The Prisoner


He shoved his hands in his pockets after putting the money inside his coat pocket, over

his left breast. He continued walking aimlessly, leaving the stone castle behind him with every

step. He glanced over his shoulder. It was impressive, he had to admit. Looking out over the hill,

he could see the town below and the houses nestled along the pathway. He was halfway to the

palace gates and somehow found himself to be stuck in place. As he stood, a pair of guards

walked up the path, halting behind him.

“ Lost, are ya, boy? ” asked the taller one.

“ Where are the kitchens? ” Kai asked in return, squinting against the sun.

“ Why? ”

“ I heard they were looking for help. ”

After grumbling between themselves, the guards gave him directions to the back entrance

of the kitchen. Quickly, Kai strolled back down the path, following what the guards had said, and

found himself being pulled into the boiling kitchen. He had barely enough time to register the

scores of people coming in and out, some with trays of food and others with pitchers of foul-

smelling drinks, while others had empty hands and flushed cheeks. A woman came over to him,

her hair in a tight bun. Stray wisps floated in front of her face, which she promptly tucked behind

her ear with a huff.

“ And who are you? ” Her lips thinned as she peered down at him, her chest heaving as she

wiped her hands on the stained and flour-covered apron around her waist.

“ Someone told me you needed help here in the kitchens and I was hoping I could help, ”

Kai said, attempting to sound calm despite his raging nerves and uncertainty. He needed this,

needed to work.

The woman stared at him for what seemed to be an eternity in the midst of the fluttering

chaos of the kitchens before she nodded slowly. “ I see. You ’ re that boy Arty was talking about.

Can you carry flour? Those sacks needed to be unloaded yesterday. ”

As she said this, she motioned to a small cart haphazardly stowed in a corner of the

kitchens before the rain of last night could ruin the flour. Kai nodded eagerly, not willing to

admit that he didn ’ t know if he could lift those sacks or not. He grabbed an apron and got to


He groaned, the sacks being heavier than he thought. They slipped in his arms, but he

only tightened his grip on them, holding them close to his stomach. He stacked them in a room

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