The Duke of Franconia never failed to throw a lavish and entertaining feast. The squires of the kitchen ran from table to table serving the Duke’s guests. The squires served jellied pheasants and peacocks from plates of silver and gold. The male guests clinked their cups of ale as a sign of fellowship. The ladies chattered away about the latest fashions. Troubadours sang wistful love songs with the accompaniment of musicians. Jugglers entertained children with their expertise and skill.
The dining hall was filled with an infectious merriment, but there was one particular person who remained immune. The Duke’s eldest daughter could not feign joy if her life depended on it. Her heart was weighted down by a stone after being rejected by a lord she had admired for years. Before the feast, she had professed her devotion to the worthless soul. He mocked her and called her a lovesick child.
Seated right beneath the Great Table, she could see him laughing and jeering with a few brawny comrades. The constant staring and pointing in her direction made it plain that they were discussing her. Anne was mortified. If only she could retreat to her room and bury her face into her pillow.
To focus her mind on something else, she scanned the hall once more. The happiness she saw seemed to mock her. The smiles and laughter could not pierce her heart. The children’s fascination with the jugglers only made her want their ignorant bliss. The songs of the troubadours reflected her forlorn.
Nothing could distract her…except for the dark figure that stood separated from the rest. The figure wore a black cloak, hovering in a shadowed corner. The phantom-like being went unnoticed by her father’s guests. The only person who took note of the presence was Anne. Her curiosity was further perked when the figure motioned in her direction and retreated into an abandoned hall.