Again, I'm trying to go linear with Eilia instead of all the flashbacks. Please let me know what you think, it'll help me to decide whether to go with this or back to what I already have. Rikk entered escorting a captain of the King’s Patrol into the room where Lady Karin was playing ‘Court’ with her daughter. “Captain Morgan, of the King’s Patrol to see you, Lady Karin,” he announced. “You may go now.” Rikk turned and left the room. The Captain walked over to where the Lady and her daughter were seated. Lady Karin stood and extended her left hand, palm down. “Welcome Captain.” Captain Morgan reached out and lightly touched the back of her hand with his left hand. “Thank you for taking the time to see me, Lady Karin.” She withdrew her hand and sat on the chair beside her daughter playing on the floor and pointed to the chair opposite her. “Please do be seated, Captain.” Though her outward appearance bespoke calm, inside chaos reigned as the captain seated himself. “May I ask why you are here?” The captain looked down at the child playing quietly at her feet. “I think we both know the answer to your question.” He nodded to the little girl. “I would like to speak to you…privately.” Lady Karin nodded. She looked down at her beautiful daughter. I can, at least, spare her this. “Brinn?” The child looked up at her mother. “Brinn, please go to your sleeproom until I come for you.” She hugged the child, nuzzled her neck, kissed her cheek and whispered in her ear, “Please, do as you’ve been bid,” then swatted the little girl’s rump. Brinn giggled and left the room. Lady Karin’s attention focused on the captain again, “I don’t know what happened to him!” “So, you do know why I’m here!” “My husband is missing. It would be impossible for me to not know why you are here. My question is why are you asking me? I don’t know where my husband is or what happened to him.” “The King has reason to believe you do.” “Why would he think that?” “You and Lord Keirn were seen talking by yourselves just before he disappeared.” “Keirn said he must visit the necessary room and that he would see how our daughter was doing. She has been unwell the last few days as have quite a few people of the Court.” She didn’t know why she added her daughter feeling unwell. Lady Karin, had caught sight of Brinn’s gown so she knew the child had been eavesdropping again. She knew she ought to speak to her daughter of it again but this time it was a boon. She wouldn’t need to explain to the child why an untruth was in order this time. The captain didn’t look convinced. “Why didn’t you come to the Patrol as soon as you noticed your partner was missing? We might have saved this conversation. King Brugher might never have known Lord Keirn was gone.” “Keirn.” “I beg your pardon?” “Keirn, not Lord Keirn.” “I don’t understand.” “He was to be confirmed as a Lord tomorrow, so I didn’t need to report his disappearance to the King.” “Nevertheless, the King is interested in Keirn’s disappearance. Lord or not, you will answer to where your partner has gone.” “Is this your intention to threaten a lady of the King’s court? I know not where Keirn is. I assumed he had other duties to attend when he didn’t return to Court and that I would see him at the day’s final sup. When he didn’t come home, I asked Brinn and her body servant, but they both denied seeing him.” “I would like to speak with Brinn and her body servant.” “You can question Jossa but I doubt if you’ll get much out of a five year old,” she replied. “I, still, want to question each of them…alone.” “Very well,” Lady Karin sighed and rose to get her daughter. She caught a quick glance of the hem of her daughter’s gown as she fled from her hiding place to where she’d been sent to in the first place. Her slight smile at her daughter’s behavior didn’t last to the door of her daughter’s sleep room. “Brinn.” Brinn dropped the doll she’d been playing with and ran to her mother, “Yes, Mamma?” “I know you were listening outside the room again.” She raised an eyebrow and a finger just as Brinn opened her mouth to deny it. “Do not try an untruth! There is not much time.” Brinn didn’t need to speak. Her downcast eyes and lowered head spoke for her. “Now, remember we have said to always speak the truth?” Brinn’s head raised just enough to execute a convincing nod. “Brinn, your father and I know you have been perpetuating an untruth with us.” Brinn’s head came up, a quizzical look on her face. Lady Karin was not fooled “We know you understand more than what most of your friends do. Do not continue this farce with me. It is important you understand what is going on and what you must say. Lives, our lives depend on it.” “Yes Mamma!” “Listen carefully to me, Brinn, there isn’t much time. You know Mamma told an untruth about you feeling unwell?” Brinn started coughing. Her eyes twinkled as she did her best ‘I’m sick’ cough. “But Mamma, I have been feeling unwell! See!” Lady Karin wanted to scold her daughter but she smiled at her instead. “We will discuss this later, Brinn! Remember, you have been unwell!” She hugged her daughter, nuzzled her neck and kissed her cheek. “You must go to the captain before he comes looking for us. Remember, no one must know you understand more than you should. It is important.” “Why Mamma?” “There’s no time to explain,” She smiled at her daughter, “Brinn, please go talk to the nice captain in the pretty uniform with shiny buttons.” “Yes Mamma!” Brinn gave her mother the same smile, “I will go talk to the nice captain in the pretty uniform with shiny buttons. Do you think he will play ‘Court’ with me?” “Good girl! Now…go!” Brinn skipped out her sleeproom door but stopped when she realized her mother had stayed behind. She turned and peeked back in the room. Lady Karin looked up from something she had taken out of her pocket. “Mamma? Aren’t you coming with me?” “No, Brinn,” Lady Karin’s voice held a note of sadness, “He wishes to speak with you alone. “But Ma…” “Go!” A sob escaped her, “Do as you were bid!” “Yes, Mamma.” When she heard Brinn’s reluctant footsteps move toward the sitting room, Lady Karin sat down on the edge of her daughter’s bed and pulled an ancient weapon from where she’d hidden it from Brinn. Jossa spoke to me of seeing Keirn before he left. My life will be null after he speaks with her. The small, shiny square she held to her heart had a button on its side. Please Brinn, remember me! A glow was all which resulted from pushing the button. Lady Karin lay back on her daughter’s bed, forever silenced. Jossa had been at the day’s last sup while Brinn visited with her mother. Lady Karin will be mad if I don’t redd up Brinn’s room! Her busy entrance into Brinn’s sleeproom, a few minutes later, came to an abrupt stop. Why is Lady Karin’s sleeping in Brinn’s bed? Why is she laying that way? Jossa quietly padded over to Brinn’s bed, not wanting to wake the woman but concerned by what she saw. “Oh, my lady! Why now? She needs you now that Keirn is gone!” Jossa fought back tears as she searched for any sign of life. Lifting the woman’s wrist to check for a pulse, a silver box fell to the floor. Jossa looked at the door to see if anyone was going past. She lifted her left hand and the brocade door cover dropped down. She picked up the silver box and put it in her pocket “Why Karin? You were safe. That fool couldn’t find his ass with both hands! You’ve changed everything!” Jossa closed her eyes and concentrated. Now what? Keirn must know…what about Brinn? Are you sure? She shook her head in disbelief. As you wish… she opened her eyes then took the object from her pocket. Holding it in her open palm she closed her eyes once more. Are you sure? She opened her eyes and touched the object in her hand. A glow surrounded the object. When it disappeared, the object was gone. “What is done is done.” Jossa muttered to herself as she left the room to start the next chain of events. Brinn paused before entering the room. She looked back at her sleeproom and thought she saw a brief glow. Not possible . . . must be from the sunlight hitting the prism in the window. She took a brief moment to compose herself then walked into the room, coughing. She went up to the man in the pretty uniform with shiny buttons. “Mamma said you wanted to talk with me. Are we going to play a game? Can we play ‘Court?’ Why couldn’t Mamma be here too?” Brinn’s rapid fire questions, meant to disconcert the captain didn’t work. He had a young one at home and knew how their brains worked. “Yes, Brinn! We’ll play later. First, I’d like to ask you some questions.” He crossed the room and brought back a chair. Patting the seat he said, “Please be seated.” “You were listening in the hallway as I talked with your mother.” “I…how did you now?” Brinn’s surprised at the Captain’s statement was evident. “The material in your gown is quite noisy. I could hear you moving out there.” I didn’t think of that! Brinn giggled. “I’m sorry. Mamma and Pappa tell me I shouldn’t do that. Please don’t tell Mamma I was listening. She’ll be angry with me!” Captain Morgan leaned toward the young girl as if imparting a secret. “I promise not to say anything to your Mamma.” Brinn pretended to be relieved, “Thank you, Captain Morgan!” “What did your mamma tell you?” “Mamma said you wanted to ask me some questions.” Brinn coughed a few times, covering her mouth as her Mamma and Jossa insisted she do. “Your mamma said you’ve been unwell. How are you feeling now?” The captain’s false concern wasn’t lost on Brinn. “A little better, I don’t cough as much as I was. Mamma and Jossa say I’ll be better soon.” “I’m glad to hear that. Brinn may I ask you some questions?” “Yes, you may!” “Do you know where your Daddy is?” “Yes.” “You do?” The surprise in the captain’s voice was unmistakable. “Where is he?” “Daddy went away. My friend, Miciara told me.” “What did Miciara say?” “Miciara said her Mamma said my Daddy went away.” “Did Miciara’s Mamma tell her anything else?” “Miciara said her Mamma said my Daddy was going to get ‘tained if he was found.” “Tained? Oh…detained! Why was your Daddy going to be ‘tained, Brinn?” “I don’t know, Miciara didn’t’ say.” “Brinn, did you see your Daddy yesterday?” “Yes, when Mamma and Daddy went to Court but Mamma cam home alone.” “Did you see your Daddy after that?” Brinn pretended to think, “No…Daddy never came back. Are we going to play ‘Court’ soon?” He smiled a gentle smile at the child’s question. She was doing better than he’d hoped. “I have just a few more questions.” As he opened his mouth to ask the next question Jossa enter the room. Brinn saw her and started to speak to her servant but Jossa spoke to the Captain first. “Captain Morgan, I have to talk to you about something important.” She aimed a significant look at her young charge then looked back at the Captain. “In the hallway, please?” The captain’s eyebrows rose slightly. He looked at the servant then Brinn. “Are you ready to play Court with me, my Lady,” Brinn giggled at the suggestion. “You can be the Queen and I will be a Lord coming to request a boon from you. You pretend this is your throne,” he led Brinn to the high-backed chair he had been seated in, and lifted her into it. Her tiny feet barely reached the edge of the chair. “We will go into the next room and I will enter as if this is the throne room.” Brinn giggled again at the Captain, and sat back in the chair with her best queenly posture. The Captain went into the next room with Jossa. She waited and waited. She soon grew tired of waiting for her ‘Lord’ to return and called in her best courtly voice, “Is there no one waiting without to request a boon from their Queen?” When no one entered the room, she asked again, her voice much louder. This time she heard footsteps coming toward the room. The Lord Captain entered the room. Jossa followed him with Brinn’s gowns slung over one arm and her favorite toys in the other arm. ”My Queen Brinn, I beg a boon of you.” “You may speak, Lord Captain,” Brinn spoke in her most royal voice. “I beg your pardon, my Queen, but we must move you to another sleeproom for the non!” When the child finally noticed Jossa’s pasty white face, the game was over, her queenly voice disappeared as she cried, “What’s wrong, Jossa? Where’s Mamma? Why didn’t she come back with you?” Each question brought her closer to the edge of the seat until she jumped down and ran toward her sleeproom. The Captain caught her in his arms as she tried to pass him. “You’re strong, little one!” He grunted as he tried to control the frightened child. Unlike most docile female offspring, Brinn’s father had taught her fight basics now she put them to good use. Captain Morgan would find more than one bruise and bite mark in the morning. He avoided another head butt and a well placed kick by turning the child's back to him and holding down her arms. He waited for her to quiet; her sobs and screams for her mother slowing enough for him to speak. Kneeling on the floor with her, he turned Brinn to face him. “My Lady…” When Brinn’s leg threatened to do him serious harm, Jossa interrupted, “Lady Brinn, your Mamma has…” she knelt down and turned the girl to face her, “Lady Karin has crossed over into the life hereafter.” Brinn didn’t understand why Jossa’s eyes were tearing. Mamma had just explained the life hereafter to her. Those who crossed over were treated exactly the way they treated others during their lives. Brinn’s young mind could barely comprehend what she was hearing. “Mamma has crossed over? When will she cross back?” Jossa said Mamma crossed over then surely she could cross back. Wiping tears from her own eyes, Jossa took the little girl from the Captain and hugged her gently. “Remember what your mamma explained about the life hereafter?” Brinn nodded. “Once you cross over you can’t return.” Brinn nodded her head again. “So Mamma won’t be back?” “No, she is gone now,” the servant said. “Come, we must leave now.” Brinn broke from her servant’s arms when she saw the Captain walking toward her sleeproom. He heard her tiny footsteps and caught her before she entered the room but not before she’d caught sight of her mother lying on her bed. “Mamma! Mamma!” She fought against the hold the Captain held her in but couldn’t get loose. “Let go of me! She didn’t cross over! She’s not gone! I can see her sleeping on my bed!” She scratched and bit the arms holding her but still couldn’t get loose. “Mamma! Mamma! Why won’t she waken?” Brinn squirmed in the Captain’s hold. Though she kicked, scratched, and bit him, still he wouldn’t allow her to get to her mother. She screamed, tears streaming down her face, even as he lifted her up and carried her from the room, Brinn’s arms reaching out for her mother over his shoulders. He didn’t put her down until they reached her new quarters.