Dragon King

Prince Neal, son of king William of Macintia could hardly contain his rage. It wasn't that he didn't know who his real friends were or even that everyone insisted on treated him like glass, it was that his inheritance was preventing him from pursuing his dream.

Since his first glimpse of the heroic Draconights at only eight years of age, he had dreamt of soaring atop one of those magnificent and intelligent creatures. He yearned to prove himself stronger than the glass he was treated as, maybe then his father and other members of the royal court would permit him to get his own life.

At the present age of seventeen his heart drummed to the challenge, the physical and mental challenge in the form of a knights training. Even better at the advanced training needed to pass or even try for a position as a draconight. Few who tried out for such a position made it, few were permitted. Women were forbidden to hold the title, their fragile bodies unable to withstand the rigorous training required for a simple knight, let alone the more demanding training pivotal for wading through the dangers of becoming a draconight.

Neal knew what would be required of him. After having spent hours poring over books in the expanse of library, all knowledge needed for him to move forward in his ambition he already possessed. His only obstacle was his father.

"Please father," Neal dodged around palace servants, guests, commanders and all other like as- for nobody knew the how many- eth time- he pleaded with his father. Again he failed.

"Nealan take your leave at once! I have given you my answer and even as you persist it has not, neither will not change. Now go." Those last words the King had boomed out had accompanied a dangerously low growl deep in his chest, Neal knew better than to challenge that. With a scowl darkening his mood as well as his features, Neal stalked off leaving his father to his admirers. He didn't understand, his father had lived the training to become a knight. This was and would be plain to anyone who had even so much as glimpsed the king. His large muscular frame showed many signs of some years having undergone a knight's harsh training schedule. The king had argued with his own father saying that a knighted heir would be much more powerful that a non- knighted heir. Neal agreed, but now his father was contradicting himself and in doing so, disrupting Neal's future plans. Reaching the archery courts he took a bow and a quiver from the assigned area and began to string it up.

"You are so predictable; whenever you fell angry you come here." The boy leaning on the far fence thought about what he'd said for a moment, "Or you and beat the hell out of a dummy." He added, "You'd probably pass for a knight with flying colours."

"So, I heard your sister is learning to fight, is she any good?"

Neal let out a sigh of exasperation, "Kail, what do you want?"

The boy tossed a blunt metal practise sword through the air, Neal caught it by the hilt in one swift movement, "A spar."

"Not right now, I'm not in the mood." Neal tossed the sword to one side, turned and raised the bow pulling the notched arrow back. Kail was one of the few people who he knew was his friend for him, and not just because he was in line for the throne, his only fault in Neal's eyes was his spontaneous and wild behaviour. Kail was well known for doing completely unexpected things at any time, now was about to be an excellent example; Neal ducked and rolled as Kail's sword sliced over his head. The roll transported him to his own discarded practice sword, which he raised just in time to prevent another one of Kail's downward sweeping blows. The swords clashed with a clear ringing sound. The muscles in Neal's arms knotted as he forces Kail's sword up, allowing him to get to his feet. Neal broke body contact to retreat a short distance and began circling, Kail played along also circling. Neal took the chance to wipe away dangerously large amounts of sweat developing on his brow, Kail grinned, "See, one surprise attack and you've already developed a sweat. My advice is to keep it there, let it blind you so I can win for a change."

"Fat chance. Kail, I could probably still beat you blinded." Neal ducked as Kail swung again, this time bringing his leg around in a sweeping motion, hitting the back of Kail's knees to send him sprawling face first into the soiled ground as his knees buckled. Neal stood over him his sword poised at the nape of Kail's neck in the 'kill' position, "I win. Again."

"I let you win." Kail argued as he got to his feet.

"Sure you did." Neal patted his friend on the back and strode back to the palace to get washed.

"Neal?"

"In here, hold on one sec'."

The girl began to roam the room, inspecting things as she went. Picking out a sword on a collection hanging on one wall, she gave it a few practice swings. It had perfect balance and the right weight for an average swordsman. It's delicately woven hilt was stronger than anyone would have thought it to be, creating the shape of a fiery creature mounted by an armoured warrior wielding a long spear. Hara knew of Neal's dream, she herself would have preferred to call it an obsession but Neal was more comfortable with the term dream. As she was replacing it strong arms slid around her waist pulling her back to lean against a muscle filled bare chest. Neal kissed her head then caressed her face as she turned until he reached her lips. The kiss was passionate, filled with heat, longing and desire; she wrapped her arms around his neck as he pulled her closer. He was wet after just having come from the shower but neither of them cared; they released each other, a smile lingering on both faces.

"Hey, what's up?"

"I've to give you a message," she turned away as he replaced his drying cloth with breeches

"Ok, what is it?"

She turned again as he rummaged for a shirt and wandered over to plonk down on his bed. She swung her legs as she replied, "Your father say's you're to attend a formal party of rulers of other countries, their heirs and young noble women looking to be wed." He stopped as her eyes met his at this last part, she hurried on "He says to be on your best behaviour and try to act at least remotely normal for an heir. And if you must bring a guest, you're not to bring Kail." She let out a small grin at this last part but he remained grave.

"Do you trust me?"

"What?"

He repeated the question, "Do you trust me?"

A moment's silence followed before she answered hesitantly, "Yes."

She hadn't fooled him, he had noticed the hesitation and the wavering of her voice. "Oh, God." He shut the drawer and putting the shirt to one side came to sit beside her. "Look at me Hara," she refused so he gently turned her so she was facing him, "I would never hurt you. D'you hear me? I would never hurt you. I love you."

Her eyes were brimming with unwanted tears, angrily she wiped them away and took a shaky gulp of air, "I know, I know. But it's not easy for you and I to be together; you will have to marry soon for the good of Macintia. You'll be pressurised to produce another heir should you and the king fall. You have no brothers Neal, the king is much too old to reproduce; you're their only hope."

Neal had always known this but had simply refused to accept it; she was now forcing him to do what he must, to acknowledge this piece of information and act upon it. The laws forbade common and noble marriages too, this would especially count for him as future king.