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The Imperiled Heir {First Chapter}

While we prepare for the release of A Peculiar Royal (formerly The Lost Prince) enjoy the first chapter of book two: “The Imperiled Heir”

Chapter One:

The Return

Elandra Lockridge anxiously awaited the arrival of the carriage; it had been the longest three months she had ever been through, but today, the waiting was going to come to an end. Her face filled with joy as it pulled up in front of the palace and she hurried out the door to greet her grandson. “Tristan!” she exclaimed. Nork leaped out of Tristan’s arms and ran into Elandra’s.

“Bippa!” Tristan Lockridge exclaimed, he ran out of the carriage and wrapped his arms around his grandmother. 

“My, it feels like it’s been ages,” Elandra said, “who would have thought that three months would feel like fifteen years again? And you… what is this?” she asked, gently stroking a piece of his hair. “Why is your hair blue?” her cheeks reddened. 

“Erm, you’re right, anyway is Bopa home?” Tristan changed the subject.

“Did my brother practice experiments on you?!”

“I vowed I wouldn’t tell,” Tristan smiled. “Now, where is everybody? I was expecting fanfare for my return,” he told her.

“They working now, you know that,” Elandra laughed, “but I’m sure they’ll be thrilled to see you when they return. “Tell me about your journey; how did you like Tamin?” she beamed.

 “Beautiful, Bippa! Like nothing I’ve never known before. Maybe I should take Tamin instead of Odsia, is that possible? There was a carnival and masquerades and fountains greater than some of the houses here.”

“I wish you could take Tamin, I think it fits your personality more,” she stated. “But technically, Odsia is yours. Go hurry and get into something comfortable and get some rest, your grandfather will be home in the evening.”

Tristan kissed her cheek and ran off up to his room. Of course, there was a basket of apples waiting there for him. He reached out for one, excitedly biting his lip— the excitement left his face and he lowered his hand as fear set it. He cleared his throat and looked down at Nork. “Let’s get ready to see everybody, shall we?” he asked.

***

It was evening when Tristan awakened, he sat up and rubbed his eyes, then brushed his hand through his messy hair— he hadn’t expected to fall asleep. He looked at the grandfather clock in the corner of the room and leaped out of the bed, grabbing Nork and running downstairs. He could hear that everyone was arriving back at the palace and he felt his heart soaring with excitement. 

Dorian walked out of the carriage and into the palace with a huge grin on his face— he looked around the great hall for Tristan, expecting that he’d be waiting there. “Where is he?” he asked Elandra.

“Here I am,” Tristan replied; he hurried to his grandfather and greeted him with a hug. 

“It’s so good to see you, kiddo,” Dorian told him. “How was your trip? We missed you greatly,” he continued.

“It was,” Tristan started as August walked through the door. “August!” he shrieked, nearly pushing Dorian aside and tackling August in a bear hug. 

“Tristan, it’s so good to see you!” August rejoiced.

Dorian and Elandra frowned. “I didn’t get that,” Elandra pouted.

“I got knocked over,” Dorian complained.  “I trust you enjoyed Tamin,” he said to Tristan, examining the patch of royal blue hair on his head; he frowned, wondering what bizarre experiments his brother in law was practicing on him. Nevertheless, it was clear that Tristan had a new glow about him; he felt like it was a good glow, but at the same time it seemed a little too good.

“It was wonderful,” Tristan nodded. “Far more fun than–” he stopped, that could have offended Dorian and he didn’t want to do that. He raised up and down on the balls of feet and teetered back and forth. “Far more fun than working from seven to five,” he said. “It was just the trip I needed.”

Dorian was happy to hear that; now maybe he would explain why he wanted to leave to begin with. He readied to ask him about it, but something told him that Tristan wouldn’t welcome the question. Tristan could tell something was on his mind, and he knew it was something he didn’t want to answer, so he forced a grin. 

“How about that sunshine?” he asked. 

Dorian looked out the door and nodded; it was a gorgeous day; the sun had only just begun to set despite it being evening time. “Spring in Odsia,” he said. “Tamin springs get dark too fast.”

“Oh, Bopa, you’re jealous because you think I like Tamin better than Odsia?” Tristan laughed. “I do,” he nodded. “I do like Tamin better than Odsia.”

Elandra smiled proudly before giving Dorian a bragging look. She knew he wouldn’t take it seriously and she knew that Tristan was only playing around. “There’s a feeling of magic in the air there,” she sighed. 

“You two will always enjoy ganging up on me,” Dorian shook his head. He put his hand on Tristan’s shoulder, ready to relate news to him, but wondered whether or not he’d like it. If he was able to make it through the introduction party and the coronation without any problems then surely, he’d be ready for what was coming. “Do you know what’s coming up in two weeks?” he asked.

“Two weeks?” Tristan wondered aloud. “No,” he shook his head. 

“It marks a year since you’ve been back,” he told him.

Tristan’s green eyes widened; a year? Time had flown by just like that! He didn’t even realize that he had turned eighteen years old in Tamin and that six months had passed since he was officially crowned prince of Odsia. “A year?” he gasped.

“I know,” Dorian chuckled.

“I erm, wow.”

“Of course, your grandmother and I see that as a cause for celebration,” Dorian carefully told him. He knew Tristan hated to be celebrated, but hopefully after spending months in a bizarre place like Tamin, he would see it as something small and conservative— and as he thought before, he had been the center of parties in the past. Along with that, he had an idea that would make him feel more comfortable.

“Oh,” Tristan nervously smiled. An anniversary party for him? That was sweet, but he hated to be the center of attention. At the same time, he loved the idea of making Dorian and Elandra happy; and the fact that they wanted to celebrate the fact that he had been with him for a year made his heart warmer than a cup of peach cider. There was also the case of the death threats, if they weren’t sent to him as a prank, would the sender find out about the party and try to crash it and harm him? “If you wish it,” he finally nodded.

Elandra grinned from ear to ear as she became jittery. She had a feeling he’d say yes, but that didn’t make her any less nervous— she was proud of Tristan, he was always willing to make sacrifices for his family. She took his hand and kissed his cheek. “Because we know you don’t like to be the center of attention, we decided that the celebration should be a masquerade; something very popular in Tamin as you know,” she said.

Tristan’s eyes sparkled; he could have his face covered the entire time? That would take most, if not all of the pressure off of him. “I love that idea,” he excitedly replied. 

“We’re glad to hear that,” Dorian said. “Now, let’s all get settled and hear about your time in Tamin.”

“How long has he been home and no one told me?!” Axel screamed rushing into the Great Hall. He locked eyes with Tristan before picking him up and nearly crushing him in a hug. “The brat is back!” he rejoiced. “Did you really have to leave for so long? I was stuck here training people who were actually good at sword fighting,” he babbled.

“Lungs… getting… crushed,” Tristan weakly told him. He took a deep gasp for air when Axel freed him and held his stomach. “It’s good to see you to, Axel,” he told him, regaining his breath. “Although I resent that sword fighting comment.”

Axel gave him an aggressive pat on the back, before snatching him into a headlock and rustling his hair. “All facts, kiddo, all facts,” he told him. “Man, did we all miss your face, your whining and your trying to get yourself killed and then complaining about being disciplined around here.”

“You don’t have many nice things to say to me, do you?” Tristan laughed, straightening out his now messy hair. 

“Where is he?” a voice sang, from the entryway. It was hard to who had entered as they were blocked by stacks of clothing that they carried in their hand, but it wasn’t hard for Tristan to tell who it was— he knew that singsong voice anywhere; and who else would be hidden behind a stack of clothes?

“Zira,” he beamed, hurrying over, along with August, Eris and Axel to help her out. She dropped everything in Eris’ hands so she could hug Tristan— even she was almost able to lift him off of the ground. 

“Look at you!” she gasped, “look at that Taminite tan! Wait until you see all the new outfits I had made for you while you were away,” she squealed. “And with this new glow I can see, they’ll look even better!” she turned to Dorian and Elandra. “Does he know about the you know what?” she asked and they nodded. “Oh, well then tell me what you’d like to be and I’ll get started on that right away; I’ve been dying to work on it.”

Tristan laughed— Zira’s excitement always made him anxious yet happy. He looked over at the stacks of clothing and one in particular caught his eye. It was black, and gently embroidered with a red design; his eyes sparkled at the seeing it and he gently ran his hand across it. “It’s beautiful!” he gasped, taking it from Eris. “Is it mines?” 

“Of course not,” Zira replied, “that’s for August.”

Tristan’s shoulders dropped, of course it wasn’t his— she never let him wear black. “August always gets to wear black,” he complained. 

“There’s that whining we missed,” Axel chimed in. 

“August is an advisor, knight; you’re the prince, we’ve been over this. And stop the pouting, the outfit is yours, I was only joking,” Zira told him. “Now hurry and tell me what you’d like for the masquerade and then go try these on,” she nudged.

Tristan thought for a moment; if he could be anything, what should he be? He wondered. “Erm, Frankenstein? I mean, his monster of course,” he told her.

“No.”

“The Hunchback of Notre Dame?”

Zira frowned, sighing at his ridiculous choices; what was worse is that he was being one hundred percent serious; this is why she knew he needed to leave the dressing to her. “This is why I don’t let you dress yourself,” Zira sighed. “No. I will pick something out, just go and try on these clothes.”

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