Alice took them to her private chamber high above the village. It had large stone columns, and overlooked the village. A soft purple/pink fog wrapped around the village, giving it a mystical feel. She had several trays of fruits and vegetables as well as several bottles of water brought to the room. Each of the villagers were flanked by some form of cat, which had been matched with them when they were young, and they loved and cared for it until its maturity. Their bond was unbreakable, and, if by some chance, one or the other should pass away, they would never find another, and would live out the rest of their lives alone.
Bella and Rose sat down. Rose picked up the first piece of food; it was hard, round, and red.
“That is an apple.” Alice explained. “Bite into it.”
Rose took a small bite, and was happily surprised by the taste. “This is good.” She handed one over to Bella, who also enjoyed the apple. Other pieces of food were explained. Soon, Rose, Bella, and Jasper found that they enjoyed the new food.
“I am really surprised that this the first time you have been out of your home world.” Alice commented.
“We have always been watchers, using the magic stones to see past our world’s walls. Seeing what man did to the earth was very disheartening; we were not surprised when his demise happened. But, we were not able to see other beings like ourselves. Are there many?” Bella asked.
“Yes. We have come across several over the years. Most are only trying to rebuild the planet, now that men are no longer the rulers of it. But, unfortunately, there is a race of beings who think they should be the ones who should governing all the races. They are a cruel race, worse than man when it comes to preserving life.” Alice explained.
“What are they?” Bella asked.
“They are called Vampires. They survive on the blood of humans. From what I have heard, they can live off animal blood, but they don’t like to drink it.”
Bella’s heart dropped. Her mate was part of the cruelest race on the planet.
“Bella, are you okay?” Alice asked, when she saw all the color disappear from her face.
“Everyone, please excuse me.” Bella said, as she stood and walked away. Finding some stairs, she walked down to the bottom, which was near the water, and looked out across the rippling tides. The sun was casting an orange and yellow glow across the tides. The sky was crystal blue, with white puffy clouds that seemed to be dancing across the horizon.
Her mate was considered to be part of the cruelest species on the planet. How could she give her whole self to someone like this? She had dreamed that her mate was kind and loving, and they could spend the rest of eternity together, but now she knew that was not going to be the case. She would find him, and bring him back to her home, where she would fulfill the prophecy. Once she was able to get the dragon egg to hatch, she would tell her mate he could go back to his kind, and not have to suffer with the likes of her. She would hatch her dragon, love it, care for it, and raise it herself. When it came time to for her to take her position over the world, she would do so alone. Wiping a lone tear, she whispered goodbye to her dream. As she walked back up the stairs, she was met by Rose.
“Are you okay?” Rose asked.
“Yeah, it’s just hard learning about my mate.”
“I am sure it is. But, Bella, you are such a wonderful person; don’t you think your mate would be like you? Maybe he will surprise you, and be everything you hoped for; don’t dwell on the negative.”
Bella threw her arms around Rose, and gave her a tight hug. “Thanks for always being my friend, first, and my protector, second.” Bella looked up toward where Alice and Jasper were sitting. “What do you make of Alice?”
“She is as she seems. I think you can trust her.”
“All right, I need to tell her about our quest, and, hopefully, she will have some more insight on the Vampires.”
Bella and Rose walked back to where Alice and Jasper was sitting. “I am sorry about that,” Bella said. “I need to tell you about the reason why we are out in the world.”
“Bella, only tell me what you feel comfortable in telling.” Alice implored.
Bella began at the beginning, and, by the time she reached the part where she was mated with a vampire, Alice’s expression was that of shock and awe. “Oh, Bella I really don’t know what to say. I have only seen such vile things from the Vampire race, but, somewhere deep inside, I feel that your mate will be the exception. I would love to be able to come with you on your quest.”
“Thank you, Alice, for you kind words. I would be honored to have you come with us. I think I understand how hard it would be for Jasper not for you to be close.”
“That is true, but I also have a deep need to help.” Alice said, then turned her head toward her panther, and, after a moment, stroked his head lovingly. “Strike that, we would like to help.”
Bella looked at the large cat; as she did, he nodded his head. “Thank you, Alex, I will be honored to have you as a companion on my quest. But, I don’t want to put you in danger, since I am looking for a Vampire.”
Alice giggled. “Oh, Bella, Vampires don’t like our blood. A few hundred years ago a vampire happened upon one of our kind and his cat. He attacked and began to drink, but quickly stopped, spitting out the blood. Actually, the story goes that the vampire had to lick a tree to get the taste off his tongue.”
“Oh my!” Bella said, trying not to laugh.
“Yeah, so we would not be in danger; I am sure that the vampires remember not to attack us.”
“Then, I would love having you.” Bella admitted.
They spent the rest of the day talking, and getting to know each other. Alice offered her bed to sleep in, as well as an extra guard for her protection. Bella accepted her kindness, and appreciated a soft bed for the night. She took off her cloak and her clothes, leaving just her sheth to sleep in. Laying down on the bed, she closed her eyes, and drifted off to sleep. She began to dream of a grove of flowers that blanketed every inch of the ground; the sky was a lovely shade of blue with puff clouds, and the rays of the sun reached through the trees, and cast a shimmering glow on the petals of the flowers.
“Believe in the good of your mate.” A voice said across the grove in the trees. “All will not be as it seems.”
“What do you mean?” Bella asked, wondering who was talking to her.
“Just keep an open heart.” The voice said again. Then, suddenly, the grove of bright colored flowers turned black, and an eerie fog surrounded the grove. “This is what happens when you don’t.”
Bella woke up, and shook her head. Had it been just a dream, or had it been a premonition of events to come?
Rose had been watching over her as she slept, and she saw that Bella had been having some type of dream, because she was mumbling in her sleep. After hearing that Bella’s mate was part of the most feared race on the earth, Rose’s heart broke for Bella. Bella’s soul was the purest in all of the world, and she was filled with love and compassion and how could the gods be so cruel to make her mate so full of evil. She had never had the pull of the mating before, and hoped that, one day soon, she would find her mate.
“Rose, are you okay?” Bella asked, as she sat up, wiping the sleep from her eyes.
“Yes. How are you?”
“I am still tired.” Bella groaned. “I feel like I haven’t even sleep any at all.”
Rose walked over, and sat down at the edge of Bella’s bed. “Bad dreams?”
“Not really, just confusing ones.”
“Do you want to talk about them?” Rose asked.
“Not now. I am trying to make sense of them, and then I will talk about them.”
“I am here when you want to talk.”
“I know. Now, let’s get up and get on our way. I need to go outside, and see what direction we need to head.” Bella said before getting up, and gathering her clothes.
“Once you are ready, we will go find Jasper and Alice, and get on our way.”
Bella quickly dressed, and made sure she had all her possessions, then, she walked over to where Rose was standing. They walked out of the door, and were met by two guards, who had been on duty all night. They directed them down to where Alice was sitting on a bench, while Jasper was sitting beside her with his arm wrapped around her. The smile of their faces shined brightly; their love for each other was very evident.
Jasper looked up, and saw his goddess, and his sister. Standing up, he bowed his head in a sign of respect. “Bella, I hope you slept well.”
Bella didn’t want to bring everyone down with the fact she hadn’t slept well; her secret would be safe with Rose. “I slept fine. We really need to get going.”
“Certainly. We are ready.” Jasper said, reaching out, and offering his hand to Alice. Once helping her to her feet, they collected their bags and weapons, and headed out.
Once Bella was outside, she stopped, and checked the compass. It pointed south, which would take them across the mountains. Jasper and Alice took the lead, with Bella in the middle, and then Rose and Alec in the rear. The terrain was easier than the city they came across, this was mostly lush, green grass, tall trees, and rolling hills.
They were able to travel several miles with the trees cleared and the sun’s rays beaming down onto the large, grassy meadow before them. Across the field, a figure stepped from the distant tree line. The closer it came, they realized that it was a woman. She was dressed in a golden, flowy gown and on her head was a gold crown with blue feathers attached to it. As she made her way across the field, she was flanked with two large pink birds, who had long, spindle-like legs, and, there were many different types of birds flying around her, fluttering around her in an almost protective manner. As she drew near, the birds dissipated, yet remained in close proximity.
“Greetings travelers.” She said in a voice, not unlike the birds’ chirps.
“Greetings.” Bella answered back. She was in awe of how the birds seemed so in sync with her every moment.
“My name is Angelica, Guardian of all Winged Animals on the earth. It is my great pleasure to meet you, Isabella, Goddess and Mother of the Blood Dragons, and, of course, your guards, Jasper and Rosalie. Alice and Alec, I have heard so much about you; it such a pleasure to finally meet you face to face.”
Bella looked around at her party, and was so totally confused how this woman knew each of their names, and how she knew that she was the Mother of the Blood Dragon.
“Oh, I am so sorry.” Angelica giggled. “I can see by your faces you are confused as to how I know each of you.”
“Yes.” Bella admitted.
“Oh, that is easy, a little bird total me all about each one of you. I am so excited to meet you, and can’t wait to join and help you on your quest.”
“A bird?” Alice asked.
“Yes, he is a very nosey sort. Loves to gossip about everything and everyone on the earth.” She snorted.
“Does your bird have a name?” Jasper asked.
“Harry. I know it is strange to have a bird named Harry, but, once you see him you will understand; he has so many feathers that he looks hairy.”
Bella giggled, thinking about a hairy bird. This world had lots of surprises, and she couldn’t wait to see what else was out there.
Several miles away, on top of a hill, stood a lone traveler. His clothes covered all his body, and most of his face, only allowing his bright red eyes uncovered. He had been watching the party of three as they left the great fallen city, and had made friends along the way. He didn’t know why, but, deep inside, he felt a pull toward someone in the party, but he was not ready to make his presence known. So, he would watch from a distance.