Changeling’s Choice by Rachael Ashdown

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Episode 1

Soren aimed a kick at the kitchen tabby, but missed. The cat hissed at him angrily before slinking away, leaving the foul-tempered prince to his grumbling. Animals and humans alike avoided the boy when he was in this state, an increasingly common occurrence. His current bad mood was a result of his elder brother Filip giving him a lesson with the sword. These lessons never ended well. Filip taunted him endlessly, and the more taunts Soren heard, the worse he became at his swordplay. This time, the lesson had ended when Filip had smartly rapped him on the backside with the flat of his blade, earning a chorus of laughter from a crowd of onlookers.

“My my, that is a dark look upon your face, my dear.”

Soren ignored his mother, striding right past her without a word. But as usual, he did not get far before she appeared at his side, taking his arm gently as she steered him in the direction of the library. It was the one place she knew she could speak without the threat of Henrik or Filip interrupting. Neither of the older princes cared much for the written word.

“Tell me, what troubles you today my handsome son?” Soren snorted at this. He knew he was the homeliest of her children, and her attempts to butter him up only darkened his disposition further. His attitude did not improve with the arrival of his sister Eva, either. The young princess strode into the library with her usual air of self-importance, her long blonde hair in perfect ringlets around her face.

“There you are, Mother. I thought we were going to go riding this afternoon. I was waiting for you.”

“I will go riding with you later, darling. First I must lift your brother’s spirits.”

“It is a hopeless cause, Mother. Soren is incapable of having high spirits.”

“Is that soot on your face, Eva?” Soren asked maliciously, narrowing his eyes at his perfect sister. She huffed at him before turning and striding out of the library again, intent on finding the closest mirror to remove the offending smudge. Not that there was one. Soren just knew an affront to her vanity was the best way to remove Eva from any situation.

“That was unkind, Soren,” Queen Abelone said softly. “There is no need to take out your temper on your sister.”

“And yet she is allowed to insult me all she wants,” Soren said, crossing his arms and staring at a shelf of books along the wall, eyes scanning the leather-bound volumes with unseeing eyes. “I do not know why you bother bringing me in here anymore. It is useless to try cheering me up. I do not belong here. I do not belong in this family.”

“That is ridiculous. You are my son, and you will always be a part of this family. You are not a Changeling.”

“Changeling?” Soren asked, turning to look at his mother with his dark, questioning eyes. “What is a Changeling?”

“A Changeling is a myth, Soren. Superstitious peasants will sometimes blame faerie creatures for the misbehavior or illness of their children. They say that their own babe was switched with a faerie babe before it could be christened. It is nothing but nonsense.”

But Soren was intrigued. Nonsense or not, he wanted to know more about these Changeling children. Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.

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