These are the darkest days for the Deryni of Gwynedd, the magical race that once ruled this medieval kingdom but now find themselves despised and hunted by the governing regents following the death of King Cinhil. Dead also is Camber of Culdi, who served as the Deryni’s most faithful friend in the royal court. With young King Alroy too immature and weak to rule effectively, no one holds the power to halt the reign of genocidal terror that sweeps across the land—not even Prince Javan Haldane, Alroy’s twin, who recognizes the perfidy of the regents and religious zealots hovering around his royal brother. But there is an equally distressing concern for the surviving children of Camber, whose body remains uncorrupted weeks after his death, suggesting that his soul may be trapped somewhere between earth and heaven—and nothing short of the ultimate sacrifice can set Camber free.
Award-winning fantasist Katherine Kurtz continues her chronicles of an extraordinary medieval race in a magnificent series that picks up where her acclaimed Camber of Culdi trilogy left off. A story of intolerance, faith, and courage, rich in character, magic, wonder, and evocative detail, Kurtz’s brilliantly imagined alternate history is one of the shining jewels of fantasy fiction.
About the Author
While working on the Deryni series, Kurtz further utilized her historical training to develop another sub-genre she calls “crypto-history,” in which the “history behind the history” intertwines with the “official” histories of such diverse periods as the Battle of Britain (Lammas Night), the American War for Independence (Two Crowns for America), contemporary Scotland (The Adept Series, with coauthor Deborah Turner Harris), and the Knights Templar (also with Harris).
In 1983, Kurtz married the dashing Scott MacMillan; they have a son, Cameron. Until 2007, they made their home in Ireland, in Holybrooke Hall, a mildly haunted gothic revival house, They have recently returned to the United States and taken up residence in a historic house in Virginia, with their five Irish cats and one silly dog. (The ghosts of Holybrooke appear to have remained behind.)
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The Harrowing of Gwynedd
The Heirs of Saint Camber, Volume One
By Katherine Kurtz
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1989 Katherine Kurtz
All rights reserved.
Every purpose is established by counsel.
— Proverbs 22:18
"I have to tell you that burying those three men was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do," Joram confessed to their Dhassa compatriots an hour later — though he tried not to think about that fourth body he had just left, hidden beneath the chapel where the other three lay. "I know we must put our grief and outrage behind us now, and move on to the more constructive measures we all know they would have wished, but I won't even pretend that can happen overnight. For now, we're going to have to take it a day at a time — and maybe even hour by hour, when things get particularly difficult."
He was pacing back and forth beside a table in Bishop Niallan's private quarters in besieged Dhassa, drawn and gaunt-looking in monkish black instead of the now-dangerous blue of the Michaelines — though he had worn his former habit the day before, to honor two of the three men he buried. The pale cap of his hair, tonsured now in the manner of any ordinary priest, shone like a halo as he paused where a beam of weak winter sunlight filtered through an east window. Niallan, seated at the head of the long table, resisted the urge to cross himself in awe at the pent-up power smoldering in Saint Camber's son, though he, like Joram, was Deryni and fully capable of not a little power himself.
So were most of the other men ranged around the bishop's table — all, in fact, save the younger man at Niallan's immediate left, who also wore episcopal purple. Dermot O'Beirne, the deposed Bishop of Cashien, had thrown in his lot with Niallan on that fatal Christmas Day a fortnight before, when everything else seemed to fall apart. The regents' assault on Valoret Cathedral, given color of authority by the young king's active presence and participation, had put an end to Alister Cullen's brief tenure as Archbishop of Valoret. It had also put an end to any subsequent hope of tempering the regents' increasingly anti-Deryni policies via the established Church hierarchy. Indeed, one of the most notorious of the regents now occupied the primatial throne, and had suspended and excommunicated both bishops at Dhassa as one of his first official acts.
The rest of Niallan's now-renegade household were under similar bans, for standing by their master and refusing to surrender his See of Dhassa to his designated successor. At Niallan's right sat his chaplain and personal Healer of many years' standing, Dom Rickart, the Gabrilite priest's white robes a startling contrast to the bishops' purple and the shades of mourning that everyone else wore. Rickart was of an age with Niallan, but the long hair drawn back in the tight, single braid of his Order was glossy chestnut, where Niallan's hair and neatly trimmed beard were steely grey.
Another, younger Healer sat across from Rickart, next to Dermot, though nothing in his demeanor or dress declared his Healer's calling today. Both his tunic and his nubbly wool mantle were a dull dust-umber, the color of weathered stone. Nor did he look old enough to be a Healer, though up until a few weeks ago, he had been personal Healer and tutor to young Prince Javan, the king's clubfooted twin brother and heir. The talented and sometimes headstrong Tavis O'Neill was not exactly a member of the bishop's household, but Niallan had given him refuge when he was forced to quit Valoret. He remained their one reliable contact with the prince.
Tavis was also, so far as they knew, the sole possessor of an apparently unique Deryni talent that held up some hope of preserving their Deryni race against evil times to come — though the ultimate cost of such salvation might be dire, indeed. His dark red head tipped downward in close-shielded reverie, the pale eyes moody and unreadable as his right hand absent-mindedly massaged a handless left wrist.
And at the far end of the table, looking gloomily preoccupied, the seventeen-year-old Ansel MacRorie turned a dagger over and over in his hands, his pale golden hair proclaiming him close kin to Joram, even if all in the room had not already been aware that he was Joram's nephew. Though Ansel should have been Earl of Culdi by right of his birth, as heir to Camber's eldest son, he, like Joram and everyone else in the room, was an outlaw in the eyes of the established government.
The rest of Niallan's principal household officers and functionaries occupied stools set along the rest of the table, two men to a side, his chancellor, comptroller, provisioner, and garrison commander, the latter still wearing the dark blue tunic and white sash of a Michaeline knight.
Sighing, Niallan slowly shook his head, not in negation of anything Joram had said, but in grim resignation.
"Aye, 'tis an incalculable loss," he murmured. "Alister, Jebediah, and Rhys. And unfortunately, I'm afraid we have to expect that things may get worse before they get better. To assume anything less would be to leave ourselves open to even greater disaster than we've already suffered."
"Which is precisely why I want you safely out of Dhassa, sir," Joram said quietly.
"I will not even try to gainsay you," Niallan agreed, "but do try to accept my position. When I became Bishop of Dhassa, I was made shepherd of all her people, human as well as Deryni. I have Deryni responsibilities, that is true; but I cannot desert my human flock when they need me most."
"No, but you must not wait so long that you let yourself be taken," Joram retorted, setting his hands on the back of Ansel's chair. "That does no one any service except the regents, who you know seek your death."
Niallan smiled, toying with the bishop's amethyst on his right hand. "Then, I am in good company," he said lightly, "for you and Ansel have even higher prices on your heads than I. But don't worry, my friend. There is no martyr's blood in these veins. I shall stay here in Dhassa as long as I may, but only to ensure that nothing will fall into the regents' hands that ought not."
"Including Dhassa's bishop?" Ansel said archly.
"Including Dhassa's bishop," Niallan repeated, favoring the boy with a fond smile. "But you must remember, dear Ansel, that such title applied to my person no longer means what it once did, now that one of the regents is our new archbishop."
"Hubert MacInnis will never be my archbishop," Joram stated flatly, as he started pacing again.
"No, nor mine," Niallan agreed. "But in the eyes of those who do not know that his election required deception, slander, and murder, he is senior archbishop and Primate — and woe be unto the people of Gwynedd, in the hands of such a shepherd."
"If I'm given the chance," said Tavis O'Neill, speaking for the first time, "I shall kill him!"
"And betray your Healer's oath?" Dom Rickart gasped, obviously putting into words what several of the others also felt.
"Healer's oaths be hanged, if they protect a man like Hubert MacInnis!" Tavis snapped, the pale aquamarine eyes blazing as he glared across at the other Healer. "I am no Gabrilite, to submit meekly to the slaughter. I will not offer my throat to the regents like some silly sheep, as your brethren did at Saint Neot's. Nor will I allow Prince Javan to become their victim — not while there is breath in my body to prevent it!"
"Easy, Tavis, easy!" Joram murmured, jerking out a stool beside Rickart and straddling it as Niallan and Dermot also made soothing noises and gestures. "No one's asking you to sacrifice yourself — or faulting your defense of the prince."
"Certainly not," Rickart hastily agreed. "Prince Javan is our major hope that something eventually may be done to reverse what the regents have set in motion. But I beg you, Tavis, do not deliberately seek out MacInnis' life."
"Shall your brethren die unavenged, then?" Tavis demanded.
As Ansel and the Michaeline Knight at the end of the table muttered something between them about divine retribution, Rickart gently shook his head.
"My dear young friend, Hubert MacInnis shall pay for what he has done — never fear. Not only to my Gabrilite brethren but to all innocent folk who have become victims of his avarice. But it is not our place to seek vengeance. 'Vengeance is mine, saith —'"
"Yes, yes, but the Lord generally works through mortal agents," Joram interjected, raising a hand in a fending-off gesture. "Please, Rickart, let's not start a theological debate. Tavis is not a Gabrilite or a Michaeline, so he's not arguing from the same assumptions. If the two of you want to take up this discussion privately, at a later date, that's another matter. Right now, however, I have more important things on my mind, the chief of which is the prince we're all trying to protect, in our own ways. Which leads me to ask, Tavis, is it tonight you're to see him again?"
Tavis sighed, a little subdued. "Aye. He doesn't yet know about Alister and Jebediah, either. At least I haven't told him. We'd just had a meeting when I found out, and I didn't want to increase the already considerable risk he runs every time I go there, by going back too soon."
"I don't envy you the telling," Niallan said quietly.
Shrugging, Tavis shook his head. "Someone else may already have told him, by now. That kind of news travels fast. If it has reached Valoret, you can bet the regents won't keep it a secret."
"I'll say!" Ansel snorted. "There'll be dancing in the streets."
Joram, hushing Ansel with a hand signal, returned his attention to Tavis.
"Naturally, the regents' reaction will be of great interest to us," he said quietly, "but Javan's safety is our most important concern. I take it that we can expect a full report in the morning, provided all goes well?"
Tavis nodded, but said nothing.
"Well, then," Niallan said with a sigh. "I suppose we'll have to wait until then. But you've done right, not to endanger the prince unnecessarily. Whatever else happens, he must be protected. I wonder, though, if it will make the regents more or less vindictive to learn that two of their most bitter enemies are dead."
Dermot managed a sickly grin. "They'll probably use it as justification to step up their campaign against two more troublesome priests. I suppose we should be flattered that Rhun and his men are giving us so much attention, camped right outside Dhassa's gates."
"Which is precisely why I do not intend us to stay in Dhassa any longer than we must," Niallan replied. "And that brings us back to the subject of Saint Mary's. Joram, I know you've abandoned it for the time being. How long do you think we must wait before it's safe again? When I am ready to vacate Dhassa, I must have places to send my people."
"Then you'll do better to funnel them through Gregory's new Portal at Trevalga," Joram replied. "I'll have him show you the coordinates in the next week or so. From there, it's a relatively simple matter to disperse through the Connait, where folk are a little more sane about Deryni these days."
"Then for now, you feel that Saint Mary's is out of the question?" asked the Michaeline Knight.
Joram sighed. "If Alister and Jebediah hadn't been killed so close to there, we'd be fine. I think I told you all that one of their killers got away. The latest we hear is that Manfred MacInnis' men have been scouring the area, looking for some trace of the bodies — which makes it a less than desirable place for Deryni. Frankly, I'm not even happy that Queron is on his way there."
"You expect him soon?" Rickart asked.
Joram nodded. "Any day now, provided nothing else has gone wrong. The brothers know he's coming, but none of them can speak of it to anyone but him or one of us. Evaine and I made sure of that before we left. The compulsion won't stand up against anything stronger than a very cursory Truth-Read, but we're gambling on the probability that Manfred doesn't have a Deryni working for him yet — and that no one will have cause to suspect that our monks have anything to hide."
Niallan snorted. "Poor Queron, walking into the lion's den. Do you think he knows?"
Ansel chuckled mirthlessly. "Well, if he doesn't, I suspect he'll find out, soon enough."
Indeed, Queron Kinevan certainly knew that soldiers were looking for Deryni by then, even if he did not know the particular reason. He had been dodging mounted patrols for days. The night before Joram made his report to his Dhassa confederates, Queron had taken refuge from soldiers and a gathering snowstorm by hiding in a rickety barn, burrowed deep inside a haystack. He was still there, curled in a tight, miserable ball, as dawn lightened a slate-colored winter sky.
He knew he was dreaming, but he could not wake himself to stop it. In the fortnight since the nightmare's first occurrence, he had never yet succeeded in doing so. Fueled by his own memories, the dream seemed to have lost none of its potency. And whether he tried to sleep by day or by night, some part of it always found him, always in heart-gripping detail.
It was dusk in the dream — a haunting dusk, two weeks before, as the fires finally died down in the yard at Dolban. From where Queron crouched to watch in disbelieving horror, just at the crest of a hill overlooking the abbey, he could almost imagine that none of it had happened — for the soldiers had spared the buildings.
Excerpted from The Harrowing of Gwynedd by Katherine Kurtz. Copyright © 1989 Katherine Kurtz. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsPrologue Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us. — Ecclesiasticus 44:1,
I Every purpose is established by counsel. — Proverbs 22:18,
II They were killed, but by accursed men, and such as had taken up an unjust envy against them. — I Clement 20:7,
III For they speak not peace: but they devise deceitful matters against them that are quiet in the land. — Psalms 35:20,
IV Shall not they teach thee, and tell thee, and utter words out of their hearts? — Job 8:10,
V For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. — Acts 17:20,
VI He hath set fire and water before thee: stretch forth thy hand unto whether thou wirt. — Ecclesiasticus 15:16,
VII Yea, a sword shall pierce through thine own soul also, and the thoughts of many hearts shall be revealed. — Nicodemus 12:5,
VIII I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children. — Psalms 69:8,
IX They will lay hands on the sick, who will recover. — Mark 16:18,
X Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine. — Micah 3:6,
XI For thou indeed mayest be tyrant over unrighteous men, but thou shalt not lord it over my resolution in the matter of righteousness either by thy words or through thy deeds. — IV Maccabees 2:58,
XII Who will rise up against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity? — Psalms 94:16,
XIII Woe be unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed. — Proverbs 10:1,
XIV For thy power is the beginning of righteousness. — Wisdom of Solomon 12:16,
XV He discovereth deep things out of darkness. — Job 12:22,
XVI In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumbering upon the bed; then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction. — Job 33:15–16,
XVII A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren. — Acts 7:37,
XVIII So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off. — Psalms 24:14,
XIX For thou seest that our sanctuary is laid waste, our altar broken down, our temple destroyed. — II Esdras 10:21,
XX Shall not they teach thee, and tell thee, and utter words out of their hearts? — Job 8:10,
XXI Foursquare shall it be being doubled. — Exodus 28:16,
XXII And thou shalt put it under the compass of the altar beneath, that the net may be even in the midst of the altar. — Exodus 27:5,
XXIII But you shall not mock at me thus, neither will I break the sacred oaths of my ancestors to keep the Law, not even though you tear out mine eyes and burn out mine entrails. — IV Maccabees 2:53,
XXIV The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach ... deliverance to the captives. — Luke 4:18,
XXV Then they that gladly received his word were baptized. — Acts 2:41,
XXVI I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came. — Job 3:26,
XXVII And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed. — Isaiah 29:11,
XXVIII I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children. — Isaiah 47:8,
XXIX Seek Him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into morning. — Amos 5:9,
XXX Where is Uriel the angel, who came unto me at the first? for he hath caused me to fall into many trances. — II Esdras 10:28,
Preview: King Javan's Year,
Bonus Story: Trial,
Appendix I: Index of Characters,
Appendix II: Index of Places,
Appendix III: Partial Lineage of the Haldane Kings,
Appendix IV: The Festillic Kings of Gwynedd and Their Descendants,
Appendix V: Partial Lineage of the MacRories,
About the Author,
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