Under the Surface

The rebellious Princess of Grenedare is sent to marry the dark Prince of Darsai in order to save her kingdom. Even with this arranged marriage, however, tensions are still high as the Queen on Darsai strives to trigger a massive bloodbath. Princess Lin must fight for not just her life, but the life of her kingdom - even if it means marrying the obnoxious and arrogant Prince Drake who seems bent on making her feel as unwelcome as possible. As if the situation wasn't complicated enough, love tria

CHAPTER 1

            An arrow whizzed in the air, sinking into the chest of a young buck followed by four others- two of which striking critical points. The creature attempted to run, only to get five paces before sinking to the ground. A slender girl, beautiful with the spirit of the huntress, rushed to the fallen buck. She quickly slit its throat and it fell still. Once all of her arrows were pulled out of the creature’s body, she kneeled down beside it. Bowing her head, the blonde hair cascading downwards till it nearly touched the ground, the girl prayed for its spirit then stood up.

Throwing the large animal over her shoulders as though it were a scarf, she headed back to the castle. With any deer, it was impossible to carry her bow and arrows, so the girl made note of how to get back to retrieve her weapons. The buck was far larger than any other animal she had caught and the lean girl moved painfully slow. At the edge of the forest waited a man, broad with golden hair. Once he saw the girl he quickly took the buck in his own arms along with the girls bow and arrow.

"This is impressive Princess." the man gasped as he shouldered the beast, but the girl smiled sadly.

"Yes, my best kill yet, if only I could present it myself,” she said softly, her hand stroking the fallen creature. Looking back up at the man, she retracted her hand and smiled, “Thank you Thresh, for keeping my secret".

"Anything for you." Thresh grew silent, looking down at the Princess with his dark green eyes.

“Is there something on my face?” she asked, raising a hand to wipe away and dirt or blood which might have rubbed off on her.

“Not that,” he smiled. “The sun brings out your freckles – it’s cute.” Gently raising the girls delicate hand, he kissed it quickly before walking away to show off the new kill. Her heart fluttered within her chest, hoping he had left before a blush settled into her cheeks. But the feeling quickly left as she saw several of Thresh’s friends gather around the kill. They slapped his back in congratulations and cheered, unaware that he was not the true hunter. Though she longed for the day she could proudly display her kills for others to see, Princess Lin knew no such day would come. Under her father’s rule, no woman was allowed to hunt- any caught would suffer dire consequences.

Lin slipped back into the forest to where she had left her weapons to carry the buck. Once she had her weapons back, the Princess swiftly ran through the woods until she found several fallen trees. One of the dead trees and been hollowed out in the middle so she could hide her hunting gear. Stripping down, Lin quickly redressed in something more "appropriate for a young lady" as her father would say. Her eyes hardened and her jaw clenched - her father was always placing limits on her. It was harder to fit back into her dark blue satin dress, but after months of practice, Lin was finally able to tie up the corset her without external help. Of course, all of the undergarments she had to pull on were a pain as well. Though easier to slip into, getting dressed again took time.

Changing out in the woods was always a risk - dirt and bugs could easily cling to the fabric, or a nearby hunter could capture her. Wrapping her hunting gear in a bundle, Lin slipped everything into the hollow of the tree and smoothed down her dress. She always felt uncomfortable when she headed back to the castle. Her hunting clothes enabled incredible mobility, and she could sit however she pleased. With her dress, Lin was forced to be dainty and sit cautiously so that no one could catch a peak at what lay underneath the expensive fabrics. Sighing, Lin wished a day would come when she could just wear men’s clothing. If her father knew she had such thoughts, there was no doubt he would order her to be whipped until such inappropriate thoughts bled out of her. Her muscles began to tense and as she entered the massive castle it took all she had to not run back into the woods and never stop. Lost in thought, the Princess almost ran over Lyle, one of the family's close servants.

“Sorry Lyle!” Lin looked him over to see if he was alright, face flushed with embarrassment. At eighteen, Lyle was two years older than she, already starting to grow in a light brown beard to match the closely trimmed hair atop his head. He didn’t speak much, but Lin had always favored his presence. “Are you okay?”

He bowed before proceeding, “I’m alright- are you Princess?”

“Perfect,” she smiled up at him, but he simply inclined his head.

“I’ve been looking for you Princess - the king wants you immediately,” his tone serious as always. Rolling her eyes, Lin signaled for him to escort her to her father.

“So, how’s your day been Lyle?” Lin asked after a few minutes of silence.

“Pleasant- and yours Princess?” he asked, still facing straight. Lin’s lower lip protruded slightly to form a minor pout. She was accustomed to Lyle’s short answers, but there were times she wished he was more talkative. There were only a handful of boys close to her age that she was able to talk to.

“Rather nice- it’s so bright out and the air is actually crisp! Lately with the rain it’s almost suffocating with the humidity and all. The grass is even nicer – there isn’t mud everywhere and it’s just so much easier to walk. Everyone seems so much brighter,” Lin wanted to keep talking, but could feel herself rambling. Besides, Lyle hadn’t looked over once and seemed as if he could care less.

“Indeed,” was all he said in reply. Rolling her eyes, Lin decided to give up. The rest of their walk was silent. When the two had finally arrived at the King’s study, Lyle bent in a slight bow and wordlessly walked away. Taking a deep breath, Lin opened the door and walked in. Sinking into a curtsy, she waited patiently for her father to give her permission to stand up once more. Without looking up, the King impatiently waved his hand and resumed his work.

"You wanted me Father?" she asked, attempting to be pleasant.

"Ah yes,” he muttered, peering at the parchment in from of him from behind gold-rimmed glasses. Only faint, black strands of hair that flowed with the length of the King’s long hair hinted that his youth hadn’t all left yet. As if to prove that old age was still a ways away, the King had an equally long and thick beard that engulfed nearly half his face. Setting down his quill, the King raised his head to look up at his daughter. “You see, it seems the kingdom of Darsai is building up an army. An alliance is necessary, seeing as how they are most likely planning on attacking all the kingdoms nearby- which includes us. So you are now engaged to Drake, Prince of Darsai, so that our kingdom will remained unharmed. You will be leaving tomorrow.” He returned to his papers and began to wave her away. “That is all you may go now." 

The End

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