Chapter 1

I wiped the sweat from my brow. It was running down my face and stinging my eyes as I was doing the laundry. My mother is next to me as we scrub away the week's filth from our clothing. We are heavily breathing in shade of the front porch of my home. There is a light breeze in the air, but not enough to keep us cool.

“Seraphina?” she said anxiously “Where did you go this morning?”

“Into the forest, about a mile up the mountain” I said.

“You know you have to stop doing that it's not safe” she scolded.

“Oh mother you worry too much!” I muttered.

“Your mother is right” my father chimed in from behind me as he was sharpening his ax by the porch.

We lived outside the castle wall gates. I can see the guards patrolling them at all times. The walls protected the ward and keep from attacks of unknown enemies or unruly commoners. We lived just far enough to avoid the sounds of the busy castle, but close enough to see whatever was happening. Our home was no great dwelling, being made out of old stone that has been beaten by decades to rain. It rained frequently in Mornshire and the wooden roof showed proof. It has to be replaced quite often almost seems like every rainy season. I could actually see a rain cloud making his way over the mountains covering the Sun sweltering beams. You could see the rain fall from a distance, it was approaching fast. It was beginning to get humid again but I'm used to it. I quickly grabbed my last shirt and looked up into my mother’s brown eyes.

“I'm always safe in the mountains mother. You know the Creator will protect me.” Mother sighed and scrubbed her tunic harder. “Times have changed since the dark era mom.” I added.  I remember what those times were like. In the dark era, as we call it, wickedness and evil filled the land. There were curfews to keep the innocent safe and those who did not obey were executed. Dark magic was an epidemic. Curses, hexes, and spells were used against my people.  We were merely prisoners in our own homes. We had to be locked inside between dusk and dawn. I assume I left out too early for mother’s liking. The forests are deep and lush surrounding the borders of Kenwood. One could get lost easily if they are not familiar. No wonder she worries about me out there, but I never seem to get lost and always on my way back home. Times have changed and is much safer in Kenwood. And my home is no longer a cell.

“Seraphina could you finish this up while I start dinner?” mother asked “Of course” I answered. As mother took to the kitchen, Father looked up at the sky and said “Here comes the rainy season.”

“Maybe you will let me help you with repairs this time?” I responded with a smirk.

“Perhaps” he smiled “You may be ready to learn my trade.”

“I wish mother would let me, I would love to be a carpenter” I stated.

“Your mother would rather you be a seamstress like her. But she just may change her mind.”

“I hope so” I concluded.

 My mother Karina sees me like my two older sisters. Natalia and Melanie, whom have long since left the old village, as with all the other young ladies that had wedded. I am of old noble blood but it holds no standing. Skyer, our house name, commands no armies, possesses no vast wealth, and carries no political influence. It is just merely a void title written in old chronicles and records. But it is our name, and it is my home.

I’m content with my parents’ home. I like that it is outside the castle walls. Away from the busy lives of the rich. I do not enjoy the company of high society. They tend to bore me. Gossiping of marriage, infidelities, and scandals is not my idea of pleasure. Enjoyment for me is the freedom to walk about town and meeting other common folk. To walk the old road and pass the many house sigils. There were quite a few in our village. The Belfrys, the symbol of a golden boar with spears in its mouth. The Griffiths, with the figure of a white dragon breathing blue fire. And of course the Roehlkians, the Royal family, with the insignia of a red fox with a black flame behind it.

Independence is what I enjoy the most. The ability to go on lengthy excursions into the forest. I longed for the days to be out alone in the woods. I am able to be at peace and connected with nature and the Creator. My connection with the world runs deep. I am able to feel my surroundings as if my Maker is all around me. He has given me a gift. A great one at that. I have the ability to see spiritual auras. Every living thing has one and they all glow with different colors and intensities. My aura is blue, deep like the sea. Usually when it comes to other people, the colors don’t matter much to me, unless it is black. Black auras are dark and evil. Sometimes this means someone is possessed. My gift comes in handy when helping with eliminating demons in the village. Some are afraid of me, but others embrace it. I have found most of the royal family are surrounded by black auras and I distrust them.

The royals have always paraded their wealth and their name. It is annoying. Even those who are far distant blood feel the need to adorn their homes with the house flag. They would take whatever they pleased and there was no one who could oppose them. I would describe them as a beast that had a hunger that could never be subdued.

But lately I have noticed something different, something ominous and strange. As dusk began to come, I felt something in the air while tending to the laundry. I observed a royal courier walking my way. I knew from the insignia of the fox and a flame. He was definitely from the capital: the capital filled with dainty men that had never held a tool in their lives. And women too weak to carry a bucket of water. The capital is filled with evil and serpents. I had to visit once with my father for business and I swore to never return. The stares and auras were enough to send me running the other direction.

My mother met him and retrieved the letter and quickly walked indoors. I think she could feel the darkness about him as well. The courier without saying a word, turned and left with a black cloud around him. I followed her as fast as I could, feeling a pang of fear in the pit of her stomach. "What does this say?” I said nervously pushing my black curls from my eyes. "Settle down!" she responded. I paced back and forth speculating and wondering what this mysterious letter that just showed up at our doorstep. Letters are rare and they usually came with bad news in the village. Was it a death? Loss of land? Was there debt to be paid? My mother then uttered, “It’s a marriage proposal…from the prince.”

"You've got to be joking?" I shrieked stomping my boot into the wooden floor. My blue aura boiled bright red. My mother was silent just looking at the letter blankly. "What are you thinking mother? I whispered. "Say something, please!" Looking up to the ceiling, I sighed "You cannot be seriously considering this?” She turned to me, looked up and said "You're getting older Seraphina, your sisters have long since left home and now it's your turn. You can’t stay with your father and me forever."  She then paused and looked down weeping "you would live a comfortable life, and with the prince, that would make you queen someday right?"

"I don't want to be queen!" I sneered. “What does he want with me anyways?”

“You are a beautiful young lady” she answered.

“I’m no lady!” I replied sharply. “Look at me mother, I’m no prize.”

 I wear tan pants with tall leather boots. I typically dress in dark tunics and always have on my corset.  My mother made it for me and it is one of my most prized possessions. Who am I to this prince anyways? I wondered to myself. He has never met me. I just want to stay here with mother and father. I enjoy working here and earning my keep. "I'm not meant to wear dresses and bow when commanded to. Like father always told me, I'm wild spirit, I can't be kept” I explained.

“No need to get cross” mother replied softly. Through all this father was silent. I looked in his eyes and tears slowly appeared. I knew he did not want to send his youngest daughter to that unforgiving city, but in conflict he was in agreement with my mother. It was a request from the royals, and my parents must oblige. Those of the royal family always get what they want, no matter what. I am now afraid of what my future may hold.

The End

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