The King of Kalbem: Chapter 3 - Twisted Perception
Updated: Aug 3
Chapter 3: Twisted Perception
Now, in the midst of a war, Will knew he was a prince, and Kat knew he knew it, but she couldn't let him know that. She decided to continue to act normally; surely Will wouldn't change too much since he had to act inconspicuous.
The war was scary for Kat. Her father, Sir. Aaron, led the army in defense of Kalbem. He was away for long periods of time and she would pray with her mother for his safe return. Eventually, Kalbem pulled through the war and Tezel retreated. There were many lives lost on both sides. No one mourned the war more than King Alexander. The aftermath wasn’t peaceful, but it was quiet. The king didn’t trust the silence and felt it was not yet the right time to announce that Will was the crowned prince, so that announcement was put off.
Kat always told Will anything that was on her mind, other than her longing thoughts for him and now the royal secret she knew. Two and a half years later, while in the garden, she stroked her pendant and asked, “Will, you know Michael, the squire?”
How could Will forget that tall, muscular boy who couldn't get his eyes off Will's girl? “Yep, did he ask you to marry him?” with squelched bitterness.
Kat was a bit taken aback that Will would even think of her marrying another man. “Of course not! But he did ask me something else.”
“He kissed you, didn't he?”
“He asked me to. I said, 'Maybe later.'”
Will's face got hot, but he maintained his composure. There was no way he would let Kat see him look jealous. “Later? Why didn't you just get it over with?”
Kat, wishing she could sense some care from him, but finding none, defended, “Well, if you really want to know so badly, I'll give you the joy of my humiliation. I told him I'd rather kiss you.”
Will fought back a smile with all his might, yet he persisted, “Me, kiss you? You have so many beaux, who knows where those lips have been?”
Kat felt a sharp tinge, since her lips had been nowhere, but she wouldn't tell Will that in fact she had let no one kiss her before. “At least I'm likeable,” was all she could retort, though there were flaws with the statement, as she had noticed the young lady, Jennifer, sneaking eyes and conversation with her man. Kat attempted a graceful exit from the garden, but walked right into a low-hanging tree branch. She regained composure and left without looking back.
Will was slightly shocked. He didn't know it was true that those men were kissing her right and left. He just said that to see how she’d react. And to think, he had been saving his first kiss for her. He certainly did not want to be the inexperienced one of the two. He thought perhaps he could spend a little more time with Jennifer. Surely, Will did not want to be shown up by the likes of Michael.
After months of spending as much time as they could with various admirers, but still not being able to stay away from enjoying each other's company in the garden, Kat and Will found themselves climbing one of their favorite trees together.
“Whoever knew kisses could be so magical?” Kat was intentionally trying to rub it in. “Sir Michael is so romantic.”
“He's not a knight yet,” was Will's slightly bitter reply. And he doesn't know anything about romance, Will continued in his mind, he doesn't have a spark of imagination in him.
“Well, either way, I've never kissed anyone like him before,” Kat hinted. The fact that she had never kissed anyone else before was left unsaid. “You should try it sometime, if you weren't too afraid to.”
The comment was intended as a challenge, and Will took it as one, but not quite in the way that Kat hoped. He took one leap off the tree branch he was sitting on and landed flawlessly on the ground. He had seen Jennifer was nearby, talking to Michael, so he walked right up to her and kissed her. Both Michael and Kat had excellent angles, and Kat's blood began to boil. That was one nice kiss and Kat felt enraged she wasn’t the one experiencing it. Jennifer obviously didn't mind, as she smiled at Will and gave a triumphant glance at Michael.
“Finally,” Jennifer said just so that it did not sound like she intended for both Kat and Michael to hear it.
“Oh please,” Michael scoffed, “That is hardly even a kiss.”
Will said nothing, and calmly returned to his spot in the tree with Kat as if nothing had happened. Kat did everything she could to disguise the turmoil within. If Will was going to play this game, she was going to play it better than him.
Kat swung out of the tree and found her way to Michael. She turned to Will, “Congratulations, my friend, you've had your first kiss. I’ll tell you, it does take some practice, though I’m sure you’ll pick it up.” She smirked and turned to Michael, “We could give the newbies a demonstration.” Michael proceeded to give her a kiss that made Will’s look small.
Will was a bit taken back by their display, but kept composure and commented, “You look like starved animals sharing a steak. Please let me know when you have an actual skill to teach.”
Michael’s face tightened slightly, “How about jousting? You do know how to ride a horse, right?”
“That sounds like fun!” Will jumped out of the tree to approach Michael. “How does tomorrow sound?”
Michael raised an eyebrow, then smiled, “Excellent. I shall enjoy it.”
“Michael, dear," Kat interrupted, "it's time for my lesson. Farewell, you two.”
Michael smiled, offered his arm, and escorted her to her lessons.
Will glared at them, thinking, Escorting her is my job! Then he regained his composure and offered his arm to Jennifer, “Shall we go for a walk?”
Kat watched the jousting lesson the next day with Jennifer. “Is it just me,” Kat wondered, “or do you not see a point to this sport?”
Jennifer giggled, “I think riding horses and hitting each other with sticks is such a wonderful display of manhood.” Kat couldn’t tell if Jennifer meant that statement or not.
“I just hope Will doesn’t get hurt. Michael trains in this daily, but Will has hardly ever fought in his life; he’s had just a few lessons here and there with my dad.”
Jennifer sighed, “It’s certainly dreamy to watch.”
They sat for a few minutes in silence, when suddenly, Jennifer turned and her voice became more serious, which was not a common tone for her, “Kat, may I talk to you about something?”
“Of course,” Kat shrugged. “We might as well talk until they are done, unless Will gets hurt.”
“It’s about Will.”
Kat straightened up, “What about him?”
“I would appreciate it if you would bow out gracefully.”
Kat was shocked, “Leave Will alone? But he is my best friend.”
“Yes, but he really wishes he could spend more time with me; he just lets you spend time with him out of obligation.”
Tears started to swell in Kat’s eyes. “Why would you say that?”
“He’s tired of all your drama and wishes he had more time with me. He’s just too nice to tell you himself.”
“And how do you know this?”
“Will told me.”
“Why should I believe you?”
Jennifer held up a necklace made of pewter. It was a rose vine in the shape of a heart. “He gave me this. Figure it out.”
Kat’s heart sunk. Perhaps Jennifer was right. Tears welled in her eyes, “I should talk to him about this.”
Jennifer put her hand on Kat’s arm, “You don’t have to. It’s alright. You know he will never see you as anything more than a childhood friend. Perhaps it’s time to move on.” Kat was in silent tears, so Jennifer added, “At least you have Sir Michael. He fancies you! You have yourself a keeper.”
“Thank goodness for that,” Kat sighed. “I’m feeling dizzy. I’m going to go to my chambers. Be a good audience for me. And tell Will…” she hesitated and stopped herself. “Just take care of Will for me.”
“He is my first priority,” Jennifer flashed a plastic smile.
Kat left, and shortly after that, the boys finished their lesson. Will limped over to Jennifer and she embraced him, “Are you okay, dear?”
“I’m going to have a lot of bruises,” Will groaned, though not unpleasantly. He turned to Michael, “We should do this again soon.”
“I don’t see why you men do this to yourselves,” Jennifer sighed. “There there, let us go to dinner.”
“Where did Kat go?” Will questioned.
“She’s off pouting in her room,” Jennifer responded.
“What is wrong?”
“She saw the necklace you gave me and went into a jealous rage. I tried to explain to her that I asked you to make it and offered to pay you, though you declined. But she wouldn’t believe me. I don’t know what her problem is.”
Will was confused as to why Kat would overreact to something so petty. “I’ll go talk to her.”
“She is not being very reasonable,” Jennifer warned, “perhaps Michael should go.”
“No,” Will insisted, “this is between me and her; I can talk to her.”
Will left and Jennifer smiled at Michael, “She may have accidentally intercepted some rather convincing letters from him as well. I am quite confident she will steer clear of him for a while. Now I have given you and I sole access to Kat and Will. Don’t jeopardize your cover as you train, but if you need me, I’ll be here.”
“Well done, my lady,” Michael smiled back as he escorted her to the garden.
Will knocked on Kat’s door. “Who is it?” a strained voice called.
“Kat, it’s Will.”
The door cracked open just enough for Kat to show half her face through the door. “What do you want?” she defended as if he was about to rob her.
“You’ve been crying,” Will realized. “What is wrong, Kat?”
She sighed, “You don’t care to know and I don’t care to tell you. Please just go away.”
“What Jennifer said was true,” Will persisted.
Kat grew suddenly calm and cold. She opened the door so her whole head showed, “Very well, Master Smith. I get it. Perhaps it’s better this way. You have Jennifer and I have Michael. She is a beautiful girl; you should be with her. Michael treats me kindly, so I am well enough off with him. This is where we go our separate ways. Take care of yourself.” With that, she closed the door, and the confused Will was left with Jennifer to provide interpretation to Kat’s cryptic farewell.
* * * * *
“Greetings, Squire Michael, my name is Morgan the blacksmith. I heard you were coming.”
“Yes, I’ve heard good things about you,” Michael replied. “The royal blacksmith is simply terrible and I need someone who can actually make good armor and weaponry for me.”
“Though I am young, I am fairly accomplished.” Morgan acknowledged.
“As am I,” Michael smiled. “To test your skill, I’d like a small sample of a weapon and some armor.” He handed him a bag of money. “Please deliver it to the castle.”
“It will be my pleasure,” Morgan smiled.
Before Michael saw his way out, a lovely young lady with curly brown hair and dark brown eyes walked in. “I’m sorry,” she started to back away, “I didn’t know Morgan was busy.”
“I was just leaving,” Michael smiled.
She nodded shyly to him and walked towards Morgan. Morgan glanced over his shoulder and whirled around to face her.
“Hi Morgan, I’m here for the horseshoes.”
Morgan smiled timidly, “I’ll get them for you.” He accidentally knocked a gauntlet over as he scrambled to grab the horseshoes. “Here you are, Beatrice.”
She handed him a bag of money and turned to leave. “Thank you!” he called after her.
Her curly hair whipped as she flashed a smile back at him.
After she left, Michael sauntered back to Morgan, “Lovely girl. Does she know you exist?”
“I don’t know,” Morgan replied. “Am I that obvious?”
Michael chuckled and nodded. “I might be able to help though; I know a thing or two about women.” He noticed a sword nearby, “Would you mind sparring a bit so I can test your equipment.”
“Not at all,” Morgan motioned for Michael to look at it.
Michael grabbed the sword and handed his own sword to Morgan, “That one was made by Borin, the royal blacksmith.”
Morgan’s eyebrows furrowed as he looked over the blade, “Interesting.”
The two went outside and engaged in a friendly sword fight. Morgan was surely skilled, but it didn’t last long before Michael won.
“Yes, this sword is much better. I dare say it’s better than the ones we make back home.”
“Where is home?”
“You know what?” Michael cut off. “I’ve already made up my mind; I’d like you to be my blacksmith. Maybe I can give you some tips on the lady friend while we’re at it.” He winked and they went inside to discuss.
* * * * *
During the next year, relations between Kalbem and Tezel eased somewhat. King Frederick still refused to let King Alexander set foot on Tezel soil, but Alexander had little reason to want to go there. Though he still knew people in Tezel, he worried that they had developed their king’s anger toward him.
Kat clung to Michael, with occasional glances at Will when he wasn't looking, and Will stuck with Jennifer, looking at Kat when neither girl would notice. So many times Will would try to talk to Kat, or Kat to Will, but it would be quickly intercepted by Michael or Jennifer. Any comments heard from the other would be overshadowed by interpretation of Michael or Jennifer. Instead of talking things out, Kat and Will kept their distance, but didn’t keep far enough away to not have a competition going on. Some might wonder if their young minds realized that both were losing in this round of the game.
“What is this?” Michael lifted Kat's dragon pendant.
“It's my most precious possession,” Kat replied, a little uncomfortably.
“Figures. I've never seen you without it.”
“I've worn it every day since I got it.”
“Where did you get it?”
“Will made it for me.”
“That explains why Jennifer has one just like it.” His eyebrows scrunched up, “Are you still holding a candle for Will?”
“No,” Kat defended, though she didn’t quite realize she wasn’t being honest with herself, “I just wear it because it’s pretty.” This statement she knew wasn’t true, but she wished it was.
He softened and nudged her. “It looks like you and me if we were dragons.”
Kat giggled then went slightly firm, “That's not the intended purpose.” How dare he even suggest the thought! Kat had already fondly named the dragon at her right “Kat” and the one on her left “Will”. In this pendant rested the hope Kat had that Will may one day care for her. It was all the hope she had left now, but she wouldn't let it go.
Michael realized it was time to change the subject, “Let's go exploring,” He took Kat's hand and pulled her into the secret passage behind the portrait in the hallway. “Tell me more about the palace, Kat. These passages are fascinating. Is there an escape route of some sort for the royal family to make a getaway?”
“Actually, this palace was designed brilliantly for combat's sake. The fact that it's built by a mountain gives us a great defense against attackers, but there are reserves people can hide in for months that only the royalty know about.” She paused, “Well, the royalty and me, that is.” She winked. “Come, let me show you.” In her rush, she twisted her ankle slightly and began to limp.
“You’re limping,” Michael realized. He picked her up in his arms.
“I’m fine,” she cringed, “I can walk.”
He looked softly into her eyes, “And I can carry you.”
Kat melted under his gaze and hugged his neck as he walked down the passageway.
Kat used to keep the secret passageways to herself. King Alexander showed them to Will, but Will didn't seem to care for Kat anymore. Sometimes she would wait in the passageways, hoping that Will would find her, but that never happened.
At this point, Kat didn't mind as much as she used to. Michael was an excellent companion. He was a great listener, he was always interested in what she had to say, and he let her talk all day. He also treated her like a princess, especially when they were around others. It was almost like he had read the list of attributes she wanted in a man.
“How do people like you exist?” she asked.
“Breathing, eating and sleeping,” he joked. “How do you live?”
“I don’t mean that,” she teased. “How is it you always know exactly what to say and you always do exactly what I want?”
“I don’t know,” he shrugged, “I just do what feels natural.”
“Sometimes it’s hard to believe you’re really all you seem to be.”
“I think I’ve proven myself.”
She didn’t reply, but looked fondly at him as he walked. He was right. He had shown his sincerity. Kat realized she had learned to trust him wholly, to the point where Michael was her closest friend, above Will. She didn’t really need Will anymore since she had Michael to take care of her.
He carried her all the way to the east end of the known passageways, closest to the mountain. “You see,” Kat started feeling around the wall, “it looks like a dead end, but is it?” She pushed on a brick in the wall and a door in the wall opened. “Found that one tripping over my own feet one day,” with a smile. He carried her through the door and then from the other side she pushed the brick back to its normal position, which slid the door back into looking like a wall.
They found themselves in a room with beds, books, lamps, and a kitchen with supplies. Michael sat her back on the ground and she explained, “This is where the royals can retreat to wait out danger. It's still supplied, so I suppose someone maintains it, though I'm not aware of anyone using it.”
“It's cozy,” Michael smiled and pulled Kat in close. “I like it here.” Their lips met for a few seconds. “There isn't much royal family to protect though; does King Alexander even have any heirs? I heard his queen was infertile?”
“I don’t know about that, but she did die many years ago. Not much time to raise an heir.”
“They were married for several years before she died. That’s plenty of time.”
“I have heard they had trouble with it, due to her health.”
Their lips met and Michael carried her to a nearby bed where he sat her down. “You know I’m not originally from Kalbem, so I don’t know the customs as well. Could you explain how the inheritance works here?”
“The ways they decide who is next in line is so complicated,” Kat replied.
Michael smirked and pulled her in close, “If I know anything about you, Katrina,” he kissed her, “it's that you're smarter than you pretend to be. Surely you’ve studied out the inheritance.”
“The law was written before the queen died, so it said that if an heir was born, he would have to compete for the kingdom. Upon the current king’s death, there will be a competition of knights, much like the last one that King Alexander won.”
Michael exerted energy to hide the immediate tension he felt in his face. Kat noticed, but didn’t think much of it and continued, “If an heir was born, then he would face the winner in some sort of task that is unknown to everyone in the kingdom.”
“Even you?” Michael winked.
“I don’t know everything about the kingdom.”
“But you do know about secret passageways that are only known to royals. You aren’t a lost princess or something, are you?”
He swept her hair to the side and saw her eyes move around as if she was thinking. He caressed her cheek and kissed her again, running his hand down her arm. He then looked at her, “Is something on your mind?”
“No,” she replied instinctively. “I’m certainly not royalty.”
“Is there something you want to tell me?” He seemed to stare into her soul.
Kat had slight difficulty keeping her thoughts clear while those dark brown eyes looked at her like that. “I can’t talk about it.”
He started kissing her on the cheek and down her arm, “If you can’t talk about it, of course I respect that, but could you give me a hint?” He gave her the most irresistible look he could muster, “You have piqued my curiosity.”
She smiled instinctively, then shook her head, “I can’t. It’s about the kingdom, and not my business in the first place.”
He kissed her harder and continued caressing her arms and neck. “Did you give your word? I would never ask you to break your word.” He continued kissing her.
“No,” Kat replied between kisses, “they don't know I know.”
He smiled and kissed her again, “What's the harm in both of us knowing? You know secrets are safe with me. What is it that you want to tell me?”
Kat smiled, “The king has a living son.” At this point, she was paying more attention to the kissing than the conversation.
“Really? Who is that?”
“I can’t tell you,” she had a dizzy and sleepy feeling sweep over her.
“Surely you can,” he coaxed as he kissed her neck.
She started losing her coherency, “Will is the prince of Kalbem.” She felt relieved as she finally got to tell someone. “Promise not to tell anyone?”
He didn’t respond as he started to lay her on her back while kissing her. She suddenly startled back to her senses and pulled away from Michael, “I'm sorry, Michael, but this is hardly appropriate. We should leave.”
“Forgive me, my lady. I apologize. You are just so intoxicating. I’m so sorry for making you uncomfortable.”
Flattered, she smiled and kissed him on the cheek, “It’s fine; we should just be more careful.” She stood up to leave. “Fortunately my ankle doesn’t hurt now.”
He stood up with her. “Is there a separate escape route from here?”
“I think so. I've never ventured through the mines, but that tunnel leads to the mines which is a maze, so I've never even attempted to go there. I imagine there is a way outside from there though.”
“We'll have to explore it sometime.” Michael melted her with that smile of his.
“I'm sure we can arrange that,” Kat winked at him. “But for now I have a date with the garden; it'll be missing me by now.”
“May I accompany you?” Offering his arm.
“It would brighten my day,” was the gracious reply.
That evening when she was finally alone, she started thinking about what happened between her and Michael. First, she felt guilty for betraying Will, but rationalized that the truth is safe with Michael. Then she got distracted recalling the physical pleasure of the event. For a moment, she wished it had been Will she was so close to, but she quickly dismissed the thought.
* * * * *
The next week, Will was out riding with Jennifer near dusk. The two decided to get some fresh mountain air and were journeying south of the castle towards the mountain path to the kingdom of Tezel.
“Have you ever been to Tezel?” Jennifer inquired.
“Not really. A silversmith has little reason to travel about. I've been there once, but it was a few years ago. Relations with the Tezelians have been quite bad for years.”
“I'm sure they aren't so bad when you get to know them,” she replied. “They're probably just underprivileged since they live in a desert. This kingdom is so much nicer than theirs.”
“That is true. Of course the fact that the kings are brothers doesn’t help.”
“The kings are brothers?” Jennifer gasped. “I never knew that!”
“It’s not something that is widely proclaimed in either kingdom, since the brothers don’t get along.”
“Why don’t they?” She spoke as if she couldn’t possibly imagine a reason for anyone to not get along.
He wondered if she could understand anything but dresses and flowers, but attempted anyway, “The King of Tezel originally won the hand of Queen Elizabeth, but after a short courtship, she petitioned her parents to allow her to marry his younger brother, who had placed second in the competition. King Frederick has been angry with King Alexander ever since, because he sees ruling the kingdom of Kalbem as his right.”
“That would make sense, because he won the kingdom, but then it was taken away. Impressive Alexander knew how to take what he wanted though.”
Will’s eyebrows furrowed, “He didn’t want the kingdom. He loved Elizabeth and she chose him because he wasn’t as power-hungry as his brother.”
“So she took what she wanted. It’s so nice to hear the Queen took matters into her own hands. Now the kingdom belongs to Alexander, by right.”
Will hesitated, “A kingdom doesn’t belong to the king. It’s not so much a right as it is a calling to protect and care for an entire nation. It’s a big responsibility.”
Jennifer blinked in confusion, “I’d be a great queen. I’m good at taking care of things.”
Will turned as he raised an eyebrow. Jennifer shifted the conversation, “But it seems dangerous?”
“That is true. King Alexander has had several attempts on his life.”
“That’s so mean anyone would try to hurt him!” she gasped.
“Fortunately, he has a special trick that has helped him avoid it for years.”
“Wow, he must be invincible!” Jennifer gawked.
Will enjoyed her company and her obvious adoration for him, but she did tend to lack depth. Kat had more spunk and personality, but she didn't seem to notice anyone in the world except for that big, strong, and handsome Sir Michael. Will could see why she liked him. Sir Michael was what Will wished he could be.
Michael was so noble. Sure, Will was a prince, but Kat couldn't know that, and even if she did, Michael acted more like a prince than him. Michael was a better fighter; even at the young age of eighteen, he was better than some of the more experienced knights. And the way Kat looked at Michael, Will couldn't forget; she never looked at Will that way. He suddenly realized that he hadn't responded to Jennifer as she looked at him expectantly.
“No,” he said almost robotically.
“Oh,” she looked confused, “then what trick does the king use to keep from being killed? He must be so smart,” Jennifer gushed.
“He is quite clever,” Will agreed.
Jennifer paused, “What is the trick?”
Will sighed. He could trust Jennifer; she may not understand what he said anyway, but he could trust her. “It's actually really impressive. Shortly after the fallout with his brother, he developed an immunity to the most common poisons used for assassination.”
Her eyes widened, “Wow, so poison can't hurt him at all?”
Will chuckled, “My lady, he couldn't be immune to all poisons, but he is immune to common poisons such as arsenic, hemlock, monkshood, and belladonna.”
“Those sound really poisonous,” Jennifer emphatically agreed. “I like flowers better; they are so much prettier. Are you immune to poison?”
“Why would I be? I’ve never had any experience with poison,” Will replied.
“Me neither,” she lied. “Poisonous plants can’t be as pretty as flowers though. I like azaleas the best; they are to die for!” What lovely irony! she thought internally.
Will shook his head and they continued on while Jennifer told him about her favorite flowers by category. He followed her and almost forgot what was going on, because he had Kat and Michael on his mind. He hardly ever saw Kat without Michael, and it bothered him that he had nothing more to give her than what Michael had already done for her.
“Will,” Jennifer interrupted, “what are you thinking about?”
Will thought of making something up, but instead he said, “Kat and Michael,” and braced himself.
Jennifer's eyes welled up. “I knew you were thinking about her. You can never seem to get your eyes off her. She completely ignores you. Why do you waste your time on the likes of her? She and Michael are probably close to betrothal by now. He even kisses her in public. How could you be so unfeeling to be dreaming of her when you're right here with me? If you hate me so much, then fine. I'll leave.” With that, she kicked her horse and started galloping away.
Will sighed. He had learned not to bring up Kat with Jennifer the year before; why did he do it just now? His trance seemed to have brought out a little more honesty than he intended to give. He then noticed where Jennifer was going and sped after her. “Jennifer! Don't go that way! That forest is of Volez: filled with bandits and thieves. We're at the border of the kingdom. Come back!”
Jennifer ignored him and went straight into the woods. Will was a fairly good rider, but apparently so was she; he wasn't able to catch up with her before she disappeared into the forest. The sun was beginning to set, so the visibility in the forest was quite limited. Will immediately became very concerned for the safety of Lady Jennifer. Then suddenly he found himself flying off his horse, knocking the wind out of him as he landed on his back. Trip-line, he thought, but where is Jennifer? He felt a sting in his neck and pulled a dart out. Then his world went black.
* * * * *
Kat was pacing in her chambers. She checked up with Silas and Kimberly to see how Will was doing, but he wasn't there. No one had seen him since he went out riding with Jennifer, but it had been four hours, and it was well after dark. Even though Kat didn't interact with Will anymore, she couldn't stand not knowing where he was. She fell asleep by her window, watching for when Will might return.
She was awoken early that morning when she heard some rustling in the stables and by the gate. Had Will returned? She threw something on to cover her underclothes and ran out to the stables. It wasn't Will. It was Michael.
“Michael?” she inquired, “What are you doing in the stables this early?”
He sighed, “I have to go, Katrina.”
“Go? For how long?”
“Will and Jennifer never came back last night and something could be wrong. I need to go find them.”
A smile glimmered on Kat’s face, “That’s noble of you.”
“Just doing my duty, my lady. I don’t know how long it will take.”
“Of course. Just be safe, Michael, and hurry back.”
He pulled her in and kissed her. She lingered in his arms, then he hopped on his horse, said, “Until we meet again,” and rode off. She stood there with a few tears rolling down her face. She hoped Will was alright and she would miss Michael while he was away.
Kat ran back inside to find Kimberly was with Sierra and Silas. “Is Will missing?” Kat blurted as soon as she saw them.
The three gave her a worried look and Kimberly replied, “Neither he nor Jennifer came back after their ride last night. They are probably in trouble, but we don't know where to look for them.” They spent over an hour debating, but couldn't come up with any solid ideas where to look for him. The king sent out an urgent proclamation for the retrieval of Will the silversmith. Perhaps by some miracle, someone might have seen him.