People began arriving for the King’s ball as early as seven thirty;
carriages pulled by well trained horses drew up along the main entrance
the Palace and Lords and Ladies stepped out, resplendent in velvets and
silks and furs and jewels. One such woman, Lady Morgaine, stepped
from her carriage and glided up the stairs that led to a pair of large,
thick wooden doors, now opened invitingly wide.
As she drew closer, the warm golden glow of hundreds of candles in
chandeliers poured out through the doorway and turned the dark velvet
cape into a thick, forest green curtain. As she entered, a servant
in royal blue and gold took the cape, revealing a dress of crimson
and a dozen smooth silver chains tied loosely around Morgaine’s waist.
Silver combs set with garnets held her long, gently curling copper
hair back from her face, and a garnet shaped like an inverted teardrop
from a silver chain around her neck.
At eight forty-three, in the brightly lit Ballroom of the Royal
Lady Morgaine stood talking to Lord and Lady Ashton when she happened
glance up at the Grand Staircase. As grey-blue eyes the color of a
sea scanned the faces looking for people she knew, one face caught her
attention. Where have I seen him before? she thought to herself.
not as he was now, in brown velvet and cream silk, and his shining,
golden-brown hair in a short braid tied with a black ribbon.
she fingered the tiny silver dragon whose wings circled her left ring
finger. Her lips moved silently as she mouthed the words of a
spell, and then her body went rigid as the enchantment took hold, and
began to appear before her eyes...
She sat in her carriage, the horses moving carefully through the
churned-up snow. As she looked out the window, one of the commoners
up at her. His brown eyes were clear and intelligent, and though his
hung in tatters around his shoulders and his hair and face were caked
mud, she could see that under different circumstances he would be
The spell released her as suddenly as it had swept her up, and for a
all she could do was wonder, But then what is he doing here? A moment
though, when the shock had worn off, she murmured a distracted, “Please
excuse me,” to Lord and Lady Ashton before striding across the
the time she’d navigated the sea of conversations and pairs of dancers,
young man was already looking around. He’s searching for something,
thought to herself, and was surprised at how certain she felt. Once
her fingers strayed to the dragon ring, but this time she whispered a
Word of Command and the ring slipped into invisibility.
She started forward, the crimson velvet of her dress swishing
when a dark-haired man walked directly into her. “I beg your pardon,”
murmured distractedly in a low, deep voice, and continued onward
stopping. Morgaine turned to watched him go and felt her vision shift
that the air surrounding the strange man was distorted, like the air
a fire, and a snake of similar distortion hung everywhere the man had
that night. “Oh, my...” she breathed as she glanced around the ballroom
saw a twisting, seemingly unending trail of bent reality. Looking back
the golden-haired young man, she could see that he looked uncertain, as
though he were trying to hear the notes of a song played far away, and
he, too, caught sight of the dark-haired man.