Of Flames and Roses
Of Flames and Roses
Author: JAmersy
Chapter 1 - The Beautiful Princess

A beautiful laughter echoed in his ears, and Kabir narrowed his eyes, looking around.

"Did you hear that?" He asked his best friend, Yashvir, the crown Prince of Kalang.

"Hear what?" Yashvir asked, frowning.

"I think I heard a girl laughing," Kabir replied, trying to listen closely.

"It's probably your destiny laughing at you," Yashvir smirked. "You're the son of the King's most trusted soldier, and here you are, stuck with me as a hunting buddy."

"Tch," Kabir rolled his eyes. "I'm here by choice. And secondly, I really heard someone laughing."

"A girl?" Yashvir raised an eyebrow. "Out here in the forest, at this time of the day? You're going mad."

"No, I'm not," Kabir waved him off. He heard a faint scream, and now he stood up, his hand on his sword. "There is definitely some girl around here. I think she's in trouble."

"Yeah, but we're not in father's territory right now, so it isn't someone from your Kingdom. You don't have any obligations to protect her," Yashvir pointed out.

"Yeah, I guess you're right," Kabir nodded, sitting back down.

But this time, Yashvir heard the girl.

"Okay," he said, standing up. "I heard it too. What kind of girl comes into the forest at this time of the day? It's getting dark."

"A stupid girl, I'm guessing," Kabir replied, standing up as well.

"Or a brave one," Yashvir frowned, before he started walking. "The sound came from this direction, come on," he picked up his pace.

"Why are we following it?" Kabir asked, running behind him.

"I wanna see who it is," Yashvir replied.

"Stop!" They heard her again, and this time they could decipher her words. It was followed by a series of giggles, as well as the sound of water splashing.

"I think there's a girl at the pond," Kabir said, noticing how Yashvir and slowed down.

Yashvir did not reply, too enchanted by the beautiful voice. He continued walking toward the pond, and stopped behind a tree, tilting his head to take a peek at the girl.

There were a number of women, all dressed in plain, dull clothes, but their faces were shining in happiness as they splashed water on each other. Yashvir narrowed his eyes to look more closely, and as one of them moved to the side, his eyes set on the source of the voice he had been hearing.

As soon as he laid his eyes on her, Yashvir's mouth parted in pure fascination.

A young girl, who looked only a few years younger than him, was sitting on the bank of the pond, with her feet dipped into the water, and her pink lehenga flared out around her. Her dark brown hair reached her waist in beautiful waves, while her brown skin gleamed in the faint sunlight. Her lehenga was plain, but the blouse was decorated with beautiful gold embroidery. She was not wearing any jewellery except large jhumkay (traditional Indian earrings), and a golden waist-chain around her bare waist. Despite the simplicity, Yashvir could tell that she was indeed a Princess, and seeing how the women around her were all dressed, he knew instantly that they were her maids.

But what was a Princess doing at a pond? And that too, without the safety of a soldier accompanying her?

"Neharika!" The Princess shouted, before bending down and splashing water onto one of the maids. Neharika laughed, before splashing water back at her, as the Princess tightly closed her eyes, and covered her face with her beautiful, delicate hands. She had a huge smile on her face, and he could only see one emotion in her eyes - pure happiness.

"How long are you going to stand here?" Kabir asked, tapping him on his shoulder, snapping Yashvir out of the enchantment that Princess had cast on him.

"Shut up," Yashvir waved him off. "I wanna take a closer look at her."

"Oh," Kabir smirked. "So you like her?"

"Tch, just move aside," he pushed Kabir away and ran to hide behind another tree, one that was closer to the Princess. In his yearning to look at her properly, Yashvir did not hide himself well, and one of the maids standing away from the pond saw him. Her eyes widened in fear, and she instantly covered the Princess with a shawl, making Yashvir scowl.

The girl realized something was wrong, and she frowned, turning to his direction. Her eyes met with Yashvir's, and the previous bliss in them morphed into anger. Knowing that he had been exposed, Yashvir stepped out into the open, crossing his arms. The Princess quickly stood up and stepped away from the water, slipping on her shoes, as she held her shawl tightly around herself.

"Who are you?" She scowled at him.

"That's not the question," Yashvir shook his head. "The question is, who is the beauty in front of me?"

The girl narrowed her eyes, the fire of rage burning in her gaze. But Yashvir was unfazed by her glare. If anything, he found it amusing. His lips tugged upwards into a smirk, and he took a few steps forward, making the girl widen her eyes and step back.

"Stay where you are!" She ordered him, and he obliged. "How dare you enter this part of the forest? Everyone in Adibar knows this area is only to be visited by the royal family, or their servants. So how dare you defy the King's orders?" She asked, her tone affirmative and firm.

"Well, pardon me, Princess, but you're the one who made me do it," Yashvir replied, shrugging. The girl did not miss the glint of mischief in his eye, and it only made her blood boil.

"I made you do it? And how do you know I'm the Princess? No commoner in Adibar has ever seen my face," she replied.

"Any man with brains could tell. Your Royalty reflects in the way you talk, the way you carry yourself. Pure elegance," Yashvir replied, his eyes raking down to her body. "And it was, by the way, your melodious laughter and giggles that drew me here."

"So you heard a woman laughing, and could not mind your own business?" She mocked.

"That woman was also screaming and yelling. I thought you may need my help. Besides, what is a Princess doing out in the open at this time of the day? Beauty like yours belongs inside the safety of your Palace. Where are your soldiers?" Yashvir asked.

"How dare you question Rajkumari (Princess) Ahankara?" One of the maids, Neharika, spoke up.

Yashvir did not bother to look at her, his gaze stuck on the Princess.

"Ahankara," he repeated her name softly. "The one with pride. A fitting name for a beautiful Princess like yourself."

Ahankara remained silent, studying him carefully. He looked like a commoner by his attire, but there was something about him that said otherwise. By now she was sure that he wasn't from Adibar, or he would never have dared to disrespect her like that. Or openly sound misogynistic in front of her. He was an outsider. But there was more to him. Her eyes fell on his sword, and she noticed the hilt, as well as the pommel. It had a logo she recognized, but she did not remember where she had seen it.

"So you're the King's daughter?" Yashvir asked, breaking her out of her thoughts.

"I am not going to answer any of your questions. For your sake, I suggest you leave us alone right now. Or my brother will have your head, " she threatened.

"So your brother is the King then," Yashvir nodded, completely ignoring her warning. "Adibar... Maharaja Karan Singh, is it?" He mused.

"You are disrespecting the Princess's honour, young lad! There will be huge consequences for your misbehaviour!" Neharika warned this time.

Yashvir rolled his eyes, already tired of people trying to order him around. He was not used to it, and he never would be. He was the crown Prince of Kalang, after all.

"I am Yuvraj (Crown Prince) Yashvir Rathore of the Kingdom of Kalang, so I suggest, you do not try to teach me manners," he announced, glancing at Neharika. Instantly, all the maids' eyes widened, and they bent their heads down in respect. Everyone knew about him. His Kingdom was the strongest Kingdom in the whole of Bharat, and Yashvir himself was known to be the fiercest warrior history had ever seen. A ghost of a smile appeared on his face seeing their reactions, but it was quickly replaced with a frown when he saw no fear, nor respect, in Ahankara's eyes.

"Forgive me, Yuvraj! I had no inten-"

"You only answer to me, Neharika," Ahankara cut her off. "You do not have to apologize to any outsider unless I tell you to," she said politely.

Yashvir raised an eyebrow at her, while Ahankara stared back at him silently. Now that Yashvir had revealed his identity, Kabir decided to come out of hiding as well.

"And who would you be?" Ahankara asked, a bored look on her face.

"I am Kabir," he smiled at her. "Son of the King's most trusted soldier."

"Welcome to Adibar," Ahankara nodded. "So what brings you here?" She asked, her eyes back on Yashvir.

"You."

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