“You know it’s time.” Jax approached his long time friend, the Prince of Wiccan, Devon DeCaro. He watched as Dev ran his fingers through his long black hair.
“I know.” Devon sighed, turning away from the three-foot window where he’d stood watching life beyond his own for over an hour. He stared hard at Jax with his gray eyes, eager to find reasons to delay the inevitable. “I don’t have the time right now. Problems that keep arising have been keeping me busy.”
With a disgusted growl, Devon turned away from Jax. He gazed out the window again, beginning to feel frustrated about the weight of responsibility upon his strong shoulders.
“But the prophecy...” Jax insisted with a strong voice as he stared at him.
Devon whirled around, locking a pair of intense gray eyes on his friend. “Don’t start with me about that old tale,” he ground out with authority, his voice as hard and uncompromising as his eyes.
“Dev, surely you haven’t forgotten our history. Ten thousand years ago...” Jax recited in a soft voice, repeating the history lesson that was taught in school. “The DeCaro family warred with King Eagle. In the last conflict, King Eagle was overthrown and he and his family were banished from Wiccan forever. The queen, saddened by the unresolved conflict, came forth and prophesied. From that day forward, peace between the two families has never been resolved.”
Jax gazed up at Devon who stood over a half foot taller. “And another war is about to threaten our people, all because of your brother, Kosek.”
Devon DeCaro winced at the mere mention of his greedy brother’s name. The man had been a thorn in his side for too many years to count. This current example of mischief bore close resemblance to others he’d done in the past. This time, however, the thorn had done more than prick his skin—it had left a bloody wound that did little to ease his disposition.
Jax sighed dramatically at his Prince’s silence. In the manner of an old nag, he continued speaking. “You must have heard the vicious rumors being spread all over Wiccan.”
“Yes, I’ve heard the rumors and I’m completely aware of my brother’s wild doings.” Devon ran a hand through his thick black hair. He moved to sit down in an overstuffed, dark-blue leather chair that sat in front of his light-wood desk. “I have heard, from my sources, his dispute that I am not legitimately the Prince and he is the rightful heir. All of this because my mother birthed me seven months after my parents consummated the Mating Ritual.”
Wheeling his chair to face the window, Devon rubbed his fingers beneath his strong jaw, concentrating on the horizon to soothe his unease. The very idea of having children outside of the Mating Ritual was uncommon among his people. It was nonsense to base leadership solely upon the ritual surrounding the Mating Ceremony.
Devon snorted in disgust. “Simply because only seven months passed from their Mating Ceremony to the day that I was born is no reason for him to claim ownership to the throne. It’s madness, and the people stand behind me regardless of the rumors.”
When Jax raised an insolent brow to suggest otherwise, Devon slowly shook his head. His bright gray eyes sparkled in a slow simmer of anger. “That fact doesn’t bother me at all!” He claimed, punctuating the end of his sentence by slamming a fisted hand down on his desk. Objects jumped and settled in disarray.
His parents had been very much in love and choose not to wait until after the Mating Ritual to consummate the match of the Mating Search. That didn’t bother him. Why did he let it bother him when his people spoken of this indiscretion as if it held any bearing on his ability to led? His failure to take a mate rested on the minds of the people—when at the age of thirty, he had yet to take a mate. Being the Prince, he should have taken his mate a year ago. Things continued to happen to his people and he’d delayed the Mate Search.
The Alliance began to issue demands for his people to join them as soldiers. Devon knew how their soldiers were chosen and wanted no part of it, but the Alliance had different ideas. Trade routes had opened up and schedules needed to be completed and that had kept him busy—not to mention the Wolfen packs then began their bloodlust attacks on the tourists. Devon needed to close the tourism route for the time being until he stopped the bloodlust. He’d also begun investigating the reason behind it.
Then the wrath of nature created a disaster in the form of floods and mudslides that demanded they be his top priority. Finding his mate rested at the bottom of his list of things to do. Devon angled his head and glared up at Jax. His friend and trusted advisor kept giving him the strangest look, as if the man could read his mind. Jax did not have that power.
“You know I’m right.” Jax’s smugness and his attitude rankled on Devon’s nerves.
Throwing his hands up in the air, Devon relented. “Very well! You’re right, Jax. I’ll perform the Mate Search and find the woman who is destined to be my mate, tonight.”
“Don’t forget the Prophecy,” Jax said, grinning like a fool at Devon.
“How can I forget when you’ve reminded me daily for the past several months?” He laughed and returned his friend’s grin while slowly shaking his head.
~ * ~
Later that evening, Devon sat on his massive bed, his bare feet crossed upon his knees in the Mate Search position. His head lay back against his neck and his eyes closed. He began the Mate Search chant. It was a ritual chant every male at age fifteen had been taught by his father. It came from his memory as if he’d chanted it every day since turning fifteen.
A vision slowly formed in his mind, the image hazy at first then beginning to clear... a woman with dark brown hair and blue eyes with a heart-shaped face and smooth, flawless skin appeared. Her name came to him as if spoken aloud...
His breathing seemed to catch in his chest for a moment, then he exhaled with a burst of air. Panting as if he’d run for miles on end, Devon realized the Mate Search had revealed the woman foretold in the prophecy. The woman lived in a place called Earth.
Opening his eyes slowly, his world had suddenly changed. His destiny was finally at hand.
A lopsided grin stole across his face.
~ * ~
In a time of imminent war, when the King and Queen are no more, There will come the rise of brother against brother...
And war will begin again.
Sorrow and bloodshed will fall among the people.
Hope survives in the unity of the New King and his mate.
To gain peace and end the bloodshed, the heir must mate with the rightful Princess of the old world.
Then the slaughter of life will end for all time.