Hi all! Here’s my very first short story, both on this website and, you know, ever. It’s based on a story prompt by Writing Prompts, who I highly recommend following on Tumblr or Instagram.
And now, without further ado, here is my short story:
Story Prompt: To escape the life of her abusive parents, a princess disguises herself as a male vigilante and goes out at night to protect the kingdom that her own parents neglect. The princess soon finds her own “damsel in distress”. The damsel is unaware of her hero’s royal blood and true identity, but soon starts to fall in love. The princess starts to feel the same way.
Jack scowled as she looked down from the rooftop at the struggle happening below her, tugging down the hood of her cloak to cast her face further into darkness. She wouldn’t dare to be recognized, even by filth like that. The girl caught in the soldier’s grip below finally yanked her hand away with a pained shout, backing up to join the other terrified members of the household as the two knights smirked at them.
“If you can’t pay with coin, you’ll pay with your bodies,” the older knight said, stepping forward and leering at the young woman he had just held.
Jack moved swiftly, swinging off the roof and landing between the groups with a light thud. She drew her bow and aimed at the men. “Leave these people alone,” she demanded, pitching her voice lower.
“Look at this! He doesn’t even have arrows!” the other soldier laughed, clapping his compatriot on the shoulder.
Jack’s glare never wavered as she drew the bowstring back, a bolt of lightning forming where the arrow shaft would be.
“Sorcery,” the first knight breathed, horrified, then drew his sword. The other man followed his lead, his hands trembling as he stared at her in pure fear.
“I’ll say this one last time: leave these people alone,” Jack ordered.
“We’re just doing our jobs!” the first guard defended himself, glaring at her.
“You’re extorting these people for their hard-earned money just to fill the royal coffers and your own pockets as well, or else you wouldn’t be here so late at night. Now be on your way,” Jack demanded.
“Y-you’re that vigilante,” he realized, his grip tightening on the hilt. “I’ll have your head for this!” he shouted, lunging at her. She evaded each of his swings with ease. She used his momentum and the misty rain to her advantage, getting behind him and kicking him in the rear, making him slip on a puddle of water and fall onto his face.
The other guard raised his sword and ran at her with a shout. She evaded his attacks just as easily until his blade caught the edge of her tunic, nearly cutting into her skin. She scowled, jumping back a fair distance with the help of her magic making her as light as air. She pulled back the string of her bow, another arrow of lightning forming, then released it. It hit his shoulder and he fell back, clutching the burning wound and screaming as the lightning wracked pain throughout his body.
The first knight went to his comrade’s side, supporting the weakened man. “You bastard,” he hissed at Jack, helping the man to his feet. “Next time we see you, we’ll kill you,” he warned, and the two men hobbled away back to the castle.
“Are you all alright?” Jack asked once she was sure they were gone, turning to the people still in the doorway.
“Thank you. How can we ever repay you?” the father asked, grateful.
“Go inside and bar your door. They shouldn’t come back tonight, but tomorrow is a different story,” Jack said instead. The man and the older woman ushered the three children into the house, but the younger woman stayed outside, a curious look on her face.
“What is your name?” she asked. Jack looked her over. She was small, shorter than Jack at least, and had straw blonde hair twisted into a braid and wore a pale pink peasant dress.
“Does it matter?” Jack replied with a huff, calculating how much time it would take to get back to her home. It was nearing dawn already. She would be in trouble if she was caught outside.
“Nadia, come inside!” the older woman shouted from within the house, startling the girl.
“I hope we meet again, fair stranger,” she said, smiling brightly before she scampered through the doorway.
Jack shook her head, putting the meeting from her mind as she scaled the side of the house and leaped from rooftop to rooftop until she had reached the castle walls. She waited until the guards patrolled past her section then carefully climbed down the apple tree inside the wall.
After sneaking around the side of the castle, Jack climbed up the trellis to her chambers and through her open window, careful not to track mud across her floor. She stripped out of her cloak, tunic, tights, and boots, tossing them deep into her wardrobe with one hand as she unbraided her hair with the other. She tucked her bow behind a tapestry then quickly tossed on a nightgown and dove into bed, falling asleep instantly.
Too soon, Jack let out a groan and buried her face deeper into her plush pillows as she was awoken by her merciless lady’s maid, formerly her nursemaid. The older woman pushed open her curtains, tutting when Jack refused to get up, curling deeper into her bedding instead.
“Princess Jacqueline, it’s time for breakfast,” Milly huffed, tugging the covers off Jack without much effort. Jack whined a complaint but reluctantly sat up. “The King and Queen request you attend,” she added, making Jack scowl at her.
“Must I?” Jack asked, her voice bordering on petulant. “Can’t I just eat in bed today?”
“Regretfully not,” Milly replied with a fond smile, tugging the princess out of bed. Jack panicked as Milly went to her wardrobe, seeing a piece of her dirty cloak poking out at the bottom. Thankfully the handmaid either didn’t notice or ignored it, taking out one of Jack’s favorite gowns — a sapphire blue dress with golden laces and beading around the bodice — for her to wear. Milly pinned up Jack’s raven black hair, brushed off her dress to smooth out any invisible wrinkles, then shoved the Princess out of the room, waving cheerfully as she closed the door behind Jack.
Jack stared at the doors longingly for a moment then sighed, finally forcing her feet to carry her to the dining hall.
“Your Majesties, Her Highness Jacqueline has arrived,” the herald announced when he and the guards spotted her nearing.
“Jacqueline. So wonderful you could join us,” her mother, Ivanna Lamarisey, said from one end of the table with a fake smile as cold as her icy blue eyes. Jack inherited the same color, though she hoped hers didn’t seem nearly as frosty. Around her parents, they probably did. The Queen was dressed in the finest fabrics imported from across the sea and adorned with jewels and precious stones set in gold or silver. Her chestnut hair was curled and pinned properly, and she eyed her daughter up and down with a look of distaste as Jack took a seat.
Damien Lamarisey, the King of Briarvale and Jack’s father, sat at the other end. He stayed silent as his wife and daughter glared at each other, continuing to eat as if they weren’t even there. Jack was sure he wished they weren’t. His hair — the same shade as his daughter’s —was slicked back, the small strands of gray streaking through it shining in the torchlight that lit up the hall. He was in his finest as well and was even wearing his crown. The only thing missing was his cape with the family crest.
The union between King Damien and Queen Ivanna was born of necessity, not love. Jack’s father needed a wife to inherit the throne, while Jack’s mother needed an advantageous marriage to keep her family in Astenia, the neighboring kingdom, in power. They also both needed a son, but regretfully Jack’s birth caused complications that would never allow Queen Ivanna to bear children again. Jack was positive her mother still resented her. She had foisted her off into Milly’s care minutes after her birth, and the only time she noticed Jack was to reprimand her for her unladylike ways. And today.
“Is there a reason you summoned me, Queen Ivanna?” Jack asked, stone-faced as she daintily picked up her silverware and began eating. She was never allowed to call the queen ‘mother’, and she certainly refused to get a lecture this early due to her table manners.
Queen Ivanna plastered another smile onto her face, placing down her fork and knife. “Well, we wished to discuss something with you. You recently reached your eighteenth summer and we thought it was time to discuss potential suitors. As you well know, you need a husband to inherit the throne,” she voiced pleasantly.
Jack froze, looking at her in horror. “A husband?” she squeaked, the very thought making her feel ill while the Queen only became more cheerful.
“Of course, child! I’ve taken the liberty of requesting the most eligible men from across the land to visit,” Queen Ivanna assured with a wave of her hand.
“Most eligible?” Jack repeated weakly, determined not to let the few bites she swallowed come back up as she clutched the fabric of her skirt. A man? To marry? Jack held back a shiver, her mind instead flashing back to the beauty she met the night before. She was pulled from her thoughts with the Queen’s next words.
“Indeed. With that loathsome vigilante stealing away the people’s taxes, we need more wealth and strength to recover from our losses,” she replied, a sickly saccharine smile on her face. “Best the peasants not get any ideas to rebel.” King Damien scoffed in derision.
“Best not,” Jack whispered. She knew better than to fight back. There was only one option left to her. “Thank you, King Damien, Queen Ivanna, for being so… generous. How soon will they be arriving?” she asked.
“The day after tomorrow,” the Queen replied.
“That sounds wonderful. If you’ll excuse me, I shall go get my lady’s maid and prepare,” Jack said, standing up. Her father didn’t look at her and her mother let her go with a wicked smile on her face.
Jack hurried back to her bedroom, slamming the door closed behind her and leaning against it. Milly wasn’t inside. Perfect. Jack would make certain the Queen wouldn’t be smiling by tomorrow morning.
That night, as soon as the sun set, Jack triple-checked her bag to make sure she had all of her essentials. Her days in the castle library had prepared her for more than any of her tutors and birth mother had ever known. She swung her bow over her other shoulder, then took one last look around her room. She had left a goodbye note to Milly underneath her pillow, knowing the maid would find it after informing her parents of her disappearance. By then, hopefully her trail would be gone — not that they had found her as the vigilante anyway. Satisfied, Jack finally crept out the window.
As soon as she climbed over the castle wall, she knew she had made a mistake.
“There he is! He was inside the castle!” a knight shouted from further down the road, making her curse lowly. She should have realized there would be more guards patrolling since she had stopped them the day before. She never went out two days in a row, but she had forgotten in the midst of her panic.
She took off down the opposite road, taking as many shortcuts as she knew to get out of the city. She spotted two guards in front of her, trying to box her in, and she made the split decision to duck into another alley.
“Damn,” she hissed, looking up at the tall wall. A dead end.
“There’s nowhere to run,” a man chuckled behind her, his plates of armor crashing against each other as he moved. She slowly turned, calculating any way of escape. Five against one — not very good odds. But she’d die before going back to the castle, especially in her disguise as the vigilante.
She drew her bow, making the five men stiffen, and pulled back the string, another lightning bolt forming. “You don’t want to do this,” Jack tried to convince them, her voice low and hard. She didn’t want to kill them. “Leave while you have the chance.” The alley was tight. They wouldn’t all be able to fight her at once.
“Attack!” the knight in front shouted, lunging at her. She released her arrow and he barely dodged it, the bolt embedding itself into the arm of the knight behind him. He dropped with a shout of agony, curling in on himself, but the others didn’t even glance back at him. She blasted the third back with a gale of wind from her palm, sending him into the fourth as they both tumbled over a pile of planks. She straightened back up, only to dodge a swing of the sword from the first man.
“You won’t get away this time,” the knight growled, lunging at her. Jack spun away from the attack then dropped to the ground, swinging out her leg and tripping him as she melded rocks around her hand until they resembled a giant fist. She leapt to her feet as he stumbled to his, only to punch him square in the gut with the rocky fist. The metal of his armor caved in and he gasped out a pained breath, clutching his midsection as he fell to the ground.
“Watch out!” Jack heard, and she spun around just in time to catch the wrist of the knight behind her with his sword raised high, ready to impale her. She struggled against his strength, him slowly overpowering her, only for him to get hit in the back of the helmet by a wooden plank. His sword lowered to his side and he staggered for a moment before finally collapsing to the ground.
“You again?” Jack asked, shocked, as she looked at her savior. The fair-haired woman smirked at her, dusting off her hands after she tossed the thick board onto the ground.
“You’re not the only one who wants to help,” Nadia replied smugly.
“Then you should wear a mask,” Jack replied, glancing at the pile of men. They were all alive but unconscious. She nodded decisively to herself, leaping up to grab a signpost and then swinging up onto the roof.
“H-hey! Wait up!” Nadia shouted, attempting to scrabble up onto the roof after her. She fell back into the pile of boards with a loud crash, making Jack tense.
“Over this way!” a guard shouted.
“Damn,” Jack cursed again, leaping back down and picking the girl up in her arms. She controlled her magic, using the wind to make both of them lighter, then leaped back up on top of the building and across the rooftops as easy as if she was flying.
“That was incredible!” Nadia breathed once Jack stopped. Jack scowled and put her down, taking a step back and narrowing a glare on her, not that she could see it through Jack’s thick hood.
“Are you insane?” Jack demanded. “You could have been killed!” she shouted, throwing up her arms.
“I didn’t have to help you,” Nadia spat, crossing her arms over her chest.
Jack just huffed in reply, turning away from her and facing the forest. A strong breeze suddenly blew under her hood and tugged it down, making her curse as she tried to bring it back up.
“I knew it! You are a girl! Those guards are all idiots, aren’t they?” Nadia asked, smirking smugly as her arms fell back to her sides. Jack chuckled despite herself, letting her hood drop since now it was useless. She sat down on top of the roof, keeping to the shadows. Nadia sat down beside her.
“Thank you for helping me,” Jack finally admitted, looking at the young woman with a soft smile.
Nadia’s smile brightened. “You’re welcome,” she replied. “Now, may I have your name?”
“Jack,” the ex-Princess replied shortly. She would never go by her full name again.
“I’m Nadia. Nadia Delaney,” Nadia replied, shifting closer to her. A blush crept up Jack’s cheeks at her nearness and she quickly looked away. Nadia chuckled but didn’t bring it up, instead leaning back and enjoying the silence. Jack slowly let the tension flow from her shoulders, relaxing next to her.
Jack shivered as an icy wind blew past. Fall was quickly turning to winter. She brought her hands up to cup her mouth, breathing into them and willing her magic to work. When she pulled them away, she held a ball of fire floating above her palms. She breathed gently on it, making it grow slightly bigger in size, then moved her hands between them before letting them fall back to her lap. The fire stayed floating between them, warming them both.
Nadia looked at the flickering flame in awe, and Jack noticed the light made the golden flecks in her bright green eyes sparkle. Then a hint of longing dulled her expression, and Nadia smiled sadly as she looked at Jack.
“Does… does it feel nice to use magic?” Nadia asked quietly.
Jack stared at her a moment, then slowly nodded. “It does. It’s… freeing. The kingdom may hate and fear magic because of the past, but it allows me to help others. It allows me to be myself,” Jack explained.
“How do you make it work?” Nadia asked after a short pause.
Jack shrugged. “It’s different for everyone. My magic is based on elements. I learned to control it by sneaking into the woods, perfecting it with practice,” she replied.
Nadia nodded, looking up at the moon and stars. “I live with my aunt and uncle. My parents were killed by the King and Queen for having magic,” she admitted, looking at Jack. Jack’s face had drained of blood at the mention of her parents. Did she know who she was? Did she hate her? “They were framed. They never did anything. My parents hid me away before the knights arrived, and then my aunt and uncle took me in. I watched them die.”
“I’m sorry. My… mother kept me away from others when she realized I had magic, before I could control it,” Jack explained, watching her sadly. Milly, who was as close to a mother as she ever had, did do that. Thankfully, no one cared about Jack until she was old enough to take lessons, and by then she had gotten her magic under control. That was probably the only reason she was alive until then.
Jack snuffed out the fire and Nadia snapped her jaw closed before she asked another question, both of them peering over the edge of the roof at the guards rushing by. They had searched the rest of the city faster than Jack had expected.
“What are you going to do now? They’re all searching for you,” Nadia whispered.
“Continue to help, of course,” Jack replied, shooting her a smirk. She stood to her feet once the guards were gone, Nadia joining her.
“Don’t you need help?” Nadia asked, confused.
“It will die down in a few days. Then I’ll be back,” Jack said confidently.
“Where will you go?”
“Into the forest. I can’t go back to where I was,” Jack said, only making Nadia look more worried.
“Let me come with you,” she said suddenly, determined. Jack looked at her in shock. “Come on, I could be the page to your knight in shining armor,” Nadia teased.
Jack smirked, leaning forward and pressing a kiss to her cheek. “I think I prefer you as my damsel in distress,” she replied, enjoying the redness in her cheeks as she pulled away. “But I won’t stop you.”
“You—!” Nadia huffed, shoving at Jack’s shoulder, making the ex-Princess laugh.
Jack had to admit, this was a fine start to a new life.
Thank you for taking the time to read this! I hope you enjoyed it. If you liked this story and want to read more like it, and you’re not already following my blog, remember to sign up with your email in the sidebar or below the post to get an update every time I post a new short story. You can also now find me on Tumblr at ashleymarienovels.