The Pauper Prince – Part 11

The Pauper Prince
Chapter 11

This time Mara had managed to crawl under the covers before falling rapidly asleep. Having no other clothing but her old shirt and vest, fabric wrap, boots, and the borrowed dress and cloak, she had left the dress on and slept in that. Her sword security blanket was ever at her side, but in the morning, when there was again a knock at the door, she did not bolt awake and fling it about wildly.

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The Pauper Prince – Part 10

The Pauper Prince
Chapter 10

By now Mara was determined to make her own way back to the guest room without a guide. This would be her second trip to and from in one day, and there were torches along the walls to offer a somewhat guided path. Before leaving the banquet hall, she made it a point of wishing the other ladies a good night, each of whom only muttered their replies. Somehow she had missed the Prince’s departure from the room, but the King and Queen were still there, keeping up conversation with lingering guests to the bitter end, so she went to them and waited quietly for either one of them to notice her. Eventually the King sensed her nearness, and turned quickly, as if reacting to a threat.

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The Pauper Prince – Part 9

The Pauper Prince
Chapter 9

The Prince had taken the liberty of sending the royal seamstresses a note to explain that they were to measure and clothe the Lady Mara to the best of their ability, and send him the bill. Thus there was no surprise when Heather brought and introduced her to them. Then Heather proceeded to giggle, causing Mara to use a subdued form of “The Look” to quiet her. In practice the full version of “The Look” is what she used to intimidate men on a battlefield.

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The Pauper Prince 8 – The Lady in the Water

The Pauper Prince 8
The Lady in the Water

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Heather, an apprentice royal handmaiden, arrived at the bedroom of the Lady Mara, whom she had been told was a personal guest of His Royal Highness Prince Kelvin and was to be attended to. Her first task was to draw a bath for the Lady and see to any other personal needs. It was Heather’s first solo assignment, which she was eager to complete to perfection. She allowed herself to wonder about this woman’s true rank and station, not to mention how she had become the Prince’s “guest,” but knew well enough not to speak any of her speculations aloud. To be the Prince’s personal guest was high-ranking enough for her.

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The Pauper Prince 7 – Guess Who’s Hosting the Dinner?

The Pauper Prince 7
Guess Who’s Hosting the Dinner?

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Inside the castle, on the first floor and in the grand dining hall,¬†only four people occupied the massive table used for royal feasts, celebrations, or in this case, a private lunch. Mara wanted the opportunity to roam the hall freely and view its craftsmanship – the carvings on the pillars, patterns of the mosaic tiles, colors in the stained glass and embroidery of the tapestries – but she kept this thought to herself. Not when her every movement and word was about to be judged by a King and Queen, for the crime of accepting a poor minstrel’s marriage proposal.

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The Pauper Prince 6 – Travel Games

The Pauper Prince 6
Travel Games

“Believe me that we would have preferred giving an earlier warning,” said Kenneth to Erick the next morning, “But given the circumstances of our respective situations… er…”

“Yes, well,” said Erick, wiping the counter apathetically, “I suppose the best man won, hm?”

“I… wouldn’t call it a competition,” said Kenneth, glancing back at Mara, “But thank you.” Both he and Mara had packed all of their belongings in their respective sacks, bags, and packs. Her sword was strapped to her side again, where it belonged. All of her belongings fit into three sacks, which she wore in a manner that distributed their weight evenly. Kenneth’s lute was strapped again to his back, his cap’s brim pulled low.

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The Pauper Prince 5 – An Unexpected Question

The Pauper Prince 5
An Unexpected Question

Mara was woken up by several knocks on the storage room door. She awoke with a start, and was disoriented to find that she had been sleeping in a sitting position. In fact, sitting next to Kenneth, who was still asleep, and with her left hand holding his right. Of the two, she was the lighter sleeper, but she’d been that way all her life, by necessity.

She stood up, lost her balance because his hand still held hers, and flumped back onto the cot, her head smacking the wall a bit. She winced and held her head, then fumbled again to stand up from the cot. This time Kenneth’s hand let go of hers. She glanced back to see him falling over, still asleep, as she made for the door.

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