03 - Michaelmas Mystery - Summer 2002 Deryni Challenge
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A Michaelmas Mystery



Deryni Summer Challenge 2002 Entry

By: Melissa Houle


Part 1


  Is that accursed blacksmith going to be hammering all night? Ibrahim ibn Majid wondered. He looked down from the stable loft, and saw the blacksmith was now at work on a glossy black palfrey, replacing the light bay gelding he’d been shoeing moments before. For Ibrahim’s purposes, the blacksmith’s forge could not be more inconveniently located. There was simply no way he could get down the hayloft ladder and away across the yard unseen, for all his training at stealth and secrecy.

Ibrahim inched backward, then soundlessly returned to the dark corner of the loft where he’d hidden all afternoon.

I must get away from here!, he thought, struggling to master his impatience and his fear. Now that I have what I came for and they will be waiting for me.

With the most difficult part of his task done, He should be down at the cathedral already to use the transfer portal there. However, he knew it was almost the hour of Vespers now and the cathedral would be full for at least another hour, especially with the Archbishop himself performing the Office tonight. Of course, it was easy to be anonymous in a crowd, but he’d have no chance to get into the sacristy unseen until long after the service was over.

It is nearly the hour of prayer for me too, Ibrahim thought. I have lived among Christians for far too long.

He glanced around and saw a tiny window far down at the opposite end of the stable loft, glowing red with the light of the sunset. He turned his back to it, spread his cloak before him and knelt to face the East. In his mind he heard the muezzin calling the Faithful to prayer and repeated the well-known prayers in his own mind. His religious duty completed, he returned to his dark corner, listening to the steady clink-clink of the blacksmith’s hammer as he shaped a new horseshoe. Despite his longing to be away from Rhemuth before dawn, he could not afford to jeopardize his mission through haste or carelessness now. Since he had no choice, there were advantages to leaving the castle at night, anyway. . In the dark, one armored man in mail and a surcoat looked and sounded very like another, and there were plenty of foreigners in Rhemuth, these days. But his orders had been very precise. He was to pass as near unseen and inconspicuous as a man could. It was vital that he should be unmemorable, leaving no lasting impression in anyone’s mind. He could use magic if necessary to make sure he was forgotten, but it was far better that he should see and be seen by as few people as possible. Better that he should take a little extra time and return a day later than planned than that he should make himself at all conspicuous.

He had lived with the Anvillers for nearly two years now, outwardly partaking of the Christian Rites of the Order. He flattered himself that he had dissembled rather well. It was also useful to have a working knowledge of the outer forms of Christian worship in order to be able to blend in with a crowd here in the Christian West. Tonight was the vigil of Michaelmas. If he couldn’t leave safely tonight, all was not yet lost. His opportunity for escape would surely come tomorrow, with all the great bustle of coming and going on a major feast day on the Christian calendar. Ibrahim had managed to pinch a scarlet surcoat to make him look like one of the Rhemuth household guards.

Kelson of Gwynedd and that bleached bride of his would no doubt be attending Mass at the Cathedral at noon tomorrow, causing a great deal of turmoil in the stables as the horses for their party and for all the nobility of Gwynedd were made ready for the ride down to the cathedral. Easiest thing in the world to lose himself in that crowd and escape this benighted city.




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