I’ve gotten used to taking long afternoon walks in the palace grounds, sometimes by myself, sometimes Martin or Aaron or Marina come with me. Today I’m alone, because I just sent a letter to Anselm about the drowning dream.
I don’t like the portent that it was Brayton who pulled me out, and I can’t trust him to interpret it, and Marina is still barely speaking to me, so I’m stuck with a letter to Anselm. I almost asked him to come, but I can’t bring myself to, it isn’t fair to him, but when we agreed that he would stay in Pantona I thought I would still have Caleb with me.
“Your Majesty,” I turned seeing Prince Eric running towards me. I smiled in spite of myself. “That is Annalise, I really can’t get used to it.” I laughed.
“Are you more formal at home?” I asked. “Your mother and brother and sister in law, do you call them, Your Majesty?” He smiled.
“With the King, always, Daniel and I have never been close. With Elana, in public, and with the children.” His smile changed then, became more sad.
“Your niece,” I said, “the eldest that is, Karina? Is she,” I exhaled, “will your brother change the inheritance?”
“I don’t know,” he frowned. “If Elana has her way then yes, and well,” he blushed a little and then I swallowed.
“Some of it depends on me, then?” I said.
“It would be easier if the current heir was on another throne it would simplify her claim,” he said. “Not that I want to add any pressure.”
“No,” I said stopping and leaning against a rail. “There’s no pressure here.” We both laughed. “How long do you plan to stay?” I propped myself up. He stepped closer to me.
“As long as you’ll have me,” he said, “do you really plan to go to Brightcoast in the summer?”
“I think so,” I whispered. “We’d ride down, but I suppose you’d want to take the Glory.”
“I can trust Lefty and Raymond to it,” he said, “if you’d rather.”
“It’s months away,” I said drawing back. “Besides, would Lieutenant Lestoff like it?” He laughed.
“He wouldn’t like being away from Duchess Marina, however he misses sailing and complains about it regularly.” He shrugged. “Plus I am his commanding officer so I get to make the decision.” I laughed. “You wouldn’t want to sail?”
“No,” I sighed, “I mean, I would, but the ride is traditional, and the road goes through Pantona so,” I stopped.
“You want to go home,” he smiled.
“I am home,” I said. He laughed.
“Now you sound like me,” he said, “I have to claim Vacana as home, but it’s Brinecliff where my heart is. You lived your whole life in Pantona, it’s where your family is, it’s home.”
“Aaron and Olivia and my uncle are going to bury Caleb soon,” I said, “I’ll probably go to the temple when they leave. Would you come with me?”
“Of course,” he said, “I’ve been going a few days a week, actually. Sister Anna has been assisting me.”
“I like Sister Anna,” I said, “I had no idea you were so devout.”
“I wasn’t,” he admitted. “But being away from the sea has made me nostalgic, and I long for Rana.”
“You’re welcome to her,” I grumbled, kicking the dirt and thinking of my Dreams.
“The Dreams are bad?” He asked.
“There’s been a particularly vexing one,” I shrugged. “I don’t want to bother you with it.”
“Annalise, the first time I heard of a Dream was when I was four and I awoke to my mother screaming bloody murder,” he shrugged. “I tend to take them in stride.”
“I was drowning and then,” I exhaled, “someone, an enemy pulled me out.” He nodded. “I don’t know what it means except I think she’s frustrated with me. I’m not moving fast enough for her.”
“What is your mandate, anyway?” He asked sitting down on a bench. I smiled, “besides you know, all this?”
“Release the gods, they’re bound somewhere at the moment,” she said, “restore balance. All this, as you say, is a big symbolic part of that. I’m product of Rana and Cornan’s chosen lands, Cammadan and Phania.”
“And you have to do it alone?” He smirked. I shook my head.
“I have Marina, and whoever Cornan chooses,” I said, “we’re not clear on who that is.” He nodded and leaned back looking thoughtful. “I’m sorry this must be dull.”
“You said you wanted to try,” Eric shrugged. “This is a part of your life, I want to understand it.” I felt my shoulders fall and then felt myself reaching to hug him. And then he just sort of held me.
And it felt so incredibly right I immediately ran to my room to cry for an hour.