The king returned home, leaving some of his men to purge Vindavia of resistance.
Dekra met him on the white pebbled path, leading through the hedges sculpted to resemble different animals of the courtyard. In tears, she hugged him tightly. He encircled his arms lightly and led her along the path, prematurely ending their embrace.
Home made one think of family. The only member predominate in his mind was his father. Together they entered the throneroom where Blue River Guardsmen stomped to attention, drawing their axes across their chests in salute.
Kija stood beside the open doorway, wearing the mail shirt and clothing of an infantry soldier.
“Welcome home, my king.”
The king rolled an eye aside, flickering over Kija’s attire.
“I have only just returned from the war, my king. Once you have settled in your chamber, I will have changed.”
He nodded, not truly interested as he made his way to the stairs. Two guardsmen followed their very pregnant queen, waiting to lend assistance if necessary, yet at the same time, keeping a respectful distance. A few times they had to stop for Dekra to catch her breath, before gaining the mezzanine level. Closed doors, marking bed chambers, lined the floor, facing the rail.
The king impulsively made to veer for the chamber of his upbringing. Dekra steered him on.
“That is your mother’s room. You are the king now,” she said, pushing open the next door.
He recognised his father’s chamber. During his brief childhood with Tonunda, he had entered his parent’s room on occasion to speak with his father in private. Apart from the bed, wardrobe and chest at the foot of the bed, it had been mercifully stripped of his father’s existence. The bed looked made, and what little inside the room, belonged to Dekra.
She opened the wardrobe, filled with clothing. Half of which, were quality men’s attire.
“I brought your clothes in myself,” said Dekra. “I have even bought fine clothing for you to attend affairs of state. You must be looking forward to shedding your mail and hauberk.”
He drifted toward the open balcony, facing the rear courtyard.
“I have left areas of the room vacant for you to…”
She spoke on, but her words no longer registered in his hearing. He rested his hands on the stone rail and peered beneath one of the many arches making up a shaded walkway at the rear of the palace. Under its vine covered lattice, he could see the stone statue of his father at play with two dogs. For a time, he stared at the likeness. As a youth, he listened in wonder as his mother told him the stories of when his father lived and hunted with the beasts.
Time elapsed in contemplation before he realised he no longer heard Dekra’s voice. He turned, the room was empty with the door closed.