Chapter 11: Not a dull day in life
First order of the business was to hash out a plan for execution in near future. Luckily, that was all that I had been doing, and was able to do, in my mind throughout the ride back home. Hence, I had some ideas as to what I was going to be doing over the course of the next few days. Leaving my luggage to be taken to my room by the servants, I made my way to my father’s library, in the east wing of the castle.
Grabbing a paper, I wrote down a single lined letter to the deputy under the command of my father and his trusted friend, who was currently performing his duties as the leader of army left in the capital city and the royal castle while the king and his men were away for the war purposes.
The last thing I wanted right now was someone unwanted to lay hands on the letter so, adding the family seal to the letter, I handed it to be delivered quickly and with utmost caution, to Francis. There was no one I trusted the loyalty of, more than Francis.
With the letter dispatched I could do nothing else in regard to my basic mission of life, currently, other than to wait for a response to my letter. Though I did not expected it, but if the response were to be negative I would be back to zero percent progress again, and I could not afford that to happen, since I did not yet have an alternative plan at hand. Pushing the worry aside, I walked out of the library, making sure to lock it after me, and headed to the baths. A long and luxurious warm bath, a three course meal and a while of nap after, I felt a whole lot better and settled in my bed with a book to prevent the entry of torturous thoughts into my mind.
By the sunset Francis was back with the news from the King’s castle and the much awaited reply by general Harold Lane to my letter sent earlier. Skipping the niceties and update on the castle gossips, eager to know what general Harold had written, I tipped Francis with a pouch full of silver coins, and swiftly walked to my bed chambers. Clicking the door shut, I stood with my back pressed against the doors, and broke the wax seal on the letter. I proceeded on to unroll the parchment to read its contents.
‘Meet me in the woods behind your house, near the stream at crack of dawn the following day.’
That sounded promising. With a faint glow of hope finding its place in my heart, I threw the letter into the fire place, and watched it burn to ashes. Somewhere between my fixation on fire and the burning piece of the paper, I fell asleep in the chair besides the fireplace, basking in the warmth from the fire. I woke up chilled to the bones and shivering, to find the fire extinguished on the account of lack of fuel. The room was freezing as the night fall had reached its peak.
Wrapping a shawl around me, I stood on the terrace connected to my chambers and looked upon the vast stretch of the forest bordering the rear boundary wall of the castle. Plethora of stars illuminated the partly cloudy sky. The night was still in its glory, dawn not due anytime soon, but knowing myself I was not going to get anymore of sleep for the night. Nervous energy coursed through my veins, thickly.
Discreetly, I sneaked into my younger brother, Alden’s, room, and pulled on one of his hunting outfits complete with the boots, bow and arrows. Adding a wool cap to my clothing, I slipped out of the house without coming to anyone’s notice. The full force of cold hit me the very moment I stepped out of the shelter of the castle building and faced the whirling wind. Walking for some miles dodging hanging branches, twigs and undergrowth I heard the water flowing steadily nearby. A few steps longer trek and the lake was in my sight. The view was magnificent as the moon light filtered through the clouds reflected on the water and illuminated the vicinity of the stream. I took some moments to admire the beauty of the nature before slipping under a tilted, gigantic boulder to avoid both being sighted and the cold wind.
As I shivered through hours, the night passed away and the darkness began to recede. My ears picked up the faint sound of someone moving through the forest in distance. Pulling the bow out and readying the shot, I aimed for the general direction of the sound, never leaving the cover. Few agonizingly long moments later the figure of General Harold appeared through the trees and walked to edge of the stream leisurely.
“Please, step out Eleanor; we do not have all day to waste. Time is of great worth.”
Like always, I do not know how he knew I was there, but he did. Relaxing the bow string, I stepped out of the cover and walked to where Harold stood watching his own reflection on the water surface.
“What do you wish to talk about, little Ms. Black, which is of such importance?”
“I wish to employ your help for a certain something.”
“Must be something big for you to defy your father’s direct orders, and travel home before his return, please continue I am listening.”
In that moment I told him a quick, carefully shortened version of what happened in the past month, and asked him to look into the details of the former master of coins.
With his promise of aiding me in my mission to unveil the killer or killers of Andre, I found my way back to the castle. By the time I had undressed and slipped under the covers sun was substantially out. Sleep took over me the moment my head hit the pillows. The exhaustion from my night’s adventure was enough to lull me in to a spell of sleep thick enough for me to sleep like a baby till quite some time past noon.
Since a while my life had decided to show me not a singular dull day. Today was no different. The moment I emerged from my chambers to put some food in my growling belly, Francis informed me that I had a guest waiting for me in the gardens. I was surprised in the least, for I expected no one, and neither did anyone other than Harold knew of my return to the city.
Grudgingly, putting my plans for breakfast on hold, I walked to the garden to find none other than Vincent; handsome and well dressed as always, walking to and fro in my wait. Why was he here? What did he want? How he knew where I was? Several questions surged in my mind the moment I laid my eyes on his elegant figure walking in my garden, looking utterly exotic.