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Ariya lives in a kingdom called Risinea who is at war with a country across the West sea. Her kingdom has a cruel tradition where all the girls who turn eighteen, are offered up to their prince as a concubine. On the day she was to be chosen, the prince takes an interest in her and decides to make her his bride. Now, Ariya must face new challenges and forced to live a lifestyle she's not accustomed too. All the while, the enemy is sailing closer every day bringing war. The prince's general offers Ariya friendship and protection, but can she keep her feelings to herself?

Drama / Erotica
4.0 2 reviews
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

Today was the day my life was going to change forever. Today, the king had ordered all girls that are eighteen to be taken to the castle for his son's choosing. This is a tradition that has been taking place for centuries. Every year, women are having less children for fear that they may have a daughter and she will have to be presented to the king or sold into slavery. The girls are offerings to the king's son as a concubine that he may later make his wife. Once the prince has made his choice, the remaining girls are sold off to high paying lords as slaves. Since the king lost his wife, the queen, last year from an illness, he is taking a girl for himself this year as well.

"Are you ready, Ariya?" My mother asked with shaking hands as she tied my corset. She had been crying non stop when the news came a week ago for us to prepare in our village.

My mother and father had never expected to give me away. My father ran away with my mother when she was supposed to be offered during the current king's choosing when the king was just a prince. My father snuck her out of her village and ran away with her here where they eloped and had me. Sadly, my father died in the king's war three years ago when they drafted all the men in the kingdom. They're still fighting this war with a country that sits on the far side of the West sea.

"I'm ready," I said. My voice was trembling from nerves and fear. My birthday was only a few days ago and now I was to be offered up like a lamb on a platter.

"There," my mother said, "All done. Turn around. Let me look at you."

I spun in the dress she spent all night sewing for me. Tears slipped down her cheeks and I wiped them away for her with my hands. She was doing everything she could not to break down again.

"It's okay mother. I'll be okay." I didn't even know if the words I spoke were true, but it comforted her to hear them. "The dress is beautiful and I'm surely to be chosen by his majesty the prince."

"No matter your fate. Either is just as horrifying." Her voice cracked from the strain of crying all night. I swallowed hard at her words.

Was I ready for this? I guess it didn't matter if I was ready or not. I was about to be a concubine or a slave and she was right. Either would be just as horrifying. She left me alone standing in front of a dirty mirror to go get flowers for my curly brown hair. I stared at myself in the mirror wearing this blue and white dress my mother labored over to make for me. It was simple and yet it still felt more elegant than anything she had made for me to wear before. This was a special occasion however. It made sense she would have to make me something presentable enough to wear in front of royalty. Without realizing, I began picking at the hem at my waist.

"Stop it, Ariya. You'll rip out my stitch work," she said as she swatted my hand gently. I adjusted my dress so that I could sit down in the nearby chair for her. "You'll always be my most treasured thing in this world and I never want you to forget that."

"Mother, I..."

"Hush now." She pinned up half my hair and carefully began placing flowers in my braids. The flowers matched my dress making me look even more unlike my unruly self.

"I want to tell you a few things before I have to let you go and you're not going to want to hear them, but they must be said."

She took a deep breath.

"Your first time will be painful, but if you can try and relax, the pain will subside a bit. Also," she paused before continuing, "make sure to wash yourself after each time. That's very important if you want to make sure you don't contract a disease. When you become with child, don't panic. A handmaid will help you with the pregnancy. If you do decide to carry a child, just make sure it's what you really want and don't let any man force you to bear his child." She placed her hands on my shoulders. "If it weren't for your father saving me from that horrible place, I would have rather died than to bear a child into slavery."

She finished both lecturing me and placing the flowers in my hair. All the while I remained silent. My mother had never told me things like this before and I could tell she was not only sad, but angry and it frightened me a little. I nodded in agreement to let her know I was listening and that I understood, but I was having trouble understanding anything. I reached up and grabbed her hand.

"Answer me truthfully. Was papa not my real father?" I asked softly. She started to say something to me when a soldier yelled out for all the girls to line up to be taken to the kingdom.

"Go," she said shewing me with her hand, "I don't want them coming and looking for you."

Her face told me that my suspicions were correct, but I would never know the truth. Some of me was sad that it was possible I wasn't actually my father's daughter. Then again, I was comforted to know that my father raised me and that I wasn't born into slavery.

I nod and stand with my head held high. I wasn't going to allow myself to cry and I needed to be strong to show my mother that I was going to survive. No matter what happened to me, I would find a way to protect myself. I hugged her for several seconds before letting her go.

Soldiers were lining up the other girls into a single file line. I recognized all of them seeing we lived in a small village. There was six of us including me. Rika was already crying while the others looked scared to death. I wasn't far from my house when something suddenly grabbed me and tugged me away. Josh pulled me into the tree line at the back of my house and finally released my upper arm. We had been childhood friends for a while now, but he never pursued any romantical interest in me since he claimed he was destined to die alone on some battlefield. He didn't ever want to bear children either.

"What are you doing?" I demanded in a hushed tone.

"You can't go. I'm stopping you from going," he said quietly. "What does it look like?"

"You could be killed for keeping me from going. They have a roster of names who is to go and I'm on that list."

"I don't care. We'll runaway right now. If we hurry we can get to the northern border and..." He was pacing and in deep thought.

"And do what? Freeze to death?" I asked him. "What about my mother? They would kill her too if I were to leave with you. There isn't a way," I said softly. "I'm sorry."

"Fine." He began to scratch his head through his shaggy blonde hair. "Let's take her with us."

"Are you crazy?" I asked astonishingly. "Josh, I will not put my mother in that dangerous of a situation. She wouldn't be able to make that journey and neither would we. The scouts would hunt us down before nightfall and end both of our lives for treason." I gave him a longing look. "You know this."

He stared at the morning dew soaked ground and nodded with clenched teeth and a sigh. This was killing him inside and there wasn't anything I could do to ease his pain. The soldiers made a last call for me to show up and I knew I had to go before they came looking for me. I stepped towards him and placed my hands on the sides of his arms.

"I will survive. I promise." His hand came up and caressed my cheek. His eyes were saying a thousand words and I knew what he wanted to say to me. "Once you become a soldier and have money, come for me. We'll run away together then, but right now..., we are helpless."

"How will I know...who you are sold to?" He was barely able to get the words out.

"Hey now," I said, "you don't think I'm royal material?" I forced myself to smile.

"This isn't funny, Ariya." His face remained serious. "I can't keep you safe and it's killing me inside." I blushed from his comment.

"I'll write to you." My answer was quick. "Somehow. Someway. I will find a way to get my letters to you so that you know where I am at all times and how I'm doing." I looked up at him with fire in my eyes. "If I ever need your help, I'll let you know."

He wrapped his arms around me and squeezed. He was holding on to me so tightly that I almost couldn't breathe.

"Better write me once a week if you can and I'll try to do the same," he said into my shoulder. His temper was calming down now, but we took too long and a soldier was making his way over to us.

Josh let me go and stepped towards the annoyed soldier with his hand out.

"What's going on here? Didn't you hear us calling for you girl?" The soldier asked me quizzically.

"My apologies," Josh said. "I was just saying my goodbyes before she left. I didn't mean to keep you waiting," Josh explained. the soldier smiled sickeningly gripping his sword at his side. I stepped towards the soldier before he could do anything.

"He's my friend and just wanted to say goodbye. Please, do not punish him," I pleaded to the soldier. "It's my fault for not listening to you call my name."

The soldier paused for a moment looking us over before nodding his head with a grunt.

"Can't keep the king and the prince waiting any longer than we already have. Get a move on."

The soldier walked me back towards the carriage and I looked over my shoulder once more to see Josh standing there with a sullen expression. He watched us walk away with rage and sadness and his hands balled into fists at his sides. For a moment, my heart sank in my chest for fear that I would never see him again or that I would never get the chance to tell him how I've really felt towards him this entire time. I had loved him for years, but never said anything knowing it wasn't the life he wanted.

I turned to face forward and was helped inside the carriage where the other five girls sat. half of them already had tear stained cheeks while two of the girls had anger in their eyes, but was shivering in fear. Rika wiped her cheeks and grabbed my hands in hers. I gave a light squeeze and a half smile to her to try and calm her down. We weren't the best of friends like Josh and I, but we were more close than any of the other girls in the carriage. Her dress was pink with white lace that had a fashioned corset in the front. Her long blonde hair was frizzed around her face, but she still looked more beautiful than me in my eyes. Dangerous thoughts entered my mind thinking the prince would choose her over me and I quickly shoved them away.

It didn't matter which one of us was chosen by his majesty. Either way, we were being hauled off like cattle to be judged, priced, and sold. The knots in my stomach were getting worse the more we traveled away from my village of Shya.

The ride to the castle was long and grueling. The soldiers had us sleep in the carriage and we were only allowed out to relieve ourselves only when they stopped for water. The food they gave us tasted like dirt and most of it was stale bread. The other girls had stopped crying after the first night and we were pretty much clinging to one another every night for warmth. Five days we spent on the road like this until finally, we entered the castle city gates.

The city around the castle was massive compared to the tiny village we were from. The city was clearly divided amongst the rich and the poor however. Most of the people wore tattered clothes like us from our village and they all seemed to mostly work the markets. We also passed by several brothels where woman and young girls cat called men on the street from their windows.

The castle itself was massive and had ivy's growing all up the granite walls. The front gardens were filled with different colored lilies and wrapped around all the way to the back of the castle. They were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life causing my mouth to gape in awe. The carriage stopped in front of the main steps and a hand was offered to help us step out. It was then, I took my first step towards a life that terrified me.

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