Dutifully Geoffrey settled the bed tray so
that Derry could eat. Both Geoffrey and David settled on stools near
the bed, and the squire launched headlong into an account as
hair-raising as any Derry could have dreamed up.
"Well, m'lord, you know I wanted
to go with you when you left to go after the ladies. I mean, I am your
squire and all, and I wanted-well, you know. Anyway, I was there in
the courtyard when Master San Te gave you that staff--" As he
spoke, he glanced toward the fireplace, and Derry followed his gaze to
se the staff itself leaning on the mantel; he hadn't noticed it
earlier, but it seemed right that it was there. Geoffrey nodded in
apparent agreement and went on. "Anyway, Master San Te watched
you ride out and then he came right across the courtyard to me and
said, 'Come, you must not waste time and energy on wishing for what is
not possible. There is much else that must be done,' or something like
that, and he took me into the armory and we had a lesson with the
sword and the dagger. I was about ready to collapse when David and
Rolf rode in, and Master San Te told me I should see to my friend's
needs, meaning David, of course. So that's what I did."
David picked up the tale. "I was
still fairly groggy and ill from the merasha, m'lord. But Geoff and I
were both wishing there was something we could do. I mean, Katie's my
sister, after all! And it rankled like anything that those Tolanese
took her when I was supposed to be protecting her! It seemed so unfair
I shouldn't get a chance to help at all in getting her back or
"We were trying to think how we
could help when Master San Te came to David's room and told us we were
both wanted right away," Geoffrey continued. "Lord Michael
had sent for everyone who could bear arms, m'lord. Henrik had sent all
his troops down the passes at one time, and the patrols were all
fighting, everywhere along the border. So David and I rode out with
Sir Lucas, and that's how we got into the fight. It was
Derry winced at the boy's enthusiasm.
Could this be the rather timid boy he recalled from just a few months
past? "Ah. Well, I'm sure it was. But how did David win his spurs
in the field?"
"Oh, that was mostly just
luck," the young knight said modestly, his cheeks flushing a
bit-but with pride, Derry thought, not embarrassment.
"It wasn't luck!" Geoffrey
protested. "He was terrifically brave. We came up on Lord
Michael's patrol at the Eldar Dun, and they were fully engaged. They
would have been able to hold the Dun for a good while, I guess; you
know it's just that hill of boulders and two sides a sheer drop.
They'd have been fine but for sending a sortie out to aid the advance
troops from the royal army that had come up on the fight and got
trapped between two of Henrik's bands."
"Yes, the King was coming in from
Marley and Lord Dhugal from Cardosa, so they would soon have rescued
all of Drumaere anyway, but these were the first ranks, and they got
caught in Henrik's' troops before they could reach the Eldar
David nodded. "And so Lord Michael
had led a party out to try to rescue the men the Tolanese had caught.
Sir Lucas signaled us to flank the Tolanese on the east side and draw
them off, and that's when we realized it was Sir Adam, Geoffrey's
father, commanding the troops that were caught between the Tolanese."
"Papa was fighting off four men at
one time, m'lord, and I thought surely I could take one of them out of
his way by surprise. So I plunged into the fight and knocked one off
his horse before he even saw me. And then one of the others turned to
fight me, so that left Papa with only two to deal with, which was much
"Much better indeed," Derry
agreed. "And I take it the fight went pretty well from that point
"Well, yes. The second fellow
knocked me off my horse, but I managed to catch his stirrup as I went
down and pulled him off his horse as well, and he lost his sword
trying to keep from falling. I rolled as I hit the ground and came up
in a horse stance before he came at me, and he wasn't expecting me to
use my feet, I guess. By the time Papa had finished off the two he was
fighting, I had the Tolan man on the ground with the blade of my dirk
at his throat."
Derry closed his eyes for a moment.
"I see. What did your father have to say?"
"Well, he didn't realize at first
it was me, since I had a helmet on, you see-but when he came over and
recognized me, he was a little surprised, I think. He just sort of
stared at me for a long moment, and then he put his arm 'round my
shoulders and said something all mumbly. He-he seemed rather pleased,
"I should think so. Well, that
accounts for you. What about young Sir David? And how was it that Lord
Michael came to have his sword broken? He's one of the finest
swordsmen in the Eleven Kingdoms!"
"Oh, aye, and he was a sight to
see, m'lord, in a real fight like that!" David agreed. "But
the Tolanese were easy three or four to one, even with Sir Adam's men
and Sir Lucas's, and one man can only fight so many. They were all
afraid of Lord Michael alone, so there must have been half a dozen at
once went for him from all sides, and one huge man with a horse the
size of a small mountain just smashed right into him, and down he
went, horse and all. That's when his arm must have got broken, for he
switched from right hand to left, but he must not have had a firm grip
yet when another man with a battle-ax came at him and hit the sword,
and that's what broke it. I had just got close enough to thrust my
sword up under the arm the man had raised to hit Lord Michael with the
battle-ax again, just where the armor doesn't protect the armpit. I
didn't get in a killing blow, but Sir Lucas was right behind me and he
"Well, that explains why Lord
Michael might feel you had earned your knight's belt, then. But how
did it happen that the King showed up in time to knight you?"
Geoffrey chimed in. "We were
regrouping when a troop of the royal lancers came up behind the
Tolanese, and together we managed to get the enemy in a pincer
movement, and when we met up with them, the King was there! He said
something like, 'Well met' to Lord Michael, and that's when Lord
Michael told the King that they would never have met at all, except
for David saving his life, and he asked the King to knight him then
and there. It was absolutely splendid!"
"And that's when General Morgan
arrived," said David, "with Master San Te, although I'm not
exactly sure where they met up, because General Morgan had gone with
another troop to help Sir Gregory further along the border. But
anyhow, the Duke said he knew where you and the ladies were, and he
and the King and Master San Te rode off up the pass and left Bishop
McLain and Duke Dhugal to see to the prisoners and the wounded."
"We all came back here the next
day, and the day after that, they came back with you in a horse litter
and Lady Dacia in a fit of temper over them not wanting to listen to
Master San Te and the Council being so stubborn about the two of you
"I was not in a fit of temper then
at all, compared to what I am going to be if you two don't get out of
here and let Lord Derry rest," said a familiar and beloved voice.
Derry had not heard her enter but smiled up at Dacia's approach.
Geoffrey and David rose hastily, bowed to both Derry and Lady Dacia,
and beat a hasty retreat.
Derry's smile faded a bit at Dacia's
'What have I done?" he asked
plaintively. "I just wanted to hear what had been going on."
She sighed and sat down. "I know.
And I'm not angry with you or them. I'm just worried. It seems as if
the Council still wants to be a problem, and my father is being
stubborn, and this business with this foreign monk and you having his
memories and all is not helping any, because the priests are half
convinced you're possessed, which is apparently worse than being
Deryni, if anything could be. What are we going to do, Sean?"
Derry's smile faded, as Dacia had
thought it would, but not into an angry expression as she had
expected. His face seemed instead a bit sad and contemplative. In a
voice softer than was normal, he said, "We must be together in
this lifetime, My Lady, for you are my lady, and I am your lord."
She looked into his eyes and saw that they were a bit different than
they had been before. A strange mixture of wisdom and youth was there
now, as if Derry had come to grips with what was inside him.
He smiled slightly, as if he knew what
she was seeing, and continued, "Life is a series of lessons to be
learned. Each situation, good or bad, must be taken for what it really
is, a lesson. Shying away from things because they make you
uncomfortable or doing something solely based on what other people
think or expect is no way to grow and change." His voice was calm
and soothing as he went on. "Each experience, each situation must
be cherished and given our attention so that we may learn and grow and
change. Most experiences are not as drastic as mine. though," he
finished with a slight laugh.
"I want to show you something; I
want you to lower your shields and allow me to 'touch' your spirit for
a moment." He looked at her expectantly. As Dacia hesitated, he
spoke once more. "I am open to you, as you are to me. I would
have you for my wife, as I would offer myself for your husband."
Dacia thought she detected an openness now in Derry where before there
had been a barrier. She sensed a new closeness now available to them.
Whatever experience he had undergone, it had changed him but not, she
sensed, for the worse.
She took Derry's hands and rolled back
her own shields slowly. She nodded even though she realized that Derry
knew it was done. A gentle tendril of though quested towards her,
again unlike what she was used to, yet unthreatening. As his thoughts
quested into her mind, they went deep into her consciousness to touch
the inner part of her being. Derry's voice spoke in her mind. Imagine
that instead of one life, you have lived thousands of them. I am no
longer one person, but many. I have lived many lifetimes and now
relive them through the one you know as Derry.
That's the part that frightens me,
Sean. If you aren't yourself, how can I know who you are?
She felt his slight smile and light
headshake. You'll understand,
Dacia my love. Just trust me.
I do, Sean.
Then stay with me.
And with that, Dacia felt herself slip deeper and deeper. She had gone
into deep trance before, many times, during her training. She had even
done a deep trance mind-link with Tiercel, but this felt subtly
different, more as if she were sharing the process rather than just
passively following where Tiercel and others had led during her
Suddenly she was aware that she was
remembering things she had experienced, but with a shock she realized
that she had not experienced them as Dacia McKelvey. She could see a
room she knew had been her own, a dress of ancient cut on the bed.
"It's all right, love. I'm there
with you. Just outside the door." As he spoke the door in her
mind-scene opened and a man entered. He bore no physical resemblance
to Sean Lord Derry, but he was definitely the same man. He raised his
hand to brush the hair back from her brow. . .
The scene had shifted. They sat above a
yellow river under a tree with pink blossoms, and they were very young
and strangely dressed. He held her hand in his and spoke comforting
words. She knew that it was not she but he who was going away, but she
wept bitter tears because she would miss her friend and companion. He
spoke of his happiness at being chosen for training at the monastery,
but she could only feel the emptiness his leaving would mean for her .
Another scene came into focus. They
knelt before an altar of some sort, though it was not one she had ever
seen before. Nor was there a priest, but a woman dressed all in white
who presided over what she knew was a wedding between them. In utter
shock, Dacia realized that in this memory, her mind told her that she
was not a woman. The person with Derry's eyes was a girl who promised
the man Dacia had been, "I will love you forever." And Dacia
knew the answer had been, "In this life and all others we will
Finally, a memory she did not want to
let run intruded. There was fire and terror in every fiber of her
body, and she was shaking in remembered pain as Derry pulled her
rapidly to the present and drew her into his arms, murmuring, "
I'm sorry, love; I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have let it go there. It
got away from me. I'm so sorry."
It took her a few minutes to control
her shudders. Gradually, she calmed enough to speak. "My God,
Sean, what was that?"
"Can't you guess?" he said
sorrowfully. "You were dying, darling. And I couldn't stop them
because I wasn't there. You had stopped at Dolban to make a
pre-nuptial retreat before our wedding. I was to meet you there two
days later, but all I found was death and ashes-and the guards that
had been left to deal with anyone who was too curious about what had
happened there. I had to ride away without even the chance to search
for you-not that it's likely I'd have found you. I fled to the Forcinn
and found some former Michalines who took me in."
Her voice was shaky. "How-how many
times have our lives touched?"
"I don't even know. I can only
catch glimpses of some of the lives I have lived. You are in most of
them that I've recalled. That's mostly what I have been doing, I
guess, since the fight with Henrik. San Te told Morgan that my spirit
must heal before my body could. That's what he meant, I think. I am
beginning to reclaim all that I have learned over many lifetimes. I
didn't realize it when I first work up, but it seems to be getting
clearer now. I may never recall everything, but I can remember quite a
number of lives over several hundred years. And you are there,
sometimes as my wife or lover, sometimes as my friend or teacher or
student. Our lives have twined together for centuries." With a
hint of a smile, he continued, "I don't think even the vaunted
Camberian Council is strong enough to keep us apart in this lifetime,
"The two halves of a whole,"
"It's something Master San Te told
me, the day he first came. He said we were meant to be together."
"Yes. He is very wise."
"I still don't know how we can
convince the Council-and my father."
"I think his problem has always
been that stupid agreement with the Council. He doesn't dislike me,
Dacia. You know he doesn't."
"Well, no. Of course he
"Well, then. It's time to tell the
Council where their authority ends. I've lost you to war and regents
and a dozen other things. I don't intend to lose you to a bunch of