Kedan sat at the desk in the parlor of the river house reading one of the many messages that had been delivered to him over the past week. He had been sending out many messages to different parts of the kingdom. He had sent them to several viceroys on the council. He had kept them light and vague. He had asked general questions about the state of each land. He had asked if they had any request he should know about. He made sure to put one line in each message:
I know sometimes we can be so blinded by the power and business of Aurumist that we forget what we owe to the many lands that make up our kingdom.
He had hoped this line would be enough to signal to anyone who might have sent him the message by the large bird that he wanted to talk without alerting anyone else. So far, all the messages he had gotten had not been overly informative. The three he had read today had only thanked him for his interest. They had said their lands only wanted to do what was best for Aurumist and the kingdom. Kedan threw down the letter in his hand and sighed. He had three more letters left. Two were from Till, and Kedan wasn’t sure he was in the mood to read those today.
He picked up one letter that had no name on it besides his own. He opened it and was about to start reading when Teryn walked into the room. Kedan noticed she looked much more well rested and happier lately. She seemed to have gained some weight, and she was able to sleep better at night.
“Good morning, Teryn” said Kedan brightly.
Teryn smiled and walked over to him. She took his hand and gave him a kiss on his cheek. “Good morning, my lord. I’m sorry to have slept so late this morning.”
“You can sleep all day if it makes you feel better. You need not worry about any schedule here. Have you eaten?”
Teryn sat down in a seat in front of Kedan’s desk. “Yes, I just had breakfast, but with the way I’ve been feeling I might have to eat again in an hour. I’ll be as big as a house if I keep this up.”
“Hardly, my dear, you have waisted away to almost nothing. I am glad to see you have an appetite again. Is there anything I can get you now?”
“No, I am well. I was wondering if you would take a walk with me. I haven’t been out in ages, and I would like to go down to the river.”
Kedan looked down at his unopened messages. He decided they could wait until later. He was happy to see Teryn with so much energy, and he wanted to please her. “Let’s go now, while you are feeling well rested and fed. I can work on this correspondence at any time.”
Teryn smiled as they stood. She took his hand, and they walked out the door and onto the back lawn.
Teryn closed her eyes and breathed in deep. “It is so beautiful out here. Part of me wishes we never had to go back to Aurumist or the palace.”
“I know what you mean. It’s been wonderful to just be in the quiet. I always believed I wanted nothing but my life in the palace. I thought I wanted importance and power. I craved the lavish parties and people begging for my attention, but since coming out here, I envy those who live a simpler life,” said Kedan as he looked down to the river flowing by.
“So, you want to live in some small cottage and raise crops?” asked Teryn with a giggle. “I don’t know if I can picture you as a farmer or me as a farmer’s wife! You would come home after milking you cows to me barefoot with three kids cooking dinner.”
Kedan smiled thinking of Teryn with three of their children hanging off of her. “Well maybe not a farmer, but a nice sized manor out in the country sounds nice. Just a few people on staff. You and I able to spend our days as we want. You could raise roses, and I could breed horses.”
Teryn grabbed Kedan’s hand. “Come on let’s go wade in the water.”
They walked down to the water and took off their shoes. They spent a pleasant morning walking in the shallows of the river. Teryn would kick water at Kedan, and he would retaliate by splashing her. Before long they were both laughing and drenched. Eventually they sat together on the bank, Teryn in Kedan’s arms.
“I’ve missed you so much, Kedan,” said Teryn. “I know we’ve been together this whole time, but I feel like I’ve been so sick and tired, that I’ve barely spent time with you.”
Kedan kissed Teryn on her head. “I know, but you are doing better now. If you are well and our child is well, this has all been worth it. We can stay a little longer and enjoy each other now. All that matters to me is that you and our child are safe and happy.”
Teryn turned around to look at Kedan. “Kedan, you know that I love you dearly, don’t you? I have loved you for a long time. No matter what I do, it is because I love you.”
Kedan gave Teryn a confused look. “Of course, I know you love me. I’ve never doubted it. Is something wrong?”
Teryn looked intently at Kedan. He had a feeling she wanted to tell him something. “No, nothing’s wrong, not right now. I just want to do a better job of taking care of you. I want to spend more time with you. I got so wrapped up in being the Lady of the Kingdom, that I think I forgot to show you how much I love you.”
Kedan laughed. “I distinctly remember you showing me quite often how much you loved me. I think we have the proof right here.” Kedan rubbed her stomach affectionately.
Teryn gave Kedan a half smile. “You know, I am feeling much better right now. Perhaps we might go up to the house and retire to our room?”
Kedan gave Teryn a smile and stood up, dragging her with him. He placed her arm in his and said, “Let me escort you, my lady.” The walked arm and arm back to the house.
Kedan lay in bed looking at Teryn. She had fallen asleep quickly after their time together. He watched her for a moment and smiled. He was glad she was finally feeling better. He had been so worried seeing what this pregnancy was doing to her. He had been scared that she may not survive it. He had been debating going back to Aurumist to see Golnar to try to help her, but now it seemed she had turned a corner. Kedan was pleased. Maybe they could stay there by the river another month complete.
Kedan got up slowly out of bed and redressed. He needed to look over all his messages, even the ones from Till he had been avoiding. He walked downstairs and poured himself a drink from the wine on a side table close to his desk. He took his wine and sat down. He took a drink and picked up the message that had no name but his own. Opening it read:
I was glad to have read your letter. I believe you are more than others let you be. I think you have a real interest in the kingdom. You must know that you are being kept from seeing the whole truth. You shouldn’t trust anyone, especially those closest to you. You need to go back to the palace. Do what you need to do to stay close to the powers there. There is much that will happen. Play the part you need to play to keep safe. You will be needed. I will be in touch soon, and I will tell you more then. My only loyalty is to the kingdom and the gods.
Kedan read over the letter twice. He wasn’t sure what to make of it. It said he shouldn’t trust anyone, especially those closest to him. Who was closest to him? He thought of Till and Golnar. He already had a feeling he shouldn’t trust them. Who else? Teryn was very close to him, but he could trust her, couldn’t he? Kedan thought about Teryn. He had known her for so long. They had been together for a long time. She was his wife and the mother of his child. Surely, he could trust her.
Kedan tried to think over the time since he and Teryn married. Was there anything suspicious? His memories seem clouded. His time with her in Aurumist was a blissful blur. Kedan shook his head. He loved Teryn, and she loved him. If there was anyone he could trust, it had to be her.
Kedan folded the letter and put it in his pocket. He would need to find somewhere safe to put it to look over it later. He didn’t want anyone to find it, not even Teryn. He picked up Till’s first letter and opened it. It started out as just news about the Aurumist. Till described the summer festivities. He went on and on about how much Kedan was missed by the people. He hoped Teryn was doing well, and that Kedan was enjoying his break. Till encouraged Kedan to stay as long as he liked in the river house. Before the letter ended, there was a paragraph added on. It contained much more interesting information. There was a spy from the magical folk staying in the kingdom. He was training those who’s magic had been released, including Till. He had information on the supposed king. They hoped to be able to move against this king before long.
Kedan sat the letter down and sat back. This was interesting and much unlike the other letters Till had sent. All the messages before this were just general news of the city and a call for Kedan to stay in the river house with Teryn. Kedan had gotten the sense that Till didn’t want him to know what was going on in Aurumist. It was strange that Till had added this paragraph with actual news. Kedan eyed the other letter from Till and wondered what it might say.
He picked up the letter as Teryn walked into the room and smiled at him.
“You left me. I guess I feel asleep again,” said Teryn coming to sit in front of Kedan.
“I wanted to let you sleep. I know you are feeling better, but you still need plenty of rest. I had some letters to catch up on, so I came down here to read them.”
“Who’s that one from?” asked Teryn looking at the letter in Kedan’s hand.
“It’s from Till,” replied Kedan looking at the letter.
“What does he have to say? Is everything going well in the city?” Teryn sat back in her chair and stared at Kedan.
“I haven’t read this one yet,” said Kedan.
“Well, go on then. Tell me how things are back home.”
Kedan opened the letter and started reading. It wasn’t a very long letter, but Kedan read it slowly three times just to make sure he was actually understanding what it said. It seemed they wouldn’t be able to stay another month by the river after all.
“Well, Kedan, how are things in Aurumist?” asked Teryn. He kept reading over his letter. “Kedan?” She sat up straight and looked at Kedan.
He looked over the letter at Teryn “You are feeling better now, correct? You are almost completely well?”
Teryn cocked her head and gave Kedan a confused look. “Yes, I feel much better now, almost back to my normal self. Why do you ask?”
Kedan smiled at her. “I think we will need to travel soon. We will need to be back in Aurumist within the next month.”
She looked interested. “Whatever for?”
Kedan cocked one eyebrow and handed her the letter. “For our coronation, my queen.”