It is my favorite habit to listen. Often I sit near the busy kitchens and listen to the servants as they go about their business and live their lives. It is incredible the difference between information learned here from the daily gossip of the maids and that learned from our advisor and his informants.
After our argument the previous day, King Percy had returned to the castle, only to get more and more worked up over how little our kingdom had to spend on his new list of projects. I quickly tired of our disagreeing points of view, and left, unnoticed, retiring to my hobbies. Each evening since becoming King, Percy had feasted, seeking new entertainment and courtiers, testing his new power and inherited affluence, while I avoided the entire affair, taking modest meals in my room and reading the family histories.
When news had come to the castle that Percy had been ambushed and then rescued by a woman unfamiliar to our courts, it came coupled with the news of another great feast in the woman’s honor. Primarily it annoyed me, but my curiosity bested my pride and I prepared to attend, asking the attendants to set my place far enough away from the King and his guest that I could observe without participating. The buzz around the castle was that she was a witch of sorts, beautiful and dangerous. I pondered briefly on how my Father would have her locked up and questioned, but shook my head of the thoughts, wondering what our new King would find appropriate, and whether it would be good or bad in the end.
I arrived in the great hall and took my place at the head table, sore that Percy had managed to override my request of distance, but glad to have my sister as a dinner companion. At least her conversation was intelligent and not overbearing or stiff. We had always been in each other’s confidence, cast to the shadow of our older brother’s line to the throne by our father and his court. When Percy entered the hall, everyone stood, including Agatha and myself, and we waited for him to signal us all to seat. A few moments later, the mysterious woman entered herself, proud and enchanting.
As I watched her approach the King’s place in the Great Hall, it was as if I could not take my eyes from her. Deep in the depth of my mind I wondered if this was something I should fear, as my father feared the magical people of our kingdom. But the thought dimmed, flickered, and disappeared as I watched her grace throughout the dinner. Frequently my sister tried to whisper to me, and the waiters encouraged me to enjoy more food. But I had no attention for any of them, only enjoying the wine and my brother’s attempts to get the woman to speak with him.