Chapter 13 Part 4 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1
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When Teacher found him, Temmin lay on the green velvet sofa in his study; his eyes hurt, and his hair tangled around his head. "Jenks left," he said.
"I know, Your Highness," Teacher murmured, taking up the habitual post by the hearth. "What did he tell you?"
"That his sister Justice needed him in Reggiston, something about her oldest son getting drummed out of the cavalry. I said, why can't you handle it by post? And what could a former corporal--Uncle Pat's servant!--do about it anyway? He insisted he had to go. And I need him. This is my father's doing. Why won't he leave me alone!"
"I have heard that Mr Gram's nephew, a Mr Harbis, will be here shortly to take care of your attire, sir."
"What do I care about my attire?" cried Temmin, flinging himself backward with one arm over his face. "Harbis can go to the Hill, along with my clothes. I'll send him away. I need Jenks!"
"Why do you need him so badly?"
A sob escaped from under Temmin's elbow. "I'm not going through with Supplicancy."
"Lord Litta threatened to spread the story about Allis and Issak and everything that happened to them in Belleth."
Temmin lifted his elbow, his sleeve now damp with tears. "'Ah?' That's all? You have nothing else to say, no advice on what I might do?"
"There is nothing I can say," shrugged Teacher. "Your father has ordered me not to advise you on matters involving the Lovers' Temple, sir."
"Pagg damn him! I order you to talk to me about it! I have to talk to someone!"
"Your orders do not supersede his, Your Highness," said Teacher gently.
"You obeyed Hildin!"
"King Gethin had named him Regent, an order that bound me to Hildin as long as Gethin lived, or until he ended Hildin's regency." Teacher gave a small but sympathetic smile. "I can listen, but no more."
Temmin sat up. "Can you advise me on politics?"
Teacher's smile widened. "Certainly, sir."
"All right, then. How might I counter the Duke of Litta?"
"You do not need to, Your Highness. Others will take care of His Grace."
"Others? Who?" he asked, puzzled.
"Alas, I cannot advise you on that," answered Teacher, with a smile both pensive and mischievous.
"The Temple? But what can they do?"
"Alas, I cannot advise you on that," repeated Teacher, "though I may advise you on anything else."
Temmin frowned in thought for a moment, then said, "Let me try it this way: were someone wishing to counter Litta, what could one do?"
"Be more specific in your questioning, sir. What is Litta doing that one would wish to counter?"
"He's blackmailing me! He's a blackmailer!" shouted Temmin, waving his arms.
A triumphant smile, and Teacher said, "Few of us have clean hands. That is why the wise man, especially a man whose public credit is important, never resorts to blackmail. To counter a highly placed blackmailer, one goes digging."
"But how can I?"
"I am telling you, sir," said Teacher intently, "you do not have to. Others have it in hand. Trust that anyone attempting to blackmail an Embodiment of the Lovers would find himself in deep water before long, and in this life as well as the next."
Temmin's heart lightened. "You're taking care of it for me!"
"Not at all, sir," said Teacher through thinned lips. "Others have it in hand. More than that I cannot say."
Temmin sighed. He knew full well Teacher's meaning; the Temple would take care of Litta. "I just don't see what those others can do."
"Have patience, sir. In the meantime, I suggest perhaps studies might take your mind off His Grace."
"Oh, Gods," he groaned. "I'm still upset from the last part of the story." Even so, he fetched the old blank book from its shelf, and settled back onto the sofa. In truth, he was glad to leave his own problems behind; at least, he thought before the book swallowed him up, he didn't face a murderous, insane brother.
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