Over the past eighteen years...

"Ugh, I've been watching over those enemies of mine and their mutts for eighteen years now," Edmund muttered to himself. He sighed. Taryn had four mutts and Jamie had three. Entire families.

After Jamie's failed attempt to kill him eleven years ago, he had secretly escaped the palace's detection. He had immediately set out for revenge. However, that stupid Prince Henry—King Henry, now—had foiled his plans by marrying Jamie and having her move in with him in the castle. Classic, unintentional heroism. He despised it.

"Let's recap, shall we?" he said bitterly. "Ex-Captain Jeffrey sent Taryn and Chloe—the dead one—on dangerous missions to our enemies country so that they wouldn't survive and he could give the position of becoming the next Royal Musketeer to his daughter, Jamie. He sent Jamie off on what he called an easier mission. I think I like that guy. Unfortunately, another Royal Musketeer—Kaleb Young—rushed to Taryn's aid, saving her life on more than one occasion. Taryn eventually died, and Chloe was about to anyway, so she gave up her life to save that scoundrel Taryn.

"When Taryn came back, she eventually got Jeffrey thrown in jail for what he had done. Then Henry came and proposed to Jamie, who quickly accepted his offer. Ugh. Kaleb and Taryn got married and had their rats. But I suppose I should back up a bit to where I was almost killed.

"I had mistaken Jamie for her mother, Seraphina, whom I had killed when Jamie was a little girl. I automatically wanted her dead, and she wanted me dead. We ended up fighting that roof on the castle, where Henry came to her rescue. I knocked Jamie down, then Henry, being a hero, jumped down to help her up. I don't know what happened after that, or how they survived. All I know is that Jamie threw a knife or something at me, and I stumbled backward off the roof. Fortunately, there was a ledge I was able to grab on, and the stab from the knife wasn't too deep. I climbed through the window and got out of that castle before anyone even knew that I had poisoned Henry's parents—the King and Queen at the time—drinks. I will never get over my grudge against Jamie for what she did. She stopped the King and Queen from drinking their drinks. I heard about it the next day. I guess she had thrown a nearby guard's sword at the drinks, causing them to shatter before they could drink them.

"Now Jamie has three children, William, Seraphina, and Elizabeth, and Taryn has four, Chloe and Mary—who are twins—, Sarah, and Allison. But what the two women don't know is that I have met one of each of their children. I've met William and Sarah, and I still continue to meet Sarah." He chuckled. "And Taryn still has no idea."

He looked around his little clearing. He had his trusty hammock, his crate, and his fire going. He sipped his tea. "Yes, and my act of revenge will be upon both Jamie and Taryn and their families very soon."

Chapter 1

Meet Sarah

"Sarah, come on! It's dinner time! You've trained enough for today," Taryn called.

"What do you mean that I've trained enough for today? What do you know about training enough?" Sarah grumbled. Who says a girl can't train all day in 1873? Especially when her own MOTHER is one of the Captains of the Royal Musketeers? And when her FATHER is the other one? Sarah sighed. "Who cares? What I want to do isn't important."

"What was that?" Taryn asked, eying her daughter. It was well known to her, Kaleb, and her other daughters that Sarah was special. When she was a girl, if she had an extremely strong emotion, her eyes would turn a color to correspond to the emotion. Like if she was really sad, her eyes would turn a deep blue like Kaleb's. But now that she was fifteen, her eyes changed colors all the time. Even if she didn't have a strong emotion.

"Nothing," she muttered, looking down. Taryn could tell, however, that her daughter's eyes were purple, the color of either curiousness or mischievousness. And since she didn't believe that Sarah was curious, that only left one option.

"What did you say, Sarah?"

"Nothing!" she practically hollered. "My eyes aren't necessarily always right!"

"Whoa whoa whoa!" Kaleb said, stepping in between his wife and daughter. "What is going on?"

"Nothing," Taryn said, turning away with tears in her eyes. She walked away. "Come and eat," she called quietly.

Kaleb sighed and gestured toward the retreating Taryn. "Come on, Sarah," he scolded. "Your mother can only take so much. Don't be so hard on her."

"It's not my fault she's so sensitive," Sarah retorted.

Kaleb raked a stressed hand through his hair. "That's it, young lady! You go to your room this instance!"

"Fine." Without saying another word, she stormed up the stairs of the rickety old training hall. It wasn't really old, but it felt old.

When she entered her room, she was about to slam the door close when she noticed her little sister Ally standing there. "Mom said it's time to eat," Sarah said gently. She had always favored her younger sister over her older twin sisters. At first she was jealous to not be the youngest anymore, but she quickly got over it when she realized that Ally—as the younger sister—practically worshiped her. Now Ally, at ten, did almost anything that Sarah told her to. She had often said how she wanted to be just like her big sister.

"Okay," Ally said, inching past her. She paused, "Are you coming?"

"Naw, I'm not hungry," she lied.

"All right. I'll see you later, Sis."

"See you later," Sarah said, waving her out. This was the way things were almost every night. She had grown accustomed to it.

She quickly packed some of her hidden supply of food in her satchel. It would be a while before anybody came back to her shared room. She quietly slipped down the trestle outside her window. Now running across the open field, she aimed her sights at the familiar path hidden in the woods. Breaking through the barrier that kept her from getting to the well tread path, she slowed her pace to a walk.

After walking up the path for a few minutes, she took the all too familiar turn to the left. Emerging from the trees, she saw her old friend sitting on his crate. "Hello, Edmund," she greeted. She emptied her bag containing food. "I brought you some more food." She had long since known that he was not a spy as he had once told her. He had only said that when she had once brought Prince Will to his little campground. It was a safety precaution.

"Thank you, Sarah!" Edmund said with a smile as he scratched his head. His grayed hair flopped about on his head because of the wind. His smile quickly vanished, though. "Listen, I have to talk to you about something."

"Yes?" she questioned, her eyes turning violet. He had her hooked.

"I have to leave..." he began.

"No! You can't leave me here with these people! Your the only thing I have to look forward to anymore!" She had long since stopped listening to her mother's stories. Simply folktales, she had soon dismissed them. Her fragile mother—whom she had no idea how she had even got to become a Royal Musketeer, let alone a captain of them—had told of stories about how she was a young girl who had to face a great trial to become a Royal Musketeer. How she she had to defeat something called The Shadow, and how it had taken almost killed her. It almost took her friend's life as well, she had said, but her friend willingly gave up her life in the end to save Taryn. Yeah, right. Her mother had said that the girl's name was Chloe. Sarah doubted that such a person ever existed.

"That's what I wanted to talk to you about," he began again. "I wanted to know..." He looked away. "No, I shouldn't even think such things."

"What?" Sarah demanded. "What things?"

"Well, it's an absurd question, but I was wondering... would you want to come with me?"

Sarah didn't flinch. "Yes," she responded without hesitation. "Anything to get away from here and my stupid family."

"Really?" Edmund asked with fake shock. He knew the whole time that she wouldn't be able to resist such an adventure. "You want to come?"

"I wouldn't miss it for the world," she said bravely. "Can I meet you here tomorrow morning?"

"I wouldn't have it any other way."

She quickly said goodbye then retraced her steps back to her windowsill. Climbing back up the trestle, she struggled to get her body over the sill. When she had finally been able to get through, she felt a sharp pain pull on her sensitive head. "Ow!" she cried in pain.

Standing above her was Will. She hadn't even noticed him there. He had taken advantage of the situation by pulling on her dirty blonde hair. "Where was the Princess running off to?" he joked.

"To find my knight in shining armor," she responded sarcastically. She couldn't help but admire his muscular build. He was tall—of course, to her, everyone was tall—about five foot seven, he had his dad's dark brown hair, but, surprisingly, he had his mother's purple eyes.

"No need to be snippy, Princess. I apologize for pulling you hair." Even being the Prince at the age of eighteen, he still had the heart of a fifteen year old sometimes. Out of all Sarah's friends, he was probably the closest of them.

"A prince like you should have more manners," she laughed. She hugged him. "When did you get here?" she asked.

"Just a few minutes ago. Mom said that she thought that we should pay you guys a visit."

Sarah sighed. "So that means your sisters are here, huh?"

"Yeah, afraid so. But hey, we don't have to hang out with them. You and I can spar. I'm sure that my mom has taught me better than yours..." he winked suggestively.

"Fine." She held her head high. Her eyes were silver, the color her eyes turned when she was prideful. "Suit yourself. If you think that it will look good for you, as the Prince, to lose to a girl in a sword match, then that's your decision. I won't stop you." But don't mention my mom again, she begged him silently. He seemed to get the message. It was probably her eyes again...

He took her hand and pulled her toward the door. "Come on, Slowpoke. There's no way you're going to win a match against me if you're this slow."

She jumped down the stairs and dashed out the door. "Who's the slow one now?" she sneered. Then these events followed: she ran... her foot struck something... she fell. "Ow ow ow..." she moaned, holding her head. Her eyes quickly turned red. "Who tripped me?" she demanded. She looked around, but no one was near. She looked down and saw the culprit. A little box. Her eyes turned pink and she blushed.

"Your such a Klutz," he chided. "Tripping over a box..." He picked it up. "Whoa... look at this," he said, gesturing toward a painting that was folded up in the box.

Sarah looked. She gasped. There was her own mother, in the middle of a sword fight with a blonde haired girl. A girl who looked like Queen Jamie was leaning against the side of the ring, laughing. The painting captioned with, Taryn Hiddenblade sparing with Chloe Hilltree. Jamie Canda is on the left. "T-this is... my mom... and your mom... and a girl named... Chloe?" The stories came flooding back. Chloe was her mom's childhood friend. The one who had died a little over eighteen years ago.

Sarah quickly took the painting from Will and stuck it in her pocket. "I'll give it to Mom when I see her," she told him, fully intending on doing so. Without saying a word more, she started running to the training court again. He followed closely behind, gaining speed.

"See you next year!" he called out as he ran ahead.

"Oomph!" Sarah said, tripping again. She didn't move.

Will stopped. "Sarah? Are you all right?" No response. He jogged back over. Gently shaking her, he said, "Sarah... wake up." Her eyes opened slightly.

"Will?" she muttered weakly.

He helped her up. "Yeah, it's me. Come on." He turned back toward the Training Hall, supporting her.

"Will?" she asked.


"Do you have a good sense of balance?"

"What do you mean—?"

Sarah shoved him and he fell to the ground. "See ya next year!" Sarah mimicked. She dashed back off to the sparing ring. Like taking candy from a baby, she thought.

"Why that dirty rat," Will laughed. He got to his knees and pushed himself up, then raced after her.