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Edmund's First Deryni Encounter



By: Susan -- Mistress of Complications
Posted: Tuesday, October 05, 1999


The November wind whipped ten-year-old Edmund Loris' hair and cloak as his horse galloped down the snow-covered path. A glance at his father's drawn features revealed his concerns about chasing this particular outlaw. But the man in question had stolen food from Lord Baldric and must be brought to justice.

"Is he really Deryni?"

Edmund wondered if he really wanted to hear his father's answer.

"We fear so," Alvyn Loris replied. A shadow crossed his gaunt features.

"Can they corrupt our souls?" Edmund asked.

His father shrugged.

"That I can't say. But I'm prepared to fight him, if necessary."


Edmund knew many Deryni had been burned at the stake but he didn't know how they had been captured.

A cold smile fluttered across Alvyn's thin lips.

"I've dipped my blade in a special potion, known to harm Deryni--"

He broke off and pointed toward the bushes.

At first Edmund saw nothing but rustling branches and suspected that an animal had brushed against them. But then he noticed the footprint in the snow. His father dismounted and headed up the steep trail, leaving his horse. After a moment, Edmund followed, picking his way carefully up the rocky path.

"Stay back!" His father hissed, but Edmund pushed forward. They climbed steadily, then paused as the path turned abruptly. Edmund stumbled and clutched a tree trunk to avoid falling over the precipice. His misstep proved fortuitous however, for he saw the small group camped in the valley below.

"There." Edmund pointed. His father eased his long frame closer and peered down.

"Stay here." Alvyn backtracked a bit, found a slightly less steep side of the cliff and lowered himself over the edge, using rocks and trees to help him descend the steep incline. Edmund watched but followed his father's orders.

His father tiptoed across the snow, staying in the shadow of the pine trees until he neared the small camp. A boy, perhaps a year or so younger than Edmund, suddenly appeared from the opposite direction, carrying sticks. He shivered and Edmund noticed that his thin, tattered cloak provided little protection from the cold wind. He felt a sudden stab of pity for the boy, although he wondered if Deryni children deserved pity. After all, the priests called them the devil's spawn. Yet the boy looked like almost any boy with whom Edmund might play or attend school, though his clothes were far more shabby than those worn by any of Edmund's acquaintances.

His father moved forward and grabbed the boy. The boy screamed and squirmed, struggling to escape. He kicked Alvyn hard in the stomach and started to run, but Alvyn's dagger hurtled through the air toward him. The boy stumbled and the dagger entered his thigh. He twitched and squirmed as he fell forward. Blood stained the snow crimson.

Edmund gasped, for he had not expected his father to attack the child. He was so stunned by this turn of events that he failed to notice the woman who entered the clearing until he saw the surge of blue fire and saw his father tumble into the snow.

"My son did not hurt you… Why attack a mere boy?" The woman approached the inert form of Alvyn Loris.

"Der...Deryni thief!" Alvyn spat.

"He stole food because we were starving. Men like you burned my husband two weeks ago. I'd have done the deed myself, but I only just gave birth. Would you really have a baby starve to death simply because it happens to have Deryni parents?"

"Spawn of Satan!" Alvyn's face contorted in agony.

Terrified, Edmund hurled himself down the cliff and raced to his father's side.

"What have you done to him?" He demanded, staring at the Deryni woman.

She shook her head sorrowfully. "What has he done to my son?"

Startled, Edmund turned to look at the boy, who had vomited in the snow. "I -- I don't know. A drug on the blade..."

The woman nodded. "Neither know nor care, do you?" She moved to her son and gathered the injured child in her arms. "Please God, not a fatal poison."

"But what about my father?" Edmund found the woman's prayers shocking.

The woman sighed. "I only meant to protect my son. Alas, he fought me...."

"Edmund...Edmund..." Alvyn's voice sounded weak.

"Father? How badly are you hurt? What can I do for you?" Edmund knelt and searched for visible wounds, but found nothing.

Alvyn laid a trembling hand on Edmund's wrist. "Take care of your mother...and…" A spasm of pain wracked his body and he convulsed for a moment, then lay still.

"Father?" Edmund ran a hand over his father's cold forehead. "Father? Oh, Father." He blinked back the sudden, hot tears and swallowed hard.

After a moment, grief turned to anger. Flicking his dagger from its sheath at his wrist, Edmund looked around, intending to bring his father's murderers to justice. But they had disappeared and he sat alone in the snowy clearing and rapidly falling dusk.



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