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.


My yawn interrupts the introductions between me and the gryphons. "My apologies." I blink to freshen my eyes and move so I can see more of the leader's awkward attempts to scrawl in the dirt with his claw.

I shiver to be so close to them. They stopped speaking when they noticed that and started their scrawls, instead. After several painstaking minutes of their attempts to write with their misshapen bodies, I think I understand what I need to do.

"Find and unwind the nexus of the spell that Father mastered to bind and control each of you," I mutter. Simple enough. Right.

I sit on a bench and reach inwards to grasp the magic firmly. Once I have that secure, I start my magical probing with the youngest, assuming he's been bound the most recently and therefore any traces of where the problem is will be freshest and easiest to find.

And I'm right. I find the magical bulge in seconds, survive its check that makes sure I'm of the right blood to access it, but I'm dizzy and panting by the time I manage to gently work it out.

I blink and grip my bench for support as I return to reality. "Did that work?" I somehow manage to ask while gasping for breath.

I hear coughing before my eyes focus enough to see the prepubescent owner of that voice. Lallie found a cloak to cover the boy before I recovered enough to witness his nudity. I flush and heat, anyway. "Yie."

Lallie supports me with a hand on my shoulder and checks my forehead with the back of her other hand. "Her Majesty must recover before attempting that, again."

"Lallie…" She looks at me blandly. I sigh and acquiesce. "I'll do the next one after a nap." This is going to take awhile.

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