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.


20. Chapter Twenty: Khyber


      It was the winter solstice but no one in the palace was in the celebrating mood. We were at war. That was what I hadn’t told Samera. I had wanted to but if I told her that then I would have to tell her that Menul had left for the frontline. Omer would have to go too as soon as he was healthy enough. So instead I span tales while on the inside I worried. I worried that we would lose the war, that my father would die and that Samera would never be able to speak again. Myra said that she was slowly getting better, but she was worried too. I could tell by the ever increasing lines around her eyes. Myra was scared that she was going to lose her son and that Samera had the mind of a child.

      I strode through the silent palace. My father was tucked away somewhere with his war council. Leanda was in bed. And Abelard... we didn’t know where he was. He had stormed out after our father had told him that he would be marrying Princess Mariella of the Opal Isles within the next month. Mariella was the princess Abelard had been arranged to marry for years, but Abelard wanted to marry Princess Jasmina of Lisuntra, the very same Jasmina that our father was planning for me to marry. The King wanted as many allies as possible in the war against King Dravis of Gersa. It was probably only a matter of time before he married of Leanda, but she always had been his favourite because she reminded him of our dead mother. Maybe father couldn’t bear the thought of Leanda having to leave for a far off country and wouldn’t make her marry. Father hadn’t told me to my face yet that I would be marrying Jasmina, but when he finally did I would say no.  

      Orien and I carried a large box each to the warehouse. It was always busy with people needing somewhere to stay or help. I talked to everyone and gave them all one of the special cakes I had ordered. I visited Samera last because I had something special for her. I was surprised to find her out of bed and walking around with help from Omer. She smiled when she saw me and gave a shaky curtsy.

      “Your highness,” Omer said, helping Samera back over to her bed.

      “She can walk now?” I asked, sitting on the edge of the bed.

      Omer nodded. “With help she can, your highness. Her ankle is still weak.” turning his attention to Samera he kissed her on the cheek. “I’ll be back soon.”

      Samera’s blue eyes followed him as he disappeared into the corridor and then she faced me. She was sitting up seeing as her ribs no longer hurt her. Samera’s long, black hair was loose down her back and she put it into a plait.

      “Do you know what day it is?” I asked.

      She nodded and pressed her hands together as if praying.

      “That’s right, it’s the winter solstice, when we pray to the Divine Goddess for winter to end and for spring to come.” reaching into the box I withdrew the last cake. “This is for you.”

      Samera’s eyes brightened at the sight of the sponge cake with a blue snowflake on the icing. She lifted it to her nose and breathed deeply. Samera broke the cake in half and offered me some.

      “No, it’s yours.”

      Rolling her eyes at me, she placed half of the cake in my hand. Then with a smile she took a bite of her part of the cake. Samera’s eyes closed slightly in pleasure. I followed her lead and ate my own half. It was rather delicious.

      “I have something else for you.” I removed the book from my pocket and placed it in her hands.

      Samera’s expression was hard to read as she traced the title with a thin finger. She opened the book to a random page and a grin spread onto her face.

      Pleased that she liked it I said. “It’s an encyclopaedia of plants. I thought it might be useful for when Myra starts teaching you again.”

      The book was mostly filled with drawings which was good seeing as Samera didn’t know how to read. That was one thing that I hated about the way my father ruled the kingdom; the poor couldn’t read. I was hoping to change that though.

      “Thank you.”

      The words surprised both me and Samera. She gazed at me wide eyed and tried to speak again but the words came out mangled. I gave her a sad smile. It seemed that perhaps there was hope after all, but how long would it take before Samera could have a normal conversation?


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