“Lad where you going?” Lars called as Duncan lumbered down the stairs the next morning. He had spent all evening tossing and turning trying to work out what if anything to say to Alice. Tristen was a scoundrel he decided, however he had also realised that made him one too. For the first time he realised how he had behaved towards Alice was truly wrong, no wonder she was upset.
“I’m… going to find Alice” he replied sullenly.
“Not now yer ain” Lar’s decided, “Go an see yer Ma”
“Why?” he huffed. “What’s she going to tell me off for now?”
“Yer Ma’s had some bad news and it’s something you should hear”
Getting the point Duncan nodded heading down into the kitchen where his mother was waiting. “Lar’s said you needed to see me”
“I do” she smiled weakly, “It’s about your sister”
Duncan’s stomach lurched, he and Maegan had never been close they have been bought up separately for most of their life but still despite all that the connect he felt with his twin was stronger than any other he possessed.
“I had a letter from Orrick, it seems she’s remarried” his mother managed to explain.
A sudden wave of relief washed over him quickly followed by one of confusion, why was it then his mother acted as though she was dead?
“She’s married your Uncle Gabriel” Kaitlyn continued.
“Surely that’s not so bad?” Duncan asked not understanding. His uncle was somewhat of a mystery but he had many good memories of the man from when he was a child. “But how surely the church…”
“He must have gotten special discompensation” his mother interrupted. “But it’s it’s not a good thing”
“Why not?” he asked innocently.
“Don’t you remember Maegan talking about him at Christmas?” his mother asked.
Duncan shrugged, there were a great many conversations had at Christmas before Christophers death, none of them especially interesting.
“Your Uncle Gabriel Killed his last wife” his mother reminded him, “Surely you remember that?”
“Oh-yeah” Duncan replied carefully, not really remembering at all.
“And surely you remember your Uncles last visit here? And how he didn’t support your claim to the throne”
“I guess” he agreed.
“Well Orrick thinks he means your sister harm. Orrick thinks your Uncle Killed Christopher”
“Yeah-but…. “ his voice trailing off as he realised that he had not really ever paid too much attention to anything that had been going on down in Grimstead, even when his mother had forced him to sit in on the conversations.
“Duncan do you ever pay any attention to anything that doesn’t wear a skirt?!” Kaitlyn hissed.
“That’s not fair” he retorted, “I do pay attention. I just don’t understand why this is bad. He’s family surely he won’t hurt her?”
“Orrick tells me that Gabriel is keeping her locked up, that he’s lost all reason. I don’t see him often but last time I saw him even I could see he’d changed, I don’t know him anymore…. The old Gabriel, he would never hurt her, but the new one… I just don’t know. I keep hearing terrible things from Orrick and from Maegan. it’s as if though they talk about a man I don’t know at all”
“Then we need to go and see her” Duncan decided, “Make sure that she is safe and well?”
“Yes” his mother agreed, “I think we should, Lar’s will help you get the wagon we’ll leave right away.”
It was evening by the time the wagon arrived on the Hamdun estate, glancing towards his mother he could see her staring at the castle as it approached. This was the first time either of them had stepped foot in Grimstead since Daniel had been crowned and though it was no-longer safe for them the risk’s where minimal as they appeared no different from many travellers.
Heading into the castle courtyard they got out of their wagon and headed to the heavy doors. The last time his mother had been here It was as family, the heir to the thrones wife and beloved sister of the Hamduns.
Knocking it took several minutes for the door to open and when it eventually did a servant looked at the blankly, he watched as his mother reasoned with the man at first it taking a great deal of persuasion to convince him of who she was. Eventually however they were led into a small lounge to wait. It was clear by the décor that the Hamdun’s where doing well for themselves even this room a simple waiting area for visitor’s was well kept and extravagant.
It was several minutes before Gabriel finally entered the room, “Kait” he smiled, giving his mother a somewhat awkward embrace. “What can I do for you?”
“I hear you married Maegan” She replied bluntly, seeming to not wish to delay the matter.
“Are you here to congratulate me?” he smiled.
“No” his mother retorted, “Why didn’t you tell us, have you forgotten how to write?”
“Of course not. I just didn’t think that’s all, I apologise. Of course I would have invited you but Daniel was in attendance and it would have been awkward”
“Where is she, can I see her?”
“I’m sorry” he replied “she’s not here presently she’s out visiting friends” the hairs on the back of Duncan’s neck prickled. He was lying, he didn’t know how he knew he was lying but he was.
“Then can we wait and see here when she return’s” her mother begged.
“She could be days” Gabriel replied, “She often spends weeks with her friends”
“I don’t mind, sure you can give your own sister a room for a few days, we’ve travelled a long way and we really want to see her?”
“Well it’s …. sort of difficult” Gabriel replied “I have Daniel visiting tomorrow and you wouldn’t want to be here for that I’m sure?”
“We’ll stay out of the way” his mother reasoned, “Daniel need not know we are here”
“You’re lying!” Duncan suddenly interrupted, noticing the bruising and grazes on the nobleman’s knuckles “She is here… I know she is. I want to see her?”
“She is here… Why don’t you want us to see her?!” he demanded again, “Is it because you beat her? Are you scared we will see her bruises?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about?”
“Your hands!” he hissed, anger taking over “You hit her didn’t you?”
“Kaitlyn will you control your son?!” Gabriel demanded.
“Duncan calm down” his mother urged.
Suddenly he found he could not calm down. His uncle had not denied hitting her. Somewhere inside told him, his instinct on the matter was correct.
He had hit her and she was here. He was just keeping them from her.
Turning he bolted for the door, running out into the corridor. He would find her he decided and he would take her home.