Garden of DestinyBy: Meara Platt
Two black dragons shall reign supreme.
Two black dragons shall unite the worlds of demon and man.
“Lord Bloodaxe, come forward and rejoice with me,” Brihann, High King of the Dragon Lords commanded the moment Bloodaxe stepped into the grand castle hall in response to the royal summons. Black and gold banners emblazoned with dragons covered the vast chamber and one enormous banner of the finest Italian velvet depicting a black dragon rampant upon a field of gold now draped majestically over the wall behind King Brihann’s golden throne.
Bloodaxe made his way through the cheering crowd, his black cape swirling behind him as he strode forward on the long black carpet that was edged in gold. He tossed aside the demonic toadies who were waiting in line for an audience with the vengeful and wizened king and made his way toward the front of the room.
He hated these celebrations that could only mean the start of another war.
Brihann cast him a malevolent smile as he approached. Although Brihann had once been a prince in the realm of the Fae, hate had contorted his features over the past thousands of years so that he was now no more than a misshapen and unforgiving old man. “Ah, Lord Bloodaxe,” he said with a wheeze, “we shall begin the festivities now that you’ve arrived. Do you have nothing to say? Did you not like my gift? She is yours to do with as you please.”
“A gift?” Bloodaxe paused at the first of the three steps that led up to the throne which stood on a raised dais. He arched a dark eyebrow, understanding what Brihann meant for him to do with this benevolence he had supposedly received. “It must have arrived after I departed my fortress. But if this is yet another nymph you’ve sent to me, I have more than enough of them to service my needs.”
“Ah, but this girl is like no other, for she is from the realm of mortals and her beauty is beyond compare. She’s an innocent, untouched by any man. Enjoy her.”
A mortal girl? A chill ran up Bloodaxe’s spine. Had Brihann sent his demon spies to abduct this young woman? Fool, did he not realize the danger of bringing an innocent into their Underworld realm?
Brihann’s smile turned venomous. “Will you not thank me for my generosity?”
“No.” His insult resounded through the hall, immediately halting all cheers and chatter, and leaving only deathly silence in its wake. “You’ve just planted the seeds of our destruction. You would do this after the wounds you and Necros suffered at the hands of these mortals? Was losing an eye not enough for you? The merest gust of wind sends Necros into a tumble now that he’s lost the tip of his dragon tail.”
Brihann’s wrinkled fingers moved to an even deeper wound, the one he’d suffered to his heart. That deep wound had been caused by a Fae dagger. His hand now rested above the spot that still festered and would never heal. It caused the prominent wheeze now plaguing him that left him straining for every breath. “Do you reject my gift?”
A murmur spread throughout the crowded hall as Bloodaxe remained defiantly silent, his gaze fixed on Brihann. Indeed, he dared not take his eyes off the old king. He did not need to look back to hear the scrape of talons against the marble floor. Those demons who’d packed the hall a moment ago were now running off in fear, for every demon knew of Brihann’s explosive temper. None dared to linger and risk being scorched to ashes by his dragon fire.
Bloodaxe did not fear it, for he’d stopped caring about his own life long ago. Nothing could be worse than all he’d already been forced to endure since childhood. The boy that had once been Arik Blakefield, heir to the Duke of Draloch, no longer existed. All innocence had been tortured out of him years ago. He was Bloodaxe now, a feared and brutal Dragon Lord.
That indifference to his own wellbeing gave him power, allowing him to speak with reckless abandon. “I will take this mortal innocent back where she belongs. Send orders to your guards to allow me through the Razor Cliffs or I shall march my armies through their ranks and destroy every last one of them.”
Brihann rose from his throne. “Be careful how you speak to me, Bloodaxe. We are the two black dragons and must stand together. You are my successor, but I am still High King and destined to reign in the Underworld for another thousand years.”