Since I normally create short stories, I never thought of putting up a preview of one of my stories. Since For Her Hand is a bit longer than my normal works, I figured it’s the perfect chance for one!
The carriage rocked as it traversed over the bumpy dirt road leading to the enclosed, abandoned city of Metallia in Terrakin. “Why do I have to go through this again?” Alexa snapped, staring at the thick, bolt-like cuffs on her wrists, “and are the magic handcuffs really necessary?”
Her fellow passenger, and personal attendant, Jakk, sighed. “They are necessary for you; you’d probably blow up the carriage and run away again if those weren’t on you. Once we’re safely inside the city walls, I’ll take the cuffs off.”
“This is the fifth time I’m being sent…” she stared out the window to watch the passing forest scenery as their daylight faded.
“Yes, and normally one in your position would have already found a suitor in the first competition, the second one at worst. Being a royal and still not betrothed at twenty-five, you are quite the troublesome little lady.”
“Is it my fault none of them can beat me?”
“Well, yes, it is. You could take it easier on them; you did kill one last time.”
Guilt washed over her as the scene replayed in her mind. The suitor had pursued her again and again without slowing down, until Alexa snapped, using a stronger magic blast which ended up destroying the buildings beside and behind him. “I didn’t do it on purpose; I even tried to save him after the rubble crushed him, but healing magic isn’t my forte.”
“Yes, you always boasted you didn’t need it because you’d beat everyone before they had a chance to hurt you. You know, it’s not too late to put more effort into learning support magic.”
I’ve been trying to in secret, Alexa thought. It wasn’t only because she didn’t want to learn healing magic, but rather she had a low aptitude for it. Every time she tried, her powers would burst and fizzle out. “Maybe you should stay close since you excel in everything supportive.”
“While I will be around during the allotted time you have for sleep, I am not allowed to interfere and follow you around during the competition. You know the rules. I’ll only intervene if absolutely necessary.”
Oh, how I wish I could blast these cuffs off and run away from it all. She hunched over, hanging her head as they approached the city gate. “Why can’t my parents just let me stay single? Why do I have to find someone? How many people have already failed to defeat me? This is a waste of time!”
“You know staying single isn’t an option for you.”
“Why not?” she clenched her fists and gritted her teeth.
“It takes a lot of work to run a country; can you imagine having to do so all on your own? Besides, you’re the only heir and in order for your direct lineage to continue, you will have to b—”
“What if I don’t want—”
“Stop being a selfish brat.” Alexa flinched back, startled by Jakk’s yelling. While he regularly got mad at her, he never raised his voice; always calm, cool and collected. “Ahem,” he coughed, clearing his throat, “I’m sorry, but I think it’s time you realized how serious your situation is.”
“How about letting me find someone another way? You know, meet someone and fall in love…” As if I’d fall in love anyway… I haven’t loved anyone since him… She played with the silver rose necklace he gave her on her fourteenth birthday; a keepsake from his mother.
Alexa thought back to when she was little and used to visit the nearby orphanage with her mother, who was there to assist them in trying to build a better life for the children. At first, she felt out of place, gawked at by the other children, until one of the older boys there invited her to play with him, even if it meant the others might shun him.
From then on, none of the other children mattered to her. Even the nobles’ children who visited, failed to pique her interest. The years she spent playing and talking with him were the happiest of her childhood, until that fateful day, the day the orphanage burned down. It happened in the night while everyone slept. A burglar broke in to steal the money the queen donated to them and as they left, the place set ablaze. No survivors were found.
I’m so pathetic, loving a ghost for over a decade. Why is it so hard to move on?
“Love… is not enough to keep you safe,” Jakk’s voice pulled her out of her thoughts.
“Previous competitions have proven I can keep myself safe.”
“Those suitors were out to defeat you and win your hand, not kill you. The world is full of more terrifying people than you can ever imagine and you need someone you can trust at your side to help keep you, and the country, safe.”
End of preview. Continues in For Her Hand.