Read The High King's Golden Tongue (Love Is Always Write) Online

Authors: Megan Derr

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The High King's Golden Tongue (Love Is Always Write)

BOOK: The High King's Golden Tongue (Love Is Always Write)
12.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Table of Contents

Title Page

Book Details

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

About the Author

The High King’s Golden Tongue
Megan Derr
Love is Always Write

Prince Allen was sent to the High Court as a potential fiancé to the High King. He is more than fit for the role, having trained extensively his entire life in language, diplomacy, and culture. He is an asset to any court—except that of the High King, who sees only a scholar who cannot use a sword or go to battle. They are a country at war, after all, and of what possible use is a man who cannot fight?

Book Details

This story was written for the
Love is Always Write
event at the M/M Romance Group on GoodReads. It was written for Fehu, inspired by the author letter she wrote. Be sure to check the group out, and enjoy the hundreds of other free stories available there.

The High King's Golden Tongue

By Megan Derr

Published by Megan Derr

All rights reserved.  No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission of the publisher, except for the purpose of reviews.

Edited by Samantha M. Derr

Cover designed by Megan Derr

This book is a work of fiction and as such all characters and situations are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual people, places, or events is coincidental.

Electronic Edition May 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Megan Derr

Printed in the United States of America

Part One

Allen stared down at the assemblage below, keeping to the shadows of the mezzanine. Warriors of all sorts clamped about, armor rattling, spurs jangling, one great big pile of gleaming metal. They were the finest soldiers in the Kingdom of Harken:  the personal army of the High King himself. It had been created nearly twenty years ago by General Nyle Westrow, the greatest swordsman to ever live and the High King's famous lover, dead the past six years.

Soldiers. Allen hated every last one of them. The kingdom ran on more than soldiers, but even the gods would not be able to make that clear to the men below. He pulled restlessly at the silver lace cuffs of his knee-length jacket, remembered how pleased he had been selecting his new wardrobe. He knew he looked good. The deep blue color matched his eyes, the subtle gryphon pattern woven into it a nod to the royal crest. His hair was not an especially remarkable color, but it was well-cared for and the length showed his wealth and status. He complimented the High King's rougher-hewn appearance. Indeed, he'd gone to great pains to ensure it. He might not be able to hold a sword, but he could do battle in court like no one else.

Not that his skills appeared to matter to anyone. No, the High King had made it humiliatingly clear that he saw Allen as quite useless. He could still hear the laughter of the court, and his cheeks burned with shame all over again.

Laughed out of court, dismissed like a child, rejected out of turn because apparently his skills—not that his Majesty had bothered to learn of those skills—did not matter if he could not hold a sword. Allen didn't know what to do; the thought of returning home churned his stomach. His parents had poured an untold fortune into his education, owing the unique skills he possessed would offer something to the High King no one else would.

How was he supposed to tell them they shouldn't have bothered, should have just sent one of his sword happy brothers instead? All his life he had done as he was told because he knew it would all pay off, that his skills would be invaluable wherever he went.

Instead, he'd been laughed out of court. If he returned home, the disappointment would break his mother's heart and devastate his father. His brothers would laugh smugly and drag him to the yard to punish him. Just thinking about it made the scars on his back ache.

What was a rejected suitor to do? He should go down there and push on. Allen sought out the man who had coldly rejected him, hating the way that, even as humiliation churned in his gut and anger balled his hands into fists, his chest ached with futile longing.

High King Sarrica was, damn him, desirable enough to send a priest happily on his way to the Pits. Tall, broad, brown hair touched with red, and a severe, handsome face scarred twice on one cheek and across the forehead. His eyes were a mossy green, warm and bright when Sarrica was happy.

When he was not happy, they darkened and lost all warmth. Allen stifled a sigh as Sarrica laughed at something the man with him said, clapping the man on his shoulder. He had not known quite what to expect of Sarrica, had only hoped he would find him attractive enough not to disappoint in that part of their marriage. Allen was very aware, watching his relatives and eldest brother, that a cold bed froze a marriage quickly.

Upon meeting Sarrica, Allen had realized keeping their bed warm would not be a problem. Far from it. He just needed to figure out how to get Sarrica to invite him into it. But that stinging rejection still made him sick and none of his smooth skills would overcome the lack of callouses on his hands.

To the damned Pits with soldiers. Allen turned away from the revelry and wended his way through the halls of the palace, desperate to get away, longing to be home where at least his parents and the council understood his value.

He was not certain what to think of a High King who had thrown him out before learning Allen's value. Well, whatever, he would figure something out. He had to, because going home was not an option. Allen hesitated as he reached the entrance, knowing he should go back. Whatever his humiliation the night before, he had not been thrown out of the palace, only court. The High King was at least keeping to that much protocol.

A group of soldiers passed by him, staring, whispering when they thought he couldn't hear. Spurred by their mocking comments, he continued on his way out of the palace. The wind kicked up as he crossed the courtyard and he wished absently that he'd brought a cloak or something. But it wasn't like he going to stay out long. He'd take a walk, try to clear his head and come up with a way to show Sarrica that he would make a good consort. Maybe a heavy object upside his arrogant, stubborn head would do the trick.

Crossing the drawbridge, he walked down the sharp incline into the bustling city below. People milled everywhere, the smells and the crowds reminding him briefly of the markets from home. Being a border kingdom, his homeland Gaulden had been an ideal place for training a silver tongue, the popular term for a language master. Anyone who could fluently speak at least three languages was considered a silver tongue.

A large border city such as where he'd grown up was the perfect place to practice the languages his tutors had drilled into him. His brothers had always been extremely jealous he got to visit the city so freely while they were stuck in the training yards. They'd never really listened when he'd told them it was all for lessons.

He wandered the city largely at random, lingering in front of the odd stall or shop to admire wares. A stall selling books drew him in, as it was extremely rare to see costly books at a cheap market stall. Bending over the books, he began to pick through them. It took only a moment to see why they'd been reduced to a cheap stall: they were in poor condition, torn and damaged, some with pages missing or covers missing. But the variety was intriguing:  at least a dozen languages were represented, with a mix of folk stories, histories, and even a few rare dictionaries. Missing pages or not, those were worth something.

Selecting as many as he could comfortably carry, Allen beckoned the bored looking vendor and began to haggle. He walked away with a smile several minutes later, and eight books neatly arranged in a basket another vendor had been kind enough to give him. Allen kept wandering, pausing to buy a pasty and later a cup of wine, happy to avoid his troubled thoughts for a little while.

The sound of arguing stopped him, mostly because it sounded like four men arguing hotly in three different languages. Looking around, Allen finally spied them clustered by a rain barrel just outside a dry goods shop. He would have left it alone, curiosity aside, if not for the fact that one of the men was dressed in black leather armor and bore a band on his sleeve with the crest of a three-headed dragon.

By and large, the High King used his regular army and those of the various kingdoms under his rule. It was a poorly kept secret, however, that he employed small bands of mercenaries to take care of shadier matters.

The Three-headed Dragons was the most notorious and talented of those mercenary armies; the only one openly praised by the High King. Allen thought it more than a little strange they had no silver tongue for such translation matters. Listening to them, it was quite the tangle. The mercenary spoke Outland, the shopkeeper spoke Tricemore, and the other two men clearly each spoke one of those and had Selemean in common.

Shaking his head, Allen strode over to them and, after noting the mercenary's rank, said, "Greetings, Captain. Can I be of service to you?"

The four men paused, stared at him, clearly noting his fine clothes. Finally, the Captain asked, "Who the devil are you, then?"

"A translator, new to the High King's service. I was out familiarizing myself with the city. I can translate directly for you, if you're inclined to send the other two on their way."

"Prove it," the Captain replied.

Sketching a half-bow, Allen turned to the two middle men and said in Selemean, "You may go on your way, gentlemen. I speak Outland and Tricemore fluently and can better handle the translation." He flipped them each a half-piece, and they bolted almost as soon as they caught the coins. Holding back his amusement, Allen turned to the shopkeeper and said, "I can serve as translator, good sir."

Turning his attention back to the Captain, he said, "What is the problem?"

"We require several bags of sweetsalt, and cannot come to an agreed price. He is trying to fleece me and I do not appreciate it. This may be one of the only shops to buy it, but it is not the only. I don't have time to haul across the city, but I don't have money to waste either."

Bowing his head, Allen turned back to the shopkeeper and said in smooth Tricemore, "Explain to me the problem."

"He wants six sacks of sugar but keeps offering me half price! I don't care if he is the king's three-headed whore-son, fair price is two silver a bag, and one silver more to cover taxes."

"I see," Allen murmured, and turned back to the Captain. "He says that sweetsalt goes for two silver a bag, plus one to cover the tax, making thirteen in all. In Outland that would be a half-sovereign, to get two bits back."

The Captain stared at him. "That is not what the other one was telling me."

"Currency is tricksome," Allen replied, and took the coin that the Captain held out to him. Extending it to the shopkeeper, he explained everything and was given back two silvers, which he handed off to the Captain.

Money exchanged, the shopkeeper called out to his apprentice to bring the sacks of sugar. The Captain tucked away his coins and said, "Thank you. I know you said you are new to the High King's service, but I do not suppose I could coax you away to work for me? We have demon luck with translators. One decided to leave to get married and be a farmer, another was eaten by a wyrm, and my latest was arrested for gambling debts. I am at my wits' end."

Allen hesitated, not sure how to explain he was less an official translator and more an official prince.

"Please," the Captain pleaded. "We are going deep into the Cartha Mountains and I shudder to think what will happen if I misunderstand a single word of what the clans there will say."

Just thinking about it made Allen wince. The clans of the Cartha Mountains spoke a particularly tricky dialect of Tricemore, which was difficult enough. "How long will you be gone?" he asked, knowing he was doing the sort of stupid thing he had been schooled against doing since he was old enough to walk. His specialties were language, politics, and diplomacy; even a half-wit politician knew better than to gallivant off, let alone with a band of mercenaries. "Of course, I would be happy to help. I'll send word to the palace that you have engaged my services."

"Splendid," the Captain said. "My name is Rene Arseni. We'll be gone several months, is that a problem?"

"No problem at all. I am Allen Telmis," Allen replied, and shook his hand. "I've heard much about the Three-Headed Dragons."

Rene snorted. "I'm sure you have." He looked away as the apprentice finished loading the sugar on the cart Rene had brought with him, already burdened with many other supplies.

"Why so much sweetsalt?" Allen asked. "Are you anticipating doing that much bartering with the Cartha Clans?"

"Yes," Rene said, mouth tightening. "We should probably talk somewhere else, for though I would love to have you along after seeing your skills, I cannot just take on anyone for this particular assignment. It will be hard going, harder than usual, and the violence will be excessive."

BOOK: The High King's Golden Tongue (Love Is Always Write)
12.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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