"Oh, didn't you know?" Alisen hated herself for how cruel she knew she was being in that instant. "Your Isadora is the lost princess. Didn't she tell you?"
"You must be joking. Isadora, the princess?"
"Oh, yes. She seems to be stealing hearts all across the kingdom, starting with yours and Rudolph's. He's looking for her as well."
"This is just too ridiculous. There's no way Isa is the lost princess. Why would she leave the Capital unless to be with her precious stablehand? She wouldn't be spending weeks with the likes of me." Quin, in his denial, began to laugh.
"It's true, you know. You must have guessed it. Apparently she acts like the perfect princess all the time."
Quin quieted, but didn't respond. Rudolph came out onto the landing.
"What's going on, Alisen? What are you two laughing about?" Bleary-eyed with sleep, he stood next to Alisen. Alisen wanted him to leave; she was ashamed of how she was acting, but she couldn't seem to stop.
"Alisen here was telling me that my Isa is the lost princess. It was just so absurd. Sorry for waking you."
"What is this? You know Isadora?" Rudolph was instantly alert. Quin was about to respond, but Alisen cut him off, not even sure why. At this point, she was no longer thinking through her actions, letting her sleep-deprived brain take over.
"It's nothing, Rudolph. Go back to sleep. We can discuss this in the morning."
"Wait a second, Alisen." Rudolph was in no mood to go back to sleep. "What is this, Quin?"
"According to this girl, my Isa is Princess Isadora. But it doesn't make any sense for Isa to be the princess. I wouldn't worry about it, Rudolph."
"Why doesn't it make sense? When did you meet her?"
"I found her in the forest a few weeks ago, and she's been living with my sister and I since that time. We've become.... quite close."
"It must be Isadora! Where is she?"
"She's gone missing. She disappeared yesterday, when I was out looking for my mother and found you two."
"Seems like you have a talent for losing people," Alisen remarked drily.
"It really isn't my fault," Quin protested. "When I came back, she was gone."
"I don't blame you for losing her," Rudolph reliplied, "but I can't believe she would.... How close is 'quite close,' anyway? No, don't tell me. I don't even want to know. I just wouldn't trust her Quin. I thought I could, but I've just been proven so wrong, I can't even think what to do."
"Come get some rest," said Alisen, taking his arm and leading him to the door. "It'll be better in the morning. You too, Quin. And don't kill each other while I'm gone, okay?"
With that, she turned, walked into Lilia's room, and closed the door in their dumbfounded faces. the boys glanced at each other, then walked into Quin's room and crawled into their beds, knowing neither of them would get any sleep with Isadora racing around their brains.