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The Princess's Substitute

The Princess's Substitute

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"You're not the princess! Who are you?" I was startled when I heard Tyler speak with authority." "What are you talking about, Your Majesty. It's me indeed." Penelope looked at her father in a silent plea for help. "You're not my princess!" His tone of voice became deadly. In the enchanted kingdom of Thalassia, young orphan Kayla finds herself entangled in a surprising and thrilling plot. Sent to a trial with the king at the age of ten, Kayla discovers that her appearance is astonishingly identical to that of Princess Penelope. Instead of sentencing her, the king has an unusual idea: to hire Kayla as the shadow of his royal daughter. Thus, at the age of 10, Kayla is initiated into intense training to become the perfect image of the princess. She needs to learn every detail of Penelope's life, from her likes and fears to her most intimate thoughts. Now, at 21, Kayla has become the flawless substitute for the princess, knowing how to act, speak, and behave like her in any situation. Fate has surprises in store for both, as Princess Penelope is considered a possible bride for the mysterious prince Tyler, known for his coldness and seclusion. Fearing for his daughter's safety, the king makes a risky decision and sends Kayla to meet the prince in her place. Upon arriving at Tyler's castle, Kayla encounters a man different from all the stories she had heard about him. As she spends more time alongside the prince, she uncovers a wounded and lonely heart, far from the cruel image people painted of him.

Chapter 1 - Invitation

Thalassia, 1482

"To the Noble Kingdom of Thalassia,

With greetings and respect to your majestic court, I humbly write seeking an alliance that will not only unite our realms but also promote a future of prosperity and harmony for both our peoples.

Amidst the challenges and dangers surrounding our worlds, I firmly believe in finding a partner of noble lineage who shares the same values, aspirations, and vision for our future.

I strongly believe that this alliance, forged through commitment, will bring numerous benefits to our kingdoms. To make this meeting as fair and transparent as possible, I invite all unmarried princesses of Thalassia to gather at our grand palace for a royal ball. Here, we can meet in person and discover connections that go beyond borders and royal blood.

This event will be a celebration of unity and an opportunity to establish a bond that will transcend generations. Besides the potential for a strong and enduring alliance between our realms, the chosen princess will have the privilege of ruling by my side, sharing the weight of responsibilities and the joys of leading our people. Together, we can promote peace, justice, and prosperity throughout the land we govern.

Our kingdoms have much to offer each other, from natural resources to our rich and diverse culture. Through this union, we can strengthen our economies, expand our trade alliances, and foster cultural exchange that will enrich our peoples.

So, I make this request with an open heart and hope for a bright future for our kingdoms. I invite all princesses of Thalassia to consider this opportunity to join me and the Kingdom of Kingswood in building a future filled with love, understanding, and prosperity.

May peace and benevolence guide our steps as we seek a new chapter in our stories.

With respect and gratitude,

Prince Tyler Harrington

Kingdom of Kingswood"

Some time ago, I stopped caring about how strange it was to live in that huge castle. Everyone told me I should be grateful for being taken out of obscurity and brought into the splendor of royalty.

At the age of ten, I was mistaken for Princess Penelope and taken to the castle for the king to decide my fate. I spent a few days in the dungeons, lost in despair because I didn't understand what was happening. It was as if I didn't exist to anyone there, a shadow of myself.

When they finally remembered my existence, I was almost wasting away from hunger and thirst. My skin and bones were all that was left, and my will to fight for life was fading.

"Take her to the bath chamber and have the doctor assess if she's still useful."

The voice that spoke these words remained anonymous to me, but still, I mentally thanked someone for remembering that I was there, inside those walls.

I underwent a thorough examination and was placed under the care of some maids for five days, learning the necessary skills for my stay there. However, there was something that set me apart from them.

My attire.

I was forced to wear a black tunic and a mask that concealed my entire face. They said I was too repulsive to be seen, and any attempt to remove the mask would result in death.

The memories of that transformation fell into place when I finally met the real Princess Penelope. It was clear that I bore no resemblance to her, and I understood that it was better to hide in the shadows of my tunic than to offend the princess with my presence.

As I became her personal servant, I was instructed to absorb every detail about her, including languages and skills. It became my duty to sit, dress, and act like her. I watched from the shadows, striving not to interfere with her education, even though I faced great challenges.

Those times were crucial in shaping who I was.

The shadow of the princess.

Now, at the age of twenty-one, my greatest wish is to escape this castle and my duties, but simultaneously, the fear of the unknown keeps me here. My appearance is a closely guarded secret, and everyone around me regards me with aversion and disdain.

Penelope says I'm lucky, but I don't really share that view.

"KAYLA!!!!!" I jumped up from the chair, placing the book I was holding on the nearby table.

"I'm here, Your Highness?" The stunning brunette was sitting in front of the vanity, selecting a necklace for lunch with her father.

"Fix my hair, please. I don't know how much longer I'll take to choose the necklace, and I don't want it to fall again. Be quick. I have important matters to discuss with my father." Her brown eyes watched me through the mirror.

"Of course, Miss." I picked up the brush and gently ran it through her silky hair, as brown as wet earth. I was always impressed by everything this girl had, even though she herself seemed dissatisfied.

"Careful, servant, you're hurting me." She complained, even though the bristles barely touched her hair.

"I apologize, Your Highness." I continued brushing her hair, barely touching the bristles to it, waiting to finish my job.

I made two side braids and tied the back into a bun, wrapping it with the braids. After adorning it with some pearls, I stepped back, examining my shadowy reflection in the mirror.

"Hmm, it's acceptable." She turned to me. "You need to learn new techniques to enhance my beauty even more. There will be changes around here soon." I agreed, without trying to find out more details. Changes always brought more burdens to my life.

Penelope got up and went to another mirror, smoothing the pink dress she was wearing. After assessing herself from every angle, she turned back to me.

"Let's go, Kayla." I nodded and followed her at a respectful distance.

When we entered the hall where the king was, an immense table was set for lunch. All the finest dishes of the realm were laid out, and my mouth watered at the sight of the food.

I pushed the chair for the princess and waited until she dismissed me to stand by the wall, attentive to any needs.

"So, Father, what do you have to tell me?" I noticed the princess leaning even closer to her father.

"Well, we've always known that this day would come, my dear, and Kingwood has presented us with a proposal." My eyes widened, and I saw the princess get even closer.

"What proposal?" She almost shouted.

"They want to meet you. They're hosting a ball and inviting the most notable princesses from neighboring realms, aiming for a possible marriage with the heir prince."

"Notable princesses?" I saw the princess clench her hands in anger and frustration. "I am more than just a notable princess, Father. There's no one better than me in the entire realm. How can they treat me like this?" Her fists pounded on the table, and the king gently held them.

"They don't know you, my dear. They have no idea of the precious gem they're about to discover. As soon as the prince lays eyes on you, he won't have interest in any other."

Those words seemed to calm the growing fury in the princess.

"You're right." She resumed eating some items on her plate and played with others. It was a behavior I knew well. "When should I leave?" She began to ask, and I saw the king adjust in his chair.

"I'm waiting for a report on the prince to better understand what we should expect. I won't put your life in unnecessary danger."

"Could there be danger?" The king didn't answer, he just gave me a different look before returning his gaze to his daughter.

"Don't worry, dear. I have everything under control. We'll unite our kingdoms in the best way possible."

The response seemed to calm the princess, who continued eating before calling me to remove her plate.

"Feel free to enjoy what's left, Kayla." My eyes settled on her. "I know servants are usually not allowed to enjoy the delicacies we have, but I'll be generous and allow you to eat what's left of my meal." I accepted the offer. When she was in a good mood, she occasionally allowed me to experience a bit of the world of royalty.

Chapter 2 - The Journey

That night, I was awakened by one of the castle's soldiers. The king requested my immediate presence. I followed the soldier almost running through the castle corridors and stopped in front of the king in his meeting room. He paced back and forth with some papers in hand.

"Sit, Kayla," he said dryly, and I did as he commanded. "You know your life belongs to me, don't you?" I nodded. His harsh words startled me. "I've looked after you all my life and now I need you to pay for what I've done." I was startled by his harsh words.

"Pay, Majesty? Pay how?" My hair stood on end, and my heart raced.

"Read this," he handed me the papers he held roughly. I tried to steady the papers so they wouldn't fall to the ground. My eyes quickly scanned the lines described there, one after another, leaving me with the feeling that my soul was being thrown into the fire.



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