17  -  Chapter 17 - The Mourning Prince
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The Mourning Prince



Chapter  XVII




  Camber Haldane, Archbishop of Rhemuth, awoke from his daydream. Someone was lightly tapping on the door.

Getting up from the chair he quietly glided to the door. Pausing with his hand on the door, he quested forth with his powers. His mind lightly touched each one of the dozen or so guards placed outside the royal apartments. They gave no sign of alarm, in fact they gave the impression of being slightly amused. There were only four people in the entire royal household besides the king who could give the guards that type of impression.

Slowly he opened the door, but before he could look beyond the door, a head peaked around the corner.

"Good Morning Excellency" Geoff Terry whispered, "I didn't wake him up did I?"

With a slight grin on his face Camber looked towards the window embrasure. The king had not stirred. Turning back to Geoff he shook his head and motioned for him to enter.

Geoff entered slowly closing the door lightly behind him, he was caring a small white box with a Haldane Lion emblazoned on the top.

"You're up awfully early Geoff?" Camber commented, noticing that the young man's quickly receding hairline was neatly combed and he was dressed in navy dress uniform.

"Well stupid me, I volunteered to help with the security arrangements for the coronation," he replied sarcastically. "Jackson sent me up here so you could make some last minute placements of the guards," he said holding out a piece of paper.

Taking the paper, Camber moved to the desk and sat down in the chair in front of it. As he turned the desk lamp on, he began to review the diagram for the placement of security for the cathedral. Removing a pen from the center drawer, Camber made several notations on it.

"What's in the box?" Camber asked as he returned the paper to Geoff.

Taking the paper in one hand, Geoff handed the box to Camber with the other. "Its another bloody gift from his father in law. He asked that you give it to him when he wakes up."

"Really. Who else is up?" Camber asked placing the box in front of him, and marveling, as the Duke of Claibourne was never an early riser.

"Me of course, Harold, who wants to know if you want some coffee, Jackson, his father, Dean and his wife, Kelson's parents and quite basically the whole bloody household."

Camber couldn't help but smile at the young man's mild irritation. "Why are Dean's wife and Kelson's mother up so early?" Camber asked.

Cocking his head downward to look at Camber in amusement, Geoff responded, "Have you ever tried to raise quadruplets? Kelson's mom is up to help with them."

"I am sorry, I had forgotten," Camber apologized, suddenly remembering how Kelson's entire court had somewhat adopted Dean's children.

"Most of the ladies in waiting and the rest of the female staff are quite frankly fighting over who gets to watch them," Geoff continued, "before it is over with, we will probably have a riot on our hands. Something like when they have a sale at a store the day after Christmas."

"You had better get going, and get those assignments to Jackson," Camber chuckled lightly.

"Yeah I guess I had better," Geoff grumbled, "And I'll bring that coffee up to you shortly." Moving to the door, Geoff opened the door slightly, "I feel like a damn gopher some times," he said pausing to look over his shoulder, and then he was gone.

Camber chuckled to himself then returned his attention to the desk and the white box.

As he opened the box gingerly, Camber saw that it was a crimson red cardigan with a Gold Haldane lion on the left breast. It was very similar to one Kelson wore as Duke of Carthmoor, except that that one was black. Looking closer Camber saw that the sweater was also a bit thicker in appearance. Reaching inside he felt something hard in the fabric. Kevlar, Ewan was obviously taking no chances with his new son in law after what had happened at Kelson's wedding banquet.

Closing the box lid, Camber set it aside and turned his attention to the papers on the desk.

The first document was Kelson's official request for Alroy and his grandmother to be re-interned in the Haldane family crypt. Thinking briefly about the events that led to their deaths, Camber paused then put his signature on the bottom indicating his approval. Placing that one aside, he picked up the next three.

The next one he read was Kelson's appointment of Javan as Lord Protector of Meara and Cassan. With his sudden abdication six months ago, and his recent marriage to the widowed Duchess of Cassan, Camber nodded absently. It was only appropriate. As it would take months for these letters to go through, Camber was extremely grateful that the new parliament would not be in session for another week. Even though he did not need their approval, Kelson considered it only common courtesy. Camber proceeded on to the next document.

It was Kelson's official acknowledgement of his father and mother as Regents of the Duchy of Carthmoor. Camber paused again in reading this document.

Once again his family had been stung by near tragedy. Staring at the document Camber thought about his brother Malcolm's very brief reign as king more than a year ago, the sudden scandal that rocked the family and forced his abdication causing Kelson to be named Regent for Gwynedd until the succession to the throne could be settled. Camber shook his head to bring himself back to the present. Gently placing it on the side, Camber secretly wished that the other Archbishop in Gwynedd was available to handle the burden of running the government, but he himself was very busy trying to get other bishops elected, as well as get the Church going again.

Thinking about it, Camber was after all, Chancellor for the time being and as such he was duty bound to assist the king in getting the government going. Before he could move onto the next document, there was a light tapping on the door.

Rising from the chair he moved to the door. As he opened it, he saw one of the guards with a cup of coffee in his hands and huge grin on his face.

"Your coffee, Excellency," the man said fighting to keep a straight face.

Returning the smile, Camber took the coffee and closed the door. He could hear the man beginning to snicker as he closed it. Going back to the desk, he sat down and took sip, grimacing at the taste. Setting the cup aside, he picked up the final document.

It was Kelson's official resignation as Regent of Llanedd. Looking at it carefully Camber noted that Kelson was resigning his duties to Micheala and her husband Nigel, formerly the Duke of Carthmoor.

Placing all those documents into a pile he set them on top of the white box.

Taking another sip of coffee, he spied more documents at the back of the desk. Reaching over he picked up the fairly large stack. On the very top page was a yellow post it with 'please review' written on it. They were probably the various laws Kelson wanted parliament to enact when they finally came into session.

Noting that he was getting uncomfortable in this chair he decided to sit in the chair by the fire.

Since the sun had risen considerably, he could see better from that spot. Camber turned off the lamp, picked up his cup and the documents, and proceeded to the chair, noticing in the process that the cat had woken up and was staring out at the city below.

With her tail lying on her friend's shoulder, she gazed out at the slowly waking city.

Hearing movement behind her, she slowly turned her head to see her other friend appear and sit in the chair by the fire. Glancing back at the view before her, she thought, 'it is only a little while longer that I will see this view.'

Slowly she turned towards her friend. As she stretched, she thought 'this is getting harder to do.' She thumped to the floor as she walked over his legs. 'I have gotten you this far,' she thought as she quickly looked back at him, 'soon you will have to choose someone to succeed me.'

Turning her attention back to her other friend, she began to walk to the chair. As she walked, she spied a glow around the door. 'She will be there to help you my friend,' she thought, 'but she must have help.' She nuzzled her other friend's leg to get his attention.

Moving aside the papers he had been reading, her other friend patted his lap for her to jump up.

Leaping gracefully into his lap she made herself comfortable and curled herself into a ball. 'Pity,' she thought as her new friend petted her, 'they will never know about the favor.'

Then she purred herself to sleep.

~ Finis ~



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