I’m Leona, but I’m mostly called Leo. I was named after my father who is notorious for being The Great Red Lion.
He is very well known in our kingdom, he won a lot of battles, led armies to victory and most especially brought a great deal of glory to our name. Imagine their disappointment when his only child turned out to be a woman. That’s me. Hi.
I haven’t even started talking and I already brought disappointment, but my father never saw it that way. He was always so proud of me, always showed me off to his comrades and every time he wins a battle in the arena, he would always smile and point me in the sidelines, I could only smile shyly because of the attention.
“Leo are you still in there?” My dad knocked on the door of the forge where I was molding a new sword.
“Yes father” I called.
The wooden door creaked and my father entered the room smiling at me, my father is a very muscular man with a long dark beard and an even longer hair with some parts were whitening because of age.
“I told you that molding metal is not a work for a woman, You know you can always ask a blacksmith to do that don’t you?” he chuckles with his deep voice.
I rolled my eyes “You know fair well father that most of what I do with my life is not for a woman” I replied.
He laughed “I know my love, I was just teasing” he came over and messed my dark hair, I glared and he continued “You should take a break sometimes, I don’t want you passing out from exhaustion” He looked at me.
“I am taking breaks father” I smiled. He looked at me like he didn’t believe me.
“I know you too well my child, If you’re not sword and combat training for hours you would be riding Fury to god knows where and now I see you making yourself a new sword, didn’t you just make one?” He said with amusement.
Fury is my most loved horse. He is pure black with a little white mark in his chest that resembles a star that makes him different from any other horses.
“Well father, I have to meet a lot of expectations for being the daughter of The Great Red Lion, and yes I did just make a sword but I want another one” I smiled.
My father held my shoulders and turned me to face him “Leo, you don’t have to do anything just because of my title, I’d love you either way and will be proud of whatever you decide to do. The Great Red Lion is just a title, that is not you father, I am, and I say I’m very goddamned blessed to be you father” He said.
My eyes were a little watery after what he said, I smiled “If only the kingdom knew you were this soft” I teased.
He laughed “I am soft aren’t I” he nudged me. “but only on the inside, I’m hard as a rock on the outside” He chuckled.
I hugged him “I love you father”
He hugged me back tightly “Love you too rascal” he chuckled.
I went back to hammering the metal “What did you come to talk to me about father?” I asked.
“Oh yes, I almost forgot” He chuckled. He always been a happy and always laughing man but when he’s out in battle you would think that he is the scariest and most intimidating man.
“I got a message from the King about sending him the best warrior I know to be the princess’ personal guard” He said.
He is the commander, he is in charge of anything concerning the military. He knows all the great knights and where they are best assigned, that’s how they won most of their battles.
I turned to him confused “And why are you running this by me father? I only know a few knights” I told him.
He chuckled “That’s not what I was doing, I was trying to ask if you want the job” he said.
My eyes widened “Tha-thats a huge responsibility father, I cannot possibly be the best choice, you know a lot of great warriors that could protect the princess more than I could” I said shocked.
My father walked closer to the sword that I just finished molding “I do know a lot of great warriors and ... you defeated them all in the arena” he brought the sword up and studied it then turned to me.
I dropped the hammer that I was holding “H-how did you know that I was fighting at the arena? No one knows” I was shocked, I was very careful and cautious when it comes to hiding my identity as a knight.
They never allowed women fighting at the arena, but that was my dream and the only way I could join is to hide that I was in fact a woman.
Fighting in that arena was the only thing that was giving me life, I was actually doing what I enjoy and what I was surprisingly very good at. I’ve been doing it for a while and no one figured out the identity of the famous knight, or so I thought.
“The knight of roses. Why didn’t I figured it out before” He turned to me brushing his hair back. “Roses was your mother’s favorite and I remember commenting on how skillful that knight was ... he was very fast and very discreet and very flexible and I thought to myself ... only woman could move that graceful, then I went to your mother’s room where she tailor clothes, I haven’t gone there since she died. Imagine my surprise when I saw knight armors standing and dozens of swords displayed and what shocked me the most is the the rose symbol on the chest of every single armor and shield that only the knight of roses is seen wearing them” He looks at me seriously.
I was sweating by now. How can our lovey dovey moments earlier became this serious.
“I’m sorry father, I just-” he cut me of “How can you not tell me Leo? I had no idea that my daughter is the one I’m watching risking her life and people are betting money on” He raised his voiced. I can’t remember the last time he was this angry at me.
I looked down “I am sorry father, I wasn’t thinking how it would affect anyone, I just did what I’ve always wanted to do. I know it’s selfish but It’s where my heart is father”
He held my face “I love fighting as much as I think you do, so I understand. Don’t you think I want to shout at the world that that’s my baby girl down there beating the shit out of your son? I’m just surprised that you didn’t tell me”
I felt bad, like really bad. “I-i just didn’t know how to tell you father, maybe I was a little scared of what your reaction might be and I really don’t want to stop fighting father” I sighed.
“As long as you are happy and as long as you don’t kill yourself I’m supporting it, You’re the only one I have kid” He smiled sadly.
“I know father, you’re the only one have too” He hugged me.
“No more secrets?” He asked.
“No more secrets” I smiled.
“Now think about my offer of being the princess’ personal guard, you have until tomorrow” He started walking to the door.
“Okay father” I exhaled. That’s a lot happening in one afternoon.