They spent another hour
moving the dead knights and horses into the woods, ensuring that the
skirmish would not be easily discovered by passers-by and gaining them
valuable time from the pursuit that would soon come. Tieg also Healed
the horses that were deemed of value before they set out towards Saint
Jarlathís, Ansel and Jesse having decided to accompany the MacMurrays
to Eastmarch. They rode for a few hours trying to put as much distance
between them and the scene of the skirmish, keeping to the forested and
lesser known tracks. They knew that it wouldnít be long before the
knights were missed and more MacInnis patrols would be hunting for those
responsible. Just before dawn, they found a small clearing nestled deep
within the woods. After letting the horses drink from the cool waters of
the Eirian, they tied them to the nearby trees, allowing them to quietly
Ansel pulled out a small bag from his tunic and drew back the strings letting eight little cubes, four white and four black spill out into his hand. He sat down cross-legged on the ground and quickly arranged the cubes in the proper pattern, the four white cubes forming a square in the center with a black cube at each of the four corners, not quite touching the white cubes. With a sigh, he closed his eyes and stilled his mind and centered himself. Murray and Tiarna watched with undisguised fascination as Ansel unerringly pointed his index finger to the white cube in the upper left corner and as he whispered its nomen, "Prime". Tiarna gasped as the cube took on a soft milky glow. He then touched the upper right cube and whispered "Seconde"; when it too glowed, he moved his finger to the lower left and then lower right cubes, naming them "Tierce, Quarte".
When they were all bathed in a soft white glow, he pointed his finger to the black cubes and as he named these "Quinte, Sixte, Septime, and Octave", they took on a faint green-black glow. Then, opening his eyes, Ansel picked up Prime and gently touched it to Quinte, its black counterpart and whispered the cognomen "Primus!" Tiarnaís eyes widened even more as the two cubes fused together with a muffled click to form a silvery glowing oblong. Murray, too was watching intently as Ansel repeated the procedure with Seconde and Sixte. "Secondus!" Then came Tierce on Septime, "Tertius!" and Quarte merging with Octave, "Quartus!"
He then picked up the four glowing oblongs and placed them at four corners of the clearing just beyond where the horses were tethered. After returning to the center of the clearing he pointed to the cubes in rapid succession
ďPrimus, Secondus, Tertius, et Quartus, fiat lux!Ē
A soft milky glow settled over the clearing bathing the horses and the little company in its protective luminescence.
Jesse flashed Tiarna and Murray a reassuring smile. ďRelax now and try to sleep. We should be safe from intruders until the wards are dismantled again.Ē he said as he spread his bedroll on the grassy floor of the clearing. He lay down and centering himself, sent his thoughts winging south and east.
Almost immediately, he touched Joramís mind. **Weíve found Murray and his kin. Weíre all alright Joram. Although I donít know what would have happened to them had we not chanced upon them.** At Joramís query, he elaborated, **Captain of the Guards at Lochalyn Castle. Apparently they were returning from Rhemuth and young Frederickís knighting, when they were set upon by MacInnis retainers near Dolban. After we took care of them, we got out of there and are a couple of hours north of there now. Oh, and they are both Deryni!**
Back at the haven, Joramís eyes widened as Jesseís message sank in. **More unknown Deryni?** came his surprised query.
**Yes! Although neither Murray nor Tiarna, his daughter, are very well trained. They had sound instincts though, keeping their heritage hidden once the Statutes of Ramos went into effect. **
**Okay, so what are your plans? When are you returning to the Haven?** Joram inquired, mulling over the events near Dolban.
**I think we should accompany them to Lochalyn or at least until they are safely in Eastmarch. There was something about the attack that bothers me.** Jesse replied.
**Oh? Anything in particular? **
**No, just a feeling so far, but I canít seem to put it out of my mind. Maybe itís because they are borderers or maybe Iím just over-reacting from the aftermath of the skirmish.**
**Well, thereís nothing at this end that canít wait until you and Ansel and Tieg return from Eastmarch. Be careful, though. The former Regents havenít forgiven the Kheldour Lords for their loss of power over the King and after what has happened, there will be heavy patrols on the northern road.** Joram cautioned as he grudgingly agreed with Jesseís logic. After sending his assurance that he would do everything he could to keep safe, Jesse broke off the contact and settled more comfortably in his bedroll as exhaustion quickly overtook him.
When they awoke the next day, the sun was shining brightly overhead and only a few clouds fluttered across the sky. It had been an unusually warm and mild March so far and the weather had been fair with only a few spring showers cropping up during the afternoons. They waited until the sun went completely down and the twilight faded before they headed north again.
They stopped at a stream near Caerrorie to rest and water the horses. The night sky twinkled with a thousand stars and the moon shone brightly on the little stream, the light reflecting in the water looked like miniature diamonds flashing as the gentle current swirled around the rocks. Ansel was checking on the horses and Tieg was talking to Murray and Tiarna.
Jesse found a sturdy oak and with a sigh, he sat down, resting his back against its trunk. He pulled his knees close to his chest and wrapping his arms around them, he set his chin on top of his arms and closed his eyes as he thought back to the events at the clearing. His mind was churning, wondering if there was more to the attack than mere opportunity to harass and divest the borderers of their horses and possessions. Even two years after King Rhys Michaelís murder and subsequent deaths of the most hideous of the former Regents, their equally vile sons still wielded enough power and influence to inflict serious harm to those who supported the young King Owain and his mother. Their grudges were long and their hatred for the Deryni and Borderers, deep. ::Was this a warning aimed at the Kheldour Lords as an attempt to destabilize Eastmarch? Kill Lochalynís Captain and his heir and rape and torture his daughter?::
Jesse shuddered at the thought of Tiarnaís possible fate as his brown eyes opened and his gaze wandered over to where Tiarna was quietly conversing with Tieg. ::Sweet Jesu! She is so beautiful!:: he thought to himself. He found his mind wandering back their conversation in the clearing and the feel of her as he had held her in his arms trying to ease the grief of her brotherís death. It had felt so right to hold and comfort her. Her boldness and spirit when he had first met her had definitely sparked something in his heart.
He hadnít given much thought to marriage and children until now as the necessity of personal survival and the survival of his race had been paramount. He realized as he quietly watched Tiarna, that here was a woman who could easily steal his heart and soul. She had already enchanted him with her eyes and he wasnít sure if the spell she had cast on his heart could ever be broken.
His reverie was suddenly interrupted by pressure against his shields. He thought it might be Joram or Queron. It certainly wasnít Ansel or Tieg. At first he ignored it, since he had contacted Joram the night before, but the urgency and insistence of the call was hammering at his shields, so he let Joramís probe surge into his mind.