Read Heroes (Eirik Book 2) Online

Authors: Ednah Walters

Heroes (Eirik Book 2)

BOOK: Heroes (Eirik Book 2)
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EIRIK

My grip tightened around the handle of my mace as I eyed the souls of the meanest warriors in my mother’s army of the dead. From the looks of them, they must have been handpicked from biker gangs, mercenaries, and gangbangers. Wicked tattoos covered their faces and arms, and teeth that could turn a dentist into an overnight millionaire flashed from behind knotted beards. Even the women looked like their dental hygiene was limited to chewing tobacco and spitting.

This wasn’t the first time I’d faced this lot. They were the trainers. Usually only one or two of them joined the team that faced me, but not today. Today, I was pissed because I continued to fail my sister. I should have found her by now. Four months had passed and I was still searching for her.

To let out steam, I’d challenged the best fighters, and they’d obliged. Mother’s warriors were not much to look at, but they were fearless, relentless, and Immortal. Exactly what I needed today.

I raised my arm, engaged speed runes, and channeled them until they connected with the runes on
Gunnlögi
’s handle. The chain and spiked head glowed, giving meaning to the English translation—battle blaze. Badass name. It took me weeks to come up with it.

The group circled me, and my senses went off the charts as my dragon side sprung forward to protect me. It was hard to think of that form as part of me. Whenever I shifted, I felt too alien. Too different. Even a partial change, like now, affected how I thought, felt, and acted.

My eyes became slits, altering my vision until I could see the sweat-filled pores on my opponent’s forehead. My hearing sharpened, picking up on heartbeats, and differentiating between the calm psychopaths and the lunatics. My sense of smell heightened, my ability to lock on emotions increased, and my level of aggression shot up. Scales hadn’t appeared on my skin yet, but they would once my body sensed a weapon coming closer to me.

I walked slowly in a circle, mentally reviewing the warriors’ weaknesses. I’d learned much in the four months I’d been here. Fear paralyzed. Rage made you reckless, which led to mistakes. Most in the group before me had the innate need to show off, which made them act stupid. They were eager to prove themselves to Mother because she demoted trainers she perceived were mediocre. I couldn’t pinpoint her exact location yet, but her scent said she was close. She always used invisibility runes to cloak her presence.

“Come get me,” I challenged, and the warriors rushed me.

For the next hour, I tried to physically purge my body of the boiling frustration of not finding my sister. Every time I thought of the person responsible, a growl rumbled through my chest, sending the fighters scrambling back and reminding me to stay focused. My grandmother had done some terrible things, but kidnapping my sister topped the list.

I took out the warriors one at a time. They were seasoned fighters, but I had invisibility runes and speed runes to get out of tight spots, strength and endurance runes to ante the attack, dragon scales to block harmful cuts, and
Gunnlögi
to execute my will.

Two hours later, the warriors peeled themselves from the ice and limped off the arena. I was just as filthy as they were, sweat and blood covering my clothes—most of it not mine—and physically drained, yet restless. My dragon side needed to exercise, and these people didn’t have it in them to give him what he needed. My skin itched and my heart pumped with the need to shift. It was time to fly.

“Thanks for the exercise, warriors,” I said, eager to leave.

Most grinned with relief. A few nodded grudgingly.

“’Til tomorrow?” one of the lunatics asked, and I nodded.

“Will we face the dragon?” an instructor asked, and groans rippled through the group.

“Maybe.” My dragon side decided to make his presence known and growled. The trainees cringed. Moments like this reminded me that my two forms were not fully in sync, that I wasn’t completely in control of myself. Although I found the warriors’ reactions funny, and I knew the animalistic side of me loved messing with them, I didn’t like my body betraying me like that. One form had to be dominant and that was my normal, human side.

Screeches filled the air, and I looked up. A white dragon and a gray one chased each other above us, their words garbled. Damn visitors. As if failing to find my sister wasn’t enough, I had to deal with other dragons and their families traipsing through my home. They needed to leave.

I headed to the western weapons room, but before I could escape to my shifting room in the eastern side of the hall, Mother entered.

“Decided to demote some poor sap today, Mother?”

She made a derisive sound. “I should. They were pathetic, and you’re only going to get better and continue to trounce them if they don’t shape up. Are you joining our guests for lunch?”

It was less misty today, so I’d be on “find Granny” duty. “Nope. I have a new plan for the Norns.”

“Burn the fields until those old hags reveal themselves,” Mother ordered, eyes narrowed.

My mother would wage a war on all the Norns to get her revenge. She was still ticked off that they’d taken me away. Father hadn’t come clean that it was he, not the Norns, who’d orchestrated the whole thing. It might make it easier to tell Mother about Einmyria if he did. She didn’t know that my sister was alive, but she was also unaware of the role her mother—my grandmother—played, or she’d never have set Crazy Granny free and banished her from Helheim. Now I was stuck with trying to find one ornery, dragon-shifting Jötun without revealing the truth to my mother. Using the Norns to cover up my activities often distracted her.

I opened a portal and Mother followed. Bread, cheese, and slices of meat waited.
Yes!
As I picked up a slice, my stomach growled loudly. Since my first shift, my appetite had grown.

“Wash up first,” Mother scolded, but the slab of bacon was too inviting. I shoved it in my mouth, then showed her my fingers and grinned.

“See? Clean. And, there’s no need to go postal on the entire Norn population, Mother. We only need the two who took me. I’ll find them my way.”

“Postal?”

“Kill indescrimnately.”

She sighed. “Your way isn’t working. You need the soul of a baby to find them. They always appear to the reapers. I would not have given them the right to take children’s souls if I’d known they’d come after my own child. Einmyria would be…” Her hand tightened around her scepter and she looked away, but not before I saw the pain in her eyes. “Find a soul of a child or a reaper with one and take it. I didn’t want you to resort to this, but there’s no other option now.”

This was the first time Mother had used my sister’s name. She rarely talked about Einmyria, and the few times she did, she always referred to her as my sister. If I could, I would confess that Einmyria was still alive and ease her pain, but it would only be temporary. Mother would tear the realms apart to find her.

I closed the gap between us and hugged her, scepter and all. She stiffened, but I pretended not to notice. I had never hugged her in the last four months I’d been here. I grew up receiving hugs from Raine’s mother, and even though I hadn’t appreciated them, I’d learned a hug went a long way in fixing pain and hurt.

“What’s the purpose of this?” Mother asked in an annoyed voice.

“Shh, you’re not supposed to talk. Just feel. This is me telling you that it’s okay, Mom. I’ll take care of the Norns, so chill.”

“I don’t understand the use of this word
chill
,” she said, sounding annoyed once more. “Argh, you are filthy and you smell.”

“Clean sweat.” I leaned back and smirked. I was filthy. “Besides
,
you missed out on the gym socks. Time you caught up.”

“So now I have the blood and the stench of the warriors to deal with?” She made a face and a sound that was part disgust and part amusement.

“Yep.” She might complain, but the pink on her pale cheeks said she didn’t mind the hug. She just wasn’t used to it. I planted a kiss on her forehead. “Fun times.”

She glanced down at the bloody smears I’d left behind on her dress and threw me a censuring glance. “I have to get rid of this gown.”

“Then you’ll need a whole new wardrobe every month. But now, I have places to go, and I need to shift.” I removed the bloodied shirt and threw it in the hamper Litr kept in my shifting room.

“When will you be back?”

“I don’t know.” I engaged the right runes and got rid of the blood and grime, then rinsed off in the bucket of soapy warm water Litr had left. He’d even left fresh towels.

“You cannot run away from your guests, Eirik.” She didn’t mask her annoyance.


Your
guests, Mother. Not mine. Besides, I’m flying, not running.” My grin only made her scowl.

Clean, I reached for more meat, slapped some between the bread, added cheese, another layer of meat and cheese, and various condiments with names I still hadn’t mastered. I added the vegetables and topped it with another piece of bread. Now that was a sandwich. I picked it up and caught my mother watching me with a weird expression.

“Want some?”

She looked at the massive sandwich and smiled. Any hint of the dragon lifestyle, including my appetite, always pleased her.

“No, thank you. You are the one who said we should be more hospitable to our neighbors.”

“Wary travelers who need shelter or your help. Not every Jötun, Elf, and Dwarf with a dragon-shifting daughter looking for a mate. Who told them I needed one?”

“You are the most powerful dragon in the realms, therefore the most eligible. You can’t blame them for bringing their daughters to take a look at you.”

“You said dragons from the realms would challenge me before they recognized me as their
leader
. Instead, they were testing me to see if I was a suitable mate.”

I took a large chunk of the sandwich and chewed. I’d fought enough dragons the last month to last me a lifetime, yet more kept coming. The challenges didn’t bother me. Seeing them return with their daughters, sisters, and nieces did.

“That’s the dragon way. Any one of those girls would be lucky to have you as a mate.”

“I don’t want them. They should leave.”

“You haven’t even met them.”

“I’ve seen them from afar. So not my type.” My type wouldn’t allow her family to marry her off. She would boldly face danger to help a total stranger and fight dragons without cowering. 

Celestia.

Mine,
resounded in my head, followed by a soft purr. I still didn’t understand the connection between my dragon side and Celestia, or the need to shift whenever I thought of her. Although I liked her a lot—okay, more than a lot—but in dragon form, I was obsessed with her. 

I missed her. Missed talking to her. Missed her bluntness. I even missed the way she made me so mad one second and then want to kiss her a moment later. Never had a girl’s lips mesmerized me like hers. I didn’t miss too much the way I wanted to kiss her and protect her from me at the same time though. That had screwed with my head. So to stay focused on my objective, I tried not to think about Celestia. Still, nothing filled the void she’d left behind. And now Mother thought I should fill that void with someone else. Find a dragon bride.

A freaking dragon bride. Unbelievable.

I took another bite, caught a piece of meat that would have fallen, and shoved it in my mouth. Thoughts of Celestia were making me more restless. I needed to fly.

Placing the remaining sandwich on the plate, I reached for my pants.

“Privacy, please.”

Mother gave me a look that said I had nothing to hide from her.

“Seriously, Mother. Go.” I pointed at the door. She chuckled and glided to the side door. Aside from the whole being-nude-around-my-mother thing, I hated witnesses when I shifted. I considered it personal. Despite the runes, the pain was still there, because I was breaking and reforming bones to shift from human to a dragon. Then there was the mental shift. Something weird happened to me once my dragon side took over. It was like my brain turned stupid.

I disengaged Odin’s rune, engaged pain and endurance runes, and shifted.

BOOK: Heroes (Eirik Book 2)
8.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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