Chapter Fourteen (Part Three)

*Posting late because something was wrong with my keyboard and mouse…but the hubs fixed it…and here it is…better late than never, right? Also, after next week, I will be working towards posting the chapters in full…thanks for reading and bearing with snippets during the holidays!*

They continued down the hall in silence, leaving Maurlee to think the king did not approve of her answer. But it was to be of no matter to her. She did liken herself to the princess, if for nothing else than she was a lone girl living with brothers. Even if their life stations were worlds apart, Maurlee’s knack for poultices and potions had given her a little bit of leg up, hadn’t they? She was, for the most part, living in Dritan Citadel and conversing with the Great King, after all. Following him through corridors and caring for his daughter. Never mind the untrusting stares from Pammy and the curious glances from Prince Dennis.

When they had been properly attended to with service for two set out before them in the dim but cozy library, Maurlee gave herself permission to finally look around. A fire in the fireplace flickered light up to the very top shelf, where indiscernible titles written in gold and silver sat just waiting to be read.

The two oversized chairs on which they now both sat, the small serving table wheeled in by the servant, and two long tables were the only furniture in the room. It wasn’t an overly large room, but every shelf was filled to the brim with books, save the ones the king had pulled and piled on the tables. The tables gave away his love for study with notes scrawled in hurried fashion across papers, some of which had fallen to the floor. Even from her limited vantage point and lack of light in the room, save what was given by the blazing fire to her right, Maurlee could make out large x’s or pronounced circles around any particular script. Maurlee determined the Great King and the Lady Kaelah had much in common in the way they studied.

“This is my study, though most refer to it as the library. But it is here that I find myself lost in the flight patterns of butterflies or the migration of birds and countless religious documents of old. While you must ask for permission first, my study is free for your use, just please leave my tables be.” The Great King took a biscuit from the platter and slathered it with current jelly before offering it to her. Maurlee declined, opting instead for holding her tea cup but forgetting to take a sip.

Her mind was reeling at the wealth of books and documents he just opened to her world. Her reading was limited to ingredients she had become familiar with and her writing was abysmal. She could barely sign her name and often, when she was done, she had no idea where any of her letters began or ended. But here, the book spines lined up in succinct rows, their titles perfectly displayed, everything in its place…the books themselves made her want to learn to read more, to know more of what was hidden deep within them.

“Tell me, how did you and your brothers come to be in with the Coills? You must have been born in, yes?” The Great King had never heard of the Coills kidnapping a maiden and then also taking her male kin. It would make an escape attempt more likely and shed light on the Coills whereabouts from first-hand escapees.

“No, Your Majesty, we weren’t born into the Coills. As I had mentioned before, we are…familiar with them…not family to them.” Her heart began to beat faster, as it always did when the Great King started his questions. She did not feel as though she had anything to hide, but there was something about possibly disappointing him that weighed heavily on her. Perhaps it was living within the walls of the city, where the Spirit of Blessing was so pronounced that had her on edge. Out in the fields, on their modest farm, it was present but not as saturated.

“Yes, I do remember that. But I suppose I am still a bit confused. I do not know the Coills to take families, you see.” He took another bite of the biscuit, then set it down to take both her hands in his. “It is not my intention to frighten you or cause you harm. I only wish to understand how you came to be ‘familiar’ with the Coills, and how you know so much about poultices. Lady Kaelah says your knowledge rivals hers, though she has received the Gift of Somatic Mending.”

“Oh no, the Lady Kaelah’s gifting far surpasses any knowledge I could possess. But if you’re wantin’ to know how it was that I came into my knowledge, I’ll tell ya. I have nothing to hide, my king. I only wish to help Princess ReAnne recover and do right by her. I do feel it is my responsibility since I am the one who made the potion that ails her.”

“Yes, you have said that…though I doubt you understand what that means. But no matter. I will sit patiently here in front of the warm fire with my tea and listen intently.”

Maurlee sat her cup squarely in her lap to steady her hands. The idea that all was not as it appeared again came to her mind as did the question of just why the Princess ReAnne had reacted so negatively to her potion. But her inquiries regarding either of those things were always brushed aside by the king or Lady Kaelah, so she prayed a silent prayer to the Provider that she would do honor towards her family, took a deep breath and began.

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