“Sarah?” Jason’s polite voice brought her attention to the ground and the fact that they had stopped.
“Oh,” she smiled at Jay. Lady Abigail made a small noise, reminding Sarah she was a Lady right now. “Please forgive me, My Lord” she hastily amended.
Taking Jason’s proffered hand Sarah alighted from the carriage. She stood to the side as he helped his mother down. Lady Abigail immediately moved forward and Jason placed Sarah’s hand upon his arm, as was proper for a Lord escorting a Lady. They moved to stand beside Lady Abigail at the foot of the steps leading to the massive doors. Watching the two guards that stood, pikes crossed, in front of the massive door, Sarah wondered if they had seen Lady Abigail, Jason and her.
Suddenly the guards clanged their pikes together twice before uncrossing them. Stepping away from the door they moved down two steps. There they pounded the pike butts on the ground thrice. Emitting a loud groan the door began to creep outward. Sarah had plenty of time to notice that there were at least five layers of boards bolted together. This is no mere castle, she thought, it’s a fortress.
Lady Abigail preceded them up the steps. There they were met at the top by a small man. He held, what Sarah could only presume was, a medieval clipboard.
“Ah Scout Sergeant Phoenix,” he nodded to Jason. “And Sarah Ann Smith, I presume,” he nodded to Sarah. She smiled. “And,” he looked to Lady Abigail giving her a bow, “My Lady Abigail, did you have an appointment?” He began running his finger down the paper he held.
“No, I do not, but I wished to join my son and Sarah, to support them in their audience with King Demetrioso.”
“Well,” he looked up from the paper. “A bit unexpected, but I am sure not unwelcome.” Sarah agreed with him; with Lady Abigail here, she might remember enough to not offend anyone. “You are a bit early, but come in. There are no other petitions at the moment so I may as well take you to the Audience chamber.”
They followed the man into a large entrance hall. Compared to the houses Sarah had been in this place was gigantic. She bet Griffon’s house could fit inside, second floor and all. Another large wooden door stood opposite them, flanked by flickering torches. But instead of going in there, the man led them to the right. Sarah thought he was going to take them through the fireplace, until she saw the opening next to it. The door, though normal sized, was just as fortified as the front door.
The hall they stepped into was more like what Sarah was used to seeing: dark and small. Evenly spaced torches lit the stairwell from niches in the wall. However, as they ascended the stairs, Sarah realized what was not normal: their length. She was positive they’d gone up at least two floors before they hit a landing. A landing that only broke their ascent, for they merely turned a hundred eighty degrees and began to ascend a second, equally as long, flight of stairs.
Finally, roughly four stories up by Sarah’s calculation, they emerged into a sun spotted corridor. The arrow slit windows and the torches between them provided light, but it wasn’t that illumination that caught Sarah’s eye. It was the radiance from an open door opposite the slits that had her attention. The daylight came pouring through as if the room couldn’t contain it all.
“Go on in.” their escort’s voice startled her. “King Demetrioso will be with you shortly.” He bowed to them and left.
Drawn by the light Sarah let go of Jason’s arm and led them into the room. The window from which the light shone was amazing. Split into many panes of glass it went from ceiling to floor and from one end to the other. But it wasn’t the size that took her breath away; it was the view.
Mesmerized she stepped up to it. Her eyes wandered from the ornate roof of the structure below, to a walled garden. Beyond that, and what she stared at the most, was the river and large bay. A bay that led out to the sea, or so Jason had informed her on one of his nightly visits. Sarah had never been this close to the sea before, even on her own world.
“Magnificent view is it not?” A deep gentle voice startled Sarah. She turned to find herself facing a stately man, who looked liked Henry the Eighth, puffy ornate clothing, crown and all.
Sarah stood frozen until Jason’s thought, curtsey, broke into her head at the same time Lady Abigail politely coughed. “Your Majesty,” she spoke as she curtsied, fumbling slightly.
The King chuckled. “At ease my friends,” he spoke to them all, though his focus stayed on Sarah. “Now, I am quite acquainted with our dear Lady Abigail and the honorable Scout Sergeant Phoenix, which leads me to believe that you must be Sarah Anne Smith.”
“I am.” Sarah smiled beginning to like the man.
“Your Majesty,” Jason quickly moved to Sarah’s side taking hold of her hand. “This is Sarah Ann Smith, my Friend and Fiancée.” He proffered her hand to the King. “Sarah this is the King, Demetrioso de Arenima, Ruler of all Vervell and Lord of the Areni Plains.”
The King's eyes moved from Jason to Sarah. Taking her proffered hand he kissed it and let it go. “So this is indeed the Sarah that seems to be causing a fuss.”
“I didn’t mean to,” Sarah blurted out. “Your Majesty,” she amended at Lady Abigail’s soft cough.
“No one does,” the King muttered as he stepped back to study her. Sarah bit her tongue. Play the silent lady she told herself. Still Sarah held her head high. Being demure was not one of her strong points.
The King chuckled again. “I can see why she would cause a fuss.” He smiled at her. “Come sit. My son ought to be here momentarily and I am sure we can sort out this misunderstanding.” He moved back to his desk. “In fact, given what I have been told, I am quite certain this fuss is for naught.”
“Do not be fooled by her pretty face, father.” The Prince strode in, arrogance on his face. As if, Sarah thought biting her tongue yet again. Lady Abigail rose and curtsied as did Sarah. Jason bowed. Not acknowledging them, the Prince breezed past going to where his father sat.
“I can assure you, my son, it is the facts that I am most concerned with. Let us review them shall we?”
“Fine!” The Prince stomped to stand beside his father’s chair, glowering.