Dragon Day

A princess that's not a lady. A king that's not a gentleman. And a wedding that does not go according to plan.


23. Weakness



            Darya danced on the deck, spinning and stepping to the tune, never letting go of Dain’s hand. She was happier than she had ever remembered, happier than she thought possible. It seemed too good to last. The way Dain smiled at her, the way he touched her. It was perfect.

            “Look at them,” she whispered to him, as Alex came storming out, followed by Mel. She had imagined that the princess was in love with Dain, but after knowing the truth, she couldn’t imagine the fiery girl with anyone other than Alex. They were the same, willful and strong, brave and loyal, ever ready to fight. They belonged together.

            Her smile grew wider as Alex yelled out the truth. Silence descended onto the deck. She could see the surprise on every sailor and soldier’s face. Especially the ones that she knew were from Lor. Neither of them were the kind to fall in love. The Captain looked out of his wits.

            But they were happy. Melaina came down and punched Dain in the gut. She hated the single moment of seeing Dain’s face in pain, but she knew it was Melaina’s way of payback. Darya knew she should be happy it had been so light.

            She huddled down next to Dain as he nursed his gut, trying not to smile at his childish expression. She was sure that Melaina hadn’t given it her all. They wandered off away from the rest of the group. She had given her warning. If anyone spoke about them, teased them, they would meet the same fate as Dain. Slowly she helped him as the sailors restarted their song.        

            “What just happened?” David asked her. The boy was supposed to be Melaina’s best friend. She didn’t know he was so clueless.

            She asked, “Didn’t you know?”

            “She told you?” he asked. “I never knew. She was always griping about him, and suddenly this.”

            “Love works in mysterious ways,” she said.

            “Seriously messed up ways” David agreed. “Eva will faint when she hears about this. About half of Lor will.”

            She raised his eyebrow at him.

            “Melaina isn’t the type to fall in love,” David said. “In the past three years she saw a total of thirty-two suitors, and sent them all packing. I never thought she would…”


            “I wonder what her father will say,” David mused out loud.

            “Is she close to her father?” she asked.

            “Well, she’s definitely not close to her mother,” he said. “Her father’s her favorite person on the planet. He’s the reason she’s the way that she is, fighting and exploring. Otherwise, she would be like her sister. Her boring, blonde, already-married sister.”

            Darya nodded. She had been much the same way. She had loved her mother, but had been her father’s favorite. He was the one that taught her to hike into the woods, taught her that there was nothing in the dark to be afraid of. He was her light. She remembered the days after his death, when she and her mother had retreated into a numb silence, not able to bear the pain and not knowing a way to grieve.

            It was a time she never wished upon anyone. Dain slowly came up to her, smiling again, as David went off to play cards with some sailors. Dain’s stomach was feeling better. He thanked the gods that Melaina had not been in a violent mood. He slipped an arm around Darya’s waist and leaned towards her.

            “What are you thinking?” he asked.

            She snapped out of her reverie and asked him, “What did you do to upset Melaina?”

            “I meddled a little,” he said sheepishly. “They were taking so long.”

            “I think you meddled a little more than a little,” she guessed. “But it’s good that you wanted to see your brother happy.”

            His face changed, twisting into pain for a second before fixing onto a hollow smile. “It’s one of the few ways I could think of to repent for my mistakes.”

            “You saved his life, Dain,” Darya said. “It was something that the soldiers often spoke of. Dain had saved his brother’s life, and Alex was eternally grateful.”

            “No, I robbed him of everything he deserved.”

            She felt heart fall as he spoke the words. She knew the old Dain, the one she had never met, had done something horrible. As she looked at his face, downcast in complete misery, she wondered if what he had done was unforgivable.

            “Everyone thinks that he is an illegitimate child,” Dain told her. “It’s not true. My father did marry his mother. But the ministers convinced him that she wasn’t noble enough, that her father didn’t have enough lands. So he abandoned her.”

            “What a horrible thing to do,” she said without thinking.

            “I got much of my thinking from him,” Dain confessed. “The reason behind so many of my sins. Ten years later, on his deathbed, he wanted to right his wrongs. He wanted me to tell the world the truth, and accept Alex as my rightful brother.”

            “You did that,” Darya said, not understanding.

            “No, no. I had Alex and his mother brought to court immediately. I bribed the minister to say that there had been no wedding. I exiled his mother, and in the eyes of the world, I saved Alex from the gallows. According to our laws, he’s entitled to almost half of Felucca. Instead, he’s a common soldier, a bodyguard.”

            He said the last word with a sigh, and faced her. “Do you think he will forgive me?”

            “I don’t know,” she said truthfully. She was for once grateful that she had never met the old Dain. He must have been heartless, to wrench a child away from his mother. Dain looked at her expectantly, wondering if she looked at him any differently, if disgust would creep into her eyes.

            She straightened up and dusted off her skirt. “It’s late, I should get to bed. After all, we arrive at Lor tomorrow.”

            Dain smiled as she planted a kiss on his cheek and walked away. Looking at the deserted deck, he realized that it really was late. He wandered off to his room, ignoring the sight of Melaina and Alex still talking near the figurehead.


            She awoke in her room feeling refreshed. It was amazing the changes that one day could bring. She was alone, miserable a day before, and suddenly she was euphoric. Looking out the round window in her room she saw the dark mass that was Lor.

            “Hello, child,” a voice said to her. The last time that she had heard that voice, the spirit had not given her good news. She turned slowly, expecting the fog and the blindness. Aravi sat in the chaise in front of her, looking far more human than ghostly. Her silvery dress melted into the floor, and her normally loose hair was pinned up in an elaborate bun. Darya didn’t say anything back.

            “It seems that whenever I come to you, it is to be the bringer of bad news,” the spirit confessed. Darya stiffened at her words. She immediately thought of Dain.

            “No, no, it’s not about you. It’s about Melaina,” she explained. “Her father is ill. I could not foresee it, but the man has started his attack. You have a chance to save Melaina’s father. But you must get to Felucca, kill the man that has cursed her father with this sickness.”

            “Will her father…?”

            “I don’t see the future, Darya. I may be good in anticipating it, but in truth, I do not know the future. As far as I know, there is a chance that he will live.”

            “What do we do?”

            “Keep her strong, she will not take well to seeing her father in his current state,” Aravi told her. “That is why the man attacked her father, her weakness. Stay by her side. With her victory, comes your revenge.”

            “What do you mean?”

            “I mean, that the man who killed your father, is the one that is trying to kill hers,” Aravi said as she slowly dissipated into silver smoke. Darya looked out the window at the approaching port. They were almost there. She could hear the sounds from the port town as the anchor was dropped.

            She remembered her own misery as a messenger had come to their home, delivering the news of her father’s death. She had been Melaina’s age. She would not let her story repeat itself. Quickly throwing the door open she rushed up the stairs and onto the deck.

            Melaina was standing at the railing next to Alex. The port was filled with people, but she knew that none of them was the king. Melaina’s eyebrows furrowed in annoyance and the slightest shadow of worry. Darya imagined seeing her sobbing like she had ten years before. She didn’t like the image in her mind.

            Melaina’s eyes darted from one end of the port to the looking for her father’s bearded face, his familiar chestnut stallion. The boat docked at the port and she landed on the port before Darya could reach her. She immediately headed for a short stout man with puffy eyes and a grimace on his face.

            “Phillip!” she cried out. “Where’s my father?”

            Gia half-flew and half fell next to Melaina. The man didn’t even notice. He opened his mouth and nothing came out.

            “Your highness…”

            “I saw Aravi this morning,” Darya announced behind her.

            Melaina’s attention temporarily turned away from Phillip. “What did she say?”

            “That you should visit your father before you save him,” Darya said.


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