I do not leave my bedchamber that day and I sleep the whole night away, exhausted. I’m woken up in the morning by soft humming. Familiar humming. My eyes snap open with my blankets right up to my chin, with a hand running over my forehead and through my hair, over and over.
“...mother?” I look up at Madeline, sitting on a chair and dressed in a dazzling red dress, but with the leather collar still around her neck.
“We need to talk, Luv,” she says quietly.
Despite her soft tone, I feel instantly threatened.
Anger pulses through me and I sit up quickly, shoving her hand away from me.
“Don’t touch me,” I snap.
“I’m only trying to talk to you,” she looks greatly offended by my abruptness,
“Don’t be so rude, Luvenia,” I jerk my head to the side and near my fireplace I see my two uncles, Madeline’s twin brothers, Darren and Mason. Darren has spoken and he is also adorned in slave trinkets like Madeline, “You look as ugly as your father in the mornings, as always,” he adds for good measure.
“Shut up,” I snap, “You’re rude, not I.”
“You’re just a kid, Luvenia, you shouldn’t have this ferocious need to attack your family so much,” Mason sighs, looking disappointed by my reaction to them this morning.
“I’m 18 for fricks sake,” I glare at my mum, “You were 16 when you let your mates impregnate your belly, weren’t you young –?”
Enough! my mouth closes shut when Hael’s voice booms through my head, how dare you speak to your mother with that tone and with those words.
She is no role model to me, I growl back at my father, but half-heartedly.
It was no good idea to cross Hael, ever.
Madeline simply stares at me, too shocked to even speak.
“You don’t know what to say because it’s true,” I add, quietly, almost instantly forgetting Hael’s warning.
One more word out of your mouth and I will banish you, ungrateful rat, Hael is final and he is not joking.
Even though I know I have been exceptional in my outburst so far, I shut up.
I had simply been acting in defence of what I knew was coming.
“I love your fathers,” Madeline speaks cooly to me,“Why did you steal Althor’s prisoner?”
This is what I had been avoiding.
“You better tell us,” Darren pokes at the fire with an iron rod, spitting into it just to see it sizzle, “Or perhaps you will be banished.”
“I have done nothing wrong,” I cry out, annoyed as I scoot to the other side of the bed, further away from them, “I was helping someone, someone that should not be caged. People should not be caged,” I glare at Madeline, referring to the cage they had for her.
She tried to hide it from me but I had seen it, locked away in a deep secret treasure cavern in the Requiem Mountains.
A cage for her.
And she liked it.
How on Earth could someone submit to another in that way?
“I see fear in your eyes,” Madeline states, “I was the same so young... but less rude, unbelievably.”
“You could never say a rude word in your life,” I respond, but I do not yell it, in case I am banished.
“All the fledglings in this mountain are shallow thinkers... she has listened to the others too much. They are consumed in lust and violence and rebellion to their elders,” Darren speaks out, “It’s good Hael threw them out into the forest, Luvenia is a Rogue, she should be set out to roam.”
“No,” Madeline snaps, “I will not toss her aside.”
“She is a Rogue,” Mason reconfirms, “She does not belong in a Horde.”
“Why do you have so much hate for me, Luv?” Madeline asks me, “Why are you causing trouble with our alliance and Althor?” She begs me to answer her, because I never usually answer directly when she spoke to me.
Most of the time I would be too angry and I wouldn’t speak a word.
Now I do.
“Althor is evil, the princes of the Horde of Fortune are arrogant pricks and Roi was being tortured for information. I want to be independent, unlike you –” I trail off when I hear my door suddenly swing open and I witness Hael storm into the room.
He walks up to the end of my bed and slowly smiles at the sudden fear in my eyes. He was giant, he always had been and it was fitting as he was Dragon Lord of the most feared Horde in the realm.
“You think you can sleep in because you’re a princess?” he asks me, now speaking as a father, “You think you can insult your own mother because you were born a Rogue?”
“You think you can try to break our alliance with an ally whom could soon become a dangerous enemy? Hmmm?”
Hael is making good points but I selfishly still want to make a point of my own.
I didn’t want to be made a fool of, or be completely unheard. I knew what would push Hael onto my side.
“The princes are my mates,” I blurt out.
There is a sudden silence in the room.
Madeline is the first to speak.
“Did you steal the prisoner because they hurt you?” she asks, trying to work it out, real worry in her eyes, “Tell me, Luvenia. Did the princes force you to do anything –”
“Of course they didn’t,” I lose my temper again, as talk of being forced to do anything only reminded me of how Madeline let her mates force her to do whatever the hell they wanted, “I came at them with a sword, cut Thaddeus’ hand and broke Sylvan’s cheek bone. I do not submit to anyone.”
“Why did you do that?” Hael’s tone has dropped, he seems deadly calm now, but I’m not sure if I’m in danger or the princes.
“They...” I think back to why, and I blush as the words that are going to come out of my mouth, “They wanted to burn my clothes.”
“Violence is not the answer,” Madeline shakes her head.
“That’s rich, coming from you –”
“My mates do not lay a hand on me in disrespect,” she snaps, outraged that I would hint at them hurting her in any way, “They do not maim me, they do not injure me... they seek pleasure in other ways that you will not understand.”
“Oh my Dragon gods... gross, don’t continue, please,” I raise my hand and look at Hael with pleading eyes, “What do you want me to do?” I ask, hoping to change the subject quickly.
My uncles and my mother also look towards Hael, waiting for his verdict.
He seems to have calmed down quite a bit.
“You are lucky you have your mother’s face and her sad eyes,” he growls low, “You have two choices, stay and apologize to Althor; he is here and waiting for you, eager for an explanation. If you prefer to run from your responsibility, you can stay in the forest with the other fledglings until you learn some respect.”
“Listen to him and think carefully,” Darren adds, before I open my mouth, “Do not be so impulsive or I’ll get Adara to knock some sense into you.”
Adara was his mate, Hael and Lochness’ psycho sister.
“I can transform into a Dragon now and I could probably fight her and win,” I challenge, “Adara is old now.”
Darren just raises his eyebrows while Madeline rolls her eyes.
"Decide, Luv,” Hael prods me, his patience thinning. He hated disrespect and only tolerated it from me... barely... because I was his daughter.
“But I told you the princes were my mates, what about that?” I ask.
“What about it?” Hael and Madeline both answer in unison.
“Did you know?” I ask, going even colder on the inside at their automatic responses.
“I had an inkling,” Hael growls.
“I could see it, but no one can be certain, only you three will know,” Madeline shrugs her shoulders, “Their fire will not burn you if you are.”
“Well, I do not want to be anyone’s mate,” I say, trying to find some support from any of them.
“You do not want them because you’re afraid, little half-blood,” Darren also mocks me.
“You’re a human, you can’t talk –” he cuts me off.
“You are a half blood and you are afraid,” he rubs it in.
“I am not afraid of two idiot princes,” I snap, “I thought you hated them,” I snarl this at Hael.
“At the moment they have more respect than you, little Luv,” he says, gently, “Will you apologize or not?”
“I will,” I give in, “Only because I do not want to be the cause of a war.”
“You haven’t been,” Hael reassures me, “Althor found what he was looking for–”
“The mice?” I question, gasping.
Fucking hell, if Althor had Shai and Roi that would also be something else to add onto my list of things that were my fault. I should have stayed with them.
"A mouse,” Hael explains, brows furrowing in confusion at my reaction.
“Which one?” I ask.
“The prisoner, is there another mouse to know of?” he asks.
“I will apologise,” I ignore what he says and he takes note of it.
“Then get up and get dressed,” Hael walks over to Madeline and grabs her collar’s ring, pulling her up by one finger.
I simply watch in disbelief.
No matter how many times I had witnessed something like this, I never got use to it.
“Stop gawking,” Darren rolls his eyes, and Mason chuckles.
“Pray your princes don’t put one on you,” Hael growls, glancing a dangerous look my way.
“I wouldn’t allow it–” I speak as he takes my mother out the door, but he cuts me off quickly.
“Contrary to your belief,” Hael pauses by the open door, about to exit with my mother, “Collars are put on disobedient mates, not the other way around.”
Hael slams the door shut on the way out and I slyly look at my two uncles.
“Get dressed,” Mason nods towards me, “You need to represent us by dressing up appropriately.”
I wave them both on, hoping they will leave soon.
“Where is Lochness?” I ask, quickly.
“Probably setting up a cage to fuck your mother in endlessly for hours,” Darren blurts out, bluntly and unkindly.
He was always like that.
I hated him for it.
Mason looks sick at the words, as am I.
“Get out,” I snarl.
“Gladly, little brat,” Darren storms off to the door and Mason follows. However, Mason slows down. His red hair, the same colour as Madeline’s, glints back at me through the fire as he turns to face me one last time.
“My sister is not who you think she is,” Mason is serious, no doubt in his words as he decides to add in support for Madeline, “...you are blind to her courage.”
I do not respond, I simply wait for him to leave.
Once alone, I glare at my shut door.
Why was everyone so adamant that Madeline was not... who she was?
Now to mention, Hael’s words confused me. Collars were only for disobedience? What the hell?
My mother was the most submissive female I had ever met.
But what frustrated me more than anything, was my father’s reaction to hearing about the princes being my mates.
He didn’t care.
No one did.
And that confused me greatly.
Poor me, poor me, Lex hears my thoughts and gets in my head before I can block him out, the amount you complain and worry about your own interests, is what drives everyone insane.
What are you trying to say? I ask, hurt.
You worry about yourself, you do not care how your words hurt others. Perhaps the princes will actually teach you to think of others.
Since when did you start to support them?
I do not. But I do not support you being a bitch either, Luvenia. Grow up.
I hate you.
And reactions like that is why everyone can’t stand you, he is harsh.
I end up sitting in bed, thinking of everyone’s words. It felt like everyone was against me.But perhaps they were for a reason. I had even yelled at Jules yesterday; and she wasjust a kid.
Perhaps I was a bad person? My father wasn’t called the Black-hearted Dragon in the legends for no reason. He was a murderer. Well... I had witnessed Lochness do the most strange acts of kindness too, occasionally. Rarely.
However, despite that, it seemed I had only inherited his worst qualities.
I dress slowly as I think, my mind racing, always coming back to Hael’s choice of word.
I cannot believe it.
But it is starting to sink in.
Had I... misread Madeline this whole time?
What courage was Mason speaking of?
If I had misread her, it meant I had refused to truly see her, or I had missed something about her... perhaps something I had not noticed.
But now I was starting to feel a massive rush of guilt.
I was a horrible child.
I’m sorry, I impulsively connect to Madeline’s mind, something I have not done willingly for months, I do not know why I am so horrible to you, you have done nothing to me. Please forgive me. Uncle Darren is right, I am scared. I’m scared of what the princes will do to me. I’m scared they’ll try to make me a submissive slave.
I appreciate your apology, I was beginning to think I had failed you as a mother. I try my best... I really do, Luv. Your princes will not hurt you if they are your mates, there is nothing to fear.
I’m sorry, I repeat my apology, feeling it is still not enough. I’m too embarrassed to try and explain myself further.
The brief moment I let my walls down to speak to her, only lasts a few moments.
I bring my walls back up.
I still had doubts, about a lot of things. I was just beginning to realize those doubts were not of others. I had put the blame on my mother. I had dumped it all on her.
But I only had doubts about one person.
I was scared to know what I wanted and if I could handle the responsibilities of two mates.
And I was terrified... if I fell in love with my mates one day... that I wouldn’t be strong enough.
I knew now what Mason spoke of.
Madeline birthed two twins at seventeen, she had one mate, a murderer, one mate, a ruthless Dragon Lord, with both mates keen to tie her up and dominate her beyond belief... but she still managed to smile and laugh and love.
And I was scared I would be put through the same ordeal...
...and that I wouldn’t have the same capacity for bravery as her.