Chapter 2 Part 1 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

Neyaday, the 9th Day of Spring's Beginning

The first thing Temmin saw when he looked into the bathroom mirror on his birthday was a man. He was eighteen; that was that, he was an adult now. "And I still can't grow a proper beard," he said aloud, rubbing his chin.

"What, sir?" called Jenks.


The second thing he saw when he looked in the bathroom mirror was a face not his own.

Underneath his own reflection lay a faint tracing--a smooth face, a paler, thinner face with precise features, odd silver eyes, and iron-colored hair pulled back in an old-fashioned tail. He blinked, and it disappeared.

"Jenks? Insanity doesn't run in the family, does it?"

"Not to my knowledge, sir," said Jenks.

Chapter 1 Part 7 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

Temmin pulled her closer by degrees. She smelled of hay and tea, and he wanted to bury his nose in her neck. Her quick pulse beat at her wrist beneath his fingers, her corset bones stiff beneath his hand at her back; he wondered how soft her breasts were, whether her nipples were the same sweet, rosy color as those of the girl in the hedge, and he grew impossibly, uncomfortably hard.

Chapter 1 Part 6 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

When Temmin returned, he got no further than the Keep's mud room when Jenks pounced. He traded his mucky boots for carpet slippers, and once upstairs, his dusty riding clothes for more elegant attire. "Do you need a shave this morning, young sir? You rushed out before I could get a good look at you," called Jenks from the wardrobe.

Temmin examined his chin in the mirror; still not enough beard to grow out, though his plentiful sideburns and moustache left little to be desired. "No. Why can't I just change my boots?" he said, scrubbing his face with a wet flannel.

"This is court, Your Highness, you cannot go to breakfast smelling like a horse."

Chapter 1 Part 5 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

"Temmy, are you listening?" said Ellika, whacking his knee with her fan. He started, and glanced out the window; they had crossed the Feather at Kingsbridge, and were approaching the great gates leading to the parklands around the base of the cliff that held Tremont Keep.

"We're having a ball for your birthday," said Sedra.

"A ball? Who wants a ball?"

"You do," said the King.

Chapter 1 Part 4 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

To Temmin's dismay, his mother's religious advisor joined the royal party at dinner. At Whithorse, Sister Ibbit lived at the Temple of Venna in Reggiston and never dined with them, but tonight Ansella seated the priestess to her left and Temmin to her right. Looking up from the soup, he caught Ibbit staring at him in contempt, and wondered if he'd have to endure her half-hearted religious instruction at the Keep. He'd managed to out-and-out skip most of it, with Ibbit's approval; her open hostility led him to avoid her as much from personal dislike as boredom, and she seemed to share his feeling.

Chapter 1 Part 3 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

The next day hurt. "It's called a 'hangover,'" said Jenks as he bustled around the room packing Temmin's last things. "The first one's the hardest. Come on, Your Highness, ass out of bed. Serves you out for drinking in the first place."

"Go away, Jenks. I'm not going," said Temmin.

"Balls to that, and up you go, young sir. I've only got two hours to get you into a state fit to be seen by your mother, let alone smelled. Drink this," he ordered, thrusting a glass filled with a viscous, malodorous liquid in Temmin's direction.

Chapter 1 Part 1 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

Whithorse Estate, Whithorse Province
Ammaday, the 5th Day of Spring's Beginning, 990 KY

In the stable yards of Whithorse Estate, two lanterns burned. They shone up at their owners, who sat on a straw bale against a brick wall. The low light transformed the rangy, blue-eyed one's fair hair into a burnished bronze, and turned the shorter, stockier one's eyes near-black. Both wore battered old tweed caps, and coats just heavy enough for the early spring night. The shorter one held a flask of wuisc, full at the start of the evening, and as its level dropped, they listed into one another more and more.


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