Hemming had been warmly welcomed to the castle by the brothers upon their return, and they were happy to let him attend the divination. “How are things on the coast, Hemming?” Gillireth inquired.
“We are enjoying the newfound peace, your majesty,” he lied.
“I hope our soldiers’ occupation of the area has not been too upsetting,” Gillireth said.
“Of course not, sire.”
“Well,” he slapped Hemming on the back. “No hard feelings, then! Let’s find out what sort of man my son will become!”
Or woman our daughter will become, Calysta considered. He had assumed the child to be a boy ever since he took notice of Calysta’s morning sickness. That’s my boy, he’d used to say when he caught her rushing out of the castle nauseated. Never a quip missed, she thought.
They met with Jarrah in the solar suite and arranged their chairs in a circle. “Jarrah, please explain to Calysta and Hemming what exactly it is you do here,” Zolan asked, receiving a quick nod of approval from the king.
“I am the royal mystic counsel, of course. I made a blood bond long ago with King Gillireth’s father before him so that I could divine truths concerning his bloodline. My power is a simple one, though it takes the greater part of a lifetime to acquire. Fate keeps most of her secrets, but every so often, she will whisper in a mystic’s ear.”
“And she never lies, at least not to Jarrah!” Gillireth added excitedly. “Tell us about our boy!”
Jarrah walked over to Calysta and rested a palm against her stomach, which had just barely begun to bulge. He could sense her nervousness and reassured her that it would be completely painless for her and the child. He closed his eyes, and everyone in the room became silent and still. Calysta, however, could hear her heart pounding even more clearly now. Each beat was that of a drum, marking each moment closer to the revelation of the ancient secret of the Dechi.
“It is a son,” Jarrah said, opening his sky-tinted eyes. Gillireth grinned widely as the mystic continued. “A son whom will seal a great bond of peace between humankind and the Dechi. And that is all I have been told,” he looked curiously at Calysta’s bump.
There was a pause. “It seems Lady Fate is about as talkative as Calysta today,” Gillireth sighed. “But no matter! What news there is is very good, indeed! We shall celebrate tonight!” He looked over to his brother, saying, “And you questioned that this marriage would be wise.”
Zolan was too pleased to be offended. “Congratulations, brother!” He embraced his twin and heard the muffled words, “Don’t call me that.”
Calysta allowed herself to smile for the first time in what felt like ages. The warmth of relief came over her as she looked to her smiling compatriot. Peace, she thought. Peace at last.
A great feast was prepared that night for the celebration to which all nobles were invited. The castle ballroom was alight with dance and laughter. Even Calysta pranced alongside her husband with a merry heart. If being with this man meant that peace could at last be achieved, this finally was reason enough for her to be contented.
Upon Gillireth’s insistence, Hemming had stayed for the festivities and planned to depart in the morning. After things had died down a bit, he went on a walk with Calysta in the woods surrounding the city.
“It’s so dark. Do we really need to be in the woods at this time? I’m sure I could find us a quiet room in the castle,” Calysta offered.
“The air is quite stuffy in there, and if I am to spend the entire night here, I would like to get as much fresh air as possible before I retire to bed,” Hemming said.
“Fair enough,” she grinned. “I can’t stop smiling! I’m so happy, Hemming. A single promise of reconciliation has transformed me!” She opened her arms to the cool breeze of the night and felt like a child again. “You don’t even seem very pleased about it. What’s the matter?”
“Jarrah said that this child would bring peace between humans and Dechi.”
Hemming stopped in his tracks and turned to the girl. “The problem is, dear, I never wanted peace. I refuse to have a part with humanity. I refuse to surrender my people to this brutish king. And if that means that I need to kill you along with what grows in you, so be it.” He pulled out his dagger.
“What are you doing?” Calysta screamed, backing away from him.
“I give you two choices,” Hemming said. “Either stab the child yourself and possibly live, or try to run, and I will surely kill you both.”