Webmistress's Drawing of a Sculpture.  Artist Unknown.
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Derry's Wedding



Chapter  24


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 surprise.

"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 about them!"

"No, I suppose not. Anyway, we now have you to figure out, and there's no pleasing some of them--"

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 trouble!"

"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 busy summer."

"Yes, but how did I get back here?"

"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.

"Aye," 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 yesterday--"

"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 his hands.

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 much softer.

"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 return."

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 time."

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."

"What task?"

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 Knight!"

"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."



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