Gwynna ar Gwyrfal

Chapter 14 Part 5 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

New Year's Day, 63 KY

King Dunnoc did not appear at the Eddin's Day celebrations for the new year: too ill, said Ulvyn, to leave his rooms. Gwynna sat at her husband's side, hugely pregnant. It was for the best that Dunnoc had not been brought down. He'd begun drooling, and his private conversations with ghosts had become even more incoherent. The Sisters said he might go on like this for spokes--perhaps years.

Her father's condition oppressed her spirits as much as the infant within her did. In the last days its squirming and kicking had subsided. Perhaps it had died. She would not cry if it was stillborn. Nevertheless, she loved children and she feared that one look at a tiny, helpless baby of her own, even one fathered by Ulvyn, would be her undoing. She had resolved not to look at it and to leave it to a wet nurse until she recovered her equilibrium.

Chapter 14 Part 4 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Late Fall's Ending, 62 KY
Gwyrfal, Kellen

Six spokes after her wedding, Princess Gwynna was still kept to her rooms; armed guards stood beside her door, and she could trust none of her attendants. Her husband visited her every few days, but she saw no one else.

During his latest visit, Ulvyn once again denied her request to leave her rooms. "I am five spokes with child," she said in disgust. "How am I supposed to manage an escape? Who would help me?"

"You are impetuous, my dear," said her husband. "I would not wish anything to happen to the baby."

"I don't care what happens to it!"

"And that's why you cannot leave your rooms," he chuckled.

Chapter 12 Part 8 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

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?"

Chapter 12 Part 6 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

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.

Chapter 12 Part 5 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

"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.

Chapter 5 Part 6 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

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.

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

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.

Chapter 5 Part 3 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

"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.

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