Loreleigh wasn't like the others. She was alone and wanted to know more about her past.
Requim City, Avallon
Everything was prepared for the coronation; the smells of roasted animals wafting in the air. The Immortal King had spared no expense for the sake of his son. At the age of 20; it was time to pass the crown to his son. Royalty was coming in from every region just to see the coronation. It had been rumored that the prince would be choosing a mate soon. This rumor had all the women in the City gossiping and primping. Attempting to look their best for the prince. At least, everyone except Loreleigh.
Loreleigh brushed back her long, pale blond hair as she wandered the streets of the city. All the high end dress ships were full of single women. She simply rolled her eyes and continued walking. As she approached the edge of town, Loreleigh noticed a small, quaint dress shop. The only marking it had was a small fairy style dragon directly above the door. A bell chimed as Loreleigh pushed the door open, her curiosity intrigued.
"I'll be right there deary," a warm, lilting voice called from the back. Loreleigh figured she had time to browse some of the styles. Some of the dresses were made from silk and others satin. There was one particular dress that caught Loreleigh's attention. It was a beautiful white dress. It had a fine feel to it, similar to silk. It was a strapless dress, and jewels were sewn all over the front of it.
"That one is very special indeed," said a short woman behind Loreleigh. Quickly turning, Loreleigh dropped the beautiful white dress in surprise. Loreleigh picked the dress back up apologizing repeatedly. The woman simply smiled and brushed off Loreleigh's apologies.
"It's nothing to fret over child. See, not a speck of dirt." And indeed, as the woman turned the dress, Loreleigh couldn't see anything wrong with it. The door chimed again, followed by the smell of something sickeningly sweet. Loreleigh groaned when she heard a prissy, high, nasally voice call out.
"Uhm hello?! Is anyone in this junk shop going to assist me?" Loreleigh was still holding the dress as she turned to see Annabelle Smithers standing at the counter, hands on her hips. Soon as Annabelle saw that Loreleigh had a dress, she got jealous.
"Seamstress! I want the dress that dirty girl is holding! I'm royal and deserve something to make my beauty shine!" The little woman simply looked at Annabelle shaking her head.
"You dear are not worthy of that dress." Annabelle's face turned red as the woman turned her back, smiling at Loreleigh. She counted down on elegant fingers... three... two... one...
"I am a princess of the Western Region and you will do as I say! If my father knew you refused me to sell to riff-raff he would have you imprisoned forever!" Annabelle sputtered and stomped her foot, continuing to yell. Finally the woman had enough.
"Miss Smithers leave. You are not welcome in my shop while you act like a spoiled child. And be well aware, your father knows me well and I guarantee you, he would not approve of your behavior."
"This is not over old woman," Annabelle threatened as she left, slamming the shop door. Loreleigh watched as the woman cleaned up the dresses that Annabelle had pulled down during her fit.
"I hope she didn't ruin any," Loreleigh said simply, picking up a robin blue dress. The woman smiled appreciatively.
"Oh no dear. She's also put out that I won't sell dresses to her. Her father certainly has his hands full with her."
"Thank you. How much is the white dress?"
"For you deary, not a single penny." Loreleigh looked shocked. No one gave her anything for free. She'd had to do whatever odd jobs she could to get any money. Loreleigh thanked the woman and left the shop. She just couldn't believe the woman had given her the dress. And on her birthday too; her luck was perfect today.
Loreleigh knew she still had time before she had to get ready for the ball. She went to her secret glen and shifted, blue and silver scales spreading across her skin. The feel of the wind beneath her wings was enough to forget her troubles; even for a little while. After about an hour or two of flying, Loreleigh landed and shifted, heading home to get dressed.
The door was open when Loreleigh got home, the rest of the house dark. She lived alone and knew she'd closed the door she'd left. Letting her eyes adjust to the darkness, Loreleigh began to search for the source of the nervous feeling she had. There in the middle of her living room, stood what looked like a man.
"Tell the King, the Darklings are growing, and we are coming."
"Look at the map, I know I saw a light flash on the edge of the woods. A Darkling was here!"
"Son, the Darklings are nearly extinct. It must have been a rick of the light. Now, get ready, the ball starts soon. And you may meet your mate." Caspian sighed as his father left the study. He knew that for just a few minutes, a Darkling had appeared on the map. Caspian figured he could slip away later on to check out the site. As Caspian walked down the stairs he couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong.
He watched as she made her way through the crowd towards the King. Julian knew he shouldn't press his luck, but he had to see the expression on his uncle's face. Some people in the crowd moved and Julian lost sight of Loreleigh. Once he caught sight of her again she was speaking with the King.
Julian had expected the shocked look, what he hadn't expected was for the King to see him. The recognition on his face rocked Julian to his core. Without thinking Julian turned on his heel and ran out of the ballroom, disappearing into the night. He'd have to come back for Loreleigh, knowing it would be dangerous to try now.
Loreleigh was quickly becoming frustrated as she was questioned again and again. Yes, she'd locked the door. Yes, she'd been flying. Yes, she had seen a person in her home. No, she was not a traitor. Over and over she was questioned about what the 'shape' had supposedly said to her.
"For the last time, I am telling the truth! I have no idea who or what it was!" Loreleigh saw all the guards bow as a deep voice spoke behind her.
"It was my nephew, Prince Julian of the Darklings." A silence filled the room once Kind Cedric had finished speaking. Everyone knew that if the Darklings were once again showing themselves, it meant that war was coming to Avallon.
Caspian watched the girl closely. he'd watched her the entire time she'd been questioned. Her facial expressions had varied from anger, annoyance, to exasperation. once she'd been released, he followed her. A few times she'd turned, like she knew he was watching. Caspian had backed off a little, but he continued to follow her.
Caspian noticed that the girl was heading straight for the woods, the same spot that had flashed on the map that morning. He watched as the girl, Loreleigh; he'd heard the guards call her; walked into the little run down house and close the door. Turning around Caspian knew he needed to tell his father what he'd seen He just wasn't sure if he'd actually listen.
Caspian shifted, wanting to fly for a while. He heard the thump of wings behind him. Turning his head, Caspian saw a blue and silver dragon rising up above the trees. It's body was small and lean, obviously a female. But Caspian had never seen a two-toned dragon before, he was fascinated. He could feel a pull towards the other dragon. A pull his father had often described to him as a small child. It was the pull of a mate bond.
Loreleigh flew as fast as she could in the opposite direction. She didn't want to stick around and see if that royal blue dragon was her mate. As the moon broke through the clouds, Loreleigh could see that the larger dragon was gaining on her. She would have to use every trick she knew to get away and the clouds was her first idea.
The dark grey of the clouds helped hide her silver tinted wings, helping her to hide from the other dragon. She glanced down to see if he'd come near, but the blue dragon was no where to be seen. Loreleigh let out a slow breath, slowing her wings to a more casual pace. She circled back, flying towards her home. It was just after midnight when she landed. Shifting quickly she started walking home, her secret glen not that far away.
"Wait!" A voice called from behind Loreleigh. It was a deep voice, sweet like melting honey. Loreleigh turned to see none other than Prince Caspian himself walking towards her. She bowed then crossed her arms across her chest. She eyed the prince critically.
"I'm sorry for how you were treated by the guards this evening. It was... Unnecessary." Loreleigh felt her mouth drop. She was shocked that the prince, of all people, had come to apologize to her. She nodded her thanks, biting back a yawn. Loreleigh barely noticed that the prince was still speaking. She could feel eyes on her, and she shivered.
Julian couldn't believe his luck. There she was, his prize, standing out in the open. Only the prince was near her, and Julian knew he could take him down if necessary. he was Darkling Prince, and no dragon could defeat him. Aside from Loreleigh, he thought. Julian focused back on Loreleigh and grinned as she shivered glancing around.
Julian saw the prince leave and the look of relief on Loreleigh's face was priceless. Grinning, Julian set off, planning to spirit Loreleigh away when he felt a strong presence behind him. Only his uncle would put on a show with his power. Julian rolled his eyes as he turned. He noted the grey in his uncle's hair, the tiredness in his eyes, the wrinkles that adorned his once smooth face. Ruling over the dragons wasn't what his uncle, expected Julian assumed.
"Nephew..." King Cedric said tersely. Julian only inclined his head. He knew speaking would only alert more people to his presence.
"Leave the girl Julian." It was said like a command, Julian simply laughed. His uncle no longer held sway over him. And Julian was going to make sure the King knew it.
"Uncle you should know better than to try and give me orders. We spared her a child. If you didn't make your move after all those years, then it's too late." Julian watched the King carefully, calmly. As long as they didn't shift, there would be no bloodshed.
"She just came of age nephew. You know the Old Laws."
"Aye, I do. Which is why she is rightfully mine. Since I was the firstborn."
"She has a mate." Julian felt those four words hit him like a brick. If she was mated he couldn't touch her. The Darklings would lose all their powers. It was a risk Julian wasn't willing to take. He only knew she was the key to saving his kingdom.
Loreleigh paced her living room like a caged animal. Mad wasn't enough to cover how she was feeling right now. She'd felt the mating pull towards that dragon and again towards the Prince. She knew her life was going to be chaotic and mad public. Something Loreleigh had worked hard to make sure never happened.
A knock on the door interrupted Loreleigh's pacing. She went to open it but stopped when she heard a familiar screeching.
"You low-down, vile little snake! How dare you think you could embarrass me the way you did at the ball!" Loreleigh sighed and walked away from the door, tuning out Annabelle. Looking at the maps on her wall, Loreleigh could still hear Annabelle screeching about the ball and the prince and the dress. Her eyes flicked to the beautiful white dress handing on her closet door. She had felt like a queen wearing it, but she knew she'd attracted to much attention.
Loreleigh noticed it had gotten quiet and she glanced out a window to see that Annabelle was gone. She smiled with relief and went back to her maps. She was planning to visit al the regions of Avallon and try to learn more about her past. It was time she figured out why she was the only two-toned dragon she'd ever seen.
Caspian enjoyed feeling the wind beneath his wings. He'd been flying since dawn, secretly hoping that Loreleigh would be flying too. He had felt the strong pull towards her for a while, but to recognize her as a mate meant she had just come of age. Now all he had to do was convince her to give him a chance.
Caspian bumped into something, so lost in his thoughts. Shaking his head, Caspian saw it was another dragon, the scales a dusky brown color. The dragon circled Caspian, eyeing him closely. He could feel shivers running along his skin, and it made him uncomfortable. The thought of anyone else but Loreleigh looking at him that way made Caspian's skin crawl.
The brown dragon roared and flew away from Caspian, not even sparing a backwards glance. Caspian figured it was a good time to land, so he started towards the castle. It was nearing the evening when Caspian made it back and shifted. A servant was waiting for him.
"Prince Caspian, your father requests your presence in his study." Caspian nodded and followed the servant. If his father was sending a servant it must not be too pressing. Several minutes of silence and walking, Caspian was standing in front of the door to his father's study. Knocking, Caspian opened the door to see the Kings of all the regions gathered. As well as the next-in-line for each throne.
"Thank you for coming quickly son," Kind Cedric said.
"We have something very important to discuss. And I'd like everyone present to keep this quiet." Everyone in attendance nodded with agreement as Kind Cedric revealed the paper he'd been covering up. It was a declaration of war.