Defiant Princess

By: Christine Castle

Chapter One

KARNA DUNJOUR SWIRLED her Venhician steel knife blade through the flickering yellow flame sitting atop a white candle in her dorm quarters. She wasn’t supposed to have the weapon at school. It was one of those decrees that most students adhered to, except for Karna.

How she came to have the knife was a bit of a complicated matter, but essentially, she had swiped it from the old dungeons of her castle back at home without her family being aware. The dungeons weren’t used anymore. She had seen her father go down there many times to sort and polish the weapons in his collection. That was how she knew exactly where to find the secret area where the knife was kept. She was quick and nimble, never being noticed when she followed him.

A small smile stretched her lips as the knife blade glinted in the soft candle light. It was an extremely valuable, rare piece. The danger of having a forbidden weapon made it even more of a thrill in her mind. The Venhician blade probably held more value in its glimmering edges and jeweled handle than her actual life, and Karna was of highborn, royal decent. The knife had undoubtedly originated on Anticester, one of the Haven Islands, the kingdom where she was born and bred. The rarity of the blade delighted her, almost as much as the delicious sense of possessing something forbidden.

She clutched the knife handle, gripping it with white knuckles. If only she had someone to teach her how to use such a weapon. She pursed her lips in a scowl and impatiently pushed a few unruly wisps of white-streaked medium brown hair off her cheek.

The sound of the door unlatching warned her that someone was coming in. She hastily pushed the knife under her pillow. When her roommate Adonia revealed herself, some of the tension left Karna’s shoulders.

“Hey,” Karna said, her tone flat. She flopped back against her pillow.

“What’s going on?” Adonia had white-blonde hair and a serious face that looked wise beyond her years. She frowned in response to Karna’s sour mood. The pair had normally been friendly with each other in the short time they’d roomed together.

“Oh . . .” Karna sighed, leaning back against the headrest. “Nothing. I’m just bored with being here.”

“Already? The semester is barely halfway done.” Adonia gave her a sympathetic grin. “You’re too restless to be here studying history and royal diplomacy, aren’t you?”

“Maybe it’s just because I don’t like the balmy weather on Nipas,” Karna joked, attempting a smile. “The beautiful climate must have a negative effect on me.” Karna was simply trying to lighten the mood because she didn’t want to bring her roommate down.

Adonia sighed and plopped down on her own bed. “I’m sure you aren’t the only one who feels frustrated sometimes about being here.”

“I know . . .” Karna trailed off softly.

It was tradition and customary for the children of the royal Dunjour family, Karna included, to attend Nipas University. Karna’s father, Ryfon Dunjour, had been a white dragon, the only type that had the capacity to rule the Haven Islands. Not long ago, he had been killed in a seafaring voyage, crushing Karna’s heart. Karna had loved her father even though he pressured her to be someone she didn’t really want to be. Some had suspected he was murdered, Karna included.

Karna rolled over to her side and exhaled a bitter sigh, propping her head heavily in her palm. She continued to watch the flame of the candle stretch and dance. White wax dripped like milk down the sides and, for whatever reason, calmed Karna’s swimming thoughts a bit.

At school, she was surrounded by cousins, sons and daughters of other rulers, and other high-born offspring. Even in the midst of such accomplished company, Karna had never felt so alone and empty in her entire life.

Karna stiffened when a thunderous boom right outside the dorm room door pierced the air. Karna and Adonia both sprang to their feet and exchanged a glance. There was a scratching noise at the door. Karna wasn’t expecting company, and from Adonia’s expression, she wasn’t either.

Karna perked expectantly but then slouched with annoyance as an absurdly handsome young man threw the door open and waltzed into the room. A mischievous smile was splashed across his face.