05 - Chapter 5 - Rising of the Phoenix
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Rising of the Phoenix



Chapter V





See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, 

a leader and commander of the peoples.

Isaiah 55:4-5

The next morning after Prime, Brother Rhisiart, true to his word to Kelos, instructed his small group to start towards the nearest harbor to search a ship or ships large enough to carry the companions across the waters to Gwynedd. He was aware that it would be a long, exhausting trip both ways, but cautioned the brothers to get the best possible deal, because he felt a personal responsibility towards the group for some reason that he couldn't quite articulate.

Quite near the same time period, Kelos and Azim were discussing options. Kelos sat at the desk, absently rubbing his hand on the case. "I'm not even certain what's in this case, Azim... and there are things we could likely find here at the Mother House that would help coordinate things." He was feeling restless, but not from boredom. He was afraid, especially after the ugly scene of the trial of the two malcontents. Absently, he presented the seal to Azim, and Azim, raising an eyebrow, centered and tested himself. To both men's relief, Azim heard the second message. One by one, the remaining members of the original group tested themselves. Only two of them failed the test, and they were ones Kelos had half-expected to lose anyway. The two suggested to Kelos that they continue with the group until they landed in Gwynedd, then they'd return home with news of the group's progress to that point, something they were sure their fathers needed to know.

Brother Rhisiart reported the beginning of his effort, and an anomaly. "Two of our other monks have gone missing also. Not sure why yet."

Azim looked at the worthy Brother. "Brother Rhisiart, is it possible that there are two groups attempting the same task?"

"Humph. Hadn't thought on that one, Brother Azim. Not at all." Half muttered was the comment that it would be typical of those two to hare off without so much as a wave, in the name of what they figured was a just cause, but Brother Rhisiart refused to elaborate once caught.

While Brother Rhisiart was available, Kelos quietly asked him to test himself against the seal, and to Rhisiart's surprise, he heard a cautionary message. "Hm. Odd." He was puzzled. "Message read, "Your assistance is requested, but only if you can resolve internal conflict."

Both Kelos and Azim raised an eyebrow, as they had not heard of that particular message before. Finally, Kelos spoke. "Brother Rhisiart, if you feel more obligation towards the Mother House than towards the restoration of the Michaelines, then by all means stay here. Otherwise, we could certainly use your services."

Azim chuckled. "You're none too shabby a haggler yourself, Kelos." He was referring to the King's Choice and the negotiation there, but even so, Kelos looked momentarily confused before he nodded.

After securing permission from the rather amused Abbot, who'd not expected any assistance in cataloging the ancient documents in the deeper recesses of the library vaults from the newcomers, Kelos, Azim and three others of his group began a search of the older sections of the Mother House's Vaults. These vaults were even more extensive than those of Kelos' own Order's Mother House, to his surprise. Even more to his surprise, on the third day of the (again!) filthy labor, they found something that once more proved valuable beyond estimation: A set of largely intact scrolls and papers that correlated to information that Kelos' group already knew, and also expanded greatly on the information, that gave them a very good picture of what the Michaeline Order's purpose and practices were. To his stunned surprise, less than six hours later, they found another scroll case, nearly identical to the one he'd found, save only in size, being smaller in diameter and length, apparently made from a standard arrow quiver, rather than that for the larger clothyard shaft that the longbow used, but this one had a dark green seal on it. As he'd half-expected, when he probed the seal, he detected a warning message. It didn't take too much effort to recognize the seal as that of a Healer Order, although which one was not immediately apparent to the monks. When Tevas saw the seal, he immediately touched and scanned it before he nodded without saying a word. He then got a leather strap almost identical to Kelos' own, and secured the tube. He refused to say what the message was that he'd sensed, save to say that it was similar to Kelos' own.

Over the remaining part of the week, as they awaited word from the group securing passage and the rest of his group continued to assist in cataloging the archives, Kelos tested enough of the Mother House's monks to more than fill out the four lost; he'd actually increased the number by nearly half again as many as they'd come in with all total. There were to be thirty-five leaving, it appeared... as opposed to the twenty Kelos had led in, and to his pleasure, the Abbot wasn't angry, just puzzled. "Several of those I would have expected. Several I did not at all expect. I shall miss Brother Christopher's wisdom, and Brother Barticus' wit. But the ones that startled me were Brothers Mathias and Jesse. I..." he paused uncomfortably, "didn't expect those two at all, especially since one of them is our Head Librarian and the other the head Infirmarian."

Kelos shuffled his feet uncomfortably, well aware of the Abbot's discomfiture, and not liking being the reason one bit. Finally, he said, "If you forbid their leaving, Reverend Father, I would understand, and abide by your ruling. The last thing we need to do is to strip the Mother House of the Knights of the Anvil of two of her most important people."

The Abbot raised an eyebrow, then half-bowed from a seated position. "I appreciate the willingness to cooperate with me, Brother. However, the two have able seconds who should be able to take over their positions, should they decide to leave." He paused, apparently more for dramatic effect than anything else. "You are making going with you voluntary, are you not?"

Kelos looked at the Abbot in stunned surprise for a long, speechless moment, before he realized the Abbot had a legitimate concern, and had apparently not realized the insult implied in the question. "I give you my solemn word, Reverend Father, that I shall not force any to go with us. It is crucial that all be willing, for this course shall be difficult enough as it is."

The Abbot grinned. "Indeed it will be, my brother. Re-establishing an almost lost Order is, and I beg your forgiveness for the pun, a tall order."

Kelos chuckled appreciatively at the pun. "I do not feel worthy, either of your time or of the job that will likely fall to me, Reverend Father; I am simply not experienced enough to get the needed things done properly."

The Abbot simply looked at Kelos for a longish moment. "I respectfully disagree, Brother Kelos. It would have been all too easy for you to have fallen to the temptation of declaring foul on the second of the Guard when he pulled the bow, yet you showed great restraint when you refrained from such an action. Then today, you refrained from anger when I deliberately accused you, albeit indirectly, of forcing others' cooperation."

"You have heard..." Kelos stopped, suddenly fussing at himself for his stupidity. "Of course you heard of the incident. Raul is the Order's Captain of the Guard, is he not?" He chuckled slightly.

Just as the third Office of the day was finishing up, four very weary monks showed up at the Mother House. After they took refreshment, the older of the two reported to Brother Rhisiart and the Abbot with the two who had left without permission. "These two..." he said, shaking his head, largely in amusement, "took it upon themselves to also go negotiate ships' passage for Brother Kelos' party. In truth, they got a far better price from one of the Captains than I myself would have; the two scamps beat my best estimate by twenty gold. Excellent hagglers, these two." He chuckled. "We joined forces soon afterwards, and I do believe they would make excellent quartermasters for the Order."

"You are doubtless not aware that there will be as many as thirty-five in the final party." Brother Rhisiart said quietly.

His amusement faded when he was told this. "Thirty-five? My... Then it is fortunate we were able to hire so many ships. However, the ships cannot hold forever; most of them must weigh anchor in two weeks."

The Abbot steepled his fingers. "How many ships were secured?"

"Enough for thirty-six people and the expanded cargo train they'd have, plus the spaces for the gift-train. They weren't happy about that many horses, I tell you! It's a rather sizable herd of horses now." He looked concerned. "Seventy-two horses, then the ten gift horses... Eighty-two horses altogether. Even if some of those are mules, or desert burros, we've still problems."

The Abbot rang a bell. When the brother came in answer, he asked the young man to have Brother Kelos come to his office.



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