Chapter 12 Part 3 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2
Once he arrived in his sitting room, Temmin called, "Hullo, Jenks, are you here?" No answer. His mother's influence extended to his rooms at the Estate, more to his taste than his grand apartments at the Keep: brighter and more open, the furnishings nimble--lighter and less formal. Few books graced the shelves here, and those that did contained the finer points of equine management, exciting Cavalry stories, or both. Ranged among them were his schoolbooks--most with near-pristine bindings, some with uncut pages.
Luncheon wasn't for at least two hours. Temmin didn't want to go see Ellika, Arta and the baby. He guessed that Jenks was somewhere watching Fen fall off his horse. Temmin preferred being busy; this inactivity made him restless. He walked to the bookcase and fingered the spines in meditation. Books interested him more since Teacher's reading to him from the Intimate History, though its magical immersion of listeners in the story intrigued him far more than the dusty recitations his tutors had offered him. Perhaps he'd go through the books in the Estate's library. There had to be something worth reading to pass the time. He picked out a book of old war stories he remembered from his boyhood.
"Are you interested perhaps in some study?" came a cool voice.
Temmin dropped the book on his foot. "Gah! Ow! Pagg's balls! Teacher, I swear you wait to come through mirrors until people aren't looking on purpose!"
"What purpose would that serve?" said the slim black and white figure standing in the door to Temmin's bedchamber.
"Your own amusement."
Teacher's mouth curved in a shallow bow. "Forgive me. The only mirrors in your suite are in your wardrobe and bedchamber. I did not mean to startle you."
"The Bloody One you didn't." Temmin picked up the book on the floor, hobbled back to his sofa and settled on its red chintz cushions. "You may have broken my foot," he added, stretching his legs out on the sofa.
"I doubt it, and do not blame me for your own clumsiness." Teacher took an ancient red book from under one arm and placed it on the table before the sofa. "His Majesty thought perhaps study might be a good diversion."
"He did? I am understandably surprised."
"To be honest, his exact reply to my suggestion was, 'Do as you please, I do not care.'"
"He's taking Mama's death harder than I expected he would."
Teacher leaned against the mantel corner closest to Temmin. "Whatever you may think, His Majesty loved your mother and always did."
Temmin curled his lip. "I suppose that's why he's so excited about his mistress's child. He really means to make the Shelstone a countess?"
"For the child's sake, yes. He has no interest in the woman herself any more. I have never seen him less interested in women."
"You amaze me." Temmin put his feet back on the floor. "The whole thing is amazing. I had no idea all it took to become a countess was to whore yourself out to a king."
"I thought you were sympathetic to the plight of illegitimate offspring."
"Not their mothers."
Teacher gestured toward the book. "Do you remember the daughter of this very House I began to tell you about last year?"
"Lassanna of Whitehorse? Yes." Temmin's scowl held on stubbornly. "She ended up Queen of Kellen, though!"
"Not through 'whoring herself out to a king.' Dunnoc of Kellen had to woo her and win her. Her earlier dalliance with Andrin of Tremont almost cost her her life and that of her unborn son."
"I don't see how it's the same."
"It is not the same, at all. My point is this: The attention of kings is not always favorable, even when one is the wife of a king and not his mistress."
Temmin sat up straighter, elbows on his knees. "Why? Did Dunnoc prove to be a bad husband?"
"Shall we find out?"
Temmin touched the book's old Tremontine red cover; the soft, smooth leather seemed warm, as if it were alive. He opened it. The pages were still blank to him.
"Tennoc grew to manhood in King Dunnoc's court at Gwyrfal, and remained the only living son of King Andrin of Tremont."
The words blossomed on the pages as they used to do and changed to images; the images moved and swallowed Temmin up.