Harriet walked through the seemingly endless tunnel, her arm growing tired from holding the lantern aloft.
Her mood was almost as dark as the shadows that danced on the walls around her. Why had she been summoned? She hated talking to Herndon, he gave her the creeps, and she always felt as though he wasn't telling her the whole story.
Finally, the tunnel ended at a simple wooden door and she pushed it open and walked inside, quickly closing the door behind her so that the heat would not escape.
She set the lantern down on a table set up next to the door and walked over to the fireplace. She sighed in contentment.
This was much better than the cold, dank tunnels she had just spent an eternity walking down.
"Comfortable?" A voice asked, making her jump.
She spun around to face the speaker, seated in a corner of the room. "Why do you insist on doing that to me?" She asked, putting a hand over her heart.
The man stood and walked over to her. It was Cameron.
"Oh I'm sorry," He said, not sounding at all sorry. "Did I startle you?"
She opened her mouth to reply, when the door she had arrived through opened, letting in the chill of the tunnels, as well as two figures.
She stepped closer to the fire.
"Shut that thing, will you?" Cameron said, as one of the newcomers set his own lantern next to hers.
The newcomer, Harriet thought his name was Jared, cast an annoyed look at Cameron and closed the door, while the second, Jackson she believed his name was, looked around at the room.
He shed his cloak, revealing a clean military uniform, bearing the crest of the royal house of Huriendial: twin swords crossing over an Oak tree.
"Does anyone know why we were summoned?" Jared asked.
Harriet shook her head, as did Cameron.
"I suspect it is something to do with the Dukes plan." Cameron said.
"Why be so mysterious about it?" Harriet asked.
"You know that Herndon likes being mysterious." Cameron replied.
"Do I now?" A new voice said, and everyone jumped guiltily and turned to face Herndon, who was studying them all with a cool glare that set Harriet's teeth on edge.
She hated how he could make her feel so small so suddenly.
After an uncomfortable minute, Herndon's gaze relaxed a little from the icy glare he had been giving them, to his usual one of annoyance, as if he was surrounded by buzzing insects that wouldn't leave him alone.
"You are wondering why I summoned you." He said. "I have need of you."
"What do you need?" Jared asked after a moments hesitation. Apparently, Harriet wasn't the only one that Herndon made uncomfortable.
"You," He motioned towards Cameron and Jared. "Are to head to the Dukes estate and keep an eye on things."
They nodded as Herndon turned to Jackson. "How are things progressing?"
"The king is beginning to trust me," Jackson replied. "He has begun to take me into his confidences, but I have yet to learn of anything of great importance, but I am making progress."
Herndon nodded and finally turned to her. "And you, have you learned anything of use?"
She shook her head, trying to hide her unease. "No one has come asking about the Lady, but word has reached the village that she has been kidnapped, and that her father is camped outside of the Dukes castle."
"Rumors." She said.
She shrugged. "There are rumors that a ship has been sighted on the Westborn sea, and that the prince has been kidnapped. Some claim that the ship is filled with pirates who abducted the prince for ransom."
Herndon nodded thoughtfully and turned to Jackson.
"Any basis for this?" He asked.
Jackson shrugged. "The prince left for a minor excursion and never returned, some are claiming that he has been kidnapped by a rival king, others by pirates, as the girl says."
Harriet bristled at being called 'the girl'. After all, she was the one who had been trusted with kidnapping Marianna and keeping her hidden until it was time for her to be moved, but she said nothing.
She would let her actions speak for her.