I crept around a large pillar trying to get to my room unseen.
My trousers and tunic were covered in sweat from training all day.
I almost laughed out loud when I imagined what my parents' expressions would be if they saw me in mens clothing instead of some big, puffy dress.
I caught snippets of conversation as two maids passed by.
“What do you think princess Freya does when she disappears for hours like this?”
The brunette one asked her companion.
The other girl just shook her head.
“No one knows. We’ve tried searching for her all over the palace, but no one it seems can ever find her.”
“Well I think she has a lover and she sneaks off to go see him.”
I rolled my eyes.
Not everything was about a man.
I certainly wasn’t going off to see a man.
Once they were out of sight I unfurled my body from where I was hiding and sprinted to my room.
As soon as the door shut behind me I called for my personal maid.
She arrived and grinned when she saw me.
“You know one day you’re gonna get caught. I‘m still surprised they think you're a man. Anyone with eyes could tell that you’re a woman.”
I grinned back at her.
“Well Mei, you thought I was a man until I took off my disguise.”
“Then I thought utterly stupid I had been for not seeing it before.”
I laughed at her comment. “Soo are you going to take a bath before dinner?” she asked with a smirk. I smiled.
Mei was the only person that could make me smile.
“Are you implying that I stink?”
“No milady.” she said sarcastically.
I nodded my head, still grinning at her. “Yes I will be bathing.”
and with that threw off my smelly garments while Mei prepared the bath water.
When the water was done warming, Mei helped me bathe and dressed me into a floor length long sleeve green dress that hugged my body showing off my curves.
Pulling my waist length brown wavy hair over one shoulder I quickly ran a brush through it.
Standing in front of the body long mirror I smoothened my dress out.
It was late evening and I was going to get a scolding for my tardiness.
I hadn’t meant to lose track of time, but it goes by fast when you're training for a war.
I stared at myself in the mirror.
To everybody else I was a fragile flower, who looked like I needed to be protected and kept away from the harsh world of blood and death.
With my slim body and delicate face which had sharp cheekbones, with my pale skin which couldn’t tan no matter how long I spent outside, and my hazel eyes which looked innocent, like they had never seen the horrors of the world.
If only they knew…
If only they knew the death and gore I had subjected myself to.
If only they knew the amount of lives I had taken on the battlefield.
If only the king and queen knew their delicate, quiet daughter was a warrior.
I entered the dining hall and conversation halted.
There was a long table in the center of the room that had twelve chairs on each side.
Every seat had been taken except the seat to the left of the king, who sat at the head of the table.
Occupants of the chairs stared at me. Some were trying to hide it while others were openly staring. As much as I want to deny it, I was beautiful.
I would almost do anything not to be though.
To not have the mens’ eyes follow me everywhere when I walk into a room. I often found women staring at me too out of jealousy.
They would think I was bonkers if I told them I didn’t want to be pretty. They would speak of how being beautiful can get you a good man.
I didn’t care about men and getting married. I never want to get married.
My parents have been looking for worthy suiters.
I didn’t have a choice in the matter. Since I was the king and queen’s only child, I was supposed to be born a boy.
They had prayed to their gods for a boy but instead got me. I wasn’t a man but I was pretty which made finding a kingdom we wanted to make an alliance with easier.
I walked to my seat and sat down. My mother looked up from across me and I knew she was going to scold me later for being late.
When I started piling small amounts of various foods on my plate, conversation picked back up. “How are the soldiers doing?” my father asked the captain who sat a few seats away. We had been losing a lot of our soldiers due to the fact that the kingdom of Xafrar has a bigger army.
We were going to lose this war if we didn’t recruit more people and train them better. “They're improving king Heinrich. Though there is one soldier I’ve recently promoted to lieutenant. He can fight better than any of my men, and I’d take the wild guess that he can best me too.” my father looked impressed. “And who is this soldier?” “his name is James Princeton. I wish I had ten guys like him. When he comes back from battle there's hardly a scratch on him.”
I heard the captain speak the fake name I had given. I drank from my cup hiding my smile. Remembering a few days ago when he came up and said I’d been promoted to lieutenant.
I liked it when captain Hames praised me even though I didn’t need it.
I wonder how he would react if he found out that James Princeton is not only a woman but the king's daughter.
They continued they’re discussion on the soldiers and how to improve them. “Freya.” My mother said to gain my attention. “Yes.” “king Renold’s son, prince Noah, will be visiting the palace for a couple of weeks and I expect you to be on your best behavior. Is that clear?” she eyed me. “Crystal mother.” I knew exactly why prince Noah was ‘visiting’ the palace.
My parents had decided on who to marry me off to.
Not if I could do something about it. Like hell I was going to marry some prince I’ve never met. If that was why Prince Noah was coming then damn ‘best behavior’.
“When is he arriving?” I asked, masking my anger with boredness. “Tomorrow morning.” I almost choked on the piece of food in my mouth. Tomorrow?!
Good thing I was only going to be around for an hour before I’d have to go on a mission.
We had to transport weapons to one of the army bases and we needed backup in case we got ambushed.
My parents believed I was off walking in the gardens when I disappeared for hours, and what was the use going to look for me? We had hundreds of gardens and it would take three whole days to search them all.
The rest of dinner went painstakingly slow until I excused myself because I was ‘tired’ which was true. I was exhausted after training all day.
I sank down on my bed and fell fast asleep.
I squinted my eyes at the late morning light shining through my bedroom window and rolled onto my stomach groaning.
I wasn’t ready to meet prince Noah today but I couldn’t stall any longer.
I was already going to get a scolding from my mother for sleeping in too late, but I didn’t care. I just didn’t want to meet this prince.
A knock at the door jolted me from my thoughts. “Come in.” an older maid came in holding a dress neatly folded in her hands.
“Queen Amelia requests your presence and wishes you to wear this.” The maid held out her hands and I stood up and took the dress from her.
She turned and shut the door behind her.
I wanted to hurl the dress into the fireplace and light it on fire. Only I knew that would be the last straw for my mother. Instead I unfolded the dress to look at it. It was floor-length and green like the one I wore last night, only darker almost black where the one I wore last night had been a lighter color. It didn’t have sleeves but a clasp that went around your neck. When I put it on I felt a breeze and realized it had a plunging back. Great.
Well I definitely wasn't going to be wearing this. I unclipped the clasp at the back of my neck, slipping the dress off and throwing it into the corner of my room. Tugging up some trouser jeans around my waist I grabbed the plainest tunic in my closet I could find.
It was black nothing too elaborate. I didn’t want him getting the idea that I was going to be dressing up to win his favor. This look said exactly what I wanted ‘I don’t care, and I don’t want to marry you’.
Even though my parents said he was just visiting I saw the hidden truth in their eyes. They wanted to make an alliance with king Renold by marrying me to his son. Little did they know that I had different plans.
My steps resounded on the stairs as I strode down.
Mei was walking by when she looked up at me. Her mouth dropped open. “Do you know how much trouble you’re going to be in? The prince is here.” I gave her a look. “That’s exactly why I’m dressed like this.” she snickered as understanding dawned on her face.
“If only I could see their faces when you show up like this.”
“How would you feel about me granting your wish? I could use someone to escort me to my mother and the prince.” She looked at me. “I don’t know if I should be horrified or gratified.”
“Well one way to find out.”
When we reached my mother in the tea room her eyes widened. I imagined smoke coming out of her nose and ears with the glare she shot my way. She turned and smiled at the man beside her who had the appearance of the age of twenty-three. He had bright blonde messy hair that was cut short and bangs pushed to the side of his head.
His blue eyes accented his pale skin and his thick dark eyebrows. He had a square jaw line that made his face even more handsome, but there was something about him. Something that I couldn’t put my finger on.
He was handsome with his cunning face and skinny body but there something was about it, like a sense of wrongness, like he put on a show of acting nice but when alone without a crowd of people he wasn’t a good person.
“This is my daughter Freya who is nineteen years of age.” My mother introduced me. “Please excuse her clothes, apparently she had no other more suitable clothes. Freya, this is prince Noah of the Astad kingdom.” She gave me a pointed look.
His gaze raked me up and down then up again. I stuck out my hand for him to shake. “Nice to meet you.” I greeted him.
He took my hand “Likewise.” and leaned down to lay a kiss on it.
I inwardly cringed. I hated when people did that. “I’ve heard so much about you.” he said. “Really now?” he nodded then motioned for us to sit.
“May we take a seat?” I nodded.
I took the couch, my mother sitting beside me, while he sat in the chair across from us. “So prince Noah,” I said awkwardly.
“Do you have any siblings?” “Ah yes.” he replied. “I am the oldest of six.” “Do you have any sisters?” I felt like you could cut the tension in the room with a knife.
“No, my father and mother were lucky enough to have six boys. Though none of us are married yet.” I nodded.
“I have been looking to wed, and I hear you are too.” Prince Noah inquired. “No, not personally.” My mother cleared her throat.
“Yes we have been looking for suitors.” Noah smirked at me, and it made me want to punch him in the face.
“I have talked to your father about arranging something.” she declared. Though she didn’t say it we both knew what she was talking about.
Noah continued to smirk at me. I wondered how long I would have to pummel him to wipe the smile off his face. I stood up.
“Excuse me, while I would love to stay and talk I have duties to attend to.” Before anyone could stop me I strode off, but not before catching what the prince said to my mother.
“I’m interested in this ‘arrangement’.”
When I reached my room I scooped my hair up into a tight bun one that resembled the way men put their hair up if they grow it out.
I walked to the closet and grabbed the box I had ordered no one to touch. Opening it I found my armor. I strapped it on quickly including my helmet that hid my face.
The armor was thick so it didn’t reveal my curves that showed me as a woman. I opened my window that viewed the back of the palace where hardly anyone traveled. Stepping carefully out onto the ledge I quickly climbed down the uneven brick whole like I had done hundreds of times before and started towards the training yard.
We were loading up the supplies on the carriage when the captain called me over. “Princeton!” “Yes captain?” I asked as I approached while pitching my voice to that of a man. “You’re in charge of this one if you all get ambushed I expect you to have their backs, and I do expect y’all to get ambushed.”
“Yes sir.” he nodded and walked off.
There were four carriages each filled with weapons and other necessities with six soldiers surrounding each one as we walked.
It would take almost all day to get there and back. We had been walking for hours and I just started to feel a slight burn in my legs. I was used to being sent on these missions and walking long distances. The men chatted amongst themselves quietly as we marched to our destination on the wide road with thick trees surrounding us on both sides.
An arrow flew past and hit one of the carriages a hair to the left of my skull. It was an ambush as expected, but we needed to get these supplies there.
I called out ten men as the enemies soldiers descended upon us. “Protect the cargo. We’ve got your backs.” With that I turned and slid my sword from its sheath.
There were thirty of them not including the one archer hidden in the trees.
I grabbed the dagger from my thigh scabbard and threw it at one of the nearby trees. I smiled when I heard a satisfying thud.
I looked at the ground next to the tree I had just thrown a dagger at and saw the archer with my blade in his chest. I knew he was dead. I never missed my targets no matter how I was killing them. A blade to the chest straight to the heart killed instantly. I approached one of the men and he was dead with two blows before he even noticed I was there. One kick to the back of his kneecaps and a sword to the throat. Another man charged at me letting out a war cry. I dropped to my knees as he got close and swung at me. He stumbled past me and I twisted around and sunk my blade into his back. The man dropped to the ground lifeless. I took down person after person until I saw him. His helmet had gotten knocked off revealing his jet black hair and piercing silver eyes. His skin wasn’t tan, but it wasn’t pale; it was somewhere in the middle. He had a narrow jaw-line and cheekbones poking out… and he was cutting down my men as fast as I was cutting down his. I needed to get him away from here so my men could finish off everybody else without having to worry about him. I quietly walked around him towards the trees and away from the fight trying to get on his blind side where his back was turned. He killed my soldier who was in front of him as I positioned myself where I had a perfect shot. With his back facing my dagger and throw it straight at the center of his back at his spine. He turned so fast that I didn’t have time to register it and caught the dagger with one hand. He charged me and I ran. I ran till I felt we were far enough away that my soldiers would have killed all his men by the time he made it back. If he made it back. I stopped and turned toward him. “Running away are we?” he asked with a smirk. Damn, he was cute. No, I needed to pull myself out of my head. Yes he was good looking, but he was on the enemies side. I shook my head. “No, just trying to get you away from everybody else.” He looked confused for a minute. I didn’t give him time to understand me. I rushed him. Swiftly swinging my sword at him but he parried the blow by holding his sword vertically. I broke off and struck at him again slicing his forearm before he blocked it again. He took swings at me, but I dodged them, twisting my body out of the way and parrying with my sword. He swung at me and I blocked and at the same time he caught my ankle with his foot. I fell flat on my back. He stopped. I felt a slight breeze on my face when I realized my helmet had come off, my hair coming out from the tie of the quickly done bun and my hair flying across my face.
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