The Erl of Annesdale was a tall and upright man, in more ways than one. At forty-three, he had retained his vigour and vitality of his youth, and gained more wisdom and insight than an owl can boast. He was thoughtful and logical, with a sharp sense of justice and even sharper wit. He’d been an old friend of King Roald, and of the late Erl of Yild, Beatrix’s father – in fact, his wife, Adeilia, was the sister of Morwena, the Countess of Yild.
Annesdale had a young family of his own, but Owain had always been like a nephew to him. It had been a week since the Prince’s flight from the castle, but less than an hour after his escape, Annesdale had been convinced of his innocence. In fact, he hadn’t ever really been convinced otherwise. The only problem was proving it.
The most damning evidence was the letter supposedly written by Owain, and so it was here that Annesdale turned. For days he had searched the letter for any sign that Owain was innocent, but found none. Not to be dissuaded, however, he had taken the letter to a scribe friend of his.
‘A letter, you say?’ the man had asked, his eyes shining as large as the gold coins Annesdale had placed on the table before him.
‘Indeed,’ Annesdale had replied. ‘But you must understand that I require the utmost secrecy, or I take my business elsewhere.’
‘Of course, sir – we understand each other perfectly.’
What neither of them had understood, however, was the extent of what they would find. Because, if this man was to be trusted, then the letter was a fake.
Which meant Owain was innocent.