apprentice--prologue, chapter one, and chapter two




Cheeks wet with salty tears, she asked me, “How…how can I fix this?” 

“Kara, you….you can’t.” Her eyes widened to the point of hysteria, and a crazed laugh bubbled up. 

“But I–I have to. If Father knows, he’ll…He’ll…” I pursed my lips, blinking hard to keep my own tears at bay.

“You have to run. Away. If you cut through the forest quickly, then you can cross Avarya and take refuge in Protophyta. You’ll be safe there. Take money and start a new life. I’ll–I’ll cover for you.” I bit my cheek, hard, because I knew how she would react to this. She’d always been the proper princess, the one that paid attention to the etiquette classes we both took, had always listened to Father. 

But I suppose when you take part in a coup d’etat to take down your own kingdom, you don’t really have a choice. Especially when you claim it was a demon possessing you the entire time. Kara may not be the crown princess, but Father will murder her if he discovers what half the palace already knows. 

chapter one 


The bustle of the market is comforting to me, relieving after a long day of work. Sometimes, though, it reminds me of what I can’t afford. I have enough to get by, but I can’t buy beautiful dresses and hats and cakes. 

Today, I have a little more than usual. I buy myself a cup of sage tea, tucking away the remaining bronze coins. Scrubbing Rose’s floors clearly paid off. The warmth spreads through my body, a welcoming gift on a chilly day. 

A letter from Sylvia arrived yesterday. I don’t quite know how to answer it. Am I doing well? In her opinion, probably not. But I’m doing well, I think, even if that means just work and a light meal and sleep. Every day for the next…years. Unless I can get that apprenticeship.

I spot Fabin on the corner, eating a kulina, a corn cake filled with fig paste. My favorite. I haven’t had one for months, though. Money has been tight. 

“Fabin! Din lalu bajakah zindia?” I call, a smile stretching across my scarred face. 

“Kara, sayo!” She says another one of her lovers bought it for her. And then left. As usual.

A thin piece of parchment gusts across the square, landing near my feet. It’s advertising for Yondal Garika’s apprenticeship. Three days after the next full moon, he will be holding trials for his next apprentice. It would mean the world to me, if only I could–

“Are you..okay?” A concerned voice interrupts my thoughts. I glance up quickly. It’s Knika. 

“Uh, er…Yes. Sorry.” I stuff the parchment into my pack.

“No need to apologize. Um…I wanted to ask you something.” he says hesitantly, scratching the back of his neck. My eyebrows scrunch together.


“So there’s a winter ball in a month’s time. And I was wondering if you might go with me?” My heart stops. 

“Knika, I…I can’t possibly. Your mother would kill you…I would lose my job, even.” I watch as his face falls, dark brown curls shadowing his face. 

“But isn’t it worth it?” Knika asks, hurt creeping into his voice. A quiet sigh escapes my chapped lips.

“You don’t understand. If I lose the job working for your mother, I will have nowhere to go. I can’t find a job just,” I snap my fingers, “like that! So…no, it isn’t worth it. I’m sorry.” 

Knika shakes his head and turns on his heel, rushing away, face flushed. 

As I watch him go, I feel the tiniest pang of regret. But it is for the best. I think.


chapter two


I take a sharp breath of cold air, massaging my temples. I cannot believe the predicament I am in. 

As a way to make an ally of King Theron, my father has made arrangements for me to marry Prince Shonal. Prince Shonal, my enemy since childhood. I touch the back of my scalp, feeling my scar, one of many that he gave me. He stabbed me in the head in a fit of anger after I placed first in our seventh year literature class. I suffered from severe brain damage for years afterward.

His temper has always been an issue. If I am to be his wife, how will I survive? 

And Kara. Oh, dear Kara. She still has not sent a letter back to me after three weeks. I hope desperately she is all right. 

Suddenly, it comes to me. A way to escape from this marriage, at least for a little while. I will go to Protophyta to visit Kara, take a much needed break from my duties as crown princess. It’s perfect–

A creak of my balcony door startles me, and I spin around, only to see my lady in waiting, Clara.

“Not to disturb you, Your Highness, but the Queen wishes to see you.” she says, her face taut with worry. 



“Sylvia.” My mother addresses me with a practiced neutral tone, impossible to discern what is wrong. 

I dip into a bow. “Mother.” 

“As you have heard, it was planned for your wedding with Prince Shonal to be in four weeks' time. “ 

I nod, fear grasping my heart. “Yes. Has something changed?” 

“King Theron has requested that we move up the date.” she explains, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. I purse my lips. This is exactly what I knew would happen.

“I see. What day has he suggested, then?” 

“The end of this week.” I clench my hands into fists, nails digging into my skin. I need to leave.

“Thank you for letting me know, Mother.” I bow and quickly turn away from her. It is time to pack my bags. Milo will help me acquire a horse and sufficient materials for a three day trip. 


“Thank you, Milo.” I smile at him. He crosses his arms. 

“Tell me again why I can’t go with you?” Milo asks, picking at his cuticles. 

“I…Do you really want to go? I don’t see why you would care.” I reply, a smile hinting at my lips. Of course, I know exactly why he wants to go. 

You see, I’ve been in love with Milo for three years. And several moons ago, he told me he felt the same.

But to court a man who is not noble, that would be scandalous in the eyes of the kingdom. So we have never tried to be more than simply friends. 

Now, though, I’m having second thoughts. If I am not in Torin, then…

I grab Milo’s woven shirt and pull him into me, kissing him on the lips. After several moments, we break apart.

“You can come.” 



14 years old

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