Chapter 5 Part 2 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Lassanna and Yellow Hanni arrived at Brunsial, the seat of her mother's clan, after many days' travel; her uncle, his wife, their two sons and their daughter welcomed her as their own. "I will never understand the Tremontines," said Lord Williard ar Sial. "I told my sister not to marry that man. We should have gone into Whitehorse and fetched her back. Threatening to kill you--how is that honorable? Here you are an exile from home, and what of the child's father? I doubt any so-called dishonor has devolved upon him. No, you are welcome here, my dear."

"You haven't seen me since my childhood," said Lassa.

"You're the spitting image of your mother and grandmother. I would know you anywhere." Williard embraced her. "I will send word to your family. They must know you are safe. Your father will regret his temper soon enough."

But when the time came for the baby, no word had come from Whitehorse. Had she known how hard the birth would be, Lassa would have let her father kill her. As it was she almost died. "It grieves me to say you will never have another one, ma'am," said the midwife as she washed her hands afterwards.

"I am not grieved in the least," mumbled Lassa. She promptly fell asleep, her new little boy swaddled beside her.

Lord Williard gave the baby a name: Tennoc ar Sial. "He'll carry the clan name, none of this no-name business of the Tremontines." Lassa became Lassanna ar Sial after a letter from her mother warned her not to return to Whitehorse; her father had stripped her of his surname.

Lassa spent the first few spokes of Tennoc's life at Brunsial. She exchanged letters with her mother and Princess Inglatine--the former secretive and brief, the latter long and chatty. Inglatine gave birth to another girl. Alas, dear Lassa, she wrote, I am not to be free of the Prince any time soon, it appears! Why could I not have given birth to the son? Then we might live together away from court, you and I, and be comfortable. But no, I will have my own boy soon enough.

Williard ar Sial's country court at Brunsial was pleasant enough, but Lassa missed the brightness and pleasure of a city court like the Keep; she was still young, mother or no. She confessed to envy when King Dunnoc called her painfully shy cousin Flaryn to serve as lady-in-waiting to young Queen Hallia. "Oh, do come with me, Lassa!" wailed Flaryn. "Father says I must go to represent the clan, but Mother can't come with me and I can't go alone, I just can't!"

So Lassanna went to Gwyrfal, taking Hanni with her; the man refused to leave her and would have walked the entire way if she hadn't taken him. "My Lady Inglatine said serve you, and protect you I, Hanni, will do with my life!" He brandished the bow he carried whenever they rode out. Though Lassa remained unconvinced of his skill in battle, she had to admit the man was an unparalleled archer in more peaceful settings; if not for him, they might have starved on the journey to Kellen.

Lassa left Tennoc behind at Brunsial; the baby would do fine, everyone was sure. But not a spoke passed before Lassa sent for her son in a paroxysm of longing.

Even with the baby in company, she entered into life at Gwyrfal with a flair her cousin could not muster. Flaryn was the most beautiful woman at court, but so timid and overwhelmed that she faded into the background. Worse: cheerful, busy Queen Hallia made the poor girl nervous.

Not Lassa. Though she had no official position at court, she rapidly became a favorite. King Dunnoc and Queen Hallia set great store by her. Dunnoc was an older man, but Hallia was just Lassa's age and much like her in her love for merriment and music. As it is with so many mothers, though, their sons cemented Lassa and Hallia's friendship. Kenver was a year and a half older than Tennoc; as soon as Tennoc could reliably run, the two boys became fierce companions and the terror of the nursery--a terror briefly interrupted by the arrival of Kenver's little sister Gwynna. They were Kenver-and-Tennoc, one boy with two bodies.

By then Lassa's shy cousin had married a baronet and retired to a quiet life near the border with Whitehorse. Lassa officially took her place as first among Hallia's ladies-in-waiting, and Tennoc took his place as companion to the royal children. Though the courtiers accepted and even loved Tennoc, he knew his place even at a young age: he had no father, and as the Tremontine king's bastard he was always suspect.

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