The skies of the Drakil Empire were dark. Storm clouds had rolled in hours ago and the vast space was occasionally brightened by flashes of lightning accompanied by the cracking drums of thunder. Biting rain pelted the city of Batan which forced it's citizens indoors. The downpour was so bad they Skyborn Patrols were called back to the Keep. It was midway through the rainy season for this part of the Empire so it was to be expected. This much rainfall would help produce bountiful crops, ensuring the necessary water for them. An Empire the size of Drakil needed a successful harvest to feed it's people.
Staring out the window of his room the Prince watched the lightning dance across the sky. Prince Mikal enjoyed the stormy season, enjoyed the music of the clouds and rain as they hit the side of the castle and mountain side the great structure was built into. Batan castle was carved out of the mountain making it strong against attack. Batan Mountain's numerous caver systems provided housing for the Empire's dragons. Dragon Keep sat higher on the mountain, a launching point for dragon deployments. It had been Mikal's home for twenty years.
A knock came to his obsidian doorway. "Enter."
An armored figure entered his bed chambers. Outfitted in Drakilian's Royal Guard armor. Black plated chest piece with chain mail and a grey runic underneath and half-plate leggings covered grey pants and boots. Black leather greaves and gloves adorned his forearms. A white wolf head was emblazoned on the leather. Layered metal shoulder pauldrons were covered by a white cloak that mostly covered the right shoulder as it was secured on the left side by a silver wolf head clasp. They were called the wolves. Elite soldiers trained to protect the royal family. The man who entered Mikal's room was known as Gladios. He had tan skin and dark blond hair pulled back into a tail, scarlet eyes. The right side of his face down to his neck had tribal markings and the left side of his forehead had a minor faded scar where he had gotten injured in training. Tucked under his arm was his helmet, a pulled down visor helm designed in the shape of a wolf. When they had the visor down they struck fear into any who dare tried to harm royalty. But Gladios had another trick up his sleeve, he was a Draket. A Lucet who remained loyal to the Empire after the war and was Mikal's personal guard. "Your father has summoned you, your highness." Gladios bowed to the prince.
Mikal pulled away from the window. At twenty years old he only stood at five foot nine and a half. He had short dark hair and rich honey colored hazel eyes. A unique feature of the prince was a strange mark on his right breast, close to the center of his chest. It seemed to be almost half an image, as if cut in half and the remnants who knows where. "Lets not keep him waiting to long then shall we?" Mikal finished dressing, he had gotten to caught up watching the storm to finish. Lavishly dressed in white clothing, pants and tunic with a deep silver chest piece that had his family crest expertly painted on it, finely stitched dragon hide greaves, gloves and boots. He forgoes pauldrons, preferring extra mobility. A rich red cloak adorned similarly like Gladios but a dragon head clasp instead of a wolf. Grabbing his broadsword, a black handled weapon with bright bronze guard and pommel with a decorative ring at the end. The blade was dark gray but brightened toward the tip with pale red lines on it. As he approached the door he looked over his shoulder and called, "Astroth, come along."
A deep rumble echoed around the bedchamber as the sound of something heavy shifted. Emerging from the darkened corners of the room and red dragon materialized. Astroth had been with Mikal since about the time of the crown prince's birth and are practically inseparable. Loyally he followed behind the two as they made their way through the hallway. One advantage of having a castle constructed into the mountain side, plenty of room for wide halls and tall ceilings.
It took them minutes to be standing before his father's council chambers. Two guards stood up straighter at his arrival and let them into the room. King Mikalar, sitting at his desk, was a greying dark haired man in his late forties, dressed regally with a gold armor and crown adorned with jewels. There was a large two handed sword leaning against his chair in easy reach. A large black dragon behind it eyed the royal crown playfully and on many occasion has managed to swipe it from the king. Accompanying the King as always was the council Sir Edmont the Valor, reknowned Skyknight and a grizzled veteran who trained many warriors. A tall man with gray hair. Dark knight armor with decorative veteran dressings of rank and distinction along with a lions on his chest and shoulders. Lions were part of his family crest and he chose to wear them on his armor. His black cloak clasp was that of a gold shield instead of the regular flat gray of the grunts. His dragon was a brown hulking beast with just as many scars as his rider, aslo blind in his left eye coincidentally and a cracked left horn. Next to him was High Mystic Delara, greatest sorceress in the Empire and her wisdom is highly valued. Deep royal blue clothing with large brown belt tied around her waist and a silk sash around beneath that. Her hood was pulled down exposing long dark midnight hair, even though she was about the same age as his father, mid forties. Her sleeves were long and at the end had gold cuffs fabric. On her forehead was a small circlet. A green serpent dragon was curled up in her lap. Serpents could change size which was a good thing for those who were paired with them often lacked space for large partners, spending most of their item around cluttered desks, cramped libraries or hovering over bubbling cauldrons. And rounding out the trio was Field Marshal Danes, stealth master and survival expert. Medium length hair pulled back in a small ponytail with a grizzled beard and goatee, a long scar graced his left cheek and he had field paint on his face. He was a wild man who's expertise kept many a soldier alive in the field. He has a tattered green cloak with a deep hood. His armor was a mix cloth with bits of plate on his arms and shoulders. Unlike the other members of the council Danes' dragon died during the war. He went into a bit of depression and disappeared into the wilderness for three years. When he finally did reappear it was atop the back of a Dire Bear he affectionately name Bosco.
Mikal stopped before the council and lowered himself to one knee. "You summoned me father?"
King Mikalar lowered his scroll and looked at his son. "Yes. Do you remember what this evening is?"
"A ball, if I recall correctly." Mikal answered quickly, not wanting to upset his father.
Mikalar pushed. "And the nature of this event?"
"To seek out suitable marriage candidates." Mikal struggled to not sound bored out of his skull.
"Correct. Need I remind you this will be the eight one your mother and I have hosted for you." The King sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Why can't you be like your sister?" Mikal's elder sister Gwen had married years ago and three months with child now after waiting awhile to enjoy married life and all it took was one ball. "But you'd rather run around with Gladios by your side and play soldier."
"The troops wouldn't respect a leader who wouldn't fight and die alongside them." Mikal answered curtly.
Mikalar scoffed, grabbing his goblet of ale and bringing it to his lips. "What old wardog told you that?"
"You did father." The answer nearly made the king choke on his wine, causing the council to chuckle.
"Of all the things I said to you that's what you remember." The king wiped his chin with the back of his hand, trying and failing to hide a proud smile. "Mikal, please do try to keep an opened mind tonight?"
"I'll do my best father." The king dismissed his son and the trio left the council chambers. "Gladios?"
"Yes your highness?" The Draket looked to his lord.
Mikal was silent a moment before asking, "You're married yes? What's it like?"
Gladios chuckled. "More often than night, a pain in the ass. But I wouldn't traded it for anything."
"Hm." Mikal remained silent as he returned to his room to get ready for the ball.