Two days after meeting King Alwyn and Prince Gavin, elation was once more slowly giving way to panic. None of her ideas from the past couple of days had been as promising as she'd hoped, and the only ones that held any promise had huge risks associated with them, or scant chance of succeeding. Or both.
And the wedding was tomorrow . . .
Gwen's first thought had been to send Gavin a message - write out something on a piece of parchment describing her condition and then sending it to him. Or, if her new geis prevented something like that, perhaps just a simple note encouraging him to ditch the wedding and return to his girlfriend in Rhegar.
The problem with that whole approach was the evidence it would leave behind. With Rhosyn gone, there was nobody she could trust! All of the servants were brand new, hired by either Anifail or her father, which meant that there was no way she'd simply hand one of them a damning note penned by her own hand. Most of the castle staff hadn't learned their cyphers anyway - how would she even tell them what to do with the note in the first place? Hand gestures?
At one point she'd considered writing a note and keeping it with her, waiting until she was alone with Prince Gavin so that she could give it to him directly. However, the prospect of walking around with that kind of incriminating evidence on her person terrified her. What if Anifail ordered her searched, and found the note on her? What if her father caught her attempting to meet with the prince with a secret note, or even just with a blank piece of paper, some ink, and a quill? He'd know what she was up to, certainly. And what would happen to Rhosyn then?
In the end she'd come up with an idea that seemed a safe bet. Gwen had found a small folded paper fan in one of the castle storage rooms, and had taken to carrying it with her wherever she went. She'd also located a small piece of pressed charcoal used for sketching, and after wrapping it in a shred of cloth, had tucked it away into one of the folds of the fan. The paper of the fan was a pale yellow, but it was light enough to write a message on if she flattened it out. The best thing was that it wouldn't around much suspicion. All she needed to do was meet with the prince face-to-face, hurriedly scrawl a message on the paper of her fan, show it to him, and then dispose of it after. That would be the easy bit - every room in the castle had torches, or lamps, or a fireplace . . .
Of course, that would only work if she could get anywhere near Prince Gavin.
It was as if he knew when she was around, and was intentionally avoiding her. Gwen would overhear a scullery maid or other servant mention seeing him in the kitchen, or the inner courtyard, or the main garden, and she'd run down to wherever he'd been sighted, hoping to find him. She was always disappointed, however, though she was often left with the impression that she'd missed him by mere moments.
In addition to overhearing snippets about where the prince was or what he was doing, Gwen also tried to listen in on some kitchen gossip and other rumors, hoping to find out more information about Prince Gavin's girlfriend, like her name. However, most of the whisperings were centered around this dashing heartthrob of a young prince who had swept into Calderia and set every local maiden's heart aflame. Gwen had heard Gavin's charming grin described more times than she could conveniently count, although she herself hadn't seen him as much as smile yet.
They marveled at how polite he was, at his memory for servant's names, and his friendly, outgoing manner. They went on and on about how fit he appeared, how perfectly proportioned his shoulders were to his chest, and what a talented horseman he was. He even took care of his horse himself, they said, and reportedly waved away offers of help whenever they were given, preferring to do everything himself no matter how big or small the task. As far as the castle staff was concerned he was perfect in every single way, save for the fact that he was marrying 'that haughty, spoiled minx of a princess, Gwenwyn'.
That, and hunting - Gavin was apparently a terrible hunter. According to several sources, the prince had been invited to go with her father on an afternoon hunting trip that had been arranged by Anifail the previous day. After an hour or so, they'd happened upon a reportedly spectacular ten-point buck that had been unaware of them, grazing in a meadow near the edge of the forest.