Andrin I

Chapter 13 Part 7 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

The discovery of the guards' bodies put Gwyrfal in an uproar. "How could Tennoc have defeated three of my best men?" fretted Dunnoc. "Three men he trusted!"

"He had to have been warned, sire," said Daevys ar Ulvyn. "There's no other explanation, though perhaps it was his plan all along. He took them by surprise like a coward." He helped Dunnoc drink from his cup. The King shook now more than ever. His legs were growing stiff; he never left his rooms but for meals at which he presided but did not eat for fear of spilling food and drink down his front in public.

"Who could have done it? Who betrayed me?"

"We shall discover the man, sire. Or woman."

Chapter 13 Part 6 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

The Keep was a short ride down a wide, well-tended way called the War Road. "Our armies ride to battle from here, six abreast," said Teacher from a perch behind Tennoc. "These are the King's Woods. Only the King hunts here--and now you, if you please."

"I wish for nothing but a roof over my head at this point."

The trees thinned, giving Tennoc his first view of Tremont Keep, a stone fortress that was new in his great-grandfathers' day built into the living rock that sheered above the confluence of two rivers. Four rounded towers stood at each corner; the side closest to them bowed out toward the forest. A fifth tower rose just behind the bowed wall, higher than the other four. It looked out over the King's Woods and the foothills, and in the other direction, the Capital. Tennoc wondered how it stayed up; he'd never seen anything so tall.

Chapter 4 Part 9 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Lassa missed her moon. Twice.

She consulted a Sister in secret. "There must be something you can do, some way to stop the child?"

"We do not end pregnancies, especially royal ones," huffed the priestess.

Soon Lassa could no longer hide her blossoming belly from her lover. "You're with child? Lassa, you were not meant to be the mother of my children! You were to be everything but that! Did you not listen to the Sisters? Had you paid so little attention to their teachings?"

"You insisted even when I told you it was the wrong time of my moon!"

An turned purple. "You dare blame me for this! I have no use for you at present--I despise pregnant women. Go home to your father. When your confinement is over you may return."

Chapter 4 Part 8 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Almost a spoke after Lassa's awkward exchange with Inglatine, An appeared in the bower doorway; behind him came a page carrying a pretty lacquer box. "Gifts for my wife and her ladies to celebrate the blessed event to come." The boy opened the box to reveal several small cases. An opened one; it contained a mirror. The ladies-in-waiting each received one, silver chased with patterns in the Sairish style; the Princess's mirror was the same, though decorated with costly mother-of pearl and rich enamel.

Lassa's mirror outshone the Princess's. It had no case; its back formed a stand. Gems inlaid its gold rim. Inglatine didn't seem to care. She thanked her husband and placidly adjusted her veil. Lassa accepted her mirror, knowing she should not but afraid to refuse. An's attentions and gifts must soon be paid for, a thought both frightening and thrilling.

Chapter 4 Part 7 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Inglatine was just as dull and plodding as expected. She groped for words in her horrendous Tremontine until she lapsed into either Leutish or Old Sairish. Lassanna knew Old Sairish alone of the ladies-in-waiting; her mother had insisted her girls be educated as she was, despite Tremontine custom. Knowing Old Sairish was fortunate, if translating for a lump like Inglatine could be considered so.

Lassa sorted fine wool threads for Inglatine's embroidery, and helped put her to bed at night; the Princess insisted Lassa was the only one who could properly comb out her stubborn, impossibly yellow hair. Lassa soon found herself in the unwelcome position of favorite, but even as tiresome as Inglatine was, Lassa had to acknowledge her kind, gentle manner.

Court life made it bearable: dancing, feasting, music, entertainments of all kinds, often in the Sairish way even with the two countries on the brink of war. Though the King had spent many years in Sairland and its territories, his chief counselor Teacher insisted the Sairish should not only be opposed but driven back. Land gained was magic gained.

Chapter 4 Part 5 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Gonnor was waiting when she came into her mother's rooms the next afternoon. "I disapprove your sleeping so late, Lassanna."

"The dancing didn't end until dawn, and I was having such wonderful fun, Papa! I don't know how you could stand to go to bed. I suppose when one is old--"

"I'm not old, I'm forty-eight!" He turned to Lassa's mother. "Woman! You should have made her come upstairs much, much earlier. Can I trust you with nothing?"

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

The first day of Winter's Beginning, 40 KY
Tremont Keep

Gonnor Lord Whitehorse disapproved of modern life--women eating with the men, dancers touching hands!--and never more than right now. His youngest daughter Lassanna danced with Prince Andrin this Eddin's Day night, her collarbones showing above her fur-trimmed neckline, and her unveiled hair fanning to one side whenever she swung round too quickly--he could see her nape! Was honor such a forgotten thing at the court of Temmin the Second? Temmin the Great would never have stood for it. In his days, men knew how to marshal their wives and daughters. But those days were forty years gone, and Gonnor himself had been a child.

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