Note: This series centers in a place known as Engarde where the governments are squabbling and the Prince sides with the peasants and the rebels known as the Bohemians, as well as the ominous group known as the Underground. The story also involves unlikely friendships, star-crossed lovers, and betrayal.
You never really know
Who your real friends are
Until you hit rough times in life
Sometimes they're unexpected allies
Yet they're vital to your livelihood
From them, you learn more of yourself
And vice versa.
Chapter 1—The Realm of Engaurde
Not too far away from our world, but apart from the "World" as we know it exists a place known as Enguarde. Here, the noble family that birthed the planet using the powers of the will and goodness incarnate formed the planet as it is seen now in all its glamour. The royal family that had created the orb had been ruling over this realm for eons. Another group of people that lived in this land are known as the Bohemians. The Bohemians are rebel-rousers, standing up for the "peasant's rights". Albeit that there were tensions in the royal family between King Marshall, Queen Aries and their son Prince Lance concerning his betrothal to a selfish brat named Delilah of the neighboring kingdom Le Grande, there were also those who disagreed with the King and Queen's 'purist ideals'.
Unbeknownst to all, however, their existed a third group that was ominous and dark.
They were only known as the Underground movement. While only magical creatures were employed to help the people of Enguarde, the Underground was collaborating to revive an evil beast they labeled a Growlnak. This fiend of a monster existed only to devour and destroy, and that is the intent that the Underground had for Enguarde. With enough necromancers in their group, they could summon the Growlnak and bend its will to their command.
Chapter 2—Conflicts Within the Family
It was a typical day in the Enguarde family when Aries and Marshall reminded their son of his obligation to the royal throne. "Lance, you must marry Princess Delilah. It is for the peace between the Le Grande family and ours. You have no other choice in the matter.", Marshall said, strictly. "Father, I realize I have no option in marriage, but have you ever considered my happiness ? Delilah is a conceited, good-for-nothing wench and I have absolutely no desire to wed her !", Lance said, banging his fist upon the dinner table.
Poor Aires was already getting a headache listening to her beloved family members argue amongst one another. She could not come between this argument even though her son's true feelings were the right kind to have. Unfortunately, Marshall was not the type to listen to reason, and that was the reason the peasants (especially the Bohemians) were so upset about being treated like second-hand citizens. With all of their hard work and the help of the Bohemians and their dragon Diamond, maybe they could get the attention of the Kingdom somehow.
Like it or not, Lance had enough of bickering with his Father so he left the castle upon the back of his faithful dragon Maximus. Marshall tried to stop him but it was no use. "Why do you just sit there, Aries ?", Marshall questioned, noticeably upset. Aries said nothing since she knew it would be wiser to hold her tongue. "No matter. I'm certain Lance will realize the gravity of the situation when he meets Queen Rachel Le Grande and King Reginald Le Grande.", Marshall said with a mischievous glint in his eyes. Aries knew this couldn't possibly be good because when Marshall planned it was usually upon impulse and no real thought was placed behind it. She simply prayed that what he had in mind didn't have any dire consequences and that somehow Enguarde could become the peaceful place it had once been so many millennia ago.
Chapter 3—Fraternizing With the Enemy
Maximus, Lance's fire dragon, lowered himself so Lance could dismount in the country where the atmosphere was less constricting. He always felt more relaxed when in nature's splendor. Scratching Maximus behind the ear and giving him a ham to munch on, Lance thanked him for the ride and set off on his own into the forest. There, he could hear the delightful voice of a young woman who opposed the rule of the Enguarde family.
Although he did not want to hear what she said, he was compelled to listen since she had so much conviction in every word she spoke. However, his dazed state had caused him to be discovered by the locals and they were not happy to see him. "Wait ! He is the Prince, we shouldn't do anything we would regret to him. Besides, he may not be like the despot Marshall at all.", the lady said, holding her hand up and letting it drop to her side. Albeit she was dressed in military clothing she looked svelte and beautiful. Her violet eyes really drew Lance in as well as her undeniable wit and charm. Lance learned the name of the woman was Lana Alexis Mir and she too had a dragon, but she was a dragon of ice named Diamond. Most people of Enguarde either were dragon-riders, or they rode mystic beasts such as griffins, phoenixes, Pegasus, and sphinxes. But it took a special kind of person to understand a dragon and its language, especially its profound heart. Lana was just such a woman to have raised Diamond by rite of Diamond's parents, Dulcie and Draegar. Before he even knew what hit him, Lance was falling in love with Lana. Yet, he knew he could never let his parent's know about this, but he wondered if Lana felt the same way. It would take time and patience, but Lance was not one who gave up easily. Somehow he knew that he and Lana would become good allies in the future, but for the moment they were only acquaintances. But, he had promised to her that he would secretly stow away in the middle of the night after writing a decree to his parents. In his soul, he sensed that this important document would grasp the attention of Marshall. However, he was concerned that his mother's heart would break after she heard the news. He knew her better, though.
She was much wiser and stronger than Marshall of that he was certain.
Chapter 4—Midnight Escape
As soon as Marshall and Aries retired to their bedchambers for the night, Lance had slept with one eye open and was alert, prepared to write his decree. As quietly as he could, he drew ink from the enchanted inkwell and began to write. The words formed themselves freely upon the papyrus and he left the pen to finish his writing for him. Maximus, who was hovering on the outside, looking through the window, waited for Lance to come. As quickly and silently as he could, Lance threw himself upon the back of his dragon and gave the magnificent creature a pat on the neck to elevate him into the starry stratosphere.
In the forest known as Elegance, where the Bohemians were planning their peaceful revolt, Lance met Lana once again. He joined the Bohemians in their quest to awaken the King from his delusions of grandeur. Marshall simply didn't understand that his thoughts of superiority were wrong, and needed to be shown the way. Such an "ideal" had been ingrained in the minds of the Enguarde family since the rule of King Zanthos. Zanthos was Marshall's great grandfather, and he had instructed Marshall while he was growing up in pomp and opulence.
Lance became familiar with the Worker Clan that was part of the Bohemian group. He met Hammer; his best friend Dirk, Hammer's brother Anvil, Torque, Blade, Ratchet, and the children Sprocket, Driver, and Bolt. The only person he was unsure about was Dirk, since Dirk seemed to have his own agenda. Supposedly, he supported the Bohemians, but his mind seemed to be elsewhere, as if he was longing for something better and more profitable. Lance would keep his eyes on Dirk because he felt some shiftiness about Dirk's character. As nice, kind, generous, helpful and dependable as Dirk was not at all what he seemed inwardly. There seemed to be a darkness gurgling within his soul, one that was eating him from the inside out…
To be continued…
In the second chapter of Vital Alliances, appropriately labeled Betrayal, Heartbreak and Lies, Hammer's best friend Dirk defies the Worker Clan and joins the Underground. Outraged, Hammer seeks comfort from Lance, wondering whether Dirk can be reached before the deception of the Underground taints his mind completely. Also, Delilah's parents discover the awful truth that Lance has joined the Bohemians, and to make matters worse, Lana has become his partner and they plan to one day wed. She is not heartbroken by this since she had no real romantic interest in the Prince to begin with. However, her parents, Rachel and Reginald are enraged with Lance's defiance and demand to have him found and forced to marry Delilah. Things could become rather hectic here.
By: Elizabeth Berndt
December 8, 2003