Chapter 13 Part 2 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2
Tennoc and Hanni rode through forests, over rolling grasslands, past oak groves, ripening grain fields, neatly tended farms and grasslands dotted with sheep, cattle and horses, all sleek on the lush pasture. Tennoc wondered if it was a good year, or if the land was always this rich. His grandfather must be wealthy indeed. "Prime horse country, just as I've always heard," said Tennoc.
"Aye, sir. Once, long ago, when I served my Princess Inglatine, came I here to Whitehorse. Best horse country there is."
They followed the main track, camping at night wherever they could find cover. When he could, Tennoc practiced his magic, trying little things he'd seen Kenver do. If he concentrated, he could snatch a flame from the fire and bounce it in his hand like a ball. He could float good-sized rocks, though the larger ones made his broken rib hurt and he couldn't always make them go the direction he wanted them to. More than once, Hanni unleashed a torrent of Leutish curses at him when a rock went astray and came close to braining the man.
From time to time they passed farmers and peddlers but no one else until they were less than a day's ride from Lord Grandfather's castle. By now, Hanni had hit on using the false Tremontine banners taken from Dunnoc's guardsmen; they fluttered from the lances they'd taken as well: "For the Heir it is right."
Five riders came towards them from the east, wearing the green, white and silver of Whitehorse. None looked over-friendly. "My bow I am thinking, sir," muttered Hanni.
"Stay your hand until we see what's what," answered Tennoc. When they were within earshot he called out in Tremontine, "Greetings, gentlemen! Are we on the track for Whitehorse Freehold?"
The man at their head was ten years or so Tennoc's senior, a barrel-chested man whose face reminded Tennoc of his mother. The stranger ran an eye over the Tremontine banners. "What would you be doing with Tremontine heraldry, asking the way to Whitehorse Freehold, Kell?" growled the man.
Tennoc wished his Tremontine didn't lilt quite so much. "I wish to visit my grandfather, Gonnor of Whitehorse."
"Grandfather, is it?" snorted the man. "I know every one of his grandsons. I don't know you."
"Not by sight but perhaps by reputation. I am Tennoc ar Sial. My mother is Lassanna of Whitehorse."
A murmur somewhere between astonishment and contempt rippled through the men. "The King's bastard, eh?" said the leader. "Only one servant--I can see what high esteem the Kells hold you in. No, I peg you for a down-on-his-luck tinker or some such. Or maybe even a Traveler thrown out of his tribe."
Hanni muttered something in Leutish Tennoc knew would have brought all five Whitehorsers down on them in seconds had they understood it. He squared his shoulders and met the man's eyes steadily. "I am told King Andrin sired me, but--" He stopped himself from saying, Dunnoc of Kellen is my father. "But whatever my birth," he continued, "your king and my grandfather have bid me come into Tremont, and here I am. I have Lord Grandfather's letter here." He patted his tunic.
The big man held out an autocratic hand. Hanni tensed beside him, but Tennoc gave him a reassuring glance and pulled the parchment from his breast. He rode halfway to the cluster of men and stopped. The other man scowled, but Tennoc smiled patiently. The Whitehorser gave in, tapped his mount's sides and rode grumbling to meet Tennoc, who handed over the parchment as soon as they met.
The man scanned the letter, raising pale eyebrows. "This is Grandfather's handwriting. Where did you get this?"
"From a Tremontine courier sent to Gwyrfal three spokes hence."
"What did he look like?"
"A small man, dark, with a stiff leg."
The Whitehorser eyed him again. "You are like Gonnor," he admitted, "though you cut a figure more like His Majesty's, I dare say." He handed back the parchment; Tennoc tucked it into his tunic again.
A rock from the side of the road levitated and whizzed toward Hanni's head. Tennoc's magic reached out; the rock stopped within an inch of the man's skull and hovered, shaking. "I am not entirely in control of my magic yet, sir," grated Tennoc. "While I am not used to wielding such power I can guarantee as the Heir I have far more of it than you do, whoever you are. I will not let you hurt Hanni, and I cannot be responsible for where this rock might go."
The rock retreated from Hanni's temple and dropped to the ground. The big man nodded his head. "All right, we shall escort you to our grandfather. My name is Fallik. I am Lord Gonnor's heir, and your cousin, Temmin of Tremont."
"My name is Tennoc ar Sial," muttered the young man, but he and Hanni fell in among the riders and cantered toward the east.