“Your highness, a pleasant surprise to see you slum it in a common bar.”
I raise my head and lower my hood, a grin forming on my face as I stare at the smug face that could only belong to my younger brother, Prince Harriot, the heir to the throne of The Vale.
I toss a coin to the bartender and order my drink, and then slide into the seat next to Harriot at the bar.
“Dads pissed at you Hayden.” He told me, making me roll my eyes.
“When is he not pissed at me?”
“So, did you get it or not?” I ask, my excitement bubbling inside of me at the thought of touching it.
Looking over his shoulder, Harriot goes into his cloaked jacket, and out comes the very thing I’ve dreamt of owning, ever since I was a little girl, the very thing that I one day wish to own from my achievements.
Harriot peels the wrapping from the dagger, the very dagger my late uncle owned, the only thing that was recovered from the place of his death, there had been replicas in honor of his name, but the real thing... no, only my grandfather had that.
“It’s so beautiful.” I admire it, the carvings laced with magical words.“To think this was once used to assassinate Pridlac Hartlock himself.” The infamous sorcerer that once haunted the streets of The Vale.
The dagger had been locked away in the treasury for as long as I could remember, only seeing it once by glimpsing at it as I followed my great grandfather Kane around the palace one evening, and since then, I’ve always wanted one of my own.
I reach out and touch it, but Harriot puts the wrapping back on as someone walks past us in the bar, making him slip it back into his coat. “I should return this before grandad works me to death at training tomorrow.”
I almost touched it... yet why did it still feel so far away from me?
“Don’t worry Hayden, just be yourself.” My brother says. “And in the meantime, try not to anger dad any more than you’ve done, and keep this between us...”
Rolling my eyes, I nod my head. “Obviously.” I sarcastically say. “Wouldn’t want him to know his favorite child isn’t perfect, would we?”
“If he found out about this, he’d lock me up and I would never be allowed outside my bedroom.”
Harriot’s face falls. “He loves you, we all just worry about you.”
“Because I’m the mutt of the family?” I hit back, annoyed, as Harriot shakes his head.
I get up off my seat, pick up my drink and down the remaining of my drink then slam it back onto the bar table, before walking away and out of the bar.
Pulling my hood back up, I swear out under my breath, irritation coursing through my veins.
That blade... I’ve longed to be part of the brotherhood of shadow leagues, simply for the reason of being accepted for my ability rather than my title, in the league you’re all one, you’re not just one person, you are either worthy or not worthy.
I’ve finally persuaded my father... Caelen, the King, that it’s what I want, and after the death of uncle Larson, Kane, my grandfather has supported me in joining the league, as a way to protect myself, even if I couldn’t join completely.
Royals are forbidden to join operations, but to train... that’s another story entirely, it was harder to persuade my dad than it was to apply.
Being the mutt of the Black bloodline, without the ability to shift, having more of my mother’s family side blood running through my veins, I’m more fae than I will ever be a wolf.
I have all the abilities a wolf would have, I have impeccable hearing and a sense of smell, I age similar to those of my kin, yet I will never shift, bond with my family in our wolf forms, I will never know what it feels like to run, completely free.
I am merely a human, in the eyes of my family, who do everything to keep me smotheringly close, in fear I might break like a porcelain doll.
I’ve lost track of how many arguments I’ve gotten into with my dad, whether it be about schooling with others or going on vacation with friends outside of The Vale, there is nothing we’ve not fought about, it’s become unbearable to be around him in fear of his insecurities to cause arguments.
I am not some weak human, that will cower in the face of danger, I’m a Black, it’s in my blood to be a warrior, one way or another, I will keep proving that I am worthy of the name.
My ancestor, Demonia wasn’t a wolf, yet he did amazing, spectacular things with his life, if you cross out the other things he did... he was worthy of the name, he ended a war and made the Black name what it was today.
Walking through the most popular vendor street of The Vale, Maleris Market, my phone buzzes in my pocket.
Dad: Come home this instant, I want you to meet your new protector
My blood starts to boil as I type back a message, my hands shaking from how angery I feel... how dare he......!
Me: I’m busy, and I told you already, I don’t want/need one
He replies instantly, and once I read it and throw the phone against the floor and then stand on it, breathing heavily.
Dad: Now, Hayden
Next week couldn’t come any faster... I’ll finally be free.
Making it to the palace, I walk past the guards at the gate with a fist bump for not ratting me out to my father and letting me slip out without telling anyone as I walk up towards the palace.
I see my dad stand at the front door to the palace and hiss out in annoyance as I can clearly see his face from this distance, filled with annoyance.
He’s mad, again.
Once I get close, his eyes shift colors as his jaw tightens. “Hayden, how many times must I tell you-”
“Never leave without protection.” I finish for him, walking past him, going inside the palace. “I know, you’ve mentioned it a hundred times before.”
“Nobody would harm me, the invisible bad guy you so badly fear is not out there, plotting my death, you need to relax, it’s because you’re like this that-”
“I am your father Hayden!” My dad grabs my hand, stopping me from walking. “I’m just trying to keep you safe!”
The guard’s eyes avert as they stand guard within the palace, trying to look anywhere but at us.
“You’re just trying to control me! Am I your daughter or your prisoner?” I shout out, shrugging his hand off me.
“I am not a little girl anymore, I don’t need a chunk of body armor to follow me around all day!”
His eyes darken as the vein in his forehead looks like today is the day it finally pops, tilting my dad over the edge, after all these years of poking out.
“Both of you, really.” My mom’s voice sighs out. “I could hear you from the other side of the Palace.”
Turning around, I see my mom standing with the head butler, Miles, whose smiling with his eyes as I glare at him.
Coming closer, my mom kisses me on the forehead as he gently straightens my hair with her hands, tucking in loose strands behind my ear, with a soft smile on her father.
“You smell of ale.”
My dad grips the bridge of his nose with a low growl as I laugh out.
“Get changed and then meet us in your dad’s office, we found the perfect replacement for you.”
I scoff out, ‘replacement’, my mom gives me the look which says ‘don’t argue, not now’ at me as I nod my head, walking past them all.
“Whatever, fine.” I say, muttering under my breath ‘we’ll see how long they last’.
Whoever they choose, they’re all the same... following orders and to what end? I make them quit a few days later, none so far have lasted more than a week around me.
I refuse to be tied down, to be THE Princess, when all I’ve ever wanted was to be accepted for whom I am, instead of what I am, and who my family is.
Once I reach my bedroom, I shut the door behind me and rub my eyes roughly with my hand as I sigh deeply. “One more week...”
One more than I’m out of here... academy here I am, just hold on until then...