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Blue Mountain Goat Cheese
Erik Greystone stood in the common room of the Wild Rose Tavern tapping the toe of his boot impatiently. He hadn't slept a wink all night. His Hero's sense kept nagging at him that something just wasn't right about Tamara's disappearing act last night. Marko had, of course, reminded him about his desire to not see every situation as a crisis that he needed to resolve and, though he had promised not to, the vassal had been unable to resist throwing the whole Vectoria situation in Erik's face.
The prince had been very dismayed and slightly embarrassed when the princess had neglected to show for their dinner engagement. Marko had sighed heavily and declared that Tamara had just extracted her revenge for the mis-treatment she thought she had suffered at Erik's hands. He had also commented that he felt sorry for Galen whenever she got around to paying HIM back.
Even then, sitting alone at a table by the fire with a veritable feast laid out before him and Anna's sympathetic eyes never leaving him, he had felt in his gut that something just wasn't right. He had stewed over it during the hours he was supposed to be sleeping, and had decided that there had to be a reasonable explanation. She must have just forgotten, gotten so caught up in collecting her flowers and what not that she had lost track of time. Perhaps she had been afraid that he wouldn't show.
The sound of footsteps on the stairs shook him out of his reverie. He turned from the fire to see Anna descending, wiping sleepy eyes.
"Well, you're here bright and early." She yawned. "If you're looking for Tamara she's probably in the kitchen. She's always up before me." She added with a sheepish grin.
"She's not in the kitchen. I checked when I got here. Lucille said she hasn't seen her this morning." Erik replied. "I hope she's not avoiding me again. So help me I'll go up there and shake some sense into her. This has to get straightened out."
Anna's brow wrinkled. Concern flooded her eyes.
"She's not in her room. I passed by on my way down here. The doors wide open and the beds made."
Erik could feel himself become instantly more aware. Possible danger always had a way of doing that for him.
"Well, didn't she come back last night?" He asked. Anna blushed scarlet.
"I wasn't really paying attention. After you left Antoine came in and well........I was kind of distracted. I never noticed her come in though now that you mention it." She replied sheepishly. Her embarrassment quickly turned to concern as the implication of what he was saying hit her. "Oh, I hope she's O.K. I'll never forgive myself if something's happened."
A grim expression came over Erik's face. He rushed out of the tavern and snagged Marko from the kitchen door where he was chatting with Lucille and enjoying a fresh baked pastry.
"I think Tamara's in trouble." Erik explained quickly. "I need to find her."
"Well then, I think you're headed in the wrong direction my friend. Since she is in her room at the tavern, and the tavern is right over there, and you're heading away from the tavern." Marko replied cheerfully.
"She never made it back to the tavern last night." Erik informed. "The last time I saw here she was in the forest. That's the first place I'm going to look."
Marko sighed heavily as he tried to keep up with Erik's quick, long strides. He debated on the best way to say what was on his mind, then just decided to be blunt.
"You need to accept that she stood you up. You can't candy coat this with a 'she couldn't help it she was in mortal danger' kind of thing." He followed Erik into the trees and stopped as the prince stooped to pick up something. He walked closer and noticed that Erik was holding a slightly crumpled circle of wild flowers.
"Those really don't go with what you're wearing." He commented jovially. Erik gave him a stern look.
"She was wearing these in her hair yesterday. And look... it looks like there was a scuffle or something here. The tracks go off this way. These look small enough to have been made by her feet." He followed the trail of tracks through some broken foliage then stopped dead. Marko quickly caught up with him.
"It looks like the tracks double back here." He said as Erik knelt and ran a finger along the ground. "What is it?"
"There's blood here." Erik replied as he stood up again. "I knew she was in trouble, someone's taken her.." He stood a little straighter, his eyes took on purpose. Marko heaved another sigh and mouthed the words Erik said next along with him.
"I've got to rescue her."
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