48 chapters
Lungs burning, Princess Nya Gould of Frindom tore through the forest, her feet flying as her eyes oscillated from the tree branches in front of her that reached to grab her white blonde hair to the roots that threatened to trip her. The trees were thick, creating a canopy above her, making it easier to find shadows that would conceal her, once she settled on a hiding place. For now, the footsteps behind her thumped closeby, and she knew if she were to hesitate for even a moment, the one who chased her would be behind her.Read more
The beating of the drums was loud, and Nya’s small body shivered with each boom. It wasn’t cold outside, but as she stood on the dais overlooking all of the residents of the kingdom, she felt like it was the dead of winter. All of the blood seemed to have left her body. She felt fragile, frail. Cold.Smoke billowed in the air from the torches that lit the area.
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Though she was small in stature, Nya was strong. By the time Rok had dragged her backstage, she’d managed to work one arm free, which she jabbed into his eye. The army officer growled in pain and let go to grasp his eye. Nya took the opportunity to jab her elbow into his gut and stomp on his foot. She whirled around, her arms ready to protect herself.“What are
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The sobbing quieted as Nya walked into the room. Gavin had his arms around his mother, her head on his shoulder. His father was standing with his hand on his wife’s back, patting her, tears streaking his face. Gavin was the only one whose face was free of tears.Nya wasn’t sure what to do or what to say. She took a few steps into the room but then stopped. She
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The Point
The drums jarred Nya’s body with every step she took through the night, over uneven ground, down a path she didn’t want to be taking. Way off ahead of her, so far away, she could barely see him, soldiers led Gavin toward The Point. In a moment, her family would branch off and go a different direction, toward an overlook where they’d witness the sacrifice. Because her family was royalty, they were required to be present, by law of the land. Nya could’ve gotten away with staying back or even letting Rok lock her in the tower, but she’d already determined she needed to be there.

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A few days passed. Nya spent most of them in a daze. Even though Gavin was gone, she still had lessons to learn from her governess. She still had meals she was required to attend with her family. She was still expected to go on about her duties as if nothing had happened, as if nothing had changed, as if her father hadn’t disappointed her something awful.No matter h
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Sweat stung her eyes as Nya swung the sword around, just in time to block Rok’s steel blade. The reverberation shook all the way up her arm, but she didn’t have time to let the ache distract her as Rok was bringing the sword around again, this time from the other direction. The tip of the blade almost caught her underneath the chin, but she managed to jump back, raising her arms and shoulders to make herself smaller in the middle. The blade flew up into the air, missing her, but it wasn’t headed away from her for long. Rok was relentless, swiveling around in a full circle and bringing his sword along, ready to cut her in the middle. She was wearing a metal chest plat
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Unexpected Change
Nya’s shoes slid as she rocketed around the corner, in a hurry to get to the throne room where her family awaited her. She was supposed to be there ten minutes ago, but her training with Rok had kept her longer than usual, and by the time she’d gotten the message that the king and queen were waiting for her, she’d had to rush to put on presentable clothes and get her hair up as she was supposed to wear it in their presence.Read more
The military barracks were a place most women wouldn’t dare go by themselves. Not that the soldiers of Frindom were particularly raunchy or dangerous, but a large group of men who were forced by their circumstances to spend most of their time with only other men without seeing many women were much more likely to participate in catcalling and other raucous behavior. As Nya walked into the large building behind the castle proper where the troops were housed, she didn’t give a second thought about being harassed. Not only was she the princess, someone they wouldn’t dare harass, she’d already kicked the asses of most of these soldiers. If she hadn’t trampled
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Lack of Confidence
“You will not be ready,” Rok said, dismissing Nya’s question the moment she posed it to him. They were sitting in his office, the attack in the hallway pushed out of her mind for the time being. She wanted to argue with him, to tell him that she would find a way to be ready, but he was shaking his head. “For that matter, I’m not certain you will ever be ready.”Read more Protection Status