Tales of the Kirgeur

Part 27

By: Bluedragon

"Torienne, may I have speech with you?" Rul crossed the threshold and joined me on the balcony.

"Aight. What need you to speak of?" The sun had not journeyed far above the horizon. It seemed strange Rul and I were the only two not walking the paths of our dreams. "You have risen early. This must be important."

"Aight. I believe it so." She inhaled deeply. "I need ask of you a favor."

"What is the favor?"

"I ask that you converse with my father. I wish to be a kirgeur as you are. I am of age for training." In truth, she was. She was the youngest of those taken and brought to the realm of the Jilhsaed.

"Your father would rather you join and bear children?" Though I suspected the answer, I had need to hear of it.

"I am betrothed to one in the village near to our own. I love him not."

"Though I pity the choice, I cannot accept only lack of love in a pairing as reason to begin training." I had seen many choose the life of a kirgeur to avoid joining or babes. Those who did so lasted not long at the school. They either returned to their village and completed the betrothal or fled the homeland. "The life of a kirgeur is not one of ease."

"I know it is not. I still wish it."

"Have you other reasons to choose this life? Have you no desire for a husband, hearth and babes?" I had no wish for her to choose blindly.

"Perhaps I shall accept a husband, though I feel unready for one. I am not cylinge."

"I suspected it not. I must ensure you desire the mark for the correct reasons." In truth, I could not speak of it to her father unless she greatly desired to become a kirgeur.

"What reason would you have me give?"

"You have seen the harms Salenia and I have been given. The life of a kirgeur is not one of tirgeaur hunts and glory. Battle is filled with danger. During any encounter, you will know not if you shall live still before the moon rises. Wish you such a life?"

"I wish it." She seemed determined.

"You have killed in battle have you not?" I had thought she had during the rescue. I was proved correct.

"Aight. I parted one man's soul from his body when you rescued us."

"How felt you upon seeing the light behind his eyes dim?" I recalled with ease the way my first fatal encounter made me feel. It had changed the course of my life.

"I felt ill, though I regretted it not. I could do so again."

"Could you? You were fortunate in your encounter. You were not harmed. A sword is painful when it pierces your flesh. Look you and see." I pulled the loose shirt from my shoulder. "Salenia is a skilled healer, though I shall still bear this scar until I am called by the gods."

"Who injured you?"

"We were attacked by bandits on the journey from Creasinda. If you wish this life, in truth, you must be prepared to suffer such a harm or worse." I pulled the shirt until it covered the scar once more. "Do you still desire the mark?"

"I desire it still."

"Why?"

"As I accepted that sword during the rescue, I felt whole. I knew then I desired to assist those in need. There is much danger in the life of a kirgeur, this I know. I accept the danger. I wish for the mark."

"Then I shall have speech with your father." I pledged. At the least, she wished it not as a whim. It was a desire.

"My gratitude, Torienne." She seemed pleased.

"Nothen. None is needed." I watched the sun rise above the river. It seemed a day of beauty. Perhaps it was an apology from the gods for the events of the past days.

"Torienne, why did you choose the mark?"

"There was no choice. I accepted the mark because there was little else I was fit for in our village." I replied. "Go you and rouse Lyliane. It is time for the meal."

"Aight, cousin. Greet the day, Salenia."

"Well met, Rul." Sal joined me on the balcony as Rul entered the chambers. "There was no choice for you, shehala?" She rested her hand on my arm. "Have you regrets?"

"Nothen. I have no regrets. There was no choice for I was meant for this life." I turned to her. "Have you?"

"Regrets? Nothen. I have none." She turned to view the river. "Have you plans for this day? We have not duty."

"In truth, we have not duty until we return to our homeland. A servant delivered a scroll from Soliumant. It is a true scroll for Kierian scribed a brief message of validation. Regardless, we are now guests of the Jilhsaed. I believe we have become as cordermers." I laughed.

"It would be amusing to be so regarded." Sal voiced her mirth at the thought. "Great esteem for such barbarians. It shall seem strange if we have not duty."

"Have you thought on the events of the day?"

"Little. Perhaps we can journey to market. You and I have yet to view it."

"It seems a good plan. Shall we bid our companions to accompany us?"

"Aight. It shall be entertaining. Come, let us eat."

"Aight."



"This market is enormous." Sal seemed in awe. In truth, it seemed half again the size of the market in Creasinda.

"Iolaine, you know this well. Perhaps you shall guide us." It seemed logical. He had journeyed many times to the market. We had not.

"Aight, Torienne. What wish you view?" He asked. "There are many fine horses near to the beast market."

"You know me well, my friend. Lead on."

As with many of the markets we had visited, the area dedicated to the selling of beasts was far from those areas selling cloth and food. In truth, this market was arranged for convenience. The first sections were dedicated to food. As we traveled to the beast area, we passed the sections for cloth, attire, cooking utensils, statuary and other decorations, weapons, implements for farming, and accessories for the beasts.

We were favored with many looks of curiosity as we followed Iolaine through the different sections. In truth, we seemed strange pairings. Our grouping was of two warriors, a servant who wore a sword, three outland servants and a small boy. Only Iolaine seemed native to the region and did not appear to favor us. It bothered us not.

"Torienne, is this not a beautiful horse?" Sevianth journeyed before us and indicated a horse almost of a pure white hue.

"It is." I agreed. In truth, it seemed a fine example of a horse.

"This is a horse fit for the stables of the Jilhsaed." The horse seller approached.

"It is a beautiful beast. Tell me, is it all beauty or has it substance?" I asked.

"It has substance." The horse seller seemed ill at ease with the query. "What know you of horse flesh?"

"What know you? Are you the breeder as well as the seller?" I liked not his question.

"I buy from a breeder who is knowledgeable of his trade." The man admitted. "You are a warrior if you have the ability to utilize the sword you bear, what know you of horses?"

"I have knowledge of horses and I have skill with this blade." I looked to the horse again. "May I view it closer?"

"Have you a desire for it?"

"Perhaps. I shall know when I have viewed it. May I?"

"If you wish." He seemed reluctant.

The horse seemed of good temper. It nickered softly as I approached. As I had seen my father do, and as I had been taught, I circled the horse slowly. I looked closely at the hooves, flanks and withers. Gingerly I lifted the front hoof. It had no cracks or other signs of abuse. The teeth seemed in good order as well. In truth, it was a fine animal. The horse seller followed every step I took.

"The years of the horse?" I asked.

"It is two." The man answered.

"He would breed fine horses if crossed with another of equal breeding. How much?"

"Thirty goldens."

"It is robbery to charge so much for a horse." I protested. "I will give you ten."

"I will accept no less than thirty. It is fit for Soliumant."

"Soliumant would not pay thirty goldens for a horse."

"You have no more knowledge of Soliumant than you have of horses. Had you the eyes of one accustomed to horse flesh, you would see this animal is without compare."

"Little man, I know of none who would pay so much for a horse, no matter the breeding." In truth, I did not. My father had not sold a horse for more than twenty. It seemed not reasonable for one to pay more than one made during a year for an animal.

"In Creasinda, a horse of this stature would command fifty goldens."

"You are mad."

"Torienne, we wish to view the other areas." Salenia entered the enclosure.

"You are Torienne? The kirgeur?" The man stepped a pace back toward the enclosure.

"I am." I knew of no reason to deny my identity.

"You wish the beast for ten? I would ask for it as I would ask for it from Soliumant himself."

"Nothen. I wish it not." I smiled at the man. If he would offer a reasonable price only upon learning of my identity, I wished not the horse. "Tell me, is the breeder from Marlkina?"

"Why would you wish to know?" The man seemed suspicious.

"I am merely curious." I knew if the man wished ten for the animal, he had purchased it for five or less.

"He is from Marlkina."

"My gratitude for the viewing." I nodded to him. "May the gods guide your day. Come, shehala, we shall view the remaining areas."

"You wished not the horse?" Sal asked as we departed the enclosure.

"I had wished to breed him with Kier, though I wished not to meet the price the seller demanded." I explained. "He wished thirty."

"Thirty goldens for a horse? He is mad."

"I shall inquire of the breeder from Siveruian. Perhaps he knows of him." Our companions joined us as we began the journey through the section dedicated for saddles and the like. "What wish you to view?"

"I know not." Sal replied. "Perhaps we shall merely view all we are able."

"Perhaps we shall." I agreed. It mattered not. We had no duties to attend. It seemed a day of peace and rest. Such days were rare and treasured.

"Iolaine, know you if it is required to give gifts to Soliumant and Kierian?" Sal asked as we slowly walked through the area containing tack and saddles.

"I know not." He paused in thought. "I know it is customary to gift a new pairing if they have not rank. I know not if it is required for those of rank."

"Perhaps it maybe against custom here. It matters not. It is a custom of our people. That shall suffice." I answered. "Now we need only find appropriate gifts."

"I have an idea, sister." Tre seemed joyful. "I doubt any in this land have the knowledge or ability to construct suitable joining attire. At the least, Kierian should be attired according to custom."

"In truth, Torienne, Tre is correct. Perhaps such attire shall suffice as our gift to her." Lyliane agreed. "We have the required skills to fashion such in traditional design."

"It is a good plan." In truth, it seemed appropriate. Kierian would be joined far from her family and friends. We were all she knew who would be present. According to custom, we would stand as her family and attend the duties required.

"Know we what to gift Soliumant with?" Sal asked.

"I believe, shehala, I have an idea that will suffice." I grinned at the sudden inspiration. "We need find a leather worker."

"Perhaps Tominent or Kespearen knows of one." She suggested.

"I shall inquire upon our return to the palace. Now, let us choose the proper cloth and adornments for Kierian's joining attire."

Choosing cloth of the proper weight, design and hue was as entertaining as it was frustrating. Many items we required were substituted for native ones. It was well. We adhered to custom when able. We knew it would suffice. Only one adornment was required as near to one in our homeland as possible. Iolaine's talent for sketching designs was utilized for it. We discovered one merchant who was also a craftsman. He was honored by the opportunity to give the design life for the Jilhsaed's bride.

All our hands were filled with bundles and packages as we returned to the palace. Even Sevianth was given a share to carry. Lyliane, Tre, Rul and Iolaine were skilled with needles. As a result of their skill and the approaching ceremonies, we decided it would do well for us all to be newly attired. We had chosen our cloth with as much care as we had given the cloth for Kierian. Such ceremonies deserved the best we were able to provide.

"I believe this joining attire shall be as much of this realm as our own." Salenia commented as we unwrapped the bundles and packages.

"It is well." I replied. "She shall soon be of this realm. Perhaps more so than she was of our village."

"Was she ever part of the village?" Tre asked. "She seemed always distant."

"I had thought she was, though I discovered I was mistaken." I replied. "She seems at her ease in this land."

"This land has changed us all, keytheda."

"Aight. It has, in truth." I agreed. "Shall we bid Kierian join us so we may fit the cloth to her?"

"I believe it should be a surprise." Sal answered.

"Have we one near to her stature?"

"Actually, shehala, you are near to her stature, though perhaps she is taller." She seemed amused. "Perhaps you could stand on a step and allow us to fit it to you."

"I think not." I answered in haste. "Rul is taller. Perhaps she will suffice."

"She shall suffice, Torienne. My sister was jesting." Lyliane seemed as if she were struggling to hide a smile.

"Aight, shehala, I was jesting. I would not wish to damage your reputation as a fierce warrior. Regardless, Rul shall stand and be fitted. When is Soliumant's Ceremony of Ascension?"

"On the morrow. We are to meet in the great chamber an hour before the sun rises."

"I doubt we shall have the new attire by then. Perhaps it would do well to have the clothing you purchased in Creasinda cleansed." Lyliane suggested after much thought on the matter. "It is well made and should suffice, though for the joining, you shall wear new attire."

"Aight. You would not wish us seem barbarians at such a ceremony, would you?" I laughed. Though most of the Alsounthia were farmers, we held to one ancient custom. Only the best attire would suffice for such important ceremonies. It was a mark of the esteem we placed in the participants and in ourselves.

"Have you need of our assistance, sister?" Sal asked as she stood.

"Nothen. Tre and I shall begin fitting the cloth to Rul. We shall begin fitting your new attire after the evening meal." Lyliane displayed her ability to run a household. I believe had it not been for her, we would have been lost in the palace and such duties.

"Then we have an afternoon of leisure." It seemed rare pleasure.

"Have you plans, shehala?"

"Aight. Perhaps a ride near to the river would be well." It seemed a good compromise. It allowed me to visit with Kier and Salenia to remain near to water.

"It is a good plan." She smiled. "Shall we?"

"Lead and I shall follow."

Those who attended their duties at the stables paid us little heed as we saddled and mounted our horses. Our rank allowed us the privileged of riding through the streets of Marlkina. Those without rank were required to lead their horses during festivals and certain hours. It was to prevent accidents when the streets were filled with trade and activities.

We departed the palace and journeyed along the main pathway. We traversed the same route Tominent had led us through when we rescued Sal and the others. The area near to the river was deserted. All the cordermers and merchants with coinage were at court or attending duties in the palace. It was the first Salenia had viewed the great houses. The night of the rescue had not allowed a chance to see the sights.

"What think you Siveruian's daughter shall be like?" Sal broke the silence as we allowed the horses to choose their steps on the shore.

"I think she shall resemble her father, though perhaps she shall possess more hair." I jested. Salenia seemed not amused. "In truth, I believe she shall be intense as is her father."

"Soliumant shall make many changes during his reign."

"It is his destiny as ours is to change much in our homeland."

"Think you we shall return here?" She seemed much in thought.

"Perhaps. I have pledged my sword to Soliumant. If he has need, he shall bid us return." I reined Kier to a halt and dismounted. Sal followed. "You seem pensive, shehala. What is amiss?"

"I know not." She tethered her horse to a low branch and sat more to the shore. "Kierian shall make a lovely bride."

"Aight. She shall, in truth. Does my role in the ceremony bother you?"

"Nothen. I was gladdened you asked my approval, though it bothers me not. She is a companion of your youth and you are near to family for her. It is well you agreed."

"Then what is amiss?" I searched my thoughts for an answer.

"Lyliane expressed her wish to join with Iolaine upon our return." That was my answer. Salenia wished a joining ceremony.

"I had thought on it. Perhaps Chelstea shall perform our ceremony, if you wish it so." In truth, I had not thought on it. It seemed rare inspiration. Though we were bound, and no ceremony was required, I would honor her wish. Our ceremony would not be traditional, even for kirgeurs. We had tasted the marriage bed before we were joined. Only our bond would excuse our lust. It was well. A goddess blessed bonding was rare. They could not deny the ceremony that would declare it for all the witness. It would insult Solisiric.

"It is a good plan." She smiled as she took my hand and stood. "Though were you serious in your proposal?"

"Aight. I was serious in the asking." I kept her hand. "Salenia, will you allow me the privilege of joining with you, creating a home and life with you?"

"I wish for no more than that." Her smile brightened her tears.

"Then it shall be so. Upon our return, our instructors shall perform the ceremony." For a moment, I believe my heart halted its function. As my lungs struggled for breath, I looked into her eyes. I had no questions, no reasons for fear after. "Come, we should return. We are required to meet the court in the great chamber one hour before the sun begins its journey on the morrow." I had no other words to give voice.

"You have departed from your realm of comfort, have you not?" She laughed. "It is well. We shall return, though we have many hours before we are to meet in the great chamber. We need to occupy our time."

"Aight. I believe Lyliane wished to fit our attire to us. Perhaps we shall discover other activities to occupy our time." I grinned. "I had a wish to have speech with Tominent or Kespearen regarding a leather worker and the identity of the breeder of the horse we viewed at market."

"Perhaps we shall, though I had other plans. We shall accomplish all, I believe."

"Then we should return to the palace and attend our duties, if we wish to accomplish all before the moon rises far above the horizon." I took hold of Kier's reins. "Shall we?"

"Aight. I shall follow."


We were awakened by a servant the next morning. We were given time to bathe and dress in our best attire. Tominent joined us as we journeyed to the great chamber. We allowed Sevianth to attend. Such a ceremony seemed too important for even a child to miss. It would be a tale he could relate to the babes of his offspring. Though he was tired, he was enthusiastic about the viewing of it. He gazed about in wonder as we entered the great chamber. In truth, I did as well.

The great chamber was filled with cordermers and their households. More had appeared for the ceremony of ascension than for the Jilhsaed's burial ceremony. It seemed the entire population of Marlkina had chosen to attend. It was well. It would illustrate the esteem placed in Soliumant. He would need the esteem and respect to properly rule his realm. Such respect and esteem from his people ensured the lack of an immediate coup. They accepted him and looked to him for a good reign.

Siveruian, in his final duties as chamberlain, led the procession from the palace near to the river. The platform created for the ceremony was but few leagues beyond the palace walls. It faced the desert so those on the platform stood with the river behind them. Siveruian, the mute, Soliumant and one of the queriane stood on the platform. Those attending the ceremony stood near to it. Guards were placed in and around the crowd. Sal and I were prepared for battle in case our swords were needed. Fortune was with us, they were not.

The sun had begun to rise above the horizon as Soliumant knelt before his chamberlain. Siveruian pulled a long, sharp dagger from the folds of his robes. They were each dressed in a light blue, though Soliumant was attired all in silk. The crowd gasped as Siveruian placed the dagger near to Soliumant's throat. The new Jilhsaed flinched not as the chamberlain drew a slight amount of blood from his throat. It was a ceremonial sacrifice. Soliumant illustrated his willingness to lay down his life for his people. At that moment, he ceased to exist as Soliumant, son of Imbuement, and became the Jilhsaed. There were no words. The sacrifice timed with the rising sun was all their custom required.

The crowd cheered as Soliumant wiped the blood from his throat with a purple cloth of mourning. It symbolized his ceremonial death. He rose to his feet and bowed low before his people. I had not heard such cheers and applause. It illustrated the approval of his ascension. He held the esteem of his people in his hands. It would do well to raise his confidence in his skills to rule the realm.

The procession was lead to the palace to song and chants. Those who had not attended the ceremony lined the streets of Marlkina. Though Sal and I were not required to guard Soliumant's life, we remained near to the new Jilhsaed. He was a friend and companion. We would remain near to him for the length of our stay. It was a function of our duty. We had vowed to guard his life. When we had taken the oath of the kirgeur, we had pledged to guard the lives of our tribes. Friends from distant realms were considered as part of the tribe. It was the way of our people. It was the way of the kirgeur and it was our nature to view it so.

After we returned to the palace, we were bid to gather in the feasting chamber. I had not seen such a morning meal. Even Lyliane, accustomed to the realm more so than we, had not viewed such a feast. The amount of food given to those present inspired awe in us. It was well. It was not wasted. We each ate our fill.

As we had for the feast of Soliumant's ascension as heir, all present vowed their allegiance and fealty to the new Jilhsaed. Even Salenia and I vowed to guard his life and uphold the laws and traditions of the realm. It surprised many when he repeated the vow he had pledged to me in the library. We were bound by honor to ensure one another's safety. It was well. Solisiric had approved. Such blessing would strengthen the bond. I regretted it not, nor have I ever had reason to doubt in it.

We departed from the feasting chamber and returned to the great chamber. The court seemed in a festival mood. The burial of one Jilhsaed seemed forgotten as they greeted the new. Soliumant declared a day of freedom in the land. Only duties necessary for the palace were to be attended. After the evening meal, the servants and slaves of the palace were given opportunity to attend the festivities in Marlkina.

"Torienne, you, Tominent and Salenia are bid join Soliumant and Kierian in his chambers." Siveruian adroitly avoided the crowd and caught our attention.

"We shall attend in but a moment." I turned to him. "Allow us to bid our companions return to the chambers."

"I shall inform them." He bowed low before disappearing into the press of people around us.

"Iolaine, we have been requested to meet the Jilhsaed in his chambers. If you wish, you may attend the festivities though guard Sevianth closely."

"Aight, Torienne. We shall meet you in the chambers for the evening meal." He seemed grateful for the lack of duties.

"Know you what Soliumant wishes?" Salenia inquired of Tominent as we journeyed to the Jilhsaed's chambers.

"I know not. He merely expressed a desire to have speech with us." He shrugged his shoulders.

"Perhaps it concerns the other celebrations." I suggested. It seemed reasonable. "Know you the custom surrounding the initiation of a new chamberlain?"

"Siveruian has been chamberlain since before Soliumant's birth." He answered. "The father of his father was chamberlain."

"Then the old man, the false seer, was not chamberlain?" Salenia sounded confused. "Why would he not be chamberlain?"

"I know not. I believe his father lived long and abdicated when Siveruian came of age. I know not why the old man was passed over for chamberlain. Perhaps Soliumant can answer the question. I would not ask Siveruian."

"Nothen. It would not be a subject I would wish speak of to him." Sal replied.

"It is well he was chosen for a higher rank despite his father's treachery." I commented. "Many would have not trusted in him."

"He was not close to his father. This much I know. They disagreed when Siveruian was young. He departed from his father's household and trained as chamberlain beneath his father's father." Tominent explained as we reached the area of the palace dedicated to the Jilhsaed's chambers.

"It seems strange, though I have known ones in their youth to rebel against tradition. My cousin did as well. He departed from his father's household. He did not wish to be a farmer or a worker of metal." Sal commented as we entered the Jilhsaed's chambers.

"Well met, our three heroes have answered the summons." Soliumant seemed in good temper. "Torienne, Salenia and Tominent, I wish you to greet Siveruian's daughter, Yleminea."

"I have heard much of you." A tall women with a distinctive Eastern cast to her features stood and offered her arm. "My father is much impressed with the three of you. You must be Torienne."

"I am." I accepted her arm in greeting. "This is my shehala, Salenia."

"Well met, Yleminea. We think much of your father. He is a great man." Sal offered in greeting.

"My gratitude for the greetings and the comments. My father is a great man. It shall not be with ease that I assume his duties." She turned to Tominent. "I have heard you departed from the queriane. It is well you did so. Had you not, perhaps the events would have ended in a different manner, Tomi." It was the first we had heard a shortened version of a name in this realm.

"I believe it was a wise choice. I was not fit for guarding texts, Ylemi. You seem well. Life beyond the palace seems to have suited you." He embraced her. "We were companions in our youth." He explained.

"We have known one another a long time, my friend. Have you yet found one to join with? Perhaps one of these two?" Yleminea's voice seemed strange. Had I listened closely, perhaps I would have recognized the sensual quality of the tone.

"I have not found one to join with, Yleminea." Tominent did not seem comfortable with the conversation. "Soliumant, need you other speech?"

"I did, brother." The new Jilhsaed laughed. "Warriors have little comfort in such conversations, Yleminea. Perhaps he shall speak of it over ale. However, we have much to prepare for this day. The ceremonies to initiate Yleminea as chamberlain shall be combined with the ceremony to honor the three of you and elevate Siveruian to his new rank."

"What does such ceremony require of us?" I wished to know the duties we would be required to attend. I was not much for surprises.

"All for duty?" Soliumant grinned. "Kierian has given much insight into your character, though I had a good measure of it. Regardless, it is of duty we need speak. The ceremony shall require only your presence. You have made your pledges. Those need not be reaffirmed. In truth, they needed not be given. I trust in the three of you, though I know you shall depart soon. Yes, brother, I know you shall accompany them. I blame you not for it."

"I wish only to view other realms. I wish not disregard my duties to you, Soliumant." Tominent seemed abashed.

"You wish view your mother's homeland. You have my blessings and my approval. I bid you join us here for conversation regarding the celebrations. There shall be a fortnight of festivities from this day. I believe you would wish to depart the last day of the festivities. It shall be the day after our joining." He took Kierian's hand. "We wish the ceremony of joining to be a blending of both my land and your homeland."

"Perhaps you should bid Tre and Lyliane assist with the preparations." Sal suggested. "They have more experience with joining ceremonies."

"In truth, Rul shall assist as well." I shrugged my shoulders. "She wishes not to join, though she is betrothed to one in a village near to ours."

"Rul wishes not to join?" Kierian broke her silence.

"She wishes the mark." I replied. "She feels the events in this land have changed her. She wishes the life of a warrior, though she may one day join and bear children. She wants it not yet."

"She looks to you for guidance then? Most seem to look to you for leading, Tor. There was a time when I would have as well." She spoke in our native tongue. I watched the others closely. Only Yleminea seemed interested. I knew not if she understood. She showed no signs, she merely watched us as we spoke.

"As Kayla would say, my friend, time never stands still, it is as the river, fluid and ever changing." I leaned into the chair's embrace. "You have no need of my guidance, Kierian. You have chosen well."

"My gratitude, Torienne." She smiled. "Soliumant, we require assistance from Torienne's companions. Perhaps we should send for them?"

"We shall, though there is more we need discuss. We shall attend the plans for the ceremonies after we have discussed more we need speak of." He answered. "I believe we have questions unanswered."

"In truth, we have several. We know not how the coup began, nor the roles of those we killed and captured." I returned to the subjects that had plagued my thoughts. "Perhaps we shall discuss these subjects while Kierian and Yleminea discuss plans for the joining ceremony with my companions." I trusted not in Siveruian's daughter, though I had no reason to doubt in her. I had no reason to trust in her either.

"You wish me gone from the discussions?" Yleminea seemed amused. "Perhaps it is best we depart and allow the warriors their conversations." She turned to Kierian. "Wish you discover the whereabouts of the promised companions?"

"I believe it shall be well. Torienne, are they in your chambers?"

"I know not, Kierian. They were given leave to view the festivities. Perhaps they are in the great court."

"Then perhaps Salenia shall escort us and ensure our safety?" Yleminea suggested.

"Salenia is a warrior. She may wish hear of the answers we seek." Tominent replied before I knew a reply to give voice.

"Nothen. I shall return after I have escorted them to Lyliane and the others. They shall be safe in Iolaine's care." She stood. "I shall return, shehala."

"Aight. Return in haste." I was not comfortable with the situation, though I trusted in Kierian and Salenia. Yleminea caused my unease. I knew not why. I resolved to question Tominent at the first opportunity.

"I shall." She smiled as they departed.

"Learn you any from the prisoners?" I asked as the door closed behind them.

"We learned much. Perhaps you would wish assist as we question those with more knowledge." Soliumant replied. "What wish you to know first?"

"Why was Siveruian's father not chosen as chamberlain?" It was the first thought I could give voice.

"I know not the full reasons. I know only the old man's father wished his son not to inherit his rank. Siveruian was chosen to become chamberlain above his father. The old man was a queriane and claimed gift as a seer. We know that to be false from his scroll. It seems he was coerced into the conspiracy, though I doubt it."

"Perhaps he was angered he had been unable to inherit and went willingly to Johianei." It seemed reasonable. Bitterness has often caused hatred and desire to inflict harm on the innocent.

"Perhaps. None live who know the answer. Siveruian knew not his father's deceit. He was as shocked as my father." Soliumant bid a servant pour mugs of viniare. "There are few remaining to question. Wish you attend? We shall question them on the morrow."

"I wish to attend. I believe Salenia would as well."

"As would I."

"It pains me that soon the three guards and instructors I trust in, admire and like the most shall depart for a distant land. How long shall the journey be to your homeland, Torienne?"

"I know not. Salenia and I completed the journey in a moon. It shall take more to return. We rode in haste, as did the slavers. We shall have more with us on our return. It shall perhaps be two moons before we enter my village after we depart."

"It is a long journey. Perhaps you would wish remain and be an advisor?"

"Nothen, Soliumant. I cannot. I have been bid return by a goddess of my people. There is much I must attend in my homeland. I believe my cousin shall accomplish much there as well."

"Rul?" Tominent seemed confused. "You stated her desire to be a kirgeur."

"Rul shall accomplish much, in truth, though I believe you shall as well. Your mother was a sister to mine."

"We are family?" He seemed surprised. "How know you?"

"It is a strange tale, though I trust in you both." With haste, I related the visit with Solisiric. They seemed awed, though they gave no signs of disbelief.

"It is a strange tale, indeed. I believe it, though it seems full of tales." Soliumant drained his mug. "At the least, we have answers to few questions."

"If fortune is with us, we shall gather all the answers we need." I poured another round of viniare. "What else have you learned?"

"Johianei plotted my father's death since he was created heir. Johianei had my father's brother assassinated as well. He was my father's cousin and wished the seat of power." Soliumant explained. "Two of those captured were servants to him and well trusted. They are who we shall question on the morrow."

"Then I wish to be present greatly." It seemed they held the answers we sought. "Are there other conversations we need have now?"

"I know of none." Tominent answered.

"I have but one question. Have you given thought to your reward?" Soliumant turned the conversation.

"Nothen. I have not."

"Then perhaps I shall bid Kierian give it thought." He smiled.

"I wonder at her choice." I could not contain my laugh. "She is all female, though she has knowledge of warriors. She shall be your consort?"

"She shall. I believe she shall perform the duties well. She is a wondrous woman." His smile was filled with his affection for her.

"You have chosen well, brother."

"Aight, you have." Salenia replied as she entered the chambers. "Shehala, shall we return to our chambers?"

"By your leave, Soliumant?"

"Granted. I shall send for you before we question the two servants. There is much I need attend. Tominent, you are given leave to depart as well, unless you wish to remain?"

"I believe Torienne pledge a round of ale. I thirst for it." He smiled. I believed he wished to have speech with us. It was well. I wished it also.

"Then I shall make good my pledge." I rose. "Soliumant, we shall meet you on the morrow. Come, shehala, Tominent."

"I believe I shall attend duties in my chambers." Tominent turned to us as we traversed the corridor.

"My gratitude, my friend." Sal seemed relieved.

"Tominent, you are welcome to join us for the evening meal."

"Perhaps I shall. Until then." He turned and departed through a different corridor.

"What is amiss, keytheda?"

"There is nothing amiss, shehala. I merely wished for time without others. Our companions are in conversation with Kierian and Yleminea."

"Then we have the chambers to ourselves?"

"We have. Sevianth is intrigued by Yleminea. She has promised to display techniques for hunting used by the people who schooled her. The others are assisting Kierian with plans for the joining ceremony. Have you plans for our time alone?" She asked as she opened the doors to our chambers.

"I believe I shall find an activity to occupy the hours." I grinned. "Perhaps we shall visit the horses." It was a jest. Fortune was with me, for she realized it.

"I believe I know an activity that shall interest you more than your horse."

"Tell me, what is the activity you have planned?"

"It requires action, not words." She took my hand and led me to the bed. "Perhaps I shall illustrate it for you?"

"I would be grateful." The questions we required answers for, the anxiety, the unease I felt in Yleminea's company faded in the arms of my shehala. It was but a momentary distraction, though it was one necessary to our survival. Such moments retained sanity.

"You are tense, keytheda. Perhaps this shall relax you." I confess it did.



Continue to part 28

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