Chapter One

Throne of Blood

Legend tells of how many centuries ago, the world was on the verge of destruction.

It was said, that, when this time of blood shed grew, a great dragon descended from the sky, with a rider upon her back.

A man, with a gleaming sword, rode the beast, and entered the never ending war.

According to legend, the man used the powers of the dragon to heal hearts and stop the battles.

And to give everyone hope.

The man sacrificed his life, and during this time, killing and hatred was forgotten.

The world of Ageia mourned for the loss of its greatest hero, but no one more so than the dragon herself.

She sealed herself away in slumber, and has never truly been seen again.

They say in time of great chaos, the dragon will awaken,

and peace could reign once more.


All was chaos on the outside. Fire flared to life like a demon sent from Hell itself, and it consumed. All it could do was consume. Soldiers (and not Ephralm's own) surrounded the Castle in ugly black waves. They struck down those who opposed them, and their numbers were to great, even for the knights who would give up their lives to protect the royal family. People of the city went to fight as well, wielding farm tools and weapons, but they were no match. Much of the population hid inside their homes, to await when the battle would be over. Duke Ulric, cousin to the King, had betrayed them all. Anything to gain the throne.

A hand guided a girl through the street, to the one place they knew they would not be turned away. They dodged behind back allies, and the girl's face was wet with tears and blood. She wanted to turn back. How she wanted to turn back! But the hand was stern, and she knew better than to deny Nathanial.

"I'm going to protect you, Princess." were the words the knight had spoken without a problem, without hesitance.

The streets were dark, but loud. Small fires were scattered about, and they flickered hungrily in the dull glow from the moonlight. Princess Adaline shivered. Time was slow. Too slow. However, even eternity must come to a close. The hut, and their destination, looked peaceful, and it was hard to tell that outside, not even a mile away, there were bloody battles occurring. Adaline let out a heavy breath of relief. As of yet, the home was untouched.

However, it was not untouched by noise, and there could be yells heard from the inside.

"Father, let me go!" Adaline recognized the angry voice coming from the house, and her tears erupted once more, spilling from her dark eyes like liquid pearls. The hand on her back moved up to her shoulder, and gave it a reassuring squeeze.

"No, Resha, there are too many." was the harsh reply to the girl's pleading words.

"Do you doubt my abilities? You taught me yourself! You said I was formidable!"

"Silence, my daughter! You are a fool! It has nothing to do with doubt! You are outnumbered, and why should you think you should stand a chance when fully fledged knights are falling at the feet of the Nevaska Empire?"

There was a dull silence, and Nathanial's hand hesitated at the door. Adaline breathed in quickly, sharp, shaky breaths due to her crying. Nathanial never hesitated.

There was silence, and when Resha spoke again, her voice was youthful, finally representing her age, and she sounded on the verge of tears, "Ada's in there. Ada is in there. Do you want me to let her die?"

Adaline's heart ached for Resha. For her childhood friend. She squirmed from Nathanial's grip and pounded on the door. Silence reigned in the house once more, and slowly, so slowly, the door opened a feeble crack, revealing the eyes and nose of Resha's father, Maalik.

His voice was awed, "Princess!"

As the one word left his lips, Resha pushed her father aside, and Adaline collapsed into her friend's arms, a tearful mess. Resha bit her lip to keep from crying. She'd been so worried! The fact that Adaline was here now, and not killed, was a miracle alone.

"I'm so sorry," the younger girl whispered.

Maalik's voice was hard, "Come in."

Once the door was closed, Nathanial's words were enough for everyone to understand, "Duke Ulric."

There was no sound except for Adaline's soft sobbing and Resha's angry snarl. Ada had loved and trusted the Duke! There had been suspicious of him from some of the population and nobles, as he was next in line to the throne other than the direct monarchy, but Ada had always defended him.

"Traitor," Resha growled angrily, "I'll tear him limb from limb."

Adaline's sobs stopped short, and she clutched at her friend's arm desperately, "No, Resha! You can't!"

The angry glint in Resha's eyes receded to a dull throbbing anger, but the turquoise orbs softened considerably as she looked down at Ada, "You're escaping from here, right?"

Ada nodded hesitantly, and Resha could feel all eyes on her.

"I'm going with you."

There were no words of protest, they knew nothing could hold Resha back. In fact, Maalik wanted for his daughter to go, it wasn't safe here, not with all the fighting going on. It would take time for Ulric to dispose of all the King's faithful allies, and gain true control over Ephralm. But if all of Nevaska was at his side, there would soon be no one left willing to oppose him.

Nathanial gazed at the two girls. He knew one could not be at peace without the other. He watched as Maalik moved closer to him.

Lowering his voice, the older man spoke, "Please, she may be a burden, but take her from here. I already lost her mother, I don't think I could stand to lose her as well. As it is, she will rush into the fight if I take my eyes off of her for a moment." he tilted his head to Resha and Ada, "Besides, would you tear them apart?"

Nathanial's deep brown eyes were inscrutable, as he had always been the most serious person, and he did not bother to lower his voice, "I will take her with me if it is the wish of the Princess."

Ada looked into Resha's eyes, and Resha looked up at Nathanial. They were resolute and definite, they showed no signs of hesitation, "I think you know her answer."

- - - - -

A battle cry broke the sound of the forest as the petite Resha descended upon the ground. She landed in a feral crouch, and with a snarl, she spun wildly. The double-edged sword she held in her hand pierced the air, leaving an audible hum in its wake. But that's all the girl was fighting, air. In truth, she longed for a real opponent to test her skills. But she knew the less opponents her and her companion came across, the better.

There was a sound of tinkling laughter, "Resha, do you have to make so much noise while you fight? You'd be no good at sneak attacks!"

Resha turned to look at her friend, taking in the exotic features. Long black hair that spiraled around her in obsidian rose petals, settling flippantly so just at her waist, and piercing black eyes that ran in the royal family. The kind of black eyes that seemed like they could see right into your soul. She was a curvaceous eighteen-year-old as well, and her skin had a healthy tan and a natural glow. She was a beauty alright, and the cherished rose of her family. After all, Princesses should be beautiful. No matter what kind of commoners clothes she put herself into (a long white skirt to her knees with a plain black tunic), the air of dignity around her was inevitable.

Resha grinned wolfishly before answering, "Sneak attacks aren't my thing, Ada."

Princess Adaline snorted, "Of course, you usually rush into things with your blood boiling. A good way to get yourself killed."

For a moment, Resha's face, almost holding some kind of female charm sobered as she thought to herself, I'm yelling because I'm angry. And frustrated. And I don't know where to start. I don't know what to do. All I can do is protect you, and perhaps not even that.

Her fingers clenched the hilt of her sword, until her knuckles turned white. Her teeth were grinding together furiously. Ada noticed the change in the atmosphere, and stared at Resha curiously. Resha slowly let all of her muscles uncoil, and the Princess smiled at her. Resha grew angry from that one smile. She knew Ada was sad, but the girl acted as if nothing was wrong. Her parents and her brother had been killed, not to mention that Nathanial had been captured trying to protect them just as they had left the city's borders, in order for the two to escape. Ada had been depressed for days, but after she had cried herself dry, it seemed as if she'd put herself into some kind of denial.

As soon as the Princess looked away, however, Resha's face fell once more. Had it already been a little over a month since they'd escaped the nation of Ephralm, and all of those Nevaska soldiers which were hunting them? They had bounties on their heads, and Resha knew it. They'd boarded a boat and had just recently reached Malad. Between the other three nations, Ephralm, Nevaska, and Canatis, which all held bad blood for each other, Malad was neutral. Resha had thought it would be safest.

Ada's face fell slightly, "Resha, are you alright?"

Resha felt like screaming, she felt like ripping her gold and sunlight hair from her head. Was she alright? Was she alright? She sank her teeth into her lip, and felt the blood flow onto her tongue. It was like tasting steel.

After a long moment, where the only sound was the wind rustling the trees, Resha grunted out a barely audible answer, "Yeah." but then she brought a smile to her face, and jabbed her second finger into Ada's forehead gently, "Now stop that. You'll get frown lines."

Ada's eyes watered, "Resha..."

Resha sneered affectionately, "What is it, crybaby?"

The watering stopped instantly, and Ada's eyes flashed tauntingly, "What was that?"

Resha grinned, throwing in more insults, "Clumsy, air headed, foolish!"

Ada thrust her nose in the air, and it was the perfect picture of arrogance, and Resha knew who she was trying to imitate, "I don't want to be called foolish by you!"

"Hey," Resha replied seriously, "That's a mockery of my nose thrust."

Ada rolled her eyes, and for a moment, it felt like the two were back home, laughing and joking and teasing. Resha yearned for those days. It was at moments like these did Resha have hope. Perhaps her and Ada could do this. Perhaps they could steal back the throne. They were in Malad now, so maybe they could find people that would help! And Canatis disliked Nevaska more than they did Ephralm, maybe they could help too! If they could gather together all of those forces... - there was a rustle from behind.

"Look out!"

Resha threw herself and Ada, and their intertwined bodies struck the ground and rolled to the side. An arrow feathered in red dug itself into the dirt. Resha growled angrily and leaped to her feet, before taking a moment to glance at the arrow.

It was a warning, she thought to herself, That arrow isn't quite where Ada and I had been standing. Whoever these attackers are, they aren't going in for the kill. Or...not yet, anyway.

Standing over the Princess, Resha readied her sword. Her turquoise eyes narrowed, and all of her senses tingled with a rush of adrenaline. She was looking for any sign, any sign as to where the opponent could be. Her breathing was loud in the density of the forest, and she worked to make it quieter.

"We could play this game all day," she spoke, not daring to leave Ada's side, "But really, you're just wasting time. Come out and fight, you cowards! Hiding is for weaklings!"

There was a quick mumble of words in the bushes, and then a sound that Resha thought may have been a consent. In just another moment, a boy came rushing out at her barehanded. He seemed a little surprised to be fighting a girl, but Resha didn't exactly have time to register his expression. Her muscles burned for movement, her eyes flashed determination.

Resha brought her sword up like a metal snake, and the boy dropped to the ground, rolled, and leaped to his feet. He was good, really good. Resha had to admit this.

"Dodging doesn't get you anywhere!" Resha roared, and set herself at him with an onslaught of swings. His body seemed to be a blur, as he shifted left, right, left, right.... Resha was beginning to get dizzy. He came up and and his leg swung in a perfectly arched kick, aimed straight for her stomach. Resha dodged in the nick of time, skittering backwards before twirling around to face him again.

"You're stupid to think you can beat me without a weapon," she growled, but the boy only smiled impishly, and this just increased Resha's anger.

She whirled her body around in a crescent moon swing, her sword slicing at the air. She would try not to hurt him too badly, but she would definitely draw some blood. A fierce smile adorned her features, but then she gasped when her blow was halted. The boy's two hands had caught her sword, and blood seeped from his palms. He did not even seem to feel the pain. With a grunt, Resha felt her weapon ripped from her fingers, trembling in shock, and thrown far off to the left. The boy wrapped his fingers around her wrist, and his face was a blur of midnight hair and sea blue eyes.

"I win," he muttered with a grin, twisting Resha's arms behind her back. She struggled, but it was really no use, no matter how much she wanted to punch that cocky look off of his face. He was physically stronger than her. Not only that, he was a skilled fighter. It wasn't easy to dodge so many blows and then retaliate without a moments though. But Resha was internally smacking herself. To be beaten so easily!

"Ada, run!" Resha screeched, her choppy bangs shagging in her eyes, but the Princess was already being held by two other men.

Shit! Resha thought, glaring up at the sky. How could she have let this happen?