man. But Conner had never done that. And he had always been a perfect gentleman, never going farther than an honorable man would.
There were so many reasons why she loved him. But she was the ruler of a kingdom that not only needed heirs, it needed peace. She glanced over at Toknon and realized that he was one way to get both.
A central plaza had been cleared where large blocks of ice had been set. While many artisans were busy at work carving their masterpieces, just as many had already been finished. Most of the sculptures were animals carved in exquisite detail. A wolf, sitting proudly marked the entrance to the plaza. It was carved to be nearly twice the size of a live wolf, which made its appearance even grander.
“The wolf is on my family’s crest,” Toknon said, admiring the cold statue.
“Where is the king?” Elissa asked. “Shall I not see him?”
“Oh, he is not well,” the prince responded. “I do not wish to burden you with his ill health, but if he is feeling better when we feast for dinner, I would gladly introduce you to him.”
Elissa accepted his words, but still felt it strange that that the king had not yet greeted her. But if he was ill, then that would explain his absence. They continued walking through the garden of ice sculptures in silence, each in their own thoughts.
They passed by a large bear standing upon its hind legs, its claws sharpened to points. Even though it was carved from a large block of ice, it was very realistic. She had never seen a bear up close, but could easily imagine the ferociousness of the beast based on the carving that stood before her.
But then her eyes fell upon the next sculpture and she exclaimed, “What is that!”
As incredible as the sculpture of the bear was, the creature behind it was even more so. It had a long and thin body, almost snakelike. It stood upon three legs, with its left front leg lifted high. Attached to its side were wings, folded onto its back. Its neck stretched high into the sky, capped by an elongated head that had four sharp horns atop. Its mouth was wide, exposing rows of teeth.
Elissa stood, awestruck. If the sculpture had not been of ice, she would have been sure that it was alive, ready to pounce on her.
“It is a called a dragon,” Toknon said.
“I have heard of such creatures, but only in stories that my old chambermaid had told me. Her dragons did not look like that.”
“They say that many thousands upon thousands of years ago, they filled the skies. It was before there were people, when they ruled the earth.”
“Children’s stories,” Elissa said with a smile, but her eyes could not break away from the incredible, highly detailed sculpture. “Why the squares on the body?”
Toknon stepped up to the sculpture and gently caressed the body, letting his hand touch the slight cuts that covered the body. “Scales,” he said. “Dragons are covered in scales that protect it. These scales are so hard, that no metal, no matter how sharp, can penetrate it.”
“I guess the dragons of Thell are different than the dragons of Karmon,” Elissa said. “Ollenia, my old chambermaid, described them as tricksters that stole little girls from their mommies when they didn’t listen. They were fat and slow, but they could change shape into that of a man or a woman. They certainly didn’t have wings.”
Toknon chuckled. “This sculpture is small compared to the size of a real dragon. In reality, dragons were ten times that size. Some as long as a hundred feet.”
Elissa giggled. “You talk as if they are real!”
“They may be children’s stories in Karmon but in Thell, they are more than just a myth. They are legend and we believe they were real.”
“Have you ever seen one?” Elissa asked with a twinkle in her eye.
“Of course not. If they were still around, they would rule the earth. A great war killed them out thousands upon thousands