Saint camber, p.1
Saint Camber, p.1Katherine Kurtz
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Also by Katherine Kurtz
The Deryni Novels
The Chronicles of the Deryni
The Legends of Camber of Culdi
Camber of Culdi
Camber the Heretic
The Histories of King Kelson
The Bishop’s Heir
The King’s Justice
The Quest for Saint Camber
The Heirs of Saint Camber
The Harrowing of Gwynedd
King Javan’s Year
The Bastard Prince
The Childe Morgan Trilogy
In the King’s Service
The King’s Deryni
King Kelson’s Bride
The Legends of Camber of Culdi, Volume Two
This one is for
JOHN H. KNOBLOCK
who started me on my intellectual love affair
with the medieval world and its church,
and for all the other men and women
of whatever faith
who helped to turn that cerebral fascination
into an affair of the heart,
whether or not they were aware of it.
In our own ways, we all feed our sheep.
Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.
I By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone.
II But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them.
—II Timothy 3:14
III For death is come up into our windows, and is entered into our palaces.
IV For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
—I Peter 3:17
V Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?
VI I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.
—II Timothy 4:7
VII And them shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name.
VIII Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep.
IX As a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
—I Corinthians 3:10
X The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him.
XI Grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, by stretching forth thine hand to heal.
XII I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
—I Corinthians 9:22
XIII For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order.
XIV I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.
XV I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people.
XVI For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins.
XVII Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you.
—I Peter 1:13
XVIII Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints.
XIX Order ye the buckler and shield, and draw near to battle. Harness the horses; and get up, ye horsemen, and stand forth with your helmets; furbish the spears, and put on the brigandines.
XX And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves.
—II Timothy 2:24–25
XXI And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
XXII For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.
XXIII I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.
XXIV For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness: nor of men sought we glory.
—I Thessalonians 2:5–6
XXV How is he numbered among the children of God, and his lot is among the saints!
—Wisdom of Solomon 5:5
Preview: Camber the Heretic
Appendix I: Index of Characters
Appendix II: Index to Places
About the Author
Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.
It was the spring of 905, half a year since the crowning of Cinhil Haldane at Valoret; half a year since the last Deryni king, Imre of Festil, had been deposed and defeated by Cinhil’s new-won magic; since Imre’s sister Ariella, heavy with his child, had fled the halls of Valoret to seek sanctuary with the hosts of Torenth to the east.
The Deryni Lord Camber MacRorie had been the hero of that day—Camber and his children: Joram and Evaine and Rhys—and Alister Cullen, proud Vicar General of the Order of Saint Michael, which had made the physical fact of the Restoration possible.
Now the Haldane throne was steadying, Cinhil’s queen safely delivered of twin sons to replace the one murdered by Imre’s agent before Cinhil’s emergence. King Cinhil, though reluctant still to set aside his former monkish life, was perhaps beginning to understand his role as monarch.
But Camber was ill at ease, for he knew that the last Festillic chapter had yet to be written, nor would it be written so long as Ariella lived, and Imre’s bastard with her. All the winter long, there had been no word out of Torenth, though all knew that to be her place of refuge. She was biding her time. The child would have been born by now. Soon, soon, she would make her move. Perhaps she was beginning, already.
And in a high solar room of a castle called Cardosa, remote in the mountains between Torenth and free Eastmarch, the woman in question stood before a tabled map of the Eleven Kingdoms and plotted her revenge. A babe suckled at her breast, but she paid him no mind as she stared at the map and sprinkled water from her fingertips onto the lands of Gwynedd, the while muttering words beneath her breath, her mind locked on one ill-willed purpose.
Each day for a week she had worked her magic now; soon she would see its fruition. Her army was gathering, even as the spring rains washed the mountain passes clear of snow and bogged the plains her enemy must cross to try to stop her. Soon, soon, she would make her move. Then the upstart Haldane priest would wear the Gwynedd crown no more.
By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bon
Rain was falling steadily in the city of Valoret. It had been falling for the past four days, unseasonable for June. Outside the precincts of the royal keep, the cobblestone streets ran with mud and flood-borne refuse. Standing pools of rain and mud rose higher with each hour, threatening and sometimes inundating the doorsills of shops and houses.
Inside the keep, it was spirits which were dampened instead of mere physical surrounds. Chill, moisture-laden air rose foully from the middens through walls and garderobe shafts to rot the rushes underfoot in the great hall and waft among the rafters. Though fires blazed on three enormous hearths, their heat could not warm the icy apprehensions of the handful of lords assembled there.
No formal summons had gathered them. King Cinhil had been avoiding structured councils of late, much to the dismay of his would-be advisors. The men who now sat around a table before one of the side fireplaces were the same who had placed Cinhil on the throne six months before—men who now feared for the king they had made—feared for all whose safety and well-being they had thought to ensure by ousting a Deryni tyrant and restoring a prince of the old, human line to Gwynedd’s throne.
They were an odd assortment—all, save one, of the same race of sorcerer-magicians whose scion had lately ruled Gwynedd:
Rhys Thuryn, the young Deryni Healer, bending his shaggy red head to study a map whose strategies he did not really understand.
Jebediah of Alcara, Deryni Grand Master of the militant Knights of Saint Michael and acting commander in chief of King Cinhil’s army—if the king could be persuaded to use that army to proper advantage.
Alister Cullen, the graying, ice-eyed Vicar General of the Michaeline Order, and Jebediah’s technical superior, also Deryni, leaning with hands clasped behind his head to study a cobweb high in the beams above him—though the seeming casual posture concealed a tension shared by all of them.
Guaire of Arliss, young and earnest, and sole human member of the group. Heir in his own right to a considerable fortune, he was one of the few men of the last regime to retain a position in the court being formed under the new king.
And of course, Camber MacRorie, Earl of Culdi—chiefest Deryni of them all.
Camber had aged but little in the months since the Haldane Restoration, neither appearance nor manner betraying his nearly threescore years. The silver-gilt hair still gleamed bright in the light of torch and fire, and the clear gray eyes showed only a few new wrinkles at the corners. In all, he was as fit as he had been in the last decade—hardened and refined, if anything, by the privations and adversities all of them had endured since making their decision to replace the anointed king of Gwynedd.
But Camber, kingmaker that he was, was no more at ease than the rest of his colleagues. Though he had not wished to alarm them, Deryni or human, he suspected that the rain which fell so unceasingly outside was more than ordinary rain—that the enemy who had eluded them last year at the moment of triumph plotted still more grave offenses from afar; that the coming encounter on the field of battle, no longer to be postponed by winter snows and the enemy’s indisposition, might be fraught with far greater dangers than steel and spear and arrow. The rain could be but a warning token.
He had confided his suspicions about the weather to the gentle Dom Emrys, Abbot of the Gabrilites—one man who might know for certain whether such things were possible, even for Deryni. The Order of Saint Gabriel was renowned and respected, even among humans, for the purity of its discipline, for its preservation of ancient wisdom and teaching of the healing arts.
But even Dom Emrys, that pale paragon of Deryni calm and sagacity, had only been able to suggest a way by which Camber himself might explore the question further—and that way was not without its dangers. Camber was familiar with the procedure at which Emrys hinted, but he had not yet brought himself to use it. He wished there were some less-hazardous method of investigation.
A movement at the table caught his eye, and Camber tuned back in on the conversation which had been continuing around him. Jebediah had been leading a discussion of their military preparedness, and was cursing the weather anew as he pushed troop markers around on the map. His scarred fingers were surprisingly agile on the delicate markers.
“No, even if Jowerth and Torcuill do manage to get through, I don’t see how we can field more than five to six hundred knights,” he said, replying to a question Rhys had raised. “That includes all the royal levies, the Michaelines, and few dozen more from the other military orders. Perhaps twice that many mounted men-at-arms. For foot and archers, say, five hundred and two hundred, respectively. We’d have more, but most of the main roads are flooded out. Many of the men we could ordinarily count on won’t be able to reach us in time to do any good.”
Rhys nodded as though he actually understood the significance of the numbers, and Guaire studied his clasped hands, understanding all too well.
Camber reached out to shift the map board to a better angle.
“What’s our most accurate estimate of Ariella’s strength, Jeb?”
“About half again what we’ve committed, so far as we can tell. Her mother was related to the royal house of Torenth, you know. She’s drawing heavily on those ties. Also, it apparently isn’t raining east of the Lendours.”
“Which means,” Guaire began tentatively, “that if we could get our men together and get through those mountains—”
“We could meet Ariella somewhere in Eastmarch.” Jebediah nodded. “However, getting the men there is the key problem.”
Guaire toyed with one of the extra map markers. “What about one of your Deryni Transfer Portals? Might that be a way to get some of our extra men there?”
Alister Cullen, the Michaeline vicar general, shook his steel-gray head. “We daren’t use magic that openly, Guaire. Cinhil has made his feelings all too clear on that subject, of late. Besides, the men we need most are the foot soldiers from the outlying regions—humans, almost to the man. After just escaping the yoke of a Deryni tyrant, I doubt they’d willingly cooperate with any Deryni working, no matter how benign.”
“You make it sound, well, ominous,” Guaire murmured, “as if there were something sinister about your Deryni powers.”
His expression was very serious as he spoke, until he realized the irony of those words coming from his human lips and became aware of how far he, himself, had come in his estimation of the Deryni. Faint amusement registered in the eyes of the men around him, not unkindly, and Guaire colored a little in embarrassment.
Camber chuckled sympathetically.
“It’s all right, Guaire. That’s how many humans view our powers. And between the humans who distrust us because we’re Deryni and the Deryni who distrust us because we deposed a Deryni king in favor of a human one, I suppose we’re lucky to have the support we do.”
“And if Cinhil doesn’t unbend a little,” Cullen snorted, “the two peoples are going to be driven even further apart. One wrong word from him could lose us half our army between dawn and dusk.”
Rhys, who had been listening without comment, leaned forward and prodded the map.
“So, what can be done about it? And what about the more immediate crisis? Do we even know for certain where Ariella will launch her attack?”
Jebediah nodded thoughtfully. “Alister and I have come up with three likely locations, Rhys, two of them fairly close together. If Sighere sides with us and brings his Eastmarch levies to join us, we can eliminate one of the three.”
He bent over the map and began moving markers again, and Camber permitted his attention to wander to the dancing fire, slipping back into his own private reverie.
Cullen’s comment about Cinhil had struck a sobering chord. Cinhil’s growing rigidity was becoming a major problem, and Camber himself was having to bear more and more of the king’s resultant uneasiness.
Cinhil, immature in many ways, despite his forty-plus years, had waxed philosophical in the months since his coronation, incr
Cinhil saw the infants’ condition as a sure sign of divine wrath, the withering hand of God smiting that which should have been most dear, because Cinhil had deserted God’s priesthood.
And who was to blame, in Cinhil’s skewed perspective, shaped until a year ago within the walls of an abbey? Why, Camber, of course. Was it not the powerful Deryni earl who had induced Cinhil to forsake his vows and take the throne? What more natural than that Cinhil’s resentment should fester even now within his breast? Weighed against God’s anger, of what possible importance was a token loyalty to the Earl of Culdi—even if that man was one of the few who stood between him and oblivion?
Camber glanced away from the fire to see his daughter, Evaine, crossing the hall. Though heavily muffled against the chill in a fur-lined mantle, still she was slender and graceful as she made her way across the rush-strewn hall. Revan, her young clark, picked his way carefully after his mistress, his usual limp even more pronounced from the dampness.
Evaine’s face was worried, her blue eyes stormy beneath the coiled hair, as she bent to kiss her father’s cheek.
“How fares the queen?” Camber asked in a low voice, leaning back from the table so that they would not disturb the others’ discussion.
With a sigh, she turned to dismiss Revan, who was waiting attentively a short distance away, and watched him limp across the hall to join several pages huddled by the opposite fireplace. Her pretty brow furrowed as she bent to her father’s ear again.
“Oh, Father, she is so unhappy. Revan and I have spent the past hour and more with her, but she will not be cheered. ’Tis not right that she should be so listless and depressed, almost a full month after the birthing. Her labor was not difficult, and Rhys assures me that her physical injuries are mended.”
Saint Camber by Katherine Kurtz / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes