Samera

A chance meeting between a prince and a peasant results in consequences that will not only change their lives, but also the kingdom.

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4. Chapter Four: Khyber

 

      “Khyber, what’s wrong? You’ve been picking at your dinner looking forlorn for what seems like hours.”

      I looked up to find my sister, Leanda watching me, her lips pulled into an amused smirk.

      “Where’s Abelard?” I asked, only just realising that our brother had disappeared.

      Leanda gave a sigh. “Didn’t you hear? He said that he had a kitchen maid waiting in bed for him.”

      Pulling a face in disgust I silently wished that Abelard wasn’t so vocal about what he did in his free time.   He was a prince he shouldn’t have been getting involved with the servants. The last thing we needed was for him to produce illegitimate heirs to the throne.

      “So what is it that is bothering you so much?” Leanda wondered, twirling strands of her golden hair around a bejewelled finger. “Could it be that you’re jealous of our dear brother?”

      “I will never be jealous of him.” I said, draining my glass of wine.

      The thought of wanting to be anything like Abelard left a bitter taste in my mouth that the wine couldn’t mask.

      My glass was refilled by a servant and Leanda smiled at me. “What is it then?”

      I considered telling her what was playing on my mind but she wouldn’t understand. I wouldn’t have either before this afternoon. All Leanda cared about was that she had pretty dresses, jewellery and suitors to spare.

      Spearing my food with a fork I replied. “Where is father?”

      “How should I know?” clearly disappointed Leanda leaned back in her chair. “He is probably with the councillors.”

 

      I waited outside the Council Chambers. Gazing out of the stain glass windows my eyes fell on the tall wall that divided the upper town from the lower town. I couldn’t help but think of the young woman I had encountered outside the Church. How did she live? She had seemed very thin. Could she afford to eat? The cloak I had given her was probably worth a lot of money. She would probably sell it.

      “Your highness, what are you doing here?”

      Turning around I found my teacher, Howlin, watching me from behind his broken glasses.

      “I was hoping to speak to the king, but you will do just as nicely. Would you be able to teach me more about the people?”

      “The p...people, your highness?” he asked nervously, clutching his books to his chest.

      I felt sorry for Howlin. He was a good teacher but Abelard tormented him constantly. It was Abelard that had broken his glasses. Howlin had even started to stutter thanks to my wonderful brother.

      “Yes, today at the Church the Head Priest showed me a painting that depicted a woman being raped. I thought that rape had ended years ago, but it is still happening.” I explained. “I want to know more about the lives of the people that live in the kingdom. I thought I knew all I needed to about them, but it appears that I don’t.”

      Howlin seemed surprised. “Of course I can teach you about them, your highness.” he smiled looking pleased. “It’s a relief that one of my students actually wants to learn.” he blanched when he realised what he had just said. “Oh your highness, I didn’t mean to...”

      I laughed and after a while Howlin even gave a wary chuckle.

      Placing a hand on his shoulder, I said. “You have a hard job, Howlin, I do not envy you.”

      He gave a small smile. “When should we commence our lessons, your highness?”

      I turned to glance at the door of the Council Chambers hoping that it would open and my father would appear, but it stayed shut.

      “There’s no time like the present.”

 

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