The Kingdom of AshbyMature

Jace bowed respectfully at his opponent. He was in the square; a bloodied slab of rock formation in which he battled blood thirsty men. These men were true killers, prisoners who would meet their fate by Jace's sword. Jace's armed guards stood behind him in case they had to intervene, but the King insisted this would be good practice for Jace. If he could slay a full grown murder, slaying a princess should be nothing, at least that was his father's philosophy.

Jace wasn't keen on the idea of fighting a girl. The king had often reprimanded him when he thought in such terms, sentencing him to peasant work. He reminded his son all too often that Talas Blare, was not a girl, not even a princess at heart, but a weapon of Thor. Jace tried to go forward with his father's mentality. He prayed he would be prepared to slay her when the time came.

Jace drew himself back into his current predicament, a brawny man was leering at him. As the man was breathing heavily out of his mouth Jace noticed he was missing several teeth. His face was covered in battle scars. It was apparent he had fought to the death before, maybe even several times, and won.

Jace stepped back drawing his broadsword upwards. The man was armed with a similar weapon, as if the King was worried the fight wouldn't be fair. Jace grimaced. Seemingly it wasn't fair. Jace was a Prince facing off against a murderer, and a hefty one at that.

The fight was quick one. Jace was a swift and skilled fighter. His opponent was blinded by rage. He was far too sloppy for Jace's fighting technique. The man practically allowed himself to charge into Jace's blade. “Suicide,” Jace muttered. He turned his attention back towards the cheering crowd. His father, King Issac was among them, sipping out of his chalice.

“Bring in my next opponent!” Jace shouted at the guards. One of the guards signaled for Jace to move back towards the edge of the rink. How big could this man possibly be that he needed this much space? Jace wondered. A moment later his question was answered when a massive beast took up residence on the other side of the rink. Jace's jaw dropped. His opponent was being held back with ropes. Jace leveled his gaze with that of the dragon's. The creature let out a blood curdling shriek. It's skin was leathery and black. It's wings jagged on the end. It's snout was as long as a horses. The creature was at least eight feet tall, with twelve inch talons.

“What's a matter father couldn't you have given the dragon a sword?” Jace's voice dripped of bitter sarcasm. The king was too high on spirits to detect it. “Kill the beast my son, and we shall feast on the dragon's meat and get drunk on it's blood!”

The crowd cheered even harder.

One of the guards rang a bell and the creature was released.

Jace raised his sword. The dragon was at his throat in two steps. He had Jace cornered against the edge of the rock formation. Jace tried not to look down at the crowd below. It was a long drop. If he let the dragon push him off the edge his ego wouldn't be the only thing bruised. The dragon was wild and untamed. The sound of the crowd cheering drove it wild. Flailing it's arms about, the dragon struck at the Prince's face with it's talons, causing a deep gash above his eyebrow. Jace suppressed a cry at the pain, he sliced the dragon's arm, and jumped out of the way to dodge the spray of dragon blood.

Dragon blood wasn't terminal but intoxicating in it's own way. It could cause hallucinations and cloud one's judgment immensely. It was his father's preferred drink. As the dragon stomped about in agony, a mist of blood splashed Jace's face. He could taste the blood on his tongue. It was sweet like cherries but coppery at the same time. A little bit, that's all it took. Jace lunged for the dragon again, but soon enough the prince's vision was impaired. Standing in front of him was not the dragon but the princess herself.

Jace had cloaked himself several times, sneaking out of his palace to catch a glimpse of the girl he was to kill. It became an obsession. He never told any one, nor had anyone suspected he knew what the princess looked like both awake and asleep. Now this was Jace's punishment for sneaking out of the Ashby and into Thor. Before him stood a mirage of Princess Talas. Her long golden hair was swept over one shoulder in a braid and her aquamarine eyes held him in a glare. Her full lips, the color of pink roses were held in a pout. She was a petite, a small little thing. She didn't look the part of a killer. Even now staring back at him, she held a teasing skeptical look.

Even her mirage was taunting him.

Jace tried to keep his head level, he tried not to notice the feminine curves of her body, but even looking at her face, he knew he could never think of her as a weapon. He would kill her as she was, a girl and a princess .Afterward he would be consumed with guilt. There was no way to sugarcoat the task that lay ahead of him.

The princess aimed a punch at Jace's face, only it was sharp talons that met his cheek. Jace growled and charged the princess plunging the sword into her stomach. He watched the pain play out on her face, she gasped for the last breaths of her life. Jace closed his eyes. “She is not real,” he whispered. Although Princess Talas was very much real. When Jace opened his eyes again he was relieved to see it was a fallen dragon he was looking at. The crowd was cheering at his victory. He tried to steady his breath as he raised his sword high into the air.

The End

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