The Fool’s Apprentice

foolsapprenticeIn the kingdom of Dragon’s Launch, young Denrikk’s aspirations of becoming a knight are dashed when he is instead apprenticed to the king’s fool. Embarrassed and devastated that his new position will ruin all hopes of winning the hand of the girl he loves–the princess Alendria– Denrikk reluctantly begins training under his new master, Fumbles, the king’s aging fool. He quickly learns, however, that being a fool in Dragon’s Launch is much more than juggling and laughing like a hyena.

But when a shocking murder within the castle walls shakes the palace, all evidence points toward Denrikk. Now, with his new skills, a bit of luck, and the help of some unlikely friends, the fool’s apprentice must race to prove his innocence, all while evading capture.

kelly-hessAbout the Author

Kelly Hess is the author of the BlackMyst Trilogy. Kelly grew up with a love of reading science fiction and fantasy which inspired him to write his own books for young readers. He lives in Vacaville, California with his wife and son where he is currently working on his next adventure.


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Book Excerpts


Excerpt 1.


Fumbles sat at a table in the center of the room, wearing a

bright red tunic. His hat lay crumpled in a ball in front of him

leaving his head a great tangle of sloppy graying hair. Denrikk

noted how aged the fool appeared. Beside the hat lay a leather

pouch and a large basket of red apples. Two additional apples

sat apart from the others on the edge of the table. Fumbles

looked up at Denrikk. “Ah, Blueberry, you’re right on time.

Punctuality, I like that.”

Denrikk nodded.

“Those are your things, I presume.” He waved a hand.

“Bring them here.”

Denrikk walked to him and laid his sack and his bow on

the table. The fool pulled the bag closer and presumptuously

began digging inside.

Denrikk watched silently as Fumbles pulled out all of his

clothing, one piece at a time, and tossed them onto the floor

behind him. “Boring. Boring. Drab. Awful. Boring.”

When all of Denrikk’s clothes had been scattered about the

floor, Fumbles looked up at him. “Dreadful.” He cringed. “I’ll

speak to the seamstress about crafting you some more suitable

attire.” Again, the fool bent and stuck his head into the sack.

“Is that everything? Well, what have we here?” He reached

inside and pulled out Denrikk’s knife.

“Know how to use this?” he asked, pulling the blade from

its sheath.

Denrikk nodded. “Yes, sir.”

The fool eyed the knife, balancing it deftly on one finger.

“It doesn’t seem very good for throwing.”

“Throwing?” Denrikk said.

“Yes, throwing. You won’t be gutting pigs, Blueberry. If you

use a knife, you’ll be throwing it.”

“Throwing it at what, sir?”

The fool looked up. “Whatever needs a knife stuck in it.”

He reached back into the sack and retrieved Denrikk’s book.

It was ragged and stained, the only book Denrikk had ever

owned. It was a simple tale about a knight who slayed a

dragon. He’d read it countless times.

“So, you can read?” Fumbles said, thumbing through the pages.

“Yes, sir,” Denrikk said. “My father taught me when I was

just a boy.”

“Excellent.” Fumbles set the book down. “I’ll be sure to

find you something interesting to read.”

The fool rested back in his chair and looked at Denrikk as

if sizing him up. “So, what else can you do?”

Denrikk smiled, for his skills were many. “I’m accomplished

with a sword, a fair jouster, I’m very good at hand

fighting, but archery is probably—”

“And how’s your juggling?” The fool stared at him dumbly.

Denrikk’s jaw dropped. “Juggling?”



Excerpt 2.

The days that followed, if not quite happy ones, were at

least bearable. Denrikk continued to demolish fruit all over

the palace, but his juggling did improve. Before long he was

able to keep two apples twirling in the air for up to a minute

before, plunk plunk, he left two piles of applesauce in his wake.

One day, after losing two more apples to the unyielding

ground, a cry rose up from behind him. “Stop that!” came

the ringing voice of Mistress Dunsworth, the kitchen master.

“Stop right there!”

Denrikk turned and waited for the stern woman to

approach. “I don’t know what grievance you carry against

edible fruit,” she barked, “but by my estimate, you’ve destroyed

enough apples to feed the entire kingdom. Whatever wrong

these helpless victims have done you, certainly your vengeance

has been carried out by now!”

“I’m sorry, mistress, but my master has instructed me to

practice my juggling during all waking hours.”

“Your master?”

“Yes, mistress.” Denrikk nodded. “Fumbles, the fool.”

“Hmmpf,” she grunted, and without another word she

stormed off in the direction of Fumbles’s tower. Denrikk

followed after her, curious to hear the exchange.

“Is there nothing else that can be juggled that won’t end up

attracting flies?” Dunsworth was saying as Denrikk entered the

tower. “Couldn’t the boy throw balls in the air just as easily?”

“Yes,” Fumbles reclined in his chair leisurely. “Too easily

in fact,” he said. “Apples are imperfect. I need him to get

used to handling objects that aren’t perfectly balanced the

way balls are.”

“Hmmpf.” Dunsworth turned and exited the tower, casting

a shrewd eye on Denrikk as she passed.

Fumbles smiled. “Well, you’ve got her in a rumple, haven’t


“I’m sorry, sir,” Denrikk said. “But I am improving. I’ve

only dropped around twenty so far today.”

Fumbles waved a hand. “Don’t worry. Apples are the king’s

favorite food. He has acres of trees. There’s no risk of an apple

shortage any time soon.”

A moment later, the front door of the tower slammed open

and Mistress Dunsworth stomped back inside.


Excerpt 3.

Denrikk sighed. “Please, call me Denrikk. It’s my true name.”

“It will be my honor, friend Denrikk,” the prince proclaimed.

Denrikk rolled his eyes. Did royalty always speak

this way?

And the prince didn’t stop there. Kaleb spewed forth a

constant and continuous stream of commentary and questions

for the next several hours.

By the time the sun was high in the sky and they had stopped

to water their horses, Kaleb had told Denrikk all there was to

know about Falcon’s Ridge and the steadily growing rebellion

there. Kaleb was of the obvious opinion that the people rising

against the kingdom were ungrateful peasants who couldn’t

understand the intricacies of running a kingdom.

Falcon’s Ridge had, in recent years, ended a long-going and

costly war with Lion’s Hollow and in order to rebuild and

maintain the kingdom, King Weston had sharply raised taxes

on his people. With no foreseeable relief in sight, some in the

kingdom had begun to openly rebel against the royalty.

“They simply will not concede that in difficult times, sacrifices

must be made,” Kaleb complained to Denrikk as they

stretched their legs during the short respite from travel.

“What exactly have you sacrificed?” Denrikk asked the


“Pardon me?” Kaleb appeared stunned by the bold question.

“You said that sacrifices must be made,” Denrikk reminded

him. “What sacrifices have you made?”

“Denrikk, we are of noble birth. We are not serfs,” Kaleb

scoffed. “It has forever been the burden of the common man to

provide for the kingdom that protects his family and his land.

But if you must know, several of our estates in the eastern hills

have fallen into disrepair. And we have had to cancel two, no

three, state dinners with foreign ambassadors so as to avoid

the appearance of squandering.”

“To avoid the appearance of squandering,” Denrikk

repeated Kaleb’s words back to him. “How many actual meals

have your people had to skip because they cannot afford to

put food on their tables?”

Kaleb raised his chin. “Of course we sacrifice in different

ways, but we all endure our hardships.”

Denrikk shook his head. “Somehow, I think a man who

hasn’t eaten in days wouldn’t consider your eastern estates

falling into disrepair as much of a hardship.”


Michael is the author of four published novels—Goodbye Tchaikovsky, The Abduction of Joshua Bloom, and The Koolura Series—The Legend of Koolura and Koolura and the Mystery at Camp Saddleback. He is also a columnist for the Los Angeles Examiner writing articles about parenting and education. His blog features YA authors and books.

One thought on “The Fool’s Apprentice

  1. Joe Bock Reply

    Interesting; I think we have all been the fool’s apprentice at some point in our lives.

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