Chapter 1 - A sunny day
It was yet another bright day outside when I awoke to the sound of my older brother humming a slight melody and the light blinding my eyes as he took apart the curtains to let the burning sunlight into my room. An annoyed groan left my mouth when I turned away from the window, tugging the quilt closer to my body and over my head, as to keep the light out of my eyes. He knew exactly that this would wake me, and I knew I had to wake up, yet I longed to stay in my bed for just a little longer. It was not that I hated the sun, after all it was present twenty-four hours a day, so you would have to get accustomed to it, but it was especially bright and hot in the morning.
“Good morning, little sister!”
I rolled my eyes and lifted my head to squint at Cayden and his bright white grin. He was enjoying himself, I could tell from his chipper expression, and he knew I was not. Having never been a morning person and wondering why he had not sent a maid to wake me, I was both confused and slightly irritated.
“Why are you here brother?”
I arose from my laying position and put a hand i front of my face in an attempt to keep the rays of light away, so that I could better see him. He appeared to be in a great mood and it simply made him more annoying to look at and listen to. A lock of his long, raven black hair had fallen in front of his face but he didn’t seem to mind as his hazel eyes were still focused on me struggling to sit up straight, due to my body being sore from yesterday’s training. He was tapping his foot impatiently on the floor, his sight wavering away from mine to look at the clock. I followed suit and noticed that it was quite late.
“Why do you think?” he asked as I jumped from the bed to get my clothes on.
I barely heard him as I pulled out the leather armor from my closet and struggled to get it on. With light steps he came to me and helped me secure the light breastplate, leg plates and armguards securely on my body. It was not anything like the real thing and I could barely wait until the day came where I would wear a real set of royal plate armor. As I looked up at his eager expression, I soon realized exactly the reason why he had come to wake me on this day above all others. My eyes widened and I nearly screamed like a little girl as I looked at him excited and ready to throw myself into his arms.
“Today I become part of the royal guard!”
A hearty laugh escaped his lips as he hugged me. I was not sure whether he was laughing at my girlish reaction or the fact that I sounded overly confident of my ability to become part of the guard. Technically nothing was set in stone as of yet and I was not secured a spot, even though my brother was the Captain of the guard, but I was very much expecting the best of news. I had been working tirelessly for months on end, my body bruised and beaten by the countless defeats and victories during practice. I was far quicker than anyone else and even stronger than a few of the men. I knew I would get in and he did too.
“Correct little lass. You are going to be the greatest female fighter the guard has seen in years! I am certain of it.”
My brother was not one to joke about such manners, since he knew how much the title and acknowledgement meant to me and his words warmed my heart. As he stepped away from the hug and out of the room, informing me that he was to prepare the horses, my mind started wandering off. I would do anything to go in Cayden’s and my father’s footsteps and nobody could stop me from achieving my dream. Aside from the title of royalty, being part of the royal guard was the single most admired title in all of the Empire of the Sun. Wearing the lion’s crest with pride was an achievement few people were ever able to complete and even fewer women had been able to do so. I imagined myself on the battlefield, slaying enemies to protect the country I cared so much for, slashing my sword around, taking down opponents one by one and emerging victorious. If it had not been for the fact that I dazed of and in doing so dropped my hairbrush, I would’ve stood there all day imagining the future and what it would look like. I quickly brushed my brown hair back and tied it into a tight bun on my head. When I looked into the shiny mirror one last time before leaving my bedroom, I saw a sunburnt face of determination and drive staring back at me with a fiery set of hazel eyes.
My steps thudded loudly on the floor as I almost ran down the big marble staircase leading to the front door of the estate. My eagerness startled some of the personnel and I had to apologize a few times for making too much noise. Our mother had still not awoken, and the servants were told to keep us children in check as she rested after a long night of sipping on wine in front of the fireplace. She had never been quite the same after our fathers passing during the war and often struggled with handling us heading in his footsteps. She would lash out and feel terrible afterwards, being conflicted on whether to be proud or terrified on our and her behalf. Somehow, she had a much more difficult time accepting me wanting to be like the men in our family. I did not blame her though, I completely understood her, for most women got married off very young. Nobody would want a wife going to war, risking the inability to have an heir produced.
As I reached the front door, fully prepared for the day, my stomach started growling to my surprise. One of the maids looked at my perplexed expression with worry.
“Are you perhaps in need of food, my lady?”
I let out a slight laugh that made her cheeks turn a bit red. Most of the servants around the house were not used to the nobles making jokes or being friendly towards them. I had become quite friendly with most of the staff, but this one was knowing. I had not seen her around before. Perhaps my mother had hired new folk, not that we needed it.
“Food will have to wait. Today is an important day.”
“Yes, my lady,” she said and bowed slightly.
I smiled kindly at her and headed towards the door.
“Tell my mother that brother and I have headed out. We shall be back before nightfall.”
I only registered a slight nod from the girl before I went outside, my pace quickening as I approached the stables running, ready for my new life to begin.