Authors: Kat Lilynette
Tags: #coming of age, #princess, #teen, #sword sorcery
Let's get him inside.”
Emoren signaled Belafor to help him lift from the other
They carefully carried Alastar into
Belefor's tent where they stayed for almost an hour. I sat on one
of the large logs surrounding the campfire and waited anxiously,
wishing there was something I could do. Although I didn't know the
injured Alastar, I prayed he would be all right.
Eventually, Emoren emerged from the
tent with Belafor just behind him. Emoren was wiping his hands, his
clothes covered in blood. I looked at him expectantly at he walked
over and took a seat beside me, with Belafor sitting down on the
log across from ours. While they seemed a little more calm, they
were both noticeably shaken by what had happened.
Is your friend going to
be all right?”
He's lost a lot of blood,
but he'll survive,” Emoren said before immediately turning to
Belafor. “Tell me what happened, Belafor.”
We had just finished up
trading in Saberfell and were leaving town when they
Those damned savages.”
Emoren stared at the ground, his fists clenched in
Emoren, we have bigger
problems than the Kaliborians.”
He looked up at Belafor, his angry
eyes filled with curious concern over Belafor's new
We only manged to escape
because a large group of Ashborne knights showed up. They would
have killed us too, had they not been so busy slaughtering the
Hearing Belafor's say that, I spoke up
immediately. “The White Torch would never hurt innocent people!
Emoren placed his hand on my arm to
It wasn't the White
Torch,” Belafor continued calmly. “It was His Majesty's Royal
What!? The Royal Guard?!
I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
The Royal Guard made up over one-third of Ashborne's forces. They
were my father's ruthless private army; made up of the only the
strongest knights, they were bound by blood to serve only the ruler
of Ashborne, unto their own death.
They're hunting for her,
Emoren. And they'll kill anyone in their path.”
I sat there, shocked, trying to figure
out why my father would have sent his Royal Guard all the way out
here – it certainly wasn't out of concern for me. Regardless of the
reasons, Belafor was right. If they were under orders from my
father to retrieve me, they would carve a bloody path across
Everrathe until I was found, and then kill whoever had
Emoren,” Belafor said.
“She can't stay here.”
As I watched Emoren stare at the
ground, my heart began to sink. I knew Belafor was right. I
couldn't endanger Emoren or these people by staying here any
longer. After everything that’s happened since I arrived here, I
never wanted to leave Emoren's side. But I knew I had to go back to
He's right, Emoren.” I
stood up slowly. “I don't know why my father has sent them for me,
but as long as I'm here, everyone is in danger. I have to leave
immediately and tell my father to call them back, before any
innocent people get hurt.”
Emoren sat there quietly. He continued
staring at the ground for a moment before raising his head and
smiling at me.
As he stood and took my hand, he said,
“You're right. You must go back to Ashborne. But you won't be going
clearly didn’t seem happy about what Emoren was
It's too dangerous for
her to go alone. From this position in the forest, Ashborne is only
a day's ride. We'll leave at once and ride straight through, under
the cover of night, and be there by this time tomorrow.”
My heart leapt at the thought, but I
couldn't stand it if anything happened to Emoren. “No. Emoren, he's
right. Not even I can command the Royal Guard. If they find us
before we reach Ashborne, they'll kill you without
Emoren smirked confidently at me. The
look in his eyes was clear. He wasn't going to leave my side – no
matter the cost. “Belafor, please, find a pair of horses. We’ll
leave as soon as they're ready.”
Belafor stood up reluctantly and
huffed as he headed off without saying a word. He and I could both
tell that Emoren was not going to be swayed. In no time at all,
Belafor returned with ready horses. Emoren helped me atop my horse
before giving Belafor a warm embrace and mounting up alongside
This is a bad idea,
Emoren.” Belafor’s voice was ripe with fatherly concern. “But I
know you’re going to do it anyway… Just don't stop until you reach
Ashborne, and watch yourself out there.”
Emoren shot Belafor one more confident
smile before we set off on our swift ride to Ashborne.
We rode straight through the night,
and just as Emoren had said, we arrived at Ashborne by mid-day the
following day. As we approached the castle's familiar outer wall, I
was excited, but also nervous. I was happy that I would get to see
Gentry and Penelope, but I was nervous about Emoren. I had to keep
my feelings a secret – from everyone. If anyone learned about
Emoren, there's no telling what my father would do.
We trotted through the gate, among the
small shops and houses that littered the area, and even though I
hadn't been away from Ashborne long, coming through those gates
felt different than any time before it. Maybe it was because Emoren
was beside me, but everything just felt different – I felt
different. As we dismounted our horses, I pulled back the hood of
Emoren's cloak I was wearing, and I heard a sweet, familiar
Princess Amber!” Penelope
yelled as she came racing down the street, her face wearing the
brightest smile I'd seen in a long time. She ran up to me and
embraced me so hard that it almost knocked the wind out of
Oh my God. I was so
worried! I heard what happened!” she said, crying just a bit, her
arms wrapped firmly around my neck.
I know. I'm sorry. Don't
cry. I'm all right,” I said as I hugged her back.
Penelope held onto me as if I had been
gone for years. She was so emotional that she didn't even seem to
notice Emoren. Eventually, she stepped back so she could try her
hand at scolding me.
How could you leave
without me!? Don't you ever do that again! I would have beat those
Kaliborians up and brought you home!”
I know you would have.” I
laughed and smiled at the thought. “Is Gentry here? Did he make it
back all right?”
He made it back. He’s the
one who told me what happened. I'm not sure if he's here
Just as I was about to introduce her
to Emoren, our happy reunion was quickly interrupted by one of the
Royal Guards. “Highness, the King commands an immediate
I forgot how fast word
travels inside these walls… Good. I need to speak with him anyway,”
I said. “Penelope, this is my friend, Emoren. Please, show him
The King requested both
of you,” the guard interrupted.
I knew there was no way he could know
about Emoren, but still, I wanted to keep Emoren as far away from
my father as possible. I looked at Emoren who was standing there
quietly. I knew he could see the concern in my eyes, but he seemed
calm and self-assured, as I had started to realize he always was.
He smiled and nodded at me, signaling that he understood the
Penelope, if you see
Gentry, please let him know I'm here,” I said before turning to the
guard. “Very well. Lead the way.”
With the guard escorting us, I
couldn't risk trying to discuss anything with Emoren, and as we
approached the throne room, I prayed to myself that Emeron fully
grasped the situation. His life was surely at risk if we didn’t
choose our words carefully in front of my father.
As the guards opened the doors to the
throne room, I could see my father sitting upon the throne with his
head propped up on his hand as he gazed toward the windows. A few
of his royal guard were scattered about the room. I signaled Emoren
to stay behind me as we entered, and I marched confidently into the
center of the room.
I'm back. You can call of
My father sat there unresponsively for
a few moments as he continued staring toward the windows and saying
nothing. Having thoroughly expressed his aloofness, he finally
turned to address the both of us.
You,” he said, looking
straight at Emoren.
Emoren walked confidently past me with
a grin on his face, looking as though he was impressed with
himself. As he began approaching the stairs leading to the throne,
the guards on either side of my father began to draw their swords.
My father quickly raised his hand, signaling them to
What the hell is he doing?
Doesn't he know who my father is?
Emoren walked up and knelt at the foot
of the stairs. “Your Majesty.”
I had no idea if Emoren had been stuck
in the woods too long or what, but I was grateful that he was at
least smart enough to kneel and address my father with
Rise,” my father
Emoren slowly came to his feet, his
expression much more serious and regal as he stood in front of my
father – as if he was royalty himself - as if he was my father’s
What's your name?” my
father asked, never taking his off him.
Emoren bowed his head respectfully
when speaking. “My name is Emoren, Your Grace.”
Emoren...” Father eyed
Emoren for a few moments as he let his name sit on his tongue for a
moment, clearly sizing up the young blonde in front of him. “Where
are you from, Emoren?”
Saberfell, Your Grace,”
Saberfell? I received
word that my men were just there.”
We must have missed them
on our journey here, Your Grace.”
My father sat there for a moment,
still measuring Emoren's response. “Hmm. And you're responsible for
bringing her here?”
Emoren continued bowing his head as he
spoke. “That's right, Your Grace.”
I couldn't believe my eyes. I knew
that after everything I had told him, that Emoren had no love for
my father, yet the show he was putting on was remarkably
impressive. Watching him handle my father with such smart, calm,
confidence made me adore him that much more.
Well, Emoren of
Saberfell, you've saved my men a great deal of trouble,” my father
said. “I suppose I should thank you for returning my property to
I bit the inside of my lip as I heard my father's
familiar remarks, not that they surprised me. I just hoped that
Emoren wouldn't say anything in my defense. The repercussions for
doing so would surely be painful.
No. No thanks are
necessary. It was my pleasure to be of assistance, Your Grace,”
Nonsense. I'm a king who
punishes betrayal and rewards loyalty. I'll grant you a room in the
Servant’s Wing. You may stay as long as you like, as my guest.
Guards, show him to a room,” my father said as he signaled guards
over to escort Emoren.
Thank you. You're too
kind, Your Majesty,” Emoren replied.
Emoren flashed me a subtle smile as he
turned toward the guards that were now on either side of him,
almost as if everything had gone according to a plan he didn’t
bother to fill me in on. The guards held out their arms, signaling
Emoren to walk in front, and they began heading toward the door. I
smiled in secret to myself for a moment, relieved that everything
had gone so smoothly.
Oh...” my father
interrupted as the three of them stopped. “If he's caught anywhere
inside the Royal Wing, kill him on sight.”
Just hearing that, my heart stopped
beating for a moment. But I knew everything would be fine as long
as Emoren didn't wander around the castle. It was hard to keep
myself from looking back at Emoren as they left, but I had to
control myself, as not to give anything away. The last thing I
wanted was for my father to realize that Emoren was much more than
some commoner to me. Plus, there was still the matter of the Royal
Guard to figure out.
Why did you send the
Royal Guard after me?” I asked.
That's all,” my father
said dismissively as he turned his gaze back toward the
Even if he was going to try and ignore me, I still needed to
find Gentry and tell him what happened. If anyone knew where he
was, it would be my father.
Where's Gentry?” I asked.
“I wish to resume training the knights right away.” I figured if I
posed it under the guise of doing my duties, I’d be much more
likely to get what I needed.
Gentry's on a scouting
assignment. Training is postponed until he returns. Now leave,” he
ordered. His daughter had come back from an attack, safe and sound,
yet he seemed more irritated about having his men out looking for
me than anything. Whatever, I still didn’t understand why he
bothered looking in the first place. A small part of me wanted to
think he actually cared, but with all the years I’ve been his
daughter and the Princess of Ashborne, I knew better.