Part 5

Ezra felt like such a fool, running from Josiah like a child having a temper tantrum.  But the man had managed once again to push him into an angry outburst.  What was wrong with his emotions?  Ezra used to have much better control.  Now it felt like he was falling apart.  He'd tried so hard to please everyone, but all he ended up doing was making them and himself angry.  What did they want?  What did he want?

Ezra looked up to find himself near the kitchen area.  The servants were watching him with wary eyes.  Ever since the siege, they'd treated him with disdain and suspicion.  A few even looked on him with fear.  He could live with their disapproval, but their fear...  Was he so much like Morgan, then?  If he took the path Sir Josiah would have him follow, it would be even more so.  He remembered how her servants would scurry to obey her to avoid her cruel power.  It made him shudder.

That was how Vin came upon him.  "Hey, Ezra.  What are you doing?"

"Apparently, I'm intimidating the serving staff.  You?"

"Well, I was just taking a walk through the halls.  Better than standing around scowling at everybody."

"I'm not scowling."

"Could've fooled me."

"Really, I'm not.  Well...maybe just a bit."

"Better not let Madame Nettie catch you."

"Heaven Forbid!  That wizened old crone is a force to be reckoned with."

"You know that she likes you."

"I don't know who told you that.  The woman can barely stand to see me near the kitchen."

"She doesn't let anybody near her kitchen.  She thinks you're wily."

"That doesn't sound flattering."

"It is when she says it.  Your kind of wily helped save all our lives."

"It is also what put you all in danger."

"You still thinking on that?  That why you were skulking around the halls?"

"Of course not.   Perhaps.  I don't know.  I feel like..."  He shook his head.

"We're your friends, Ezra.  You've got to know that."

"I'm not..."

Heavy footfalls echoed in the hall, coming closer.  The King.  King Christofer walked up to the two of them, but barely spared a glance for Ezra.  "Vin.  Need your help with a little situation in the village."

"Anything serious?"

"No.  Just some local troublemakers."

"I'll get my horse.  Ezra here isn't doing anything.  Maybe he could come along."

Ezra brightened a bit.  "At your service, Your Majesty."

Chris stiffened slightly.  "I need you to keep an eye on things here.  It's nothing serious.  Vin will do."

Ezra bowed, deflating somewhat.  "Of course, Sire.  As you wish."

As they left, Vin took a last look at Ezra.  The man was hiding it well, but he was hurting inside.  If Chris and the others didn't start realizing that, they were going to lose him.

Ezra went straight to his chambers, intending to sleep some of the ill feelings of the day away.  But he found that sleep would not come.  He tossed and turned, going over in his mind the offer Lady Viviane had made him.

Part 6