Princess Shannon gave Artemis, Royal Physician a long suffering look, since her puppy eyes did not work on the other woman. The former must have used those huge brown eyes and pout to get whatever she wanted from her husband. Unfortunately, she was a physician and knew the shenanigans of her patients.

"You have to stay in bed," Artemis informed Princess Shannon. The aforementioned princess gave her a mutinous look. It would have worked on other people but she had known this woman for some time. This was not her off-with-her-head mode so she was immune to this level of her wrath.

"Please—I am fine. I want to go outside!" Shannon all but growled. Artemis tried not to be charmed by the latter's aggression—she did resemble a puppy after some hard staring—all bark, no bite. Prince Tristan's temper must have been rubbing off to her but was no match to the latter's more explosive anger.

"No!" Your husband will have my head—even if you don't. Besides, after being adopted by the Dinjun Tribe, the tribe would not accept any excuses from her if something happened to the next queen and her offspring. She smoothed her white robe with edges embroidered with gold thread hemlock, wolfsbane and chrysanthemum on black silk. They were the markers of a physician—the right amount of poison to heal the sick and loyalty to the land.

"Artemis!" Princess Shannon grabbed her hands and implored her with her big brown eyes. Artemis narrowed her eyes, arms on her waist, she said, "I am currently your physician. I am here to take care of you so. . ."

Thankfully, Prince Tristan entered the room. Taking stock of the situation, he had Artemis quickly dismissed before Shannon could wriggle out of her confinement. Princess Shannon was pregnant and traipsing off to the streets would not be a good idea. The plethora of herbs and drugs that Artemis knew would not be enough for Prince Tristan's peace of mind.

After closing the door, Artemis sighed, a few of her strands that escaped from her braid danced with her breathe. Her friend is hard-headed and could be empty-headed most of the times. She was not practical—except on government policies. She did not know how she managed to have gained Princess Shannon as a friend. They were so different—Princess Shannon was too frank and bubbly and she was too silent and dry.

When she walked towards her quarters, she saw Prince Tristan's friend, King Gideon blocking her path. Was he waiting for her? Her smile faded and her face smoothed into a mask and not-so-discreetly turned to another corridor. Heart in her throat, her eyes pinned on the floor. The said royal had been shadowing her for the past few days. She found it unnerving, to be under surveillance of those eyes that glinted with harsh intelligence. Her white robes swirled at her wake, taking her thoughts with her. Since nursing the royal back to health, she had been under his scrutiny. During banquets, she had found herself a few chairs away from him and was offered dances (which she happily refused). She saw the curious glances but she dismissed them as irrelevant. She did not know of his sudden fascination with her but it was beneath her to be the plaything of a bored royal. She was far too busy for that.


The single word brook no argument. She stopped on her tracks, head bowed. What did he want? Could he not read signs? She had done her job—that was enough.

"Your Grace," she said, softly, when he reached her.

"I want you to accompany me." He said without preamble.

What? She raised her head to see blue eyes twinkling back at her. In another time, perhaps, she might have been a flattered airhead but not in with her current circumstances. The difference between them was just too much. She would not dream of overstepping her boundaries. It was taking all of her just to stand proud and establish her practice against racial and gender prejudice. She would not be able to handle another round of social snobbery.

"Where to? Don't you have other companions?" The words flew unbidden from her mouth before she could take them back. She saw the tell-tale hardening of his jaw and the quick smoothening of his features. The highborn ladies were all agog with this king. He was moneyed and considered handsome with his gold hair, blue eyes and clean aristocratic features. He cut quite a swathe through the ballroom and his presence alone was something to be reckoned. He could converse brilliantly, dance and had excellent swordsmanship skills and figure. He was the daydream of every girl within three-point fourteen mile radius—just really not hers. Those other ladies would be ecstatic to be invited by this person. Why does it have to be her? She had to get her paws on the newest pharmaco-compendium and had to visit some of her patients. Why? Why does it have to be her? She came from a tribe and possessed not the exalted cream skin but olive skin baked by the sun and dark hair that spoke of her origins. She had no fortune nor social standing to speak of, except of having the title of Royal Physician awarded to her. Even that did not carry much power and she had the impression that Gideon needed some.

The extended silence began to creep up on her. Feeling unnecessarily cold, she raised her gaze to see his eyes glint aloofly. His smooth features had her panicking. Was that anger? Was that disgust? She did not know whether she had offended him or not. She did not want to be the first person to break the ties with a bigger country. She preferred to give the honours to another person.

She dropped her gaze again and addressed the floor.

"I-I have to do something, Your Grace. Prince Tristan or Lady Chloe could accompany you." She said helpfully. Prince Tristan could do it since they were friends after all, however, since he was currently preoccupied with his wife, Lady Chloe was the right choice. She had all the things he could possibly need in a companion—rich, titled and beautiful. She could converse, titter and swoon at will. She would not be putting her foot in her mouth nor would she use herbs as her most scintillating conversation. Artemis kept her gaze pinned on the floor. The swirling carpet with honeysuckle and swirling gold were made by the Dinjun tribe. It eased her rising panic, seeing the familiar design.

"Do you think of me as a spendthrift?" He asked in such a cold menacing voice.


"No, Your Grace," she said to the carpet.

"Then accompany me."

Without waiting for her reply, he walked ahead. After a few steps, when he realized that she was not following, he gave her a cold glare. Artemis inwardly groaned, careful not to let him see her beleaguered expression and pushed her reluctant feet towards him. Why? Why of all days? She should have left him to rot when she saw him in the first place!