The Unnamed Chronicles
Once there was a land called Airmity, which was home to two brave princesses. Though they were sisters, and as close as could be, they would soon be separated. One princess met two runaways, and the other was forced to marry her father's knight. Soon, an old battle breaks out anew, with the four new friends and their families caught in the middle. A single dagger could be the key to end it all.
Sword of a Princess Excerpt
The rain sprinkled down on Emmy, who shivered and hugged her history book close to herself to keep it from getting wet. She walked quickly, trying to catch up with her stepsisters, who held the umbrella. She wished she had a different life.
Her father had died when she was only eleven, leaving Emmy and her mother alone in the world. They were devastated. Her father had been her mother's first love and Emmy's protector.
Two years passed, and her mom met a tall, good-looking man named Richard. He had good manners and two children: a girl, the same age as Emmy, and a boy who was several years younger. At first Emmy was wary of them, afraid this man would try to take the place in her heart that was dedicated to her father, but slowly, she grew to accept him. Shortly thereafter, he and her mother were married.
Then, as if the fates had decided one terrible event was not enough, another nightmare happened. It was August, just a week before school. Emmy, her new sister, and their mother had gone shopping for school clothes, and a drunk driver hit them. One airbag kicked in, saving Emmy's life, but the others in the car were not so lucky.
Emmy was desolate. Both of her parents were dead, making her an orphan. The two people that she had once thought would always be there were gone.
Several years later, her stepfather met a kind lady with twin daughters, a year older than Emmy, and two boys; one older than Emmy, another a few years younger than her. Richard and the woman were only friends at first, but their friendship soon blossomed into romance, and they married. Emmy was happy for her stepfather, but her new stepsisters were bullies, and overall, Emmy didn’t feel as though she had a home.
A tear pricked at her eye, and she quickly dashed it away before it could leak out and fall with the rain. Pulling her mind out of the past, Emmy looked up, right as a boy from her history class slipped and dropped his open backpack into a mud puddle. He was a nice guy and had let her borrow his notes for a quiz once when she'd missed school the day before.
“What's the matter, Colton? Can't keep your feet straight?” One of her stepsisters laughed.
The other chuckled along, “Most guys fall for girls, but I guess you just fall for the street!”
He ignored them and picked up his books and backpack, trying to wipe away the water, as rain continued to pour down.
Emmy crossed the street and silently helped him pick up his books. He smiled at her, and thanked her quietly.
“Come on, Emmy, you’re with us.” One of her stepsisters gripped Emmy’s arm, and pulled her under the umbrella for a moment and glaring at her.
“Get lost, loser,” the other sister told Colton with a dirty look.
“Haylee, why did you do that?” Emmy wasn’t sure if Colton could hear her outburst, and she honestly didn’t care.
“Look, you can't help people like him!” She shook her head at Emmy in frustration.
“Yeah, he doesn’t even deserve help,” her twin agreed.
Emmy opened her mouth, but no words came out. What could she say?
“He’s a loser, Emmy,” Haylee told her gently, as if she were a small child who just didn’t understand.
“And losers will always be losers,” her twin reminded.
Haylee stroked Emmy’s short hair for a moment, “All that keeps you from being a loser, is that you have us,” she said quietly. “You wouldn’t want to lose us, would you? Then you’d be a loser, just like Colton.”
“And if you keep helping losers like Colton…well…don’t they say that you become who you hang out with? We wouldn’t want you to become a loser, would we?”
Emmy gritted her teeth, but bit back the words that danced on the tip of her tongue.
“You don’t want to be a loser, do you, Emmy?” Haylee asked.
Emmy was silent.
“Emmy?” Haylee’s grip on her arm grew tighter.
“Then maybe you should thank us for our kindness?”
“Thank you, Haylee.”
Haylee smiled, and pushed Emmy out from under the umbrella, “You’re so lucky you’re our stepsister.” Then they turned their backs to Emmy, and continued home.
When Emmy got home, she dashed to the bathroom to take a quick shower and get out of the uncomfortably tight and revealing clothes her stepsisters insisted that she wear. They didn’t want her to embarrass them with her poor fashion sense.
She turned on the shower, and listened to the pattering of the water on the shower floor mimic the sounds of the rain outside, as she eagerly shed the short shorts, and low cut tank top. The mirror was already beginning to fog when she stepped into the welcoming warmth of the shower. The warm water pounded on her skin and slid down her body, relaxing her.
When the water began to turn cold, Emmy sighed, and turned off the steady sprinkle. Outside, the rain was also fading. She dried herself with a fluffy towel, and slipped into a comfortable pair of jeans and a soft t-shirt. The day’s stress was mostly forgotten, and was replaced with thoughts of hot tea, and finishing homework.
There were some upsides to having manipulative bullies as stepsisters. One of these upsides was that under the guise of concern for Emmy, they had told their mother that Emmy should have a room far away from theirs. After all, they were sisters, used to giggling and talking about boys, and they didn’t want to keep Emmy up with their racket. So, Emmy got her own room.
It was bigger than the rooms her stepsisters had, though colder in the winter and hotter in the summer, simply because it was the attic. However, it was the entire attic, and Emmy loved it. She could do whatever she wanted, without criticism, and though they hadn’t meant to do her a kindness, it did mean she didn’t have to listen to their constant babble.
“I can’t do this anymore, Arik. That is my children’s favorite place to play, but I don’t want to take the risk that letting them continue to go there involves.” Markus ran his fingers through his black hair, groaning.
“Remember, it was because of Dawn and Amanda's father not wanting to take a chance of them getting hurt, that they felt the need to run away,” Arik warned.
“Yes, but I would have never met my beautiful wife had she not run away,” Markus protested.
“True,” Arik conceded with a shrug, “But does that really matter right now? Would you want to risk one or more of your children running away, and into more danger, because they thought you were being too harsh, when all you were doing was trying to protect them? Dawn and Amanda’s father was also just trying to protect them. You need to tell them the truth, don’t try to shield them. At least tell Asher. He’s old enough to understand the danger, and skilled enough to protect his siblings and cousins if necessary.”
Markus buried his head in his hands and moaned.
“Have you told Dawn?” Arik's tone was gentler now.
Markus groaned again, “I don’t want to worry her…I just want to protect our children!”
“Somehow, I think Dawn can handle just about anything you throw at her. I understand that you want to protect your children, but you’re going about it wrong. They’re young, not stupid. If you explain to them why they can’t play there any longer, or warn them to be careful playing out there, they’ll understand.”
Markus sighed again, pulling at his hair in frustration. “I'll talk to Dawn about it in the morning. She’s gone to bed, and I don’t want to disturb her.”
Arik raised an eyebrow. “She’s in bed this early? Really? I thought she preferred living like an owl.”
Markus nodded and shrugged. “She’s been tired a lot lately. You'd better turn in too, Arik, otherwise you’ll be alone in this big place. I’m planning on joining my wife in bed. All this worrying has worn me out.”
“I think I’ll just take a midnight ride to Airmity. Sophie stayed there with Amanda, and I think Jewel is there too.” He rose to his feet with a groan, and rested his hand on Markus’ shoulder. “And, Markus? Try not to worry too much. There’s a reason the Bible says to cast all of our cares upon God.”
Markus sighed and nodded. “I know, though it’s so hard to put into practice. Give them all a greeting from me, and bring me back word on how Amanda is. Brea’s death…it’s been hardest on Amanda.”
“Will do. Tell Mother and Father that I'm sorry I missed them.”
“I’ll be sure to tell them. Goodnight, Arik. Ride safely!”
Arik chuckled softly to himself as he walked to the stables to get his horse. He waved off the stable boys, and saddled his own horse. He remembered a time long ago when he and Markus were hiding here from Fire, a wicked lava beast, who had utterly hated their entire family. That, however, had happened a long time ago.
Arik was now married to Sophie, Queen of Anemonia. Her father was still alive, but was widowed, and rather than taking a new wife, he had simply abdicated the throne to Arik, who ruled with Sophie by his side.
The lava beasts who still lived were now friends of the royal families. However, their minions, the gobarts, were another matter. No one had thought much about them since peace had been made with the lava beasts, but the gobarts had multiplied and become stronger. Much stronger. Or so it seemed. They now roamed freely through the Misa-Terram and had likely joined forces with other evil creatures inhabiting that dark wood.
It was no great danger that the gobart race had survived, or even that they lived in the Misa-Terram, but news had been brought to Markus that a gobart had been sighted in the woods near the palace. Markus’ children loved to play in that section of the wood and as Asher, his eldest son, was sixteen, he didn’t typically send a guard along. Asher could take care of himself and his siblings. But, with a gobart on the loose, Markus was concerned and as usual, discussed his concerns with his brother and confidante, Arik.
Arik was a father himself, and Amanda, Dawn's sister, was a mother. Jewel, Markus and Arik’s sister, claimed she didn’t want to get married. Not yet, maybe never. Lissa, Markus and Arik’s youngest sister, was nearly always off with the remaining lava beasts and had sworn never to get married, but instead to help orphans and others less fortunate than herself.
When Arik arrived at the Armittite castle, he, again, cared for his horse himself, then quietly left the stable. Years of living without servants had caused him and his brother to be different than typical royalty.
When he entered the first-floor sitting room of the Airmity castle, he found Amanda, Jake, and Jewel having very heated “discussion”. Sophie was nowhere to be seen.
He leaned on the doorway and cleared his throat. “If you’ll excuse me a for moment to interrupt your argument, could someone tell me where my wife has gone?”
“It’s a discussion, not an argument,” Jewel informed him, “and Sophie waited up for you for a while, but grew so tired that we told her to go to bed…so…she’s in bed.” She smiled at him, before turning back to her “discussion”.
Arik didn’t bother to say thank you, but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. They were a bit distracted. He went up to the room he shared with his wife when they visited Airmity. She was already fast asleep, so he quietly pulled off his boots and shirt before crawling into bed, wrapping her in his arms, and falling asleep with her.
©2017 Katie Holm
To order your own copy of Sword of a Princess click here.
The Unnamed Legend Excerpt
Once, long ago, in a distant land, there was a king who ruled a country called Airmity. His name was Stephan. His wife was a beauty named Queen Genevieve. Their closest friends were the rulers of another country, called Gloris; Queen Sarah, and King James.
Unfortunately not all was well in Gloris. The king and queen had married a year ago and had welcomed a baby boy, an heir to the throne, their little bundle of joy.
Not long after their son was born a man came to them, claiming to have been sent as a messenger of God, giving them gifts for their sons. When the king and queen protested that they had only one son the messenger objected, assuring them that they were going to have another son.
Believing his statement that God had sent him, they accepted the gifts and waited for their next son.
Sure enough, they had another son about a year after the first! They also had threats; threats from Satan’s followers. They despised God, and those who loved him. They were willing to do anything to get something of his. A gift He had sent to a baby, a weapon He had given a soldier. They wanted anything and everything.
The royal family of Gloris was told to hand over the weapons or they would die and their children too.
One day, Queen Sarah—who was now pregnant with her third child—heard that there were lava beasts heading toward the castle. Most lava beasts were followers of Satan; they were his puppets. If they refused to do evil, they were quickly slain by fellow lava beasts.
The queen quickly hid the gifts given to her little boys in a place where no one would ever find them. But she could not hide herself. She, her husband, and her two sons were captured that same day.
Some people thought they had just packed up and left, tired of ruling a country. Others thought they would come back. No one knew what had really happened. Many citizens of Gloris moved to Airmity.
Queen Genevieve, Queen Sarah’s best friend, believed that they would return. She hoped, and prayed that her friend would come back safely…and she did return, with her husband and four children. But…she didn’t return safely.
She begged her friend for help. They had escaped from their prison, but King James was trapped under a heavy log. If they were going to stay out of the prison, together, and safe, even for only a little while, someone had to help them!
Genevieve helped her friend get King James out from under the log, but then the lava beasts appeared.
James and Sarah would have stayed to defend her, but she insisted that they leave. She protected her friends valiantly, until she was struck on the head and fell over in a motionless heap. Her husband spotted her, and he ran to rescue her, but five of his knights held him back, whispering that if he died too, their whole land would be in utter turmoil.
He watched as the lava beasts carried off his beautiful wife, the mother of his two sweet little princesses, who were seven and six years old. And he cried.
He shut himself off from the rest of the world, going out only when required, or hunting.
Slowly, he withdrew from his daughters, until he was a cold-hearted man, who hated the world, and even God, for taking his wife.
©2017 Katie Holm
To order your own copy of The Unnamed Legend, click here.
The Division Excerpt
Six-year-old Amon sat on the hard ground, and mournfully watched the setting sun. He and his siblings had been banished outside since morning, when their mother began crying out in labor pain.
He turned to his big sister, Amii, the corners of his mouth downturned. “Amii, when will Mommy come outside?”
His ten-year-old sister shrugged her shoulders and flipped one of her dark brown braids behind her. “She’ll come outside soon enough, Papa said so. And he said that when she does, she’ll have a baby, and we’ll finally be able to pack up our things and we can all leave to go live with Uncle Rupert.”
“I want the baby...but why do we hafta go live with Uncle Rupert? I don’t want to live with Uncle Rupert!” Amon protested, wrinkling his nose.
“Well, Uncle Rupert says that Papa will be the next king, because Uncle Rupert is very sick and when he dies he will not be able to be king.”
“So? Can’t someone else be king besides Papa?”
“No, because Uncle Rupert doesn’t want Cousin Asiah to be the next king, because he would be a bad king, because all he cares about is parties and pretty girls.”
Amon crossed his arms and made a funny face. “Girls aren’t pretty! Mommy is the only pretty girl and I want her now!”
“You’re right, Amon, girls aren’t pretty!” agreed Armit, his tow-headed, freckle-faced, eight-year-old brother. An ornery grin crossed his face.
“They’re ugly!” Armit’s twin brother, Gorn, agreed emphatically, a twinkle in his eye.
Amii glared at them fiercely. “I’m a girl!” she told them, crossing her arms and stamping her bare foot on the dusty ground. A small dust cloud rose from the ground, then settled onto her already dirty foot.
Armit and Gorn grinned at each other and laughed, their blue eyes twinkling mischievously.
Amon shook his head, a confused look on his face. “Nuh uh, you’re a sister. It’s not the same thing as a girl!”
Armit and Gorn laughed. “Everyone knows that sisters are girls! They’re the same thing!”
Amon’s lower lip trembled. “Don’t laugh at me! Amii’s not ugly, she’s a sister!”
“Oh, come on, we were only joking!” Armit told him, still laughing.
“Yeah, that’s how you know we love you! Just learn how to take a joke!” Gorn agreed.
“You stop it!” Amii glowered at her brothers and raised her fists. “Amon is our little brother, and you’re not supposed to be mean to him! If you’re going to be mean to him, I’m going to beat you up and you won’t like it!” She turned to Amon and took his hand, pulling him up from where he sat. They walked toward the shade offered by the house and leaned against its sturdy walls.
“I’m sorry, Amii, I didn’t think about you being a girl, I thought you were just a sister,” Amon apologized, his lower lip quivering.
“It’s okay, Amon. I’m a girl though, so you can’t say girls aren’t pretty. That’s not nice.”
“You are pretty,” Amon told her. “But not all girls are.”
“Okay, Amon.” She rolled her eyes, then busied herself with pulling grass from the ground.
The door swung open, and their father stepped out. “You can come in now, children,” he said softly.
Amon reached his arms up to his father, who picked him up and held him close. “Is Mommy coming out?” he asked eagerly. “And then we go to Uncle Rupert’s so you can be king?”
“Things have…gone wrong.” He squeezed Amon closer and stared at the horizon.
“Gone wrong?” Armit asked.
Gorn tilted his head to the side. “What does that mean?”
Amon looked down at Amii. Her eyes were wide, and seeing that made him feel cold all over. Was there something wrong with the baby? Maybe everyone was just really tired because it was a lot of work to have a baby. That would be okay. They would just sleep for a week and then go to Uncle Rupert’s.
But strangely their father ignored Gorn’s question, and Amon felt even colder.
The midwife and her apprentice scurried about with bloody towels and pots of water. Amon’s eyes were wide in horror. If you bled so much when you had babies, he was glad he was a boy. It was bad enough when he fell and skinned his knee! But after a shiver, he looked across the room to his mother.
Her eyes were closed, and she held a tiny bundle wrapped in blankets on her chest. As Amon got nearer, he heard her humming faintly to it. When she heard their footsteps, she stopped humming, opened her eyes, and turned to them, smiling weakly. Labor sweat still glistened on her brow.
“Hello, darlings.” She took a hand from the bundle and extended it toward her older children.
“Momma, is that the new baby?” Amon crept to his mother’s side, peering suspiciously at the bundle.
“Yes, little one. It’s your baby brother. His name is Justice. And look at this.” She pulled his blanket back a bit, to show Amon his brother’s fuzzy head. “His hair is red, just like mine.”
“Just like yours?” Amon repeated, stretching a little hand out to him.
“Yes, and his eyes are big and blue, just like yours!”
“Just like mine?” He peered closer to see, but the baby’s eyes were closed. “But how do you know? His eyes are still shut tight, like the babies our kitty had.” He reached a finger toward the baby’s face, and gently touched his cheek. The baby shifted at the touch, moving his mouth toward his brother’s finger.
She laughed quietly. “They were open earlier. Humans are not like kittens, Amon. Their eyes aren’t glued shut when they’re born.”
“Oh.” He stared at the baby, his eyes full of wonder.
“Momma, are you okay?” Amii asked. “Papa said something went wrong. Is the baby okay?”
A shadow crossed into their mother’s eyes. “The baby is fine, Amii. Beautiful and healthy.”
“Are you okay?” she asked in barely a whisper. Amon looked up from baby Justice. If Amii was scared, something must really be wrong.
“I’m…” She looked helplessly to her husband. “Oliver?”
The midwife, a kind, portly woman, who had birthed many children in the village, and given birth to many of her own, set aside her cleaning, and came to the family. “Would you like me to tell them, Breana?”
Their parents nodded.
“Children,” the midwife began softly, “When a woman has a child, she bleeds. But the bleeding always stops.” She cast a sorrowful glance toward their mother. “Your mother is...bleeding very badly...and I can’t stop it.”
“B-but can we bandage her? Won’t that make the bleeding stop?” Amon asked, remembering the bandage his mother had wound around his knee last time he skinned it up.
She smiled sadly at him and brushed a hand across his cheek. “No, little one, a bandage won’t help your mother now.” She turned to the rest of the children. “When the bleeding doesn’t slow or stop...there’s nothing I can do. Unless a miracle happens, your mother will….” the midwife trailed off. She was used to giving the sad news of a stillborn infant, but somehow it was harder to share the news of a dying mother. “Your mother is...passing on. She may have minutes, she may have hours. She could have an entire day.”
“Passing on?” Amon asked his mother in confusion. “What’s passing on?”
“No!” Amii cried out. She had heard the term before. “That isn’t true!”
“Amii,” their mother began softly, “it is true. I want you to take care of your brothers…all of them. Please, Amii.”
“What’s passing on?” Amon asked again. His chest grew tighter and he could barely swallow for the lump that was in his throat. “Mommy, why can’t you take care of us?” His voice seemed smaller and shakier than usual.
For the first time in his life, Amon saw tears in his mother’s eyes. “Oh my sweet little Amon,” she breathed. “Passing on means that I am going to die. It means that I’m going to go live with God.”
“But why, Mommy? You’re not old! You only go live with God when you are old!” he protested, clutching her hand tightly.
The tears spilled from her eyes, but she didn’t say anything, only held him close.
Amon looked to Amii to see if these words could possibly be true, and at the sight of her tears, he broke down. “But, but, Mommy!” He buried his face in his mother’s arm, sobbing in a way he hadn’t done for quite some time.
As Amii, Amon, and their mother cried, Oliver stood stoically, resting his hand on his wife’s shoulder. Armit and Gorn moved closer together, eyes wide, too shocked to cry.
“I’m sorry, little ones,” the midwife whispered, tears misting her own eyes. Then she walked away leaving the family to say farewell alone.
“Amon?” his mother said softly. “I have a request to make of you, little one.”
He sniffled. “Wh…what is it, Momma?”
“Will you take care of baby Justice? Amii must look after all of you, and the twins must look out for you and each other…so could you take care of baby Justice? I want you to be the one who looks after him, protects him, and keeps him from getting hurt.”
Slowly, Amon nodded, trying to wipe away his tears, and failing miserably. “Do…do you hurt, Momma?”
“Oh, little one….” Though she had thought her heart could break no more, her heart shattered anew for her children. “Only a little,” she lied.
Amii turned and buried her face in her father’s chest, and although they had tried so hard to be strong, Armit and Gorn clung to each other and sobbed. Oliver gathered his older children into his arms, as his own tears rained down on them.
“You don’t have to go, Momma!” Gorn cried out.
“Please, Momma, we’ll never complain about anything again!” Armit promised, his voice breaking near the end of his plea.
Their mother reached out to them, and they came to her. She held all of her children close, kissing them over and over. She didn’t tell them not to cry. She didn’t lie, and tell them that it would be okay. She just held them and kissed them.
After a long while, she hugged Justice one last time, then kissed his forehead. She carefully handed him to Amii. “Help Amon take care of him.” She rested a hand on her daughter’s cheek, and gently wiped away her tears.
“Breana….” Oliver’s voice broke as he held his wife close.
“Oh, Oliver….” She leaned against him, resting her head against his chest. “I love you.”
“I love you too.” He leaned down for a final kiss, salty with tears, then knelt beside his wife, holding her hand and stroking her hair.
She smiled faintly at her little family, wishing she could give them peace that would last them a lifetime. She took a few ragged breaths. Then she closed her eyes.
©2018 Katie Holm
To order your own copy of The Division, click here.