The King of Kalbem: Chapter 8 - New Arrivals
Updated: Sep 11
Chapter 8: New Arrivals
On a bright June day, before her twentieth birthday, Kat and Will were walking in the garden, as always. Kat had that certain glow about her, of a woman soon to become a mother of her first child. Will had a contented aura as he looked tenderly at his wife of nearly two years and thought of his child she was now carrying.
He decided to vocalize what was in his head, “How radiantly beautiful you are, my wife, my better half. It's strange to think, I thought I loved you as much as any human could love another when we were young. Then when we were engaged, I loved you so much more than I ever had. Then after our wedding, I loved you even more, with all my capacity, and I thought it impossible anyone could ever feel more love than I did then.”
He caressed her cheek, “But after all the wonderful experiences these past two years have brought, I love you even more now. I suppose that I still don't know what love is, because I can only see our love growing stronger in the years to come. I don't know how I could love you more, but I'm so grateful that I can continue falling more deeply in love with you every day.”
Will was not a man of many words or sentiments, but Kat had a way of pulling that out of him. He complimented her and told her he loved her every day, but this extra declaration brought Kat's face to a full bloom.
“Oh darling, I love you so much!” She kissed him. “I completely understand, as that is exactly how I feel. You remember when you first kissed me over there on our bridge?”
He smiled reflectively, and nodded.
She continued, “I was certain that no kiss could ever be as pure and beautiful as that. That's why I turned away those times you nearly kissed me after that, because I was afraid that nothing could compare to it. But when you kissed me when we got engaged, I had no idea feelings like that existed. Then, again, over the altar, that was even better than the ones before. And now, as I kiss the father of my child who will soon come into the world, and foremost, my husband of nearly two years, it has more meaning than it ever did.”
With that, she gave him a delightful sample. They spent the next several minutes kissing, expressing their love, admiration, and respect at its highest they had ever seen it yet.
“Well well,” a familiar voice interrupted, “I'm out of it for a few years and suddenly all my friends are all married and grown up.”
Will and Kat turned to see Lady Jennifer standing about 10 paces downstream of them and immediately froze.
“No reason to look at me like you've seen a ghost. Yes, it's me,” she laughed.
Will and Kat walked towards her, Will wondered, “I thought you were dead?”
“Well apparently I'm not, my dear.” She reached out and embraced the couple. “When I was knocked from my horse, they thought I was dead, but when I was returned to Volez they realized I was only paralyzed. I would have told you sooner, but recovery took me a while.”
Will hugged her, “I'm so glad you're alive. I felt so guilty about what happened.”
“Me too,” Kat embraced her. “And I'm sorry for strongly disliking every moment you spent with my dear William. I'm grateful you took care of him during my time of stupidity.”
“Stupidity?” Jennifer raised an eyebrow. “I thought you had quite the catch. Where is dear Sir Michael these days? I bet he is just as attractive as Will.”
“He’s a knight by now,” Kat stated, “but he left the kingdom and we haven’t seen him in two years.”
Jennifer smiled and immediately started inquiring about the wedding and all the various details of the past three and a half years. A small party was held at the palace that evening to celebrate her return, so Jennifer could catch up with her fellow nobles.
Kat spent most of the evening in painful contractions. “Don't even ask me if I want to eat anything. The answer is no.” Will stayed by her side the entire evening, despite Jennifer's attempts to pull him onto the dance floor.
Nearing the end of the party, Kat was getting worse and started hyperventilating.
Will looked at his wife, “I think the baby is coming.”
The guards escorted Will as he carried Kat to their chambers. Silas and Aaron arranged for the guests to leave and followed quickly after. Kat was in labor; fortunately, Sierra and Kimberly were experienced midwives. Edmund, Will’s personal bodyguard, stood inside and all the other men waited outside the room with more guards.
Will paced around to the sound of Kat’s screams, “Goodness gracious, is this how it feels?” He continued pacing.
King Alexander embraced his son. Nothing needed to be said.
After long hours of agony, Will was invited into the room.
“You're a father, William,” Kat contentedly sighed.
“Gardenia,” he ran over to her, “are you alright?”
“I feel terrible, but Momma says I'll be fine. Look at her! She is so precious!”
Will turned his focus to the child asleep on Kat's chest. Kat smiled, “Wake up, Elizabeth, my love. Daddy is here!” She handed the baby to Will.
Holding the infant, Will smiled, “Little Elizabeth! She has her mother's eyes.”
King Alexander came closer, “And her grandmother's hair. Elizabeth was the only red-head of any of us.” His eyes got misty.
A tear rolled down Will's cheek as he let the king, Silas, Kimberly, Aaron, and Sierra have their chances to hold the baby while he embraced his wife.
Suddenly, the king keeled over and fell on the floor. The entire room gasped.
Duncan, his personal body guard dropped to the ground beside him. After feeling for a pulse, he sighed and dropped his head, “The king is dead.”
Everyone stood in dumb shock for a moment and Will got dizzy, “What happened?”
“I don’t know,” Duncan failed to conceal his emotion, “he was fine; there were no signs or sickness or anything.”
Aaron knelt beside him, “Maybe it was foul play?”
“I can’t tell,” Duncan answered. He rustled around the king’s clothes looking for marks, “He has no puncture wounds, so if it was foul play, it would have to be poison.”
Kat hugged Will with what strength she had. “I’m so sorry, Will. I love you,” was all she could think to say.
He squeezed her, went towards his father, knelt beside him and wept. “Why would this happen?” he wept. “He was the best king Kalbem has ever known.”
Aaron put a sympathetic hand on Will’s shoulder, “I don’t know, my prince. Indeed he was a marvelous king.”
Duncan uncovered a small flower tucked into the king’s robes, “What is that?” Will asked.
Aaron looked towards the women expectantly.
Sierra looked at the pale flower closely, “That’s black-eyed susan,” she stated, “it symbolizes justice in the language of flowers.”
Will shook his head, “In what world would this terrible act be considered justice?”
“All kings have enemies,” Aaron sighed. “Though isn’t King Alexander immune to most common poisons?”
“Yes he is,” Will agreed, “which means our killer uses unconventional methods.” He buried his face in his hands, “I need to investigate this and set up the joust for the throne, but my wife just had a baby.”
Aaron clapped Will on the back, “All of this will still be here later. For now, you need to spend time with your wife and child. We will double security and give you time to mourn before the competition.” Will hesitated. “Be with them,” Aaron urged, “I’ll take care of this for now.”
Will bowed his head and put his hand on the king’s chest. “Father,” he whispered, “I won’t let you down.”
Duncan and Aaron carried the king out while the others, except Edmund followed. Will lay beside his wife again.
Will couldn’t find any words to say. Kat could feel his conflict and pain. The new family of three clung together in a silent, tearful embrace.
After some time, Kat broke the silence, “I'm so sorry about your father.” He hugged her tightly, but gently. She continued, “I imagine this is an emotional overload watching your father... and becoming a father and inheriting the throne all in one night.”
“Don’t remind me,” Will groaned. “If there is an assassin about, then you and Elizabeth are in grave danger. I should hide you both to keep you safe.”
“Will, calm down. Security is at its maximum. The assassin will want to wait for things to calm down some before he strikes again. Just relax for a few hours and enjoy your child. Then after noon you may worry about the kingdom.”
Heavily guarded, Will and Kat spent that lovely morning enjoying the beauty of their small, loving family. As a silversmith, Will did not have much experience with children. Kat had a decent amount of knowledge of them since she had studied some midwifery and had several close friends with small children that she spent much time with.
Kat laughed, “Perhaps you should try using your arms to hold her. She isn't a pile of ball bearings that you have to cup in your hands.” Kat found Will's awkwardness with the baby adorable. When Little Elizabeth cried, Will would panic and wonder what he did wrong or how he could get her to quiet down. Kat helped him hold Little Elizabeth more comfortably to get her to calm down.
“She is a very patient baby,” Kat remarked near noon.
“I don't have enough experience to make that judgment, so I will take your word for it,” Will replied. “Unfortunately our morning is over and I must return to my princely duties. Get some rest, my love. I will station guards around you. Send word for me if you need anything.”
“Be careful, darling! It was probably a Tezelian assassination that killed the king, so you would be the next person they want dead.”
“I will, Gardenia.” He embraced her. “I will keep guards with me at all times.”
“Remember a poisoned dart can get past any guard. I can’t help but feel the passageways were used to plant that flower.”
“I’ll take care of everything.” Will assured as he kissed his wife and baby and left.
* * * * *
Will kept clear of the passageway entries. Upon arriving in the council room, Will closed the vent, which gave a visual from the passageway. “According to law, I am to arrange a jousting tournament to challenge my kingship. The winner will then compete against me in a kingly task, predetermined by King Alexander, with details to be read on the day of the task.” Will began writing the proclamation. “In one week, the tournament will begin.” He sealed the proclamation and gave it to the messenger.
As Will was returning to his chambers that evening, Jennifer approached, “Will! Or rather, your highness, I need to talk to you.” Will halted his guards and approached her. “Alone, perhaps?” she requested.
“My lady, it would hardly be appropriate. But I will hear whatever it is you need to say.”
She stepped in close to him, “I just wanted to express my deepest condolences concerning the king. It must be dreadfully difficult to lose your secret parents.”
“I will be fine, but I appreciate your concern. Is there anything else you need to say?”
“Yes, actually,” she replied. “I never got the chance to say goodbye to you before I was paralyzed.” She put her arms around his neck and forcefully reached to kiss him.
He reacted quickly, pulling his head back and releasing her arms. “Jennifer!” He was honestly quite shocked. “That is inappropriate. I am a married man.”
Jennifer spent a moment in shock because she had never been unsuccessful in that attempt before. “Forgive me, your highness. I forgot my place.” With that, she whisked away.
* * * * *
The funeral of King Alexander took place three days after, with four days until the tournament. Kat, Will, and Elizabeth were under careful guard the entire time. Will's personal bodyguard, Edmund, spared no precautions in the safety of the royal family. All four openings to secret passageways were locked and blocked off: in the throne room, the garden, the royal chambers, and the kitchen. Admission into the keep was also greatly limited.
Sir Aaron oversaw the arrangements for the funeral and the tournament while Edmund watched over Will, Kat, and Elizabeth. The couple rather enjoyed having a week mostly to themselves and their newborn infant.
“Funny,” Kat remarked to Will the day before the tournament, “Edmund has never said a word to me outside the call of duty, but when I have a baby in my arms, it's like he becomes human.”
Will chuckled, “It is rather amusing to see my strong, serious guard turn so tender and adoring by our little angel's magic. Little Elizabeth has grown quite fond of him already. He certainly has a way with children.”
“Why thank you, my Lord,” Edmund handed the contented child to Will. “I had six younger siblings, so Little Lizzy reminds me of them.”
“Where are they now?” Kat inquired.
Edmund looked down. “On the other side,” he sighed and Kat put a consoling hand on his arm. He continued, “My father was a spy for the king; unfortunately, he was caught and identified. I was on duty at the castle when the Tezelians assassinated my family. I vowed I would never fail to protect again.”
Will handed the child back to Edmund, who held her close. “I am so sorry you went through that,” Kat gasped. “We appreciate what you do for us. It has been so nice getting to know you this week. How old are you again?”
“Nineteen, my lady.”
“You are quite a remarkable man. Thank you for taking such good care of us.”
“It is my duty, madam, I would give my life for your family.”
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