Preface

My name is Amei Sol. I am eleven years old, and currently living in a smithy. You wonder why a smithy is so odd? Well, what would you think of a princess that was living in one because her parent's kicked her out? Yes, that's right. I'm a princess. I'm the heir to an entire continent, in fact. My 'country' is Amendethal. It's a beautiful country to say the least, with Engla and Wargon in the north, Califor and York throughout the middle, Summerland below that, and Morovan at the most southern end of the continent.

Amendethal is a beautiful place, no question about that. It's the largest out of the five continents of Matrinal, (The other's being Nemendethir, Eranir, Ardis, and Detarnan). I'd probably love it if my parents weren't responsible for its government. The northern provinces, Engla and Worgon, are cold year round, but have beautiful forests and mountains and rivers. great for those out-doorsy types. Califor is generally warm, and has a very nice, cool climate around the coasts. It's the largest province in Amendethal, and has the greatest farming outcomes in the world. York has absolutely no farming. In fact, you can't even really call York a province. It's tiny, and exists only around the Great Bay and the palace. The bay is something in itself though, with the largest, wealthiest ships and merchants. It's a very busy place, and I rather enjoy it. Then there's Morovan. I'd tell you about Morovan, but the truth is, I really don't know that much about it. I know that there is only one lake in the entire province (which takes up about a third of the continent), and it has many rivers that stem off of it, creating a canal system that extends through the entire Morovan desert. That's all I know, because that's all they'll tell me.

Anyway, back to my living in a smithy. I'm living there because my parents hate me. Don't think I sound like I'm complaining: I hate them, too. I'm quite happy living in my smithy with Aram, the blacksmith. Now, let me tell you a little bit about the King and Queen of Amendethal. My father is the worst. He wants me to be the perfect image of a lady, to have me be nothing but a decoration at my husband's side when I'm queen. I don't think they even want me to be queen, but unfortunately for them I'm the only child they have. On to Mother: my mother loathes me. I mean it's beyond just not loving me. She detests me. Don't ask me why either. It's been that way since as long as I can remember. I'm ironically grateful for them though; their lack of love has given me the chance to become more than a decoration.

When I was just old enough to walk, I met a boy. He was just standing there in the middle of the main palace courtyard, holding a wooden sword, and with another on the ground in front of him. Looking back now, I think his former partner ran away. This boy still wanted to play sword fighting, though. He handed me the sword, and all I remember is the bliss of parrying and thrusting, supposedly how I saw the great palace Swords do everyday. I remember crying when a servant found us and told me I wasn't to play with swords and to get back to my drawing lessons. That servant and I were enemies for years afterwards. I promise you I have a point with all this, though. You see, that one game of play-swords inspired me. I had to learn how to use a real sword. Properly: none of this whacking blindly at the other opponent business. So, I snuck into the court practice rooms, walked right up to the nearest man holding a sword, and told him I wanted to learn. I ordered him to teach me. He laughed, but he did. Everyday, whenever I wanted to, I could come to the practice rooms, and he would teach me.

This did not last.

As much as I truly loved my swordplay, and despite how good at it I was getting, the court ladies started to notice the calluses on my hands and the muscles in my arms.

"Carola, are you making the child work with the servants?" I remember the comment that changed my life, the exact way it was said years ago. Carola, my mother, took me to my father and showed him my hands. He understood the calluses for what they were, and laughed at me.

"A /princess/, learning swordsmanship? Absurd!" He said. I remember my response. I simply stood, back straight, head up, shoulders back, proud as I could be. I loved every cut and bruise my practice rewarded me with, for it showed I was making mistakes, and they were new ones every time. One cannot learn unless one makes mistakes. I made sure he saw them all.

It was then that they sent me away.

They couldn't revoke the title of heir from me, because all my cousins were old or sickly, and none of them would land very good wives or husbands at the least, so I was all they had. They sent me out into Roann, the city surrounding the palace, and they told me if I could find someone to house me and to care for me, I could continue to learn the sword.

That's when I found Aram. He was at his forge, heating up some piece of metal when I first saw him. I hadn't eaten in days, and he had a nice loaf of fresh bread and some cheese nearby, and I couldn't help it, I was hungry. I went right up to him, held my head high, and asked him as clearly as a seven year old can ask:

"Sir, my parents kicked me out of my home, and I haven't eaten in two days. Please give me your food."

He laughed at me, attempted to shoo me away, and laughed again when I just stood there, tall and proud, and my stomach gave the loudest grumble a stomach has ever given. I mean you could have mistaken it for thunder if it wasn't a sunny day. In the end, I was granted half of his meal, and I sat on a counter and watched him work for the rest of the day. He made a total of three swords, and was about to call for one of the boys across the street to test them, when I made it clear I could help. He laughed at me again, but handed me a sword. I had seen where he had an old, worn steel pipe cemented to the ground, with many nicks and scratches on it. I used the most complicated technique that was risky of breaking your sword or your opponent's, and he watched as the metals met, held, and parted. The sword was a good one. He watched me in silence as he handed me the next sword. I used a different technique this time, and metal met, held. and broke. The sword was a flop. I saw his gaze change to something I couldn't recognize as I tested the last sword. This blade had captivated me all along, and its perfectly smooth, almost liquid surface practically begged me to try it for all it was worth. I used all the power I had, and the pipe and blade met. I stopped, lowered my arms, and turned. The old blacksmith was smiling. I had expected him to be angry.

The pipe lay shattered at my feet.

Aram took me in that very day. Said he wouldn't let me spend one more minute on the street. He didn't even change his mind when I told him who I was. I sent my parents word, and they sent me my new name.

Amei Sol had disappeared, and that day was born Amir, the blacksmith's daughter. The girl that woke up, went to practice with her sword, came home, helped her father at the forge, and spent the rest of the night with her nose buried in a book.

I became a living lie, and this is my story.