The Heart of Sorrow’s Keep
By Brenna Hanson
Date: August 22, 2018
Ch. 44

And yet, he did make me go. He came to find me as I helped our younger siblings get ready for their own journeys. We were all motherless now. The king had been prolific but loyal to his queen’s wishes. He only shared his seed among her chosen ladies. My mother told me once that it was as if they were all sisters. As such, they were able to care for each other’s children with the same deep love as they had for their own. My heart broke a little more as each of my brothers and sisters was whisked away and the rooms of the nursery grew empty once more.
“Forgive me,” Harold said when I was the only one left. “I can’t disobey Father.”
“Surely I can stay,” I pleaded. “We’ve never been apart. We are partners, you and I. I’ve always been your lookout when you needed one.”
“I know you have,” he said. “But Father was very specific. He wrote special instructions for each of his sons and daughters. Yours are longer than anyone else’s – even mine!”
“I don’t know why they would be,” I said.
“I don’t either,” he answered, “but they are. You are to be given this locket and sent to Marcus the Humble. Father said that Marcus is a reclusive mage and that he will not want to take you in. If he turns you down, you are to show him the locket. If he still won’t open the door, you are to speak your mother’s name.”
“And if a king’s order, a shiny bobble, and a name don’t open the door?” I asked. “What then? Should I hop on one foot and sing him a lullaby?”
“No,” Harold said. “If the door still won’t open, your escort is instructed to burn the place to the ground with Marcus inside and then find a place to stay until the war is over.”
“Father wants me to live with a man who may rather be burned alive than take me in?” I was incredulous. “He couldn’t find a more accepting home for me?”
“The notes say it is imperative that you go there,” Harold said. “Don’t ask me why. I don’t know. Be he used that word: ‘imperative’.”
“Wonderful,” I said.
“Father loves you,” Harold said. “There must be a good reason.”
“Let me stay,” I pleaded once more.
“Hug me before you go and tell me I’m still your favorite brother,” Harold answered.
The tightness of his embrace was almost as familiar and loving as my mother’s had been that night in the garden. It left me afraid that I would never see him again.
“Be a good king while we are all away, Harold,” I whispered against his shoulder. “Don’t trust your Council. I believe they know more about your mother’s death than they have said.”
“We’ll all be back together before you know it,” he whispered back. “Try not to worry so much.”

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