Elemental Heir : Book 1 Of The Elemental Heir Series

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Chapter 59

My eyes constantly scanned the crowd, searching for Dristan as I stood at the base of the grand staircase. I tried my best to remain calm and relaxed as I greeted countless Fae, Dragons, Wolves, Brownies and Sylphs as they slowly trickled into the ball room. The back of my hand had been kissed by nearly everyone in the Aviary.

Soft, beautiful instrumental music filled the enormous room as a band of skilled musicians played on stage. This music was so different from the music I’d heard the last time there had been a party here. There was a formal feel to tonight’s party. All of the patrons were dressed immaculately. I was grateful for the dress I’d chosen to wear.

My searching eyes found Dristan in the crowd, on the other side of the ballroom. He was talking animatedly with a group of Wolf Chimera, all of whom looked happy and relaxed. One of the males leaned close to him and said something into his ear. Dristan threw his head back and laughed. He clapped the male on the back and then took a sip of his whiskey, his eyes twinkling with humor over the brim of it. He looked exceptionally happy and carefree tonight. A smile spread across my lips as I watched him.

The whole Aviary had heard about what happened. Talk of what Dristan had endured was everywhere. Looking at him now, it was as if nothing had happened to him at all. He looked healthy, strong and happy. Part of me wondered if he was acting so jubilant because he wanted to put the people’s minds at ease. Or perhaps it was because of last night and the joyful day we had shared together. Whatever the reason was, I was glad for it. Seeing him this way would not only lessen the people’s anxiety, but my own as well.

He looked divine. His suit was pitch black, the dress shirt beneath it crisp and white. The top two buttons were undone, and I found myself biting my lip whenever my eyes trailed over the hard planes of skin exposed there. He was always handsome, but I seldom ever saw him in a suit. Usually, he wore his fighting leathers and armor. At home, with me, he wore lounging clothes. Or no clothes... My cheeks heated at the memory of this morning. His lips on mine, his hands on my body, his breath at my ear...

A small gasp sounded to my left, startling me out of my naughty thoughts, and I turned my head. My smile grew even larger as I spied Andi and Torryn descending the staircase, arm in arm. Andromeda was staring at me with her mouth hanging open. She looked breathtaking. Her dress was a silvery white hue, off shouldered, and hugged every curve in her body. Her caramel colored hair was swept up into a lose, low braided bun which showed off her long neck and defined collar bones.

Torryn looked very smart in his dark blue suit. His long, blonde hair had been slicked back and tied at the nape of his neck. He was clean shaven, which stunned me because he’d had a full beard ever since I’d known him. He looked years younger. I blinked at him a few times, surprised at how clean, handsome and different he looked.

“Oh my gods,” Andromeda exclaimed, unhooking her arm from Torryn’s and rushing gracefully towards me. “Brenya, you look exquisite!” She whispered, her expression envious.

I grinned as she leaned forward and pecked me on the cheek. “Thank you. You do too, as always. I’m as plain as parchment with you in the room.” I giggled.

“Are you kidding?” She said with wide eyes. “You are a vision. Especially in that dress. You look like a goddess! All eyes are on you, tonight.”

I blushed. It was a mighty fine dress. It was dark blue, with off shoulder straps and a very low cut neck line. It clung to my body tightly, enunciating my breasts, butt and waistline. From my hips down, it flared outward in soft curtains, billowing around me with every movement. The long slit of the skirt allowed a peek at one of my long, tanned legs every now and again. My hair hung around my back and shoulders in loose, dark waves.

“Thank you.” I said shyly.

She smiled at me warmly as Torryn came to a stop at her side. My gaze shifted to his and he gave me a small, tight lipped smile as per usual.

“How are you two feeling?” I asked, turning the subject away from myself.

This was the first time I’d seen them since we’d arrived back at the Aviary. It was a relief to see them both safe and in good health.

“Much better, now. We’re as good as new.” Torryn said kindly. “What about you? You were just as drained as we were. And with what you did back there, er...” He trailed off, regret flashing within his eyes. Whatever he’d been about to say, he hadn’t meant to say it.

My eyes narrowed slightly. “What do you mean?”

Andi shot him a hard glance before turning back to me. “We’ve just been a little bit worried about you, that’s all. Everything that happened was pretty traumatic.”

I rose a brow and nodded in agreement. “Yes, it was... But everything turned out well, I think. And Dristan is fine now, no need to worry about me.”

Torryn’s brow furrowed and he opened his mouth. “We were more worried about-” but when Andromeda seemed to accidentally step on his foot with the spike of her heel, he clamped his lips shut.

I glanced between the two of them with growing suspicion. Why were they acting so strangely? I gave Andromeda a pointed stare, lifting a brow. Her cheeks reddened as she realized that I knew what she was doing.

She signed in defeat, throwing Torryn one more heated glare. When she turned to me again, her eyes were swimming with apology. “We’ve been worried about you because you killed all of those human soldiers.” She said sympathetically.

I lifted my chin in immediate understanding. They thought I was suffering from guilt after killing the soldiers. That was what this was about. My uncanny ability to feel guilty about everything. I couldn’t say I blamed them. I was an empathetic person, and sometimes that wasn’t a good thing. But still, I felt nothing negative over what I’d done.

I gave them both a bright smile. “Don’t worry. I’m fine. More than fine. I feel fantastic, really.” I said honestly.

Torryn blinked down at me, his expression as blank as ever. Andromeda gazed at me for a moment, studying my expression, before her face lit up with relief.

“Thank the gods.” She sighed. “We don’t mean to offend you with our concern, it’s just... Well, you know how you were when you killed the wolf pack leader.” She shrugged.

A group of female dragons reached the bottom of the staircase where we were standing and I broke eye contact with Andi to turn and greet them. They bowed to Torryn, kissed Andi’s hand and then mine. I complimented them on their brightly colored dresses and they each took a turn giving me their well wishes.

When they finally wandered away, disappearing into the crowd, I turned back to Andi and Torryn. “The pack leader was a magical being. And he was Sylvie and Marrok’s father. I felt guilty for hurting them in that way and for harming one of our own kind.” I explained. “This time was different. Those soldiers killed all of those innocent Bakru people. They kidnapped you and tortured Dristan. They blackmailed Ferrin. They were horrible people and they had to be stopped. I don’t feel guilty for what I did.”

“That is good. Compassion is highly important in a leader.” Torryn said. “But so is strength and justice. You have proven that you have all of those traits. It seems you were born to lead, Brenya.” There was a gleam in his eye, something like pride, and it made my heart swell. I smiled warmly at him as Andromeda nodded in agreement.

“I couldn’t agree more.” A deep voice cut in from the staircase.

We turned in unison to find Warrick making his way down the stairs. He was smiling warmly, in that way that made the corner of his eyes crinkle. My eyes widened with pleasant surprise when I realized that Sylvie was with him. Her arm was hooked through his and she was grinning like a loon. Andi grasped my hand and squeezed it with excitement. Sylvie seemed to notice and she rolled her eyes at us in exasperation.

Warrick was dressed in all black. Black shoes, a black suit and a matching black collared shirt. It complimented the smooth chocolate color of his skin and his bright, obsidian colored eyes. Sylvie looked like dream. She wore an intricate lace dress, the color of snow. It showed off her petite waist and matched her beautiful, silvery hair. Her lips were painted red, a dramatic and intriguing contrast to her attire.

“Hello Warrick,” I said warmly as he reached the bottom stair, took my hand and chastely kissed the back of it. “You’re looking very dapper.”

“Thank you. You look like royalty.” He answered with a crooked grin.

I blushed and turned to Sylvie. “Sylvie, you are stunning as always.” I smiled, leaning in to hug her tightly.

She giggled and squeezed me back. “Thank you. How are you feeling? Marrok told me all about what happened.” Her eyes were wide with worry when she pulled away.

I waved a hand. “I’m fine. Happy to be home and glad that everyone is safe and sound.”

“Me, too.” She smiled.

Warrick turned to Torryn and they began discussing their training earlier in the day. It was the perfect opportunity to usher Sylvie away and question her about her and Warrick.

“I’m thirsty.” Andi said, seeming to read my thoughts. “Come on girls, lets go get a cocktail.” She said, hooking an arm through each of ours. I grinned at her knowingly and she winked.

We waded through the sea of diverse people, exchanging pleasantries along the way, and finally reached the beverage station near the far back wall. I scanned the crowd, searching for Dristan, but I didn’t see him anywhere. My eyes flicked to the balcony doors and I was briefly reminded of when Dristan and I had stood out there, arguing about his future engagement to Andromeda.

Oh, my, how things have changed since then...

“Alright, Sylvie,” Andi said, throwing a tendril of hair over her shoulder. “It’s time to address the ogre in the room.”

Sylvie fought a smile as she glanced from me, to Andi, and back again. I rose my brows at her, eager to hear her answer. She pressed her lips together as she wrung her hands in front of herself, her cheeks growing more pink by the second. A sad expression crossed her features.

“It’s nothing... He just asked me to accompany him tonight, that’s all.”

“Oh, please.” Andi snorted. “You’re a terrible liar. It is plainly obvious that there is something going on between the two of you.”

Sylvie shrugged and sighed. “We are good friends. We spent a lot of time together in the infirmary. Since then, we’ve been training together and... Sometimes we go on walks, or just talk. It’s been nothing more than that.”

My brows furrowed. “Well, you fancy him, don’t you?”

She shifted from foot to foot, her eyes on the ground. “Yes.”

“Have you told him?” Andi asked softly.

Sylvie lifted her eyes, her expression forlorn. “Yes, but it didn’t go well.”

Irritation skirted up my spine. It didn’t go well? Had he rejected her? I felt a strong urge to stand up for my friend. She looked so embarrassed, so let down. Who did that moronic, overgrown, purple winged twit think he was?!

“What the rutting hell do you mean?” I hissed. “Sylvie, if he hurt you, I swear to the gods, I will have his lizard hide mounted above my fireplace by the time this party is ov-”

“It’s not like that, calm down!” Sylvie hushed me, taking a step closer. She glanced over her shoulder, across the grand room toward the staircase. Warrick was still talking with Torryn, as well as a few other males I did not know.

She turned back to me and sighed. “He told me that he’s not sure he wants to pursue a romantic relationship with anyone...” Her eyes locked with Andi’s. “I’m sure Andromeda already knows why... She’s known him for ages.”

I turned to Andi, confused. She let out a long breath, her eyes filling with realization and sorrow. She held her hands out to Sylvie and pulled her into an embrace. “Oh, Warrick... I’ve been telling him for over a century that he must move on at some point... I’m sorry, Sylvie.”

What am I missing here...?

Sylvie pulled away, her brows furrowed. She looked to be fighting off the sadness that had overtaken her. After a few moments, her expression smoothed out and she lifted her head and smiled. “It’s alright... I’m happy to be his friend. I’m happy to be here, with all of you.”

I cleared my throat. “I’m confused. Is someone going to enlighten me?”

Andi gave me a sad smile. “Warrick had a mate, once. She died a very long time ago.”

I felt the color drain out of my face as my scalp prickled. My head whipped to the side, my gaze finding Warrick across the room. He looked relaxed and happy as he talked with his friends, smiling that warm, contagious smile that I’d grown so fond of. I shook my head in denial, finding the thought of my dear friend losing a mate to be abhorrent.

I couldn’t imagine...

My hand flew to my chest, clutching my heart, as the unnerving thought of Dristan dying crossed my mind. A flashback bombarded me, and I saw the arrow flying at his back again. I felt the dread, the absolute terror that I’d felt. What would it have felt like if the Kadoma hadn’t intervened? What if he had died?

I couldn’t even entertain the idea.

I turned back to my friends. “I had no idea. Gods... When did this happen? How did she die? Who was she?”

Andi held up a hand. “That is a conversation for another time, and one that I think you should have with him, not me. We are here to celebrate, not dig up painful memories. Come now, girls, lets have some fun!”

Sylvie smiled and nodded in agreement. I sighed, and then forced a smile as well. How was I supposed to bring this up to Warrick? And when? But Andromeda was right... Tonight was about celebrating. And I hated the sad look in Sylvie’s eyes. I had to let it go.

“Right.” I handed Sylvie and Andi a glass of pink, bubbly champagne before clinking my own glass against theirs. “Cheers! To our recent victory and our safe return home.”

“Cheers!” They chimed in unison.

The champagne was crisp, cool and refreshing.

“And cheers to the princess finally proving that she can handle herself.” A smooth, familiar voice said from behind me. I turned, locking eyes with Ronan. He grinned as he clinked his glass against mine.

I was stunned for a moment. He looked quite dashing in his white dress shirt, black slacks and gray vest. His sleeves were rolled up, exposing the lean muscles on his forearms. His tawny hair was styled in a messy disarray.

“Ronan.” I finally said. “You look well. Are you feeling better?”

“I’m fine, thank you. You look very beautiful.” He answered smoothly.


“Hello Sylvie, Andromeda.” He said, glancing over my shoulder and nodding.

“Ronan, you look very handsome.” Sylvie said sweetly.

“Thank you. I love your dress. You too, Andi.” He added.

“Thank you.” Andromeda said, sounding a bit annoyed. “I’m going to bring Torryn a drink.”

She tucked her arm into Syvlie’s, leading her away.

“You doing alright?” Ronan asked, turning back to me, his brows furrowing slightly. “That was an incredible display of power, back there.”

“I’m fine, I stopped before I drained myself. It took awhile, but I’ve fully regained my strength.” I said, wishing my friends hadn’t abandoned me with him. I felt oddly uncomfortable around him tonight, though I wasn’t sure why...

“You did very well. I had no idea you could teleport!” He grinned.

“Neither did I.” I admitted, shrugging.

“I’ve been meaning to ask you about the rune, but I haven’t had the chance.” He paused to take a sip of his glass of wine. “Have you figured out the next riddle yet?”

I set down my empty glass and picked up a new one. “No, I haven’t touched the rune since we arrived home.”

He gave me a quizzical look. “Why?”

Oh, Ronan... Always so eager.

“Dristan wants us to enjoy some leisurely time before we get back into it. I don’t disagree. We had a close call... It will be good for us to take some time to just relax. All of us.” I said, raising a brow at him with the last sentence.

He nodded, tilting his head to the side. “Fair point, princess. So, is that what this party is all about, then? It seemed rather random.”

I shrugged and smiled. “Yes. Dristan wanted to take my mind off of the stress.”

“Well, you deserve it.”

“We all do, Ronan. You do, too. You should learn to let your hair down once in awhile.” I said, nudging his arm.

He laughed. “Maybe you’re right.”

His smile faded as his eyes lifted above my shoulder. I felt a presence at my back, and did not need to look to know who was standing there. The scent of fresh pine, burning wood, and subtle whiskey filled my senses.

“Mate,” Dristan’s deep voice purred from behind me. “Would you care to dance with me?”

I was surprised at the lack of annoyance in his voice. Normally, when he found me speaking with Ronan, anger was his first instinct. However, as I tasted his mood through the bond, I felt nothing but love and relaxation. I smiled, feeling my cheeks heat, and slowly turned around.

I tilted my head back and drank in his tall, muscled frame, dressed so wonderfully in his dark suit. My eyes lingered on the exposed skin that peeked out of the top of his shirt. Along with the dark color of his clothing, his dark unruly hair caused his eyes to look exceptionally blue.

“As I recall...” He said, his ocean eyes sparkling down at me. “The last time we were here, I was not gifted the pleasure.”

Slowly, I pulled my lower lip between my teeth. I savored the way his gaze heated as he watched. “I would be honored, mate.” I answered.

The corner of his lip turned up into a crooked smile. He reached for me, tucking me into his side, and turned his attention to Ronan.

“Ronan, you look well.” He said, his tone sincere.

Ronan smiled. It was a tight smile, but genuine enough nonetheless. “Thank you. You as well. I’m glad to see you’ve recovered so quickly.”

Dristan nodded. “Me, too.” He paused, seeming to contemplate something. I glanced between the two of them, perplexed. I’d never witnessed them speaking so decently to each other before. There was hardly any tension in the air.

“Listen, Ronan, I want to thank you for what you did in the forest.” Dristan said, shocking me even further. My brows shot for my hairline. “You listened to me and stayed behind, making sure that Brenya had someone there waiting for her. You protected her when I couldn’t and you helped her save our asses. I’m very grateful.”

Ronan stared at him, his expression unreadable. I held my breath, praying to the gods that he would return Dristan’s polite gesture. Even if he hated my mate for what his ancestors had done to his, he had to see that Dristan wasn’t like them. To see the two of them get along would be a blessing, one I’d always yearned for.

Finally, Ronan grinned. “Of course.”

I let out a breath of relief and Ronan’s eyes drifted to mine. “But I didn’t protect her. And I didn’t help her save you. I didn’t need to. She took care of herself, just as I’ve always said that she was capable of doing.”

Again, I held my breath. Ronan wasn’t lying. He hadn’t protected me. He hand’t helped me fight. He stayed out of my way, knowing that I didn’t need him. But I also knew how Dristan felt about putting me at risk. Even knowing I was strong, he hated the idea of putting me in harms way. I felt my lips pressing together. I was trying not to say anything. I wanted to see how this played out.

They were both silent, staring the other down. I waited to feel the tension begin to roll off of my mate, but it didn’t happen. He remained calm, relaxed and smiling.

I closed my eyes with relief when Dristan chuckled softly. “She’s quite something.”

“Indeed.” Ronan agreed.

“Well, I am still grateful that she had you with her. So, thank you.” Dristan said warmly.

Ronan’s eyes narrowed ever so slightly. “You’re welcome...”

“Enjoy the party, Ronan.” Dristan said, turning and taking me with him.

“Bye.” I said, waving with a small smile.

Ronan smiled back, though it didn’t touch his eyes.

“You were oddly kind to Ronan.” I said, my head against Dristan’s chest as we danced to the slow beat of the music.

He was an incredible dancer, unlike me. I gladly let him take the lead, and with his graceful movement guiding me, it was almost as if I could dance just as well. His hand cradled mine gently, the other pressed to the small of my back. I listened to the beating of his heart as he guided us across the dance floor.

“You value his friendship.” Dristan said softly. “And I truly was grateful for what he did. Why is that so odd to you?”

I shrugged in his arms. “You two are always so cool towards each other. After you snapped his neck I lost all hope that the two of you would ever mend your differences.”

“Aside from the fact that he wants what is mine,” He brushed his lips across my temple. “I have no problem with Ronan. He is the one who has always hated me.”

I sighed. “I know. Do you think that will ever change?”

“I don’t know.” He murmured. “If it would bring you happiness, then I hope so.”

“You usually seem so angry when I’m around him. I don’t know why you worry.”

“I’m tired of wasting my energy worrying about Ronan.” He said distastefully. “So long as he doesn’t touch you or spend time alone with you, I don’t mind your friendship with him. I know that I have nothing to fear.” He tucked his finger under my chin and tilted my face up to look at him. “I know that you love me.”

I pulled his hand to my lips and kissed the back of it tenderly. “With all that I am.”

He smiled and pulled me against his chest once more.

I watched the couples dancing around us, smiling whenever my eyes met with one of them. Everyone looked so happy, tonight. My eyes fluttered shut and I sighed with contentment as I listened to Dristan’s heartbeat. He rocked me back and fourth, gently leading us around and around.

When we stopped, I opened my eyes slowly and found that we were right in front of the stage. I glanced up at the band to find them smiling down at us warmly. They’d stopped playing and silence had fallen upon the ballroom.

I looked up at Dristan and found him staring down at me with molten eyes. Something felt off. But not in a bad way...

I glanced around the room. Everyone had stopped dancing. Every single person was facing us, smiling, still and silent. My brows creased with confusion. Near the staircase, I found Warrick, Sylvie, Andi, Torryn and Marrok watching us as well. They all wore huge, excited grins on their faces.

Why has the music stopped?

Why is everyone staring at us?

“Brenya,” Dristan said softly, bringing my attention back to his face.

I blinked up at him in confusion. He took both of my hands in his, running his thumbs soothingly over the back of them. He gave me a small smile before lifting my hand to his mouth and gently kissing the back of my knuckles. When he lowered my hand, his throat bobbed up and down. The corners of his eyes held tension. He looked nervous, something I had never witnessed before...

What’s going on? What is he doing?

“I have spent many, many years wandering this world. Through much of that time, I have felt lost, misunderstood, and alone... Until I met you.”

My lips parted as sudden understanding settled over me. A rush of disbelief entered my veins, followed by fear, and then overwhelming joy.

“Before I found you, I knew that you would bring hope and healing to the people here. I knew that when I found you, you would be the key to building a better future for this kingdom. What I didn’t know was that you would bring me all of those things, too...” His eyes blazed with sincerity.

Soft sighs came from the crowd as the people of the Aviary listened to my mate’s endearing words. I wasn’t sure my heart was even beating. I stared up at him in wonder, feeling tears building up behind my eyes as he spoke.

He lifted his hand and brushed his fingers lightly down my cheek. His eyes burned into me, seeing past my outer self, seeing into the soul within.

“You have awoken something in me that I never knew was slumbering. My world used to be black and white, but Brenya, you’ve painted it with technicolor. You challenge me, you surprise me, you excite me, you teach me, you soften me... You tame the beast inside of me without the slightest effort. You’ve healed me in ways that I didn’t know I was broken. You see the world with such love... It makes me want to be the best man I can possibly be. You make me better than what I am...”

The pad of his thumb brushed away the tear that fell down my cheek. He smiled briefly, his eyes filled with pure love and admiration.

“The day I found out that you were my mate was the best day of my existence. I will never understand what I did to deserve such a blessing from the gods... But I thank them for it every single day. And I know that with their blessing comes affirmation. We have been mated for a reason greater than us. We have been mated because we are meant to rule together, side by side, and to lead our people into a brighter future.”

Cheers and whistles suddenly erupted from the crowd. I smiled and laughed softly as more tears slipped past my eyes. Dristan gazed down at me, sending a wave of overwhelming love down the bond, expanding my heart even further.

“My heart, my life, my soul... They all belong to you. I want to spend the rest of my life beside you. I want to grow with you, build with you, rule with you. I want to love you every day, for all the days of my life.”

His eyes did not leave mine as he slowly sank onto one knee and pulled a small box from his pocket. A sound left my lips, something between a sob and a laugh of pure joy. I thought I might burst into flames with all of the love burning inside of my heart.

“I present you with my mother’s ring. ” Dristan said softly as he opened the box and held it out to me. Inside was a silver ring, adorned with a large, round diamond. It was encircled with smaller diamonds and dazzling sapphires. They reminded me of his eyes. I gasped as the exquisite ring sparkled in the light, casting tiny rainbows against my dress.

“Brenya Avery Alemaund, I promise to love you, cherish you and protect you from now until forever. Will you marry me?”

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