Finally, this day has come. I watch my distant kin and other members of our house fight for the right to become the throne’s next successor. The air is thick with anxiety, fear, desperation, hope, and many other emotions that make me sick. We are Dark Elves, after all, take your fate and deal with it.
I am the only male amongst the sea of our kingdom’s finest females, but I am right where I belong. Though the other males are traditional and will be the servants and slaves of our house, I am destined for a higher purpose. Hand-picked by my King and great-great-grandfather, Raahil the Bold.
My King knows that I have the blood of the dragon, like him. The mixing of Dark Elf and Talon Blood seems to be unfavorable for the offspring to obtain the dragon abilities that the Talons were known for. My cousins James and Solaria are proof that it still happens.
I watch the fight between one of the lower-class females and my great aunt. The warrior skillfully wields her sword and shield while making a fool of my aunt. Her movements are masterful as she keeps just outside of my aunt’s reach and punishes her whenever she makes a mistake. To those with an untrained eye, it would appear that they are evenly matched, but I could see that she was simply toying with my aunt.
From the way she rolls off her attacks to the way, she leads my aunt to make a mistake, the pure joyful smile she’s wearing during the match shows that this is nothing but fun for her.
Did she just give me an eye?
Whilst amid battle, it would seem as though the lower-class warrior winked at me. Could be.
I have the attention of nearly every woman within the kingdom. Be it the warrior class women that want to kill me or the new wave of domesticated women taken to the surface lifestyle that want to bed me for being a wealthy noble.
The moment passes, and her gaze goes back to the fight, if it can be called as such. She has a new look now, this one looks more along the lines of boredom. My aunt foolishly believes she has an opening. She goes in for the attack, and shock settles in her eyes when the warrior moves with stunning quickness and strikes her in the knee. My aunt grunts in pain then drop to a kneel. The warrior grips my aunt by her hair and pulls her head back. With the kind of effort that says – well, this was a waste of time – she slits her throat and casts her body aside.
Before she the officials even call her the victor, she is making her way over to me with a slow and deliberate walk. It is only now that I really take the time to take in her appearance.
Her cobalt skin is clear and pure. I can tell that she takes care of her body. Her hair is a wine purple, and even though most warriors keep their hair short, she is bold enough to have it long. She keeps it tied up during the fights, but there is no denying that her hair is at least to the middle of her back once she lets it down. She has a slender face, soft for a fighter such as herself, but that’s where her gentleness stops. The rest of her body is hardened and thick. Where other women try to be slender, she is athletic with a little more weight. I can tell even through her armor that there was a sensual shape to her hips, thighs, and chest area.
It will be a shame for her to die here. More than likely, it will have to be by my hands. She makes her way to me.
“How honored am I to be in the presence of the mighty Arthur Vrammagon? Tell me, my dear Prince, am I not entertaining enough for you?” She sarcastically mocks the old dialect. She is clearly a surfacer. Though we speak the same tongue, over the years, our dialects have made an apparent divide between noble and surfacer.
I don’t even look her way. I continue to look towards the grand court. Waiting for the makeshift ring to be cleared.
“The strong silent type I see, well, try not to die before I have my chance at you,” she says and rubs her hand down my face. I turn my head to face her and see the sharp ruby red eyes that she has, not to mention those full lips into a sexy smile. For the cut-throat killer that she is, she has a kind of gentle beauty to her. She is not a part of our ruling class, and more than likely have been influenced by the surfacers. Pity.
She brings her blade to my throat. Even though I’ve seen its sharpness at work, it’s sharpness is near wasted on me, but her threat is not.
“You see, my dear Prince, I went through an awful lot of trouble to go out and have a gift made just for you. It would be a shame if I had to use it on someone else because you decide to let a girl down.” Her words are seductive as if she is flirting with me and the idea of killing me at the same time. “Maybe I should just kill you now and… fuck!” With a quick turn of my shoulders and placement of my foot, I trip her and continue to look on as the slaves gather the body of my fallen aunt and clean the blood from the granite floor.
The warrior springs up and crouches, ready to pounce on me in retaliation, but stops dead in her tracks when the loud cracking of lighting can be heard. Her head swivels and looks back at the King with summoned lightning in his hand as a warning. Easing up on her posture and giving me an evil eye, she backs away and places her sword back at her side. I watch her eyes go back to the King; I follow and see the Queen getting out of her seat to sit in the lap of the King. She places his warning hand to her waist and begins to kiss him to keep his attention on her.
With the King distracted and the warrior at bay the battles continue. The officials call me up to fight the next contestant. I step forward, wearing only my Muay Thai shorts with my hands and feet tapped. I do not wear my headband or sash as I have not earned the right to wear them outside of my Orcish teacher’s dojo.
I make my way to the middle of the court, past the columns and crowds of nobles here. Dressed in their best suits, they do their best to show their class while watching death matches for power. They pretend to hold the same tenacity as the Drow have always had, but even they have gone soft over the years.
I wait for my opponent to reach my opposite. She finally gets there and is gripping the holster of her six-shooter. She plans to make this a quick match. It will be the last mistake that she makes. If none of the females of the noble class have taken me seriously until this point, this will change their minds.
Before the official can clear the fighting area, she reaches for her revolver. I channel the Qi within me and dash for her. To her credit, she’s a swift shoot. She is able to get two shots on me, but no more. After her second shot, my elbow crushes her skull, and she collapses at my feet. I look down at the spot on my chest that took her bullets. Not even a scratch.
I walk back to my spot on the sidelines and wait to be called for the next fight. After a few moments of bewilderment, the male slaves clean my opponent from the arena. One looks up at me in amazement, but once I catch his stare, he lowers his eyes and gets back to work. It sickens me the way men of our race are so frail.
Once the court is ready, they call forward the next two fighters. The officials again call out the next two combatants and still no reply. Before they call a third time, they simply secure their weapon and walk away from the court. The officials call out the next group, and the same happens. After a third try, the warrior from earlier steps forward.
“Are you all going to back away?” Her voice is loud and commanding. The other women grimace towards her but remain silent. “If so, I can go ahead and challenge him,” she says, pointing at me. Not really a reason to. I am the only ‘him.’
All the other women seem to back up and let her have her way.
“Well then, don’t I feel like such a lucky girl,” She says and makes her way to the middle of the arena and waits for me. I reach her opposite and stare her down. That looks she gives me shows that she’s ready. Her smile is radiant as if I’m taking her out on a fancy night out. I guess with her taste in entertainment, it was all the same.
“Boy, bring me my spear,” She calls out to one of the slaves. He grabs the spear and runs to place it in her hand. His look of – did I do good?- is really annoying me.
It looks as if she’s taken the stance of Angel’s heavy-armed fighters. The Legionary. Is this possible? Where would she learn such a skill? I’m sure it’s just a ruse. But there is no denying that this is her real stance.
She looks back at me once the whelp runs off after completing her task. She gives me a wink and says.
“I’m sure we don’t need the official do we hun?”
“I’m sure we will manage just fine without them,” I return and wave off the official who was about to start the fight, but after seeing my gesture, just goes back to the crowd.
I fix my gaze back to the Warrior, and she is starting to take slow steps towards me. I start a light jog. She begins to glow red with an aura of power that is common in fighters, this is going to be a good fight. I channel my Qi and leap in with a flying knee.
Unlike my last opponent, she can keep up with me and move clear out of the way. She returns with a shield bash that I just swat away but I just nearly dodge the spear thrust that follows. I do a low block with my leg to block it but feel a slight sting when she headbutts me in the chest. It’s impressive that she is actually able to hit me hard enough that I can feel it.
Quickly retaliating, I start with a flurry of attacks that she either shields or dodge. She wields that spear with such a masterful hand that even I am finding it hard to manage. Well almost. I make a few more attacks to really watch her movements, and I see a weakness. She hasn’t quite mastered the transition from offense to defense like the more veterans of that style has, but she is surely taught well.
I throw an elbow which she blocks, then expels Qi into a stomp that throws her off balance long enough for me to catch her with an attack on the side of her face. The hit is hard enough to make her stumble, which is all I need. Closeting the distance quickly, I clasp my hands behind her neck and pull her to me as I knee hard to her gut.
She lets out a little of a shrill. I go for another when I feel an intense burst of force hit me in the chest and knock me back.
I regain my balance and see that the shrill was actually a shout aimed at my chest to push me back.
I curl my lips into a smile. She dashes for me shield up, and spear pulled back ready to strike in perfect form, but I’ve had enough of this. I need to put her down before she pulls off a trick that is too much for me to handle.
I switch to my King’s chosen monk stance of Luohan’s fist, an ancient monk style handed down by the strongest of the Orcs. She attacks me. I counter with a strike that disarms her, leaving her spear in the ground. Making it possible for me to take her hand, toss her to the ground, and use momentum to fall into a mount. Before she can call her power to do another shout, I charge my fist with the lightning of my dragon’s blood and go for the killing blow.
“Enough!” The King says, his voice a roar that commands all to be still. My attack stops near inches away from the warrior’s face. I grab her throat with my free hand. I do not trust her to not strike me with a shout while I turn my head to my King. “Release her, Arthur. She will not die this day.”
“Of course, my King,” I say and look back at the warrior who’s a ball of complicated emotions herself. I release my grip and back off of her slowly, and it seems as though she is just as slow to recover. Once she makes it to her feet, she goes to attack me.
“I said enough, Sophia!” the King roars once more, and sparks fly from his eyes. The warrior stops dead in her tracks and backs away. “Do not make me into a liar,” the King says, giving her a look. She snaps into place and keeps her distance from me, then turns her face to the King.
“Now that I have your proper attention,” he says, hitting the kill switch on his powers. He rises from his throne and descends to our platform, and the Queen follows.
“You both have come here today in hopes of becoming the next leader of our house.” The King starts up, and his regal voice rings out. He maneuvers around the court with elegance while his voice is amazingly commanding for someone who spent the first years of his life as a servant in a Talon house. “But unbeknown to you, the Queen and I have already selected you well before this day.” The King and Queen are at the far end of the platform and talking to the warrior and me… Sophia, why does it seem like he’s starting a speech for everyone else.
“Arthur Vrammagon, son of Vincent Vrammagon. Since the day of your birth, I have taken a particular interest in you. Keeping you close to me to groom you for this day. Sending you to Wangguo to train with the Orcs to follow in my discipline. Taking you with me on missions to ensure you are not only battle-ready but also capable of leading the people and our military.
“Being my successor will not be an easy road. As the largest house in all of the Underdark, we are the biggest target from attacks from the other houses. The reign of your Queen and I have been more successful than any Matriarch or Patriarch in Dark Elf history. And we fully expect you to exceed us in your reign.
“It is with great honor and pride that I, King Raahil Vrammagon the Bold, do name you the rightful successor of the crown and officially add the title Prince to your name. Prince Arthur Vrammagon, turn and face your people. People of House Vrammagon, all hail your new Prince.”
“All Hail, Prince Arthur!!!” The crowd shouts.
“And Sophia Burke, daughter of Sir Elias Burke, I have carefully watched you as you’ve grown into a fine warrior and Drow…” I hear the Queen startup. What is going on?
“Born of an honorable Drow knight and a revered war hero of three wars, you have taken to his valor clearly. Born of a lower house, you have kept to the values of the noble house and rose through the ranks. Though your father fought hard to buy his freedom from my sister, the former leader of our house, you have pledged your life to serve as your father did before you.
But unlike your father, you have the mind of a scholar as well. Graduating head of your class and starting your module in biochemistry and medicine a year earlier than expected. Not only have you started university ahead of schedule, but you are well versed in several languages, active in many clubs, and a talented musician.
Surely you will have the heart of the people as you move forward as my successor.” I hear the Queen say but can’t quite make sense of the words. The only way for her to be her successor is if I am dead or… No, just no.
“It is with great honor and pride that I, Queen Elaine Vrammagon, do name you the rightful successor of the crown and officially add the title Princess to your name. Princess Sofia Burke, turn and face your people. People of House Vrammagon, all hail your new Princess.”
“All hail, Princess Sofia!!!” The maddening screams drive into my skull once the realization of the cruelty of my King and Queen is becoming more apparent as they speak.
“Good people of house Vrammagon, as you have gathered here today, we would like you to bear witness to the great future of our house. You have gained a glimpse into the power of the youth of our nation, and two people that the Queen and I have chosen to take our place. I’m sure you will agree, that with these two as the next rulers of our great house, none in all the world will be able to stop House Vrammagon.
“So it is with great pleasure that I will use the power given to me as the rightful King of House Vrammagon to join our two successors together on this day. Without any further delay. I do decree that on this day, the twelfth day of the third month, I join Prince Arthur Vrammagon and Princess Sophia Burke as husband and wife. At this time, you may kiss your bride and join our houses.”
I turn to face the warrior… Sophia… my wife? What in all the realms is this? When I woke this morning, I was a single monk, set on killing all in my way to becoming the successor. At no point in that did I expect to marry today. Let alone it being someone that I was planning to kill not more than ten minutes ago. I look up and see that she is walking to me, and within those eyes of hers are the same kind of emotions running rampant.
When she is within reach of me, I grab her by the throat and pull her into a kiss. The King and Queen are not known for their patience.
When her lips left mine, I could hear her softly say
“If I find out you had anything to do with this. I will kill you.”
“This cruelty stings us both. And do be careful with your threats Princess, I doubt you will be any more successful the next time you try to kill me than you were this time.” I say and tighten my grip on her throat.
“If you believe that your little display of power is a threat, I assure you, you have much to learn about me, my Prince.” Her lips turn into a slight smile that is both threatening and flirtation all in one. Not sure how she’s so good at that.
“Mabrouk el khotoba. O’bal ma ashel weladak,” the King says in the language of the Talons. He breaks out into that abundant regal laughter of his. Amusing old man. He wishes me a happy engagement and that I have children soon.
“La fursa,” Sophia says just loud enough for me to hear. She is getting more and more impressive by the minute.
“Keep impressing me like you are, and we’ll have to see if I can’t change your mind.