With King Kottir away these past few days, Kailen has made his move on Bregan, the soon-to-be King’s Wife. While not actually encouraging him, neither has she rejected him. So will that be an end to it? And will he now depart the King’s Hold with King Burdamon? Queen Yoisea would laugh at such a suggestion. The fires of passion aren’t so easily quenched . . . Read on
I made it my business to attend closely to Bregan—for her own protection. It soon would be the Feast of Slaughter, she was busy brewing. Yet with every errand that she ran she managed to encounter Kailen. The times I saw them together—coincidentally!—either in the same room else up by the spring. Then there was the time I caught them together in the King’s Stores.
My chamber gave onto the King’s Chamber and, with a heavy door hanging between us, I seldom bothered to shut the door. I didn’t like to be closed in; I couldn’t breathe. Besides, with the door open I could easily hear what was said. Not that I needed ears to listen with being a Brictan. But I was aging, my abilities weakening, and each attempt at over-hearing or influencing left me feeling yet more drained. Kailen was still sleeping in that chamber, by courtesy of King Kottir, though his ‘man’ Zabul (commander of King Ferrangu’s men, so I thought) had set up a tent with everything a king’s son could possibly want by way of comfort—except the flies did buzz and unknowable things did creep around both by day and by night. So Kailen was in the King’s Chamber when Mistress Bregan entered. But no other was there.
“I’m sorry,” she said as if she’d then realised. “I come for honey from the Stores.”
That in itself was a sad thing to hear. Mistress Maia had always kept her own hives but in the Darkness those bees had died. Oh, such a sorrowful thing: to need resort to the King’s Stores to fetch honey for the brewing of the King’s Beer.
“It’s dark in there,” I heard Kailen say. “I’ll fetch you a torch.”
Now Bregan could have said there wasn’t the need that, with her Brictan blood and so close to her Immortal source, she hadn’t the need of torches to light the stores. But she didn’t say that. She allowed him to fetch her a torch.
Aye well, of course she did. For what better excuse for him to go into the stores with her? As if it weren’t enough that already they were alone in the King’s Chamber. Yet that chamber, being so big, was used by many in many ways. There was always the likelihood of them being disturbed. Not so, though, while in the King’s Stores; there they’d be safe from prying eyes. Besides, with all those shelves and baskets and boxes, they’d have to stand close for there wasn’t the room.
He, the gallant, led the way with his bright torch. I heard him ask her, “Where is the honey?” Then it was quiet for far too long. I had to look.
I tiptoed from my chamber, over to the wide open doors of the King’s Stores. Well, it was my duty, wasn’t it, to close those doors. And equally my duty to check inside—just to be sure I wasn’t about to trap somebody in there. I tsked and tutted: Some people, so much in a hurry they forget to close the doors. But I didn’t say that out loud. I didn’t want to disturb whatever was going on in there.
And aye, there they were, arms all about each other, holding tight and clutching as if afraid if one let go the other would escape. And exactly who was devouring whom? I’ve watched mothers feed their weanlings and, believe me, this looked much the same. First it was him passing the chewed-up food to her, then it was she passing it back again. How they did look hungry!
I decided it best to give them warning. Having tiptoed back to my own chamber, I then repeated my explorations, this time singing—to let them know I was near. And suddenly there was a frantic looking for honey and making noises and over-loud talking of unimportant things. Such a drama they did effect, it could have been an official truvidirik production. I, of course, waited then for them to emerge. Red-faced.
“Oh!” I said, “It was you, Mistress Bregan. I heard noises, I had to check. I may only be the old queen, but I do still care about the King’s Stores. King Kottir’s such a worthy king, I’d hate for anything of his to be taken—especially if taken behind his back.”
“Honey,” Bregan said, holding up the earthen pot. Kailen held several more. “We need it for the brewing. Mistress Maia—”
“I understand,” I said. “Her bees have died.”
“You’ve left the torch behind,” she told Kailen.
“I’ll fetch it,” I offered. “It looks as if this young man’s hands are already full. I wouldn’t like to see him over-burdened. Some people do that, you know. They take far more than they should. They then wonder why, when they stumble, they can’t fling out their hands to save themselves. I wouldn’t like to see young Kailen, here, fall flat on his face.”
So off they went, he following her, laden with the pots of honey for the King’s Brew. I’ve no doubt she knew what I’d seen; she could too easily get inside my head. So I wasn’t surprised when she came visiting later that day.
Before she could as much as open up her well-kissed mouth I told her, “It’s not a choice you have to make.”
“But there’s something . . . ” she said—almost wailed. “And it pulls me to him whether I will it or . . . It’s so strong, I can’t escape it.”
“Then the sooner he is gone the better.”
“He waits for King Burdamon,” she said.
“You encourage him,” I accused her. “You must be stronger; turn him away. What if it had been another standing in that doorway watching you? What if Kottir knew?”
“He’d kill Kailen.”
“Aye, and then King Ferrangu would come here with a thousand men and we’d have war. Isn’t it enough that the Nritrin have taken the last portion of land in East Isle? How much longer before they take the White Lands too, and the Broken Hand? Even your mother’s Bayland. You know it, it won’t be long before they’re our neighbours. We don’t need for you, the king’s preferred wife, to be causing more battles.”
“I know,” she said, all deflated, all head hung down and shoulders drooping.
“You must push him away,” I repeated.
“But that’s not easily done.”
“What! And you a Brictan? Or . . . is it because you want to be with him?”
“You mean to go to Banva Go, to Ul Dlida? You know his family are not what they claim? They’re not Clan Duneld, they’re Luguish. And when have the Lugiönes ever been our friends? No, I have no desire to cross that sea with him. No, my place is here.”
“Then you must push him away,” I said again. “Turn your back on him. Stop encouraging him. You call to him—I hear it, I feel it, you can’t fool me. And I’ve no doubt that Uissid Tizarn hears it, too.”
She looked aghast at this. “I hadn’t thought . . .” She looked regretful and extremely guilty. “But why doesn’t he leave; why doesn’t he go away? Why does he stay and make this so difficult for me? I’ve told him no, that it cannot be.”
“You know the reason,” I told her, although she’d have to do a lot of thinking before she would find it. “Go to Uissid Tizarn,” I advised. “Maybe he can help you.”
“He’ll be angry with me,” she said.
“Go to him,” I urged her. “Tell Truvidir Markenys that it’s important you speak with Uissid Tizarn. He’ll take you to him.”
Yet she hesitated in fear of the ancient man—though, truly, she had no reason to fear him. At least, not then, not yet.
Like a good soup, the plot thickens. Not only is the amorous Kailen keeping company with King Burdamon who is known to be in the keep of the Nritrin, but Kailen himself is of the Lugiönes, an ancient rival of the Alsaldic Empire. Indeed, Bregan needs to consult with Uissid Tizarn. But will she? And what can Tizarn do, currently weakened by the Darkness? Next episode, The Weak and the Strong