This must be a dream! Either that or I am dead!
I had no words to describe the way I felt inside. What the king had just done, bestowing my house with nobility, left me shaking.
I held the love of my life in my hands as she cried with joy.
My hand stung from the cut the king had made in my skin. The one that would forever symbolize that I was no longer the poor boy from the village. My father’s banner hanging in the hall of the palace and as everyone cheered and clapped, I shut my eyes.
Laylar finally let me go, and when I looked into the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen, I knew things would never go back to the way they were. I gave her a small nod and spun around to the King.
I stood at attention, then lowered down on a knee before him.
I was ready to die for her.
I stood up again and with one final nod from the king and Lord Raylon, I turned back to Laylar, pulled her into my arms, and placed my lips to hers. The crowd cheered louder at this, and as I pulled away from her, I saw her laugh as she hid her shy face in my shirt.
From the corner of my eye, I spotted my father sitting in a chair.
“Forgive me, my love. I need to go speak to my father,” I said to Laylar.
She gave a wide smile and I watched her go up the stairs to the King.
I made my way through the crowd, everyone stepping out of my way, and lowering their heads for me.
When I reached my father, I dropped down to my haunches and gave him a smile.
“My son,” My father said in his weak, tired voice, “Look at you now. I always knew you would grow up to be something amazing. You have brought this old man so much joy and filled me with pride.”
“Thank you, father,” I said as I looked over at the banner.
When I met his eyes again, his smile was gone. I frowned at the worried look on his face, “What is it father?”
He moved closer to me, “Never forget who you really are, my son. Do not let all this change who you are inside.”
I nodded and looked away. His words sent my mind back many years, to when I was a child.
I was the firstborn son to my mother and father, but I was not the first child. I had seven sisters older than me. When I was old enough to walk, my father sent me to work in the fields, with my sisters, doing tasks my little hands were able to do.
All my family had, was the food we grew for ourselves. With so many mouths to feed, we had nothing to sell in the markets.
But as soon as I was old enough to understand what the King's Army was, I knew that I would join when I come of age. It would be one less mouth to feed for my family, and any credit I made, I could send them.
But before I could do so, the worst tragedy imaginable befell my family.
Three of my sisters died from the winter storms. With no money to heat our home and very little food, the oldest sisters chose not to eat and became so weak, that the cold took them.
The next summer, when the crops began to grow again, and the food was plenty, two more of my sisters were taken from us. This time it was by men who thought they could just come into our home, and take what they wanted.
My mother couldn’t bear it anymore, and when her heart broke for the last time, she left us as well.
With only my father and my two sisters, I worked harder than anyone on the land, to make sure they always had everything they needed.
By the time I became old enough, I left my home, made my way to the closest training camp, and joined the King's army.
I was laughed at, picked on, and tormented for years. I was the kid who came from nothing. I was the boy in torn clothes, with nothing to his name. The boy with weak arms and skinny legs. But I was also the boy with the most drive in him. The one that always pushed the hardest.
In three years, I earned my place on a battleship, with Commander Milrax.
It was here, on this ship, in a position I worked so hard for, that my life was to change in ways I couldn’t even imagine.
It all started the day Lord Raylon announced peace between the kingdom and the Ful people. The same day I almost killed the princess.
Thank you for reading Beneath the Crown.
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