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King Simon sat at his throne, drumming the armrest nervously. His wife, Ylana, tried to comfort him in vain by patting his hand with hers.

“Cease that, Ylana! I have enough on my nerves as it is.”

Ylana made no move to protest. She simply withdrew her pale hand, and placed it in her lap.

The woman would never admit it, but every day that she was separate from her daughter, adopted or no, pained her.

The girl had left without so much as a goodbye. Simon said it was because she was selfish.

Something didn’t add up, though. Ylana had brought up her daughter in a different way. It suspiciously reeked of Simon taking things into his own hands again.

How lonely she must be, Ylana thought, straightening her gown impulsively. I wonder where my Beryl is.

“Your Majesties!”

The doors of the throne room burst open, and a troupe of very black, very singed guards came tramping into the room.

“What is the meaning of this?” Simon roared, leaping to his feet.

“It’s about your daughter, sire. She escaped!”

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