“How much for a loaf of bread?”
The little boy clutched a few silver coins in one dirty hand as he leaned back and forth from one sandaled foot to the other. The baker looked down at him, at his dirty and grime-streaked tunic and sighed.
“Depends on who you’ve got, my boy.”
A few years gone, she would have felt bad for the boy, given him day-old bread free even. But not now, not since the last Emperor had taken his armies out to face in the invading Kerani and never come back. He poked at the coins in his hand, a frown of focus on his small face.
“Two Lyander the Third, a Mynotian the Pious, and a Regelian Wendekar.”
The baker frowned.
“Wendekar is worthless. I’ll give you half a loaf for Mynotian and a Lyander.”
Those had been the days, the rule of Emperor Lyander the Third. His whole family, really. They’d faced the enemies of the Empire and maintained peace and prosperity. Sure, a Lyander the Magnificent was worth more than a Lyander the Third, but the grandson was an acceptable coin. Nothing like Regelian Wendekar, the Commoner King. Now that had been a reign for the historians.
The boy handed over his two coins and took the half loaf with a look of pure joy. Then he ran off into the street, sandals clattering on the cobblestones.


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