Authors: Kat Lilynette
Tags: #coming of age, #princess, #teen, #sword sorcery
Immediately, Gentry wrapped his huge
arms around me and I couldn't hold it in any longer. I curled up in
his arms, buried my face into his chest and began to cry. With his
arms around me, he laid his cheek upon my head, as if he was trying
to shield me from the world and everything in it. He gently rocked
back and forth as I cried myself to sleep.
Dawn came and I could hear a bustling
of activity just beyond the rocks. I laid there for a minute,
blinking several times and trying to clear my sleepy eyes before I
leaned up and looked around. Gentry and the others had already
prepared the horses and were just about ready to leave. I scrambled
to my feet, brushed myself off and headed down to meet
Ah. Good. I was just
about to wake you,” Gentry said with a smile.
I yawned and rubbed my eyes like a
newborn baby. After all the crying I’d done, I slept like a
Are you ready to go?” he
asked casually, clearly pretending that last night's cry-fest
It was obvious that he was doing it
for my benefit – so I wouldn't lose face in front of the knights
who followed me. As I raised my arms to the sky and stood on my
tip-toes, stretching my whole body, I smiled and nodded. It was a
smile that let him know I was ready, and it said ‘thank you’
without saying a word. His pleasant grin let me know that my
message was received. We mounted up and set off on our
After an hour of riding, I was finally
awake enough to feel human again. I could see Gentry well off in
front of the convoy, and I urged some speed form my horse to catch
up to him. Despite last night’s emotional breakdown, there was one
more thing I wanted to ask him about from the night of the
I trotted up along side him, feeling
as playful as my horse seemed to be. “Gooooood morning,
He must have been lost in thought,
sleeping, or whatever he does when he’s in his own head, because he
quickly turned with a surprised look on his face. “Oh! Good
I was wondering… Can I
ask you one more thing about my father?”
Gentry sat up apprehensively. I could
tell he was worried about me having another breakdown just as we
were about to go through the pass.
No, no! It's nothing
bad,” I assured him, waving my hand in the air.
His body relaxed. “All right, what is
Well, during the feast
the other night, Prince Alexander had mentioned the druids and my
father went nuts. It was like he lost his sanity for a moment. I
don't even know who the druids are. I just know we aren't supposed
to talk about them. Do you know what that was all about?” I had
hoped that the cute, curious tilting of my head would encourage an
Gentry looked on all sides of us,
checking to see if anyone had heard what I had just said. “Amber,
all I will tell you is that they were magic-wielding people, they
were dangerous and they no longer exist. Please, for both our
sakes, don't speak of this again.”
Magic?” I said in clear
disbelief of such a notion.
Gentry shot a glance at me, letting me
know to keep my voice down and that this conversation was
Well, aaaaall right.” If
my cute head tilting didn’t work, then he wouldn’t mind me rolling
my eyes at him either.
Considering they were extinct, I
wasn't sure why it was such a big deal, but after seeing the scowl
on Gentry’s face, I decided to let it go. I continued trotting
along side him as we traveled in silence, and it wasn't long before
we were finally approaching the pass. With only a couple miles to
go, Gentry gave instruction as our troop began to gain
We're almost to the
pass!” he yelled. He looked around to make sure he had the knights'
attention. “We're getting through here as quickly as possible! As
long as we keep a brisk pace, we should be clear of it before
sundown!” He raised his arm and pointed to the left, at the thick
forest that was inching closer with each passing gallop.
“Shadowbark Forest!” He switched arms, doing the same with his
right and pointing to the approaching mountain base. “Kalibor
Mountains! Both are areas full of warring enemies unfriendly to the
crown! Stay sharp and keep moving!”
Within a matter of moments, we were
thick into the pass, and we hurried along at a steady pace. I
looked at the deep, dark forest to the left of us, then to the
rocky, ascending mountainside on the right. If we were attacked in
here, we'd have no place to go, and every one of us knew
An hour passed, then 2 more, then 3
more. Our cargo was weighing heavily on the carthorses carrying it.
Even though the poor beasts had been reduced to a trot, with the
world seeming empty around us, I started to feel a little more
relaxed. Then, I could see it. Far in the distance, the mesh of
tree and rock had finally separated. We were going to make it,
Look!” I said excitedly,
pointing to the break in the horizon. It was just as beautiful as
the first time I saw it. I turned my head and flashed my best
princess-esque smile at Gentry and the knights behind me. And
that's when I heard it – the only sound that terrified me on a
battlefield – a sharp, quick wisping through the air.
I heard a guttural neigh come from one
of the carthorses as it collapsed to the ground, bringing the large
cart's movement to a standstill. As I quickly turned toward the
ascending mountainside, I heard the dreadful wisping sound
ARCHER!” one of the
knights yelled out.
I already knew what was happening
without needing to see the second carthorse collapse from the arrow
I'm sure was aimed at it. We were being robbed.
Still looking desperately for the
attacker, I quickly made my way toward the immobile cart at the
center of the formation the knights had been trained to create. My
eyes finally honed in on the culprit, just in time to see him draw
back his bow. This time, with an arrow that was meant for
Amber!” Gentry yelled as
he hurled a dagger through the air. It raced toward its target with
a fierce, battle-honed accuracy that exposed the years of killing
hiding underneath Gentry’s father-like exterior.
The archer's blood sprayed along the
rocks as the dagger found its intended home inside his neck. And as
the mortally wounded archer tumbled down from his rocky perch, two
groups of Kaliborian raiders raced forth from the porous formation
of the mountainside and quickly surrounding us.
They swarmed the two groups of knights
on either side of me, and the battle began immediately. We were
outnumbered almost three to one, and as Gentry and I caught eyes,
we knew we weren't going to make it out of this alive. I guess if I
had to die, I was glad he would be with me until the
The Kaliborians were quick to slash at
the legs of our horses, determined to negate our only advantage.
With the knights fighting fiercely to keep any raiders from
breaking through to me, I dispatched the unfortunate few who made
it past them.
As I sat atop my mount and pulled my
blade from the chest of another Kaliborian, I looked back at
Gentry's group that had now drifted far behind me. My eyes widened
as I watched a raider leap from a large boulder beside them,
crashing into an unsuspecting Gentry and knocking him from his
horse. I saw Gentry's head bounce fiercely off the gravel-covered
ground as he came down under the full weight of his
Gentry!” I couldn’t hide
the frightened concern in my voice as I yelled. I rein-whipped my
horse into an immediate gallop and raced toward him.
Gentry lay there motionless as his
assailant came to his knees. His would-be killer raised a dagger
high above his head as I leapt from my racing steed, desperate to
stop what was about to happen.
What only lasted a second, seemed like
years. I raced through the air, arms extended and blade-first,
praying I would make it in time. My mind thinking only of
I was terrified that I might never see
his warm, mustache covered smile again; that I might never share
another dinner with him after a long day of training; that I might
never get scolded by him again after doing something stupid. I was
terrified that I might lose the only real father I 'd ever
I screamed, from the bottom of my
soul, as I slammed into that nameless Kaliborian, piercing his body
with such force, that my sword went hilt-deep into his chest and
sent us both tumbling along the ground. For the first time in my
life, I was glad to have killed someone. I quickly came to my feet
and raced to Gentry's side.
Gentry! Gentry, wake up!
Please!” I pleaded, gripping him by the shoulders, but he still
wasn't moving. The left side of his pepper-colored hair was now
tainted red with blood as he lay there unconscious, but alive. My
panicked mind raced.
I looked up, desperately trying to
figure out a way to get him to safety. I could see this group's two
remaining knights in front of me, bodies surrounding them, fighting
feverishly against five raiders. I looked behind me, far down the
road at the other group of knights. The lone survivor was quickly
overcome by a group of ten he never stood a chance against. They
murdered him mercilessly and turned their attention toward
They're dying! I didn't
want this for them! Why do they have to follow me?! Why do they
have to die?!
I had to stop this… No, I
this. I reached over and took Gentry's sword from his hand, and
slowly, I came to my feet, my face filled with anger, determination
and sorrow. I turned to the group of raiders that were charging
down the pass at me, and swirling in a rage-filled calm, I began
walking toward them.
They had no idea of the hell that was
about to be unleashed upon them. Over 2000 days of training and 3
years of fierce battles coursed through these veins. I was the
daughter my father never wanted, trying to be a son I would never
become. All the pain, the rejection, the guilt… They were going to
feel the rage of the Ashborne Princess.
My mind seemed to clear as my
over-developed battle-instinct took over. And like a wave breaking
against the ever-standing walls of Castle Ashborne, they came at me
in a pathetic, fragmented stream of untrained assaults. One after
another, I slaughtered them. My long, dark hair whipping through
the wind with each movement of my well-trained, feminine body.
Spinning, sliding, screaming and slashing, I danced a bloody dance
- as if possessed by the Goddess of Death herself. Until there was
but one enemy left.
He laid there, disarmed and cowering,
trying to push himself away from me. I hovered over him, never
taking my eyes off his, my fair skin decorated with the blood of
those I had just slain. Still thoroughly consumed by pain and
bloodlust, I would show him no mercy. It was time to end
I raised my dripping blade to the
heavens I knew I would never be allowed to enter, preparing to
further that belief with one final stroke, just as the Kaliborian's
expression suddenly changed. The fear that filled his eyes only
moments ago was now gone. The terror in his face was replaced by a
smirk. I instantly recognized what was about to happen, but it was
already too late.
Before I could react, I felt two large
hands take hold of me from behind. One firmly around my raised
wrist, and the other holding a large fistful of my hair.
How could I be so
, I thought as I was jerked
straight back and to the ground.
I was quickly pinned by this new
enemy. Placing a knee across my chest to contain me, he slammed my
sword-wielding fist into the ground until I could no longer hold my
weapon. As I squirmed and kicked, I noticed the dead bodies of the
two knights who were previously fighting behind me. Everyone was
dead. All that remained were the three of us and an unconscious
The Kaliborian I was about to kill
quickly made his way to his feet. He picked up a dagger as the
other hovered over my head and was now locking my arms to the
ground, using the full weight of his body. I struggled desperately
to break free.
As the knife-wielding Kaliborian was
trying to grab my kicking legs, I managed to land one strong kick,
catching him in the jaw. But from this position, I knew it wasn't
going to be enough. He turned back to me, angrier than before, and
jumped on top of my legs. He wasted no time jamming his knife
straight through one of my calves. I screamed in pain, but it was
only met with a hammer-like fist to the face that sent my head
slamming into the ground.
Shut your mouth!” he
The blow dazed me, and I could feel my
left cheek begin to swell instantly while the other became warm
with the blood that was now flowing from my nose. I was dizzy, my
eyes started to become heavy, and my body began to give up on me.
Even without them on top of me, I could barely move.
With the knife still buried in my
calf, my pants were pulled down as far as they would go. With one
Kaliborian still pinning my arms to the ground, the other spread my
weak, trembling knees. These savages were about to take the only
thing left of me that was pure. The only thing that the men of this
dark world seemed to want from me.