The Last Lantern

Chapter 5 - Power Made Manifest

@copyright Jean G Hontz 2009

  The side parlour, where breakfast was always served, was warm despite the storm raging outside. A fire burned brightly in the grate, the spirit lanterns were lit because of the storm-induced gloom. On a fair day, the room would be bright with sunshine. Now, even with the drapes on the bow windows thrown open, even with the white of a blizzard brightening the ground, the room was covered in shadows.  Even the brightest colours were reduced to shades of gray except where the lanterns or the fire lit them.

When Molly walked into the parlour, Miss Throckmorton was already there. The governess frowned at Molly when she saw her charge was wearing pants and not a dress given that guests were in the house. Molly was tempted to stick her tongue out at her but thought better about it.

"Good morrow, Miss Throckmorton," Molly said, dropping her governess a polite curtesy. Never be rude to those not as fortunate as you. 

Miss Throckmorton opened her mouth, no doubt to scold her, Molly thought, but whatever she'd meant to say died before it escaped her lips. Molly whirled around to see what had just caused Miss Throckmorton to go deadfish white in the face and and make her eyes threaten to pop out of her head. 

Miss Throckmorton was staring at Brother Vaal who stood in the doorway.  He was dressed as he'd been earlier, only in his leathers, his robe and cowl no where to be seen. Dressed like that, the only way you'd know for sure he was a priest was by the Bastard's Eye that swung on its chain at his neck. The eye was brilliantly lit, though, which seemed odd to Molly. How was it catching that much light?

Suddenly the priest was moving, almost too quickly to see. Molly, her eyes wide, gasped. He was rushing toward her.  But then he was beyond her and she spun on her heel to see what was happening behind her. There she saw why he'd rushed across the room. He'd caught Miss Throckmorton who had, apparently, fainted. He'd caught her in his arms before the governess could hit the floor. He'd moved so fast!

Vaal picked her up as if she weighed no more than a feather, and carried her to the settee where he set her gently down.

"What happens here?" Sir Reginald thundered as he came all in a rush into the room. He was reaching for a sword, but of course wore none inside Grandfather's house. "What have you done, Bastard?  Stand aside!"

By this time Sir Reginald had rushed over and grabbed the priest by the arm attempting to pull him away from the stricken governess. As he pulled on the priest's arm, he stepped backwards and knocked Molly, who'd hurried over to see what was wrong with her governess, to the floor.

"Stop!" thundered a voice from behind them all. Grandfather stood there, his face red with anger.

Sir Reginald released the priest, glaring at Grandfather.  He ignored Molly altogether. Vaal moved to offer Molly a hand up.

"What in The Father's name are you doing, Reginald?" Grandfather hissed.

"This... this... Bastard has hurt Miss Throckmorton!" Reginald replied, his face suffused with hatred.

"No!"  Molly yelped, looking at her Grandfather, her eyes wide with shock. "Miss Throckmorton fainted. Vaal, er Brother Vaal caught her and was putting her on the settee. He didn't hurt her Grandfather, I swear."

"Shut up, you ragmuffin of a child. You don't understand anything. Keep your place!" Sir Reginald yelled at her.

Molly shrank back a bit but refused to respond aloud, standing on her dignity.

"If there were not a blizzard raging, I would toss both you and your son out of my house this instant, with only what you are wearing, Reginald," Grandfather said, using his quiet voice, the one that indicated how furious he was.

"You've gone senile, Lord Rosslyn. You would take the side of a Bastard monk over your own kin?"

"I take the side of the Right," Lord Rosslyn replied. "The priest is my guest and you will treat him with respect or you will pack your bags and leave my house now. You haven't inherited yet!" 

"I take no offense," Vaal said quietly into the furious silence that cut through the room. "Sir Reginald feared for a lady.  I cannot fault him for that."

"Well, I can, Priest," Rosslyn replied, still furious but regaining a hold on his temper.

Molly, seeing Miss Throckmorton move, rushed over to her. "Are you all right?  What happened?"

Miss Throckmorton, slowly regaining her senses, tried to sit up.  Molly helped her, while Sir Reginald and Lord Rosslyn eyed one another. Brother Vaal had moved over to stand near the windows, well away from everyone.

Molly retrieved Miss Throckmorton's glasses from the floor where they'd fallen and set them on her nose.  It was fortunate no one had stepped on them. Molly spent quite a bit of time irritated at her governess, but then she was a kindly sort of lady. She'd never hit Molly, and Molly knew for a fact her cousin's governess regularly rapped her fingers with a ruler.

Grandfather walked over to the settee and looked down at his employee with softer eyes. "Are you all right, Viola?  Can you tell us what happened?"

"Oh, Lord Rosslyn. I am so sorry I've upset everyone. It's just... I..." she looked around the room and her eyes fell on the priest. They regarded one another for some time, and then she added, "I.. there was a light in my eye. I .. it dizzied me."

Molly nodded.  "I saw it too, Grandfather. The Eye.  It was glowing very oddly and very, very brightly."

"Apologize to the Priest," Grandfather said quietly, without bothering to look around at Sir Reginald.

Sir Reginald turned beet red but said, dutifully, "I beg your kindness, Priest. I .. acted in haste."

"Without a thought in your head," Grandfather muttered angrily.

"Yes, without thought," Sir Reginald added grudgingly. Grandfather did not see the look of pure hatred Sir Reginald aimed at the Priest.

Molly caught a movement in the doorway and looked over to see Phillip standing there, his face as pale as hers probably was. He watched his father warily. Molly suddenly felt sorry for her second cousin.

"Do you accept my nephew's apology?" Grandfather asked Brother Vaal.

"Without reservation," Vaal answered.

"Then, do we all sit down and enjoy a breakfast in peace."

 

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