“No,” Devan said, “try again.”
Bingham rolled her eyes for the tenth time, “What do you mean ‘try again’? If I don’t know his name I don’t know his name.”
The royal couple sat in high summer grass directly outside the palace, just visible by Locan and the other guardians and surrounded by flashcards.
“There's only a handful you don’t know. I can’t just keep giving you the answers,” Devan reminded.
“Well,” she answered, “based on the picture I can tell you he’s a man.”
“Very good. Now dig deep,” Devan chided.
“A man with dark hair?” Bingham asked.
“You are so close…”
“Birkshire?” she guessed.
They simultaneously sighed with exasperation.
“Can’t we just pick this up again tomorrow?” Bingham started picking bits of straw at her side. The sun was low enough that the constant squinting required to look at Devan was giving her a headache.
“We can,” he answered, “but that doubles the amount of work we have to do tomorrow.”
“What else are we doing?” she inquired.
Standing as he answered, “We have to decide who’s competing in what, where we will be hidden for the duration, what kinds of meetings we will have with who, what policy we will support or abolish, that kind of thing.”
“That’s all happening tomorrow?” her eyes widened.
“Yes, and you are learning the rest of these cards.”
“No, I’m doing that right now,” she grabbed his wrists and pulled him back to the ground.
“All right,” he said with a laugh. His lean hand flipped another card over to reveal a red headed woman, with a spray of black covering her eyelids and top bridge of her nose, a tattoo that made her eyes look recessed and hidden.
“The Queen of Thieves,” she answered confidently.
“Good,” Devan nodded, “and what’s the significance?”
“I don’t know considering I won’t meet her because she is an outlaw…”
“Outlaws,” he interrupted, “especially infamous ones like Robyn tend to make a show of these kinds of events, cause trouble, and stir up rumors, in order to get their message across. It’s highly possible that you will meet her, although it may not be under friendly circumstances. Regardless, as Queen you need to know what she looks like.”
“You wanted to go through these on our wedding night didn’t you?” she teased, shooting him a squinty sideways glance.
“I was advised that it would be insensitive,” he joked back. “Could you please take this seriously? Relationships with people aren’t cultivated overnight you know.”
“Fine,” she nodded, “she’s the commander of the Thieves Guild throughout your country-“
“Our country. Let’s watch the enemies armies march a bit closer every time you say that…”
“Our country,” she smiled. “She wants you to stop hanging convicted thieves.”
“And who wants me to continue?” Devan asked, watching the guardians behind them chat nervously.
“That man, the one with the scar…”
“A lot of them have scars.”
“He has one right here,” she brought her index finger along her left brow and down her cheek halfway, “I don’t remember his name but he’s a friend of yours and he has a blonde wife.”
Devan just stared at her.
“What?” she questioned. “I’m trying!”
“It’s Birkshire,” Devan answered. “That’s his name.”
Bingham growled loudly, rolling her eyes again. Devan flipped another card. This one was an older, but not elderly woman, in profile, smirking slightly with her hair tossing in a paper breeze. She had a subtle wink behind the paper eyes. And her ear was shredded at the top, with hair partially covering the deformity.
“That’s the Baroness Aven of Widsour,” Bingham answered the unspoken question. “She rules a kingdom of homicidal maniacs that can barely control their impulse to kill.”
“But when you meet her you say ‘it’s a pleasure to have you, I understand your cultural background is dissimilar from my own.’” Devan flipped another card.
This one held the face of an elderly woman, behind her stood an elderly man. Bingham gasped at the sight of them. They each held a countenance that put one at ease at the sight of them.
Her eyes filled with joyous tears. When she spoke it only came out in a whisper, “My parents are coming?”
“Of course,” Devan smiled, “they said they couldn’t stay the entire time but that they would come for the first day.”
“Why didn’t you tell me before?” she smiled back.
“I knew that this preparation was going to be a hard week for both of us. I wanted it to be a surprise.”
She leapt at him, knocking him backwards with a kiss.