“Maeve,” Khary glanced up at his wife’s tone, noting that her share of the breakfast was already crumbs on her plate. Morghann had one hand wrapped around the warm cup of the Healer’s tea that Maeve insisted she drink every morning instead of coffee. Maeve, who served both as the primary Healer in Maghre as well as Morghann’s personal Healer, glanced at the pregnant Queen with the smile that make Khary feel uncomfortable. It usually boded ill, because it usually prefaced something that Morghann wouldn’t like to hear which meant Khary would be punished.
“Yes, Lady?” Maeve asked quite sweetly.
“Do you think I could go riding this morning?” Morghann asked. Khary braced himself for the worst. He eyed the distance to the door, and decided that it would be best to take cover under the table and make his way slowly, avoiding the inevitable heavy objects that Morghann was throwing when this all played out.
Maeve was silent a moment, considering. “If you’re feeling well, I suppose it would be alright. Nothing strenuous, but with the kindred horses you all know, I doubt that would become a problem.” she smiled a knowing little smile and Khary felt a great weight lift off of him. Morghann beamed, quite pleased, and he counted to ten very slowly before he abandoned his own breakfast.
“Shall we?” he asked his wife, who smiled. Morghann, who was complaining of aching feet and an aching back these days, moved with more spry energy than he’d seen in awhile. Pleased, Khary followed her, and the two emerged into the sunlit air of the morning.
The Queen’s residence was a fairly large cottage in a small village. It had room for all of the Court offices and official meeting rooms, but in a rare case, the Queen lived with only her immediate family and a few staff members in the actual home. Khary was pleased with the arrangement for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that Maghre was a safe, peaceful place, that he served as the Warlord for.
Across the clearing was a pasture, though unfenced. Maghre was home to a number of kindred horses who all took advantage of the open pasture these days. Only a few “belonged” to Morghann or Khary, as much as any kindred belongs to a human, but Khary had no doubts that if danger came to Maghre, every kindred horse in that pasture would protect the Queen with their lives. For that matter, though hardly every person in Maghre served in the Court, he was sure that every male, and many of the witches, would stand to protect their Queen.
It pleased Khary to know that his wife, and his Queen, commanded such devotion without a great deal of effort on her part.
As Morghann approached the pasture, one of the golden stallions approached. Sundancer was a beautiful horse; before he’d known the stallion was kindred, he’d had an eye on buying him for himself. Since the revelation, and his breakdown on one of the major roads in the countryside some years ago, he’d come to respect Sundancer for more than just a beautiful coat.
“Good morning, Sundancer.” Morghann greeted. The stallion was pleased when Morghann produced a sugar cube from her sleeve and ran fingers over his velvety nose. Sundancer served Morghann personally, no one could deny that. “Want to ride?” she asked.
Khary didn’t expect what came next.
Sundancer stamped his foot and snorted, backing away from Morghann. *You are in foal. Mares in foal are not ridden.* he said, flattening his ears. Morghann’s mouth fell open, stunned. *Humans in foal should not ride.* he added, punctuating his statement with a whiny.
Morghann’s pale face flushed red. Khary had no time to do more than grab for her arm, which he missed, before she started yelling.
“The Healer said I can ride!”
“You… you stupid horse! You can’t tell me what to do!”
*I serve.* he said simply. Khary suspected that Sundancer had been hanging out with Jaenelle. He valiantly hid his smile, knowing that it would only get him killed.
“But Maeve said-”
Morghann was getting loud, but Sundancer cut her off by simply turning and cantering away. Stunned, his red haired Queen grabbed a rock (a small rock, mind) and winged it out into the pasture. She didn’t even come close to hitting him, but he was amazed as her arm, considering the toss hadn’t been Craft enhanced.
“DO NOT JUST CANTER AWAY FROM ME YOU STUBBORN MALE!” she yelled. Khary was sure the entire village was now aware that Lady Morghann was having a disagreement with one of the kindred horses. Khary simply took a few steps back and tried to remember all of the lessons he’d learned about being an escort, and keeping a straight face even when the Queen was displeased.
“Fine, that’s just fine. One of the other horses will do.” she snarled. She turned to stalk towards a group of kindred mares, but they evaded her fairly easily. It was easy to see that Sundancer was the head of their herd, and hard been instructed that Lady Morghann was not to ride. After a few moments of trying, and failing, to get any of the horses to listen to her, she spun on Khary with murder in her eyes and stalked towards him. He quickly reminded himself that this was his beloved wife, carrying his child, and she wasn’t very likely to make their child fatherless, but he still had to exert effort to offer his arm when he wasn’t sure she wasn’t going to take it as an offer to disarm him… literally.
*Morghann and Khary!*
Not feeling charitable towards the kindred, Morghann spun at the open thread of their names, but eventually smiled when she saw it was Ladvarian sprinting up the drive. Khary thanked the Darkness for a distraction, and his own curiosity got the better of him. What was Ladvarian doing in Scelt, today of all days?