Preface: To Tame A Warrior Princess

I am back… and as is usual for this time before I am to release a book, I am positing the opening chapter. Enjoy.


The weather outside the stone fortress was overcast, cold, and gave the promise of worse to come. The atmosphere inside the walls of the massive castle wasn’t much better, especially from King Dayton who was in a foul mood.

Katherine, King Dayton’s queen, had gone into labor earlier in the day, and she was having a difficult time delivering the child. While Katherine’s screams grew weaker, King Dayton railed at anyone who got close enough to catch his attention and paced restlessly next to the room where his queen fought for her life and that of her child.

King Dayton’s temper grew shorter; he remembered the way this had all come to pass. Katherine loved children, and when theirs grew older, she’d decided she wanted one more. King Dayton had known this was a bad idea. The doctor had warned them both against trying to bring another child into the world. Katherine, however, refused to heed the doctor’s warning despite Dayton’s displeasure. Eventually, Katherine wore Dayton’s objection down. Dayton’s queen wanted another little girl to fuss over, so he gave in to her. As Dayton heard the only woman he had ever loved give another cry of pain, he picked up a glass lamp and threw it at the wall. The resulting shatter didn’t do anything to ease the tension.

Katherine had told him about her desire to have another girl, someone she could pamper and spoil as she had with their first daughter when she was small. Katherine missed the closeness of those days, and with Dayton gone as much as he was, she claimed she was lonesome. Dayton didn’t see the need for another child underfoot as they already had three strong, healthy sons, and a daughter. Granted, a man could never have enough sons, but Dayton could hear the doctor’s warning with each plea Katherine made. When Dayton had put his foot down and told Katherine his decision was final, she had pouted. Dayton had thought the matter settled. Katherine, however, did what she could to make sure she got pregnant. Three months after the fight, she told Dayton he was going to become a father again.

When the doctor found out, he yelled at Katherine for not taking better care of herself. He had then gone after Dayton for being so randy that he couldn’t leave his wife alone for a few days of the month. Dayton had taken offense to the doctor’s manners and struck him, which had proved to be an even worse idea. The doctor had turned from the king and left.

In the midst of Dayton’s musing, his attention was caught by the silence surrounding him. Shortly after, the wailing of a child newly come into the world erupted. This was his signal he was waiting for; it was time for him to go to his wife. The child Katherine had wanted so badly had been born, and Dayton wanted to make sure his queen was well. Nothing else mattered to him but Katherine.

Dayton crashed through the door and pushed past the midwife, not sparing a glance for either her or the child she was holding in her arms. All Dayton could see was his queen lying in a pool of blood. Katherine was barely breathing, her skin a sickly gray, staring up at the ceiling, her lips curled into a smile. Katherine gazed into his face and sighed weakly as their children were ushered into the room to crowd around them. She smiled; and then spoke her last.

“Thank you for giving me a daughter. She is a beautiful little girl. I have named her Shemaine. She will need you when I am gone. She will need all of you. You must remember your promises to me, Dayton. You said you would care for her, love her as you do our other children. Remember always, a king is subject to his word.” She closed her eyes and went limp in his arms.

He stared at the peaceful face of his dead wife in disbelief. She couldn’t be dead, not his beautiful Katherine. Yet, he had seen death too many times not to recognize it now. Slowly, he lowered her onto the bed and then reached for his sword, only he had not thought to wear it, more concerned with the birth, and the well-being of his wife.

Hand closing on an empty spot where his sword should have hung against his hip, he bellowed, “Kill it” As far as Dayton was concerned the child had just murdered his queen, and he refused to even spare it a glance. This child was dead to him.

The young Crown Prince Allender; and his sister, Princess Helen, stepped between the death scene and their father. Allender had never gone against Dayton before, but his mother had taught him better than to do what the king was ordering. The dead queen had made sure her children had a good education, as well as a more humane outlook on life than their father. Katherine had been determined to make sure that no son of hers would grow up to be like Dayton. She might have grown to love him as the years went by, but this did not mean that she agreed with his practices. So, she had taught her children the differences she believed existed between being a king with honor and one who acknowledged no bounds to his bloodlust.

Prince Allender firmly spoke his position on the subject. “Shemaine is ours. We promised we would see to her care if you refused. Our mother doubted you would keep your word to her.”

With a snarl, King Dayton searched for a weapon to strike Allender with. There was none to be had. In his grief, he didn’t care who he was about to hit. He was going to kill them all, beginning with that sickly babe that the midwife was holding. Dayton raised a hand to knock the two children before him aside, only to find he couldn’t bring himself to do it, especially when Helen stepped forward and glared at him. His daughter resembled her mother enough that the thought of hitting her went against him. He might not be able to hurt these two, but he could make raising this child impossible. At the same time, he would still be able to keep his word to Katherine Dayton snarled, “Take her, then, and see how you make out. But, expect no help from anyone who dwells here. You had also better keep her out of my way because if I get my hands on the murdering witch, she will never get to see another moment.”

Helen took another step forward and bit out, “You gave Mother your word, Father. Never forget that.”

Helen knew she stood the least chance of getting hurt by their father, not only did she share her mother’s features, but she was betrothed to a king that her father dared not cross. She considered herself lucky that her betrothed wasn’t the type of man who liked children in his bed. Her betrothed wanted to wait until she was at least sixteen or, as he said at their betrothal, eighteen. Helen’s betrothed would then send for her when he felt the time was right. Helen was eight now, and the dolls that she had played with all of her life were about to take on a different role. Now Helen had a real baby to play with. Although she was not old enough for this kind of responsibility, she was determined to live up to her mother’s last request from her. Helen was determined to make sure Shemaine got an education so she would have a chance at the type of life she deserved.

It was evident their mother had known her husband well. Katherine had been certain Dayton would never keep the promises he made to her after she died. This was why Katherine had used their children to keep Dayton in place as much as was possible. The physician had told her it was unlikely that she would not survive the birth of the child, and although she wanted to live, she feared this might be impossible. At the very least, she wanted her child to survive. Despite her best wishes, Katherine doubted if it was going to be easy for any of her children to live with Dayton. If Katherine had judged Dayton right, and was scared that she had, her ten-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter would quickly become the parents of a newborn child. She suspected Dayton would do everything he could to trip their children up. The two children were going to need to be wily if they expected to beat him. Katherine was concerned about how they would manage this, while at the same time praying that they would find a way, for their lives, as well as the life of her youngest child could hang in the balance. It was for this reason, Katherine had trained her two oldest children for their upcoming roles, surrounding them with people who would follow her wishes, and then had given her older children a base to establish their future and trusted them to pass on her teachings to their sister.

Princess Helen turned and held out her little arms to take her sister from the midwife. Helen cradled her for a few moments and then gave a smile as she promised, “I will treat you as if you were my own.”

King Dayton snarled, “Get out of here, and you better keep it out of my sight. I refuse to have that in the same room with me. I especially want it out of the room of the mother it killed.”

Allender glared at Dayton in disgust. “You made our mother promises. I am here to remind you of them. Mother taught us that no man breaks his word to the dead. Things like that come back to haunt you. This was a belief you used to share with us.”

Dayton refused to admit his children were right. “That belief was your mother’s. Also, keep in mind that as far as that whelp is concerned, I only promised Katherine I would allow the child to live if it survived, no more. Now, get out of my sight, all of you.”

With his words ringing in their ears, his children ran from the room, only daring to take a moment to pay their last respects to their dead mother. There would be no soft words of comfort to soothe their sorrows and pain this day, especially from their father. As far as King Dayton was concerned, no one had existed whom he cared for other than his wife, and Katherine was dead. This meant their children had to fare as well as they could on their own. That was the way it was going to be from now on in Dayton’s world.

With a curse, Dayton ordered Katherine buried then stormed into what he used to consider their suite to pack and gather his battle gear. To appease his pain and anger, Dayton was going to raze a castle, and he didn’t care whose. Katherine was no longer there to stop him from doing whatever he pleased, and this was something he enjoyed.


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