Chapter 14 Part 2 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2
A gentle throat-clearing came from the doorway to his bedchamber. "Not feeling sneaky today?" said Temmin, keeping his head on the pillow.
Teacher came into the room. "I am never 'sneaky.' I am circumspect."
"To be sure," said Temmin in a flat voice. A long silence fell. "Well?" he finally said.
"I am here to resume the story, if you wish it."
"I should burn that Pagg-damned book," growled Temmin.
"It will not burn, but you are welcome to try if you think that might alleviate your pain. You may not believe me, but I am here to help you."
Temmin put a forearm across his aching eyes. "Some help."
"I believe experiencing the grief of an ancestor who faced his mother's murder may help you cope with your own grief more than destroying a book, sir. May we at least try?"
"Just go away," Temmin said from under his arm.
The room had been silent for several minutes before Temmin sat up and looked around to find Teacher gone. Part of him was angry Teacher gave up so easily; the rest of him was just angry. "I need to hit something," he muttered.
The training salon was in its own building, low-slung and utilitarian. The Estate's Own sparred here, in a complex containing a parade grounds, the main armory, the military stables and the Guards' barracks. Temmin changed into sparring clothes--loose trousers, no shirt, boots never worn outside the salon--and found Jenks waiting for him. "Where's Fen? I expected him," said Temmin in irritation.
"He's busy elsewhere. We've never sparred, sir, and now my secret's out I thought we'd enjoy a round or two."
Temmin hesitated; Jenks stood with his hands in his pockets. He had to be at least as old as Temmin's father, but apart from countless scars his body didn't show it. His arms were corded and thick, his shoulders broad, and his chest reminded Temmin of Jebby's. "Come on, then, boy," Jenks said more loudly, taking his hands from his pockets.
"I can't hit you," exclaimed Temmin, dismayed and surly at the same time.
"You're too old!"
Jenks grinned and took his stance. "There's your trouble, for I have no problem hitting you, sir. But please, royalty first."
Temmin took his stance, feinted with his left and threw a strong punch with his right. Jenks stepped to one side, moving so fast Temmin could hardly track him. He flicked aside the blow, hooked a leg around Temmin's, and pushed him over with the flat of his right. Temmin thudded to the floor. "Again," said Jenks.
Temmin got up and came at him again with a flurry of kicks and punches that Jenks either sidestepped or blocked. Temmin found an opening in Jenks's guard; they grappled. Jenks chuckled, picked him up and threw him to the floor. "Again."
Temmin threw everything he had at Jenks, but every time he ended up on the floor. The last time, Jenks had his foot on the back of Temmin's neck and one of the Prince's arms in a twist. "Tsk, sir," said Jenks, pressing down until Temmin wheezed, "you're grossly out of form, if you ever were in form." He lifted his foot and helped Temmin up. Jenks had barely broken a sweat, while Temmin's hair was dripping. Jenks handed him a towel. "D'you feel better, Your Highness?"
"Yes," he huffed, "I think I do. Thank you."
Once cleaned up and fed, Temmin did feel much better, but now he paced in his room with nothing to do. He might take a nap, but he wasn't sleepy. Books did not appeal, until the old red-bound book caught his eye. He regretted sending Teacher away and was just wishing he could use a reflection to apologize when a cool voice broke his revery. "You were wise to work out some of your frustrations with Mr Jenks."
"I'm sorry for snapping at you," said Temmin, looking up to find his advisor in the doorway again. "I'm just miserable, is all-- wait, how did you know about me sparring with Jenks?"
Teacher smiled. "A shield was propped at such an angle that I could see you but you could not see me. I doubt you were looking for me in the first place."
"I wish you wouldn't do that." Temmin sat down on the couch and rubbed the heels of his palms on his forehead. "In truth, I'm glad you're here. I'm going out of my mind with nothing to do but ride and--and remember."
"Would returning to the Temple be preferable? There is no barrier to an early return, I am sure."
"No, I'm no use to anyone there. I can't keep my mind on most things longer than a few minutes."
"Shall I leave you alone, then?"
"No, no," said Temmin, leaning back. "I'm willing to take your advice. Go on." He opened the book, Teacher began to read, and the drawing room faded away.