Maud broke loose of Agatha’s embrace and began unfurling the tent flaps, blocking prying eyes from witnessing their reunion.
While the two women spoke in hushed tones, Duncan watched, fascinated at the change in his usually stoic mother, now animated and smiling. He gathered pillows for them to lounge on, along with woven rugs to lay over the sand.
The boy preferred this new version of his mother. She wasn’t a vacant-eyed, soulless husk like the other women at the castle. He may not have the King’s ear, but he wasn’t blind. She had convinced him that she didn’t reject him, but that he was kept from her. The King wanted only those he thought were loyal influencing his only heir.
With the King’s failing health, a regent would need to be named. Duncan was the sole surviving male heir in the royal lineage. King Ráfa saw to that, starting with the early demise of his father, and mysterious passing of his older brother. Any royal bastards from court whores were unceremoniously dispatched.
Still, Duncan was merely another conquest, not something, or someone valued, by the King for anything more than what he can do to increase Ráfa’s standing as a monarch. Even at his young age, negotiations were already underway with a bordering kingdom to arrange a marriage with Duncan and a young princesses. He would then leave his home and leave his father without a rival at court.
Maud and Duncan had come to an understanding. He finally knew at least one of his parents truly loved him, and she knew there was a loyal ally in the castle. Neither of them were alone any longer.
Heads together, the two women held hands like each was a lifeline. Maud laughed, a sound Duncan had never heard, and it brought a tightness to his chest. He tried to not eavesdrop, but couldn’t help pick up an occasional word or phrase.
“Beatings only became more cruel…”
“Moved from village to village…”
“My only happiness…”
Then Agatha said something he couldn’t ignore.
“I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.”
All the castle rumors fell into place, and he knew who the woman he called, “Noone,” actually was – the one person who had ever escaped the cruelty of King Ráfa alive. A scheme began to take shape in Duncan’s mind, and Agatha would play a vital role in overthrowing the throne.
For more of Agatha’s story…