Delenn, Babylon 5
I rode for at least an hour, shifting through random shadows, confusing my trails as much as I possibly could. They'd send someone out looking before long, and I didn't plan to wait around to be found. Jess I wasn't worried about. Her own abilities gave her a distinct advantage, and even in this current dilemma, I doubt her father would let Julian and company touch her.
I wasn't so sure of my abilities to avoid them, though.
In all honesty, I had no one but myself to blame. I could have been, at this moment, in the safe company of Dierdre, Random, Jess, and a large number of troops. But no, I had to go and make a point...
A few hours earlier...
It took me almost an hour to bring Random around. "Where am I?" He asked, still a bit groggy, as I helped him sit up.
"Avalon." I let the Healing drop. Enough of the drugs were out of his system now that his own metabolism could deal with the rest.
"Jess and I broke you out." I said slowly.
He looked impressed. "Gutsy."
"Easier than trying to rescue you at your execution." I reminded him dryly.
"But not half so dramatic," Random suddenly grinned.
"I do have a bit on common sense, your Majesty..."
I wasn't sure how different this Random was than the Random of days ago, mostly because I'd never really known him all that well. But he seemed concerned enough with the situation, and I soon found myself following a variety of quickly snapped orders.
The next hour I spent back and forth between Avalon and Dierdre's camp, playing messenger. Most of it I spent arguing with either Random or Dierdre - neither seemed at all concerned on Ygg's fall, and what that could mean. I eventually gave up, and got the two of them together in the Shadow near Dad's pattern. Far enough away from both Avalon and Dierdre's camp to divert suspicion should we be tracked, and it was terrain I knew.
He and Dierdre were deep in discussion when he suddenly turned and looked at me. "Do you have any troops?"
I stared at him in confusion for a moment. "Me?"
Random sighed impatiently. "Yes. Do you have any troops, or armies or such?"
I heard my voice pitch high in disbelief. "I'm a reverand!"
"So, you can still lead armies," he pointed out. "We'll assign you a block of troops..."
Oh, no. No way. I am not cut out to lead any large group into battle. Besides, my oath was to save lives.
Random blinked. "No? I am your king, aren't I?"
I took a deep breath. This wasn't going to go over well, but at least one of us needed to be free to act outside of Random's orders. I drew myself up, and looked him square in the eye. "I never swore a vow of alliegance to you, your Majesty."
I don't think I'll ever forget the look on Random's face when my words sunk in.
Boy, was I in trouble.
He didn't speak to me much more after that - instead, Trumping Jess and having her take care of arranging troops and the like. And while she did agree to help him, I had to smile when she adamantly stated her assistance had a price.
"The Pattern must be fixed," she said, looking over at me.
"What is this with the Pattern?" Random threw up his hands in consternation.
"Your Majesty," and he gave me a cold look, but I went on. "Did you not ever consider the effects of Ygg falling?"
He looked at me blankly, answering my question. "Ygg was created as a barrier between the primal forces of Order and Chaos. With its fall, those forces are reacting to one another with horribly detrimental effects. We," and I gestured to Jess, "the cousins, have been commanded by Dworkin to fix this."
Random snorted. "Dworkin's insane."
I shrugged. "I have faith in him."
I think it was then that Random just dismissed me from the equation. "If you want to take the words of someone who clearly isn't in his right mind..."
"No one is acting in their right mind, your Majesty, including you!" I snapped.
I really hope that when this is all over, he'll understand my motivation, and forgive me...
So now I was aimlessly jaunting through Shadow, waiting for Connie to find me a hiding place in Amber. I found myself wondering again where and how Luke was, and I suddenly missed him so much the feeling was like a sharp pain in my stomach.
A whispering tingle in the back of my head distracted me from thoughts of Luke. I was very leery about taking Trumps now, but... Connie's face swam into view. "Are you somewhere you can stop for about twenty minutes?"
"I'm stopped now," I reached out a hand to bring him through, not liking the idea of long conversations over Trump, under the circumstances.
He was then standing next to me in a fading sparkle of rainbow light, and he plunked himself down and immediately started sketching while he told me that Elistan would grant me asylum in the Church.
"Is he sure about that?" I dismounted from the horse I'd found some nameless shadow back, and leaned against it, warily scanning the horizon for visitors.
"He said he'd hide you," Connie's pencil flew over the paper, and I could see the seemingly random lines begin to form a picture. My cousin is a talented artist, I must admit. He's just like his father in that regard. That, and his ability to get himself into trouble.
"Here," Connie suddenly said, yanking my attention back to the present. He stood, handing me his work. "I should get back."
"Stay out of trouble," I resisted the urge to ruffle his hair, and instead just gave him a knowing look. Connie was walking a thin line in Amber, and I was worried he was going to make a serious miss-step one of these days. He ignored it, and Trumped out.
Time for me to do the same. The Trump sketch he'd handed me was of the back of the cathedral, and I sighed. Not exactly the most inconspicuous entrance... But I loosed the horse, and activated the sketch. Within moments, the vaulted ceiling of the cathedral loomed over me and I stepped into the small entry hall at the back of it.
Luckily, the few people in the church's catherdral were deep in prayer, so no one noticed my sudden entrance, or saw me sneak off to Elistan's office.
I knocked on the door, and a disracted voice called, "Come in?"
I pushed open the door and peeked inside. The high priest was almost buried in open books, parchment, half-unrolled scrolls and what not. Almost a minute passed before he realized someone was standing there in the doorway and looked up.
"Ah, the fugative returns." But he smiled warmly at me and bade me enter and take a seat.
I perched uneasily on the edge of the chair facing his desk. "Connie said he told you what was going on?"
Elistan regarded me for a long moment, then nodded. "You may stay here, Quinn."
I sighed in relief. I wonder if Elistan had any idea what his trust, support and acceptance of such a wayward soul as myself meant to me. "Thank you, Father. But if it comes to light that I am here, don't risk yourselves to hide me."
Elistan gave me another long look. "Your concern is gratifying, child, but the church does have some immunity."
I could only remember the last night at dinner, and the grotesque versions of my family. Given that, Elistan's ascertations of the Church's immunity did not give me any comfort. "I hope so, Father."
I think he saw some of that thought on my face, and adroitly changed the subject. "I've found some things of interest."
What he showed me was interesting, all right, though, in some ways, it raised more questions than it answered. An image of a mountain, and inscribed upon it a crown, over a flower. Below the mountain, to the left, a pyramid with a single eye, and to the right, a pair of crossed axes. The general concept was much like Dworkin's etching.
The verse from the Book of the Unicorn was clearer, but seemed only to confirm what we already thought.
There was still one piece of all this that was bugging the hell out of me. "Do you have a copy of the Bible?"
"An Earth bible, from Christianity? In the library, likely." He looked faintly confused.
I just went ahead and recited Psalm 23 to him. "Dworkin was quoting that just before things got crazy."
Elistan mulled that over for a while. "Perhaps," he finally ventured, "he was trying to put the events in words you would understand?"
"But why that passage?" I scribbled it down on a blank sheet, as if rewriting it for the umpteenth time would miraculously give me the answers I wanted.
"Maybe it was less a warning, than a statement of his personal convictions," Elistan mused. "That despite what was coming, he would stand tall with the light of his god at his back."
I blinked. It was an interpretation I hadn't even considered in my single-minded quest for a clue.
Was Dworkin, in fact, not giving us a hint in that, but telling us, me, to have faith?
Elistan went off to find me someplace to sleep. The door closed behind him, and I found myself alone with the books and scrolls.
I squirmed out of my mail. I've gone for days wearing it, but it wasn't a preference. I'd spent almost a year's stipend on it, after my first year on the road, and its weight was perfectly balanced for me. But even so, after two days of nonstop wear, it started to become damn uncomfortable. Besides, if they were going to come charging in here after me, one shirt of chainmail wan't going to help much.
That weight off my shoulders, I sat down at Elistan's desk and tried to pick up where he'd left off. I spent hours poring over the documents, but kept coming back to those first two he showed me.
The sketch I stared at for a long time. The mountain, I figured, was Kolvir, but the symbols were unfamiliar. Family, maybe from long past?
The passage from the Book of the Unicorn seemed to support that
notion. I re-wrote it on a scrap of parchment, so I could add it to my
The last bit, concerning my father, was in the same handwriting (Dworkin's I assume), but had been added much later. Pointing out, maybe, that for the Patternfall crisis, Dad had been the chosen, the Pattern's guardian angel."Once I had asked her... how had she chosen me? And in her soft whistful voice entering my mind, she explained that each generation of her brood would experience a time of crisis in which there would be chosen from her children heros to protect the Pattern. This did not answer my question; But I dismissed this in asking about the chosen-- 'My son will always be my chosen -- and through him will the others follow. You will know, Consort -- you will know.'" Glories be to the mysteries of the Unicorn! Patternfall -- Corwin
But there were no guardian angels in the Unicorn's worship as far as I could see.
The knock on the door startled me out of my half doze, and my pencil clattered to the floor. The Knowing sprang to life - It was Elistan, with a companion.
I opened the door, and Elistan quickly ushered his companion in past me. It was Lord Rein, my father's old friend. I had met him once or twice during my first days here, though only in passing.
But right now, both he and Elistan looked grim. "What is it?" I queried.
Rein looked at me and sighed. "Your father's missing, but," he added as he saw my eyes go wide, "that's not the worst."
I wasn't liking the sound of this at all.
He went on. "They've imprisoned your brother."
"Merlin..." I took a step back, leaning against the desk. "Damn. I'd expected something like this, but had thought they'd go after Dad..." Even if Dad wasn't , I was perfectly confident in hia ability to take care of himself, bitter and sullen or not. But Merlin, with the loss of his powers... I felt the adrenaline start to kick in as I mulled over his words, and suddenly, it was all I could do not to bolt for the door, sword in hand.
But Damien had trained me well, tempering my natural impetuosity with the ability to think with a clear head before doing something insane. Act. Not react.
Slowly, I sat back down. "Lord Rein, maybe you should give me as much detail as you know..."
Hang in there, big brother. The cavalry's coming.