Chapter 2: A girl no longer

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Fantasy Realm

Reads: 24

The Kingsguard is lethal. Swords clang against each other, fists hit flesh, and feet do too. There is no mercy in this elite force that is hand-picked by my father’s greatest friend and one of the men on his advisory. He is the lieutenant while my uncle is the captain of that advisory, but in this training field Damon is the captain and my uncle is the lieutenant. 

“Red,” Damon calls to me, his face is sweaty and red from the sun. “You’ve finished your lessons with Chrysalis?” He looks away for a second, watching as his student's spar. They are fledglings who have just been allowed into the guard. Only ten are allowed every year and this year these are the ten. 

“Of course I have, the sun is at its highest point and the happiest, just as I.” He laughs, tossing me the wrappings to put around my hands.

“You’ve come dressed to bleed today, goddaughter.” I am quick, wrapping my hands and whistling to my uncle who drops a student down. 

“Enjoy it now!” I call out, laughing as he groans at the sight of me. “I will be tossing you like that once Damon has me spar with you.” He puts his hand up, giving me the finger, his blueberry eyes are full of mischief and it feels normal here. 

“Let me introduce you to the new recruits, Red.” I nod, watching the way Damon moves to stand at the front of this group. “Ladies and gentlemen!” His voice is loud, dominating the area around him and commanding attention from all eyes. 

He has his hands behind his back and head held high, a satisfied smile stretches across his face as they fall into order quickly. I turn to look at the new recruits, there are more women this year, four in total from my count. “This is your famous princess,” He doesn’t need to shout anymore, all ears are tuned in on him. “No eyes have seen her since she was just a child, but your duty is to protect her and her family so you must know what she looks like.” I can’t help but roll my eyes as Tristan talks about them protecting us. 

“At the rate they are going she will have to protect them, dear brother.” Payton laughs as he finishes speaking, coming over and putting an arm around me. “My dear niece has been training to be just like Damon since the war all those years ago, none of you have the skill.” 

“Then why is she here with us?” A voice calls from the back and I look for it. 

“Who said that?” A man with eyes the color of fire steps forward, he has a beard that is cleanly cut on his face and hair that is braided back. 

“I did, princess.” I move in front of him, inspecting him the way Damon inspects all the men before letting them try out. He is much taller than me, muscles evident in his arms, back, chest, and legs. 

“Wow, Damon.” I look at my godfather with a smile. “You’ve managed to find a beast of a man, he looks as if he has trained as long as you too.” 

Damon grins, crossing his arms over his chest. “This is Caine,” I step back beside my uncle, staring into eyes of fire. “this is the man who saved the first prince late last year, from the bear.” I feel my shoulders stiffen, this is the man who fought a bear with a blunted sword and managed to win. 

“Then this man deserves a real answer.” I don’t look just to him, but to the rest of the recruits. “I have finished my tutoring needed since I am indeed a princess, now I am here to continue my lessons as a warrior.” 

“You are no warrior.” The sound of my mother’s voice entices an annoyance that builds with each passing moment. “You are here because it is your duty as the princess,” Her voice is right behind me, the sound of my brother whispering to whom I’m sure is my father sounds behind me as well. “take those wrappings off Redallis.” She stops, and I hear when Tristan sighs heavily. “You know better than to go behind my back and teach her when she is being punished.” 

“She’s being punished?” Damon fakes his ignorance of my punishment. “Punished for what? My dear goddaughter is a saint.” 

“Your goddaughter ran off with the stable master's daughter to the gambling houses, they started a fight and then caused a fire. The gambling house burned and so did the whore house and the tavern beside it.” 

“I am indeed a saint godfather,” I turn around, grinning widely at my parents, “For I’ve done the work of a priest who wishes to stop sin and send us all to live with God and not the devil himself.” I position myself beside my uncle, giving him a smirk. “Why is Payton not punished? He was at the gambling house ordering round after round of brew for all the folk. I even got a few drinks in because of my dear uncle.” 

“You evil girl,” Payton swings with his fists, my hands move quickly, slapping his fists away. 

“Why has no one moved to save me from my assailant?” I shout out as I continue to slap away my uncle's jabs, hands sting at the force I use to move his hands away. 

“Enough!” Payton stops, turning to my mother who glares, she holds her hand up the glint of my crown meets my eyes. “Put this on and stand here, Redallis, now.” I sigh loudly, walking over, taking my crown from her and placing it on my head, hair has been braided down tightly into two servant braids. 

Holding my mother’s hand is my younger brother, he has the same blueberry colored eyes as my mother and uncle. Eyes I did not receive. “I hope the lot of you can forgive my daughter’s silly behavior.” Mother’s voice is just as strong and loud as Damon’s was but she speaks with a dominance that resides in her status and not her power. 

“We are all here because it is right for you all to formally meet those you have signed up to protect.” Father steps forward now, he is dressed like a man who works hard, as a common man. Although that is never who he has been, he was born into royalty and so was my mother. “You’ve all accomplished something great, this is one of the highest honors you can receive and I know you will all strive to aim even higher when you get the opportunity to do so.” Father has always been great at giving speeches. 

“I know all of you are finished with your training for the beginning of the year,” Father moves to stand with Damon. “The Commander of the Kingsguard and I have already discussed who is going to guard my daughter and my son for his birthday celebration. It is a family event but as you’ve all been informed my family cannot leave the castle grounds without being attacked.” 

None of my attention remains on his words, my eyes have found Portia who is creeping towards our far left. Her black hair is loose and she is wearing her riding clothes, hands are waving to get my attention and I can’t help but smile widely. I step back slowly, making the action seem natural, my mother’s eyes linger on the new recruits. The only eyes that follow me are my younger brother’s and he grins at me as I press a finger to my lips. 

He nods before tapping his small crown, he has always helped me remember to leave my crown behind whenever I am making an escape. The crown feels heavy in my hands, my crown is far less extravagant than my mother's but it still symbolizes who I am. The gold is covered in diamonds that sparkle and shine but have no real meaning, placing it in my brother’s hand doesn’t leave me feeling empty. It makes me feel liberated. 

I am on my father’s horse before anyone can notice, the eyes of the soldiers leave my father and they are on me. “Let’s go, Red!” The horse nays in response, its legs break into a run and the wind is blowing my hair back, Portia hollers and hoots as the horse and I head for her. 

Portia runs towards us, her hand outstretched and I reach for her, Red gallops even faster. “You’re a crazy bitch!” Portia is yelling to me and the second our hands meet I pull her up, she sits perfectly on Red. The horse has been our escape for many years, he knows the routine, the second Portia lands on his back he turns us right back. Rushing towards my mother’s horse Dice, the female is neighing loudly, leaving my mother and heading right towards us. They enjoy the escape as much as we do. 

“Redellis Night you come-” 

Portia jumps from my father’s horse to my mother's, taking the reins and laughing loudly. “I’ll be back before the sun rises on the dear prince’s birthday!” The horses lead us even if we have hold of their reins, they circle each other as if to show off. “I have to do the work of a saint, drink, and burn down the devilish places that my dear uncle loves!” 

“Let’s go!” Portia cries out, Dice is taking off and suddenly Red rushes forward, the horse was nicknamed during the war. Father said it was the only horse who could push through all the blood and keep itself from dying when it was sliced at. Now, father says he is retired and is to live a happy and free life. 

We watch them ride off, Redallis has always been naughty, cursing, and running away. “This is what you will all have to deal with,” Mother’s voice is full of frustration, her hands clench the ends of her dress and I hold Red’s crown against my chest. I will tell mommy about it later. “Redallis is trained far better than any of you and she has been instructed in the art of thievery and other things of shameless men.” 

Damon coughs loudly, my uncle is snickering beside him, Red told me he use to be a thief before papa made him an honest man. “She will outwit you and keep you on your toes, I will expect at least one of you to keep up with her, since she is capable I worry about her less.” 

“You will all focus on caring for the first prince,” Father turns, he picks me up, and holds me out to everyone, as if I am a cub. “The first prince will be turning twelve, he is smaller than most his age but it is because he was born small and sick.” I can’t help but look away, they will always see me as a sick child, Red doesn’t think of me that way. “Oberon,” Father holds me in his arms, smiling at me, they are both nicer to me than they are to Red. “Would you like to say hello?” 

I turn to everyone, gripping Red’s crown tightly in my hand. “Red is a good sister,” Those are the only words I can think of, everyone misunderstands her, even mother. Mother always thinks Red is trying to hurt me, she yells at her for playing with me or trying to train me, she yells at her for everything. 

Father laughs lightly, setting me down before taking my sister's crown from my grasp. “You will all meet the second prince the day of Oberon’s birthday celebration, he is five, a little shy.” I ignore everything he has to say now, listening endlessly, wishing that I could be more like Red. Fearless and confident. 

Portia always hides my face, behind a cloth, she wraps it across my face and fixes my hair so that it is like hers. Now I stumble back into my home, untying the cloth and tossing it on the floor. The corridors are empty at this time of night, few lights are on in the grand castle of Polaris, and the sound of my boots is the only thing heard. 

But I know I am not alone, I can feel eyes on me, watching my every move. These two pairs of eyes have been on my since Portia and I were at the lake, swimming with a few girls and boys who are the children of a few servants. They watched from afar but never approached, and when we headed to the town they watched, for the past three days all they have done is watch. 

“If you are the guards assigned to me then you should come out,” I don’t hear them moving. “Well, if you are here to kidnap me then today you will die.” They are moving now, one jumps down from a tree and I can hear the other running on the tile of the roof, sliding down to the second floor and then jumping down again, they both stand before me.

Caine and another soldier I don’t know stand before me, dressed to blend into the night and armed with swords and knives. “Princess,” The soldier beside Caine is a woman, her green eyes look lifeless as if she is an emotionless doll. “The king and queen have assigned us to look after you-” 

“As if you’d watch me for three days for the fun of it,” I look the girl up and down, if she was assigned to me it is because she is greater than me in terms of strength or knowledge. She is a tiny woman, and I am unsure if she is my age or just this small, but I’ve never heard of a child becoming a kingsguard so she must be older than me. Possibly the same age as Caine. “I don’t like to be shadowed, if you are assigned to me then you will walk at my side or not at all. You aren’t beasts to be kept hidden.” 

“Princess-” 

“My name is Redallis,” I spit the words out. “You will call me by my name or you may call me Red, I will not respond-” 

“Enough, Redallis,” The nauseating sound of my mother’s voice coming from behind me has my face contorting with annoyance that both my new cards see. “They will call you what you are-” 

“Should they call me a problem child or a failure?” I turn to face my mother, father is right beside her, silent as always and never butting in. “Or should they call me the princess who wasn’t chosen to rule, the princess who is to be married off, the failure whose younger brother was chosen to rule and not her as the firstborn.” 

“Jealousy is a terrible thing, Re-” 

“Jealousy?” I can’t help but scoff at that. “Why would you name him king when he is a sick child?” He’s always been so sick, we all know how sick he is, how fragile and weak. “You should have named Talon king, he is strong and can do things Oberon can’t. Talon will be able to fight and be a warrior, Oberon can’t do those-” 

“You suddenly care for your brothers now?” I can’t help but clench my fists, teeth grit together, I am ready to curse her. “You have always tried to get Oberon to push himself and each time it has ended with him bedridden and close to-” 

“You’re right, Mother.” I relax my shoulders, hands open up and a smile pushes its way to my face. “I hate both of them, and I’m glad you’ve named them both as successors, they can be constant victims of assassinations. They can die for all I care.” Her fists are clenched, her teeth are clenched and her lips are pulled up in her anger, I love my brother’s but she refuses to see that. “I don’t need to stress about when someone will try to kill me, plus I’d rather spend my days with Portia and everyone-” 

I forget how quick my mother moves, her hand slaps against my cheek before I have time to block her hit. She hits me once more before stepping away. “How did I give birth to a child like you?” My very existence is a disappointment to her. “I did not raise you to be this way!” She is screaming. 

“You didn’t raise me at all,” I can barely keep my voice from shaking with anger. “Damon and Chrysalis raised me along with the dozens of maids in this castle. You left me here and the second you came back I thought I’d finally get to be with my parents, with my mother.” I remember how I tried to be with them both, how I did my best to be quiet and to get to see Oberon. “But you came back and were always pushing me away, I was not as important to you as I thought I was.”

I step onto the courtyard, heading towards the tree that’s closest to the second floor. “Where do you think you are going?” I’m up in the tree as soon as she steps onto the courtyard, my muscles are sore from helping Portia around her family's home this last day. 

“To sleep,” I look down at her, holding onto a branch, the one I’m standing on doesn’t feel so stable. “Unless you want nobles to wonder why your firstborn looks like death at the crowned prince’s birthday celebration.” Her silence is all I need, I jump, my feet barely make it onto the rail, hands grip the post for dear life. “You two should come with me.” I can hear them moving already, following me to my room. 

I walk slowly, waiting for them to be at my side, “What is your name, girl?” I feel disrespectful with the way I speak to her, but there is no other way to ask. 

“Raven, my princess.” I sigh softly, slowing my walk even more so I am beside them both. I stare at her until her cheeks turn a shade of pink. “I mean Redellis.” I smile now, nodding quickly. 

“Thank you, Raven.” I can see the slight smile that reaches her eyes but does not appear on her lips. “I believe my father will have arranged your rooms beside my own, with connecting doors, you two may decide on shifts.” 

“How old are the both of you?” I can’t help but get another good look at them both, Caine is clearly older than the both of us but Raven’s small stature does nothing to let me know her age. 

“I am nearing my twentieth year,” I stare wide-eyed at Caine, my mouth falls open slightly at his response. 

“You mean to tell me you are only nineteen years?” I step close, slapping his muscular arms and staring at him. “You look seasoned as if you’ve trained for more than twenty years!” 

“My mother says my father was half berserker-” 

“More like a giant,” Raven mumbles out, her eyes look to me and she blushes slightly. “I’ve just turned twenty-three, princess.” 

“I knew you weren’t my age, you are tiny but I hadn’t heard of them letting children join.” 

Raven smiles widely, “Well princess, your uncle and lord Damon seem to hold you with high regard, they’ve told us you are able to take them both down and you are barely nearing your fifteenth year. It seems to me you could be the first child to join, they have said you wish to lead the Kingsguard one day.” I can’t help the blush that rises to my cheeks. 

“That is because with both of them I am allowed to play dirty,” I look away now, fiddling with the end of my shirt. “Besides, my mother and father would never allow it, I am to be married off to a Lord or a prince of another kingdom. They say that being sent away will tame my naughtiness.” The atmosphere is quiet now, we walk in silence. 

I stop at my room door, it opens before I have a chance to open it, the sight of one of my maids makes me tense. “Emmy is waiting for you inside, Redallis.” Quincy looks away from me. “You two should come inside, Emmy will want to get to know you.”

“Who is Emmy?” Caine is the one who asks, he knows nothing of this castle, none of these new soldiers do. 

“She is the head maid of the princess,” Emmy stands by the door so that we can all go in. “Emmy was responsible for almost all of our ladies caring once she became a woman-” 

“Quincy!” My voice comes out in a loud shriek, everyone has piled into the waiting room, the room just before my own room. “That is not a topic for a man to listen to.” I can feel my cheeks burning with embarrassment, mostly because it is someone I will fight alongside, he shouldn’t know of such an embarrassing thing.

“My lady-” The door is opening, Emmy looks to all of us, she is far older than what she used to be. Her once dark brown hair is beginning to grey and she has wrinkles on her face but she is still Emmy. All my life she has been at my side but a month or two before my mother’s arrival I became a woman and the monthly bleedings of my womanhood have always been horrendous and through the entire six days that I bleed Emmy is at my side attempting to soothe the pain I feel. Pain that keeps me in bed the entire time. 

“Redallis Night you are going to send me to an early grave.” Her voice is stern but I know Emmy worries. “How many times do I have to tell you to send one of the children to inform me when you will return?” I open my mouth to reply but she continues to speak. “I wait for you like a court lady, day and night to arrive, and your mother hounds at me every morning as to why I can not find her devil child.” 

I stand up straight now, stiff at that thought, I can tell that Emmy knows what I said to my mother just minutes ago. “You told our queen that you hate and did not care if the first and second prince were to die?” Her voice is calm but I understand the anger in it, how is it that Emmy knows everything?

“Em-” 

“You are lucky the little lords did not hear you, Redallis.” I can’t help but clench my fists. “I know you love them as much as they love you, never speak of their deaths again because if they do die you would have caused it by letting the words leave your tongue, understood?” I nod gently. “The bath is ready for you, go and I will speak to the guards of important things.” I nod again, walking away. “Your goodbyes, Redallis.” 

I groan loudly, turning to face everyone and offering the most disinterested curtsey I can manage. “Oh dear friends, sleep good and be wary of the monsters-” 

“Enough!” I stick my tongue out at a red-faced Emmy before rushing into the bathroom. 

I can’t help but stare at the choice of guards that have been given to Red. The king and queen had refused to give Redallis guards and now they have decided she’s needed them. “Redallis has never had guards before, but I will let you know now that Redallis appreciates friendships with everyone.” She’s always yearned for love but none of it is what she has looked for. “My lady and her mother are constantly at odds so when you take your reports you give them to the king.” 

“Those were not the orders were given-” 

“The king came by earlier, he issued the order, he even left a letter with a seal.” Quincy is giving them the letter. “You will follow her everywhere, so you should know that my lady falls terribly ill once a month.” I watch them, the way Caine’s eyes change shades and the way Raven’s eyes darken, Damon chose these two for Redallis and it must have been for a reason. “Her monthly bleedings cause her pain that leaves her in her bed, they are so painful that I hear her cry and scream.” 

“I’ve seen her break bones and be cut open by a sword but she does not cry or scream when it comes to that and it is heartbreaking to see her like that.” When she first got her bleedings the court physician had to put her to sleep. “Only you two, the court physicians and her maids know of this.” I have to clear my throat at the thought of this. “The queen used to believe she would lock herself in her room as a fit, but our lady did not want her to know, she seems to believe that her mother does not love her because she was gone too long.”

“We have to-” 

“No,” Caine raises his brows. “The princess asks for this to be kept a secret, she understands you spilling every other aspect of her life to her mother so you will keep quiet.” The sound of laughter from the bathroom lets me know she is almost done in there, one of the other maids must be helping with that unruly hair of hers. 

“You might not feel loyal to her now but eventually you will.” They must think her a terrible person. “She is a kind girl who is willing to kill or be killed for those who-” 

“Our job is to guard and inform the queen,” The woman speaks now, her eyes are serious and dead, they are lifeless. “And what makes you think we will believe that a spoiled brat-” 

“Redallis is not spoiled!” All eyes, including my own and Quincy’s turn to the front door, Portia stands there with dirty clothes and a dirty face. “Red might have grown up to act like a princess but she would work alongside the maids and out in the stables when we were children. She’s broken bones and has been bruised and cut by horses and tools trying to work hard.” 

The stable master's daughter pushes past the guards, a bag in her hand. “She’s taken punishments for plenty of us and has always had our backs against nobles and other royals-” She scoffs, crossing her arms against her chest and spitting at shoes that would cost her family farm. “She’s even taken and handed beatings out on the streets with us. She is one of us because she grew and learned like us far more than in this castle where her mother acts as if-” 

“Portia!” Redallis is out of the bathroom, dressed in men's clothing, as always, trousers and loose t-shirts cover her flesh and her hair has been combed down. “You are indeed a nice surprise,” with a wide smile on her face, the princess and Portia have been friends since young girls, always getting into trouble. “What have you brought there, dear sister of mine.” She steps forward, no shoes on and hair dripping water. 

“Mama heard you finally were given guards, so she’s made a few patches.” She digs into the bag, “A moon with a sword down the middle and your name down the blade, she said the court should know who is at your side.” Portia will keep it a secret that her guards are not fond of her. “But maybe we should test them-” 

“Don’t be silly,” Redallis take the patches, there are four in total and she can’t help but grin wide. “She’s even got one for you!” 

“We did agree I’d work hard to earn one, word has it your uncle is trying to get your mother to agree.” Portia is a good warrior, always learning from whatever she would see since not just anyone can begin training in the castle. And the girl who is mostly responsible for the princesses' rebellion in the eyes of the queen is even less likely to be considered to join. “When I am your guard, dear sister, I hope you will give me a pin as your head guard and not one of these fools.” 

“So violent,” Redallis looks to each patch, she comes to me showing them, “We must prepare a gift for my dear Patty, one with plenty of scrubs to smooth her skin and some food for the rest of the children and new boots-” 

“Princess,” Her love for the stable master and his family will make them targets for those who want to exploit her weakness. “I will take care of everything, for now, you should give the patches and order Portia to take a bath-” 

“I’d rather throw myself into the lake and give myself a good scrub, then to have maids scrub me clean, Emmy.” Portia grins widely, she is missing a bottom tooth, a horse kicked her when the girls went through a phase of hiding in the horse's hay. They didn’t know they had hidden in the stable of a new horse who had yet to be broken by Portia’s father. Redallis cried and ordered the court physicians to keep her from feeling pain. “I will miss you tomorrow, dear sister, please tell the little lords I send them a gift.” She hands me the bag she’s brought, wooden horses have been placed inside, each one has their names carved on the side. 

“And you will miss me the day after, my mother has ordered a breakfast with a few lords and the prince’s from other kingdoms, I am to be displayed like cattle.” Portia is silent as well as the other maids, we know that Redallis is going to be married off and sent away. The king and queen love her but understand that she is not meant to rule, they’ve said to her plenty of times, her actions make her unreliable, and her refusal to be proper and learn the ways of the country have cut her off from being queen. But Redallis has never stopped learning, she has done what is required but she refuses to let her mother know. 

A ridiculous stubbornness on both their parts. 

“Don’t worry,” Portia smiles weakly. “I will set the horses loose, you can run off-” 

“Enough,” I open the door for Portia. “My lady needs her sleep for tomorrow and you do as well, you have a duty to your family like it or not, the both of you cannot run off for days with no consequences.” The girl with dirty skin and dark blue eyes glares, her lips curl into a sneer, and she spits at the ground before she leaves. A tantrum I have come to ignore after so many years. 

“You two may choose where to place your patches,” Redallis hands them one each. “I’d say against your heart would look best but I understand how you feel about me.” She smiles lightly, they take their patches and she turns to her bed, holding her own in her hand. “You two may go,” She sets the patch down on the table by her bed. “Emmy please find someone to sew my patch onto my clothes for tomorrow, and more like it to the rest of my clothes. I’d like to see my mother’s face when I wear it and when my guards do as well.” 

“You are a troublesome girl no longer,” Redallis raises her brow to me. “Now you are a troublesome woman.” A grin rises onto the face of the young lady I have been caring for since she was a baby, she is slowly becoming into a beautiful young woman who will one day leave my side. 

“You love me for it, Emmy.” 

 


Submitted: November 20, 2020

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