Chapter 2 Part 3 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

"The Prince is here, Your Majesty," said Harsin's secretary with a bow.

"Very good, Winmer, give us a moment and then show him in," said Harsin. "What have you observed of Temmin so far, Teacher?" he continued, turning toward the fireplace.

Teacher considered. "'Callow' is not too strong a word, Your Majesty."

"I agree. I admit to disappointment," said Harsin, shaking his head.

"I should not be disappointed," said Teacher. "Eighteen is still quite young. Remember yourself at that age--I caned you for fourteen days straight. I am surprised you can sit down to this day."

"I was hoping he would be more prepared than this."

Teacher leaned against the mantel. "You are still young yourself, Harsin. You have many years to prepare Temmin for ruling."

"Even so," said the King, "more and more I feel raising him at Whithorse was a mistake."

"His prophecy--"

"I know what it says. We may have interpreted it wrong." Winmer ushered Temmin into the room. "Well, son!" said Harsin. "A glass of something, perhaps--Winmer--" Two glasses of pale red wine appeared, and Winmer disappeared through the door, his last bow more of a little bounce on his toes.

"Thank you," said Temmin; a faint tremor shook his hand as he accepted the glass, and Harsin swallowed a lump of dismay. The boy had no spine, no spirit.

"May I introduce Teacher, my own tutor and this family's counselor for many years," said Harsin. Teacher bowed.

"And you are to be my tutor, now, sir," said Temmin.

"Please do not call me 'sir,'" muttered Teacher.

"Teacher has his ways, Temmin. Pay attention, or it's the cane. Trust me on this. Now," Harsin said, shifting in his chair, "there is much to discuss. The matter at hand is your coming of age. It's time you heard your birth prophecy."

"My what?" said Temmin.

"At birth, every male child is taken to the Queen of the Travelers, who gives him his prophecy," said Teacher.

"The Travelers? You took me to a bunch of vagabond thieves and actors, well-known frauds--for a prophecy," said Temmin. "I hope you didn't pay for it."

That was more the spirit, thought Harsin. Aloud, he said, "A little more respect, please."

"Think what you will of the Travelers, Your Highness," said Teacher, "but their Queen can see the future--reliably when it comes to the royal family. Hers is a true gift, not play-acting."

"All right, then," said Temmin as he squared his shoulders. "Let's hear it."

Teacher recited:

Love to bear him, love to raise him, love to send him on his way
Son in sorrow, son in joy, brings darkness or the brightest day
Two the consorts, two the paths, two the deaths for him to rule
One will be the trusting child and three will be the rivals cruel
Thirst and hunger, sleep and death will come to strike a trusted one
And stones will shatter, stones will stand when might reclaims the rising sun

"That's conveniently cryptic!" said Temmin. "I have no idea what it means."

Harsin took a long draught of his wine, and studied the glass in his hand. "We can make fair guesses about much of it. Some lines are quite clear. 'Two the consorts'--you'll marry twice. And one of the deaths for you to rule will, of course, be my own. Now, stop, Temmin. You wouldn't become king if I were still alive, would you? Regent, perhaps, should I be unable to rule, but not king. And it's likely you'll have one son, the 'trusting child.' We thought the first line meant you should be raised at Whithorse, with your mother." Harsin gave Teacher a hard look from the corner of his eye. "I would have preferred to send you to Parkdale, where I went to school, and I'm still not convinced we did the right thing. You will start your studies with Teacher on Ammaday, to account for the hangover I'm sure you'll set yourself up for tonight." He rose, and Temmin rose with him. "One last thing: I have asked the son of a very good friend to be your companion, to help you adjust to life here in the City."

"I had a companion, at Whithorse," grumbled Temmin.

"That groom? He wasn't a companion, he was a servant," said Harsin. "It's time you kept company with your own class. Percet Sandopint is the oldest son of my good friend, the Duke of Corland. He's styled Lord Fennows. He'll be at the ball tonight."

"I know him, a little," said Temmin, failing to stifle a grimace. "He visited us one winter for a spoke." Almost seven weeks of incredible boredom, he added to himself.

"Well, then. Go have your tea, son. I'm glad we had this chance to talk."

Once Temmin left them, Harsin said, "More pluck than I'd feared. He's spent far too much time chumming around with commoners. I'm hoping Fennows will properly introduce him to City life--show him things about his place in the world he can't learn from you or me--things he should have learned by now."

"Lord Fennows has an indifferent reputation."

"But he's hardly a wild terror. Ansella sheltered Temmin far too much. Wouldn't surprise me if the boy were still a virgin. Ha! That's going a bit far, but he is still quite the wide-eyed child." He finished his glass and added, "I shall be very amused to see his face when we show him the magic."

"Yes," said Teacher. "I am sure it will be quite comical."

Comments

Gudy's picture

Embodiment

... manages to strike at the core of a problem on occasion.

"That's conveniently cryptic!" said Temmin.

It sure is. Biggrin

I do wonder how much of that Harsin got wrong, and what it all means.

eloriane's picture

Devotee

I think Harsin's already made a mistake about the two consorts...

I love prophecies more than anything else in fiction. Especially when people get them terribly wrong.

Gudy's picture

Embodiment

... the line he is most likely to have gotten wrong is the one about the trusted child. Diablo I am somewhat less sure about the two consorts.

Spoiler: Highlight to view
Allis and Issak can't marry or be otherwise sexually exclusive, so they can't be what we usually associate with the word "consort" in a royal context. In fact, that whole line in the prophecy is rather artfully ambiguous in multiple ways, and Harsin may well have gotten both the consorts and the deaths part wrong.
Laureril's picture

Supplicant

I seem to recall that...

Spoiler: Highlight to view
Harsin's claim to the throne was contested by three other (illegitimate?) sons of the former king - could be part of that "three will be the rivals cruel" bit. And that would explain the second death if we get a situation as in Warin the Wise's time where a usurper briefly takes the throne.

I'm inclined to believe that Allis and Issak are the two consorts, especially since Temmin seemed particularly interested in the draft at potentially reinstating the position of Royal Consort. Presumably they could retire from being Embodiments to take that position.

As for the "Two paths", that sounds like the question of which name history will remember him by (and I can't recall what the choice was at the moment.)

LaCiega's picture

Spoiler: Highlight to view
In Neya's prophecy it was Temmin the Liberator or Temmin the Magnificent. I think.
Gudy's picture

Embodiment

... about the three cruel rivals and the two paths, although a more literal interpretation of that second phrase is certainly within the realm of possibility. I am far less sure that one of the deaths referred to in the prophecy is Harsin's, even though it is true that Harsin will have to die before Temmin can become King.

Regarding the consorts,

Spoiler: Highlight to view
to quote: "Temmin, I can't ever be your woman," [Allis] said. "Don't be misled. I can't marry or have children or take only one lover. It's against my vows as a Beloved and an Embodiment."

So, whether or not Temmin reinstates the position of Royal Mistress - and I am almost certain that he won't do that - the Obbys can't be consorts except in a rather different meaning than is usually associated with the word in a royal context, unless they leave the Temple. And frankly, I just don't see them doing that. Not even for Temmin.

NorthwoodsMan's picture

Embodiment

Spoiler: Highlight to view
At this point, I'd have to say that the consorts are Fen and Arta. Because, ya...
mafidufa's picture

Petitioner

Seconded.

manoki's picture

Supplicant

what is a consort? Someone you hang out with, sleep with, but don't marry. A consort doesn't have to live at the castle...

MeiLin's picture

Most High

...that's a concubine. "Consort" is defined as "a wife, husband or companion, in particular the spouse of a reigning monarch."

Zandu Ink's picture

Embodiment

In high fantasy, for example, a dragon would not refer to its mate as husband or wife, but could use the term consort. It is still implied to mean the same thing, though.

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

of men who marry Queens without being Monarchs themselves; rather than becoming King, they (often) become "Prince Consort."

Or so I heard, once upon a time. (That is to say: citation needed (and, Wiki-cite found: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_consort))

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

SQUEEE!

That is all.

Cheez-It's picture

To meet this companion Harsin has selected. I do not recall such a character from the draft.

--Lightdefender

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

I remember his existence, but he was extremely background/referenced-in-passing if I recall correctly. Certainly not going to be the case this time, methinks!

Kittae's picture

Postulant

You should TOTALLY buy the book. = P Worth it.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

...was completely different in the draft, mentioned in passing, I think.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

how I long to tell you what happens. srsly. But I can't.

NorthwoodsMan's picture

Embodiment

Spoiler: Highlight to view
No shit, I know. That's way I'm not making so much comments here. Too easy to give something away
MeiLin's picture

Most High

I'm not even talking about this book. YOU don't even know what I'm talking about! Biggrin

The Which's picture

Embodiment

AGH. I am not feeling patient. I think one day you will have to write little teasers for the next books so we get little hints to sustain us Blum 3

NorthwoodsMan's picture

Embodiment

meilin wrote:
YOU don't even know what I'm talking about!

I hold no delusions that it is something beyond our awareness. But that still doesn't mean I want to, intentionally or not, give away anything that has yet to be released.
Clare-Dragonfly's picture

Supplicant

Harsin's POV! I like.

And a new character! Hmm, not sure if I want to look forward to him or not.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

...is that POV changes in the rewrite. In book one, it was strictly Temmin. Now, we're going to see the action from a number of perspectives. I'm happier as a writer this way, and I'm betting you'll be happier as a reader.

GreenGlass's picture

Supplicant

THIS IS SO DIFFERENT! X_X

MeiLin's picture

Most High

please? It's better, I swear.

GreenGlass's picture

Supplicant

Trust you? To the ends of the world, MeiLin. ^_^

TheBoy's picture

Embodiment

Here, means awesome.

Think about the people here. Many are "different." Most are "awesome."

Amy's picture

Supplicant

I am loving this every bit as much as I did the draft. And truly enjoying all the changes too.

gjh42's picture

This story grabbed me from the first read, as something I knew I would want to follow. Not just for the subject matter and storyline - that was barely established when I started - but even the draft showed an ease and facility with the use of language that is all too rare. Most online writing (and much paperback writing) is stiff and awkward to some degree; not so this.
I also enjoyed the various evolutions of the opening chapter, and think this is the best, though the prophetic scene with Teacher and Temmin was a good "grabber" in its versions.

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