Regent & Duke
The blue light from the computer screen glistened off Kelson's glasses as He stared at the message.
**Well that helps me a lot,** Kelson thought. He committed the message to memory as he deleted it from his e-mails. **This going to be a long day.** He removed his glasses and rubbed at the bridge of his nose.
Replacing his glasses, he switched the monitor off and reached for his pack of cigarettes. He stood and stretched all in the same movement, sliding his pack into his back jean pocket and walked across the room to the double doors leading out onto the balcony. He swung the double doors open and stepped out, coming face to face with one of many large trees that lined the east and west of the mansion. As he sent out a light tendril of thought, he caught the slight bristle of shields. "Good," he murmured to himself. The only other Deryni, besides Jackson, attached to the security detail was on duty. It was Matt something. He couldn't remember his last name.
Kelson strolled the short distance to the balcony railing, which faced southeast, and leaned against it as he placed one foot up on a bench. Closing his eyes, he raised his head towards the sun, which was reaching its zenith, and inhaled deeply. As he did so, he caught the faint smell of the Eirian River and the Southern Sea. The mansion was situated at the heart of Kilgruff; a good two miles from where the river met the sea. A light knocking at his office door disturbed his brief reverie.
"Who is it?" he called without turning.
"It is Captain Morgan, Your Grace."
"Come in." As he stared at the iron fence, surrounding the house in the distance, he could hear someone enter the office, and walk to stand just behind him. From his right he heard a thump and saw a furry, dark, tannish brown figure out of the corner of his eye. Just as he saw the figure, he felt the brush of fur underneath his chin.
"Afternoon, Ming," he said scratching the cat behind her ear.
"She was doing her daily inspection of the staff, Kelson," Jackson Morgan laughed as he himself leaned against the railing. Glancing sidelong at his Captain of the Guard, Kelson chuckled.
"I have the distinct feeling though," Jackson said removing his camouflage cap and running his hands through his crewcut blond hair, "that she and Hyacinth are not going to get along."
Kelson snickered to himself, knowing full well what Jackson was talking about. Lady Hyacinth Bouquet, was his family's assistant chamberlain, who hadn't exactly endeared herself to Kelson's household since arriving a few days earlier.
"What has she done now?" Kelson asked, petting Ming as she lay down in front of him in an effort to sun herself.
Jackson hesitated for a second.
"She is attempting to rearrange the sleeping arrangements, probably in an effort to find space for your fathers advisors."
Sighing loudly Kelson continued to pet the cat.
"I assume he is proving too intimidating for either Jean or Sybil?" He said referring to his own lady chamberlain Jean Pargetter, and the king's lady chamberlain Sybil Fallty.
"They are trying to be diplomatic about all of this, so as not to create an incident."
"I know they told her that it isn't open for debate," Kelson sighed, "no one but the royal families and the guards are allowed to stay here."
"They told her several times," Jackson replied, as Kelson looked at him sidelong.
"I suppose I will have to deal with her," He groaned, standing. "You're going to stay here, aren't you?" Kelson asked the cat when she didn't move from her spot and flicked her tail in contentment.
With Jackson following, Kelson made his way down the short corridor to the opening onto the landing which ran from one side of the palace to the other. Kelson stopped at the entrance to the landing and leaned against the wall to watched the scene unfold in the garage area below. Over to the right of the garage area near some empty parking spaces, Kelson could make out eight people, three women and five men. One woman was talking quite animatedly and waving some papers around with her hand.
Kelson glanced back at Jackson with an almost evil grin on his face.
"Uh oh," Jackson whispered.
Disengaging himself from the wall, he made his way around the corner, which led to another landing. One of the women seemed to notice him, but he just waved her off, indicating that she should pay attention to the woman with the papers. He descended the stairs near the entrance and made his way behind the garage to where his personal vehicle and the Howiccian royal vehicle were parked.
Slowly approaching the group from behind, he quietly came to stand behind the woman with the papers, winking at one of the women with a beehive hairdo.
Lady Sybil Fallty gave no outward reaction.
"His Highness is not going to like these arrangements," the woman with the paper was saying as she waved them above her head, "they are totally unacceptable. I still don't see why..."
"Lady Hyacinth," Kelson said giving a gentle nudge to the papers, causing the woman to lose her grip on the papers and the pages fluttered to the ground.
"Oh my," the startled Hyacinth exclaimed as she discovered who it was when she turned to see who had spoken.
"Your Grace, I am sorry I did not hear you come up, " she said slightly disarmed.
"I didn't mean to startle you," Kelson said, trying to hide a smile and indicating the papers that had been picked up by several other members of the group.
"Good afternoon Excellency," he said turning his attention to the Archbishop of Howicce and Llannedd.
"Good afternoon Kelson," Archbishop Richard Davenport replied.
"My Lord Robert," he said addressing the man standing next to the Archbishop with his arms folded and an amused look on his face.
"Kelson," Robert Davenport, the twin brother to Richard, Prime minister to Howicce, said through a chuckle.
"Jean, Lionel," Kelson said to the Howiccian lady chamberlain and her Fiancée.
"Basil," Kelson greeted the tall mustached man behind his own Chamberlain, Sybil.
"Sybil, what seems to be the problem?" Kelson turned to address her.
"Well Your Grace, I was trying to explain to Lady Hyacinth," she started, "that the arrangements for the Haldane royal family were already taken care of."
"Lady Hyacinth?" Kelson said turning his attention to her.
"Your grace," she said with a smile, "as I was telling Lady Sybil, His Highness, your father will not take kindly that his advisors will not be quartered in the same place as he is."
**Too bad,** Kelson thought. "I am sorry Lady Hyacinth, I should have informed you when you arrived, but it has become my policy that no one except those of royal blood should reside in the palace when Crown Princess Alexandra is in residence."
"But the Guards...?" She started to protest.
"They are the only exceptions," He replied flatly. "No more will be given."
"May I ask Your Grace, where their quarters will be?"
Kelson's face softened, "Archbishop Richard has agreed to put the Bishops of Corwyn and Dhassa up with him at his temporary residence. And my Lord Robert, who also has a temporary residence here in Kilgruff, has agreed to let the Dukes of Carthmoor, Corwyn, Calibourne, and the Count of Dunluce stay with him. I can assure you that they will appreciate these arrangements as it is going to get very noisy here soon, and they will welcome the quiet."
"I..." she stammered.
Kelson walked a short distance away from the woman, leaving her standing dumbfounded.
"Sybil," He called motioning his chamberlain over to him.
"Your Grace," she said once she was standing beside him.
"Give her anything else she wants, and have Basil go with her to the kitchen to see if that dinner will meet with her approval."
"Is that wise, Your Grace," she asked, "you know Basil, he can be somewhat rude."
"I am counting on that," he said with a smile, "it will keep her occupied and out of your hair when my family arrives."
"Thank you, Your Grace," she said smiling.
"I am going to have Jackson stay behind to help my family get to their rooms. Also ask Lady Jean to help you with placing their servants in the guesthouse. I will be available if you need any help in that regard."
"Thank you again Your Grace," she said bowing and moving away.
"Jackson," Kelson called as he watched Sybil take Hyacinth in hand and at the same time bring Basil, Jean and Lionel into the conversation.
"Your Grace," Jackson said.
"Please don't call me that," Kelson said absently continuing to watch Sybil with the others, it was like a commander talking to his troops before going to war.
"But the king said...?"
"I know what the king said," Kelson hissed, "but please don't do it when we are having a private conversation," he watched as Sybil dispersed her troops to their various duties.
"Okay Kelson," Jackson said reluctantly.
"Do me a favor, I want you down here to lend a hand when my family gets here. Sybil will probably need some help."
"One other thing," Kelson laid a restraining hand on Jackson's arm as he started to go.
"Give me a call immediately if you notice the beginning of any problems."
Jackson's brow furrowed in question.
"For example, if it looks like something is going to turn into a diplomatic incident in the receiving room." He whispered raising one eyebrow.
"I understand," Jackson replied with a smile.
As Jackson moved over to Sybil, Kelson noticed that the Archbishop and the Prime Minister were waiting to speak to him.
"Kelson," the Archbishop said as he and his brother moved towards him.
"Is there somewhere we can talk semi-privately for a moment?" the Archbishop? asked.
"Sure," he replied as he moved to other end of the garage where his private vehicle was parked. "Okay what's wrong?" Kelson leaned back against the fender of his SUV.
"I see that you have taken that promotion with the reserves the king offered," Richard began, indicating the flag with Kelson's Haldane coat of arms and a silver eagle underneath, fluttering on the fender.
"Dammit Richard," Robert said, "don't dance around the subject. Oh I'll do it. We need you to talk to Nigel sometime while he is here."
"Oh the oil lease," Kelson said crossing his arms.
"Yes. He seems to be dragging his feet. From what we can gather his parliament is all for a joint oil lease, but neither Carthmoor or Llannedd can afford to approve the lease on their own."
"We still can't do it by ourselves, can we?"
"No like I said, not legally. And Since there is no elected Prime Minister in Llannedd, which is something else you will have to address next week when your parliament convenes, I've had to take a look at the proposed plans for the oil rig. It is going be smack dab in the middle of the Eirian River."
"Which entitles both countries to a share of the monies. Damn," Kelson exploded.
"I will certainly talk to him, maybe sometime tomorrow. He is suppose to arrive this evening isn't he."
"Yes he is. I would do it myself, but he might respond better to you."
"I will speak to him... Before you leave tonight, after you have eaten supper, I want you to look at the proposal the king asked me to come up with, I have it."
"The proposal for backing your family?" Richard asked.
"Yes," Kelson said distantly.
"Kelson," Robert said coming closer and putting a hand on his shoulder, "you know that the king will support anything you propose."
"It's not that," he paused, "I just wanted to avoid getting caught up in trying to help my family get back the crown of Gwynedd. I have a daughter to raise and the day after tomorrow I will be regent for her until she comes of age."
"That would be only if the king were not alive."
"Yes. Thank God he's a healthy stubborn old fart."
"Other than advising him on certain things like the oil lease, and having a seat in parliament, I wouldn't worry about it. I think he'll try to keep you out of the political stuff."
"Gee, that makes me feel a whole lot better."
All three men chuckled at that.
"I may have to bail him out though, within ten minutes of my family's arrival I expect the king will want to throw one of them out the window."
"Do me a favor, try to keep him from killing one of them before I can get there will you," he said standing up, "I may not be able to stand them sometimes, but they are still my family."
Kelson sat absently staring at the blank computer screen, deep in his own thoughts when his walkie-talkie beeped.
"Yes," he answered.
"Kel they're here," Jackson's whispered voice crackled over the speaker.
"Alright keep me apprised," he answered.
"Keep your fingers crossed," came the whispered response.
Moving to the window where he could have a birds eye view of the entrance to the garage area, Kelson saw one vehicle had stopped between the garage and the stone gateway. He saw two familiar looking figures emerge from the vehicle. As they entered the sunlight, he got a better look at them.
**Oh my God**, Kelson thought, **that is my old teacher Linda. What the hell is she doing here?**
Watching intently, Kelson saw the much younger man standing with Linda, go back inside the minivan and emerge several minutes later with a large amount of luggage. He was attempting to carry it all himself. He tried to remember the young man's name as he watched the scene for several moments; he used to be a playmate of his younger brother Rhys.
**What the hell was his name**, Kelson thought, **David, that's it.**
Comically he saw David attempt to carry everything himself. Before long Jackson exited the garage to give him a hand.
Still chuckling to himself, Kelson glanced around looking for the true ruler of the palace, her sun perch was vacant.
**She's probably out inspecting;** Kelson smiled to himself, **wondering what all the fuss is about.**
Kelson returned to his desk, and after several quiet minutes of reviewing some paperwork, the walkie-talkie squawked again.
**Not quite ten minutes,** Kelson thought, **that has to be some sort of record.**
"Yes," Kelson said clicking it on.
"Your Grace," said Jackson's voice over the walkie-talkie, "you had better get up here."
" All right I am on my way." He clicked off the walkie-talkie in exasperation.
Moving along the landing, over the garage area, Kelson made his way into the eastern wing of the palace. As he enter the hallway that led to the royal receiving area, he saw Jackson outside the door and he did not look happy.
"Sorry," Kelson whispered. As he reached for the doorknob, he was almost bowled over by a shorter female figure.
"That arrogant son of a..." she grumbled.
"Alice, what happened?" Kelson asked her.
"Your brother Alroy is an arrogant ass!" She said pointing a finger at Kelson.
"What did he say?"
"I can understand why you left," she said ignoring his question.
She stood there looking at him obviously fuming. "Do you mind if I visit Alex for a little while? She might calm me down a bit, otherwise, I might strangle your brother."
"By all means," Kelson said trying holding back a smile, "just don't upset her, please?"
In answer, she stalked off down the hallway leading to the royal apartments, grumbling to herself all the way.
"Well that didn't take long," Kelson said smiling at Jackson.
"By the way," he said opening the door, "the king lost the bet."
Kelson's stomach suddenly filled with butterflies as the door opened fully to reveal his family arranged in chairs with their backs to the balcony.
The king looked extremely unhappy as he turned in his chair at Kelson's and Jackson's entrance.
"Ah Kelson, good, you're here," King Stephan said, displaying a fake smile on his face.
"Sire," he said walking to within the king's sight so that the king didn't have to turn to look at him.
" Your Majesty, Your Highness," Kelson said addressing the Queen and Crown Princess Micheala.
"Kelson," Queen Marlene added, also putting forth a fake smile.
Micheala just nodded her greeting from her spot next to Alice's empty chair.
"Your Highness's, "Kelson said addressing his grandparents and parents.
"Kelson," his father said glaring at his son.
**That is not good,** Kelson thought nervously.
"Your Highness's," Kelson said bowing to his five siblings.
Each one nodded greeting, even Rhys, who was standing behind their sister. Jehana nodded, glanced at their brother Alroy, and gave Kelson a wan smile.
Finally Kelson turned his attention to the last three members of the group, his fathers advisors.
"Your Excellency, Your Grace, My lady," he said bowing towards them.
"Kelson," The bishop of Dhassa said with a big smile.
The Duke of Corwyn and the red haired woman just nodded.
"Sire, if I may ask," Kelson said, "why was Princess Alice so upset?"
"She spoke out of turn and didn't address me with my proper title," Alroy said folding his arms and glaring at the king.
**Uh oh,** Kelson thought, **this isn't starting out good.**
"I hadn't noticed, Alroy," Micheala said pointedly, "she is far closer to being heir to a crown than you will ever be."
"Father!" Alroy almost shouted, "do we have to sit here and be talked to like this!?"
"Yes, you do young man!" Stephan said rising. Pointedly walking to stand in front of Kelson's father, he glaring down at him.
"Malcolm, if I were you, I would remind your son that he a guest in my country, and that he should start behaving like one instead of a moronic ass. Furthermore," he said raising a finger as Malcolm started to object, "I don't know if you noticed or not, but I am the only one, in what remains of the Eleven Kingdoms, who will make an attempt to support you. So go ahead; let your son piss me off. You and your family will find your butts on the first plane back to Meara."
Malcolm, not being used to being talked to in that manner, stared up at Stephan with his mouth agape.
"Please, Alroy stop," Kelson's mother interjected, "I would like very much to see my granddaughter. We will be able to see her won't we?" she asked Kelson almost pleading.
"Later this evening maybe," he said, "once everyone has calmed down a bit. I don't want my daughter upset."
"Speaking of this evening," interrupted the Duke of Corwyn, "where are we going to stay? I was under the impression we would be staying here."
"No, you are not," Kelson said pointedly before anyone could say anything.
"I have made arrangements with the Archbishop of Howicce and the Prime minister for everyone who is not a member of the royal family," Kelson said indicating the two men off in one corner of the room. They were both obviously attempting to stay out of the fray.
"It is not open for debate," Kelson continued when the duke started to object.
"All this fuss over some little brat," he mumbled, "who shouldn't even be alive in first place."
"Freddy!" the woman with red hair said elbowing him.
"Stop, Jackson," Kelson said, as the captain started to pull out his pistol.
"Duke of Corwyn," Kelson said calmly walking over to the man, "I just stopped Captain Jackson from putting a bullet in your head."
Coming to stand in front of the cowering man, Kelson glared down at him.
"Sire," he said still staring at the man, not turning to look at the king, "in the best interest of your further talks with my family, I won't have this man arrested. Captain Jackson?"
"Your Grace?" the captain said coming to stand by Kelson.
"I want this man escorted from the palace immediately, if he puts up any type of resistance whatsoever, I want him in custody, and I personally will deal with him later."
"My Lord Prime Minister," Kelson said not waiting for a reply from Jackson, "would you please make arrangements for this man to be taken to your home. And I don't want him anywhere near the procession the day after tomorrow. In fact I don't want to hear that he was even within a mile of my daughter, is that clear?"
"Yes, Your Grace," he said coming to stand beside Jackson.
Reluctantly, the Duke of Corwyn stood and attempted to look at Kelson's father for support, but instead he was forcefully pulled by the arm from the room, with Robert following behind.
Walking over to the King, Kelson slowly raised his angry face to address his family.
"I am going to say this only once." His voice was low but forceful in an attempt to control his rage and to keep from shouting, "if I find out that any one of you makes a comment like that even in jest, getting the Goddamn crown of Gwynedd will be the least of your problems." Having said that, he exited the room, slamming the door behind him.
"That went well," Queen Marlene said absently.