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A Dragon's hoard

The wide corridor reinforced by the light blue painted walls led Daphne and Lorcan to where the Queen awaited them. The Palace was immense judging by the distance between the walls and the ceiling and the floor, yet when she looked closely, a golden scale line drew the wings of a dragon on each piece of wall between each large opening.

Passing two huge windows, her eyes rested on the waves that gently crashed against the rocks. A light, salty, and cool breeze hit her face like a gentle caress. It was merely an unexpected, beautiful place in Daphne’s eyes.

With Lorcan by her side, she continued to watch the splendid ocean as it passed through the third opening. Its blue tint blended with the sky on the horizon. The waters looked peaceful. A long, high bridge connected the Palace to what appeared to be a roofless balcony rising above the waters in the distance.

“What do dragons really look like?” her curiosity made her ask. Until now, she had not seen any of the mythical creatures.

“They look like you and me.”

“Huh?”

“They are similar to the Lycans, only instead of changing into wolves, they are dragons. And they don’t believe in any Goddess.”

“They are Shifting Dragons.” She said. Lorcan nods. “This place is incredible.”

Lorcan noted her with curiosity. Her face showed complacency, serenity, and amazement. An image that would remain in his memory indefinitely.

They both finally arrived at a colossal metal door, with gold engravings shaping the head of a dragon.

“This way.” A man dressed in black leather trousers, a loose green linen shirt rolled up to his elbows, with short, brown hair and a muscular body, had opened the door.

The mixture of warm colors and sweet smells hit her senses hard. A field of flowers stretched out in a circle. White, green, red, yellow, and orange were the most striking colors. The fragrance reached her nose, inviting her to stay there forever.

Looking closely, large rocks rose at a distance from each other. They were huge, thin, and grey-like. They resembled the ruins of a temple. But what stole her attention was the slow breathing of a giant body lying on a bed of flowers. Its wings revealed its identity without a doubt.

“Queen Avina,” Lorcan called.

The wings expanded in an elegant movement. Their venous and leathery shape made them look more imposing and, at the same time, fragile. Her long tail, which ended in a pointed tip, was covered with the same green scales as her body.

A grunting resonated in the air.

The wings began to disappear, the dragon’s scales vanished. And in the middle of those flowers, a woman had emerged with her back to them. She was dressed in dark emerald. Long sleeves and a square cut at her neckline, the length of her dress brushed the ground. The woman turned around, and the closer she got, the more her beauty was appreciated. Her thick curls, full, rose-painted lips, dark eyes, and defined, arched eyebrows gave shape to a shapely, elegant face.

“Queen Avina,” Lorcan inclined his head as a form of respect.

“Lorcan” The Queen’s voice was smooth, although not smooth enough to say that she had a sweet temperament. “And who is the lady?”

“My name is Daphne Brooks, Your Majesty” Daphne paid her respects.

“She is the sister of the mortal who is with us. I would like to ask your permission to keep Miss Brooks here for a while.”

Avina watched Daphne with curiosity. “I want to talk to her alone, Lorcan.”

“Very good,” he replied and left.

“Well...Ms. Brooks,” Avina spoke up. “What do you think of him?”

Her question puzzled Daphne, not understanding her intention. Queen Avina smiled gently.

“Don’t be shy, my dear.”

“Forgive me, Your Majesty, but I don’t understand why you’re asking.”

“It’s a simple question, Daphne. Whatever the answer is will remain between us.”

“Mmm... I don’t know, he’s...” Daphne didn’t know exactly what to say.

“Go on.” Avina encouraged her.

“I don’t know what to say; Lorcan is a demon.”

“That’s a fact, not your perception. I guess it’s hard to explain your own emotions.”

“Excuse me?”

“I can see, my dear, your true feelings. That hidden longing that you try to undo but can’t. If I’m not mistaken, you like the demon.”

“With all respect, your Majesty, but you are wrong.”

“Am I? but I am more intrigued to know if the demon might be interested in you.” Avina smiled again. “It’s a pity that I can’t see his emotions.”

“Your Majesty, what’s this all about?”

“I like to know every detail of those guests who are at my house.”

“I can assure you that I have no intention of harming you or your Kingdom. Lorcan brought me here because I asked him to because I wanted to be by James’ side”.

“And yet Lorcan did not hesitate to do so. That is what surprises me most of all. I think I understand that my pursuit no longer makes sense.”

“Pursuit?” Daphne asked.

“Ignore me, my dear. Now, you can stay here on one condition.”

“What would that be?”

“I want that” Avina’s eyes fixed on Daphne’s pendant.

“The ring?”

“Guilty pleasure,” said Avina. Her eyes went from brown to a reddish hue. Her pupils constricted.

“This ring...” Daphne took it in her hands, undecided what to do.

“I want it for myself,” Avina said again. Daphne looked at the Queen and then at her ring. If she did not give it, she could not stay here with James. She pulled the pendant from her neck, mumbling, “I’m sorry, Agate.” “Here,” she said, expanding her hand with the ring on it.

Avina’s eyes returned to their usual brown shade. “Welcome to my Kingdom, Ms. Brooks.”

After the meeting with the Queen, Daphne was escorted to her room. The echo of the ocean came in through the large glass windows, which were wide open. A bed covered with purple fabrics and gold thread embroidery was set against the wall, and a massive dossal with golden curtains decorated such ostentatiousness. The walls were white, solidly decorated with dragon figures. Where the faces of the mythical creatures looked angry and ready to attack. All engraved in gold.

While inspecting the vast room, she found a bathroom where she prepared the large tub and sank into it. The water’s warmth welcomed her, her body began to relax, the dirt on her skin began to disappear as she did the cleaning work.

She stayed there for a while, resting in the now tepid water with the remains of the soap.

As she came out of the tub, covered by a towel, she opened the wardrobe that she had previously found decorated in green, pink, and white paints. Flower patterns adorned the wood that made up the two-door, medium-sized piece of furniture. Grabbing one of the dresses and combing her wet hair, Daphne left her room searching for James.

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