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.


A few days later, Prince Aidan laughs at me. "Oh, don't be silly! Elves never get sick."

"They do, too!" I insist, automatically scanning the courtyard for gryphons. I shiver in memory of their grotesque bulbous bodies, harsh cough-cawing and awkward flight. They can siphon, pulling the life energy from the victim's body. …At least, Father's gryphons can.

"Elves are designed for living in harsh climates."

My brown shawl provides more warmth as I wrap it closer about me, sitting on the fountain's rim. "Doesn't mean they have to like it, or that they can't get sick." I sniffle. My body aches; my head throbs.

I've healed enough to move about, but with the cold I caught from the night harvesting linashor, Silva won't hear of me working again yet. She's still angry about the time Prince Aidan had to order me back to bed. Silva's friend Lallie often 'forgets' a basket of mending in my room when she checks on me, so I've worked on that when I can. Lallie's careful to keep it nearly empty so Ygraine or Silva don't notice.

Prince Aidan scoffs, "Elves get sick, my foot!"

"They—" I sneeze, catching myself on the rim of the fountain so I don't fall in "—get colds!"

"Elves get colds? Next thing I know, you'll be telling me they suffer from plagues and mage-curses just like the rest of us!"

"They do," I quietly protest and sniffle, but he isn't listening. He's rolling on the stones, laughing while destroying yet another tunic from his thoughtless actions. "Your Highness…"

"What?" His cross look speaks volumes. I flinch. "Don't you ever laugh?"

I don't understand the question. "Should you be mussing your garment?" I ask instead of thinking about how to answer something I don't know. I sneeze again.

"Mussing? Mussing?" Prince Aidan looks at his garb, the dirt and rips; it's beyond mending. He grins and climbs up the statue. His mother would have a fit to see him there.

His mother would have a greater fit to watch him leap off the statue in a somersault and land on his feet. My own stomach leaps into my throat at the sight. "Your Highness!"

"Bah!" He grins at my blanched expression. "I made sure to learn that with Kitra there to make her wind catch me if I fell." He grabs a stick off the ground and attacks the statue with some weirdly graceful moves. "On guard, ah!" He trips and lands facefirst in the fountain, but he still grins after he sputters the water out. "Not quite how that was supposed to go."

I daresay not.

He shoves himself up and resumes his play. "You won't see Hickory using that!" he says after one move that evidently involves shoving one's elbow into the torso of the stone statue. "He thinks he's the best swordsman among we heirs. Gives him a head the size of a summer watermelon, but he doesn't think me much of a threat."

Prince Aidan bends over, picks a stone from the fountain, and flings it at the apple tree. I flinch as it strikes the trunk dead center. "Shows how much he knows," the prince says, and he climbs out of the fountain.

I cringe away from him. He's determined that I know he isn't as foolish as he pretends around the other heirs, but why? What does it matter, what a foreign king's bastard thinks of him? I sniffle, avoiding another sneeze.

"Come on; it's getting dark. Let's get some more garlic from Cook for you."

Accepting his help to stand, I flex my bare toes, curling them around the plant covering the ground. I sigh. I don't care for grass. I prefer moss. Mother did, too.


  1. Loving it! But... "I made sure to learn that with Kitra there make her wind catch me if I fell." seems to be missing something. And not an error, but maybe "face-first", rather than "facefirst"? That may be a UK thing, though :)

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Okay, I was wrong—there is a grammar error in that, as was just pointed out to me on IM. Missing "to" from the sentence; Scylax gets her credit!

    Scylax: 3/7

    Ty! ^_^


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