Isabel by Alan Delaney

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SUMMARY: Isabel - Queen, Heroine and Conqueress - has one last story to tell. And this time she's telling the truth.

I am Isabel- daughter to a blacksmith, wife to a hero, mother to a king. I have been known by many names throughout my long life but Isabel is the name that my father bestowed upon me and the one with which I shall be buried. This is my story.

It is not, though it may at first appear to be, a confession - there is little I have done that I regret doing and there is little that I have to be ashamed of. Rather, it is nothing more than the story of my life and the motives and ambitions that have driven me to what I have accomplished. It is a plain story and a simple one. My life has been too fruitful and interesting to warrant any embellishments on my part. I have no desire to glorify my achievements or to make myself out as more than I really am nor do I wish to create the illusion that I possess secret powers not given to any mere mortal.

I am human, I have my faults. I have made my mistakes - though I have refused to dwell on them. I can bleed, I can feel pain, and, when my time comes, I will die just like the mortal that I am. However, unlike those who try to idolise me or proclaim me a goddess, my one true power is that in all things, at all times, I have remained true to myself and have refused to accept the destiny that others would have me accept. I have never failed to seek a better life, a more comfortable existence and a greater happiness not just for my own sake but for all those that I could reach. Therefore I write this story not because of a wish to boast of my accomplishments, nor out of a desire to immortalise myself. Rather I merely wish to show how I have achieved what I have achieved so that others may seek their own paths, search out their own true destinies and remain true to themselves in all things. For along this path lies true power.

I am, as I have said, a blacksmith's daughter, yet our family were no mere peasants. Rather my father's skill with the anvil was renowned and his services were sought from afar. The house I grew up in was no mud-hut or lowly peasant shack either. Rather we lived in the relative comfort of the large guest-house where my father's many and frequent guests were entertained while their orders were prepared. My father made many things for many people - jewellery of unmatched beauty for the merchants, cutlery of exceptional quality for the royalty, weapons of unequalled efficiency for the generals - and his customers were prepared to travel great distances for my fathers wares. He considered it his duty to make his distinguished guests as welcome and comfortable as possible.

From an early age, as all my father's children were, I was put to work in his forge to learn of my father's secrets. He taught me how to forge steel that could slice rock; he taught me how to sharpen a sword that would put a razor to shame; he taught how to spin fine jewellery that could sparkle in even the faintest of starlight. I was a bright and eager child and there was much for me to learn - I absorbed it all quickly. Nevertheless, apart from his prowess with the anvil, perhaps my father's greatest skill was his ability to spot the best in people.

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