Onyx Dreams Ch. 25bykitazkitten©
Smegger_29 and myself (Kita) would like to thank all our readers who have stood by us and kept up with this fantastic adventure. If you enjoy this fantasy, please check out our other effort, "Love's Curse," written under our combined name of kitancyrus.
Chapter 25: A Challenge
Kennice stared in the mirror. The face staring back at her didn't look familiar. Her mother and the local women had gone through great lengths to make her radiant. The makeup was artfully applied and accentuated her long lashes and high cheekbones. But it didn't feel natural. It felt fake. Coming home had been a mixed blessing. Agreeing to this marriage was the dutiful thing to do but her heart was screaming denial. She thought she was over Cyrus but that too was a lie, like so many other things in her life. She had always taken pride in being honest but of late she had fallen short. Maybe Cyrus was right. She was becoming corrupted. The knock at the door brought her out of her reverie. It swung open to reveal her husband-to-be, Rhys.
His face was plastered with a kind smile that seemed genuine, although on the inside he could taste the bile at having to treat her like an equal and not as the slave she should be. "Ah, Kennice, my love, you look so very beautiful. If I could, I would sweep you up in my arms right now and show you just how much your beauty pleases me." His slender frame did not detract from the elegant regal robes of the high priest, his self-prophesied destiny almost at fruition.
She turned to him very uncertain and nervous about the nuptials. "None of that before the wedding. Don't want to upset High Priestess Erykia." She ran her hands along the light blue silken skirt. Her wedding dress was made of two parts. The top was designed in the traditional corset style, with silken ties laced in the back. The off-white color complemented the blue of her ankle-length skirt. The gown's train was a mixture of both shades and decorated with tiny flowers around the edges. She would have said more but she was interrupted by a small yelp. She spotted one of the local women in the doorway. She frowned not understanding horrified look on the woman's face. "Myra what is it?"
"He should not be here!" the elder woman shook her finger at Rhys. "You are breaking tradition. You will curse your wedding by looking at her before the ceremony!"
Rhys glared venomously for a moment before he caught himself and corrected it, covering himself with a chuckle. "Now. Now my dear, there is no need to worry. This is a wedding that will eclipse all weddings. There is no need for tradition. We will have the wedding as we please."
Myra snorted in disgusted. Dismissing Rhys's presence from her mind she focused her attention on Kennice. "My lady. We must finish your hair." She walked by him, ignoring the upstart. He had bad blood that one did. "And my lord, Sir Anthony and Lady Erykia are searching for you. The last time I saw them they were in courtyard making final checks on everything."
Rhys closed his eyes and sighed. "Every minute she requires my presence. Can she do nothing by herself? I don't think my approval is needed for what bunting should be put up around the monastery." He groaned and then left without saying another word.
Kennice giggled but stopped when she saw Myra's speculative look. "What is?"
"Your wedding is going to come to a bad end. The groom is not supposed to see his bride. Especially the pair of you. He is breaking tradition, something that should never be done lightly. You will rue his brash actions."
She gasped as she felt a shift in the air. With Myra's words a sense of foreboding filled her. She closed her eyes and took a calming breath. "Myra, please, can we finish my hair?"
Myra continued muttering as she took a handful of Kennice's long tresses and began braiding them into an intricate series of braids gathered up in a twist and pinned into place. "You look beautiful milady."
"Thank you." She gazed at her reflection one final time and stood. It was time to get married. Myra gathered up the train of into her hands and Kennice straightened as she walked out the door and toward her new life.
* * *
Rhys strode through the halls quickly, eager to get the marriage done so that he could exert his power over his bride. Once that was done he could work on getting rid of that old battle-axe of a woman, Erykia. His steps slowed as he neared the courtyard, letting calm wash over him masking his true intentions. "High Priestess?"
Erykia and Anthony were deep in conversation when Rhys arrived. Smiling benignly she looked him over with approval. His tall form, charisma and dimpled smile had helped him win followers. She of course knew his ruthlessness was one like her own. She had trained him well. He would continue to dance to her tune. She knew he fancied himself as the one who would rule the dragons and it was something she encouraged. In due time Cyrus would get rid of him. "Rhys, dear. We want you to let the guests in. The ceremony will begin in fifteen minutes."
Rhys forced back his anger. That was a servant's job, why was she having him do it? A long slow breath escaped his lips before he nodded, once again in control. "Of course, High Priestess. I hope all is to your satisfaction." Turning abruptly on his heel he left the courtyard behind to open the doors. "My lords and ladies, honored guests and noble druids. The ceremony will begin in fifteen minutes, you may now enter." He stood aside as the guests began to flow onto the walkways and to their seats. Everyone had been invited, even the nobles of the dragon riders, soldiers whose battle experience could be seen on their flesh and that of their mounts.
Anthony looked at Erykia. "I can't believe this day has arrived. It's taken six years but now we will continue tradition and the power will remain unbroken."
Erykia smiled. Oh yes the power. That was what she craved most and it would soon be in her grasp.
* * *
Katherine stretched slowly, her eyes roaming over the chiseled muscles of Cyrus's body. His dark brown hair was longer than when she had first met him. But she liked that in her men. She trailed her fingers down his spine. "My King, you must get up. The council will be convening to discuss our first strike against the dragon king."
He stirred slightly in his sleep, shifting away from her hands at first, attempting to hold onto the sleep that his mind was being dragged from. A soft, almost inaudible murmur was heard while he nuzzled the pillow to retain his comfort zone.
"My lord, please." Katherine gently nudged him. He needed to get up. He couldn't be late with his meeting with his army.
A low growl came from his lips as his pleasant dreams were interrupted. He blinked, trying to work out where he was and why. Gradually he turned and smiled, looking at Katherine before gently pressing his lips to hers in a sensual kiss. "Mm. Good morning my Queen."
She grinned. "Good morning to you as well. You must get dressed. We have thirty minutes before your meeting. That gives you enough time for a shower and to dress." She slid from the sheets and made her way over to a chest. She got out clothes for him and her. "I'll see you in the shower." She sashayed out of the room, a teasing smile beckoning him to follow.
He raised an eyebrow as he watched her move feeling his arousal rising. Quickly he left the bed moving silently across the room and entering the spacious, luxury bathroom.
The water was running and steam was already forming. Katherine's low humming filled the air.
His grin widened as he made his way through the steam, his erect shaft a divining rod guiding him to the curvy form of his Queen.
Katherine heard him coming but continued humming as she washed her hair. Her job was to keep him occupied by whatever means necessary. He was a pawn in her mother's game. He just didn't know it yet.
Drawing close to her, he purred in appreciation, his hands reaching her exquisite form, caressing her soft slopes. He stepped close to her kissing her neck. "Did you sleep well?"
"Yes. You are the best lover I've ever had the pleasure of bedding. Where did you learn your skills?"
"From various sources, monks are never ones to be underestimated." He chuckled, pressing his tip against her opening, urging her to please him once more. "Perhaps you would like a second round?"
"So tempting, my king, but alas I must decline. You have enough time to shower, dress and then run to the meeting place."
"Did you remember to factor in that I can do all of those things in the blink of an eye? Two blinks if I take my time?" His hands slid from her buttocks, around and across her hips, caressing the toned muscles of her abdomen, before cupping her voluptuous breasts, squeezing them in his firm grasp.
"Yes, you can. But why waste a display of your powers when it is easier to do what you need to do without them?"
His fingers slid to her nipples, pinching the buds between his tips as he moved her towards the wall, his voice filling with lust. "Because it means I get to take another run at this fabulous body of yours my dear. You drive me wild with desire."
Katherine hid a frown. She knew he could do as he claimed but they didn't have time for this. Everything was on a set schedule and she was not about to let his lust ruin it. "My king, no one doubts your prowess but there are some in your army who do not think you have what it takes to lead. You need to make a statement by being on time and being in control at the meeting."
His grip on her breasts tightened a moment, a silent warning. "And so I will be Katherine. I am never more in control than when my wishes have been fulfilled, and right now, your King wishes you to please him."
Katherine turned to him her eyes glowing. "You really don't want to try to rage at me, Cyrus. You are not the only one with abilities."
The air around him hummed a dangerous tone, his muscles tensing in readiness. "No, but I am the one with the incredibly large black dragon waiting just outside. One word from me and you won't make it out of here alive."
Katherine laughed in his face. "You only have one dragon. And you have yet to ride her. The others waiting to take your place are full riders and have abilities as well. Do you think they will follow you if you murder a fellow rider? Just because your advances were declined by your devoted follower doing her best to help impress on you the importance of this meeting."
In a heartbeat his hand was around her throat, easily lifting her slim frame off the floor and driving her into the wall hard enough to crack the tiles. "I need not ride Kaie to know that I will rule. She controls the dragons and I control her. You are merely a pawn in this little game. A toy to be used by me at my beck and call. Unlike you, I have seen inside every space in Kaie's mind. I know everything that she has planned since before I was born."
Katherine didn't struggle. Instead she looked down at him and smiled. She simply placed a hand on each of his wrists. "I told you," she whispered right before her hands glowed red and the smell of burning flesh filled the air.
He flinched as pain filled his mind and he was forced to drop her, swiftly backhanding her in anger. "How DARE you assault your king in such a manner! You are fortunate that last night happened, or I would kill you myself right now. Instead, I will remove you as queen until I feel that you have redeemed yourself." He spun on his heel, blurring as he used his super speed to shower in seconds. He blew by Katherine and went into the chamber, dressing without another word.
She tasted blood and her vision swam for a moment. He could drop her if he wished but his puppet strings were still being held. And like all men he would break before she would. It would be him who would come crawling back. There were not many female riders who had turned traitor. There were not too many female riders for that matter at all. No one was really sure why it was that way it just was. Let him think he was in control. She would be there when the truth was revealed and would delight in the pain it would bring him. She stopped the water, dried off, dressed and reentered the bedroom. Silently she left the room, not bothering to speak to Cyrus. She could feel Julian's concern hammering at her mind. Reassuring him that she was fine she made sure he passed on to the correct set of riders about what Cyrus had just done.
Cyrus caught up with her, pushing her against the rock wall. Malice was palpable in his tone. "You forget Katherine, you only made it to my chambers by looking like another." He let the icy blow sink in before breezing past her with a blank expression.
She gasped and the heat rushed to her face. Then the anger rose. How dare he compare her to Kennice who was nothing more than a pathetic wimp? He would pay for that. She hurried after him making it in time but just barely. She sat, her expression one of polite interest as Daymron, the oldest most experienced rider of the army, walked in.
Daymron bowed to Cyrus. "My King, welcome." He sat to the right of the platform watching Cyrus's every move. His determination of Cyrus's worth could sway the others.
Cyrus glared at the rider silently calling to Kaie to establish where it was that she had slithered. "Good morning." He moved past Daymron onto the main platform to address the assembled dragons and riders.
Cyrus closed his eyes a moment, the air humming around him as he amplified his voice so all could hear. "Brethren before this meeting starts I will make one thing CRYSTAL clear." He cast his eyes around the room, catching any looks that would meet his. "If words comes to my ears of ANY treachery against me among these ranks, then I swear to the gods I will kill you myself." His footsteps echoed in the murmurs erupting around the cavern, letting them continue for a moment before he went on. "Treachery is not welcome here. For that is the thinking of those who would exile us from this world. That is the thinking of the druids and riders who think that we are not worthy enough to live." He paused again, his heart thumping in his chest. "That, is the thinking of whores like her..." He turned pointing at Katherine, "Whores who act in deceit so they may enter your bed then betray you when you wish for seconds. Whores who think they can pull your strings by controlling your innermost instincts." He turned back to the assembled riders. "Are you a cheap, gold digging wench like this? Or are you a soldier of the dark, ready to kill anyone who stands in your way!"
Katherine said nothing her face not revealing her thoughts. She was familiar with name-calling. It was disappointing that Cyrus was pathetic enough to employ such a tactic in an attempt to shame her and win favor. She hid her satisfaction when the cheers were not as energetic as before. He was alienating some already. She would stand back and watch him self-destruct.
His eyes narrowed as he listened to the level of noise, "As for those who attempt to betray me as this pathetic whore has done, this will be your fate." He opened his mouth, emitting an air shuddering sonic blast that lifted her off her feet and slammed her back against the wall, hard enough to crack more than a few ribs and inflict a concussion. "Now tell me brothers, are you ready to purge this land of people who think like her? Who seek only to control us and use us as slaves?"
The silence was deafening and then the riders began chanting his name. All avoided looking at Katherine who was slowly picking herself up.
He thrust his arm into the air and was rewarded with a much louder cheer than before, "Now my brothers, let us take to the skies and eliminate this disease from our lands forever!"
"My King! My King! Wait!" a voice cried.
He turned towards the voice, eyes centering upon the person interrupting his rhythm. As messenger drew closer he saw that it was a naïve-looking young man. The male must be one of the runners Kaie told him about. He knew from experience that ignoring potential intelligence was a mistake only fools made. "Speak up rider, what news do you bring?"
"My king," the young man gasped as he tried to catch his breath. "The news has just reached the outer lying villages that High Priest Rhys is to wed future High Priestess Kennice Davenport this afternoon! All dignitaries and persons of importance are gathering there for the ceremony!"
Furious, Cyrus's skin turned red with the rage boiling up within him, the air buzzing before dying down. A smile of utter malice crossed his face as he spoke. "Well, well, looks like every cloud has a silver lining. My brothers, it seems the riders are gathered in one place along with the dignitaries of the land. We can take every single one of them down in one devastating move. Mount your dragons! We ride now to glory and to victory!"
"To victory!" the call was taken up as riders ran to their dragons and mounted. The dragons bugled their acceptance of the order and took to the air.
Kaie landed near Cyrus and Julian landed a few feet away from them.
Cyrus mounted Kaie with ease, sitting atop her, power humming around him. He spotted Katherine giving her a scathing look. "If you ever try to control me like you have this day I will hang your head above my door and lay Julian's hide upon my floor. I trust I have made myself PERFECTLY clear." He didn't wait for an answer, urging Kaie into flight immediately joining his brethren in the skies.
Julian gently nudged Katherine who gingerly moved toward him with some assistance from the messenger, climbed up and seated herself. She didn't look at Cyrus as she and Julian joined the rest of the riders in the air. Yes he had made things clear and earned himself an enemy. Once she reported everything to her mother, the next phase of the plan would be put into action. Cyrus was going to learn the true meaning of control. She grinned, despite her injuries. She just had to be patient. All good things come to those who wait.
* * *
The guests were finally seated and the official who performing the ceremony looked at Anthony who nodded. The official's gaze then traveled to Rhys.
Rhys took one last look around the hall to make sure everything was as Erykia had specified, not that he cared; her tantrums were merely an inconvenience. Once he was married he would have her involved in an accident. She obviously couldn't foresee the future as she often boasted. If that was true he would be dead already. His eyes flicked back to the official and he nodded curtly.
The official waved his hand and suddenly the air above them was filled with dragons from each clan. The sun glinted off the hides of the onyx, emerald, sapphire, ruby, diamond, and amethyst dragons giving the guests the appearance of a rainbow.
From the air Hayden looked down at the assembled but he was not interested in any of them. His rider would be appearing shortly. She was the only one he cared about.
Rhys glanced upwards towards the sky, looking over the vast numbers of dragons. Useless beasts. They did nothing to preserve the laws of his future land. They required the druids to cross into this plane, so why were they not serving the ones with the power instead of choosing stupid peasants like that ogre Cyrus?
Hayden bulged and the dragons landed on the hillside that overlooked the outer courtyard. The guests murmured appreciatively and then the music began to play.
Rhys turned his gaze from the glittering dragons to the aisle, awaiting the arrival of his bride-to-be. His time was near. In a few more minutes he would be high priest. Then he could exert his iron grip and be done with that fool Erykia and show Kennice her rightful place at his feet.
First the flower maidens appeared, four in all. Each carried a different flower. Red rystaff for passion, yellow nuyan for trust, blue zathaff for eternity and green ayandil for everlasting love. Once the flowers had been strewn along the path in overlapping patterns, the cadence of the music changed to a soft lilting melody.