Ascendance Trilogy Fanfiction: Laws of Betrothal - 7. Chapter 7
Jaron awoke in the morning pressed against Imogen. He lazily opened his eyes, faintly recalling the events of the previous night. He opened his eyes to gaze at Imogen.
She slept peacefully, lying on her back. Her braid had barely held over the course of the last night, and she was drooling slightly. Jaron had never seen a more beautiful sight.
He felt a burst of desire, familiar to last night. It was then he realized his physical predicament. He cursed the devils quietly, this time for the sweet torture that sleeping next to Imogen would bring. He sighed.
He then noticed Amarinda’s absence. She was already gone. His attention immediately turned back to Imogen, temptation filling him. Amarinda was clearly giving them an opportunity.
He shook his head and pushed it down. Imogen had made her wishes clear last night. He let out another frustrated sigh and climbed out of the other side of the bed.
The wardrobes were stocked, the servant’s likely filling it during the night. He thought of their sleeping arrangements last night and flushed. There would likely be gossip this morning – of all sorts.
He quickly got dressed, selecting a rather plain outfit from the closet. He wasn’t feeling particularly kingly, especially with recent events.
He returned to where Imogen lay, still soundly asleep despite the morning light drifting through the window. She must have been up last night as long as he was. He couldn’t help but smile at the thought. He pressed a kiss to her forehead. “I love you,” he murmured, pulling himself away.
She smiled gently in her sleep and shifted slightly. He turned away, trying not to notice that one of her sleeves had fallen to her arm during the night. Breakfast would clear his head.
Arriving at the breakfast hall, he noted with pleasure that the staff was running far behind. After the wedding, there had been an immense celebration, no doubt with a lot of drinking. The staff was more than likely still recovering, nursing some nasty hangovers.
The reason for his delight is that meant that all the stuffy nobles would have to serve themselves – including his new uncle-in-law, King Galrys.
He entered the dining hall, then stopped when he saw the company. He had interrupted Galrys and Princess (Queen) Amarinda in the middle of a discussion. They both halted conversation immediately, causing a somewhat awkward silence. Finally, Galrys spoke.
“Ah, young King.” Galrys’ tone was respectful, and Jaron couldn’t detect any hint of sarcasm in his voice. “You arrive at last.” Amarinda seemed surprised to see him, no doubt expecting him to take advantage of his situation with Imogen.
“I trust you found your arrangements satisfactory?” Jaron had secretly been hoping he’d have a hangover too. “Nothing too peculiar, I hope?” he asked with a sly look.
Galrys scowled, and Amarinda gave Jaron a panicked look. Jaron ignored her* and eyed the King cooly.
“What did you do?” Galrys inquired coldly. Jaron was widely renowned, most especially when he was younger, for his unique sense of hospitality. The last Bymarian ambassador had awakened to find another woman’s undergarment in his wife’s angry fist. Their marriage only survived because of Darius’ intervention and sleuthing.
Jaron smiled innocently. “What do you mean?” Galrys’ scowl deepened. “I made sure you were provided with only the best of pillows. I’m certain that if you have no complaints…”
Galrys grunted, eyeing Jaron suspiciously. Jaron opted at that moment to begin making himself breakfast, ignoring the hostility entirely. “Some cheese, sir?”
The other King’s only reply was the same scowl. The man really needed some new expressions to add to his repertoire.
Galrys waved his hand dismissively, his attention returning to his plate of food. “It is of no matter. My servants will discover it.” Jaron bit back a laugh. He doubted it.
“I have a matter to discuss with you, one I would like to be kept semi-private.” Galrys gestured to the nigh absent room. “This timing seems sufficient.”
Jaron’s stomach twisted with concern. Still, he responded. “And I with you. You may go first, as I am quite the gentleman.” He waved his hand in mock politeness. Galrys remained impassive.
Then he sighed. “Do you know why I forced this marriage?” he asked, his eyes showing the slightest bit of humanity. “Why I would put my niece through pain, and threaten this continent with war? Why I would risk offence or assassination?” Galrys eyes softened. “Do you know why?”
Jaron shrugged dismissively. “Sure. You wanted the law to be kept. It was about honor.”
To his surprise, Galrys shook his head. “That is not all.” He shifted in his chair, straightening. “My doctors informed me after my wife died, that I was infertile.”
Jaron blinked in shock. “What does that have to do with-“
“Lady Amarinda is the last of my bloodline.” He gestured to where she sat silently. “That’s why she is my appointed heir. Unfortunately, she cannot inherit without a child.” She looked at him, unsurprised. Clearly, this was what they were speaking about.
Jaron thought for a moment. “So you needed her married. Why me?” he asked, annoyed. “Why not just have her off and marry Tobias?”
Amarinda flinched. “Because he isn’t royal,” she said with disgust. “The father has to be royal.”
Jaron shook his head. “Who makes these stupid rules, anyway?”
Galrys glared at him. “Our ancestors. Bymar is the longest-lived nation of us all, thanks to those ‘stupid rules’, as you so diplomatically put it.
“I’d give more credit to the massive military, but alright,” murmured Jaron under his breath. If Galrys heard him, he gave no sign.
“My point is,” stated Galrys, “I need an heir. Immediately.” Jaron stiffened. “If you cannot provide one within the next year, I will take it as a refusal of marriage.” Galrys kept his gaze firm. “Celibacy within marriage is quite an offense to us Bymarians.”
Jaron thought on this. Galrys had a point. He was growing a bit too old to be utterly heirless, and he was anxious. But he and Amarinda certainly had no interest in each other, most especially in that way.
But Jaron still needed to ask a favor. “Fine,” he lied, “You’ll get your heir.” Amarinda gave him a sharp look. They’d have to talk later. “On one condition.”
Galrys’ eyebrows shot up in surprise. “A counteroffer.”
“A request.” Jaron thought for a moment before speaking. “You help me apprehend Veldergrath.”
Galrys’ expression darkened. “How did you find out about him?” He thought for a moment. “On second thought, perhaps I do not wish to know.”
Jaron sat up. “He is a noble of Carthya, accused and imprisoned for the murder of King Eckbert and his wife, as well as the crown prince.” He watched as Galrys seemed surprised. “He tried to usurp me, and I demand he be found.”
Galrys leaned back in his chair, thinking. “If it is as you say, I will put on a search. It is only honorable.” He gave Jaron a warning look to inform him his lie did not go by undetected.
Jaron swallowed nervously. “Thank you.” He gave a small bow. “In that case, it’s time I get moving. A lot to get ready, you know.” He dumped what remained of his food into the trashbin at the side and moved to exit. Galrys halted him.
“I’ve heard about your little ‘trip’. Per our current agreement I would request most heavily,” his look clearly stated that this was not a request, “that you bring your new brides with you.” Jaron rolled his eyes.
“It might not be entirely safe…” he stated, concerned. “I’m not known for my peaceful lifestyle.”
“Then take protection.” Galrys stated this as though it were obvious.
Jaron shifted uncomfortably. “I need stealth for this particular ‘trip.'” It was true. A small army would be more a burden than a boon.
“I believe diplomacy would be best in this situation,” interrupted Mott. He had just entered the door, where Jaron spotted several servants listening in. Mott grabbed his arm. “Especially in this case,” he whispered.
Jaron thought for a moment. “Alright, I’ll bring a guard.”
Galrys snorted, unimpressed. “For the crown princess of Bymar? Your troops must truly be thinning.” Jaron ignored the remark.
“You haven’t met this guard.” Mott’s eyes flashed with recognition. “Not to mention, stealth will be security in this particular situation. We’ll be safer without a clanking army following us around.”
“With all due respect, Your Majesty,” interjected Mott, “I know the guard of whom he speaks. Roden, captain of the guard.” Mott’s eyes glanced to Jaron. “I promise you, he is most proficient, perfectly capable of the protection that is needed.
Galrys looked skeptical. “Is that so?” He leaned in, looking for any type of deceit in Jaron’s eyes. He saw nothing.
He leaned back. “Very well.” He extended his hand to Jaron, who took it. “We have a deal.”
*Like he always does 🙁
Thank you all so much for the reviews! I was admittedly rushed, so I apologize for the lesser quality of this scene. The interesting stuff will be coming up.
For those of you wondering about Jaron’s trip, it will be explained in the carriage.
Special thanks to Clara and call-me-crouton! Thank you guys!