Chapter 15 Part 1 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

The letter was folded and sealed, and pressed into Fen's hands early the next day at the train station. "Give this to my groom, Alvo Nollson--only him, d'you understand? You can trust him. He will help you," said Temmin. "He's my best friend."

"Must be some groom if he's your best friend, sir," said Fen.

"Friend and groom, the best of both. Crokker should be expecting you. He's fierce, but don't let him frighten you."

"Never worry, sir, we worked for Mr Affton," said Arta; she smiled, though her pale face and trembling hands betrayed her.

For appearance's sake, Temmin kissed Arta on the forehead and Fen on one cheek. Though the kisses were innocent, he'd grown increasingly fond of both of them, he thought absently as they waved from their compartment window through the steam of the train's departure. He was responsible for them now, the first time he'd felt responsible for someone else's well-being, and it frightened him somewhat.

Chapter 14 Part 6 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

"How can I serve you, Your Highness?" said Teacher, surveying the crying couple on the floor.

"You can do things for me, yes?" said Temmin. "You're not forbidden to help me?"

"I may do whatever is in my power for you, save in that one matter."

Temmin laid out the situation, with interruptions from both Arta and Fen until he ordered them to be quiet. "I want to send them to Whithorse. Take them through the mirror."

"No," said Teacher.

"No? What d'you mean, no? You said you'd help!"

"Taking them through the mirror will not help. The King will suspect something if they suddenly disappear, and then I will just have to bring them back. You must send them in plain sight. Let everyone believe what they already believe, and that you are sending your new lovers to take up residence near your home."

"But how can I send Fen with her?"

"Sir," said Teacher, "let them believe what they already believe."

"Oh. Oh!" said Temmin.

Chapter 13 Part 13 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

Temmin came out of the book sobbing. Her years of loneliness, her yearning for love: her father broke her heart, and when she finally thought she'd mended it, Warin broke it again. He felt every ache of it, but unlike Emmae, he knew what Warin had gone through, and why. "Warin loved her! Why didn't she know? She was so lonely and unhappy, how could she turn him away?"

"A handkerchief, Your Highness," Teacher said, handing it over. "You have seen this story through her eyes. Is it not possible he did betray her? Is it not possible he expected too much, too soon?"

Chapter 13 Part 12 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

Teacher was at Hildin's side then, ineffectually trying to stanch the bleeding, pale white fingers dyed red and shaking. "I cannot stop it. I was not fast enough to stop her. Your Majesty, I cannot stop it!"

"Let him finish dying, Teacher," said Warin, running up the altar stairs. "You can't save him, and I don't want you to."

Chapter 13 Part 11 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

Suddenly, Brothers swarmed past Warin, their armor shining in the sunlight now streaming in; beside him, an absence of light but for pale skin, appeared a figure in black. The Guardsmen hesitated, taken aback at the Brothers' strange allegiance, the presence of the Black Man, and the sheer number of their opponents, until Hildin gave a flicker of a signal to the high gallery of the Temple. A hidden archer sent an arrow into King Fredrik's throat; he crumpled at Emmae's feet, his blood spattering Hildin's mantle. "They've killed King Fredrik!" yelled Hildin.

Emmae's eyes flew to the gallery. An archer in the red and gold uniform of the Guard stood hidden in the shadows; he looked not at her face but at her heart, and she knew the next arrow was meant for her. She closed her eyes.

Chapter 13 Part 10 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

A gasp went up from the crowd. The Father's Rock predated the Temple itself--in fact, it could be said it was the original Temple. Sacrifices to the Father had bled down the sides of the Rock until Temmin the Great built the white marble Temple sanctuary nearly two hundred years ago. Warin strode up to it and placed his good hand on the dull white stone, surprisingly warm against his skin. How much magic could he muster, with his broken bone, and still have enough left to see the day through? He closed his eyes and focused his newly-inherited, still-unfamiliar power around the rock. He gathered it up, and pushed with his mind.

The Rock shifted under his hand. He opened his eyes and stood back as it rose from the stones around it. Up, and up, until it hovered in the air at the height of a man. His control wavered, new power and his injury combined against him. "Enough," he said brusquely, and let the Rock drop as if he'd meant to do that all along. The Rock struck the stones beneath it with such force that it split in two. Stillness, then murmurings of astonishment, until a roar broke out from every Guard, Brother and townsman.

Chapter 13 Part 9 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

Scores of men lay still or groaning on the steps at the forefront of Warin's impromptu army: among them, Warin himself. Calls for Sisters filled the air.

"I failed you," said Teacher. "I did not see him."

"I didn't see him, either, and I hardly thought he'd waste such a goodly amount of power this far down the hill," said Warin. "You and I took the brunt of it, but I couldn't get my defense up fast enough to protect all of the Brothers."

"Nor I."

Brother Cor gently prodded Warin's shoulder; Warin paled and choked down a heave. "Broken collarbone," said the Brother. "Your Majesty, you cannot stay. We must find you a Sister."

"Would you let a broken bone stop you?" said Warin, dragging himself to his feet. "No, not as long as you could walk. Sling it. How many hurt?"

Chapter 13 Part 8 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

Atop its steep, oak-covered hill, Pagg's Temple flew the flags of the King, dark red with three triangles in gold; in the shade of the trees surrounding the sanctuary, the bearers who'd carried the nobility up the long climb rested beside silken and gilt litters. At the entrance to the Temple, hidden in shadow, Hildin, Gian and the Little Father watched the mass of people already climbing the long, sharp switchbacks. "Is it him?" said Gian.

"I'd wager it is," answered his master.

"Him who?" said the elderly Little Father, looking from one to the other.

"How many do you think will side with him?" said Gian.

"Not enough. I have purchased the Brothers over years with donations to Farr's Temple--the Guards, too, and the Fathers. He won't find much support after all this time."

"Who are we talking about!" said the old high priest, peevishness wrinkling his face further.

Chapter 12 Part 5 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

Warin and the Travelers reached the City the night of the wedding, making camp well outside its walls. Travel by mirror had been considered and discarded; the chances of Hildin finding them were too high. The Traveler Queen had insisted on riding with them, and to Warin's surprise, she kept up with the men, never tiring.

They sat before the camp fire, Warin thoughtlessly poking at it with a stick and watching the sparks rise. A sudden vitality burst inside him, a brilliant light overwhelming unknown inner barriers, a million doors to a million rooms filled with the light of the sun, the moon, every star, opening in his soul all at once.

"Are you all right?" said Connin.

"I don't know--yes, I think so. Something's changed inside me..." Warin trailed off, gasping. A dark foreboding fought with the great sun bursting inside him. The exhilarating incandenscence felt so very wrong and so very right, all at the same time. What was its source, what did it mean?

Chapter 13 Part 4 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

When Teacher found him, Temmin lay on the green velvet sofa in his study; his eyes hurt, and his hair tangled around his head. "Jenks left," he said.

"I know, Your Highness," Teacher murmured, taking up the habitual post by the hearth. "What did he tell you?"

"That his sister Justice needed him in Reggiston, something about her oldest son getting drummed out of the cavalry. I said, why can't you handle it by post? And what could a former corporal--Uncle Pat's servant!--do about it anyway? He insisted he had to go. And I need him. This is my father's doing. Why won't he leave me alone!"



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