Aden ran a hand over his beard, which had become quite long over the course of the last month of travel. He had sent his bannermen ahead, and those they picked up along the way. He needed time to think. A letter had arrived recently, from his King brother, that their niece had been murdered, and that the poison had taken her life. It was too sad, and too much to handle. Their keep was less than a hundred feet away, large greens and brush surrounded the eastern castle. The Ivy Keep had been a stronghold of the coast. Aden had been happy to live there, but felt extremely sad to have returned. They should have turned back, and he should have remained in the West to mourn his niece. No doubt that once they secure their provisions and had their guard rested that they would return for the wake. Aden needed time to gather his thoughts and sleep in his own bed before he could set out again. Ithynn needed to conduct her own things while they were in the East as well. No doubt she would be fine with returning, but she needed rest as well. Aden needed her to remain healthy and happy, and running her across the kingdom every other fortnight wasn’t good for anyone.
He exited the carriage and held his hand out for Ithynn to take, looking at the keep, his steward standing outside the massive iron wrought gate that brought them further into the castle. He looked pleasant, but sad. The news had already reached the East. He wouldn’t get to inform his subjects that he would be leaving again. No matter. Aden looked onto Ithynn and smiled sadly at her, pulling her gently closer, kissing her forehead. ”We will have to set out in a few moons, my love.” He hadn’t said much on the final leg of the journey, and kept his thoughts to himself. He knew Ithynn would respect him for keeping them, since he would no doubt let his frustrations out behind closed doors. Numerous times she had saved him from making grave errors politically, since he tended to make brash, heartfelt decisions. Ithynn was the mind behind the kingdom, and he had no qualms in informing her of this on a daily basis. He held his arm out to her, always allowing her to remain at his side while they walked, moving deeper into the castle grounds. It was quiet, and the day’s market place had not yet begun. ”I cannot believe this has happened. I do not want to leave here.” He shook his head, sadness silently overwhelming him again. Leaving his people again was something he did not want to do, but it had to be done. For the good of the kingdom.
His mind wandered to other things. Ithynn and he had talked about an heir, a son that must be born. They were to conceive during this time home. Most of the kingdom’s affairs had been in order, and they were to retire to a glorious ocean side estate and take time to recover from the tournament. Sadly this would not be happening. Aden felt like his time was running out. It would be much more difficult, he thought. ”This is terrible.” He shook his head as he moved with her, smiling down at her. ”I am glad I have you through all of this. I don’t know what I would do without you.” It was true. She was more important than she knew, especially through these difficult times. Her smile brought him happiness, which he needed right now.