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.


"Come see this!" Prince Aidan stops in the hall and scowls back at me when I ignore him. "Evonalé!"

I set my mending aside and obey, following him as he not-quite runs. Moving as quickly as I can or dare to, I manage the twists and turns without mishap, but then we reach the kitchens' few steps. I stumble down them, landing on Cook's bread cart.

Quickly, I shove myself off. I curtsy, intensely aware of the flour on my skin. "Forgive me, Cook—"

"You double-crossed luckless lout! Foundling of your mother's whoring!"

How dare she! Mother fought harder to keep Father from siring me on her than she had to keep her own queendom! Sweat pools at my temples as fire floods my body. "My mother was weak-bodied, not loose!"

I recognize the following pain and stumbling as from a backhand across my face. Cook grabs me and drags me towards the kitchen. "You foul-mouthed waif! You don't even know what you say—some soap will fix that for you!"

As if I don't! I snap at her hand, tasting blood. "It's true! May Fael Honovi cross the liar of us!"

Immediately a support for one of Cook's pots breaks, sending the large pot of stew into the fire.

Cook freezes, shocked. I manage to wriggle out of her grasp, but have a torn sleeve and crooked pinafore for my trouble. Lallie sighs loudly from where she stands behind Cook, well out of the way, scrubbing a stew pot.

I must calm down. Anger only makes things worse.

Lallie pointedly sighs again, and I realize she's urging me to breathe deeply, to calm down. I try to follow her advice. I straighten my pinafore, then pull a needle and thread from my pouch and repair my sleeve. I prick myself in my furious trembling, but that's good—the pain helps me calm.

After a near minute of shock, Cook glowers at me as I finish my sleeve, tugging the thread and cutting it with my teeth. "Fael Honovi? What kind of faery protects fatherless waifs? I've never heard of her!"

Certain faeries have earned names for the type of child they befriend; most people don't realize such faeries are a minority. I hesitate, then decide to mimic royal etiquette. She won't believe me. Faeries don't trouble themselves with bastards. "Fael Honovi is my godmother," I primly inform Cook.

I scurry out back after Prince Aidan before Cook can hit me with a rolling pin.

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