Read Ashborne (The Ashborne Trilogy: Book 1) Online

Authors: Kat Lilynette

Tags: #coming of age, #princess, #teen, #sword sorcery

Ashborne (The Ashborne Trilogy: Book 1) (8 page)

BOOK: Ashborne (The Ashborne Trilogy: Book 1)
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As I stared at him from behind, I
slowly stood upright. The sound of the water cascading off my body
was unmistakable. It made sure he knew I was standing naked just
behind him. This was the closest I had ever been to a man like
this, naked as I was.

Standing there, never taking my eyes
off his statuesque frame, I reached down, cupped some water in my
hands, and poured it over my bare chest so that he could hear it
cascading off - like I was daring him to turn around. Then, I did
it again, and again.

I felt vulnerable, excited, nervous,
desirous, and anxious all at once. The racing in my heart before
was nothing compared to what I was feeling now. As I went over
every inch of his lean, muscular body with my eyes, with the gentle
breeze caressing my wet, naked body, it felt as though my heart was
going to leap from my chest at any moment, and it was impossible to
mask the shallow, unsteady gasps that were escaping from my excited
lips.

I had no idea what I was
doing, and I loved it. I could tell by his tensed muscles and the
subtle squirming he was trying to hide, that he was just as excited
by this as I was and that he wanted desperately to turn around. I
knew he wanted to touch me, and that turned me on even more. I felt
as though I was standing on the edge of a cliff that I couldn't see
the bottom of, and all I had to do was take one step and I would
soar.
Just one step forward…

I giggled softly at the torture I was
putting us both through as I crouched back down into the water. As
I floated myself out to the deeper parts of the spring, I could see
the tense excitement and anticipation leaving Emoren's body as he
and I both calmed ourselves. I’m not sure what he was feeling at
that moment, probably disappointment, but that having been one of
the most intense thing I had ever done - I was feeling
relief.


Emoren? Can I ask you
something?”

He turned his ear toward me
responsively.


Why are you doing all
this for me?”


What do you
mean?”


Well, saving me, caring
for me, watching over me, all of it.”

I thought it might take him a moment
to explain, or that he’d give me some generic response about being
the Princess of Ashborne, but he didn’t. He responded immediately,
without having to think about his answer.


I know this might sound
weird, and I'm sure you weren't conscious of it, but as I was
carrying you from The Pass and holding you in my arms, you took one
of your hands and gripped my shirt tightly, never letting go. I
don't know what it was, but in that moment, looking down at you
like that, hurt and vulnerable as you were... I- I felt bound to
you. Like I was meant to watch over you or something.”

The honesty in his voice made my heart
skip a beat as if it were gloating over my mind. And hearing those
words come from him, I knew my life would never be the same again.
Whether he knew it or not, whether he meant to or not, all his
actions and all his words had finally sent me falling - and there
was nothing I could do about it.


I'm just sorry I didn't
get to you sooner. Belafor warned me not to get involved, but I
couldn't just sit by and do nothing,” he added, turning his head a
bit to make sure his words were heard. I guess he felt a bit guilty
for letting it go on as long as it did.


I'm all right now. I'm
glad you came at all,” I said as I continued bobbing gently in the
water.

He sat there quietly for a moment. He
looked as if he wanted to ask me something, but was struggling to
find the right words.


What is it?” I
asked.


It’s just… I've never
seen a woman fight like you.” He paused for a moment. “I've heard
stories about the siege of Alkanamor. I’ve heard stories about you,
the Flame of The White Torch.”

I immediately stopped bobbing. Hearing
someone praise my fighting prowess would have filled me with great
pride, especially where the Kaliborians were concerned. I mean,
after all, I was proud of all the hard work I had put in with the
sword. But, hearing it come from him, and hearing him mention
Alkanamor, it made me feel something much different – it was shame.
It seemed I would never be able to escape my past, nor my crown. I
stared somberly into the clear water as he continued.


You're the princess of
the most powerful kingdom in Everrathe. Why do you fight? Why do
you put yourself in such danger?”

Without saying a word, I drifted over
to him. Slowly, I got out of the water and sat on the rock with him
and rest my back against his. I was about to tell him something I
never talked about, and I knew if I tried to say it too loudly,
emotion would overtake me and the words would never make it
out.


I didn't want to go to
war,” I said quietly. “I was ordered by my father to assume control
of Alkanamor and kill their King.”


You couldn't refuse?” he
asked naively.

My eyes became watery with shame and
guilt as I spoke. “My father told me that I was to leave with 1000
men or that he would send 5000 in my place. With either amount, it
was a suicide mission. Alkanamor's army numbered nearly 10,000
strong. We launched a surprise attack, and as the White Torch
knights were battling and dying around us, Gentry and I, disguised
as Alkanamor guards, made our way inside during the confusion. We
were able to get close to and take hostage the King of Alkanamor.
After forcing him to order his army to my father's command, I
killed him in front of everyone, and the death stopped.”


I don't understand how
any father could do such a thing. Is that how you got the scar on
your waist?”

I looked down in disappointment at the
large scar that stretched across my waist. I had forgotten that he
had already seen my body. With our backs together, Emoren could
feel me begin to cry, and he started to turn around. I leaned my
back harder against his, stopping his movement.


No. Please.” I whimpered.
“Let me finish.”

He slowly sat back as I regained a bit
of my composure. It was something I didn't want him to know, but it
was something I wasn't going to keep from him. I only knew what
Gentry had told me and what little I could remember, but I was
going to tell him everything. For some reason, I felt compelled to
bare my soul to Emoren, if only to see what he would do with
it.


My mother and father
tried for years to have a child,” I started. “When my mother became
pregnant with me, it was nothing short of a miracle. The whole
kingdom celebrated for weeks. Everyone was excited to welcome the
Child of Ashborne. Things were fine until my mother went into
labor. There were complications during my birth, and my mother died
shortly after. I was told she only lived long enough to hold me for
a few moments.”

Emoren sat quietly, still supporting
my back with his, and listened intently as I went into a trance and
poured my soul into him.


My father blamed me for
the death of my mother. Even as his only child, he couldn't bare to
be around me. Resenting me and isolating himself, he went into a
deep depression. He never saw me, and we never spoke.”


When I was very young, I
remember women coming and going from the castle at all hours. My
father was trying desperately to find a woman to bear a son for
him, and he didn't keep it a secret. Learning this, I wanted to try
to earn my father's love, and I begged Gentry to start training me
as a knight. I thought if I could become the son that my father so
desperately wanted, that maybe he would love me. It took weeks of
begging, but Gentry finally agreed.”


Eventually, the women
stopped coming to the castle. My father accepted that he wouldn't
be able to father another child. After about of year of my
training, it seemed as though my father was trying to move past
everything and love me as a daughter. But it was short lived with
what happened next.”


I had been warned to not
try and ride the horses by myself, seeing as I was still just a
young girl and very inexperienced, but I decided to try anyway. I
went to the stables and was going to try and ride one of our colts,
but I must have spooked it after I entered its pen, because it went
mad, nearly trampling me to death. Had Gentry not kept such a
watchful eye over me, I'm sure I would have died there.”


My father gave up several
kingdoms to bring in all the physicians and potion masters of
Everrathe. They managed to save my life, but they told my father
that I would never be able to bear children. Their beliefs were
confirmed when I bled for the first time. It was the most pain I've
ever felt. It lasted for two weeks, and then never again. That is
how I got that scar, and it's why I'm still unwed to this day. As a
princess of Ashborne, I'm only allowed to marry royalty. No prince
wants a wife that is incapable of bearing him a son.”


Because of my
foolishness, I marked the end of my father's long bloodline, and
the resentment in his heart quickly turned to hatred. My existence
was the cause of all his troubles.”


I continued training
everyday with Gentry, who continued raising me as if I were his
own. Being with Gentry and the knights was the only time I ever
felt happy or forgot about my guilt.”


Over the years, my
father's hatred continued to grow and fester, even though we rarely
saw or spoke to each other. Until one day, three years ago, he came
to me and told me that I would be of use to him and that I would
make up for what I've done - starting with reclaiming each kingdom
he bartered for saving my life. If the overwhelming guilt I felt
already wasn't enough to make me go, like with Alkanamor, he would
find other ways to persuade me.”

Finishing my sentence, admitting it
all, my body began to shake as the tears started flowing down my
cheeks.


I killed my mother,
Emoren.” I held my knees against my chest, crying fiercely. “I
never wanted this. I've killed so many people...I- I'm broken.
I-”

Emoren's arms came around me from
behind, pulling me back, deep into his chest. I was crying so hard
I didn't even notice him turn around. I buried my face into his
neck as I sobbed, groaning in pain. He just held me tightly,
letting me cry, before wrapping me in his cloak. Not once did he
let me drift from the safety of his arms, for fear I would be lost
forever to the dark abyss I had resurrected with my
words.


It's not your fault,
Amber. None of it. I know that's not who you are.”

Hearing my name on his lips, I looked
up at him and tried to steady my tears. His stormy-blue eyes were
welling up at the pain I was carrying.


You're not a
killer…You're just a girl who wants to love and be loved,” he said
as held me tighter, staring into my eyes. “You deserve much more
than the life your fathers made you believe you have to
live.”

I felt as though he was looking
straight into to my soul. For the first time in my life, it felt
like someone truly saw me, like someone understood the pain I’ve
dealt with. He wasn't looking at the Princess of Ashborne, he was
looking at the girl I really was.


If you're hurt, then I'll
carry you. If you're lost, then I'll find you. And if you're
broken, then I'll fix you,” he whispered as a tear drifted off his
cheek and landed on my own.

I laid there in his arms, believing
every word, wiping the tear-trail from his soft cheek. I stared
into him, drifting from his stormy eyes, down to his perfect, pink
lips as my hand began to move through his full, blonde
hair.

My heart began to race and I lost my
breath for a moment as I felt the muscles in his arms begin to
contract, slowly lifting me toward him. His gorgeous face now only
inches from my own, I could feel his sweet breath upon my very
much, wanting lips.


Emoren! Come quick!”
Belafor yelled out from beyond the trees.

Emoren's head darted around to look
behind him. The urgency in Belafor's voice was undeniable. Emoren
got up and knelt down with his back to me, signaling me to get on
as I quickly got dressed. I wrapped myself around him and he blazed
through the forest, heading back to camp.

As we neared the camp, we could see
Belafor knelt along side another man of Shadowbark. He was badly
injured. Emeron quickly set me down before racing to the injured
man's side.


Alastar! Alastar!” Emoren
said.

Alastar laid there on the ground,
bleeding heavily and unconscious. The side of his shirt was
slashed, covered with blood from the gashed skin
underneath.


It was the Kaliborians,”
Belafor said as he feverishly dumped the contents of a brown
satchel beside him. I looked on anxiously as bandages and a vial of
fern medicine scattered along the ground.


We have to hurry,” Emoren
said as he tore Alastar's shirt open.

Belafor quickly handed the vial to
Emoren and began readying the bandages. As he held up the vial,
Emoren whispered something I couldn't make out, and I watched in
amazement as he poured the glowing liquid directly onto the gashed
skin. It bubbled a fierce green as it immediately began cauterizing
the wound.

BOOK: Ashborne (The Ashborne Trilogy: Book 1)
11.04Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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