Chapter 1

I fell to the ground with a thud, smacking my elbow into the marble floor and grunting. "What the hell?!" I yelled, looking up at Kharis. "Come on! You have to hold your own! You can't just turn away and hope I won't hit you. An attacker isn't going to stop hurting you just because you look scared." I groaned as I stood up. I could tell that I was going to hurt in the morning. "Okay, I get that, but you didn't have to hit me that hard," I snapped back. "Oh don't be such a baby Rade. Come on, come at me," Kharis coached. I took a deep breath and gripped my sword tightly, lunging at him and letting out a small battle cry. He quickly and easily blocked me, but not before I slid my foot under his and sent him to the ground. His sword fell out of his hand and right before he gained enough composure to reach for it, I jumped on top of him and put my sword to his neck. "Got'cha." I smirked victoriously, proud that I had finally beat him in one of those tedious sparring matches.

Suddenly I felt someone's arms wrap around my waist, rip me off of Kharis, and slam me into the ground. I gasped, the wind having been knocked out of me. I looked up to find that Lusha was the one who had attacked me. "You totally forgot rule number three Rade. There will almost never be only one attacker. Once you take the first one down, move on. Don't gloat."

I rolled my eyes and began to try to kick him off of me when I heard my mother walk into the room. "Mother! Kharis and Lusha are being mean to me!" I whined. My mother chuckled before responding, "Boys, be nice to your sister. I asked you to train her, not break her." Lusha rolled his eyes and stood up, holding out a hand to help me up. "She is much stronger than she looks Mother. I know she is holding out a large portion of her strength on us." He looked to her as he said this, which gave me yet another opportunity to swipe my foot out from under his and send him to the floor. He landed right next to me and grunted. He raised his head just enough to look at our mother. "See what I mean?" he said as he gestured to me with his thumb. My mother chuckled quietly before announcing that we needed to change out of our sparring clothes for dinner. I stood and brushed off my pants, sticking my tongue out at Kharis and Lusha as I followed Mother out into the hallway.

I twirled my sword in my fingers as Mother and I walked side by side down the hall. I dared not try anything too extravagant with it or she would have my head. For some reason, she hated the thought of a lady using a sword for any other purpose than to defend herself. She said that the barbaric waving of swords in the air was what divided women from men. I didn't necessarily agree, but I wouldn't even speak my thoughts on that subject until she was long dead.

"Radelia, listen to me, I know you grow tiresome from training with your brothers, but you really need to be prepared in case something happens. I doubt the elf king would be foolish enough to make a direct attack against us, but you never know. Girls like you are disappearing left and right. I am not taking the chance of you facing the same fate, especially not with all the solo trips to the market you take. You need to be able to defend yourself, and I am set on making sure you know how while I am still here."

"Mother, I know, and I appreciate it. I really do. I just don't really understand why I need to know how to defend myself. I mean, why can't I just train for fun like my brothers? Why does it have to be such a serious process?"

My mother sighed and stopped in the hall, putting her hand on my shoulder. "Radelia, women are constantly stepped on and under-appreciated. We give life to men's children, yet to some we aren't even worth having rights. Women are seen as objects and defenseless lambs. I refuse to raise my daughter as a stereotypical woman. You will be strong, independent, proud, and a role-model for the rest of the women in our kingdom. You need to know how to defend yourself for the sole purpose of the fact that you are in-deed a woman. It also doesn't help your case that you are the princess of the family. You have a responsibility to your fellow women to change how the world sees us." I nodded and reassured my mother that I understood everything that she was saying. She hugged me and sent me to my room to put on something more appropriate.

I entered my room to find Marossa and Sundossa, my maids, laying my outfit on my bed for me. "Oh, hello princess," Marossa said, hitting Sundossa's arm and bowing. Sundossa turned, saw me, and bowed as well. "Hello ladies. How are you both today?" I asked, approaching the bed to see what outfit the two had picked out for me. "We are perfectly fine princess. And you?" I shrugged, caressing the material of the bedspread under my dress. "Just the same as always I suppose." Marossa and Sundossa both nodded with understanding and then left the room with a bow.

I stood at the edge of my bed and lifted the dress up to see the whole thing. This dress in particular was one of my favorites because of how frilly and elegant it was. My mother had always taught me that it was good to level yourself with men and that in doing so, you should also try to dress in less frilly and feminine clothing, but I didn't think that way. In my opinion, if you could kick ass in a big frilly dress, you were already better than most men. I quickly put on the dress and stood in my mirror, examining myself. My dark curly hair was a bit mangled from the sparring match, which I fixed by taking a comb through it a couple times. My freckle covered face had quite an obvious pink tint, which I also blamed on the sparring match. I was just about to walk out of my room when I remembered that I didn't have any of my jewelry on. I always took it off after my first sparring match when Lusha pulled one of my earrings out and claimed that an attacker would definitely do the same thing. I sat in front of my mirror again and, one by one, put my multiple earrings back in. I also made sure all three of the piercings on my left eyebrow and the one in my right nostril were still in tact. Then, I was off to dinner.