She took his small, pale white hand in her own, trying to hide her surprise at the contrast. Even though he was her younger brother by blood, he couldn't have looked more her opposite. While his child flesh was soft and as pale as newly fallen snow, hers was callused, weather beaten, and tanned from long hours toiling in the sun. He enjoyed reading quietly beneath the old willow beside the crystal lake, while she found her thrills in combat and riding. Yet, despite their differences, the two of them loved each other dearly.

"Tell me another story about the dragon sister, please," his shy, gentle voice begged her, his sky blue eyes pleading.

She glanced out of the curving window framed with red velvet curtains at the moon rising slowly on the veiled horizon. "Jesseph, I've already told you three stories of the dragon. You know as well as I that you should have been asleep two hours ago."

Jesseph's sparkling blue eyes captured her brown ones, holding her and causing her heart to melt. His lower lip trembled slightly, but she didn't notice; she was lost somewhere within his captivating blue eyed gaze.

"Pleeeaaasssseee. Just one more Josphitha, please. I promise I won't ask for another."

Josphitha smiled down at her seven year old little brother surrounded by over a dozen silken pillows in a canopy bed that could comfortably fit at least fifteen. Their demanding father would give her quite a talking to if he found out how long his only son had been up hearing outrageous stories of dragons. The king greatly disapproved of his daughter's story telling, claiming she should be spending more time with her duties of protecting her kingdom. He preferred that Jesseph learn about mathematics and tactics.

"You know Father would never approve of me telling you these stories," Josphitha warned him, her large brown eyes suddenly serious.

He folded his arms across his small chest and frowned a little boy frown at her, making his lower lip stick out as he pouted. "It's not like he will ever find out."

"Don't be so sure of that," Josphitha scolded kindly, tapping one finger on her brother's nose, "he has ways of getting the information he wants."

Jesseph's eyes widened as his wild imagination took control, presenting him with what Josphitha guessed to be very vivid images. "What would he do to you? He wouldn't hurt you . . .would he?"

She laughed, but the mirth failed to reach her eyes. She never told Jesseph about how their father flogged her for every outlandish story she told her brother. In fact, he had just beaten her earlier that morning for giving Jesseph a book of fairy tales. Upon thinking of the beating, the welts on Josphita's back burned painfully; she had to repress the urge to use her healing powers to ease the pain.