Authors: Dahlia Rose
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #United States, #African American, #Romance, #Multicultural, #Paranormal, #Multicultural & Interracial
A Dragon Revealed
A Dragon Revealed
Copyright © March 2014, Dahlia Rose
Cover art by For the Muse Designs © March 2014
Formatting by Bob Houston eBook Formatting
This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed in this novel are fictitious or used fictitiously. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form.
Sugar and Spice Press
North Carolina, USA
Mursi strode with purpose into the great hall of the Paladin court. It had been eight months since his Larissa was taken from this life to the next. Every few days she came to their bedroom and looked at him with sadness in her eyes. Not because she was gone but because he did not move forward. She wanted him to seek out another dragon and his destiny was related to Vatryn, a female long gone from Paladin. Mursi staunchly refused—what the gods wanted, what she wanted—it was irrelevant. His mate was taken and they still wanted him to go on some destined quest. They were wrong, it was not going to happen.
Or so he thought. Larissa came to him as he lay in their bed, and she was different, almost angry at him, and that was not her nature. Her strength was her sweetness and she said her second destiny was combined with his. She couldn’t move on unless he did. Now he was conflicted. It killed him to know that for her to find peace he was being forced to find this unknown dragon.
An internal force propelled from his bed to go see Orin. Larissa said it had to be done that very night. Since Aki found a hidden sect in the caretaker’s ranks, they were banned from walking the castle at night. Even though they knew those who were loyal, who would lay down their lives for the Royal family, they couldn’t be one hundred percent sure. He sent word for the Court to be convened, the dragons needed to hear and a decision made. By the time he got into the war room, they were all there, looking at him as if they expected him to be crazy. Mursi could understand. For the last few months he did his job but tended to stay alone, mired in his own grief and anger. He killed the Shen dragon with a vicious sense of vengeance.
“Mursi, a late night meeting, so not like you,” Aki said. Mursi noted how relaxed he was. Obviously being mated was the part of his life that was missing. He actually slept and Caye was the cause of it.
“I don’t want to be here, trust me, but I have a small problem and apparently I need to tell you,” Mursi said.
“That sounds secretive,” Orin said.
“Since Larissa’s death she’s been coming to me,” Mursi said bluntly.
“You mean in dreams?” Hawke asked.
“No, she appears in my room and talks to me,” Mursi answered. He saw it on all their faces: they thought he’d cracked. “Seriously, she does, and no, I’m not crazy.”
“I wouldn’t say you’re crazy but maybe still grieving?” Briar asked tentatively.
“She comes to me,” Mursi said stubbornly. “This isn’t grief, apparently there is a dragon out there, a female, and she thinks she’s the last one.”
“What?” Orin said. “That can’t be possible.”
Mursi ran his hand through his hair. “That’s what Larissa keeps saying, and she can’t move on until I go find this dragon. She has a second destiny that I’m apparently hampering because I refuse to find this female dragon. I’m supposed to be okay since the gods let my wife be taken from me and she has some new job.”
“Uhhhh… okay… I have no words right now,” Raul said.
Mursi pointed at him. “Shut up hatchling. Speak when spoken to.”
Raul stood. “Come over here and say that, old man, let me put you on your ass. Just because you’re grieving doesn’t mean you get to talk trash and not get a punch in the face.”
Mursi stared at him for a moment, contemplating the fight. He felt remorse that his anger was directed to the wrong place. “I’m sorry, Brother, it’s not my intent to insult or anger you.”
Raul sighed. “Fine, no problem.”
“I know this sounds insane but it’s the truth. Larissa said I needed to find Vatryn and I needed to call you together,” Mursi said. “Hell if I know what this is about.”
“It is to find Orin’s sister,” Larissa’s voice came to them, and Mursi watched her slowly take form in the room.”
“Holy fuck.” Kalv’s words were drawn out.
“By the gods,” Aki breathed.
Everyone was silent in amazement as Larissa appeared. Mursi felt almost elated that the proof was there, he was afraid he was going insane.
“It fills me with joy to see all of you.” She smiled at Aki. “Mating suits you.”
“I’m at peace now, even more so seeing you in your ethereal form,” Aki replied.
Larissa smiled. “Lleau, my brother, our family table is set and we gather and sing your praises.”
“I miss you sister,” Lleau said huskily. “I have lost my other half.”
She nodded. “We will meet again but not for a few hundred years yet.”
“I do not have a sister,” Orin said.
Larissa smiled at Orin. “Yes you do, son of Valkir and Damiarn. Your sister lives, she is the daughter of Valkir and Vatryn.”
“Vatryn left when my father chose his Queen,” Orin said.
“With a child in her womb. She told the child that they were the last of their kind. When Vatryn died, because she was cut off from our world, this child fought the Shen alone and continues to this day,” Larissa explained and turned to Mursi. “You must find her and bring her home, she will complete the twelve dragon warriors.”
“You also said I’m to be mated with her and that’s what I have a problem with,” Mursi snapped. “So she becomes a warrior and yet another set-up for death.”
Larissa frowned. “Her path may not be mine, but I do not know, the gods do not tell me.”
“They sure have great plans, don’t they? Take you, bring a new dragon into the fold. Orin’s long-lost sister no less, then tell me to go here, there, and everywhere. I may be too tired for their blasted quests,” he said angrily.
“Mursi, you need not take that tone,” Larissa said angrily. She very rarely got angry and Mursi knew when she was it was best to shut his lips. In life or in death Larissa’s wrath wasn’t something he wanted to incur. “You lost your mate, my brother lost his sister, your brethren dragon and their mates lost a friend. You do not hold the deed to grieving.”
“If what you say is true, should I not go find her and explain our kinship?” Orin asked.
She shook her head. “My thick-skulled husband must do this. For me to transcend, he must let me go. He keeps me bound between these two worlds and it is not my path.”
“Well then, by all means let me cut the love from my heart so you can transcend and forget I even existed,” Mursi retorted.
“You know that would never happen. I will always be reminded of our life together and my love for you,” Larissa said sadly. “But that part of my existence is over. You will not let go and you use my memory as a crutch to steep in anger. Let me go, Mursi, hold me in your heart but let me go. Loving another will not change the fact that we shared a mating bond for over three centuries.”
“If she’s supposed to be part of the dragon warriors, I’ll find her but that’s it. I refuse to be mated ever again,” Mursi said.
“Then I am lost,” Larissa said and turned to Orin. “The war is changing, pay heed to the upcoming battles. Paladin is in extreme danger from behind its own walls.”
“The caretakers, we know this,” Orin said.
She shook her head. “No, much more, but I cannot say anything further. I must go, I will not return unless I’m sent. Be well warriors.”
“Larissa, I love you,” Mursi said brokenly. He wanted her to acknowledge his love and show she was still his.
“You are forever in my heart, Mursi but it’s time for you to love another. I’ve accepted that long ago, now you must do the same.”
Larissa faded from sight and they sat reeling at what they’d just seen and heard. Mursi felt as if his life was spinning out of control and it was being run by forces that were not his own.
“Will you go through the portal and find this dragon?” Orin asked.
“I guess I have to, don’t I, since destiny has foretold it or some nonsense,” Mursi answered. “I’ll bring your sister home, but that’s it, and no one tells me otherwise.”
With that he strode from the war room before anyone could tell him he was wrong or that the gods decreed his path. He couldn’t say for sure he wouldn’t fight the first dragon brother that said he spoke out of turn. His temper was on a very short leash. Find this female and when she was safe in Paladin go on with his life. If Larissa was waiting for him to change his mind she was going to be waiting a long time. While she accepted their love was over, he certainly had not.
* * * *
The sky over the Florida Keys was littered with stars, even in dragon form she could pick out Drago, the star system of dragons. Her mother told her that was the second life of dragons when they died. To take their place in the universe and be part of the constellation was the highest of honors. Michelle wondered many times if her mother was part of the star system then longed to be there herself. It pained her to be alone, to be the last of her kind.
Michelle felt like the only person in the world. She fit in nowhere, didn’t have friends. Having friends would mean explaining why they aged and died while she stayed the same. Her dragon form came with immortality and she hadn’t aged since she turned twenty-six. That was one hundred and sixty years ago. Not a wrinkle, laugh line, or a mar on her skin, Michelle was flawless even after a battle. Scars faded in a week. Lately though she’d found that she was taking longer to heal and had no answers as to why. Her mother had died, only telling her about a place where dragons roamed that was now long gone. When she slept she swore she could see the place and smell the air. Her heart longed for a home that no longer existed, and her loneliness sometimes swamped her in murky waves.
Yet she kept going, knowing that if she didn’t countless humans would die at the hands of the Shen. The serpents were evil, slimy creatures that held no pity for human life. She’d seen women rendered useless after being defiled, and men torn to shreds for amusement. She was the one and only line between them and humans. She saved who she could and mourned those she could not. She seemed destined for a life of solitude.
Michelle lived in the Keys now. She’d followed the scent of the Shen as they migrated to a warmer climate. They had few places to hide so luckily hunting in the warehouse districts or abandoned factories had given her results. She wondered about their agenda. She was one hundred and eighty-six years old and her mother said a dragon’s egg took years to mature. The egg could even stay un-hatched for centuries until the mother found somewhere safe and then used her fire to bring it to life. Her mother had kept her hidden for centuries while the Americas evolved. Yet she’d seen three different wars and the sinking of the Titanic.
She had her mother then, someone who understood the yearning in her heart to mate and belong. Human men were weak in mind and body. She was a strong woman and she didn’t whimper when they didn’t call. In fact, when she was done with the dating and the sex and she said goodbye, they were the ones who whined and moaned. But what else could she do, there was no mate to dominate and claim her, so Michelle took what she could get.
Her head turned in the darkness as she caught a whiff of the Shen scent. It ruined the clean, salty air blowing in off the ocean, and she turned to follow the noxious smell. Again her mind went to the Shen’s main motive. They preferred to die rather than tell her anything. How could she stop them if she didn’t know the end game? Right now she wanted a battle, to fight and kill as many as she could.
The offensive odor was coming from a derelict grain factory and she landed in her dragon form in the midst of the Shen serpents scurrying around in human form. They could hide behind the skin of men but they couldn’t disguise their smell. Her method was to destroy as many as she could while in human form, not allowing them to shift. The ones she missed she’d take down in dragon form. The thing was they were getting bigger and stronger and it was becoming more difficult to handle it alone. In the night her emerald green scales barely reflected the light and with her first dragon breath she cut a swath between them. But Michelle didn’t expect the others that started pouring out from the crumbling factory walls. It was more than she’d ever seen before. For the first time she didn’t know if she’d make it out alive, as she killed them in human form as well as in the midst of a shift.
Maybe it’s for the best, and then I could be among my ancestors and mother in the night sky.
She was about to be overrun, and as she fought she felt fangs sink into her flesh. Their venom burned, but she took them down with vicious swipes. Just as she thought it was the end, she saw a figure descend from the night. Another dragon, with jade green and gold scales running down his breastplate. He landed in the fray, crushing the Shen serpents beneath his feet and searing them with stream after stream of dragon breath that was way stronger than hers.
He was massive.
Another dragon, but how?
The thought flashed through her mind and she fought with reviewed vigor. She had to survive, this one had answers to her questions and she was not alone. The thought of giving up left her head immediately, and between herself and the new dragon they destroyed the Shen nest. They burned the old factory down to rubble, ensuring that if any were inside they wouldn’t survive. With the heat and flames of the burning factory at her back Michelle returned to her human form and walked toward the dragon.
She watched as he shimmered, and the same bright glow that emanated from her showed as he shifted to human form. He was tall, so damn tall, she was almost six feet tall and he dwarfed her. His dark hair was loose and hung on his shoulders. Sweat glistened off his skin, and like her he was unashamed of his nudity. She looked at his manhood between his legs and felt desire pool at the apex of hers. He was unlike any human man she’d ever met. Michelle circled him and he turned, slowly following her movements and never taking his gaze from her eyes. She reached out and ran her hand over his chest, and he slapped her hand away.
“Did I say you could touch?” he asked.
Michelle grinned seductively. “You didn’t say I couldn’t.”
“Are you the daughter of Vatryn?” he asked.
“What do you know about my mother?” she asked. “We are the last of the Paladin dragons.”
“No you weren’t, your mother lied. There is a whole realm you know nothing about,” he answered.
“Why would she lie? You’re telling me I’m not alone?” Michelle asked.