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Derry's Wedding



Chapter  26

The Souls' Select Society

Both Derry and Dacia would have preferred a far less formal setting for dealing with the Camberian Council members and their objections to Dacia marrying Derry, but the chapel at Caer Dinan had been Bishop Arilan's choice.
"We are, after all, discussing a wedding, which is a Holy Sacrament," the bishop had pointed out to Derry and Lord Michael. "It seems appropriate that we meet on consecrated ground so that all present remember that marriage is, first and foremost, a sacrament."
Derry had been forced to agree to that, especially as he had already wrung from the bishop a concession of his own. "No one is questioning Lord Michael's right to be present at our discussions," Derry had pointed out. "But as Dacia owes a duty to her father, I also owe a duty to both the King and to my liege Lord Morgan. They have a right to be there as well."
Lord Michael had supported Derry. "That's so, Excellency. We all want to know what manner o' man Lord Derry is now; that's the sum and total question so far as I can tell. Lord Sextus is adamant he'll wed no one but Amalie, so it's only for the Council to agree or not to Lord Derry in his stead for Dacia. Isn't that the way of it?"
"There are a lot of unanswered questions regarding Lord Derry at present," the bishop had countered.
"I'm willing to answer any you choose to pose, Excellency. I know there are a great many doubts about my abilities and my memories," Derry had said.
"There are indeed.}
"I hope you will agree that Master San Te should also be present, then. He can explain a great deal to all of us."
Arilan had nodded slowly. "Perhaps he can. But will he agree to come to the chapel? It is not a holy place to him."
"I think that is not so, Excellency. While the Eastern people do not follow our Christian traditions, they are if anything more tolerant of the beliefs of others. Master San Te will tell you that a holy place is one where people worship a higher power, whatever power that may be."
"And what tradition do you follow now, Lord Derry?"
"As Derry, I am a Christian, baptized and at least relatively devout in my religious duties. You may ask Bishop Duncan. He has been my Confessor for many years now whenever we have been in Coroth or Rhemuth at the same time."
"Perhaps he should be present as well then."
"I have no objections to that, certainly, Excellency," Derry had murmured, hiding a small smile of triumph. In fact, he had hoped for just that; he had known Duncan McLain for years and trusted him more than any other Christian priest he knew  to be fair and tolerant. Having been tortured for his own faith, Duncan was unlikely to allow Derry to be persecuted for any aberration from the strictly proscribed path of religious belief.
The chapel at Caer Dinan was not large; as household chapels went, it was very adequate, though it was in fact seldom used. The family generally walked down the causeway to the church in the town except in the very worst weather. The whole chapel was only a little larger than a good-sized bed chamber, with a functional but plain altar of dark, polished wood. Several wall niches held carved wooden statues of various saints; at one time Derry had known why each of them had taken a place of honor at Caer Dinan, but he had not been so attentive as a boy that he remembered offhand why St. Elfrida and St. Brigid were there as well as St. Michael and St. Andrew.
The chapel had plain benches without backs, and these had been arranged so that everyone could sit facing the center. A chair had been brought for Lady Vivienne, another for the King. Dacia sat beside her father to Derry's right; on his left were Morgan, then the King, then Duncan. To Derry's surprise, Sextus Arilan was also present, along with two additional Council members who, Dacia had told him, had arrived via transfer portal the previous night.
He had been first of all a little surprised that there was a transfer portal at Caer Dinan, but secondly that the Council was apparently so seriously concerned with the whole matter. Still, the scholarly looking Laran and the elegant Princess Sofiana had seemed pleasant enough when he had been introduced to them just moments before. He should not have been surprised that San Te immediately struck up a conversation with Sofiana, obviously an acquaintance of long standing, nor that his Master had taken a seat between her and Bishop Arilan. .The king had taken his seat, and Bishop Arilan stood with a nod to Kelson. "Sire, I hope you will not be offended, but since this is a Council function, technically, we should begin by warding the chapel to prevent any untoward influences or incidents."
"I have no objections at all, Excellency. I think there are none here who would wish any untoward occupancies of any sort."
"True. Lord Laran, ladies. . ."
Sofiana stood, waving Arilan to silence. "Why not let the 'accused' set the wards to start our tribunal?" she asked with a glint of amusement in her eye.
"Now see here, Sofiana," Vivienne interrupted.
Bishop Arilan spoke quickly. "Please, ladies. Let's at least keep it civil." He gave Sofiana a long, measuring look, then nodded. "Very well, your idea has merit."
Arilan turned to Derry. "Will you be so good as to prove the point by warding us please?" Derry detected a slight note of disbelief in his tone but rose and walked to the center of the circle, bowing slightly to San Te and gesturing the monk to come stand beside him. San Te bowed slightly to Derry, then spoke to the group at large.
"If it is proof of talent or power that you desire, then so be it. Would you like me to describe what we are doing as Derry wards us?"
Arilan nodded slowly. "Will you require anything? Candles? Incense?"
San Te only smiled and shook his head. "Those are symbols only, as you know well, Lord bishop. Other traditions use other symbols, but in truth the wards lie in the power alone and the intent, as you also know."
Lady Vivienne gave an audible snort as Arilan sat. Laran shifted slightly forward in his seat, looking intrigued. Sofiana smiled and sat back.
San Te spoke to the group at large, but especially to the Council members. "Long ago, I learned the form of warding you will see from the teacher who lives again in your Lord Derry. It is not a complicated form, but it is a very powerful one, since it relies on the balance between the persons performing the ritual. In our belief system, we teach that all things must be balanced, and it is that sense of balance which draws two souls together in each incarnation. In this form of casting, one person controls the yin, or the positive forces, and the other the yang, or the negative forces.  Both forces must be in balance or chaos will ensue.  In our past relationship I was the learner, he the master. Now we have passed through another stage where I was the master and he the student. Now we are equals at last."
San Te turned back to Derry and asked softly, "Will you cast to me, nakayoshi?"
Derry nodded slowly. "Yes, my trusted friend, it would be my honor."  He assumed a relaxed horse stance, hands fisted at this waist, eyes closed.  As he began to center, San Te moved to the eastern point of the circle made in the room by the benches.
After several long deep breaths, Derry stirred and, though his eyes remained closed, said softly, "Let this place be guarded." 
San Te closed his eyes, intoning in a low voice that nevertheless echoed in the still chapel, "As the sun rises, I am the guardian of Air."
At San Te's final word, Derry assumed a more relaxed stance, his hands now cupped before his waist.  A light began to grow there until it was gleaming brightly green. Shifting his body forward and thrusting out his hands,  Derry exclaimed, "Eyah-sah!"
The green ball shot across at San Te, who had dropped into a spread leg horse stance.  He "caught" the ball and was immediately surrounded by a column of green light. Derry bowed deeply to the column of light and spoke reverently. "Ea!"
He then turned to the south, and San Te stepped out of the column of light and also moved to the south to stand just before Lady Vivienne's chair.  Derry nodded and again San Te spoke.  "As the sun peaks, I am the guardian of Fire."
Derry's posture changed to Cat Stance with his right leg drawn up in front of him, toes touching the ground.  As he shifted forward, the drawing in  of power was noticeable to those seated around them.  As he thrust out both arms in front of him, a ball of red fire glowed between his clenched fists, and he exclaimed "Kiyah-sah!"
The red ball shot up to curve down upon the crossed hands which San Te had raised over his head.  Again he appeared to "catch" the ball, and a red column rose around him.  Derry stood  up straight, saying,  "Hii!".  His voice seemed to have taken on an echo from the power being gathered in the room.  He bowed again and turned to his right, facing West.
San Te stepped from the column, his eyes almost glowing with the red fire that had surrounded him minutes before.  He moved to the west and established what is known as a Crane position.  He closed his eyes and spoke in a voice almost dripping with power, "As the sun sets, I am the guardian of Water."  Derry, standing in the center of the room, flanked by the glowing green and red pillars, also assumed a Crane position.  He brought  his arms together in front of him; a ball of deep blue formed and grew more intense as he moved his hands closer together.
Derry exclaimed, "Niyah-sah" as he hopped slightly upward, landing squarely on both feet, hands formed into tiger claw strikes, pushing the ball forward at San Te.  San Te dropped into a right leg fighting stance, raising one hand up and lowering the other.  He seemed to "catch" the blue ball in his left hand; then it flowed upward to his right hand and formed into a dark blue pillar of light.  Derry straightened and spoke again.  "Mizu!"
San Te emerged from the dark pillar moving to the northern quarter.  He closed his eyes, saying in a low voice, "As the sun floats below, I am the guardian of Earth."
Derry's stance was now different from the others he had taken.  While San Te stood speaking with his arms stretched out, feet flat on the floor, Derry stood in a tense fighting stance, to the point where his left knee touched the ground.  Bring his hands from his hips to cup once more in front of his body, Derry gathered the energy into a golden ball.  Leaning back, and then shifting his weight and hands forward, Derry exclaimed, "Eyah-sah!"
The golden ball shot across at San Te, who had not moved at all.  The ball "smashed" into his chest, engulfing him in a golden pillar of light. Derry bowed deeply to the column of light and spoke reverently. "Jizou!"
San Te bowed to Derry as he stepped out of the pillar.  To those seated, the colors were almost alive in that there were lights glimmering and moving about in the pillars.  Derry walked over to the bench to retrieve his staff.  As he walked back to the center of the circle, he spoke in Kelson's direction. "The staff works like the sword does in your own rituals, ire; it is a tool, nothing more." His words were deep and crackled with concentrated power.  San Te's posture was relaxed yet ready as Derry resumed his place on his immediate left.
The two men faced the pillars, San Te facing east and south, Derry facing west and north.  They both closed their eyes as they took a deep breath.  Holding the staff in his right hand, Derry extended his arm out to the side so that one end of the staff  rested on the floor and one    pointed towards the ceiling. San Te reached out with his left hand and grasped the staff at its midpoint. Derry murmured something as San Te nodded, saying "Hai!" sharply.  Taking a step forward, staff in left hand, San Te spoke with authority:  "I¼Am¼.Yin!" His voice echoed off the sides of the room as he brought right hand and left together.  As he did this, the two pillars merged into a glowing white-gold pillar.  San Te nodded, stepping back to stand back to back with Derry once more.  Footing the staff loudly on the floor, Derry then reached out and placed a hand on the staff.  San Te said, "Thou art Yang," and  Derry responded by saying "Hai!" with the same inflection as the master; he took  the staff forward.  Holding his arms out at his sides at shoulder height, he spoke: "I¼.AM¼.Yang!"  He pulled his hands together, and the pillars warped to merge into a pitch black pillar of night.  Nodding, Derry stepped back.
The spectators looked on in amazement, feeling the power of the two men, the two pillars, and sat forward in anticipation of what was to come.  Derry and San Te turned to face one another, each putting his right hand on the staff, holding it so it rested about a foot off the ground.  Slowly they stepped away from one another, toward their respective pillars until they let go of the staff.  The staff did not fall as the two walked into the Pillar of Day and Pillar of Night, the Yin and the Yang. 
The energy in the room began to crackle as the pillars started to move  toward the upright staff in the center of the chapel.  As they came together, they slowly merged,  until one pillar, half black and half white, brilliantly shone in the room.  San Te and Derry slowly emerged from the opposite sides of the single column of power.
Stepping back from the center of power, the two men dropped into low horse stance and spoke together.  "We stand before the pillar of Heaven and Earth, of Might and Mercy. Let all those who stand before the pillar feel its protection and benefit.  It is the positive and the negative, Yin and Yang, that make the universe, the universe of the spirit." Both men shifted forward to touch the pillar with their opposite hands.  Together they cried, "Aaaaaa……CHI!"
Those in the room felt a wrenching as the two sides, white and black, merged into a golden shaft of light that expanded to encompass the entire chapel before they could react.  As it passed over them, they felt lightness, energy, goodness, love, and strength.  Derry and San Te stood with legs spread, hands at their hips. They brought their feet together and bowed to the east from whence their journey began.
Turning as he rose from his deep bow to the East, Derry bowed slightly to the King, who looked impressed but not inclined to speak at the moment. San Te rose from his bow with the staff in his hand and handed it to Derry, who took it with a nod, then returned to his seat beside Dacia. Her eyes were wide, her cheeks flushed with pride. "That was . . .  remarkable, Sean."
"Indeed,"  Sofiana said rather dryly. "I think there can be little doubt that the wards are there. Do you wish to test them, Lady Vivienne?"
"Casting wards is not a final proof of power!" the elderly lady snapped. "Much less that whatever power is there is permanent or beneficial."
"What proof would you have me offer, my lady?" Derry asked quietly. "I am entirely at your disposal although I certainly hope it does not come to either of us being disposed of!"
"Are you challenging me to a Duel Arcane, young man?"
"Certainly not!" snapped Laran. "We are here to determine whether Lord Derry is sufficiently powerful to marry Lady Dacia to the benefit of any children of such a marriage. That is the only issue at hand."
"It is not the only issue," Arilan protested. "What about these previous lives he claims to have lived?"
Dacia spoke firmly. "I don't care who he has been in the past, Excellency. I refuse to jeopardize my future on the basis of the past. Think what adhering to past errors has done to our kind already! The past is past; it is the future we must think of now. I love this man. I believe I have shared his love in past lives, but that is irrelevant here as well. It is this man  Sean Seamus O'Flynn, Lord Derry that I would marry and I would want that if he had no powers whatsoever!"
"What about your agreement with this Council?" asked Vivienne. "Do those promises mean nothing?"
"Of course they do! Why else are we here? If honor and keeping one's word meant nothing, we would be wed already, Lady Vivienne. Don't look so scandalized! We could easily have eloped and been wed months ago, and you all know it. Except that I would not dishonor my father's sworn word, and Sean would not abandon the duty laid on him by the King and my father."
Princess Sofiana gave Dacia a knowing nod. "That is very true, Lady Dacia. What remains to be seen is whether lord Derry's power is equal to your own, and whether it is power that can be passed on to children."
"Predicting the future is not one of the powers I know much about, my lady," Derry said frankly. "Since I don't have any children, I cannot tell you whether they will inherit my powers or not." He turned to San Te. "Do you know?"
"It is probable that they will inherit the potential to acquire power if properly trained, yes. The lines of power in our people are less confined to a single race, though as I have said before, those with pale eyes almost certainly are descended from the same ancients as your Deryni. But many bear the potential for discovering the channels of power. Whether they find it or not depends on whether they find the proper training." He smiled at Dacia. "I suspect that the children of this union would be offered every opportunity to acquire proper instruction from an early age."
Lady Vivienne protested again.  "Our whole point in arranging a marriage for Lady Dacia was to form a strong Deryni union.  Lord Derry is NOT Deryni, even if he does have this power."
"Does it matter so much what the source of the power is, Vivienne?"  Asked Sofiana.  "Power is power."
"I don't like it!  You all know I don't like it, but do as you will!"  She glared across the room at Morgan who had as yet said nothing.  "I'm too old to change opinions that have served me well for decades!"
"The question remains regarding the children. . ." Laran said thoughtfully.
"Our children are hardly the subject for question," Derry said mildly, "until you have said whether or not you'll approve the marriage.  But there is an ancient ritual for forecasting the outcome of a marriage.  Is it not still performed in your land, Master San Te?"
"That spell is only a legend!" Vivienne exclaimed.  It's pure poetry. . ."
San Te smiled and shook his head slightly.  "It is truly the stuff of legend, Lady Vivienne, and I too know the poems you mean.  But it is real enough, if somewhat draining for the participants. But it is perhaps the surest way to solve this dilemma.  If your lady is willing, my friend?"  He gave Derry a questioning glance.
"What must I do, Sean?"  Dacia asked quietly, rising and coming to join him in the center of the room.
He took both her hands in his and gave her a reassuring smile.  "It's a bit like sharing our memories, my love, except that we cast forward into the future.  Ummm...do we have all that we need, Master San Te?"
"We do, for I thought it might come to this.  I have asked Lord Michael for the use of his great shiral.  You have brought it, have you not, my old pupil?"
"I have indeed," Lord Michael nodded, producing a large shiral crystal set in a base of silver.  It was a big as a large man's fist and very clear.  "This has been in our family for generations."  San Te took the crystal and set it on a small table which Lord Michael brought forward..
"We will require also candles and the assistance of Bishop McLain if he will agree?  In your religion, the Mother Mary is revered as a patron of women and of marriage.  Lady Dacia will wish to pray for her intervention in this ritual, Excellency.  Will you agree to that?"
"I see nothing wrong with that, certainly," Duncan said, surprised.  He came to stand beside the table, which San Te draped with a white cloth, turning it into an altar.  Duncan made a sign of the cross over the heads of Dacia and Derry as they knelt together, hands still joined but now enclosing the shiral crystal on its small altar. 
In this sacred place of your Christian religion, it is best if you lead a litany to the saints honored here, as well as to the Holy Mother, Excellency," San Te murmured.  And when all have centered, a general blessing and. . . we shall see what the crystal reveals.  Duncan nodded and bowed his head.  The others did the same as the bishop began his prayers with a litany of all the patrons of the house. 
"Sanctus Andreas. ."
"Ora pro nobis."
"Sancta Elfrida. . ."
Ora pro nobis"
And as the calm grew intense, finally, he intoned, "Ave Maria . . . " Dacia's soft voice echoed his words, praying for the intervention of the Holy Mother. As the prayer ended, Derry echoed her "amen" and continued to speak:
"In the presence of these Holy Ones, examine my heart, My Lady," he said softly, "and know that what I speak is truth."
She responded in kind.  "Likewise see my heart, My Lord, and know that what I have spoken is truth as well."
San Te nodded, and Duncan laid his hand on their joined ones, where they rested on the base in which the shiral was set.  "Now may the Source of all Life show these witnesses the proof of your true union," the priest said.  "In nomine Patri, et Filii, et Spiritus Sanctus.  Amen."
For a moment nothing seemed to happen, but then in the center of the shiral there was a small spark that grew quickly into a clear image–a child smiling up at both Derry and Dacia.  Its head of wavy brown hair was surrounded with a ring of glowing purple fire.
The image was gone in a split second, but there was no doubt it had been there. The witnesses let out their collective breath as both Derry and Dacia seemed to sway from fatigue.  Derry caught himself first and immediately reached out to support Dacia.  "Well?" she asked after a moment.  "What happened?"
"You don't know?"  Kelson asked, puzzled.
"I know that Sean and I were in a deep link, Sire.  Otherwise. . ."
"The participants are not given the chance to see the results, " San Te said softly.  "The reason the crystal is used is to allow the witnesses to see them."
"Then. . ."
"We saw a child," Sofiana said with a smile.  "Yours and his, apparently, and with power enough to satisfy even the stiffest purists."  She looked at her fellow Council members.  "I think no doubt remains, does it?"
No one spoke for a moment; they all looked at one another, and instinctively then, to Arilan.  He was visibly moved by the ritual and the revelation.  "It would appear that our protests go against Divine will, which has surely destineed these two for one another, and had already blessed their union.  No doubt remains.  We approve the formal marriage of Lady Dacia to Lord Derry," Arilan said.  "And the sooner the better," he added, "so we can all get back to our normal lives."
There was a general murmur of agreement and approval.  Even Lady Vivienne seemed to agree to that last statement.  Everyone seemed only too happy to have a decision made.
Derry rose and helped a still rather weak Dacia to her feet, handing her into her father's arms and helping San Te and Duncan clear the center of the chapel once more.   
He and San Te returned  to the center of the circle and assumed positions facing East.  They bowed to the east, then to each of the other quarters in turn, then again to the east, raising their arms as they stood.  It was San Te who spoke first:  "We return the energy to the mother who bore us."  And Derry answered, "And may all within depart in peace once more."  As they lowered their arms to the ground, the wards seemed to shimmer brightly, then sink slowly into the floor.  When the pillar had been pushed completely into the floor, a distant sound of deep chimes could be heard.  The candles flared brightly for a second, then settled into their normal glow again.  Derry stepped across the circle and raised his smiling lady to her feet.
He started to kiss her, then and there, but she laughingly pushed him away. "Now, then, none of that, Sean Derry.  We're not married yet."
"Nay, ye're not," Lord Michael agreed.  "The ladies must have time to get their wedding finery ready and all, and that will give us time for somethin' far more important."
"More important than the wedding?"  Derry protested.
"Of course," Kelson agreed,  coming to clap a hand on Derry's shoulder. "We must consider some adequate wedding present for you–some sort of new title, perhaps."
"And some new duties that will give you a bit more time with your bride," Morgan added as he joined them in the center of the room.
"And even more pressin' than any o' that," Lord Michael grinned, "we must toast the bride.  I've a bottle o' whiskey made the day she was born, lad!  Ye've never tasted anything like it in yer life!"
Derry cringed at the thought and turned to Dacia, hoping she would protest.  To his amazement, she just laughed and pushed him toward the men.  " Go on, then. Be a man among the men tonight, Lord Derry, and drink your fill."
She gave him a sly grin.  "Don't you worry love.  I can guarantee you'll be all right.  I've got that hangover remedy and all."
"But Dacia--"
"Ye'll no' insult the bride by not drinkin' her health tonight wi' me, lad!" Lord Michael said sternly..
"Well, no, of course not, but--
"Go on then, Sean," Dacia smiled mischievously.  "But don't forget to eat as well.  You're going to need your strength tomorrow night.  I can guarantee it."
And she slipped quickly out of the chapel., leaving her father and the other men laughing at her now blushing bridegroom.

~  FINIS ~


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