Chapter 5 Part 4 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Kenver-and-Tennoc became Kenver. The boy retreated into himself, leaving Tennoc sitting in the garden alone with Gwynna most days. "What did I do? How come he doesn't like me any more?"

"You've thtill got a mama and we don't." Gwynna's lisp had worsened. "I want my mama, Tennoc!"

"Oh, Gwynna, don't cry!" He threw his arms around the little girl. "Look, you can borrow my mama. She can't have any more children, and I don't have a father anyway to give me a brother or sister, so there's lots of her left over and I'm sure she'd like a daughter, so please don't cry!"

"I want my mama!" she sobbed. Further persuasion made her cry harder. Tennoc finally took her to her grandmother the Dowager Queen and went in search of his mother.

Mama dressed in black now--everyone did. Tennoc didn't like black. It didn't suit her; it dulled her eyes and made her skin look sallow and pale. He burrowed against her until she let him into her lap. "I don't like it here now," he grumbled. "Gwynna cries all the time, Ken won't talk to me, everyone wears black."

"Well, my sweetheart, we may be going back to Brunsial in any event. I represented Clan Sial in the Queen's court, and with her gone…" Mama grimaced, close to tears. "Now that she's gone we have no reason to be here." She hugged him tight.

Leave Gwyrfal? He'd said he didn't like it there any more, but leaving was another matter entirely. "I don't remember Brunsial. Is it nice there?"

"Oh yes. Lord Williard--our uncle, you know--he's very kind, and your great-grandmother is there. She is very, very old now, and I know she would love to see you. Home is very nice."

"How can you call Brunsial home? Gwyrfal's home, not Brunsial. Oh, Mama, I'm sorry, don't cry! What did I say? Don't cry!"

"I'm sorry, Tennoc!" she sobbed. "Hallia made this place home for us. Now that she's gone I don't know where we belong. We can't go to our real home, ever. That's Whitehorse. Your grandfather…I shouldn't be talking to you like this, I'm sorry, darling. I'll stop." She controlled her tears and wiped her red, puffy eyes.

His mother never said much about Lord Grandfather. He knew from gossip that the Duke had tried to kill his mother before his birth. If Lord Grandfather hated Mama, then he hated Lord Grandfather. He didn't know what to think about his father. If his mother said little about the Duke of Whitehorse, she said even less about King Andrin. The closest he'd ever come to a father was King Dunnoc. "Mightn't the King let us stay if we ask him?" he faltered. "You and he are good friends."

Mama shook her head. "I can't, sweetheart. I really had no business being here in the first place."

Lassanna did her best to adjust to life back at Brunsial. Her grandmother went into ecstasies at their return, and everyone doted on Tennoc. "It is past time and past you got married, niece," said Williard. "The boy needs a father."

"The boy needs a father, indeed," she retorted, "and if I find a man I like who will accept Tennoc as equal to his own children, then perhaps I shall."

Many suitors came to Brunsial just to be turned away, some gently and some not. None would accept Tennoc as his own. The final suitor came at the midpoint of the year: King Dunnoc and his children arrived for a long visit, setting the small castle a-boil as a beehive.

After a brief awkwardness, Kenver and Tennoc became Kenver-and-Tennoc again, tearing through the hallways and raiding the kitchens until the seneschal threw them outside to pester the stablehands and dig up the garden. Two weeks into the royal visit, Lassanna and the King sat in a sheltered grove overlooking the long, rolling grasslands leading to the Western Sea and the white chalk cliffs that gave Brunsial its name. Tennoc, Kenver and an outclassed-but-game Gwynna were fighting among the trees, using fallen branches for swords; Yellow Hanni, long promoted from horse-herder to child-herder, oversaw the matches, pronouncing the outcomes in his comical Kellish.

"It pleases me to see the children so happy again," said Lassanna. "Tennoc has missed Kenver greatly. How…how are they doing now?"

"Since Hallia died? Don't be afraid to say her name, you of all people--her dearest friend. As long as you and I and the children live, she lives. Speak her name. It gives me comfort." Dunnoc shifted on the stone bench. "It gives me comfort just to be near you, to be truthful. You remind me of her, and the good times. It's why I came to Brunsial. Ken and Gwynna miss you and the boy. I miss you." He took Lassa's hand, and she turned from watching the children to the man beside her. "Lassa, I want you to come back to Gwyrfal."

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