Derry's first sight when he woke at last
was of Morgan scowling fiercely at him. "M'lord, why are you
angry with me?"
"Angry? I'm not angry with
you!" Morgan blinked in
"Well, you certainly looked
angry just now." Derry
said as he started to push himself into a sitting position.
"Oh, no you don't"
Morgan insisted, pushing him back onto the pillows and sitting down in
a chair pulled close to the bed. "That would make me angry
with you." He said the last with more affection than force.
"If you aren't angry with me,
m'lord, who are you angry with?"
Morgan sighed heavily and ran his hand
through his short, pale hair. "You know me too well, Sean. I'm
angry with this whole damned mess, mainly. Now that Tolan's in
turmoil, Liam's all stirred up over the question of just who should
rule in Tolan and how exactly Henrik ever managed to convince anyone
he had a legitimate claim to anything; that's got him jumping at
shadows too. And then there's the twice-bedeviled Camberian council
all stirred up--"
"Oh, God! You needn't tell me
"No, I suppose not. Anyway, we
now have you to figure out, and there's no pleasing some of
Derry nodded, then looked around in
surprise. "M'lord, we're back at Caer Dinan! How did I get
here? The last thing I remember, I was in a cell in Esgair Ddu; you
were there as well, and the king, and San Te, and--"
"And Lady Dacia and Henrik, and
apparently the spirits of two long-dead eastern adepts of some sort.
Don't get me started on the Church's official position on that point!
Even my esteemed cousin is very wary on that point. Derry, do me a
favor; next time you leave Coroth, don't stir up so much
"Me, m'lord? It wasn't exactly my idea."
"Oh, I know, I know. I got
sidetracked. What did you ask me?"
"How did I get back to Caer
Dinan from Esgair Ddu?"
"Well, it wasn't actually
Cardosa, of course. It was Henrik's stronghold up in Tolan; he used
the image in your mind to recreate the cell, somehow, just as he used
the images in your mind to send you nightmares earlier. You have had a
"Yes, but how did I get back
"In a horse litter, of course.
You were out like a snuffed candle after whatever it is you did to
Henrik there at the end. You were like a lightning bolt that flashed
and went out, and San Te wouldn't allow us to heal you. He said you
had extended so much energy that the fabric of your spirit had to heal
from within before you could even receive any healing energy from us.
Your spirit was so fragile at that point that if we tried to give you
energy of any sort you'd probably have a heart attack and die. At
which point Lady Dacia said that if that happened on my account, no
pit in hell would be deep enough to hide me from her wrath. Sean, are
you sure you want to marry this girl?"
Morgan said trying unsuccessfully to hold back a smile.
It took Derry a good little while to
recover his breath from laughing, a signal that he was not as
recovered from his exhaustion as he had thought earlier.
he managed finally. "I do, m'lord, if we can manage somehow to
get both her father and the Council to agree to it."
"Well, young Sextus Arilan's
working on your behalf with his uncle, at least. Oh, yes,"
Morgan nodded in answer to Derry's questioning look. "He's
here; Liam brought him along, of course, when he arrived day before
"Day before....how long have we
been back here?"
"This is the third day, and it
took the rest of the day you and Henrik fought to secure the
stronghold and chase down the last of his henchmen, then a full day to
bring you back in a horse litter."
Morgan stood and began to pace, although the room was rather small. He
continued as he looked down at Derry and said, "You slept for
two full days and nights; I've never seen anything like it, Sean. San
Te let us monitor you but not give you any healing aside from that big
bruise on your temple here, and we are totally baffled. Of course,
we're not exactly full-fledged healers, but Duncan and Dhugal and I
cannot begin to guess what sort of complex powers you have, nor can we
guess at what sort of self-healing mechanism you triggered, or
how." As he spoke, Morgan sat down with a sigh, looking at
Derry was silent for a long moment, and
Morgan assumed that he was asleep. His eyes were closed and his
breathing even. As Morgan started to rise to leave, Derry spoke, but
not in the voice Morgan was accustomed to hearing on a daily basis.
This was the voice he had heard when Derry was fighting Henrik, albeit
"The brothers have a method of
T'sing Che - healing the spirit. The body slows down its physical
processes to the point where life is maintained without risk, but all
chi is directed to the healing of the spirit."
Morgan listened in wonder from his half risen position, frozen by the
voice emanating from his friend, as Derry continued: "When the
mercy must be forgotten, and vengeance used, it affects the spirit of
the one who must do the punishing. We believe that there is always an
alternative to violence, unless the opponent is past the point of no
Derry's breathing had become slower and
slower as his aura began to flare silver around his head; it
eventually changed to a mixture of silver and midnight blue. He
continued speaking: "We do not seek to harm, but sometimes it
is necessary. One of the drawbacks of our gifts is that we tap into
our own energy, and it affects our spirit. The Death Fist is something
that is not used often and only as a last resort. The spirit must
regain balance before the healing of the body can begin, so the
brother enters into T'sing Che."
"Sing Hi speaks true, Lord
Alaric," San Te spoke from
behind Morgan. Morgan realized he was still half standing and stood up
to turn and face the old monk, whom he had not heard enter the room. "It
has been said that at one time in the past when the Fist was used, the
monk was stranded away from his brothers, frozen in the T'sing Che for
months before they found him and brought him back to present
San Te returned to the table near the
door and carried his tray to the bedside table. Morgan looked askance
at the odd-colored tea the old man poured and handed to Derry. Derry's
eyes were now open and alert. Derry accepted it and took a sip,
grimaced at the taste, but drank it anyway. San Te silently refilled
the cup; Derry heaved a sigh of long-suffering, but he drank the
second cup as well. Almost at once, Morgan could see more color in
Derry's too pale face and relaxed a little inwardly.
San Te continued after returning the
tray to the table. "The advanced members of our brotherhood
are the only ones who are taught the harming techniques like the Death
Fist. We are also the ones who know how to control our bodies to the
point of almost controlling time. The months the monk spent without
sustenance in the elements were as minutes to another man. We are
taught the internal techniques, and our bodies are trusted to the
members of our order. That is why I did not allow the healing of his
body before the healing of his spirit."
He turned to Derry and said, "You
are better," San Te nodded, "but not yet ready to
face the youthful exuberance of your pupil, I think. Though he is very
impatient to assure himself that what we say is so, that you will
recover fully. After you have slept again, perhaps, I will send him to
you, Sing Hi."
"Is he all right? Did you
manage to keep him out of the fighting, Master?"
"Of course I did not. I did not
try," the monk smiled. "There
was never a question he must have a part, and young David McIvers as
well. Neither could have remained idle at home without suffering
dishonor in his heart. Instead of allowing their energy to lead them
to recklessness and danger, I gave each a task to do."
San Te smiled but shook his head. "That
they will tell you themselves, later. Sleep again now, Sing Hi, and
restore your strength."
His words had the force of a command,
and Derry slept as if he had not a care in the world, deeply and
dreamlessly. When he work again, it was to see Geoffrey grinning at
him, while someone else--Derry realized it was David--lit a second
rushlight from the one he carried.
"Master San Te said you'd be
hungry, m'lord, and that you wanted to hear what David and I..I mean
Sir David--and I did."
"Sir David, is it? So Lord
Michael gave you the accolade a bit early, did he? Well done, Sir
"Actually, m'lord, it was the
King himself," the
new-made knight said, still sounding rather awed by that aspect of the
honor. "Seeing as how Lord Michael's arm was all in a splint
and his sword shattered to bits as well. That was before Bishop McLain
came and healed him, o' course. He's fine now, Lord Michael."
Derry was rather startled by these
revelations. "It sounds like I missed a lot of the action
after all," he commented.
"Well, m'lord, you had
to," Geoffrey informed
him. "You're a wonderful fighter and I wish I could have seen
you and Henrik! But he'd flooded Drumaere with so many troops there
were fights all over the place." The boy's eyes were bright. "Are
you sure you're well enough now to hear it all?"
"I'll take some of that soup to
fortify me," Derry said
drily. "Say on."