I twirled my staff toward the dummy that stood before me, imagining it to be an enemy of our kingdom, jabbing it in the side then in the heart. My heart was loud in my own ears as I trained until I ran out of breath. I inhaled deeply and wiped the sweat off of my forehead. “You work too hard to be exerting yourself Jasmine.” I heard a male say from off to my right. I glanced over at the man that approached me from the shadows. His aura, an ultraviolet, could be easily seen from where he was. “What do you plan on doing with all of this training?” Parker was an obnoxious man that knew how to swoon women but I was lucky enough to evade his charms. I was born not to get distracted easily and when I did, It was a hell of a day in my world.
“Parker,” I said his name in annoyance and wished that he could go away so I can concentrate on my training. “What are you even doing here?” I heard Parker chuckle lightly under his breath and I stole a quick glance at him to see why he was laughing at me.
“Asking a question with another question,” he uttered the words as if he was attempting to tease me but it didn’t work. “Such manners.” his last set of words seemed like a growl and I instantly stopped sparring with the dummy to give him a cold hard stare. He raised his hands in defeat and said non teasingly, “Your father wanted me to check up on you to see how things are going with you.” I only shook my head. My father was a caring man and always had the heart of a lion. Throughout my entire life when things got tough and I had nowhere else to go or nobody to turn to, he was there. My mother passed away while going through her second pregnancy with my brother, Yuri. I don’t remember much of her, except photos of her hanging in my father’s chambers when I go visit him for company. I don’t see much of Yuri these days, and oftentimes receiving letters of his well being and how his own life is coming together.
“You can assure him that I am fine,” I mumbled as I stopped sparring with the now beaten up dummy that lay broken and torn on the ground. “I will stop by later tonight to chat.” I bent over to gather the raggedy remains into my arms, hauling it over to the overarching doorway that led into the castle walls. “Oh and Parker,” I hollered over my shoulder, I heard his receding footsteps stopped and I turned to face him. “If you attempt to flirt with me again,” I heard my own warning rumble through me. “I can assure that the guards will hang you by the horse’s sacks until they fall off.” The warning was meant as a promise.
“I am sure that your father would have to approve of it first.” I heard Parker say as he continued his way back to the castle, leaving me alone out in the courtyard in the silence. I had hoped that he had heard what I said because I hated when men attempted to flirt with me, it was defiling in many ways and that was annoying. I sighed and rubbed the back of my neck to ease the soreness that was visible there. It was a quiet afternoon and the birds sang their song as they flew overhead. I sighed and debated on what to do next but my mind drew a blank. I gathered up my training staff and my satchel and headed back into the safe confines of the castle walls.
“There you are!” My father exclaimed as he walked toward me with his arms out toward me. “Where have you been darlin’?” he asked. My father was an old man with blue eyes like sapphires. Wrinkles were visible throughout his face and a bow shaped mouth. Under all of the love and protectiveness that he gave to me when I was growing up, he held authority and power. The power to rule the kingdom and guide his people in the right direction. In a way, I knew that one day I’d take his place but deep within myself, I knew that I wasn’t even ready when that day came. My father’s palm was gentle on my chin as he raised my head to meet his gaze. “What is the matter Sweetheart?” His voice, calm and caring as usual, sounded worried and a part of me wanted to tell him the truth. The fear I held over my heart, was him passing and leaving me alone to do right by our people.
I gave him a soft smile and replied, “Nothing father,” I wanted to tell him but couldn’t make myself go through with it. “I am tired from training that is all.” It was a half truth, I was exhausted but also sad. Sad over the fact that he may be gone one day and that I’d rule this kingdom without any proper knowledge on how to but I had faith that I’d be as great as my father.
“Jas,” my father said as his hands went to rest on both of my shoulders. “Don’t ever be afraid to come to me if something is on your mind.” He gave me a sweet and calm smile before he planted a kiss on my forehead. “I am here for those types of things. Not for you to hide it.”
My father was right and as much as I wanted to tell him the full truth, I couldn’t so I said nothing. “If you don’t mind,” I said as I looked toward the grand staircase that led to my chambers. “I am going to freshen up for tonight's meal.” My father only nodded and waved his hand to allow me to pass him but I stopped midway and turned to him. “I will speak with you after our scrumptious meal and meet you in your chamber so that way it is just between us.” I did not like the idea of having other people knowing of our business and to be honest, I loved our nightly conversations when no one else was around.
My father gave me a soft smile, showing that he understood. His copper hair, now greying beneath the crown he wore on his head, showed beneath the candle light chandelier that hung above us. “I know.” Was all he said before I continued on my way back up toward my chambers.
My chambers were all luxury, from the grand bed that lay perfectly on the floor, facing the over arched window, to the very finest things that were brought to us from across many other kingdom allies. It was something as an offering as an alliance. One I thought was a mistake but in return, gave us peace. My father once said, With sacrifice comes peace. I didn’t understand what he meant until the other party showed up at our castle doors, asking for entry to see the king. There in the dining hall, gathered around the grand dining table they discussed an alliance that would allow us to live without war and then there was peace. For a time, I was all but a child, never understanding how politics worked. Now, here, standing by my own window, I felt as though there was so much more than living as a royal, who was destined for the throne one day. A silent knock sounded at my door, I turned, crossing my arms across my chest as I did so, and in the midst of my own mind, I said loudly so the other person could hear me from the opposite side of the door. “Come in.” The door creaked open, even though it seemed new and in came my hand maiden, Ruby. She was a kind and gentle soul. Her black hair, which normally hung around her shoulders, was wrapped into a bun to keep out of her face when she was running around and doing errands. “Good evening Ruby.” I greeted her with a smile and turned my attention back to the over arched window.
“Your father asked me to come up and draw you a bath for tonight’s meal.” her voice was soft and young at that. Ruby came from a poor family outside our castle walls and I felt a kinship toward her because she was around my age. I also felt as though she would be loyal throughout her stay here in the castle as my right hand servant and friend.
I gave her a half smile and responded softly. “Thank you,” my tone was coarse, my conclusion for this, however, was chalked down to my practice sessions today. “Did you bring up some water?” The question seemed to linger in the air as I now spotted the tray, silver and gleaming in the candle light, resting atop the night stand that was positioned next to my bed.
I heard Ruby chuckle lightly and gave a half grin. “I assume that your day was tiresome?” she asked, her tone holding a light tease that any normal friend would say. “Not to worry though,” her voice was light as she smoothed out the wrinkles in her apron. “Once you’ve taken a bath, you will be all better.”
I gave Ruby a small grin and replied. “After the day that I have had,” I brushed back locks of my dark hair and pursed my lips. “I am sure it will do wonders.” I breathed a sigh and scuffled my feet over to the dressing awn. It was just a slim film of paper that prevented any prying eyes peeking over at the person that wanted to see oneself bare.
“I am sure you will feel much better.” Ruby assured me as she turned her back away from the awn and in her hands a sheet so I am covering myself to head over toward the warm bath. “How did training go today?” She asked. Her tone was light and comforting and yet motherly.
“It was exhausting.” I replied as I stepped out of the awn covered in the sheet she had handed me. “Parker decided to show up after. I am not a fan of him to be blunt.” I half grinned. “It’s like he’s out to flirt with me on every chance he gets. I just wish that he would take a hint.”
“Most men don’t.” Ruby’s response made me chuckle. Parker was one charming person that any woman would fall for but he would never settle just for one. In truth, he was just a womanizer who was trying too hard to get me into his bed and that alone made me want to throat punch him. “I am certain he will learn eventually.”
“Probably the hard way,” I said as I stepped into the water, allowing the heat to sink deep into my sore muscles. “A punch to the face or a foot to the hooligans.” I heard Ruby chuckle but didn’t bother to say a word but instead allowed me to enjoy my bath for tonight's gathering. The silence now closes in on my thoughts as I sat back in the basin of hot water and I began to drift off from exhaustion.