Sensing sincerity in Imelda's voice, Alexander let out a long, slow breath. "You're right when you say that's a hypothetical situation. We know she'd never say anything of the sort."

"I'm not interested in discussing whether or not Zahra would do such a thing; I already know she wouldn't. What I want to know is if you would."

"Why does it matter what do? It's not like Zahra will be sticking around the castle for much longer. You and I both know this."

Imelda groaned impatiently. "Stop skirting around the question, you wuss! Would you or would you not let Zahra become the next Tia?"

Stabbed in the heart at the mention of Tia, Alexander wanted to rebuke Imelda for touching upon such a personal matter. But then, she would only grow angrier and accuse him of being too dishonest to answer her question. "I guess I'd start laughing if Zahra ever said anything of the sort, because I wouldn't believe to really mean it."

"And if you really believed she meant it?"

Alexander chuckled, trying to hide his nervousness. "I'd face the wrath of Adrian. He'd be furious with her ever suggesting such a thing and would try to get her head on straight."

Groaning even more loudly than the first time, Imelda made her frustration quite apparent. "Alexander! You know what I'm asking! Forget Adrian! Forget the improbability of the situation! If you could have Zahra without causing a stir, would you?"

"Having Zahra, in and of itself, would cause a stir. What you're saying is impossible."

"You son of a - oh, I'm going to kill you!" Imelda fumed. She opened her mouth to continue her rampage, but just then, the scout broke through the clearing.

He approached Alexander, bowed slightly, exclaimed "It's an ambush!" and collapsed.

The End

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