Chapter 17 of Uninvited Guests
Morgan could hardly believe what he was hearing from the stranger. He
was grateful for the support of Kelson, Duncan, and Dhugal in the link;
without them, he feared his surprise would cause him to rebound out of
the long-distance rapport.
**There isn't much time, Your Grace,** Renaud sent.
Images of Alekseyevich and Mahael, along with hints of the threat they posed to the young Healer, flashed along with the words.
**As you can see, I am as much a prisoner as your lady wife and daughter. Please, read what you will of me. I wish only to help, as much as I can.**
As Alaric and his companions "watched" incredulously, Renaud opened himself almost completely to them, inviting them to Read his memories and use the information he had to offer. Alaric paused on the edge of that highly trained mind, hesitant. Behind him, Duncan and then Kelson urged him to move forward, reassuring him with their trust. Their unintentional recollections of Richenda cost him a pang, and he delved into Renaud's memories.
Almost before he knew it, Renaud had taken his leave of the group in Gwynedd, expressing his apologies as he withdrew before his casting was sensed by his captors. Alaric stayed in rapport with Kelson, Duncan, and Dhugal for a few more moments, the four of them sifting over the wealth of information Renaud had given them.
Alaric shivered as he opened his eyes and gazed across the table at his cousin, trying to bury the memory of Richenda's fear at the loss of her powers. Duncan caught his movement.
"I don't know what to think about a Healer who can block powers," began the bishop, softly. "It certainly puts a whole new spin on things."
"Aye, and what about this shape-changing spell?"
Kelson shot back at him, grey eyes disturbed, but trying to keep Alaric's mind off of his beloved's helplessness.
"Thank God Nigel doesn't know about this. He never suspected that Rory wasn't Rory."
"Rory!" exclaimed Dhugal, standing so quickly that his chair clattered to the ground behind him. He whirled to face the corner of the room where the young man they'd thought was Rory had been waiting, silent as a ghost.
He might as well have been a ghost, for "Rory" was gone.
Rebecca turned from the basin where she scrubbed away at sweat-encrusted practice leathers, a harsh reprimand on her tongue for the voice that called her. Valentin had to know how difficult it had been for her to get herself included in the servants accompanying the Haldane army. Before she could admonish him, however, she stopped short, the words swallowed. She'd never seen such an expression on Valentin's shape-changed face-and Saw with Deryni senses the strain his spell was under right now.
Dropping the tunic she held back into the basin of soapy water, she wordlessly took his elbow and steered him deeper into the hotel's basement washroom, ducking a sheet that hung from the ceiling. When they were behind the sheet and shielded from outside eyes, Valentin relievedly let the Haldane prince's visage slip from his face. Rebecca was hard put to keep herself from gasping at the strain she saw there.
"They've found out," Valentin murmured, his voice ragged.
At that, Rebecca did gasp, knowing by the tone in his voice exactly what he meant.
"Oh, my God," she breathed. "How?"
Valentin slumped against the wall.
"I . . . they got in contact with someone. Not the Duchess of Corwyn; I think it was someone who "works" for Alekseyevich. Morgan's not as well-trained as he could be, and neither are McLain, MacArdry, or the Haldane; I caught some of what they were discussing."
Rebecca's mind was racing, sorting through contingency plans made at the start of this venture. Some of those plans neither Alekseyevich nor the Master knew anything about. She tried to bury her fear deep down. She still wasn't quite sure what the Master had done to her son when they had been separated. She and Valentin were walking a dangerous tightrope right now. She looked up at him.
"So what do we do now?"
Crispal huddled in his cell, his imagination frightening him once again. He wished he knew where his parents were, what they were doing. He refused to let himself wonder if they were still alive. Most of all, he wished he knew why he was here. And held prisoner with, of all people, a Prince of Gwynedd.
For the hundredth time he cast his mind back several weeks. His mother had woken him in the middle of the night and hurried him out of his cozy bed. It was urgent that they leave Eistenfalla immediately. He'd been too sleepy to really pay attention to the strange men that had waited for them by the door of their cottage, and the ones who had accompanied them out of the sleeping, snow-encrusted city. He'd only managed to stay awake until Nordhaven, and then had nodded off again, huddled in his mother's arms atop her horse. Mother hadn't _acted_ as if there were anything amiss . . . had she? Of course, leaving home in the middle of the night certainly indicated something amiss. Why hadn't he thought so at the time?
He couldn't remember anything else before awaking in this cell. Nothing, that is, beyond the dreams. He shivered as ice shot up his spine. The cold, the blackness of a deep room and a smoky fire . . . and the pair of chilling golden eyes watching him, staring at him, seeing through to his very soul. He couldn't help seeing those piercing eyes every time he closed his own.
Crispal shivered again, wishing those eyes would leave him alone so he could get some sleep. He'd gone almost totally without sleep for days now, but even his heavy fatigue wouldn't let him forget. Those eyes . . . they haunted him. The power they held frightened him, and he didn't know why. When he tried to remember, the memories slipped out of reach, almost like dark, cold shadows flitting across his mind.
Shaking with weariness, Crispal gazed over the sleeping form of Prince Rory. If only he could remember. He knew there was a way to get out of here. He knew that somewhere buried in his mind was information that he needed, information that would help him find his mother. Information that would help him remember what had been done to him.