Chapter 15 Part 7 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1
Temmin came from the book laughing for the first time: a delirious happiness, a yearning sated. The lovemaking's intensity left him out of breath, aroused but somehow satisfied. "They were happy," said Temmin. "They married happily! Were they always happy? Please tell me they were."
"Emmae gave King Warin twelve children, the last of whom became a Supplicant of the Lovers' Temple and eventually Most High Beloved--Finnia. The King and Queen were devoted to one another all their lives. Warin never took a mistress, rather to the astonishment of his subjects and his own sons."
"Is it that uncommon in a king?"
"He is the only Tremontine king inclined toward women who did not take mistresses."
Temmin's mood deflated, brought abruptly down to the present. "I suppose I should get on with it, then," he grumbled.
"Far be it from me to discourage you from a natural inclination--if that is yours," said Teacher, "but the past does not predict the future. You do not have to walk directly in the footprints of your ancestors."
"I find that advice astonishing coming from someone who's always going on about prophecy."
"Prophecy is unrelated to the past."
Temmin frowned. "Is prophecy always right, though? What about mine?"
"In my experience, prophecy is always right. What is wrong is how prophecies are interpreted. I hesitate to interpret yours, and wonder whether interpretations to date are correct."
"I wonder if an Heir will ever fulfill the prophecy and become a Supplicant," said Temmin, tracing the worn gilt lettering on the book's cover. "I mean, I wanted to be one, but...maybe it's not even a prophecy. Warin's prophecy didn't come true."
"It most certainly did."
"He didn't kill his father."
"Hildin was the crowned king," Teacher said patiently. "The prophecy was not at fault. Rather, it was the interpretation. Warin's fate found him however much he tried to escape it, and it was not the fate he had always expected. Then, too, remember Hildin's own prophecy: 'As a rabbit, so a man.' Nerr will get the Heir, some day." Teacher paused. "Do you still wish to fulfill that prophecy yourself--to become a Supplicant?"
"You're not supposed to talk to me about it."
"I am not supposed to advise you on it. This is not advice. Do you?"
"I don't see how I can. Everyone thinks I've lost my virginity to Arta."
"The Gods know differently."
"I can't just walk into the Temple and say, 'Whatever you've heard, it's not true.'"
"The Gods always know the truth. One does not have to convince anyone of anything."
Temmin sat up straighter. His father thought he was no longer eligible. The nobles thought so, too. The only ones who knew different were himself, and Teacher. Arta and Fen, and Ellika, they might assume it, but they didn't know for certain. "I can do it now, can't I? No one can stop me, because they think they already have." He turned a shining face to Teacher. "No one can stop me!"
Jenks came home from Reggiston the next day, grumbling about some stupid captain taking a severe dislike to his nephew, "but I gave him a severe disliking. He was dished, oh yes, sir, he was dished within an inch of his life." Temmin wondered how a former corporal could "dish" a captain with no repercussions, but said nothing. Nor did he say anything about the resolution of his difficulties. The less said, the better; if he followed through on the plans rapidly forming in his head, he wanted Jenks to have nothing to do with it. As for Arta and Fen, all the gruff valet would say was, "I saw them when I visited my sister on the Estate. I told you to leave the maids alone, but left out the footmen. Ah well, at least he's spirited. And she has a sweet way about her. Just...try not to hurt them, sir."
"Nothing is further from my mind," said Temmin.
That Ammaday, the 40th of Spring's Beginning, was the day the twins had originally set for Temmin to make up his mind; instead, he was to visit the Temple for the day, perhaps the night. Harsin knew, but paid no heed; the night before, he smiled indulgently at his son across the breakfast and dinner tables, and the son smiled indulgently back. "I do wonder why you sent your...friends to Whithorse, Tem," said the King over after-dinner port one night. "Rather hard to see them, that far away. You can only go up to Reggiston once every other spoke, at most."
Temmin made a show of bashful thoughtfulness. "It was a kindness. It bothered them to be here in the Keep, or even in the City. And I want my privacy. I'm sure you understand, sir."
"Oh, very much so," grinned Harsin. "I know the last few weeks have been difficult for you, son. I wish to make it up to you. I will tell Teacher to take you to your lovers. You can go to them whenever you wish, as often as you wish."
"Take me to my lovers. Why, thank you...Papa," said Temmin, hiding a smile of his own.