Lesson 11

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Grielle had planned to sleep through the afternoon and early evening, except her mattress felt like gravel

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Grielle had planned to sleep through the afternoon and early evening, except her mattress felt like gravel. She tossed and turned until she abandoned the effort and instead paced the room.

Her father had taught her every skill he possessed as a master thief. More than just lock-picking and evading detection, she'd learned to cultivate a cunning mind and a cautious heart that prevented her from letting her emotions cloud her judgment. She used it all in order to protect herself and her crew from harm. Those abilities were the reasons people twice her age followed her lead as captain. And now they all seemed to be crumbling at her hands.

She wished her father could have been there to set her straight. He would tell her to focus on her mission. In the coming days, they would face greater dangers in Bleakwood than just pirates.

After a proper bath, she wandered the halls in an Andorian gown delivered to her by Henrik's servants. The palace was beautiful; every room boasted magnificent views of the city. She turned down a passageway that overlooked the great hall where she'd encountered Henrik early that morning. Pausing along the stone railing, she leaned over to watch the throngs of people now bustling about below her.

Someone appeared at her side. She turned to see Henrik, but at this point, having spent all of her energy yelling at him and then at Benedikt, she could barely muster a decent scowl.

"Having trouble sleeping?" he asked with a knowing grin.

She remembered a time when she'd found that lopsided grin charming. Now it made her want to punch something. "Yes. I couldn't get comfortable." She turned back to watching the people below, determined to hold her emotions in check in a way that would make her father proud this time around.

"Interesting..." Henrik mused.

Grielle tried her best to ignore him, for he seemed to have caught onto something he wouldn't let go. A thread he couldn't resist pulling. He ran his hand down her back and let it come to rest in the small of her spine. "Beautiful dress. I think I got the size right. I've always been good at guessing a woman's dress size."

"You will remove your hand immediately, or I will remove it for you," she growled. The warmth of his hand spread through the thin fabric onto her skin.

He drew his hand away, but only after letting it linger a second longer to show she was not in control. "Such authority for a common thief," Henrik said as if she might be something more.

"What are you trying to say?" she asked sharply, her patience worn too thin for veiled comments. She rubbed her lower back to remove the ghosting warmth of his hand on her.

Henrik circled around to the other side of her. "Nothing, except that I know your secret."

~

Benedikt woke with the setting sun and readied himself for King Henrik's banquet. His limbs ached a little after the battle at Osgarden, but all of his scrapes seemed to be healing up nicely. After a hot bath, a fresh shirt felt like the greatest luxury in the world. He exited his room and found Ludvig and Yorick hanging about the hall. Shortly after, Reyn exited her room in a long flowing gown of emerald green that brought out the warm tones of her dark brown skin. It appeared they'd all been provided with a set of dress clothes, free of pirate blood stains.

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