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Authors: B.C. Morin
The Kingdom Chronicles
Book 1 –
Mark of the Princess
TKC Mark of the Princess
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© 2011 by B.C. Morin
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All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher or the author.
Requests for permission to copy part of this work for use in an educational environment may be directed to the author.
This book is a work of fiction. References to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or persons or locales, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Cover Art © by Aedo D. Morin 2012
First thanks go to God for giving me the imagination to bring this story to life. Thank you to my hubby for his never-failing encouragement, and for staying up until three or four in the morning as I bounced ideas off of him. Thank you to my awesome kids who loved this story and its characters before the story was finished. Thank you to all my family who stood by me and encouraged me to finish and publish The Kingdom Chronicles. Last but never ever least … my fans that supported me and believed in Mark of the Princess before it was even published. You are all amazing !!
Alannah smiled as she raced through the trees, her bare feet hardly touching the dew-drenched grass. The leaves of low-hanging branches caught in her long auburn hair as she ran. It felt good to be free of the never ending responsibilities of a princess, even for this short time. She glanced back to make sure no one was following.
“Ugh!” The air whooshed from her lungs upon impact with the solid male chest blocking her path. She swayed. Instantly, the stranger grasped her about the waist and tucked her between himself and a large tree trunk.
“Are you alright?” He stood with his back to her, his sword drawn. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other, ready for battle as he scanned the surrounding trees from whence she came.
“Yes, I am fine, but for what do you search?” She stood on tiptoes, trying to see around him.
“You were being chased, were you not?” He glanced back at her, his brow furrowed, his eyes intense.
She did not know him, yet there he stood ready to defend her. She smiled. “No. No one is chasing me.” She lowered her head with a wry grin. “I am not exactly supposed to be out here.”
“Oh, I see.” He sheathed his sword, and raising a questioning eyebrow, awaited further explanation.
With a heavy sigh and a click of her tongue, Alannah finally continued. “My father can be very over protective.”
“As any father of such a beautiful young daughter would be. You should not be in the forest alone. It might not be me you run into next time.” He glared at her, hoping his words would make an impact, yet knowing they probably would not.
“Of course, you are quite right and I should be getting back. Um, it was a pleasure, running into you,” she giggled. That was decidedly enough adventure for today. But she would take thoughts of her very handsome stranger back with her.Yes, very good thoughts, indeed.
“I do not believe she would have left the borders of the Kingdom, do you, Greer?” Xavier, The Commander of the Guard, glanced at the shorter fae next to him.
“No. I am sure she would have stayed the within borders. She is sensible.” Greer said, exhaling on the last words.
“Over there!” Xavier quickly materialized his wings from between his shoulders and took flight to the slow moving form in the distance.
“Princess.” He called out. “Princess Alannah!”
Alannah looked up to find Xavier, and her guardian Greer flying straight toward her.
she muttered to herself
“Alannah, thank goodness you are alright.” Walking around the princess ensuring there was no physical harm, Greer breathed a sigh of relief. “Where have you been? And why did you not tell me where you were going?”
“I apologize, Greer. I simply wanted some time to myself. I was hoping that, if I returned in a timely manner, there would be no harm done.”
“I understand Alannah, I truly do.” Greer stepped closer. “Perhaps you should have explained this to your father…”
The frustration in her voice evident, “What good would that have done?”
He raised his hands in mock surrender. “Never mind.”
Xavier and Greer fell into step behind the Princess as she began her walk back to the castle.
“I cannot say that I would want to be in her shoes when she arrives at the castle.”
Greer made an exaggerated shudder, “A precarious situation indeed.”
The black sinister eyes watched them from above. ‘Bring her to me.’ His master’s voice, echoing through his mind. Following the command of the most evil fae Maligo, the large Raynor bird leapt off the branch.
A large shadow appeared suddenly, eclipsing the rays of sun that broke through the trees. A piercing shriek filling the air.
His eyes catching sight of the rare creature with a body half the size of a faerie, and an eight foot wingspan beaming toward the princess, legs out-stretched, claws ready. “Duck!” Xavier called out to the princess.
Alannah quickly threw herself forward, but not before the bird’s talons had made their way into her skin, grabbing her shoulders, and jerking her up into the air. Immediately Xavier and Greer took off behind him.
“Aim at his wings!” Xavier yelled before leaving his side to be closer to the princess.
Greer nodded, and reaching to his belt, he removed several small blades. With unnatural precision, he threw the sharpened metal. Three of the blades sliced into the creature’s wing, meeting their target.
The bird let out a terrifying scream. Shocked by the sudden pain, the winged creature released the Princess from its clutches and struggled to keep flight with its injured wing.
Alannah glared at the fast approaching ground below her. She was just about to unfurl her wings… “Ugh.” The thud against her back kept her wings from manifesting.
“I’ve got you!” Xavier’s arms wrapped tightly around the princess as he glided them toward the ground.
“It was Saros.” Greer breathed, landing beside them.
“I know. We must leave before he comes back.” Xavier grabbed the princess by the hand, pulling her along behind him as he began running toward the castle.
They ran up between the large hedges surrounding what appeared to be a simple oak tree. The three walked through the large stone doors leading them into the entrance hall. Large tapestries hung on the largest walls while paintings, or shining armor adorned the others. In the center, large marble steps and carefully entwined vines and branches led the way to a second floor that split into two separate hallways heading in opposite directions upon reaching the top. Immediately, Greer took the lead, walking through the large gathering room, leading them down the long corridor to the throne room.
Alannah held her gaze to the thin burgundy fabric that ran the length of the entry way toward the King’s throne. Hoping, by some chance, her father would not be there awaiting her return. She tried slowing her step so that she would end up behind Xavier as they approached her father, but he saw her futile attempt and slowed down, as well.
Raising his eyebrow at her and keeping his voice low. “You will have to face him Princess,” She caught herself looking at the scar on his face. A constant reminder that he had refused to have healed although the story to her was unknown. She looked away, so as not to make him uncomfortable. The sincerity and concern in his voice encouraged her, but it was short lived.
Alannah returned her gaze to the floor only to see Xavier and Greer drop to one knee. She bent her head roughly acknowledging her father’s presence, not daring to look him in the eye.
“Alannah!” the King rushed to his daughter, but slowed quickly upon seeing the injuries to her shoulders. “Emma!” he shouted as he stepped around his daughter surveying the damage that had been done.
Moments later, from the entrances at the back of the throne room, an elegant fae in a white flowing gown and red cascading curls bouncing around her walked into the room quickly making her way to the king and curtseying.
“My daughter is in need of healing.”
Emma rushed to Alannah’s side, placing her hands over the now barely bleeding wounds.
Alannah breathed deep, taking in the slow heat emanating from Emma’s hands and spreading through her wounds. Within seconds, the blood stopped entirely, and as Emma chanted the healing spells, the torn tendons began to come together on their own, and the open skin began to close.
“You will be sore for a while my lady, but the pain should have subsided.”
Alannah raised her head slightly, a sweet smile across her face, “And it has Emma, thank you.”
Emma bowed her head at the Princess and the King before making her way out of the throne room.
Alannah lifted her foot in an attempt to take a step back, feeling her father’s eyes burning into the top of her head. Before she could move, Xavier spoke.
“She was on her way back to the castle when we found her, Your Highness.”
“Father, I…” She began, as she raised her head, finally facing him.
“Do not, Alannah! I have told you so many times not to go anywhere without your guardian, or at the very least a guard.
guard!” He motioned around the room indicating the various guards available.
“But I …”
“With all the things that you are allowed to do, places you are allowed to go, you chose to do things you know are strictly forbidden!” His booming voice, shaking the rafters.
“I simply wanted a moment alone!” She could not contain herself, so great was her frustration.
“Do you not take time alone within these walls?” King Cavalon’s brow furrowed, his tone steady.
“Yes.” Blinking back the tears that had begun to sting her eyes. “
here.” She tilted her head to the side begging for understanding “Father, as much as I adore making you proud and excelling at my duties, it becomes overwhelming.”
The king’s brow unfurled as he brought his head back slightly, crossing his arms across his massive chest. “Continue.”
Alannah turned her gaze for a moment to Greer who nodded encouragingly. “I did not tell you where I was going because I knew you would not understand. In fact,
did not know where I was going. I simply wanted to be alone with my thoughts, in our beautiful forest.”
“I suppose this” motioning to her previously injured shoulders with his hands, “was part of your well thought out plan?” The glimmer of concern that was in his eyes, overshadowed by anger once more.
“Sire, we were ambushed as we were returning to the Kingdom.” Xavier bowed his head to his king. “Her injuries were my fault. I should have been quicker.”
“Your nobility is appreciated Xavier, but my daughter’s harm would not have befallen her had she not left the castle unguarded in the first place.” Xavier took a step back, knowing that was his cue to be silent.