Afterwards, his guards couldn't agree on how many thieves there were or even what they looked like.
His only clue at this point was a golden hair found near the spot the bags of gold were stored.
Which only led to more questions. Was a royal involved? Instantly, he thought of Geoffrey. There was much they did not know about their dear brother-in-law.
Perhaps it was time to begin investigating...
"Princess Daphne!" Kea called out and waved her dear sister-in-law over. "How are you doing?"
Daphne frowned at Kea and shrugged. "I'm okay."
"How are the wedding preparations coming along?"
Again Daphne just shrugged and then walked off.
Kea sighed as her sister-in-law walked away, straight towards her friends in the back of the room. Ever since she'd opened her big mouth and mentioned that her soon-to-be husband might have a reputation, Daphne had been sulking. No one had the heart to explain that he might have impregnated a serving girl. And, since it was done before Daphne reached her majority and could marry, that alone would not be grounds for breaking the pact. The whole family had decided it was best for Daphne not to know...
But, Kea resolved to have Daphne over soon to find out what was ailing her...
"Aunt Kea!" Prince Earl said, turning Kea's attention from her discontent sister-in-law.
Leaning forward, Kea kissed her nephew's cheek. "Thank you for coming!" Kea said with a twinkle in her eye. "And now that you're here, there's someone I'd like to make sure you meet. Suzanne Hart, cousin to our own dear Geoffrey, has come to court and seems to be positively bored out of her mind. Perhaps you'd be a dear and go chat with her for a few minutes."
"Of course, Aunt Kea. Where is she?"
Kea glanced around the room, "Ah! There she is," Kea said, pointing at the girl with curly blonde hair.
Prince Earl almost found himself tongue-tied when Princess Suzanne turned around when he called her name. She was the most beautiful girl that Earl had ever seen!
"Umm... hello..." Prince Earl managed to stammer out.
"Hello," the princess replied indifferently.
"I thought you might care for some company," Prince Earl said, belatedly adding, "I'm Prince Earl, by the way, the King's son." Earl almost kicked himself for adding the last part. He hated the way girls began to simper and fawn after learning that he was the king's son!
But, Princess Suzanne just frowned even more. "I'm so sorry about your Grandpa."
Queen Deidre smiled, "Much better now. Barron is still greatly saddened by his father's passing. How has Benedict been?"
Kea sighed. "He's thrown himself into finding the thieves, as though it will connect him to his father."
Glancing up, Kea saw Prince Earl and the Princess Suzanne getting along swimmingly.
Further back in the room, Princess Daphne seemed to be getting to close to the Prince Scot Trotier. Worriedly, she glanced around the room to see where Bradshaw was.
Loudly, Kea announced it was time for the birthday cake! That would get Daphne away from Scot...
Geoffrey grumbled as he followed after Celeste into the Great Hall.
Princess Daphne hedged, attempting to pull her arm from Scot's grasp. "Perhaps we had best stay here. Besides, I wanted cake!" When Scot had initially made a move on her, she'd been so flattered that she hadn't dissuaded him. In fact, she'd enjoyed flirting!
But, it was beginning to become clear to Daphne that perhaps she should never had started something she didn't know how to control.
Scot tugged a little harder on her arm. She had just been about to cry out that he was hurting her...
"Oh Blessed Orb!" Daphne mumbled worriedly. Bradshaw was going to hurt Scot!
Bradshaw put the boy in a headlock and squeezed. Leaning down, he said sternly, "Talk to her again and you'll regret it."
Scot sputtered, "I'll tell my Father! You'll regret this!"
"Perhaps we should tell her," Princess Celeste said softly. "Wouldn't it be better to know going into a marriage that you cannot hope for love?"
Princess Catherine reached out and gripped her sister's hand. Worriedly, she asked, "Is Geoffrey...?"
But, Celeste simply waved her hand and nervously laughed, "I wasn't talking about me, I was simply wondering for Daphne's sake..."
The sisters all frowned, undecided on how best to protect Daphne... and Celeste...
Orb's Year 930
Orb's Year 931
Daphne glanced at her uncomfortably. "No, I don't think so."
Kea sighed, "Do you have any questions about anything else?"
Kea reared back, "Who said Bradshaw was flirting with another woman?"
Daphne glared, "Oh please! It's obvious! You joked about his virility! And their serving girl is pregnant and everyone is upset about it. Obviously something is going on! Am I just supposed to ignore it and pretend I don't know?"
Kea frowned. "Well, to our knowledge, he has not continued the flirtations with the serving girl. Arthur Knightley has assured us that she would be leaving their service soon and that Bradshaw is fully committed to his marriage to you!"
Daphne wiped a tear from her eye. "He's been so very mad at me. I don't think he likes me very much."
Orb's Year 932
Barron sighed, "Well keep trying. They hit us once and they'll try again. We've got to be ready for them..."
And in the end, he still had nothing useful.
Kea held her husband's hands. "You'd never fail them. Failing them would mean not caring and not trying. As long as you are giving it your very best, you're not failing them!"
"Da-da!" Francine called from the corner.