Lucretia invited Lukan over for that chat.
“I’ve heard rumours about Winter.”
“His attitude to the throne.”
Lukan was silent, pursed his lips, and looked down.
“So it’s true.”
“I’ve talked to him about it.”
“And he won’t be stupid, I promise.”
“What does he say?”
“He believes that I should have been king, being the oldest.. and..”
“And being male… he’s picked this up from some of the older locals hasn’t he?”
Lukan shrugged. “I honestly don’t know. I think he’s just hungry for power.”
“Which is dangerous.”
“And when you die?”
Lukan looked shocked, then realised what Lucretia meant. He sighed.
“I’m hoping he will be sensible.”
Meanwhile, back at Lukan’s house, Elle gave birth to her second child.
It was another girl, named Hivera.
Winter, who had so wanted a boy, took the child in his arms reluctantly.
He felt ill, and gave the child back.
He felt cheated. His brother, the useless monk, had fathered a son, but he had to have two daughters. He was not happy.
Lucretia had another conversation, this time with her husband, Garcia.
“You are aware of the rule of only two children per family?”
“Yes, of course, unless you get twins” he smiled. He stopped smiling when he saw that Lucretia was looking grim.
“I don’t think it’s written down anywhere. At least, I can’t find it among my parents’ things.”
“Must it be?”
“Yes, of course! We need to guard against the overpopulation that my mother spoke of in her country.”
Garcia nodded. “And so?”
“It will get written.”
“And what is the penalty for having more than two children, providing they’re not twins?”
Lucretia paused. She had no idea. There had to be some punishment, some deterrent.
“Prison?” asked Garcia.
Lucretia nodded while she thought.
“And the child?”
“I think it would be best if the mother was taken away while pregnant, and the child taken away immediately it is born. Then she won’t know it.”
Garcia was surprised at the severity of the punishment. Taking the child away? “And what becomes of the child?”
“It gets adopted. A new identity, so that the parents won’t know it.”
“Why are you…?”
“Winter just had another girl. He wants a boy, and I wouldn’t put it past him to try again.”
“You would do that to your own nephew?”
Lucretia raised her voice “He wants to be king!”
“Oh! Really? I had no idea.”
Lucretia continued, almost to herself “He won’t do anything while Lukan is alive, but he is old now, 70.”
“You are sure of this? That Winter wants to be king?”
“Unfortunately, yes. I’ve talked to Lukan who knows this.”
Garcia nodded seeing the potential threat to Valenzuela’s inheritance. “I will have it drawn up.”
Lucretia seemed to be ageing quickly. Valenzuela voiced her concerns to her father, who agreed, and suggested she might want to have a baby sooner rather than later so Lucretia could see her grandchild. Valenzuela agreed and soon found herself pregnant.
She approached her mother, giving her the news. Lucretia was delighted.
“Mother, what if I have sons?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, females inherit. They are the queens. Males…”
“If you only have sons, then the male will inherit. Simple. There can be kings, but queens are preferred.” She gazed at Valenzuela who looked thoughtful. “Do you think you will have a boy?”
“No. I think a girl, but I just wanted to check.”
“In case I’m not around?”
“I am not well, Valenzuela. Don’t worry. I shall have all these things written. Everything that my mother told me, which I should have written down then. I wrongly assumed that it had already been.” She looked across at her daughter and saw her close to tears.
“Do not worry, my girl. Do not worry.”
Garcia, meanwhile, put Nikko in the picture. Nikko’s friend, Til, and his friend, Bard, were warriors. They might be needed one day, but Garcia firmly hoped not.