When danger arises, an enslaved princess must reconsider her decision to remain loyal.
Her father the King has enslaved her, ignored her suffering, and promised his throne to her cousin the Prince, whom she hates. Yet Serva, bastard daughter of the King of Daxis, still loves her father. She has passed up chances to escape from slavery because that would mean leaving her father under the dangerous influence of the Prince.
Now, six years after a meeting with a Koretian spy that still haunts her, Serva must choose how highly she values her father's life, for war is about to begin between Daxis and the neighboring land of Koretia. And the King of Daxis, it turns out, has a secret that is far more dangerous than the war.
"'No one must know that you're searching for her on my behalf.'"
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A braver woman than I was would have gone up to the sleeping-chamber door to eavesdrop on what followed. But my mind had scurried ahead like a frightened animal to thoughts of Derek's arrival. I was also trying desperately to figure out how to reach the next nearest entrance to the hidden passage. And so, with my mind selfishly fixed on the question of my own safety, I slipped out into the corridor.
If Richard had been awaiting me there, that would have been the end of the song. Apparently, though, he had decided not to risk raising the King's anger by delaying his mission further. The corridors were empty but for the usual guards and the palace dwellers who were now drifting out of the Great Hall after dinner.
For the next two hours, I played Hunter and Hunted, dodging my way past dozens of people who might know me. In the process, I sighted several familiar figures: Eulalee, who had started down the corridor toward Rosetta's rooms but was stopped by a guard who had evidently been given orders to keep visitors out; Richard, passing within an arm's length of me but too absorbed in his thoughts to notice me; a flicker of motion I instinctively knew was Derek, and with whom I felt an odd kinship, since it seemed that he too was trying to avoid the guards' notice on this night. Finally I reached my goal: a large grate at the end of the corridor, my gateway to the hidden passage.
I scrambled immediately to the length of passage underneath Rosetta's sleeping chamber, but her chamber was silent now, and some whisper from the Spirit prevented me from immediately entering the chamber. Instead, I crawled my way hastily to the Prince's chamber. The first thing I heard there was the unusual sound of Derek's voice upraised.