"...Your uncle and your mother warned you about going into the dungeon, and about approaching a thief no less! Yet still you disobeyed them. I'm disappointed, Audry," Father's voice boomed in anger.
I could only look at the floor. I never like it when Father was disappointed in me. I loved and respected him more than anyone else in the world. Even so, I knew he was just worried about me. I, like he, has a reckless and stubborn nature. I'm sure he sometimes wishes I wasn't so much like himself. I loved it though.
"Calm yourself, dear. Speak with a clear head and heart," Mother encouraged.
I didn't think I could face her either. I had disobeyed her and I knew she had to be upset with me. She hid whatever anger or other emotions she felt and I couldn't read her. She spoke as if I was a villager coming to Father for help. That may have stung the worst.
"I told her to stay away from the dungeon, Brother. I thought it would be for the best and I hoped she would listen to me. I apologize for intruding in your place," Uncle interjected.
There was a flat, sarcastic tone to his voice that I found unsettling. Everyone in the room knew that Uncle merely wanted whatever secrets he held to remain secret from us--his brother, the king, most of all.
"Think nothing of it, brother. My daughter has a curious nature that only seems to always get her into trouble. Still, I am curious of one thing...the prisoner--the thief--you captured. Who is he and why was I told of his intrusion?"
"Wait, Father didn't know?" I murmured to myself in surprise, looking at Uncle.
"Again, I apologize, brother. I did not think you should be bothered by such a trivial matter. As king, you have far more important matters that need attending to. I thought I would take it upon myself to see that this thief does not attempt to steal from you again."
"But he's a kid! Like me! Locking him up in a dungeon and interrogating him seems too much, Uncle!" I blurted.
Outrage radiated from me and I wasn't about to let Uncle have his way. Father's eyes widened.
"So, this thief is a child? Why have you locked him up then? My queen tells me that he has been in there for a few days. Explain."
I felt Uncle shoot me an angry glare but I was too focused on staring at Father. I pleaded with my eyes for him to listen to me. He held up a hand and indicated for Uncle to present his reasons before making a decision. That's just like him. Always listening and rarely ever taking action. It is something we don't have in common. In fact, I was almost always acting before thinking. It was something I knew I would have to change as I got older.
"This child, this thief, has been known throughout the kingdom for his thievery. Many items, food included, has been stolen from hardworking people by this boy. I assure you that this punishment is necessary to teach him to abandon the life of a thief. Perhaps he could join the army? He could be useful at sneaking past enemy lines. I would see to it myself that he--"
"No child, thief or not, will be a part of my army. What has the boy said? Has he asked for forgiveness?"
"The only words we have been able to get out of him were, 'I'm a thief because the world made me a thief and I can't ask for forgiveness for something I feel no shame in.'"
Father smiled. Uncle appeared confused by his actions, but I knew why he was smiling. Father is impressed by the boy's spirit. I think the boy is right. But still, why has Uncle not mentioned the Silver Fox to Father? Perhaps, it's another secret he doesn't want Father to know? Should I speak up then or keep it to myself?
Father stood up from his throne chair. I stepped forward.
"You want to speak to the boy, don't you?" I offered. Father nodded. "Let me come with you! I want to speak to him as well!"
"No. I think you have had more than enough contact with that boy. Brother, since he is your prisoner, I would like you to come."
Brother, Uncle, and a few guards exited the room. Mother and I were the only ones left.
"Mother, I--" I began.
"Don't apologize. It would mean nothing if you only intend to further disobey my wishes...You seem intrigued by the boy. Upon hearing your uncle's account of the boy's words, I can see why. Even your father is impressed. However, I will only ask you to stay away from him. If you choose to associate with him, I cannot stop you. Just know this, regardless of the boy's past or actions, he is dangerous. That much I am sure of. Be careful."
I could only nod yes to her before she left the room also. I ran after Father and Uncle, hoping I could hear for myself the thief's side of the story. The possibility of him being the famed Silver Fox, a master thief, was something I wasn't sure if Father needed to know. After all, the Silver Fox was supposed to belong to a clan who attacked our kingdom and nearly killed me almost two decades ago.