The gathered crowd quieted at Nicholas and Julian’s declaration. The King narrowed his gaze.
“You are saying that Piper did this.”
“Yes,” Nicholas said without hesitation,
Around us, the speculative gazes of the onlookers were more than enough to tell of their disbelief. Yet before they could make me nervous, Julian’s easy laughter claimed everyone’s attention.
“Have you all forgotten how talented Piper is with a bow? She nearly matched me shot for shot during
our archery event.”
No one could deny the truth of that. Soon the speculative glances returned more to ones of annoyance
“Very good, Piper.” The King studied me closely, draped over Nicholas’s back as I was. “Though it seems
you have gotten injured.”
“A twisted ankle,” I said.
“I will have the physician make certain she is well,” Nicholas added.
The King moved his probing eyes to Nicholas. “Send a servant to do so.”
Nicholas tensed beneath me. “Yes, sir.”
Moving from us, the King approached Nathan, “Send some servants to retrieve the boar for the barbecue
“At once, Your Majesty.” Nathan quickly directed others to move.
“My wolf companion will guide you to the location.” Nicholas looked down. “Night, if you could.”
Night, who had diligently taken position at Nicholas’s right, stood and followed his command.
“You can lower me now,” I said to Nicholas. I spotted the cameras coming closer. I really didn’t want them to have close–ups of me hanging all over Nicholas.
Slowly, he lowered me down. I could stand on one foot, but i was wobbly Nicholas stayed at my side, ready to catch me. When leaned a bit too far in one direction, he placed his hand under my arm and held me more firmly.
The gate began to separate into shatter groups to talk. Olivia came over to Nicholas and me
“Congratulations, Piper. It must have been an impressive shot you made. How fortunate you were that two princes were able to find you when you were hurt.”
I wasn’t sure what she was getting at, or why she was being so nice. Likely she was only acting this way because Nicholas was beside me. In private, I highly doubted she would be so kind. Regardless, for now, I accepted her words.
“Thank you, Olivia,” I said.
She nodded, then moved on.
Not to be outdone, Linda quickly moved into the place Olivia had vacated.
“Yes, congratulations are in order,” Linda said, aneering slightly. “So… nice that you are now the hero of the event. So.. deserved.” The words came stiffly, like it physically pained her to pay the compliments.
“Thank you,” I said, mostly to make this encounter stop.
Linda pressed her lips hard together. “Yes, well. Hopefully you will be more careful next time so as not to hurt yourself and bother our princes.”
“I had no issue assisting Piper,” Nicholas said, voice neutral.
“Most magnanimous of you to say so, Prince Nicholas” Linda gave a little bow, then excused herself.
I was happy to see her go.
Meanwhile, nearer the cameras, the King was smiling brightly.
“We are so proud of the young women of our kingdom for providing such a good showing today. Piper,
as hero of the event, has earned a high amount of ranking. But there are many notable persons that we
I wasn’t hurt that he would so quickly turn attention away from me. I knew I was only here for the
publicity stunt, and that the royal family had no actual wish to have me stay in the competition.
Thusly, it made sense for the King to try to guide the public into liking the candidates he preferred, like
Olivia and Linda.
Plus, I felt a measure of guilt for having gained such undeserved attention. I had not actually killed the boar. All I had accomplished was nearly getting myself killed.
Granted, if my bow hadn’t been sabotaged, I maybe could have felled the creature on my own. But that possibility still did not seem like enough to warrant all I was now taking claim for