Chapter 1

"Heard she’s being married off to Alezander’s son - Princess Cassandra, that is."

"Really? Was she not born just weeks ago?" the innkeeper’s wife grabbed a cloth, drying the glasses as she spoke.

"Tis true," nodded her daughter. "Nothing like this has happened before - at least not with the other Princesses. I must wonder what it means,"

"Cannot be true, Lizzie" frowned Matilda. "Alezander of Navarn?"

"What other Alezander could I be speaking of?"

"What evil gossip are you spreading, ladies?" Cyron strolled to the bar, giving his funny half-smile, the strangest, lop-sided expression on his big face, resting his thick elbows on the surface to look the two down.

"The baby princess‘ engagement to King Alezander’s son," explained Lizzie briskly.

Giving a disapproving scowl, Matilda set aside the now clean glass, taking another up. "Can I get you anything, Cyron?"

"A beer, thank you, Ma’am," he replied, turning to the girl as if her mother had not interrupted. "That is old news. It is said that this Cassandra child is the daughter of the Queen’s secret lover, not the King."

"Really?" gaped Lizzie, leaning in closer to the man.

Cyron sighed, pretending to be exasperated, "I cannot believe you have not heard this." He winked, continuing, "Some say that this man comes to visit his Queen and his child in the night. Quite an epic story, yet very believable. Elitha did not want to marry King Howard. Very plausible her hand went to the alter without her heart."

"You say our gossip is evil--I say yours is worse. Shut your mouth before you pour too much of those poisonous words into my child’s head," Matilda said smartly, pushing him his drink and placing her hands firmly on her hips. "And who is ‘some’, and where does ‘it is said’ comes from. Your sources are very foggy. You sound like a storyteller."

Cyron laughed heavily. "Matilda, I am in and out of the capital many times. I have my ‘sources’. And they are very accurate, I warrant. But how can you not believe it? It would also explain why the King is so disgraced by the child and wants to get rid of her so quickly."

Matilda crossed her arms, grinning. "Drink your beer and go and retrieve all the names of these invisible ’sources’. Then I shall believe you, perhaps."

The End

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