Prologue

The toughest part of his journey was over.

The books were stacked taller than his head in his arms and a bundle of scrolls were tied to his back. It would take all afternoon to move them from the library to the Lord-Knight's office. If he did it in one trip, he would have all afternoon to practice with his sword instead.

Stepping off the grand stairs of the castle, he paused for a breath and smiled, for the remainder of his journey was just a straight walk and a turn. Balancing the books were easy. Bearing their weight was what troubled him, but once he was a squire he would have to train with much heavier equipment. This was good for him. It is never too early to start training.

Even if Fayte was only just a page now.

He slowed down as he made the turn. If the books weren't blocking his view, Fayte would be able to see the door to the Lord-Knight's office now. And he would also be able to see the girl running around the corner. They crashed into one another and the entire stack of books came tumbling onto him.

"Ow…" said the girl. "What happened?"

Fayte sat up and rubbed his forehead where the books hit him. By the light, I was almost there!

"Didn’t you see where you were going?" he said, before he saw who it was on the ground with him.

Oh great.

"You came from nowhere!" the Princess said, dressed in a yellow gown but with riding boots tied around her feet. "I didn't see you coming around the corner!"

A pair of white metal boots stepped behind the Princess.

"Now do you see why you were told not to run in the hallway, my Princess?" the Whiteguard said.

"Who are you?" he asked.

The Princess glared at him. "I am Princess Emily of the Royal Whiteart family! How could you not-"

"I wasn't asking you, Princess," Fayte said, irritated by her loud and squealing voice. "I was asking him."

The Whiteguard smiled at him like there was nothing in the world that could bother him. "I am Sir Percson of the Noble Kayme family. Pleased to meet you. Now, on your feet, my Princess. Up you go."

He lifted the Princess up onto her feet.

"Sir Percson just joined the Whiteguards," the Princess said in a royally proud and Princess-like tone. "From this day forth, he is my eternal protector and personal knight!"

"I guard all members of the royal family, my Princess. Not just you."

"But father says you are to protect me!" Princess Emily said, turning around to look up at the tall knight. "You have to protect me! Especially from stupid boys like him!"

Fayte pushed himself to his feet. "I am no stupid boy!"

"You walk without being able to see and you lack manners when speaking to the Princess of Hylan," the Princess said, crossing her arms again. "Boys like that are called stupid!"

Fayte had met girls like her before back in Zywedior. They were nothing like his sister even if she was an irritating snot. At least she wasn't rude and dumb. The Princess was behaving just like the girls from the rich merchant families.

"My mother says you shouldn't call others stupid," Fayte told her. "It's mean and unkind!"

"Are you calling me unkind?" the Princess was shocked.

"I am!" he said. "Hylan will be doomed when you become Queen! You are unkind and you behave like a spoiled child! "

The Princess's eyes suddenly got teary. "I AM NOT SPOILED!"

She started crying.

The Whiteguard sighed and knelt on the ground to comfort her. Fayte mumbled sorely as he gathered up his books and counted the scrolls behind him. After he was done stacking the books again, he noticed the Princess was still in tears. He started feeling bad about it.

"Hey," he called. "Stop being such a baby."

That made her cried even harder. The Princess had her face pressed against Sir Percson's chestplate now.

"Perhaps you should apologize," the Whiteguard suggested. "It would not do for a young page to upset the Princess."

The Princess is such a baby, he thought, digging into his pocket. "Here. I'm sorry."

Sir Percson smiled and nudged the Princess to make her look. Her eyes were red and teary when she turned around. But the sparkly object on his hand caught her attention.

"What's that?"

Fayte clasped his fingers around it and squeezed. When he felt the little object in his palm heating up, he uncurled his fingers and what the Princess saw made her hurry over to get a closer look. Her mouth hung open and her eyes were wide with wonder as she looked at it.

"It's a lumastone ring," he said. "You can have it if you stop being such a-"

Sir Percson was shaking his head.

Fayte bit his lip. "You can have it if you stop crying."

Princess Emily looked from the stone and then to him.

"Really?" she asked. "I can have it?"

No. "Yes."

She hesitated, turning to Sir Percson who nodded at her before she carefully picked it up.

"Now what do we say when we receive a gift?" Sir Percson reminded her.

"Thank you," the Princess said, her eyes fixed on the stone as she shook it curiously.

Fayte turned when he heard someone coming over.

"Well now, what do we have here?"

When the Princess saw who it was, she ran up to him and started jumping up and down while holding up the lumastone ring.

"Look, Uncle Frendon, look! That page there gave it to me! It's a lumastone ring! Isn’t it pretty?"

"Wow, that's a really pretty ring," he said, bending over so that the Princess could stop jumping and show it to him. "Now why would that page give you this ring that I so clearly remember was meant for his little sister?"

Because the Princess is a spoiled cry baby.

"I'll get another for Priscilla, father," Fayte said, lifting the tall stack of books again. Do I even have enough coins?

"Father?" the Princess said. "That page is your son?"

"Why yes, my Princess," his father said. "He is here for a short visit. Do you think you can show him around the castle once he's done delivering those books to the Lord-Knight?"

"Father, I don’t want to be-"

The next thing he knew, Fayte was on the ground again with books falling all over him.

"Why'd you do that for?" he yelled, sprawled on the carpet with the Princess next to him.

The Princess giggled and started picking up the books. "Come on, I'll help you! Then you can come play with me!"

Fayte snatched one of the books from her. "I don't want to play with you! Father!"

"Play with the Princess," he said, standing next to Sir Percson now. His father's armour looked dull next to the Whiteguard's. "The old man has enough pages to serve him."

"But Lord Iyden said I could train with his greatson once I finish moving the books over!"

That gave his father an idea. "Perhaps Jeremiah could join you and play with the Princess as well. Would you like that, my Princess?"

Surprisingly, the Princess gave his father a bewildered look. "Who’s Jeremiah? No! I just want to play with Fayte."

She hugged him and for a spoiled cry baby, the Princess was quite strong.

"Let go of me!" he said, trying to push her away but it was hopeless. "Fine, fine! You can help and I'll play with you, but only if you stop-"

"YAY!" The Princess let go of him and went to gather the books and scrolls. "Oh wait, I don't even know your name."

He looked at her, at the Princess who was so eager to play with him that she didn't even care about her hair and dress being in a mess.

"I'm Fayte of the Kaywin family," he told her. "And one day when I'm big enough, I'm going to be a knight of the Order of the White Shield just like my father."

At that moment the Princess's eyes lit up. She dropped everything in her hands before grabbing him into a hug again. This time she didn't squeeze him really hard so Fayte just stood there and waited. The Princess was oddly silent though. After she released him, she looked at him and smiled while holding his hands.

"I'm Emily," she said. "And from this day forth, you shall be my best friend!"

What? No!

And though Sir Percson said it very softly, Fayte could hear, "It seems the Grace of Hylan has finally made a friend."