12 - Chapter 12 - 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 12   


Kelson left them to their privacy, retreating to Conor, who cowered in a shadowed corner, shedding tears of his own that blended sorrow for his sister, grief for his father, and fear over his own fate as the son of the man who murdered his duke’s son. He tried to move even deeper into the shadows as Dhugal’s companion approached and knelt by his side.

“Do you know who I am?”

“I think-” Conor sniffled, dabbing his eyes in vain. “Are you the king?”

“I am. Come with me. They need to be left alone with their grief.”

Rising, for he didn’t have much choice, Conor followed the king out of Ailín’s chamber into an adjoining room, which was also a bedchamber. The king pulled back a tapestry, revealing a dark, featureless room. He raised a fist, which began to glow, then opened it to reveal blood-red fire. Conor gasped, shrinking back.

“’Tis only handfire,” the king said, waving it before him. “It will not harm. Go ahead, touch it and see.”

Wishing he could retreat, but knowing he could not dare refuse the king, Conor stretched a tentative hand and gingerly poked the ball of light with a finger. “I cannot feel anything!”

“Nay. Deryni handfire does not burn hot like real fire. Come into the room now. Do you see that square on the floor?”

“Aye,” Conor swallowed, looking at a space about four foot square marked out with black tile.

“It marks a transfer portal. We Deryni can use them to travel instantaneously to other places, such as Rhemuth. Come. Stand on it with me.”

Sweet Jesu, what was the king going to do to him? Conor moved only reluctantly, keeping as far away from Kelson as he could while still remaining in the square. It was no good, though, because the king drew him into the circle of his arm.

“Now, Conor, just relax. It may feel like the ground drops out from under you, but we will be in Rhemuth within two heartbeats.

Conor nodded, and Kelson looked down on him with a sympathetic eye. This poor boy was devastated with grief and guilt, not to mention terrified of experiencing Deryni magic so directly, yet he was in control enough to act on reason rather than emotion. He had greater potential and better mettle than his father, though only Christ and St. Camber knew where he had gotten it. Perhaps when Dhugal was done grieving, he could see the lad safely into his birthright. Until then, it was best to keep him in Rhemuth where he could learn a few things about good lordship.

“Just take a deep breath,” Kelson commanded, reaching out to take necessary control of the boy, then extending into the pattern of the portal beneath him. Memory instinctively offered the signature of Rhemuth Castle’s library portal, and he flexed his powers to match the energies in between.


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