Chapter Twenty-Seven (part III)

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The last days of Grassmonth passed swiftly. I kept to my routine: mornings in the garden, meals in the little room, a meeting, once, with Wynrun Blitheheart in between. Most of my hours, however, were spent in the library.

I finished reading through the Record, and then I read through the Record of 490 to 500, and then I stuffed pencil and paper in my pocket and began reading through the records yet again, making a tally this time of all the votes. Long before I reached the day Gardrut came as Speaker, it was plain there was, indeed, a pattern: if Lord Richards was for it, Eadmund Wulfsig was most always against it, and the other way round.

I started a new tally after my father was made High King, though I needn't have. As my father's Regents, Richards and Wulfsig continued to oppose each other on most everything. More often than not, Prince Osbert went a third way, which left my poor father stuck with the deciding vote -- one against one against two.

As the years went on and my father grew older, he sided with Wulfsig more and more -- which made Prince Osbert seem as suspicious as anyone, but he'd died in the East Tower Fire, so if he had arranged the attempt on my father's life, it hadn't done him any good.

Once I'd gleaned what I could from my father's court, I turned to the Regency Court, searching through the Record of 510 to 519. This was the last volume on the high shelf -- presumably The Record of The High Court from the year 520 to 529 was still being recorded.

I studied, as best I could, how Lord Belrad and Lord Belstan came to be Regents. The answers seemed boring and largely unsurprising: Lady Waldemar had elected Lord Belstan, and Lord Baelfrid had elected Belrad, and all the other Earls had assented, apparently just because, of anyone still left alive, Belrad and Belstan had the strongest claims to the throne. I did, however, perceive that Lord Belstan had earned his reputation as Dicky's Dog. He invariably sided with Richards -- though Richards did not support Belstan nearly so faithfully. Indeed, if Belstan proposed something Richards opposed, sooner or later, Belstan would abandon it.

And thus my days went on, searching and never quite finding, til one bright morning brought Frederick again, dirty again, dragging again, looking anywhere but up at the window and me again. It still stung me.

I picked at my breakfast slowly, lingering close to the window to see when Frederick left, if he left -- I did not much savor the idea of going out and chancing upon him. Being snubbed from afar was quite bad enough.

Brytflad asked me if I was done with the dishes three times before he re-emerged. His father and Lord Ermenhard followed after him, both dressed in sturdy boots and trousers, stuffed saddlebags slung over their shoulders.

Three grooms brought out three fresh horses. I murmured, "Now where are you going to...?" and leaned against the glass, watching them check hoof and buckle and strap.

I didn't mean to be heard, so of course, Brytflad heard me. She asked, "Who...?" and leaned past me to peer out the window. One looped braid brushed my check, and I flinched away from it, repulsed by it, by her, the touch and smell and even sound of her.

"Oh, the Earls...? Aye, and they go to Waldemar." Brytflad straightened, shaking her head, sending her braids swinging like a dog's ears. "She's never answered the Call, so Lord Belrad sent his son to fetch her, and he comes back, and he says, I put the summons in her very hand, I tell ye true, but still, she does not come. So they go now to fetch her here themselves."

I grunted, "Huh," and turned to the window again. The men had mounted and were nearly through the gates. I didn't know what to make of this, but at the least I knew I shouldn't have to worry about bumbling into Frederick.

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