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First pages

Prologue

Myriam

I had heard the stories my whole life. I had heard of the great and legendary Firebrand and his warrior companion, the mighty Rathbard. They lived and fought side by side, dragon and man. It was something that had never been heard of before their time. They saved kingdoms and conquered evil. Their descendants followed in their paths.

I heard tales that after their deaths the powers disappeared, and they weren't heard of again. Their story became fiction and legend, and was eventually forgotten by most. Only my family still remembers them now. Only my family knows that their story didn't truly end. Their power didn't truly disappear.

The power was locked away for a time when it would be needed. It was locked away for a time when great evil would run amok. It was prophesied that only when a threat so dangerous that humans could not defeat it alone, the powers would return. There would be a new human filled with power. There would be a new mission, a new kingdom to save.

It has been so long since that prophecy was made that it is all but forgotten. I however remember. I am not ever going to forget. The legacy of Firebrand and Rathbard is alive. It will return again. I will be ready when it does. I will be prepared even when nobody else sees danger coming.

****

Jill

This is my journal, this is my story. Jack is getting almost snippy because I won’t let him read it. He is my best friend and I tell him almost everything, but he doesn’t need to read my personal thoughts. I want to keep them to myself. Plus, he doesn’t need to know how I really feel about him. That is not any of his business. I deserve that much privacy. Anyways, where should I start? I guess the beginning is a good place.

I grew up in a castle. That sentence simple though it is makes it seem as though I am a princess in love with a prince about to have my happily ever after. That is not quite accurate. I was not born a princess. My life is not that simple, it is quite insane really. It is adventurous sometimes, and dangerous other times. My happily ever after will come at some point, I hope, but not because a prince is coming to sweep me off my feet and marry me. If only things were that simple....Spoiler alert, things are NEVER that simple. Life is hard, but the just because there are battles doesn't mean you will lose. It doesn't mean you will win either. It means you fight to survive. You work hard. You do your best for others and yourself. Things will work out how they work out. That is the adventure of it I guess.

Anyway, my mother was a maid, and my father was a stableman. The king and Queen of this kingdom are very much into the idea that nobility doesn't matter too much. The law says you can become anything you want no matter where you were born or who your parents are. There are still classes. There are nobles. Still, if you work hard you can move forward and succeed. If you desire to, you can leave your nobility and responsibilities for another occupation. Classes exist, but they are not fixed. They are more fluid here than they are in many other places. Still, most people stay in the same area they were born. The class system is not enforced, but most don't cross that many barriers. People tend to be happy the way they are. I know I have always been content. I have never dreamed of becoming royalty. I have always had the same dream.

I have always dreamed of becoming a Chef. It has been my dream since I was small. I have been cooking and baking almost as long as I have been walking. The castle chef took me under his wing early on. He is a friend of my parents. When the sickness took them, Chef took me in. He has taught me so much. He claims on a regular basis that I have surpassed him, but I disagree. I still have more to learn. I help him as often as I can. I get up early in the morning to help with breakfast. I go to the kitchens directly after school to help with dinner. I am still in school part time during the day, so I don't devote my full time to the kitchens yet. I will one day soon. When that day comes, maybe I will actually surpass Chef. I aim to try.

Some people say it is crazy that I am attending college level courses just to be a chef. "If you can read and write and know numbers to measure you should be fine." John says. I disagree. To be an excellent Chef in the castle you need to learn about cultures from around the globe. I intend to be an excellent chef one day. People from many other countries come to visit here. I want to know about their cultures and customs. I think it is incredibly important. I wouldn't want to inadvertently cause an international incident because I insulted a culture or prepared a food they would deep disrespectful to eat. I think it is essential to learn as much as I can about the world and its cultures and issues. I do also enjoy the fact that many of the classes are with my friends. I take classes for a few hours during the day and then work on culinary skills for a few hours in addition to helping with breakfast and dinner. It keeps me very busy, but it is my dream.

The King and Queen have hired tutors for the castle. The two princes share them with all of the servants’ children (which includes me), and the princess from the neighboring kingdom (she was sent her for education when she was young, which really means she is meant to marry one of the princes someday). They are here, I might as well learn from them. Plus attending classes is how I met all of my friends. I will just introduce you to my two best friends right now.

My very best friend is Jack. He is the second son to the King and Queen. He is a prince. So you see, the part before about being in love with a prince is actually in reality kind of true... I don’t know when friendship became love, but it did. I will get back to that later though. First you need to know how we met.

I met Jack when I was about 3 years old. We were at a preschool, or a playgroup, or a daycare, or whatever they called it at the time. I hadn't met many other children yet. I was a shy, timid child. He was more outgoing than me. He happened to sit down next to me. I don't think it was a choice either one of us made, it just happened by coincidence. It was the luckiest coincidence of my life.

You see, when he sat next to me he was playing with his play dough. He shared his play dough with me, and I shared a cookie I had helped chef bake with him. I guess what they say is true, "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach." It must also be true of little boys. If it isn't true for all of them, it is definitely true for Jack. That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. We were inseparable after that. We played together, we sat together in school. I tell him everything, and he tells me everything. Well, almost everything.

I will not tell him how much I really like him. I am pretty sure that he is in love with our other best friend, Maggie. Not that I blame him, she is pretty awesome. I guess I should tell you about how I met her next. I know, this is a lot of introductions, but they are all necessary, I promise. You have to know some people before you can fully understand how the story goes.

Maggie is a princess from the neighboring kingdom. Her parents sent her here for her education, supposedly. Really it is clear they sent her here to marry. Relations between the kingdoms are not bad, but they can always improve. A marriage between their daughter and a prince from our Kingdom would do just that. Maggie has known what her purpose is since she was young. She is prepared for her future. She knows how to behave in every situation. She is always calm and collected. She has great problem-solving skills, and she almost never embarrasses herself. (That is a skill I wish I had, but I don't.) To top it all off, she is genuinely a nice person with a good heart.

Maggie is also in love with Jack’s older brother John. They have been friends longer than we have. He is the crown prince though, so he is often busy with his governmental duties. He is also two years older than we are. Because of those things, Maggie was in the same classes with us growing up, and not John. She hangs out with us when he is busy, which is pretty often. Still, he always makes time for her. They are close. I mean, he spends time with all of us, he could be our 4th musketeer if he wasn't so busy all the time. When he gets busy, Jack and I don't see him for days, or sometimes weeks. That doesn't happen to Maggie. She sees him pretty much every day, even when he is busy.

Because of John's busy schedule, she was often left alone when she first moved here. She met him the first day, and didn't meet us until later. Now when he is busy, she has plenty of free time to spend with Jack and me. We became close. When John is busy, she comes to see us. When he is free he joins us too. We are all good friends, but I am not as close to him as Maggie is. And Jack is his brother. So, Maggie, Jack, and I are the three musketeers. John is the 4th, alternate musketeer that we see randomly. He isn't around enough to be a permanent fixture, but we still love him.

Anyway, I first met Maggie one day when we were around 6 years old. Jack had chickenpox and was away from class. The teacher paired Maggie and I together for a project. I had never really spoken to her before. I didn't really talk to many people besides Jack and John back then. Like I mentioned earlier, I used to be almost painfully shy. John was not in this class, so I couldn't work with him. Plus, if I am honest if he were in the class he would have been working with Maggie. Anyway, everyone else had their partners, and I didn't. Neither did Maggie. She was the only option; we became partners.

I was not sure what to say to her, and I was a little bit worried about working with her. I shouldn't have been though. It was easy to talk to her. I just offered to share a snack with her. It had worked with Jack all those years before, so I hoped it would work again. It did. First, we ate, then we started talking. I don't honestly remember what it was that sparked the conversation, but soon we were giggling and having a grand old time. It was wonderful.

It didn't take long for us to become friends. Jack was out for a whole week with chicken pox. He was miserable. During that time, he was off being miserable and sick, Maggie and I bonded. We finished our project, and we could have gone our separate ways, but we decided not to. We were having too much fun to do that.

Then Jack got well again, and he came back. He saw me and came over to take his usual seat next to me. It was only then, when he saw that someone else was sitting there that he noticed that I wasn't sitting alone waiting for him. He reacted to the situation in a unique way, but he is Jack, so I wasn't too surprise. Embarrassed for him, yes, a little, but not surprised.

From his first reaction I knew he was smitten with her. He stared at her for what seemed like a very long time. It was about to become awkward with him just looking at her, but then he started asking her questions. It wasn't just one question. It was question after question. He was just so curious to know everything about her. He knew she was friends with his brother, but apparently, he hadn't really ever talked to her before. He just kept inquiring after her. He wanted to know everything.

She took it like a champ though. She answered each question calmly. Once she answered him, and kept answering him for a while, he calmed down. Or maybe it was more that he suddenly remembered he was in public, or he ran out of questions. Whatever the reason, he backed off some and calmed down. Then somehow the three of us started talking. We slowly got to a normal level of comfort again. We all got along fairly well. We became the three musketeers.

As I continue to tell you my tale I will share it through old journal entries, some are mine, and some are Jacks. You may even hear from Maggie, John, and some others at different points. It will help make the story feel real if you experience it as we did.

****

Maggie

Hi, I am Maggie. I am a princess. I haven't lived with my family since I was a small child. I was sent to this kingdom for education, or so my parents say. I know the truth. The truth is I was born as a bargaining chip. I have known this my whole life. My older sister married a prince from a different kingdom, and he turned out to be a conqueror. They have gained much wealth and power. My parents are glad he happened to love their daughter because that meant that he wouldn't attack their kingdom. I think they suspected him of being interested in war, and that is why they agreed to the match. My sister pushed for it as well. It brought peace, and I guess they are happy. My older brother is the crown prince, and he is married to a lovely princess from yet another kingdom. That is why we haven't been involved in a war in such a long time. It just showed me at an early age the truth of what to expect of my life and of my own marriage in the future.

All of us are loved, don't get me wrong. My parents keep in touch with me. They know what is happening in my life, and I know theirs. My brother writes to me often as well. I know I matter to them. Still, I learned a long time ago that royals don't always get to choose themselves or their desires first. They must choose the kingdom. What is best for the kingdom should always be the priority over your own wishes and desires. You always choose the Kingdom. That is how it survives.

I was born to do just that, serve the kingdom. I am the youngest of three children. My oldest brother is the crown prince and will take the crown from my parents when the time comes that will be his duty. My older sister, as I mentioned before, married a conqueror to save the kingdom. That was her duty. My job is to secure peace with this kingdom. I have known it since I arrived here.

Sure, education is also part of the deal. I get to work with some of the best tutors in the world, I get to learn about many different subjects around topics. I have made many friends in my time here, including Jack and Jill. Still, I know the real reason I was sent her is to marry one of the princes. I believe the time for the wedding is coming soon. I think the next visit from my parents may be the official negotiation for my hand. I believe they might be coming on my next birthday.

Although the negotiations haven't begun yet, many people have speculated who I will marry since my arrival here. Some say John, others Jack. None have asked who I wish to marry, other than Jill. She is the first person who ever considered me a person separate from my duties as a princess. She never saw me for my crown. She sees a person, and I think that is why we are such good friends.

We first really became friends when Jack was out sick. We were paired together on a project and we just started talking about everything. I found a kindred spirit, and one who really liked me as a person, not someone who just wanted to know which prince I would choose. It was refreshing to finally have someone I could just be myself with. There was no pressure there. I loved it. It was so relaxing and freeing, at least until Jack got better.

That first day Jack came back I was utterly intimidated. He stared me down. That expression, "If looks could kill..." I understand it now. He glared at me and I really wanted to crawl into my bed and hide under the covers and cry. However, I did not do that. I had been trained since birth that I was never to cower before anyone. Plus, I knew him already. I had played with him and John since we were little. I stood my ground. I survived his interrogation. Then he let up again.

We became friends after that, and the three of us were inseparable. It took me longer than it should have to realize why he had treated me that way that day. I don't think Jill really gets it yet. She thinks he was staring at me because I was beautiful. She thinks he was curious about me, and not interrogating me. She doesn't say that, but I know she thinks it. She is a bit naive when it comes to Jack. She is sweet, but also wrong.

Jack did that not because he liked me, but because he loves her. He was being over protective. I think it is adorable how much he loves her. He really does. I guess that is part of the reason my decision on which brother I would marry was so easy. I would never take my best friend's guy. I would never take my best friend's chance to marry the woman he really loves. I also realized I wanted to be loved the way they love each other. Even though they may not realize it themselves yet, they are serious couple goals.

Anyways, I guess I should tell you about John. John is Jack's brother. He is older than us, and he is the crown prince, which means he has more duties than the rest of us. He has his lessons, and he has training sessions which consist of shadowing his father. He must learn to run a country. It keeps him very busy. That is why most of my time is spent with Jack and Jill. They are my age and Jack and I have about the same amount of royal responsibility. Still, despite his schedule, John always has time for me.

I have known John longer than anyone else in this kingdom. I first met John the day I arrived here. I was about 5 years old then, and he was around 7. He was out in the yard playing when my carriage arrived. I was escorted from the carriage and instructed to wait until they called for me. I was standing by the wheel of the carriage waiting timidly when he came up to me.

He introduced himself to me. "I am John, I am the crown prince... I will be king one day. What about you? What will you be when you grow up?" He asked me. "I will marry a prince and add security to my kingdom..." I answered automatically. I had already memorized the answer at that young age, even though I didn't know what it meant yet. "What does that mean?" He asked. "I am not sure, I think it means I live here instead of at home and I have to make a boy fall in love with me to help my parents..." I answered. "I don't know how to do that. I might be really bad at it." John chuckled. "Well, I am a boy, and I don't hate you, so you can't be that bad at it. Do you want to play?" He replied. I decided right then and there that we would be friends, and he didn't seem to mind me tagging along after him. It was the beginning of our friendship.

When he got more and more duties, I expected he would forget me, but I was wrong. He always found time to see me. He would eat lunch or dinner with me, or he would stop by my room before bed to chat about the day. He always stayed in touch with me, and he always remembered everything I told him. He paid attention. He would ask follow up questions, days, weeks, even months later. He genuinely seemed interested in me. He even seemed interested when I told him about my escapades with his little brother. Although he would always end those conversations with a, "Well, that sounds fun, but remember who is your favorite brother." I would chuckle, and he would laugh. I think his caring nature is what made me fall for him. I am head over heels. The fact that he still always makes time for me, even though his schedule gets progressively busier also adds to the appeal. The more time I spend with him, the more I like him. I can't help it.

I hope when the negotiations start for me he will ask for my hand. I don't know if he will, but I hope so. Anyways, I should go, dinner is ready soon. I need to make sure I am presentable and ready to talk about every important issue. The work of a princess is never done.

****

Jack

I don’t normally write in a journal, but my best friends are writing in them. I mean if it was just Maggie I probably still wouldn't write in it. If it was just my brother, I still wouldn't care, but Jill is doing it too. She won’t let me read it. She tells me everything, but won’t let me read what she is writing in her journal. It is annoying, but also endearing. It is just like Jill.

I started this thinking I would write in this, and then say she couldn’t read it. Honestly though, I don’t care if she does read it or not. Maybe she will read it and see how I feel. I can’t get the courage to tell her to her face yet. Plus, she has a crush on some guy. She won’t tell me who. She looks away embarrassed when I ask her. Anyways, I started writing because she was and I wanted something to do. I kind of enjoy putting my thoughts to paper. I might keep doing it.

I wonder if Jill is writing about her crush… maybe that is why she won’t let me read what she writes... She refuses to tell me his name. It is probably wise because I would go find him and deck him. He doesn’t deserve her. She is the best person on the planet. I have been in love with her since I first saw her. I even shared my playdough with her. I didn’t share play dough with anyone, I was always protective of my play dough. Still, there was something about her, and I shared. I have never regretted that decision. I shared with her, and then she gave me a cookie (and it was one that she had helped to make) and I knew it was true love. She refuses to tell me about this guy, but she told Maggie. Ugh! It is so irritating....

I know what you are thinking, I am a prince, so I am supposed to marry a princess. Why do I even bother thinking about some apprentice chef? My brother is older, so he can do that. My parents don’t care who I marry. Honestly, they know I love Jill. They support me. I can tell. They may have once harbored the desire for a marriage of political convenience, but they have long since given up on that happening for me. They realize I am in love, and they want me to be happy. If only Jill would get over the jerk, she is stuck on…

I won’t be a girl and dwell on my feelings though. I will move on. I should probably tell you who Maggie is. She is our third musketeer. She is a princess from the next kingdom over. She is in love with my brother John. It is a good thing because he loves her too. They can get married and join our kingdoms and reinforce the peace. They can do the political marriage, so I don't have to do it. They can get married, and the Maggie can stick around forever, and Jill and I won't lose our friend to some random guy. She is great, and Jill loves her too. Life wouldn't be as much fun if she weren't around.

I never really used to hang out with Maggie when she first came here. It was always just me and Jill. Maggie was just some girl that my brother talked about. Then I got the chicken pox. It was absolutely awful, I was itchy and felt gross, and then when it finally went away, and I finally got back to normal, I was excited to go back to school. I wanted to go see my friends. When I came back to school though, everything was different. I showed up expecting things to be normal, and suddenly there Maggie was, chatting away with my best friend. I was not particularly happy about it. I didn't take it very well at first. I was a bit overprotective.

I stared her down really good that first day. I glared at her really. I guess I wasn’t too good at glaring because she didn’t seem that intimidated or impressed. She didn't crack at all. Maybe she had been through her own princess training sessions that helped her to deal with the high-pressure situations and that is why she didn’t break a sweat. I mean, I interrogated her good that day. I gave her question after question. I didn't even really give her time to think between answers. I tried my best to be intimidating, but she didn’t blink. It made me respect her. Then, it turned out that she is a really cool person through and through. Despite my first doubts and not so nice thoughts about her in the beginning, I ended up actually liking her. We have been friends ever since. That is how we all met and became the three amigos, the three musketeers.

****

John

I am John, I am going to be King someday. I suppose I should write these journal entries for future generations to learn from, but I don't really know what they will want to learn from me. I am still learning from Father. I am shadowing him every day. I am taking so many classes and learning so much I am surprised my head hasn't exploded yet. Somehow there is still room in there. Who knows how....? Anyway, even though I should be writing about political things, and important things that are kind of boring, today I am going to tell you something funny.

Maggie talked to me a little while ago. She just had an epiphany. She finally realized why my little brother stared her down that day he came back to school after he had chicken pox. I laughed so hard when she told me. I couldn't believe she didn't know. Jack is not the best at hiding his feelings. Everyone, my parents included know he loves Jill, everyone except Jill. Apparently, that used to be everyone but Jill and Maggie, but not Maggie figured it out. Of course, now she is pretending like she knew all along. It is just funny.

You want to know what the best part of that whole discovery was. It was that she wasn't the least bit jealous of Jill. She genuinely only thinks of Jack as a friend. It means that my plans to negotiate for her hand are probably going to go unopposed. She might just say yes. I honestly would kiss her right now if I knew it wouldn't have repercussions. I would have kissed her a long time ago if I could... But, I can't do anything to court her without approval of both sets of parents. Seriously, being royal does have its drawbacks. I guess it does strengthen my self control though. Still, I have more hope now.

****

Jill

I can’t believe him… Jack got so offended that I won’t let him read this. I should be annoyed, but it’s him, so I can’t be. I just find him endearing. Now he decided that he should start writing his own journal. If he was anyone else he would have to say something like, “If you want to read this, you have to let me read yours…” but he didn’t. Of course, he didn’t. I mean, he just said it looked like fun, and that he had no secrets. He told me he was enjoying writing things down and to read it any time. He just makes me love him all the more. This guy really…

He really probably doesn’t care if I read it or not. I just don’t really want to read all about his feelings for Maggie. I am fine keeping them a secret. I am fine with leaving that as a mystery. It is easier that way for me. Jack...Why does he have to be in love with her? More importantly, why does he want me to read about it? No thanks.

Today something strange happened to me. Something I don't quite know how to explain. I was out near the stables visiting my parents when a heard someone talking to me. (My Dad loved the stables and wished to be buried there. My mom wanted to be next to him. Nobody objected, so there they rest.) I was there to see my parents, and nobody was around. I heard a voice though. I don't know if it was a male voice or a female voice. It wasn't clear enough to discern that. What it said didn't really make sense either. "Please come and see me. We have so much to discuss." If I didn't know it was impossible, I might have thought it was one of the horses...Yet, I know it wasn't. Where could it have come from? I wonder if I am sick, or just going crazy. It was only one voice one time, right? I am sure it is nothing. It has to be nothing. If it happens again I guess I better, ask Jack and Maggie. They will know what to do.

****

The owner of the voice

It happened, the threat is coming. I am not sure what the threat is, but it is coming for the descendant. It is coming for her friends and family. It is coming for her kingdom. I felt it today. I also felt her powers start to emerge today. She hasn't realized what is happening to her yet. She hasn't noticed the powers yet.

I reached out to her mind. She heard me, but she seemed scared. She seemed confused. I don't think she understands what is happening, or what is coming. It seems like she will be in for some rough transitions. It will take her some time to trust me, as I am just a voice in her head. I hope it won't take too long. She will need to come to me soon. We will need to face this together.

I can tell she has a pure heart though. She will do great things if she survives this. If she comes to me in time, she will fulfill her destiny flawlessly. I am excited to see what she will do in the future. I wish she were going to have an easy time of things, but she won't. Things are going to be dangerous and difficult for her. This threat isn't going to go away any time soon. If anything, it seems to be getting worse. I will help her. Together we will beat this threat. Together we will overcome it. We will save them all.

****

Jill

It happened again. I was out for a walk to clear my head after lessons. This time it wasn't a voice though. It was something different, but something just as disturbing. I was hot and wishing for it to sprinkle a little bit, and suddenly there was a bit of rain, just as I wanted. When I started to get too wet, I wished I had an umbrella or that the rain would stop. It stopped very suddenly. It wasn't like a coincidence though, it felt like the weather was listening to me, like I was controlling it. It felt like the weather was obeying my wishes. I can't explain it clearly, I am not really sure how to explain it. I just feel like the weather was listening to me...Is that even possible?

It is very weird. Hearing a voice one day and then possibly controlling the weather the next day... It might just be a coincidence. It has to be. What else could it be? I can't have powers... What is this a book? No, this is real life. This is reality, not fantasy. I need to get a hold of myself. I sound like a crazy woman. I need to snap out of it. Maybe it is a prank? How could weather be a prank? None of this makes any sense. I don't understand what is happening to me right now. I don't understand it, and that scares me.


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

I am someone who loves stories. I love to read them,watch them, and write them. I hope that this novel will entertain readers and take them on a journey they haven't been on before.

Q. Where did the idea for this book come from?
A.
The idea for this book actually came from a dream that I had. I changed it and expanded upon it. It turned into a fun story.
Q. Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
A.
The message from this story is that we all have the abilities inside of us to accomplish great things. We should all be patient with ourselves and keep trying when things get hard. It might not happen in the way we imagined, but we can all have success and happiness in our lives.

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