Orb's Year 945
"Oh no!" Ingrid said eagerly. "I am so happy to be here! This is so exciting!"
Ennis grinned, despite himself, "You'd be surprised at how little happens here," he said with a smirk. "It can be very uneventful at the castle..."
"Bring him in!" King Barron commanded, leaping up.
The crowds that had gathered parted as the Royale Guard led the prisoner inside.
Prince Earl watched his pregnant wife walk away with her head held high. He could tell that she was upset at being dismissed. What a mess!
Earl gripped his neck, rubbing the throbbing muscle and then raking his hand across his face.
But instead, he stepped forward and caressed her cheek, "Why?" he asked with anguish.
Earl pulled his hand back, angry with himself for caring. "Do you have anything to say for yourself?" he demanded with steel in his voice.
Henna swallowed heavily and willed her voice not to crack. "My children.." she said quietly. "I need to get word to my children."
Earl paled and stepped closer. "I told you that you should come to me if... anything... came up. There was no need to put your life at risk stealing. I would have freely given..." For some reason, the thought that he'd had children with this woman caused his heart to start beating faster. Quickly, his mind began sorting through possible actions.
"They're not yours!" Henna lied, forcing herself to scoff disdainfully. "I need to get word to Stuart Forester... he is my... husband..."
"Did he put you up to this?" Earl demanded. "I can protect you if you need it..."
"No!" Henna replied quickly, not wanting to cast any suspicion on Stuart. "He's... estranged... because of my actions..."
Benedict shook his head. "I couldn't believe it when we caught the woman! No wonder we thought the thief had to be a young man! She's so petite!"
"But I wonder why she picked up where the original Prince of Thieves had stopped," Bradshaw Knightley said. "Did she say anything to you, Prince Earl?"
Earl shook his head. "She said nothing in her defense. Perhaps a week in the Tower will loosen her tongue." Inside, he blanched at the thought of his pixie enclosed in the cell for any length of time. He longed to let her go. But, he knew that would send a message to other peasants that they were lenient with thieves...
Prince Earl glanced up from the table at the peasant standing behind his cousin, Earnest. "If you'll excuse me," he said to the men at the table as he got up.
Stuart Forester's eyes grew wide as he listened to the Prince.
She startled when the door crashed open and Stuart rushed in with a guard behind him. "Stuart!" called out with a quavering voice.
Henna blinked the tears away. "I need you to go to the children. Protect them," she urged him.
"Of course. Anything," he feverishly pledged. "But, Henna.. when you are free.. I will be your husband in truth."
"As Prince of Celestia, Barron knows a good many people. I will admit that it looked odd..." Queen Deidre said.
"Suzanne..." Queen Deidre attempted to reason with her over-wrought daughter-in-law, but Suzanne shook her head.
"Not now," she said tiredly. "I just can't..." she said helplessly. "I'm going to take Gentry out in the sunshine."
"Gently, Gentry!" Suzanne admonished him, pulling the puppy from his grasping fingers.
Orb's Year 946
Time in the cell had not loosened the Pixie's tongue. She wouldn't tell them what her name was, if she worked alone, where her camp was, how old her children were, or why she was stealing from them! It was infuriating!
He spent endless hours obsessing over her, trying to come to some sort of understanding. Wondering if he'd missed something important... a glance.. or a gesture..
She'd gotten under his skin and some nights he thought of releasing her just so that he would be free of her once and for all!
"So you found me!" Prince Earl muttered, gripping his drink.
"One might wonder what you have to be so miserable about. A beautiful wife. A charming young heir. Good health. A strikingly handsome friend..." Berjes chattered merrily. "The Prince of Thieves behind bars..."
"I know that you're obsessing over that girl again. You nearly wrecked your marriage the first time. Why would you do it again?" Berjes had seen the way his friend had agonized over the comely peasant girl. "Cursed Orb, she's a thief, Earl!"
Berjes scoffed and shook his head ruefully. "Yes, what would a rouge like me know about love anyways," he said bitterly.
"Of course you can," Berjes said cheerfully. "I'm just making sure you continue to walk upright instead of face-down on the stones."
"Oh, bugger off," Earl said churlishly.
"You know, that's the 10th time you've told me that tonight, friend!" Berjes retorted. "I might begin to think you have no wish for my company!"
With all the noise, Suzanne woke up and scrambled from the bed. "What is it? Is he okay?" she asked with concern.
"Thank you for your assistance," she said quietly as Berjes quickly retreated.
With a watery sigh, Suzanne helped ease Earl under the covers. She prayed that sleep would come soon...
Orb's Year 946
Earl sat up slightly, feeling his stomach pitch. Groggily he got up, gingerly cradling his head.
"Nothing, love. Sleep," he told her softly. With a sigh, she let her head fall back and drifted back to sleep.
King Barron watched his son's reaction. "The cell had been unlocked for her... the key still in the lock."
"But how?" Earl asked.
King Barron met his son's eye somberly, "Perhaps you would like to explain it to me..."
"Me?!" Earl said with surprise. "You think I had something to do with this?!"
"Who?" Suzanne asked.
Deidre shot Suzanne an impatient look. "The Thief!"
Prince Earl scowled. "She couldn't just disappear. She's somewhere."
Berjes glanced at his friend wryly. "Perhaps it's best if we don't find her..." Three sets of eyes turned on him in outrage. Berjes held his hands up. "Okay! Okay! Then by all means, find the little Thief! What do I know? I'm just a rake and a scoundrel!"
Berjes jaw tightened. "Nothing to bother your pretty little head with," he said tightly. "Run along now and play," he said before anyone else could entice her to stay.
Quickly, everyone laid down their cards and folded.
"Oh for Orb's sake!" Berjes said, throwing his cards down on the table. He fixed Felicity with a stern glare. "You did that on purpose!"
"I don't know what you mean!" Felicity said coyly. "My pretty little head doesn't have anything but a bunch of fluff! Have a good night!" she said brightly, leaning down to kiss Berjes on the cheek before flouncing upstairs.
Berjes watched her go with his jaw clenched and his eyes burning. "I'm going out," he announced as he stood up. With a few long strides, he'd already left the room before anyone could say anything.
Felicity wrapped her arms around his neck and attempted to show Phillipe how very eager she was, as well.
Prince Earl glanced at Suzanne's pale face. "Is everything okay?" he asked with concern.
His wife nodded quickly. "I'm just feeling tired," she mumbled before hurrying away.
Orb's Year 947
"OUT!" he shouted at young man.
"Yes, Uncle Ennis. But..."
"No ifs, ands, or buts about it, young lady. I would think you have enough to do preparing for the royal wedding!"
Felicity stomped her foot. "Why are you being so aggravating today, Berjes?"
Berjes crossed his arms. "You're too young," he snapped. "Someone has to look out for your best interests!"
Felicity laughed and kissed Berjes' cheek. "You grumpy bear! I love Phillipe!"
King Barron smiled down at the young man before him. "You have it."
Felicity felt tears prick her eyes. "I do!"
King Barron smiled down at the newly married couple. "And now - we feast!" he called out merrily.
"Yes, your Aunt Felicity is married now."
"I wish I could've been there," Gentry grumbled.
"I wish I was older right now!" he grumbled again as he got ready for bed.
Phillip grinned as he pulled Felicity down onto the bed with him. "Blessed Orb, anything was better than all that dainty pink!" he said with laugh.
Orb's Year 948
Suzanne turned and got up slowly, as if in a dream.
Suzanne squeezed his hands. "I'd like that."
Rest in Peace Queen Deidre Royale, Orb's Years 904-927
Felicity grinned and rubbed her pregnant belly tenderly. "As you can see, marriage agrees with me quite well," she joked. "Phillip is a wonderful husband!"
Her cousin, Elyssa L'Adventurer, blanched beside her. "If you'll excuse me," she said softly.
All the other ladies shrugged.
His grandfather, King Barron, nodded distractedly.
Without waiting for his mother to confirm grandfather's permission, Gentry scurried from the room. "Come on Cesar!" he called out cheerfully.
"Do you want to play, too?" Gentry asked hopefully.
Of course!" Earl said, ruffling his son's hair. He was determined to devote more time to his family.
Prince Earl stood with a sigh. "Yes, that would be nice."