As promised, Prince Raiden picked me up a few hours later but in those few hours, I read about the history of the Kingdom. It goes all the way back to the first pureblood Dragon King. It is written down that the first Dragon King ripped his own Dragon scales to establish homes, villages, and the Palace itself. He built his Kingdom underneath the water and spelled a force around it so that no one could ever find it. Thus, enforcing the fact that I can never escape.
The Palace lies in the hearth of the surrounding villages and from the hearth its power spreads throughout the villages. The Palace itself does not need a bubbled around it because the windows and walls are spelled to keep the water and creatures out. However, for the villages, there are almost like air bubbles surrounding the skies, providing the people living in those villages air to breathe and make a living.
The Prince walked in a few hours later and found my nose buried in the book. I reluctantly let the book go before hopping off the bed. He took hold of my hands and this time I allowed him to take it as he led me down a long hallway.
A few minutes later, we reached an archway entrance, similar to the one he took me to see my parents. Thoroughly confused as to why we are doing here and not going out an entrance, I sent him a questioning look.
He didn’t say anything. Led me to the steps leading to the rectangle pool of water. I thought we will only stand at the steps but he led me straight to the middle. Anxiety sets in as I remembered the last time we both fell into the water. However, to my surprise, this pool of water only reached my calves. He turned to me and without saying anything pulled me up flush against him. My hands landed on his arm and chest to steady myself. His smoldering hazelnut eyes dropped to my lips.
One firm arm around my small waist. The other moved to cup my cheek. I took in a sharp inhale. We were so close, I can smell his natural masculine musk. I never realized it but he smelled nice, like the ocean after a raining day. His thumb grazed my cheek softly and his eyelids dropped. He leaned forward and I thought he would for sure kissed me but instead, he leaned to my other ear.
“Close your eyes.” He whispered, his hot breath fanning my neck and his lips brushing against my ear. A tingling shudder ran down my body. My eyes fluttered close on their own.
A second later, I felt heat and wind blow past me. A rush. A cool wave after wave. My skirt fluttered around me. I moved closer to him and he tightened his arms around me.
It felt like I was in a tunnel. I couldn’t feel the ground underneath me like I was flying at a speed of lightning.
Another flutter and the wind died down. The heat left my body and I opened my eyes slowly to find him looking down at me. His arms still wrapped around me.
A light hit my eyes and I winced as I looked around me. Everything looked like my world except for the sky. Sea creatures swam above us. The village was protected under a bubble. The world spun a little and I was thankful he still had his arms wrapped around me.
We were no longer in the room. Instead, we stood in the middle of a meadow. The fresh color of green and the warm crisp air hits my nostril. A dizzy spell hit me again and I leaned my forehead against his chest.
“Sorry.” He murmured. “It is usually rough the first time when traveling under water.”
“Is that what we were doing?” I replied with a soft groan, feeling a wave of nausea hit me.
His chest rumbled and I realized he was laughing. The sound was like soft jazz music to my ears. It wove and thread its way into my body, heating my veins and sending every fiber in my body on high alert. My eyes fluttered open and I leaned my head back to look at him. His eyes lit up. He looked so relaxed, different from the Palace. His smile was radiant and captivating. My stomach fluttered again and my heart thumped hard against my chest.
He glanced down at me and then realized what he did. His expression fell back to an indecipherable look before he slowly released me and took a step back. I stumbled slightly before I was able to stand on my own two feet. I looked around me. I can see half a mile ahead a small village.
“Where are we?” I asked.
“This is Huisong. A small village on the outskirts of our Kingdom.” He turned towards the village, standing next to me.
The village looked so much like the village that I came from. I couldn’t resist walking towards it. My heart speeding up at the realization that I was going to finally meet somebody besides Prince Raiden and Aika. A soft breeze brushed by. My hair flew in the air at the force. Again the hint of the salty sea hit me. I smoothed the escaped strand of hair back behind my ear.
I could hear Prince Raiden following behind me.
“Will they know it’s you?” I asked, glancing behind me.
He nods, “They will know who we are.”
I bit my lips nervously, “Is that a good idea?”
He shrugged and I returned my focus back onto the village that was quickly coming to view. A few people stopped to stare. Whispers started to go around and soon, people were coming out of the homes to look at us. I felt like a zoo animal being put out on display.
People started falling to their knees and my steps faltered. I turned to look at Prince Raiden who seemed unfazed.
“Rise.” He ordered.
One elder man who was dressed in dark blue trousers walked up to us as soon as everyone started standing up.
“Prince Raiden, your visit is unexpected. If we knew we would have prepared a feast in preparation for your arrival.” The elder man announced, his eyes sliding over to me curiously before going back to Prince Raiden.
“That isn’t necessary, Aroon. My visit is abrupt but I wanted to bring my-” He stopped. He turned to look at me and I looked at him also wondering what he was going to say next.
“I wanted to bring Anna May to visit. She’s been wanting to see the Kingdom.” Prince Raiden said and I had a feeling he was trying to correctly introduce me.
The elder man grinned then, “Ah, then by all means, we welcome both of your visits today. I’ll have the women prepare you a delicious meal. You are more than welcome to stay at my home.”
My eyes roamed the village while the two men continue to converse before me. On one side of the village were huts and homes. It is a simple built home but the white drapes at the entrance and window made it so much more inviting. The grass is as green as Aloe Vera leaf. Little dirt pathways leading to several farmlands. I can see a wet rice field with pre-germinated seedlings. A few people working hard in the rice field. On the other side of the farming fields was were they farmed animals. I’m surprised in this world there were pigs, chickens, and cows. You’ll think that they would only eat fishes since they live underwater.
“Actually, Prince Raiden, if you do not mind, we have a few things we needed to discuss with you. If you can spare us a brief meeting to discuss the issues-” Aroon’s voice dropped when he noticed Prince Raiden glancing my way. Then he spoke in an almost defeated voice. “Or we can do this another time.”
Prince Raiden glanced back at Aroon, “I have time, Aroon.”
He walked up to me and took hold of my elbow.
“Will you be okay on your own?” He asked. “Or would you rather come with me?”
I shook my head, “Go ahead. I’ll be fine.”
It’s felt like forever since I have seen something so close to home. I didn’t wait for Prince Raiden’s permission. I followed what I wanted to see. My feet carrying me over to the rice field. I stood at the soft mound dirt pathway, looking down at the hard working people before me and my feet itches to feel the wet earth underneath me.
When I looked behind me, Prince Raiden was gone and I was alone. The women and men stopped to look at me. Their eyes widening when they saw me slip off my gold slippers and lifting up my skirt.
“Milady!” One woman halted me from going into the wet field.
I frowned, “Yes?”
“You cannot enter. The Prince will not be happy.” She gasped. Completely appalled at the idea of me entering the wet fields.
I took one daring step into the water. The woman’s face blanched. I wanted to laugh because she looked so much like Aika at this very moment.
My other feet submerged into the rice field and I felt a sense of thrill rush through me. Another person came running over with a pair of rubber boots.
“Please put these on.”
I should. It is only proper but the idea of getting dirty was thrilling and so I ignored it and continued on. I asked to help them and everyone was gasping in fright. I swear they were going to swoon any second now but eventually my stubborn streaks won and they allowed me to help them.
Soon everyone started to relax around me. With me talking and rattling on about my life, I can sense the change in their demeanor. They were more relaxed and a few chuckled at the stories I told them. They knew I wasn’t Dragon that I was a full-blooded human. Yet, it didn’t seem to faze them. These people were so much like the people in my village. They worked hard throughout the day like a very large family.
My back was starting to get the familiar ache and so I stood up and wiped my forehead to stretch my back. My eyes landed on Prince Raiden who was looking straight at me. His presence was easily noticeable. People eyes flew to me and back to him.
He made his way towards me, standing on the dirt pathway mound.
I smiled when he was standing about a yard away from me.
“Anna,” He cocked an eyebrow. His hands behind his back as he regards me with indecipherable eyes.
“Prince Raiden,” I responded in greeting.
“Do I even want to know why you are in a wet field?” He asked me.
I shrugged, “I just wanted to do something.”
A woman walked up to me and took the rest of my seedlings. I sighed before wadding towards him. I lifted my dirty hands up for him to help me up. He looked down at it and for a second I thought he will be too disgusted but his hands came out and took hold of mine. He pulled me to stand up next to him.
I couldn’t stop smiling. This was the best I have ever felt since arriving here. I loved this place and he knew it. The glimmer of gold in his irises was emotion and not just his dark brooding eyes.
He sighed and reached in his pocket for a handkerchief. He held my chin with his fingers while his other hand moved to wipe the dirt from my forehead. I watched him clean me up quietly. His lips were so close. If I stood on my tiptoes, I would be kissing him.
Suddenly, the sound of pigs screeching and one of the owners crying out for help pierce our close proximity. I took a step back and he glanced towards the pig pen to see that six pigs were running for their lives.
Excitement drummed through me as I remember when I was a child and running after little piglets.
“Anna...” Prince Raiden warned.
I chuckled, “What’s the matter, Prince Raiden? Afraid to get a little dirty?”
I broke away from him and ran towards the owner to help him catch the pigs. Prince Raiden close behind me. Soon, we were both chasing after pigs. I’m pretty sure that Prince Raiden could use his powers to bring them all back to the pig pen but I appreciate that he didn’t. He watched me chase after the pigs, a huge smile on my face. I laughed so hard when one slipped through my fingers. My skirt was slightly torn from falling.
“C’mon, Raiden, get your hands dirty.” I taunted with a grin.
He sighed, “I could just put them all back into the pen in seconds.”
“And what is the fun in that?” I propped my dirty hands on my hips.
Surprisingly, Prince Raiden joined in. I watched the Prince of this Kingdom chased after pigs. The number of people surrounding us were smiling and laughing. They would never have dreamed of seeing Prince Raiden chasing after pigs but it was a story that they will live to tell--maybe he wasn’t so bad after all.