Author Topic: St Camber's Tiger - Chapter 4  (Read 5500 times)

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Offline Alkari

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St Camber's Tiger - Chapter 4
« on: January 15, 2011, 10:50:00 PM »
Previous chapter here:

Chapter 4.

Richenda was gazing out the window at the sliver of new moon when Alaric returned.  He came up behind her, reaching round to caress her belly and chuckling when he felt the baby move slightly.  She leant back against him, covering his hands with hers.

“All quiet in the nursery?”

“Both tucked up and asleep.  The one-armed knight was victorious again, and the dragon flew away over the mountains.”  

“And Tiger?”
“Curled up next to Briony.  IN the bed under the covers.  I told Nurse Evie not to fuss.”  

“Good.”   She turned her head and smiled up at him.  “Don’t forget we’ve promised Kelric a puppy for his birthday this year.”

“And it’ll sleep on his bed, of course.  Nurse Evie will have to get used to animals.   Remember when we gave Pepper to Brendan for his fifth birthday, and he wanted to sleep in the stable that first night?”  He kissed her.

“At least he knew that ponies belong in stables and not upstairs in the nursery.”

A servant knocked at the door, asking if they were ready for supper.   Alaric released her, strolling across the room to place his wrist dagger on a chest and loosening the throat ties of his tunic.

“How on earth did she manage it, though?”   He ran a hand through his hair in a familiar gesture, then shook his head and washed his hands in the bowl set on a side table.   Two squires arrived to serve supper; one held a chair for Richenda as she took her seat at the table, and he nodded his thanks as the other performed the same service for him.

“I don’t know, dearest.  How does Briony manage anything?”  Richenda smiled as the squire poured wine and carefully ladled out some poached chicken in a delicately spiced sauce.  

Alaric chuckled.   “I’d rather not ask.  She certainly has a mind of her own – just like her mother!”  He winked.  “And Kel wants to be like Brendan and do whatever his older brother does.  Even if he’s only three.”

“Mmmm.   I always thought they took after their father.”

“Of course they take after me!  Intelligent, charming, talented, extremely good looking, obedient … all my best qualities.”  

“Not to mention modest.”   The two squires hid smiles as they finished serving and left the room, and Alaric reached out with a delicious mental caress that caused his wife to lower her eyes and hide a smile.  Even though she was seven months pregnant, a touch like that still left her wanting to abandon supper and take him straight to bed.  

When she looked up again, Alaric was tucking into his own meal, his expression of complete innocence at odds with the twinkle in his eyes.  Richenda brushed his mind gently in response; he grinned and they continued eating in comfortable silence for a while.

“So she really Healed him.”  Alaric sounded thoughtful.

“It seems so.  I don’t think even Ran’s best ointments act quite that quickly.”

“No.”   He frowned.  “St Camber again.  They visited St Camber in the chapel, they prayed to him – and then somehow Tiger was healed while she stroked him.”  He shook his head ruefully.  

“I don’t think he appeared to her though.   I didn’t get that impression when she showed me her memories.”

“I didn’t try to read her, just let them both tell me what happened.  I thought one mind link was enough for the day.”   Richenda nodded.   “I’m glad she didn’t say anything about ‘seeing’ St Camber - don’t know that I want to start explaining saintly visions just yet.”

Richenda smiled: a squire entered again, and she waited for him to set down another dish.  “I don’t think she’d be worried about a vision of St Camber.   After all, he’s ‘our’ saint.  I suspect children are more likely to accept visions than adults.  They’re still so innocent – perhaps their faith is simpler, more direct.  She’d probably be delighted to think that he’d appear in answer to her prayers.  And if you pray to a saint, it’s nice to think he or she is listening.”

Alaric chuckled.   “True.  No, she wouldn’t be worried.  Nor would Kelric.  Brendan’s quite intrigued at the idea that St Camber appears to people – he wishes he could see him.  Maybe you’re right.  Maybe it’s just me still being uncomfortable with the idea of somehow having a special relationship with a saint.”  

“Mmmm.   Well, when we’re next in Rhemuth, we can have another theological discussion over dinner with Duncan and Uncle Thomas.   Father Lael would be interested too.   If you want to stir things up, you can always invite Denis Arilan.”

Alaric rolled his eyes.  “No thanks.  I suspect Denis is slightly jealous.  So far St Camber has never appeared directly to him!   Fancy a Deryni saint apparently favouring half-breeds and Haldanes over highly trained pure-bloods like him!   Bradene would be interesting though, if he’s visiting.”

Richenda nodded: their dinners with Uncle Thomas and Duncan were always enjoyable.  Other clerics were sometimes invited too – Archbishop Bradene, Father Lael, John Nivard, occasionally old Wolfram de Blanet or Hugh de Berry.   The discussions about the Deryni and their powers, and the relationship with the Church and Gwynedd's people, were usually wide-ranging and interesting.  She suppressed the urge to make a slightly disparaging remark about Dhassa’s bishop; Denis’s air of slight condescension towards Alaric rankled her at times.  Still, there were better things to talk about than bishops …

“Kelric’s a little disappointed we’re going to have another girl.”

“Oh?”  A raised eyebrow.

“Yes.   Briony’s happy because she’s already got two brothers, so she suggested that I can have another baby after this one.”  Richenda sent him a glimpse of her earlier discussion with the children.

“Just like that?”

“Mmm.  I thought you should know.  Just in case she mentions it in public.”

Alaric gave an amused snort. “Well, let’s make sure this birth goes safely before we think about any more.   That is - I mean, if you’d want to?”  Behind his smile she sensed the familiar concerns that lurked there as each birth had approached.

“Darling, I certainly wouldn’t mind another one or two, if God wills it.  I always wanted a large family, though perhaps we’ll stop before we get to that dozen you once suggested.  So I think we could try to give Kelric a little brother.”   She covered his hand with hers.  “And let’s face it – it would be good to have another son for Corwyn, just in case.”

The unspoken fears of childhood illness and accidents.  Memories of a little grave in Marbury, where Alaric had stood with her a few days before they were married, sharing her grief for the little girl he knew only through her mother’s memories.  How she loved him for that.   At least Briony and Kelric were disgustingly healthy, apart from minor childhood hurts and ailments, and Brendan had always been robust, these days more in danger of cuts, sprains or broken bones from training injuries.

“Well, this time I’m going to be here for the birth.  I’ve missed both ours so far.”  

She squeezed Alaric’s hand reassuringly.  Briony had arrived a little earlier than expected, and Kelric was born while Alaric was…  Richenda pushed that thought down, for Kelric had been born the day Conall was executed.  

“I wish we could find something about Healing and childbirth,” Alaric went on, “but even the Servants don’t seem to have any additional knowledge beyond managing the pain.  Though I suppose even that would be a help?”

“Yes.  I was glad my mother was there when Brendan was born.  It was a long labour, being my first.  But now I know what to expect, it’s easier to deal with.   Not that I wouldn’t welcome some experienced help,” she smiled, “though the midwives will probably have fits if you want to be there, let alone help in any way.  They were bad enough when Master Randolph wanted to make regular checks on my progress with Briony and Kelric.”

“Then let them have fits.  If they make too much fuss I’ll threaten them with some dreadful Deryni curse.   Turn them all into frogs or something.  Or cockroaches.   Not much use being a Deryni Healer if I can’t help my wife when she needs it.   I mean, I did have something to do with the matter in the beginning!”  

“A little more than just ‘something’, as I recall,” she said dryly and he laughed.

“The process definitely seemed to be mutually enjoyable.”   He brushed her with another swift mental caress before returning to the original topic.   “Of course, I don’t really know what a Healer could do to assist in childbirth, other than manage the pain, and perhaps help if there was too much bleeding or something.  Maybe help if the baby was in the wrong position or something – oh, I don’t know.  I’ve seen puppies and kittens being born, and helped with foals, but it’s not quite the same.”  

“No.  And it often seems to be over a little more quickly than with babies.  Though Kelric arrived very quickly.  The midwives say it gets easier the more you have.”

Alaric grunted dubiously.  “So they say.  Doesn’t mean it is easier, or that husbands worry any less.”  He sighed, then looked up with a sudden grin.  “Oh well, at least I probably won’t need to do what I once saw done with a mare.  The foal was crooked inside - one leg caught up and the foal the wrong way round – so this old groom reached inside, pushed around and straightened the leg out, and then they had to attach a rope around the foal somehow so they could pull it out!”

Richenda burst out laughing.   “Dearest, I think if you tried that with me, you might be the one turned into a frog!”

Further conversation halted as the squires returned, this time accompanied by Brendan, carrying a tray with some preserved fruits and sweet pastries.   The squires cleared away the previous dishes, but at Alaric’s inviting nod, Brendan remained, eagerly drawing up a stool.  These days he often joined them after supper, a chance for some private time as a family away from the business of court and his duties as a page.

This evening though, there was only one topic he was interested in.  “Is Briony really going to be a Healer like you, Father?” he asked eagerly, biting into a pastry.

“Well, it certainly seems as though she healed Tiger.   Did she tell you about it?”

“Yes.  I don’t think she knew what she was doing though.  She says she just prayed to St Camber and Tiger’s injuries healed.  I don’t think she thought about it very much – she just wanted him to get better.   I didn’t try to read her or anything,“ he added hastily, glancing between Alaric and his mother.  

“No, she was certainly telling the truth as far as she understands it,” said Richenda.  “It seems to have happened quite spontaneously.”

“It’ll be good to have another Healer.   Will you be able to teach her and train her?”  Brendan regarded Alaric hopefully.

“Well, she has to be quite a bit older before we think about doing that.   She needs to master the basic skills before we try to teach her anything extra.  And as you know, I’ve only learnt about Healing through trial and error.   The same with Duncan and Dhugal.”

“Will you be able to tell if someone has Healing powers?  I mean – could you test Kel and see if he can Heal too?  What about the baby?”  He frowned and looked at Richenda.  “Mama, can you tell that Father can Heal?  I mean – if you didn’t know he could, and he lowered his shields, would you be able to see if he had the power?”

Alaric sighed and exchanged resigned glances with his wife.  “You certainly have a habit of asking difficult questions!”  

“An interesting one, though,” Richenda mused. “I can sense Alaric’s ability now, of course, but these days I know what I’m looking for.   But I didn’t sense it in our first few mind links – it was only after he showed me what he could do that I started to be more aware of it.  I don’t know whether I can sense it in an untrained mind though.  Normal Deryni abilities don’t usually emerge until age six or seven, and from what we can make out, special powers like Healing often didn’t show up until children were several years older.”

”Would someone like Uncle Azim be able to sense it?”  Brendan was turning the problem over.

“I don’t know.  The Anvillers definitely have high levels of skill and knowledge in many areas, but we know they don’t have Healing talents.  So I don’t know if they could recognise them or even their potential,” Alaric smiled.  “But we should ask him when he next visits – it’s a very good question.  He’s never linked with me to that extent, so it might be interesting for both of us.   If we’re going to find and train more Healers in future, it would be useful to identify them as early as possible.”

Brendan nodded.  “Well, Briony thinks it’s a miracle from St Camber.”

“Then best we let her think that for the moment,” said Richenda gently.   “She’ll be quite happy to think that St Camber heard her prayers.”

“She might pray to him more often, then,” grinned Brendan.  “She’ll want to go to the chapel here every day.  And the special one in Rhemuth.”

“Well, I don’t think we’ll complain if she wants to do that.   Who suggested she pray to him today?”

Brendan thought about it.  “Well, she wanted to say prayers for Tiger.   So I suggested she could pray to Saint Raphael, because he’s a Healer, but she said she didn’t know him.”   Richenda looked startled.  “Then she remembered St Camber, so I said St Camber would be good because he was Deryni and we could go to the chapel here.”  He shrugged.  “So I got a lantern and we went to the grotto.  Kelric came too.”

“Good thinking – but now you only have yourself to blame if she wants you to take her to the grotto each day.”  Alaric winked at Brendan and reached over to clap him on the shoulder.   “Go on.  Take these things away and get to bed.  If you wake up in time, we’ll go for a ride before breakfast tomorrow.”

Brendan laughed.  He rose and kissed Richenda good-night, gave Alaric a hug, and departed with the remaining supper dishes.

“St Camber rather than St Raphael.”   Alaric shook his head and looked at his equally bemused wife.  “Come on my love, it’s time we got ready for bed too.  Maybe we should worry about whether our daughter has just insulted an Archangel by saying she prefers to pray to St Camber.”


(A present for Elkhound, who will recognise his contribution!)

Last chapter here:

« Last Edit: November 15, 2011, 11:58:56 PM by Alkari »

Offline Evie

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Re: St Camber's Tiger - Chapter 4
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2011, 11:18:29 PM »
Richenda burst out laughing.   “Dearest, I think if you tried that with me, you might be the one turned into a frog!”

ROFL!  I remember wanting to turn my own Dearest into a frog once...but then the epidural kicked in, and the rest of that childbirth was pain-free....    ;)  ;D

As for the Archangel Raphael, I suspect he'd have a sense of humor about being one-upped by Camber in a little girl's prayers.   :D
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline AnnieUK

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Re: St Camber's Tiger - Chapter 4
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2011, 04:02:02 AM »
*sniggers* at the thought of Denis being ticked that Camber doesn't talk to him, and lovely to see Brendan slightly older and in a family setting.

Looking forward to the conclusion. :)

Offline derynifanatic64

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Re: St Camber's Tiger - Chapter 4
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2011, 02:06:14 PM »
Poor Denis--almost no one loves him, except Stefania.  The more healers, the better.
We will never forget the events of 9-11!!  USA!! USA!!

Offline Evie

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Re: St Camber's Tiger - Chapter 4
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2011, 03:01:28 PM »
I love him!   ;D  Just not nearly as much as I love Duncan, but the grumpy ol' curmudgeon comes in at least a second, depending on my mood....   :D
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline Alkari

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Re: St Camber's Tiger - Chapter 4
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2011, 04:18:10 PM »
Alaric and Richenda don't dislike Denis - it's just that his superior attitude gets rather annoying sometimes, and there are other people whose company they prefer. 

Offline Elkhound

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Re: St Camber's Tiger - Chapter 4
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2011, 08:12:02 PM »
Alaric and Richenda don't dislike Denis - it's just that his superior attitude gets rather annoying sometimes, and there are other people whose company they prefer. 

If you were to call him on it, Denis Arilan would say, "I only have a superior attitude because I am superior to most people."

Somebody should smack him upside the head.

Thanks for the current installment, and I hope you're feeling better.


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