Thanks for clicking on my story! I hope you're not dissapointed! Soon enough I'll be setting up a free site for maps of my kingdom. This idea popped out of nowhere, really. It's about a girl who was raised as a prince in the kingdom of Ituana. Everyone thinks she's a boy and she has to prove herself. Stay tuned!

-Holly


Chapter One - Counterfeit

"Alexander, my son, you're not guarding!"

I faced my father with a look of exasperation. It was mid July and the two of us – along with a couple of castle guards in the distance – had been standing outside in the dreadful heat for about three hours now. Sweat poured over my brow and down my nose and into my eyes. My father had poked my stomach with his dulled sword for the fifth time today. I felt a growl trying to escape my throat, out of frustration.

"Father, I can't!"

"What would become of you in battle? No, you must learn to work past the pain! Move your sword across my blade! Like this!"

"I can take care of myself in battle!" I thrust my sword at his side, but he moved so quickly that I nearly lost my balance. He took advantage of this and swung at my shoulder. He purposely jabbed harder than usual – I could almost feel the bruise forming already. I dropped my sword and clutched my arm, finally releasing my anger through a grunt.

"This is how you take care of yourself? Dropping your sword with your opponent positioned for a strike?"

"Father, I can defend myself! I'm brilliant with a shield!"

"A shield is heavy and weighs down your arms; you must be prepared to attack without weakness –"

"There are other ways to attack!" I argued. "You know how advanced I am with a bow and arrow!" I bent down to pick up my sword, hiding my angry face with the short bangs of my hair.

"Archers are behind the swordsman in battle. Proper kings lead armies! I will not have you shaming Ituana!" He scolded. Ituana. I held back a snort. I could not shame my homeland more than it is already. My father is blind – he does not see the beggars and thieves on our city streets. He is blind to the dying crops in our fields and the disease killing our livestock. He does not see what I see, but thankfully the other kings are as ignorant as he – for I fear for what would happen if they knew our land was economically struggling. My family has some standing, and that's why we are getting the imports of goods we would not have otherwise.

"Nyah!" I swung my sword at him in fury and missed once more, but out of sheer luck caught his sword against my own and defended myself from harm. He looked only slightly appeased.

"This is where we end for today. I expect you here tomorrow if it does not get too warm. Hector!" I glanced up at the nearby armor-clad guard who was walking towards us. Hector was a thick built man, with scratchy stubble on his chin. His hair was tied back delicately, which looked out of place with his rough looks.

"My king?" he asked, bowing his head.

"Take Prince Alexander to his rooms and have one of his servants fetch some water for the baths. Take his bow from him – there will be no more practice with it until he can prove that he is honorable with a sword."

"But father!" I cried out.

"Alexander, it will not do to continue on the path of weakness, it only makes strength and power more foreign to you," he glanced at me. I fought to contain my hostility.

"Yes, father," I said through clenched teeth. He dismissed Hector and myself with a wave of his hand. When we were out of my father's earshot, my guard looked at me.

"Can I get you some herbs and oils?" he smirked down at me.

"I am not weak," I snapped at him. "And if you so much as imply that I am once more, I'll have my father carve your tongue out with a dagger."

"Going to your father for everything, my dear? You act that of a spoiled young rich girl with daring lips," he was amused. I fumed at this. He was rubbing my secret in my face, as always. "There will be a time when your father is not around and it will be up to you to stand up for yourself. Be sure that you are able to do so when the time comes."

I refused to reply to this, opting to walk determinedly down the halls. When my rooms came in sight, my maid met me at my door, awaiting orders. Hector spoke for me.

"Bring up water for a bath, treat the bruises with herbs," he ordered, "Our ever so valiant future king has had a rough practice this evening."

"Yes sir," my favorite maid, Frances, bowed her head whilst blushing. It was common knowledge in the servants' quarters that she fancied Hector, but he was widowed and didn't seem to be looking for a new wife. I walked into my rooms, passing by my bed and removing my fencing vests. I ran my fingers through my short-cut hair and let the cooler air circulate around my head.

Frances was one of the few maids that knew of my secret. She, along with the other two maids that helped with my bathing. It was inevitable for them to know, of course. They knew since my birth.

Perhaps I should tell you my true name before I continue with my story. My name is Alexandra Phillipa Olivia, princess of Ituana.