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.



Prince Aidan may be the only person who downright refuses to call me Nallé or Nellie. I feign continued sleep, pretend his whisper hasn't awoken me.

He pokes me. "I know you hear me."


"You just twitched."

I did? Throbbing pierces my head, and most of my body is aching or worse. I want to sleep, not talk. But my body betrays me with a shiver when I concentrate on staying limp.

"That was a fine mess with the chickens." Does he expect me to reply? His talking doesn't help my head. "Cook wanted to try you on the cows next."

Cows can hurt you worse with their hooves than a cockerel can cut with its spurs. I flinch.

Wait, Cook wanted to do it? Not anymore? I open my eyes a slit, wincing at the overbrightness of the light, so I can see his face; his expression tells almost as much as his words.

Prince Aidan's grin widens. He shrugs. "Of course, that would've been asking them to kill you, so Father overrode it."

I'm sick enough to feel irritated that I can't tell the overtalkative prince to shut his mouth and let me sleep.

Then again, he may be my best source of information, since he is so socially inept as to chatter at someone with a head injury. "What…" I croak, but am relieved to find that I can speak, now. "What am I to do?"

"Scrub my schoolroom's floor." His self-satisfaction quickly shifts into alarm when I fight the weight in my head and try to get up. His loud "No!" makes me squawk in pain.

"That was a joke," he continues, more quietly but still not quietly enough. "You have to stay abed awhile yet."

I'm not stupid. Useless servants are expelled ones, as are ones who cost more to keep than they provide. But I can't even sit, wouldn't be able to pull myself up even if Prince Aidan didn't hold me down when I try. "I need… work…"

"You need to get better!"

That, too. But I doubt the adults will let me return to full health before working. I must earn my keep.

But how can I do that when I can hardly move?

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This web novel is listed in Web Fiction Guide and Muse's Success. (Both are directories of online novels, stories, etc.)