The Warrior King rode home that day with the war behind him. Forgetting cares and the tonics of Elymas, he repaired to an old barn of a castle in Glynnis Fen to hunt with his friends. There, he caught golden-haired Laveth stealing wood from the royal forest, but rather than exacting outrage, he took her to bed.
That an heir was conceived before the royal wedding was of no consequence to the general population and didn’t concern William at all. The child was born in due time, one month short of the Shautu’s projected twelve month.
With Laveth recovering in childbed, the Warrior King turned his energies to the reconstruction of Open Court. All documents kept by William the Fair had been lost, and his father hadn’t bothered with records. The Warrior King had only memory to guide him, and he could only recall that it had been twice year, before spring moon and once before harvest, and in the Great Throne Room. A slim beginning, but even so the great doors opened.
That spring, the Warrior King sprawled on his throne, a beloved and happy man.
In autumn, the door ground open to startling changes. The great hall was a hushed and darkened room. Thick draperies covered the casements while fat tallow candles sputtered and burned in the brackets along the walls. William sat on the throne, pale and shaking, while Elymas, ever solicitous, hovered nearby with a chalice. The Warrior drank sparingly from the cup and judged fairly, but it was clear to the people who came from the fens, the mountains, the stinking fishing villages, that the scepter that held sway over them was held by a dying hand.