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

Cover by Zillah Designs.


14. Chapter Fourteen: Khyber


      It was time to visit the Church of the Divine Goddess again, and for the first time in my life, I was glad. My father hadn’t spoken a word to me since I had questioned him, and it was Leanda’s birthday the next day so she had been driving me crazy. I was glad for an excuse to leave the palace.

      The Head Priest seemed distracted when he greeted me and I asked him what was wrong.

      “A few nights ago some of the graves were dug up, your highness, and some relics were stolen from the Church.” the priest was upset, wringing his hands anxiously.

      I frowned. Maybe the Church grounds would need to be patrolled at night?

      “Who do you think did it?”  

      “I believe it was the work of a gang, your highness.” the Head Priest answered.

      Turning to Orien, who was stood silently behind me as usual, I said. “How did they travel through the wall unnoticed?”

      “I know not, your highness.” he was as perplexed as I was.

      “I will see to it that the Church is patrolled at night.” I told the priest.

      “Thank you, your highness.”

      We moved through to the priest’s chambers and sat down.

      “I have some good news for you.”

      The Head Priest poured me a hot drink saying. “Oh yes, your highness?”

      Leaning back in my chair I smiled. “I have found a building, an old warehouse, that I believe can be used as a sanctuary for the homeless. It needs some work, but that shouldn’t take too long. I can provide food and clean clothes, but someone will be needed to run the building, to make sure that only people who actually need help receive it.” 

      “That is excellent news, your highness! I cannot thank you enough. That will be an enormous help. May the Goddess bless you for your generosity.” he was beaming with joy and spilt some of his drink in his excitement.

      I couldn’t help but increase my smile. “Do you know of anyone who could be suitable?”

      “I’m not sure, your highness.” then looking over my shoulder, the priest said. “Yes, Samera, what is it?”

      Glancing behind me I saw the young woman hovering uncertainly in the doorway. She curtsied to me before answering the priest. “It’s the man that came last night, your Grace. He wants to give a confession before he dies.”

      The Head Priest’s face fell. “Very well, perhaps you can help his highness while I am gone.”

      Samera was startled at this but nodded.

      When the priest had left I gestured to the seat he had vacated. “Why don’t you sit down?”

      Her blue eyes widened and she thanked me before doing as I had suggested. She looked at anywhere but my face and I noticed that she had purple bags underneath her eyes.

      Explaining my plans to help the homeless to her, I asked if she knew anyone that could be a suitable caretaker.

      “My neighbour may be interested, your highness. She is a healer.” Samera told me. Her accent wasn’t as strong as I thought it might be, but anyone that heard it would instantly know Samera was from the lower town.

      “A healer?”

      She seemed wary as she replied. “The poor... doctors are too expensive, so we go to healers. Myra, my neighbour, has been teaching me. Healers don’t ask for money, your highness, they get paid in favours.”

      Paid in favours, that was an interesting concept.

      “Would you be interested in working there, if the Head Priest can spare you? Several people may be needed.” I took a sip of my drink, wondering what her reaction would be.

      “I would like that, thank you, your highness.” Samera gave me a smile which lit up her face.

      “The positions will be well paid.”

      Hurt by my words, for some reason, she replied. “I would gladly work there for free, your highness, if I could.”

      “I wasn’t implying anything by what I said.” I told her, alarmed to have caused offence. Changing the subject I asked. “Are there many healers in the lower town?”

      “There are only three, your highness.”

      Stirring my drink with a spoon, I said. “Hmm, perhaps the building could become some kind of medical facility as well. Do you think that would be a good idea?”

      “Yes, your highness, I think it would.” Samera nodded.

      “Excellent, could you ask the healers for me to see what they think?”

      She told me that she would and after finishing my drink I left. I had a lot to prepare.


      Unfortunately I couldn’t delay returning to the palace forever. The moment I stepped inside Leanda appeared barking orders at a handful of servants that were trailing after her. Her eyes fell on me and I saw that she was crying.

      “Leanda, what’s wrong?” I asked worried when she stopped before me.

      Waving away the servants she sniffed. “Everything is wrong! It has to be perfect, Khyber, but it’s not. I’m going to be a laughing stock.”

      “You will not.” I said soothingly. “Now tell me what’s wrong.”

      Leanda’s reply was practically a yell. “The flowers are all wrong. I asked for pink roses not red ones. The cake is horrible and don’t even get me started on the layout of the ballroom.”

      “Is there anything I can do to help?” I knew I was probably going to regret those words, but I said them anyway.

      “Well actually,” she brightened visibly and thrust a scroll at me. “Can you sort all these out? Thank you Khyber, you’re a sweetie.”

      Leanda strode away with a bounce in her step and I unrolled the scroll. It was several metres long.   

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