01 - Healing of Derry
Webmistress's Drawing of a Sculpture.  Artist Unknown.
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Healing of Derry



Chapter I




  The man walked up to the main gate to the guards standing at their posts. He was a small man, dressed in dark brown clothes, with short hair cropped close to his skull. His sunbrowned skin was almost leathery in texture, but he carried himself well. The guards relaxed the hands on their swords, but were still wary of a man who would walk right up the gate of one of the most powerful men in the kingdom. They called out to him as he approached and asked him his business. As they did, the man looked up at the guard, for he was much shorter than the burly armored man.

"I would speak with your Lord Derry if he will permit it." He said in a quiet calm voice. The burly guard was a bit wary of his calm tone, and didn't think much of the old man until he caught the man's eyes. They were pale blue to the point they were almost white, and he felt like his soul could drown in the depths of them. The guard blinked as the small man broke eye contact and folded his hands in front of him.

The other guard was puzzled by the interchange, but the man did not seem threatening. He said "I would have your name before I go to bother the Lord, sir" he ended with the honorific because although the man was dressed as a commoner, his presence almost demanded respect.

Derry in the meanwhile was in the breaking yard with the groom, looking at the lines of the new colt that had been born that morning. He had a towel still draped across his shoulders and was leaning on the fence watching the colt suckle its mother. He loved horses, sometimes understood them more than people. The new tawny colt had a star between his eyes, and white socks on each foot. Even for a colt only a day old, he knew this bugger would be a good one. He looked forward to bringing up this horse in his own way. Someone clearning his throat behind him brought him out of his reverie.

"Mi Lord, there is a ...man to see you" said the burly guard. Derry turned around to see Argus, the captain of the main gate standing there with a bemused yet puzzled look on his redbearded face.

"You look like you have seen a ghost Argus, why the look?" Derry chided. Out of all the people here, Argus was the only one who could beat him at cards, and Derry had grown fond of the gruff captain.

"Weel now, you should come and meet the man yourself, you'll understand" Argus smiled a lopsided grin. Interested, Derry pulled off the towel and tossed it to the groom, doing up his shirt in the meantime since it was still April, and although warm, he didn't need to get sick with all that he had to do before Morgan's return in a month.

As the Captain led Derry from the stables to the gate, Derry thought about the dreams that he had been having. All he could make of them that there would be a confrontation with something from his past, and that he should be ready to meet it. He had learned a thing or two, working with the Duchess, about the mind and how symbols in dreams were not to be taken lightly. She had even gone so far as to have him write some of them down and they would talk about it over breakfast, or while our riding.

His thoughts were interrupted by a soft, pleasant voice. "Good morning Lord Derry" it said. Derry looked up and saw a small man standing there, just inside the gate. He was unremarkable save for his eyes and the sense of presence that had Derry half bowing to him before he knew what was going on. His eyes were strange in that they were pulled out on the sides, shaped almost like an almond. He had never seen anyone who looked like this, so it was quite a surprise. He cleared his throat in order to get his mind in order. "Who was this man, and why do I feel like I know him already" Derry thought to himself.

"What can I do for you. sir?" Derry also added the honorific without really knowing why. The man bowed at the waist, keeping eye contact with the young lord. "I have heard that the Ducal gardens used to be some of the loveliest in many the lands. I have also heard that they have fallen into some disrepair. I would like to restore them. My name, is San Te, and I would like to enter your service" the little man bowed once again from the waist, the corners of his lips curling up in a smile.

Derry was taken aback at the forwardness of the man, but was intrigued by him at the same time. The gardens were in proper form, but from the stories he had heard of what they were like under the care of Alaric's mother, the Lady Alyce de Corwyn, they could be much better. The old gardener had died the previous summer, and they could use assistance for what Richenda had in mind for them. It wasn't a well known fact that she had wanted to change them, but he saw no harm in introducing him to the Duchess if she would permit it. He hadn't had much experience with the Duchess and her powers, but he knew that he could protect her if anything happened. He also knew that she could probably protect herself even better than he could on some fronts.

"You seem very well spoken for a man who tends gardens, the Duchess would probably have a few minutes to speak with you, come with me." Derry nodded to the guards to go back to their posts and turned on his heel gesturing for the man to follow him.

The duchess in question was sitting in her solar reading over some manuscripts that she had just received from her "Uncle". They were very old and tended to crackle if you held them the wrong way, but she was almost reverent of the written word. The woman sitting next to her was playing a string game with her daughter Briony when there was a knock at the door. Just as the door was opening, a gentle thought entered the woman's mind, "Do not betray me, I am a friend". She looked up sharply as the door opened and Richenda stifled a gasp of surprise of her own. Rothana knew that the duchess had received the same message a split second earlier.

"Good afternoon Derry, to what do we owe this pleasant surprise" the duchess intoned brightly as Derry swept a bow to both of the women. The little girl on the floor giggled as Derry added a wink to his bow to his favorite. Rothana looked up to see Derry standing in the door with a small man in brown homespun breeches and coat and skin to match. When Derry moved farther into the room, the man looked up at Rothana from where he had been staring at the floor. He smiled at her slightly and nodded at her in greeting.

"It can't be" she said to herself, "He's dead!" while in her heart she prayed that it was indeed the man she had been thinking of....



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