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I'm currently editing these chapters and a new chapter will be up soon.  I didn't realize all the errors that were in the first chapter alone.  I will also be adding more and hooefully clarifying certain aspects of the story. And Sorry I have been gone so long.






Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.



 


 



 




                    Chapter 1 




“Again.” 




“Again.” 




 




The sickening sweet sound of flesh hitting flesh was the only thing that could be heard throughout the room.  A man whose face had seen many battles, many lives and had the scars to prove it swung the blunt sword at his opponent.   




The man was known as The Bear, for his great height and savagery in battle, rained down more blows against his opponent.  He was picked especially for his commanding height and his fierce appearance.  Ingetra heard the rumors around court about the man named The Bear, about his battle prowess and how no man alive has faced The Bear and won. 




 “Again.” 




A girl no more than thirteen faced The Bear, her cheek bloodied her breathing labored, but her determination was unmatched.  This wasn't the first of these “lessons”, as her mother would call them, nor would it be the last. While girls her age were sewing, cooking, tending fields and baring children she was learning the art of being a warrior.   




From swordsmanship to archery and horseback riding, the young girl learned it all.  Raised more like the first born son then daughter the princess was a match for any young noble boy in the kingdom.   




Many of nights her mother came to her in the darkness and spoke of how women of their world were treated as if they were nothing.  Her mother would tell her how men thought women are weak and stupid and that she refused have a daughter that was either one of those things.  That just because she was at a disadvantage in life didn’t mean she had to stay that way. That women were never going to be nothing and were worth nothing.  How easy it was to be mistreat because she was born a princess instead of a prince. 




 




“But, how could you be nothing my child.” She would say often. 




 




“You are iron and lace.” She would say so righteously. 




 




 Iron and lace, what did that mean to her, she was just a girl who still played with dolls and dreamed of marrying her Prince Charming.  How was she supposed to be as unbending as iron and as delicate as lace?  How was she so different than any other girl her age, how was she supposed to be better?  Maybe she was too young to understand the almost feverish way her mother obsessed with making her strong. 




 




    “Again.” 




 




The Bear could see that the as he and the girl faced off against each other, she was getting tired with each blow, each counterstrike each and with every little decision a warrior must make in battle.  The Bear could see that she had enough, they would always be tomorrow or the next day for her to learn to fight.   




This young girl would not become a skilled warrior overnight, she still had time to learn and grow.  Her mother would have it be all or nothing, she wanted her to be a battle hardened warrior overnight.    




 




    “My lady, she’s had enough for today,” came gruffly from The Bear. 




 




Her royal highness Queen Integra de Leon was the third queen of the great King Athelstan of Arcadia. Tall in stature and dark in looks she often attracted men to her beauty. She had a fierce intelligence that was unseen from any queen before.  




 




    Some say her beauty was unmatched by anyone in the king's kingdom, when the king saw her in his court he had to have her.  It didn’t matter that he promised to marry another he had to have Integra.  King Athelstan was a man who demanded the very best and anything less was not good enough for him.  He promised the DeLion family any and everything in order to possess the only daughter of the great DeLion dynasty.      




 




    His first wife princess Surine of the Blacktower had the voice of an angel and looks to match, but soon the king tired of her.  After her third miscarriage he cast her off for her inability to bare him princes.  Her looks nor her voice could keep the king from ending their marriage and looking for his next bride.  She died in a cold lonely castle by herself without family.  That was no way for anyone to die and surely not a princess.    




 




His second wife Ravenna of Vertias was mouse of a woman who wasn't gifted in looks or intelligence but made up for it wealth.  Her wealth helped the King pay for his campaign to take over small surrounding kingdoms.  The second year of their marriage she died in childbirth, she had given birth to a stillborn daughter.  Rumors around court say he sought out a seer who told the King that she would only give birth to girls and with this knowledge the King treated her poorly.  Some say it was the King’s neglect that caused the Queen to go into 




 




The King wanted one thing above all else, a prince to bear his name like all the other Kings that came before him.  He was from a long line of proud Kings that had proud princes, he himself had four brothers that carried his father's blood.  With the birth of his daughter the King had been denied his one true desire, if the queen did not produce a son it would not bode well for her.  Integra would not bend to any man whether he be a King or a bear of a man that was currently looking at her with contempt. 




"Unfortunately for her it will never be enough, she has to suffer this life inferior in the eyes of men because she has been unlucky to be born a girl."    




"A girl who one day will be a Queen, so she has to be twice as strong as anyone else." 




 The queen would not let her daughter be weak, not in mind, body or spirit.  If her husband found out what she was doing he would likely kill her with his bare hands.  Fortunately for her, he was off in some far land conquering its people and stealing its riches.   




For the King's thirst for conquering lands and taking people's riches were only matched with his lust for flesh.  Integra would much prefer him terrorizing neighboring lands then him anywhere near her persons. The fact that her family pretty much sold her to this barbarian for money and lands made her hate them in more than the king.   




The king had no loyalty to her so her wants and dreams meant nothing to him, however her family should have considered her before making this ill-fitting match.  They could only see the money and power they received through this union and not the life of one of their own they destroyed.  Surely as if they plunged a knife in her heart the burn of betrayal severed all ties between Integra and her family. 




Integra made her way over to The Bear and her only child, a child she would rather die than be weak.  The world had taught Integra a long time ago that life wasn’t fair, life wasn’t going to sit back and give you what.  You had to be strong enough to demand what you wanted and this was the only way she could make her daughter strong.   




Leaning down to whisper in her ear she spoke softly, "You are iron and lace." 




Standing straight and just as poised as ever the Queen spoke one simple word to The Bear. 




"Again."       




 














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Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.