Chapter 1 - Part 4 of Sword of a Saint by Katy Colby
Webmistress's Drawing of a Sculpture.  Artist Unknown.
   
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Sword of a Saint

 

 

Chapter 1 - Part 4

 

 
When darkness fell he slipped down the wall. With his sister gone there was no longer a reason to seek his father's kin. He could follow his dreams, find the Michaelines and become a knight. There was a transfer portal in the cathedral, he knew. His parents had used it many times. He had used it once, too, with his father's help. Surely he could manage to get himself to the Michaelines Mother House in the Anvil of the Lord.

He shimmied down the wall and dropped to the ground. The ivy ended about twelve feet from the street, but he'd never had a problem with the fall before. Unfortunately he was so busy planning his escape he forgot to look below. One of Sinclair's guardsmen stepped into the street and began relieving his bladder just as Michael dropped. The man shouted as if Michael were trying to murder him. The door behind them opened, flooding the street with light.

Michael threw all his energy into his legs. He ran, sliding and slipping on the muddy street, dodging into alleys and not caring which direction he took. His heart pounded with fear as he heard his pursuers closing fast behind him and fanning out to block his escape. A hand grazed his tunic. He wriggled away. Mud from the guards' boots splattered the backs of his legs as he threw his remaining strength into the single minded sprint to the safety of the sanctuary.

The cathedral loomed before him, at the end of a narrow alley that opened into a broad courtyard. Light gleamed from its tall glazed windows, sent by a thousand flickering candles. For a brief moment Michael felt as if he were flying. He ignored the shouts of his pursuers and dashed up the steps.

He paused to catch his breath. Mud dripped from his clothing, staining the inlaid floor. His mother's words tugged at the back of his memory, and he knew he should spend a moment in reverence to the Holy Presence. He shoved the idea out of his mind. He'd wasted enough time praying in the past year. God hadn't answered him then, so why should he bother to give God the time of day now?

Where was that portal?

A small man wrapped in a dark cloak brushed past Michael, clearly in a great hurry. The man entered the sanctuary without pausing to acknowledge the Presence. He headed directly for a cluster of small chapels to the left of the altar, mid way down the narrow, vaulted sanctuary.

Michael followed him, instinct or blind hope guiding his steps. He dared not reach out to see if t he man were Deryni, but surely he deserved a bit of luck this night.

In the center of the cluster of side altars was a labyrinth. Darker tiles laid out the spiraling pattern, following the Quarters again and again. The man stepped carefully, moving along the proscribed path without looking to see if his feet left the lighter trail.

Michael heard boots hitting the floor an instant before the stranger vanished in a flash of silver light. Sir Hugh's voice echoed through the empty cathedral. "You! Boy! Stop!" No time for niceties. Michael dashed through the labyrinth, following the path only marginally. He felt the portal at its center still pulsing from previous use.

Sir Hugh lunged for him. Michael fixed his mind on the location he most wanted to see. His one desire and best hope centered on the Knights of Saint Michael. Their mother house was in the Anvil of the Lord, where he would be safe. He meant to join them.

He imagined their mother house as best he could from tales told when he was young. A quick flex of his mind and the portal opened, drawing him away from death. He felt a sharp tug on his tunic as the floor dropped away beneath his feet, and he was gone.

The cathedral seemed a bit darker than usual when the portal's glow finally faded. Sir Hugh Sinclair picked himself up from where he'd fallen and brushed futilely at the mud now staining his velvet hose.

One of his men handed him his dagger. "I thought sure you had him there, m'lord. Quick little bugger, isnít he?"

"And now he's gone. Damn the brat's luck!" Hugh glared at the soldier, realizing as he did so that it wasn't this man's fault. Besides, such expressions left wrinkles on the skin. And, with the slash his young prisoner had put on his face still tender any movement was painful.

"On the bright side, James, we discovered the location of one of their bolt holes. I'll have my own people block it immediately. In fact, I think the lad's father might just finish the job for us."

James grinned wolfishly. "That will likely finish him, m'lord."

"As I intend, I'm certain that incompetent idiot did not Heal me properly. I'm bound to scar." Hugh smoothed the wrinkles from his doublet and resettled his cloak over his shoulders. "I'm not too concerned about the boy. After all, without friends to help him he's sure to die sooner or later."

The cathedral settled into reverent silence. No adepts were about to see the movement of tall shadows in the side chapel. The archangels, Michael and Uriel, stared for a moment at the scene of the chaos. Jhenna tugged at Uriel's cloak. Her eyes sparkled and the corners of her mouth twitched as she looked up at him. "Micha's in big trouble now, isn't he?" she asked, her whisper hiding a giggle.

Uriel bent to stroke her soft curling hair. "He may be, child. But not from us." He glanced up and pointed to a narrow shaft of warm golden light shimmering beneath the Presence. "Your mother is waiting for you there, Jhenna. Run to her." Jhenna gave the Archangel a quick hug and dashed away, a plump woman emerged from the light to embrace her child.

Uriel waited until the light faded and the door was again closed. Then he turned to Michael, shaking his head. "That did not go as you planned it." Michael pursed his lips for a moment and stared at the closed portal. "It did in all but one respect. I meant to send the boy to Dharjilla, I fear he did not arrive as I intended."

"Well, you had your hands full elsewhere." Uriel glared at the entrance to the sanctuary. "Sinclair is one I'll be more than glad to escort to his final destination. What will you do now?"

Michael spent a long moment considering his answer. When at last he spoke he seemed to be still searching for his words.

"I believe the boy has landed in a place where he will receive good training. Perhaps better than what my Michaelines could give him, though I do not care for the company he will keep. I will do as I have done, keep a watch on him and leave him in his place for now. He will be ready eventually to return to Gwynedd."

 

   

   

 

 
 
   
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