The Princess

It is three years ago.

The Last War has only recently ended, but as she steps onto one of her father’s ships to sail to Karrnath, seemingly a world away, Princess Anezka isn’t thinking about war. She is thinking about her soon-to-be-husband – some grim Karrnathi nobleman named Kronan, known only for his age, his military power, and his inability to find a suitable woman in his own damn country.

The offer of marriage arrived during the Last War, and Anezka had hoped that her father, Prince Rahn of Traglorn and Tempest Isles, had entirely forgotten about the offer.

Clearly, he had not.

Anezka is young enough, and more importantly, unpredictable enough, to still travel with her Nurse, an older woman of great faith and wisdom named Skaina. She is a common woman with an uncommon secret, which she has passed on to Anezka alone among Rahn’s many children sired with many wives.

Tucked beneath a false board in one of the ornate trunks carrying her clothing, even now being loaded onto the Dread Spray, her father’s fastest ship, is a dagger of mage-hardened onyx. Its pommel is a gaping, fanged mouth. Blood-thirst is its most recent name, thought it has borne many in the past. It is the symbol of the secret, handed down from Skaina to Anezka, many nights ago, when she was initiated…

Into the Blood of Vol.

Now the Dread Spray will carry her away to her intended husband, a man she has never met, but whose image, sent with a polite letter, left her quite cold. This Kronan is a powerful man, but one lacking ambition. Anezka is a Princess of Lhazaar, daughter of Princes and Kings before them, daughter of pirates and brigands and explorers.

She has enough ambition for both of them. Marriage or no marriage, she would make her father notice, make the world notice. She is not a prize to be handed off, a political favor, an offering.

If anyone is going to choose who the offering is, it will be Anezka. Blood will flow, and death will have dominion.

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