Initially published in 1970
In the kingdom of Gwynedd, the mysterious forces of magic and the superior power of the Church combine to challenge the rule of young Kelson. Now the fate of the Deryni – a quasi-mortal race of sorcerers – and, indeed, the fate of all the Eleven Kingdoms, rests on Kelson's ability to quash the rebellion by any means necessary…including the proscribed use of magic!
Chapter 1/Prologue: Lest the hunter become the hunted.
In 2004, Ms. Kurtz re-released an updated version of Deryni Rising with Ace Book Publishing. One of the updates including changing the original Chapter One, “Lest the hunter become the hunted,” to a Prologue.
Brion Haldane, king of Gwynedd, is out hunting with his lords and song. Prince Kelson reports that the hounds have flushed a den of rabbits. Their talk turns to General Morgan and his absence from capital city, Rhemuth. Brion is keenly aware of Kelson's growing maturing and his near-adulthood at age 14, as well as his awareness of the goings-on in the kingdom he will some day inherit. Brion is shocked to find out that Kelson knows about “the Shadowed One,” and tells Kelson he is to summon Morgan immediately if anything were to happen to the king himself.
Meanwhile, one of Brion's lords, Ian Howell, meets with the Shadowed One herself, Charissa of Tolan. The two of them plot against the king, the prince, and Morgan—who, we discover, is a “half-breed Deryni,” who helped King Brion kill her father. Charissa has planned to kill Brion using Deryni magic, and later take the throne by challenging and killing Kelson, thus ruling the country of Gwynedd “as my ancestors did.”
Ian rejoins the hunting group long enough to intercept Colin of Fianna, who'd inadvertently given Brion drugged wine. Brion suddenly falls from his horse and dies as if by a heart attack. Kelson sends for General Morgan.
Chapter 2/Chapter 1: Princes met and talked against me
Alaric Morgan and Sean Lord Derry ride into Rhemuth two weeks later, both exhausted. Morgan has memories of the ride from Cardosa to Rhemuth, and of an ambush that only the two had escaped alive, and is once again devastated by the idea that his friend Brion was dead. They're crowded by seven enormous men bullying their way through the street, whipping and pushing others as well. Morgan uses a telekinetic-type of ability to wrap the lead giant's whip around his horse's leg, tripping the horse and sending the giant tumbling to the ground, humiliated in front of the crowd he'd just been whipping.
They arrive at Castle Rhemuth where they are informed that the regency council is “out to get” Morgan, based on false rumors that had been spread about him. They barely arrive at the great hall before Morgan is accosted by many of the other council members, wondering why he was so late arriving. Morgan explains about the ambush and the death of the escort. The queen's feelings for Morgan are mentioned (they're negative). Prince Nigel, Brion's brother, comes to “borrow” Morgan from the group and asks Derry to sit in for Morgan on the council.
Nigel tells Morgan that the queen intends to bring charges of Treason and Heresy against Morgan at the regency council. Morgan and Nigel both believe that if Queen Jehana succeeds in keeping Morgan from helping Kelson, then Kelson will die soon: Morgan knows that Charissa intends to challenge Kelson to a magic duel, and without Morgan's help, Kelson stands no chance of inheriting Brion's powers. Nigel leaves to try to talk to the queen while Morgan ponders on Jehana's anti-Deryni sentiment.
Kelson meets with Morgan while Kevin McLain—a friend and fellow council member—discusses with Derry the penalty for Treason and Heresy, which is Death.
Chapter 3/Chapter 2: Hell hath no fury like the woman scorned, Or the woman mourning.
Queen Jehana is mourning for King Brion and knows that he would not approve of her asking for General Morgan's life from the council, but she's desperate to save her son from the heresy of magic. Nigel finds her and tells her that keeping Morgan from Kelson is close to treason, as the is denying Kelson the protection he needs to survive. They argue and neither is able to sway the other. Jehana attempts to summon Kelson.
Meanwhile, Kelson and Morgan are talking, and Kelson doesn't understand why his mother doesn't trust Morgan and is concerned he won't be able to fill his father's shoes. Morgan reminds Kelson of his training, both physical and mental. Kelson is also concerned about the Shadowed One and thinks she might have killed Brion with magic. Morgan acknowledges this to be likely and has Kelson tell him about Brion's death. Kelson says that no one was allowed to examine Brion's body. Morgan wonders aloud if Jehana was involved in Brion's death, but before he can continue the conversation, Kelson is threatened by a Stenrect crawler. Morgan kills it, which alarms one of Jehana's ladies, who simply sees Morgan raising his sword against the prince. Despite the power it must have cost to bring the Stenrect crawler to the garden, Morgan thinks it was likely brought in to frighten them, not kill.
They leave to go seek out Father Duncan McLain but are interrupted by a summons from Queen Jehana. They ignore the summons and continue with their mission.
The regency council meeting begins and Jehana insists it continue without Kelson, as Kelson “has declined to appear.” She insists on resolving the matter of “the Deryni.”
Chapter 4/Chapter 3: And I will give him the morning star.
Morgan and Kelson find Father Duncan at St. Hilary's; Duncan is Morgan's kinsman and also Deryni (most people believe Duncan to be related to Morgan through his non-Deryni father's side, but in truth they're also related through their mothers as well, although this fact is not well known). Duncan is Kelson's confessor so it's not an uncommon thing for Kelson to visit him.
The three go to Duncan's study where Morgan displays the Ring of Fire, Brion's seal of power. Brion had given it to Morgan before Morgan had left for Cardosa some months previous. Duncan fetches the seal and instructions, which are written in the form of a riddle. They realize they are missing the Eye of Rom, a critical part of the ritual: it has been buried with Brion. They determine that they must have the Eye of Rom and so they will have to open the crypt.
Archbishop Loris arrives with an entourage of soldiers to arrest Morgan, who turns himself in. Kelson and Loris exchange words.
Chapter 5/Chapter 4: O God, with your judgement endow the King, and with your justice, the King’s son.
Kelson and his entourage enter the council chambers, and Kelson immediately makes it clear that he is in charge, not his mother. Jehana informs him that Morgan has already been tried and found guilty by a vote of 5-to-4. Kelson has all council lords recast their votes so he knows how everyone voted. When Kelson counts the vote as a tie, Jehana says that Derry was not allowed to vote in Morgan's place, but Kelson says that Morgan can cast his own vote since he's there. Jehana then announces she is allowed to cast her own vote since Kelson has taken charge of the council and the vote is still guilty by 6-to-5. In a stall for time, Kelson requests a formal reading of the charges, and when that is finished, the bells toll four o'clock. Kelson then appoints Derry to fill Lord Ralson's vacant council seat, and when challenged, he points out that he is now of legal age and no longer requires a regency council. Derry votes for acquittal and Morgan is freed. Jehana despairs of removing the Deryni-taint from her son's life.
Ian reports the results of the council to Charissa, and kills a guard to frame Morgan and further besmirch his name.
Chapter 6/Chapter 5: And a voice shall speak from legend.
At sunset, Morgan sets wards over to Kelson to protect him while he's away, then goes to Brion's library to hunt for clues to the riddle of the instructions. While meditating, he sees an unknown face in his mind, and then, when he picks a book at random from the library, he is confronted with a picture of that same face; it's the face of Saint Camber, the defender of humankind. A scrap of paper also falls from the book, which Morgan pockets.
After reading about St. Camber, Charissa enters the library and is startled to find Morgan. They talk, and he confronts her with her latest meddlings. She confirms that she plans on dueling Kelson the next day and thinks she'll kill him handily since he doesn't have Brion's training. She taunts him for being a half-breed and tells him she will make him pay for what he did to her father, by destroying those he loves. After he leaves, she wonders why he was reading
Lives of the Saints.
Chapter 7/Chapter 6: A Spokesman of the Infinite must guide...
Morgan returns to Kelson's room and finds the king sleeping soundly. They take a secret passage from Kelson's room to the courtyard and from there to the basilica where Duncan is waiting for them. The three take a transfer portal to the cathedral and from there they move into the crypt with little difficulty. Here they run into Lord Rogier, who is in charge of the guard detail, and reams Morgan for bringing Kelson to the crypt. He begins to draw steel on Morgan, but Duncan takes him out from behind with a touch. The entire guard detail is put to sleep with no memory of what they may have seen this night. They open Brion's sarcophagus and find that the body inside is not Brion's.
Chapter 8/Chapter 7: Things are not what they seem.
Morgan, Kelson, and Duncan consider what may have become of Brion's body and who might have done something with it. They come to the conclusion it must have been Jehana. They begin searching the other coffins and niches within the crypt, but then Morgan realizes the most obvious place to magically hide Brion's body, which is in his own casket, under an illusion. Duncan dispels the spell: the features flicker and finally become Brion's, and Duncan reveals that Brion's soul had been trapped but was now free. Morgan removes the Eye of Rom and Kelson feels it is wrong to take the Eye without leaving something in return. Duncan offers his crucifix and Kelson places it within his father's hands. They leave and Duncan sends Rogier on his way before they return to the study.
Back in Duncan's study, Morgan pierces Kelson's ear, as instructed in the riddle. He touches Kelson's blood to the Eye of Rom and the Ring of Fire, activating a power within both. He inserts the Eye of Rom into Kelson's ear to complete that portion of the ritual. Duncan stashes the Ring of Fire, which will be needed the next day for the coronation. They remove the Crimson Lion from the small box that contained the instructions and realize that, despite the fact that the instruction refer to the lion's tooth, the lion on the brooch has no tooth.
Chapter 9/Chapter 8: In the unknown lies terror, and in the night, deceit.
As they work through the riddle, they realize the the clasp of the brooch is the lion's tooth and that Kelson must pierce his hand with it. Kelson requests a few minutes of privacy to prepare for the ceremony, and while in the other room, Morgan tells Duncan about his vision of St. Camber and shows him the pieces of paper that fell from the book: “Saint Camber of Culdi, defend us from evil.” Duncan realizes that Brion must have revered St. Camber. Meanwhile, Kelson ponders the concept of courage and the fact that he's afraid, but mentally relies on the fact that his father loved him and would never do anything to bring him to harm.
Morgan and Duncan rejoin Kelson and the three of them go to a small chapel, where Morgan watches, Duncan recites prayers and the proper words, then Kelson plunges the pin through his left palm. The anguish is nearly unbearable and the boy collapses, but not before unusual images begin to take place. Duncan believes the power transfer likely worked, and Morgan picks up Kelson and the two of them take the secret passages back to Kelson's room, where they interrupt three intruders searching for him and the king.
Chapter 10/Chapter 9: Whence comes the wonder, whence the miracle?
The three intruders—Edgar, Lawrence, and Harold—immediately attack Morgan and Duncan. After some swordplay, Duncan kills the one man attacking him, then stupefies one of Morgan's opponents. He hides on the balcony so as not to be seen by the guards demanding to be let in.
Morgan lets in the guards just as he hears Kelson rousing. Kelson quickly takes command of the situation (following Morgan's lead) and demands to know what had happened and by whom. Morgan takes off Edgar's helmet and discovers it's one of his own vassals. Edgar insists that Morgan forced them to attack the king, but Kelson commands the truth from Edgar, and Moran is astonished that Duncan had taught Kelson to Mind-See. Edgar finally confesses they'd come to kill Morgan rather than Kelson, because they believed he'd killed Michael DeForest, whose body they'd found in the corridor. When further questioned about who sent them to that corridor, Edgar kills himself. The other man is taken from the room by the guards as Morgan slips out, looking for Derry, who'd been part of the king's guard that night.
Morgan finds Derry, unconscious, just as a battle surgeon says there's nothing he can do for him. Derry has a wound in his side that has pierced internal organs and is bleeding profusely. Morgan desperately wishes there was something he could do, and then remembers that some ancient Deryni had the gift of healing. And although he knows it's highly unlikely that he might have that gift, Morgan figures it can't hurt to try. He's startled by the feeling of hands on top of his, then is even more surprised to find that the healing worked and Derry is now deeply asleep instead of dying, and Derry's wounds are completely healed.
Chapter 11/Chapter 10: Even as the Father, so the Son.
Morgan is interrupted by several of the council members, several of whom believe Morgan just took out the last man who knew what had actually occurred during the ride back from Cardosa. He disbelieves them of this notion, but doesn't fill them in on his new-found power. Jehena threatens to arrest and execute Morgan for murder of Michael DeForest, but Kelson belays that suggestion and informs them all that he is retiring, General Morgan is staying, and he doesn't wish to be disturbed again.
Once behind closed doors, Kelson collapses and Morgan puts him to bed as Duncan returns from the balcony. As they're preparing Kelson for sleep, he comes to enough to tell them that he saw his father while unconscious, as well as another man with shining face and golden hair. Morgan puts him back to sleep and he and Duncan discuss matters. Morgan tells Duncan about healing Derry and mentions Duncan's having taught Kelson to Mind-See. Duncan says he didn't teach him and they wonder if Brion taught him, but reject that notion. Morgan suddenly wonders if Kelson might have Deryni blood. Duncan points out that Brion was fully human, and Morgan thinks that maybe Jehena could be Deryni. They consider how dangerous it is to be Deryni and how people may not have told their kids of their Deryni heritage, and so there could easily be thousands of Deryni who don't know who they are. Morgan also points out that there seems to be a traitor in their midst. Duncan leaves through the secret passage and Morgan falls asleep in a chair.
Meanwhile, Ian Howell uses another guard, John of Elsworth, to contact Charissa, and he reports that Kelson was wearing the Eye of Rom. Charissa knows he can't have completed the ritual yet. Charissa sends him to take care of the cathedral and warns that there must be no mistakes, as the Cambrian Council has warned her to stop interfering. Charissa signs off and Ian releases the guard with instructions to forget what happened. He then goes to carry out an assassination, using a spell to teleport to the cathedral. Later, he rides out to see Charissa to report on his success and spend the rest of the night with her.
Chapter 12/Chapter 11: For surely laughter masks a nervous soul.
In the morning, Morgan is awakened by Lord Rhodri, who is there to arrange for Kelson's bathing and robing. He has Rhodri summon Derry and Duncan to help with preparations. He then wakes up Kelson, who notices his hand doesn't hurt. Morgan teases Kelson about the number of dressers a king requires for his coronation, knowing that Kelson dislikes personal servants. Derry arrives, bringing squires to assist with Morgan's own preparations, and questions about his own recovery, which Morgan postpones for a more private time.
Ian, in another part of the palace, swaps the badge of office for the King's champion with one that has been tampered with.
After a bath and shave and clean clothes, Morgan feels much better. Duncan joins him and informs him that he's to be Kelson's King's Champion. The two tease each other for a few minutes, Kelson joins them and has his dressers equip Morgan with the Champion's regalia, including the badge that Ian swapped earlier. While this is occurring, Kelson has a heart-to-heart with Duncan about being a king.
Nigel bursts in on them all with terrible news: someone had broken into Brion's tomb and stripped the body and left it on the floor. Two of the guards are dead, as well as Lord Rogier, and Lord Rogier is holding Duncan's silver crucifix that they left with Brion.
Chapter 13/Chapter 12: A gilded silver crucifix—yours, Duncan!
Duncan and Morgan explain the truth of what they were doing in the tomb the previous night. They're interrupted by Jehena who immediately tears into them, including calling Kelson a monster for desecrating his father's tomb. They attempt to defend themselves, but she threatens to miss the coronation and refuses to acknowledge Kelson as her son. Morgan challenges her with her own Deryni identity, and when she denies it, he suggests Mind-Seeing her so she can find out for sure. She begs him to refrain, and he strikes a bargain with her to support Kelson outwardly and not interfere with the day's events. She agrees to attend and not make a scene.
Charissa has been spying on them (through the fake badge of the King's Champion). Ian wants to join her in her procession, but she wants him to wait until he reveals himself. He leaves, and she leaves soon after.
Kelson's procession arrives at the Cathedral of Saint George. Derry reports to Morgan that there's no sign of Charissa, as of yet, and Morgan thinks she'll make her move within the hour. Duncan tells Morgan that Corrigan and Loris are freaking out about the tomb break-in and were threatening arrest and heresy, and Kelson counter-threatened with banishment. Everyone takes their places and the processional begins. The ceremony goes as is normal and Kelson takes his oath and signs it, but when he sees Derry talk to Morgan, he knows that Charissa is on her way and they don't have much time. He is consecrated king, and they anxiously await the moment Kelson touches Morgan's gryphon seal and the power is transferred to Kelson, but it doesn't work! The gryphon is not the sign of the Defender!
The cathedral doors crash open and Charissa and her troops are here.
Chapter 14/Chapter 13: Who, then, is the Defender?
Kelson holds his position with is back to the door and decides to bluff to stall for time. Corrigan holds the crown above Kelson's head but is interrupted by the gauntlet thrown by Charissa. Kelson is momentarily taken aback by her beauty, They speak and she makes it clear she's challenging him to the death. He accepts her challenge for their champions to duel at a later date. She insists it to happen here and now, and summons Ian from the audience. Kelson is suprised by the betrayal. Morgan and Ian duel and Morgan fatally wounds Ian, but turns his back on the dying man, who throws a dagger at Morgan. Morgan tries to dodge, but Charissa uses the fake King's Champion medallion to slow him down and Morgan is severely wounded. Charissa administers the coup de grace to Ian and challenges Kelson anew. Jehana attacks Charissa magically, who defends herself and nearly kills Jehana, but Morgan and Duncan are able to deflect the spell and turn it into sleep.
Kelson is encouraged by the idea that he is half-Deryni and should be able to access those powers, but he considers how to access his father's powers. If Morgan is not the Defender, who is?
Chapter 15/Chapter 14: Defender's Sign shall seal...
It occurs to Kelson that the Defender might be Saint Camber, and his seal is on the floor between the two combatants. He accepts Charissa's challenge and throws the challenge gauntlet back at her as he steps on the seal of Saint Camber. She raises half of a magical containment circle. Kelson, as if by instinct, raises the other half, finally feeling the power surge within him. They both recite the spell that seals the containment circle. They summon magical avatars to test each other, then Charissa begins a summoning that Kelson cancels almost before the spell began. They continued to duel, spell and counter-spell, while the audience watches. Meanwhile, Morgan asks Duncan to help him heal himself, and they begin their own work.
Charissa at last summons a greater beast that Kelson doesn't know how to stop.
Chapter 16/Chapter 15: You placed on his head, O Lord, a crown of precious stones. He asked life of You, and You gave it to him.
Kelson finally figures out the counter-spell to Charissa's summoned creature and defeats it. He then begins the final spell that Charissa must join, and the two of them throw their strengths at each other, searching for weakness. Kelson finally gains the upper hand and Charissa screams in fury and is gone, leaving Kelson the victor. Morgan, now healed, joins him and reminds him he needs to finish the coronation. And with Charissa's death, Jehana awakens and is relieved that Kelson lived.
At long last, Kelson is crowned king, And those Deryni in the audience saw a figure (resembling Saint Camber) proclaim Kelson as king of both Human and Deryni. Morgan swears allegiance to the new king, followed by Kelson's other lords, then Kelson goes out to show the people their new king.