Chapter 9 Part 6 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Sedra prepared herself to creep down the path, but to her surprise the Traveler Queen walked as briskly as she herself did. In the corner of Sedra's eye, a much younger, dark-haired woman flickered, superimposed on the withered Queen's figure; when Sedra looked at her directly, the flicker disappeared.

They stopped before a large knothole in a gnarled tree. "You've asked my mother prettily," said Connin, "but you haven't spoken so to me."

Sedra bit back sarcasm and squared her shoulders. "Do you wish me to beg?"

"I wish for you to kiss me."

"Amma give me patience, boy, stop it!" said his mother.

"You must kiss me," he repeated. "Are you too proud to kiss a Traveler? You'd be the first princess among the many I've asked if so."

Chapter 9 Part 5 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Teacher paused. "Before we go, I must caution you against Maeve's son."

Sedra said nothing about her encounter with Connin. "Will he try to prevent me from taking the Traveler Queen to Mama?"

"No, no, but I cannot stay to bring you back. He must do it--he possesses much of the same power I do, and he is not bound to the King as I am. He will help you, but be aware he is a sly one." Teacher reached to touch her cheek; Sedra reflexively flinched. Teacher's hand dropped hastily away to take her own, and they swirled through the mirror.

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 2 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Twenna began to feel rather green a week after Neya's Day, and now, halfway through Spring's Ending, she felt worse than ever. Certain scents became unbearable. She passed an overly fragrant person on the street as she made her way to Mistress Naister's for a fitting and almost fainted. Cooking smells, particularly fish, took her appetite completely; she progressed to nausea and outright vomiting in the mornings and sometimes during the day. She even begged off meeting Harsin, which finally made her father call for a Sister.

Chapter 15 Part 2 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

In the aftermath of his ascension, Warin weeded out the faithful from the traitorous. To everyone's shock, he spared the Duke of Valleysmouth and his family, who had raised Hildin and Gian, and gave Old Meg an honorable entry to the Hill, but he tracked down the family of the archer who'd killed Fredrik of Leute and slew all its men. Even so, the hooks above Marketgate went largely empty; few had stood with the Usurper.

The rest of the Travelers caught up with their Queen, making camp at the edge of the King's Woods; their caravans flickered bright among the cool green leaves of late spring. "Will you not let me entertain you at the Keep?" said Warin.

"No Traveler may spend the night beneath a solid roof, Your Majesty," said the Traveler Queen, "but thank you."

"Well then, take the freedom of these Woods as a reward for your service, now and always."

"Thank you, cousin," said Connin with a bow, his leg extended just into mockery.

Chapter 13 Part 10 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

A gasp went up from the crowd. The Father's Rock predated the Temple itself--in fact, it could be said it was the original Temple. Sacrifices to the Father had bled down the sides of the Rock until Temmin the Great built the white marble Temple sanctuary nearly two hundred years ago. Warin strode up to it and placed his good hand on the dull white stone, surprisingly warm against his skin. How much magic could he muster, with his broken bone, and still have enough left to see the day through? He closed his eyes and focused his newly-inherited, still-unfamiliar power around the rock. He gathered it up, and pushed with his mind.

The Rock shifted under his hand. He opened his eyes and stood back as it rose from the stones around it. Up, and up, until it hovered in the air at the height of a man. His control wavered, new power and his injury combined against him. "Enough," he said brusquely, and let the Rock drop as if he'd meant to do that all along. The Rock struck the stones beneath it with such force that it split in two. Stillness, then murmurings of astonishment, until a roar broke out from every Guard, Brother and townsman.

Chapter 13 Part 9 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

Scores of men lay still or groaning on the steps at the forefront of Warin's impromptu army: among them, Warin himself. Calls for Sisters filled the air.

"I failed you," said Teacher. "I did not see him."

"I didn't see him, either, and I hardly thought he'd waste such a goodly amount of power this far down the hill," said Warin. "You and I took the brunt of it, but I couldn't get my defense up fast enough to protect all of the Brothers."

"Nor I."

Brother Cor gently prodded Warin's shoulder; Warin paled and choked down a heave. "Broken collarbone," said the Brother. "Your Majesty, you cannot stay. We must find you a Sister."

"Would you let a broken bone stop you?" said Warin, dragging himself to his feet. "No, not as long as you could walk. Sling it. How many hurt?"

Chapter 13 Part 7 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

Warin and his men entered the city at Marketgate without remark, the Guards assuming they were Travelers come to entertain the crowds for coppers, or perhaps to sneak into one of the public feasts setting up in the city squares. Times were pinched, but there would be at least a little for everyone, if not a feast for all. Turning away the poor and unwashed from such a banquet would earn Amma's wrath, though the harvests had been small enough in the last few years that some thought She was angry already.

The Market was empty of sellers, all business suspended for the coronation celebrations, but even taking that into consideration, the City seemed threadbare and patched, its people moving slowly, and far too many beggars in the streets. Its shabbiness appalled the returning Prince. Had times been so very hard?

Chapter 13 Part 6 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

At the camp, bedrolls circled the banked fire. Once inside his own, Warin seethed with rage. His prophecy had been wrong. His father died alone, in bed, and not at Warin's hand. For that, he rejoiced, but as for the rest...

All his anger at the Gods came roaring back. For years, he'd wondered what he'd done to deserve his prophecy. Now the punishment was compounded; he'd given up his throne and his beloved father for nothing. In his grief and anger, he yearned for Emmae, and feared for her more. He stared up into the dark sky, thinking of his brother in the marriage bed that belonged to him, and willed Emmae to be safe.

Chapter 12 Part 5 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

Warin and the Travelers reached the City the night of the wedding, making camp well outside its walls. Travel by mirror had been considered and discarded; the chances of Hildin finding them were too high. The Traveler Queen had insisted on riding with them, and to Warin's surprise, she kept up with the men, never tiring.

They sat before the camp fire, Warin thoughtlessly poking at it with a stick and watching the sparks rise. A sudden vitality burst inside him, a brilliant light overwhelming unknown inner barriers, a million doors to a million rooms filled with the light of the sun, the moon, every star, opening in his soul all at once.

"Are you all right?" said Connin.

"I don't know--yes, I think so. Something's changed inside me..." Warin trailed off, gasping. A dark foreboding fought with the great sun bursting inside him. The exhilarating incandenscence felt so very wrong and so very right, all at the same time. What was its source, what did it mean?


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