Authors: Stephen Deas
The Adamantine Palace
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v1.1 - converted to html, formatting and minor typos fixed
v1.2 - chapter numbers fixed, header tags, toc, and metadata added - spooked
Table Of Contents
Prologue - Jehal
Prince Jehal felt the dragon take to the air. Curled up inside a saddlebag, he couldn't see a thing. But that didn't matter. He could see it in his mind, exactly and precisely. He felt every stride as the dragon accelerated. He knew exactly when the dragon would make one last bound and unfurl its wings. He felt himself grow heavier as the dragon rose up into the air.
The bag smelled slightly of rotten meat. Jehal wriggled and stretched as best he could, trying to make himself more comfortable in the tiny space. He forced himself to breathe slowly, suppressing the edge of panic that threatened to blossom inside him. Small spaces had never agreed with him, and the smell made him uneasy. It made him wonder what the bag had been used for before. Carrying dragon snacks was the obvious answer.
Is that me? Am I the snack of the day today?
The absurdity of the thought calmed him. Queen Aliphera was as shrewd as anyone, but she was also besotted. Jehal had come to know what that looked like, even in a dragon-queen.
The dragon stopped climbing and began to glide. Officially, Jehal was indisposed. A great deal of effort had gone into his illness, every bit of it spent so that he and Queen Aliphera could be alone and unobserved. All he had to do now was stay hidden until the queen found an excuse to fly away from her riders, her dragon-knights. Months of work and then days of waiting for exactly the right weather, all for half an hour of absolute privacy.
He clenched his fists. One of his feet had cramped. He wriggled his toes. When that didn't work, he tried to rearrange himself so his feet were underneath the rest of him. That didn't work either, but by the time he gave up trying, the cramp had gone away anyway. Eventually, he fell asleep.
He woke up to see grey sky pouring in above him. Every muscle in his legs was shouting at him, demanding to be stretched. He yawned, stood up and grinned at what he saw. They were high in the sky, skimming the base of the clouds. Aliphera liked to do that.
Jehal looked around, scanning the horizon, but there were no other dragons in sight. Finally, he looked at Aliphera. She was still half strapped into her saddle, but she was looking back at him, grinning. Her eyes were very wide. They'd flirted with each other for months, in little ways, little stinging touches where no one else would see.
Jehal grinned back. Anticipation, that was the key. And now she had him alone at last.
'You look a little dishevelled, Prince Jehal.'
Carefully, Jehal hauled himself out of his saddlebag. He crawled the few feet towards her, mindful of the thousand or so feet of empty space between him and the ground. It would be stupid to get this far only to plunge to his death.