The day after he committed his father's body to the Hill, Tennoc rode down from the Keep to Tremont City for his hasty, simplified coronation, his father's reluctant lords at his back. Hanni followed behind, holding the reins of a white bull calf. They climbed the long winding switchbacks on foot up Pagg's Hill to the Temple at its top. He could have lifted himself to the top had he wished--Teacher had taught him to raise himself on a column of solid air--but he did not wish to leave his lords behind. He had lords now. What a strange thought. Would that he could depend on them.
Kenver ar Gwyrfal
Kenver told Tennoc the moment they were alone. He fell on his stepbrother's shoulder and cried. "How could Father turn on you, knowing how Gwynna and I love you!"
Tennoc held Kenver close. "That's why he wants me dead. He was as my father--no more, but you will always be my brother, Ken, always!"
They parted, and Kenver wiped his eyes. "Shall we tell your mother?"
"No, no," said Tennoc, "I want her held blameless."
"I could take you by reflection to Brunsial."
"Then your father will be angry with you, and I'll look guilty. I've done nothing wrong."
Kenver worried the corner of his mouth. "What will you do?"
Gwynna darted among the apple trees so quickly Tennoc couldn't get a bead on her; his missile bounced off a tree trunk. She was luckier. The hard little green apple flew from her hand and hit Tennoc square above the heart. "Ow!"
"A fair hit! A fair hit!" she cried, jumping up and down and clapping her hands until her flowing sleeves flapped. "You're dead, sir!" Tennoc clasped his chest, let out a melodramatic shriek and fell down obligingly.
A few yards away, Kenver said, "Can I get up now?" His sister went to both her fallen enemies and helped them to their feet in gracious victory. "How did you become such a good shot?" grumbled Kenver as he dusted off the dirt and picked twigs from his once nearly white hair, now a dark brown.
"Pirrun, you should have been there!" cried Tennoc, clapping a young man on the shoulder. Music, endless wine and drunken laughter filled Gwyrfal's great hall; Kellen's warriors were home after a long, successful campaign.
"I would've if I hadn't broken my leg," winced Pirrun. "You've been gone so long it's healed! Why did you two not come home on the Royal Road, as the King did? Why come home with your soldiers? You could've been back weeks ago!"
"I don't ask anything of the men I'm not willing to do myself," declared Kenver. "Besides," he added in mock confidentiality, "Tennoc gets nauseous when I take him through a reflection!" The crowd hooted.
In the end, she and an ecstatic Tennoc returned to Gwyrfal. Though Gwynna had rejected a borrowed mother the year before, now she clung to Lassa if not as mother then as a beloved aunt; Kenver, nearly ten years old and his tow hair darkening, held himself a little more aloof but not for long. Lassa was soon a part of the royal family to all its members but Dunnoc, through no fault of his.
Dunnoc made a respectful, determined assault on her. Her favorite dishes appeared on every menu. Music and dancing reappeared now that public mourning for Hallia had ended, and Lassa's favored musicians appeared at Gwyrfal. To Dunnoc's dismay, she kept herself from merriment, preferring to live quietly near the children. This was so unlike her, for while Hallia lived Lassa was the merriest of ladies imaginable, much given to dancing and laughter. That was the Lassa he wanted, and the Lassa he missed.
Kenver-and-Tennoc became Kenver. The boy retreated into himself, leaving Tennoc sitting in the garden alone with Gwynna most days. "What did I do? How come he doesn't like me any more?"
"You've thtill got a mama and we don't." Gwynna's lisp had worsened. "I want my mama, Tennoc!"
"Oh, Gwynna, don't cry!" He threw his arms around the little girl. "Look, you can borrow my mama. She can't have any more children, and I don't have a father anyway to give me a brother or sister, so there's lots of her left over and I'm sure she'd like a daughter, so please don't cry!"
"I want my mama!" she sobbed. Further persuasion made her cry harder. Tennoc finally took her to her grandmother the Dowager Queen and went in search of his mother.
"So, bread, where's butter?"
Seven-year-old Tennoc squinted up into the sudden shadow over the rose bed where he was digging; the King towered over him, blocking the sun. "Ken? He's lookin' for good rocks--um, h'lo, Your Majesty." Tennoc always tried to remember the formalities, but here in the nursery and its attendant gardens he could not imagine the King as anyone other than the father of Kenver and Gwynna.
Lassanna and Yellow Hanni arrived at Brunsial, the seat of her mother's clan, after many days' travel; her uncle, his wife, their two sons and their daughter welcomed her as their own. "I will never understand the Tremontines," said Lord Williard ar Sial. "I told my sister not to marry that man. We should have gone into Whitehorse and fetched her back. Threatening to kill you--how is that honorable? Here you are an exile from home, and what of the child's father? I doubt any so-called dishonor has devolved upon him. No, you are welcome here, my dear."