3 days until release day! I’m so excited to share my story from the Once Upon a Harem series. Today starts my count to release day and beyond. Each day through Friday (5/25) I’ll post a page from Their Royal Ash.
Chapter One, Page One
The single word echoed through the grand hall, rattling the windows. Or was it the rattling in my brain? A cold shiver raked down my spine like icy claws. Terror gripped a hold of my heart at the fierce tone of my step-father, King Balsatra of the Kregon Kingdom. The most feared ruler.
And a cruel bastard.
He was also paranoid. We were the only kingdom who had a technology and magic ban. The king feared it so much, he wouldn’t trade or do business with other, more advance kingdoms.
Did he understand it left us all vulnerable to outside threats? Did he care?
“Girl! Come when you’re called.”
The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end. He never remembered my name. Or never bothered to try.
The only time he sought me out was when he needed something, or wanted to beat me like a disobedient servant. The latter was usually done in front of his sons to humiliate and remind me I didn’t belong in their family. Especially when they were caught paying me attention. Sometimes I wondered if it was my step-brothers he was punishing.
My heart ached at the thought. Conell, Ayen, and Elion were becoming more to me than just my friends. That slice of truth cut the deepest. I needed to run.
Run away from the palace. From my step-father’s cruelty.
The king’s rage and need to punish me for whatever reason he could think of had grown worse in recent months. So much so, I feared for my life every time he set his attention on me.
I was out.
I’d lived through enough beatings, and wore the scars to prove it. I was eighteen, an adult, and didn’t have to remain to endure his abuse any longer. I didn’t want to think about how much worse it could get for me if I stayed.
I rushed to the back corner of the Great Hall, desperate not to be caught before I could escape the castle. After a quick glance to the main entrance, I slipped into the stairwell only the servants used, then raced down the steps. My heart hammered faster than a scared rabbit. If I didn’t escape unseen, the beating I’d get would be far worse than any he’d delivered since my mother died a year ago.
Princesses didn’t disobey their father—step or not—and servants died for running from the king. Especially if that king was cold-hearted and power hungry.
I exited the stairs into the kitchen, then continued to the side door. Relief flooded me when I entered the empty kitchen. No witnesses to my escape. Just a few feet and I’d be free, as long as the king hadn’t called the guards on me.
Just then the bells sounded, indicating that yes, the king had called them.