The Order of the Pearl Dragon

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Chapter 8 - Prince Marcus

King Draxus stood frozen in place at the sight of his younger brother Prince Marcus standing before him; a man he had long since feared dead! A brother he had mourned for so long.

“Marcus?” he spoke softly with a frown, “It can’t be... is it really you?” Draxus looked him up and down in uncertainty.

“Why? Did you miss me?” Marcus asked with open arms and a playful smirk as he watched his older brother slowly move closer toward him, step by cautious step.

“My men reported that you’d died in the Battle of Parson several years ago... I don’t understand. How is this possible?” Draxus queried as he came even closer.

“Well, I’m happy to report that I’m not dead… yet.” Marcus snickered.

The mighty Dragon King now stood less than a metre away from the man resembling his younger brother, not only in looks but also in the way he acted. Was it possible this was his little brother standing here before him just now? A sibling he hadn’t seen or heard from in years? It seemed inconceivable.

Not allowing Draxus the chance to properly process what was happening, Marcus stepped forward and instead embraced his brother with a tight hug. It appeared to take a moment before Draxus warmed up to the idea and slowly began to wrap his arms around his baby brother. Suddenly, it felt so right.

This was beyond unbelievable! He had so many questions.

“Where have you been?” Draxus asked the most obvious question as they then parted to stand before each other, “You’ve been gone for so long, where were you? Why didn’t to try to contact me?”

Marcus pursed his lips tightly together with a guilty expression.

“It’s a very long story, brother. And one I will share with you, I promise.” he assured.

He tilted his head.

“But enough about me, we can discuss my boring adventures another time... No, tonight is all about your lovely new wife…” Marcus conveniently changed the subject. “And what a lovely specimen she is, I must say! You’ve done quite well for yourself, brother… Come, tell me all about her. Let’s start with her name…”

Noticing the subtle subject change his brother had made, Draxus decided to go along with it for now. He let out a sigh as his defences momentarily lowered and allowed his brother in.

“Lillian… her name is Lillian.” he spoke softly.

“Lillian, such a fitting name for such a beautiful woman.” Marcus continued to pry as he crossed both arms across his chest, “But tell me brother, how in the world did she manage to tame your fiery heart?”

His brother’s query had the King deep in thought for a moment as he asked himself the same question silently; how had she affected him so greatly in such a short amount of time together? What was it about her that had caused him to seem so utterly lost without her around? It couldn’t be love; they barely even knew one another.

She was obviously beautiful, there was no question about her appearances but it was something else, something much deeper than that. A rare connection that he appeared to share with her that seemed to only strengthen with the time they spent together.

Then it hit him like a tonne of bricks; was he in love with her? Is that why he felt lost without her? Why he could not bear to have another man touch her? Did he actually love his wife? Could such a strong emotion have formed in such a short amount of time?

“Draxus?” Marcus broke his brother’s concentration suddenly, “Deep in thought I see?”

The King nodded. “I suppose I am... There’s a lot going on at the moment-”

Marcus chuckled as he cut in, “-Oh, you’ve got it bad!”

“Got what?” Draxus asked with a frown.

“You’ve fallen for her big time brother, can’t you see it?” Marcus asked, still grinning, “You’re actually in love with her!”

Draxus’ amber eyes narrowed as he shook his head and turned away from Marcus.

“You’re mistaken.” Draxus announced solemnly, clearing his throat, “It’s not possible. I don’t… love.”

“I’m sorry, what’s the big deal here? Is the big bad Dragon King not allowed to show any emotion?” Marcus asked with an obvious pout, “Well, I’m sorry to be the one to have to inform you brother, but you’re clearly head over heels for her. I’ve never seen you this happy in all the years we’ve been together, which is saying something.”

Marcus uncrossed his arms and placed his hand on Draxus’ shoulder with a smile.

“It’s not a bad thing Draxus. Being in love, loving someone; it doesn’t make you any less of a man.” he assured with a raised brow, “If anything it makes you stronger. I’m proud of you, of the King you’ve become in my absence. Father would be proud.”

Feeling uncertain about their current choice of topic, Draxus decided to make a change of his own. Turning to face the doorway he spoke.

“Well, I should be getting back. I’m neglecting my guests.”

Marcus chuckled and nodded his head.

“Of course, I would hate to keep you from them.” Marcus taunted him.

As Draxus turned to leave he paused and then turned back around to face his younger brother with a puzzled expression.

“Aren’t you coming?”

Marcus looked up suddenly with a surprised expression, then smiled.

“I didn’t think it was-”

Draxus cut him off mid-sentence.

“-Nonsense, you are a Prince of Westoria and my brother… of course you’re invited to join the celebration.” the King had made his command, “My wife and I would be honoured to have you accompany us at our table. Besides, this will allow me to introduce you both, officially... You can use this celebration as a chance to get to know each other better. The Queen is your sister in law, after all.”

Marcus smiled at his brother’s kind words as he nodded.

“Are you sure?” he queried hesitantly, “I didn’t want to ruin her special night.”

“I’ll hear no more of this, I am King and I have spoken.” Draxus commanded in his more serious tone now, “You will join us.”

“Well, I must obey my King’s command.” Marcus obliged as he began to walk beside his brother toward the doorway leading back into the Dining Hall.

As they walked side by side, Marcus wrapped his arm around his older brother’s shoulders. He was clearly glad to be back...

But where had he been for so long?

As King Draxus and Prince Marcus approached the head table together everyone sitting around it suddenly stopped mid-conversation and stood up as they noticed their King and the familiar figure now standing beside him. The figure looked incredibly familiar.

Both General Shasharan and Zaar were completely stunned as they stood still with wide open eyes upon seeing the man standing beside their King, who strongly resembled their long lost Prince. It was as if they were seeing a ghost!

Lillian who was not even aware that Draxus had a long lost brother sat smiling up at them with her glass goblet of wine in her right hand resting on the table in front of her. It appeared that the several goblets of wine had finally taken their toll on her; she was rather tipsy.

“Draxus, there you are,” she spoke as her emerald eyes glistened with delight, “I was about to send out a search party for my missing husband… and who is this?”

She looked to his side and noticed the unfamiliar man standing beside him, his appearance was strangely similar to her husband’s, with matching black hair and similar coloured eyes. Draxus’ eyes were a brighter glow of amber when compared to the stranger’s hazel shade; that and the Dragon King was slightly taller when they stood beside one another.

The King moved across to stand beside his seated wife as he spoke down to her, offering her his hand in a gesture for her to stand with him. She did so, taking his hand silently as he spoke.

“My Queen, allow me to formally introduce you to Prince Marcus of Westoria…” Draxus announced with a smile, “Otherwise known as my little brother.”

“Hey, only by a few years.” Marcus interjected playfully.

Lillian’s green eyes widened as her husband announced this, stunned by the realization that Draxus had a living relative she didn’t even know about. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing.

“Draxus, you never told me you had a brother.” she said, her eyes locked on Marcus’ as the handsome Prince leaned in and kindly reached out his hand for hers.

With a coy smile she reached out her hand, placing hers in his large palm as he proceeded to gently lift hers up to meet his lips. Keeping his eyes fixed on hers with a smouldering gaze Marcus proceeded to press his lips purposely slowly onto the soft skin of her hand and kissed her gently, almost sensually.

As he stood by his wife’s side watching Draxus’ amber eyes narrowed with annoyance as he forced himself to try and ignore the obvious attempt of flattery his brother was making towards his wife. He would be the bigger man and not allow it to get to him, though he was not happy about another man’s lips touching any part of her.

“An absolute pleasure.” Marcus spoke softly to her, “And might I also add, my brother is a very lucky man to have found someone so… delectable.”

Lillian swallowed nervously before replying.

“Prince Marcus, you’re too kind. It’s an honour to meet you. I’m sure we’ll get to know each other very well over time.”

He grinned.

“Oh, I’m counting on it.”

Lillian blushed as she calmly pulled her hand away from his and stepped backwards into her husband’s arms once more. Draxus immediately noticed the colour change in her cheeks as it happened and let out a long exhale as his General finally spoke, breaking the awkward silence.

“Prince Marcus, how is this even possible?” Shasharan asked as the others continued to stare at the Prince with surprise and wonder.

“Yes, we heard reports you were killed several years ago at the Battle of Parson. The entire Kingdom was in mourning for over a week.” Captain Holland added.

“Tell us, where were you?” the General asked.

Marcus moved across to an empty seat and proceeded to sit down as he began to explain a shortened version of his troubling tale. It wouldn’t be detailed, of course, but he could at least give them the gist of it.

“Oh, where to start…” he began as he watched a servant fill a glass goblet with red wine for him as his fingers tapped against the table, “It’s been so long. So many different adventures across great distances of land. I’ve seen so much of the world since my unfortunate departure from Westoria all those years ago. Places you could not even begin to imagine even existed...”

An entire hour flew by as the charming Prince regaled them with tales of his adventures and exploration throughout the lands. And they sat and listened intently the entire time, hanging on his every word as if it were the air they needed to breathe.

Lillian, who was now sitting beside Draxus at the table was lost in Marcus’ stories when she noticed a warm sensation rest on her left thigh beneath the hidden surface of the table. As her eyes darted downward she slowly turned to face her husband, who had a smirk on his face as he intentionally moved his hand up the length of her thigh, then down between her legs to her heated core.

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