Teacher

Chapter 4 Part 7 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

Temmin released the book. His shaking hands still felt Connin's skin; the Princess's terror and arousal coursed through him, as if the smoke of the Traveler Queen's spell had seeped through the book into him as well. Was he male or female? He consulted the stiffness between his legs: male. It had happened to someone else, it had happened to a character in a story, not to him.

Shafts of gold and white light slanted low onto the lawn outside the windows; three or four hours had passed. "What in Harla's Name does this fiction have to do with anything?" he said.

"You did not like it?" Teacher said mildly. "I thought you would at least be interested."

In fact, Temmin was afraid to stand up. "I don't see how this connects at all to history," he muttered.

Chapter 4 Part 3 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

Temmin woke up with a start. Something had just whacked him on the nose.

"Get up, sir," said Teacher, brandishing a rolled-up newspaper.

"You hit me!" squawked Temmin.

"I usually use a cane on the bottom. Be grateful for a newspaper on the nose," retorted Teacher. "I beat your father for two weeks straight before he got his head on the right way round, and he would be the first person to say it made him a better ruler."

"How do I avoid his fate?" said the Prince, rising from the green velvet couch and pulling on his suit coat.

"It's simple, really. Do not misbehave. Be awake when I return from now on or I really will beat you."

Temmin drew his eyebrows together. "You are nothing like my other tutors."

"You have no idea how true that is."

Chapter 4 Part 2 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

Temmin spent Paggday at the stables after a long ride, gradually coaxing the men into trusting him. He thought he might even have picked out a matched pair of horses for his curricle, sleek grays with just enough Inchari stock in them to impart the breed's fine heads and high-held tails, without their characteristic skittishness. He would have to consult his mother; her judgment of horses surpassed that of everyone he knew. He'd needed that relaxing day, for today, Ammaday, he began lessons with Teacher.

At breakfast, two members of the family were animated and talkative, two were sullen and withdrawn, and Temmin stood alone in the middle, looking anxiously round the table. Harsin and Ellika were both in fine spirits. The King beamed at Temmin, a mildly unnerving development. Ellika remained her usual ebullient self, even when she burned her tongue on her coffee. Sedra and Ansella, on the other hand, were not; Sedra looked alternately glum and resentful, stealing glances at both Temmin and her father over the top of a resolutely isolating newspaper, and Ansella kept her eyes down, answering questions with a frozen smile and as few words as possible. Temmin thought he would never understand his family.

Chapter 3 Part 2 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

"A by-blow!" shouted Ansella.

"You've been at the Keep all of three days, and your dramatics are already boring me! What now?"

"A by-blow, a bastard," she said. "You promised me! You promised me no child would come out of all your whoring!"

"I prefer the term 'engagements,'" said Harsin. "And no child has come of any of them."

"That you knew, apparently!"

"Annie, you attack me in my ignorance," said Harsin, sitting down. "Please enlighten me."

Chapter 2 Part 3 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

"The Prince is here, Your Majesty," said Harsin's secretary with a bow.

"Very good, Winmer, give us a moment and then show him in," said Harsin. "What have you observed of Temmin so far, Teacher?" he continued, turning toward the fireplace.

Teacher considered. "'Callow' is not too strong a word, Your Majesty."

"I agree. I admit to disappointment," said Harsin, shaking his head.

"I should not be disappointed," said Teacher. "Eighteen is still quite young. Remember yourself at that age--I caned you for fourteen days straight. I am surprised you can sit down to this day."

Chapter 2 Part 2 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

He closed his eyes and held his breath, struggling against the tenacious grip on his ankle in panic; he would drown. His stomach turned inside out.

When it stopped, he opened his mouth and gulped in spite of himself. To his surprise, he took in air, not water; he patted himself in confused agitation and found his clothes were dry. Temmin opened his eyes and found himself in an unfamiliar room--round, as if in a tower. The face in the mirror stood before him; it belonged to a slight figure dressed in black robes over a severe black suit and Tremontine red cravat, sharp against the white of the shirt; a pair of gold pinch-nose glasses dangled from a matching red ribbon. If this were the Black Man, he was a more meticulous dresser than Temmin would have suspected.

"The first time through can be difficult. Next time, do not hold your breath. Do you need to vomit?" said the stranger.

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Chapter 2 Part 1 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book One

Neyaday, the 9th Day of Spring's Beginning

The first thing Temmin saw when he looked into the bathroom mirror on his birthday was a man. He was eighteen; that was that, he was an adult now. "And I still can't grow a proper beard," he said aloud, rubbing his chin.

"What, sir?" called Jenks.

"Nothing!"

The second thing he saw when he looked in the bathroom mirror was a face not his own.

Underneath his own reflection lay a faint tracing--a smooth face, a paler, thinner face with precise features, odd silver eyes, and iron-colored hair pulled back in an old-fashioned tail. He blinked, and it disappeared.

"Jenks? Insanity doesn't run in the family, does it?"

"Not to my knowledge, sir," said Jenks.

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