Author Topic: Cassandra Leaves Home  (Read 567 times)

Foxglove

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Cassandra Leaves Home
« Topic Start: July 31, 2013, 08:07:27 PM »
Even in the dead of night, the royal court in Westmoor was not entirely still. A few servants moved soundlessly through the corridors going about their duties and the night guards watched closely as they passed. The watchmen who kept guard in the small courtyard garden below the royal chambers normally had a peaceful night since the King was not often in residence. But tonight they quickly snapped their pikes to attention and straightened their cloaks as King Thomas strode between them, trailing a horde of servants and court officials behind him like ducklings.

Servants spread out around the garden, lighting torches that were set into thick iron brackets on the walls. Soon, the whole courtyard was flooded with flickering light from the dancing flames. Cassandra moved forward from the shadows by the southern doorway and made a deep curtsey to Thomas. After a moment, he bid her rise.

"Your Majesty," Cassandra began. "It's a pleasure to see you so well. We've had so little time together since you were crowned."

"A pleasure for me too, sister. We are pleased to be able to grant you these moments alone with us for once."

Cassandra whipped a glance around the courtyard at the twenty servants who were attending the king, and arched an eyebrow. Thomas smiled.

"It is rare for a king to be truly alone. But these here are just the small folk. We meant alone from the great nobles of the realm."

"'We?'" You use that even with me?" Cassandra seemed troubled by his use of the Royal 'we'.

"A king must be a king," Thomas replied. "When we are at the Royal Court we must appear in all our majesty, even with family."

Thomas turned his back on her and paced to the other side of a small decorative hedge, pretending to examine the leaves. He knew that the Crown had already begun to change the way others saw him, but he felt disturbed by the fact that even his sister seemed uncomfortable before him. "Leave us," Thomas barked at the servants. They all bowed and walked awkwardly backwards out of the garden. One must never show such disrespect as to turn one's back on a king. He waited until he and Cassandra really were alone and then turned back to her.

"I needed to see you before you started on the journey," Thomas said, his voice lighter and less formal. "You've been at my side all our lives and I could not let this moment pass without seeing you in person. Once more, like it was in past days."

He opened his arms wide, and Cassandra threw aside all formality and ran to him, wrapping her arms around him, just as he enveloped her in a protective hug. He planted a light kiss on her forehead.

"Take care, little one," Thomas said, and saw her smile at the use of the childhood name. "I am sure it will be a grand adventure for you, and I will never really be far away. If you need me I will reach you, even if an army stands in my way."

He gently pushed her back, and clapped his hands. In a moment, the servants returned. He knew full well they had all been waiting just out of sight. At his command, an attendant stepped forward. He carried a red cushion, upon which was a thick gold necklace, decorated with twisting patterns of entwined roses. The pendant that hung from it was studded with emeralds and sapphires around a huge Westmoorian sunstone from the mines of Evora.

"A gift fit for a duchess," Thomas said, as he took up the necklace and placed it around Cassandra's neck. "Wear it often and think of us. Let the sunstone and roses remind you of home. Your true home."

They exchanged a few more words, and then made a formal end to the meeting. Thomas turned on his heels and made for the doorway. Servants parted before him like waves parting before a ship in full sail. He had made it the habit of a lifetime never to look back, and he kept to the habit now. A few hours later, a servant brought him the news that the lady Cassandra had been seen leaving the city by the southern gate. He acknowledged the news with a gesture and sat in a chair by the hearth, brooding in thought.