Unnormal Normalcy

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King of Blades – Chapter 2 “Conferences”

The Grand King’s office was crowded with his top advisers; Former Second King Shelton, General Rohan of the Royal Guard, General Ruairi of the army, Admiral Pavle of the navy, and Coulta. It was past nightfall, and they’d been there since the early evening. As soon as the statue presentation had ended, Coulta had spoken to Shelton and Wildas, and an emergency meeting had been called.

“I have no answer as to where this threat is coming from,” Coulta stated – for what felt like the hundredth time. “He was running a simple observation on the lord of Port Blasin, just to make sure he was on our side.”

“We’ve been doing it with every major lord in the country since the civil war ended,” Shelton added. “We need to make sure no one is going to pick up Varin’s plan where he left off.”

Coulta nodded. “A few days after getting there, he reported finding an underground society working against the crown. He was going to try to get in to find out more. A few nights ago he sent an urgent message to me saying he thought he’d been found out, but he couldn’t be sure. I told him to wait until he knew for sure, and then get out at all costs. That may have been the wrong advice.”

“No, it wasn’t,” Ruairi declared, leaning back in his chair. Candlelight made the old scar on his left cheek stand out. “We need to know who is behind this. If it’s a small rebel group, we can deal with them, but if they’re spies for another country – Dyrai, for example – we need to prepare for something bigger.”

“I thought we had a treaty with Dyrai?” Rohan demanded.

Shelton shook his head. “It expired years ago. Your father tried for years to get King Idas to extend it or create a new one, but we gave up eventually. Refusing to sign a treaty is one way to say ‘we’ll be on your shores soon enough’.”

“I’ll start getting the ships prepared,” Pavle sighed. He was slumped in his chair next to Ruairi, his brother, still clearly bothered that he had missed the unveiling of his eldest brother’s statue because he had been leading a training exercise on the river. Coulta couldn’t help thinking that at least the training wouldn’t be a complete waste if war did come from Dyrai across the sea.

“We still don’t know where this threat is coming from, though,” Wildas pointed out, leaning against his desk with his arms crossed over his chest. “It could just be a rebel group, for all we know.”

Coulta sighed. “I already sent someone back there, before this meeting even started.”

Wildas rubbed his face tiredly. “Why? We can’t throw all of our spies at this if we want to have any spies at all.”

“I know,” Coulta assured him. “But I sent a team. They function very well together.”

Shelton nodded. “I know exactly the trio he’s talking about. I would have chosen them, too. They are extremely good at what they do. They will keep each other alive.”

Coulta knew they would, too. The three were clearly lovers who had been together for several years. They’d probably have married and retired by the time Coulta became the spymaster upon becoming Second King, but Phelin law only allowed marriage between either a couple – whether of opposite sexes or the same – or a group of four made up of any combination of the sexes. Because the spies were involved in a triad relationship, they were left to simply live and work together without marriage titles. Coulta was glad they couldn’t retire into marriage, though – he doubted he could find a team to work for him as well as they did. The woman involved in the triad was also the best female spy Coulta had to work with.

“I would feel better if they were trained to kill, as well,” Coulta admitted, glancing at Shelton, then back to a very visibly stressed Wildas. “Then I would be even more confident in their ability to make it back.”

“We don’t keep assassins,” Pavle grumbled.

“I don’t know,” Rohan pointed out, “Coulta did a fairly good job assassinating Lord Varin last year.”

Wildas sighed and massaged his forehead. “I’ll think about it, Coulta, but I can’t say I want to approve it.”

Before Coulta had a chance to argue, someone knocked on the door that joined the office to Wildas’ bedchamber. They all turned to look as Queen Myri stuck her head in. “I’m really sorry to interrupt this gentlemen meeting, but I have some family business with my husbands. And, no, it can’t wait. Oh, Shelton, too. We may need you.”

Concern clenched at Coulta’s heart. All he could think was that something had happened to Anil or their unborn child.

“We’ll meet again after breakfast tomorrow,” Wildas told his generals, and immediately went to the door, Coulta and Shelton following.

Myri closed the door when they were in Wildas’ dimly-lit bedchamber – which was slightly larger and more decorated than Coulta’s, and had a somewhat more massive bed that easily fit all four of them – and she sighed heavily. “Anil’s bleeding. I’m afraid she might be losing the baby.”

“You’re the healer, Myri,” Shelton said calmly. “What is it you need me to do? I’m not very skilled when it comes to healing magic, so I doubt I’ll be able to reverse it if that’s what’s happening.”

She nodded. “I know. But women who miscarry often have weaknesses in their Life-Giving Force. You were able to detect the fact that Coulta completely lacks that force, so I want to know if you can sense how strong hers is. She might not lose the baby, but if she does, I want to know if it’s just because she’s young and it’s her first, or if fertility teas are in order to strengthen her.”

Coulta could tell by the expression on his husband’s face that Wildas was almost in a panic. “This isn’t common?” the Grand King questioned.

“It happens,” Myri said with a sigh. “Sometimes it’s nothing. I want to make sure.”

They followed her across Wildas’ room to the door that opened into Anil’s chamber. The queen was laying in her large bed, looking rather pale in the candlelight. Coulta stayed by the door with Wildas, and Myri joined them when Shelton shooed her away from the bed so he could work. Coulta felt Wildas grip his hand tightly, and he returned the gesture, putting his other hand on Myri’s shoulder. Wildas did the same, and their wife leaned back against them.

At the bed, Shelton sat gently next to Anil and carefully took her hand. Anil turned to look at him, and the all watched as he carefully placed his fingers over her wrist and closed his eyes.

After what felt like an eternity, he set her hand back down on the mattress and rose to his feet. “I don’t think she’ll lose the baby,” he told them all. “Her Life-Giving Force is far too strong to allow it. As long as she rests, everything should be fine.” Then he left, giving them all a smile.

“Anil, you’re on bed rest,” Myri declared, breaking away from their husbands.

“For how long?” Anil asked, but she was smiling slightly. “Shelton said everything will be fine.”

“Until I tell you you’re past the dangerous period,” Myri answered, sitting down on the edge of the bed.

Coulta knew from experience just how controlling the healer side of Myri could be. He’d been injured spying for Shelton soon after he’d arrived at the capital, and Myri had taken charge of him as soon as he’d arrived back at the castle unconscious on his horse. That was before any of them knew they’d even be getting married, and now that they were, she was worse.

“Just don’t force her to drink those horrible teas you gave me,” he told her.

She just smiled pleasantly at him. “Worked, didn’t it? Now, you two,” she added, motioning to the door. “Out. Let me take care of my patient. And, Wildas, you look terrible. There’s a jar in my room of herbs used for a relaxing tea. It’s already properly mixed, just take two pinches of it and make some tea, if you can’t sleep.”

Wildas moved closer to the bed and Coulta followed, letting go of his hand. “Thank you,” Wildas replied, stopping to give Myri a light kiss. Then he leaned down to kiss Anil. “Get rested. You and the baby.”

Coulta kissed his wives as well, wishing Anil well, then left with Wildas. “I can make that tea for you,” he offered when they were back in Wildas’ chamber.

“If making love with you doesn’t help, then you’re welcome too.”

Coulta raised an eyebrow. “I thought you were exhausted.”

Wildas nodded. “But I need you before I can relax. This day has been utter misery. I need to know something is right in the world.”

“Then I will prove it to you,” Coulta declared, pulling him into a tight embrace and kissing him.

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December 20, 2011 - Posted by | King of Blades

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