Chapter 51 - A Black Ballgown (BONUS!!!)

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Kastali Dun

Claire sat at her writing desk fidgeting with King Talon's letter from the night before. She had waited all day to read it, but now that it was within her means, she hesitated. She turned the folded note over in her hands, studying King Talon's seal, the parchment, the folds...

Part of her was still reeling from the events of the day. After an exciting morning at court, she attended the remainder of her lessons with Mage Sepia, and then with Mage Targa. Everything carried on normally—as it usually did. No one brought up her kidnapping nor her performance in court. Only Caterina's dangerously flashing eyes and Targa's larger than usual sneer were evidence that something serious had taken place. She was grateful to be finished with it all and have several hours to herself before dinner.

Glancing over her shoulder, she confirmed that Desaree was still sitting upon the sofa with a book in hand. She took a deep breath and broke the seal on Talon's note from the night before then read its contents:

Dear Claire,

I consider myself lucky; this is your second letter tonight.

Reg. your bad dreams: What those men put you through when they kidnapped you—that you should be haunted by their actions—infuriates me. Having said this, if you have fulfilled your promise to go to sleep, then you will not see this until the morning. If that is the case, I hope you slept well, and I wish you a good morning. I would also like to wish you luck in your lesson today with Jovari and Koldis.

In the mean time, I am forced to wait in suspense because you will not tell me about your important deed. I feel rather left out. I am an excellent secret keeper, you know. Perhaps you will consider me worthy of your secrets in the future. I promise not to disappoint...

Reg. the pirate attack: I will happily arrange for a briefing. I think the details are better relayed in person. Notes can be dangerous. Shall we meet?

I look forward to hearing from you.



She read the letter several times before setting it aside. Then she gathered a blank sheet of parchment, prepared her writing supplies, and got to work. When she had written something she was happy with, she read it twice over.

Dear Talon,

I was unable to read your note until now. Desaree runs a tight ship. By now you know of my secret deed—it is no longer secret. What are your thoughts? Did I do the right thing?

Regarding your offer, I agree. Since you depart tomorrow, I am available to meet at your earliest convenience.



She nearly snorted as she finished reading it. There was a time she wouldn't have dared asking for Talon's thoughts on anything. Now she was eager for his judgement. What was wrong with her?

After she sent her letter on its way, she took a seat beside Desaree, who was still happily reading. The idea of potentially meeting with King Talon left her both excited and confused. The confusion was because she didn't understand the excitement. This was a man she had—up until recently—detested. Now she was eager to be in his presence, discussing war efforts, learning more about Dragonwall...about him.

"Gods above! Look at you!" said Desaree.

How long had Desaree been studying her? "What about me?" Claire's feigned innocence earned a deadpan stare. "Okay, okay. I think I might be meeting Talon this evening. He promised me information."

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