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.


After an annoying few hours of study that were surprisingly less draining than expected, I drag myself up the stairs. With our task done, we'll be resuming our journey towards Grehafen soon. Getting it over with will be such a relief.

I lean against my door to open it, stumble in—stumble over something on the floor that I can still see somewhat despite the dark. My attempt to catch myself catches on something else in the darkened room, and I land, hard, on a few things that weren't there this morning. Whatever they are, they blend with the floor.

I only realize I've bitten my lip when I taste blood. It's not a bad injury, I find when I test it with my tongue.

The racket brings Silva with a lantern. I blink at it, shielding my eyes from the unwelcome light.

"EvonalĂ©?" she asks after a few attempts that get interrupted by yawns. "Are you…?" She lifts her lantern to find some large rocks on the floor and moved furniture. "This wasn't here when I went to bed."

Aidan finally saunters in, yawning and stretching. "Problem?"

Even when I thought her a mere maid, I knew better than to think Silva stupid. She scowls at him and picks up one of the rocks. "You know Evonalé can't navigate a mess like this in the dark." She puts it away as best as she can, up against the wall out of the way.

He merely gives her and me a bland look. "I trust that will bruise?"

"You were trying to bruise her?!"

"I asked him to," I quickly interrupt, recognizing Silva's tone as tired and irritable enough to possibly do something more drastic than her standard calm scoldings. I still think she caused those hiccups Aidan couldn't get rid of two weeks ago after 'innocently' asking if she and Master Oscar shared a (giant) cousin.

With her apparent sensitivity to the question, I can't help but wonder if she is at least a little giant. That ancestry would explain why no one ever got mad at Lord Elwyn for marrying a cook. From the legends that I now know not to discount entirely, giants have clan structures that tend to be very problematic for anyone who insults one member of the clan.

"You asked him to give you bruises?"

"So I look abused," I explain, too tired to fully feel the surprise I should that Aidan remembered the promise he'd made me a month ago to give me bruises one night. I'd forgotten it, myself.

"Bruising you is abuse."

I'm too tired for this. "Just go back to bed."

"Yes, Silva, do. We have an early morning, tomorrow." Aidan's far too alert and cheerful for the middle of the night—a time when I'm supposed to be the alert one. "If we leave early and set a quick enough pace, we should reach Grehafen in time for supper."

"Thank you," I say before Silva can put words to her weary sigh.

"You're awfully eager for something you're convinced will kill you," she snipes.

"I've waited with this looming over my head long enough. Now, I just want it over with." And honestly, learning to burn spells makes me feel a lot better about my ability to defend myself. That is something even Carling won't expect me to know. I think.

Aidan takes Silva by the arm and guides her to the door to her room. "Go. To. Bed." He gently pushes her in, then turns to me. I step back to his step towards me. "That goes for you, too."

I probably look more sullen than I intend to in my exhaustion, but I nod and plod to my room. Aidan catches me as I trip and sees me safely through my door. Then he goes back to his own room.

That reminds me that with our renewed travel comes the renewed pretense that I'm his unwilling mistress. Fun.

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