Jon: The Next Move

The seclusion of the queen’s hideout awarded me time to ponder my thoughts and emotions, for I didn’t have to worry as much about immediate danger. Many of my thoughts were centered around Katrina, of course, but seeing the way Alex clung to her brother reminded me of the sister I had never met.

Her first letter arrived around the time that I noticed my feelings for Katrina were perhaps more than simple friendship. My relationship with the farm girl had thus filled an emotional hole in my heart that I had not known I possessed.

Would I ever meet my sister? My current location brought me closer to her than I had ever been. She had often spoke of Deramas, the city that encircled the royal palace. Would I see anymore of this place other than its underground tunnels?

My silent contemplation was interrupted by several in our group: Commander Ford, Fredrick, and the two men from Handrin that had assisted the girls in court. I greeted Sebastian, addressing him by his official military rank.

“So,” Fredrick said, “I’ll ask the question that no one else has. When are we getting out of here?”

I smiled, realizing his ties to this mission did not extend as far as mine. Sebastian seemed to agree with me, for he replied, “Though I would love to get my sister as far away from here as possible, we can’t just leave Eliza where she is. Sir Frances would never forgive me.”

I glanced at the two Handrin men and tried to judge their expressions. How much did they know? How much of that had they figured out on their own? How much was known about Eliza outside our little group?

“As far as her current situation,” one of the Handrin men said, his words chosen carefully, “she is quite safe.”

“How can you be sure?” I asked, hoping he would reveal some answers I did not want to directly ask about.

“Because she is not in the dungeons,” the other Handrin man replied. “If they thought her a common spy, she would have shared the same fate as the rest of you.”

“Mr. Newberry is right.” The first Handrin man nodded. “My guess is they know her true identity, so they are giving her consideration for being an Iberan noble.”

“How far will that consideration get her?” Sebastian asked.

Mr. Newberry and the other Handrin man looked at one another before Mr. Newberry answered. “I think Mr. Hurst would agree that it will keep her alive.”

Mr. Hurst looked Sebastian in the eye. “It would be foolish on the king’s part to execute a noble from Ibera. She is far more valuable to him alive.”

Mr. Newberry raised an index finger. “What I am not so sure about,” he said, “deals with the queen.” He paused. “She may have compromised her unique position by intervening on your behalf. It’s highly unlikely you or the other girls would have been permanently harmed by either Mr. Mays or his daughter Rebecca. I’m not sure what she was thinking.”

“Well, the queen has made it clear she doesn’t desire anyone to be harmed.” Mr. Hurst placed a hand on Mr. Newberry’s shoulder. “But, you are right, James. There is something about this situation she has not shared with either one of us.”

I took a deep breath. “Perhaps in time.”

“I think it’s safe to say that I trust the queen more than most of the king’s men,” Fredrick said, “but if her situation has changed, how are we suppose to help Eliza?”

“I wouldn’t recommend storming the palace,” Mr. Hurst replied, looking at Sebastian again. “This isn’t the garrison.” I wanted to ask about what happened at the garrison, but I realized it wasn’t the right time.

“So, we wait,” I said, glancing at Alex who had remained quiet the entire time. “The next move lies with the queen.”

The End

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