Chapter Ten- Hannah’s Letter

The next morning Wanepi knocked on my door just as the sun was rising. I am an early riser, so I was already up and dressed. 

“Good morning! Did you sleep well?” I asked her as she walked in. And then I saw the two maids following her in. They each carried a large tray of breakfast foods. 

“Wanepi, you shouldn’t have.” I looked at her with a reproving look that I did not feel. “But I am famished, so I suppose I will have to let it go.” We both sat down in chairs and started eating. Once we had both finished the mountain of eggs, grits, croissants and other food, we started talking. Wanepi looked at me nervously.

“How are things back home?” She looked down a little, her face saddening. “Other than the fact that a lot of people aren’t there anymore.”

I smiled a little.“It is okay. Matthias is married- which is a little strange to me- and he has a daughter. Titro is on some grand adventure out there with Gracia and Pasha and Renaglo is in the caves right now. Oh, and Catania is with Respato. I suppose that’s all with our family.”

I stopped, concentrating at the sound of wings outside. I stood, walking swiftly out onto the balcony to find my hawk, Stella, perched on the railing. I stepped closer and held out my arm, cooing quietly. She hopped onto my arm, holding up one tallon and balancing on the other. Attached was a small scroll. Wanepi looked over my shoulder at her and smiled.

“You still have little Stella after all these years? Although, she isn’t so little anymore.” 

“That’s right. Stella is now a momma! Back home she has three little babies that are being trained for Senepha and Sahara. The third one will be mine as Stella’s successor when she gets too old. Senie named hers Marocho and Sahara named hers Parka. Mine is named Rosa.” I pulled my focus back to Stella. “But she shouldn’t be here. The only person that could send her to me is Matthias, but this note definitely isn’t from him. And he wouldn’t have sent someone else’s message through her. He would have told them to find someone else.” I unrolled it, reading the signature at the bottom. “This-this is from Hannah?

“Antepi, 

I am writing this because I want you to have these words in writing so that you can look back at them again, and again, and again. You are trying to steal my fiance. You had that little argument in the supply room staged so that I would think he didn’t love me. You made him say things he wouldn’t have said. But he is mine. You will not take him. Yes, childhood best friends must be allowed some things, but you will not take him from me. I have an amazing fiance and I can offer him the world. You can offer him nothing but painful memories. Also, you should guard your hawk house better. Maybe put a lock on it. 

Hannah

“She broke into our hawk house?” The anger seethed inside me. “Is she crazy? She could have lost an eye. She has no idea what she is doing around hawks! Trust me,” I turned to Wanepi a little, “I’ve watched her. She is clueless.” But I cared much less about what could have happened to Hannah than about what might have happened to my hawks. And about what I would do to her once I returned home. “She could have hurt one of them.” I grit my teeth. “This is too far.” I turned to Wanepi. “Come on- we are ending this.” I hopped up on the railing, carefully supporting myself so that I didn’t fall. I jumped the short distance to Joeté’s balcony and turned, waiting for Wanepi. 

“Now you’re the one that is crazy. You can’t just go into his room!” She crossed her arms defiantly.

“I’m going to knock. I am not that uncultured.” I knocked, but no answer came. “Joeté? Are you in there?” There was no response. I knocked again with the same results. “Something’s wrong. He would have answered. And he wouldn’t  go wandering around the castle. Besides that, we would have heard him leave, unless he was really quiet.” I watched as she rolled her eyes and jumped over the gap. 

“Antepi, do not do what I think you are going to do.” Her voice had a warning edge. “It’s breaking and entering. You can’t just go in there.” I raised my eyebrows and looked at her as I turned the handle. It wasn’t locked. 

“It isn’t breaking and entering, it’s just entering. Besides, if something is wrong, we need to know. And this is practically your palace anyway. You can go wherever you want.” I shrugged.

“Not an occupied room!” She protested.

“It is not occupied if no one is in it.” I smiled and pushed the door open. The room was empty but everything was orderly. “Looks like he did leave quietly. Apparently he didn’t want us to know he was leaving either.” I frowned. “He doesn’t know the castle well, so he wouldn’t go trying to find something. It would have to be a place he knew how to get to. Something isn’t right here. Follow me.” I closed the balcony door and walked to his door. I tried to turn the handle but it wouldn’t budge. “Locked?” I bent down a little. “And he took the key. Good thing I know how to pick a lock.” I unlocked it and we both walked out. I motioned for her to be quiet. “Where is a place that is fairly secluded, easy to get to, and he has been multiple times?” I whispered.

“When there isn’t a party or ball about to happen, going on, or one recently, the ballroom. It’s generally deserted. But why would he go there?” 

“I’m not sure, but something isn’t adding up. He snuck out, he didn’t want anyone coming in his room, and he didn’t leave any notes in case anyone did get into his room. He obviously doesn’t want anyone to know where he is.” I pulled my dagger out of a small sheath attached to my thigh. 

“Do you actually carry that everywhere?” I nodded. She smiled and pulled one from the same place. “Once an Antioch.” I smiled back at her.

“Always an Antioch.” I motioned her to stay behind me, and we kept moving. As we neared the ballroom I heard hushed voices coming from the half open door. Wanepi motioned to a staircase and I followed her up it. On the upper level, we could see and hear everything without being noticed. I saw Joeté talking with a man dressed in all black, a cloak hiding his features. Joeté’s voice wafted up.

“I already told him. I won’t spy for him. I only agreed to marry Hannah because he threatened both of us. So you can tell Jeekis that my original answer still stands. I. Won’t. Do. It.” I could see him gritting his teeth, his jaw rock solid. 

“Do you really want to make him mad? He is determined to have you as his spy. You are close with these people, you are even a close friend of the king.” The man’s deep voice was dangerous. 

“I told you, I won’t do it. And don’t ever come around here again. I had a hard enough time meeting you, and just to tell you that I refuse. I will not betray the people I love.” My heart fluttered at him saying the people he loved. I grimaced. He wasn’t talking about me. He was talking about Catania and everyone else. He cared about me like a sister, but didn’t love me. I was being foolish. I didn’t react to this type of thing. 

I focused my attention on what they were saying. “They are my family, and I have already hurt one enough. If I were to do this, it would crush her, and my sister. It goes against everything I stand for, and you forget. I have never, ever been of English origin. I am French, and I don’t know how they do things in England, but French stick together. Just because I am marrying an English woman doesn’t mean I am English.” 

“Why can’t you take after your chief? He gave us all the information we needed to attack you all.  But if you won’t listen to reason,” the man took a step toward Joeté and reached for something in his cloak.

I nodded to Wanepi and we both grabbed curtains and swung down. 

“He said he won’t do it.” We stood in the way of the man and   Joeté. Both of them looked at us with confusion. “Now, since you are an English spy, I think we have the perfect place for you to spend the rest of your days.”

“The dungeon.” Wanepi finished for me. “Guards!” Instantly all the guards that could hear her loud exclamation came running. “Take this man to the dungeon. Make sure he gets a cell that is nice and comfortable. He will be there for a long time.” They dragged the man off and we turned to Joeté. I smiled wryly. 

“Did you really think you could hide something like this from us?” 

“How did you find out I was gone? I tried to be so careful.”

“Well, we kind of needed to talk to you, and we figured the balcony was faster, so we went to your balcony, and then we knocked and called but you didn’t answer so we went in, found you not there, your door was locked, and we just kept going from there. Then we hid on the upper level until the opportune moment and made our grand entrance.” He grimaced and rubbed the back of his neck. 

“So, what does this mean? Why am I not going to the same place as him?” 

“Well, both of us clearly heard you refuse to spy for them. It was clear that you never had any intention of betraying our country, so you are free. You’ve done nothing wrong.” My stomach rumbled a little and I laughed. “I say we go get something to eat.” I glanced at Wanepi and saw a more serious look on her face and realized what she was thinking of. I stopped smiling. “And then we can talk about what just happened on my balcony.” 

He looked confused but followed us. I could feel Wanepi glancing at me every so often as we walked to the dining hall. She stopped just outside the doors.

“Don’t say anything about what happened until I do. He might take it better from me. The fact that a spy was able to get in is sure to make him angry.” She said quietly. 

We both nodded and the guards opened the doors.

“Lady Wanepi Teviana Perivia Anyama Antioch, Lady Antepi Sokonia Medlia Anyama Antioch, and Sir Joeté Shiko Rivo Antioch.” The herald announced all of us. 

Philippe looked up when he heard the added name on Wanepi’s name. Wanepi had told the herald to add that part at the last moment. She figured it would be an easier way to tell Philippe everything. 

“Anyama? I don’t remember that being part of your names.” 

“It is customary in our culture to add the name of our deceased mother to our names. If we knew that mother, that is- it is complicated.” 

“I thought your mother’s name was Emma?”

“That was my adoptive mother.” Men pulled our chairs out for us and we sat down. “Anyama and Operone were my real parents.” 

“Then I am going to assume that you found out who your real parents are?” 

“Were. My parents are dead now.” 

“Wait. I think I understand now.” He pointed to the two of us. “You two are…” Wanepi nodded. “This is great news!” We all smiled. Then Philippe became more serious. “Antepi, I believe that you should leave today to go and get Respato. I want you to bring him back here to be put in the dungeon. Joeté, I need you to stay here and help me with somethings. When Antepi returns she will leave again by herself, and you will follow behind by a few hours. Safety precautions.” We both nodded. 

“As you wish, your Highness.” 

I decided to do three posts this week to help make up for my inactivity. Hope everyone is staying safe and healthy today!

<3