Disclaimer: You know the drill. Kalasin, her mother, father, brother, those other TP characters (and places) you already know don't belong to me. So if you decide to sue me, I will have to reward you with a handsome slap to the back of the head and the expletive: 'You moron!' You'll like it. Really. Those characters and places that you don't recognize are mine. So is the plot. Attempt to steal any of the latter, and I'll pass you this note: A meeting has been arranged between: Your ass. My foot. Please arrive no later than 2:00 P.M.

Summary: Eager doesn't define Kalasin's approach to moving to Carthak & getting married to Emperor Kaddar. So the day her ship is supposed to leave, she ducks into the library, where she stumbles upon a strange book…

1. And It Was Pink

Everything was ready. The baggage and imperial gifts were loaded and stored. The sky was clear; the tide perfect.

But the ship remained by the dock. It patiently bobbed over the water, looking calm and serene.

It was the very opposite of Jon's own image, Thayet thought with a sigh. Although, his impatience and frustration was not misplaced.

The princess, the reason why the voyage was even taking place, was missing.

"Sire," the sailor said to the man who ruled the country of Tortall. "She isn't on board."

Thayet saw the subtle clench of Jon's chin. He was getting angry. "Are you sure?"

The sailor nodded. "We've checked every nook and cranny. She isn't anywhere to be found on our ship."

Jon nodded in dismissal at the sailor, who gave him a smart salute before turning away.

Thayet sighed for the twentieth time that afternoon. "Well, she isn't in her room."

"In Mithros' name, Thayet, she isn't a little girl anymore. She can't be playing these childish games of hide and seek!"

"She knows that, Jon. She just needs some more time--"

"We've already given her time! Plenty of it! Princess Shinkokami never needed such time for--"

"Princes Shinkokami is not our Princess Kalasin," Thayet interrupted coolly. Then, with a softer tone, "Don't worry, Jon. She will be found. The ship will be leaving for Carthak before the eve. And she will be on it." But even as Thayet said the words, she couldn't help but feel a sense of relief. Her daughter would stay in Tortall for at least a couple more hours.


Blue eyes peeked over the top of several books as they watched the guards finally leaving the library. Only once the door was shut behind them did Kalasin release a sigh of relief.

They had looked. They had searched. But they had not found her.

Not yet, at least.

She was acting foolish, she knew that. She had to get onto that ship eventually, she couldn't hide from everyone forever.

But, just for now…

It wasn't that she disliked Emperor Kaddar. As a matter of fact, she didn't know if she liked him or disliked him. She did not know him well enough to make that decision.

But Carthak is so far away…

She didn't want to leave home. To leave all her friends, her parents.

Carthak. She snorted. For gods' sake, the place had only ridden themselves of slavery a handful of years ago. And their opinion of women was not very high. There were no lady knights, no female Riders in Carthak.

How could she make a place like that home?

Kalasin broodingly ran her fingers over several book spines. Her fingers stopped on a certain one. A certain pink one.

How many books do you know of, with covers made entirely of neon pink?

With a bemused shake of her head, she pulled it off the bookshelf and looked at the cover.

Nobles' Bane.

Written by: Lauryn

Lauryn? The name seemed vaguely familiar, but just barely. Lauryn? No second name? Definitely not an author whose books Kalasin had read before.

And the cover was pink.

With a squint, she realized that there was something else written on the corner of the cover.

Dedicated to (and designed for): those in need of this story.

Those in need of this story? And what was that supposed to mean?

Curiosity got the better of her: she opened the book to the first page and saw:

Only with an open heart…

And an open mind…

Will you begin to see the world.

And what if she didn't want to see the world? What if she just want to stay home? Didn't that count for anything? Why did everyone assume--

Calm down, she told herself. You're getting mad at a book, for gods' sake.

Well, since you don't know how long you'll be in here, hiding from the others, you might as well read something, she told herself. She was in the palace library after all.

Carefully settling her skirts around her, Kalasin settled herself right in the middle of the aisle and started to read.


Nobles' Bane: An Introduction

Sleep, my child

Sleep, my babe

I will protect you

And keep the nightmares away

~the chorus of 'A Mother's Song'

It is said that "it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all."

Well, whoever made that folderol up is a damned liar. A poetic, romantic, foolish liar.

"Ignorance is bliss."

Now that is a proverb that I can actually vouch for. I mean, if we never knew what love was because we never experienced it, how could we miss it? 'It is better to have loved and lost'? I say that it's better to be ignorant about the whole thing…and that way you wouldn't feel the pain it causes. Because that pain, once it is felt, will stay with you forever.

If we were all ignorant idiots, we would all be happier people.

But unfortunately, that's not the way the world works. This world has idiots, ordinary people, extraordinary people, and those idiots who don't think they're idiots. The latter is the worst kind, I think.

And, I suppose, that's where I come in.

I have many names. The serfs, the servants, the slaves, the commoners: they call me their savior, their heroine, their Lady Jade. What the nobles used to call me (and some of them still do think of me that way) isn't repeatable.

Which makes sense. Considering that I used to hunt and kill them during my free time. Key words being: used to. I've been able to tone down my immediate desire to jump at any noble born man's throat, to hit them over the head with any weapon that is at hand.

This story is old. It occurred before your time, before your parents' time, before their parents' time.

It involves how the royal Conte family first came to be.

And although it is a story with a 'happy' ending…it is most certainly not the ending I would have personally preferred.

Of course, this story's been told before. Haven't they all been told, one way or another, at one time or another?

But I tell you right now, none of the scribes can tell you of this story the way I can.

The name I was blessed with at my birth was Lauryn. And this is my story.


A.N.: Yes, I do realize that this chapter is short. As a matter of fact, this chapter wasn't even supposed to end here, but the next part proved to be very long, too long. And so I had to split the chapter. Personally, I did not like this chapter at all. It sucked, to say the least.

Now, I have this strange urge to be random…

I think I've had too much sugar.

And out of curiosity. What color is it? (not sugar, stupid! I meant the review button!) I've heard it being referred to as blue, blue grey, and purple. And by some odd person as white. *stares at computer screen*

*stare, stare*….boink.

It's decided. It's…orange. Orange, I say!


P.S. you know what is the oddest word in the world? Huggles. I mean…just look at it. I mean, 'hug' is cute enough. But adding a -gles makes it look…weird. Strange. Odd. Peculiar. Unusual. Atypical. Abnormal. (and yes, I was cheating and using the damn thesaurus.)