he next morning, Rose awoke early and was dressed,
her hair put up. With the cool winter sunlight streaming in through the windows,
Rose almost forgot about the dangers that crept through the castle. Almost. She
was still careful, and kept an eye even on Bethina just in case, and the poor
maid seemed nervous and confused as to why her mistress watched her with so
critical an eye.
Bethina spoke timidly to Rose. “The Duke requests you join him for breakfast in
his study. Should I tell him you will be there, milady?”
Rose noticeably brightened at this news. “Yes. Please tell him I’ll come down
soon.” When Bethina had finished dressing her mistress she scurried out of the
room, understandably confused at her mistress’s behaviour.
Rose met Edmond that morning in his study, and both Fillona and Hurington
delivered the couple their meals, Fillona winking silently at Rose, who had
unfortunately been missing her company as of late due to all that had happened.
When the two servants left, the Duke and Rose spoke earnestly of what should be
done from here. They could not stay in the castle, and decided they must leave
it and perhaps build another castle, closer to the centre of the duchy. This,
however, would take a long while to do.
“Rose,” Edmond said, “before you came, I used to almost never be here at the
castle. I would stay overnight, then head out again, staying away for no less
than a fortnight, and sometimes several months. I think it wise I pick up this
habit again, but that this time, you accompany me. It is simply too dangerous
for you to be alone in this castle. And while we travel, the new castle can be
“Oh, Edmond! What a marvellous idea!” And the two of them talked out the details
After breakfast was over, Edmond requested that Rose stay with him, and so she
did and Edmond told her what he was working on as he shuffled through papers and
scribbled things down. However, soon enough, Rose grew anxious and a little
bored, and Edmond allowed Rose to go into the garden, though only assisted by
Gilmoren. Furthermore, at the garden, she was not allowed to walk the trails,
for this was far too dangerous.
A lunch was packed for Rose,
which she carried with her to the gardens along with her sketchbook and a stick
of graphite. Once there in the gardens, she sat upon a step and sketched
everything she saw, including the castle which seemed strangely still to her,
for even though it was winter, a few birds sung in the trees, and the cool winds
blew through the garden, rustling the stalks and vines and grasses.
Soon, Rose grew depressed, though. She felt so much like a prisoner now, so
restricted, chained down. Her unhappy reverie was broken as Fillona appeared
from around the corner of the castle. Her dark hair was pulled back, and when
she saw Rose sitting on the steps near the garden, she smiled and waved “Rose!
There you are! I’ve been looking for you. What’s wrong?”
Gilmoren, who was watching Rose with critical eyes, seemed to ease a little as
Fillona appeared and hurried toward the Duchess.
“Nothing,” Rose lied.
Fillona narrowed her eyes slightly, curiously. “I know that’s not so. It’s after
Sunreign and you still haven’t eaten your lunch!”
“Oh!” Rose quickly glanced to the little bundle sitting next to her. “I
completely forgot about it. I guess I haven’t been very hungry.”
“Well, if you’re not going to eat it, I will,” Fillone said as she sat down next
to Rose, and Rose handed her the little pouch, sighing to herself. “What do you
have in here, anyway?” said Fillona as she opened the little bundle to find a
little sandwich and a meldarapple.”
Rose looked a bit confused. “You don’t know?”
“Hey, this looks good!” Fillona picked it up and glanced to Rose. “Me? No. I’ve
been off since breakfast.” Fillona took a bite of the sandwich and swallowed it
down, and Rose was suddenly too horrified to speak. Her heart stopped a moment
in her chest as she watched Fillona who didn’t move for a moment.
Fillona dropped the sandwich and collapsed, and Rose screamed.
Gilmoren was up at arms as soon as he heard Rose, and he helped her take Fillona
to her chambers. Jaken rode off toward town to fetch a doctor, and the castle
was suddenly bustling wildly to hear that Fillona had collapsed, that she was
unconscious. Rose refused to leave Fillona’s bedside, even when Edmond appeared
and encouraged her to join him in his study. The servant girl’s complexion
paled, and she groaned softly as she lay in bed.
By the time Jaken arrived with the doctor a few hours later, it was too late.
The doctor distinguished the cause of death as poison from the sandwich Fillona
had eaten. Hurington was interrogated about the meal he had fixed, but he denied
it all, and his kitchen was turned over without finding any poison. The poor
chef suffered deeply for the loss of his apprentice. He was a large man, and
Rose had always thought him cold, but as he sat with her next to Fillona’s bed,
Fillona was buried that night. A messenger was sent to inform her parents and
siblings, who lived a few days away, of what had occurred, and sent along their
deepest condolences. After the funeral, Hurington approached the Duke and told
him that, after the loss of Fillona, he hadn’t the courage to work at the castle
anymore. He had loved Fillona as a daughter, and now she was gone. He left that
night, journeying off to a destination of which even he did not know.
Edmond walked Rose to her bedroom that night, but she could not sleep. She
stared at the window and watched the stars grow dim as grey clouds rolled in.
The moonlight and the wind sent shadows across the wall, but Rose was too hurt
to be scared. She was too angry to be scared, even of Chrystine. She rose that
night and unlocked her door and hurried into the West Wing. She went to the
vanity, opened the drawer, and stole the diary, then, closing the drawer and
door, returned to her room, diary in hand.