Tainted Saint, Chapter Thirty-OneMature

The ride to Nicu was a long, winding one, but it seemed but a trifle to Amadeo. When he reached his destination, he immediately began searching the streets, asking for a woman named "Cassandra" who sold herself for a living. Being a King of honor, he would always explain that he didn't want Cassandra for the usual purposes, but that he only wanted to talk.

Amadeo had inquired of several people without any luck when he ran into a blonde-haired woman who looked vaguely familiar. Her eyes were wild with fear when she saw the King approaching.

"I'm looking for the woman named - "

"I don't know her," the blonde protested before Amadeo could even finish his sentence. "I don't know who you're talking about." She lifted her skirts and began to walk away.

"I think you do know who I'm talking about," Amadeo called, following the woman as she wove in and out of the rows of peddlers' carts.

Turning to face Amadeo, the woman crossed her arms. "There are lots of women named Cassandra here. I highly doubt we know the same one."

It then struck Amadeo how he knew this woman. "You were standing with her at a cremation," he said. "She had her arm around you as you watched a body burn. That was before she ran away from me." He saw a flicker of recognition cross the woman's eyes.

"Fine, then. I do know her. But for your sake, I'm not going to tell you where she is," the woman said.

"Lizzie!" a man in the distance called, and the woman turned at the sound.

"Lizzie, if that's your name, I need to talk to you."

Lizzie rolled her eyes. "It would appear I'm needed elsewhere," she hissed, her audacity surprising Amadeo greatly. "Listen, I can't help you. If I help you, she'll get in trouble. Besides, she's not even at her apartment right now."

"Why would she get in trouble?" Amadeo asked, urgency underlining his tone. "Lizzie, I need you to answer me. Is her safety in question?"

Shaking her head, Lizzie held her hands up. "I can't say anything," she replied, but it was clear that she was shaken.

"Listen to me. You're her friend; you care about her, right? I need you to answer me, because if you're honest with yourself, you'll admit that you know I only have Cassandra's best interests in mind. I need to see her to make sure she's alright. Lizzie, look at me. You know I'm here to help her. You know I won't harm her." Amadeo's voice was gentle, and as he spoke, he saw tears well up in Lizzie's eyes.

"I just...can't tell you," Lizzie said. "I'm sorry. I have to go."

"I'll find a place in an inn to stay," Amadeo called as he watched Lizzie walk away. "I'm not going to give up on finding her, Lizzie. You can count on that." And even though Lizzie had faded from earshot, he added, "I didn't come all this way, just to give her up."

The End

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