Ellika

Chapter 9 Part 2 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Two days before Summer's Beginning on a sunny Vennaday, the merciful Most Highs sent Temmin back to the Keep. He shot his cuffs and twitched under his now-unfamiliar shirt collar in the warm weather; there was much to be said for the loose, comfortable Temple garb as the temperature rose.

He sought out his younger sister on arrival and found her in her apricot-and-gilt private sitting room, pacing on the needlepointed roses of her carpet. Ellika pounced on him as soon as he came through the door. "Oh, I'm so glad you're home, Temmy, it's been the most vexing spoke ever!" She poured out her sorrows: the odious Elbig Shelstone's elevation, the hussy Twenna Shelstone's residence at Middlemont, their father's frequent, indiscreet absences, Sedra's impending engagement, and their mother's troubling indisposition. "You look well at least," she sniffed.

"I'm here," he said, kissing her forehead. "Doesn't that satisfy, you little baggage?"

Chapter 9 Part 1 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

The last days of Spring's Ending turned increasingly pleasant. The icy mountain winds blowing down the City's two rivers mellowed in the strengthening sun: fresh, kind, their edges softly rounded. The City overflowed in greenery, and the gardeners at the Lovers' Temple proliferated like the flowers they tended. On this late morning, they worked around Temmin in a mild buzz of snipping and pruning as he sat on the lawn, his tunic off and his drawstring trousers rolled up to feel the sun on his skin.

In fact, it was too bright on the grass for him to read his latest missive from Ellika. He shifted into the nearest tree's dappled light, lying flat on the grass and holding the letter over his head. He began to skim what he assumed would be her usual cheerful nattering about what she would wear to this coming Nerr's Day parties--the last of the season--hints as to what his brother's gift would be, and society gossip about people he barely knew. What he read was quite different:

Characters: 

Chapter 3 Part 8 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Temmin woke the next morning to someone moving through his room. "Jenks?" he called, sitting up and ruffling his hair.

From beyond the bed-curtains came a level voice he recognized as Gram, his father's valet. "No, sir. I'm tending to your needs until my nephew Mr Harbis arrives this afternoon." Gram opened first the bed-curtains then the draperies, letting the gray winter light creep apologetically past the valet's square shoulders into the bedchamber.

Temmin flung himself down on the pillows again. "Harbis? Oh, Pagg's balls," he muttered to himself. He'd had to put up with Harbis as his valet last year when Jenks was called away. The elegant man was irritatingly good at his job, his sole flaw being that he wasn't Jenks--Jenks, the dispenser of advice from fashion to horses, more a father to him than the King. The gravel-voiced ex-cavalryman had been Temmin's personal servant since he could remember. The year they'd spent apart had been busy enough that Temmin hadn't had time to miss him much, but here outside the Temple he felt his old friend's absence greatly. "Gram, your nephew is all very well and good, but I'm not going to be here long enough to need him!"

Chapter 1 Part 3 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Temmin twirled his mother through the dobla, the simple traditional dance that began all Tremontine balls. As they turned, he took in the room from the corners of his eyes, as he'd been trained. Issak was making the reserved Sedra blush; Ellika was treating the surprisingly graceful Litta as if he were in doddering need of her guidance, luckily to his amusement; and Harsin was entirely too close to Allis. His father wore the intimate, hooded expression that meant far more than polite interest.

Temmin buried his anger and brought his full attention back to his mother, to catch her scanning the balconies; she returned searching eyes to his face. "You look so very well! You've grown, my dear! Are you happy? Did you make the right decision?"

"Oh, yes." His mother quirked a brow; no training could hide his heart from his mother. "Mostly," he amended. "It's not quite what I thought it would be. But I'm learning a great deal, and not all what…what most people think goes on there." He blushed; he still couldn't control his blushing reliably.

Chapter 1 Part 2 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Temmin kept his face as tranquil as he could, though his heart beat so hard against his starched shirt front that its studs must be quivering. Would his father cut him on his own birthday? There'd been more than one royal snub in the last year: no invitations to his sisters' birthdays; careful avoidance at events requiring the attendance of the entire family; communication with the royal family completely blocked--even with his mother.

Chapter 17 Part 6 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

In the days after his investiture, Temmin fetched and carried for Allis and Issak. To Temmin's relief, the bloom was creeping back into Allis's face, and Issak no longer looked as if someone had crumpled him up and thrown him away--though Someone had, thought Temmin.

Even so, Temmin saw little of them. He lived the unglamorous life of a Postulant. He got lost a lot. He joined a class of newly minted Postulants studying anatomy: not the obvious kind, but the kind in which one learned the names of the bones of the hand. He kissed an extraordinary number of people. Senik hadn't been joking: in the Temple, a kiss meant "Hello," "Goodbye," "Thank you," "You're welcome," and occasionally, "What are you doing after anatomy class?" He learned to sleep through Anda snuffling her tuneful little snore in the bed opposite, and, rarely, in his bed beside him.

Temmin did not miss the Keep, at all, but he did miss his mother and sisters, and especially Jenks. Temmin sent several messages to them and had given up ever hearing back, when one day Senik called Temmin to a receiving room. "A representative from your father, I believe," he said.

It was Winmer.

Chapter 16 Part 1 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

The Keep's servants slept little the week before Neya's Day. All the rooms, even the bedrooms in the Old Residence Wing, were turned out and prepared for guests who might or might not be staying. As they did at the turning of every spoke, the maids received new pinafores, and the footmen new shirtfronts. The maids beat every carpet, brushed every curtain and tapestry; the footmen, under Affton's hypercritical eye, polished every piece of silver, every candlestick, every brass doorknob, grand entrance and mudroom alike, even though their sheen already blinded the onlooker.

Chapter 14 Part 6 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

"How can I serve you, Your Highness?" said Teacher, surveying the crying couple on the floor.

"You can do things for me, yes?" said Temmin. "You're not forbidden to help me?"

"I may do whatever is in my power for you, save in that one matter."

Temmin laid out the situation, with interruptions from both Arta and Fen until he ordered them to be quiet. "I want to send them to Whithorse. Take them through the mirror."

"No," said Teacher.

"No? What d'you mean, no? You said you'd help!"

"Taking them through the mirror will not help. The King will suspect something if they suddenly disappear, and then I will just have to bring them back. You must send them in plain sight. Let everyone believe what they already believe, and that you are sending your new lovers to take up residence near your home."

"But how can I send Fen with her?"

"Sir," said Teacher, "let them believe what they already believe."

"Oh. Oh!" said Temmin.

Chapter 12 Part 6 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

Temmin returned to the dinner table that night, tensed for a confrontation. Instead, his father ignored him, giving him no more than a cursory "Good evening" and a withering look the one time he spoke. Sedra and his mother watched them both, while Ellika chattered on. Temmin supposed Fennows took his dinner in town; he didn't bother to ask.

After dinner, when the women had retired, Harsin left for his own rooms after one silent glass of port, bolted back and the empty glass deposited on the table. Temmin told himself he didn't care, drank his own glass and joined his mother and sisters in the Small Sitting Room.

Chapter 11 Part 1 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

Dinner that night was a thoroughly uncomfortable meal, but no matter how fast Temmin ate, it never seemed to end. His father kept a stony silence; his mother watched them both with apprehension. Ellika bounced with impatience; Sedra merely crooked an eyebrow at him. Fennows smirked and grimaced and nudged his way through all five courses.

When the ladies left and Affton brought in the port and cheese tray, Temmin swallowed a polite glass and rose to excuse himself. To his surprise, Harsin rose as well. "Fennows, we're leaving the ladies to you," the King said. "I'm sure you won't mind."

"Oh, I should think not!" said Fennows, brightening. "P'rhaps I can finally convince Elly to listen to my poetry!" The lordling knocked back his port, scattering nutshells and cheese rinds, and hurried toward the Small Sitting Room.

Once father and son sat before the fire in Harsin's study, the butler re-appeared with another decanter. "I had Affton set aside the best port for us. No point wasting it on that ass Fennows," snorted Harsin.

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