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The Reluctant Rider

Part 1 - The Realms of Darkness

By KA Stefana Published 8 months ago 4 min read

Part 1 of 4

Chapter 1 - The Choosing Ceremony

“It is time,” Queen Amelia said, nodding to Etienne.

Bowing, he kept his eyes focused on his queen and faded in search of Princess Sofia. Upon arriving in the main corridor leading to the royal quarters, he appeared and chatted with the guards surrounding the entrance.

“Good morning, Hanz. I’m looking for the princess.”

Smiling at Etienne, he replied, “I’ll give you one guess as to where you’ll find the youngling.”

Rolling his eyes, Etienne headed straight for the library and slowly opened the door, not wanting to startle her. Peering around, his eyes took in the piles of books strewn around. Some were opened, pages blowing in the wind, while others were used to build a protective barrier around the princess.

The windows were wide open, letting in the cool summer breeze as he turned toward the circular window and the cushions tossed about. As his eyes fell on her, Sofia didn’t even bother looking up, asking, “Whatever do they expect of me now?”

He knew that she was pretending to be bored with her parent’s demands, but deep down inside, he sensed the fear behind her false bravado.

Walking across the room, he knelt down before her and took her hands into his, taking in her beauty as he let the silence linger. She looked so much like Queen Amelia but had her father’s laissez-faire attitude towards life.

Brushing back her long brown hair, he whispered, “It’s time.”

Sofia frowned at him, saying, “Why? I’m not ready.”

“My darling, you’re more than ready. Your parents have prepared you for this moment.”

Standing up, she looked frantic. Her cerulean eyes bulged out, and her voice squeaked as she muttered, “But what if, what if…” Shaking her head, she turned away, ready to bolt.

Following her, Etienne pulled her into his embrace and stared longingly into her eyes, asking, “What if what? Whatever are you afraid of?”

Tears started to form in the corners of her eyes, and her lips quivered. She could barely speak as she was now inconsolable. After several minutes of fighting back tears, she replied, “What if they don’t choose me? What if I’m not good enough?”

“Sofia, I’ve watched you these past few years as you trained. You may long for faraway worlds in your books, but you’re a fierce fighter, just like your mother.”

“But, I’m more like my father!” she exclaimed.

Etienne laughed at her retort, teasing, “Ah, yes. King Luther would rather be in Amelia’s arms than face the tasks of running a kingdom, but he gets up every day and trains, leads and presumably finds his way into her arms by sunset. Your heart may be elsewhere, but you’re more than capable of doing the right thing like your father.”

Huffing, she pushed away from Etienne and threw herself down on the cushions, protesting, “This isn’t the life I chose.”

Wondering how to convince her, he sat next to her and whispered in her ear, “Remember, after the Choosing Ceremony, you’ll be allowed to choose a mate.”

“Be careful. If you force me into this, I may not choose you,” she teased him, knowing there was no one else in this world she would rather spend her life with. He was beautiful in her eyes, with long brown hair and hazel eyes, but it was his smile that captivated her more than anything.

“I’ll tell your father that you’re being mean to me,” he said as he poked her in the side, making her squirm.

Standing up, he held out his hand and nodded toward the door, “We best go before I decide to claim you.”

“You wouldn’t!”

“I just might.”

She squealed, “You’d end up in the dungeon.”

“Then, to save me, you best get up and follow me. It’s time.”

Taking his hand, they faded, leaving her books behind to face the future planned for her.

As they appeared outside in the courtyard, she immediately noticed the festivities starting to gather steam. Through all the chaos, she heard her father’s voice, “Amelia, there she is. I told you Etienne would work his magic.”

Groaning on the inside, she ran up to her father and gave him a big hug, projecting to him, ‘Can’t this wait!’

He cast back, ‘Child, you have waited long enough. There will be a dragon for you. I promise.”

Wrapping his arm around her, she took her mother’s hand, and they walked with Etienne by their side, heading straight for the dragon pen.

Her heart was beating a thousand miles an hour as her eyes looked at the giant beasts tethered to the ground. One was more magnificent than the other. Their scales shimmered in the blazing sun, sparkling like the perfect gems that they were.

How was she going to ride one of these beasts?

She was so inept compared to Etienne and his beauty, Eyla. They had been partners since before she was born.

“Just breathe,” Etienne said, trying to comfort her, but his words were swept away by the roar of the red dragon.

His eyes bore into Sofia as flames burst into the sky.

She was claimed!


About the Creator

KA Stefana

I started writing as a hobby during quarantine. From a hobby, a passion bloomed. Author of Dark Fantasy with a twist of romance. Available on KU - The Origins of Darkness, The Daughters of Darkness and The Forgotten.

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