Home>>read The Dragon's Arranged Mate free online

The Dragon's Arranged Mate

By:Serena Rose

The Dragon's Arranged Mate
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."         

     



 

I touched my mother's trembling arm. I had never seen her so undone.  Normally, she was strong, clear-headed and brave. I knew that if she had  been a man, and a dragon such as me, she would have been the one to sit  the throne. She had the inner mettle that made a warrior, and I would  have flown into battle beside her without hesitation.

"Mother, these are only visions. You've told me yourself countless times  that your visions do not always come to pass. I'm certain that this  will be the case now, as it has so many times before today."

She shook her head, her unbound white-gold hair rippling like a  waterfall down her back. "No, my son. I feel a shift in the energy all  over the isle, and in the forces of nature. The throne is at the edge of  a precipice … and I fear that it might fall."

I couldn't help feeling a shiver up my spine at my mother's words, then  shook myself to be freed of it. I was a mighty Celtic dragon, after all.  And the throne of County Cork. No visions could upset my reign; I had  all the power of Ireland behind me, and all of Scotland, once the  ceremony took place and the union     was consummated that evening.

I placed my hands on my mother's shoulders, then pulled her toward me  for an embrace. I remembered so many times, too many to count, when she  had done the same for me when I was troubled. I remembered thinking that  there was nothing that could harm me as long as she had her arms around  me, protecting me with all of her fierceness and spirit. I hoped to  give some of my strength to her, now.

I pulled away and looked at her, a smile lighting my face. "Come, now.  Today is a day of celebration and feasting and rejoicing at a long-held  agreement finally coming to pass. I've been destined for this since  before my birth  –  as you well know."

A small smile touched Rhiannon's face, and I knew I had broken the tension of the moment.

"And you, my son  –  are you ready to take on a mate? A human, female  mate?" She smiled wider, and her smile was knowing and indulgent. I  grimaced; just like a mother to remind me of the challenges I'd surely  face. But I knew she spoke from love.

"I know that there will be … differences which must be put aside," I told  her. "I realize that my power, and my temper, must be kept in mind in my  relations with her. I cannot lash out, and I cannot lose control."

"This is outside of anything else you've ever experienced," my mother  reminded me. "I know that in the early days of my union     with your  father there were many obstacles to overcome in order to move on toward  the true happiness we found in each other."

"Let us all hope that Anabelle is as kind and patient with me as you were with my father," I said.

A throaty laugh rumbled in Rhiannon's throat. "As though I had a choice!" she pointed out, and we both laughed.

I remembered my father; the great dragon had fallen just ten years  earlier, when I was 17 years old. I remembered that before my father's  death, I had felt like a man. I'd demanded my father pay me the respect I  felt that I was due. Then, within a heartbeat of learning that my  father was dead, I felt like a little boy and was very afraid.

I remembered so much of him, so clearly. His wisdom and sagacity in  matters of state. His fairness to all, no matter how grand or how  common. He cared for the poor and the orphaned and widowed, especially  those who were widowed as a result of their men fighting beside him.

I also remembered his fire. Not his literal fire, though I had seen him  shift into his true form and fly high on countless occasions, from the  time I was a small child. But it wasn't that fire, terrifying and  all-consuming it may have been. No, it was his fiery nature that stood  out the clearest. He was brash and bold, cunning and spirited. He feared  no one and nothing, and as a result was a formidable foe to any who  made the mistake of opposing him.

Then, suddenly, he was gone. There were conflicting stories as to his  manner of death, stories to which I could still receive no solid answer  to this day. Nothing added up. Some said he was felled in battle, though  I don't remember a tale of a single battle in which he could have  fallen at that time. We were at peace, and had been for many years by  then. Others said he was killed by a vengeful dragon hunter, my mother  ordered me to put all thoughts of such dragon hunters out of my mind, as  they would do nothing but frighten me and undermine my own power and  confidence as the new King.

Loading...

Recommend