Donnis Provisa

Chapter 12 Part 1 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Whithorse Estate, Whithorse
The final week of Winter's Beginning, 992 KY

With the family in mourning all royal celebrations and parties were canceled for the next year, and the City's leading lights of course followed suit; the social season thus ended two spokes early, to the despair of more than a few mothers looking to marry off daughters who were aging by the minute. Ellika, who would normally never hide herself at the Estate at this time of year, didn't care a bit. She spent her time in the Great House's cozy nursery fussing over Anneya with Lady Donnis.

The wet nurse brought from Tremont City lost her milk, to general alarm. "How does one find a wet nurse, Cousin Donnie?" fretted Ellika.

Chapter 11 Part 2 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

The chief midwife came into the Queen's sitting room, where Ansella's daughters and husband waited. Her face formed a professional mask, but the moment the woman entered Ellika knew. From the Queen's bedchamber came a newborn's wail and the sobs of women. The midwife cleared her throat. "The Queen…the baby is fine, healthy and whole, but I'm sorry. The Queen is gone."

A shocked silence fell. Ellika's insides dropped to the floor. "Gone? The Traveler Queen said she'd be all right!"

"No, she said it was up to Mama," said Sedra. "It was her choice. I didn't know this is what she meant! Mama chose the baby. How could she--how could she leave me!" Sedra fled from the room, crying.

Chapter 11 Part 1 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Vennaday, the 25th day of Winter's Beginning, 992 KY

"The Queen is in labor?" said Anda.

The spoon in Temmin's hand stopped midway to his mouth and he snuck a glance around the dining hall. His last petitioner had taken longer than expected, and by the time he entered the room most of the diners had already finished; near-empty tables and padded benches surrounded them. Satisfied no one might hear their conversation, he answered, "Yes, I got the message just after lunch with the Holy Ones. How'd you know?"

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 4 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Inside, Harsin was stripping as he hurried into his bedchamber; his valet Gram followed behind, stooping to pick up the discarded riding clothes, and his secretary Winmer brought up the rear. Harsin changed into fresh clothes and washed his face. "This would have to happen when I was at Middlemont. Cancel any appointments for the next three days, Winmer, and send word that while it was a lovely interlude et cetera, I will not be seeing Miss Shelstone in the immediate future. Do not under any circumstances say anything about the Queen's indisposition, to Miss Shelstone or anyone else." Winmer nodded, scribbling in his neat little book, and Harsin stepped through his bedchamber door through the private hallway and into the Queen's bedchamber.

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

Two days before Summer's Beginning on a sunny Vennaday, the merciful Most Highs sent Temmin back to the Keep. He shot his cuffs and twitched under his now-unfamiliar shirt collar in the warm weather; there was much to be said for the loose, comfortable Temple garb as the temperature rose.

He sought out his younger sister on arrival and found her in her apricot-and-gilt private sitting room, pacing on the needlepointed roses of her carpet. Ellika pounced on him as soon as he came through the door. "Oh, I'm so glad you're home, Temmy, it's been the most vexing spoke ever!" She poured out her sorrows: the odious Elbig Shelstone's elevation, the hussy Twenna Shelstone's residence at Middlemont, their father's frequent, indiscreet absences, Sedra's impending engagement, and their mother's troubling indisposition. "You look well at least," she sniffed.

"I'm here," he said, kissing her forehead. "Doesn't that satisfy, you little baggage?"

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

A whisper ran through the Hearth that night, carried from one sympathetic mouth in the Healer's House dispensary to various sympathetic ears until it reached a young Sister who worked in the kitchens; she nodded, setting her stubborn black cowlick bobbing. When she returned to her work, she picked up a dinner tray and walked the long stairs into the basement to Sister Ibbit's chilly cell. She gave the renegade her evening meal and murmured, "She is with child, Blessed Ibbit," before she turned away.

Ibbit tore her bread into hunks, the hunks into chunks, the chunks into shreds, the shreds into crumbs. She threw them into her soup and ate with deliberate intensity until the same black-haired Sister came back for the tray. "Tell our friend in the dispensary I have a task for her. Carry it out, the both of you, and then flee," said Ibbit.

Chapter 8 Part 7 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

So this was her Neya's Day blessing. She'd loved being pregnant. She loved her children. She would love this one unreservedly--loved her already. It had to be a girl; if she carried a son, Teacher would have known immediately and announced it to Harsin.

What would he think? He'd preen and strut, the smug bastard. Pregnancy would give her an excuse to stay away from him. Except pregnancy usually made her...what was an acceptable word? More...receptive to him? Demanding, more like, said a traitorous inner voice. She might go home to Whithorse and put some distance between them, but she could not leave her three oldest, just before the girls might leave forever. They were all grown and didn't need her any more, but she still needed them. And it would look as if she were running from that Shelstone bitch. She burst into exhausted, frustrated tears. "I don't know what to do. Please don't tell him yet."

Chapter 8 Part 6 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Just inside the Hearth's portico waited the newly invested Eldest Sister Imvalda, tall and twiglike in her deep green habit trimmed in the gray bands of her high office, and the Sister's Embodiment, a gentle, plump woman named Sarra. A woman in lighter green trailed behind them; Ansella recognized her from the brief glimpse of Imvalda's apartments in her receiving room mirror. That night seemed so long ago, but it was no more than a spoke.

Ansella and Donnis bowed to the Eldest Sister and the Embodiment, each touching her forehead to the priestesses' hands; the priestesses kissed the two women on the cheek and led them inside.

Chapter 8 Part 5 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

The long, wide strip of parkland running between the two rows of the City's religious institutions was properly called the Temple Green, but it was better known for the broad walk down its middle: the Promenade. Here the upper class and its aspirants strolled, rode and drove, seeing and being seen. The last of the trees had shed their blossoms to the disappointment of the Promenade's regulars; the pink and white petals scattered on their carriages, shoulders and hats were a badge marking the bearers among the Capital's fashionable, genteel, and indolent.

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