Harsin IV

Chapter 1 Part 4 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Corland's approach broke into his thoughts. "Dashed impudent of that son of yours to give Princess Ellika to Litta for the first dance," he said. "Belonged to Fennows, I should think. Everyone knows he's first among her suitors."

"'Everyone' does not know that, my Lord," replied Harsin, a chill in his voice. "Ellika's marriage is still not settled and won't be until I complete negotiations for Sedra's. I would ask you to remember that."

"Beg your pardon, Your Majesty," said Corland meekly.

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 1 Part 1 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Paggday night, the 9th day of Spring's Beginning
Tremont Keep, Tremont City

"I do not understand, Your Grace, why so glum the faces," said an enormous brown-skinned man. His long cloak of iridescent feathers covered otherwise unexceptional evening wear; his strong, naturally crimped black hair streamed unfettered down his back, and as he frowned around the ballroom in woozy concentration the blue-black tattoos curling round his nose and eyes furrowed.

"Glum, Your Excellency?" said his light-skinned companion. Anvalt Vonturus, Duke of Litta, was not a short man, but next to the tall ambassador even his stiff military bearing could not overcome an impression of smallness. In contrast with the ambassador's tattoos, a pale scar slashed through his left brow; a black ribbon clubbed his slate-colored hair in a queue that announced he was a conservative.

Litta glanced around the assembly milling about Tremont Keep's Great Ballroom in nervous clumps spiky with the glint of jewels. They winked on countless fingers; in the curls of women's hair; around slender wrists and wrists so fat they nearly hid their bracelets in their folds, and around necks both wrinkled and smooth; and from countless medals--some earned and some Litta knew were given to shut the bearer up. What a decadent age.

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