Disclaimer: Yes, I own all characters,the yet to be developed plot and...everything I have the papertrail to prove it. So try and steal it, I could use the cash XD----Ulti

Chapter One---Match Maker

It often happens, in the Edria system anyways, that marriages are ordained at birth. Mostly for some political or materialistic gain on the parents behalf. And it was this very tradition that doomed Jarek Cairbre from his first breath.

Of course, no one bothered to tell Jarek about any arranged marriage at all. So 20 short years after his parents, Emperor Gaius and the Lady Queen Fala, made a deal with the King of Indira, Jarek still had no knowledge of his future bride. Oh how he reveled in his uninhibited ignorance. How sweet life was when all you had to do was be handsome and charming and everything you ever wanted as handed to you. Fate, however, refused to leave Jarek up on his little cloud for very long. No, she decided the boy had to be grounded. Hard.

And here starts our story of a boy who knew nothing of responsibility and a girl who wanted nothing to do with tradition.

-Indiran Palace-

Cais had summoned his daughter. Rubbing his bearded chin thoughtfully, he wondered what his spirited daughter would say to him when he gave her the news of her upcoming marriage. She would be honored and joyous for sure; no Princess of Indira could hope for anything more than a lavish wedding to a handsome Prince, especially a Prince of Edria. Edrian's were profoundly rich, cultured and powerful. For centuries their army had stood second only to the warriors of the Airisee shook his head of such thoughts as a familiar figure entered the room.

"Ah, my darling daughter. I have excellent news for you." He smiled warmly at her, his soft green eyes twinkling merrily. Taking her hands, Cais looked to his beaming wife and then back to his lovely daughter.

"You are to be married!" The deep, merry laugh shook the stout man from head to foot. His daughter, however, was less than amused. Instead the girls' reaction was wholly unexpected.

She screamed.

-Edrian Palace-

Jarek crept quietly through the halls of the Palace to his room. He and Ilias had been out late, as usual, and he was quite ready for a good nights rest. Closing his chamber door behind him, Jarek was surprised to find his parents. Wide awake, looking at him expectantly. This was not going to be pretty, no siree.

"Jarek! Finally you arrive, we've been waiting for a quite a long while for we have such great news to tell you!" Gaius clapped his hands together in an almost sly fashion; a sure sign the old coot had something most unpleasant up his sleeve.

"And what might that be?"

"You're getting married!" Gaius announced, throwing his arms around his son, clapping him on the back in a congratulatory manner. Jarek stood there, somewhat dazed and very sure he was dreaming. Looking to his petite mother who sat on his bed, smiling widely just as his father, Jarek raised a brow in question. Surely they were not serious?

"Oh, it will be a marvelous wedding! The entire kingdoms will be invited. Imagine- an event to rival the weddings of both Althea and Halden combined!" His mother's expression turned dreamy and the sweetness of it made Jarek almost want to gag. So this nightmare was really happening and it seemed no one had the decency to tell Jarek what in the bloody stars was going on. He wanted answers! Who in Toshon's name had decided this?!

"Excuse me, I don't meant to sound ungrateful or anything, but when did this happen?"

Gaius turned from his conversation about wedding plans with his wife and looked at Jarek incredulously. The man had an irritating habit of assuming everyone knew everything already and therefore, should not ask questions.

"Why, when you were born of course. Weren't you paying attention in Edria History? They explain all this very thoroughly." Gaius, for once, was very right. The Instructors had covered every detail of Edria custom and history. In very explicit, mind numbingly boring detail. Jarek had not been listening, which would account for his total befuddlement in his current situation.

"…Alright. That covers when but what about to whom and why? More importantly, to who?!" Prideful to a fault and picky to boot, Jarek could not bear the idea of being forcibly married to some pretentious, overbearing, whiny little twit for the rest of his life. Oh the cruel torture his parent could be bestowing upon their only son.

"To the Princess of Indira. A lovely family." An offhanded comment such as that belonged in discussions about the weather, not about Jarek's future bride.

"I'm sure they're all just peachy but why am I marrying her? I don't even know her! This is insane. That tradition is centuries past its usefulness!" The boy was now very nearly pouting but since he was very much a man and men didn't pout, he was scowling instead.

"Quit your pouting boy, I'm sure she's lovely. And tradition is was Edria stands for so I'll have none of your protests or arguments. Now, we'll be traveling for your first engagement visit in two weeks. Be sure to pick out a nice gift won't you son? I'm sure that rascal Ilias can give you a hint or two." Gaius winked conspiratorially and escorted his wife from the room. Jarek watched them go in a sort of detached disbelief and sank to his extra plushy bed.

This was so not good.

The streets of Calidonia were far from crowded but the figures that crept along the dark streets were careful nonetheless. It was past Curfew and getting caught would lead to something most unpleasant. Something that Dagan and his sister Xander were not particularly keen on experiencing. Xander's amber eyes sparkled in the darkness, swirling with mischief and a hint of fear as they stalked their victim.

Dagan rolled his eyes at himself. He was so bored he was grossly exaggerating their little escapade. The man ahead of them was being stalked but they had no intention of killing him. Xander was a big softie at heart and Dagan had no interest in going to a Janath prison, thank you.

"Xan, how long are we gonna follow this guy?" He hissed in Fallon. Xander had first seen their 'target' three weeks ago in a bar she was by no means supposed to be in (Alder happened to like her feisty nature and let her sneak in whenever she pleased) and had be following him farther and father past city limits ever since. It was a dangerous game of cat and mouse she played by Dagan knew his sister was a gambling woman.

"As long as it takes. Da, I'm not going back this time." Xan had stopped to look at her brother, reinforcing her statement with the absolute determination in her orbs. He sighed.

"I knew that was coming. How do you even know this guy won't turn you in? The Guards aren't exactly pro-life extension you know." Dagan allowed himself a rather smug smile as Xander cursed. He had to be right all the time.

"It doesn't matter. He won't turn us in. You can turn back if you're scared Da." Little wench pulled a very low blow. One she knew Dagan wouldn't ignore. Besides, she was his baby-sister and there was no way he was letting her have an adventure on her own.

"Oh hush you little sporn." He growled. Xander snickered a bit and proceeded in keeping their mystery man within eyesight. Excellent eyesight, mind you, given their Estinorian heritage.

The night wore on in a tense, excited manner as the pair slowly trailed the mysterious man through Calidonia to the one road that led back into Edria; namely the road that led to the Edrian Palace. Maybe he was lost. Yes, that must be it because Dagan knew he wasn't following his idiot sister into the Edrian castle on her whim that this man wouldn't turn them over the moment he figured out they'd been stalking him for weeks.

"Xan this is a bad idea!" He made a grab for her arm but she yanked it roughly away, the pale shimmer of gold to her skin intensifying with her excitement and fear. This could be the last night either of them saw and the notion thrilled her as much as it terrified her.

"This is a great idea. You know I'm always right when I get that feeling." Flashing her best smile at her older brother, Xander turned back around only to find she'd lost sight of their stalkee.

"Oh, now you tell me you've got a feeling. Ah, look you lost him, let's go home while we still can!" Dagan turned around only to find himself face to face with the very man they had been tailing. Charcoal orbs blazed with irritation and maybe even a hint of amusement. Probably because he was going to tear them both up in to tiny little pieces.

"What are you doing here girl?" The man asked softly, his voice little more than a growl as Xander stepped forward. Dagan briefly wondered if he had a chance to run while the man was distracted by Xander.

" I happen to like late night strolls." The words slipped past her lips with nonchalance, as if she weren't in very real danger at the moment.

" For three weeks?" A brow was raised and a smirk hinted at the corners of the man's lips as Xander, who was probably blushing like crazy, struggled to say something snippy back.

" …Ok, ok you caught us. So now what?"

"Us? What do you mean us? He caught you pal." Dagan muttered to his shorter sibling before she elbowed him in the ribs. Dagan swore and refrained from further commenting on the situation though he longed to do so and let the little imp know she'd finally gotten them killed.

" Well, for starter's you can tell me why before I turn you over to the Guards." The man folded his arms in such a way that suggested he would not be letting them get away with an explanation. Dagan sighed. This was going to be interesting and most likely painful later on.

" I saw you at Egan's." Xander replied simply, leaving out the juicy details of having tripped all over herself when she laid eyes on the man.

" So you decided to stalk me? I don't buy it." Obviously not big on faith, this man.

"I'm telling you the truth you big oaf. I got this feeling, like we were supposed to meet. I had to find out more about you." Xander's amber gaze was aimed fixedly at the ground.

"That still doesn't explain why you had to stalk me instead of talking to me."

"So maybe I wasn't supposed to be at Egan's." A look was granted Xander at this little confession, one that demanded she tell the whole truth.

"Alright, alright. I wasn't supposed to be out at all. You happy? Yeesh."

"And who's your accomplice? Should I be flattered or worried that I've attained two stalkers on each gender?" He laughed a little then and his posture relaxed. Dagan allowed himself a small sigh of relief. It didn't seem as though he wanted to get them in trouble. Not yet anyways.

"This is Dagan, my brother."

The two men eyed each other a moment and shook hands, each deciding the other was all right for the moment. Xander grinned, no doubt happy with herself for having finally met this strange man. The one that knew he was being stalked and let it continue. Weirdo.

"And who are you? I have a right to know the name of the woman whose going to prison for me." A wink was tossed the gaping Xander before she narrowed her eyes and muttered her reply.

"My name is Xander."

"Isn't that a boys name?"

"Yea but our mom thought she was having two boys." Dagan explained, snickering. According to their parents, their mom had cried for two hours when the nurse handed her the little pink bundle.

"Oh, I see…well now. We've got quite the situation here. I can turn you both in and let you rot in jail or I can…let you rot in jail. Which shall it be?"

"Why does jail need to be an option? Can't with just come with you Mr.…um…" Xander bit her lip as she realized the man had never given his name. He sighed and rolled his gray eyes, extending his hand to his would be stalker.

"Ilias. I suppose you could come with me…" Rubbing his chin, Ilias thought for several long moments before a plausible idea struck him.

"Alright, you can come with me."

Dagan didn't like the glint in Ilias's eyes nor the smirk on his lips while Xander nearly squealed with delight, oblivious to the implications.

"One these conditions. You do exactly as I say. You don't question me and you do what your told." Ilias fixed them both with a lethal glare, promising pain if they failed in any regard. Before Dagan couldn't even think of all the reasons NOT to be agreeing to this, Xander piped up with an answer Dagan wanted to strangle her for.

"Of course, no problem!" Delight was plain in her fiery eyes and as much as Dagan liked seeing his sister happy, she was insane.

"Xan, you do realize you just signed our lives over to Mr. Tall Dark and Scary, right?"

"Nonsense, Da. I have a feeling." She waved a hand dismissively, as if that answered everything. Dagan rolled his eyes and muttered.

"She's got a feeling. Great. Just great, she's got a freaking feeling." This was not good.

An: reviews and cookies welcome!