I had plenty of time to ponder my situation since I had not been part of the final conversations in the dungeons. I had tolerated Rebecca in the past because she was no real threat to me. That was no longer the case, so I would have to be extra weary of her. There was no way I was going to marry her. I would flee to Ibera or even further out of Handrin’s reach if it was needed.
I had to follow the queen’s lead out of the dungeons. Though the many corridors of the palace were familiar to me by this point, getting there from the dungeons was not a skill I possessed. I walked along side the queen while Jon and Katrina stayed a few steps behind.
“There is something you can do to ease your situation,” the queen whispered. I looked at her with raised eyebrows. “It would not be difficult to sneak notes into Eliza’s chambers. Her maid has been given fairly free access.”
“Would I be allowed to write whatever I desire?”
“Within reason.” The queen winked. “The code you learned is the same used by the Iberans, so Eliza will be able to follow whatever you write.”
“Thank you, ma’am. Would you mind if I see to that as soon as possible?”
“No, of course,” the queen replied. She frowned and looked at her hands as she turned onto another stretch of corridor, the light from an increasing number of candles casting eerie shadows on the walls.
“Don’t be absent for long, though,” she continued. “I may need your assistance fairly soon.”
I sat in my quarters staring at the blank sheet of paper in front of me. There were so many things to say to Eliza. Actually putting the words, especially the first few words, on the paper was proving to be more difficult.
I closed my eyes and rubbed them with the tips of my fingers. Though it was not difficult to remember Eliza’s face, the events of the last few days made the image of her in my mind a sad one. I tried to remember what it was like getting to know her in the beginning, before I knew who she truly was. I smiled at the vague memory.
I opened my eyes, taking a deep breath. I grabbed the quill and began writing, the words flowing much easier than I had anticipated. Preparing myself mentally was all that was needed. I was surprised how little time it took to reach the end of the page. I stopped and wondered how long of a note I could get away with.
After giving the ink a minute or so to dry, I turned the sheet of paper over and continued writing. After nearly filling up another page, I wrote a final, parting word, promising to write again soon and asking her to write as well if she desired.
I blew on the page, drying the ink. I folded the page in half and stuffed it into an envelope. I sat there a moment, staring at the envelope, trying to muster the courage to deliver it. Passing notes to someone under house arrest was not a duty I had ever performed for the queen. Though I was still acting in behalf of the queen (in secret), this activity was as much personal as professional, if not more so.
I casually walked past Eliza’s chambers, nodding a greeting to the guards stationed outside. I turned a corner and saw Katrina and Eliza’s maid walking toward me.
“James, there you are” Katrina said. “The queen was wondering where you were.”
“She’s a busy lady,” I replied. “She probably forgot that she gave me permission to see to this.” I handed the note to the maid.
“I assume this is for Eliza,” the maid said.