Tainted Saint, Chapter ThirtyMature

Breakfast was usually a lavish affair, with all sorts of pastries and fruits and vegetables and eggs and wines and...But that morning, Amadeo couldn't find any sort of appetite within himself.

Marcos entered the room, bowed, and asked if he could join the King for breakfast. Amadeo nodded and waited until Marcos had sat down before asking why he was there.

"I've some news for you, news that I think might brighten your spirits," Marcos said. "The...girl - Cassandra, I believe her name was?"

Suddenly interested, Amadeo nodded. Marcos had captured his attention completely.

"She was riding home last night, just a ways ahead of an informant - I'll explain later - who had had to leave early - "

Amadeo was irritated. "An informant? Really, Marcos?"

"She slipped and fell from her horse, but before the informant could reach her, another man did. He picked her up and carried her away. The informant said it looked as though her rescuer really cared about her."

"Firstly, why did you hire someone to follow her? And secondly, how is this supposed to brighten my spirits?" Standing, Amadeo tossed his napkin onto the table and turned to a guard. "Please, send word to have a stable hand ready my horse."

Marcos seemed completely taken aback. "Wait, Your Highness! What are you doing?" he exclaimed.

"Cassandra wasn't feeling well last night. She appeared to be suffering from a fever of some sort. I'm sure the rain wasn't good for her - I have to see if she's alright!"

"B-but you can't be serious!" Marcos sputtered. "Your kingdom needs you! You can't just leave for a day because some hopeless, snotty urchin isn't feeling well!"

Amadeo stopped in his tracks. "What did you just call her?" he asked, voice low with anger.

Marcos shook his head. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean that."

"But you did!" Amadeo shot back. "Look at me, Marcos. Never again will you refer to Cassandra in such a way. Do you understand?"

"That's what she is, Amadeo!" Marcos interjected. "This obsession you have with a woman you hardly even know is blinding your eyes! Who do you think she is? Some beautiful lady who hasn't so much as held hands with a man before? You know what she does for a living, Amadeo. Calling her an 'urchin' is mild, compared to what I could call her."

"We will settle this later," Amadeo said. "Until then, I expect you not to stir up any troubles around the castle while I'm gone. Do you understand, Marcos? No trouble whatsoever."

He left the room without so much as another glance behind his shoulder. As far as he was concerned, Cassandra needed him.

As far as he was concerned, needed her, too.

The End

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