Chapter 12b

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This chapter is dedicated to my fellow Wattpad writer/friend JD Brick for dedicating a chapter to me. Thanks so much, JD. It's fun to have writers to interact with! 

This is the continuation of the conversation between Minx and Dietrich...get ready... :-) The first line of dialogue is Dietrich speaking. Check out Chapter 12a if you need a refresher on what they're talking about.

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“My parents contacted the Caerdydd Theater in southern Cymru to see if we could begin early as apprentices. They sent Theatrical Guild members to visit and confirm that Alyce and I were truly gifted. The theater was thrilled about us and offered to send my parents monthly support until we were old enough to join the apprentice program. But my parents had to sign a contract promising our apprenticeship to that theater and no other. We also had to promise to keep our abilities secret and to not continue working our magic together.”

“Why couldn’t you do magic together anymore?”

“Because we were very close as brother and sister, and the Guild was worried that our magic might bond, especially since we were doing very advanced magic without any formal training.”

That surprised me. For some reason, I had always assumed that bonded magic between presul and vicimorph only happened if the two were romantically involved with each other. I didn’t know a brother and sister could bond too. “I take it things didn’t work out as planned?”

His eyes took on a faraway look. “When I was eight, my father died in a mine collapse,” he continued. “Two months later, there was an influenza outbreak in the village. My mother worked so hard to heal everyone else that she finally became ill herself and we lost her, too.” 

My heart ached for him, but I didn’t know what to say. Such tragedy was all too usual for most apprentices. “What happened to you and your sister?”

“There were actually five of us: my sisters Alyce, Gwynn, and baby Bertrys, and my brother Friedrich and I. We were all sent to the workhouse. I tried to tell them to contact the Caerdydd Theater, but I couldn’t find the contract and Alyce and I were too scared to show the workhouse matron our magic for fear the theater would refuse us for breaking our promise.”

“But they wouldn’t have—you were too special. They had to have known that.”

Regret shadowed his face. “Yes, they knew that. But I was only eight, and Alyce was seven. We didn’t understand. We were scared and grieving our parents. And the workhouse matron refused to believe that we were already contracted to the theater. The four of us older children were taken to the workhouse. Bertrys was only eight months old, and she was taken in by a middle class family who couldn’t have children of their own.”

“What was the workhouse like?”

He gave a small shrug. “Not the worst workhouse in the empire, but we were separated into different wards—boys and girls. All our belongings were taken from us, so Alyce and I hid our chains under our tongues during the intake. Then we wore them around our ankles under our stockings so they wouldn’t be taken from us. We were able to communicate with each other that way.”

I reached for his free hand. Everyone knew workhouses were terrible places—bleak and lonely. “What happened then?”

He squeezed my hand. “The boys’ ward was not a good place. Lots of bullies and we could be beaten for disobeying the rules or not finishing our work. Some of the boys were too weak to do the work they were being made to do, and sometimes they’d get picked on by the bullies. I started helping them get their work done because I couldn’t bear to see them beaten. And I fought the bullies too.”

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