“Anyway, the point is, Jessica is the reason I believed you would be a trustworthy person, despite your... turbulent relationship with the law. However, in the interest of full disclosure, sir, that was not what prompted me to give up my old job and come work for you. The truth of the matter is that I simply did not like being a member of the Queen’s Guard.”
Amelia pitched in now. “Why not? It was a fairly prestigious position, no?”
“It was. But most of the other guards were pompous, insufferable bastards. Excuse my language.”
“Really? Did you, ah... er, what about Lynn? Did you think she was like that, too?”
“Oh, that’s right. You fought alongside her, didn’t you?”
“She never bothered me. She seemed a bit full of herself for someone so young, but at least she took her job seriously. Most of the Queen’s Guard would slack off and then lord their status over anyone who wasn’t famous or rich. It wasn’t until after the assassination attempt that they finally started getting their act together and behaving like real soldiers should.”
“Were you in the castle during the Abolish occupation?” Amelia asked. She threw a look at Hector. “That was the name, yes? Abolish?”
Jamal’s expression hardened. “Yes, I was there.”
“Weren’t you frightened?” said Amelia.
They waited, but the man seemed to have nothing else to say on the matter.
Perhaps sensing the growing awkwardness in the air, Amelia decided to move on. “Well, my reasons for joining our young lord are somewhat similar, though not quite so harrowing, I admit. I suppose it is only to be expected that all three of us here be veritable black sheep, in our own ways. I also came here to escape a number of intolerable individuals.”
“Who do you mean?” said Jamal.
“My many nephews and nieces. It is a rather long story and one I am sure would bore you, but the short of it is that--though you were correct in your assessment of my family’s wealth--for a variety of very old reasons, I inherited the Carthrace name but none of its fortune.”