The Dragon's Arranged Mate

By: Serena Rose

CHAPTER ONE



The day had finally arrived.

The great hall was abuzz with activity. I could feel the excitement coursing through the room and filling it right up to the rafters, which rose at least 30 meters above the stone floor. Multi-paned windows lined the walls and reached nearly to the rafters themselves, and the light, which streamed through them illuminated the many men and women who had come to the castle for this special day.

This was my wedding day. These were my people. And I was their King.

I accepted congratulatory wishes from the members of the nobility and those guards and trusted advisors, who took places of honor near where I stood. At the end of the long, carpeted aisle that led from the front doors of the hall, up a series of stone stairs and to the pair of thrones, which sat at the top. Until this day and for the past 10 years, I sat on the throne to the right. My mother, Rhiannon, sat at my left hand. As of tomorrow, that seat would be occupied by my Queen.

Suddenly a murmur arose in the crowd, and the masses parted to allow for the approach of the dowager Queen, Rhiannon. She shone like a jewel in the floor-length, emerald green gown that had been made especially for this day. The gold thread, which ran through the green velvet sparkled as she glided across the massive hall and crossed through the beams of sunlight streaming through the tall windows. Her white blonde hair floated around her face, creating the illusion of a halo.

As far as I was concerned, the halo was real. I had worshiped my mother all my life. Her beauty, wisdom and magic were renowned throughout the isles. Moreover, her kindness, warmth and love were what had kept me from losing control of myself time and again, when I was first coming into my full power. She taught me how to harness that power, the fire. She also advised me on the best times to unleash that power. She had been my closest advisor ever since the death of my father placed me on the throne.

I could see, even from a distance, that Rhiannon’s face was stormy. I knew that my mother loved Anabelle; everyone who ever met her loved her for her sweetness, her bright wit, her spirit. I also knew she was eager for me to marry and give her grandchildren who would also keep the bloodline going. She wanted to see the throne secured. Of course, the fact that she longed to once again rock a child to sleep played a part.

At the same time, she had been more deeply troubled with every day that passed leading up to the wedding ceremony. I had known my mother to spend entire days locked in her series of rooms, on the far side of the castle. I knew not what she was doing throughout those days, but I had theories involving prayer, fire gazing, and being lost in her visions.

Rhiannon had experienced prophetic visions for as long as I could remember. Rarely were they clear or specific, but they conveyed feelings and impressions. Never had she been so consumed by her forebodings before now. My brow furrowed, my mouth twisted in a frown. I didn’t like seeing my mother in such a state, but especially not at what was supposed to be such a happy time in my life.

My mother reached me, her face so like mine in both in its beauty and its worry. “My King,” she murmured, “I must speak with you before the ceremony. Please, give me just a moment.”

“My mother…” I replied quietly. I knew I had best give her what she wanted, even though my mind was busy with other matters. I wanted nothing more than to focus on the job of my wedding day, and yet it was also true that a King must put his own desires aside when duty called.

I stepped into an antechamber off the grand ceremonial hall, followed by my mother. I turned to her, torn between frustration and concern. “What is it, mother?” I asked her. “What it is that you’ve seen? What is keeping me from my wedding celebration?”

Rhiannon wrung her hands in consternation. “You know this is the day I’ve prayed for, and I thank the gods that it has arrived,” she began. “I believe Anabelle will bring you great happiness, and I long for the day she gives you an heir.”

I waited, knowing that there was surely something to come of this preamble.

“I have lost sleep, my son, in fear for what is surely to come after this day. The wheels of fate have been set in motion, it’s true; Anabelle is yours, and you are hers, and surely as the words had already been spoken by the priests over your bound hands. Your union     will be not only of two bodies and two souls, but two kingdoms. It must be.

“However for many nights I’ve lain awake, visions of what is to come of your union     keeping me from sleep. I’ve seen pain, and suffering, and grief. I’ve heard cries of physical pain, as well as cries of mourning. They ring in my ears, it seems, as though they were happening in front of me.”

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