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Authors: Daniel Arenson

Dragons Reborn

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DRAGONS REBORN

REQUIEM FOR DRAGONS, BOOK TWO

by

Daniel Arenson

Copyright © 2015 by Daniel Arenson

All rights reserved.

This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either
the product of the author's imagination, or, if real, used fictitiously.

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by an electronic
or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording or by any information
storage and retrieval system, without the express written permission of the
author.

Table of Contents

 
 
AMITY

She shuffled out of her cell, weak
and bleeding, into an arena of fire, death, and the roars of thousands.

Torches blazed around
her, filling the chamber with smoke, heat, and dancing shadows. Amity coughed
and had to blink a few times, bringing the world into focus. When finally her
eyes cleared, her heart sank.

"Bloody shite."
She bared her teeth. "Korvin, am I passed out drunk and dreaming again, or
are you seeing this too?"

She glanced to her
side. Korvin walked there, jaw clenched and eyes dark. His hands balled into
fists, and sweat beaded on his brow. Chains hobbled both their ankles.

"Be calm."
His voice was low, strained. "Be focused. We can kill it."

Amity spat. "Like
an ant can kill a donkey by biting its arse."

Guards of the Horde,
bearded men wearing leather and ring mail, knelt to unchain Amity and Korvin.
The manacles clattered off their ankles. Amity spun around, wanting to leap
back into her prison cell, only to see the guards slam the door shut, sealing
her outside. She had spent days banging on that door, trying to break out. Now
all she wanted to do was flee back inside. She spun toward the arena again, spitting
out every foul curse she knew.

She stood in a vast
cave, a cavern larger than any palace or temple, a hollowed-out mountain. All
along the craggy walls, alcoves dug into the rock, sealed off with wire mesh.
Thousands of these holes spread all around like a honeycomb, spreading hundreds
of feet up, and within each burrow, men and women chanted and roared. The crowd—people
of the Horde—drank from tankards of ale, sang songs of death, and cried out
for blood. High above, in one of the larger alcoves, stood Abina Kahan himself,
King of the Horde. The bearded brute roared with the rest of them.

"Behemoth, Behemoth!"
the king chanted. "Slay the weredragons!"

Amity gulped and looked
back down. A round, rough floor spread before her, and here crouched the
creature. The champion of the Horde. Her executioner.

The Behemoth.

"Ugly son of a
whore, ain't he?" she muttered.

The creature's back was
turned toward her. He lay on his belly, and many chains—the links larger than
Amity's head—bound him to the floor. Even like this, lying down and chained, his
size made Amity cringe. The monster was massive, several times larger than a
dragon. His skin was warty and armored, reminding Amity of a rhinoceros, and
many horns rose along his back. With every breath, his body creaked and smoke plumed.
Heat emanated from the beast, and his stench wafted, the odor of rotted meat
and sulfur.

Tales of Behemoth
filled the ancient legends of the Horde. Amity had thought the beast only a
myth. Now this myth seemed ready to slay her.

"Release the
beast!" roared Abina Kahan from his alcove high above. The king waved a
torch. "Unchain Behemoth!"

Along the chamber
walls, guards placed keys into padlocks, freeing the chains from their brackets.
The men quickly rushed back into their own alcoves, then slammed down iron
meshes.

Only Amity and
Korvin now remained in the arena. Before them, with a clatter of falling
chains, Behemoth began to rise.

Amity gulped. "Spirit's
flea-ridden beard, I've seen smaller mountains."

The crowd roared
even louder than before, stamping their feet and banging their tankards against
the wire meshes protecting them. Behemoth kept unfurling with cracking joints
and creaking, thick hide. Smoke and heat rose from the beast, and his grumbles
shook the arena. With thumping feet, the monster turned around to face Amity
and Korvin.

Behemoth's head
was as large as a dragon. A bony plate rose from his brow, lined with horns. His
nostrils snorted out smoke, and eight white eyes narrowed above them, swirling
like smelters of molten metal. His jaw unhooked, revealing a cavernous maw as
large as a prison cell, and let out a roar. The sound blasted against Amity,
ruffling her clothes and hair, deafening, shaking the mountain. She cried out
in pain.

With blasts of smoke
and a grumble that thudded against Amity's chest, Behemoth charged.

Amity and Korvin
shifted.

She rose in the cavern,
a red dragon, her wings stirring the smoke and stench. Korvin soared at her
side, a charcoal dragon with chipped scales. The crowd cheered, and the two
dragons blew their flames together.

The two fiery jets
blasted forward, spinning and shrieking, white-hot, an inferno that could melt
flesh and crumble bones to ash.

Behemoth crashed
through the blaze as if charging through a light mist.

"Oh bloody
bollocks!" Amity beat her wings, soaring higher.

She was too slow. The
charging beast rammed into her like a god's hammer. Amity couldn't even scream.
She gasped for breath, unable to inhale. She fell backward and slammed against
the chasm wall, cracking the wire mesh protecting one of the alcoves.

Stars floated
before her eyes, and through the haze of shadows and light, she saw Behemoth
swing his head toward Korvin. The gray dragon was larger than she, the largest
dragon Amity had ever seen, yet Behemoth knocked Korvin aside as easily as a
bison ramming a deer.

Amity pushed
herself off the wall, growled, and charged.

She breathed her
dragonfire again. The jet crashed against Behemoth and sprayed off in a fountain,
doing the beast no harm. An instant later, Amity slammed against the creature,
biting and clawing at his face.

She cried out in
pain. Her claws sparked against Behemoth's hide, and her fangs felt close to
shattering when she bit. She might as well have attacked a slab of granite. The
creature swung his head again, tossing her into the air, then swiped his paw.

Pain blasted
through Amity.

Her scales
cracked.

She tumbled
through the air, hit the wall, and slumped down to the ground. She blinked, dizzy,
struggling to cling to her dragon form.

Behemoth bellowed
and charged toward her, feet shaking the arena.

Amity growled and
ran, tail flicking, to meet him.

An instant before
beast and dragon could slam together, Amity released her magic. She shrank and
ran in human form, passing between Behemoth's legs and under his belly.

Behemoth slammed
into the wall where Amity had lain instants ago. The beast shattered chips of
stone and bent the wire meshes across several alcoves. Rock and metal rained. The
crowd roared. Amity kept running between the creature's six legs. As she raced,
she drew and raised her sword. The blade scraped against Behemoth's underbelly,
spraying sparks but not cutting the skin. She might as well have stabbed a stone
ceiling.

When she emerged
behind the creature, she summoned her magic again and beat her wings, soaring.

"Korvin, the
damn thing's harder than your backside!"

The gray dragon
growled, flying forward. A gash bled on his head. "Aim for his eyes! Stab
them out."

Before she could
reply, Behemoth turned toward them, opened his maw wide, and blasted out a jet
of raw, red smoke.

The cloud washed
over the two dragons.

It felt like
falling into the sun.

Amity couldn't
breathe, couldn't see. The noxious smoke invaded her nostrils, her mouth, her
ears, burning like acid. She tasted blood.

She fell and
slammed against the ground. Korvin crashed down beside her, losing his dragon
form on impact.

Amity clawed at
her throat, coughing blood, struggling for breath. All around her, the people
in the alcoves roared, and the chamber swayed. Amity couldn't help it; she
gagged, losing what paltry food the jailors had been feeding her.

"Behemoth, Behemoth!"
the crowd chanted.

From somewhere far
above rose the cry of Abina Kahan. "Slay the weredragons!"

Amity pushed
herself onto her knees, realizing she had lost her dragon magic too. Through stinging,
watering eyes, she saw Behemoth stomping toward her.

She screamed and
rolled aside an instant before his foot slammed down, cracking the ground.

She leaped into
the air and shifted again, only for the beast's head to ram into her.

Amity cried out,
tumbling through the air, wings flapping uselessly. The cavern spun around her,
and blood seeped down her flanks. It was all she could do to maintain her
dragon form. Before she could right herself, she slammed into the cavern wall, face-first,
cracking the wire mesh protecting one of the alcoves.

Inside the burrow,
King Kahan was laughing. He stepped forward and thrust his torch, and the fire
burned Amity's cheek.

She cried out and
fell, tumbling, wings beating. A heartbeat before she could hit the ground, she
managed to steady herself and fly again.

Behemoth was
charging toward Korvin now. The gray dragon was blowing fire, but the flames
cascaded off Behemoth's face. With a roar, the beast's jaws snapped, crushing
Korvin between them.

Amity screamed, swooped,
and landed on Behemoth's back.

"Release him!"
She clawed and bit, trying to break through the creature's skin. She managed to
dig several inches into his leathery armor, but she could not reach the soft
flesh and blood that surely lurked within. She snarled, climbed onto Behemoth's
head, and drove her claws deep into one of his eyes.

The eyeball, large
as a human head, popped and oozed across her paw.

The creature
opened his jaws to scream, dropping Korvin to the ground.

Amity snarled and
raised her claws again, prepared to pop a second eyeball.

Before she could claw
again, the creature bucked madly. She clung on. Roaring, Behemoth leaped
through the air, soaring higher and higher, rising hundreds of feet, racing
toward the cavern ceiling.

"Oh bloody maggot
guts!" Amity scampered off Behemoth's head an instant before the beast
could crush her against the ceiling.

The stone cracked
above and stones rained. Amity swooped, rocks pounding against her wings and
scales. She glimpsed Korvin lying on the ground, bleeding, still in dragon form
but unable to rise.

He's still
alive. If he's still in dragon form, he's still alive. He—

Behemoth screeched
above and blasted out more crimson smoke.

Amity screamed and
dodged the noxious cloud. She rose higher, beating her wings madly, as Behemoth
slammed back onto the cavern floor. The mountain shook. Rocks still rained from
the ceiling, and the crowd cheered madly.

BOOK: Dragons Reborn
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ads

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