The Dragon KingBy: Candace Blevins
Chattanooga Supernaturals Book One
Sophia is the most adorable two year old I’ve ever seen. Fluffy blonde hair, rosy chubby cheeks, and a laugh that makes my heart soar.
I turned to her father, the Swan King, and chose my words carefully. “Raul, you’re sure this is the best course of action? I know you’re still grieving over Angelique’s death, but can you truly prepare Sophia for a life of leading your people if you keep her a prisoner in your home her entire life?”
I could only get away with asking this question because I’d helped raise and train Raul, helped prepare him to take the crown when he beat his brothers and won the throne.
“I did my best to protect my wife from supernaturals, and a damned human hunter took her out. Sophia won’t leave the walls of the castle until she marries, and hopefully whoever wins her will follow my lead and also keep her behind protective walls. She won’t see the same fate as Angelique.” His voice was firm, didn’t waver, and let me know further conversation on the matter would be met with hostility.
Sophia is the first Swan Princess without at least one brother since before I was born, and by my best guess I’m around nine thousand years old. Give or take a thousand.
Swan Princesses are usually given to other royalty as a way to unite families and sometimes species, but they never have a hope of the throne. Their brothers are required to fight each other for power, the strongest and most cunning winning the crown.
Instead of finding another wife to give him sons, Raul is arranging for a contest between the other Swan royalty, with the strongest being allowed to care for her until she turns twenty five, and then marry her and eventually take the crown. Personally, I think Raul wants to step down and find a way to join his dead wife. The grief of her death still holds him.
I’ve trained the past seven Swan Kings, including Sophia’s father, Raul. I know him well, and I know he loves his daughter. However, he still feels such pain over his wife’s slaughter, and I worry about the decisions he’s making.
There is precedence amongst some other supernatural species for keeping Sophia in seclusion, finding a suitable King, and not giving her a choice in who she’ll marry. However, watching the toddler play and laugh and flirt, my heart hurts with the knowledge she’ll grow up with no control of her major life choices. Or, likely the minor ones, either.
She’s such a happy baby, so full of life and adventure. I hope her life turns out better than most fairy tales.
* * * *
Ten years later, my heart aches as the court Herald announces me into the Swan King’s mansion for Sophia’s final unchaperoned lesson. I’ve been coming to the mansion once a week for a four hour session since she was six, but this must stop once she becomes a teenager, which in Swan lore makes her a woman.
I’ll be allowed to come four times a year for an all-day review session, but will never again be alone with her. After today she’ll have a chaperone or minder with her anytime she’s with a man besides her father — or husband, once she’s married.
I’m going to miss my time with her. In my busy life, my half-days with the Swan Princess have been the sunshine of my week. Sophia is a special child — so smart, so willing to learn, and a joy to be around. My heart is happy when I’m with her, and we most often go to our spot near a manmade waterfall on their property so we can talk without worrying so much about being overheard. Someone from the house can see us, but our words are drowned out. Sometimes, though, my favorite part of the day is her smile when I arrive and she skips to me for a hug. Today will be the last time she’ll be allowed to hug me for no reason, just because she’s happy I’ve arrived. My heart hurts as I wrap my arms around her and tell her I’m happy to see her.
We walk to our spot, sit on our rock and I open a few books as I give her another to hold. The rushing waters may provide white noise to block our voices, but we still need to appear as if I’m teaching her.
“You know this is the last time we’ll be alone, right, Soph?”
Sophia looks down, takes a breath, and raises her gaze back to mine. “I know. I’ll miss my time with you.”