“Your Highness, we are thrilled that you have accepted our invitation. We hope that this ball will be the first of many celebrations between the three kingdoms, after the peace treaty is finalized.”
A small woman steps around the crown prince, Azazel, of the dragon court.
Her hair is the first thing to stand out to me.
Snowy locks wound, in a loose, waterfall braid, around the back of her neck, gave her a regal, yet delicate appearance.
Though something about the hard edge to her gaze, let me know that it would be a fatal mistake, should an enemy ever underestimate her.
A humbly fashioned tiara, shaped into delicate vines of sliver, and topped with a sapphire, sat upon her alabaster hair.
Narrowing her eyes at my obvious scrutiny, she stoops into a curtesy.
Her silver gown’s glimmering bodice, catches the light coming from the chandeliers, thousands of miniature stalactite crystals suspended by magic, floating in lose clusters of luminescence.
She then releases the sides of her dress, straightening her hem, before lacing here silk gloved arm, with her mates.
I note that she didn’t lower her head to me as she bowed.
Instead choosing to maintain eye contact.
A deliberate act, that voices what words cannot in such a public, political setting.
She would respect me, and my title as the demon king.
But she would not allow me to fancy the idea of her status being beneath mine.
She would treat me as her equal.
I like her already.
Though I must say that I am quite biased, which is why I sought out the royal pair immediately after greeting King Aldric, and Queen Rosalia—the current rulers of the dragon court.—
There is not a soul in Alithia that hasn’t heard word of the dragons hybrid princess, and her child with Prince Azazel.
They are a revolutionary concept, birthed by the Goddess herself.
Apparently in an attempt to rectify the wedge she’d driven between her own creations.
Mothers should not show favoritism, but our divine creator had done just that.
In labeling the dragons as her favored, the Faye, as her —not so happy—accident, and my kind, the demons.
We were ousted for a crime committed before any of the current living demons were conceived.
And losing favor with the Goddess is a death sentence.
Or it should have been, but our ancestors were resilient and made a way for themselves.
Though a large portion of us devolved into the monstrous forms that make our name, all the more fitting.
The emergence of princess Fayah, and her child, along with the prophecy that was attached to the invitation sent to my court, birthed a new hope within my chest.
A hope that things could change.
That my people could at last live peaceably.
Could finally be forgiven.
“Likewise, princess. My kingdom, has longed for peace for generations. It’s a relief to know that I may yet see it, in my life time.” I place my arm across my middle, bending the other behind my back with a closed fist, I bow, making sure to keep my head raised as well.
I don’t miss the spark of respect, that flickers in the royal pairs eyes.
“We are pleased to hear this, we too have longed for peace. With the help of the demon and Faye court, Alithia will know a new way of life.” Prince Azazel smiles politely, as he addresses me.
I take a breath, ready to reply, when a scent hits me.
The smell of a corpse in the early stages of decay.
Not yet rotten.
But sickly sweet, and stale.
My attention tunnels past the prince.
The voices filling the crowded stone ballroom, cut from the mountain the dragons carved their castle within, fade into a muffled static.
My eyes lock onto a figure through the mass of formally dressed guests, and floating light blue, luminescent whisps, that dance in the air to the soft undertones of a violin playing lively, in the distance.
Standing by the desert table, stood a ghost of a woman.
Dressed in a flowing silk gown, the shade of which calling the sky on the edge of dusk, to mind.
A deep smokey lavender, with a hint of navy, that fades into black at the hem.
Small crystals are sewn along her breast, and down the sheer fabric of her sleeves, like a sprinkling of morning dew.
She should have been strikingly beautiful.
Instead, she looks as if she is prepared for her finale viewing.
Her features are starved and concave, her skin pallor.
Though, it is not lost on me, that even these striking attributes, fail to fully erase her forgotten beauty.
In sum, she appears dolled up...but dead.
For some reason, these observations don’t put me off my interest to her.
And I’m deeply unsettled by this, she’s... intriguing.
but certainly taboo, if my hunch is correct.
She glares down at the fudge topped brownie in her clawed hand with disdain. One corner of her lip curled just enough to glimpse the sharpened teeth behind.
As if sensing my attention, her milky gaze snaps to my light amber one.
She holds my stare for a moment, with large, almond shaped eyes, covered by a milky film that obscure their true color.
Then to my shock, she flips me the bird, shove’s the brownie in her mouth in one bite, and turns on her heels, stalking past one of the other tables filled with food.
My hunch had been correct.
She is a ghoul.
That can’t be right, though.
But I’m unable to deny what I’ve seen with my own two eyes.
The ornery woman, currently dry heaving the brownie she’d eaten in spite, into a near by flower pot, is the first ghoul.
The first one to succeed at least.
Fury bubbles up in my chest, the dragon court have resumed what my people had been outcasted for in ancient times.
The dragons are creating ghouls.
Sensing the shift of my mood in the air, Prince Azazel moves to the side, blocking me from his mate.
He then lifts his hands, palms out, in surrender.
but I cut him off with a low growl before he can speak.
“How dare you.” My voice is even but holds deadly undertones.
“May I ask what it is that we have done, before you disrupt what is meant to be the beginning of Alithia’s peace treaty?” The prince stares at me with calm regard, but the tick in the muscle above his clenched jaw, tells me he is prepared to fight, if the situation calls for it.
“There can be no peace if your court have resumed experiments with Ghouls.” I snarl, allowing my teeth to elongate and sharpen.
A strangled breath sounds from behind the prince, and princess Fayah steps into view, her face is pinched in guilt and regret.
“We did not create Sam... but I can’t say that I didn’t have a hand in what she has become. The former Faye king kidnapped her in order to hurt me...Sam was not the first ghoul that he created. Rolan often brought his failed experiments to me... he liked to watch people fight for their lives.”
“I imagine that his hand in resuming research on Ghouls, is partly why the Goddess sent the prophecy that included his demise.” The princesses voice wavers as she speaks.
My anger fizzles out in my chest.
Reading the room, prince azazel relaxes as well.
Popping the sleeves of his dark black suit, he then runs his hand through his hair and looks to me, huffing out a sigh.
“I believe you... King Rolan was an execrable soul. It would be right up his ally to recommence research.” I finally say, after taking a moment to compose myself fully.
The royal couple nod solemnly.
“That being said, the young Ghoul... Sam, belongs in my court, not here amongst those who cannot properly provide her needs. So with your permission, I’d like to ask her to come with me.” I say, though their opinion on the matter is of little consequence to me, I only ask out politeness.
Princess Fayah, bristles at my words... or maybe the lack of sincerity, there in.
“We are caring for Sam just fine, We do appreciate your offer, but I have to decline. She will not be going anywhere. Not with you, or anyone else for that matter.” Her anger is barely leashed as she speaks through gritted teeth.
“I’ve already lost her once.” She adds in a smaller voice.
“She dying.” I say simply.
The princess physically deflates,
“W-what? No, she’s fine, she told me she’s fine, she..” her words trail off as Azazel gently grips her shoulder, shaking his head with a sad look.
He knew just as well as I did, the condition his mates friend is in.
“I-” Her shoulders droop. “You’re right... I guess I just don’t want to let her go yet.”
“Your bond will be just as strong, no matter where Sam’s journey takes her.” The prince assures his mate, as he pets her hair, causing her to nestle into his side.
I’m struck by a sudden pang of jealousy.
Their love is potent, it hangs in the air around them like a curtain, and chokes me with longing.
Demons do not have Fated mates, it is part of our punishment.
Sure, we can claim a chosen mate. But it’s not the same as a Fated, blessed by the Goddess, and hand picked to match your soul.
Our ancestors attempt at playing the Goddesses role, and creating new life had robbed this gift from their descendants.
My people will never have a fated.
After wrapping up our conversation, I make my way to the balcony Sam had slipped out to.
Stepping outside, I’m once again struck by the unique architecture of the dragons court.
The face of the mountain is carved into a skillfully constructed castle, polished to a gleam.
The balconies of which, appear to have once been ledges.
The edges of the balcony are lined with waist high, onyx railing, the soft ridges of the gemstones cut, catch the warm glow of the large, orange tinted moon, that hangs low in the starless sky.
Sam stands with her back to me, and I get a good look at the design of her dress, from this angle.
Goddess... that’s a low cut.
My eyes trail down her slender back, noting the dip that gives definition to the middle, leading to a subtle curved back side.
Dimples on either side of the base of her spine, cause my fingers to twitch with the desire to grasp her hips, and pull her flush against me.
I’ve never felt so drawn to a woman before.
It is... unnerving.
“Take a picture, it will last longer.” Sam’s sudden remark, pulls me out of whatever trance I’d been under.
I clear my throat as I close the distance between us, she doesn’t turn to look at me until I’m directly beside her.
I lean against the railing and meet her gaze, even at this angle, I tower over her.
But then, I tower over most people.
“Hello, my name is Cairo. Do you mind if I share your company for a bit?”
She eyes me in suspicion, obviously wondering why I would be polite after she flicked me off.
Her long blonde hair, braided, and tossed over her right shoulder, bounces once, as she shrugs at me, appearing to dismiss her curiosity, quickly.
“I don’t own the balcony.” She says, with a roll to her eyes.
“No, but you do own yourself, and I’m requesting your time.”
She takes a sharp breath, as if stuck by my comment. And after a moment of silence, she gives me a mischievous smile.
“Ok, Mr. Smooth talker. You have our attention.”
I decide not to question her on that at the moment, I have more pressing matters to attend to.
“Thank you for your attention miss...” I pause to give her a chance to introduce herself.
I’d rather not have to explain how I already know her name, something told me that she would not appreciate my discussing her future with her friends, and not her first.
But that is something I am soon to rectify.
“Samaria Attia, but everyone calls me Sam.” She replies.
Reaching out her hand, she flashes me a wide, open mouthed smile. Then snaps her mouth shut quickly, leveling me with narrow eyes.
She wants to see how I will react to her teeth.
I grip her hand in my own, but I don’t shake, instead a strange impulse compels me to hold it.
“If you are trying to scare me off, you’d better try another tactic. I suggest bondage.” I give her a thorough once over, from head to toe.
“Scratch that. I might like it, if it’s you tying me up.” I wink at her.
Where is this coming from?
A king does not flirt.
Sam throws her head back and laughs, her free hand clutching her stomach, as her giggles roll through her.
“Oh man, I was not expecting that. You are something else.” She wipes imaginary tears from her eyes, and flicks her fingers at me, before pulling back the hand I’d captured.
I frown at my empty, open palm, as it tingles from the loss of contact.
“I like to keep people on their toes.” I shrug.
It’s been a while since I’ve been with a woman, that has to be why I’m reacting this way.
“Hm.” She hums.
“You are not surprised? About my teeth.”
“Not at all. In fact,”
I smile at her, showcasing my normal, blunt toothed grin.
Then slowly, I allow my extra teeth to descend, as the others sharpen and double in length.
When all my teeth have shifted into place, I open my mouth wider to allow Sam a good look at my rows of fangs, identical to her own.
“Holy smokes.” She leans forward and shocks me for the second time tonight.
She grabs my cheeks and pulls at them, canting her head from side to side, as she examines my mouth at close range.
“Uhh.” I begin, as her nose nearly brushes mine with each pass of her curious inspection.
A small thrill of excitement runs down my spine at her proximity.
She beautiful, not in the usual sense.
But I can see her beauty behind the starvation.
And I can fix that.
“You’re a ghoul too, how do you retract your teeth!?” Sam releases me and backs away, with an excited bounce.
I resist the urge to pull her back to me.
Instead I clasp my hands behind my back.
“No, I’m a demon, the king to be exact.” I feel no reason to hide my identity from her, Honesty prevails more often than not.
I expect her to change her attitude with me, one doesn’t speak to a king so formally. Especially not a demon king, that fact keeps most from the other kingdoms, from speaking to me in any way shape or form.
But her expression doesn’t change, if anything it only brightens.
“Who would of thunk it, little old me. Chatting it up with a king.” She pauses, and then gasps in mock horror, her small hands shoot to cover her mouth.
“You... let me touch... YOUR ROYAL FACE!”
I can’t hold back anymore, I laugh, really laugh... for the first time in my life, I think.
Her expression is too much, eyes and mouth wide, with her brows reaching for the heavens.
“You can touch my face any time.” My voice is husky even to my own ears, my eyelids droop on their own command, giving me what I hoped was a sultry look.
But for all my experience in flirting, I could very well appear as if I’m about to sneeze.
She gives me a strange look... confused would be the best way to describe it.
You and me both, babe.
This is definitely new for me.
I’ve been with women in the past, sure.
But I’d never flirted with, or even approached any of them.
They had always come to me.
But there was something about Samaria Attia, something that calls to a primal part of my being.
This particular animalistic desire, is one attributed to those of my kind who devolved.
I thought my blood line had been spared this instinct.
The drive to breed, to fill this woman with my seed, and plant life within her womb.
But something in her eyes tells me that she is cracked and on the verge of shattering.
She doesn’t need my sexual desires.
She needs her king.
Because wether she chooses to go with me or not.
That’s what I am now, no matter where she decides to stay.
She is now a member of the demon court, and as such, she is my responsibility.
Even if I lose my mind fighting my newly awakened primal instincts, I must protect her and find a way to heal her scars.
“Um, so does that mean that I can’t retract my teeth?”
Her shoulders droop and her voice loses some of its energy.
“No, you can do it too. The reason your teeth are in this state permanently, is because you are on the brink of starvation. I suspect by the looks of it, you’ve only fed once, and that was a while ago. Am I correct?”
She nods, not meeting my eyes.
“I don’t want to hurt anyone... the man I fed from... he deserved to die. But I couldn’t live with myself if I accidentally killed an innocent person. My Friends little boy is already petrified of me... he wouldn’t even attend this party because I’m here. He chose to stay with his granny Gray instead.”
I was wondering where the young prince Ezra was.
The pain in her eyes is enough to tell me how much the young boy means to her.
“I can teach you how to retract your teeth forcibly. It will hurt though, and you will need to feed soon after.” I take a step in her direction, subconsciously attempting to close our distance.
“I can’t feed on anyone here. I- I might lose control.” She hugs her arms as if she’s cold.
“I can feed you... if you will have me. But you are correct, you can’t be fed here. Once you begin, you won’t be able to stop. I’m strong enough to force you off of me. But I’m sure that’s not something you want anyone to see.” I close the rest of the distance between us and place my hand on her shoulder.
She looks up at me through her lashes, but she doesn’t look coy.
She looks hungry.
My pants are suddenly too tight...
What the hell?
I’m not kinky... am I?
“So you’re saying that you’d like to go somewhere more... Private?” She reaches up and trails her fingers lightly down my chest, snagging a few of the buttons from my black, satin shirt off on her way.
Oh yeah, I’m definitely discovering some kinks.
She smirks, knowing full and well the effect she is having on me, and how uncomfortable I am at feeling this way.
I swallow, my uncharacteristic approach with this woman, could only carry me so far, before her obviously superior skills pull me under her spell.
“You could say that...Actually, you could say that I’d like you to come back to my kingdom with me.” The words leave my mouth before I can curb them into a more subtle invitation.
She laughs, taking a step away from me.
“Whoa Casanova, do you always move so fast?”
“When one of my people are in danger? Yes.” I lean forward, inches from her face, and wait for her response.
“I’m not one of your people. I don’t belong anywhere.” Her words are hard, but her face betrays her, as pain flashes across her features.
“But you are, the moment you awoke as a Ghoul you became one of us, you are of the demon court now, this fact will not change, no matter where you are. Although, I advise you to come with me.”
“You know I’m a Ghoul?” Her eyes widen in shock, as she attempts to back further away from me.
I follow her retreat.
“Yes, but don’t be afraid, I won’t hurt you. Ghouls are victims, not criminals.” I assure her, reaching for her hand.
She stops, and stares at me, obviously not convinced.
“I would not have invited you to my home, if I harbored any ideas of killing you. If that were my intention, I would do it here and now.”
Her eyebrows drop as her face crumbles into a scowl, all traces of fear gone.
“So is the part where you drag me home by the ear like a petulant child?” She snarls, again taking several steps back, her posture stiff with readied muscles, focused to attack.
“Or are you just going to abduct me. Force me to do your bidding? Well, you have another thing coming, buddy. Because that’s not happening... not again.” She whispers the last part, likely unaware that I’d picked up on it.
Fury prickles my skin at the implied injustice she’d undergone.
“I would never force you to do anything. I’m asking you to come with me. The choice is yours.”
Her eyes narrow at my relaxed posture, but she visibly relaxes.
“Ok, so why do you advise that I come with you?” She asks after a moment.
“It will take time to teach you how to feed without going primal. You are the only Ghoul to ever remain stable, so I’m unsure just how long this may take.”
“Your predecessors always succumbed to their base needs. And the ones that didn’t... Their souls collapsed from the strain of becoming a ghoul. Or at least that’s what we think is the cause... I have no idea how you have survived, where the others didn’t. And I can’t predict what will happen if I leave you to your own devises.” I know that I’m dumping a lot on her right now, but I’ve never been one to sugar coat anything.
“I know why the others went crazy or died.” She finally says, meeting my gaze with certainty.
I don’t say anything, as I hadn’t expected her to follow up with that response.
“Do you know how a Ghoul is created?” A shadow falls over her eyes, as she recalls the horrors she had been put through.
“No, that knowledge died with my ancestors, years before I was born. None of my court know the process any longer. Being the creation of Ghouls, is what lost our favor with the Goddess, we tend to avoid the topic entirely.”
She sighs, disappointed that she needs to explain things to me.
“Well, the jist of it is, you are beaten within an inch of your life, and once your soul begins to break, they force feed you demon blood, along with a freaky ass spell-chant thingy. The blood only acts as a ground ... a stabilizer of sorts, for what they really intend to shove in you.” She pauses and meets my gaze, a strange look crossing her face, she almost appears to be another person for a fraction of a second.
I shake my head slightly, my lack of sleep must be getting to me...
“Once the chant is over, the human soul is bound to that of a demons, right after it’s ripped from its owner...they fold the demon soul into the human. And as we all know...Humans were not created to house two souls..” She falls silent, allowing me to process what she’s said so far.
How had my ancestors not thought of this, they had to have known that putting an extra soul within their victims wouldn’t work.
For the same reason humans can’t have a fated mate, they simply didn’t possess the capacity to.
“Then why have you been able to remain alive and under control?” I ask bluntly.
Her eyes glaze over as her attention shifts to something within her own mind.
Is she talking to the soul within her?
“We don’t know.”
Yep, she is definitely talking to a soul right now.
“This is...Surprising news to say the least. I’ll have to discus it with my uncle. He may know of some books on the matter. In the mean time, may I have your other name as well?” I’m curious of the name to the soul she has within her.
“Her name is circe. And before you ask, she’s cool. She’s kinda like my imaginary friend, but she actually responds to me, ya know?” She chuckles at her own joke.
I nod, I don’t know, but Im not going to tell her that.
“Ok, Sam, Circe. You never answered my question. Will you come with me to my kingdom?” I tilt my head and wait.
I watch as she shifts from foot to foot, hoping beyond all reason, that she will say yes.
I’m still unsure what it is that I’m feeling for her.
Maybe it’s just wild lust, that has awakened the primal part of me.
No, it couldn’t be...
My body yearns for her...but maybe its more than just wild lust.
Is it ok to hope for more?
I long to explore the possibility’s.
However, I must be sure of my intentions before I make any advances.
The thought of leading this woman on, when I’m unsure of my motivation churns my stomach.
“Ok, we will go with you.. it’s not like I’m winning any popularity contests around here. And I could really do for a... filling meal.” She licks her lips, eyes locked on my neck.
A breathy laugh leaves me, and I lean forward to whisper in her ear.
“I’ll feed you soon enough.” Straightening my back, I loop an arm around Sam’s middle.
But before I can transport us out of here, the sound of quickly approaching footsteps, bouncing off the marble floor, gives me pause.
Prince Azazel and his mate emerge in the door way leading back to the now waltzing party goers.
“King Cairo, I hope that you were not planning on whisking our dear Sam away without saying goodbye, were you?” The prince asks, his arms crossed tightly against his chest, his eyes travel down to the missing buttons of my shirt, and they narrow, but he holds his tongue.
“That would not be very gentlemanly of me, now would it.” I release Sam, but she makes no move to go to her friends.
“Sam?” I begin. Then I notice her shoulders are shaking profusely.
Her pupils fluctuate behind their film, as she stares down her friends with a feverish look.
That’s when I smell it.
Very faint but distinctive in it nature.
The smell of iron is unmistakable.
“Take your mate and leave. Now!” I roar, grabbing Sam just as she breaks from my side, in a wild bee line for the princess.
The pregnant princess.
“Oof” the air retreats from Sam’s lungs as I tackle her to the ground, pinning her arms beneath her as I do.
“What’s happening!?” Princess Fayah screams, lurching forward to help her friend, even though she is the one in danger.
Sam writhes beneath me, hissing and spitting like a rabid cat. Her pupils, now fully dilated, black-out the space behind the milky film, with an odd glow lighting them from behind.
“You are pregnant, and you’ve just experienced an implantation bleed. Congratulations on the new little one, but your timing is horrible. Sam is not stable sh-”
My explanation is cut off, as Sam flings her head back, and makes direct contact with my face.
Blood spurts from my busted lip and nose, and splatters on the ground in front of Sam.
She stills, and for a moment the only sounds are of her frantic sniffing at the crimson puddle inches from her nose.
A low growl, rumbles her chest, and I relax my grip slightly as she works one of her arms out from under her, and reaches out to dip her hand in my blood.
She then brings her fingers to her lips and flicks her tongue out to taste my unwitting offering.
A throaty moan escapes her lips, and she begins sucking all traces of my blood from her hand.
Once she is finished, she begins to lick the ground.
As much as I long to pull her from such a degrading action, it is serving to distract her.
But our reprieve will not last long, and the small amount of blood she drew from me and my already healed wounds, will not be enough.
Already, the prince stands between his mate and my Ghoul, his hand cradles over the princesses stomach, protectively.
I stand up and step away from Sam, who doesn’t notice my departure, she’s to consumed with her snack.
“I will take care of her. I swear it.” Promises are not made lightly, not by my people at least.
“She wanted Prince Charming... not the flipping demon king.” Princess Fayah groans, gripping her abdomen with care.
She ignores the princes sharp look, instead deciding to focus on the flat plane of her stomach. No doubt, picturing it rounded and filled with their child.
“Wishes are often skewered in their delivery.” Is my only reply.
“Ok, fortune cookie.” She snorts.
“I’ll hold you to that promise. If I hear that Sam is unhappy. Even by a fraction, I’m coming for your family jewels, and I’m not referring to your crown. If you catch my drift.” Her brows drop as she levels me with a ‘no bull shit’ look.
The prince sighs from beside her.
“Must you always threaten other men’s balls? It emasculating.” He pinches the bridge of his nose, but his words hold no censure.
“Oh hush, I have not threatened yours... lately, now have I?”
“Apparently not.” His gaze drops to her stomach and he smiles warmly, his eyes alight with love and swelling emotions.
A crimson blush creeps up the princess neck as she smacks at his arm, playfully.
“Well, if it’s all the same to you. Sam has already agreed to come with me. And I’d like to leave before she sets her eyes back to you.” I snap, agitated at the constant public affection these two display.
Though a part of me recognizes that they are simply overjoyed to have each other, and now a new little one on the way.
“Yes, you are right.” Prince Azazel focuses in my direction.
“Please keep in touch...And bring Sam for a visit when you can.” The princess adds. She then lifts her hand and takes a step as if to approach her friend. But her mate is faster, and pulls her back before she can trigger her again.
“I swear it.”
Stepping back, I lean down too scoop Sam into my arms.
She growls and thrashes against me, and it’s all I can do to protect my jugular, as she turns in my grasp and latches onto me like a baby monichi would their mother, as they climb the trees of my kingdom’s island.
An exasperated sigh escapes me, and I fight the urge to roll my eyes.
“Calm yourself, I can’t bring you back to my camp and feed you if you won’t behave.” I chastise, gripping her jaws between my hands to keep her from biting me before I’ve taught her how to retract her teeth.
She will have to calm down before I can do that.
That won’t happen here, not with the reason for her outburst standing so close.
“Fine, I’ll bring you back to camp like this, but you are going to make one hell of an impression on my friends waiting for me.” I grunt, trying to ignore the unusual prickling in my stomach at having Sam’s legs wrapped tightly around my waist.
Even with her trying to rip my throat out, my body reacts to her in ways that fill me with shame.
This is certainly not the time to be aroused.
It would appear however, that my groin wasn’t bothered by our situation.
“Stay still at least.” I groan, uncomfortably hard.
I take a deep breath, and slowly exhale, allowing mine and Sam’s bodies to collapse into a column of pitch black smoke.
She stills, unsure of her new vaporous form.
The calm is a welcome reprieve, from her... distracting, squirming.
We then shoot into the air as a billowing cloud of vapor, a stark slash, against the bright moon.
Leaving the dragon court, behind us.