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Not every princess lives a fairy tale.

    My eyelids flutter under blinding lights. The back of my head aches, and my brain pounds against my skull. I'd open my eyes if not for the fact I know I'm already dead.

     "Who are you?" a voice demands. I never thought God's voice sounded like that, nor the angels'. Then again, maybe I'm in Hell. I force myself to open my eyes. A round ring of blurry light shines against my pupils. Soon the light dims, and I can somewhat make out the source is a flashlight. I never really pictured God with a flashlight either.

    "Who are you?" he repeats.

    I hold up my arm, and with the other I rub the back of my head.

When I still don't answer, he pulls me to my feet, while my whole body screams at me to lie back down. Once out of the glare of the flashlight I can see that the man is really a boy, a little older than me. His red hair sticks out of a cap, and his freckles scrunch together as he stares me down. The soldier uniform he wears doesn't fit right.

I'm already caught by my father's soldiers.

It appears I won't be escaping to Quill after all.

    "Now, who are you?"


    His eyes widen. "You're a long way from home, Princess."

    "Not far enough."

    He presses the nozzle of his gun clumsily against the middle of my back, forcing me to walk forward through the tall grass. I grit my teeth. The ground cracks with each step and mosquitos slip under my skin, gnawing at it. I suppose I'm not surprised that my dear father's soldiers would hold a gun to my back.

Suddenly, the soldier crouches down and brushes away dirt and grass, uncovering a metal hatch. He lifts it and motions me to climb down the ladder leading into blackness. My father's soldiers wouldn't be leading me down a bottomless pit. I exhale. These aren't royal soldiers. They're rebels. I shouldn't be scared. I was trained in worst situations than this.

    I lower myself into the tunnel, my jumpsuit making the descent easier than if I was wearing a dress. Left foot. Right foot. Left hand. Right. Left foot. Right foot. The pattern repeats. My feet hit solid ground. Hearing the creak of the ladder, I step to the side so the rebel doesn't crush me. I keep my arms pinned to my sides not knowing what contraptions the walls may hold. From up above the latch slams shut.

    I count the seconds before his feet thud on the ground and his body brushes up against mine. Fifteen. I stiffen.

    "You're scared?" he asks. A dark blue square of light appears, the black outline of his hand on top of it.

    "More curious."

    Air blows against me and light floods inside as a door slides to the side. Before me, a long metal hallway stretches onward. The rebel nudges me forward with his gun.

Along the walls, doors open, men stepping out wearing different uniforms than the boy who's clothing I'm now sure is stolen. They wear black pants and blue long sleeve shirts. My heart sinks at the sight of each of them as the gravity of my situation sinks in. I'm trapped inside a rebel base. The Princess of Lumiere a hostage of rebels.

    I'm dead.

And if I do escape, my father will probably kill me for being foolish enough to be caught by the insurrectionists.

     The boy opens a door on the left and shoves me through it. "Stand in the corner." The gun shakes in his hands. I back up, and he quickly exchanges the gun for handcuff activators that lie on the table. He attaches the receiver to the wall behind me and grabs my hands to attach the two black boxes, his face turning red. He turns the handcuffs on and blue rings of light wrap around my wrists. With one last uneasy glance, he leaves.

    I chew on my lip. These are the rebels we're fighting? That soldier blushed tying my hands up. The rest of the men did look like they'd have no qualms with killing someone though--especially not the princess. This could be one of the weaker leagues.

    The room seems to be a spare one. Crates are piled in the corner. Rope lies next to them. Other than that, it's an empty metal room.

    The door opens, my eyes flicking up. The rebel that walks inside, scares me more than any other I've seen here. He only seems a few years older than me, and he isn't some sumo wrestler bodyguard. His confidence is what scares me. His eyes scrutinize me like I am nothing to him. In war that's a very dangerous position.

    He closes the door. The sound of the computer confirming lockage seals my fate.

    He approaches, never taking his eyes off of me. From his pants he draws a pocket knife, flicking it open.

I know him. He is my death. And because of who he is, my death is his right.

    I press myself farther against the wall. "You're my executioner?"

    He stops in front of me and grabs hold of my wrists with one hand. He taps in a code on the cuffs and the lights vanish.

    I watch him warily, drawing my hands close to me.

    He crosses his arms. "Nate."

    My eyes roam over him. "I know who you are. Nate Griffith. Leader of the rebels. Your father is the wine taster of the king."

He pushes me against the wall, holding the blade against my throat. "Princess Raksana. Youngest daughter of King Frey DeMartinnet of Lumiere."

    "You aren't going to kill me."

    "I will. You deserve it. Your whole family does."

    "You won't."

    The pressure against my neck fades only slightly and I use the opportunity to grab his arms and whirl him around so his back is against my chest. His knife clatters to the ground, and I wrap my arms around his neck. He's taller than me, and I don't have the grip on him I would prefer.

    He chuckles. "Impressive, Princess."

    "I'm going to be leaving now."

    "And just how are you going to do that?"

"Considering we're underground, I'd say you need a lot of air down here. I'll take my chances that the air shafts are probably decently wide.

"And you're actually telling me your plan?"

"I want you to know your insurrection is pathetic." I kick the back of his knee, and he crumples to the ground. I run to the other side of the room and kick a metal square that detaches from the wall. Crouching down, I shove my head inside. His hands wrap around my legs, and he drags me out, throwing me to the ground and pinning me beneath him.

He presses the knife against my neck once more. The blade freezes my throbbing neck. "I won't hesitate to kill you."

"You just did."

A smirk tugs at the corners of his mouth. We study each other, understanding passing between us.

"I have men stationed all along the hallway. Each one has a gun. Can I trust that you will follow me without me having to take drastic measures?" His body presses into mine, and I try to ignore the way a body feels against mine.

I can be good for at least a few minutes. "Lead the way."

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