* * * * * * * * * *
Morgan frowned at the seneschal’s odd behavior. It was unusual for him to not take his evening meal in the main hall, but not so out of character to warrant this invasion. Black was acting odd, as well. Tigers were ambush predators, not given to warning their prey before pouncing. He shook off those thought for the moment.
“Did you need something, Albie? Or were you planning to wait for Black to take a bite out of you for his dinner?”
“I-I-I d-don’t mean to imposed—”
Morgan cut the other man off with a slash of his arm. “Nonsense, Albie. You always mean to impose. If it bothers you so much that I have not eaten, have the kitchens send up a meal. Have them put it on a cart and leave it by the door. And have them add enough for Mistress Megan and Black, as well.” When the old man didn’t move, Morgan mage a shooing gesture. Albie looked at him furtively, but obeyed, backing out of the door and shutting it with a quick snap.
Black did not leave his shadow. Meg did not leave her perch on Black’s bed. Morgan sighed, disgusted but resigned to his fate as a very young lord of a deeply paranoid people. He went back to his chair and sat, staring into the flames as he waited for his companions to decide how they were going to react.
“Black didn’t attack Albie,” he stated. He didn’t add anything to the thought, letting it float in the air like an invitation. It didn’t take long for Meg to accept it.
“He seemed more outraged that your privacy was intruded upon than anything else,” she agreed cautiously. “It is a beastlike way he reacted, but not. It’s as if he’s already accepted you as his master.”
“I am his master now.”
“You haven’t been for very long. Less than a full day. I would have expected it to take longer for a newly made beast to accept a man’s long held responsibilities. You, my lord, are not a long held responsibility of Sir Jarod’s.”
Morgan grunted, nodding. “Honor is, though. He may have gone rogue, but Black is first and foremost a Knight of the old way, trained in those duties from childhood. Protecting one’s sworn master was probably drilled into his thick head from the first day he was accepted into the Order of Nicodemus. She gasped, and looked at the huge tiger with startled eyes.
“He’s that Jarod Black?”
“Indeed,” Morgan agreed grimly.