The Queen of Meara
Chapter 46 - Part 1
had been busy at the site, for the nave was clear of snow, grass and
weeds, cleaned to the original granite floor, which was laid out in
large squares and rectangles bordered in green marble. “This must have
been quite a little church at one time,” Cardiel commented. Kelson
agreed, looking around him at the partially dismantled walls, which once
would have been richly painted. The hole that tripped Ailín had been
enlarged, but the masons had sent word that it was merely a small,
featureless chamber with a door that had long been bricked over. Kelson
had not wanted the door broken through until Deryni examination had
assured him that there was nothing important to damage on the other
side. That left the altar as the focus for the day.
Thomas,” Mairona called. “Have you ever seen an altar like that?”
She gestured to the alternating black and white cubes of stone in the
Cardiel admitted. “Duncan?”
almost looks like stacked ward cubes,” the Deryni bishop commented.
is what I thought,” Mairona confirmed as she started walking toward
the curious structure.
bottom half is clipped,” Kelson observed as he followed, curiosity
whole thing is too short, like it has sunk,” Mairona confirmed,
pausing at the edge of the dais. With a little sigh, she bent and swept
her right hand across its top. It still hummed. Kelson reached her side
and did likewise, raising his eyebrows when he felt the power captured
in the stone.
he breathed. “Rothana, do the Servants have anything like this?”
the princess shook her head as she came up with the rest of the party.
“We have lost much knowledge, Sire, and there is no telling if this
were a construct of the Servants of old.”
Kelson swallowed his disappointment. “Shall we see what can be
more like,” Mairona commented as Kelson drew her to the northern side
of the cubic altar. Duncan took the east, Rothana fell into place for
the west, and Dhugal took the south.
the border duke called, holding his hand out to his wife. “Will you
try your wings with us?”
she smiled, showing only a small hint of her first encounter’s fear as
she trustingly placed her hand in his to fill out the southern quarter.
leaves you, Thomas,” Duncan called to his human archbishop. “Would
you like me to bring you along for the ride?”
should I do?” Cardiel asked, approaching the nearly complete ring
around the altar. He had long ago learned there was nothing to fear when
the king and his inner circle exercised their skills.
beside me and let me take your hand. Kelson will take the other.”
did as was asked of him, and returned Kelson’s brief reassuring smile
as the king clasped his fingers. The ring of hands closed round the
altar and the Deryni closed their eyes. Cardiel did likewise, following
their lead. “Relax, Thomas,” Duncan instructed. “When we are
joined I will bring you in our link.”
calmly, Kelson fell into easy rapport with Mairona, smiling softly as
her presence filled him. Across from the royal pair, Dhugal encouraged
Ailín to join her mind with his, which she did, letting herself enjoy
his psychic touch without the previous taint of threatened panic.
Mairona reached out for Rothana, who hesitated only a little before
accepting invitation into the growing link. Dhugal joined with his
father as Rothana connected with the less experienced Ailín, bringing
all the Deryni together.
it is your turn, Thomas,” Duncan said aloud. “Just breathe deeply,
and relax. You have done this before.” The archbishop nodded, though
no one could see, and did as instructed. There was the expected rush as
Duncan swooped in, lending Cardiel his own psychic sight. Once Duncan
confirmed that he had the archbishop, everyone brought their linked
hands over the altar and settled them lightly on its top.
sang to them, radiating peace and tranquility. Cunctipotens genitor
Deus omnicreator eleyson. Almighty Father, God, Creator of all, have
pietas tua nos bone rector eleyson. That
Your compassion may save us, good Master, have mercy.
can hear it,” Cardiel breathed in wonder. “’Tis a form of the
humanis factor lapsis reparator eleyson.
Creator of humankind, Healer of those who fall, have mercy.
was the echoing plea of an extinct Deryni community, run underground by
deadly persecution. Here, at Druimkyriel, they had found safety for some
short time, perhaps led by St. Camber’s great-granddaughter, who had
married into the Dugains of Druimfada.
tua dampnatur Jesu factura benigne eleyson. So Thy creation is not
damned, kind Jesus, have mercy.
and Mairona shuddered, and could feel Duncan doing the same at the
heartfelt prayer of those risking death, unwilling to save themselves by
renouncing what they were so their gifts and knowledge would not be
fomes vite fons purificans vis eleyson.
Advancing flame, fountain of life, purifying power, have mercy.
Gracious Spirit, have mercy.
thought she could feel the breath of passage behind her, and opened her
eyes. “Dear Mother of God!” she breathed aloud, bidding the others
to see what she did.
Cardiel!” Duncan called when the archbishop’s eyelids fluttered.
“Keep yours closed and I will show you.”
blue winter sky was gone, shut out by heavy mountain timber supported on
complete walls. The church was lovingly painted in jewel-like colors,
stars set in a midnight sky on the upper walls, designs of God’s
creation winding around murals representing Deryni ritual on the bottom.
Night’s starts twinkled outside the unglazed but complete windows, and
moonbeams shone from the south. The nave was ablaze in colored light
emanating from the auras and handfire of this wholly Deryni community,
celebrating Mass in the shelter of their remote mountain sanctuary.
Three priests were chanting the Kyrie, and the middle one arranged a set
of ward cubes on top of the altar as it came to a close. He activated
each one with a touch of his finger, Prime to Octave, as all trained
Deryni children learned. The next part was different, as he swapped the
positions of several pairs as they had never seen before. Before the
priest could complete this new permutation of ward cubes, the vision
flickered and started to fade, brightening once again to daylight
streaming through an open roof, walls falling to ruin, but a hint of
est Deus, primus in aeternitate.
scrying wards!” Kelson exclaimed to Mairona as the link dissolved.
“That was the invocation you used!”
Mairona breathed. “Old Halek was on to something, but what?”
bad we do not have ward cubes,” Ailín added, having seen the scrying
wards herself. Duncan, Cardiel, Dhugal and Rothana just looked back and
forth in puzzlement, having no knowledge of what the three discussed.
Mairona raised an eyebrow, reaching into the neck of her gown to pull a
cord from around her neck, lifting it over her head. A small, blue
velvet pouch hung on its end, catching on the chain holding her cloak
about her shoulders. She worked it free and dumped its contents on the
thought these might come in handy after seeing the altar before,” she
grinned, corralling the tumbled black and white stones in a neat group.
“Duncan, if I show you how to raise my scrying wards, would you like
to give it a try?”
what a try?” he returned, looking at her as if she were an overly
precocious child. “I do not know what I would be doing, so how could I
altar has trapped memories of the proper working,” Mairona argued.
“You can try to tap into its knowledge.”
do not feel comfortable doing this,” Duncan shook his head. “I am
not fully trained as it is.”
I cannot do it. I am not a priest,” Mairona countered.
leaned forward, placing his hands on the smooth stone to interject
himself between the two. “What do you hope to find?” he asked the
Mairona replied immediately, as if it were self-evident. “Learning.
Clues. Hints of St. Camber. Whatever there is to find.”
she shook her head. “God has already gifted the power he intends for
me, and it is considerable. I have no need for more.”
then, Mairona,” Cardiel continued. “If there were any priest with
this knowledge, I would agree with you. However, knowing how knowledge
combats ignorant fear and hatred, I would say it is more important to
discover and preserve learning than adhere blindly to tradition. Since
this altar is technically no longer sanctified, you may try if you
can it no longer be sanctified after what we have seen and heard?” she
said technically, my lady,” Cardiel answered. “I do not believe our
Lord would wish us to remain in ignorance simply because there is not an
educated priest to be had.”
well, then,” she conceded, admiring the human archbishop as she began
to see how he had led the Church to not only stop persecuting Deryni,
but surreptitiously start to welcome them into its ranks. His beliefs
were not led by presupposition or literal interpretation of law and
tradition, but by what he saw as God’s greater love and the needs of
His flock. She moved around to the western side of the altar to face
east, as a priest would do. Rothana stepped out of her way as Kelson
looked at her nervously.
you certain you want to do this?” he asked.
she said firmly, setting her eyes in determination. “The power here is
benign, meant for celebration and worship. It will not harm me.” Her
hands scooped the ward cubes closer and neatly arranged them in their
starting pattern, white cubes joined in a square at the middle, black
ones set diagonally at the corners. She used the motion as a focus to
settle into trance. “The priest had two others assisting. I do not
know if it is necessary, but Kel, will you link with me?”
He came around to her left side, placing a hand on her shoulder to open
their bond. She sighed as he offered loving strength.
else?” Mairona called, sweeping glassy eyes around her husband’s
will,” Rothana offered. “If we are to work in partnership, there is
no sense in delay.” She stepped up again, placing her hand on
Mairona’s right shoulder. Her own support was less intense than
Kelson’s Haldane potential mixed with Deryni blood, but it was nearly
you,” Mairona said, bringing a finger to rest on the upper left white
cube. “Prime,” she intoned, and the opal came to life with
fiery brilliance. “Seconde,” she continued, then finished the
white center of her pattern. “Tierce. Quarte.” Her focus
shifted slightly as she turned to the black cubes, again starting in the
upper left corner. “Quinte. Sixte. Septime. Octave.” They
glimmered a silvery black as Mairona sank deep into her memory of the
vision, trying to touch how the priest had performed this next part. She
rested her two hands on each of the upper left cubes, one white and one
black. “Prime et Quinte inversus,” she intoned, switching
positions of the two. Next was the diagonally opposing corner. “Quarte
et Octave inversus.”
Now the two outer cubes on the left side. “Prime et Septime
inversus.” Finally, the rightmost outer cubes. “Sixte et
she was uncertain how exactly to continue. The cubes were arranged to
stack white on white, black on black, polarizing their energies. She had
always been taught to balance them by joining white and black to form
the four quarters of the wards. St. Camber, lend me your guidance,
she breathed as she pressed the palms of her hands against the altar’s
once-polished stone, looking for direction. None came consciously, but
there was a niggling hint that this was not right. She did not know what
that priest from so long ago was trying to do with this configuration,
but the current arrangement of cubes would create two pillars of white
and two black. That did not match the design of the altar’s
construction, which alternated each color. Hadn’t Halek always
lectured about the importance of balance?
Brows furrowed, Mairona ignored Kelson’s growing uneasiness for her safety as she undid the last two position swaps.
“Quartus et Sixte inversus. Septime et Prime inversus.”
that was better. Now, to build the altar matrix—
Lord Christ, forgive me for what I attempt, for I am not a priest.
She picked up Prime, which now lay in the uppermost left outside corner, and rested it on Quinte.
“Primus est Deus, Primus in Aeternitate. Amen,” she intoned in a strange sing-song chant, imitating the melody whispered to them as the vision had faded. The two cubes fused, but didn’t mingle into the silvery oblong used to erect wards. Curiously, they retained their separate black and white color. On to the next pair, Sixte on Seconde, black on white. “Secundus est Filius, Coaeternus cum Patre. Amen.” Now, Septime on Terce. “Tertius est Trinitas: Pater, Filius, et Spiritus Sanctus. Amen.” Finally, the white Quarte on black Octave. “Quattuor archangeli custodes quadrantibus sunt.” This was where her invocation of scrying wards had ended, but the long-ago priest’s chant whispered a continuation to her as she called on the altar’s memory. “Quattuor quadrant coram Domino uno. Amen.” Four archangels guard the quarters. The four quarters stand in the sight of the One God. Preparations were over, time to discover the actual working.
St. Camber, guide me so that I may discover, learn, and pass this on to the Holy Church.
Story also located at the Author's website - Brenwell Manor
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