The King of Anavrea (Book Two of the Theodoric Saga)
way it has been for
generations. About one hundred years back, a council was
established by the ruling King at the time...”
    “Leoyn Tranken,” Ireic supplied.
    “He formed the council to be a body of lords and
commoners, as advisers to the throne,” Trahern continued. “Since
their inception, the council’s role keeps changing. Currently, in
practice, they act like a co-ruler with the ruling King.”
    “On what authority?” Lirth asked when Trahern
paused for breath. She vaguely remembered her brothers arguing this
very topic in their studies. Anavrea’s governmental structure had
been the topic of many animated discussions between the boys and
their tutor.
    Ireic answered, “They have no real authority
within our government, but that fact is carefully ignored.” He
sighed. “I have been trying not to buck them, but they grow more
forceful and arrogant. I fear I won’t be able to keep power much
    “You will manage,” Trahern commented. “But you
are right about them needing to be pulled into line.”
    Lirth got the impression the two men were
falling into an old conversation that played between them many
    “I don’t understand how this relates to me,”
Lirth pointed out.
    Ireic shifted in his seat. “About a month ago,
the council denied a marriage that I blessed. I gave my permission
privately, but many of the council members knew of my mindset
toward the couple.”
    “Why?” Lirth tried to understand on what grounds
the leaders and Ireic would have such different ideals.
    “My sister, Yulandra, wanted to marry a good
friend of mine. The council refused permission on the basis of his
distant past as a slave.”
    Trahern broke in to add, “The council even more
recently demanded my children be removed from the succession for
the same reason. They believe that Han and Eve’s possibly
illegitimate blood would contaminate the royal line.”
    “When?” Ireic demanded in surprise.
    Trahern groaned. “I received the official letter
this morning, signed by Councilor Kline himself.”
    Resisting the shiver that pricked at her neck,
Lirth suddenly realized how it all connected to her. If the council
reacted so strongly to unseen flaws in royal blood lines, how would
they react to her obvious lack of sight? No wonder Ireic
     “The council is made up of mostly very
proud men,” Ireic explained. “They fear humility.” He shifted.
Lirth wished for the thousandth time that she could see him.
“Trahern believes that if we get them to accept you publicly,
without knowing the truth, they will have an investment in
appearing to know from the beginning. I don’t think it will be that
    Lirth nodded slowly. She understood the
difficulties of fooling so many, but she couldn’t see an
alternative. “What are the other choices?”
    Trahern answered her. “You live here with Eve
and me. Ireic faces the council on his own.”
    Lirth frowned. “Will my father declare war?”
    Silence hung for a moment while she was sure
Trahern and Ireic exchanged a look.
    “Yes,” Ireic said, “but Anavrea can deal with a
war. We are larger and stronger than Sardmara.” His voice did not
give away the tension Lirth felt coming from his end of the couch.
A great deal hung between them unsaid. She could guess some of the
unspoken issues. From what she had overheard during the past few
days, their marriage contract represented the culmination of years
of wife hunting. This was the closest he had ever come to the
altar. If she backed out now, he would have no wife and a war on
his hands.
    Ireic moved. Two large warm hands enclosed hers
and she could feel him before her. A strange fascination pulled her
in his direction. She did not realize he knelt until he spoke.
    “Lirth Yra Parnan will you marry me?”
    Lirth thought her heart would choke her. She
took a deep, shaky breath, swallowing the obstruction back into
    “Yes.” The moment the word passed her lips an
image jumped into

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