The Prince's Bargain - K.M. Shea Page 0,1

bright fabrics and far flashier clothes designed to allow them to blend in to the fashions of nobility and fade into the background as they translated during parties, dinners, and all types of social interactions.

Myth bowed her head in respect to the trio, then turned to go.

“Apprentice.” Translator Krim, the trade translator of the trio who had been one of Myth’s instructors when she was a student, held up her hand to forestall her. “A moment.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Myth tried to discreetly heave her books higher—the arm cradling them was starting to get a cramp that was turning her muscles numb.

“Do you not remember that as an apprentice, you are not certified for official translation work without supervision?” Translator Krim—who happened to be an elf—observed Myth with a slightly puckered mouth.

“My apologies.” Myth bowed again. “I only thought of helping him, and given his request I didn’t think it counted as official work.”

“Any translations between languages is official work, Apprentice,” Translator Krim said. “Because everything we translate has the potential to shape the alliance between Calnor and Lessa. One misspoken word could ruin everything.”

Still unable to bow, Myth cast her eyes down. “Yes, ma’am.”

Translator Krim was right, of course.

Due to the language difficulties between Lessa and Calnor, their relationship was rather delicate even though their alliance was centuries old. And while recent events had brought the two countries considerably closer, the new activities—like the trade caravans traveling from Calnor to Lessa, and the visiting elf nobles who wished to tour the markets of Haven—demanded more translators when there was already a shortage.

But a shortage is no excuse for mistakes. And even though it’s my goal to speak with perfect fluency, I’m not yet there.

“Is it really necessary to be so strict?” asked one of the social translators—Myth recognized him as the official translator for the eldest two Calnorian princes. His name was—she believed—Translator Rollo.

Translator Krim gave him a frosty sniff. “She is a trade apprentice. We translate all trade and number exchanges between Lessa and Calnor. It is vital that our work is precise and perfect.”

Myth nodded in agreement.

The other social translator shook his head. “Sounds fussy.”

Translator Krim pressed her lips together. “It is considerably ironic you say that, given that—not one minute ago—you complained how you were forced to translate for two elf nobles who were engaged in a conversation with Lord Julyan Fulton, who persisted in calling Crown Prince Arvel a foolish boy.”

The social translator cringed. “That, perhaps, was more of a personal failing. I would have taken great delight in popping Lord Julyan in his teeth for speaking so disrespectfully of the crown prince.”

Translator Rollo ruefully rubbed his jaw at his fellow social translator’s observation. “It’s not only rude, but horribly incorrect. Crown Prince Arvel is still proving himself. He never expected the position—Benjimir was the heir for most of Arvel’s life.”

Very aware this was a conversation she should not be privy to, Myth tried to edge away, then paused.

I haven’t been dismissed yet…can I go anyway?

She glanced at Translator Krim, who was shaking her head at Translator Rollo’s words.

“You’re his personal translator, what do you make of it?” the other social translator asked Translator Rollo.

“With his intelligence, he’s got the potential to be an excellent ruler. But his open temperament seems to make certain nobles believe they can manipulate him. He’ll teach them—once he adjusts to the title.”

“He’s been the crown prince for several years,” Translator Krim cryptically pointed out.

Oh, no. I’m not going to listen to a political discussion. I chose to be a trade translator because this is exactly the sort of thing I wish to avoid.

Myth loudly cleared her throat, and shifted her books from one arm to the other when the translators all looked at her.

Myth bowed her head. “I shall remember your wise words, Translator Krim.”

“Of course. Dismissed.” The trade translator made a shooing motion.

Myth gratefully slipped off, moving as fast as she could without appearing unsightly.

She didn’t flee quite fast enough to avoid hearing a bit of Translator Rollo’s response.

“There is a big difference between expecting to be an advisor—a position where being likeable is considered a skill—and suddenly becoming the heir and being saddled with ruling over all the people who previously considered you affable and fun…but, say, that was Apprentice Mythlan, wasn’t it?”

Myth doubled her efforts to retreat, daring to jog so she closed in on the rounded workshop door much faster.

Just as she reached the entrance, the circular door unexpectedly opened, and Myth had to drop her chin