Eustace de Calx sat at the Great Table of the Copper Hall, where he'd just headed the meeting in the place of young Prince Pellenore, and sipped his wine.
"That was a stunning success, really," he stated aloud.
"Sir?" came a small voice.
Eustace, who'd been under the impression he was in an empty room, glanced towards the door to see a young woman scrubbing the floor. He stared at her for a moment. "Who are you, may I ask?" he said, then coughed. "If it please you."
The girl stood and gave an awkward curtsy. "Amanda, your honor." She gestured to the rag she was using. "I clean the floor after meetings."
Eustace blinked. "Really? I was unaware they had someone for that..."
"Oh, they have to," she said. "Many of you have such muddy feet." She shuddered and wrinkled her nose.
"True enough," said the old Duke with a chuckle, as he stood to his feet. "Well, this is what comes of always rushing out of these meetings. One misses the chance to meet such interesting people. How long have you done this, Amanda?"
"Oh, years," said the young girl. "Since I was... a little child."
Eustace tried to figure what that meant in her eyes, and gave it up. It would simply make him envious, he decided. "And you enjoy it?"
"It's better than the street, sir," said Amanada, as she went back to cleaning.
Eustace chuckled. "Tell me, my dear, do you know who I am?" he asked, as he stood up.
"The Duke of Tranchera," she said. She looked at him. "Is it true?"
"Amanda," he said, as he walked towards her, "they say many things about me, many of which--perhaps even most of which--are true. Please be more specific."
She stared at him, eyes wide. "Did you really save Joyeuse?"
"Ahh," he said. "For the moment, perhaps." He gave a shrug. "Frankly, I am rather surprised myself." Amanda seemed about to say something, when loud footsteps rushing towards the door caught both their attention.
"So you are still here," said Count Jeronim."Duke... it... we must... you..."
"Take a deep breath, Count Oriflamme," said Eustace quietly. "What is happening?"
"The Easter King!" snapped Jeronim. "His forces are on the move from Precieuse."
Eustace nodded. "Ahh." He sighed. "Well, it appears I must try it again." He glanced at Amanda. "Now then, my dear, would you care if I bought you a meal." Count Jeronim stared at him in shock. "What? The poor child looks hungry. Surely it would do no harm to give her a good meal."