Chapter VI: Midnight Wedding
Only when the sun had set had the maids and the people in the palace begun preparing for the night, preparing for a wedding and a celebration. Everyone was speaking, whispering, and not one seemed to be excited.
I heard whispers such as, “Is the king really marrying a mage?”
“Are you sure this isn’t some kind of joke?”
“I can’t stand the thought of a mage as our queen.”
“Has the king grown mad?”
“Is she at least...pretty?”
I had spent most of my day in my room, only listening to the talk outside my door while trying to come to terms with what was happening. I would be a queen by the end of tonight...I thought of my nightmare over and over and how there was always a possibility it somehow would come true.
In my twisted visions, they did come true, many many times again.
Orval was the kind of man to do such things, there was no doubt in my mind he would enjoy the pleasure of burning me alive, my screams making him and his people happy as they would never be truly happy with me as their queen.
At sunset, when the land of the dragons was finally beginning to cool, the maids had returned to my room and this time they were much more delicate.
They had released all my hair from my ponytail, running sweet-smelling oils through each strand as a brush once more was run through my hair.
I remember Ada saying “The king loves hair. Smells, colors, the softness...Hair as white as snow, mages only must have such a thing. I know some water dragons have a similar color, but nothing compared to yours. Maybe perhaps that is why he had picked you. That is the only thing I envy on you my lady... and perhaps your chest.”
She had then groped my chest, making me gasp from the shock. “I would kill to have your size breasts.”
Catherine then had snorted as she slipped jewels around my bare waist and legs, cold metals seeming to be pressed against me, “Nothing to be envious of..”
“Well that’s because you have a chest, but only because you’re fat. If I were fat, I would also have a chest.”
The fighting continued as they dressed me and I remember feeling the jewelry they dressed my waist and legs in, and thinking how odd it was to wear to a wedding.
Only when they had slipped my dress on did I feel odd, no bra, flimsy string like underwear, and a thin fabricated dress. I felt like I was getting dressed for a whore house rather than my own wedding but I didn’t question them about it.
I knew very little about the whore houses, but I know even my kingdom had them on the very outskirts as they were not allowed in the kingdom themselves, my great grandfather banishing them.
I only knew they existed because of the mad man above me in the tower talked constantly about them. He said he enjoyed the ice whores, bold enough to wear such very little clothes in the ice and snow to lure travelers in, how they even dance on ice or dance in blizzards.
I’d imagine I was wearing something like those ‘ice whores’ as he called them.
At least they didn’t put me in that awful corset-like they did during breakfast, I was glad to have my waist freed from that thing.
The maids then decided to leave my hair down, only braiding a single piece in the back, as they murmured I looked much prettier with my hair down after debating if they should place it up or not.
I would have assumed their little whispers were lies, but Ava had said they would always be truthful with me no matter what, so perhaps what they said about my hair was true.
Then that leads to now, the maids long since left my side, and how I waited for the king to accept me. Apparently, it was the custom for the dragon people, before anyone else’s eyes, the king must accept the queen before bringing her out to be sighted before anyone else.
The total opposite of ice mage customs, where the groom had to wait in order to see the bride or else if he saw her it was a bad omen and in result the marriage would fail.
I knew my marriage between the dragon king and I would fail no matter what, so it didn’t matter much to me about my own customs and beliefs with how the wedding went.
I wait in the courtyard, sitting on the ledge of the fountain as I run my fingers through the water, even the water here was lukewarm.
I miss the cold...as much as I hated it in the tower, I think I perhaps associated the cold with lack of touch or maybe it was something more than that.
I pull my hand out of the water, the water dripping off my fingertips with the fall of gravity. I place my hand back on the stone and I flinch when I feel something soft and warm touch my skin, it nearly felt like velvet.
I brush it off, only for another velvet-like petal to fall on my skin, each and every one of them holding their own warmth. It was odd, I never felt a petal contain warmth like this…
I hear the dragon king suddenly speak, “They’re petals from a Hearth Tree.”
I jump at the sound of his voice, the fact I didn’t hear him at all until this moment startling me. He must have been quiet...very quiet for me to be unable to hear him.
“They’re warm...” I mutter back taking one-off my skin and feeling it, I rub the soft petals with my thumb and after a while, it no longer holds that warmth to it.
“Yes, they’re known to absorb any heat, but after the petals fall from the tree it doesn’t take long for them to lose that warmth. They’re much like a dying man or woman. Some say each time a hearth tree loses a petal, someone dies in this world.” the dragon king says, walking towards me, his steps now pronounced unlike before.
“Do you believe in that?” I ask him.
“No,” he replies.
He stops in front of me and he grows silent, probably inspecting my look and looking for something to complain about.
I remember Ava’s words right before she brought me to the courtyard, ‘Remember silence is good, silence is acceptance.’.
Then Catherine’s words soon after were ‘It’s if he speaks that usually means he is unhappy.’
I wait for him to speak about his unhappiness with the look the maids had given me but no words come. He lifts a strand of my hair off my shoulders and even then he is silent, he seemed to like hair like the maids had said.
The strand of my hair falls softly back on my shoulder and he begins to walk away, his feet carrying him to the other door in the room.
He then walks away and says soon after “Follow me.”
I stand up and I follow his footsteps, knowing where he had walked there be nothing in my way and I was right. I do not bump or trip into anything.
He stops walking and when I reach him he grabs my arm and pulls me to his side, then he interlocks his arm with mine which surprises me.
He then says “For the wedding,” In other words, he was saying he wouldn’t be doing this otherwise.
He pushes open the door and he walks confidently into the open room, the door shutting by itself after there is no one there to hold it open.
The hall is silent, but I feel there are people there, some presences much stronger than the others. I can see their magic, though the strongest ones remain more towards the back of the room while the weaker presences were upfront.
I breathe slowly in and out, the penetrating stares of people going right through me. The silence is also suffocating.
The dragon king’s arm that is linked to mine slowly begins to unlink as we begin to slow in our steps and he whispers in my ear, “We must take our vows. Just stop and turn when I do”
I give a slight nod and when our arms unlink and the dragon king stops, I turn towards him, his magic telling me where he is.
The silence is broken when the dragon king speaks in a loud and booming voice, “I, Orval, offer myself today in marriage to the ice mage, Vrai, in presence before my people and of the Sky and Fire Gods.”
Once he is done, I repeat what I hear, “I, Vrai, offer myself today in marriage to the great fire dragon, Orval, in presence before his people and of the Sky and Fire Gods.”
More silence follows after my vow, and much to my surprise my voice did not crack or quiver once.
“May the Fire Gods, bind you together in the flesh and may the Sky gods bless you with divinity...and may both Gods bless you with children of fire and ice.” someone says to our right, the voice nasally and masculine.
“Both of you, put one arm forward.” the voice then instructs and I place one of my arms forward, doing as I am instructed to do and a metal bracelet is snapped around my wrist, and I hear the other snapped around Orval’s wrist.
“Now we must welcome our new queen.” hums the voice and everyone then claps and applause’s around us and I put my arm back down to my side.
I get a fluttering feeling in my chest for some reason and the dragon king links his arm with mine after joining my side once more.
This was a nice feeling…
“Now we must celebrate in honor of our king and queen!” a man hollers from the crowd and everyone cheers.
The hall that was once silent is broken by excitement, and the dragon king explains to me, “We must sit through the celebration. You will be given gifts as will I in honor of our wedding. Then at midnight, we will leave to go to our bedchamber.”
I only nodded as he leads me up a few steps of stairs and I feel him unlink his arm to walk a few steps away from me. HIs boots stopping as he sits down in a chair, his clothing rustling slightly.
I walk forward feeling the back of the chair before seating myself next to him and once we are both seated music starts to be played, it was as if they were waiting for us.
The music is loud and upbeat, drums beating, people singing and I would imagine dancing as well.
As we sit in silence, I see a presence approach us, the light of magic there but dim.
“For my queen.” a man speaks in a heavy accent. Two others walk forward and a heavy box is set down, stuff rattling inside, things that I would imagine be jewelry or perhaps gold.
I hear the dragon king lift his hand as he loudly sets it back down to his side, most likely shooing the man off after his gift.
I hear them scurry off and I wonder if I should have thanked them for their gifts but I was not given a chance, the king shooing them off.
“My king.” another man hums, “May I present the finest of swords forged by the greatest of masters.”
“Yes, yes, leave it and go,” he says acting cranky now.
That man leaves not saying a single word after and once more people show up lavishing us with gifts, more jewels and jewelry, rare stones, clothes, the finest silks, and other things I will never be able to see.
The king sighs loudly getting tired of the gift-giving as much as I was getting tired of it.
I then hear a voice hum, the voice confident “I congratulate you on your marriage Orval, for a mage she is a fine beauty.”
“You would find the ugliest of women beautiful, General Cell.” says the dragon king.
I felt like the king was calling me ugly in other words...
I hear him laugh, “No, you’re mistaken, your majesty. I am very picky about who I call beautiful..”
“Well, then you have fooled your king greatly.” says the unamused king as he shifts in his seat.
“I have a gift for queen Vrai. I think she will enjoy it.” general Cell says and instead of leaving the gift at the bottom of the steps he comes forward, his footsteps soft on the stone.
I faintly see light-colored magic, the magic nearly transparent and he places something gently on my lap and much to my surprise that something moves.
I hear dragon king hiss in disgust, “Great you have brought her a scaly mutt.”
“Not just any mutt.” Cell hums. “It’s a pup from a Liwolf. You got lucky queen, my girl just gave birth to these wonderful pups early this morning and wouldn’t you know this one turned out to be white just like your hair. I thought it would be the perfect gift for you.”
I feel the creature called a ‘Liwolf’ move on my lap, its tiny claws curling into my lap and it raises its head, chirping.
I hesitantly touch its back to feel smooth and soft scales and I ask “it’s just a day old?”
I continue touching it, its ears sideways unlike a regular wolf which would be sticking up, while its claws are sharp it also had a reversed claw sharper than the rest coming out from the bone of its leg.
“Yes,” Cell replies. “He won’t need his mother. These pups start eating meat from the minute they are born. Sometimes the pups are known to devour their own mother so that is why I had to separate them as soon as possible...So make sure to feed it meat as soon as possible.”
“Disgusting. Cell take it back.” the king hisses. “They are not pets. These are used for the army and army alone. How did your mutt even get pregnant?”
“King I didn’t expect you to know. They’re asexual creatures. They don’t need a male to reproduce. That is why males are less valuable than females. We have no need for them. The males die out quickly as they also fight to the death with each other. Unless it’s strong it won’t survive as even pups will kill each other given the chance.” Cell replies.
It then cozies up to me before nibbling at my finger, and I feel a sharp pinch here and there but nothing too drastic.
“Well, I wish you luck in raising it. Upon turning into an adult Liwolfs are extremely loyal to the person who raises them, so loyal they will also die for that person but if they don’t like you, they can end up eating you too .” Cell says chuckling before stepping down.
His magic disappears into the crowd of people and I hear king question me “You aren’t considering keeping that thing are you?”
“I want to keep it,” I mutter as the Liwolf doesn’t stop suckling and nibbling at one of my fingers, its sharp claws still curling into my thighs.
The king falls silent before he expresses his disgust by making a disgusted noise, “Don’t cry when it ends up dead or don’t cry when it bites one of your fingers off.”
“I can replace one of my fingers... It won’t be a problem.” I say thinking of how I can use my ice and magic in that case, I know others have done it before.
The dragon king doesn’t say anything but I can feel his stare, he must be looking at me like I have three heads. Maybe the dragons couldn’t do such things like we could….replacing a limb took a lot of magic from us but it could be done.
I feel a strong connection to the small Liwolf on my lap, the feeling almost like a bond of a mother and her child.
I try and think of a good name for him, but fall short on names. Perhaps it could be called ‘Baby’ as it was one, and although it wouldn’t stay a baby forever, it would always be my baby.
“I hate weddings...” mutters the king, expressing his hatred over what he was doing. “Always have. I don’t understand how women are so excitable about them. What is there to enjoy?”
“I never dreamed of having a wedding,” I say to him. “Not all women enjoy them but I would imagine a wedding would be different if you loved the person who you were marrying.”
“I doubt they would feel any different even if you loved the person,” he says. “They have no purpose. Why take vows that will end up broken or why would others want to celebrate the love between two people that aren’t themselves or celebrate a love that will never exist. If it were up to me, I would have just given you the title of queen and fucked you by now.”
My heart clenches, that’s right we still had to do that by the end of tonight.
I have never even kissed a man, or even loved one, or even touched one and like many princesses back in my kingdom I was still a virgin. I knew that dragon people didn’t care for such things, some even thinking oddly of it as most dragon women bed their first man by the age of sixteen years.
In dragon customs, it was better to sleep with men early so you would be able to please your husband when you were older. The same could be said for dragon men, and I knew for a fact the dragon king was no virgin, it was like I could smell the women off his clothes, such strong perfume definitely didn’t belong to a man.
The music suddenly comes to an end and Orval stands from his seat as he says “Oh I nearly forgotten. We must end the night with a dance.”
“Another annoying thing…” he mutters under his breath.
“A dance?” I question feeling startled and a maid comes over picking up the Liwolf pup from my lap and bringing it into her own arms and walking away with it.
“Yes, a dance,” replies Orval.
“I don’t know how to dance,” I say not moving from my seat, my heart pounding in fear of making a fool out of myself.
It usually is expected of royalty to know how to dance. I’m sure that is what the king and his people must have thought as well.
He clicks his tongue, “That is fine. I should have expected no less from a blind mage. Just follow my steps, you seem to be good at mimicking. Now stand before we are looked at any longer.”
I stand and he slides his hand along mine, guiding me down the steps once more and on to the floor. We stop once we are far enough out on the floor and he lets go of my hand to stand across from me.
The music begins to resume and when the music resumed, The king begins to move across from me, we meet hands once more but this time they are lifted in the air and we circle around each other. I attempt to mimic him like he has told me to do, and I wonder if this is what he meant.
We spin around each other once again, but from the opposite side before his hand circles around my waist to the small of my back, making me dance with him from the front.
He continues to dance with me and within the pace of the music, spinning me about. A couple of times I stepped on his foot and much to my surprise no snotty words or a single ‘ow’ leaves his lips, I’m sure he was to be scowling though.
I am glad I don’t have eyes to see, it saves me from having to peer at his face in these moments.
I felt like I was a small bird learning how to fly and I needed help to glide through the skies.
Maybe this is little how dragons felt as I felt like I was gliding, barely using my feat. I wonder if the great and scary dragon king has been taught to dance since he was a little boy.
It was hard to imagine but that was what I was currently getting visions of, the dance instructor lecturing him and trying to teach him how to dance with a woman, saying one day there be a day where he would have to dance.
As the dance comes to a close, he dips me back slightly before gliding me back to my feet once the music comes to an end.
Then I hear that snide and snotty voice return, the one who spoke at the end of our vows, “It’s midnight, sire.”
“Yes, I know.” He says before grabbing my arm and begins to lead me slowly away from the crowd. “Now, comes the easy part.”
I swallow, knowing all too well what comes next, a part to which wouldn’t be so easy for me, the part where I wish I could avoid but I knew I couldn’t.
I wish our dance could have been longer.