Teal was content in her place as the swan prime. She helped her people recover from wounds and officiated shifter weddings. Life was serene until her mother lets her know that her husband has been chosen, and the wedding is going to be that very day.
Tony has been watching the white-haired swan for years. Every meeting with the heads of the clans and the primes has had her sitting directly across from him, usually in a charming dress. When he runs across her at his family gas station, she is not her normally ladylike self, and he finds that the scrappy swan is even more intriguing than the elegant one.
When a dragon appears and makes them an offer, their futures cease to be theirs to control as they pledge themselves to the Crossroads... and each other.
Teal finished her swim, shifted, and pulled her sundress on as she padded down the dock.
Her mother stopped her before she reached the house. “Teal, I want to speak to you.”
“Walk and talk, Mother. I have a meeting to get to.”
Annabella Winx frowned. “I need your full attention.”
“I have an avian council meeting to get to, and the transporter is on the way. Can’t it wait until this evening?”
Her mother frowned. “You really need to know this before the party.”
A honk from out front got Teal’s attention. “Right. I am sure. I have to go. Talk to me later.” She put on her shoes and ran around the front to meet the transporter. Mages were notoriously bad-tempered. Teal figured that they didn’t get laid enough, but that was her own opinion and not that of the swan prime.
As the swan prime, she could feel all of her people, all the time. It was a position of honour and totally random. Her family was using her inheritance of the position to elevate themselves in society. The little girl she used to be before she was elevated just wanted to run through the woods and swim in the pond.
Leonard was standing next to his car, his arms crossed. “Are you ready?”
She nodded. “Yes.”
He flicked his cigarette to one side, and he focused on the portal. She waited until the light flared, and she stepped through it. It was time to be the most official swan in the world for this generation.
The avians were gathering, and Teal nodded at a few of the others that she recognized on sight. She saw the goose, the ducks, and the array of songbirds. There were a handful of primes in the gathering of hundreds. They took their seats in the congress, and Teal took her seat up front.
The gavel banged, and they all looked toward the stork who was in charge this year. The eagle was sitting behind her and to the left.
The gavel banged again. “Thank you all for coming. We have an interesting speaker here today. She is asking for our agreement, so please, give her your attention.”
The doors opened, and a woman with long, straight blue-black hair and emerald green eyes came in, her body shockingly petite for the amount of power she projected.
She walked calmly to the front of the room, and everyone was silent.
She smiled. “Good afternoon, avians. I am Dira, and I am proposing an interesting situation to solve a lot of problems. Every shifter species occasionally has the heartbreak of a member of their flock or grouping finding a mate outside of their species.”
The gathered representatives murmured among themselves.
“What I have created is a dimensional bubble where these couples can either meet or confirm their pair bond in an environment where family and friends are not a factor. It will simply be them and their mate, and other couples in the same situation.”
Teal stood up. “Do you mean that folk will be able to find matches there? Or that odd couples will go there to work out their issues before committing?”
Dira smiled. “Ideally, the first. It will be a safe place. No family, no friends, and no judgment as to what they fall in love with.”
“How would they get there?”
Dira looked at her. “A contract with the transporters. Lodgings would be the same. A modest fee for upkeep. Food will be free, alcohol will not be.”
The raven prime stood up on the other side of the assembly. “So, you have already created the dimensional bubble?”
“Who has built the buildings?”
Dira smiled. “A family of beavers with adaptation issues has moved in. They are doing the builds.”
“So, folks will have to pay the transporters to get there?”
“The transporters will do the job for feathers and fur. They need it for spellwork, and the more powerful the shifter, the better for them.”
The gathering gasped.
Teal put her hands on her hips. “They are going to use bits of our shifted form?”
Dira nodded. “It has the most value for them. But a family can bear the financial burden of launching a family member to the Crossroads and accepting whatever the true match is.”
The raven narrowed his eyes. “How do you assure the acceptance?”
Dira turned her hand so her palm was up. A scroll was sitting on her palm, and she unraveled it. “That is why I have come here today. I have gained the agreement of the canines, the rodents, the felines, and the monsters. There are more, but you get the idea. They have all agreed in the majority. So, I am going to leave this here, and anyone who wants to give the odd men and women out a chance at love, please sign. I will send instructions for everything else.”
The central table was filled with the scroll, and Teal stepped forward to sign it. As she went to grab the pen, the raven got it before she did. He smiled slightly and handed it over.
She nodded in thanks and signed next to her name. He took the pen after she was done and did the same. Huh, his name was Antony. Antony the raven.
After they signed, there was a lineup of those who were convinced that it was a good idea.
Teal stood next to the chairman, and she said, “We all know of a person who has wanted someone that we didn’t think was suitable. They were condemned to a life alone. The unmatched have been occurring at random for years. Forcing them into a life of solitude is cruel and avoidable. This is a feasible solution. It also ensures a life and family for the children of the union.”