Changeling’s Choice by Rachael Ashdown

changeling75x99Vote at the end of this episode!

In the previous episode, Soren’s mother told him about the legend of the Changelings. As the readers suggested, he will look for more information in the library after his mother leaves.

Episode 2

Queen Abelone noted her son’s interest, but she was unable to continue their conversation as the arrival of the King stopped any further discussion of the Changelings.

“Abelone, I thought you were riding with Eva this afternoon?”

“Yes, I shall go find her now,” the Queen said with a sigh, putting a hand on Soren’s cheek. “You are my son,” she repeated before pulling her thin hand away and departing the library. The King looked at his son with one raised eyebrow, but said nothing about the peculiar exchange, instead taking a seat at his desk.

“If you are looking for something, I would ask you to find it quickly and go elsewhere,” King Grimar said as he looked down, rifling through papers. “I have a very important meeting in a moment and it is best that you are not present at that time.”

“I will leave in a moment, Father,” Soren replied. “I was wondering if perhaps you had a book on peasant folk tales that I could borrow.”

“What do you need such a book for?”

“Purely academic interest. Is it not right that I familiarize myself with the superstitions of the common folk? Such knowledge could be used to our benefit in so many ways, after all.”

The King was silent for a moment. “There is a red book on the shelf over there filled with such nonsense. If that is all, I must ask you to leave now, Soren.”

“Certainly, Father,” Soren said, bowing stiffly before turning on his heel. He headed towards the indicated book, pulling it off the shelf and departed the library with all haste. Unfortunately, he ran smack into his elder brothers as he did so.

“What have you got there, urchin?” Filip asked, deftly swiping the book from Soren’s grasp before he could react, looking at the cover and smirking unkindly. “Reading children’s stories now? Do you think that might be a bit too advanced for you?” Soren scowled darkly but did not rise to the bait. Prince Filip would make a formidable military commander; he was merciless and had a talent for unflinching cruelty.

“Leave him be,” Henrik sighed. “If he has found something to keep him out of the way, who are we to ruin it? Besides, father requires our presence. You can torment him later.” Though less outright mean than Filip, Prince Henrik’s sharp wit made his subtler insults sting just as badly as his brother’s, if not worse. He would make an unrelenting, stern king. Soren shuddered at the thought of his two siblings ruling the kingdom.

“Fine,” Filip said, shoving the book back at Soren. “Enjoy your book, imp.” Soren took his chance to dodge around the older boys and dash down a corridor, eager to find a place of solitude to read in peace.

Although the shadows were lengthening, an indication that the sun would set within an hour or two, Soren took up a post outside under a tall ash tree and opened his book. Unfortunately, he did not get far into his research before being interrupted. Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.

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