Elemental Heir : Book 1 Of The Elemental Heir Series

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Chapter 60

Distantly, I was aware that I was in a massive room filled with thousands of people. Yet somehow, I felt as if Dristan and I were the only two people in the room. The only two people in the world... My heart thundered within my chest, hammering against my ribs like a caged bird who was desperate to be freed.

Or maybe it wasn’t beating at all. It was difficult to tell.

Two shimmering pools of cool, clear waters stared up at me expectantly. There was immense love within those ocean eyes. Fear, too. There was something so intimate about seeing him like this, on his knees, publicly submitting his heart to me.

The Dragon Lord... The mightiest, most powerful, most feared High Lord in all the land, was on his knees before me. He was at my mercy. I was the only one in the whole world who he would kneel before, who he would allow himself to be vulnerable to. I was the only one who could spark fear in him.

It made me feel powerful. And it was a power that I would never abuse.

I wanted to banish the fearful look in his wide, waiting eyes. I wanted to spend the rest of my life showing him that he had nothing to be afraid of. I would never harm this man, this tender, beautiful soul who trusted me with his heart.

I was his, completely, in every way possible. And he was mine. I would always love him. We belonged together, side by side, and nothing could ever change that. Not our petty arguments, not the war, not even death itself. I would literally move mountains for this man, part the seas, walk through blazing fires...

Silence stretched through the room. I was so overcome with emotion, so overcome with thoughts of how much I adored this man, that it had rendered me speechless. Dristan’s eyes grew more wary as each second passed.

Finally, I found my voice.

“I will stand at your side in this life, the next, and all the ones that follow.” I whispered breathlessly.

There were hushed murmurs of adoration and approval from the crowd surrounding us. It stunned me momentarily as I’d almost forgotten we weren’t alone. The tension in Dristan’s shoulders relaxed and his lips parted. Along with relief, there was wonderment in his eyes as he gazed up at me. He looked so vulnerable, so out of his element.

“I will marry you. I will lead the people toward a better future with you, Dristan. I will be your queen, and you, my king. We belong together.” I said softly, a single tear slipping past my burning eyes.

He blinked once, and then a wide, breathtaking smile spread across his lips. I felt my own lips quirk upward in answer. Not taking his eyes off of mine, he reached forward and gently took my left hand. My smile grew, my cheeks flaming, as he then slid the dazzling diamond and sapphire ring onto my third finger.

It fit perfectly.

Thunderous applause and roaring cries of celebration erupted all around us. Dristan’s dazzling white smile was contagious and I laughed with joy as he stood, scooped me into his arms and then spun me around. I squealed as my feet left the ground, but my cry of surprise was silenced as his lips crashed against mine.

“Now you’ll be mine, forever.” He whispered against my mouth.

“I already was.” I answered breathlessly.

He grinned. “Not legally. I want you to be mine in every way.”

“A typical dragon. So greedy...” I teased, running the tip of my nose down the length of his.

His eyes grew serious. “Yes, I am. When it comes to you.”

I pulled back slightly, cradling the side of his face in my hand. “You can have all of me, Dristan. So long as you give me all of you in return.”

The sweetest smile touched his lips as he gazed down at me.

Our tender moment was short-lived as the crowd of magical beings closed in around us. A steady stream of congratulatory words swam around us, bringing us out of our fleeting, private bliss. My eyes reluctantly left my fiance’s and I forced myself to smile brightly at the swarm of excited party goers.

However, my irritation was quickly forgotten as a sudden realization crossed my mind. Their joy was palpable, their love apparent, their well wishes touching. For although Dristan was mine, and I was his... We also belonged to the people.

Just as I was agreeing to tie my life to Dristan’s, I was also agreeing to tie my life to theirs. And just as I would move mountains, part the seas, and walk through blazing fires for my mate...

I would do the same for my people.

(Dristan’s POV)

Contentment like I had never known kept a permanent smile spread across my face as the evening carried on into the night. My cheek rested atop Brenya’s head as I held her against my chest, dancing slowly with her in the dim lighting of the ballroom. Her scent surrounded me, blanketing me with the now so familiar comfort that it brought.

The gentle, sweet sound of the harp echoed around the room. The melody aptly matched the softness that I was currently feeling in my heart.

She said yes...

Comfortable silence stretched lazily between us as I rocked her to and fro. I tried to remember a time when I’d ever been this happy. I tried so hard, just for the hell of it. But not a single one of the few happy memories I had in my long life came close to how I felt in that moment.

All of my worries were silent. Even my dragon. He seemed to be slumbering somewhere deep inside of me, his breathing deep and even. He was just as content as I was.

My smile widened slightly as Brenya’s voice suddenly came into my mind, slipping through the cord of the bond that connected us.

‘I thought you would wait until after the war to propose to me...’ She whispered into my head.

It was always fascinating to hear her speak to me this way. It had changed since we’d first become mates. At first, her voice had been difficult to hear. It had sounded far away, distant and muffled. Like shouting down a long, dark well.

But now, it was clear and strong. Her voice sounded like my own inner monologue. Her thoughts, when pushed into my head, sounded like my own thoughts. Except they were in her voice, not mine. And I wasn’t the one thinking them. It was strange... But I’d grown so used to it. It didn’t feel odd anymore. It felt as natural as hearing her speak out loud.

‘I thought I would too...’ I whispered back.

‘What changed your mind?’

My fingers trailed softly up the dip of her spine and back down again. ‘Because, even for immortals, there is never a promise for another tomorrow.’

She stiffened against my chest and then pressed herself closer to me. She nuzzled her face against my chest, tightening her arms around my back. An image flashed from her mind to mine, making me wince.

I saw myself, unconscious, lying in a puddle of my own blood. I saw the silver filled arrow leave Ferrin’s bow and fly toward my exposed back. I felt the consuming dread and terror that she’d felt, though it was just an echo of the memory... I was certain that in the actual moment, the feeling had been much worse. Even through her memories, it was unbearable.

“Shh...” I whispered audibly. My thumb rubbed soothing circled against the palm of her hand and I pressed my lips to her forehead. Immediately, I felt her relax against me and her emotions calmed.

‘We will have endless tomorrows, Dristan.’ Her voice echoed in my mind. ‘I won’t ever let anyone come that close to harming you ever again. I’d sooner give up my own life.’ There was a dangerous edge to her tone.

This time, I was the one who stiffened. I felt her wariness as my instinctual anger and protectiveness flared through the bond. I stopped dancing and tucked my finger under her chin, lifting her face so I could look at her. Wide, mismatched eyes gazed up at me.

‘Do not ever say anything like that again.’ I thought, staring down at her intensely.

Her expression remained steady. ‘Whether I say it or not, the fact remains... Your life means more to me than my own. I realized that in the forest.’

My jaw tightened. ‘I do not want you to ever risk your own life for my sake.’

‘Would you risk yours for mine?’

I stared down at her, my brows furrowing with conflict. Of course I would. Without a moment of consideration. I did not need to respond. She already knew the answer. She pulled her lower lip between her teeth as she gazed up at me warily. A nervous habit of hers that drove me mad...

Her chin was still captured between my thumb and index finger. Gently, I tugged her chin with my thumb, forcing her to release her lower lip from her teeth. Her eyes softened as I then traced her lips with my thumb, still not answering her question.

‘You know I wouldn’t have a choice, Dristan. I will always fight to protect you, even if it means risking my life. The mate bond makes it second nature. The depth of my love for you runs just as deeply as yours does for me.’ Her voice whispered softly. ‘If the gods themselves tore us apart, I would fight until my last breath to find my way back to you.’

Those were the same words I had once said to her. Back when we'd finally made amends after our worst fight. After I found out she'd been meeting with Ronan in secret to work on the rune meant to heal Warrick...

I'd meant those words, to my very core. And I knew that as she now repeated them back to me, she meant them just as fiercely as I had when I said them.

I closed my eyes and let out a frustrated, defeated, sigh. She was right. If I knew that I would risk my life to keep her safe then I could not ask her to do differently. Besides, I did not wish to argue with her. Especially not tonight. I knew that she could feel my resolve through the bond when I felt her relief wash over her.

I smiled as I opened my eyes, deciding to lighten the mood. ‘Who’s the overprotective one now?’

She grinned and I pulled her to my chest again, continuing to dance slowly.

I glanced over her shoulder absentmindedly and noticed Ronan watching us. He stood near the stage, a glass of clear liquor in his hand. His expression was blank. Unreadable. I fought the instinct to scowl at him. I wouldn’t let him ruin my high spirits. I did not scowl. I did not smile, either.

Instead, I gave him a firm nod.

His eyes narrowed almost imperceptibly. Then, he lifted his glass to me and nodded back. Not entirely friendly, but not disrespectful either. I broke eye contact with him and tightened my hold on Brenya, burying my face into her fragrant hair.

Ronan and I would never be friends. But we could be civil. If tolerating him made Brenya happy, then I would do my best to oblige her. I knew he would always desire what was mine... But he would never posses it.

She was mine. Always.

The night stretched onward, and the music took on a more alluring, intense pace as it did. The liquor flowed, the dancing intensified, and the people began to really let loose. What had started as a formal gathering was slowly turning into a wild celebration.

Brenya and I couldn’t help but laugh quietly with each other as we observed the Sylphs attempts at dancing. Aella had led several Sylphs toward the dance floor. Everywhere they went, the crowd parted around them. It was like they were in their own, private bubble. It almost looked like magic, like they had a shield around them that kept others away. Except in truth, people were just avoiding them. The people were still not accustom to their strangeness.

Nor was I, for that matter.

The Sylphs stood, well, floated in the center of the dance floor, staring blankly at the dancing bodies around them. Watching... Observing. After a long while, Aella turned toward her companions and nodded. The Sylphs began to move, stepping stiffly from side to side, their arms un-moving at their sides. Once in awhile, one of them would turn in a circle, or lift their arms above their heads and back down again.

Their movements were stiff. Forced. I wasn’t sure why they were trying to dance, but I suspected it was an attempt at being accepted by the others. Perhaps they were trying to fit in.

It was like watching a bird try to be a dog. Unnatural... But hilarious.

Brenya gripped my hand tightly, pressing her lips together as I laughed too loudly beside her. “Dristan, don’t be rude.” She giggled softly.

“You’re laughing, too.” I pointed out.

“Yes, well, you’re making no attempt to hide your humor!” She said, swatting my stomach.

I made an attempt to stop chuckling and pursed my lips at her. It only made her laugh harder.

We strode toward the beverage table, hand in hand, and I spotted our companions. They made their way toward us as we reached the table.

Andromeda eagerly rushed toward us. "Oh, it was so difficult not to spoil the surprise! We all knew that Dristan was planning to propose tonight. I've been dying of anticipation!"

"You all knew?" Brenya gasped.

Andi nodded. "Everyone in the Aviary knew! Show me the ring!"

Brenya held out her hand, her cheeks growing pink. She sent me an icy glare and I chuckled. Andromeda gripped her fingers and pulled her hand close to her face, examining the ring this way and that. She gasped, and cooed and giggled, hugging my fiance’ as they whispered excitedly to each other.

I grinned and rolled my eyes and I turned toward Warrick, Torryn, Ronan, Sylvie and Marrok.

“Congratulations.” Torryn said, lifting his glass. He did not smile, but there was a sparkle in his eyes that let me know he meant it.

“Thank you, my friend.”

“Don’t know what she sees in you.” Warrick chuckled, picking up a glass of amber colored liquid from the table.

“It’s a mystery to me, as well.” I said, half serious as I smirked at him.

“She is the kindest, most remarkable person I have ever met.” Marrok said, stepping forward. “You are a lucky man. I know you will treat her well.”

I clapped him on the shoulder. “Thank you, alpha. I’m glad she didn’t let me kill you.”

His answering grin was infectious.

I picked up a glass of liquor from the table. When I turned around, Ronan stepped toward me, his expression unreadable as I locked eyes with him. He paused, looking uncertain. I waited, feeling my body stiffen, but I kept my face neutral. He lowered his gaze, glancing at the floor.

After an awkward pause, he let out a breath and lifted his eyes back to mine. “You will do your best to protect her, cherish her and make her happy?” He asked quietly.

I ground my teeth together as I stared at him. His eyes widened slightly. His nerve to questioning my ability to care for my mate angered me. My dragon stirred within me, opening one of his sleepy eyes. A low grumble rose in his chest, but I suppressed him.

With extreme effort, I finally cracked a smile. “I swear it on my very life.”

He stared back at me blankly for a moment, something dark flashing within his eyes. But it was fleeting, and after a beat, he grinned. “Good.”

Brenya and Andi re-joined us, both still giggling. Brenya’s cheeks were pink with the alcohol she’d consumed tonight.

Ronan turned to the table and picked up his own glass of whiskey. He turned back to me and held his glass out to the group. “A toast.” He announced, smiling warmly. “To King Dristan and Queen Brenya. May their union be long, happy and true.”

I glanced at Brenya. She smiled at Ronan and then turned to me, beaming.

“Cheers!” We all answered, clinking our glasses together.

My eyes didn’t leave my mate as she laughed, her eyes bright with drink and happiness. She was such a vision. Love swelled within my chest. I smiled as I lifted the glass to my lips.

“My Lord!” A gruff, male voice suddenly shouted to my right. I turned just in time to catch the drunken male dragon who had stumbled into me. I grunted as he nearly knocked the drink out of my hand.

I recognized him. A young soldier. His name was Rave. He reeked of alcohol.

“O-oh, shit, sorry ’bout that!” He slurred.

I grimaced, straightening him on his feet. “At ease.”

“Jus’ wanted to say con-gra-jay-tions,” He hiccuped, grinning drunkenly.

“Thank you, soldier.” I said, nodding. “Are you alright?”

“I’m great, never better! You and yer bride are gonna do gr-great things.” He stuttered.

He stumbled forward again, knocking into my arm. My drink spilled a bit, splashing onto the floor by our shoes. “Awe, shit. Sorry. Hey, is that whiskey?”

He reached for my glass, snatching it out of my hand. “I love wh-whiskey.” He hiccuped.

“I think you might’ve had enough whiskey-” I said, trying to grab the drink away from him, but he’d already thrown the entire glass back.

“You disrespectful piece of-” Torryn growled, stepping toward me and the soldier.

I held out a hand, stopping him. “It’s alright. He’s drunk.”

The soldier dropped the glass, but I caught it before it could shatter on the floor. “Ah, that’s good st-stuff...” He slurred.

He grinned at me, swaying on his feet. I glanced around, looking for someone who could escort this man back to his quarters, but I stopped when a strange sound suddenly left his lips.

I turned back to him, startled by the odd noise.

His eyes widened as he stared at me. Another sound left his mouth. It sounded like he was choking. A moment of confusion passed. Rave’s hands flew to his throat as he choked again, his eyes bulging out of his face.

“What the fuck is happening?” Warrick said, coming to my side.

“I don’t know...” I answered, staring at the soldier.

Rave’s wide eyes met with mine, panic and dread shining in them. The color drained from his face.

“Silver...” He rasped.

And then, he collapsed onto the ground.


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