tagSci-Fi & FantasyJourney of a Princess

Journey of a Princess


I was born a princess, with a comfortable, meaningless life. My father doted on me, and my Nanny attended to my every want. I had a wardrobe full of embroidered silken dresses in every possible colour. I was nearly twenty, and at every ball I went to young men would beg for the opportunity of a dance. And they bored me. Reader, you may think I was shallow and stupid. In all honesty, I was. But if you spend twenty years being waited on hand and foot, and never knowing a moment of hard work or frustration, what else are you likely to be?

That all changed one night, when Nanny appeared in my bedroom with a lantern.

'Annabel', she whispered, 'we have to go.'

I sat up, yawning delicately and stretching my arms wide. 'Why, Nanny, it's still dark!'

'There's no time to explain. Get up, put these on and follow me.'

I looked into Nanny's homely face, framed by oversized ears. I trusted her completely, and the urgency in her deep brown eyes worried me. I obediently began to put on the clothes.

'But these are boys' garments!' I protested.

'There's no time!'

I pulled them on roughly, the tight trousers clinging to my calves and curvaceous bottom. I had never worn trousers before, not even for horse-riding, and they felt extremely strange. I added a white shirt and leather waistcoat. Nanny pulled my curly chestnut hair back into a knot, and stuffed it into the cap she was pulling over my head. Then, without saying a word, she pulled me into her bedroom, pushed a chest-of-drawers back, and led me down a secret passage I had never known existed.

We came out in the stables, where two of the older knacks were waiting saddled. And that was how I left my father's castle and all of my previous life like a thief in the night.

After thirty minutes hard riding, we had got down to the sea and arrived at a deserted cove. Nanny dismounted, so I followed suit and strode over to her, the sea lapping quietly behind us.

'Nanny!' I insisted, grabbing her brawny arms, 'stop and tell me this minute!' I'd started thinking the whole thing was a joke, but I was beginning to get scared.

'Sit, child,' Nanny replied, and we sank slowly into the dry sand. 'This is not easy to tell you, Annabel. I am truly sorry. But I have to do whatever it takes to keep you safe.'

'Is the castle not...'

'Your father.' Nanny said quietly. 'Your father.' I could see her throat swallow convulsively. On some level my mind jumped to what she was about to tell me, and yet even as she slowly spoke the words I could not believe it.

'Your father died in the night. Suddenly. You are the heir to the land and your life is not safe.'

'But my duty is to ret...'

'Hush! Your duty is to stay alive. As soon as you take that crown, men will fight to be the one to marry you, to take your hand and your land. They'll do whatever it takes. And your second cousin Martin,' Nanny spat, 'is by some coincidence staying nearby with the Duke.'

My stomach recoiled at the thought of oily, insidious Martin. The last time he had visited us, I had been eighteen years old. He had followed me everywhere, even on my daily horse ride, pretending he was a better defence than my personal guard. I had hated how he stared at me. When my father had held parties, I had been unable to refuse his frequent requests to dance. Each time, his possessive hands would pull me closer than necessary against his body, and he would stare down into my cleavage, making me feel unclean. Then, Nanny had come across him opening my bedroom door at one o'clock in the morning. By nine the following day, Martin and his entire retinue had disappeared. Apparently his stepmother had summoned him for a diplomatic event.

As my mind ran through these memories, suddenly everything clicked into place. 'Martin would force me to marry him, so he could take control of the kingdom.'

'Yes, sweetheart,' Nanny replied wearily. 'Or murder you. Or both.'

That was also true. Martin was second in line to the throne after me – until I had any children of course. Maybe he would rather make sure those children were his. The thought of him planting his seed inside me made me screw up my shoulders in disgust. I looked up at Nanny's broad body, a vague shadow in the dark. She had already risked so much to get me here.

'What – what shall we do? I murmured. 'Where can I go?'

'There is a boat coming. It will take us across the waters to Treeward,' Nanny said. 'Once we're there, I hope to get in contact with the Chamberlain.'

'The Chamberlain?' I cried out in surprise. He was dry man who had barely spoken to me since I had started wearing long skirts. 'What makes you think we can trust him?'

'I trust him. Do you trust my judgment, Annabel?'

'I – yes, Nanny. And, thank you.' We both gazed out into the ocean, searching for any sign of an approaching rowboat. Even when it appeared in the distance, it seemed to take forever to arrive at shore, and every minute I was sure I could hear horses' hooves approaching us from the road.

It was a long way up the rope ladder from the rowboat to the ship, and at the top I collapsed on my hands and knees, trying to get my breath back.

'Welcome aboard,' a deep, amused voice pronounced. I looked up, and standing over me, silhouetted by the moon, was a tall, dark figure with long hair that whipped in the wind. I stumbled to my feet.

'Thank you,' I answered, looking him in the eye. 'I'm grateful for your help.'

He chuckled. 'What a polite young boy you are!' He stared at me as he said it, and I could tell he knew who I really was. 'I'm an old friend of Mistress Broadshore,' he added quietly. 'I'm happy to help. Head down to your cabin and make yourself comfortable.'

With some relief I followed his order, and before I knew it was asleep once more.

The following morning, Nanny and I mainly stayed down in my cabin – we didn't want to draw any more attention to ourselves than necessary. Nanny seemed quite comfortable on board the ship, but I was confused by the constant shouts and running feet. In the afternoon, there was a knock at our door, and the Captain of the ship strode in. Tall, with wild hair, I immediately recognised him from the night before. I guessed that he was in his late thirties, and I was astonished to see him go over and hug Nanny, as if the two of them were old friends.

'I don't know what Annabel and I would have done without you,' Nanny said to the man.

'It's nothing,' the Captain said, with a flash of white teeth. 'I've spent enough time smuggling that it's not a problem to serve my king and country once in a while.'

'Will it be possible to drop us at Treeward?'

'It'll be fine,' the Captain replied. 'We should arrive tomorrow morning.' Then he turned to me. 'I'm sorry for your loss, Princess,' he said quietly.

His compassion had me at a loss for words. I gazed up and into his brown eyes. There was a hint of orange in them, like pottery with an expensive glaze. 'Thank you,' I said. 'I don't know how to repay you.' I felt very conscious of the fact that I was dressed in a servant boy's shapeless, stained clothing. I was sure I looked hideous.

'Just keep yourself alive for the next couple of years,' was his sardonic reply. 'I don't want to find out my work here has been wasted. Now, are you both comfortable here? Would you like a book to read whilst you wait?'

'You have books?' I couldn't stop myself from blurting out.

He looked amused. 'Yes. I do. You could almost call me a civilised man. Come over to my cabin later on and I'll lend you something.'

As he strode out, I could not help but compare him to the young men of my acquaintance. His clothes were a mess and life onboard ship must be harsh, but his words and actions showed him to be thoughtful. Three days before, if I'd seen him in the street I would have thought him a thief, yet at that moment I felt quite happy to leave my life in his hands.

I had slept on and off throughout the afternoon, but I awoke late in the evening feeling completely alert. Nanny was snoring loudly, dead to the world. I sneaked a peek out of the porthole, but it was so dark I couldn't see a thing. I lit a candle, and tried to decide what to do. Could I go and ask the Captain for a book now? I felt anxious about walking to a different cabin after dark, but to everyone else here I was just some unimportant brat of a boy. I couldn't bear the thought of just sitting and waiting for night to pass, so I got up and padded down the narrow corridor, wood creaking around me. At the end I could tell there was a light burning, and glancing through the open door I saw him, writing at a desk. I slipped inside his cabin, closing the door behind me.

The Captain looked up, and blinked in surprise when he saw me.

'Excuse me,' I gabbled, 'you remember saying I could borrow a book?' Suddenly my decision to come here seemed very reckless.

'Sleepless night?' he enquired, and I nodded in confirmation. He got up from his desk, and led me over to a tiny bookshelf in the corner. As I bent closer to see the titles, I was aware of how close our bodies were. I could smell his fresh sweat, and I could see black hairs on the back of his neck, found myself wanting to stroke them. In a panic, I picked a book at random, and headed back to the door.

'Hold on there!' He stood in front of me. As I leant back, he put one hand against the wall on either side of me. His arms were muscled hard, with a couple of scars tracing their way, and his face was tanned from his seafaring life. The Captain's clothes were roughly made, and nothing matched. He was different to any of the men I had ever danced with.

'You know, princess,' he murmured, 'even when you're dressed as a boy you're beautiful.'

I gasped, feeling slightly outraged and also mightily pleased with the compliment. 'Do you often have beautiful girls in your cabin at night?' I asked.

He paused, as if to think. 'A fair few,' he conceded. 'Most dress for the occasion though.' I flushed, and then realised he was joking, not mocking me. 'Does Mistress Broadshore know you're here?' he queried.

I shook my head, realising that this was must be Nanny's real name.

'Anything else I can help you with?'

'I...' my throat dried up. I wasn't entirely sure myself, except that looking at him drove all thoughts of my current predicament from my head. 'I wanted to ask something.'

He smiled and bent nearer. His teeth were uneven but brightly white. I noticed a thick gold ring in his left ear.

'Isn't it bad luck to have women on a ship?' I blurted out.

'Oh no,' the Captain reassured me. He paused, and smiled. 'It's only virgins that are bad luck on the high seas.'

'Oh dear,' I murmured, trying to maintain a conversational tone. 'That might be a bit of a problem.'

'You don't mean to say,' the Captain was theatrically shocked, 'that you're a virgin?!'

'I'm a princess,' I hissed. 'It wasn't an option.'

'Well. I would say that now "it" is an option.' He pulled the cap off my head, and smiled to see my long hair tumbling down.

My mind whirled. I'd been brought up to think of my virtue as a diplomatic necessity, but my whole world had changed. It was a scary world, but maybe it meant freedom. I thought of where I might be if I were still in the castle - overcome by grief for my father, Martin shadowing my every step in the role of comforter. I would do anything to keep myself from him. And this Captain – he was handsome, and intriguing. Tomorrow we'd go our separate ways. Noone need know. I wondered what Nanny would say. No - this decision was mine alone to take.


The Captain looked physically shocked. 'Really?'

I looked him in the eye. 'I don't know where my life is headed, but I want to take control of it. I want to make my own decisions. I cannot stay a sheltered girl now.' I smiled impishly. 'And, for a seafarer, you're not bad looking.'

'After we dock tomorrow, I'll probably never see you again,' he cautioned.

'Not a problem.'

We stared into each other's eyes.

'Let me know if you change your mind, princess.'

'Stop calling me Princess!'

'Don't take it personally! I call all of my girls "princess".'

I couldn't help but wonder how many women that might be. I moved my fingers, first to touch his blue-black hair shyly and then to dig into it. His hands found my hips, and stroked up my sides. I ran a hand across his stubble, and felt him moving forward to kiss me. His lips were gentle. I fastened my hands around his neck as I opened my mouth, and he flicked his tongue inside. This was strange. I could barely believe where I was and what I was doing, and yet for the first time in many years I felt completely alive. I probed his tongue with mine, enjoying the unique sensation. He grabbed each of my buttocks hard in his hands, and I squealed in pleasure. Continuing to kiss, we shuffled over to the bed, and before I knew it I was sat on his lap, running my hands across his shoulders. He undid the buttons of my waistcoat one by one and pulled it off, then ran his hands over my breasts through my thin shirt. I suddenly realised that in the rush to leave I hadn't put on any underwear.

Smiling, the Captain ran two fingers around my right breast in a slow spiral toward the centre. I felt my nipple tighten, and I could see it, showing hard through my shirt. I was wondering what would happen when his fingers reached my nipple, and the anticipation turned me on even more. Suddenly, as his fingers reached and pinched it he turned his face, and breathed gently into my ear. I arched my back with the combined sensation.

'I think this is going to go well,' he breathed. 'But remember we're on board a ship. Neither of us can afford for this to be discovered.' He moved to whisper in my right ear instead, licking it gently. 'You have to be absolutely silent. If you're not sure about anything, pinch my wrist.'

I nodded. The Captain then stood up, and took his jacket off, and his boots and breeches, until he was just wearing a loose blue shirt. Then he sat on the bed.

'Now you,' he whispered. 'Take your trousers off. Slowly. I don't often get to see a girl in breeches.'

As his grin widened I got up, shyly undid my trousers, then bent over to pull them down so that the Captain got a fine view of my buttocks. I straightened, and turned around to face him. Then I impulsively pulled the white shirt over my head and tossed it away, so I was completely naked.

The Captain was silent, his mouth open. I felt terrified by his lack of reaction. Then he reached out, and pulled me into his arms. His tanned flash contrasted sharply with my white stomach, even in the candlelight. He ran his fingers all over my torso, making me gasp. Boldness overcoming fear, I reached my hands up and under his shirt, and grabbed his muscled stomach. It felt wicked, and glorious. The Captain ripped his own shirt off and lay down with me in the small bunk, body against body. He kissed his way over to one of my ears, and when he reached it, whispered even more quietly than before.

'You are very beautiful, and it's an honour to be with you. I'll make this as good as I can.'

He sounded almost vulnerable at the end. I was about to reassure him, but he swiftly moved down to lick my breasts, even sucking on my nipples. I ran my hands down the muscles of his back, and made a row of kisses from his shoulder to his elbow.

The Captain chuckled. 'Cute,' he murmured, and ran his hand down to cup my buttocks, gently nibbling the undersides of my breasts. Then he brought his hand up between my legs and I shivered. The Captain propped his head up on one elbow so he could look at my whole body, and gently stroked one finger up and down my wet opening.

'Do you like that?' he murmured, and I nodded, my eyes wide. He lowered his finger to make it wetter, then went back to stroking as gently as before, smiling and biting his lower lip as he stared at my breasts, my naval, and my white thighs. I found myself pushing my body against his finger.

'You want more?' he whispered, stroking me harder. Something changed, and I felt a sudden urgency. I clutched at any part of him I could manage, and he smiled, watching me writhe on my back. 'How about this?' he murmured, and drove his finger inside me.

I suppose I had played with myself before at night, wandering what consorting with a man would be like, but I had never felt anything like the stab of pleasure and need that swept through me.

'Now,' I whispered, gripping his thighs. 'Please.'

The Captain laid his body on top of mine, pushing me back, and continued to thrust inside me with one or two fingers whilst I bucked beneath him, barely capable of staying silent.

'Now!' I pleaded again, but he shook his head.

'I want you to be ready,' he whispered, and went back to just stroking the top of my opening. It was agony, and I found myself thinking that he was one of the most amazing men I had ever met. I daringly ran my hands down his stomach to find his manhood, his mast. It was completely rigid, and it felt bizarre to stroke it with my fingertips. It jerked and I heard the Captain clench his teeth. He took his fingers away from my wetness, and it felt until time stopped until he shifted his body, and lay his mast up against my opening. His right hand buried in my chestnut hair, his eyes looked into mine with an unspoken question. I dug my fingers into his shoulders in reply, and he gently pushed his way inside me. It felt tight, then unpleasantly tight, then just downright unpleasant. He paused.

'Listen to the sea,' he whispered into my ear. I listened out, trying to work out what he meant and then suddenly he was inside me, all of him. My fingernails bit into his flesh, and he kissed my neck. He slowly drew out and then entered me again, and this time it started to echo how his fingers had made me feel. He started to build up a rhythm, and I felt a rushing ache, and a loud shout that I swallowed before it had a chance to escape. Then, just as I was beginning to gain momentum, he jerked himself out, and laid his mast across my stomach, where it shot out white fluid. I was grateful for his thoughtfulness, and furious with him for not letting us carry on longer.

The Captain lay down, barely moving, and returned to playing with me with his fingers. I bit down on his shoulder as he slowly explored me. I felt tender but it was still wonderful. His fingers probed me insistently. I answered to his rhythm, it strengthened and confounded me, until my hips jerked away from the rest of my body, and slowly, slowly floated back down from the ceiling like a leaf into the sea.

We both lay in stillness, for some time, then the Captain kissed the side of my neck. 'I hate to say it, but you need to be back in your own cabin.'

It was cold and unpleasant to put boys' clothes on and sneak across the ship, barefoot in the dark. Back in my own bed I shivered under the blanket, imagining his strong arms once more around me.

The next morning, the ship docked at Treeward. It was very early in the morning, and few people were about. Nanny and I stood with the Captain, making our final farewells. I was still in the same clothes, and looking like a regular ragamuffin. We were hoping that there would be a message from the Chamberlain waiting with an innkeeper that Nanny knew - I was becoming intrigued by Nanny's growing list of friends.

'Thank you for your help, Captain,' I said, trying to speak calmly. I was desperately glad I had made my choice the night before, but I told myself briskly that it was obviously for the best that I would never see him again.

He smiled back at me, warm eyes and crooked teeth. 'You're welcome, princess.' Then he strode away and back up the gangplank, already intent with plans for his next voyage.

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