Kalion opened his mouth to speak as he saw Erna was silent and frowning. “What are you going to do?” he asked.
“Me?” she retorted, “What are you going to do, might I ask?”
The two were always bickering. Only in public did the two use their formal titles to refer to each other respectfully. But away from other people’s eyes, they were always informal and somewhat rude to each other. Because of this, talking felt familiar rather than awkward. They never used each other’s names, they made up insulting names to throw at each other. It made them feel a little bit closer to each other in this time of distress. Kalion stood up from his seat, his eyes haunted by chaos, like it used to be in the past.
“Let me tell you this, I have no intention of giving up my position here and going back to that hellhole,” he said, vehemently, “And I know that it is the same for you. Am I wrong?”
“You aren’t wrong,” she said, “I have no intention of going back to Haband.”
“Your magical skills and your army of wizards,” he said, “with my soldiers and my skills with weapons is still not enough to fight the armies of the two powerful kingdoms, if they combine. We have only one way.” Kalion stopped. He, then sighed. “We need to produce an heir.” He shook his head as though it was unthinkable.
“We need to do it as soon as possible,” he said, cautiously, “The letter said that we have to give them some form of news within a year. I heard it takes two months for a pregnancy to be confirmed.” He looked at her questioningly.
“Probably,” she said, “I don’t know for sure either. But the changes in the body start manifesting at that time. They say the magic makes it certain.”
“So, minus two months,” he said, pacing, “It means we will have to produce an heir within ten months.”
Pausing for a while, he stared at Erna while tapping his fingers on the table. “I don’t want this to drag on for too long. Before winter comes, I intend to complete a new order of knights that I am forming now. I might postpone it, but after seeing a few married couples around, there are many cases where having children doesn’t go as planned.”
Erna, listening to Kalion, was a bit surprised. She had thought him indifferent to any matrimonial lifestyle but it seemed he had been observing ‘couples’ and the probability of ‘children’.
“So, what do you propose?” asked Erna.
“So we should get started quickly like I said. If possible…” He spoke in an indifferent tone as though he was looking through a food menu. But that wasn’t fooling anyone. “From today, if that is alright with you,” he said.
Erna let out a few exhausted sighs, immersed in warm water in the tub. What am I supposed to do now? she lamented.
She had almost retorted with ‘are you mad?’ when Kalion had laid out his proposal for today. But she realized it would have been uncalled for, seeing as they didn’t have much of a choice. So she had said ‘alright’ to his questioning stare. She had informed him that she would meet him today in the Couple’s room an hour before midnight.
She let out a frustrated sigh. She felt disturbed and helpless at the prospect. Kalion had looked very calm. But she knew him. He was disguising his own distress. No matter what situation they had both been forced into, she took comfort in the fact that she wouldn’t be the only one suffering this disgrace.
“Well, it’s not a big deal to men,” blurted Erna aloud, flicking the surface of the bathwater with her finger. With the exception of Hessenguard, men in most kingdoms on the continent could have multiple wives. Therefore, it was standard for royals in Haband to have anywhere from two to five wives. The same went for Kalion’s hometown of the Kingdom of Aether.
Kalion must be familiar with the way things were as well. To make a successor was a duty and a virtue. Men of royalty took many wives and planted many seeds to make sure that there wasn’t a shortage of heir when needed. Men didn’t have to carry the child inside them and raise them, so what did they care who they planted their seeds in? Shameless pests!
Erna recalled the plans she had set for this year. Just as Kalion was making all-out efforts to form his knights, Erna was also doing everything in her power to increase the number of wizards under her command. She had dedicated her every waking hour to learn more magic and to make her group stronger.
As was evident from today’s letter, the grand-ducal was something that the kingdoms could bring down if they wanted, so they needed more power to defend themselves than the position of the grand-ducal.
“I was also going to try to bring people together and teach them at the end of the year.”