From The Narrator, Chapter 5

By the time she reached the main courtyard, most of the court had turned out to greet their new king. All eyes were trained on where the road emerged from the forest two hundred yards away. Ladies were caught up in last minute primping for their bachelor king, while lords were placing bets on the exact moment he would appear. Arianna stifled a laugh. The multitude of frills and flounces reminded her of an exotic aviary.

With a few smiles and nods in the right direction, she was able to maneuver to the front of the flock. Unfortunately, she ended up at Brindon’s elbow.

At least, unfortunately for him.

Arianna pasted on her sweetest, sickliest smile — the one Father had said made her look like a feral horse. “Good morning, brother.”

He merely nodded in greeting. His lips were a thin, disapproving line, and his eyes seemed to have sunk into his skull. Not a morning person, then.


“Don’t tell me I missed the reception,” she cried, pitching her voice in an unattractive whine.

Brindon winced, and she nearly laughed in his face. Her game wasn’t much, and it certainly wasn’t useful, but it was oh-so-very satisfying.

“I was so looking forward to it,” she continued, digging in the vocal screws. “He promised to bring me all sorts of presents.”

“Is that so?” Brindon seemed to be trying his best to tune her out. Impatience rolled off his shoulders like rain. But his gaze never left the spot where the road left the forest.

He looked…nervous.

And why shouldn’t he be? He probably expected Endar and Quin to be rotting on the southern road, not trotting up it.

“Don’t worry,” she said gently.

The switch in her manner caught Brindon’s attention. He looked down at her and raised an eyebrow in silent question.

As dismissively as possible, Arianna turned back to her own vigil and said, “I’m sure he hasn’t forgotten about you.”

Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.