The Broken Kingdom

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Princess Ember was born into a cursed kingdom. Or so she thought. Lies encompass every component of her life, her kingdom, her family. Born for greatness, Ember must comes to terms with her destiny, her kingdom, and her past to fully realize her dream of making her kingdom whole and healthy. Forces work against her at every turn, the darkness threatening to claim the world- will Ember be able to trust in herself and those destined to be her greatest allies?

Fantasy / Romance
Cassandra Haynes
Age Rating:

Chapter 1: Let it Rain

Wake up, Ember. Rain's voice echoes through the fog that is Ember's head. Ember blinks slowly, the sunlight filtering in through a big window with the drapes only partially covering it, the dust dancing in the beam of light cascading through the length of her chambers. With sleep still in her emerald eyes, Ember moves carefully out of her giant four poster bed towards her wardrobe.

Make it fast. And keep it simple. Yes, we may meet our second chance mate today- but we still have training in the field with Lyrica and her brother, Langston before our meeting with your father. Rain told her, her voice soft but full of authority.

Yes, I know, Rain. The last thing I want is to look like a pile of hot crap in front of 'his majesty'. Ember replied with sarcasm practically dripping from the last words. Rain receeded into the depths of Ember's mind, allowing her to focus on the tasks ahead of her and not standing there with a glazed over expression on her face.

Ember got dressed silently, her hands following the familiar motions of pulling on trousers, fetching an unsullied shirt and fiddling with the few buttons up top to prevent her chest from spilling out. Her mind could not be further from where she stood, possible scenarios playing out in her head. Would she meet her second chance mate today? Would her father finally reveal his secrets to her? Could she convince her father to not marry her off for convenience's sake? The endless questions swirled around, fear, doubt and anxiety pressing themselves against Ember, restricting her throat and making it increasingly harder to breathe.

Just as her world started to spin around her, Rain reeled Ember back in with a few simple words. You must breathe, my child. Please trust that the Moon Goddess guides your path and chose you for greatness.

White hot anger flashed inside Ember- Rain was there, spouting more nonsense about how the Goddess was guiding her. If that were true- how come her first mate rejected her after mating with her? How come everyone she ever loved or hoped to love- left her without looking back? Hell, her own mother had when she was just a small child. How hard Ember cried herself to sleep each night, begging the Goddess to bring her back, that she needed her mother because without her, Ember had nothing- no one. Even her own father would prefer to waste away in his chambers, refusing to even look at Ember.

Tears pricked Ember's eyes, and she quickly blinked them back before shutting herself off to Rain altogether. Not now, Rain. I don't want to hear it. I do not believe in the Moon Goddess and if she is real.... She must surely hate me by gifting me with this wretched life. Ember tried to clear her thoughts and be in the moment by the time she reached the sparring field.

Forcing a smile, Ember pondered the setup in the ring that day- which, for better or worse, appeared to be nothing. Nothing at all. Nobody stood nearby, no clattering could be heard from the armory shed indicating someone was just late to set everything up.

Her curiousity growing, Ember continues forward into the makeshift armory. "Lyrica? Langston? Is anyone here?" Ember calls out, expecting someone, anyone to be nearby. Ember looks around for a few more minutes, the situation seeming stranger and potentially more dangerous- by the second. Just as Ember was about to head back to the field on her way to the guard barracks, all of her senses spiked.

Duck! Now! Rain calls out, just in time for Ember to hit the ground as a thick, sturdy blade lodges itself into the wooden support beam where her head had just been. Damned black magick creature appearing out of nowhere. Brace yourself- this one wants a fight with you. Let's give it one. Rain snarled inside of Ember's head, surging forward to take control and shift.

Ember barely has the time to process anything- the blade above her head, Rain's words, the sudden animosity she felt rising to the surface and threatening to drown her. But she did process the blade being hefted out of the sturdy wood by a hand covered in golden armor- the same armor her trainers wore. Cursing, Ember flings herself out of the makeshift armory, grabbing a blade as she did.

Come hell or high water, Ember wasn't going down without a fight. After regaining her balance, she deftly sidestepped the attacker and drove her own blade down, directly onto the attacker's wrist. She made contact- the sickening smell of decay and rotten flesh made her stomach fill with bitter bile, she bit down and doubled back harder on her opponent. One hand down, several more limbs to go.

She is stopped in her tracks when she sees the blood- or at least, what should have been blood. The substance is pitch black, thick as tar, and carries the same stench of decay, death, and rotten flesh that made her stomach want to retch. Its dripping down, ever so slowly, to a small pool in the middle of the sparring ring. The sand itself seems repulsed, the black tar just resting on its surface, refusing to sink in, to allow itself to be hidden.

Terror digs its icy fingers into Ember's heart, the only thoughts she had were directed towards surviving. The hand sits there, its fingers twitching despite no longer being attached to the owner. Ember doesn't register the attacker on the move again until it is too late- his blade just a few inches shy of taking her head clean off. Goddess save me, I am going to die. I don't want to die. Please.

Ember blinks. The blade is not moving any closer. The air seems still, silent, like the world itself is on pause. Ember stands still for a moment- waiting for the blade to continue its path, to take her head off. She finally lets out a breath, one she had not realized she had been holding to begin with. Her heart hammering wildly in her chest, she steps back. One step, at first. Then two, then three, until she stumbles back in fear and panic.

Rain what the actual fuck is going on right now? Ember asks, confusion rampant in her mind. She needed words of wisdom, anything to ground her and keep her breathing steady.

I told you so. Is all Rain said- was all it took- for Ember to begin looking around. With no wind, the sun beating down felt hotter, more intense than usual. Ember turned slowly, taking in each sight like it was either the first time she had seen it all, or like it would be her last. She absorbed it all. The tress frozen in time as the winds made their leaves and branches dance. The small birds fluttering from tree to tree, hovering in midair, like weightless, lifeless works of art that are indistinguishable from reality. The leaves that are falling to the ground caught in the air, their last dance to the ground interrupted by some unknown, immense force. Her eyes rested on her attacker.

Thick, stocky build, a rough looking splash of orange beard poking from under his helm, his eyes bloodshot and milky white irises staring blankly into the frozen world. His arm still raised, poised to be slicing through her neck had time not stopped so suddenly, without warning. Ember swallowed hard, her hand instinctively coming to her throat as her brain filled in the gaps of what could have happened. She circles the mysterious man, taking in every detail she can. Many never remember who attacked them- even fewer lived once someone went for the beheading. But she had- and now she had a unique opportunity to really take in all the details about this person, this.... Creature in. And she wanted to. She wanted to remember his eyes. His stench. His build. She committed every detail she could to memory- save his face. His actual face.

Something about this person felt familiar. The beard, the lifeless eyes, the stocky build. All she had to do was lift the helm- see his full face to confirm if it was indeed who she feared.

Look at his face, Ember. Do it. Just lift the helm off and you will get a few answers. Rain suggested softly, putting words to Ember's own fears.

After what felt like an eternity, Ember finally closed the gap, stepping on his toes a little as she peered up at his helm. With a deep breath, she raised shaky arms to it, gently touching the helm before sliding her fingers down to the bottom, getting a good grip on it before she started to pull it off.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you." Said an oddly familiar voice.
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