"Our deepest apologies your highness, something seems to have blocked the road." A voice called from outside the carriage as Khaal was busy trying to remember where he were. The drowsy prince had fallen asleep during their trip back to the palace after having been on an extended visit to a neighboring kingdom for a few meetings. The abrupt stop had been most unwarranted. "Has a tree fallen?" His adviser asked the guards. If so, it could be a trap. It was normal for thieves to cut down a tree to make people stop. "No sir, it's a person." The prince woke up at the words. A person in the middle of the street? If they were conscious they would just have left the road on their own when the carriage got close. Was someone hurt? Stepping out of the carriage, against the wishes of his far too overprotective adviser, Khaal noticed the poor girl in rags and covered with bruises, lying on the ground. "Looks like an escaped slave." The prince's eyes turned to the guard, confused by the words. Escaped slave? Why would a slave escape? His only experience with slaves were the ones in the castle, and they did live fairly well under good conditions. Most of them seemed content with the arrangements. They work and get payed with food and a roof over their heads. What he did not know was that most slaves outside of the castle wasn't taken care of well. Some were abused simply for the entertainment of the owner. They were treated more like animals than humans. If abuse went on in the castle, it was kept well hidden behind closed doors. "We should take it to the prisons and alert its owner. It will be lucky if they even let it live after such an offense." Said the second guard. Khaal became furious at those words. "How dare you. That is a living being. How can you be so careless with life?" Khaal scolded the guards. "Prince Khaalindaan, I know what you're thinking, but this is not the castle. The world has different rules than what you..." His adviser tried to argue, but was cut off. "Whatever you say, this is unacceptable. Bring the girl to the palace and make sure no one sees her, especially father. Choose three trustworthy maids to take care of her. Of course, no one is to utter a word of this to anyone. Understood?" The prince did not listen to a single word of complaints, and the guards had no rights to refuse. Khaal knew that if his father asked the guards about the girl or anything related to it, they would answer, because the king had a higher authority than him, but as long as he didn't ask, she would be safely hidden. Once she was better he could figure out what to do. ---- Back at the palace a few hours later, they had been able to sneak the girl inside through tunnels under the castle. Of course that had been the job of one guard while the others took the front door. It would have been odd if the prince didn't show up at the gate but suddenly turned up in the castle, so he had to leave it in his trustworthy soldier's competent hands. Once he had spoken to his father and gotten a warm welcome home, Khaal returned to his chambers and changed his clothes fast before leaving to check on the girl. She was now lying in a location of the castle that rarely was used, and most of the rooms were guest rooms that only got to see living, breathing creatures once a year, if even that, when special parties were held. The maids were already cleaning the wounds and bandaging the girl. Who could have done something so awful to such a young person, Khaal wondered.