The doors to my room slowly open and an old maid pokes her head in.
"We have your armor, miss."
I nod and she enters along with two other maids. Two of them carry my armor in their arms.
I look at the old maid, a question sitting in my eyes. She gently takes my hands in hers.
"It was your mother's, your real mother's."
Tears threaten to spill out of my eyes at the mention of her name. "Thank you," I say, my voice barely above a whisper. She and the other maids get to work. I peel off what's left of my dress as they work out the tangles in my hair.
When all the pieces of my armored dress are in place, I stare at my reflection in the mirror.
You can do this. Win this war, and you will be Queen. You will have earned the respect of your people.
The doors open to reveal Darien, dressed in black leather pants, tall boots, and a long blood-red coat that reaches his knees, along with a white flowy shirt underneath. His sword hangs at his side. He stops short when he sees me.
"Wow, " he breathes.
I give him a half smile. "You don't look half-bad yourself."
He closes the distance between us. "You ready?"
I nod. "Yeah."
"The horses are waiting outside."
Darien grabs my father's sword from the shelf and tightens the belt around my waist. He pulls back after giving me a slight peck on the cheek.
"Come one, princess."
We walk side by side as the doors swing shut behind us. We make it to the main hall as the men gather.
I stand at the edge of the stairs and address the men.
"I know I am young, and perhaps inexperienced, but I can promise you that I will protect this country with my life. I'm not going to lie to you, you could die out there, so if any of you want to back out now, I will understand."
None of the men move.
I inhale a sharp breath. "Then let's move out."
The men file out the door and mount on their horses outside. I grab Darien's jacket sleeve before he leaves. He turns back to look at me.
I swallow. "Just...please be careful."
He throws me a lopsided grin. "Aren't I always?"
A smile works its way onto my lips despite the very real possibility that we could very well be marching to our deaths.
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"You are queen now, start acting like it." Ariana has waited her entire life to become queen and rule her country. But things prove to be much more difficult than she ever thought they would be. After the death of her beloved father, her mother sudd...