Kedan laid in bed and looked over at Teryn. She was fast asleep, making a soft snoring noise. He watched her sleep, happy that she seemed at peace. It had been a rough night for her. She had spent half of it vomiting and the other half unable to sleep. Kedan stayed up with her, rubbing her back and trying to entertain her. They had both finally fallen asleep about four hours ago. Kedan had been woken up by the sun coming up over the distant mountains of the Lowlands, shining its light through the large window in their room. He was thankful Teryn continued to sleep.
Kedan watched as Teryn stomach went up and down with her breath. She was still trim. He couldn’t believe a child, their child was alive inside of her. He very gently put his hand on Teryn’s stomach imagining his child growing. He looked again at Teryn, and he was filled with love for her and for their future child. He thought about what kind of father he would be.
He didn’t want to be like his own father, distant and busy. Kedan wanted his child to know him, and he wanted to know his child. His child could be king or queen someday. Kedan would spend time with the child, teaching him, playing with him, and letting him know he was loved for who he was and not what advantages he could get for his parents. His child would feel valued. His child would know what it was liked to have a mother and father.
Kedan wanted to be a good father. He knew Teryn would be a good, caring, and protective mother. They would be happy, the three of them. Maybe with more children to come one day. The thought pleased Kedan. He took his hand off of Teryn’s stomach. He decided to rise, and he quietly got up and left the bed. He dressed simply and quickly. They had very few servants at the river house, and Kedan liked it that way. He liked feeling like he was all alone with Teryn in this peaceful place.
After he was dressed, Kedan walked out onto the second-floor balcony off of their bedroom that overlooked the river. He breathed in the clean, cool air. Summer here was so different than in Aurumist. In the city it was hot, dusty, and often smelly. He had traveled little as a child. He was always needed for a party or an appearance. He didn’t know much of the kingdom beyond Aurumist. He decided this was something he would remedy. He would tour the kingdom once he was king, and the kingdom was secure. He would see what other lands were like. He would listen to his people.
Kedan looked over the edge at the river below him and the lands that expanded out for miles with their green grass. He wondered what was happening back in the palace. The summer festivities were taking place. He wondered if anyone noticed or minded the Lord of the Kingdom was not there. Golnar had said they wouldn’t mind once they heard the reason for the trip. They would understand Kedan putting the health of his wife and child first. The people would celebrate him for it.
Kedan had thought a lot about Regventus the past few weeks. His mind felt so clear in the River Valley. He felt more like himself than he had in a while. Teryn had said it was because he was away from the pressures of the palace. He agreed. It was much different here out away from others. Kedan had no one to answer to but himself here. He had no meetings, and no Viceroy Till or Golnar whispering in his ear. He felt like he could think for the first time in a long time. He felt like he was waking up from a long dream.
Kedan realized he cared about the kingdom. Sure, he liked living in luxury, and he liked power, but Kedan realized he wanted to be a good leader. He wanted the people of the kingdom to be happy. He had spent years learning about the kingdom and its people. The people at the time had seemed like distant, unreal beings, but as Kedan had grown up and started listening in council meetings, he realized that they were very real. The people had real struggles and real problems. Kedan wanted to help solve those problems.
He thought of his future child and shuddered to think how many children went hungry in the kingdom every day. Golnar and Till had said this new way would stop poverty and hunger. He hoped they were right, but he couldn’t wrap his mind about how it would work. He wanted to know more about this new way, but how when he was so far from Aurumist?
He thought of writing Golnar for reports, but he doubted Golnar would answer him. Golnar had told him to travel with Teryn and not worry about the kingdom. He thought of writing Till, but Till would probably ask Golnar what to do, and Kedan would be right back where he started. Kedan peered out at the river and saw a fish jump out of the water. The kingdom was so beautiful. He wanted to do his job well. The kingdom deserved a good leader.
Kedan stayed outside until he felt arms encircle him.
“How long have you been out here?” asked Teryn.
“For a while. It feels so good out here. It’s so different than back home.” replied Kedan.
“It is beautiful,” observed Teryn. She moved to stand next to Kedan, looking out over the river. “I’m feeling better this morning; perhaps we could go down to the river today after lunch?”
“I would like that if you are up to it. Let’s see how you feel in a couple of hours,” said Kedan looking at Teryn. She was very pale, and she looked tired. His limbs looked thin, and she moved slowly.
“We came here to relax and enjoy each other, and I feel like all you’ve been able to do is watch me be sick and sleep. This can’t be fun for you,” said Teryn sadly.
Kedan turned to Teryn. He grabbed her arm and pulled her gently into him, hugging her close to him. “You and our child are the most important things to me in this kingdom. I would do anything to keep both of you safe. I am not bored taking care of you both. If we spend three months here doing nothing but what we have and it helps you in anyway, it will have been worth it.”
Teryn started crying in Kedan’s arms. He felt her body shaking. He pulled back to see her face. He took her face into his hands lifting it up to look at him.
“What is wrong, Teryn?”
“You are so wonderful, Kedan. I don’t deserve you. I don’t,” cried Teryn, tears spilling out of her eyes.
“Silly woman, of course you do. I love you. I have never loved anyone as I love you. You make me happier than I ever thought I could be. Soon we will have a child, and we will all three be deliriously happy.”
“Oh Kedan, you don’t understand,” said Teryn. She broke down again into sobs.
Kedan held her close to him letting her cry. Golnar had said Teryn would be very emotional during her pregnancy.
“Shhh, Teryn. It’s ok. It is. You need to eat. Let’s go take some of the potion Golnar gave you and get you some toast,” said Kedan. He led Teryn back into the house.
He and Teryn sat at the small table on the first floor. He ate meat, eggs, and toast. Teryn managed two pieces of toast and some tea which pleased Kedan. Teryn took her medicine. She laid down on the sofa in the parlor of the house as Kedan read a novel to her. Before long, she had fallen asleep. Kedan smiled, watching her rest peacefully. He set aside his book and decided to take a short walk around the outside of the house. He informed a servant and told the servant to let him know if Lady Teryn woke up.
Kedan walked outside in a pleasant mood. It really was very beautiful there. He could imagine bringing his child there in a few years. He could see the child running through the lawn and splashing at the edge of the river. He could see Teryn smiling from the balcony as Kedan fished from the river with his own son. Maybe in a few years, he would have a daughter. One with light red hair who would rest on his shoulders as he ran around the yard. Kedan took a mental note to tell Teryn they should come here every year for at least a month.
After walking around the back lawn, Kedan walked towards the river. He listened to it flowing and smelled the water. He hoped Teryn would feel like coming down here with him later. They could take their shoes off and wade in the shallow water. Kedan looked out across the river and saw something flying in the sky. It flew closer, and he realized it was a very large bird. The bird appeared to be flying right towards him.
The bird glided its way down coming straight for Kedan. He stepped aside as the large bird landed next to him and stuck out his leg. There was a small scroll tied there. Kedan had gotten plenty of messages by pigeon but never from a bird like this. Kedan stalled for a moment, but then bent down and carefully untied the scroll from the bird’s leg. The bird ruffled his feathers and looked up at him. Kedan nodded at the bird, not knowing what else to do. The bird took off, flying away.
Kedan unrolled the scroll. There was a short message written on it. He read over it.
Don’t trust those who tell you pretty stories in the city.
You do have true friends on the council who will tell you the truth.
Write to those who have more interest than Aurumist and power.
Kedan read over the message three times. He wasn’t sure what to make of it. He knew he should probably send it immediately to Golnar. It sounded like there was dissent on the council, but something stopped him from immediately going back to the house and writing Golnar or Till.
Kedan had been having second thoughts on how the kingdom was run. He wasn’t sure he really trusted Golnar or Till. Kedan was curious about the message, and he wanted to know more. He read the message again. Write to those who have more interest than Aurumist and power. He wondered who that could be. Kedan knew he should get back to the house as Teryn would wake soon.
As he walked slowly towards the house, he thought over the message. He wondered who he should write. He tried to think of someone on the council who would have more interest than Aurumist or power. When he thought of Aurumist and power, he thought of Golnar and Till, but they weren’t the only ones on the council. There were eleven lands besides Aurumist represented on the council. Some were very far away from city.
Could some of those viceroy’s be uncertain of the future Till and Golnar were building? Kedan wasn’t sure, but he wanted to find out. He would have to be cautious and clever. He would need to send messages that were safe, general greetings to feel things out. It would be difficult work, but if it meant finding out more of what was going on around the kingdom, it would be worth it.
He entered the house and found that Teryn was still asleep on the sofa. He checked on her and saw the gentle rise and fall of her chest. She looked peaceful and well. Kedan bent over and kissed her on her cool cheek. He then went to the desk in the corner and took out some paper and a quill. For the first time in a while, Kedan felt alive. He felt like he was actually doing the work he needed to do.