Chapter 8 of Uninvited Guests
wearily dismounted from her mare. They had been travelling for hours
through the snowstorm, the snow and poor visibility had slowed their
progress through the mountain paths. As she slid off of her mare, she
focused on the soldier who had taken Briony from her when the paths
As they had traveled Richenda had learned that most of the soldiers were hired for the job -- rather than in on the plot itself. The soldier holding Briony had been told that Alekseyevich was revenging himself upon a rival lord and rescuing his beloved sister and niece. When Richenda had scanned him briefly, before she'd let him help her with Briony, she'd learned that he didn't care about the lord's doings - only wished to earn enough to feed and provide for his own family through the harsh winter. While it hadn't helped her find a method of escape, she at least took comfort in knowing that not all of the soldiers intended her and her child immediate harm.
The snow came well past her knees as she sunk into the drifts. Barely able to move with her heavy travel skirts weighted down with ice and snow she just stood shivering in her cloak for a moment. D'Erick carefully handed Briony off to another soldier before coming over to help Richenda.
Expressing her thanks Richenda took D'Erick's offered arm and with his help stumbled through the snow to the entrance.
He turned swiftly to take Briony from the other soldier and restore her to Richenda's keeping. Then with a bow and a smile both soldiers departed.
Richenda was stunned. She had not been able to read much with her hurried and surreptitious scan, and had not realized the extent of the deception Alekseyevich had fabricated. She now realized that none of the hired soldiers would help her, as they believed that she was being returned to her family. Her acceptant behavior, out of concern for Briony's safety, had only reinforced Alekseyevich's lie. Now that opportunity was gone.
Looking up Richenda saw that the remaining men were all Deryni and all loyal to Alekseyevich.
Alekseyevich strode forward to address Richenda.
"You and your daughter will be taken to a room where you may dry off." he barked coldly. "We will be moving again soon. I suggest you make the most of this respite."
Turning he motioned to two of his aides and left.
The two aides escorted them down a dim corridor of stone and into a small chamber. Entering, Richenda was glad to see a well-laid fire already burning in the small fireplace.
"Don't be long about it either," added the shorter "His Lordship will be along presently to talk to you."
"And don't try to escape - we'll be just outside if you get any ideas." Finished the taller one.
Without further delay the pair closed the door, loudly shooting the bolt and locking her and Briony inside.
Denis Arilan strode down the corridor giving terse instructions to Father Nivard.
Scurrying to keep up with the Deryni Bishop, Father John Nivard replied,
With an indulgent smile Denis turned and placed his hand upon the good Fathers' shoulder.
With a smile the Bishop turned and they continued down the passage towards Dhassa's portal.
Jehana was dreaming.
With a sobbing cry Jehana awoke, tears streaking her face. She shakily sat up.
With a sobbing breath Jehana utters
"If you're certain Your Highness"
"Wait." Jehana moved the covers aside. "I could use something to drink. Please bring some water."
Jehana heard the sound of feet padding across the floor and into the outer room to fetch the water flagon.
As the feet returned Jehana rose and wrapped her bedrobe around her against the wintry chill in her apartments. Settling into the chair by the fireplace she said,
"Yes ma'am" the girl responded.
As the flames grew to comfortable warmth, Jehana began to relax. This was not the first time she had had that nightmare, although she prayed it would be the last. Jehana examined the maid that Meraude had been training and had lent her for her stay. She decided that Meraude was still as skilled as she ever was, choosing sensible and proper girls to take into service. Watching the girl move about tidying the room, Jehana decided to retain her while in the Capital.
"Yes Ma'am, he was killed in the last campaign," came the subdued reply.
"Oh my dear I am sorry to hear that." Jehana said, now uncomfortable. "Do you have any children?"
"Yes ma'am, a little boy."
The maid replied as she came to refill Jehana's cup.
"Crispal's just seven Your Highness," the girl replied bowing her head.
"Ah," Jehana nodded "I remember when my Kelson was that age," she smiled. "Is your son here with you?"
"No he isn't ma'am."
Jehana sensed the girls' distress and dropped the subject, deciding that the boy was with the maid's family. Looking about, Jehana spied the item she was seeking.
"Yes ma'am, I can read a little."
"Very good, please bring that book over here. You may read to me from the life of St. Ostrythe. Begin at the fourth chapter please."
The maid went to fetch the tome. Returning she settled near the fire at Jehana's feet. Moving her auburn tresses aside she began…
"I will ma'am," the girl replied.
"Alright Rebecca, please begin."