My small legs burned as I sprinted through the corridors. I don't want to miss anything! If this boy is really the Silver Fox, or a descendant of him, then I pray for the boy's safety, should Father know. Ever since the attack that destroyed the kingdom and nearly took my life, among others, Father had become extremely protective and concerned. I couldn't exactly blame him but, every time someone mentioned that day, Father reacted rashly and in anger.
"I don't want anything to happen to that boy if Father acts without thinking!" I muttered to myself as I ran.
It would be something Father would later regret as well. I just know it! Finally reaching the dungeon doors, two guards turned their heads towards me.
"Princess, we are under strict orders not to let you in," the guard on the left explained before I could speak.
"Please move. I want to hear this. I have to. Please?" I begged.
The guards looked at me worriedly and shook their heads.
"...It's alright, gentlemen. Let her through."
The guards suddenly bowed and stepped aside.
"As you wish, my Queen," they answered obediently.
"I would prefer if you did not resort to trickery or lies if you are truly that desperate to reach him. It would only disappoint your Father and I more. Do be silent until the time is right, my child. Will you?"
Mother gave me a soft smile beneath her worry and concern. I hugged her briefly before descending the stairs. Stopping at the bottom, I pressed myself against the wall to conceal my presence as much as possible.
"...Tell him, thief, of what exactly you are accused of," Uncle demanded.
The boy looked up slightly at him. He remained silent and Father looked questionably at Uncle.
"Perhaps, Brother, you are exhausted and the dungeon air is affecting your mind," Father remarked.
The boy chuckled. "Or maybe, you're just in denial that I could be a simple thief. I don't see why you're so obsessed with me being the Silver Fox. It's kind of pathetic really."
I stifled a laugh of my own at the boy's comment. Clearly outraged, Uncle drew back and hit the boy. I heard a crunching sound and the boy hissed in pain. Anger of my own welled up inside of me. I clenched my fists and urged my body to remain still.
"He's lying! He is the Silver Fox! I have every reason to believe that! Being a thief, lying also comes naturally. You cannot deny that!" Uncle interjected.
"...That may be true. You claim you heave reasons for believing this child is the Silver Fox. Why don't you share them with me? Help me understand your reasoning."
There he goes again. Father, why do you always try to reason with Uncle? There are somethings you will never understand or agree with and yet, you continue to trust him. I fear that one day, that will be the death of you.
"I cannot reveal what I know yet. There are too many holes that I must fill. There are things I must confirm before I was to tell you. Otherwise, you still wouldn't believe me. I ask you to trust me, dearest brother. What I say is true! Give me time to confirm it! I beg of you!"
Father crossed his arms and stared at Uncle for a few moments before sighing.
"Very well then. If you are so sure, I will give you time. However, this," Father gestured to the boy chained to the wall, " I cannot allow. Seeing as how there has not been concrete evidence presented to me, and that this boy has indeed attempted to steal from us, I will not release him. His condition must be improved. The phrase, 'guilty until proven innocent', must apply here."
"What do you suggest we do with him then? Allowing him to stay in a guest bedroom, or even the servants' quarters, could provide an opening for him to escape or steal something else."
"That is true."
The boy glanced between my father and uncle bitterly. Now is my chance! I should speak up now! Indeed, I had already come up with an alternative where everyone could benefit.
"Father, Uncle, may I speak?" I asked, stepping into view.
Startled, the three of them looked at me in surprise. Composing himself, Father sighed heavily and nodded for me to continue.
"Allow the boy to serve me. He can be my bodyguard and I will supervise him to be sure he doesn't escape," I state confidently.
Father was the first to laugh which surprised me. Uncle followed, although I suspect he was laughing for a different reason. Meanwhile, the boy stared at me in utter shock. I stared back and I could've sworn I noticed a glimmer of hope in his blue-grey eyes.
Father and Uncle's laughter soon subsided. Father took a hard look at the boy and turned to me.
"And what if I was to consider your proposal? Who would stop him if he tried to escape? Would you be able to manage that?"
"You cannot actually be considering this?!" Uncle shouted.
"Well, brother, if you have any other ideas aside from keeping him locked up here, let me here them."
Uncle clamped his mouth shut and scowled at Father. Amused, Father motioned for Galdor to step forward.
"Yes, my lord?" Galdor asked.
"Keep watch over my daughter and her new bodyguard for a while, will you? I want to be sure that she does not release him out of pity and that he does not try to escape until I have dealt with him personally."
Father's emphasis on the last word was directed towards Uncle. It was clear that Father wanted to oversee the boy's punishment from here on out. Uncle stiffly nodded, his jaw clenched tightly in silent defiance.
"Thank you, Father," I added, truly grateful to him.
"From now on, my daughter, this boy is your responsibility. You will also be responsible for taking him to the infirmary, seeing that he has fitting clothes, and the like. You do understand the trust and dependence I am placing on you, don't you?"
I nodded, smiled, and hugged him fiercely. He returned my embrace and instructed the guards to release the boy. Once free, he slid down to the ground and rubbed his aching shoulders. His gaze remained fixed on the stone floor as I approached him.
I knelt down and stretched my hand out to him. "What's your name, Mr. Nobody?"
The boy chuckled and took my hand, allowing me to pull him up. Dropping his small grin, he turned away from me.