Raine took a deep breath and screwed up her courage. It was now or never. She almost turned away, but then visions of Bryce played within her mind and she found herself flying toward Virtra’s tent. As she drew near, a faint glow shone from beneath. The tent was the oddest that Raine had ever seen. A heavy, wooden door hung where there should have been canvas flaps, and she wondered for a moment what could have been holding it up. Then, Raine remembered that this was the tent of a very powerful witch. Hard telling what other strange things she might encounter.
Raine took a deep breath as she knocked on the door, and a moment later, it opened on its own accord. No one was on the other side.
Raine peered inside. Stone walls stretched up to high ceilings, along with wall sconces that burned brightly with orange, yellow, and red flames. Confused, Raine flew backward for a moment, taking in the tent from the outside, and then looked inside again. On the outside, it appeared to be a modest tent—except for the door—but on the inside, it appeared to be a lavishly decorated castle with sparkling stone walls, the same caliber as her father’s castle in the Magical Forest.
“Well, are you going to hover all day, or are you going to enter?” Despite the harshness of the demand, the voice sounded like silk. Almost a purr. Raine knew that it had to belong to Virtra.
“I … well … I … uh …” Raine stammered.
“Out with it, girl!” the voice said.
Down the hallway stood a beautiful woman with long, black hair that stretched down to her waist, bright red lips, and dark eye makeup. She wore a long black dress under a high-necked, bright red cloak. She pushed the cloak aside. The woman’s fingernails were painted a bright red that matched her lips.
Raine cleared her throat and held her head high, summoning her courage. “I came from the Magical Forest to see Virtra. Are you she?”
The woman walked slowly down the hallway so gracefully that she almost floated, as she scrutinized Raine. “The Magical Forest you say? What business have you here?”
“Are you she? Virtra? The one they call the Dragon Queen?” Raine asked, refusing to be intimidated by the woman. She was a princess herself, after all. “My business is with her only.”
The woman laughed, clearly intrigued. “Feisty, are you not?” When Raine continued to stand her ground, the woman continued, “Why do you not fear me? I could easily squash you under foot.”
“I am not afraid of the likes of you, and I do not intimidate easily,” Raine replied, standing her ground. “Now, are you Virtra?”
The woman took a deep breath, as she looked Raine up and down. “Yes, yes. I am the ‘Dragon Queen’, Virtra. Now, what business have you here?” Virtra took a step closer. “But take care, little fairy, that I do not tire of you too quickly.”
“Are we alone?” Raine asked, hovering just outside the door.
“Yes, yes,” Virtra said, exasperated as she took a step back. “Come in and state your business.”
Raine took a deep breath, summoning all of her courage, and flew just inside the door.