Talon Blaze

King Conrad was a tall, slender, handsome king with a shock of black hair that was always in his deep green eyes. His kingdom (which was called Shara by the Great Mountains, but Conrad always thought that the name didn't make sense because the castle itself was on the great mountain, not by it), consisted of a range of mountains with dragons living in them, a forest that was sometimes called enchanted, a small ocean inlet, and miles of grassland plain. Of course, the fact that most of his subjects were not humans had nothing to do with the fact that he was still not married. No way. He had had many offered marriages, but he had rejected all of them. If you were to ask him why, he would simply blink at you and say; "I don't want to get married." There was only one thing wrong with this perfect little kingdom. It was red, monstrous, spurted flame at will, and freely ate just about everything. Talonblaze. He was the worst, most evil, despicable dragon ever to rampage a kingdom and Talonblaze just happened to pick Shara as his personal target. King Conrad's subjects were complaining about this great terror, as if the king could do something about it. In the past month Talonblaze had taken responsibility for ten mills burnt to the ground, a whole herd of cattle devoured, multiple casualties and deaths. The dragon was Conrad's main concern in those days. One afternoon, he was practicing his sword with his younger, nearly identical twin brother Jeffery, when a messenger appeared with, of all things, a message. "For you King Conrad," he said holding out the slightly rusted silver plate and bowing his head. Conrad sheathed his sword, took the letter and dismissed the messenger with a wave of his hand. He rested his elbows on the moss covered wooden table next to the fencing field. "Getting better all the time," he told the sweating Jeff, who grinned tiredly at him and said, "Thanks. I'm going to the lake to cool off. You coming?" "No, thanks, Jeff. I want to see what this letter is about." Conrad said, turning the letter backwards, and then holding it up to the sun as if to see what was inside. Jeff smiled as Conrad headed toward his castle to find out what was in the letter. He walked through the decorated halls of his palace into his favorite throne room hung with colorful, slightly moth-eaten orange and green tapestries: his favorite colors. As Conrad flopped into the cushion-filled, high-backed, jewel-inlaid throne, and shoved the shock of black hair out of his eyes, he slit the red wax seal with the gold dagger that hung at his belt next to his sword. In revealing the letter, he took a sideways blow at his shaggy black bangs, and began to read.
"From Richard, King of Florin and Duke of Rouching and of all the Lone
Islands to King Conrad, who is equally blessed with land and titles.
I send you all my best wishes and greetings. I beseech you my lord to
come to my castle in Florin on urgent business concerning my daughter,
the Princess Arabella Silver Moon, youngest of seven daughters and one
son. Please come as soon as you can. May you continue in good health
and good spirits."
Conrad read the letter twice more and considered it for some time. He had heard King Richard of Florin, and what he had heard was not good. It was told that he had shady dealings with pirates, and strange kings from the far East. Warlords it was said. Richard could not be trusted. With this in mind, he decided to turn to his old magic mirror to see where this alleged princess was, if she existed, and if she was actually in any kind of trouble.
He took a torch down from the cave-like wall, ran down the familiar stone stairs, and came to an intersection in the hallways. The king turned left down a flight of unlit, dust-covered stairs. They led to a room that was occupied by all his magical items. Rusty magic swords, out-dated crystal balls, dust covered magic carpets, and so on. The room also contained the only magic mirror in his castle. As he brushed the dust off the mirror, it awoke in a fit of coughing as dust and sparks flew everywhere. Conrad hastily backed up as a face appeared in the glass.
"Hack, hack, ahem. Hello Conrad. Need me for something?" the mirror choked, but quickly regained it's composer.
"Yes, actually. I want you to locate the Princess Arabella Silver Moon of Florin." The magic mirror chuckled. "Finally getting interested in someone, eh Conrad?" "No. Uugghh! I wish that you people would leave me alone about that. Its always 'this girl would make an excellent wife' and 'oh, she's lovely.'" he said with a dramatic hand gesture, and in a sarcastic voice, "Can I please run my own life? I mean, if it's not too much to ask?" "Oh, fine. Be the raging, set-upon, unloved, and unmarried man. See if I care. One view of a lovely princess coming up," the mirror muttered, obviously disappointed and irritated. As the colors swirled on the surface, blue, green, yellow, pink, red, a picture came into focus. A pair of piercing sea blue eyes stared out of a young girl with a lovely complexion and hair the shining color of gold. Those eyes were what caught Conrad's attention the most. Fathomless swirls of color, but full of fear as much as they were of beauty. The picture dissolved into another scene that was filled with a huge cloud of smoke with a red scaly tail and wicked looking green eyes. Then the mirror went dark.
"Perfect," Conrad grumbled. "You always pick the exact perfect moment to break down. Now I'll have to send for the court magician. He won't be happy. Just because I don't want to marry some worthless bimbo of a princess." After waiting for ten minutes staring at the mirror after it went dead, hoping for a second glance at the most beautiful girl he had ever seen, he gave up on the mirror. It obviously wasn't going to provide any other useful information at the present. But he did have a kind of lead. The tail and eyes matched the description of Talonblaze, but he fervently prayed that it wasn't.
Conrad stomped off through his personal quarters to his balcony, the place where he always got away from his problems. He analyzed everything he had learned carefully. A new dragon was on the rampage, and none of his knights could stop him. Storming villages, lighting fires to pretty much everything, doing the things a typical dragon would do. But then there was the matter of the princess. What was her name again? Oh, Arabella Silver Moon, who was probably with that dragon. He her name out loud to himself.
"Arabella," he savored the name and gently brushed raven-black hair away from his sea-eyes with his fingertips. He stared at the brilliant sunset; alive with vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows that surrounded the red-orange ball of light that was the sun and gave it the appearance of a halo. Then his gazed shifted lazily to the side of the sky still occupied by the moon. Conrad sighed blissfully. An array of purples, blues, and indigoes gracefully painted the night's sky, filing the air with a sort of peace. He took a second look and saw that the only thing separating the two bodies of light was the mountain of Kishnia, the moon on the left and the sun on the right, colors separated by the awesome splendor of this majestic being. Peace, he thought again. The door to the balcony opened and Jeff slid out onto the floor alongside Conrad.
"Jeff, look at the sky. It is as if angels have been at their finest work." Jeff looked. He then turned to the king and said with a curious and yet understanding air,
"Hey, I know you're stressed over something. It, uh, came out in our sword practice," Jeff said ruefully, massaging his sword arm. Conrad sighed and told his brother all that had been happening with the dragon, Arabella, everyone telling him to be a proper king and to get married, and the aggravating mirror that always went out right when you needed it. Jeff grinned and ragged on his older brother, saying,
"The mirror can be fixed, the dragon can be conquered, but what of this Arabella? She sounds like a good catch, if you know what I mean. I might try out this mirror once the magician gets it fixed to get a look at her." Conrad growled playfully,
"If you get to her before I do, I'll personally behead the both of you. Besides", he said, raising one eyebrow, "I thought you were seeing that other girl from Toroun." Jeff blushed a deep crimson. The brothers relaxed against the sun-warmed balcony and fell into silence. Though the world was at turmoil around them, here Harmony governed with her gentle hand. At the same exact moment, when peace seemed to rule the world affectionately, Conrad's eye caught the silhouette of a dragon in flight against the fiery colors of the sunset. Conrad tensed and he gripped his sword at his side.
"Jeff, do you see that?" he said in a forced, strained voice.