Cassadee Feyuar walked fast down the stone walled hallway. The lights were dim and there was a mournful air to the place. Cassadee was on her way to the Grand Hall where she would meet her family and the royal court. Known for being rather late, Cassadee had to run to all the important assemblies.
When she got to the end of the hall she came to a large wooden door with an iron handle. The other side of the door looked like a painting because this was a secret corridor that only her family knew about. It led from the royal bed chambers down to a hallway outside of the Grand Hall. Her family would be waiting there.
Once through the door, Cassadee sought out her remaining family. Her brother, Apollo and her mother, Anastasia were her only family members that had not been killed in the war. Apollo was two years her elder. Cassadee’s people, the Felinous had been at war with the Land of Canis for centuries. Most of the people who were still living didn’t know why or how the war had started. Many people from both colonies had been killed in the fighting. Cassadee’s father, her mothers alistair or promised mate, was one of the unfortunate.
“Cassadee, we have to go into the hall. There are Canis here. They came to talk of peace,” Anastasia said.
“And we should trust them?” Cassadee asked.
“What if they have soldiers hiding, waiting to attack?” said Apollo.
“We’ll just have to take the chance. If anything happens, you two need to get out. I can’t lose you like I lost your father…” Anastasia answered.
Following their mother, Apollo and Cassadee walked into the Grand Hall, biting their tongues. The room was made for hundreds of people to meet, with cushions all around to lounge upon. The tall windows that bordered the room were draped in white and gold cashmere, a delicacy in the Land of the Felinous. The Cani stood opposite from Cassadee, standing close to the wall. Their queen stood in the middle, flanked by her son and guard commander. Five soldiers stood behind them.
The Cani were know for their bite and could not be trusted in the Felinous lands. The Felinous children grew up fearing their name. Magic radiated from the Cani. It was rumored that they could make things happen in the blink of an eye.
The queen, Luna, was dressed head-to-toe in midnight blue silk with silver chains and enchanting blue stones. Her gown fluttered around her ankles though there was no breeze in the hall. Her hair was black and fell to her waist. Her son, Zane, wore the same silky blue. His hair was black and sticking up all over his head. To Cassadee, it looked like he never brushed his hair. She thought this preposterous. She would never let herself look as though she couldn’t groom herself.
Anastasia approached Luna and the Felinous guard fell in around her. Cassadee and Apollo stayed back near the wall, as did Zane, with two of his guard when his mother stepped forward. Only one guard stayed near Cassadee and Apollo. The Felinous didn’t worry about protection on their own lands. They had snipers and spies hidden throughout the entire colony.
Everyone in the hall held their breath when Anastasia and Luna met in the middle of the room. Tension, fear, and hate radiated from the two, even though neither knew what the war was about or why it had started at all. The two queens talked quietly to each other, not wanting anyone to hear.
Cassadee looked over at Zane CanDoir. In the shadows, where he stood, she could hardly make out his features. She could only make out his shape. He must have noticed her looking over at him because he turned his gaze onto hers. His eyes were the color of a deep ocean; blue and electrifying. All Cani had blue eyes but Cassadee had never seen any as deep and blue as his. She could get lost in his eyes, but she had to look away. His gaze could enchant her and then she would be under his control. It was known by the Felinous that the Cani could control your every move and thought. If you stared into their eyes long enough… they could see your soul. At least this was the rumor amongst the Felinous square.
Even after turning her head Cassadee could feel Zane’s eyes on her. Apollo was watching the Cani with an intense glare. Anyone in the Land of the Felinous would have shivered in their gold slippers if he looked at them that way but the Cani were not afraid of him. Likely, he wasn’t afraid of them either. Each thought the other weak.
Anastasia and Luna parted, walking back to their families. Anastasia looked nervous, worried, and hopeful all at the same time. When she got to Cassadee’s side she let out a sigh.
“They do want peace but they don’t trust that we will follow through with any of their plans.” Anastasia said.
“Did you propose any kind of plan? I’m sure we can come up with something better than those mutts.” Apollo spit when he said their name.
“We agreed to meet again in seven days. If we have no plan by then. We will have to follow through with theirs. Something has to end this war.”
“What did they propose?” Cassadee asked.
“I cannot tell you in public. Wait until tonight… after I have time to run.”
Cassadee didn’t question her mother further. It would only cause an argument. The Cani were escorted out of the hall as Cassadee and her family went through the secret door. When Cassadee arrived at her suite she flopped down on her cashmere blanket that lay on her queen sized bed. She couldn’t comprehend what could be so unimaginable that her mother could not tell her in the hall. Her mother never kept plans from her that involved the Cani. Cassadee would be queen soon because her brother would be in charge of the guard. The oldest male in the family always took over the guard. Her mothers brother was the current general. Because of this, the oldest daughter was appointed queen. If there were no daughters born of the queen, then her second son would take over the position when he came of age. Cassadee would be appointed queen in a months time, on her eighteenth birthday.
Cassadee’s thoughts were disturbed when she heard a knock at the door. She reluctantly stood and walked to her door. When she opened it her mother stood on the other side.
“Would you like to run with me tonight Cassadee?” she asked.
“Yes. Just let me change.”
Once Cassadee was into her lightweight dress, her and Anastasia walked down the endless stairway to the lavish gardens. This was the only place on the Felinous lands that the queen and her kin could let down their guard and run freely. The garden was the size of two modern day football fields and had flowers of almost every kind planted within it. There were daisies, daffodils, roses, orchids, and many more.
As soon as the guard were standing around the edges of the garden, Cassadee removed her dress and let her self loosen up. The change into her jaguar form was as natural to Cassadee as sleep. Her form was flawless. Her coat glistened in the moonlight. When she was in her final form, she looked over and saw that her mother had finished her change and was roaming in the lilies. Anastasia was a golden lioness. Her soft velvety coat looked as though she had been painted with the colors of the sun. Her face and jaws were sharply sculpted. Any cat or dog would know that she was queen. Cassadee had the same sharpness to her structure but with a noticeable softness.
Cassadee spent the next few hours wondering through the garden. Feeling the grass under her paws gave her a new sense of freedom. In her cat-form, Cassadee felt like she could be care-free, with no thoughts of the Cani, the war, or the trouble that lay ahead.
When Cassadee woke the next morning her mother was gone from her bed. Anastasia had stayed with Cassadee the night before because she hated to be alone, even in sleep. Casius, Cassadee’s father, had been a gentle, loving man who would do anything to keep his family happy. Anastasia couldn’t go a full night without feeling her husband by her side. She had taken to sleeping with Cassadee for the last few weeks. This didn’t bother Cassadee in the least. She loved to feel her mothers warmth next to her.
Cassadee sat up in bed and looked around the room. Her mother wasn’t anywhere in sight, and this bothered Cassadee. Lately, her mother hadn’t woken until after Cassadee was out of bed. There seemed to be a lot of things on Anastasias mind since the meeting the previous day. This must have caused her to drift in and out of sleep.
Cassadee walked to her wardrobe, pulled out her white silk day gown, and slipped on her golden slippers. Today she would go down to the square and mingle with her people. She always made sure she had time to spend with the people who would support her when she wore the crown.
She sat on the fountain in the center of the square and ran her hand through its cold water, looking around at the many stalls selling goods. Across from her was the fruit seller, Jeremiah. He sold every type of fruit offered in the colony. There were apples, oranges, pomegranates, grapes, pears, and many other fruits. Cassadee had recently asked the palace chef to buy their fruits from this particular seller. There was always something extra sweet about his goods.
Next to the fruit stand stood the silk weavers outdoor stand. The actual shop was on the outside of town but no one wanted to walk all the way to the edge of town, though they would because this was the best silk weaver in the land. The old woman who ran the shop and did all of the weaving went by the name of Nevaeh. She had the fingers of an angel and could weave any pattern requested. The dress that Cassadee was wearing at the moment was made special by Nevaeh. It was a smooth ivory white with delicate golden flowers and doves sewn into the fabric.
Next to the silks was another fruit stand, then a woodsmen, and then a metal shop. The square in the Felinous lands was known for being plentiful and diverse. There were many different types of goods in the square and they never seemed to run out of things to sell. Almost everything in the palace was bought in the square.
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