Albert took me to the castle. The king wanted to see me again.
But this time it was different.
We flew in Robert’s palm as Al didn’t want to mess up his clothes or my beautiful dress.
His claw was big, and I was leaning against his one talon as Al covered my body, standing on two of his dragon talons.
“Will Goran be okay?” I spoke a bit louder as the wind howled in my ears.
“You care about Goran?” Al sounded upset.
“He is still a good friend, Al. It wasn’t like that. I thought it would take centuries before I would see you again.”
“He’ll be okay,” was all he said. “He always comes back after he cools down.”
The castle came into view and Robert started to descend.
He was very careful with us in his paw. Lifted it up high, landing only on three paws.
A real professional.
Albert jumped out first and then he caught me.
“See you soon.” Al said and we went inside.
I clung to Albert’s arm.
I was so nervous as the first time hadn’t been a good experience with his parents.
We walked into the gates and toward the castle’s front door.
I took a deep breath.
“This isn’t fair,” Drizelda’s voice overpowered the hallways and Al chuckled.
“Don’t laugh.” I slapped him softly.
“She is horrible. Don’t go feeling sorry for her Katie.”
“Seriously Albert,” she saw him. “How could you do this to me?” She stormed toward him.
“I don’t love you, that is how. I told you that Drizelda.”
Her eyes shifted to me.
“Cindersoot.” She asked and looked confused at Albert and back at me.
“It’s your lady, Drizelda. And she will be your queen one day, so next time you will treat her with more respect.”
She gasped as it dawned on her who I really was to him.
“If you would excuse us, the king would like to have a word.”
We left Drizelda dazed and finally speechless in the hallway as he opened the throne room door.
We walked in and he went down on his one knee in front of his father and mother’s thrones. I did the same.
“Albert get up.” His father said, “both of you.”
He got up pulling me up with him.
“Father, mother, I would like to introduce you to the love of my life. The bravest and fiercest woman I ever met. Katherine Squires.”
They both smiled.
The king got off his throne and came to stand in front of me.
“I’m so sorry for my behavior at our first meeting.” He said.
I looked at Albert and he smiled. “Kings can be asses sometimes too. It’s an apology.”
I smiled. “Apology accepted your majesty.”
“So, you really are the fifth woman out of the Sacred Cavern?”
“Father she isn’t going to tell you what is inside. I think we both know that none of the survivors will tell anyone what is in that Cavern.”
His face fell. “Really disappointed my lady.” He said and I laughed.
“The price is just too high.” I bowed again.
“So there is a price for all of your silence?”
“Nothing comes without a price. Especially taking a peek into your future.”
“She has really good answers, Albert. She will make a fine queen one day.” He touched Al’s face.
“Thank you Father.”
The queen appeared next to her husband.
“Mom, don’t.” He said and a small smile tugged at her lips as he hugged her. “I loved you like you were my own Albert. I’m sorry that I didn’t want to tell you the truth.” She whispered in his ear. I wouldn’t have heard it if I hadn’t received the gift of Tanya’s hearing.
I didn’t look at Albert but I was dying to know what she meant by that.
He kissed her softly on her head.
Their embrace broke and she looked at me. She touched my face softly. “You sure are beautiful. I’m glad he found you. Please stay with us. We would like to get to know you better and I would be honored to teach you your role as princess and future queen one day.”
“Thank you, your majesty. I would be honored.”
“They are just cleaning the east wing. Bring your family too, Katherine.”
I looked dazed at Albert and he laughed. He raised his hands.
“They will be comfortable here, won’t they,” the queen asked.
“Mom, stop worrying about your home. Anyone would be comfortable here.” Albert teased.
“Al,” she shook her head.
“Thank you, my queen.” I felt my throat choking up.
“We will send a carriage for them.”
“Let me show you around, in your new home.” Albert said and I didn’t know what to say anymore. The throne room was almost as big as the street we lived in.
We walked out the throne room and down the hall.
“Pinch me. I’m afraid I’m dreaming.”
Al laughed. “I’m not going to pinch you love, I’m afraid this is a dream too. If it is, I never want to wake up. But I will kiss you.” He pushed me against the wall and kissed me fiercely.
My head was spinning again.
“What did your mother mean?”
“You heard that.”
“You can’t tell a soul Katie. Out of respect for the queen.”
“She’s not my mother. It turns out that Gwendolyn, my father’s first love was written out of Paegiea’s history.”
“She was going to become queen. She was my father’s first wife and they had me.”
I gasped. “Your mother was a dragon.”
“I guess she was. And that was the reason he has treated me the way he has, because his father gave him a choice too. A horrible one. That it was either me or my mother. They both chose me.”
Tears welled up in his eyes.
“King Alexander was so cruel.”
“That he was. He rewrote my mother out of history and made my father marry my uncle’s wife. My uncle that was supposed to become the crown prince but died in a hunting accident.”
“He couldn’t have a dragon on the throne.”
“My thoughts exactly. But one day, I know a dragon will be king. We are going to change the future Katie.”
“With your school.”
“Laugh it up. We will live in mutual respect along side them. Dragons and humans will become friends, grow up together, side by side and find their bonds. Their riders.”
I touched his face. “You have such beautiful dreams, Albert. That’s what I love about you the most.”
“And I know I will attain all of them with you by my side.”
He bent down and kissed me again.
Our lives could finally start. Our forever after.
The girl in the pond was going to be in our lives and after seeing his father with his blue eyes, the boy might be too.
TWO HUNDRED AND FORTY YEARS LATER
“Kate,” Al said. “I’m trying okay.” He sighed. “It’s not good for you to be cooped up in this room all day.”
“It’s been almost a year, Al. You don’t even have a clue who is going to betray us. I need her back home with me. You promised me.”
“I want her back too, but you know we can’t.”
Tears welled up in my eyes.
“Not hard enough! Find the bastard who is threatening us. Force Irene.”
“That’s not how her ability works. She was down for almost two weeks when she had the foretelling warning us. I know you miss her. I do too.”
“She isn’t going to even know who I am. A baby’s first year is crucial. I might as well give her to Tanya and Jako. She is never going to accept us Al.”
“Elena will. As soon as I know. I promise you.”
“They’re just words. I need to be alone. Leave.” I snapped at him.
He had promised me it would only be a few months. It’d been almost twelve months for crying out loud.
It had worked. That was all I knew. She had gotten word to me about that at eight months Cara got her body and it was Elena.
I wanted her back.
I shook with silent sobs. I needed my child as much as she needed her mother.
Al had made way too many promises. Promises he never should have made. I was so angry with him because he was swearing on his life that it wasn’t Bob.
Irene said it was close, bond close and the only one that had that close bond to Albert was his dragon.
That Night Villain couldn’t do anything wrong in his eyes. He was a Night Villain for crying out loud.
I got up and went to my door.
He was right. It had been days since I’d been out of this room.
I took a stroll down to the garden.
I saw him. The Rubicon. He would be her dragon one day.
I hated him so much for that.
He was so innocent now, but he too would get a human body and now doubt he would look like his father.
Bob was handsome, Issy was just as beautiful.
Their daughter must be inside. She was young, a little Fire-Tail that was Elena’s age.
I sat down in the garden on a bench.
Albert’s dreams of a better world came true. He had his school in the sky, Dragonia Academy. Open for the past 120 years.
He had gotten everything and I had to give her up. It was so unfair.
I always had to make sacrifices.
The Rubicon dashed past me, chasing a butterfly. Pouncing like a cat after it. He didn’t see me sitting here.
And then he stumped on the butterfly. It was dead and he made that horrible wailing sound.
But his gaze snapped to me.
We stared at one another. Take care of her please.
I reached out my hand. “Come.” I said in Latin softly and to my surprise he came.
I touched his face softly and then just like that he ran away.
For the alpha of all dragons he sure was a wuss.
I sighed. It wasn’t his fault that he was linked to Elena.
I just wanted her back.
I got up and went back to my room.
Tonight it was back to moving the vault to Elm.
The underground tunnels would be closed off tonight.
Al and I did so many things in secret these past few months. Nobody even knew that she existed.
The vault was placed underground. I persuaded the old workers every month and got new ones.
We enchanted a tree with our blood line, that would be the key to open our vault.
Al said it was just for back up.
I took my third journal. The journal of my life. Also a back up. Detailing my entire life.
I couldn’t even remember all the things that happened during the war, and I made some events up. Hoping that she would one day hear it from me and Tanya and not have to read it from this journal.
What were Al and Tanya thinking, to take her to the other side?
I couldn’t follow. I wanted to so many times, but the wall would kill me.
She was unreachable and I just wanted to hold her. That’s all I wanted to do. Hold her tight and never let her go.
I had waited so long for her.
“It’s done. I’ve given Burgendorf the documentation. He wanted more information about what it’s linked to. Kate. I’m sorry that I can’t find who it is. Goran is trying his best too.”
“We should tell him about Elena.”
“Tell Goran and not Bob.”
“It’s Goran Al.”
“No, if he knows, Bob needs to know too.”
“You are so sure it’s not him.”
“It’s not. He is worried about Blake. Without an heir from us, what do you think is going through his mind, Kate? He would never do that. We might not share the bond you and Tanya have, but our bond is strong.”
“It’s a strong bond that is going to betray us.”
“It’s not Bob.”
“Then who else.”
“I don’t know. But we made a choice. No one knows about Elena. Jako and Tanya will tell them if anything happens to us.”
“I have a bad feeling, Al. Those letters.”
“They’re just for backup.”
“There shouldn’t be a backup.”
“What do you want me to do. Bring her back. Let her life be in danger too. She is my daughter too, Kate. I want her here with us but we can’t.” Tears welled up in his eyes. “I’m sorry I am disappointing you. That’s the last thing I want to do.”
I shook my head and Al got up, kissed me on my temple and left.
We hadn’t shared a bed in the past six months.
I was so angry with him.
I went to bed just thinking about it.
A knock came at the door. I opened it and Goran stood in the doorway.
“Your elixir, Kate.”
I took it from him.
“Please, just call her back. Al can’t do that to you.”
I frowned. “You know?”
“He told me. I can’t believe he made you choose between him and her.”
I frowned again. Al told me tonight not to tell him.
“It’s not fair that he can keep his dragon but you can’t keep yours.”
He was talking about Tanya. He didn’t know.
He hugged me tight. “You should’ve never married him Kate. His love for you isn’t as strong as mine.”
“Don’t, please.” I begged him.
“We can still be together. I’ll treat you like the queen you are. You will be happier with me, Katie.”
He looked lovingly in my eyes. I wanted to tell him so badly that it wasn’t Tanya I was aching for, it was my daughter but I couldn’t.
“Drink the elixir please, and just try to get some rest. I promise, tomorrow will be better.”
I nodded and he left.
I wondered so many times how our lives would’ve been if I had married Goran and not Al. But then Elena wouldn’t have been here. Andrew would.
I took the elixir. It tasted different tonight and a heavy tiredness overpowered me.
Everything became numb. I made it to the bed and barely crawled in.
A bond. It was Goran. Everything went black.
I missed my wife in my bed, and my daughter. I wanted her back home just as much as Kate.
I cried for her too at night, just as Kate did.
She was punishing me because I couldn’t find who was going to betray us.
It couldn’t be Robert. He was searching just as hard as anyone.
I dozed off and then the alarm went off.
The siren. There was trouble.
I put on my robe and boots.
Bob was staying over tonight while Issy and the kids visited his mother.
I opened the door at the same time as him.
“What is going on?”
“I don’t know.”
“We need to get Kate.”
We both stopped as the walls and castle started to shudder. I looked at him and he went to the nearest window “Al, the castle is under attack.”
“What?” I rushed to the window and saw an army of dragons and soldiers attacking my guards.
What did this mean? Why were the dragons attacking each other?
Footsteps came from the distance, and acid was already dripping from Robert’s palm, ready to attack if it wasn’t a familiar face.
Caleb rushed around the corner with Etienne at his side.
“What is going on?” I asked Caleb.
“It’s war of the world outside. We need to get you out of here.”
Tonight was it. It wasn’t my dragon.
I looked at Bob as we all struggled to keep our balance as another explosion shook the castle.
“They are tearing down the castle.”
This was it. Whoever was behind all of this was the one who was betraying me. Caleb was here, Robert too.
I looked at Robert. “You need to go.”
“What, are you insane?”
“Bob, Blake needs you more than I do. Whatever happens, you need to make sure he is protected.”
I cupped his neck.
“No, I vowed to protect you, Al. You will get out of this. Alive, you and Katie both.”
“We won’t. Go.”
“I can’t.” He roared.
“Yes, you can.” My forehead touched his and I took his vow upon myself. If I die, nothing will happen to him.
A strong force flips him so fast in the air before I could utter the existence of my daughter to him.
“I’m sorry,” I yelled as I watch his dragon figure trying to fight against the force. He wanted to stay, but it was busy taking him back to his family in Tith. Elena needs him more, and Blake too.
“What are you doing?” Caleb said.
“I need to get to Kate.”
We turned the corner and had to go back as the enemies were waiting for us.
“I have my lightning. Etienne.” Cheng Lee Longwei said. He was the general of Etan’s army and Chong Longwei, the headmaster of Dragonia’s son.
“I can help. Al go get Kate,” Caleb said. “And get the hell out of here.”
I ran in the opposite direction, close to the wall toward the hidden compartment that would take me to Kate’s wing.
Around the corner, I ran into Helmut, with a few of his men.
He was in shock and tears welled up in his eyes.
Goran? Something happened to him.
“Al, we need to go.” He was relieved to see me.
“It’s Goran.” He said, but it was anger that poured from his lips not sadness.
“Goran is the one with the bond, Al. It’s the wyverns. He didn’t go to find mutual ground with them. He wants to rule them.”
“That’s blasphemous Helmut. No. I can’t believe that.”
“It’s the truth. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. He always wanted what you had.”
Kate, he was doing this for Kate.
“We need to get you and Kate out of here, he has lost it. My father was right. He is destined for evil. I’m sorry Al. If I had known.”
Tears showed in my own eyes as it sunk in. I thought he was over Kate. I thought that he had forgiven me for what I had done, stopping their wedding. How long had he been holding this grudge, pretending to be my brother. He was my right hand for crying out loud. I looked at Helmut. He was clearly shaken by this revelation. “It’s not your fault.” It barely came out.
More footsteps came and the men with Helmut took their stand. He pulled me in the direction of the compartment in the wall.
I followed him and the wall opened as he pushed the chandelier.
We entered and it closed with a lever on the other side.
Kate would be in here too, if she didn’t take her elixir tonight. I would run into her.
She wasn’t going to take any of this easy either. We hadn’t even suspected Goran to be the one that would do this to us.
The walls kept on vibrating and pieces of small rocks, fell on our heads.
“We need to get out of here, Helmut.”
“Agree,” he yelled and we moved to the closest exit.
It was about ten feet to the west wing’s bridge.
He pulled the lever. His fire already in his hands.
The coast was clear.
Wyverns showed up, and we had to fight.
Helmut doused one soldier with his fire, and I took his sword.
I sliced through many bodies.
As they all fell, we carried on, making our way to the bridge.
A huge explosion went off close by, pieces of the castle fell all around us, covering up the entrance to the west wing.
“No!” I yelled.
“She would’ve gotten out. She isn’t stupid.”
“Goran has been giving her elixirs for a month now. To sleep. She couldn’t.”
An explosion went off as I wanted to yell at her, to get out.
I watch in horror how her tower exploded and was engulfed in flames.
“No,” I yelled again as tears shook me. “No, no.”
“Albert we need to get out of here.”
“I can’t.” I cried.
“You are the king. I’m sorry about Kate, but we need to go otherwise we will die.”
“Then go. I’m not going with you. I’m nothing without her.”
“Paegeia needs you. Please. I’m begging.” I went down on my haunches against the wall as the castle trembled again.
My love was dead. She was dead.
“She could’ve made it out. Don’t lose hope. Just come with me. Please.”
I didn’t move, just sobbed.
“It’s Kate for crying out loud.”
I got what he was saying and I got up as more explosions went off. They were tearing the castle to pieces.
We made it to the elevator.
Caleb wasn’t there, but a few others were.
We all got in. I was nothing without Kate. Why would Goran kill her. He loved her.
The door struggled to close, but they managed to force it. Then it still wouldn’t move. It was too full.
I had to take my chances. I wasn’t leaving without her. I got out and shoved Helmut back in as he tried to follow. I tried to shut the door. Our daughter was going to come home.
Kate was still here. I would find her.
I ripped the chain that held Katherine’s ring from my neck. She had thrown it in my face one night and never asked for it back. I had kept it save. I pulled mine off and put them together in Helmut’s hand even as he begged me to get back into the elevator.
“You will know what to do with them when the time comes.” Tears welled up in my eyes. He looked at the rings confused.
“Don’t do this, please.”
“I can’t live without her. Go, and I’m sorry, Helmut.”
I closed the door, pushed the lever and the elevator shot down.
I cried and went on my haunches.
Just as I was about to make my way to the compartment in the wall, I felt the heat and saw a huge ball of fire in front of me.
The noise drowned out my hearing and everything tumbled in from underneath me.
When I woke up screams were all around.
I couldn’t move. My face ached and I coughed as my lungs were filled with smoke. I was lying at the edge of the indoor swimming pool. I must have fallen five storeys and was still alive.
Rocks and debris were all around me. Screaming was coming from outside.
My people were going to suffer under Goran. He was pure evil.
I prayed to a higher power and saw a small tiny root that was protruding from the ground. I dropped some of my blood on it, and did a spell with love, my love, Kate’s love.
The earth started to shake and it didn’t stop.
Exhaustion consumed me as the magic took all my strength. My dragon blood was gone. Depleted through the sacrifice I made for my people. They would be saved.
I woke up and found Goran standing next to me.
“Why can’t you just die?”
Angry tears filled my eyes. “I should’ve known that it was you. Why, why did you kill Kate?”
He chuckled but tears rolled down his cheeks. “She wasn’t supposed to die, you were. Why couldn’t you just let her be that day, Albert? I knew your love for her wasn’t enough. You have only brought her misery for the past twelve months.”
“She is dead, Goran. The love of my life is dead, and you know nothing.” I chuckled with angry tears in my eyes too.
“I could’ve made her happier.” He screamed down at me.
I spit in his face. “She chose me. She will always choose me.”
Goran hit me hard in the face and I spit out blood. “That was for stopping our wedding.”
Two hundred and forty years he had been waiting for this chance to betray me. I should’ve known that he wouldn’t let Katherine go.
“The wyverns that killed her paid. They are all dead.”
“She is too. That is on you. You killed Kate.”
“I didn’t kill her, I loved her.”
I chuckled. “You have a funny way of showing your love. Your father was right. He should’ve killed you when he discovered that you could speak their language.”
He hit me again and crouched next to me. He picked up my face, and held it against his.
“I knew one day all of you would leave me and so you have. Your little magic won’t work Al. I will get through whatever you wielded and I will take what was yours, what you owe me.” He screamed and then he laughed. “You know I’m right. You don’t have enough power to make it last.”
I laughed at him as I knew what he meant. I needed dragon blood to make it last.
“Wrong again, Goran. Magdel wasn’t my mother.”
His smile disappeared.
“I gave it up to trap you in this hell whole for as long as you live. The Rubicon will never be yours.”
He grunted and kicked me full in the face.
It was up to Elena and Blake to save our world. I just hoped Kate didn’t tell him about her. That was all I could do now.