There was a brief moment of stunned silence following Jon's short announcement, ending all to quickly in disgruntled muttering.
"Well, I'm glad that little experiment has concluded," Lord Wyldon said stiffly to his king.
"I'm sorry, what experiment?" Jon asked evenly. He knew what was coming, had prepared for it, but it didn't make him any less angry.
Wyldon raised an eyebrow. "You've just told us that Lady Alanna is expecting her first child. Obviously she cannot continue as King's Champion in her condition. I'm assuming she will be stepping down, and you are gathering candidates to take her place."
"You assume wrongly my lord," Jon said patiently. "Sir Alanna will be taking a brief leave of absence, of course, but she will not be leaving her post. Sir Douglas has graciously agreed to fill in as acting King's Champion until such time as Sir Alanna is ready to return."
The grumbling started up anew, and Jon exchanged a dark look with Gary. He knew they were both thinking the same thing, that it was fortunate Alanna's morning sickness made it easy to talk her out of attending this meeting. There was no way she would have been able to sit passively while all these nobles cast judgement on her growing family.
"So she can just vacate her post as she pleases? Leave and come back as it suits her?" Wyldon asked incredulously.
"Of course not. However, anyone can take time off as needed until they are physically fit for the job. You, for example Lord Wyldon, took two months away from being the training master earlier this year, to fully heal from a leg injury," Gary replied, his tone peevish.
"An injury I received in the line of duty!" Wyldon snapped.
"And what greater duty is there for a noblewoman than to bear her husband heirs to their estates, and continue a noble line for the crown?" Jon cut in smoothly.
Gary hastily hid his snort of laughter under a cough. He and Jon studiously avoided eye contact, both picturing what Alanna's reaction would be if she heard her good news described thus.
As Jon expected, nothing he said could appease his more conservative counselors. It was an exhausting hour of objections, thinly veiled accusations, and general disgruntlement before Jon finally had had enough.
"This is how we are proceeding forward, and that's final!" he called out over his counsel's din. "Let's take a fifteen minute break; when we return we need to discuss the flooding in the south." Watching the nobles file out of the meeting room, Jon sighed deeply and put his head in his hands. He needed the break more than any of them did, of that he was certain.
"I know what you think of me." A stern voice from above penetrated Jon's solitude. He looked up to find Wyldon standing to his left, the older man's arms crossed before his chest.
"Excuse me, my lord?" Jon sighed and attempted to draw himself up into a more regal pose.
"I know what you think of me, you and the other progressives. You think I'm unyielding, and incapable of change. It never occurs to you that perhaps some things are the way they are for a reason."
Suddenly it occurred to Jon that Wyldon's severe look may have been more about feeling defensive than judgmental. The idea of Wyldon fearing his scorn was so shocking to Jon that he almost forgot to be intimidated by the training master.
"What do you mean?" Jon asked.
"You think my objections to Lady Alanna are only because I have a disregard for her as a person. You never consider the possibility that I object because I am concerned."
Jon squinted up at Wyldon bewilderedly. "Concerned? About what?"
"You think this will all be smooth and easy," Wyldon shook his head. "What if Lady Alanna suffers complications during birth? What if she finds herself incapable of getting back to the level of fitness that she is at now? What if the child has abnormalities that require extra care and attention from her? What if she gets the weepies after birth, like many women do, and can't recover? What if she miscarries, or the child is stillborn? What if when the time comes for her to leave the child and return to your side she finds it much more difficult than she had anticipated? What if she decides she desires many more children? What then?"
Jon opened his mouth in surprise, but found himself unable to render an answer.
Wyldon continued on. "You've planned this expecting only the best, but you've failed completely to prepare for the worst. If Lady Alanna finds herself incapable or unwilling to return to her position following the birth of her child it will have far-reaching impacts, not only for herself and the stability of your reign, but for the perception of woman warriors as a whole." Wyldon uncrossed his arms, and shifted his weight uncomfortably. "Call me old-fashioned if you wish, but I am here to advise you. There is a reason the gods designed women to give birth, and the men to be on the battlefield. Mess with that order if you wish, but at the very least keep your eyes open for trouble when you do."
With that Wyldon shrugged and walked out, leaving Jon with more to consider, and an even bigger headache, than he had before. Oh, how great it is to be king.
I kind of don't know why I wrote this, I don't like Wyldon and I don't care about humanizing him more. I just occurred to me that this is probably something that would have happened, so I felt the need to write it. Not sure it's really in Wyldon's voice, I don't re-read him enough to get that right. But I bet he would have objected to Alanna having kids while she was King's Champion, and I bet this would have been his reasoning why.