Tales of loathsome tyrants and prophesied saviors aren't nearly so appealing when you are a royal bastard with a prophecy hanging over your head.


To my relief, Prince Aidan leaves me at my door with a full sack. I do not want him to get in the habit of straying inside my rooms.

I poke through the sack while I await Lallie, helping myself to some bread and dried apples. The latter are more tart than I'm used to, but they still taste agreeable.

Lallie's a bit red in the face when she whirls in, arms loaded with two basckets. One looks to be the mending, while the other holds sewing supplies. She holds up one small sharp tool with a J shape.

"Seam ripper," I supply so she doesn't have to, and I take it from her. "But they work remarkably well for cutting threads close to the edge of the fabric, too."

Her face is blank for a full second before she grins. "So you can sew. Any good?"

I shrug. I had to be good, sewing for Carling. Her mediocre servants have a tendency to end up corpses. And she doesn't go through Father to cause it.

"All right." Lallie plops beside me on the bed. She hands me a threaded needle and some black trousers. "The hem's already pinned. Think you can sew it?"

Yes. Lallie just has to make sure I won't ruin anything, so I start the mind-numbingly simple task. She picks out a shirt for herself. I stare at the rip. "That isn't the seam."

"No," Lallie absently agrees. She pinches the front of the blouse together for mending as she rummages through the thread box for one that'll match the clay red. Unless something's hiding in the side of the box that I can't see at my angle, she doesn't have anything.

I eye the blouse's fabric and the way it drapes in her hands. "Is that linen?"

"Believe so." Lallie shakes out the blouse and holds it by the shoulders to get a better look at it. The neckline scoops lower than is considered decent this side of the East Dwaline mountains.


Her glance at me is sidelong and measuring, but something about it makes me suspect Lallie likes me. "You may want to drop the questions, Pickle."

I shrug. "She didn't get that rip from knife practice with Prince Aidan." They used wood.

I duck my head to my mending to avoid Lallie's long look. I'm well aware that royalty tend to take whoever they want. I just don't want that whoever to ever be me.

I wince and blood pools on my finger from the needle, and my right hand's fingers are a bit raw from pressing so hard on the needle. I carefully work both halves of it out of the fabric. "May I have another needle?"

Lallie hands me one without comment and pulls out a skirt to fix, herself. We work in silence. "You're safest from that in the servant halls," she says as she checks my finished hem. "King Aldrik has his foremen hire decent men over skilled ones… and His Majesty isn't above patrolling when there's rumor that someone likes trouble. It helps that he…"

She purses her lips and folds up the trousers. She hands me the oddly-ripped blouse and the box of thread, to see how I'll choose to mend it. I frown at the difficult project and appreciate the compliment inherent in her handing it off to me. Lallie's lips quirk when I pull out the scissors and snip the fabric to mirror the rip on the other side of the front.

"Aidan weren't the king's first son," she tells me, "but you won't hear that from no one. His Majesty found him one morning, with a scullery maid who dinnit want his company.

"King Aldrik killed him." Lallie stares right at me, making sure I understood what she just said.

The scissors clatter when they bounce off my bed onto the floor. "He killed his son?" I whisper.

"He obeyed the law. He didn't try to excuse it due to who performed the crime. That's much of why most of the nobles avoid him, I daresay."

"Lord Elwyn doesn't," I blurt, remembering how comfortable Silver Embroidery was around his king when they found me.

A dimple creases Lallie's right cheek when she grins. "Lord Elwyn's Lord Elwyn." Her gaze flickers to the blouse I still hold. "You gonna hold that all day, Pickle, or finish it?"

I swallow and comprehend that the conversation's over. Dark grey thread looks nice on the clay red, I think, to turn the rips' repair into intended diagonal lines rather than an issue of lacking the correct color of thread. Particularly if I work it in cross stitch.

Lallie pats me on the knee and lets herself out.


  1. Sorry I missed this before, but shouldn't it be " Dark grey thread *looks* nice on the clay red" rather than " Dark grey thread look nice on the clay red".

  2. Quite right!

    And you needn't apologize for missing it; that means you're enjoying the story!

    Scylax: 4/7


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