Falina sat looking at Bahl for some moments, unblinking, her eyes boring into him. He returned her stare with seeminly not a whit of concern for her scrutiny.
"That's it," She said in a flat tone,"You are doing this because you want to find my mother."
"I am doing this because the King of Devensheer has asked me to do so."
"Lady Falina," Eylan's voice was a gentle rebuke. "We have vouched for Bahl more than once in this conversation. Why do you still continue to try and find reasons to put his loyalty and honor in doubt."
"Is it not clear, My Lord? Appearances are the first thing most humans judge. It is the reason that my family has never been able to openly serve yours. It is the reason my mother had to hide her marriage to my father to the world at large."
Falina swallowed a sudden lump in her throat. She could feel a heat rise in her cheeks. She felt as if she had done something wrong by not fully trusting this creature on sight and yet, what person would?
Looking around, she saw those in the room looking at her intently. and she squirmed uncomfortably.
The King, as if sensing her discomfort, allowed her a moment of thought and then broke in in a buisness-like voice.
"We do not have much time," He said, clearly demanding all attention. "Lady Falina, you will have a few hours to prepare to leave Devensheer."
Falina nodded and got to her feet, gently removing her hand from the Princes, finding herself reluctant to do so but more reluctant to stay in the room under judging eyes.
"Yes, I have to go home and say good bye to the children and my father..." She began and then stopped as both royals shook their heads.
"You are to leave from here. Clothes and provisions will be provided from the castle. You are not to leave the grounds. For all intents and purposes, you are now dead."
Falina felt her heart nearly burst from her chest and tears stung her eyes.
"You...you mean I cannot say farewell to my...to my brother and sisters...my father...I..they are to think...."
"That you have died, the victum of an assassin's knife," This came from Bahl. "Though the Prince tried valantly to save you it was not possible. The story is prepared and ready to be disbursed and, in a few hours when darkness comes we will leave Devensheer for good. Or until we discover who wants you dead and why and eliminate that threat."
Falina felt her legs going and sat down heavily on the chair she had just abandoned, fighting tears and her emotions.
"She's going to faint."
This came from a long way away, almost at the end of a tunnel.
"Lay her down! Brandyn, call a healer!"
Footsteps and then another voice in the approaching darkness.
"I do not think she will make the journey, Your Majesty. She shows to much of the frailty of women. I am afraid we may be forced to engineer another plan which accounts for her weaknesses."
Anger flared up and the blackness recceded and became tinged with red fire.
Blinking, Falina sat bolt up right, deep blue eyes blazing as three of the four men in the room stopped stock still staring at her sudden recovery.
Finding Bahl's silvery-blue face among those standing around her, she brought her hand up and across his cheek as hard as she could.
The sound of flesh on flesh sounded in the silent room, broken only by Falina's harsh breathing as she and Bahl once again locked gazes, amusement dancing in her opponent's red-rimmed eyes.
"Don't," She said through clenched teeth,"Ever count me out!"
There came a clearing of throats and she turned to look at the Royal Father and Son who were looking from her to each other.
"She is definately Genevive's daughter," Gerald Goldenbane said.
"I think she will be fine," Eylan added with a ghost of a smile.
"And I think," Bahl's voice cut in,"That the journey may be more than any of us bargained for."