A/N: Hey everyone! This is my very first story and I've been debating all day whether I should post this or not. My sister told to just go and do it and so, as you can see, I did. Any reviews are greatly appreciated: Good reviews would be lovely but if this story sucks, please tell me! Just try to say it in a somewhat nice way. (:

*Any resemblances between the characters in the story and people in real life are unintentional.

"Abrielle," my father said in a stern tone, "you are now sixteen years of age."

What is this about, I thought to myself, does he think that I am so stupid that I do not know my own age? We had just finished eating breakfast when Father spoke these obvious words to me.

"You are now sixteen," he repeated, "and I think that it is time that we arrange a marriage for you."

I just stared at him as though he had said that my sister had grown another set of eyes and two more noses. Marriage? Marriage? I'm just sixteen! After another good minute of sitting with my jaw wide open in shock, I voiced my opinions out loud.

"But, Father," I pleaded, "I'm just sixteen. I've barely begun to live. You can't do this to me!" I gave him my best puppy dog eyes and stuck out my lower lip in an attempt to break his resolve; but Father did not falter.

"As a princess, Abrielle," Father explained, "it is expected that you are married before your seventeenth birthday. I thought that you knew that."

"I did," I said with a defeated sigh, "but I didn't think that you would actually follow that custom."

"Well, I would and I am," he said resolutely. "And when Corinna turns sixteen, I will have this same conversation with her."

I thought about the whole marriage arrangement ordeal and felt sorry that my little sister would have to go through the same thing. But at least Corinna's beautiful and confident; I'm the exact opposite, no one would ever want to be married to me. "Is there any use in me fighting this?" I asked while laying my head on the table.

"None at all," he said with a hint of humor in his voice. I look up and saw Father smirking at me, which made me a little bit angry. Not wanting to make a scene, I quickly got out of my chair and addressed him before leaving.

"I'm going upstairs, Father. Do I have anything planned for today? Because I'd very much like to go upstairs and fall back asleep."

"Of course, darling," Father sighed, "I know that this must be difficult for you. I will have Riva wake you up in a few hours." I made a small curtsy as Father bowed his head.

And with that, I marched out the dining room doors and up the stairs to my bedroom, where I laid back down on my bed and fell asleep almost instantly.

x X X x

I was in the middle of a dream in which Corinna and I were having a picnic in the royal gardens when I felt a light shove against my shoulder and my maid, Riva, telling me to wake up.

"You must get up now, Princess Abrielle;" she said sweetly, "the king wants you to be ready in an hour for a ride. He has already ordered for your horse to be saddled and Corinna's as well. As long as you promise to keep to the trail, the king will let you and your sister ride alone."

Brightened by her words, I quickly pushed the covers off of me and got out of bed. I gave Riva a big hug and asked her to draw me some water for a bath.

Riva had been my maid since I was about 10 years old. She wasn't very old, maybe in her late 20s, and had tan skin, brown hair that she always kept in a neat bun, and beautiful gold-green eyes. She was very helpful and was like a mother to me, since mine had died when I was 8 and Corinna was 6.

Once Riva had gotten my bath ready, I got in and soaked in the water for a few minutes. After I washed up, I got out and changed into the green dress that Riva had picked for me to wear. I put my long blonde hair into a simple bun and arranged my gold crown on top.

Then I went downstairs where I found Corinna and Father waiting for me. "Abrielle, you're finally here!" Corinna squeaked.

"But Corinna," I said, "I'm perfectly on time." Corinna just made a little hmphing noise. I looked at father. "I am on time, am I not?"

"Yes dear, you're on time," he said.

"Now, if you girls promise to stay on the trail, I will let you ride Bima and Calista by yourselves." Corinna and I both nodded excitedly in agreement and made a quick promise.

Father then had one of our servants, Elden, walk us to the stables. As I walked up to my beautiful chestnut brown horse, Bima, I felt the weight that had settled on my shoulders after breakfast this morning disappear.

My horse always made me feel better, and I was glad for the opportunity to go riding. I mounted Bima with no problems and laughed as I saw Corinna having difficulties mounting Calista, her dapple gray horse. After a few more minutes of struggling and a few tips from me, Corinna was leading the way onto the trail with me following right behind her.

After about 20 minutes of just riding in silence, Corinna had Calista stop. What is she doing? I thought. I was even more confused when she got out of her saddle and came to stand next to Bima and I.

"What's wrong, Abrielle?" she questioned, "You looked so unhappy and tense this morning and I want to make sure that my sister's okay." I smiled at her sweetness and dismounted Bima.

I moved to tether my horse to a strong tree branch and motioned for Corinna to do the same with Calista. I then sat down on a fallen tree trunk and told Corinna to sit next to me.

"This morning," I began, "Father told me that I need to be married soon. And I know that I am at the age that girls get married, but I didn't really think that it would happen to me. I just feel so scared and unprepared. I'm not ready to get married! I just can't do it, Corinna."

I was crying now. "What I am going to do, Corinna, what am I going to do? I just wish that I could get away from it all." Corinna turned my body so that she could give me a hug. She rubbed my back in circular motions while the tears flowed down my face.

"Shhh," she kept saying, "It's okay. Everything is going to be okay." When I was all cried out, I looked at Corinna and said, "Thanks, sis, you're the best." "I know," she replied with a cheeky smile, "let's start back home; I want to be back so we can have some afternoon tea."

"Alright, that sounds good to me!"

We untied and mounted our horses and went back to the castle where we enjoyed a nice steaming cup of tea.

Dinner was fairly uneventful, except for Father telling me that he was "going through a list of possible suitors for me" and saying that he would tell me when he "found someone that he approved of." I just let his words go in one ear and out the other.

I felt Corinna's eyes on me all throughout dinner but refused to meet them. I just stared at my plate until I was excused to go to my room. I gave Corinna and Father a quick hug and kiss and then went upstairs to get ready for bed and read.

It wasn't until after I lay down to sleep that the thought of running away made its way into my mind. What if I just ran away my brain said if I ran away, then I wouldn't have to deal with getting married. I could be free to do what I want and be with whom I want to be with.

After a few minutes of deliberating, I decided that I would leave the castle tomorrow night and go wherever my heart told me to. I fell asleep dreaming of the freedom that I would have once I was away from home.

x X X x

When I woke up I told Riva to tell Father that I was reading a very good book and wanted to stay inside and finish it today. I saw him at dinner and gave him and Corinna an extra tight squeeze before going back upstairs. It was time to start getting ready for what I was about to do. I sent Riva to the kitchens to get a good meal and set about packing the few things that I would take with me. I took out a small bag and packed my hairbrush, my favorite book, an extra pair of sandals, and a pen and stationary to write on. I found another pen and set of stationary and wrote Corinna, Riva, and Father each a letter. The letters read:

~ Corinna,

I want you to know that I love you very much and that I will miss you until we see each other next. You are a great friend and an even better sister. I hope that you can forgive me for leaving you, but I'm just not ready to get married and become a queen. Take care of Father for me and make sure that Riva is well. I pray that you will keep well and I know that we will see each other soon.

You're Loving Sister,

Abrielle

~ Riva,

By the time you will have read this, I will be gone. I do not know where I am going yet; just anywhere away from here. Thank you for all that you have done for me. You have been like a mother to me and I hope that you can forgive me for leaving you. Please make sure that everyone is well while I am gone. I hope to see you before long.

Much love,

Abrielle

~ Father,

As you may or may not know, I am no longer in the castle. I have gone somewhere far away from here and the thought of being forced to marry someone, which is unbearable. I know that I may seem mad or crazy to you, and maybe I am, but my heart is telling me that this is what I need to do. I hope that you can forgive me for leaving you all. Make sure that Corinna and Riva are all right while I am away and I know that we will see each other in the future.

I love you, Father,

Abrielle

I finished packing my bag and fastened a golden locket necklace around my neck. Inside was a picture of my mother (which I had added in after she had died) and a quote: "You will always be close to my heart."

It had belonged to my mother and, as the quote said, I wanted something to keep her close to my heart on my journey. I figured that I could buy everything else I needed with the large sum of money I had put into a secret compartment in my overcoat.

I slipped Corinna's and Father's letters under their bedroom doors and put Riva's on the table outside the room where she and Corinna's maid slept. I walked silently down the stairs and opened the door soundlessly.

I ran to the stables, quickly saddled Bima, and was off riding into the night. I let the wind and my heart create my path. I started by riding down our regular riding trail. I rode farther down that little trail than I had ever ridden before and found that it branched out to the left and to the right. I closed my eyes and felt a pull to choose the left path. And so, I continued to ride.

I rode throughout the night, turning onto different paths and covering a fairly great distance. The sun had just begun to rise when I reached a small town called Stinthoria. I found a stable for Bima and got a small room at an inn without any problems. When I had finished catching up on sleep, I went outside to take a look around the town. I got a pastry for dinner and walked around thinking of what Corinna, Riva, and Father were doing. Corinna and Riva were probably crying and Father was probably annoyed and upset with me. I'm sorry for causing them trouble, I thought, but I feel as though I must do this. I couldn't stay there and get married. I just couldn't. I thanked the innkeeper and the stable master for their hospitality and saddled Bima for another night of riding.

I rode for three more nights; sleeping at quaint, little inns in the daytime and riding different paths in the night. If anyone thought it odd that a girl was traveling alone, they didn't say anything about it. Luckily, I didn't have any trouble, until the fifth day that is.

Go on and do it! Please! Review, review, review!