Disclaimer: These are not my characters or story lines they are the property of Kristen Britain whose excellence I can never hope to match. Etc. , etc.

This is just a chapter I really wanted to add to the end of the High Kings Tomb.

WARNINS: CONTAINS SPOILERS for HKT, and a bit of sexual innuendo.


Update: 12/9/07

Big thanks go out to Spellman, my beta, who has taken on the monumental job of refereeing my battle with the English language.

(Gray: grumbles 'Ok, I promise to play by the rules if it does.')


Rider Sir Karigan G'ladheon was not hiding. She was enjoying passing a quiet winter's day with a good book. She just happened to be enjoying that book in the most secluded corner of the castle library.

The book in question was a log of some long ago Green Rider quartermaster. The log was informative, if one needed to know how much grain or food provisions to pack for a long messenger errand. However, it was not diverting enough to keep Karigan's attention on her job and off of her king. Thinking about The King and how he had looked today at arms practice was dangerous. She knew that, really. So she was trying very hard to keep her focus on her job and away from dangerous lines of thought; thoughts that had driven her from her room in rider wing to this chilly corner surrounded by stacks of old books.

Green Riders do not hide, Karigan admonished herself. They most especially do not hide from their king. But sitting there, in the small, sunny, though chilly alcove tucked away from the rest of the castle, she could admit that that was exactly what she was doing.

Snow lay in a thick blanket of winter outside the library windows. A heavy covering of white on the lawns and gardens was caped by a white/ gray sky; a landscape disturbingly similar yet very different from the one that hunted her dreams. In her dreams, she was following a great black stallion through a battlefield strewn with the bodies of her friends and fellows. And in the very center, dead but still bleeding, lay King Zachary propped upon the corpses of his fallen Weapons and Riders.

Karigan could still feel the shock and despair. How could it happen? How could it come to this? She had to believe it was just a nightmare, that, through sheer force of will and love, she could never permit it to become reality. There had always been a way to avert final disaster; if she just kept pushing and trying hard enough there was always a way.

It was with solemn determination that Karigan vowed that, no matter the cost, she would find a way to protect the land and king she loved. With this vow came the sound of far off great wing beats in her head and heart, steadying her and giving her hope for the battles ahead.


When the clip-clip sound of nails on wood floors suddenly broke into Karigan's consciousness, it caused her to start, look up, reach for her saber, and drop the logbook simultaneously. Upon recognizing her assumed attacker as a small white Highlander terrier, Karigan gave the little dog a ruthful grin and knelt down.

"You gave me a bit of a surprise." The terrier gave her hand an unapologetic bump and promptly rolled onto his back for a pet.

"You are shameless." said Karigan, rubbing the presented belly then relaxing back into her chair, log in hand.


A short time later the faint rustle of fabric had Karigan looking up from the monotony of her log and directly into the gaze of King Zachary.

"There you are. I was wondering where you were hiding."

"Hiding… what no…um sorry…highness." Karigan replied lamely both shocked and embarrassed at having been found out.

While attempting to quickly rise, Karigan experienced a moment of panic because, in her haste to rise, she had totally forgotten about the snoozing terrier draped across her feet.

"Dog-" Karigan sputtered unintelligently as she tripped, completely loosing her balance in the attempt to avoid crushing the aging terrier.

"I've got you," King Zachary said, catching Karigan and supporting her.

Flush with relief at having avoided both crushing the terrier and falling flat on her face, Karigan looked up into King Zachary's face. It was mere inches from her own, with his strong arms firmly encircling her.

"T- thanks." she offered, her mouth having suddenly grown dry.

"Karigan…" Zachary replied.

Her name, softly spoken so close that it felt like a caress, caused panic to flood Karigan. She jumped back as though burned.

"Thank you, Your Highness. I apologize if you were looking for me. What may you require of me, My Lord?" she offered, with a low bow and the strictest formality.

Saddened at the distance she continued to place between them, but determined to take advantage of this chance meeting, he replied; "Actually just now I was looking for Finder here. He wandered off while I was reading and I worried at what he might be getting into. Although," he continued with a ruthful grin, "it seems he has found more pleasant company."

"I beg your pardon, Highness. I should have realized he would have been with you, and that you would worry and come looking for him." Karigan apologized, embarrassed and wishing she had stayed in her room after all.

In the back of her thoughts, a tiny, hurt voice could not help but think about how he had not worried about her in the mending wing. Nor had he offered her any private words of thanks after the crisis with Lady Estora and the tombs.

"Do not apologize. I certainly can't blame him." Zachary said with a smile, warmth in his eyes. Then, with uncommon directness, he added, "Although, I have noticed you've been avoiding me as well, Rider."

Karigan, too shocked to speak and deeply wishing she was anywhere else, did not know how to respond. She only knew that he was far too close for her to think properly. With the chill in the air, she could practically feel the heat radiating off of him.

"I have wanted us to speak, just you and I. However, circumstances always seem to be getting in the way."

Like your betrothal, running the country, you being the king, and my being a common messenger, Karigan listed silently. But aloud she said only, "Sire if you have an official Royal Message for me to carry, it would be my honor to do so. Or, if you would prefer, I am sure Captain Mapstone would pass them along for you."

With a sigh, King Zachary gave a small shake of his head. "No, no royal message from king to messenger. Not even a royal order to speak with you. Just one man's wish to speak with the woman he cares for, to explain things…"

"You are the king. There is nothing for you to explain. If you have no need of me, Your Highness, I should be going," Karigan replied, trying to keep the hurt and need out of her eyes, knowing her duty to Sacoridia was to walk away.

Issuing a hasty bow, Karigan turned to leave, wishing for…. time, a chance, and so many things. But mostly, not to have to look Zachary in the eye as she turned her back on what she wanted so badly.


"Karigan, don't…."

"Don't go, please." Zachary whispered, needing so much to be allowed this time with this woman. He could feel her pulling into herself and away from him. He had felt it for some time. Now, however, since her return from the tombs, garbed in black with the weight of the world in her eyes, he needed to be with her, to protect her.

Karigan stopped mid-stride, unable to keep turning away from him.

"Please, just sit and talk with me for a bit. I have missed our talks," Zachary pleaded, gesturing to the chairs Karigan had just vacated, not daring to touch even her hand despite how his fingers ached to. This was not a time for bold action. It would only make her run.

Knowing she could well regret this later and damming her temporary weakness, Karigan resumed her chair.

"Just give me one moment," Zachary said as he quickly retreated back down the stacks of books where he had come from, only to return a minute later baring a tea tray balanced upon a book.

"Now we won't be disturbed," he grinned at her like a little boy as he set the tray down on an end table and took the chair next to hers.

"Tea?" he asked.

"Two cups…. Who were you expecting?" observed Karigan, trying to regain some solid footing.

"Captain Mapstone, but I have sent her a note to postpone our meeting."

At the mention of the Captain, a renewed surge of guilt hit Karigan.

"Oh, you should keep your meeting. I will go." She said with equal parts relief and regret.

"No, my meeting will keep. Please sit, stay," requested The King, starting to pour the tea.

"I have missed you," he stated simply, passing Karigan the cup and saucer.

Then suddenly, like a dam breaking, all the repressed hurt and frustration came flooding out, and Karigan blurted, "You did not come to see me, not even a note."

"What? You said you did not want to see me. You did not reply to any of my notes. And when I tried to find you after the awards ceremony, you had disappeared into thin air," Zachary replied, shock and heat apparent in his expression.

"I did not disappear. I went for a ride," Karigan explained defensively. "And I received no notes."

"I asked after you. Sent you daily notes, but all I heard was that you did not wish to speak to me. I assumed you were still upset with me."

"I heard nothing from you…" Karigan said a note of confusion and anger in her voice.

"I sent them with Lauren…." Then a knowing light came into The King's eyes. He realized that only one thing could prevent his Rider Captain from delivering his messages. She must know.

"Ah, I see. She knows me far to well," Zachary said with an annoyed shake of his head.

Wheezing from the tea she inhaled in shocked realization, Karigan gasped. "The Captain knows? She is going to kill me."

"I think it is far more likely that she will wish to kill me. That is, of course, if I don't strangle her first," said Zachary, wondering if anyone else supposed his mystery mistress was none other than the heroic Karigan G'ladheon. His Weapons perhaps, he mused, but they would never say anything for they respected Karigan as one of their own at heart.

Shocked by this realization, both Karigan and Zachary stewed in silent contemplation for a moment. Though Karigan's first reaction may have been shock, it was quickly fading into blazing anger. How could The Captain withhold her letters? The Captain was a Green Rider, and thus sworn to deliver The King's messages regardless of circumstance or preference. Karigan could not wait to confront The Captain and vent her anger at this deception. In fact, the image of storming into Laren's office and demanding an explanation sounded just about perfect to Karigan.

Suddenly, out of the blue, King Zachary started to chuckle then actually laugh out loud. Karigan, startled out of her own plotting, looked on in horror, wondering what he could possibly find so humorous.

"I know you must think I am mad to laugh at this. But you must realize, I thought myself so careful that surely none would see. Now I find out how transparent I am when it comes to my heart."

"But Lady Estora?" interjected Karigan, off balance from The King's rapid mood change and fearing that ruin was upon them both if Zachary did not soon return to his senses.

"Estora and I have both had our transgressions." At Karigan's look of shock Zachary continued. "She with Rider Coblebay, and I in loving you. Lady Estora understands better than most what it is to love in secret that which cannot be kept."

"You knew about them, F'ryan and Lady Estora?" she asked, incredulous and reeling at his candid words of love.

"No, but she came to me and told me what had transpired between them, how much she loved him, and I understand. How could I not? Her honesty and courage in coming to me is far more valuable to me than her innocence."

Stunned and incredibly moved, Karigan knew why she found it so difficult to hold back from him.


"All I am asking is: will you, Karigan, whom I respect and care for, please let me back into your life? Let me care for you?"

"I don't know how to let you care for me and not destroy the country I love. And I will not be your mistress." Karigan's voice shook with emotion at her words. She felt as though her heart was being ripped slowly apart. Surely, no one could keep denying something they wanted so badly without going mad.

Zachary moved swiftly in front of her, knees and thighs pinning her legs into the chair. With his left hand, he grasped her right, his large strong hand covering her own rough sword hand. With his right hand, he reached out, only hesitating for a moment as she pulled back with eyes wide in shock. Then softly he brushed warm fingertips along her cheek and jaw.

"I feel like I am losing you to something so vast and reaching it is as though I must fight the very gods themselves to keep you." His eyes were searching hers now, daring her to stay and take all that he was offering. "I would fight them Karigan, every last one, for you. If you'll but allow me."

He was too close, too perfect, tooeverything. She took a steadying breath, trying to find her resolve. "You can't. I cannot let you. It is my place, my calling, to protect both you and the land I love. I am a Rider. I need to go," she proclaimed, determination and resolve in her voice.

"I am The King, Karigan, how could I lead my people if I would not fight for them, give my life for them?" Zachary bristled.

"Then surely you must marry for them, to secure unity throughout the providences. I will not see the battle against Mornhavon and his followers lost by my hand. I am not a traitor," declared Karigan emphatically.

"No, you are not a traitor," Zachary replied, holding Karigan's chin firmly and catching her gaze with his own. "You are a hero, Karigan, one of the greatest heroes in the history of Sacoridia, and surely its most stubborn."

"That is ridiculous, I am just a simple messenger doing my duty, nothing more. You are My King. I can never be anything more to you than just a Rider," She implored, trying to look anywhere but Zachary's earnest almond eyes.

"Then tell me you don't love me as I love you. Tell me you don't want this. Tell me that the darkness I see in your eyes since the tombs is not the weight of some great burden you have taken upon yourself for us all. I would protect you, share your burden, and fight with you, if you will only tell me how."

"I …"

"You know I-"

"But, everything, the nobles," Karigan interjected through a throat tight with unshed tears. "I will not be your mistress."

"I know you will not be with me in that way. But please, don't pull away from me. I can't bear to see you face this burden you carry alone. For whatever time we have, whatever peace we can find between Mornhavon, the second empire, and whatever this destiny that haunts you holds, let us at least have these moments together."

A second that felt like forever passed, full of unspoken worries and uncertainties, but in the end all she said was "Alright" softly and with a sigh, knowing that for a Green Rider time was always running out.

It was then that a strange sense of peace and acceptance of something far larger than just she, or even she and King Zachary, settled over her. For once, Karigan stopped fighting and realized that fate and the gods had been dragging her towards this moment since she first pined on the winged-horse brooch. She could only hope that they knew what they were up to.

"Really?" Zachary asked, his hopes soaring as he brought his other hand up to her cheek.

At Karigan's small smile of affirmation, he began to slowly lean forward.

"Sire?" she asked hesitantly.

At Karigan's tentative question, The King replied softly.


"King Zachary?" Karigan offered as her stomach did flip-flops and her heart pounded in her ears.

"Just Zachary, Kari," he said with a smile curving his lips.

"Zachary," she repeated, barely a whisper. And with his name on her lips and joy in their hearts, he brought his lips to hers.


End CH 1


Ok, that is it for now I have some ideas on how I would like to continue it, including bring back Alton to see how he likes Kari and Zach spending so much time together. (Mmmm jealousy excellent…) Well I can't wait to see what you all think of it.