Here's the first scene of The Cousin Pact (The Spectra Crown Tales #3):
The castle of fairly burst with important people, but Alvis Welson was not one of them. Instead, he perched on a wooden chair in a tiny office that stank of potpourri. The bailiff, a round fellow with formidable eyebrows, hadn’t looked up from a yellowed scroll since Alvis entered the room. “The castle is not hiring guards right now.”
Alvis tugged his homespun sleeve further down his arm. “I don’t do guard work.”
This drew the bailiff’s gaze. A bead of sweat—or worse—dangled at the end of his nose. “You’ve got the build of a soldier, yet you’re applying for servant work?”
“Yes, sir,” Alvis said. His well-toned body was the only thing he liked about the years of soldier training, and now even that worked against him. “I’m willing to do anything.”
“Meaning you’re unskilled.”
Alvis flinched. He would be skilled if his family had let him quit training.
The bailiff leaned closer. “Your clan?”
“I am Spectra, if that’s what you mean.” Alvis tried not to show his anxiety as the bailiff studied him. He hadn’t answered the question, but the bailiff didn’t really care which Spectra clan he was. He just wanted to know, without asking outright, that Alvis wasn’t a powerless human.
Or so Alvis hoped.
The bailiff leaned forward. “We’ve got extra visitors to the castle for the princess’s coronation. We do need extra help. And your looks do you credit.”
The words would have been a compliment from anyone besides the pudgy bailiff. Sure, girls did talk about his dark curls and bright blue eyes, but they always said it while clinging to his brother’s arm.
“I might try you... what’s that?”
Alvis looked where the bailiff pointed, and groaned. His sleeve had ridden up, revealing an edge of green. Even in the muted light of the office, the veins and texture of leaves were clear. Alvis might as well come clean. “It’s , sir.”
“You’re a Sprite then.” The bailiff frowned. “You didn’t tell me your clan earlier.”
“It shouldn’t matter,” Alvis said. “Using life energy doesn’t prevent me from—”
“I told you, we aren’t hiring guards,” the bailiff interrupted.
Alvis kept his temper. “I don’t want to be a guard. I’ll do anything else. My Sprite abilities give me added strength, that could be useful in a number of different—”
“Can you heal?” the bailiff interrupted.
“No,” Alvis said. “I’ve got some innate ability in plant growing. I’ve never trained, but I could make a decent gardener...”
“We have gardeners who have trained since childhood,” the bailiff interrupted. “I’ve got no positions for Sprites right now.”
Alvis went rigid. Perhaps the bailiff noticed, for his expression softened. “The army always wants Sprites, healers or no. Their office—”
“I know where their office is.” Alvis stood and, before he said things he shouldn’t, left the room.
An iron fence separated him from the winding drive that led to the castle. Alvis stared at it for almost a minute before he pulled a scroll and charcoal from his pocket. He found his meager list of ideas and scratched a line through ‘castle servant’. He didn’t need a fancy house or title. Was it too much to ask that he find a trade that didn’t involve fighting?