Lady Euphigenia Kluck tossed and turned as she struggled to relax enough to fall into a peaceful slumber. The news out of Britain was grim and growing worse by the day. From her home in the city of Edwin's Bourough, one of the few truly civilized places in The Scottish Lands, she had been worrying about the welfare of the young fox who had once been her best friend when she herself had been a Lady-of-the-Court; before that fox's marriage to a smart, handsome, recently Titled, and best of all, single, young Chancellor.
But just after the marriage Kluck had been called home to tend to her mother, who was well-advanced in age and very frail; although she still possessed a mind as sharp as her tongue. With the death of her mother just days ago (she had lived over twice the usual lifespan of a chicken; surviving the Plague, nine mates and parentage of almost three dozen broods), Kluck was growing less and less comfortable with the thought of remaining in her late mother's house by the day. It was not for lack of happy memories, goodness knew. Kluck's mother; while a strict, Old-School matriarch; had been a gentle, wise and loving parent always fiercely concerned with the well-being of her scattered offspring.
But several weeks ago she'd seen a posting of a reward for the capture, dead or alive, of a female fox who was accused of being a member of a conspiracy; along with a once trusted but now disgraced physician, a badger who fit the description of old Dr. Ages; that was suspected of having been responsible for the death of King Nicodemus and his Chancellor and was now supposedly plotting the assassination of the present Ruler. The charges against the two supposed plotters had been very vague, but the one piece of information that had caught her immediate attention was the mention that the fox would probably have four young rabbits, two boys and two girls. Marian's last letter, written almost a year ago, had mentioned that she and her husband were in the process of adopting some rabbits whose parents had apparently abandoned them at the King's Orphanage; also two boys and two girls.
This had made no sense to Kluck. Marian had been one of King Nicodemus's most loyal courtiers. Kluck herself had recommended Marian for the Administrator-of-Household post just before her return to her native city. And none of her infrequent letters to Kluck had indicated any kind of dissatisfaction with either the King or his rule. And that Marian, even if she had been party to some plot to overthrow her Sovereign, would have allowed her own husband to be killed along with him? This was absolutely unthinkable! "No," She thought to herself as she rolled over on her side for the umpteenth time that night, "Something is terribly wrong with this whole picture." She resolved then and there to find both her friend and, if possible, the truth about this whole affair.