The next day I was to attend to my chores alone, I set the master's bath and ran down to the kitchen. I made his tray of foods and his coffee, carrying it up to the large door. Just as I entered the hall I saw the master in front of me with his arms crossed over his chest. I jumped at the sight of him the entire breakfast tray went crashing to the floor at his feet. He looked silently at me for a moment, then looked down to the mess at his feet. "Anthony, my bath is too hot," there was no anger in his voice, "and my breakfast is on the floor as well."

I was already on the ground picking up the mess I had made, mumbling apologies to his feet. The prince laughed, and it sounded so joyful. I looked up at him slowly, in confusion. "You're forgiven, Anthony. If you'll please stop the coals heating and finish cleaning this up, afterwards will you join me in the hall. We can go to the kitchen for breakfast together, what do you think?"

"Um…" I continued picking up the food and looking down at the floor. "If you wish it, sir." Why hadn't he gotten angry with me?

When I returned from the kitchen, after throwing away his ruined breakfast, he had already finished his bath and was dressed. I sighed inwardly as we immediately departed to walk back down into the palace, secretly I wished he could have just met me there.

As we arrived in the kitchens the prince immediately rushed me off to get him a poached egg. I was running out of breath from my many walks up and down the palace stairs, but I quickly did what I was told.

When I entered the kitchen with the eggs and coffee I had made I saw the prince standing near the sink, with his impressive posture and a charming smile. He was talking to the dish girl, Nadia, who was to her elbows in dishwater smiling back at him. I approached slowly and turned my gaze to the floor.

"Ah, looks as though my breakfast has arrived!" The prince clapped his hands together joyfully when he saw me. Nadia giggled at his eccentricity, turning back to her chore. He turned back to her at the sound of her laugh. "Nadia, so nice to talk to you again." He bowed low, a blush on his cheeks. I became jealous immediately when I realized the same woman I had recklessly flirted with the previous day was an object of beautiful amusement for my master. Their race was forbidden from bedding a slave, for fear of half breeds, which were killed as soon as there was word of them.

Aradus grabbed me by the shoulder and led me to a small table that was used mostly for slave's meals and gently pushed me towards a chair. "Radiant, isn't she? A shame really." He took his food from the tray I had set on the table and began to pick at it.

"Sorry sir, but you think it's a shame that she's attractive?" I questioned bluntly.

He leaned his head onto his hand and sighed as if reminiscing. "When I was a child, the palace was so boring. Nadia and I, and a few of the other slaves used to run around the kitchen playing. If we were caught we would be scolded. I always took the blame for them, said I'd ordered them to play with me." He laughed. "I asked her to marry me when I was ten and she only laughed. I told my father I loved her and he threw a fit about it, explained to me how things were supposed to work." His smiled faded as he glanced back at her, "I don't think I could find a noble girl with Nadia's soul. It's really a shame."

My jealousy subsided then, it had not been only her beauty that caught the prince's attention, they had been childhood friends. My jealousy once again bubbled up, but not for Nadia. I had never had other children to play with when I was young, only my mother for a short time and then only Bastion. "sir, may I ask you something?" I looked down at my egg, it laid there, untouched.

"Speak freely Anthony, as long as my father's not around." He grinned at me.

"Did you know my late master, General Bastion, sir? I knew so little about him."

He looked at me then with amazement in his eyes. It was the same look the guard had given me when I spoke of my master, a pleasant look. "You belonged to Marcus Bastion?"

"Yes sir, would you tell me what he was like to you? I feel as though I knew little of him."

"The General was…" He paused, "like and uncle to me and my siblings. He would bring us toys and candies, and tell us astonishing stories about war and adventure. He was born to a poorer nobleman, who owned shops and made him work in them as a child. He came to the palace to train as a soldier as a young man, and he did so well he surpassed his classmates and was promoted before he had ever seen a battle. He was a strong warrior and he won every battle he fought. He was a real hero, don't you think so?"

"The General did not tell me stories, but…" I hesitated for a moment, best not to speak poorly of any nobleman, "he taught me to read. He seemed a bit angry, he really was kind wasn't he?"

"My father says, men grow bitter with time, that's why children seem so happy." Aradus frowned and looked away from me for a moment. "Anthony, do you think we treat your people cruelly?" My heart leapt into my throat and I was at a loss for words. Should I dare answer that question?

"Um…" before the prince could ask me for an answer again the doors to the kitchen burst open suddenly and an old man with a long white beard stormed in.

"Lord Aradus, your studies!" The old man shouted walking toward our table.

My master glanced at a clock on the wall and sighed, "Of course, my mistake." He left me without a word, following the grumpy old man. I sat in silence for a while, still picking at my half eaten egg. What should I say if he asks me that question again? I wasn't even sure if I thought the noblemen cruel to us, my mother had thought so…

Determined to have a good long soak in my bath, I walked back up the stairs to prince Aradus' wing. I heard a chatter around a corner and my curiosity got the better of me. I pressed my back tight against the wall to listen. I heard the voices of the King and his eldest son arguing with each other about something.

"Is it a revolution, father, the slaves uprising again?" He chuckled.

"It is far worse I'm afraid, a neighboring kingdom seeks to take our resources and slaves for their own. They're killing theirs off too fast, they threaten if we do not give them what they want, they will siege the palace." The king sounded as though he had little faith in his army to defeat these attackers. "You will keep this news from your sister and brother, I do not want them to worry."

"Yes father, of course." There was a long pause, but I did not hear them walking away. "I will fight by your side to protect our land."

"We will be outnumbered, and you will fight in vain." The king finished before they walked away, and I ran for the prince's wing, thoughts of war on my mind.

I sat in the prince's library through the afternoon reading books about wars and revolts. The prince had a much nicer library than the General. While sifting through the shelves of books I came across a messy pile of the master's school books. Beginners' guide to magic I picked it up and flipped to the middle. The book went on and on about the components needed for fire, oxygen, atmosphere, and fuel. It said to concentrate and imagine you are the fire, you are the fuel. "Silly." I laughed. I imagined my master thinking I am the match when he lit his torches, how funny.

What's the harm in giving it a spin? I Thought. I put my hand over the book and did what the book said. "I am the fire, I am the fuel the fire needs to burn." Suddenly the book burst into flames and I dropped it to the floor where it quickly became a pile of ashes. My eyes grew wide and I stood in shock. Did I just…?

Oh no! The master's book!