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By that evening the couple arrived at the palace of Thaetar. Jonothan led Azurel
up the stairs and into the castle, joining many other people, all arrayed in
splendid colours and costumes. "Mother must be having another ball," Jonothan
said resentfully. Suddenly his expression changed and he turned to Azurel. "Come
on, I know just how to make an entrance." Jonothan led Azurel over to a silent
young man standing by the entrance of the Great Hall. When he saw Jonothan his
face lit up with pleasure. Jonothan quickly motioned for him to remain silent.
"My liege, you're back! Your mother will be most pleased as, I trust, will
the Princess Cheyenne." Jonothan looked shocked.
"Chey! I cannot believe I forgot that it was her birthday!"
"Well, there is a first time for everything, Jon."
"Real cute, Gareth! Anyway Gary, allow me to introduce Azurel, the one who
freed me from my curse." Gareth bowed to Azurel as deeply as if she were a king.
"May your presence always grace our halls, Princess."
"I intend it to, my old friend. Look, we don't have any costumes. Do you think
you could whip something up?"
"You've got it Jon." Gary left, and soon returned with two boxes and handed
them to the couple. A short while later a man cloaked in black and gold entered
the room. On his arm was a beautiful woman with raven black hair, fair skin,
rosy cheeks, and full red lips. She wore a dress of finest gold with delicate
matching slippers. On her hair lay a beautiful diamond tiara gracefully offsetting
her simple black and silver mask. The room grew quiet upon their arrival. The
crowd separated, forming a path to the throne where the queen stood watching.
Next to her set a young girl with long blond hair and piercing blue eyes. The
mysterious couple approached the waiting monarch and bowed at the foot of the
throne. The man stretched out his hand, not towards the queen, but towards the
"Happy Birthday, Princess." He spoke in a husky voice as he rose. There was
a movement behind the couple, and out of the corner of her eye the young maiden
could see guards encircling the throne. "The guards are not necessary, Queen
Serena." As he spoke, he removed his cloak to reveal a young blond gentleman,
but his face remained hidden behind his black mask.
"Jonothan, my son?" The young man smiled and removed his mask.
"Yes, Mother, I am free and I am home. Happy Birthday, Chey." Jonathan's hand
brushed the kneeling woman's shoulder, and she rose. Jonothan gently removed
the mask from her face. "Mother, allow me to present Princess Azurel of the
"Welcome to our court, Princess. Honoured guests, your attentions please. Tonight
truly is a night of celebration. My daughter is sixteen, and my son has returned
to us, bringing with him a beautiful bride-to-be. So be merry for happiness
has returned tonight." There was a thunderous explosion and a cloud of smoke
appeared before the throne. Jon whirled around and drew his sword placing himself
between the smoke and the throne. As the smoke dissipated it revealed the dark
stranger, and the Dark Faerie.
"I see that your manners have not improved at all, young prince."
"Leave him alone." The female voice was cool and commanding.
"It would seem, young princess, that impudence is a fatal trait of your family,
but perhaps you shall learn more respect as a servant than you have as a master."
The Faerie raised her hand and a blast of light flew from her fingertips hitting
the young princess and surrounding her. Jonothan watched in a helpless horror
as his sister recoiled at the impact, and screamed at the pain she felt. A pain
that he too, had felt at the hands of this malicious Faerie
He watched his beloved sister as, amidst her tears and outcries of unbridled
pain, her skin became smooth, olive coloured scales. As she clutched her sides
in pain a pair of large, leathery wings manifested themselves from her shoulder
blades, while her arms twisted, and shifted becoming thick forelegs and her
feet became talons. Jonothan cried out in an impassioned fury, his voice merged
with Cheyenne's as her screams of agony became bestial screeches and shrieks.
Jono's heart wept as he watched his cherished sister transform into a vicious
"Chey!" Jonothan looked at his sister and his eyes filled with anger. "Leave
her out of this, Faerie" Jonothan yelled. His voice was dark with hatred towards
this pair who had brought his family so much pain and misery.
"This is between you and me," the prince continued looking at the dark lord.
"No tricks. No interference," glaring at the Faerie "Just you and me. Let
her go, and face me." The lord shifted his attention to the seething prince
who was challenging him.
"As you wish, princeling. However, be careful that your impetuousness does
not get you destroyed." He nodded, and the Dark Faerie pointed to Cheyenne, and,
while she cried out for mercy and slumped over, unconscious, in her throne,
returned her human form to her.
"Chey!" Jonothan's sigh of relief was inaudible to all but his own ears. He
finally turned away when he felt Azurel's shaking hand on his arm, silently
pleading with him not to fight.
"Jono..." Jonothan looked at Azurel, and she fell silent.
"I am sorry, Azurel, but I must do this."
"Then be careful, beloved." Jonothan reached over and brushed a single tear
from Azurel's cheek.
"I intend to be, my love," he said softly. Jonothan turned his full attention
onto the sorcerer. "Let's go." As he spoke, the guests spread to the edges of
the ballroom. The two brought their swords up when they reached the center of
the room. Jonothan looked at his opponent and, not for the first time, wondered
if he was in over his head.
The lord brought his black sword crashing down and the prince blocked it with
his sword. Although the force of the blow caused the muscles in his arms to
cry out in pain, Jonothan smiled. Allied with Dark Faeries this man was, but
swordsman he was not. The sorcerer brought his sword up and around Jonathan's
blade trying to score flesh but getting only the steel of the prince's blade.
To Jonothan's surprise however, every blow struck caused a cloud of black smoke
to form around their feet. As Jonothan fought on he realised, to his horror,
that the cloud was not dissipating but growing, and it seemed to reach for the
throne while emanating an incredibly destructive energy. The realisation made
Jonothan fight all the harder to destroy this disparaging force that would otherwise
destroy him, and all that he held dear.
Suddenly Jonothan started for suddenly he was seeing double... No! The lord
held two blades, and they moved to mirror each other. Jonothan knew that only
one blade was real, but he did not know which one it was. Only luck caused him
to block the lord's next attack. Suddenly Jonothan darted in with his sword
and scored deeply. The lord looked from the prince to the blade of the sword
covered in his blood and sank to his knees looking up, pleadingly at the Dark
Faerie Contempt thick in her eyes, the Dark Faerie swirled her cloak around
her and vanished, as the lord collapsed to the ground.. The cloud of black smoke
rapidly shrank, engulfing the dark lord and disappeared, taking the lifeless
body with it.
Azurel ran over and threw her arms around the exhausted prince. "You have won,
beloved. He is gone." Jonothan blinked and looked at his princess as if suddenly
realising what was happening. Dropping his trusty sword, he took her in his
arms and leaned his head on her shoulder.
"It's over," he whispered. "It's finally over."
With that Jonothan returned to his family, and the party hesitantly began anew,
gradually working up into full celebration.
Time passed and the two married. Soon, the people of the land said that there
never was a happier couple than the golden prince and his beautiful princess.