The Order of the Pearl Dragon

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Chapter 7 - Idle Gossip

By the time the great feast had begun it was once again nearing sunset and the party appeared to be in full swing. Hundreds of guests and well-wishers had been invited and were currently seated around a massive U-shaped table which ran the entire length of the glistening dining room.

The sounds of laughter and clinking of glasses could be heard as people ate and drank their fill, lucky to have been a part of such a historical event such as the coronation of their new Queen.

The mighty King and his beautiful wife were seated in the centre of the head table, along with General Shasharan, Zaar, Captain Holland and a handful of visiting Nobles and dignitaries either side of them as everyone conversed happily amongst themselves. The food was amazing and didn’t seem to stop coming out from the castle’s kitchen. Dishes of all flavours and cuisines, each steaming with freshly-cooked warmth as they were carefully carried out and placed onto the tables. The wine and ale had been flowing fast as many guests had already had more than their fill, even this early into the evening.

“You’ve done very well, my Queen.” General Shasharan praised her with a smile as he raised his glass goblet out of respect, “Let me be the first of many to say, Westoria is lucky to have you as its Queen.”

Lillian blushed, failing to accept the compliment from him.

“Oh, stop it General.” she waved her hand, “Really, you’re too kind.”

“How does it feel?” Zaar asked from beside the General rather eagerly, “Being crowned Queen I mean, does it feel any different to before?”

Lillian filled her mouth as she shook her head in response to his question. Once she had swallowed her food she went on to reply.

“No, no different I’m afraid. Although the crown certainly does weigh a lot, I’ll admit that.” she replied with a gentle smirk, “I was actually a little worried it might slip off in the middle of the ceremony, in front of all those people.”

They all let out a laugh at her joke, including Lillian herself.

“Well you wear it well.” Draxus suddenly chimed in, placing his gloved hand over hers and facing her with a warm smile. His eyes dazzled with warmth.

Looking down at his hand over the top of hers, she moved her thumb so that she could rub his hand gently with it. Lillian could not wait for the night to come to an end, so that the two of them could be alone together once more. She was already beginning to feel the warmth emanating up from down below just thinking about being alone with her husband. The things they would do…

“So your majesty, if I may, will you tell us a bit about yourself?” one of the Nobleman, Count Neville of Bracksworth queried as he picked up his glass goblet to take a swig, “Like perhaps where do you come from?”

Lillian turned to face him as she spoke confidently.

“I was born a Princess in the Kingdom of Rykiss. It’s a much smaller Kingdom when compared to Westoria of course, but is well known for its excellent horse trades and for its beautiful roses.” she began to explain as Draxus squeezed her hand lovingly, “I am actually quite fond of roses you see, I enjoy the scent and vibrant colour of the flower. It’s unlike any of the others…”

Draxus sat back in his chair for a minute, making a mental note of what his Queen had just admitted aloud. Roses; check.

“Yes, Rykiss. I have heard a bit about your home, I must admit.” Count Neville admitted with a nod, “Your thoroughbreds are particularly excellent from what I understand.”

“Well, we like to hope so.” Lillian chuckled.

She was surprised as Draxus suddenly chimed in, still holding onto her hand protectively.

“Before I met her, Lillian had never once stepped foot outside of Rykiss.” King Draxus admitted, his brows both raised as Count Neville too raised his in response.

“Really?” the Count queried with disbelief.

“Is that so?” Captain Holland added.

“Yes.” Lillian nodded, “My parents were quite strict when it came to my safety, with me being the only heir to the throne. I’m afraid I didn’t get out that much. Not that they didn’t care about me… they love me very much. I guess they were just looking out for me.”

“I’m sorry to hear it, your grace.” the Captain apologized, “True there are obvious terrors in the world, some more frightening than others, but still there is so much to see… Perhaps now you’ll get the chance to visit many different places and make up for all the lost time.”

“Not if I can help it.” the King spoke with a grin, squeezing her hand playfully.

Everyone laughed as Lillian’s cheeks glowed a rosy pink from embarrassment.

The feast continued on late into the evening and Lillian was having a wonderful time getting to know some of the Nobles who owned land in Westoria. There were so many to remember and faces started to blur for her as the night went on.

Lillian sat holding her glass goblet of wine in her hand as a discussion continued around her, while Draxus stood watching his beautiful wife adoringly from across the room. Her emerald eyes sparkled as she laughed at a comment Count Neville had just made, though Draxus could not hear the comment from this far away. Perhaps it was a joke.

With this being a chance to catch up with foreign dignitaries, the King needed to make his presence known and to mingle with his guests, even if it did take him away from her side for a while. He hated leaving her alone. It had always filled him with dread.

As he began to make his way back across the room to be with her once more, a servant came to stand before him with his head bowed down as he spoke.

“Your highness. I was asked to deliver this to you in person.” he announced, holding up a small piece of parchment paper carefully folded in half in his white gloved hand.

“Who is it from?” Draxus asked, looking down on him.

“Forgive me my lord. He didn’t say.” the servant sounded frightened now.

Draxus reached down and took the paper and the servant quickly walked away, allowing his King to read its contents alone.

The note was short, but read;

‘Meet me on the outside patio in ten minutes. Come alone.’

As his amber eyes skimmed over what the note said they narrowed with suspicion as he looked up from the paper and began to scan the room with caution for an unfamiliar face. Who would be foolish enough to dare command the King? He couldn’t be sure if it would be safe to follow the note’s instructions; it was of course possible that this was merely a trick to lure him away from Lillian, or perhaps a trap to get him alone for an assassination attempt.

But Draxus could see his wife was among trusted people at that moment and his interest peaked as he tapped the paper against his gloved hand. The letter had asked him to ‘come alone’, which baffled him most of all. It was beyond strange.

Deciding that he would have no choice but to find out, the Dragon King quickly began to make his way through the crowd of guests as they laughed, drank and ate the night away amidst all of the glitz and glamour Westoria had to offer. Draxus carefully maneuvered his way toward the overarching doorway leading outside onto the patio and stepped through it, disappearing from the celebration within an instant.

His amber eyes were peeled for any signs of movement as his right hand rested on the concealed handle of a small dagger he always wore in case of an emergency, sheathed to his side. He couldn’t be sure that this wasn’t a trap.

Stepping out onto the patio he immediately noticed a single figure with his back to him, standing at the edge of the patio balcony and looking out over the beautiful night time view.

He appeared to be alone.

The figure appeared to be a man with short black hair and wearing a white suit. Draxus’ eyes swept across the entire patio, scanning for any signs of danger as he began to slowly walk up to meet this mysterious stranger.

But as soon as he heard the stranger speak his eyes widened in disbelief and surprise.

“Whoever thought you could be tied down by a single woman...” the stranger spoke casually, still with his back to Draxus, “The mighty Dragon King has been tamed at long last.”

Draxus felt his heart skip a beat as he stood still, trying desperately to convince himself that he was really looking at who he thought he was. But it wasn’t possible, it couldn’t be him!

The strange figure began to turn around, finally locking eyes with the mighty Dragon King as he spoke with a taunting smile.

“Hello brother... It’s been far too long.”

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