Up on the faintly illuminated terrace, Soris was on the large balustrade of marble. He stood straight, with legs a bit apart and arms left freely by his sides. He gazed at the sparkling spectacle given by the multitude of stars filling up the sky. The cool breeze went in mild whiffs along him, calming his soul. Sitting like this, with eyes stuck on the sky, was pure bliss; feeling how he detached from his identity, how he almost started levitating, getting closer and closer to those enchanting lights. His mind was far away from the terrestrial world.

A loud rustle of leaves from the trees in the park woke him from his reverie. Turning his gaze quickly to that direction, he became unbalanced. Fearing he might fall, he got down. “Oh, I guess I’ve gotten dizzy after staying like this for too long. I almost fell. I should be more careful. But what was that noise?”

He bent greatly to the front, propping himself on his arms to search the garden. Obviously, it was Vittria’s fault: a sudden, imperfect jump taken hastily over the hornbeam hedge that bordered the garden.

Hidden behind a tree, she was aware she had gotten his attention. She sat tensed. Cursing in her mind, she got the idea of making a similar noise with an air wave controlled by her scepter, hoping this would trick the prince.

You're reading chapter 9 from The Arid Kingdom series - Book #1

Soris was quite calm. He didn’t suspect anything; only his vigilance, which had become instinctual after so many fights, made him look in that direction. The wind created by Vittria passed, and, after a few seconds, he came to a conclusion: “It must’ve been a cat.” He leaned on an elbow by the balustrade, his chin on his palm, resuming his contemplation of nature and listening to the constant song of the crickets.

Vittria watched him, short of breath. Between the branches of the tree that covered her, she noticed that the prince took his eyes away from the park. She let out a sigh of relief, then made her way through the gathering of shrubs and flowers, searching to get close to the wing of the building upon which the terrace sat.

Reading chapter 9 from book one of The Arid Kingdom series - the prince

She walked meticulously, to make sure she wouldn’t spoil the surprise. She saw in this action an opportunity sent by the heavens for her to meet Soris—the man of her dreams. For more than two years, she had been watching what he did outside the palace. That was all she could see through the Magical Eye; everything that went on inside was a mystery to her.

She very much desired to get to know him, to capture his heart with her feminine charms, to become his lover. She was a maniac for him, firstly because she saw how loyally he kept himself about his engagement, and secondly because lately she hadn’t had any love affairs. Since she had agreed to help her uncle, Bardan, her romances had decreased considerably in number. She enjoyed remembering the short but passionate loves she had experienced in her native village, but the longing for new encounters became greater and greater. By all means, she had to have Soris in her love life’s records.

She had been in relationships with rich boys, nobles, but never with a prince. She was fascinated by the thought of being with him, even for just a few seconds. As much as she wanted to attract him with her beauty, to make him want her, she cared little about his life. She knew that once the palace was conquered, Soris would be killed; but that didn’t trouble her in any way, as long as she reached her goal: a short, wild love story with the prince of the Arid Kingdom.

By contrast, his later killing, she thought, would bring a drop of spicy drama at the end of their romance. The men in her league, who secretly admired her, couldn’t understand those crazy ideas she had. They knew only one thing: she liked the prince—another reason to want his death.

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Vittria stopped at once, sticking her back to a side wall of the building block that sustained the terrace. Had she succeeded in climbing up from this part, she would have arrived at a certain distance behind Soris, and then she could have taken him by surprise.

She didn’t give it a second thought. She faced the wall, lifted her magical staff, and spelled some secret words in her mind; then, raising her proud eyes, she went levitating up on the terrace. She landed silently, almost imperceptibly.

She quickly squatted, fearing she might be observed. Her brightly-colored attire could have very well drawn some soldier’s attention. But the patrol passed by, yawning carelessly, following its path without looking up even once. Perfect! she thought, pleased, fixing her eyes on the nape of the prince’s neck.

Instead of thinking how to knock him down, she thought how to surprise him more, to make their first meeting as thrilling as possible. She wanted to get to him, shoulder to shoulder, without him noticing her beforehand. She knew he had sharp senses. But no, by all means she had to leave a big, unforgettable impression; therefore she again made use of levitation to reach the prince.

Reading chapter 9 from book one of The Arid Kingdom series - the prince

She was aware that any magical action consumed her energy, but she didn’t care that she was risking the success of the mission, or that she was doing something condemnable by her entire group. Bardan could have punished her severely, but all she wanted was to seize the day.

Soris was enjoying, with eyes closed, in his sweet melancholy, the freshness of the night and the song of the crickets, not suspecting that someone was approaching him threateningly. You’re mine! thought Vittria, with eyes as flashy as those of a hungry wolf.

When her feet touched the ground one step behind him, Soris suddenly opened his eyes. He made to turn, but with a short jump, Vittria bumped into his shoulder and took his face in her hand to direct his eyes towards hers. Soris recoiled, startled, pushing her hand away. He shouted, “Hey, hands off! Who are you?”

End of Chapter 9, The Arid Kingdom series - Book #1, the prince

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