â€śJust a few more moments of your patience, Your Highness,â€ť
the healer Baeltya said, her tone abstracted as she
Lonen stared up at the patterned, arched ceiling of Arillâ€™s
Temple, counting the interweaving strips of wood yet again.
There were one thousand and fifty-two in the central
spiral. He should be grateful for Arillâ€™s magicâ€”and Her
dedicated priestesses who devoted themselves to healingâ€”
which made convalescence so much faster, if profoundly
uncomfortable. Mostly, however, he chafed at the enforced
inactivity. Much easier not to get injured in the first
At least his mother, whoâ€™d initially taken care of the gut
wound heâ€™d received from his brother Nolan during their
duel, had left the follow-up care to Baeltya. The junior
healer didnâ€™t lecture him the way Vycayla, as both the
dowager queen and his mother, seemed to feel entitled to
do. Not only entitled, but compelled.
If he didnâ€™t need her help to ensure he and Oria could
officially marry with Arillâ€™s blessing, according to
Destrye law, heâ€™d be tempted to tell his mother to go back
to her hermitage already.
The wedding ceremony was a stupid formality, really. With
the duel over and Lonenâ€™s claim to the throne of Dru
secured, he could declare Oria his wife and Queen of the
Destrye once and for all. Theyâ€™d fought hard enough for it.
It still stuck in his craw that heâ€™d had to fight his
brother for it.
â€śTry not to twitch, Your Highess,â€ť Baeltya said, sounding
more emphatic and less vague. â€śThis is a delicate piece.â€ť
â€śI wouldnâ€™t want you to meld my intestines to my bladder
after all,â€ť he commented wryly.
â€śYou laugh, but given the previous state of your
intestines, thatâ€™s not impossible,â€ť she replied in a tart
tone, her healing magic twisting in parts of his gut he
wished he didnâ€™t know about. â€śThat final blow couldâ€™ve
killed youâ€”likely wouldâ€™ve killed a man in less robust
conditionâ€”so maybe spend this time contemplating your
gratitude to Arill for Her healing gifts.â€ť
â€śIâ€™m grateful,â€ť he grumbled. Though heâ€™d much rather be
with Oria and his mother as they sorted through Nolanâ€™s
psyche. He couldnâ€™t decide if it made him feel better or
worse that Nolanâ€™s rebellion and treachery might have been
fueled by a sorcerous taint from his time in BĂˇra. And
Arnonâ€¦ Lonen didnâ€™t know what to make of his younger
brotherâ€™s changeable loyalty. First Arnon had backed
Nolanâ€™s challenge, thenâ€”apparently somehow swayed by their
mother Vycaylaâ€™s return from self-imposed exileâ€”he had
refused to act as Nolanâ€™s second.
So ironic that they accused Lonen of being enchanted and
duped by his sorceress wife to the point they questioned
his devotion to Dru, and now Oria was the only person he
felt he could fully trust.
He sighed heavily.
â€śThat was a sigh, not a twitch.â€ť
She laughed. â€śI donâ€™t envy Oria in managing you if youâ€™re
always this difficult.â€ť