Regent & Duke
that went exceedingly well," Kelson said as he adjusted the collar
of his black robe.
"It surprised me beyond belief, Kelson," Helen replied as she too adjusted the white-laced collar on her own Speaker of Parliament robe. "They never agree on anything. This is the first time that both sides have found some common ground without getting into an argument. I think both sides are hoping you will side with them on the issues."
"I hope they don't get their hopes up," Kelson said with a chuckle. "Like I said earlier this morning at the investiture, I intend to follow your lead, voting wise. You, after all, are the senior Speaker."
Switching to mind speech, she sent to him, *and on that note, all is ready for tonight.*
**Will they all be there?** He responded back mind-to-mind.
**As many who can be,** she answered. **Frankly they are very concerned about you requesting this meeting. Can you give me any idea what it is about?**
**No, not until tonight. Let's just say it is very important. By the way, who will be taking me through to them?**
**Matt and Linda.**
Just then, the Parliament's chamberlain poked his head into the anteroom behind the Speaker's chair. "Are you about ready, Madame Speaker?" he asked anxiously. "They look like they are about ready to start a riot out there."
"Yes Sam, we are about ready. Let's get this over with."
"Mister Speaker?" Sam asked Kelson.
"I'm as ready as I'll ever be," he replied.
As Sam started to make his way towards the door, Helen took a hold of his arm. "Wait a moment Sam. I have to ask Kelson a quick favor. I may not get to ask him later."
"For the inspection of the proposed drilling sight," she said turning to Kelson, " would you mind going in my stead? My stomach is bothering me and I don't think it would handle the boat ride."
"Sure, who all is going on the inspection?" Kelson asked. He noticed that the delay was agitating Sam. Helen noticed it too and the noise from the hall was getting louder. She motioned Sam forward.
"For right now, it will be you, Duke Nigel and Lady Alison MacEwan. She is going along at her father's request. Apparently there have been inquiries about drilling off the coast of northern Claibourne and her father wants her to be aware of what they're in for."
"Great," Kelson said to himself. He and Alison MacEwan had never really gotten along.
Kelson could just barely make out Sam's voice over the noise in the parliament chamber beyond as he heard the rap on the floor of the chamberlain's baton and the address that followed.
"My Lords and Ladies stand and take heed, the Speakers of the House."
As the junior member, Kelson entered the chamber ahead of Helen and could see that the chamber was filled to the brim. Both houses were present, Lords and Commons. As he made his way to his seat, he caught sight of his family in the gallery at the rear of the chamber. Nigel sat safely positioned between Princess Micheala and Kelson's father. Kelson also took note that Nigel sat a remarkable distance from his fathers advisors as Helen, the senior Speaker, took her seat and Kelson found his own.
I hope he stays out of their influence for a little while longer, Kelson thought, actually bringing to mind, and probably not for the first time, the idea that they were behind everything that had transpired since his family's arrival. Bringing him out of his reverie, Sam addressed them. "My Lady Speaker, My Lord Speaker, Parliament is convened."
"Thank you, My Lord Chamberlain," Helen answered with a nod of her head. Bowing from the waist, he placed the baton on a special stand in front of the Speaker chairs and departed the chamber. From the House of Lords side of the Chamber, a skinny dark haired man in a dark robe rose to the podium in front of him.
"Madame Speaker, if I may be allowed to begin?" He started. "We have a lot of ground to cover."
Helen inclined her head in agreement. Before he could proceed however, a not so quiet voice from the House of Commons side of the chamber was heard.
"Bloody hell the idiot Baines is going to speak."
"Look you crusty old crone," Harvey Baines said pointing a finger at the woman who had spoken up. "You want to take me on," the woman said rising with the help of her cane, "I can soundly beat you about the head if you wish to try." As emphasis she shook her cane at him.
With that, both sides were on there feet shouting at the opposite side. Kelson could barely hear Helen sigh in exasperation, "This is going to be a long day." Kelson smiled and shook his head.
"And guess what?" she said starting to rise to bring the chamber to order. "What?" He mouthed. "These two, Harvey Baines and that one over there," she said pointing to the woman with the cane, "are the nominees for Prime Minster."
Many hours later a thoroughly exhausted Kelson Haldane collapsed into his office chair. "That could have gone better," he said with a sigh, looking up at Jackson, Matt and Linda who were standing around his desk. "I don't know whose brilliant idea it was to put both houses in the same room."
"It was the kings idea Your Grace," Jackson said with a grin. "You know that. Was it that bad?"
"We, Helen and myself, took turns all day trying to bring order to that mess. "The good thing is, I won't have to deal with it tomorrow," Kelson said with a smile. "Helen has asked me to take the inspection tour of the oil drilling site for her. I think she is going to regret that decision."
"Do you want me to come as an escort?" Jackson asked.
Kelson thought for a second, "no, I need you to stay here to baby-sit my family. I'll take Matt instead. Speaking of which, after I see my daughter, Matt, Linda and I are going to go over to the guesthouse for a little while. I want to go over what I expect of her and some additional duties I want Matt to take on."
Jackson nodded his understanding.
"Oh, and one more thing," Kelson said standing. "See if you can keep everyone away from me, I don't want to be disturbed. I have had enough of big groups of people today."
"Yes Your Grace," Jackson said with a chuckle.
"Matt, Linda," Kelson said addressing the two once they were in the hallway going to his daughters room. "Would you mind going ahead to the guest house? I want to pop in on my daughter to see what she has been up to."
"Yes, Your Grace," Matt answered.
"Your Grace?" Linda asked before they could leave.
"Yes?" Kelson said turning towards her with his hand on the doorknob.
"I want to thank you right now for giving me a chance to teach another era of Haldanes. She is very bright little girl."
"What brought this on?" he asked.
"Well Your Grace," she paused, "I might not get a chance later on to thank you."
His brow furrowed in question, "Is there something else?"
"Yes Your Grace. Since all of you have graduated or moved on, I haven't really had a chance to teach anyone. I'm glad someone has some faith in my abilities as a teacher."
"That is one of the reason's I asked you, I wish I would have done it sooner. Anyway go on ahead to the guesthouse. I will be there shortly."
Entering his daughter's room he saw that she was safely in bed, listening intently as Lady Therese read her a bedtime story.
"Your Grace," Therese said starting to rise.
Waving her to stay seated he went over to his daughter and kissed her on the forehead. "What are you listening to sweetheart?"
"The Cat In the Hat, Daddy. Its funny."
"Did you miss me today?" Kelson asked sitting next to her on the bed.
"Sort of?" Kelson asked with mock shock. "My feelings are hurt."
"I'm sorry Daddy, but I've been real busy today," she said looking up into his eyes innocently. "I got to meet Lady Linda. She is real nice. And I got to spend time with Grandma MacGregor, Great Grandma Haldane, and Grandma Haldane. Grandma MacGregor told me when I started to miss you that you were off making it so I could be a better queen."
Kelson chuckled at how easy her Grandmother had detoured her from being depressed. "What did you and your Grandmother's do?"
"We went clothes shopping, which was fun," she said with a yawn. "There were a lot of pretty dresses. Aunt Micheala and Aunt Jehana are taking me shopping and out to lunch tomorrow."
"Good, and now, since you are going to be so busy tomorrow, why don't you go to sleep?"
"The story is almost finished Daddy," she said through another yawn.
"Okay," he said kissing her on the top of the head. "Well goodnight then. I will see you at breakfast. But as soon as the story is done, off to sleep you go."
"Okay Daddy," she said, her eyes beginning to droop.
Standing there for several seconds, Kelson listened as Therese finished the story and watched as his daughter fell fast asleep. As Alexandra slipped into slumber, Therese closed the book.
"Goodnight, Therese," Kelson said with a wink.
"Goodnight Your Grace."
As Kelson entered the guesthouse he almost ran Matt and Linda over coming through the door.
"Sorry for the delay," he apologized. "I had to say goodnight to Alexandra."
"No apologies necessary Your Grace," Linda said as she and Matt followed Kelson to the rear of the house. When Kelson stopped in front of one of the very last doors, Linda asked quietly, "I assume, Your Grace, that you're about to show us a Transfer Portal?"
As there were bound to be servants still up, Kelson opened the door and ushered them in. "Yes," he whispered. "Actually this room will be yours in a couple of days. Not all of the furnishings are here yet." He cupped his hand slightly and a bright red handfire appeared. Pushing it upward to a point just above his head, it stopped and remained floating as he lowered his hand. He quickly moved past the empty space where the bed was supposed to be and made his way to a closed door on the other side of the room. As he opened the door, Matt and Linda noticed that the floor of the closet was tiled in alternating black and white marble.
Motioning them forward ahead him he said, "Go ahead, it's just to leave. It is big enough that all three of us should be able to fit in there." Bending down Linda extended her hand and felt the gentle tingle of a transfer portal. "Won't we have to be attuned to it?" she asked. "One of us will have to take the lead in taking us through."
"No, I don't believe so," Kelson said waving his hand to dispel the handfire. "I think it is some kind of open one. I've used it at least once without being attuned to it. Besides, I don't know how to do that." Leaving enough room for Kelson to stand, Linda positioned herself on the portal. "Are you ready Your Grace?" she asked him in the darkness.
"Yes," he answered as he moved blindly to her side.
"I will be right behind you, Your Grace," Kelson heard Jackson say as he lowered his shields letting Linda envelop him with her own. And just as quickly, he felt the sudden tingling of the transfer portal and a slight sense of vertigo.
Appearing in a small alcove, they both moved out of the way so Matt could come through. After his arrival, Linda led Matt and Kelson through the large double doors just to the right of the portal, and just as magically as they arrived, the doors opened the same way.
Carolyn sat up straighter in her chair as Linda and Matt entered, flanked by Kelson. As Linda and Matt made their way to their prospective seats, Carolyn did a quick glanced around the massive, eight sided, ivory table to make sure that everyone was seated or had a place. Turning her head slightly to her left, Carolyn took note that the two visiting retired members, Kelson maternal uncle Adrian Maclean and Helen, had a spot as well, positioned in the darkness just out of the light of the table. With the exception of Melissa who was off doing something for Laura in Torenth, everyone was ready.
"Well Kelson, we are all here?" Carolyn said finally. "And if you would prefer, we can dispense with the individual introductions for now. Your request to meet us seemed most urgent?"
"Thank you, Carolyn, " Kelson answered. "I need all of your help. Two lives, possibly three may hang in the balance."
"Kelson, my name is Laura," one of the members said leaning forward so that she could see him. "I am on Duke Nigel's medical staff in Carthmoor. If you don't mind my asking, can you tell us whose lives in particular?"
Kelson paused, looked down at his feet briefly and then looked up to meet her gaze. "The same Duke Nigel and his younger brother Brion."
Laura glanced quickly at Carolyn and gasped.
"What makes you think their lives are in danger?" Carolyn asked, noticing that everyone had tensed up at the news.
"Yesterday morning, Jackson Morgan, my Captain of the Guard, informed me of the identity of the man who shot at the royal carriage. One Anthony von Furstan."
Carolyn saw Laura and Bart, stiffen at the mention of the name.
"Please go on," she said, making a mental note to ask the two about it later.
"Well, Nigel gave the same reaction that several of your members just did," Kelson said. "The type of reaction that leads me to think that Nigel has been threatened in the past by Anthony von Furstan to invoke compliance of some sort."
"Kelson, my name is Susan," she said as she leaned forward so that he could see her. "I just happen to be Brion's teacher at the palace. What exactly do you want us to do? What are you planning to do?"
"Well tomorrow morning," he paused," I plan to have Anthony von Furstan's face plastered all over the news. KMRN news of course," Kelson said glancing towards Donald. "I want him brought to justice. And I am hoping that if anything happens after the news is released, that someone will be available to either protect Brion or get him out of harms way."
"What about Nigel?" Matt asked looking over at Kelson.
"He will be safe with me tomorrow."
"Kelson?" Helen said moving into the light. If there is that much danger, why don't you cancel the inspection tour of the oil drilling site?"
Kelson hadn't notice that she was there and started as she came out of the shadows, but regained his composure quickly. "I know there is some danger, but precautions are being taken so that we will have a safe trip tomorrow."
"We can be in place tomorrow." Laura glanced at Bart and then at Susan.
Bart was standing at the back of her chair dressed in Lancer Army fatigues. He was to begin his reserve service at the palace the next day and would be available if anything went wrong. "But will you be safe?"
"I am positive," he answered with confidence. "But you will be able to get Brion out if it comes down to that?"
Laura nodded confidently.
"Well, thank you all for agreeing to see me."
"Is that all, Kelson?" Carolyn asked. "You asked to meet all of us?"
"No, this was just sort of a catalyst .I additionally wanted to meet all of you now, so if I do indeed run into some of you in the future I will know you."
"Sound idea," Carolyn said. "I am just sorry that it took something like this for you to meet the rest of the council."
Inclining her head to Linda, Carolyn said, "Why don't you take him back, Linda? We need to discuss some things further, and Kelson, we will keep you apprised on anything that happens through Matt or Linda."
"Thank you," Kelson said bowing his head.
After the two had left, Laura turned to Carolyn, " what additional things?"
"Adrian?" Carolyn said looking past Laura into the darkness.
Moving out of the shadows, Adrian Maclean, Bishop of Meara, stopped and stared distantly at the door Kelson had just departed. "My nephew is right to come to us for help in protecting Brion," he said finally. "But I can think of a couple different reasons besides the oil lease deal."
"And that would be?" Carolyn querried looking up at him.
"Carthmoor and Cassan," he said after several seconds.
"I don't understand?" Matt added. "How did Cassan suddenly get into this?"
"Sianny?" Adrian said as he turned to her.
It took several seconds for the reason to dawn on her. "A coup?" she asked finally.
"A coup? What makes you thinks that? " Susan asked. "In Carthmoor and Cassan? I don't see the connection."
"I do," Sianny replied. "Kelson's older brothers are heirs to both, if no successor is named. Besides Brion, Nigel has no other living relatives. And since they all are descended from a great-great grandfather, they have a dstant claim."
"Think about it Carolyn. "My brother and his wife cannot have children, and those of us with children, have a great deal to gain by their deaths."
"Land and power," Carolyn said. "That puts them that much closer to the crown."
"Do you think that is what one or both of them are up to?"
"With those two spoiled brats, who knows?"
Lawrence glanced across the dinner table at William with concern. "I think we are moving too fast," He said to the person at the head of the table.
"To fast for whom? You?" Alroy asked.
"Yes me. If someone were to find out that we have knowledge of what is about to transpire tomorrow, we, that's including you also, could face a huge backlash. It may give us problems in succeeding to the crown."
"You worry too much Larry." Alroy smiled taking a sip of his wine. "by this time tomorrow, with the assistance of the Duke of Corwyn's colleague," he said raising his glass to Freddy, "I will be a grieving nephew and cousin. And hopefully sometime after that, either the Duke of Carthmoor or the Duke of Cassan."