Authors: Alaina Stanford
Treborel: Book One
©2012 Alaina Stanford
No part of this publication may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without written permission of the author.
Dedicated to my wonderful, spirited daughter Samantha.
Life is nothing without dreams
I love you
Prince Katar flashed a
mischievous grin, as he said, "An heir? Is that all that concerns you?" His laughter echoed through the palace. Enda’s large, blue eyes, filled with delight, as the mountain Prince winked at her. She watched as he turned his attention back to the Queen's Chief Advisor. Katar moved across the library to th
e elderly gentleman. Placing his hand on Lord Wills boney shoulder, Katar continued, "Hanlin, old friend, I can give the crown an heir anytime I please, without the hindrance of marriage." His dark, blue eyes sparkled behind the serious expression he displayed.
Without turning from Lord Wills, Katar
motioned to the beautiful blonde behind him. "What do you say Enda? Want to bear a Royal Heir for Treborel?" Noting the flash of warning in the Prince's expression, Lord Wills knew the arrogant Prince was completely capable of carrying out his threat.
Lord Wills gasped, and scrambled to his feet, appalled at such an outlandish statement. He desperately tried to maintain his composure, realizing his anger would only make it worse. As Royal Advisor to her Majesty Queen Sari, it was his duty to make Prince Katar understand the Queen wished he marry.
"With all due respect to the Widow
Waytals, she is not of royal birth, nor is she of Treborelan blood. She is also unable to maintain a respectable reputation at Court. To consider producing a child out of wedlock is bad enough, without compounding the situation with mixed blood." Lord Wills said to the Prince.
"Mixed blood?" Katar said
, with feigned shock. "Hanlin Wills, never in my life would I have labeled you a snob, until this very moment." Katar knew Hanlin was seriously concerned with the future of Treborel. Katar glanced over at Enda, lounging seductively in the velvety comfort of the deep blue couch. He flashed a wicked smile. The plunging neckline of her deep green gown was unbelievably revealing. She was all Hanlin had described, as much as it mattered.
Katar continued, "How can you
soil the name of Lord Waytals, with the mere in formalities of his wife's birth? Burton Waytals was a dear friend of my fathers, and he gave Lady Enda the title legally." Katar turned and moved back to sit beside Enda.
muscular arms, and boisterous attitude too much to resist, Enda ran her fingers through his long, blond hair and cooed softly at him. "I am at your service, my Prince of Scoundrels. My womb is yours." Smiling wickedly at the now pale Lord Wills, she turned and innocently gazed into Katars eyes.
, Katar took her hand and kissed it. He allowed his lips to linger on the soft skin of Enda’s palm. Katar knew Enda was the reason the Queen's Advisor had broached the subject of marriage. Enda was also very much aware her shadowed past created a barrier that would keep her from the crown. Although she hid her disdain, Enda was greatly concerned. The Princes' days of bachelorhood were nearing an end. If he were forced to choose an appropriate bride, she could quickly disappear from his life.
needed to remain close to the young Prince, for more reasons than any could suspect. Yet her need to stay close to Katar was not great enough to consent to a pregnancy. Enda knew Katar used the threat of a bastard child merely to caution his meddlesome advisor. Her eyes sparkled with delight. As carefree and adventurous as he appeared, Katar would never allow his freedom to be bound by the birth of a child. The Queen would not be blessed with a grandchild, until she ceased her attempts at finding her son a bride. Prince Katar had successfully resisted every attempt at matchmaking.
"Perhaps it would be best if we continued this conversation in private." Hanlin announced
, as he shot Enda an icy glare.
Enda’s eyes flashed with
anger, as she excused herself, and headed toward the tall double doors. Katar watched her leave. He smiled with pleasure at the way her full figure swayed across the room. Enda’s long, golden hair danced around her slender shoulders, as she walked. Katar considered Enda the most exciting woman in Treborel, possibly the most beautiful as well. She left the door slightly ajar, and moved in front of a large mirror, hanging beside the entrance. She leaned close, and pretended to primp, as a Queen's Guard walked past her. A slight side-step, as he disappeared around the distant corner of the hall, enabled her to peer into the room.
My golden she-devil has gone, Hanlin, speak your mind." Katar’s smile turned to a slight frown, as he focused his attention on Lord Wills.
Waytals has too much influence over you, Your Highness. She is a dangerous viper, who lusts after nothing more than position and wealth. Her late husband’s estate is being sold at auction, in less than a fortnight. She has squandered her entire inheritance, trying to keep herself clad in those disgracefully revealing gowns. She has run off all your other mistresses and hints to anyone the least bit interested that she's your fiancée." Hanlin sighed, and collapsed onto the sofa next to Katar, relieved to have the matter out in the open.
, in a quiet tone. "Enda is aware our relationship is recreational. She prefers it that way. When she hints of an engagement, she does so to irritate the woman who thinks less of her. I have no intentions of marrying her, or anyone else at this time." Katar met Hanlin's concerned gaze, with a sober stare. "As for Enda’s financial concerns, I had no idea she was near bankruptcy. She should have come to me; I won’t let her lose her home. I'm not as selfish, and bullheaded as you might think, Hanlin. I won't let anyone fall into poverty if I can help it. However, I suppose Enda would be better off chasing someone who could offer her a future. Commander Cap Taylor has a fondness for her. Perhaps I should steer her toward him. He's very well off, and stubborn enough to keep her from ruling over him. "
, Katar crossed to the elaborately carved mahogany bar, near the high windows, overlooking the Queen's gardens. "Cap's kept very busy lately, with the extra duties of his promotion to Commander in the Air Forces. If he were to marry, it could put an end to our hunting expeditions. Another poor soul sacrificed to the jaws of matrimony." Katar’s voice filled with anger and regret. Moving around the long cabinet to the variety of brandy displayed there, Katar filled two glasses with golden ale. "What is it about marriage, which causes men to give up the things they enjoy most in life?"
had the privilege to marry, Your Highness. However, I suspect one’s priorities change. A man will only relinquish what he feels necessary. “Hanlin answered, confused by Katar's statement.
"Our hunting expeditions
became our only escape from the hazards of repetitive duty. They were exciting adventures that lasted for several weeks at a time. Now Eades describes them as dangerous. Thomas Rung, who has a new son, complains they’re too long. Neither Tom nor Eades have been on a hunt in over 2 years. Then you have Bosen May, married for ten years. He eagerly comes running every time. If I even mention a hunt, he comes running, taking more risks than anyone else does.” Leaning across the bar, Katar smiled knowingly, "He was never that way before all those years of marriage.”
"Katar . . .
” Hanlin began but was cut off by Katar’s loud laughter.
, Bosen's got a death wish. I say send his controlling, little wife along with us next time, and his worries are over." Katar growled.
Katar was venting his anger, and dismissed the horrendous statement. Katar was truly very fond of the blacksmith's wife, Tya May. Hanlin said, "Very well, You’re Highness. I can see you are not in a receptive mood. I ask only one favor before I leave you to your thoughts. Since you have decided to end your relationship with Lady Waytals, then I thought you should know I have approached Lord Sean Nolan of Lon Tesse. His niece, Lady Lysette Nolan, is the granddaughter of Lady Alyssa Moore of Treborel.” Hanlin’s eyes grew distant, and a wistful smile lit his face. “I knew Lady Moore; she was a graceful, beautiful woman.”
was intrigued. Could Lady Moore be a past love of the steel, faced gentleman? It hadn't occurred to Katar before, but Hanlin surely had romantic intentions at one time. Yet, Hanlin hardly ever left the palace and never kept the company of a lady for more than a short time.
Regaining his composure, Hanlin began again.
“Lady Nolan is, therefore, a Treborelan by birth, even though she has lived her entire life in Lon Tesse. Her uncle is Foreign Advisor to Regent Dana. Lady Nolan is a Pediatric Surgeon. She will be taking a short vacation with her uncle, at the Regents summer retreat. Then she will begin her practice, in the capital city of Lavose. They will both be at the retreat during the Continental Alliance Summit, which you are to attend.”
Katar was already bored at the suggestion of another introduction. He sighed, and said, “
Treborel has no need for Physicians, Hanlin. She would feel out of place, and inferior to our Empathic Healers."
Katar was tired of the vain, and ambitious,
women of the court. When he was younger, the attempted seductions were exciting and challenging. Now he looked at it as a ridiculous contest to achieve the title of Queen. The courtiers constant primping and idle conversation bored him. Enda expressed no wish to become Queen. Neither did she try to engage him in the latest court gossip. Instead, she was a sensual ornament he could display. He enjoyed Enda’s capacity to bring laughter, at the most inappropriate moments.
Hanlin’s voice broke into his thoughts, "I
f you could meet with her, just once. I think you would find she is an excellent candidate for your future queen. If there is a problem with her career, I'm sure we could work something out, however impractical, and unnecessary, the position may seem. Your father surrendered the crown of Latria to be with your mother. He was a great man. He dedicated his life to moving Treborel forward into the next century. The Queen has dedicated her life to fulfilling your father’s dreams of establishing permanent ties with the rest of the planet. She would be in favor of creating a bond with Lon Tesse through marriage.” Katar crossed to Hanlin and handed him the small glass of ale. Taking a sip, Hanlin added one last thought, "If Lady Nolan is half as beautiful and intelligent as her grandmother, I think you will be quite pleased."
A dozen reasons came to mind why the undertaking would not succeed. Every nation on the planet considered the Empaths an archaic fantasy. Katar fully expected the young Surgeon to insult the ancient art of healing by touch
. Most modern physicians condemned it, before even attempting to understand the practice. Katar held his tongue, no sense agitating Hanlin further. Hanlin was his father’s advisor, who took Katar under his wing when his father died. The elderly statesman became Katar's confidant, and friend, on that terrible day, nearly 10 years ago.
Katar agreed with reluctance, saying. “
If I find no fault in her, and if she finds me acceptable, I promise, I will consider a betrothal.”
through the small opening in the door. She clenched her fists in fury and wished Hanlin a horrible death. The solution to her financial situation was nothing, compared to how easily Katar cast her aside. She spent the last three years entertaining Katar and hanging on his every word. She would not let him slip through her fingers so easily, not now. As Hanlin rose from his seat, Enda spun and rushed down the long hall.
Katar had to hide his amusement, as Hanlin displayed a triumphant smile. He gave Katar a sweeping bow and took his leave. Katar’s gaze followed him. Katar would keep his word. He planned to make very sure Lady Lysette Nolan would not find him acceptable. Hanlin went out the study door, and headed down the carpeted hall, catching a glimpse of Enda's dark green dress, as she rounded the far corner. He realized she might be the only element that could spoil his plans for the prince. Hanlin hurried to catch her.
Hanlin!” Katar's voice boomed behind him. Hanlin delayed his lecture to the promiscuous widow, and turned around, as Katar added, “I completely forgot, Commander Connor is arriving this evening from Bantor. I invited King William on a sraeb hunt. He declined; it seems the mere idea of leaving the palace, sends him into severe paranoia. He's sending Commander Connor in his stead. If we can strike up a new trade agreement, maybe our transportation link through Bantor can become a trade route as well.”
Perhaps you could convince him to approach King William, about converting to our Solar Gem system.” Hanlin suggested. Enda was forgotten, as he followed Katar into the study.
Katar said, “
You read my mind, their plasma energy experiments aren't going well. It could become a clean, efficient system, but I'm afraid the technology needed to contain such a potentially lethal power source, may never come to life. If they don't shut down quickly, we could see another catastrophic event.” Katar said.
"The plasma wave is merely a mass of free floating electrons.
Certainly, someday they will find a field strong enough to contain it." Hanlin defended the new technology, knowing it would do little injury to the Solar Gem System. Since the gems were engineered for the conservation of energy, it might be possible to combine the two systems. If they could find a way safely to contain it.
Katar answered, as he moved to
freshen their drinks, "That's the problem. William’s confidence is too high. His advisors are not scientists. First they must find an energy field to hold it, and build on a small enough scale, to be feasible. Even so, just one mistake on anyone's part, could vaporize an entire region, exactly the way it happened before. It’s the recreation of the nucleus of a star, about 20 million degrees of intense, regenerating heat. Even on a microscopic scale, it could easily balloon out of control, just like last time. There was no reason logical why the fire storm stopped at the edge of the Ragal River. It should have destroyed the entire planet. I don’t think we should risk that again."
"That was over a hundred years ago, Katar.” Hanlin explained, "The deep chasm beneath the River
Ragal has been credited with the extinguishing of the wall of fire."
Katar shook his head, and handed Hanlin his drink, as they sat down in the high back chairs that faced the fireplace.
"That is mere speculation. The northern continent is still a barren desert. In all that time, not a single sign of life has returned. I informed King William personally of Queen Sari's, and my disapproval. After all the destruction the last attempt created, the plasma wave should be left alone.”
"Modern technology has improved tenfold
, since then." Hanlin said.
"Hanlin, we don’t need the technology. Three million people died because of that modern technology. The solar gem system is safe, clean and has no environmental effects. I am not interested in another form of energy
, until our scientists figure out exactly why the fire storm stopped at the River Ragal, and how it can be safely contained. Treborel faces the desert to our north, across the river. It’s understandable the sea halted its progress, but the River Ragal is not wide enough. No matter how deep the chasm, it couldn't have provided the water needed to extinguish such a large wall of fire. It should have jumped right over the river, and destroyed the entire eastern continent. The Empaths believe our mystical heritage saved Treborel that day, for once I'm likely to agree. It's a grave reminder of where greed, and carelessness, will aspire."
"This conversation is best left to the Continental Alliance." Hanlin answered
, taking a seat on the sofa.
"I look forward to it. I'm told
Commander Connor is a very effective debater." Katar smiled, draining his glass.
did not want the Prince to disappear into the mountains at such a crucial time. He said, "The Summit is only three weeks away. Are you sure you can effectively show the Commander a proper hunting excursion, in only two weeks?"
A sly grin appeared on Katar’s face, as he answered, “
You should take the Queen's helijet transport when the time comes. I will take the hunting party through the Western Chasm. We can meet at the Regent's Retreat, a few days before the Summit."
Hanlin shook his head in disagreement,
"Regent Dana is expecting a Prince, not a barbarian, wearing animal skins. Don’t forget, Lon Tesse’s protests against our annual sraeb hunts.”
"I promise, no presents oozing with blood." Katar
tossed a wicked smile at Hanlin, then went back to the bar, to return the decanter of ale. He glanced out the tall windows, which lined the wall. Blossoms of vibrant pink, and violet hues lay, as if gently scattered on the branches, of the giant evergreen trees. The warmth of the sun pushed its way through the dense layer of clouds, for only an instant. It brushed Katar’s face, as the fountains began to flow. He added, "The Queen is bullying the gardener again. He's turned on the fountains." A fleeting image of his father appeared before him, as his eyes focused on a bush full of large, white blossoms. His father, Prince Mikel, brought his wife the flowered bushes of Latria, when he returned from across the Eastern Peace Summits. The blossoms pacified the Queen, during his many absences. She and Katar would spend hours researching the potential plants he would bring home next. "If it freezes tonight, she'll get an earful in the morning, I’ll wager." Katar smiled at the thought of his mother, having to face the angry gardener, amidst the cracked, and frozen fountains.
Hanlin came to his side, and answered, “
The Queen's gardens are her pride and joy. I'm sure she wants them at their most beautiful, when our esteemed guest arrives.”
Katar turned away from the windows
, and said, “The winters here are long, cold, and full of snow. She knows those fountains will have to be replaced if they’re not drained by dusk.”
Hanlin frowned at Katar’s attitude, “
The Queen isn't the only member of the Royal Family who charges into spring ventures. Are you sure the sraebs have emerged from hibernation?"
Commander Connor, we might not find a large male. He was not concerned. I got the distinct feeling; he considers sraeb hunting, a national sport, instead of a necessary population control device." Katar shook his head in disgust. "I love being deep in those mountains. Hunting is a duty I enjoy, but it’s more than just the hunt. The enjoyment I receive from being away from civilization is just as great as the necessity to maintain the sraeb population from reaching a crisis level again. I don't want to torture the giant beasts. I just want them to stay few, and scattered. Sraebs are far too dangerous to allow uncontrolled reproduction to occur."
, "The odds of killing a female, and leaving her cubs to die this time of year, are high."
"Yes, but too many people have died
, due to food shortages, and overpopulation of sraeb. Fifteen years ago, the plague almost wiped out the elk and deer. They are the sraebs primary food source during
. Yet the herds are still weak and diseased. I'm afraid they will never recover sufficiently, to keep the sraeb satisfied. Even with the assistance of the Healers, almost half of the herds have stillborn, year after year." Katar said.
"Perhaps it is time to approach the situation from another direction."
"We've been through this before
, Hanlin. The female sraeb can have 2 or 3 cubs each spring. Short of slaughtering hundreds of cubs every year, we go in and kill the largest of the males. During mating season, the younger males are killed by what larger males have managed to elude us, and the situation is rectified." Katar rose, frustrated, and drained the last of the amber liquid from his glass. "I need to head to the stables and see if Cap's ready with the provisions, we're leaving at dawn.”
Please inform Commander Taylor there will be a need for another horse. I will be accompanying you.” Hanlin announced much to Katars dismay.
"You hate the woods.”
Katar answered the surprise evident in his voice, as he turned to stare at the reserved Advisor.
"I also would hate to explain why my future King was delayed
, or unable to attend, the first Continental Alliance Summit." Following Katar to the double doors of the study, he added, "I know you to be a man of your word. Nevertheless, I also understand the mountains tend to transport you to another plane of existence. You become lost in an ancient world, forgetting about your present obligations.”
“The nights are cold
, and dark under the trees," Katar answered, ignoring the reprimand. Hanlin's expression was unwavering. "Alright, pack a week’s worth of warm clothes. We'll clean up when we reach the lodge. You are a man of determination, my friend." Katar smiled, amused at the length his mother’s advisor was willing to go, to fulfill his promise. Exactly how far Hanlin would go, suddenly concerned him. Turning back to Hanlin, Katar asked, "Have you approached Lord Nolan about a courtship?"
"No, You’re Highness. I merely mentioned I would like to introduce the young
lady to you. I’ve learned not to push you too hard." Hanlin answered, cautiously.
"When there are wedding plans to be made Hanlin, I will attend to them myself." Katar sternly ordered.
Insulted by the Princes' demeaning attitude, Hanlin moved past him into the hall, announcing, "Very well then, if you will excuse me, I shall inform Her Majesty of our travel plans."
Undaunted by the display of injured pride, Katar left Hanlin to his duties
and headed for the Palace's main entrance. Descending the large stone steps of the palace, Katar glanced at the unusually thick layers of clouds in the sky. The gray swirling mist above continued to struggle with the sun, as it attempted to pierce the thick layer. It seemed only in the deepest of winter, when the frigid temperatures drove the people from the streets in haste, was the sky clear of clouds for hours at a time. The brilliant yellow sun danced around the clouds, attempting to warm the frozen soil. It was then he longed to live, over a century ago, before the firestorm permanently clouded the sky, and the upper atmospheric storms raged. These storms kept all but the most powerful low flying craft from the sky. Working his way through the crowded stone walkways, he headed toward the stables, near the city entrance. Beside the massive gates that opened out into the mountains. Katar stood at the stable entrance, watching the groomsmen exercise the horses in anticipation of their journey.