I have sought and received permission from the Council to wage this duel with you on the terms which I have already specified, and to have Council arbitrators present. I assure you, there could be no treachery where the Council is concerned,” King Wencit proclaimed.

King Kelson’s brows  furrowed in consternation. “The Camberian Coun--”

It was Bishop Arilan who interrupted cutting Kelson off in mid-word. “My lord, you will forgive my intrusion, but His Majesty was not prepared to answer a challenge such as you have proposed to him today. You will understand that he must have time to consult with his advisors before giving you a final answer. If he accepts, the lives and fortunes of many thousands of his people will hang upon the talents of four men. You will agree that it is not a decision to be made lightly.”

Wencit turned to study Arilan as though he were some particularly noxious form of lower life. “If the King of Gwynedd feels that he cannot make a decision without consulting his inferiors, Bishop, that is his weakness, not mine.” ….

...  Not but a few hours later, the four who would champion Gwynedd in this Arcane Duel stood under a violet dome with seven members of the mysterious council seated before them. It seemed that the true council had known nothing of King Wencit’s claim that he offered their arbitration for fair combat. “Stand with your colleagues, Arilan,” one councilman had said. “Kelson Haldane, Alaric Morgan, Duncan McLain, hear the verdict of the Camberian Council. It has been decided that all of you may be worthy of Council protection in this matter, and hence it has been granted. The duel arcane shall be arbitrated by four of our number. All will be done according to the proper ritual, as it was in the beginning.”....

Washburn felt no small amount of satisfaction as he realized that the almighty King of Torneth had not known of Bishop Arilan’s true connections, and thereby had made his greatest mistake.

And then Wash witnessed the inside of the warded circle of the Duel Arcane itself. An event which the four survivors of said event had sworn to never speak of, yet here Washburn bore witness to the four Torenthi men who lay dying at the king's feet. How they came to be that way, even Columcil did not know, but what he shared was one of the four changing his appearance from a Torenthi combatant to one of the Camberian members they had earlier met.

Stephan Coram smiled at Denis Arilan, as he freely admitted his true identity to the four victors of the Duel Arcane. “I have appeared in other guise more familiar to your friends, Morgan and Duncan.”...

“You were Saint Camber?” Morgan had breathed.

“No, I told you I was not,” Coram shook his head lightly…”I have only appeared to you a few times: at Kelson’s coronation as a representative of the Council; to you, Duncan, on the Coroth road; at Saint Neot’s---”

“Denis,” Coram whispered as he lay dying, “I just saw the strangest thing. There was a man’s face, a blond man with a cowl--I think it was Ca-Cam---Oh God, Denis, help me!” ....

Shocked to be witnessing this most intimate moments of the legendary king’s Dual Arcane. Washburn blurted out, “How?”

“Hushhh!” Fiona shushed her father louder than before, but the music crescendoed and she was heard only by Wash.

How do you know these things? Wash desperately Mind-spoke to Columcil

I hae been in Rapport wi Archbishop Duncan and he hae shaured this wi me in hopes ‘twod hep yer healin if I were tae shaur ‘em wi ye.

Wash could find no understanding in this. The archbishop would not share such private moments with you, not even for my sake.

A grandsire wuild shaur these things wi his grandson in hopes o’ healin his favored coosin’s son aboot whom he cares deeply.  Columcil let that sink in for a moment before he continued. Ah think ye sensed it lang ago, in ta familiarity o’ oor Rapport. Ahm surprised ye ne’er pot it together. We’re bluid relations, Wash. We share the same Healin trait t’at ur faither’s shaure,

Stunned Wash suddenly saw how Columil and Dhugal had the same eyes. Duke Dhugal?

Aye, Dhugal is ma father, from a time o teenage fancy afar he e’en knent who his ain true faither was.

Dhugal and Duncan know of this?

Och aye, they do and they accep’ it.  I dinnae need formal recognition. But ah dae wish an’ hope ye an ah can remain friends as weel as coosins. What say ye coosin?

Wash was silent for a long time. He let the music fill him. He let the plainness of the coffin before him give him sense of earthliness and penitence. Arilan had stood for the protection of his people. Washburn’s knighthood had stood for the protection of all the people of Gwynedd, human and Deryni alike. His own recent failings had made him question his commitment and his honor. And here was Father Columcil who had proven over and over how true friendships worked. How had he never seen this before.  Coosin… he Mind-spoke with growing courage. I am proud to call you cousin. I would see us team together to Heal the world against abusers, you have put my feet square on the path to finding myself through this forest. You make a good guide for healing the soul.

We, tis we who ha’e found th’ path tae healin together. A team, dear cousin. Aye, a team! Columcil said with assurance.

The music ended and Archbishop Duncan stepped forward to began his eulogy.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2020, 03:04:21 pm by Laurna »

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #714 on: January 18, 2020, 12:17:44 pm »
“Sorry!” Darcy Cameron muttered as Aliset turned her face toward him and frowned at his fidgeting.  She gave her head a slight shake and then looked forward again to focus on the service.  Darcy did his best to settle more comfortably on the bench.  Sitting still had never come easily to him.  He reached across and took hold of her hand.  She did not withdraw it, which surprised him, but maybe she thought it might achor him in place.  Good luck with that.

He had lost count at an early age of the number of times his father had chided him for fidgeting during church, and more than once had given his ear a sharp pinch when he did not sit still.  It didn’t help that Iain poked him in the ribs from time to time to make him jump, all the while maintaining a look of angelic innocence.  Mor had caught on to that quickly enough and took to sitting between them.  It hadn’t helped much.

Darcy had come late to his Deryni heritage, and while he respected the man who had done so much to finally allow Deryni to take their place among the clergy, it was all a bit distant to him. Even in spite of what had happened in Desse.

But what he could respect and admire was the plain coffin and the simple drape across it.  In the end, Bishop Arilan had let his deeds speak for his worth and not the trappings of worldly position.  Darcy had seen it before; men who cloaked themselves in glittering wealth to convince the world that they were to be exalted above others. In his experience, they were selfish, self-centered bullies, whose positions in whatever community they claimed to serve rested on the backs of those they trod on.  He had felt that boot more than once.

But perhaps even more telling, was the fact that king and archbishop had respected Bishop Arilan’s wishes.  That spoke to their respect for the man, to allow him this final, simple request.  God rest his soul and grant him peace.

Darcy fidgeted at the unexpected wave of emotion he felt toward the man in the plain coffin before him.  Aliset squeezed his hand hard, and Darcy decided it was best to return his attention to the funeral.  Before any bones were broken.

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 #715 on: January 24, 2020, 01:50:25 pm »
(My thanks to Revanne who provided the lovely prayer in both Latin and English that concluded the service)

As the words of the last prayer were spoken, Aliset looked with concern at the young lady sitting next to her. Fiona’s face was flushed, and tears were running down her cheeks. “Are you alright?” she whispered quietly, touching Fiona’s arm gently. “Are you feeling faint? It is oppressively hot in here in spite of the slight breeze from the open doors. Darcy can assist you out of the church into the fresh air if necessary.”

Fiona shook her head “no”. “It is not the heat. I just feel so saddened by his loss even though I never actually knew him. Bishop McLain’s words spoke to my heart. I can’t  imagine carrying such a heavy burden for his people. How difficult it must have been for him.”

Aliset replied quietly. “It was indeed difficult, especially in the early years when the persecutions were widespread. That he managed to be ordained a priest when it was still forbidden by the church hierarchy is amazing. Imagine the pressure he must have had to live with, especially after St. Jorian was discovered and martyred as he was. Constantly being afraid of discovery, having to hide what he was, being aware of the sufferings of his people and being unable to help them;  he indeed walked a very perilous path.”

Fiona’s eyes were huge in her face as she turned to look at Aliset.  “I have heard that there were those who blamed him for the deaths, saying that he should have done more sooner to help, to change things.”

Aliset replied. “There are always those who think things should have been done differently, but you can’t reverse so many years of fear and hate quickly. Although I’m sure it was difficult, he had to be patient and proceed slowly. The crowning of King Kelson, who was found to be half Deryni himself, was a huge step forward. Kelson’s rule has been fair, and his people have enjoyed peace and prosperity. Those he has gathered  around him, both Deryni and Human as councilors, have supported his efforts.The bishop was an important part of the efforts to dispel the fear and distrust and make it possible for the Derynii to live openly, and we owe him much.” 

Fiona was quiet, considering what she had heard. She gazed at the king seated in the choir with his head bent as though in prayer. Behind him stood a tall knight with dark brown hair. With a start, she recognized Earl Brendan. She did not think that anyone who had not seen him in Droghera would recognize him. Beside the king she saw the older woman in green with a veil concealing her face. That must be the Dowager Duchess of Corwyn who she hoped would help her to reach Rhemuth and enter the Schola.  She turned to Aliset and whispered earnestly. “That is one reason that it is so important to me to be able to attend the Schola to learn about my powers and how to use them properly. I never want to reinforce anyone’s fear of Deryni powers. I want to use them only for good”.

Aliset smiled at the young woman. “Your feelings do you credit. I am sure you will be an admirable student and will learn to use your powers  for your own advantage and for that of your people.”

Fiona bounced a little in her seat and smiled at Aliset.  “I can hardly wait to reach the schola and begin my studies. There is so much to learn! I am so grateful to all of you for helping me get here.” Then she glanced at the man sitting on her other side. “I only hope Washburn can find the healing he needs and can join me there as a pupil to discover more about his healing talent. We can both learn how to best use our powers for all the people of Gwynedd.”

Both ladies fell silent and turned again toward the altar as the choir began to sing the Libera me Domine.  This was followed by the singing of the Kyrie Eleison while the presiding bishop walked around the coffin sprinkling it with holy water and censing it.  The archbishop then intoned the final prayer:

“Proficíscere ánima christiána de hoc mundo,
in nómine Dei Patris omnipoténtis, qui te creávit,
in nómine Iesu Christi Fílii Dei, qui pro te passus est.,
in nómine Spíritus Sancti, qui in te effúsus est;
hódie sit in pace locus tuus
et habitátio tua apud Deum in sancta Sion.
Cum sancta Dei Genetríce Vírgine María,
cum sancto Ioseph,
et omnibus Angelis et Sanctis Dei.”

 (Go forth, Christian soul, from this world
in the name of God the almighty Father,
who created you,
in the name of Jesus Christ, Son of the living God,
who suffered for you,
in the name of the Holy Spirit,
who was poured out upon you,
go forth, faithful Christian.

May you live in peace this day,
may your home be with God,with Mary, the virgin Mother of God, with Joseph, and all the angels and saints.)

Aliset translated the words from the Latin as she listened,  repeating the prayer for her lost family

  The bishop’s service was nearing its completion. As the prayer came to an end, Duncan mind spoke to the king: “Your Majesty?”  Kelson rose from his seat, stepped down and moved to the area in front of the coffin. There he knelt, offering his final good-by to his long-time counselor and friend.
He was followed by the Dowager Duchess of Corwyn and their knight escort. As the king’s party  moved to one side to speak quietly with the two archbishops standing there, other members of the nobility in the nave rose and began to form a line. They would pass by the coffin, offer their brief .respects and then exit quietly and solemnly from the abbey.

Darcy stood and motioned his party to do the same. They prepared to join the line of mourners moving toward the casket

"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 #716 on: January 24, 2020, 07:34:09 pm »

On the day of Bishop Arlin's funeral several miles to the east in the tiny village of Windyner the local parish priest is seeing to his flock. It is a sad day for the Church and the people of Windyner. They have seen many pilgrims pass through their village in the last few days. And more will pass through starting tomorrow. Although most will not stop for long. Only long enough to water their horses before going further down the road.

The parish priest and his Torenthi guest priest, Fathers Michael and Paulos, share the peoples burden and hold a smaller service and tribute of their own for the deceased Deryni bishop. Throughout the day they take turns tending to the needs of the parish.

While Father Paulos is resting in his private rooms he gets a psychic call from an unexpected but welcome contact.

"Master. Lord Valerian's forces in Meara have been routed. And the Grand Duke is currently on the run from the Haldane armies. It is rumored that Lord Valerian has lost his powers too. What are your orders?"

Master Feyd replies back across the link to the contact. "Have our best seers find where Lord Valerian is located. Have any agent near him get to him by any means available. Including paying off anyone that can be bought with coin. Get to him before the Haldane's do and bring him to our Order's house in The Connait. His men are expendable." With that Feyd severs the link. And Father Paulos wakes from his mediation. 


Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #717 on: January 25, 2020, 11:48:54 am »
((Laurna and I wrote this scene together.   We tossed around a few ideas, she wrote the first draft, I messed with it a bit, Laurna added some more cool stuff, and we were done.))

The unremarkable, middle-aged man stood behind a column in the north aisle of the overcrowded church. He made sure he had a clear view of  the aisle into which  the short, blond man had led his companions.  He watched as they moved to one of the benches towards the front of the nave.  He continued to watch the five of them throughout the service, especially the daughter of the older man. 

“I see that you failed in taking the girl away,” a voice said quietly beside his ear.

The man stiffened, but he managed to keep his face calm in spite of the knot he felt growing in his stomach.  The only sign he gave that he had heard the man was to bite his lower lip as he wondered what punishment his failure would bring.

 The man who had spoken stood just behind him, equally unremarkable, though not as tall.  The menace in his next words, despite being softly spoken, was very clear.

 “If the mother meets with the son, then our Master's hopes will be lost. At all costs, that must be prevented. Distraction is the key; we must pull the son away before this happens.”

The taller man wondered  briefly who the son was.  The only men he saw in the group were a priest, an older man who was the father of the girl he sought, and the blond man who seemed to have trouble sitting still.  He could not be a son of the Dowager Duchess of Corwyn!

 It was not his place to question the motives of the Black Order of Death, but assassination was the typical contract, not kidnapping and keeping the victim alive and unharmed.  This restraint made the contract harder to fulfill, though the higher payment was a good incentive.  If it did not quite go as planned, he could afford to lose a little coin.  His attention was drawn sharply back to the voice that again spoke in his ear.

“When the time is right, I will pass her into your hands and then you had best do the job you were paid to do.  You will have only a quarter hour to complete the contract once I bring her to you. Be ready by the door to the courtyard.  Do not fail this time.” A fleeting impression of pain, leading to his untimely death, followed.

Then the man from the Black Order of Death slipped away.  The man remaining behind the column wiped his sweating hands on his tunic.  He began to move toward the door; he would be ready.

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 #718 on: January 28, 2020, 03:06:03 am »
Calm yourself, Washburn admonished his racing heart. That was just a dove outside the windows, his inner voice attempted to rationalize the vision. At the zenith of Duncan’s prayer, the light from the stained glass windows above the chancel seemed to strengthen, the colors shone in brilliance upon the casket laid out on the center floor. Then there was an essence in the light, it looked to be a pair of hands in prayer. A pair of saintly hands floating atop the open book. It was fleeting and gone. The cause of the heavenly effect could only be explained by the shadow of a dove briefly hovering outside the apse near the eastern windows. The effect was phenomenal, many saw it and many gasped, only to sigh outwardly when the hands, no that had to be a bird’s wings, flitted on. Washburn stole a look at the statue of St Jorian; he swore the lips smiled a little wider than the statue had before. Of course, it couldn’t be, the smile on Saint Jorian’s face was the same as it always had been, as sculpted by the artisan years before.

Washburn smiled too. Denis Arilan was in that realm where the hands of the saints would take him into their care. He was in good company. Strange how the residents of Heaven choose to play with such subtle clues in the realm of men. It was not the first time Wash had felt their influence and he was always in awe of it.

The service closed and the mourners stood, shuffling to form a line for those wishing to pay their final respects. Darcy was quick to get his group up and near the front of that line. But of course, rank had its privileges and Mackenzie Stuart was merely a minor Baron from the borderlands of Meara. It was proper decorum that he bow to the wishes of those ranked above him. But Darcy was anxious, so they did not give their position away to very many. As Darcy kept tabs on the crowd, Wash had only one concern. For Fiona, he had to make a request from his mother, and it had to happen before she departed into the sacristy and the portal square laid in the floor there.

 Washburn was certain that Aliset’s spell was well placed and complete.  In all outward appearances he was Fiona’s Uncle Mac. But inwardly? Unless his shields were firm as stone, he could not hide his heart. Just the presence of shields would give him away; Mac was not Deryni. Her Grace’s instincts were keen, she would guess the deception, especially with his companions at his side. So what words would assuage the emotional outburst that was likely to happen when the Dowager Duchess of Corwyn realized she was in arms reach of her youngest son? 

To disclose his identity thus openly might bring peril of another kind upon himself. He had no wish to confront the king. Not here in this place, in front of all these people. The king would not trust him, and in truth, he did not trust himself before the king. Trouble might come from that quarter, and that would be detrimental to his goal. Best if he stayed well clear of Kelson and his entourage of lancers and knights at his back.  Simply and covertly, he must play Baron Stuart, introduce the Baron’s niece to the Dowager Duchess of Corwyn and see Fiona placed under his mother’s protection. Then the young lady could have her dream of going to Rhemuth and enter the schola to advance her studies. He briefly wondered if there was something he could say on Lady Aliset’s behalf, as well. Perhaps Darcy would like Aliset to be safely back in Rhemuth, too. A look over his shoulder at the lady in question told him he better not interfere in that decision.

The line of mourners inched forward. The king and his party had moved aside to talk to the archbishops, Lady Richenda at the king’s side. Darcy had been good to get his company near the front of the line. Nearing the coffin, Washburn’s thoughts went back to Denis Arilan.  He would ask the spirit for forgiveness for his past transgressions and pray that Heaven hugged Denis firmly in the warmth of the Light. He held no doubts about  the soul of the bishop, but he hoped his small plea would help alleviate the penance with which His Grace had always internally struggled.

“Stand aside, Sir! My lady Countess of Eastmarch has precedence here! You will let her pass before you.”  A man in Eastmarch colors barred Baron Stuart’s way forward. An elder women with daughters and grandchildren in tow, twelve in all, shuffled their way past him to join the line ahead of the others. Wash protested, but Fiona tugged his hand. Nobility had its privilege. There was nothing he could do.

The king and his knights moved away from the archbishops to give greetings to the Arilan family. Seisyll, Sextus, Jamyl and several veiled women of that family took solace from the king’s presence and his kind words. Her Grace of Corwyn did not advance to the Arilans, she stayed beside Archbishop Duncan, her hand resting lightly on his sleeve. Wash took note that Uncle Duncan was looking rather flushed in his white and gold vestments. Beads of sweat glistened on his forehead, and he was looking overwhelmed by the crowd. Now that people were pressing forward, the church was unbearably warm and no breeze seemed to come through the doors. The service, given with such devotion of heart and soul, was clearly taking its toll on Duncan’s fortitude.

“Oh, hurry on!” Wash whispered, annoyed by the Eastmarch contingent. The countess seemed to make each grandchild bend a knee and say a prayer, one… at... a… time…! Of course, they all had Deryni blood of some small percentage, but honestly, did they not know there were a thousand mourners behind them?

Wash, in his anxiety to press forward, missed the first clue of trouble. It was when the whole body of mourners inhaled sharply in the same moment. Wash looked up to see Duncan held from the floor between the arms of Archbishop Hugh and Lady Richenda. Duncan had collapsed in a full swoon, likely from the heat. Wash was anxious and prayed it was nothing more. The two elderly persons at his side, struggled to lay Duncan upon the floor, unharmed. When he was down, Richenda placed her hands upon the archbishop’s brow. Wash could not see his mother’s face under her veil, but he knew she was in trance.

The crowd pushed forward to see what had happened. Columcil was at Washburn’s side. “Laird hae mercy… we main gang tae heem.…” he said as he pushed up to the Eastmarch contingent who seemed in their confusion to block the path forward.

Is there a Healer in the church! Richenda’s mind called forth to all Deryni who could hear her.

“Ah am haur, yer Grace!“ Columcil yelled. His priestly attire gave him the authority to squeezed passed the Eastmarch grandchildren.

Wash attempted to follow, but his size only caused the countess to scream at him. How dare he try to man-handle her granddaughters aside. To Washburn’s dismay, she forced her way before Baron Mac and refused to give leeway to the lesser baron. She had let one man pass that was well enough.

At least Father Columcil was quickly kneeling at the archbishop’s side.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2020, 03:08:34 am by Laurna »

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Ghosts of the Past
« Reply #719 on: January 30, 2020, 12:05:25 pm »
Darcy Cameron was less hampered by size than Washburn.  “Stay with Fiona,” he said to Aliset, and with a movement that vaguely reminded Aliset of an eel, he slipped sideways past the Countess of Eastmarch and her granddaughters.

Darcy stopped just beyond the head of the line and saw that Father Columcil had reached Archbishop Duncan’s side and was kneeling beside him.  One hand was on the archbishop’s wrist, while the other rested on the fallen man’s forehead.  Archbishop Hugh had moved back, but the dowager duchess remained at Duncan’s side, her hand on Columcil’s wrist, lending him whatever strength he might need.  She knew the Healer’s touch of her beloved Alaric, and she would assist Columcil in whatever way she could.  King Kelson was being urged to move back closer to his lancers by the Earl of Marley.  Darcy had recognized the tall man in the blue cloak immediately when the man had entered at the side of the king.  Whether the earl chose to maintain his disguise or had no choice until the dye grew out, Darcy didn’t know, but he suspected the latter.

The line of the mourners wanting to pay their respects was no longer as disciplined.  The line began to spread sideways as people moved to get a better view of what was happening just beyond Bishop Arilan’s casket.  As people began to move forward, Darcy stepped in front of them with his arms spread wide.

“Stay back, if you please,” he said, moderating his voice to suit being inside a church but still leaving a touch of command in it.  “Move back to give them room and more air.” 

The Countess of Eastmarch gave Darcy a haughty look and stood her ground.

“Please move back with your family, Countess,” said a familiar voice.  The Earl of Marley had joined Darcy at the front of the line, adding his authority to Darcy’s efforts.  The two men looked at each other, but other than slight nods,  gave no indication of recognition.  The Countess of Eastmarch nodded her head in acquiescence to the earl and moved farther back. Members of the clergy moved forward to assist in stemming the tide.

Washburn tensed and looked closely at the man in the blue cloak.  He knew that voice!  It had to be his half-brother, Brendan, but what in blazes had he done to his hair?

Darcy saw Washburn staring at the Earl of Marley.  This would not do.  Aliset! he sent.  Get Washburn to move back farther into the crowd.

“Let’s move back a bit,” Aliset said quietly to Washburn.  “Fiona can hold our place in the line.”  She laid a gentle but firm hand on his arm and urged him backwards.

“That’s Brendan,” Washburn said in a low voice so only Aliset would hear.  “What has he done to himself?”

Aliset switched to mind speech.  Be at ease.  Earl Brendan’s hair is a bit startling, but it’s no worse than your tonsure was.

Washburn gave Aliset a sharp look.  Is he trying to trap me?

Far from it, she replied.  He intended to go with Darcy and me to try to find the fortress where you were imprisoned and rescue you.  He dyed his hair so he would not be recognized and call attention to us.  When we learned that you and Sir Iain had escaped, that plan was put aside.

Earl Brendan scanned the crowd before him.  If Lord Darcy was here, surely Washburn was too.  He spotted Fiona standing in line just behind the Countess of Eastmarch and her brood.  Aliset stood farther back with an older man who appeared vexed and was looking at Brendan.  Brendan thought that he was likely Fiona’s uncle, Baron Stuart.  Brendan glanced back at the front of the church and realized, with a sense of relief, that the priest was Father Columcil, the Healer from Saint Melangell’s.  Archbishop Duncan was in good hands.

Brendan turned his attention back to the crowd and heard Darcy again requesting that they move back.  He added his voice to that of the seaman’s, moving forward a bit more to force the crowd farther back. To distract the Earl of Marley and ensure he did not get too close to Washburn, Darcy stepped to the earl’s side.

“My lord, I hope I do not seem impudent, but I wonder if you could assist me with something once we are all assured that the archbishop is out of any danger?” Darcy asked.

Brendan gave the seaman a look that was partly puzzled and partly annoyed, but nodded his head for the man to continue.

“You remember my cousin Lady Fiona, and perhaps also the fact that she has barely any Deryni training, even less that I have.”  Brendan raised one red eyebrow, and Darcy suddenly realised the earl have overlooked that small detail in his disguise.  “Fiona is desperate to attend the Deyni Schola in Rhemuth to receive training.  There is no chance of her getting the training at her uncle’s manor.  Although many of the teachers are with King Kelson’s forces, there should be some remaining who can help her understand the basics.  She will then  be ready for further study when the rest of the teachers return.”

“How can I assist with this?” Brendan asked.

“If you could present Fiona to your mother, the Dowager Duchess Richenda, Baron Stuart hopes that she will take Fiona back to Rhemuth with her and help her gain admission to the schola.  He will pay all her fees, of course,” Darcy added hastily.  If the baron didn’t, he knew that Iain would.

Brendan gave Darcy a considering look.  “And this would get your cousin out of your hair.  I remember her as being a strong-minded lass.”

“There is that,” Darcy admitted.

“I will see what I can do, if circumstances permit.”

“Thank you, my Lord,” Darcy said and inclined his head respectfully. 

Earl Brendan scanned the crowd before him, again failing to find his brother. He turned back to the front of the church to rejoin the king.

Darcy let out the breath he hadn’t realized he was holding and decided to maintain his position, at least for the moment, as a buffer between Washburn and the earl.

« Last Edit: February 01, 2020, 03:54:33 pm by Jerusha »
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

 


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