“Denaweh protect us!” Mara wrung her fingers through her dark hair, “The dungeons of King Praedo!”
It only made sense, Eve’s father would have been an enemy to Praedo in the war, and a valuable prisoner. However he was captured, Eve did not know. Now was her chance to discover the truth, she finally had a hope of finding her father and, maybe, even bringing him home again. What did concern her was how this was to be done.
“He’s there,” Eve assured, pacing about the kitchen in a frenzy, “Nicodemus specifically said that the banner was of a boar, it has to be Praedo.”
Eve’s mother laughed a sad, unconvinced laugh, and cried, “So what are you going to do now? Muster up an army and go force Praedo to turn him over? Join the East in their war with the West?”
She laughed, yet Eve’s face didn’t waver from its wild look of determination.
“Mother,” Eve began as she moved closer to the little woman, her young eyes wild with excitement but her mouth serious and precise, “he is locked away in a dungeon. I can’t just leave him there! He’s my father!”
“This is crazy!” Mara exclaimed, “You can’t just go banging on the castle doors demanding your father back! Not in enemy territory!”
Eve watched as her mother sat down on one of their kitchen chairs, and sighed, “Believe me, I would love to see him return just as much as you would. But Eve, there is no way!”
Those words were not enough to hinder Eve, though she felt the weight of her mother’s despair, and thought things through. True, she couldn’t so much as muster up an army, let alone lead it against Praedo. But she wasn’t about to give up on her father. Granted, Eve didn’t know what to expect. Especially if he truly was ill, she might find nothing more than an old mad man in shackles, rotting away in a cell. Well, whether he was mad or not, he was her father. There had to be a way to at least try and save him. After all, she had heard so many stories about him and had been compared to him so many times by her mother, Eve felt she simply had to do this. Then she got an idea.
“What if you told me what to do,” Eve suggested, “what if I try it your way?”
Her mother looked up at her in confusion, “What do you mean, my way?”
Eve pulled another one of their kitchen chairs away from the table and placed it directly across from her mother, planted herself on it, and looked her mother dead in the eye. “You’ve been training me to be a lady since I was old enough to walk, from how to sit to how to talk and all of that.”
“Yes,” her mother laughed, “are you going to tell me that you actually remembered all of that? I seem to recall you trying to sneak out more often than not.”
“Regardless,” Eve pressed through, “what if I tried to use such charms to persuade Lord Praedo to set Father loose?”
Eve studied her mother’s face as she said this. Her mother’s eyes welled up and her mouth curved into a shaky smile with a trembling lower lip.
“Yes,” she nodded eagerly, “yes, of course!”
Little did Eve realize that, by gaining her mother’s permission to use this strategy, she was also signing up for refresher courses on ladylike behavior. For an entire week, they reviewed everything her mother had ever taught her about ladylike behavior. Eve spent much of the first day arguing that she didn’t need more training, though that was a hopeless battle. Luckily for Eve, she had, in fact, remembered most of the basics, only needing a few corrections here and there. There were a great number of details that she struggled with, however. While her poise, for example, was perfect, she struggled with taking small bites of her food. Eve and her mother got into a fight over whether or not the Rib Crusher was necessary; in the end, her mother snuck it into Eve’s bag anyway. By the time the week was finished, Eve was ready to pose as a proper lady.
On the morning of her departure, Eve dressed accordingly. She wore a comfortable, simple light dress of beige much like the ones she wore normally, with the split for leg movements. She braided her hair back and wrapped a thin leather belt around her waist. To this, she strapped a small hunting knife she occasionally used in the forest. She had put on a good pair of leather boots that could stand hiking and travel and threw an old battered cloak of hers into the bag her mother had supplied, along with some basic materials for traps. She had seen the Rib Crusher at the bottom of the sack, but instead of arguing with her mother over it, Eve decided that it could prove a useful torture device to get Praedo to cooperate, should there be any trouble.
After throwing a few extra articles of clothing into the sack, Eve carried the bag to the fireplace mantle, and beheld the sword of her father, resting there on display. Carefully, she grasped the longsword by its hilt and lifted it off of the mantle. It took more strength than Eve had expected. Still, she managed to lift it off and then carefully sat down on the floor with it placed across her lap. For a minute she simply gazed at it, the beauty of its craftsmanship, the power it held. The steel was cold to the touch, Eve wondered how sharp it must be. Regardless, it would have to do. She found one of her father’s old belts and threaded it through the sheath, then began to strap the ensemble around herself.