10 - Chapter 10 - The Madness of the Wicked By: Martine A. Lynch
Webmistress's Drawing of a Sculpture.  Artist Unknown.
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The Madness of the Wicked  



Chapter  10  


Duncan did his best to ignore what his son was doing as he gingerly rested his hands on his little grandsonís head, now hideously flattened on one side. The infantís heart no longer beat, and the two breaths he still took as Duncan descended into the tiny body were shredded. After those labored efforts, Caulayís lungs went still, yet there was still a slim thread of life, though it was rapidly unraveling.

There was no time to think about what he was doing; Duncan only knew that he could not fail his son and grandson. If the babyís life ebbed any further, it would not matter if the physical damage to his body were repaired. It would be too late. Sinking even deeper into trance, Duncan latched on to the fraying silken thread and soared down its length.

Caulay was at the end of that thread, but seemed to rush away faster into darkness than Duncan could follow. He refused to give in and held on, though, pulling too far on the second thread anchoring him to his body, but he was willing to sacrifice anything to save his sonís child. He would bring his grandson back, or die trying. Yet Caulay flew further and faster, the dim light of his young soul receding into the dark. Please, little one, you must come back with me. You have only begun to live, and we all love you.

As Duncan began to despair that he would be able to latch on to Caulay and return safely, the black nothingness surrounding him started to glow, and Caulay slowed his flight. Duncan managed to grab hold of the infantís soul, and would have exclaimed his triumph if he could, but sound as he knew it did not exist in this place. His victory was hollow, because rather than stopping the exodus, he found himself pulled along by Caulay, his tentative link to his own body fading. Nothing could make him release his grandson, though, not even the risk of his lifeline snapping, releasing him eternally from mortal flesh. The light increased as Caulay dragged him even further from the mortal plain, until Duncan could barely see.

Their motion seemed to slow, then stop altogether, as a presence came to them from the light. Had he gone too far? Had he failed, and was this the end? No, he wouldnít let it be. Caulay had to be returned to Dhugal and AilŪn, even if Duncan had to trade his life for that of the child. He tried to see what was approaching, but everything was so bright that he only caught the faint impression of long, silvered hair, and then golden eyes that his heart could never forget.

Maryse, he choked, his heart soaring at this vision.

My dear, brave Duncan, the eyes smiled at him, gently inviting.

My love, please entreat our Lord to let me take Caulayís place. I have missed you, and our grandson has not yet tasted life, Duncan begged, holding Caulay away from the source of the brilliant light, even as the infantís soul reached for it.

You cannot stop what has already been written in the Light. Caulayís purpose has been fulfilled, and our Lord has summoned him home. Do not continue further and deprive our son of a father as well as a child.

The faint outline of her arm reached out to him, but he hesitated, stubbornly holding Caulayís soul to his breast. No, I will not let Dhugal lose his son!

Her eyes were compassionate to his plea, but her arm reached insistently closer. You are an anointed priest, a bishop to guide the Lordís flock and follow His guidance and will. Why do you resist Him?

For the love of our son! Duncan returned stubbornly, taking several steps back, but Maryse seemed to move with him.

The Lord loves our son, too, and means to provide him comfort through those who love him. Do not reduce your priesthood by defying Him. Rather, fulfill His will by returning to give Dhugal strength when he needs it most.

There could be no argument for that, not while he valued and honored the gift of his priesthood. Giving Caulay a semblance of a kiss, Duncan rocked him close for a moment more, then with grief he reluctantly released the child to Maryseís care. Caulay no longer seemed an infant in her embrace, though he was still small enough to shelter in the bend of her elbow.

Go now, she said tenderly. Our Dhugal needs you. Her free hand came forward to light on his forehead, and he only had a moment to take small consolation at its gentle promise before he was sent back to the darkness.


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