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When I was a young girl, I was a perfect child. By my parent’s standards, at least. They did nothing to hide from me that I would be Queen at seventeen. It was the tradition of our kingdom that the current queen would step down when her daughter was of age, meaning that the heir had to be trained from birth to be fit to rule. Father had me sword fighting before I could walk, and Mother had my twin brother and cousins around me at all times so I could learn to share and expect nothing for free. I would run barefoot through the forests, leap across rivers, and limb every tree. I learned to hunt, build shelter, and live off the land while banding my “troops” together to simulate how to survive attacks. It was wonderful, nothing my parents, tutors, or family threw at me went unchallenged. Even though I was no more than eight, I felt invincible.
When I turned nine, my mother decided to send me away with my brother. I don’t know why Mother sent both of us away. Rumors going around said it was due to the war beginning on the edges of Synth. Other rumors I heard once we landed were that the queen couldn’t handle such a dynamic princess and had to send me away in hopes that someone else could do better. We went to an island called Lovower that consisted of two schools with several miles of space in between. His school was on the northern end, mine the southern. Neither of us was allowed to say where we were truly from and neither school was allowed contact with the other, save for special occasions.
At first I was excited to be away from the castle and ready to explore my new surroundings, but when the excitement wore off, I couldn’t care less about the lessons. It was so boring having to listen to Duchess Corin and her ladies drone on and on about sitting, walking, talking, eating, dancing, or how to apply beauty enhancers if I have no access to maids in a foreign land. The only thing I was taught that I found even remotely interesting was magic. Unfortunately that too was ruined for me. We didn’t learn anything too “intense”, but it wouldn’t have mattered. I had more trouble with it than any other student. It would not have been so bad had Duchess Corin been a pleasant, motherly sort who understood everyone is different. But instead it seemed to be her personal mission to make me “her best masterpiece yet”.
Everyday I heard ‘A princess doesn’t act that way’, ‘A princess does not pick up strange things and bring them to her rooms’ or ‘A princess doesn’t chew with her mouth open’. The worst was ‘A princess does not socialize with anyone that is not royalty’. How was I supposed to learn anything if I couldn’t do anything or talk to anyone? My form was always wrong, whether I was walking, sitting, or performing magic I was never correct. Duchess Corin had tried everything she could to teach me, her most rambunctious ward, the ways of a proper princess, but it was futile. I found ways around going to lessons. I would run off and do things more entertaining than staying behind stone walls and barred windows. Often times I was found in a tree hanging upside down with my legs around a branch and my skirts tumbling down in a most un-princess like manner, the way I had always been allowed back home. Being outside made me feel more like myself, but I always had a nagging feeling that being myself was wrong, and that I was no more than the failure Duchess Corin said I was.
Adjusting to this new life was hard. My brother tried being there for me, I’d meet him deep in the woods halfway between both of the academies. We each told the other about the day we had and what we learned. He would always demonstrate the fight sequence he learned. After, I would beg him to teach me. Every night he refused, claiming I should stick to my own studies, but I made him demonstrate it so many times before he left that I had all of them committed to memory and would practice them myself in my room with a candle stick. Eventually it came out that I was not learning to defend myself in my own school, which was enough to convince Sven to train me. He even snuck me a sword of my own and while everyone thought we were out having a stroll before bed by ourselves, we would fight. I fought with and without weapons and before a year had passed I boasted that I was as him, maybe better.
I loved the lessons my brother gave me. It made me feel like I wasn’t a princess treated like a porcelain doll locked away in a cupboard until someone took me out to show off. But when I would wake up in the morning and paint my face for class, I would wonder if that girl fighting in the woods is really who I am. The clothes I wore did not feel constrictive any more, the manners no longer bothersome, the lessons no longer a chore. It had been one year since we left home, and while it appeared I had adjusted to life here, I still did not fit in.The other girls would often titter at me from behind their fans and whisper about my lack of decency, of composure, and how I could never be a diplomat. What is a princess supposed to be? Mother always said I must be strong and sure, but less headstrong. Father told me to always look out for my people and to be fair. But now there are so may more rules and boundaries I never even thought of, and consequences no matter what I choose. As I looked into the mirror, I saw my reflection staring back at me, but she moved differently from me. Her eyes were hard and her lips twisted in a scowl. She looked back at me, her scowl darkening, and I heard a scoff. You are expected to lead? The girl who cannot listen to save her life, the girl who eats like a pig? At least the other girls ca walk without tripping o their skirts. I cannot believe Mother would trust the crown to you. That was the first day I cried, and the last night I picked up a sword.
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