Chapter Thirteen

Ailia put a hand to her face, silent tears flooding her cheeks. It had been almost eight days now, and Leon was more than angry with her. He was a conceited wretch, and had expected her to fall for him, despite all. She'd rejected him more times than she could count, and he had finally given in and slapped her, hard, across the face. "It will only get worse you know." He had said, then walked away.

"Nothing could be worse than the thought of being your wife," she said quietly, looking around the headquarters, then sitting back down on her pallet and wondering why she had to go through this, why she couldn't be overlooked as she always had been before.

*****

Telor was keeping a close watch on Desrella. She was a fairly good actress, sitting with her friends and speculating, acting a bit normal, at least to his limited knowledge. He was sitting in the shadows of the tower one night while she looked out the window, saying nothing, a scene he had gotten used to since that day in the gardens, when the Prince John entered the room and walked up to stand at the window with her. Telor sank even deeper into the shadows, mildly interested, but more worried about what could be revealed.

"My Lord." Desrella bowed, then turned back to the window.

"I know I vowed never ask this, but, Desrella, I know something is wrong. Something has been wrong since the day Ailia disappeared, and I would give anything to know what it was."

"You know me little if you don't know why. A sweet lady who meant as much to me as Ailia in unknown dangers out in a world she is far less than ready to encounter. I would think the cause of my distress obvious."

"I knew that was wrong. But I mean, it seems there is something deeper, some other level of your unhappiness."

"And you think you know me well enough to guess something like this?"

The Prince looked as though she had struck him, then he nodded curtly and bowed, taking his leave. Desrella turned two angry eyes in the direction of Telor, and he nodded slowly, a thin smile on his face. This secret would not be kept for very long. He would be making a visit to headquarters, and soon.

*****

Reilla tilted her head at the Lord Keith. "I thought Feros planned on marrying Kiella, or, at least, wanted to."

"He never said a word to me about Kiella. Besides, Kiella would never imagine marrying a man like Lord Feros, not when he has so little life left."

"Feros is dying?"

"Is it not obvious?"

"He looked healthy to me, My Lord. He has a small scar on his left cheek, but."

Lord Keith laughed hard. "No, no my dear. Not young Lord Feros. The real Lord Feros!"

Reilla raised her eyebrows. "Is he not a bit old?"

"Lord Feros would never think himself too old for marriage to a young, saucy Lady such as yourself. He is a bit old, but he's wealthy, and the position you could gain by marriage to a man such as him would be well worth your while. Think on it, Reilla. Think well on it."

Reilla nodded and stood up. Court was indeed another world.