Days of imprisonment, turned into weeks of abandonment. Ruby became starved from her solitude. She fought back sorrow, and dark feelings of defeat every night, for the first couple of weeks. Her mind wandered to thoughts of Cole, and why he hadn't attempted to come for her. Soon, a month had passed. The only words spoken to her were guarded formalities from the servants at the castle. The Dragon king had yet to return to his chamber.
Every torturous day, Ruby gazed out the window, witnessing human interaction. There was a busy hustle and flow of citizens in The Dragon's Cross. Merchants gathered in the center of the citadel. Barterers solicited the traffic of people entering the busy square. Every now and then, a fight would break out, or a thief would be arrested and ushered back to the castle for a trial. But the most interesting happenings outside of Ruby's window, were directly below it.
From sunrise to sunset, each day, the Dragon King led his Iron Clad Warriors in brutal combat drills, and intense mock battles. Ruby desperately observed, hoping to find a weak spot, a chink in their armor. It was a near impossible task.
The warriors out numbered, out weighed, and outwitted Avelen's army, several times over. When the Dragon King shot out an order, no matter how absurd, or impossible it seemed, it was fulfilled without question. Did Malachai have such loyalty from his own men? Would he dare demand it?
The slip up happened on a day when the Dragon King was in a sour mood, (Which wasn't saying much, because he was almost always was). He was yelling profanities at his men, without realizing he was making them nervous and clumsy. The incident happened quickly.
One man tripped over his heavy iron armor; his sword raised and flailing as he fell.
"Take his head off why don't you!" The Dragon King spat with bitter sarcasm. Not a moment later, the fallen warrior regained his composure, and poised his sword towards the neck of the man he had just tripped over. In one swift moment the Warrior's katana blade sliced through the second warrior's neck, severing it from his head.
Ruby's scream paralleled that of the Dragon King's from outside. With an angry growl he dismissed his men. As if sensing Ruby's gaze, he looked up and glared at her through the window. She quickly took a step away from the window and retreated to the small living area of the chamber.
Everything about the room was clinical and impersonal, with the exception of the bed, which the Dragon King seemed to have decorated in decadent materials and plush pillows. Ruby sat with her back, rigid, against the stiff settee. She could hear the Tyrant out there, cursing his men as though he weren't alone. "Spineless puppets! They are all as dumb as rocks!" A moment later, servants arrived to move the body and clean up the blood and mess. They carted it away, allowing it to jostle around in the carriage.
Ruby wondered just how barbaric this Kingdom was. Would this man at least get a proper burial? If the Dragon King could be so cold with his own men, who knew what he was capable of doing to Cole...
She stared daggers at the man. He was not to be given any trust, only manipulated into handing her his.
Minutes later someone knocked on the door. " Just slide it through."
The knock persisted.
She repeated herself.
The knock grew louder, and heavier.
"Slide the plate of food through the crack of the door. God, are you new or something?" She stepped into her bathroom, ignoring the servant, and prospect of food. A lukewarm bath, pitched earlier in the morning, was still awaiting her. She shrugged off her robe and untied her sleeveless gown at the neck. She always took pleasure in the moment that the sheer garment slid down her body like silk. Before she could set one foot in the ceramic tub, a noise of a man clearing his throat sounded from the doorway.
Ruby gasped at the sight of the Dragon King taking up most of the space in the threshold. He looked angry and lethal. He was still in his iron armor. His head was covered with a custom made helmet. On it; an artistic etching of a dragon curled around the crown, it's leathery wings expanded downward to wrap around the jaw of the helmet.
She reached for her gown and fumbled to put it back on. "Don't you -
-"Knock? Might I remind you whose chamber this is. And for your information, I did knock. You assumed I was the help."
"Well, I'll remind you, that you haven't set foot in here for a damn near month, so forgive me if I seem a little startled!"
He ignored her discomfort. "You'll dine with us in the hall tonight. Be dressed and ready in five minutes. I'll have a servant come fetch you." With that he left.
Good to his word, he sent a servant up five minutes later, cutting Ruby off from enjoying her bath.
Ruby took in the sights of the castle on her way down, hoping to learn something useful about The Dragon's Cross Empire. Paintings of war and bloodshed, ironically, hung in the hallways. Candelabras lined the walls. Ebony Suits of armor, and gargoyles wielding swords, daggers, and battle axes, were positioned in descending formation along the wide, marble steps of the grand staircase. Her younger brothers would have a field trip in here.
Ruby sighed as she struggled to push the image of her brothers rough-housing in this hellish fortress, out of her mind. She couldn't afford to think of them, or even Amber right now. She could only trust that her siblings were safe, and be relieved that they weren't here with her.
The Grand Hall at Dragon Cross was both intimidating, and breathtaking. The room was located in the middle of the castle, surrounded by protective towers. The ceiling was made of a sturdy glass. The floor was encrusted with large cuts of diamonds, that reflected all that sat on top of it. The only furnishings in the room were a well crafter, low hanging chandelier, and a long table, accompanied by hand carved chairs.
"Something wrong?" The Dragon King gaged, upon her reaction. Her eyes followed his voice. He stood at the head of the table. Servants and various warriors seated around him bowed their heads as if he were some sort of Messiah.
She didn't recognize the man before her. His blonde hair was pulled into a low pony tail, giving way to an angular face and hard jawline. His eyes, though amused, still held a skeptic glare. The only thing approachable about the man, was his full set of lips. Lips that made Ruby blink, and her throat suddenly go dry.
"Well, aren't you going to bow to your king?"