Queen Olwen, marrying so late in life, nearly despaired of providing a successor to the crown. Her eldest nephew, Tristan, had forsworn the crown since it had been his father, Maxim's downfall. Nor was Olwen's dissolute brother, Hugh, a good heir. And although Hugh's bastard son, Iorwyrdd had produced a male child, Arvel, 'twas with his own half-sister, Wynne.
Fortunately, Olwen did at last give birth to her only child, Beorn, to whom she bequeathed the crown as soon as he came of age. And in good time, Beorn married and was relieved to produce not one, but two sons: Rhys Younger, named after Siawn Shieldbearer's heir, and Aidhen.
As the boys came of age, however, it became apparent that although he was the elder, Rhys has fallen under the sway of the necromancers, including Ruthvyn of the Silver Hands. Convinced that Rhys was plotting against his life, Beorn named Aidhen his heir.
Beorn's premonitions proved correct when he died prematurely, leaving room for Rhys to seize the throne with Ruthvyn's help. Aidhen was exiled, and escaping the bloodbath with seven of his closest companions, they sailed across the Sea of Silence to his grandmother, Olwen's cloister that hung off the edge of the world. Delivering Aidhen to his grandmother's care, the seven lords were warned not to return again, but they ignored Olwen's command and set sail. Immediately they were beseiged by a storm conjured by Ruthvyn, and they sank to the bottom of the sea where, by Olwen's prayers, they were preserved in sleep.
When Rhys followed in a ship after Aidhen in order to kill him, the Seven Sleepers woke once to swallow the usurper's ship and drown him. The danger gone, Olwen sent her grandson back to rule as king, telling him to begin his rule immediately and to marry the first woman who greeted him - whomever she may be.
However, once again, Olwen's words were disregarded and Aidhen slipped into a deep depression and instead wandered aimlessly through the Twelve Kingdoms, eventually coming to the island of Liadan, the Grey Lady's Isle. There he fell in love with the Lady of the Mists who stole his heart, literally. Now, unable to feel anything, he returned back to Castell Gwyr, there to rule the Twelve Kingdoms efficiently. He was married to a distant cousin, Isobel, named after his own murdered ancestor, but he could not love her. And as a result, a decade or more passed in a fruitless marriage.
At last, the Queen enjoined the most powerful lords to entreat Aidhen to quest for his heart again. Now middle-aged, Aidhen returned to Liadan where he was put through many challenges before his heart was returned to him at last. Returning to his bride, they were able to bear to term one son, Gavron, who became one of the greatest kings in the history of the Twelve Kingdoms.
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(c) Emily C. A. Snyder