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.


I bury my fingers in my thick pumpkin orange yarn. It's an ugly color, but that's why the yarn was so cheap. The weather's turning cold, and I need a sweater. This little second-story workroom is generally used by Runners, so the head matron Morgana doesn't think to look for me here when she wants to harass me.

William sits on a stool, whittling something for the nice girl from Saf he's come to like.

"Your Highness, a moment of your time."

The brisk winter day brings the nobleman's voice clearly through the window. I'm not sure which noble it is.

"Yes, Essere Carraway?" Prince Aidan's firm tone comes easily through the window.

Marigold's father. I flinch. He doesn't like me, and maybe he's finally figured out who originated the order for his daughter to learn embroidery from me and wants to have it overridden.

"Your sweater's unraveling," William says.

I pick it back up and notice that I've dropped several stitches. I shake my head as I recover them. "Thank you." I force myself to be more careful.

"I must protest!" Essere Carraway whines.

"Protest what?"

"Your deportment towards the housemaidens!" Lord Carraway's voice expresses extreme distaste. "One in particular. My daughter must take lessons from the wench, Your Highness. I will not have my daughter taught by a—"

Prince Aidan's mind has evidently followed the nobleman's line of thinking faster than I have. "By a what, essere? A telfin girl?"

Essere Carraway gulps loudly enough for me to hear it. He tries again: "I know she is of lesser blood—"

"Hold your tongue!" I shiver at the harshness in the prince's tone. "If you insist on speaking so foolishly, it would do you better to say naught at all."

"You would do well to mind your own tongue, Your Highness. I am no dotard. I speak on behalf of much of the Council when I remind you of your place. What will your betrothed think when she hears you prefer another, and the preferred a servant?"

"I hope she minds," mutters Prince Aidan before snapping, "You and the Council would do well to mind your own business! If you expect all your sons to act so—so shamefully, small wonder men fear letting their daughters be servants."

"Of course they fear for the comely ones. And your little… friend… certainly is that."

I quietly set my yarn and needles down, and I step over to the window and peek out. Aidan's tense posture suggests that he's glaring at the nobleman, though I can't see either man's face.

Prince Aidan glances my way, and I duck out of view. He huffs, and I hear his boots hit the cobblestones as he strides towards his dog pens.

His vehement reaction to the expected accusation confuses me. It doesn't surprise him, surely? I return to knitting my sweater.

No comments:

Post a Comment

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