Chapter Ten

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The bedding came and went, and Somara felt that it could have been worse. It was not spectacular by any means, but the Silent King was not completely inept. He was not gentle though, that was for certain. She thought that maybe it was simply the way the northerners mated. It frightened her, she had to admit. At one point his eyes were burning with a rage that she had seen before; a rage fueled by power, perhaps even evil. She shuddered when she thought about it.

Not long after, her husband had sunk into a deep, noisy sleep. No doubt his condition was a side effect of the copious amounts of wine that he had drowned himself in. It was a night matched only by songs. The Great Hall stuffed near two thousand people within its doors that night. She had watched as they drank and ate enough for an entire city thrice over. The temple only held a meager two hundred of the ample turnout, the rest being forced to wait out on the street, but still, it was a sight to see.

The night was cool as she stepped out onto the terrace that overlooked the City of the Moon. She pulled her silken robe closer around her and leaned against the stone ledge. Vines grabbed at her arms as she looked out over the city. Fires dotted the landscape, despite the hour, as the city celebrated their new king. Or, perhaps they were celebrating the flagons of wine that the kingdom had provided for every man, woman, and child in Panthos. Even lacking speech, the Silent King had a voice heard by all, there was no denying that.

It was then that she noticed the multitude of camp fires lambent just outside of the city gates. It was unsettling, the move by her husband. The armies of the Vint were vast, more so than she had previously thought. Plios had advised her to keep her husband's armies far away from the city. No doubt her own royal council agreed with him. How would it have looked, for her to deny her new husband's first request, and on the day of their wedding much less? No, it would not stand. Plios would have to get over it. Besides, the Uthari guarded her castle and the city. No army would enter the gates unless she gave it leave to do so.

Her husband did not stir as she moved through the room. The kitchen would be dark at this hour, she knew. She could have woken the cook had she wanted and commanded him to prepare a meal, but sometimes she rather liked to make her own snacks.

The castle gave her chills at night, but the walk to the kitchen took only moments. She lit the brazier and found some peppered beef, hard cheese, and a loaf of soured bread. Sleep often evaded her in the deep of night. Some lords and ladies of highbirth would grow portly if their nightly wanderings ended up in the kitchens, but Somara had remained the same figure through her thirty sixth nameday. It was a source of envy for many a ladies throughout the Moon City.

"The queen wanders even on her wedding night?" The gruff voice of Barost rumbled from behind her.

She did not trouble to turn around. "The city still revels, why should their queen be slumbering?"

"Perhaps their queen needs her rest."

"Who are you to presume to know what a queen needs?" Her voice warned against his assertion.

The large man frowned as he lowered his head. "Apologies, my queen," was all that escaped his pursed lips.

"What are you doing here, Barost?"

"Just doing my rounds, my queen." He stepped into the room slowly. "The keep is secure and most are asunder."

"And my daughter?"

"Safe and sound in her bedchamber. I have two men on each door and the over bridge is well guarded. You have nothing to worry about."

Just as Tradai said, she thought. Somara wiped her hands on her gown and began putting away the food. "What was it like to see your closest friend, my brother, have his throat slit not ten feet from you?"

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