Furee Born: The Dragon Mage Series Book IV

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Furee
Born

by

Kelly Lucille

CHAPTER ONE

 

Riva closed her eyes against
the fearsome sight before her.  The mountain peaks a good distance below looked
scraggly and sharp to her eyes with their white mantles of jagged ice.  But it
was the dragon talons wrapped so carefully around her waist and holding her
pressed against hard dragon scales that had her heart tripping a painful beat
and her breath freezing in her lungs.

Being carried so by any
dragon would be frightening, but Furee from head to toe was living flame.  His dragon
form resembled nothing so much as the bonfire of her nightmares.  From his eyes
of a banked flame to his dragon scales of still burning blackened char he was
everything she feared.  Even if his flame did not sear and blister the skin
from her bones as true flames had in the moments before she was pulled from
that long ago fire, her mind insisted it would.

With her eyes closed and
her mind blanked in terror, Riva could feel the warmth of Furee’s dragon power
wrapping around her, creating a cushion between her and the extreme cold of the
high winds they flew.  If she could forget what her eyes had seen, and lose the
terror that clung to her like a cold sweat, she might even be able to admit
that the living warmth Furee wrapped around her was comforting.  But then from
the moment she met this dragon knight, the same confusing dichotomy of
reactions had been inspired.

Her brother had come for
her that day, a fire mage and huntsman, riding the back of a flame dragon like
an avenging wind. Swooping in through the screaming mob to lift her from the
flames, he then turned on the crowd in a raw blistering fury that burned people
and buildings to ash in seconds — people who she had dedicated her life to
healing.  People who had turned on her in suspicion and fear when it was
discovered her miraculous healing abilities had less to do with the herbs she
collected for her poultices and healing teas and more to do with her being born
a mage.

But it was not her
brother Braedon sheathed in flame, his short black hair alight, his normally
topaz eyes identical to her own bathed in the green power of his mage light
that she dreamed about when her nightmares returned her to that place.  It was
the dragon he road. 

Furee, dragon knight, who
when shifted to his warrior form stood a good half a foot over her five-foot-ten
height.  Whipcord lean and all muscle under his warrior leathers and tall
boots, his hair burned through the myriad colors of fire as he moved.  His eyes
could shift from a banked flame to a raging fire, and finally, if he was really
angry, could burn to ash in that starkly beautiful face.  He was the one who
haunted her dreams and nightmares alike.  So she did her best to avoid the
conflicting emotions and raging fear he produced in her, by avoiding the
warrior, his dragon form, and definitely his fire.

At least she avoided him
when he was not dragging her against her will away from battle. Not that she
was alone this time.  In his other talon, he carried Clare.  A mage with
transformative powers, the young titan haired child/woman was still struggling,
and slippery if the way the dragon was chuffing and snarling above them was any
indication.  The one and only time Riva had opened her eyes, it was to see the
girl shifting from one flying creature to another in an effort to escape him,
her green mage fire blending with the dragon flame surrounding them, while
Furee did his best to hold on.  Since the sight of both the struggle and the
dragon flames froze her blood, Riva closed her eyes just as fast as she had
opened them.  Abusing her power like that, the girl would eventually exhaust
her magic enough that she would shift back to her usual long-legged coltish
girl woman shape for good.  Only by then would she be nearly as powerless as a
full human.

Not that Riva blamed the
girl for trying.  At the words of the dragon seer Asha, her brother’s half
dragon, half mage mate, Furee had grabbed them both and flown off, leaving her
brother and the rest of the mage and dragon alike in Seatown to face the coming
hoard of unnatural beasts attacking.  As a healer, Riva was going to be needed,
and Clare could shift into any animal she saw.  But even if she could get Furee
to listen to her he wouldn’t turn around.  He was told they would be safer in
Dracon, so Dracon was where he would take them.  She would get angry with her
brother later about the high-handed treatment.  She was not anywhere near brave
enough to take on a dragon.  Especially one made of fire, whose presence always
brought with him the memory of what her own skin smelled like cooking.

Riva felt the difference
when they started to descend, until, with a smooth whoosh, she dropped to her
feet with ease.  The thump to the ground she hardly felt, and luckily, her legs
consented to hold her.  Riva took her first deep breath since the flight began
and opened her eyes, surprised to see that they had not returned to Forsaken
Mountain where she had been living since her rescue.  Instead, they stood in a
wild field.  She knew they had passed the North Gate into Dracon because she
could feel the dragon magic that lived in every blade of grass and playful tug
of wind, but they were not home.

Riva turned to find Furee
had shifted to his warrior form, his eyes on something in the distance.  He
turned and she saw the smoldering flames in his eyes burn brighter as he looked
her over.  Clare was so weakened by her fight that she sat in her tunic and
pants upon the ground, her long boot-clad legs curled up under her bowed head. 
Riva saw as much as felt the toll Clare’s sporadic shifting had taken on the
other mage and went to her side. Healing mage light started to glow at the tips
of Riva’s fingers even before she reached for her.  Furee’s grim words averted
her attention before she could touch Clare.

“We have dragons between
us and the border of Kinkaid land.  They come.”

Clare looked up and the
exhaustion on her face was eclipsed by the fear there. Riva bit her lip,
knowing exactly what put that look in the girl’s eyes. 

When Eben Kinkaid and
Prince Ladon had found a mage mate hiding among the humans, it had started a
political squabble that resulted in the dragon council proclaiming all mage were
subject to mating at merely the declaration of a dragon.  Both Eben Kinkaid and
Prince Ladon of the combined House of Fire and Water were fighting the law on
behalf of their mage mate and her family, which consisted of the wind talker,
Melisande, who had since mated to General Solan Fire-Eater of the dragon knights,
Rhune, a young transformative and healer mage who was ten, and the youngest
sister, Clare, who stood before Riva, a beautiful seventeen-year-old woman
child, but the law had not been overturned yet, and they all knew it.

“Are they knights?” Clare
asked without any real hope in her voice.  If they had been dragon knights of
the Light as Furee was, he would not have stopped here.  Under General Solan,
the dragon knights fought for the Light always.  They abhorred the new mage
laws, and vocally defended against them.

“House of Earth security
forces,” Furee answered, his eyes leaving Riva to travel with obvious concern
to the exhausted young girl.  “Can you transform and hide until this is done?”

What color was left in
Clare’s face drained away.  She shook her head, looking both ashamed and angry,
probably as much at herself as Furee.  “I burnt myself out.”  This meant it
would be hours before she was able to access her power again.  Riva blew out a
hard breath and moved to the girl.  “I can heal the burn out; it will take a while
for your powers to return but not as long, and you won’t be exhausted and sick
while you recover.”

“Do it,” Furee said.  “I
have sent out a call to other knights, but I can feel no one close enough to
help.

“Asha will know to come,”
Clare said, brightening up almost as soon as Riva started healing her.  The
mage-green light that radiated from Riva’s hands and traveled deep into Clare
in search of injuries flared with the mention of the dragon seer that had sent
them here,

to safety.”

“If Asha had seen what
was to come, surely she would have warned us,” Riva murmured, her mind, as
usual when she healed, on her patient with very little regard for anything
else.  Truth be known, it was a comfortable place to be.  There was no room for
fear and doubt when she healed. 

She sent more of herself
into the girl and found Clare’s center of power shriveled and dark.  Riva lost
what hold she had on the outside world and sent her own light into the girl
until the shriveled ball at her center was once again expanded to its full
size, healthy and mage green, resembling an empty cup rather than a crumpled
ball. 

Riva could not fill the
girl up with her own power, as the power of a healer came from a different
place than the more earth-bound power of transformation the girl connected to. 
But the cup itself was healed and ready to be filled, something that might have
taken days to heal on its own before Clare’s power could return.  Even as Riva
watched, power began to flow again, trickling into the girl in a steady stream.

Riva pulled her healer
power out of Clare and turned to find that enough time had passed that the
House of Earth dragons were almost upon them.

Furee started talking as
soon as Riva was back in her own body, as if he could sense the exact moment of
her return without a single move on her part.  “Take Clare far back into the
trees; the dragons will not want to hurt you, and I will try to keep them busy
until more help arrives – unless they force a fight.”  He did not say that the
real danger was that the dragons would try to declare the women their mates as claimed
under dragon law.  They all knew what was at stake.  “If anyone gets around me,
keep them talking as long as you can.  I will deal with the rest and come for
you.” 

Furee’s eyes burned to
ash and touched her from head to toe in one long sweep, leaving a warm brand
that felt like a mark all on its own.  “Don’t come back until I call you, no
matter what you hear.”

It wasn’t until Furee
looked away from her that she could move to follow his instructions.  Riva took
a calming breath and turned to find Clare already standing, waiting for her, an
anxious look in her eyes.  Riva could practically feel her yearning to bolt for
the safety of the trees.  The problem was, without her powers, the safety of
the forest was questionable; Riva might be a powerful mage in her own right,
but healing was not exactly an offensive power, or even a defensive one at
that.  Not in a fight.

Catching sight of the
dragons approaching in the distance, Riva was as dismayed as Clare to note
there were five of them.  The last glimpse Riva had of the flame-haired dragon
knight, before Clare propelled her into the forest by her arm, appeared to be an
unstoppable force of nature.  He did not pull the broad sword at his back or
shift to his fire dragon to face the oncoming beasts.  He waited patiently as a
warrior, whipcord lean and solitary as a mountain peak, seeming a part of the
nature that surrounded him.

As a healer, Riva had
never been able to read the emotions of dragons as she did the mages and
humans, but just then she got the impression of an indomitable will to protect
and defend those he considered in his charge.  Riva knew as sure as she knew
her brother loved her that this man would die to keep them safe, and he would
do it alone, without even another dragon knight to take his back.

She watched that broad
back as long as she could; something in the way he stood so alone and
inviolable struck a chord deep inside her as she lost sight of him.  If Clare
had not had a tight hold on her arm, Riva might have run back to him, incapable
of leaving such a fiercely noble creature so very alone.

***

A noise had Riva gasping
and waking from the dream/memory.  She looked around blinking sleep from topaz eyes,
unaware that they shined mage green.  She took in the flower gardens
surrounding her, so different from the wild overgrown forest she had been
running through a moment ago.  She looked down and saw a similar set of tunic
and trousers, but these were clean and crisp, the soft weave unmarred by
bramble from a headlong rush through the brush.  Her boots, polished to a
gleam, were not mud encrusted and scratched.  Her black hair was up and out of
the way, not braided and snarled down her back.  She blinked as the image from two
years past was slowly superimposed by the present. 

She rubbed at the
remembered ache that echoed in her heart.  She had been dreaming, strangely
enough of just before the attack on Clare that had been the catalyst that
brought about the break-up of a united Dracon.  In the two years since the
event, she had never had the dream before, certainly never dreamed of the last
indomitable sight she had of Furee when she and Clare ran from the fight.  Her
nightmares tended to be of fire and scorched earth.

The furtive sound of
something not meant to be there came again, and Riva realized it was that small
wrongness that woke her up.  Sitting snuggly comfortable as she was with her
back against a tree, she could see very little over the overgrown and wild
symphony of flowers that surrounded her.  She doubted anyone could see her in
this small back corner of the garden hidden from view.  But something was
there, and it was coming her way. 

Some of the residual fear
from the memory must have clung because she was suddenly pulling in a breath in
preparation for a scream that would bring every dragon residing at Forsaken
Mountain flying to her aid.  When the small bronze mink stuck his nose out of
the foliage, she swallowed the scream with an effort.  Mage-green eyes stared
back at her from a furry face – eyes holding an intelligence that no common
animal would have.  But it was the mischievous twinkle in glowing mage eyes
that gave his identity away.

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