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Book 1: Sneak Peak

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

PROLOGUE


Hatred. War. Death. Pain. No matter how hard we try, it seems as if Man cannot escape these casualties, and no matter how hard I try, neither can I.

It is the opening of my favorite book, “The Knight Chronicles: The Stag Versus the Lion.” Although, I do admit that it is a bit dramatic.

“Ow.”

Speaking of which…

“My deepest apologies, Your Grace.” Isabelle, one of my maids, has just stuck me with a needle while sewing it in and out of the seam of the right sleeve of my dress.

“It’s fine. Trust me. I’ve been through a lot worse.” I smile in assurance.

In fact, the letters laced between my fingers remind me of those times. I have read them over and over again, melting them into my memory. They are the words of my sister, my father, and the once-held prisoner. They accompany my thoughts and fill in the holes that I did not witness. I suppose that I will take them or any excuse to distract me from the now.

I used to survive on the tales of ancient dynasties, the trials and tribulations of kings and queens, and even the journeys of young stable boys as they embark on their quests for adventure. I was held captive by nearly every word. Yet, as exciting as these stories were to read about, it was an entirely different experience to live through them.

As Isabelle continues to sew, my eyes gaze up from the three letters and examine the walls along the room. In painting after painting after painting of whom I assume are my ancestors, are past monarchs sit on their thrones to receive the crown. All are nicely framed. They are decorated with gold cherubs, and the outlines of roses are carved into them.

Their subjects never smile or frown. Instead, they only hold cold, hard gazes that pierce right through me.

I close my eyes and take a deep breath. Despite all attempts, my body still shakes. I open my eyes, and stare at the reflection before me in a long glass mirror.

Huh. It’s actually kind of ironic, isn’t it? This is not how I ever envisioned myself. I hardly even recognize the girl standing in the mirror. She is young and already raised on a platform. Her dress is laced with golden thread and trimmings that match the color of her eyes. She bares hair as black as ink that has been curled and pinned, half up and half down, which touches past her shoulders. Her complexion is a bit tanner than it used to be. Even her shoes are different. Instead of brown worn boots, she wears sliver slippers that sparkle in the light.

She tries to stand tall, despite the gravity of obligations that she is about to take on. Despite the consequences that will come and the weight that they will carry. Like all monarchs, she is expected to be firm but fair, aloof yet affable, and above all – strong.

However, how can she? Especially when she herself is still just a child in so many ways. A young spirit that doesn’t hesitate to talk back to authority, yet still feels the urge to flee when she’s scared. Of course, she would never be caught dead in a gown such as this; beautiful and elegant that she has grown to love.

Hmm. Now, I know what you must be thinking. You, ungrateful, little brat. Most would kill for a life such as this, and here you are complaining about it.

Yes, I am very fortunate, and while I do not disregard that, this is still not the life that I fought for, nor is it the life that I would have ever chosen for myself. It is the life that I was given, and the life that I should be most honored to have. Yet, it has been the life that has caused me the most pain, the most regret, and above all the most guilt.

“Your Grace.” Mildred, my other maid, approaches me with a plain wooden jewelry box. She curtseys before me and opens the box.

“May I?” she asks.

Inside is a tiny heart-shaped silver locket. The front of the locket had been broken off years ago, and only the back and the chain remain.

I nod and move my hair out of the way.

She stands up and places the box on a stand beside her. Gently, her hands pick up the locket. She walks behind me and slowly places its chain around my neck. My neck shivers from the icy impact of the chain, while the body of the locket nearly burns into my chest.

My fingers slowly graze across its body.

"Promise me.” A haunting whisper echoes into my ears.

The locket further reminds me of that day. It was six years ago, yet it still seems as if it were only a few days ago. As if all of this is a dream that I am waiting to wake up from. I tightly grip the locket into my palm and look back up at the portraits. I meet their eyes with mine. “You were born for this,” they say.

Click!

A gust of cold air presses against my back.

“Her Majesty, please welcome, Lord William Edgewater,” a herald roars from the corridor.

My maids’ curtesy and step back towards the wall.

I turn to face Lord Edgewater.

He is a nobleman in the High Council. Tall and heavy set, he is a cheery fellow. The thin hair on top of his head, along with his thick, coarse beard and mustache, reside in dark brown and gray spiraled curls. His robes are always groomed with never a button or collar out of place.

“Your Grace,” Lord Edgewater bows, then quickly rises. “they are ready for you now.”

Once again, I take a deep breath and glance back at my reflection.

It is time.

My eyes close, attempting to calm the sound of my beating heart as it pulses through my ears. I exhale. My hands clutch the fabric of the gown around my stomach. I hear Lord Edgewater proclaim the words, “Long may the legend and tale of your reign begin.”

And with those words, I smirk.

Huh. My tale. My reign. The truth is this is not the start of my tale. No. My story began a long time ago. But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. I will get to that part of the tale in due time. Now, bare with me. I recall all of the events that I have witnessed as clear and as bright as the noon-day sun. However, as I have said earlier, all of the events that I did not bare witness to are all written down in these letters that I still hold in my hand. Are they accurate? I don’t know. Maybe. I guess, one day we will find out.

Until then, let’s see. I will start the tale those six years ago when I just fifteen, for that is when my journey truly began…

 

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