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In return for saving the Kingdom of Halitus, Ozias ruler of Eserendi requires a queen to provide him an heir. Forced to pay for her father's debt, Aurelia must adapt to life within a kingdom that are sworn enemies. Betrayal lurks around every dark corner while alliances shatter. With Aurelia's past haunting her will she succumb to the pressure, or will she be triumphant in her retribution?

Romance / Action
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

{To be edited..}

Wilting marigolds crunch under my feet. Nothing was left. The shriveled plants had no chance of surviving this war. Death is always lingering, waiting for its next victim. It was only a matter of time until more bodies drop dead.

“We have to go.” Gael tugs my arm away from the abandoned garden. The distinctive beauty marks on his cheek and jawline contrast against his tan skin. His disheveled brown hair falls across his forehead. Exhaustion clear on his face. Green eyes stare into mine, demanding me to listen.

Corpses surround us, permanently marking it as a battleground. I walk to a familiar face lying dead near a bed of wilting flowers. My blood runs cold and I force myself to go to her. Layla’s pale body is covered in deep gashes that run from her chest to her stomach. Her blood is scattered everywhere.

My trembling hands reach out to her. I place Layla’s head on my shoulder and dry-heave when the scent of rotting flesh hits my nose. Her fingertips gradually turn blue the longer I stare at them.

“Will you ever forgive me?” I whisper in her ear, kissing her frigid cheek. She was so full of life and now here she is. Dead. How did this happen so quickly?

“We need to go, they are already here,” Gael repeats as I braid her curly blonde hair. She always complained about it being in her face, but I always loved her gravity-defying curls. I open my mouth to argue but he interrupts me with a glare.

“This isn’t up for discussion, I have orders from your father.” My father, King Heinrich Ambrosia: the reason this war happened in the first place. Does he care his people are dying right in front of the palace while he sits in safety?

“Darrell had the privilege of a memorial,” My voice void of any emotion. Guilt consumes me as soon as the words leave my mouth. Darrell was Gael’s father, he was one of the first to die from this war. Gael hadn’t been close with him during his childhood; it was throughout his teenage years they created a bond.

“He has nothing to do with this situation.” He holds a menacing posture. I gently set Layla on the ground next to me. Preparing myself for an attack.

“I know of my fate, Gael. Please, I just need a little more time,” I beg. He takes a step forward. I meet his eyes refusing to back down. We stand in a silent battle. Gael pulls out his blade, warning me if we were to fight he would not hold back. My heart sinks to my stomach.

“Fine, take me to my father.” Tears blur my vision as I turn my back to Layla’s body. I swore to protect her, and now I was leaving her dead in a warzone.

Gael guides me through the palace. I take the time to wipe the water off my cheeks and calm down. The hallways are made of white stone that has artwork embedded into them. Every hallway we turn into is identical to the last, making it useless for me to remember where we came from. I have only been to the palace a couple of times before, but today it seems never-ending.

We turn into about ten hallways before a tall dark wooded door stands out from the white aesthetic of the castle. Gael opens it to be met with a familiar cry of a woman.

“Go to her,” I assure him. Gael runs to his wife and gently lifts her off the ground. He greets her with a kiss to her round belly and another one on her forehead. She smiles and wipes her tears away. He whispers sweet nothing into her ears as she sobs. I take a seat on the chair farthest away from them, attempting not to interfere with their private moment.

This war broke all of us. More than half of my people are dead or unaccounted for. No one knows who will come back, and the soldiers who do will never be the same. Anyone lucky enough to have their loved ones return home hold a new sense of grief. One for the loss of their kingdom.

My father’s tense body stomps his way through the room. His tense shoulders threaten to burst from the weight of his anger. Gael lures his spouse out of the room not wanting to be in the line of fire. I hide my trembling hands behind me.

“Did they accept our offer?” My voice feels rough from dehydration.

“The barbarians wanted more than I offered.” Running hands through his hair he grabs a pocket knife and roughly pulls my arm. I recoil when cold metal cuts through my inner wrist.

“What did the people of Eserendi want?” Blood trickles down my fingers and falls to the floor, staining the light stone underneath us.

“You will be leaving as well as 400 acres of land, $500,000 in compensation, and a peace treaty that states we will trade resources every four months,” He confirms and cleans the blood on the knife with his shirt. None of this made sense. If Eserendi wanted to overthrow us, then why are they helping us by creating an alliance? We are at our most vulnerable, destroying our territory would be easy.

“When do I leave?” I ask, staring at the floor as I had been taught. Whether this made sense or not, my life was the difference between peace and war now. I’ll be damned if I watch another soul like Layla’s die.

“In a couple of hours, we’ll hold your marriage here before you leave,” He takes a long look at me, “I don’t know what will happen to you.”

His words hit me. It was no mystery that I would die. During the middle of this war, pack members began betting on how long I would survive should I be married off. Their answers are never longer than two weeks.

I put pressure on my bleeding wrist and my motion irks my father. I slowly let go of my wrist and allow the blood to fall. I hold my head up high as my father guides me to the front of the palace. The crisp wind hits my face in a bittersweet embrace as the entrance to my home closes. Our sworn enemies stand with smiles on their faces in the pathway across from us. They turned our desperation into their gain, of course, they are smug.

Dark brown eyes glare into mine when I step closer to the group. His strong nose fit his dark demeanor. Clean-shaven, unlike the rest. The three men behind him have a casual talk. The lifeless bodies surrounding us don’t affect them in the slightest. My father’s fists clench at his sides. An attempt to remain calm. This is the last way he aspired to save our kingdom.

“Let’s get this over with,” A voice says when a group of men on horses charge up the pathway. When they reach us, a man on a black and white spotted horse jumps down with a book in his hand. Time moves without me, a long blurred speech is made before the man with dark brown eyes put his hand on the book, “I do.”

My breathing stops.

“And do you Aurelia Ambrosia, Princess of Halitus, take Ozias Creese to be your lawfully wedded wife?”

“I do.” My hand mimics Ozias.

“Then I now pronounce thee, husband and wife.” The man walks off and back to his horse holding out rope. The man, I now know as my husband grabs it and wraps it around my hands and legs. The world spins upside down until the smoothness of a leather saddle jostles my legs.

My mind runs wild, thoughts of what they could do to me taunt me. Endless scenarios of me dying a slow death make my stomach clench. Death’s menacing eyes stare through me. He cherishes the fear that hides within me. He licks his lips in anticipation, I’ll be a great addition to his collection of souls.

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