Chapter Thirty-Eight – continued
A light wind stroked through her tangled hair as she ran, but the sun shone weakly as the last clouds drifted by. Camille hardly noticed. Her eyes were focused only on what was in front of her, the looming trees, the looming castle, the unguarded door fast approaching her. She barely spared a thought for why it was unguarded as she pulled it open, but it was readily apparent as soon as she stepped inside and shrieked when a pike was leveled at her nose.
The hall was lined with guards in full uniform. They looked shiny and stiff and solemn. The man holding the pike was staring at her, but his eyes were slightly squinted as though he were trying to place her.
Camille drew herself up, knowing just how disheveled she looked, but she was also a Countess.
“I am the Countess Olidan,” she announced. “I have been held hostage in my home, and must now speak urgently with the King.”
“The King is a busy man,” the man said.
“I believe he will want to speak with me,” she said confidently. “He is formally courting my sister, Lady Abigail, who has been kidnapped.”
That induced a quick ripple through the men, and the pike was lowered.
“Come with me,” another guard said, stepping forward and bowing to her.
Camille nodded, just the way her mother had taught her. Her head held high, she followed the guard as he walked swiftly down the halls. They walked through the infirmary, which had thinned considerably since she had last been there. They walked up stairs and down hallways, drawing curious looks from the staff. But Camille held herself like a lady, even as people gaped and tried not to point at her rumpled appearance.
Finally, they stopped at a door Camille knew led to an intimate parlor. The guard rapped on the door and waited.
There was some shuffling and low voices, but the door cracked open and another guard peered out, his eyes unfriendly.
“The King is not to be disturbed,” he said curtly.
The guard with her saluted, his back straight. “The Countess Olidan is here to see His Majesty. It concerns Lady Abigail Olidan.”
“Abigail?” came Adrian’s voice from within. “Show her in.”
The guards quickly moved aside and bowed as Camille entered the parlor. She barely had time to look around and take in the King and Queen of the Pearl Kingdom awkwardly rising to their feet before Adrian was in front of her. He grabbed her hands, his fingers tight as he stared at her, unblinking.
“What happened to Abigail?” he asked, a frantic worry in his voice. “No one here knows where she went.” He frowned as he took in her hair and face and then looked down to the state of her dress. “And you. What happened to you?”
Camille took a deep breath. “Abigail has been kidnapped.”
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