Chapter 14 Part 9 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2
What Temmin hated most about leaving the book's spell was its lingering after-effects; the wounds, fear, hatred, even love and desire took time to dissipate and always left him confused and disoriented. "I'd wondered how magic worked in battles. I mean, if it were me, I'd just stand out front with you and let 'em have it. I guess it doesn't work that way."
"No," said Teacher, "otherwise we would own more of Inchar than we do. Your father has no magic in any event, and my magic has been greatly eroded over the centuries."
"Eroded? Eroded how?"
Teacher sighed. "The kings of Tremont are not always wise in their use of magic. There are magical defenses at Mallik--what was once Maalig--and the other major harbors such as Ouve, Greenvale and Esta. The Armor of the Tremontine Kings is enchanted to make it impenetrable. There are thousands of similar enchantments, some great and some small--and some quite petty. The stones of Marsury Field, for example, where Marsury Castle once stood."
"I knew that had to be magic!" exclaimed Temmin. "You can't stack one atop the other and that's hardly natural, is it?"
"It is my doing," Teacher nodded.
"Why is the enchantment still there?"
"Every time I suggest removing it I am told it is tradition, a monument to a dead king. Some day perhaps I shall tell you how it came to happen. So much of my magic is bound up in your family's pride--the Antremonts are a stiff-necked race. Pride is responsible for so many of your family's problems. I would not care but for the drain on my resources. Marsury is a small spell, but the small ones add up just as the big ones do. Every time I place such an enchantment the magic needed to create it stays tied to it. It is the same for any magic user. The magic is unavailable until it is either released or the magic user loses his magic. Or dies."
"So if you die…"
"The defenses at the harbors fall, the King's Armor can be breached, and men may once again stack the stones of Marsury one atop the other."
"But you can't die."
"Not yet. More I may not say, and do not ask further. 'May as well build with Marsury stone.'" The old saying raised a pale smile on Teacher's oddly sensual mouth.
Temmin returned the smile. "You still seem powerful--at least as powerful as you were in the stories I've seen."
"Remember, Tremont was much smaller then. Why do you think Tremont always seems to be at war?"
Temmin's mind turned to the battle he'd just experienced; Tennoc's power grew with every chunk of Kellen he wrested from Dunnoc. "To increase our access to magic."
"The quest for power drives most of the wars of this world, but our wars in particular. It is your dynasty's very basis, this lust for magic, and it is why Tremont is rarely if ever at peace."
Temmin scratched at the stubble of his mourning braid before he remembered his stitches. "But Tennoc went to war to avenge his mother and stepbrother, and to save Gwynna."
"Did he," said Teacher, replacing the book atop the study's lectern. "We will resume tomorrow."
Even with the book's dubious distraction, Temmin chafed at inactivity. "I think we'll return to the City sooner than later," he said to Jenks the next morning.
Jenks paused in the arrangement of Temmin's cravats in a wardrobe drawer; in the sitting room, a little crash announced Fen Wallek, clearing up the early tea. Jenks winced. "I thought we might stay a little longer, surely."
"No, I want to depart on the eleventh. That gives everyone a week to prepare. I'm sure Elly and Cousin Donnis will remain for the present, so I will be returning with you, Wallek, his wife if I can wrest her from Elly's clutches, Jebby and Alvo Nollson."
"You will, will you?" said Jenks, finishing with his fussing. "And how do you intend to get Alvo to come along? What happened between you and Alvo anyway? He's bordering rude these days."
Temmin grimaced and turned away, hoping Jenks didn't see his telltale cheeks. No amount of Lovers' Temple training so far had conquered his propensity to blush when it came to his personal business. "We…had a fight the night before I left two years ago, and apparently he's chosen not to forgive me."
"How do you intend to coax him into coming with you?"
He was Heir of Tremont and a Supplicant of the Lovers' Temple, that's how, he said to himself. "I'll figure it out, one way or another."
Suddenly Jenks strode into the bedchamber; a manly squeak and an "Oi!" followed, and Temmin hurried out to find Jenks in the doorway to the sitting room, his thumb and forefinger pinching Fen Wallek's freckled ear. Temmin folded his arms. "Oh?"
"Oh," growled Jenks. "An eavesdropper."
"I wasn' eavesdroppin!" said the outraged valet-in-training. "I was only…I needed to tell you…all right, I was eavesdroppin!" Jenks gave his ear a last pinch and let go; Fen rubbed at it. "And I dunno if I want to go back to the Keep if it's all the same, sir."
"It isn't, and you will. Jenks is coming with me, and he tells me you're tethered to him. Therefore, you're coming. See if you can get Arta away from the nursery."
"She won' go, sir, I can tell you that now. She's stuck on the little Princess as much as she's stuck on our own babe. You'll never shift 'er, not without a team of oxen."
"Then you'll have to come alone and she'll join you when she's through," said Temmin. Jenks frowned, and Fen's face drooped, but Temmin would not relent; he wanted--no, needed--his people around him. "See to it, Jenks. Get things in motion." As he stalked away Jenks said, "Eavesdropping is part of the job! Get better at it, you spotted oaf!"