“But Father, you said we were going to go tomorrow,” Kip said, struggling to keep up with her father’s long strides.
“Ordinarily that would have happened, but,” and he turned to look at Kip, “this could be very dangerous. An attack on our ships is no trivial matter. I don’t want to put you in them idle of a mess. Who knows what the condition of Ivory Harbor is? The courier said that it’s been a week since the initial attack. Who knows if the Grevians have made another move? It’s too soon to see if this is just another stab at us to keep us on edge, or if it’s the advance party of an assault.”
Kip sighed, loud enough for her father to hear, and pressed on. “Father, you and Mother are trying to prepare for being the queen, right?”
“I don’t like where this is headed, Kip. Yes we are preparing you to rule eventually, and yes we want you to be able to face danger and press on. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to purposefully put you in harm’s way.”
The two ascended the tower and entered the sunny courtyard below. Kip hurried in front of her father.
“I know that you don’t want me to get hurt. But we don’t know that something has happened besides one scout ship being attacked.”
“Roasted by a dragon, her father corrected.
“Well that is new,” Kip admitted, “but still, it’s not the first time for it to happen. We’re not at peace with the Grevians. We should expect things like this, shouldn’t we?”
He father rubbed his ragged beard. Kip could tell that he was close to giving in. She decided to pull the trump card.
“If I was a son, would you take me to the harbor?” She stopped and waited.
Her father hesitated for a moment and was about to reply, but then stopped. He let out a sly smile. “You know I would.”
Kip tried to stay as still and complacent as she could. No reason to jeopardize the situation so close to convincing him.
“Very well. Make sure you’re ready to leave at dawn tomorrow. We’ll need to move quickly.”
Kip couldn’t help the small giggle that slipped out, or the grin that crossed her face.
Back inside her room she jumped out and let out a hoot. There was something inside her that almost craved for an element of danger on the trip. It actually made this whole future-queen thing more interesting. She sat down on the edge of her bed, swinging her legs. Okay, so the son jab was a little unfair … but it’s true, right? He said so himself.
She nodded as if to convince herself and meandered over to her bedroom window which provided a view of a portion of the dragon stables. She could hear the growls and yips from the dragons. A corral to the far left housed two dragons, not yet two months old. The little beasts were jumping all over each other, nipping and scratching in a playful manner. One fired a tiny blast of fire and the other yowled and sprang forward, teeth barred. Kip laughed and rested his chin on her two arms, using the windowsill as a support.
Behind the stables rose the Dark Mountains to the east. They jutted into the midday sky like black arrows piercing the large puffy clouds. From Kip’s view they looked so grand, so beautiful, calm and majestic. Majestic? Yes. Calm? Ha! What a joke. Kip watched a pack of dragons, black specks in the sky, swirl and dive into the horizon. Dragons weren’t the only things in packs. Wolves roamed the Dark Mountain Range in abundance, and in the lucky event that a traveler didn’t run into those, there were ice trolls, bears, and moose to be wary of.
~ ~ ~
The afternoon didn’t go fast enough. Being part of the royal family, Kip, Fern, their mother, Rose, and father, Xavier the King, they had very little time during the day to converse. It wasn’t until dusk that they all met in the library, per usual. Kip’s face was beaming with the thought of flying to Ivory Harbor. Fern was always a little disappointed that since there were expensive rugs on the floor, her dog, Misty, couldn’t come in.
When Kip entered on this specific night, her father was sunk in his red-cushioned, bay-window seat, hands clasped in his lap. He mother was looking over Fern’s hands to make sure that they had been cleaned properly. Fern’s poochy lip was evidence enough that it wasn’t the most exciting of events. Kip let out a slight laugh which Fern returned by sticking out her tongue.
“It’s not so bad, Fern,” Kip teased. She remembered at that age, just a few years ago when she was in the same spot. She couldn’t say that she had had a much better attitude about it.
“Easy for you to say, Fern” said. “You get to go flying away for three weeks.”
Rose’s eyes shot toward Kip, and then swung to Xavier. “What?” She exclaimed. “You’re going to let her go?”
Xavier sat up in his chair, rubbing his eyes. “Yes.” He said.
Rose motioned to Fern that she could go read. Fern left in ten seconds. Kip advanced. “Mother, what’s wrong with me going?”
“Let me tell you what’s wrong wit-“
“Hold on a moment,” Xavier interrupted. “Rose, dear, she’ll be fine. She’ll be right by my side at all times. And if I’m pulled away by some meeting or other, she’s got Jumper. That dragon won’t let anyone near her that she doesn’t know. She’ll be safe. Besides, if she were my son I would be taking her. She’s got to do these things if she’s going to take over when I’m gone.”
Rose shook her head. “I know. She probably said that to you too, didn’t she? Xavier, I know she needs to learn how to run a country, but you could be putting her in serious danger, dragon to protect her or not.”
“Dear, it will be fine. Trust me.” Xavier said.
Rose dropped her head. “I trust you, you know that.Very well then, you young lady need some sleep,” she said, spinning on her heels towards Kip.
Kip was out of the room in a flash. Best to just sleep, or at least try to. The sooner morning came, the better.