The Secrets of Kings: Episode 2

7:30 AM

The Veiled Lady

October 3, 1384 11:38 AM

Her foot would not stop tapping in a show of obvious nerves. It had been flapping non-stop since Ponce had sat her in the room to wait for the King and his men to arrive. The usually handsome King now sat across from her, looking disheveled from the long night prior. His hair was unkempt under his crown and deep purple pockets under his eyes suggested the need for a long sleep. The Veiled Lady was certain this was a trait they were currently sharing. However, even with the disarray the King displayed, it was not the King that made her nervous, so much as his councilmen, who were sitting at his sides.
Her mission, which started today, would end quickly if any of them recognized her and would reveal a scandal unlike any the Kingdom of Frowena had ever been party to in the past. She had covered herself from head to toe in the grey veil, the standard dress for women of the highly secretive Clarity Sect, whose members occupied regions within the upper portions of the Kingdom. It was imperative that this disguise serve its purpose as not to put her in danger, but this was the first time wearing the garb  for any duration of time and she had never attempted to wear it in front of people who may recognize her. As the eyes of those sitting before her seemed intent upon piercing the veil, her paranoia about the effectiveness of her disguise ballooned.
The oldest of the King’s councilmen finally broke the silence in which they had been sitting. “The King tells us that one of his advisors in the North highly recommended you as an emergency wet-nurse for the new prince. Is this a service you would be willing to perform for his majesty the King and his newborn son?”
“Yes, m’lord.” She attempted to emphasize her dialect with a more northerly accent.  She had been practicing for months but remained less than confident.
The King and his men all gave slight nods, as though they were hoping that she would continue to address them. She cleared her throat to continue with her cover story. “Much like his Highness, I too suffered a loss recently, leaving me free to nurse for someone else’s child.” She hung her head for effect. “It has been two days since I have properly nursed. I am happy to take on the honor of nourishing the new prince. However it would be imperative that I start right away or we will risk my body reversing my breasts’ ability to produce milk.”
Here there was another uncomfortable silence. Clearly, the councilmen were uneasy discussing the usual functions of a woman’s body in such blatant terms. The Veiled Lady knew it would make them squirm, but she was hoping their discomfort would lead to an abbreviated interview.
One of the councilmen finally began to speak, “We are sorry to hear of your loss. How old was your child?”
The King interrupted before she could answer herself, “Nearly three, I believe was what my advisor told me.” He looked to The Veiled Lady, who gave a partial nod to confirm his answer. “Although I am sorry to hear of your loss, I am happy to hear that you are willing to use your womanly resources to ensure the Royal prince is well provided for. If I am honest, I cannot see any reason why we should further delay this process. The Prince has not fed for several hours, and the only feeding he has had was the result of the kindness of the wife of one of our kitchen staff. Why don’t I show you to my newborn son’s chambers.” The councilmen showed surprise by the King’s quick acceptance of The Veiled Lady with so little interrogation. She, on the other hand, was happy to abbreviate the formality of this interview.
“Your highness, I must insist that you consider further vetting. We do not know…”
With a swift and sharp interruption, the King stood his ground. “I beseech you good, Sir. Do NOT question me. I have confidence in the advisor from whom I received this lady’s recommendation and as a grieved mother herself, I have confidence that this arrangement will be beneficial to all involved.”
The King stood, turning to each side and delivering a telling look. The councilman conceded and the King turned and extended his hand to The Veiled Lady. She could see the surprise, once again, on the faces of his councilman. That the King himself would offer his assistance to some common woman he had just met, clearly perturbed them. She lifted her gloved hand and gently placed it in his anyway. He looked down at her intently as though he was attempting to make out her face through the depths of the veil that she was wearing.
She gently squeezed his hand as she stood. She was experiencing a bit of pain in her mid-region so getting up and down was not exactly anticipated in any pleasurable fashion. Although he could not see it in her face, she was grateful for the assistance as he gently but firmly guided her upward. The pain became slightly more intense as she moved, causing her body to sweat violently in reaction. She could feel the heat in her cheeks and droplets of sweat forming across her forehead. She swiveled just enough to peek at the cushion on which she had been sitting, examining the seat to ensure that no remnants of her body’s womanhood crept through the additional layers of cloth she had been wearing to avoid any such embarrassment. Thankfully, the cushion remained clean,  so she looked back to the king as he slowly began to usher her away.
“My Lady…” She heard from behind, just as she and the King reached the doorway.
“Yes, M’Lord.” She responded, looking over her shoulder. The King had continued to hold her hand as they slowly walked toward the exit of the room and she was unsure how best to address the councilmen from behind without losing the needed support of the king’s walking assistance. In answer, the King walked around her, allowing her body to gracefully pivot until she was face to face with the councilmen.
“Your husband, my Lady…” The councilman continued.
“Yes?” She questioned. She was fairly certain they could hear the slight panic in her voice. She had stupidly let her guard down, expecting the inquiry had officially ended with King Corbin’s harsh words towards his councilmen.
“My Lady... Will your husband require any accommodations as you are here to serve in this capacity? As I understand it, the hamlet you are from is more than three hours by carriage. Can we do anything to provide accommodations or work to your husband as you serve?”
“My… husband…” She stammered. Think! She demanded of herself. All the preparation in the previous months regarding her cover story and neither she, nor her conspirators had anticipated she would be required to answer for a husband. She was in awe for just a moment at their oversight. “My husband...ummm…” She struggled. “Three years ago, my husband was in the Great Battle. He did not come home.” She lied. It was the quickest thing she could come up with, but she felt terrible for saying it. Although her husband did play a large role in the Great Battle, he did, in fact, come home and he was still very much alive.
King Corbin squeezed her hand gently, turning her back around and leading her out of the room, and towards his son’s chamber. The Veiled Lady finally relaxed a bit. She would officially be overseeing the health and well-being of the heir, which was exactly where she needed to be and the process getting there was infinitely less trying than she had anticipated.

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