The Halfling Rises (The Eva Chronicles Book 1), стр. 1
The Halfling Rises
Copyright © 2020 by Livia Lance
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The Halfling Princess
Braving the Mountains
The Woman in the Woods
Music of the Land
The High Priestess
About the Author
The Halfling Princess
Lana couldn’t shake the feeling that she was being watched. She peered out the window of her room in the castle but all she could see were trees for miles and miles. Gathering her shawl around her tightly, she took a few steps back. Anything could be hiding out there, watching.
With a shiver, Lana stepped away and walked over to her bed. It was a monstrous thing, the frame all one piece carved from an ancient tree that must have been as big around as the room itself before it was felled. When she had been a child, the fantastical creatures carved into the posts had frightened her but she barely gave them any thought now.
Lana sat on the edge of the bed and drew the letter she had been reading back into her lap. It was a report from her brother Jacob, sent to her father. She had stolen it from her father’s desk when he wasn’t looking, if only to view her brother’s handwriting and remember the man he had been. He was always a kind and loving brother, one of the few people in her life who went out of their way to spend time with her. The loss was painful.
News had come the day before of his death and the entire kingdom of Loral was in mourning. Jacob was being hailed as a hero but Lana knew the truth. He may have been on a hero’s errand - something about offering a peace treaty to the elves - but he’d taken a fall from his horse and broken his neck. It was not the death a hero deserved, it was a shameful way to die.
If it had been me, I would have died bravely, Lana thought bitterly. But it would never be her. As the only daughter born to her family and thus the only proper heir, she could never leave the castle. Until she was safely on the throne with an heir of her own, she would always be a target. Everyone was a potential enemy. Rival royal families, other kingdoms, any of them could benefit if she was killed. She was far too precious to be sent on adventures. Too precious to risk friends who may one day poison her. Too precious for freedom.
Lana angrily swiped at a single tear running down her cheek. She didn’t know if she wept for her lost brother or her lack of freedom. Perhaps it was both.
Suddenly the bells rose, signaling that the feast would soon begin. Sighing, she rose and strode over to the large mirror standing in the corner of her room, a cavernous space, befitting her station.
Lana was an especially tall woman at 19 years of age, standing almost six feet in height with few curves to speak of. She had long, straw colored hair that fell in a sheaf down her back, straight as a board, just like the rest of her. Her almond shaped eyes had a slight tilt and were green as the grass in spring. She had a small mouth and full lips, making her look as if she were always pouting. It was a mouth unaccustomed to smiling. There was not often anything worth smiling about.
Smoothing out her olive colored dress, Lana made herself presentable and waited for her escort. Her mother should have been there to lead her to the feast, as was proper, but the queen had passed the day Lana was born. As the only living female in their family and no hope for a new heir, she was the most precious jewel in the kingdom and must be kept safe at all costs. Safety felt like prison. A lush prison, full of comfort and excess, but a prison nonetheless.
There was a knock at the door.
“Enter,” Lana said regally to the woman who was already letting herself into the room, not waiting for permission.
Jane was well past her middle years, gray haired and wrinkled but she walked upright with a great deal of pride in her station. She was the only mother Lana had ever known but there was very little that was motherly about her. Jane had always been a stern matron, quick to discipline and chastise and spare with any praise. When it fell to her to teach Lana how to be a woman of the court, she took