Prompt: Emma ran away from the White Kingdom because her parents wanted her to be a princess and not a knight. Plot helpers: Squire is the lowest/starting position for a knight-to-be, then Sentinel(or Guardsman), then Bachelor Knight(no land or property to call his own), then Knight-Errant("errand boy" knight who goes around the lands), then Knight(assigned within the castle or keep), and finally Knight Lord(general of the army of sorts). After the Ogre wars, the kingdoms agreed to hold a tournament every few years instead of waging war against one another. Each sovereign must grant the champion's request without question unless: it hints to a war between kingdoms; it requires the use of dark magic; it brings a dead person back to life; it kills or banishes a person, a group, an entire kingdom or race; it causes bankruptcy to any individual, group or kingdom.

A/N: I added the prompt in case I don't explain something fully. Dedicated to Elleon Stormwrath for giving me this prompt, and others X Thank you so much, I've thoroughly enjoyed this and it's still going!

Emma ran as if her life depended on it, perhaps it did, she thought to herself. "I can't be who they want me to be. I refuse to be a Princess." Emma kept this stubborn mantra spinning around in her head, occasionally adding insults to her parents and their kingdom, the White Kingdom. Their perfect little life, where they had everything sorted, where true love would always prevail and everyone was free from prejudice, except for her. The kingdom of love and acceptance didn't want a knight for a princess and when it came down to the choice Emma would much rather be a knight than a princess.

She had no idea where she was running to, she had no idea in which direction she had started running and had no means of finding out, all she carried with her was a small dagger strapped to her thigh and some coins she had hidden in the sole of her boots. Even if she had a map it wouldn't help her, there were no landmarks in the forest she was running through and she didn't dare stop, not even to catch her breath, it wouldn't be long before her guards realised that it didn't take that long to pee in a bush.

"Keep going Emma. Cross the Kingdoms border and you're a free woman!" Emma encouraged herself in her head and put on another burst of speed. She vaguely wished she had been clever enough to somehow slip away from the guards still on her horse but knew full well that the only way the guards would leave her alone in the forest was to protect her dignity.

Emma ploughed through closely growing trees in the ever increasing darkness of shadow cast by the trees. It was still around midday and it intrigued Emma that it was getting so dark so quickly. Until she realised what border she had been close to.

The Dark kingdom. Long had Emma been warned about that land, the ruler of which was said to be harsh and cruel, to the extent that she was called the Evil Queen and never referred to by name, come to think of it Emma was sure she had never heard the name of the queen of the Dark Kingdom. Still Emma had little choice but to continue now that she had started. Turning back would limit her already highly restricted freedom and dash all chances of ever, ever following her dream. And besides it seemed like the least likely place for her guards to follow her. A sly smirk crept onto Emma's' features as she continued to hurl her way through brittle branches and swipe away more flexible ones.

Emma didn't know how long she ran before the forest started getting lighter. Eventually she stumbled out onto a forest track. It looked well worn and Emma hoped it would lead her to a place of safety. She started along the track when she heard the sound of horses trotting along behind her, she moved to the side of the path and trudged along not bothering to look at whoever was approaching, she was fairly sure she was out of her kingdom now but she'd prefer to try and keep a low profile just in case she wasn't. "Or just in case someone tries to send me back." Emma thought wryly.

Just as the horses were drawing level with her they stopped, Emma kept trudging on, she wasn't looking for company, trouble or anything else, well maybe some shelter.

"Peasant." A man growled, Emma drew herself up to her full height and began turning regally round before realising that acting like that would blow any chance she had at anonymity, however the sudden change that came over the blonde was not missed by a particular member of the mounted group. Emma surveyed the group before her, all riding excellently breed horses, all brown apart from one which was jet black all over, much like it's rider. Emma noted that the rider of this horse was also the only woman in the group; the other men were rough looking, visibly carrying weapons and eyeing her cautiously and with an air of contempt and malice. But it was the woman that held all Emma's focus, she had the kind of presence that demanded attention and Emma gladly gave it to her, taking in the sight of the tight riding leathers which showed of her cleavage, her dark hair piled on top of her head, red lips and tanned skin. "Kneel before your queen peasant!" The same guard spat out, Emma's back stiffened as she realised she was in the presence of the evil queen. Emma was only accustomed to shallowly curtsying as heir to the White Kingdom throne she never knelt for anyone, but she would have to get passed that if she wanted to remain free.

The Evil Queen noted the blondes' slight hesitation before kneeling and this intrigued her, there was something different about this girl and she intended to find out what. The guards moved to continue their ride but the Queen kept her mount still. "Rise and tell me your name." She commanded.

Emma lifted her eyes to meet the queens brown ones, another interesting thing, before standing. "Emma…" Emma cast about for a surname, feeling that saying Charming might give it a way a little bit, she cast her mind about and saw the swans that gracefully floated across the lake by the White Palace. "Swan. Emma Swan." She replied, though once again the queen noted the pause ad also the lack of formal address, she saw one of the guards reach for his weapon but forced his hand aside as she leaned down slightly towards the girl.

"And why are you here, Ms Swan, in my private forest?" Now this was a lie but she wanted to test the blonde. A pause and the briefest moment of panic before Emma coolly replied "I wasn't under the impression that this land was private. You're Majesty." Emma added the address as an after thought. "I was looking for a job." Emma decided she may as well attempt to reach her ambition now.

"Oh, and what, Ms Swan, do you wish your occupation to be?"

"A knight." Emma replied with as much confidence as she could muster, some of the guards sniggered at the suggestion. The queen waved her hand through the air and silenced her men.

"As it happens I was looking for another knight. Have you had any training?"

"Not formally." Emma muttered. "I can wield a blade and I've been taught archery." Emma said more loudly. The queens' eyes ran up and down the blondes' body, pleasantly muscled and still slightly slicked with sweat from the running. The queen took it all in steadily. Emma stood straight and proud under her inspection, the queen liked what she saw.

"You'll do." The queen nodded smartly.

"My queen." The same vocal guard ventured. The queens' head snapped up. "We currently have no spaces."

"Really Sentinel?"

"Yes, Queen Regina." The queens eyes flashed dangerously and her hand shot out, magic shoved the guard of his horse against a tree, his legs kicked against the air as the queen squeezed the life out of him, he had crossed the line one too many times. She noted Emma's reaction to the punishment, her eyes widened for a moment and her breath deepened but she remained motionless. "This is all to make me a knight? No there must be more to it than that." Emma thought to herself. The man's lifeless body thudded to the floor and Emma congratulated herself on not reacting to it.

"You can ride?" Emma nodded. "Good, take his horse my squire." A rush of emotions ran through Emma at the title. She smiled gratefully at her new queen who studied her intently as she swung onto the horse with graceful expertise. Regina became determined to find out more about this mysterious blonde.