Marshal swallowed his fury and watched her as she sat in her chair. Lord Damien had not spoken a word so far, his eyes openly judged as he waited for an argument to arise. For surely Marshal would not be able to digest such open accusations in his own court, and when they were made by a maiden half his age? It was a wound he would have to tend to by not just defending himself but also degrading Elle.
Elle knew that just as well, but her stance was declaring that she was prepared for any fight that Sir Marshal might have to offer. Her eyes were motivated more than determined as she made a fight out of her opinion.
"What exactly is it that you are indicating to, Lady Elle?" Marshal asked instead of taking her allegation upon him, as if indeed she had spoken of someone else. Clever of him. As a Communicator constantly busy with recording verdicts and other documents, she practically lived among all the data which could be used as evidence. And if she had brought the topic up, she definitely must have picked up something from those records. One wrong word from Marshal that she might be able to defend against might as well cost him a life in the dungeon. Or worse.
"I have went through the records from the past few months. I have my doubts. I have reasons to think that someone from within is trafficking children to the slavery."
Damien noticed how Marshal's calm demeanor slipped off for a second at her doubts. As a frown wrinkled Damien's forehead he noticed how Elle too was noticing Marshal's every move.
"Why might you think so?" Lord Damien questioned her instead, making her turn to him.
"The number of children has been decreasing but simultaneously, if I heard it right, in the past months two slave auctions were held in the town. It's more frequent than in the whole year. I can't help but make a connection between the two. "
Damien was quick to put two and two together. Amidst everything happening with the wolves and the fae, someone else was definitely taking advantage of Damien and Orion's ignorance to the domestic issues. If the auctions were indeed held and the children had been going missing, even a fool would make the connection.
But if children were being sold, then why had the numbers been reduced. If someone was taking advantage of the orphanage in that manner, then how would he benefit from closing the orphanage?
But questioning that in front of Elle was not wise. Not if Marshal could take undue advantage of her when she clearly did not understand that politics worked under the table more than what was shown openly.
If Marshal was indeed involved in anything happening with the children, then he would not hesitate in hurting Elle to keep her from poking her nose where it certainly did not belong. Damien was coming to understand that he should have asked for her opinion in absence of Marshal.
"I see. I will have someone look into it. Till then, Sir Marshal, I want you to look into tax collections and being me a report of those who have failed to do so." That would keep him occupied for at least a week.
Marshal bowed his head but the crude look that he gave Elle was not missed by Damien's keen eyes. Lord save Marshal if it has anything to do with the orphanage. It was started by his Amara, and Damien would nae forgive anyone who tampered with it or abused it.
Once Marshal was gone, Damien shifted in his seat and leaned back, his eyes staring at the ceiling. If someone indeed wanted the orphanage closed and empty, it could only be for the land itself. Mayhap trafficking of children was just a medium to empty the premises, and what's bad in getting some income on the side?
"Say, Elle, do you think someone is after the orphanage premises rather than the children?"
"I was thinking the same thing, milord. The question is what the person wants the land for. And not to forget that the orphanage is in the capital itself, not so far from the royal castle."
Damien looked at her. Her mind was definitely running a few places ahead of him. He hadn't even thought of it that way.
"What do you mean to say, Ellie?"
Elle looked at him, her heart racing a mile a minute by just the thought that Lord Damien was asking for her advice, her insight in some matter. No, not a thought but reality. Her opinion was being asked on a matter of importance. Oh how she felt priveleged!
She flustered by his attention, her body heating under his unwavering gaze. And would she ever get past how perfectly handsome he was? All his proportionate features forming this beautiful man made it almost impossible to focus on something.
"Milord. Suppose if someone managed to get the premises empty, no one would actually bother keeping a track of the place or checking it constantly for illegal activities as it was owned by you. And it is also so close to where you reside. If someone wants to harm you, then wouldn't scheming from that place benefit the enemy?" She asked, again with the tilt of her head.
Put it in those words, only one person's name came to his mind. A person hell bent on trying to overthrow his rule and make the reaper welcome Damien.
Dorian was the only person who came to his mind with flashing red to alarm him of danger. He had indeed been anticipating some kind of advancement from Dorian. Was this it? Was this a move in his great plan of bringing Damien to his knees?
He looked at Elle again.
The woman sure had a great insight into issues which seemed far away and painted to be normal. It would have taken him a thorough investigation to connect the dots. And it certainly did not help that he was turning a blind eye to the domestic and internal issues of his state. He was so involved into the outside threats that Dorian or these small pawns and conspiracies had completely escaped his mind.
Elle was handling his internal record keeping so she was aware of small issues. Was it time to make use of her alertness and knowledge?
Might as well be.