Chapter 3

The next morning I woke up and walked down the stairs only to hear my parents whispering secretively in the hallway. "My dear, what are we going to do? Yet another girl matching Radelia's description has gone missing," my mother murmured. "The elf king knows who he is looking for, he is just missing the part about her being the princess. As soon as he finds out, he will come for her. It is only a matter of time until she is the only girl left in the kingdom that has her defining features. She will be too obvious for him to miss." I heard my father let out a deep and exasperated sigh. "Honey, just keep doing what you are doing. Train her and teach her as best as you can now, and when he does find her, hope that she will be ready." At that, I peeked around the corner to find them hugging each other, both looking very concerned and troubled. I scrambled back up to my room.

I entered my room and quietly shut the door behind me. I rested my back against it and sighed. I slowly slid down to the ground and sat there for a while, my mind racing. After almost an hour of reflection, I decided that the best course of action to most effectively prepare myself was to do exactly what my father suggested: train and learn as much as I could in the amount of time I had left. The elf king would come for me, but I was sure as hell going to put up a fight.

After coming to that conclusion, I jumped into action. I went to my closet, not waiting on my maids, and grabbed some pants, a blouse, and boots. I put those on and then skipped down the stairs into the dining hall. I walked in to find my two brothers and my parents already seated for breakfast. I took my seat and then the cook presented our meal to us. We were given eggs, pork, and toasted bread. After I ate, I asked my father if I could go meet Coryn in the market. His response was, "Of course. But only if you change into more appropriate attire and take Zhyro with you." Zhyro, who was the top guard at our castle, heard my father's command and instantly appeared behind me. I groaned but agreed to his conditions.

After changing into a light and flowy green dress with blue accents, I met Zhyro in the front garden and loaded into the carriage. We sat in silence for most of the way, but when we were almost there, Zhyro spoke up. "Princess, I want you to know that I will not follow you around like a stalker. I trust you enough to watch you from afar and not be right up on you the entire time. But please don't make me regret that decision. I will not be patronized by your father because you decided to take advantage of my understanding." When I didn't answer him immediately, he glanced at me through the corner of his eye. "I get it. You're not going to be right behind me the whole time but that doesn't mean I can go act a fool. This isn't the first time I've done this." His mouth turned up at the corners and I knew that meant he was trying to hold back a snarky remark, which I was thankful for because I was not in the mood.

When we finally arrived at the market, I stepped out and was instantly bombarded with women shouting my name and shoving their children in my face for me to kiss. After kissing about twelve babies, Coryn slid in saved me from the mob. We escaped to a peaceful pond behind the market that very few people knew was even there.

"You look beautiful today, as always," Coryn said, playing with a piece of fabric from my dress. "Well thank you. You look smashing as well," I responded in a teasing voice. He smirked, letting go of the fabric and instead placing his hand on top of mine. "So, was there a reason you requested to meet me out here or were you just missing my company?" he questioned. I gave a small smile. "I just wanted to get out of the castle for a while. Being there all the time makes me a little crazy sometimes." He nodded understandingly. "I have noticed that your parents and siblings have been quite stressed for the last few months. Are you at liberty to tell me why?"

"Well, as you know, girls with long, brown, curly hair and green eyes have been going missing for a while now. That has to do with me." His eyes widened and I could tell he was now getting worried. "The elf king is looking for me. A long time ago, my mother was married to someone else. He was a merchant who traveled a lot and she was constantly alone. One day when he was gone, a man arrived at their house. He was an elf who had fled the elf kingdom because of reasons he would not say. She took pity on him and invited him to stay in their house until her husband got back. Well, they spent a lot of time together after that and one thing led to another and I was conceived. My mother's husband returned home a few months later unexpectedly and was so enraged to find my mother impregnated by another man that he tried to kill the elf. In self-defense, the elf man attacked back and ended up killing my mother's husband. He then fled our kingdom because he knew that he would be put to death if anyone found out.

Then my mother married the man I now call father and they told our people that I was his. Somehow the elf king found out that I was actually half elf and is enraged because, by law, all elf people must reside in the elf kingdom, even if they are only partially elf. He also knows that I have more magic than an average elf. So, now he seeks for me to become his bride."

After I finished my story, I looked over to Coryn to find him staring at me dazed and bug-eyed. "I knew you had an elf background, but I didn't know all of that. Why didn't you tell me?" he asked. I shrugged, tossing my hair out of my face. "I just...didn't want to worry you. Plus, for a while I was sort of in denial about it all. But I'm not ashamed of who I am and I won't hide from him. If he wants me, he came come and get me, but I won't go easily."

"And he'd have to get through me first," Coryn interjected. I looked over at him and smiled. He put his arms around me and we sat there for the rest of the afternoon, just enjoying each other's company. I was so lucky to have him.