“My apologies, Marquess. Please forgive my mistake, it’s been a while since we had visitors,” Marquis Canavan said.
“Oh, it’s quite alright. As I said earlier, it’s been a while since we’ve last seen each other,” Erna answered politely.
Marquis Canavan was touched by the way Erna was treating him, especially after the way he had treated her. It made the purpose of his visit that much harder to bear. The night before the Marquis had left Haband, the king had called him aside and told him some sensitive information.
“They haven’t had any children yet,” the king had said. “I heard Erna and her spouse’s relationship isn’t stable. If I am being honest, it’s quite strange that she hasn’t born a child. I’m beginning to think there is something wrong with her. Or perhaps there is something wrong with the royal family. Not only that, I heard she is being merciful towards her people, but she couldn’t be bothered to make regular tributes to her homeland. And you know what? That’s why I will never accept her as the princess of Haband. How can she call herself a princess when the people in her home country are suffering?”
“That’s what I’ve been saying…” the Marquis had said in response.
He understood what the king was trying to say, and he understood that the king wanted more from Hessenguard. Ultimately, he wanted Hessenguard to become a colony under Haband.
“But I think we might be able to use this to our advantage. I’ve heard tell that she became a powerful wizard there in Hessenguard. My thoughts are thus; being her back to Haband where she will give birth to a successor. The child needs to be taught from day one that they are part of the royal family of Haband.”
Looking at Erna now, Marquis Canavan could clearly hear the king’s words echoing in his head. In a way, the king was right. It would be better to drag her back to the Kingdom of Haband and give the prince a new princess.
But that was a secret he intended to keep for now. As he watched Erna speaking to those around her, smiling and laughing, Marquis Canavan had a sudden lapse of judgement. Without thinking his next words through properly he said, “I must admit, the King of Haband was asking after news about the prince. He seemed particularly troubled by the fact that there has been no news of a royal successor.”
Erna’s expression pinched at the mention of a successor.
“Princess, if you don’t mind me suggesting, I think you should see one of the doctors in Haband. Depending on whether you have a fertility problem or not, I think it would be wise to return to your home country for a visit and possible treatment. I have no doubt you sometimes miss your home. If I am speaking openly, this was the main reason for my visit today…” Marquis Canavan trailed off when an arm suddenly snaked around Erna’s waist.
Both Erna and Marquis Canavan were surprised when they realized who the arm belonged to.
“There is nothing wrong with Erna.”
“Prince Kalion…” Canavan said in an exhaled breath.
Kalion was staring at him as though he were a predator, and Canavan was his clueless prey. “Marquis, I’m sure you know that Erna has been busy with the recovery of the Kingdom of Hessenguard. We still have to deal with frequent attacks from beasts, and there are still many internal affairs to be dealt with. Not to mention that there are plenty of castles that still have to be attended to. Erna and I barely get to spend any time together, so please, forgive us for the lack of news that you and your king so desperately desire.” While Kalion’s words were decent and cultured, his tone suggested that he would be taking no more nonsense from the Marquis.
“Forgive me. I was too eager. I will be patient until the time arrives. I was just concerned for her highness,” Marquis Canavan said and offered no more. He was eager to end the conversation after Kalion had so brashly and aggressively intervened.
In the end, it was Vanessa who cleared the remainder of the cold atmosphere. She was sitting eating a little distance off, but she turned to them and smiled as if nothing had happened. Then she turned to the guests as they arrived and raised her glass in welcome, inviting them to stay and enjoy the meal.
Those sitting nearest to her also took up her cheers, raising their glasses and laughing. Within the span of a few minutes, the ugly situation that had been brewing between Kalion and Marquis Canavan was washed away with a few glasses of wine.
“You really were brutally honest back there,” Erna said.
“I know,” Kalion replied.
As the banquet drew to an end, Erna and Kalion went to the couple’s bedroom. No one gave them a second thought or a glance as the two of them left, but Erna did thank a few of the guests for attending the banquet on her way out. Once she and Kalion were behind closed doors, she thanked him as well. Then they’d been silent for a while. Erna knew she would eventually be called on to mother an heir within the year, but she hadn’t expected the Marquis to want to take her home so soon.
“He said the official schedule was a month, but I have a feeling they’ll stay longer. I don’t doubt they will take this opportunity to write some detailed reports on the situation here in Hessenguard. Once they find out that we’ve only been sending a small portion of our stock to the Kingdom of Haband, they’re going to lose their minds,” Erna said with a sigh as she lay down on the bed. For now, she and Vanessa had managed to deceive Canavan with their words. “What can I do to get him to leave?”
Erna closed her eyes with another heavy sigh. She had the strong desire to lock them all underground, but before the thought could take root, she felt the bed suddenly shake. She opened her eyes in surprise to see Kalion. He was crouched over her, trapping her between his arms.
“He said you were the biggest purpose of this visit,” Kalion said.
Marquis Canavan’s official business on this visit was to check on the princess. The king had started to worry about her with her being so far away, and of course, the fact that he had received no news of a potential heir.
“Then it’s simple,” Kalion said and rested a hand on Erna’s perfectly flat stomach. He could feel the warmth of her skin beneath the thin dress she’d worn for the banquet. “The two of us should give them a successor as soon as possible,” he said, gently stroking her with the tips of his fingers. “Let’s give the Marquis something to see in a month.”