Oraca

Katherine Ravencry is the changeling child of a sixteenth century king and a beautiful queen of a powerful immortal race. Despite the powerful blood that runs through her veins, Katherine is not important. Until her father is murdered and the civil war breaks out. Katherine discovers that she does, in fact, have a purpose in life that is more than being betrothed to a powerful nobleman. She must fulfill her destiny. Else everyone that she loves will be in danger.

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2. Before

Before the accident, I hated my brother.

For the first seven years of my life I found him to be a portentous, arrogant, stupid boy even though he was quite the opposite. If I had been the type of person to acknowledge my wrongs out loud, I would have apologised to Caspian for what I did to him, but that person is yet to appear. Hot-headed, impatient and impulsive: that was me. But I have rarely heard those words come out from someone else's mouth. I had my ways to silence those who tried.

Prior the mess that became my life, I had a nurse who would often compare my qualities with that of my mother's. I used to retort, but she had ways to silence me. Her ways of silencing others were very different to mine for she disguised her acts of vengeance as accidents whilst it was obvious that mine were intentional.

Bertha, my nurse, was an old witch with rolls and rolls of excess, pock-scarred skin. Her dark, beady eyes were almost hidden in her large, ugly face and her thin lips were forever set in a grim line. It had been said that Bertha had castrated her late husband's genitals when she found out about his infidelity, but I could never decipher whether this was just a rumour to frighten my brother and I as children, or if there was any truth in it.

I lie when I say that she was a witch. But I do not lie when I say that she certainly could pass for being one.

Before the accident, I was a self-centred, spoilt little brat. My father, the King of Oraca, made sure that my chambers were well furnished and that I had an extensive wardrobe. I also had a trail of ladies in waiting that would be at my beck and call and the finest tutors within my father's empire. But I did not want any of that, not really.

I yearned for something that I was all too aware that I was never going to get. Yet all the same I would sit by my window and stare out at the sunset, wishing that the next day would be different. The sunset only brought me disappointment.

For many years, I was a ghost in my father's eye and court. Yes, I was treated well. But no, I was not wanted. I used to believe that the reason why my father did not turn me to the streets was because he felt that he had the duty to care for his own flesh and blood.

But I soon came to realise the true reason. He was afraid that, if he treated me unkindly, I would turn out to be just like my mother.

I used to hate my elder brother because his mother was our father's beloved. I don't think that he ever really got over her untimely death. He swore not to love another, and he kept true to his word for he never loved my mother. Not really.

I was seven years old when the accident occurred.

I had endured several hours of confinement so, understandably, I fled to the training ground as soon as my tutor had dismissed me. My presence was, in everyone's mind, not wanted in the training ground for it was where a man, who beheld a notable title, could retreat to. I was the wrong gender so, no matter what my age was, I was denied access. Caspian and the knights were afraid that I, a small and 'fragile' princess, would come to harm.

“Little princess,” Sir Collins bent down so that he was level with my diminutive height. “Would you not prefer to ride your pony around the courtyard?

I shook my head indignantly. “I would much prefer to learn to sword fight.”

Sir Collins smiled. “But your pony will be very upset if you should neglect her. I advise you to take advantage of the beautiful weather and go and have fun.”

“Yes, I think I will,” I said, mirroring Collins' smile. “This is the perfect day to learn to fight, don't you think?”

“No,” Collins laughed. “I do not.”

“Then why are you training if it is not the perfect day?”

Collins rolled his eyes and shook his head before a smile crept upon his face. “You really are something, aren't you?”

“What do you mean?”

Collins lifted his face to the cloudless sky and laughed. He patted my head before walking away. I was about to follow him, but Caspian jogged towards me.

“What are you doing here?” He did not sound irritated, as I had expected, but amused.

“Doing some needle-work.”

Caspian laughed. “Katherine, you really are something.”

Then he walked away, just as Collins had before him. This time, however, I followed.

“Why does everyone keep saying that?” I asked, half jogging to keep up with my brother's newly extended legs (he had turned twelve not three months before).

“Keep saying what?” Caspian stopped and I bumped into him.

“Sir Collins said 'you really are something' to me and then you said the exact same thing,” I explained whilst rubbing the side of my head.

“So?”

So what do you mean?”

Caspian smiled as if he found me hilarious and I scowled at him. “You are quick witted and unintentionally funny,” I would have taken this as a compliment had he not carried on. “It's a shame that you are not a boy.”

I held my head high. “Just because I am a girl does not mean that I am stupid and weak and can't sword fight.”

“You're not stupid and weak, but you are far too small to fight with a sword.”

“But quite a few of the knights have sons that are my age or even younger, but they get taught how to fight!”

“Shh,” Caspian put a hand on my shoulder. “Girls do not need to learn how to fight because they have men to look after them.”

With that, he turned from me. Although he assumed that this argument was over, I most certainly didn't. Anger poisoned my trembling body and I grabbed my brother's arm to stop him from walking away. He began to scream and try to shake me off, but I would not let go. He was, by far, the stronger one so he finally untangled himself from me and grasped his arm with his hand.

“What the hell?” Caspian stared at me in disbelief, as if another head had just sprouted from my neck.

A few knights ran over to us, wanting to know if everything was okay. But, for me, nothing was okay. I had kept my ability from everyone but because I let my temper get the better of me, I had exposed my secret. This was it. This was when Caspian was going to tell everyone that I had inherited dangerous powers from my infamous faerie queen mother.

“I am quite all right,” Caspian said, slightly breathless. “Katherine really is a fighter.”

Or not.

“She stabbed me in the arm, not deeply though,” my brother smiled at me. “I think the best thing to do is to train this fire breathing dragon else she'll underestimate her power.”

I stared at him, my mouth agape.

“I will keep hold of the weapons for the moment, though,” he patted his holster where his sword had always been. “Just until you have accomplished the basic techniques using a wooden stick.”

It dawned on me then that I could never have really hated my brother. He was, without a doubt, our father's favourite but he had never been unkind to me. I certainly did not deserve to be shown kindness after what I had just done to him, but Caspian was not the kind of person who spent his days hating people (unlike myself). I had no reason to carry on hating him, and the jealousy I felt towards him evaporated.

I had made a mistake in the judging of his character, but I didn't tell him that and never intended to. I have never been the type of person to acknowledge my wrongs out loud.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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