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I can't wait for people to read this! It's a great mix of adventure, action, mystery, and a hint of romance. Gay romance of course ;)
Fire. That’s all she could see. Screaming. That’s all she could hear. Unaware that the screaming was her own. The young pitch-black-haired girl stood in the middle of an ashy wasteland, someplace that used to be her home. What happened was a mystery. Or was it?
What exactly occurred? What series of events led to this? One minute she was picking motherwort herbs for Eve’s tea, then deafening screams rang from her small village. Smoke rose up far away from the forest beyond the wall. As she ran there, odd men with swords and horses and shiny chests were coming from that direction.
One saw her. He attacked her.
The girl’s memory always was hazy at this part, as if her brain did not think it was necessary for her to remember the following events. Or it did not want to remember.
Besides that, she knew how it ended. She, an eleven-year-old girl, standing in an unrecognizable hell of red flames and burning bodies. Legs and arms covered in small cuts. Her neck welted from chains. Tears streaking down her dirt and ash-covered face. The grass beneath her decayed as her bare skin touched it. Her eyes flashed blood red as anger, confusion, and despair fought inside her. Shock clouded her mind, the realization hit, and she cried out, “Eve! Eve!” Sprinting to the small hut house now up in a threatening blaze, she ignored all common sense and forced the beat-up door open.
She looked for the kind woman who didn’t know how to hate people, only care for them. Who taught her how to sew, whose glowing eyes told the words her mouth couldn’t, who sat in a chair all day long, who was considered the village’s freeloader, who she cooked for, cleaned for, did errands for, and loved every second with her. But she didn’t find that person. What she did find made her knees give out and the little life left in her eyes die. It was Eve, beautiful, silent Eve, laying on the jagged wooden floor.
Her black hair was a gray, murky color mixed with ash and debris. Her lovely black skin was burnt and still burning. Her glowing honey eyes were empty, unblinking, and fading in color. Blood was still slowly seeping from her neck, where a hideous gash rested. Her chest was rising slowly, barely noticeable. Tearing falling uncontrollably, the girl wanted to reach out to the dying woman, and wake her up. Her shaking hands almost touched Eve’s face when she saw her thin black gloves were ripped, exposing her lethal skin. She put her hands in her face, muffling her cries, and stared with wide, watering eyes. “Eve, wake up.” No movement. “Eve, wake up already. We..we gotta go.” Stinging tears fell on the unresponsive body. “E-” the girl’s hoarse words caught in her throat and a quiet scream was let out as she bit her hands to prevent any sound. “Just f*cking wake up, you… you stupid creature! You, you useless mudak!” she screamed, guilt tearing her for her normal words. Moments passed. “...please,” her voice whispered shakily. She fearfully touched the woman’s cheek, but her fear of what would happen made it come true. The skin slowly began to degrade where her fingers collided with the woman's skin, and left a sickening black mark, even as she pulled her hand back. The body made a quiet squeak and then a soft final breath. The eyes completely stopped glowing, a washed-out pale color taking their place, and the skin tightened up. Eve was dead. “NO!” She gripped the body tightly, her eyes blinded by her own tears. “NO! I’M SORRY, PLEASE! PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME!” She screamed at the top of her lungs, desperate and desolate. A power from inside her exploded and a scarlet force around her blew the fire away and made the house shake and crumble. The last thing she saw was the lifeless body of the only person she thought she could care for. Then darkness.
Ten years later...
The sun shone with great power, either waking a lively person up or annoying an exhausted individual. Colorful birds flew all across the kingdom, singing their songs and alerting people that it was time to get up.
Children would be getting ready for school. Men and women would be getting ready for work. The large castle stood tall, its silver stone walls reflecting the sunlight, and its dark blue roofs reaching towards the matching sky. The kingdom of Corazon was relatively happy and peaceful. A bit boring in some people’s opinion.
And in the castle, a certain princess was sleeping soundly, unaware of the repetitive knocking outside her door.
Her large bed had many pillows, diverse pastels of pink, blue, and purple. The bed covers and sheets were an azure blue, and see-through cyan tulle draped above the bed. The walls were pearly-gray and the smooth floors were a sandy tan. The immense clear windows were outlined with material resembling that of polished gold. A single door near her bed led outside to the balcony.
The double doors connecting her room to the hallway were pushed open. The sleepy princess peeped one eye open but then quickly closed them. “Your Highness, it's time to get up,” her lady in waiting sing-songed. The princess snored in response. “Your Highness, your parents have requested your presence.”
The princess turned over and put a pastel pink pillow on her face. The lady in waiting groaned. “Get up right now Bri or I’m going to use that pillow to suffocate you.” A giggle came from under the pillow and a muffled voice spoke, “Good morning to you too, Sara.” Bri took the pillow off and sat up in her bed.
“You sure know how to bring sunshine,” Bri commented, stretching her arms. Sara rolled her eyes, smiling. “It’s not my fault you value sleep so much. I tried getting you up early but you hit me with the pillow.”
She smiled guilty and rubbed her eyes tiredly. She ran her hand through her shiny brown hair as Sara fetched an outfit from her wardrobe.
The lady laid a peach pink dress with a silver braided belt on the bedsheets. Bri rubbed the sleep out of her eyes, puzzled. “Whyyyy?” Sara shrugged, the soft smile on her face implied the princess’s fuddled state amused her. “I’m not sure. No one tells me anything. Probably another setup to get you married.” Bri closed her eyes and cursed under her breath.
Sara chuckled. “Any chance you can tell them I came down with chickenpox?” The brunette asked hopefully. “Yeah... no. Now get dressed.” After she put on the dress, the brunette sat down at the pure white vanity.
Sara pulled out a hairbrush from a drawer and started to brush the multiple knots out of Bri’s long locks that touched her back. “You and your mop head. You know, Kylian said I look like an old lady the other day. Think you could beat him up for me?” Sara joked. The lady’s hair herself was a bleached blonde bob, so faded it looked white as snow. In Bri’s opinion, it was a magical color, unique and lovely, though Sara always made a point to insult it.
Bri half-heartedly smiled, which signaled to Sara something was wrong. She met the princess’s brown eyes with her own deep blue. “Alright, talk to mama. What’s wrong?” Bri looked down at her hands, looked back up, and began talking at a very fast pace. She did this when she was nervous or stressed.
“All of these arranged meetings and blind dates are so exhausting and they seem to be going nowhere. I know the king and queen believe it would be best for two to rule the kingdom instead of just one, but everyone they’ve presented has tried to steal from us, offend our land, or take me away into their private chambers. I don’t want-” she cut herself off realizing her rant. Taking a breath, she asked quietly, “What do you think I should do?” Pausing, Sara exhaled. “Well, it’s not my place to say. I can understand that all of this can be wearing you out, but know that your parents just want you to be happy.” “Well, it’s not making me happy,” she grumbled, crossing her arms.
Sara laughed and said, “C’mon honey, just give it a little longer. Who knows? This may be something completely different. Or you might find the person of your dreams.” Bri just laughed and shook her head. “Sure I will.” After a few minutes of brushing and tying, Bri’s hair had been tied and pinned into a crown braid. The pink dress went well with the girl’s brown skin and hair.
Satisfied, Sara stepped back, letting Bri get up. “There. Perfect.” Bri smiled at her lady in waiting and thanked her. “So...is the whole chickenpox thing completely off the table?” Sara rolled her eyes. “Yes. Now go!” Bri headed for the door then stopped and turned. “Even just the flu would work. Common cold? Pink eye?” With a final shove, the princess was out the door. The snow-haired lady closed the door and chuckled, then a voice came from outside the door. “I mysteriously died?” “No!”
Bri reluctantly headed to the throne room. She tried to think of other possible explanations for her to be summoned so unexpectedly, and not what was probably going to happen instead. Were they going to scold her for her recent test scores? She knew she could’ve done better in the math section, but it seemed unnecessary to talk about that so formally. Would she be handed a new list of duties to attend to? This thought excited her. Maybe it would be something important, like welcoming new staff, handling budgets, or organizing a ball. Although organizing a ball sounded a bit overwhelming, at least it would be something.
The guards standing in front of the throne room doors opened it at the sight of the princess. And on the large golden thrones, King Julien and Queen Rosalina- her mother and father- were waiting. The queen’s hair was dark chocolate brown, always in a knot bun. Her sleeveless white and blue gown complimented her almond skin. Her father sat beside her on his throne. His hair was a faded black, almost completely gray, and his skin was ivory. He always seemed as if he was deep in thought, a stern, unwashable look resting on his face. Her mother’s face usually looked vacant of all emotion, but one smile made her eyes crinkle with kindness and you wished she was your mother. “You’re late,” her father grunted. He was probably getting annoyed with his daughter for not taking this seriously.
Bri gave a sheepish smile. “I apologize. I woke up late. I’m sorry.” She took her place next to Rosalina on her small throne. “Gabriela, I don’t think you realize how significant these meetings are. One of these visitors may very well be your future betrothed.” Hearing this made the princess’s smile falter. So it was a setup. She could feel her eyes lose their alertness as her excitement died down.
“Yes, sir. Of course” “Now Julien,” Rosalina interjected, “Gabriela is free to choose who she loves at any time she wants to. We shouldn’t pressure her to marry a stranger.” “I know Rosalina, but she needs to understand”- the king was cut off by guards opening the large doors.
A tall man in a feathered hat announced in a booming voice, “Presenting Prince Chatoyer Sparcle of Dantelliton, here to see her Highness, Princess Gabriela Beaufort of Corazon.” A shorter man in a shiny orange outfit came strutting into the throne room. He bowed down on one knee and held one hand out, clearly waiting for her to come to him.
Her mother nodded to her daughter, so Bri reluctantly walked to the prince. She gave him her hand and he kissed it. “Might I say, you look ravishing, your Highness,” the man simpered. It took all of Bri’s self-control not to laugh out loud.
His outfit was so bright and glittery that her eyes were beginning to hurt. Were those little wings on his shoulders? Shimmers were falling on the ground as he stood up, leaving a trail like the slime of a snail. “Thank you, sir” she thanked, keeping her smile down. “I love your outfit. Very eye-catching.” “Thank you very much. This particular outfit is all my kingdom is talking about. Thought it might be a treat for your eyes, my love.” “A treat indeed.” She almost let out a snort, she couldn’t take him seriously. She wondered how long it would take for all of the glitter to leave his outfit. At this rate, she guessed a few minutes. Did the glitter itch? Did it stick to his skin? He must be terrible at playing Hide and Seek, his trail would give him away.
She then caught her father’s stern eye and straightened herself up. No, she would take this seriously. Focus. She would not laugh, joke, or say anything else about his ridiculous outfit. She would be polite and try to get to know this prince. Who knows? Maybe this time, things will work out.
The wind was cool outside. The sun was still bright, but enough clouds to where it wasn’t blinding. Bri stared at the village, seeing a few children playing hopscotch. If only her life could be that simple. She wanted to cry but knew that wouldn’t solve anything. Her head ached, her face burned, and her heart was drenched in guilt.
Light, even footsteps came from behind, ones she recognized perfectly. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. Rosalina said nothing. Only put an arm around the princess. She was silent for a moment then began speaking. “Ah, look at the town children playing tag,” she observed calmly. “So happy and cheerful. Smiling together, laughing, living their lives in peace.”
Bri nodded slowly, not understanding where the queen was going with this. She leaned towards her. “That’s what I want for you.” The brunette turned away from the queen, her eyes watering. “My dear, I know it’s difficult to be a princess. And that all of this talk of marriage I can assume is nerve-racking. But you need to know that we don’t expect you to fall for the first royal you see. You do need to choose a betrothed in time, but that can wait. Right now, focus on your studies and training and try to forget all this nonsense. Okay?” “Yes, Ma’am.” “Again, you can call me Rosalina,” the queen smiled, placing a kiss on the top of her head. Bri smiled softly and nodded. “Yes, Rosalina.” “Miss Booker placed some books aside for you to study in the library. She’ll be with you soon. I love you, my dear.” “I love you too, Rosalina.” And with a final kiss, the queen stood up and walked away.
The brunette could hear her room door close. She let out a loud sigh and rubbed her temples. The queen was right. She should be focusing on more important things. It was obvious she wouldn’t be marrying anytime soon, but that didn’t matter at the moment. She scolded herself for feeling sorry for herself. She should be grateful, not upset for all of the opportunities she didn’t have. What about the opportunity she did have, the one any other young woman would love to have? She was a princess, for crying out loud. The least she could do was get ready for when she would become queen. Taking a deep breath, Bri shook her head and left the balcony.
The library smelled of old books and ink and was exactly where she needed to be. She grabbed a book off the table, settled herself on a chair, and began to finally read the books her tutor wanted her to read. The History of Corazon. History was always her favorite. History and reading. She hated math with a passion. Her tutor, Gines Booker, who had once been her guardian in the orphanage, explained so many problems so many times, but she could never wrap her head around all of the mixed numbers and letters and differences in their values. No matter. She still had time, hopefully, enough time to shove understanding into her head. Like every other day.
The princess had her head buried in the past kings and queens of her kingdom, memorizing the years Gines told her to and ignored the ache in her forehead, when a voice greeted her, “If you’re not too busy reading about things you already know, would you like to come to the training grounds with me, your Highness?” Instantly a smile came over her face and she looked up to see her favorite guard. “Hey, Kylian.” “May I?” He gestured to the seat next to her and, of course, she nodded. The boy sat down next to her and looked at her sympathetically. “I heard about what happened.”
Bri put the book down and hid her head in her hands. “Did you really snort at him?” She could hear him suppressing a smile. “Glitter was falling everywhere! Glitter stuck to me when he kissed my hand!” she explained in despair. Kylian laughed. “Was his last name really Sparcle or was that just for branding?”
A small smile grew on her face. “I mean, not to be disrespectful or anything,” he continued lightly, “but I wouldn’t be surprised if his last name was actually something like Shufflebottom. Sparcle can give you at least a little more dignity. And what’s with that accent? Does everyone from the kingdom sound like they’re being held against their will at a tea party?” The princess chuckled. “I know, right? Ugh, I’m so glad I’m not the only one who thought he looked ridiculous.”
“I saw him,” Kylian chuckled, shaking his head. “Trust me. Nobody normal would think that looks good.”
“Oh, and what leads you to believe that you’re normal?”
“Because I actually have style, talent, good looks.” He flipped his hair dramatically, causing Bri to push him playfully.
“Don’t flatter yourself. You look like you’re wearing a hat of cotton candy.” “Excuse me, but I’m not the one who looks like a melted strawberry lollipop.” She elbowed him again, and he elbowed her back with a laugh. She wanted to wrestle him to the floor, or start tickling him, but resisted it, telling herself that it was childish behavior. “Alas, we are both destined to end up as delicious sweet delicacies mon chou,” he said, purposely making his french accent thicker, then leaned against Bri with a loud sigh.
Bri was laughing, then snorted, and laughed even harder with her face red. She then rested her head on the blue-eyed boy’s head. “Thanks, you freaky blond,” she sighed smiling. “No problem, you mutant weirdo.” He then turned to her and raised one eyebrow. “Want me to kick your butt in the training grounds now?” She grinned. “You wish.”
“Try tightening your grip on the hilt,” he offered. Bri adjusted her grip, then nodded. “Alright. Ready? And… go!” Their swords slashed and clinked as they fought. Bri’s hair was now pulled back into a ponytail. She was free of her suffocating ball gown and replaced it with simple black pants and a long-sleeved white shirt.
A wide grin took over her face as she battled the guard. She front guarded as he lunged forward, then smirked after she turned and touched his side with her sword. “I win.” Kylian rolled his eyes with a smile. “Only because I’m such an amazing teacher.” This drew a laugh from the brunette. She knew he was letting her win, trying to cheer her up. “Okay, this time, stop letting me win.” “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he smiled.
They continued to fight, Kylian giving her tips throughout, helping her, usually winning, but sometimes Bri would beat him with her quick reflexes. Unfortunately, they had to stop, due to a commanding voice shouting at them. “You’re not supposed to be here.” It was Captain Felipe. At the sight of him, Kylian stood tall with his shoulders back. “Excuse me sir, but I thought it would be acceptable since the training of the new recruits isn’t until next week.” “Doesn’t matter. It’d be a shame if something got broken, which would lead to someone getting hurt.” The captain turned his stone-cold gaze to Bri. “Besides, I don’t believe this is the best environment for you, your Highness.”
Bri almost shivered. Something about his one dark eye and eyepatch gave the brunette the chills. She never exactly liked him, the way he talked down to Kylian and her. “I understand sir. We’ll clear out.” “Yes, you will. Immediately.” With a respectful nod to the princess, the captain turned and walked away. Only once he was out of sight did Kylian relax. Well, a bit. It almost made the princess feel bad seeing how nervous and stiff Kylian got around the captain. After cleaning up, she decided to try and lighten the mood. “So, what do you wanna do now?” Bri asked eagerly. “Wanna go riding? It’s been way too long since Esten’s been out and I think that he misses me. Or maybe we could go to town. Go see Chrys. He promised to make me a flower crown out of daisies and I'm going to hold him to tha-” “Bri.” The girl stopped her rambling and looked at the blond. “Your Highness,” he corrected. “I’m sorry, I can’t. And neither can you. Gines gave you quite a number of math problems to do if I remember correctly.” Bri groaned at the title and his tone. The blond gave her a pitiful look. “I’m sorry.” He bowed, then turned, walking down the hall. With a frown on her face, she walked back to the library. And like everyday, there was Gines waiting for her.
The ancient Gines instantly stood up at the sight of her and curtsied. “Your Highness.” Bri grimaced. She felt so weird when people called her that. “You don’t have to do that.” “You are a princess. It’s the proper way to address you,” Gines insisted. “Besides Gabriela, you must get used to people addressing you by your title. It’s the only acceptable way to talk to you. Do you understand?” The brunette’s smile didn't reach her eyes. “Yes ma’am.” Hours of pointless equations awaited the young royal. She’d doodle on her paper instead of doing her work, get yelled at for not doing her work, feel bad and apologize, then stare off into space, dreaming about a place where math and marriage and ball gowns weren’t the most important thing in the world.
Sometimes Bri would find herself staring at Gines’s ashy hair, trying to decide whether it was real or a wig. She knew it was real, when she was six years old she tried to pull it off. That led to a serious talking to and spanking. But still… not a single strand was ever out of place, and it was cut in a flawless line above her shoulders. How? Gines was like a hundred years old! Well, probably not. But it was always perfectly straight, parted down the middle, with no split ends or knots. One nap and Bri woke up with her hair looking like a rat’s nest.
Gines would often lecture her about how exponential she was to match the standards of a ‘real’ princess, how fortunate she was to be taken into this family, how Bri was lucky to have her - the only person who loved her for something other than her worth, on and on about things that the girl didn’t really believe. She felt so awkward when people complimented her.
But she knew the woman was right. And it’s true, she was very lucky. Gines found her as a little baby in a basket floating in a stream on the north side of the kingdom. After it became apparent that Queen Rosalina was unable to give birth, people were sent to the orphanage in search of a suitable heir. And at 13, top of her class at the orphanage, Bri was sent off to the palace. Of course, Gines’s duties didn’t stop there. She became the royal tutor, a position she had been after for years. But she was more than that. She was her mentor, her caretaker, and as hard and demanding as she could be, her mother. Well at least, Bri thought of her that way. She didn’t know how real mothers acted.
Her fingers played with each other as she attempted to find the value of certain variables. Her head hurt and she was bouncing her leg anxiously. Gines and she had a game of sorts with math, one she made back at the orphanage. Every time she answered an answer correctly, she got a chocolate square, no bigger than her thumb. This was the only motivation and reason she still attempted the problems. But she was close to tears with frustration and it was getting hard to hide. As much as she loved Gines, her sharp tone and unapologetic words could get a bit much.
“Gabriela, take a break.” “Huh?”
Bri looked up from her stress-filled scribbles on the paper. Gines almost never gave her breaks. “Okay!” Bri shot up from her seat, desperate to get out of the stuffy room, then realized how disrespectful that must have been. “Sorry! Excuse me, I mean, I apologize. Only if you’re sure, ma’am.” Gines’s light hair didn’t move at all as she got up from the table, no pieces leaving the others. Like maybe they were glued together or something.
“Of course. In fact, go see your father. Give him these papers.”
She then handed Bri a small stack of clean white paper with words written in careful handwriting. “What are these?”
“There has been an increase of criminal activity in town, especially on the east side. Killings and assaults. No doubt the work of a new gang. Your father tends to ignore my suggestions that would prevent these events from continuing, but I trust that you will make sure your father listens?”
“Yes ma’am.” The brunette hesitated to say this but the woman didn’t seem to notice.
“Good.” Gines paused, then put a bony hand on the girl’s brown head of hair. Bri’s heart warmed at the gesture Gines showed her. It was odd maybe, the stroking of her head, like a pet almost, but it was how the woman showed affection. Showed that she loved her. “Good job today. That is all. Goodbye.” And that was that and a light hand pushed her shoulder, turning her to leave.
Gabriela resisted the urge to hug Gines. She learned the hard way that hugging Gines was not an option. She settled for a small curtsy and left the library. As soon as she was in the hall, Bri let out a shaky breath. Math was the worst. Gave her so much anxiety and stress. But it was over. Well, for a few minutes. She rubbed her eyes tiredly. The repeating schedule of training, studying, and setups were so exhausting.
On her way to her father’s room, she allowed herself to take a second and look out the window, at the blue and white streaked sky.
A creamy cloud was shaped like a giraffe. A small bird, the color of raindrops, flew around by itself. The townspeople looked like little ants. She could see the church tower from the large window, looking so small from where she stood, the gray stone bricks leading up to the highest tower, topped with its dark brown slates where the lonely bird landed to rest. She looked longingly at the bird, free to do as it pleased.
A small sting of guilt hit her as this thought entered her mind, but she allowed herself to ignore it. A little wish and some hope never hurt anyone, right?
So she hoped that soon she’d be able to do something other than run Gines’s errands and embarrass her parents. Something that mattered. Maybe actually help people and make people happy. And her wishes for her future? Well, those were too big to think about right now.