Kali took a sip from her goblet of wine, mildly surprised at how flavorful it was. The bonfires casted a nice, warm glow that contrasted the dark nightly sky. The sound of laughter and cheers, along with the smell of a feast, brought forth the feeling of nostalgia and guilt. Arron’s arm curled around her shoulders, silver eyes knowing as he turned to look at her.
“Seventy-two hours ago, a dozen of my children were taken— tossed to the very edges of the void right in front of us.” The Dragon Mother, Veena, spoke. Her voice rang loudly throughout the silent room, the present members of the council uncharacteristically quiet. Kali’s hands were pressed on to the surface of the table, fingers curled into tight fists. Her remaining brothers and sisters were seated, expressions hard and eyes both sad and furious. The King was seated as well, hands laced together thoughtfully. “—these rogues were aware of what they were doing, they purposely selected the furthest realms from the Mountain.” Veena continued, the pond reflecting the half moon’s light and rippling behind her. “They wish for all of us to come to their rescue... But we will not.”
Her words caused an uproar. All of her children — and their mates — were enraged at her dismissal, shouting their protests over one another. Veena remained unaffected, raising a hand to quiet her children. After a moment, they did, huffing and muttering in displeasure. “We have every reason to believe Malakai has an ambush waiting for those who chase after them.” Balthazar spoke for the first time, drawing the attention of his children.
“And we have come to the conclusion that Mila’s capture was unintentional.” Veena added, lips pressed in a firm line.
Beside Kali, Arron’s breath hitched in realization while she froze in her seat. Mila had been the first one to go after stopping one of the rogues from taking one of the hatchlings, but she had not been grabbed like the rest— she sunk. “The gateway Malakai opened,” Kali spoke for the first time, the council members going quiet. “Mila fell into it before it could close properly.” She continued, looking up to meet the astonished stares of her brethen.
Veena nodded at her daughter’s words, “Which gives us the location of their main lair.” The Queen turned and pointed a delicate claw at one of the stars swirling in the pond, it gleamed a bright amber in response.
“Your Highness,” A voice spoke, almost breathless. Marius’ red eyes were wide, his bright red hair mussed from tugging at it nervously. “Is that...?” The man couldn’t finish, looking both horrified and awed.
“Aye.” Balthazar replied, rising from his seat. The braids woven into his red hair swayed, his silver eyes understanding yet stern, “It is the realm from which you hail from.”
Marius slowly shook his head, looking away from the gateway, “Forgive me, my Lord, but I’ve cut all ties with the world that enslaved me.” He said respectfully, his hand coming up to touch the faded scars on his wrists.
“Fret not, little one, we will not force you to return.” Veena reassured him, expression softening ever so slightly. “Malakai and the rest of the rogues are feeding dark magic into the land, soon enough they will rot it to its core— and it will only be the first of many.” She continued, waving one of her hands.
A figure materialized in the middle of the room, not nearly as large as the fully grown Royal Bloods and obviously human. Expensive robes, along with golden eyes and long purple hair stared back at Kali. Jewelry hung off his muscled frame, glowing significantly.
“Sinbad, a child of man with an overwhelming amount of magic.” Veena said, suddenly very serious. “Malakai could use him to reopen the gateway to the Mountain. We mustn’t let him do such a thing.”
“We cut the weeds at the root, my children. No matter how beautiful its flower.” Balthazar spoke meaningfully, silver eyes looking at all of his children individually. They remained on his heir longer than the rest. Kali’s eyebrows furrowed, but her father looked away. She looked back at that easy going grin framed by purple hair as if it would give her an answer. No matter how pretty, a child of man was full of greed.
“I’ve chosen two of my children to take care of the problem.” Balthazar did not speak his name, addressing Sinbad for what he currently was— an inconvenience. “Arron. Kali.”
Kali and Arron stood from their seats, exchanging a brief look, “Yes, my Sire.” They chorused, bowing respectfully.
“You will part in the morn.” Balthazar informed, he and his mate preparing to leave.
The heir rushed around the table, red hair falling over her armored shoulders, “And what of my siblings?” Kali called out, expression stern and eyes sharp.
Veena turned, eyes narrowed at her daughter, “Don’t misunderstand... They might be your siblings, but they are my children.” She spoke, voice a near hiss as smoke curled around her, seeping from the snarl set on her lips.
Balthazar placed a hand on his mate’s shoulder, looking over at Kali and Arron, “Leave that to us, child. We will find them.” He said reassuringly.
Her shoulders sagged at his words, hands falling limp at her sides as her expressioned softened in relief. Kali’s eyes fell on the figure still projected in the middle of the room — now but a few feet away from her — while Arron came to stand by her side. Balthazar nodded his head.
Arron took the empty goblet from her hands, handing it off to one of the servers to have it refilled. “Are you enjoying yourself?” The male questioned, turning his silver eyes to look at his sister.
Kali waved away the golden birds that kept trying to perch themselves on her body, eyeing them in irritation. “If these blasted birds would stop bothering me, perhaps I would be—” She smacked one away from her shoulder, annoyed by its coos and chittering.
“Strong, powerful... Child of light...” They cooed adoringly, fluttering around her. Kali frowned.
A grin spread over Arron’s lips, unbothered by the flurry of birds perching themselves on his head and shoulders, gleaming brightly like the flames of the bonfire. “Have another, sister,” He said lightheartedly, offering the filled mug to her, “You should loosen up, enjoy the festival, if only for tonight.”
The red haired female took it, frown diminishing as she finally allowed the bird to sit upon her shoulder. With a soft sigh, she leisurely drank her wine and watched the pretty human women dance with large smiles on her faces. Bells chimed sweetly as they moved, attached to their limbs.
The people of Sindria danced and cheered happily as they celebrated something or another— they tended to celebrate a lot, it seemed. A pity, now that they wouldn’t be able to smile and dance after the job was done. Kali’s silver eyes fell upon the king himself, laughing wholeheartedly with his companions, a golden goblet filled with wine in his hand. The golden birds fluttered around him almost lovingly, black peeking through occasionally.
Cut the weed at the root, Kali thought to herself as she downed the rest of the wine, only vaguely aware of this one’s sweeter taste. She placed it on a nearby table, running her fingers through her red hair and tugging at her robes, much different from her usual garbs and meant to blend in.
Arron watched her with a small grin, eyes shining. “Where are you headed?” He questioned curiously, head tilting.
“I’m—” Kali blinked at him slowly, one of the little birds flapping its wings as it brightened and flushed. His sister tucked a red curl behind her ear, silver eyes suddenly dazed, “I am going on a walk. It’s suffocating here.”
“Ah,” Arron voiced, watching her closely as his grin slowly widened. “I will find you later.” He proposed, raising his goblet to his lips to hide his smile.
“Aye.” Kali tersely replied and Arron watched her walk away, the birds turning a soft pink as they hovered around her.
“And do enjoy yourself,” The Royal Blood spoke, fully aware that she couldn't hear him as he tucked the empty vial into his pocket. He sat back, taking in the celebration— King Sinbad’s birthday, was it? He couldn’t really remember... Arron shrugged, smiling down at the golden bird sitting on his arm, slowly turning a fiery orange and cooing loving words at him.
And while Arron enjoyed himself, Kali wandered through the celebration, nimble girls with bright smiles weaving flowers through her hair and dancing on the tips of their toes. Their twirling forms became blurs of flowers and chittering birds made of gold, coaxing her to follow. Eyes the color of embers met her own, entranced. Her troubles were whisked away in the blur of the night, replaced by soft caresses and begrudgingly long purple hair. The feeling of fingers curling into her hair replaced the guilt, whispered praise replacing the worry.
Soft sheets and warm skin, scorching kisses and wandering hands― the night went like so. The room was smothering, yet so sweetly intoxicating with soft sighs and breathy moans filled with nothing but pleasure. Those warm fingers danced along the curve of her spine, settling on her hips as her teeth traced a racing pulse to bite.
The owner of the delicious warmth was settled between her thighs, writhing and thrusting as if desiring to be within her forever. She cradled him, heels pressing into his lower back and arms curling around his broad shoulders. And before those lips ― tasting of wine so sweet ― pressed another kiss against her own, she saw those eyes again.
Those eyes made of embers.
Soft rays of sunshine poured through the window, persuading her into waking. Kali pressed her face into the soft pillow, her fingers curling into the bedding as she breathed in the scent of spices and someone that was definitely not her kin. Silver eyes snapped open, surprised and alert. The memories of the night before were a blur, strangely pleasant and drowsy despite bringing a dull ache to her head. The dragon heir slowly moved to sit and felt the sheets slide down her bare body.
A hiss slipped past her lips at the sting on her back. Kali twisted her body to look over her shoulder, narrowing her eyes at the numerous love bites and scratches trailing down her once unblemished back. She growled softly in the back of her throat, catching sight of more bruises on her hips, along with even more love bites trailing down her chest. She briefly wondered if she’d bedded a beast rather than a man. A child of the moon? A shapeshifter? Perhaps a—
“Ah, you’re awake.” A smooth, male voice greeted as the door shut softly. The smell of freshly made food wafted to her nose and Kali turned, pushing long crimson hair out of her face. “Good morning.” King Sinbad — a child of man, the one she was meant to kill — greeted cheerfully, setting down the tray next to the bed. He was dressed only in a pair of loose pants and his hair was out of its ponytail, his hands coming up to tuck some of the long purple strands behind his ears.
Kali blinked in surprise and horror, hands holding the sheets to her chest. He didn’t seem to notice, smiling and humming to himself as he began serving fruits, meat and bread on to a plate she assumed would be for her. Her silver eyes flicked over to the unlocked door as Sinbad occupied himself with pouring juice that smelled like citrus. She slowly started getting off the bed, realizing that if she were to attack him, it would end up getting very messy since she was in his room, inside the palace.
The redhead tucked the bedsheet around her, eyeing Sinbad’s back — muscled and scratched up from blunt fingernails rather than a dragon’s claws — while setting her bare feet on the ground. Her blood felt like ice in her veins at the sight of a bite mark set in the juncture between his neck and shoulder, not very noticeable to the human eye but bright as a neon sign to a dragon. A mating bite— a claim.
And if Kali was being honest, she would have rathered waking up mated to a naga than this human in specific.
The door suddenly flew open and Kali felt her claws come out, tearing holes into the sheet she held to her chest. Sinbad nearly jumped out of his skin, holding the jug to his bare chest. “Sin! Why are you still sleeping at this hour?!” A man dressed in green robes nearly shouted, “You have to finish your—” He stared at Kali, then at Sinbad and back again. Kali stared at him and then at the open door behind him.
It was much easier to escape in this smaller form, dodging Sinbad’s hands and darting around the confused servant before running down the hallway with the sheet wrapped around her body. Kali ignored Sinbad’s calls for her to wait, he didn’t seem to know her name— that was good. It meant she didn’t babble despite being under the influence of... Whatever she was under.
Kali slowed down as she entered a fourth hall after many turns, this one completely empty asides from her and those annoying birds. A familiar laugh made her stop and turn on her heel. Arron leaned against a column for support and smothered his laughter into his hand. He was dressed in the same uniform the guards of the palace wore.
“You— You bloody bastard!” Kali fumed, stomping over to smack him with her open palm. “You treacherous fuck, you think this funny?!” She landed another harsh smack on the nape of his neck.
“Hilarious!” Arron replied, covering his head with his arms as he cackled, a tear of laughter trailing down his cheek. “But answer me this, is he really a child of man or is he something else?” He asked, poking one of the dark bruises on her collarbone. He received another smack.
His sister growled as she snatched the bundle of clothes from his hands, dropping the sheets. Arron closed his eyes, shoulders still shaking. “What in Tartarus are you wearing?” Kali asked, sliding into the red harem pants before pulling on the sleeveless red top with golden trims. She tapped his ankle with her bare foot to signal that she was decent.
Arron turned to her, spreading his arms to display his outfit, “Like it? All it took was a little Glamour and I am now a Sindrian guard. No one could tell.” He bragged, tapping the chest plate with his knuckle.
Kali ran her fingers through her hair, taming the mess it had become, “In this moment, I despise Glamour. I feel—” She stretched her arms, “—compressed.” Her hand came down on on his shoulder and Arron flinched, lips jutting out in a pout. Kali shot him a glare, “Now let’s get this over with so we can go home.”
The siblings turned, only to freeze as they made eye contact with two men on the other end of the hall— one being an Imuchakk and the other a Fanalis. “Window.” They chorused while turning on their heels to face the only exit.