The town of Nicu was filthy; that much was apparent upon arrival. King Amadeo was hit with the sweltering stench of raw sewage and unwashed bodies. Grimacing slightly, he peered out the window and watched as people with hollow eyes stared at the King's carriage. It was clear that they had never seen such finery before.
It wasn't that Amadeo didn't try to help his people. No, it was that they refused his efforts whenever he offered them. Nicu was, without a doubt, the eyesore of the entire kingdom.
But Amadeo loved Nicu, despite its faults. If only they saw how he tried to defend and improve them...if only they saw...
But, no. They had blinded themselves to their King's love. They had thrown it back into his face. But what more did they want? What more could he to do prove to them that they were important to him?
Amadeo's thoughts were interrupted when the carriage lurched to a grinding halt. Almost thrown from his seat, Amadeo gripped the carriage's seat and steeled himself from falling. Leaning forward, he called out to the driver, "What happened?"
The driver leaned back and replied, "Your Highness, I'm afraid it's a pothole."
It was then that Amadeo glanced through the window and saw her.
As though the very sight of her eyes sent a lightning bolt through him, Amadeo fell back onto the carriage seat, breath stolen. Her eye contact had been far more jolting than any carriage trouble. Without explaining to any of his attendants what was going on, Amadeo threw open the carriage door and stepped out, heart pounding. Waving aside the attendants' concerns, he circled around the carriage and searched for her with his eyes.
But she had disappeared. The sullied urchin with the broken eyes had vanished.