There were at least three unhappy and frustrated people at the banquet.
Fred was one, of course,
but Rowena was even more unhappy, not only for Fred but for herself. Her
big moment had fallen horribly flat. She had seen the looks of
disbelief and suspicion on the faces of Locke and his men. She hadn't
they would disbelieve her,
though perhaps she should have. Thinking about it now, she could partly
understand their reaction,
but surely they should have accepted her word? She was after all not just
but the daughter of their own Duke. And surely a sister should know her
own brother? She could
not tell them the one piece of evidence that would have convinced
them, which was
the most frustrating thing of all. She knew that to relate how her magical
guided her to Fred would land the court mage in big trouble. And she had
given her word to the mage to keep his involvement secret, and as a woman
could not break her promise.
Would it help if she had a quiet word with Locke? Probably not, she reluctantly decided. She knew Locke well enough to be aware that, if he had conceived a certain course as being his duty, he would be immovable. She consoled herself that sooner or later everyone would have to accept the truth, even if it had to wait until they got back home and she and Fred were reunited with their parents. The great moment might have been delayed by a few days, but it would still come. Unless... She had overheard some of the mutterings of Locke's men whilst the party was traveling the Longspeer and they could talk among themselves more freely than D'Honaire discipline would permit now they had arrived at this keep. Apparently they had heard tales that she carried a curse. Could those tales possibly be true? Not for the first time she found herself thinking of the strange words of the beggar, supposedly originating from Rham and Rhom. 
In an attempt to divert her thoughts, she turned her attention to the Chanticleer who was seated nearby. He was slightly drunk by this stage of the evening, and was telling a slightly bawdy story to Pall on his left. The story succeeded in lightening Rowena's mood, for the Chanticleer was as good a tale teller as he was a singer, and when the punchline arrived she struggled to stifle her giggles. Daughters of the nobility weren't supposed to understand such stories, though Rowena had in the past heard far bluer ones from her own chambermaid.
The third frustrated person was Captain Locke, who had many questions he would like answered. Why had the Lady Rowena gone southwest on her search for her brother, rather than doing the obvious thing and going south. If by some remote chance Denom really was Lord Frederigo, then what had he been doing so far from the Southern Caves? Lady Rowena was an intelligent girl, and must be aware that there were such things as doppelgangers. Why did she seem so sure that Denom was her brother? If she had a good reason for her belief, why hadn't she revealed it? Could she be bewitched? He could hardly interrogate the Duke's daughter as he would a commoner in order to arrive at the truth. Nor did he dare question Denom as roughly as he would like, just in case he was Lord Frederigo. After all, he had known the secret responses to the D'Honaire catechism, though Locke suspected that he must somehow have persuaded the Lady Rowena to reveal them to him. Locke decided he would just have to be patient, and wait for the whitecloak. He would find out the truth soon enough.
At the end of the evening:
9/23/2000 1:33:43 PM
The Never Ending Quest Home
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