In the years since the governor had bought him, Marius had gained more and more freedom in his captivity. In fact, the past few months had seen him find a new “job” as a technical consultant with the wardens. He almost wanted to warn his master about what was to come; but then he would remain the man’s property. So he stood back and watched as important people arrived from all over Ameria.

Among the dignitaries was a young girl, about his own age. She was beautiful but seemed to regret having come. Instead of mingling with all the other youngsters, she stood back from the crowd. Chewing his lip thoughtfully, Marius let the wind guide him over to her. “You don’t like parties?” he asked.

“Not really,” she said softly. “I’d rather be reading… or outside.”

“Would you like to see the herb gardens?” Marius asked. “There’s a little wood not far off. I like to go there to think.”

“That sounds splendid,” she replied. “I’m Elizabeth… Elizabeth Sterling.”

“Marius Farfield,” he murmured. He gestured toward the door. It was, perhaps, time to let go of his anger and let nature take its course.