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A Blood Covered Hate

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Ash knew being out alone was a bad idea, but she couldn't resist. As Princess of Dragons, she rarely got more than a few moments of alone time and rarely any freedom from the castle. She ran through the woods as fast as her muscle legs could carry her. Dodging between the trees, Ash relished at the feeling of her long hair whipping behind her and the wind stinging her eyes, causing them to water. She didn't stop until she reached the lake she always stayed by whenever she had some free time. It was peaceful and separated from the rest of the world by a ring of thick trees. The only way the guards or any of the other nobles could find her was if they took their Dragon form and flew over head or if they took the time to venture in to the woods. Which they never did because they always had "better things to do".


Panting, Ash sat on the edge of the lake, dangling her long, exposed legs. It was summer-tide and exceedingly warm, even for night. She wore only a pale tunic with gold stitching around the edges. She was a princess and required to dress "presentably", but she had nothing to complain about. Being of noble blood meant you were an automatic warrior, so the clothes were always light and easy to move in. This she was always grateful for.



She dipped her toes into the water and giggled uncharacteristically at the coolness. She laid on her back and stared up at the stars. The quiet wrapped around her and the wind softly weaved its way through her hair. She closed her eyes and breathed in. It was moments like this she lived for. In a world of war, these moments of quiet and peace were all Ash needed.


"It's not a good idea to be out here all by yourself, Princess Ashmoore," A voice Ash instantly recognized, "An enemy could get you. It's unsafe in these times."


Ash sat up and smiled softly, "Hello, High Priest Athesto."


Athesto chuckled, "And here I thought that we were past these formalities, your highness." He teased. Ash laughed, Athesto was always like this. They were both high in society and being noble blood rarely allowed for friends. They were the same age and were best friends since any of the two could remember. They were always sparring partners in battle training and had given each other their equal share of bruises, cuts, burns, and broken bones. They never held back. If Athesto held back, Ash would accuse him of going soft on her because she's the princess. If Ash held back, Athesto would accuse Ash of becoming weak because she's the princess. They grew up through everything- Athesto being granted the role of High Priest. Ash taking over the kingdom after her parents were killed in battle. Their friendship lasted through it all. And through that, Athesto knew that Ash hated formalities. That's why he used it so much.


"Well, High Priest Athesto, Gaurdian of Temple of The Dragon of Isis, Commissioner of the Great War," Ash went on listing every title he was known as, "Are you going to stand there all night or will you sit down?"


Athesto sat down, "You know, Ash, you should stop coming out here soon," He sounded concerned, "It may not be safe. There have been several vampire sightings within the kingdom. All things considered, you would be they're target and your people aren't ready to lose you."


Ash shook her head, "If I stopped my nightly runs to here, I would lose my mind," Ash looked over at him. The light from the moon made his deep, tanned skin seem illuminated. His dark sapphire eyes were fixed on her. The wind tousled his chestnut hair and started to blow into his eyes, "You know that. At least you should. I hate being princess..."


"There's no need to worry about that," Athesto chuckled darkly, "As soon you marry you won't have to be princess- you'll be queen."


Ash punched him in the arm, "Thanks for being so sensitive," Then she groaned, "I don't wish to marry. I find it to be a miserable business. Everyone acts as though it's this big, happy thing. An arranged marriage. It's sickeningly barbaric."


"Some of us aren't happy at the thought," Athesto stared intently at the blade of grass he was twirling in his fingers. Then, it burst in to flames and was instantly turned into ashes. He then continued in a low voice, "In fact, some of us have to deal with marrying the one they care about to someone they share no feelings for."


Ash sighed and fell silent. She had been ruling for almost a year and her one year anniversary marked the day when she would marry. She detested the idea of being set up with someone else. Ash was going to have to possibly spend the rest of her life with this man, and Dragons lived for a long time if they weren't killed in battle first, it was one thousand years at the least. She detested the person she was set to marry even more. Chorax was son of the general, fierce warrior, and future king of her kingdom. Ash hated how arrogant he was and prayed everyday to Rayma- the First Dragon- that he would be sent in to battle and killed by some vampire before he got the chance to marry her.


Ash slowly came back into reality when she realized Athesto was staring at her, "What?"


Athesto continued to stare at her with an intensity she was unfamiliar with, "You were thinking about the marriage again, weren't you?"


Ash nodded, "I was. But I suppose it's for the better. Maybe then that... hateful Vampire will stop trying to kidnap me and take me for his."


Ash shivered, but she wasn't so sure it was from the wind of the water. She recalled every time the Vampire prince, Nokomis Lodemai, tried to kidnap her. It would be the greatest victory Vampires could possibly have- taking Ash and making her a Vampire all from their prince, no less. He had done everything to try to get her. It was not only about making her a Vampire, but Lodemai lusted for her. He wanted to take everything- soul, purity, and her. The constant Vampire sightings didn't help. This made everyone paranoid and worried Ash. She had done everything in her power to be safe- trained and was always prepared to fight, but Lodemai was powerful. She wasn't sure she could take him in one-on-one combat just yet.


"I wouldn't be so sure," Athesto said, "Vampires are a persistent kind."


"So true," A figure emerged from the woods to their left, "Something even you're dim Dragon mind could grasp."


Both Dragons sprang into a crouch. Ash held out her hand and made a fire in her palm so she could see the face. Cold ran through her veins- she recognized everything. The long, platinum blond hair. The violet eyes. The cocky smirk. The fangs.


She hissed one thing, "Lodemai."


Lodemai smiled viciously, "So glad you remember me, Princess Ashmoore," Ash glared even harder at the use of her full name. Lodemai took a step forward closer to Ash and Athesto, but made no other movement- not even to attack. This worried Ash, so she stood up and Athesto soon followed her lead. Lodemai continued, "Here I thought you might have forgotten about me."


Ash didn't speak- the prince was below speech. Instead, she continued to glare while Athesto put the rage Ash had into words. His voice seethed venom as it grew dark and angry, "Get gone, Lodemai! You have no right to be in this land!"


"But High Priest," Lodemai spoke condescendingly, "We are in war. You should know as well as I do that rights mean nothing to either of us. Though maybe I'm mistaken and a Dragon as dim as yourself can't comprehend that we are in the War. I would be surprised though, it's lasted some thousands of years. Or do you not recall the stories? Dragons capture the little Vampire princess and take her prisoner. They slowly kill her- bathing her in water blessed by Rayma. Pull off her nails, then move to her little fingers and toes. They keep her in dungeons some hundred feet underground and let rats eat away at her little by little. But they have ways to keep her alive. At least alive enough so she could say good bye to her parents when they dropped in the window of her parents bedroom. They watched their little daughter die. The little princess was nothing but a bunch of bloody clumps of skin dangling off bones with barely enough breath to say 'Dragons'."


Ash was speechless. What could she say? It was true Dragons had done just that, but Vampires attacked first, "Last history went, Vampires came in to our city and got every new born they could. They made a pile of babies and burned them with your Daemon Fyre! Your precious little princess was justified!"


Lodemai haughty exterior broke, "Your people will never win!"


Ash extended her palm and let her inner fire flow out of her opened palm. Her signature blue colored fire sped toward him. Lodemai held out his arms and a huge wave formed in the lake. He flicked his hands left and a wall of water blocked Ash's fire. He directed the water towards Ash and Athesto shot his orange fire towards it and it burned away in to mere steam. Ash took the free moment to get behind the offending Vampire. She ducked in to a crouch and kicked his legs out from under him. Lodemai landed on his back and whipped more water at Ash. She jumped out of the way and Athesto took a running leap toward him. He took out a dagger he always kept with him and planned on landing so the dagger would pierce Lodemai's heart. Lodemai rolled out of the way and jumped to his feet. Ash sprang towards him, but the air was knocked out of her when water hit her in the chest. Both she and Athesto were knocked to the ground.

Ash jumped up, spinning in mad circles, searching for Lodemai. She couldn't see him or any traces of the vampire. She roared out in fury, "Mark my words, Lodemai! I don't care how well you hide or how fast you run- I WILL KILL YOU!"





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