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 finish off the ends on my nightgown, though part of me wonders if others will even let me wear the plain garb now that I'm a queen. The dress I'm wearing now is simple, but even it is of a nice fabric.

After putting the completed nightgown aside, I pull myself up and plod carefully over to the wardrobe to find a robe. Moving hurts my head. I bite my lip against the pain. I have a duty to perform.

There's a bell on my side table. After steeling myself for the pain that will bring my head, I sit on the side of the bed and ring it.

Lallie appears within seconds and curtsies, to my surprise. "Yes, Your Majesty?"


Thankfully, Lallie shows her usual good sense by smiling widely and flouncing over to sit beside me. "And how is Our Royalness doing today?" she asks, and gives me a large but gentle hug.

"…You're here?"

She releases me and gets up. "Of course! I wasn't going to leave you all by your lonesome with Rees and the head matron to tend you, the horror! I'll fetch some tea for your head," she says, "then we'll see to the gryphons."

I jerk. "What?!"

"The gryphons," Lallie repeats, then purses her lips. "Did Aidan not tell you? That boy…" She sighs and picks up some hours-old dirty dishes left over from breakfast. "They need you to release them back to their natural bodies."

"Their…" The words stick in my throat. I remember the hand, years ago, that showed under the boulder that crushed one gryphon. I gulp. "The monsters," I whisper. "Father made them that way."

Lallie almost ruffles my hair before remembering my headache; then she pokes my shoulder, instead. "Clever girl. Keep that up, and you'll be a queen fit for chronicling."

"If I survive the coups," I mutter. Nobles loathe illegitimate children.

"True," Lallie admits, and I smile at her. At least someone is thinking realistically about this mess.

That she's not refusing to admit to any possibilities but the idealistically optimistic ones is surprisingly comforting. I wish… "Thank you." I reach for her to hug her back. "I've missed you."

"Aw, girl." She nudges my back with her free elbow. "Don't talk like that." Because our places are so different. Because I'll soon be leaving for my kingdom, leaving hers behind.

As she leaves with the dirty dishes, I let my wish speak, for once. "Lallie?"

She stops. "Yes?"

"Do you think…" I swallow, uncertain if I even should ask. Salles is her home. "Do you think, when I go back… you could come with me?"

Lallie just studies me. "If the offer's still open when the time comes, I'd like that."

After she leaves, I lie down to nap until she brings my tea.

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