Ellika

Chapter 4 Part 2 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

Temmin spent Paggday at the stables after a long ride, gradually coaxing the men into trusting him. He thought he might even have picked out a matched pair of horses for his curricle, sleek grays with just enough Inchari stock in them to impart the breed's fine heads and high-held tails, without their characteristic skittishness. He would have to consult his mother; her judgment of horses surpassed that of everyone he knew. He'd needed that relaxing day, for today, Ammaday, he began lessons with Teacher.

At breakfast, two members of the family were animated and talkative, two were sullen and withdrawn, and Temmin stood alone in the middle, looking anxiously round the table. Harsin and Ellika were both in fine spirits. The King beamed at Temmin, a mildly unnerving development. Ellika remained her usual ebullient self, even when she burned her tongue on her coffee. Sedra and Ansella, on the other hand, were not; Sedra looked alternately glum and resentful, stealing glances at both Temmin and her father over the top of a resolutely isolating newspaper, and Ansella kept her eyes down, answering questions with a frozen smile and as few words as possible. Temmin thought he would never understand his family.

Chapter 2 Part 6 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

Temmin said nothing more and danced automatically, paying no attention to anything but the woman on his arm. When the dance ended, he demanded the next one, the last in the set. "Happily," she said, and he took her up in his arms again, oblivious to the presence at the floor's edge of an outraged man in a blue honor sash who'd sworn he'd already asked the lady for that dance.

Among the onlookers, another young lady peered through her magnifying glass. "Oh dear me," she said. "It seems Neya's Embodiment has made another conquest."

Sedra took a sip of lemonade and laughed. "That's not even worth remarking on, Despie."

"This time it is," said the lady, nodding over Sedra's shoulder. Sedra followed the nod, and choked; Temmin was dancing with Allis Obby, looking for all the world like a gasping fish on the beach, hook still in mouth.

Chapter 2 Part 4 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

Jenks had gone through every combination of black and white clothing in the room, considered them, and discarded them, until he'd made the only possible conclusion and assembled it on the dressing stand. "It's a ball!" said Temmin. "One wears a black dress suit, a white shirt and stock, and a white waistcoat. All of the men will be dressed identically!"

"You are so, so wrong, Your Highness," said the valet, surveying the tidily ransacked wardrobe. "There are subtleties to the male wardrobe only a connoisseur may perceive, and while you are not yet a connoisseur, you shall be when I'm through with you. In the meantime, you will look the part." Temmin rolled his eyes. "It's for the pride of Whithorse, sir, think of it that way."

"Your pride'll be the death of me," grumbled Temmin.

"My pride will be the making of you, sir, depend on it."

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.

"Nothing!"

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 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.

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