Chapter 9 Part 3 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Temmin had a time tracking down his father. He wasn't in his rooms, he wasn't in his office. The council room contained a few Ministers, alarmed and irritated at his headlong intrusion. He finally thought to ask Affton and tracked him down to the servants' hall. "Riding, I believe, Your Highness," said the butler. "May I say I took the liberty of sending a groom to find His Majesty as soon as the call for the Sisters went out, sir."

Temmin slumped against the kitchen archway and let out a shuddering sigh. His eyes burned, and he wiped at his brow with his handkerchief. "Thank you, Affton, I should have known you'd think to find him."

"May I also suggest, sir, that since there's nothing you can do for the moment you might have a cup of tea?" Affton murmured. "I can send a tray up to your room, if you'd like, or the Small Sitting Room."

"If I go upstairs I'll have a hard time staying away...and Lady Donnis made it clear..." he trailed off. Affton glided him back through the kitchens to the Small Sitting Room. Temmin sat in his shirtsleeves drinking tea and eating plain buttered toast, huddled in a corner of the big room.

Chapter 8 Part 9 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Sedra let her horse pick its way down the steep trail back to the main road through the King's Woods, but on the clearer track she urged the mare to a faster pace. Once on the King's Road itself, she tore away at a run, giving free rein to LeiLei's spirits and her own rage.

The King's favorite child, kept in the dark about her own impending marriage! How much worse could it be were she his least favorite? She was the firstborn, she should be the one to rule Tremont, she was better suited than her feckless brother!

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

A whisper ran through the Hearth that night, carried from one sympathetic mouth in the Healer's House dispensary to various sympathetic ears until it reached a young Sister who worked in the kitchens; she nodded, setting her stubborn black cowlick bobbing. When she returned to her work, she picked up a dinner tray and walked the long stairs into the basement to Sister Ibbit's chilly cell. She gave the renegade her evening meal and murmured, "She is with child, Blessed Ibbit," before she turned away.

Ibbit tore her bread into hunks, the hunks into chunks, the chunks into shreds, the shreds into crumbs. She threw them into her soup and ate with deliberate intensity until the same black-haired Sister came back for the tray. "Tell our friend in the dispensary I have a task for her. Carry it out, the both of you, and then flee," said Ibbit.

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 3 Part 7 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Temmin dropped his fork, tried to catch it on the way down to the floor and nearly knocked over his wine glass. "I'm sorry--what?"

"All that fancy training, and you didn't know Ibbit is Mama's lover?"

"I...I grasped it when I came home tonight. How long have you known?"

Sedra slowly shook her head, keeping her eyes on the amber liquid swirling in her glass. "About five years now."

"That's almost as long as Ibbit's been Mama's religious advisor!"

"Oh, she started in on Mama almost immediately."

Temmin sat back against the couch cushions, his supper forgotten. "How did you know?"

"You're not the only one with a talent for observation. And Ibbit left a love letter Mama wrote tucked into a book she lent me," she added sheepishly. "I think she wanted me to know for some reason."

The two siblings stared moodily, Sedra into her snifter, Temmin into his food. He cut a hunk of cheese, topped it with pickled onion and mustard, and ate it while Sedra took another long sip of her brandy. He swallowed and said, "What I don't understand is why."


Chapter 3 Part 6 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

As he strode down the corridor to his old rooms, the thought of the next day's breakfast reminded him he'd had nothing to eat. He would order a tray once he'd changed into warmer clothes. He opened the door to his study.

The fire had been lit, as had the lamps. Everything appeared just as it had the night Teacher had spirited him away to the Lovers' Temple almost a year ago, right from under his father's nose: the moss green velvet sofa; the wing chair he never sat in; the wuisc, brandy and barisha decanters lined up on the sideboard; the tea table by the windows; the heavily-laden bookcases; the globe atop the long library table. One new thing now inhabited the room: a lectern he recognized from the Tower Library, Teacher's own study. Atop it lay a familiar book bound in ancient Tremontine red leather. The faded gilt lettering on its front cover read, An Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom.

The book. The magic book that had changed his life in so many ways.


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 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 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.


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