Chapter 1 Part 1 | Lovers and Beloveds | IHGK Book 1

Whithorse Estate, Whithorse Province
Ammaday, the 5th Day of Spring's Beginning, 990 KY

In the stable yards of Whithorse Estate, two lanterns burned. They shone up at their owners, who sat on a straw bale against a brick wall. The low light transformed the rangy, blue-eyed one's fair hair into a burnished bronze, and turned the shorter, stockier one's eyes near-black. Both wore battered old tweed caps, and coats just heavy enough for the early spring night. The shorter one held a flask of wuisc, full at the start of the evening, and as its level dropped, they listed into one another more and more.

"Say, d'you plan on drinking that whole thing yourself?" said the tall one.

The shorter one passed the flask over. "Be careful, Tem, you're not used to this stuff."

"And you are?" said Temmin. "If I'm going to the Keep, I have to learn to drink." He took a choking swallow, and pulled a face. "Where did you get this stuff? Besides, it's our last night to do this sort of thing. Any sort of thing." Temmin sighed and bumped his head against the bricks. "Why do I have to go, Alvy? Why can't I stay here in Whithorse? Breed horses for the family or something?"

"Don't gulp it, sip it," said Alvo. "The King needs just so many horses, and you're his only son."

"Sedra should be the Heir. She's smarter, and she's the oldest."

Alvo took the flask back, sipped, and snorted. "A woman will rule when Nerr gets the Heir. For that matter," he added, "this wuisc will be drinkable when Nerr gets the Heir. I told you I couldn't get the good stuff. Crokker would've given you some if you'd just asked."

"And let Mama find out? I don't think so." Temmin sat up straighter. "Here's a thought. You go to the Keep and be the Heir and I'll take your job."

"You could pass for a groom in that cap, but somehow I don't think His Majesty would mistake me for you."

"And why won't he let me take you with me?" said Temmin. "You're my best friend, and the best groom I know. What will I do without you? What will Jebby do without you?"

"They have grooms at the Keep who'll keep your horse in trim. You spoil him, y'know."

"Jebby deserves all the sugar lumps in the world, if I could get them away from Elly. She shouldn't eat 'em all, anyway. T'ain't fair to the horses, and gives her the headache. Sisters--between her and Sedra..."

They fell silent as the sky faded from deep indigo to black. "Turning eighteen is awful," Temmin resumed. "They make you do things you don't want to do, like study, and have tea with old baronesses that smell like heliotrope soap."

Alvo took his friend's hand. "I don't want you to go, either, but you gotta." He looked down on their joined hands, both short-nailed and tan from the sun, his own rougher and the nails much dirtier. "I need to tell you something." He pressed his lips together and licked them. "I love you."

Temmin gave his friend a bright, unsteady smile. "I love you too, Alvy." He resumed staring into a wobbly middle distance.

"No, I mean I love you--"

"Ssh!" Temmin blared. "I hear someone!" He rose to his feet, listening. Floating from the hedge alley came the sounds of a young woman's light laughter, ending in a soft groan.

Alvo took up a lantern, rising more surefooted. "You don't know who's there!"

"That's the point!" Temmin lurched on tiptoe toward the alley and barged through a gap in the hedge, Alvo on his heels.

Two young lovers appeared in the lamplight. A footman pressed a maid up against the hedge, his arousal poking from his unbuttoned fly; her breast shone white and rose against the dark green of her open bodice. The footman jumped back, fumbling with his trousers. "Who would you two be--my Gran's, judging by the livery," said Temmin, tipping on his heels as he stared. The footman hid his face in his coat, and ran down the alley toward Meadow House, the smaller of the two great houses now barely visible against the night sky. "Hey! Did you see who that was?" he said to Alvo, who shook his head.

Temmin turned toward the girl. She hid halfway in the hedge and tried to cover her breasts, but her fingers shook too much to do up the fastenings. "It's all right--no, let me see," said Temmin, staying her hand. "Alvy, hold the lantern. I haven't ever seen a woman undressed. You're very pretty. What's your name?"

"Temmin, leave her alone," coaxed Alvo. "Let's go back, we haven't finished the flask." He tugged at the Prince's sleeve, but obediently held up the lantern.

Temmin shook him off. "So you serve the Dowager Duchess at Meadow House?" he said to the girl. "What's your name?"

"Mattisanis Dunley, Your Highness, but everyone calls me Mattie," said the girl. "Please, sir, I need my job. Please don't tell Mr Crokker!"

"Why would I tell the butler one of the maids has pretty tits? Alvy, how come none of the maids at the Great House have pretty tits?"

"Tem, come on!" said Alvo.

"No, it's true! All the maids at the Great House are old women--at least 35 if they're a day--and they're as homely as ever a woman was." Temmin's hand still rested over hers, and his thoughtless thumb stroked the bare skin above her breast. "You really are very pretty. Mattie, is it? Was that your sweetheart? Not a very amiable fellow, if you ask me."

"Please, sir! Don't tell Mr Crokker!" she said. Tears dampened her heart-shaped face, and Temmin fuzzily followed one off the point of her chin, past her collarbone, and down between her breasts.

"Now, there, don't cry!" said Temmin, patting her cheek in drunken concern. "Pretty girls shouldn't cry. If he's really your sweetheart, he'll come back." He handed her a handkerchief. Mattie wiped her eyes, but when she moved to close her bodice, Temmin stopped her again. "I'm not done looking, and you obviously don't mind or you wouldn't have been out here with that footman. In fact, I should really like to touch them. May I touch them? You seemed to like it."

"Tem!" hissed Alvo. "You're drunk!"

"Pagg's own balls! Why would I be drunk just to want to touch a pretty girl's tits! Don't you want to?"

"No!"

"Just don't tell Mr Crokker, sir, please don't tell, I need my job, you can touch all you like, just please don't!" Mattie pleaded. She opened her bodice further.

"See?" said Temmin. "I told you she liked it! Now," he said to Mattie, "do stop crying, and stop asking me not to tell Crokker, I'm going to do no such thing!" He stumbled, steadying himself on her breasts. "Oh, that's so nice! I've always wanted to feel one. Alvy, you sure you don't want to have a go? She has two of 'em, and she doesn't mind, do you?"

"No, I don't want to have a go, I want to get out of here and leave her alone!" said Alvo.

"Then go," said Temmin. "But leave the lantern." Alvo stomped away, leaving the lantern on the ground; it lit one side of Mattie's face and threw the rest into shadow.

Temmin pressed closer; she turned her face away, but he brushed it back toward the light. "Does your sweetheart kiss you? D'you like that? Never kissed a girl a-tall--don't tell anyone. May I have a kiss? Just one." She nodded, tucking her chin into her neck.

He kissed her, sloppy, inexpert and fumbling; she alternately squirmed and turned rigid, until Temmin broke it off. "Don't you like this?" he asked. "You said you did."

His eyes grew wide, his stomach lurched, and he stumbled back. "Alvy?" he called. "Dammit! Not now! Alvy!" Alvo ran back, just in time for Temmin to drop to his knees and vomit.

Comments

Samaris's picture

Supplicant

And I love it! Smile

MeiLin's picture

Most High

Welcome back yourself!

Frog Princess's picture

Devotee

Is Temming eighteen in this version? Had you raised the Tremontine majority age by two years? How old are Sedra and Ellika then?

Otherwise, I'm exited it's back, I missed those characters. You sure made Temmin to appear extremely unlikeble in this opening, unlike the old one.

Quote:
"A woman will rule when Nerr gets the Heir.

Spoiler: Highlight to view
Well, unless things really changed from the draft, then we already know that Nerr gets the Heir.:D
Does it mean we will get to see a woman on the throne?

Note from Mei: I'm going back through and spoiler-tagging stuff from the draft. No harm no foul, just preventive measures.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

In the end, I capitulated to the stupid decency standards here, which means one cannot acknowledge the sexuality of even fictional teenagers. Temmin being two years older makes Elly nineteen and a half and Sedra twenty-one. Initially I was really pissed, but further thinking has led me to believe it might be better all around, and not for legal reasons.

Temmin isn't as likeable in the opening. He has to have somewhere to go as a character, for one. For another, I've tried to write him like a real person who makes mistakes. This is a big one.

The Which's picture

Embodiment

I hadn't even noticed that! I think being a virgin at 18 is more remarkable than 16, so I think decency standards might have made the other character's shock at finding out resonate a bit more. At least, it does to me! (not that I think being a virgin at 18 is at all remarkable, but obviously it was Not Expected of Temmin)

Gudy's picture

Embodiment

Spoiler: Highlight to view
... Nerr getting the Heir - only Neya. Although it does seem kinda unlikely that He didn't get him at some point during that night on Nerr's Day.

In any case, I think Alvo was speaking figuratively rather than prophetically. Biggrin

Note from Mei: I'm going back through and spoiler-tagging stuff from the draft. No harm no foul, just preventive measures.

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

And we're off! Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Tigger's picture

Supplicant

And now we get to see the scene with Temmin and Mattie! We heard about it, but I don't remember reading it. YAY! The history is back!

MeiLin's picture

Most High

We'd had it sort of described to us, but we didn't see it. Nor have we seen Alvo before--he's only been mentioned. Both Alvo and Mattie are very much more part of the story this time around--but you'll see...

Tigger's picture

Supplicant

I can't WAIT! Temmin definitely has a new side to him. I am loving the tone of this new version. Now that I finally have a job for a little while, I just might have to convince the husband to let me buy the book once I'm on bedrest so I have something to read! Then again, I also kinda like having it revealed bit by bit. Decisions decisions!

kalinka's picture

Postulant

Oh I'm so excited! Mei, it's so great, and I really love the tone of the whole chapter. And Temmin, I can't wait to see him interact with Teacher in this new version. Smile

V's picture

Embodiment

No 6-chapter warmup to the erotic bits, this time - I guess people will have a better understanding of what they're in for, and that it won't all be hetero. And Temmin definitely has sharper edges this time around - he's not pure lost puppy. This bodes well.

The Which's picture

Embodiment

I made myself not reread the whole thing so I can pretend like each update is the first time I've read it and marvel at how much I love this story Smile

Tigger's picture

Supplicant

You have more than I would!

V's picture

Embodiment

more than I did.

The Which's picture

Embodiment

I read the whole thing once in like, 5 hours. I think I missed a lot by reading it that fast. So I've decided to savor each update now, and read it with fresh eyes.

V's picture

Embodiment

I was just including the first draft in "reread" so I didn't realize you'd finished the new stuff once. That actually sounds like a good idea - except for maybe when the hard copy arrives, I may do the same.

Tigger's picture

Supplicant

I would love to get the hard copy now, but I will wait. I kind of like the "bit by bit" update - it gives me time to absorb it and think about it, and much to look forward to! If I get the hard copy, I won't be able to NOT read it all the way through (and probably really fast too).

The Which's picture

Embodiment

I devoured it! But because I read it so fast I can enjoy the weekly updates, I think. I'll get all the detail I missed the first time around in my desire to find out "what happens next". It's NOT the same as the draft, so I really didn't know what was going to happen next!

V's picture

Embodiment

I don't think I lost anything by being able to read it at a sitting - in fact, I gained. It's a different experience, and the book really is a *novel* now, not just a collection of serial entries. I'm looking forward to the week-by-week stuff, too, and we'll soon see how much I (and others) can, or can't keep our foreknowledge from influencing our reactions. If I start to get spoilery I'll just stop posting but I don't think it'll come to that.

Kittae's picture

Postulant

I'm actually fighting this urge too. I got the copy, and I read a TON in a little while. Problem is that since it's not a serial now, it's getting more into my head and interrupting the other book I'm reading (Golden Fool by Robin Hobb--I am so mad at Fitz right now). I usually can't read two things at once. So I'm past this part, but I really want to be around for the bit-by-bit.

Marri's picture

Supplicant

I reread the Farseer and Liveship trilogies, and then read the Tawny Man trilogy. In far too little time (I read all three Tawny Man books and a shorter, 400ish page chick lit book in about two days). And Fitz almost always makes me want to smack him, but Malta was SO much worse. Also Serilla, and Davad. Really, the entire Rain Wilds seems badly short on likable characters...

Kittae's picture

Postulant

We just bought the Liveship Traders about a week ago, and haven't cracked into it yet (so Malta's still just a horse to me = P ). I'm kinda hogging "Golden Fool" from the rest of the house. My b/f has had the Tawny Man and Farseer trilogies for a good long while, and somehow ended up with two copies of "Fool's Fate", so passing that off between the 3 people reading at once was relatively easy.

Oh my god, though, tell me about book summaries on the back that ruin the whole dang thing!

Marri's picture

Supplicant

If you read the summaries for more than the first book, of course xD If you read them individually, they weren't quite as bad. *Quite.*

Also, if you've read Tawny Man before reading Liveship, you've ruined an awful lot going in anyway. It's no big deal. You've met at least five of the characters already, and know where and often how they ended up there.

Andrea's picture

Supplicant

Woohoo, it's back!!! Epic-movie-scene music would not be inappropriate for this occasion.

Clare-Dragonfly's picture

Supplicant

I'm thrilled! Though I have to say that I would really hate Temmin if this was my first exposure to him! I would read more though. Because the hatred is well-manipulated Blum 3

MeiLin's picture

Most High

but one that had to be taken. I can't say it doesn't worry me.

verbranden's picture

You learn a lot more about Temmin in this version than in the previous, which was kind of vague. I definitely look forward to reading the rest - plus as someone mentioned above, it gets you prepared for what you're about to get in to.

I'm currently weighing the options between buying the e-book when it's available vs. being unemployed and about to go back to university. *g*

MeiLin's picture

Most High

Less than two bottles of Two Buck Chuck!

fremmed's picture

Petitioner

*happy wiggles*

MeiLin's picture

Most High

Folks who've read the original draft and/or the new version, please spoiler tag plot points from later on. I've gone back and spoiler'ed a couple, and I'm going to put a note up where folks can see it to spoiler tag from now on. Thanks!

GreenGlass's picture

Supplicant

I can't wait to see new readers' reactions to this openning.

RickStar's picture

I was a virgin at 18 , didnt give into peer pressure ...:) and im a male ...

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