The Queen's Pearls Book 2 of The Prince Cirroc Series

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Chapter 8

Prince Cirroc went down to the jail and told the jailor that several prisoners would be brought to him soon and he was to loosen tongues. He was also to send a messenger to the Prince when the first of these people were brought in.Then the Prince went up to the small diniing roomthat had been used on the first day.While he was there, Jere came to him.“Sire?” Jere asked, “would you care for some wine?”Cirroc thought about it for a time and then said, “Yes, Jere, that would be just the thing.”Jere returned with the wine skin, and the Princess’s chaperone in tow.“Your highness,” she said.“my lady is very sorry for what she’s done.She wishes to join you here.Is that acceptable.”

“It is,” the Prince said. “Jere, you may want to have more wine available.”

The Chaperone left, and in a moment was back with the Princess. She sat down at the table near Prince Cirroc.She put her hands on the table as his were too.“I am sorry,” she said.“I should not have been so foolish as to wear such valuable pearls there,” she said.“That’s true,” Cirroc said.There was silence for some time.A cloud came across the sun and darkened the room.

The Princess wanted more conversation while they waited for things to develop in the

dungeon. So she asked Cirroc something about the history of his people.“Tell me,” she said, “What was it like when your people first came to this land?”

The Prince began to explain to the Princess. He was not really aware that he was touching her hand across the table.He also could not quite control the tone of his voice, which had become softer and more melodious.“My grandfather first invaded this land,” he said.“He brought his army through the Pass of Niall from Cressil.He fought his whole life to conquer this land for himself and his son, my father.He made his first capitol here at Rodas.He buildt the wall around this city and the first citadel that stood here.When the river ran high, transport along the river was easy.Also the people who lived here had simple weapons.Most of them tried to defend their lands with little more than farming implements.They had no proper shields and no forged weapons.They had virtually no cavalry.”

At that point the Jailor sent a messenger up from the dungeon. The first prisoners had been brought in and were ready for questioning.The Prince and Princess went down to the dungeon together.One of the teams had brought in a pair of boys.“Where were they found?” the Prince asked the search team.“Trying to pick the pocket of a rich patron of one of the stalls,” one of the men replied.

“What do you know of the Pearls of Anwn?” the Prince asked. “Nothing,” the elder boy cried.A dew hard slaps later the Prince asked again, “What do you know of the Pearls of Anwn?”“Nothing,” the boy cried again.Now his brother was crying with him.They were both slapped a little harder.

While they were there, more search teams brought more urchins in, along with fences and people of ill repute. The Prince questioned them all about the pearls. The first two he had put in a cell and went to work on the others.The questions remained pretty much the same and so did the methods of torture.Then Avock and his team returned with one of the fences, the people who brought stolen things from the urchins for minuscule amounts and sold them back to the original owners for fortunes.

The Prince had the children put in the cells and concentrated on the men. “What do you know of the Pearls of Anwn?” he asked.“They are part of the Princess’s dowry?”One man asked, “do you mean the Pearls she was wearing in the bazaar this morning?”“Where they are now,” the man said, “nothing.”But he had reason to want to talk.He knew the penalty for what he did was death.His only hope was that the Prince would be lenient with him.“But one of the smaller pickpockets was there.”

“Do you see the child?” the Prince demanded. He even stood back a little so the man could

have a better view of the cells. He looked closely for a moment and said, “Not here.”The

rince was about to order that his torture begin when another team came into the dungeon. They had another urchin with them.“There,” the man pointed at that one.The child squirmed, but did not succeed in getting out of Grail’s hand.

The child was roughly dressed, as all the others were, in a sort of jerkin and pants. “Have you seem pearls today?” Cirroc asked.The child winced and began to cry. The jailor’s slap was not quit so hard as some of the others had been. “Have you seen any pearls today?” the Prince asked again, more demanding this time.

“The lady had pearls,” the child whimpered. “No one wears pearls in the bazaar. They get stolen.” “The ladies were stolen,” Prince Cirroc said, angry now. “You took them, didn’t you.”The child whimpered again and nodded slightly.“Where are they?” Prince Cirroc yelled.The child said nothing, Prince Cirroc paced back and the Princess looked askance at the Jailor.

“So, the jailor said, “this be the girl that stole your pearls.” “This isn’t a girl,” the Princess said.“Begging your pardon, ma’am,” said the Jailor. With a knife, he cut away Ada’s britches and let them fall. Everyone could see that Ada was clearly a girl. “So,” the Prince said. “You stole the Princesses pearls.We want them back and it is very important that we get them back .Take us to where you hid them and I am prepared to be lenient with you.Otherwise, come high noon tomorrow, you will hang.”

The jailor struck Ada a couple of times with one of the straps he used to torture prisoners. Ada became frightened and began to cry.I t pained Cirroc to see this happening, but so far as he knew there was no other way to get prisoners to talk. Princess Aine reacted differently to the girl’s crying.She stepped to Ada’s side and stretched her hand out to Ada’s cheek.“We don’t want to hurt you if we don’t have to,” she said.“ But we must have those pearls back .Will you tell these men where you hid them?”Ada shook her head. She didn’t know the name of the place where she liked to hide the things she’d stolen. The jailor took another swing at the girl, but the Princess blocked his blow.“Will you take some of these men to the place where you hid the pearls?” the Princess asked nicely.“I promise you that they will not bring anything with them to beat you with.” “Yes,” said Ada.She was glad of the promise of no more beating.

“Avock, you go,” the Prince said. “You are the one who is most likely to know if she is lying or trying to mislead you.”“Aye,” said Avock. “Grail,” he called to his partner.Then he also indicated Arno and one more city guardsman to go with them. They left the dungeon. Twilight was just beginning.If they did not hurry, it would be dark before they got back.

The child led them to the bazaar. The shopkeepers were beginning to close up, ending the business of the day.She had a hard time turning the men to the right, but that was the direction they had to go.Then to the left, leading them behind the stalls and shops and the shopkeepers homes.Then to an abandoned building, that was more like a shed then anything.

“Around the building,” Avock said. “Find me a door in if you can.”“How are you getting in and out?” Grail asked her.She showed him the hole at the base of the shed and the piece of wood that she pushed back and forth to get in and out.“Show me,” he said.So she went down the hole while he stood guard outside.She thought for a moment that she would hide there until the men left.She did not believe that Grail could get down the hole after her.

But that was exactly what he did. The other men found a main entrance into the shed and open the door a little.That let more of the fading light into it.Ada took the pearls of Anwn in her hand.When Grail came up behind her, she was startled and let out a yell.She would have dropped the pearls, but he saw them by the extra light the slightly opened door let in.He grabbed them just as she was dropping them and stuffed them in his shirt.“I have them,” he yelled to the people outside.Seeing another way out, he grabbed the girl and forced her out

that way and through the door.

The shopkeeper whose home they were behind came out. “What is going on?” he demanded to know.Grail spoke to him.“You ought to look to your shed, master shopkeeper,” he said.“Thieves have been using it to hide things in.There may even be things of your’s that are back there now.”The shopkeeper looked into his shed for a moment and then went back to his house.In the meantime the guardsmen left the shed and returned to the citadel.

The men went back to the dungeon. “We have them,” Grail said as soon as he saw the Prince.He handed the Pearls to his master.They were all there and did not seem to be too much the worse for ware for having been stolen.Everyone breathed a huge sigh of relief.“But the girl in a cell,” Prince Cirroc said.“I will decide what is to be done with her later.”

The Princess took the pearls from the Prince. She too was greatly relieved that they all seemed to be there and took no hurt from their rough treatment.She handed them to her chaperone who took them upstairs and made sure that they were securely locked up.They would not see the light of day again until it was her wedding day.

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