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The Path To Redemption?


Part 1


By: Donald Lantzke

Posted: Friday, October 01, 1999



October in the Year of 1121 was slowly creeping towards an end and winter was commencing its inexorable advance over Gwynedd. Edmund Loris had now been in captivity for almost four months. Despite the fact that it was referred to as an honourable confinement, he was restricted to his quarters in the Archbishop's Palace at Valoret. He was permitted to continue practicing as a priest, but was only allowed limited contact with his friends and supporters. On the few ocassions he did leave his apartments he was always accompanied by two silent guards, who no doubt reported on his movements and words to his captors. 

As the months of his confinement progressed he watched as his supporters had slowly melted away, cowered into submission by the force of the rebel bishops and the king. Now there remained only three men left who were true to Loris and two of them were deathly ill. Soon Loris knew he would face his captors in a showcase trial, alone. He held no doubts that the punishment that would be meted out to him by the Ecclesiastical Tribunal would be doubly harsh because his loyal friends would no longer be there and he was the last remaining symbol of defiance. 

Not for the first time, Loris considered the chain of events that had led him to here: Could he have handled things differently? Should he have done things differently? He really didn't know. All he could do was pray for guidance.

Thomas Cardiel, acting Archbishop of Valoret, slowly raised his hand to knock at the door, but, pondering the lateness of the hour he lowered it again. Indecision marked his face and then moments later, having reached a decision, he again raised his hand and began to knock on the doors to Denis Arilan's apartment. The door opened almost immediately as if the occupant within was simply waiting for his knock. Just inside the door was Denis Arilan gazing mildly at his visitor. Despite the hour, he seemed unpeturbed by Cardiel's presence,

"Thomas, what brings you banging on my door at this time of the night?"

"Denis? It's Corrigan, it's his heart, he's - he's dying!"

"Well," replied Arilan the corners of his mouth curving up slightly, "that's going to be one less problem for the Ecclestiastical Tribunal to worry about!"

"Denis!" came Cardiel's shocked reply, "He's refusing the last rites and sacraments from any of us!"

"Ahh!" mused Arilan, "and let me guess, he wants Loris?"

"Yes! He wouldn't respond to me or Wolfram and Morris is too sick!"

"I wonder if Bradene..." Arilan paused briefly, "but he hasn't arrived at the Curia yet has he?"

"No, he's due to arrive from Rhemuth tomorrow with the King"

Arilan thought for a minute and then said, "I have been Corrigan's auxiliary for several years, maybe I can convince him that I am acceptable"

"Denis? You're not going to ..." Cardiel trailed off, "you're not going to ... you know?"

"What? Use my powers on him?" Arilan wiggled his fingers dramatically as he spoke, "Even if I desired it, I doubt that there is anything that my magic could do to aid Corrigan now". He smiled at Cardiel, "I meant, maybe he will find me to be an acceptable priest. After all we don't really want to bring Loris into this unless we absolutely have to."

Patrick Corrigan's face was an ashen grey, his once solid frame, drenched in sweat, had transformed into a skeletal frame, ravaged by the effects of his lengthy illness. Periodically his body shuddered with excruciating pain but he did not make any noises. He became aware of two faces gazing down upon him but he could not focus on them, "Edmund my friend is that you?" he ventured. The two faces slowly came into focus, but to Corrigan's disappointment the faces belonged to Thomas Cardiel and Denis Arilan. Standing some distance behind them was Bishop Wolfram de Blanet.

"Corrigan, can you hear me?" came Arilan's voice, "it's Denis Arilan here. Will you take the last rites and sacrements? We would not have you go before Our Lord unshriven"

"I've already told Cardiel that I want Archbishop Loris not some upstart traitor bishop!"

"Loris is unavailable, Corrigan, he is under confinement by order of the King" replied Arilan.

"I want to speak to Loris one more time!" gasped Corrigan, "Please Arilan! Let my friend do this last deed for me!"

Corrigan began shaking uncontrollably in spasms of pain.

"Will you accept the last rites and sacraments?" said Arilan pointedly ignoring Corrigan's request.

"Denis?" came Cardiel's worried voice, "maybe we should get Loris, he can't do any harm and we would be failing in our duty if we didn't give a dying man an opportunity to confess his sins and prepare his way into the next realm"

"Thomas, we have given him an opportunity - and he's refused three perfectly good bishops"

"But Denis, he will die unshriven if we don't let Loris see him. He has asked for a specific priest and we should provide him"

"Loris isn't a priest, or at least he won't be after his trial" replied Arilan, "in fact, he'll be lucky if he keeps his head!"

"Loathsome as he is, Loris is still a priest and Corrigan has asked for him. Denis, I know that this is the right thing to do. For the sake of his immortal soul, let us send for Loris, so that he can do what Corrigan will not let us do"

Wolfram spoke for the first time, "He's right Arilan, Loris is probably Corrigan's only friend and it can't hurt anyone for the last special rites to be done by Loris"

Slowly Arilan nodded his head, "Very well, but I don't think he really deserves it!" When Wolfram looked like interupting he continued on, "But right or wrong, let us go and collect Loris"

Wolfram bent down towards Corrigan, "Patrick?" he said, "They're going to get Loris for you, alright?"

"Thank you Bishop Wolfram but please tell them to hurry" came Corrigan's unsteady response.

As the two bishops left Corrigan's chambers Cardiel said to Arilan, "Why were you so harsh in there Denis?" but Arilan did not seem to hear him or did not deign to answer. They continued up the passageway in silence when Arilan abruptly said, "For many reasons, Thomas"


"Thomas, when he was archbishop he refused to provide the last sacraments to one of my people, saying that it was a waste as he was already damned anyway. He also refused to allow another priest who was willing to undertake the last rites to do so"

"But Denis, two wrongs do not make a right - you cannot undo the past and whatever mistakes and wrongs Corrigan has done, he will have to account to a higher authority"

"NO! You do not understand - he condemned a good man by his actions! And the other priest was ME! If I had been stronger in my convictions, I would have defied him!! But I was a newly raised Bishop and unsure of my standing. I also had a greater long-term responsibility to my people, I could not risk exposing myself so soon in my tenure as Bishop, but I cannot forgive him for his actions!! He ..."

"Denis!" interjected Cardiel, "you are a Bishop - you have a responsibility and obligation to minister to all souls, human and deryni, especially those souls in need of comfort and salvation - if we need to use Loris then we must. Besides, as irritating as Loris is, he is a priest like us and must have had some redeeming attributes since he was elected Archbishop of Valoret and Primate of All Gwynedd"

"Only because he was a protege of de Nore!" snorted Arilan.

"And I was a protege of Hudroid du Mollard and you experienced Royal favour in your rise to the Bishop's mitre! He still had to get elected by a majority of the synod and he was a far better choice than that frothing fanatic Alexander!"

"That's true but I am worried that we will be giving Loris a degree of legitimacy if we allow him to minister the last rites to Corrigan. His supporters will emphasise that it was Archbishop Loris who ministered to Archbishop Corrigan on his deathbed, while we stood by and did nothing"

They arrived at the doors to Loris' apartments, two guards standing silently at attention. They bowed when they realised the two men approaching were Cardiel and Arilan.

"Your Excellencies?"

"Open the doors" commanded Arilan.

One of the guards gave a stattaco rap at the door before he produced a key and unlocked the door. As he opened the door he said "Do you wish to be announced, Your Excellency?"

"That won't be necessary" replied Arilan.

Cardiel and Arilan entered the chambers and were surprised to find that it was still well lit. They could see Loris in his private sacristy kneeling in prayer. It did not look as though he had been sleeping as he was fully dressed.

"Now we wait" murmured Arilan, "although I do not think we will have to wait for long"

He was proved right in his judgement because shortly afterwards Loris rose up from his knees and appraised the two men with a steely glare. As he walked towards them he extended his hand towards them, his amethyst ring twinkling in the light. When it was evident that neither man would move forward to kiss the ring, Loris drew back his hand and sighed.

"I had hoped that my two young errant bishops had decided to come back to the fold and seek my forgiveness but I see your stance has not changed a whit. A pity!"

The expression on Loris' face akin to that of an indulgent father and then abruptly hardened, "So what brings you to my chambers then?"

Arilan was already heading for the door, "Come with us now, please" he said.

Loris chuckled in response, "I see! My trial is all set to begin then or perhaps you wish to lead me to my executioners, and at such an early hour too!"

Cardiel moved towards Loris, touching him on the shoulder, "It's Corrigan, he wants to see you..."

"And you gentlemen are willing to oblige him, how kind of..."

Loris suddenly broke off his banter and seemed to stumble as the realization hit him, "His heart! Quickly take me to him!!"

They made their way at a quicker pace towards Corrigan's chambers arriving in time to hear Wolfram de Blanet concluding the Office for the Dead.

"May he rest in Peace, Amen"

Loris swept into the chambers and knelt beside Corrigan's body taking his still warm hand in his own. Corrigan seemed to be gazing serenely at some abstract figure only he could see and his expression seemed to be tinged with slight sadness.

"Patrick, my friend, what have they done to you?" murmured Loris.

"He slipped away just a few minutes ago" explained Wolfram, "He was adamant that he would last until you arrived but his heart just gave up the struggle"

But Loris did not seem to hear Wolfram because he was caught up in a whirlpool of conflicting thoughts and emotions. Patrick my friend, may you rest in peace. Why did they not send for me sooner? Of them all only you remained true to me. Do they hate me so much that they would not allow me to comfort a dying friend? Now I am truly alone against those who would persecute me. What then will my fate be? Lord, grant me the strength to continue on the path of righteouness...

~ End Part 1 ~ 

Story as yet unfinished.


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