Moira had managed to convince the guards to allow me embroidery, along with parchment and ink. It seemed the guards had been allowed permission to grant me some requests, though we had both agreed not to push how far these requests would go. The few things we had been granted would be enough to pass the time, for now, though being kept locked up was beginning to grate at my nerves. I longed to spend some time outside my room, to feel the sun on my face, to stretch my legs in any way. And yet while it seemed I would be allowed to send Moira on small errands, with the guards using her to fetch the required items, it was quite clear that leaving the room was a courtesy not extended to me.
My meals were delivered to my room by a nameless servant who refused to allow me to engage them in conversation. So it was with great surprise that the door opened one day to reveal the King, with barely a day having passed since our last meeting. It seemed he was here to dine with me again, as the servant pushed a cart in behind him, and the man I assumed was his bodyguard once again slipped into the shadows.
"Do you make a point on dining regularly with all your guests?" I asked with raised eyebrows, as I took in the scene.
The King glanced over at me, where I stood, arms crossed, beside the bed, before taking his seat. "Not normally, no. But then most of the time my prisoners are of such a low stature that it would really sully my reputation to dine with them. You however are noble. Besides, as I am sure you are aware you have a personal connection the Queen herself."
His words intrigued me, and the smell of the food also drew me to the table. It had been some time since breakfast. I could see Moira moving to take her spot behind me, and wondered if she would feel the need to interject again today. As I picked up my fork I glanced at the King. "If you mean that we are both Iberans, then it is a connection she shares with any of the Iberan nobility. There's nothing special about that," I replied, returning my attention back to my plate.
I could feel the King's eyes upon me, as if he were examining me. He seemed to stare at me for a long moment, before quietly chuckling. "I do believe you honestly do not know about your relation to the Queen," he stated. "It surprises me that your father never mentioned it, given how close he and her were growing up. He didn't approve of the fact that she would be moving so far away, didn't approve of the wedding itself truth to be told. But he was a good man, and never voiced that disapproval around me."
The more the King spoke, the more confused I felt. My father had never mentioned Handrin to me growing up, in fact the only time I had learnt of the country was during my history and politics lessons. He certainly had never mentioned that he had grown up with the Queen. My mind worked furiously, trying to come up with how any of this possible, but it felt as if I was still missing a piece of the puzzle.
It was Moira who spoke up, once again interjecting into the conversation. "Please your highness, you are just causing Eliza confusion. Her father has never mentioned her royal highness to her, or the relationship between himself and Marcia. He believed that the news would be of little import to Eliza."
The King glanced at Moira, taking in her words. "I find it interesting that he never mentioned it. But then, I suppose he never expected his daughter to ever meet the Queen, and so the news would have been of little use to her. And you never mentioned your former mistress to the girl either?" he asked intently.
Moira's eyes once again locked with the King's. "To what purpose your Highness?"I was reminded of the last time we had met with the King, and the way Moira had acted then. For whatever the reason, it seemed Moira was leaving propriety behind once more, and talking to the King not as a lowly servant, but as if she had a right to.
The King inclined his head, appearing to concede to Moira's statement. "Yes, I suppose there is that. But it seems that the news which may have had no affect while Eliza remained in Ibera greatly affects her on this side of the border, don't you agree?"
Moira stated at the King for some time, before giving the slightest of nods. "In light of her present state then I believe you are right."
I was growing irritated with this conversation which was about my lack of knowledge, a lack of knowledge that seemed to be growing worse by the minute. As a child I had never liked it when people had talked about me over my head, as my tutors and governesses had often tried to do, and while one of the parties involved this time may have been the King, I was still unwilling to tolerate such behavior now. It was time to put a stop to it.
"With all due respect your Highness I am right in the room, and able to make my own decisions about what I should or should not know. And I demand to know just what it is you are so cryptically referring to."
"Demand do you?" the King asked, a strange grin crossing his face. "Yes, I can see a lot of Sir Frances in you, and of my wife too. She is also headstrong in a way that may not always be in her best interests much like you are." He paused for a minute as if considering something. Behind me I could sense Moira steeling herself, as if preparing for an outburst from me. The very fact that she seemed to think this news was worthy of an outburst only made me more determined to know it. "Very well, young Miss Eliza," the King continued. "Since knowledge is power and you are so determined to know I'll tell you what has previously been kept from you. Your father, Sir Robert Frances, did indeed grow up with my wife, who then was known as Marsha Frances. For you see, my Marcia is indeed your father's younger sister."
The puzzle, which I had been trying so hard to work out, suddenly clicked in my head. "You mean?" I began.
"Yes," the King answered. "The Queen, and my wife, Marcia Handrin, is your aunt."