As I stared at my uncle speechless, he put his hand on my shoulder and smiled. It took me a few moments before I worked up the courage to speak.
"How did you catch him? What does he look like? Can I see him?" I blurted. My curiosity had taken over and my mouth moved before I could stop it.
Uncle narrowed his eyes at me. I caught the sensation that he was angry at me for even asking to see the Silver Fox. I immediately looked down in shame. Uncle and Father had always warned me not to mention or take an interest in the Silver Fox. To them, he was an unstable, unpredictable mystery that could threaten the kingdom if he wished to.
"You will stay away from the dungeon and away from the Silver Fox. Do you understand, niece?"
Uncle's voice was firm but, by the time he finished speaking, the anger had disappeared. He now looked down at me, a frail sheep amidst a strong wolf, and sighed. A moment later, my mother's voice entered the hall.
"Audry, what are you doing up at this hour?" Upon noticing Uncle, Mother tensed up. She disliked Uncle because she believed he would do whatever it took to overthrow Father and take over the kingdom. "Ferus," Mother greeted tonelessly.
Uncle nodded. "Alyssa."
Ignoring Uncle, Mother turned to me. "Return to your quarters and sleep. Tomorrow is a very important day."
"But, Mother--" I began.
"No, your mother is right. It isn't every day the duke of an enemy nation comes to visit. You must be well rested. Go now," Uncle interrupted, giving me a slight push in the direction of my bedroom.
I bid them goodnight and began walking away. Before I turned the corner, the sound of my mother and uncle arguing made me stop and glance back. Mother appeared furious. Uncle smiled at her cunningly. Sometimes I wondered if he wasn't the Silver Fox himself. He had a way of being sweet and innocent one moment and cunningly deceptive the next. Even after I reached my room, climbed into bed, and buried myself into my blankets, I couldn't find sleep. No matter how much I searched for it, sleep wouldn't come. Instead, my mind was plagued by curious thoughts of the prisoner in the dungeon being--rather cruelly, in my opinion--tortured and how he could truly be the Silver Fox I've heard so much about.
At some point in my thoughts, sleep found me and I dreamed deeply of the Silver Fox.