The Prisoner


adjacent to the main kitchen, weaving in and out of the bustling crowd as he paced back and

forth between the cart and the storage room.

When he finally finished, his arms and stomach burned from the effort. He was quickly

reassigned to stoking the fires for the four large clay ovens. Ashes settled in his hair, the heat and

smoke burning his lungs. He didn ’ t mind because he was occupied with the thought of the coins

in his discarded jacket. He heard them faintly tinkling with his movements as the jacket swayed

from its place around his waist.

Eventually, the kitchen emptied, leaving only Kai, the cooks, and the woman whose

name was Miss Trea. They all seemed to sigh in relief as the near-vacancy settled around them.

All too soon, the kitchen was thrust back into the thick of the action again. Dishes had to

be washed and dried and desserts placed on platters. Kai had never seen so much food and hassle

in his life, though he kept his head down and focused on what he was told to do. In this case, he

hoped he didn ’ t drop any dishes. They were all fragile and expensive, and incredibly slippery

when wet.

Kai settled into the kitchen ’ s routine within the first week of working there. He found that

he enjoyed the busy hours, learning that the rush was the royal ’ s mealtime. They often had guests

and even hosted a lavish party the first week he had worked. At the end of every week, he

received payment: two coins, enough to buy himself some extra food or save for a new pair of

shoes. Miss Trea had been kind enough to allow him to stay with her for a time, though he

declined, preferring to wander. She was rather adamant, though, and so he stayed with her for a

few weeks until he had assured her that he could manage.

He had left her home and shoved his hands in his pockets and quickly found his way to

the docks, following the salty tang on the air. He smiled, watching the water lap at the pilings,

and looked out over the fleet of docked ships. Several had purple flags, and each was as majestic

as the one he had watched on the horizon eons ago. From here, he could see that the flags bore a

gold crest, the symbol of the royal family he ’ d learned. Kai stared at the ships wistfully,

wondering how many kitchen servants one ship needed and the other ways he could be part of

their crew. Begrudgingly, Kai trekked back to the castle, to a little hidden crevice he had found

one afternoon near the kitchens and called his own.

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