Barik

Chapter 18 Part 3 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Though it was not Malla's intent, Temmin closed his face to the world. He spent more time in the less-senior clergy's beds and gave Allis no more than his polite, rather stoic regard. He declined any assignment that might lead to physical intimacy between them--indeed, any assignment that might lead to them being alone. Supplicants were not allowed to pick and choose, but now the senior clergy let him.

As he withdrew, Allis did her best to let Temmin go. He would leave at Nerr's Day anyway, and here it was almost Neya's Day. But he stuck to her heart like a burr, a ball of tiny hooks she could never remove no matter how hard she tried. She'd done quite well at hiding the depth of her love from Issak and the Most Highs, but to herself she despaired. He would be gone soon, she would stay behind in a beautiful, pink, plush prison, and they'd rarely see one another for at least ten more years.

Chapter 17 Part 5 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

This section is NSFW.

Winter's Ending turned into Spring's Beginning. Temmin's twentieth birthday came and went on the ninth of the spoke with little fanfare; the country was still in mourning, and he was in no mood to celebrate.

The Temple kept Temmin quite busy. Helping petitioners soothed his grief somewhat, but between sessions he walked through the rose marble halls seeing nothing but gray. His duties ran the gamut from coaching petitioners through the acts of love to helping heal emotional wounds. What he so often had in common with the petitioners was not eroticism but pain, now more than ever. "Does suffering always come with sex and emotions?" Temmin asked Barik Lover one day.

"It doesn't have to," he answered, "but it often does."

"Why?"

Chapter 10 Part 1 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Temmin returned to the Temple reluctantly. Though his mother appeared healthier than ever before, he still worried. The first fulfilled prophecy frightened him, but continued good news from the Keep and Nerr's Day preparations occupied his time and mind. He let himself be reassured that the Traveler Queen had performed one of her vaunted miracles; Mama and the baby would be well.

The twins' twice-annual ordeal began again this evening, a necessary suffering that sickened Temmin every time. Issak and Allis stood at the doors to the Gods' Chambers, the senior staff gathered around them. Allis smoothed Temmin's wrinkled brow. "Never worry. Nerr and Neya will be here and gone in a short while, and then we can all rest until next Neya's Day."

Chapter 6 Part 4 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

This section is NSFW.

They were in range of the lights now, and Twenna could see her rescuer was a man in late middle age wearing a Lover's rose-colored clothing; row after row of elaborate embroidery at the hems marked him as high-ranked, very high-ranked indeed and yet he still patrolled on Neya's Day. Close-cropped, graying hair crowned his balding head but for a little curl of a queue at his nape; limitless kindness filled his large brown eyes. "Who may I thank for my rescue?" she asked.

"My name is Barik Lover, and it's customary in the Temple to say 'thank you' with a kiss. May I?"

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

This section is NSFW.

Twenna watched them leave in horror. He'd cut her. He'd cut her in front of his wife and hadn't given her a backward glance. It couldn't mean what it appeared to mean. This had to be something about appearances, but why had he gone to so much trouble to have her admitted if he'd intended to leave with his wife? There must be a reason, a reason she wasn't clever enough to understand. He loved her; she took comfort in that certainty. He would send for her later, surely.

The swaying lanterns planted in the lawn took on a cold look, less like soft yellow moons and more like predatory eyes. What would she do now? She knew no one in the crowd who might protect her, no man she might trust not to take advantage of the Neya's Day festivities. She stayed close to the fierce-looking Lovers in armor still standing beside the royal dais, in hopes one of them might have been given instructions to escort her, but the workers disassembled the dais and took it away, along with the Temple's Own and her hopes.

Chapter 6 Part 1 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

The First Day of Spring's Beginning, 991 KY

Twenna Shelstone stepped down from her father's carriage into the throngs crowding the Lovers' Temple for the Neya's Day Spectacle. An orderly procession flowed from the Promenade to the Temple garden gates, where the Spectacle would be held. Postulants and servants bore hundreds of bright lanterns through the crowded gardens until every leaf seemed illuminated. Twenna fretted to be without even a footman to look after her, but she reassured herself. Harsin had said Winmer would find her there and protect her from unwanted advances.

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

Temmin plopped himself on the couch and blew out all his breath. The door opened and Barik came in. "That wasn't so bad, was it?"

"How much of that did you see?"

"Oh, all of it."

"Even after Esterill left? Urf. I know I shouldn't have said that to Mistress Esterill, but--"

Barik reached up and put his hands on Temmin's shoulders. "No, you did right. She does deserve better than marriage to Gyors Esterill--Gyors himself deserves better than to be forced into marriage when he cannot bear a woman's touch, but that is the way of things for eldest sons who wish to inherit. He won't be unkind to her, but he can't love her. We can."

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

His birthday concluded, Temmin reported for duty once again in his role as Lovers' Temple clergy. After a morning spent helping teach Postulants, he went to the petitioning rooms, where Lovers and Beloveds met with worshippers needing private blessings and guidance. Sometimes the petitioners just needed a sympathetic ear or a caring bedmate, but sometimes matters required more delicacy. Such was the assignment Temmin held in his hand. He read it, panicked and tried to calm himself as he walked down the narrow hallways to where he would meet the needy couple.

Temmin opened the door to a tiny room and moved uneasily through it, checking the covering on the low, wide Temple couch, plumping the mound of cushions that served it for a back, making sure the arms would come away if need be. He inspected the room's supplies. Spare towels? Yes. Oil? Yes. Blankets in case of shock? Whose? This is ridiculous. "I can't do this."

Chapter 16 Part 6 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

Senik led Temmin down a long corridor that ran parallel to the gardens. Temmin carried a basket full of little muslin bags, Senik two small but heavy caskets. "Barik Lover will lead, we will assist," said Senik. "Have you met Barik?"

He had; he'd met all the senior clergy. The biggest thing about Barik Lover that he'd seen were his eyes: soft, sympathetic brown pools often lit with some unheard, inner joke. Otherwise, Barik's balding, close-cropped head came only to Temmin's shoulder. He was middle-aged, and beyond good looks in Temmin's estimation--a long nose, square-set mouth, and rather well-furred forearms. They entered the anteroom of the Gods' Chamber, a long oblong with two doors. One was red and led to Nerr's side of the Chamber; the other was white and led to Neya's.

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