13 XIII. The Scandalmongers

After the dinner last night, Magnus was allowed to be moving around the castle as the princess was not entertaining to get to know him. Perhaps she was waiting till the ball before she made her grand introduction to him.

He sighed before he was sitting in the garden that was concealed from the laundry space for the maids to hang the laundry. And that was when Magnus was hearing the gossips around the castle that he was not aware of.

"Did you hear? There was a brutal rob in the outskirt of the city again,"

"What? No way! I thought the city was secured enough now," the maid said before they were hanging the white linens on the line. The other snorted.

"As if it will ever be. Did you forget that Red Cast was like when it did not have the walls yet? The gruesome danger was hideous. Oh, I wish they will not return to the bad olden days," the maid said before the other was asking about it. Apparently, she did not know about it.

As Magnus was.

"Well, before the walls, the city was under constant attacks from the bandits inland and from the pirates on the shores. The dock was unsafe and if you're alone and a woman out in the middle of the night, they would snatch you up and took you away from here,"

"Oh my, that's sound awful,"

"Aye, it was. Then, the king decided to make the bandits stop with their attacks. He made peace with him but with demands,"

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"And what are the demands?" the younger one asked.

"First of the demands were food. The bandits demanded our food and so the king gave it to them. But of course, the attack did not seize,"

"Then, what did he do?"

"The second of the demands was to give them all the livestock that we have,"

"No!"

"Yes, it was a tough year and I cannot fathom how we will survive. But thankfully, the king was wise as he hid the rest of the livestock and fooled the bandits. Apparently, they were not the wisest of us,"

The younger maid made a giggle before the other continued with her tales.

"But still, the attacks were coming in and the next thing that they demanded was gold,"

"Surely the king will not give it,"

"Aye, he did for the villagers agreed to them. You must remember, Red Cast was not a sprawling city like the one that we live in today. It was a small town with great docks and fertile lands. And so, the king sent the gold and attempted to attack the bandits when they're least expected," the maid said before they were hanging on the line again.

"Then, did we win the battle?" the maid asked before the other maid sighed.

"No, the constables were keeping a good front to get the bandits but when they were ambushed by them---"

"They turned around and tucked their tails between their legs," the older maid said as Magnus was shaking his head.

Such scared cats, the lot of them.

"So, what happened then?" the maid asked before the older one said that one of the king's advisers asked the king to build a wall around the city. And it kept standing high above us to keep us from the bandits but surely, there will be something else that will get the bandits to rile up one of these days and attack us,"

The younger maid gasped. "Surely you jest and not wish for it to happen,"

The other laughed. "Future is uncertain, my dear. Of course, I would not wish it to happen for it will doom us all but hopefully, the bandits will not have something out of us that can bring the king to his knees. We don't want that to happen now,"

"I pray that we will never see that day coming ever," the maid said before they were scurrying inside the laundry room as Magnus was looking at the book that he took from the library. Well, no more reading for him as he was thinking about the potential that might be happening if the crowd was not to be careful.

Magnus turned to look at the sky and hoping that the bad omen will never touch this sprawling city ever again.

Then, he took the book and made his way back to the library where the conversation between the maids was still ringing in his mind.

*****

Magnus bathed and he was getting ready for his dining with the king and queen. Apparently, he must be dining with them together at dinner when they were unable to be free during break the fast and in the afternoon.

He went out of the bedchambers as he was following the butler. He was recognizing the directions that he needed to take so that it will be much easier for him to get around and he did not need the butler any longer.

Magnus can navigate anything and anywhere if he was focused enough.

"Thank you but please, I can find my way around the castle now so you don't need to be around tomorrow morning then," Magnus told the butler before he nodded, a sign that he understood before Magnus walked through the huge oak doors. And of course, that bastard Vincent Quinnston was there as well.

As much as he wanted to please the king and the queen, Vincent was becoming a thorn in his ass whenever he was taking his seat next to him at the dinner table.

"Flemington,"

"Quinnston,"

That was the only exchange between them and Magnus did not converse with him at all. Only on occasion when he asked Magnus a question after the king or queen asked him. Tonight was stew with bread. It was comfort food but of course, with the spiced venison and seasoned vegetables, Magnus knew that the king and queen lived a comfortable life.

He wondered what the princess was eating. Perhaps it was time for him to ask about his betrothed and he should be getting some answers from them, her family, and relative. But Magnus has to time it right. He cannot just ask the question out of the blue.

The king and the queen were discussing the meal before Magnus cleared his throat and sipped on the wine. Then, he dabbed his mouth with a napkin when he spoke to them both.

"When will the wedding be held? I have to get my brothers to attend and to do so, we have to make sure that their time off from the academy," Magnus said before the king and the queen exchanged glances.

"It will be soon enough, my lad,"

"And was the princess already chose the color for her wedding gown?" he said before the king choked on his wine as the queen was coughing on her food. Magnus was arching his eyebrow before Vincent was trying to spit his wine at the queen.

Well, that was some very interesting reaction regarding the princess.

The king recovered first before Magnus was focusing on him. he smiled before he was dabbing his mouth as if the wine will be coming from his mouth at any time soon. But there was nothing.

"Surely the princess will be coming up with the color scheme soon enough,"

"Can I see her then? In her tower?"

"That would be unwise. What will society think of that?" the queen said before Magnus was arching his eyebrows.

"You're the royalty of Caga. Surely you don't care about your reputation for you're the monarchs. The people respect you,"

"Well, we were also the public image of the country. So, we cannot have the scandals attached to our names. Imagine what the scandalmongers will do," the queen's face drained of blood.

"They will be coming like sharks at us, Aunt," Vincent said as he was glaring at Magnus. He glared back. Then, the king cleared his throat as Magnus turned to look at him.

"Surely you can wait until the ball. I am sure you are thrilled to meet your betrothed, my lad, but it would be wise—"

The king did not finish his talk as a constable, disheveled and breathless, came into the grand dining hall. The king stood up and Magnus along with Vincent stood up to show their respect for the monarch.

"What is the meaning of this, Lykan? Surely you can wait until I finish my dinner with my family," the king said as he was looking at the old man that was rushing into the hall. Magnus examined him and he saw that the constable was wearing the medal that dictated all the ranks in the king's army.

That old man was the chief of the king's constables and army.

"Apologies, Your Highness but this cannot wait. We have discovered something important and need your attention immediately," he said before Magnus saw that he was holding a yellow parchment.

A 'gram by the looks of it.

"What it is?"

"A 'gram, from the bandits," he said before the king rushed forward. He took the 'gram from the chief as he was reading it. he gripped the paper before he was turning to look at the old man again and barked orders.

"Calling all the constables from Fiktown and Red Cast. I want the Fik forest to be searched thoroughly. Do not leave any stone left unturned," the king said before the chief bowed before he scrambled through the door. The queen went to the king and read the 'gram. Then, she was sobbing quietly before her husband was soothing her.

"What's wrong? What is it?" Magnus asked before the king was looking at him. His eyes were focusing on him, well not on him but behind him.

Vincent.

"Did you know about this?" the king asked his nephew before Magnus turned to look at him. Vincent's jaws clenched before he nodded.

"Did you know that your cousin ran away and got caught by the bandits? Now, they demand ransom for her capture? What will we do about it?" the king said before the queen was sobbing in his arms, hugging him close to her chest.

"I thought Ca—"

"I don't care about it! all we have to do now is how to get my daughter, your cousin back!" the king said before Magnus was moving toward the king. The king focused on him before he asked for the parchment. He read it and he was stunned by it.

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