Belegorn lounged back in his seat along the wall in the main council chamber. All the paperwork had been signed by the proper parties, notarized, and the older man gave a sigh of relief as he watched his only remaining son deal with the noblemen in his stead.
No more games aside from those he chose, no more weighing the balance of power that had scattered like leaves since the corsairs had attacked the city. His things at the estate were packed, and his wife was in an enraged tizzy, trying to undo what could not be undone. Life was good.
One of the lords shouted, and Belegorn did not need to look up to know that it was Lord Bentley. Peldirion would have his hands full with that one, but he worried little. He had had his doubts, but his son handled the bickering and power plays better than anticipated. Though Belegorn had often caught him lost in thought since returning home hale and mostly whole, a new energy drove the boy. He worked every waking hour, and his new steward worked when he slept.
Before returning from Minas Tirith and calling the meeting, Peldirion had already made deals and new alliances with the lords overseeing the rebuilding, and the great harbor, bringing them into the fold. One way or another he had ensured that all the other lords had no choice but to cooperate. One by one he played them, and most of them knew it. Thirty of the fourty-seven main houses were now in the young Captain’s camp, as well as nineteen of the lesser houses who supported the others. Belegorn chuckled lowly as the more agreeable lords suddenly found courage to stand up to the few who could care less if the city united. On top of that, half of the houses were indebted to the young man for either giving the sons they pretended not to want honorable deaths, or returned them to their families alive and (mostly) whole.
Peldirion was in the middle of listening to one of the lords empty threats when Gwaeldis stepped in a side entrance. She slammed the door shut, and a number if the nobles shot the stocky woman mixed looks, but the new Lord Calaer did not do so much as acknowledge her presence.
Gwaeldis stopped beside him, glaring, and sniffed with a superior lift of her chin. “Call me that again, and I will divorce you.”
“Oh, come now, dear. You know you never would.”
“I may try my luck. You cannot seriously be going through with this!” Her face turned red, though not so quite as red as when her son had destroyed years of her plotting the day he had returned home. By Emeleth, he loved that boy.
Belegorn smiled pleasantly up at her. “I already have. It is done.”
“You… You traitor! How could you do this to me?! I had plans –”
“Poorly made plans,” replied the old lord calmly as he looked back to the meeting still taking place.
“Your son will ruin everything!”
“Our son will remake this House that you were slowly tearing apart. I must say though, wife, that I am impressed how tactfully you stole my barge from me. Is Lord Obrech enjoying it?”
Too flustered, she sat with an attempt at elegance in the chair next to him. “Lothiel wishes to speak with your son when he is done here.”
Belegorn grunted. “You mean you and her have arranged to corner him?”
Gwaeldis huffed, feigning offense. “So how long do we have? Surely the ungrateful boy will leave us destitute.”
“You do not deserve my son,” replied Belegorn, chuckling. “He and I have it all arranged. The villa north of the city is ours, and on top of keeping it fully staffed we will be receiving a biannual allowance for expenditure.”
“An… an allowance?!” she shrieked. The lords looked to her again, and Belegorn could have sworn he’d seen a smirk flicker across his son’s face.
“It is called retirement, Gwaeldy. It will be a nice change of pace for us.”
She trembled like an angry hen fluffing up her feathers. How he loved pissing her off.
“Now, kiss me, wife, and run along home to get your things packed. We start moving tomorrow.”
Her eyes that he had at one time likened to that of a gentle doe fixed on him as if willing him to burst into flames. The former Lady of House Calaer, her reputation having slowly fallen into ruin, dared not refuse Belegorn before nearly every noble of the city. Gwaeldis pecked a quick, proud kiss against his lips, and pivoted to scuttle from the chamber.