Read Dragon Fire Online

Authors: Dina von Lowenkraft

Dragon Fire (30 page)

BOOK: Dragon Fire
7.25Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

“What?” Her voice echoed through the library before she caught herself. She flung her legs to the ground and threw her books into her bag, her hands shaking.

“I can explain everything, if you’ll let me.” Rakan took a step towards her, unable to tell if she was angry because of June or because she had seen him morph.

Anna flung her bag over her shoulder, hitting him in the chest. “Anything you’d say would just be a lie covering another lie.” She struggled to get her boots on, her bag thumping back to the ground.

“Anna,” he said, reaching out to her. “What did you see?”

Anna recoiled from his touch as if he was poisonous. “Don’t touch me. Don’t ever touch me. And don’t ever talk to me again.” She half-ran down the stairs, fighting with her coat as she went.

He walked to the wall of glass and watched her take off down the street. His rök banged against his chest, urging him to go after her. To tell her everything whether or not she had actually seen him morph into a dragon. His eyes lingered on her trail that sparkled faintly. Her trail was changing. Becoming easier to see than that of other humans.

He fought the desire to punch the glass. His fists shook as his nails dug into his palms. Without even checking to make sure no one was watching him, he shifted home. He had lost the one thing in life he cared the most about, and he hadn’t even been smart enough to know it before it was too late.

* * *

Anna sat with her back to the wall-sized photographs of the current exhibit at the Perspective Museum, glaring at her coffee. But even so, she could still feel the smiling faces of the Asian-Norwegian couples mocking her with their happiness. Had she known that the exhibit was about Asian women who had married Norwegian men she wouldn’t have come. Even if the stark, modern café was probably the best place to be alone. None of her friends ever came here and her mom was still at work. And Ulf was screwing around with Kariaksuq in the weight room. Anna slammed the mug on the white table, splashing coffee all over its surface. She glanced quickly around the café that was filled with a group of tourists. No one had noticed.

She picked up her napkin and froze. The coffee looked like a flying dragon. She wiped the table quickly, her hand shaking.

“Can I join you?” asked Haakon.

Anna flew back, her metal chair clattering on the white tiles. The people at the next table looked up and Anna quickly picked up the chair. Haakon sat without waiting for an answer. Anna tried to act nonchalant. But she wanted to scream and run away. Haakon’s dark brown eyes shimmered like bronze in the harsh light of the museum cafe.

“You saw him, didn’t you?” asked Haakon without breaking the eye contact.

Anger uncoiled inside her. “Who?” she asked between clenched teeth. But she knew who he was talking about. Even though she didn’t want to.

“Pemba,” he answered. “When he morphed.”

Anna’s cheeks turned to ash. He knew. She glanced at the exit. Should she break for it before she had to swear not to say anything again? She let her mind reach out as far as she could, just in case Torsten or Liv were lurking nearby. But she couldn’t feel them. He was alone. Or appeared to be. Her gaze narrowed. He was probably like Red, hiding his energy.

Haakon sat quietly, as if sensing her mistrust and letting her scrutinize him. He looked even more like a rock than usual. Quiet and solid. And implacable.

Anna sipped what was left of her now cold coffee. “What makes you think I saw something?”

“Because I felt him morph,” he said as matter-of-factly as if he had been talking about snow conditions.

Anna put the cup down. She leaned forward. “But how can you know what that feels like?”

“Because I’ve felt others do it,” he answered after a long pause.

Anna stifled a choke. Torsten. Kariaksuq. “Liv?”

Haakon gave a curt nod. “Liv is different. But, yes, she can morph too.” His voice dropped to a confidential whisper. “I thought the world was about to end when I saw her do it for the first time.” He glanced up at her. “I just wanted to see if you were okay.”

Anna relaxed a little. Maybe he didn’t want to bind her answer in some weird promise. “When did you first see her… morph?”

“Years ago.” His eyes burned into hers. “But my situation was different from yours.”

The image of Pemba rolling around in the snow with June flashed across her mind and she cringed involuntarily. Of course her situation was different. She wasn’t even dating Pemba. She grabbed the daisy that was decorating the table and crushed it in her fist. How had she let herself think he cared?

“Anna,” said Haakon, once again interrupting her thoughts. “Pemba is playing games with you.” His voice was hard. “He’s not worth your time.”

“Neither is June,” she responded in the same tone.

“June is none of your business,” said Haakon so quietly that she almost couldn’t hear him. But the metallic tone of his voice made it perfectly clear that she had trespassed on a subject better left alone.

Anna sat perfectly still, no longer daring to breathe. Haakon looked like a crouching tiger. And she was his prey.

“Frankly,” he said, each syllable distinct, “the less you know, the better off you are.” His eyes bore into hers. “For your own safety I should erase your memory of everything that happened the other day in the mountains.”

Anna stood and her chair clattered again to the ground. “No. Never,” she hissed. As much as she wished the day had never happened, she would never consent to go back to living a lie and believing that Pemba cared about her when he didn’t.

Haakon’s jaw twitched. “Then leave before I change my mind.”

* * *

Rakan sat half-perched on a stool in the Driv, the bar that was conveniently located just across the street from Ulf’s studio apartment. The first band had finished playing and the second one was setting up, but Pemba didn’t notice them anymore than he noticed the untouched glass of beer that was placed in front of him. Kariaksuq had been spending more and more time with Ulf. Rakan held his Maii-a in his hand that was hidden under the bar. He transformed it to feel like Anna. He knew without looking that it was a pale cornflower blue. He changed it into sphere. And then a pyramid. A cylinder. A cone. He flicked it through so many different shapes in quick-fire succession that it felt like a pulsing ball. The frenzied motion soothed him.

His mind roamed back up to Ulf’s apartment. Kariaksuq had handcuffed a more than willing Ulf to his bed. Rakan snarled. He didn’t care what Kariaksuq did to Ulf, but he knew that she wouldn’t be playing with him repeatedly unless there was an ulterior motive. Dragons like Kariaksuq never used the same human twice. They possessed them and left them.

The only motive Rakan could see was to get somehow at Dvara through Anna. But he couldn’t figure out how she planned to do it. Rakan changed his Maii-a back to his own orange and placed it on its black metal string. Ulf was a fool. He was completely under Kariaksuq’s power. At this point, he’d do anything she told him to do. Including hurt Anna.

A drunken guy stumbled into the stool next to Rakan and started to babble about his problems. Rakan nodded every once in a while, deftly swapping his full glass with the guy’s nearly empty one. He never drank alcohol. And couldn’t understand why humans did. By the time he’d have to shift out of the bar in order to trail Kariaksuq, no one, not even the guy next to him, would notice it.

Rakan’s mind slid back to Anna. She was alone in her room and still wouldn’t speak to him or June. She had cut herself off from everyone. Pain had transformed her energy into a series of jagged spikes. He reached out to touch her, but she reacted with such anger that he pulled back.

Over the past week at school, he had manipulated the shield from afar so that it would trigger a warning in case a void-trail threatened her. Or so he hoped. He didn’t really have any way of testing it. Rakan growled, earning himself a thump on the back from his bar mate. After he dealt with Kariaksuq, he’d deal with Liv.

Rakan disentangled himself from the incoherent ramblings of the drunken guy and left the Driv. Kariaksuq was getting tired of playing with Ulf. She’d shift out of the apartment soon and he needed to clear his thoughts before attacking her. But the intense cobalt blue light that greeted him stopped him in his tracks. It was the color of June’s eyes. He ached to morph in a wild mass of coral-colored flames, merging his orange with her blue. But he couldn’t. The poison he carried ensured his isolation. Even if tried, he wouldn’t be able to give his rök to a Kairök.

Kariaksuq was leaving Ulf, who was too insanely thrilled to realize that he was still attached to his bed. Rakan gripped his three-pronged dragon knives. Finally. They’d fight. He transformed his human clothes into his black dragon pants. He was ready for her.

But instead of shifting, Kariaksuq walked slowly down the stairs. Rakan hissed. She was playing with him. She knew he was there, waiting for her. She walked out of the building in her honey-colored dragon dress, her hair half up and half down in the way that young female dragons did before their first mating. Her sweet scent of warm wood wafted gently in the near zero air. His blood throbbed in response and he snorted, trying to block her odor from filling him with blinding desire. But she was ripe, and he could take her. She glided over to where he was standing stiffly. She curtsied gracefully, leaning forward just enough so that he could see the fullness of her breasts as they pushed against her dress, jiggling playfully as if they wanted to be stroked. Rakan growled, forcing his eyes not to linger.

“Greetings, Rakan’dzor. I was wondering when you’d get the courage to show your face, instead of always trailing me like a puppy.” Her eyes ran over his naked chest, appraising the size of his pectorals and lingering on his rippled abdomen. “Since you aren’t really a puppy, are you?” She closed her eyes and tilted her head back. She inhaled deeply. “Hm. You have the most enticing smell. Spice and… something wild.”

“What are you doing here?” Rakan said, ignoring his body’s response to hers.

Kariaksuq opened her eyes and smiled. “Trying to get you alone. I thought that would be clear?” She moved closer and let her fingertips wander down his abdomen. “Yttresken is too old to give me what I need.”

Rakan knocked her descending hand away from his pants. “Ulf seems happy enough to oblige.”

“Are you jealous? Of a mere human?” She turned, exposing her bare back that looked even more enticingly like bronze because of the contrast with the honey colored dress that clung to her hips. Slowly, Kariaksuq reached up and undid the rest of her hair. She shook the blue-black mass and Rakan gave an involuntary growl as it slithered across her back. “Catch me. If you can.” Her bare feet made no noise on the soft snow of mid April.

Rakan flew after her, his veins pumping with the excitement of the hunt. She shifted and popped back out on the glacier where Dvara had shown him the blue crevasse. They faced each other as her hair flickered in the night, reflecting the stars above.

“So, shall we fight first or after? Or don’t you know yet?”

Rakan lunged for her, spinning her under him in a strangle hold. But her knives were already out and she slashed deftly into his ribs. In spite of the pain, Rakan didn’t let go. He tightened his grip until she dropped her knives, and he kicked them away.

“Tell me what you’re doing here, or I’ll strangle you,” he said.

“Is that what you want, Rakan? To take me while I’m unconscious? Because you know as well as I do that killing me without reason is against the Code.”

“You’re trespassing on our territory. That’s reason enough.” He tightened his grip on her throat. “What has Yttresken sent you to do?”

Kariaksuq laughed harshly. “You don’t speak much with your mother do you? I’m officially here to protect Dvara for my Kairök.” She struggled to face him. “And frankly I’d rather have a different kind of full body contact.” Her hand slithered its way between his legs. “And so would you.”

Rakan jumped up and threw her across the ice. “No,” he hissed. Mentally, he fixed the bleeding gash in his side. If Yarlung had allowed her to come, he couldn’t kill her. Unless she was lying.

Kariaksuq pushed herself back up to standing and re-did her hair. “That’s a shame. Because your little human pet won’t be thinking of you anymore once Syral’kaan comes and takes an interest in her. No human has ever resisted him for very long. Or should I say, no human
resist him very long. Whether they want to or not.”

Rakan exploded into his dragon form and lunged for Kariaksuq. She morphed into her water dragon form and slithered into the ice. Her laughter echoed into the night. Rakan clawed at the ice, willing it to part. But he couldn’t move the mass fast enough to catch up with a water dragon who swam through the ice as if it was water. In a raging fury, Rakan felt his rök explode. It engulfed him in a shimmering warmth that melted the ice around him. Kariaksuq snapped around to face him, her honey-colored eyes wide with a mix of surprise and fear. She spun around and headed to the edge of a fine crevasse in the ice, near the blue cathedral that Dvara had shown him. She positioned herself so that Rakan would pass through it, disturbing the delicate balance of the ice above. And ruin the work of the High Master.

Rakan howled in rage. How could she think that he wouldn’t see the danger? He shifted through the shimmering crevasse, coming up below her. He sank his teeth into her tail. Deftly, he pulled her down through the ice as easily as if he were in the air. Knowing, instinctively that she wouldn’t be able to twist around and fight him off until after he had poisoned her. Kariaksuq flailed wildly, caught completely off guard. She hissed and tried to yank her tail out of his grasp, her short back legs kicking uselessly in the ice. In a wave of panic she abandoned the fight and shifted back to Yttresken.

BOOK: Dragon Fire
7.25Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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