Chapter 13 Part 3 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1
Temmin's charge down the Temple steps caught Mardus off-guard. "Your Highness," he called as he ran after the Prince, "I was in conference with the captain of the Temple's Own--I thought we were here for the day--"
"There's been a permanent change of plans. You won't need to talk with the Temple's Own for some time yet, if ever," said Temmin in a thick voice. "Where's my horse? I want to get out of here."
Mardus gestured to one of his cohort, who took off running toward the Temple stables. He pulled on his helmet, his unsettled gaze on Temmin. "Sir, is there anything we as your guard should know? Do you not feel safe here?"
"The only danger here is me," snapped the Prince. "Where's my Pagg-damned horse--finally!" Temmin thrust his hat onto his head and leaped into the saddle. LeiLei danced impatiently until the Guards mounted their own horses. Mardus did his best to keep Temmin from cantering on ahead of them, but once inside the gates, the Brother gave up, and Temmin pelted down the drive; his hat blew off. Mardus stopped, picked it up, and carried it to the mudroom entrance.
From there, the somewhat dusty hat made its way up to the Prince's rooms atop a silver salver held by a footman, finally ending up in the hands of Jenks, who accepted it without comment. The last sound before the door closed was His Highness's voice, raised in anguish and anger: "What do you mean, you're leaving?"
The footman put the salver under his arm and walked silently down the Residence Wing hall, until the King's secretary stopped him before the open door of his office. "The Prince has returned?"
"Yes, Mr Winmer," said the footman. "And may I say, not in the best of moods."
"You may not say, Caid," he answered. "The Prince's business is not a subject for the gossip of servants." At the young man's abashed face, Winmer added, "Very good, it's all right, carry on." He spared the footman a final glance, then shut the door and walked through his green, book-lined office to the King's private sitting room, smiling. "He's home, sir, and 'not in the best of moods,' says Caid."
"Gods bless Litta," sighed Harsin. "Sulky, is he?"
"I would spend the day engaged elsewhere, sir, until tonight's events have unfolded."
"You've arranged things?"
"Oh, yes. The girl is dependable. By this time tomorrow, he will no longer be eligible for Supplicancy. And I should think he'll be considerably more cheerful as a result."
Harsin laughed slightly. "Perhaps, but I think it will be some time before he forgives me. I love my son--I'm his father. But we are King first." He paused, considering. "I'm concerned that someone may try to convince him to stay the course and not accept his gift tonight."
"Colonel Jenks has been called away. His train leaves in two hours. Gram has called in his nephew, Harbis, a gentleman's gentleman of great repute, while the Colonel is away."
"By Brother Mardus and Teacher. He is completely reliable. Speaking of which, I must ask, sir, about Teacher himself."
"I've given him further instruction not to advise Temmin in any matter involving the Lovers' Temple."
Winmer frowned. "I do not question your judgment, sir, but is it wise to let Teacher out of the library until this is settled? He always looks for loopholes."
"Not this time. He knows my mind."